Another top 10 list. Don't remember how I found this blog, the Anthony Wilson blog. Be sure to visit it. So what are life saving poems? Here is Anthony's words describing it - fascinating concept and what a great way to make poetry a visceral part of your life. Below the description are the top 10.  Enjoy...

I was struck by a remark of Seamus Heaney in an interview he gave some years ago now. He was musing on how many poems can affect the life of an individual across that person’s lifetime. Was it ten, he said, twenty, fifty, a hundred, or more? This is the question that has underpinned this pet project of mine since I began it in July 2009.

Since then I have been copying out poems into a plain Moleskine notebook, one at a time, in inky longhand, when the mood took me. Allowing myself no more than one poem per poet, I wanted to see how many poems I could honour with the label ‘lifesaving’. I quickly realised it was a deeply subjective and unscientific exercise. Frequently, the poem that was copied into my book was not especially famous, certainly not representative or even the ‘best’ of that poet’s work.

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

This is a reminder for some interesting January 31st Deadlines - Have poems that might fit the bill? please read all rules and investigate thoroughly before submitting - your hard work deserves it. 

- The 7th Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition - Free!

6th Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest -  Free!

- The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine - 7 GBP per poem! but 5,000 GBP prize for one poem

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

One of poet Ted Kooser's good works as poet laureate was to create american life in poetry. CU Poets, you remember Ted Kooser from our meetup "Write like a Kooser?" These poems he picks out weekly from current publications. I really like the poems and poets he chooses - and you rarely see them elsewhere - highly recommended. 

Welcome to American Life in Poetry. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column,


American Life in Poetry: Column 511


Just as it was to me, Insha’Allah will be a new word to many of you, offered in this poem by Danusha Laméris, a Californian. It looks to me like one of those words that ought to get a lot of use. 


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AuthorSteve Lavigne

As we talked about at one of the meetups - The Hippocrates Prize - In general not a big fan of contests unless it is a good cause you are donating to... anyways please read through all of the rules and information first here

With a 1st prize for the winning poem in the Open and in the NHS category of £5,000, the Hippocrates prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single unpublished poem.

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

Thanks to Jim for bringing this to our attention. Looks like it is time for a road trip!

What is it? 

On January 30 – 31, 2015, the English Department at Eastern Illinois University will host LIONS IN WINTER, an annual literary festival. The 2015 keynote reading will be given by Stephen Graham Jones. Craft talks and featured readings are by Natalie Diaz, Edward Kelsey Moore, Julija Šukys, and Jessica Young. An editor’s panel will feature magazine editors from Bluestem, Hobart, Quiddity, Luna Luna and Cossack Review. Full info is here

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

I first heard of Diane Lockward from the Writer's Almanac and her poem Linguini. She also wrote my husband discovers poetry which I shared with the group. Below is from her blog Blogalicious - please check it out and some of her poems.


Print Journals That Accept Online Submissions 11/14

It's been more than a year since I last updated the list of print journals that accept online submissions. This list includes 14 additions. You'll notice that a number of the journals charge a fee for the online submission. Many submitters feel that a small fee is worth it as it saves paper, stamps, and a trip to the post office.

Journals new to the list (not necessarily new journals) are indicated with a double asterisk. 
The number of issues per year appears after the journal's name.
The reading period for each journal appears at the end of each entry.
Unless noted otherwise, the journal accepts simultaneous submissions.
As always, please let me know if you find any errors here. And good luck.

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

Wait... What happened to #1? And what is the CU Poetry Prompt?

One of the main reasons folks attend the group is so they will be inspired to write more. However if we take 10 or 20 minutes out of every meeting to write, then there does not seem to be enough time to critique the poems brought in by participants. So, as we usually have a "poetry topic" every week, why not make a prompt out of it. We also have a discussion forum on the meetup page where meetup members can share their poems in a private setting and not have to worry about those poems being "published". Visit here to join the discussion forum.   

Today's poetry prompt - song lyrics and poetry. I took a poetry class in high school ages ago and we had to find song lyrics and discuss the poetic merit in them. Hmmm - this is Nikki's topic -  For our prompt either write a poem that are song lyrics or could be song lyrics ... Or write a poem with music as part of its theme, element, or related in some way. 

Here is Billy Collins reading his poem Nightclub

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AuthorSteve Lavigne
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Hello CU Poetry and Friends, 

Throughout 2014 we have been meeting every week to discuss and improve our poetry. So what should we do with our abundance of creations, how do we go about sharing them with the world? As we discussed, having some sort of system (aka a spreadsheet) is a necessity so one can avoid unnecessary headaches not only for you but the kind editors of the journals you submit to. Jo Bell has a great article I am reblogging here. Please visit her blog or follow her on facebook. So what are your thoughts on multiple submissions? 

Jo Bell is an English poet and prolific promoter of poetry I have been following on facebook for a while. You can find