Thursday, October 30, 2014

Some Notes on Remix Poetry

I’m fairly new to remix. So far, I’ve only used it in conjunction with three projects initiated by The Found Poetry Review. However, a number of people have asked what process I use for remix, so I thought I would provide an overview of it.

Generally, I take an arbitrary selection of a source text (or am assigned a selection), for example the first paragraph of every page of a text or a specific chapter from a book, and then use the words in that selection as the general vocabulary or lexicon for the poem that’s to be drafted.

I mix and rearranged individual words chosen out that selection of text. On occasion, I might remix using a phrase. But for the most part I use individual words: I separate all of the words out of the text so that they are not in context, because I don’t want to simply regurgitate the text in condensed form—I want to transform it somehow. Therefore, for my personality, it’s best that I not see the text on the page.

Then, using computer programs like Adobe Acrobat Pro, Microsoft Word, and/or Microsoft Excel, I create two lists—one in which the words are alphabetized in a single column and another that is randomized with the words in rows across the page. I select words from these two lists to make the poem. It's something akin to that prompt in which someone says “use these five words to make a poem” and then gives you an arbitrary set of words. Except in this case, all of the words need to be tied to the source text.

Separating out the words from their source context helps free me to use them in ways not tied to the source. For example, I feel more free to use words that can function as different parts of speech, such as bolt, which can function as a verb, adverb, or noun, as it fits the poem, not necessarily how it was used in the source text. Of course, a good number of folks aren't influenced by the story or specific meaning of the words on the page and can use the words without having to separate them from their context. I, unfortunately, am not one of them and so I create lists of free-standing words.

In addition to the word lists, I allow myself to use words that are not in the selection, but that can be discovered by:

 concatenation, e.g. sun + light --> sunlight

 erasure within a word to form a new word, e.g. erasing “ling” from “sparkling” to form "spark", sparkling  --> spark

If I get stuck, I allow myself to return to the source text on the page in order to apply erasure across a phrase to form a new word. If I can’t find a word I want within one line or 80 characters of text, I move on to another word or idea. As an example, take the phrase “as the new moon with.” By erasing “a” + “ the new” + “n wi” , you get the word “smooth”: as the new moon with --> smooth

For each revision of a poem, I go back to the word lists and techniques for finding new words.  I keep detailed notes so that I can adequately cite the source text, which is important.

Different people do remix differently and the above process is nothing official—it's just one that works for me. (I’m not sure there is an official remix method.)

It’s been interesting to note some of the comments I've received regarding remix poems. Some folks who are not fond of found poetry don’t consider it “real” poetry because they don't think it's original—not enough of the mark of the maker. Some who are ardent fans of found poetry don’t consider remix (or at least my remix process) to be “real” found poetry because there is not enough foundness to it. There’s too much original language—in this case, too much the mark of the maker, because the poem contains language that is not found directly in the source text or language that is not found in the same order as in the source text.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for Manuscript Consultation/Coaching

(updated 12/17/2016)

This is the second post of two concerning resources related to putting together a poetry manuscript.

Last week, I posted a partial list of online articles that discussed ways to organize a poetry manuscript. Today's post is a partial list of individuals and organizations with an online presence (they're publicly accessible, have a website, etc.) that offer some sort of manuscript consultation or mentoring. The options below are 1) classes or workshops that include manuscript review, and 2) working one-on-one with a mentor.

Of the options listed below, I've done the post-graduate residency. I've also worked with some folks on a manuscript consultation:

  • I contacted Sandra Simonds for a consultation after I'd been sending my first manuscript script out for a couple of years. The manuscript had received some favorable results (occasional finalist or semifinalist), but remained unpublished. I thought a set of fresh eyes on the matter would help.  After she and I exchanged emails and mutually agreed we'd be a good fit, I emailed the manuscript to her. She responded in a timely manner, on the exact day we agreed to. Her feedback included a page of comments with respect to her overall impressions. Then, for each poem, she provided line edits and comments, including suggestions on arrangement, themes, narrative arc, weaknesses, strengths, etc. Her comments were to the point and insightful. It was just what I needed to help me better see how I should shape the manuscript. I cut twenty pages and added five new poems (eight pages). Some of the poems that were removed were ones that Sandra suggested; others were ones that I felt needed to go.

  • I worked with Sandra Beasley after I replaced about 20% of the poems in a manuscript. The changes resulted in a manuscript with a somewhat different focus. When I contacted Sandra, I wasn't looking for a full manuscript review. Since a large chunk of the manuscript had been torn out and filled in with brand new poems, I wanted a second opinion on whether it still held together as a book. Sandra's response was timely and substantive. She provided two page of comments / recommendations and a suggested reordering. She even offered line edits, which went above and beyond what I'd requested. I found her feedback to be quite helpful.
Both Sandra Simonds and Sandra Beasley are listed below in "Services Offered by Individuals".

Please note: The resources listed below came to my attention because I received an email about it or I heard about it at a conference or someone sent me a link to it. Except for the two mentioned above, other than what scant information is provided below, I know little about these services. So, as with any service on which you spend your hard-earned pennies, caveat emptor.

And if you're ready to send out your first poetry manuscript and are looking to send them to contests, check out this list of 1st-book contests.


Colrain Manuscript Conference, fee is approximately $1,400 and includes lodging and some food

• The Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference  has a workshop for full manuscripts for those who have an MFA (“members of the Poetry Manuscript workshops submit drafts of book-length collections.”) Poetry Manuscript tuition is a little over $1,000, room and board not included.


One-on-one services are divided below into two groups: those offered by a journal, press, or other organization and those offered by an individual. In fees listed are current as of the date of they were added to this page and might have since changed. Please contact the organization or person for current rates.

Services offered by journals, presses, and other organizations
• Cutthroat Journal Mentorship and Manuscript Evaluations, fee for Poetry manuscript is approximately $2,000

• GrubStreet Manuscript Consultation, hourly rate, $75 per hour

• The Loft Manuscript Critique and Coaching, cost varies according to the mentor/editor you select

• The Attic Institute offers Individual Consultations, including “Putting Together Your Full-Length Poetry Manuscript”, fee varies depending on requested consultation

• UCLA Extention Writers’ Program One-on-One Consultation, fee varies by number of pages, $500 minimum

• Manuscript Reading Services offered by members of the League of Canadian Poets, fees vary according to mentor/editor you select

• Manuscript editing and mentoring by one of the editors of Two Sylvia Press, sliding-scale fee from $450 to $1350

• Manuscript editing and mentoring by one of the editors of Blue Lyra Review, fee varies per number of pages, approximately $25 per 20 pages

• Post-graduate semester: If you have an MFA or other degree, there's the option of checking with the school where you graduated (or another school) to see if you could take a post-graduate semester to work with a mentor to finalize your manuscript. The cost is likely to be one semester's tuition.

Services offered by individuals

• April Ossmann, Manuscript consultation, hourly rate $85, final fee varies depending on the type of editing requested

E. Kristen Anderson, writing coach, chapbook and full length consultations, and individual-poem critique at Yellow Bird Editors, see "How Much Will It Cost" for rates.

• Jeffrey Levine, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Tupelo Press, Mentoring Program for Poets, fee varies according to which plan you choose, from $1,200 on up

• Jennifer Givhan, Critique & Editing Services , fee varies according to services requested

• Jennifer K. Sweeney, Private Instruction / Poetry Critique, fee varies according to services requested, approximately $450 for a manuscript critique

• Jessica Piazza, Co-founder of both Bat City Review and Gold Line Press, contributing editor at The Offending Adam, see her author website for her contact info, fee varies according to services requested, starting at $300 for a general consultation.

• Joanna Fuhrman, poetry editor at Ping PongPoetry Workshops for Adults—Individual Consultations, fee varies according to services requested; approximately $425 for a book/manuscript consultation.

• Katerina Stoykova-Klemer of Accents Publishing, Editing and feedback on book-length manuscripts, contact her for fee amounts

• Kelli Russell Agodon, Editorial Services for Poets & Writers, rates vary depending on services requested

• Laura Van Prooyen, Writer Services, see author website for rates

• Nancy Pearson, Individual manuscript consultations, contact her for fee amounts

• Neil Aitken, editor at Boxcar Poetry Review, Consulting, rates vary depending on services requested

• Sandra Beasley, click on the For Hire tab of the author's website, contact her for fee amounts.

• Sandra Marchetti, Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary CollectionWriting Services, fee varies according to length of the manuscript, starting at $100 for a shorter chapbooks; publication coaching offered at approximately $30 an hour.

Sandra Simonds, author of 4 books of poetry, whose work has been selected for Best American Poetry 2014 and 2015, manuscript consultations include line edits, help with arrangement, and general feedback. Contact her for fee amounts,

[The links and the information shown above were current as of the date of this post.]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for organizing a manuscript

There are lots of resources out there related to putting together a poetry manuscript, from articles on how to organize a manuscript, to classes and workshops that include manuscript review, to working one-on-one with a mentor. I thought it would be a good to idea to gather some of those resources together for those who are interested in such things. Below, you'll find a list of some books and articles that discuss how to organize a poetry manuscript. Next week, I'll provide a list of resources related to manuscript consultations.

[If you're ready to send out your first poetry manuscript and are looking to send them to contests, check out my post that lists 1st-book contests.]


"Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems" by Susan Grimm


Turning a Manuscript into a First Book by Alberto RĂ­os


==Articles in a Series==

Kelli Russell Agodon of Two Sylvias Press has a four-part series of articles called "Compiling a Poetry Manuscript:"

Jeffrey Levine of Tupelo Press has a series of articles on the subject of organizing a manuscript. Here are the links as of Oct. 18, 2014:

==Individual Articles==

Assembling a Poetry Collection” by Gerald Huml

How to Order the Poems in a Manuscript” by Leeanne Quinn

"Notes from a First Round Reader" by Marilyn McCabe

Putting Your Poetry in Order: The Mix-Tape Strategy” by Katrina Vandenberg

"Shaping a Collection of Poems" by Jamaal May

"Still Life with Book: On Ordering Your Poetry Manuscript" by Sandra Marchetti (guest post on Chloe Yelena Miller's blog)

Thinking Like an Editor: How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript” by April Ossmann

"Trust Your Eye: On Ordering Poetry" by Sandra Beasley

[page last update 18-Jun-2015]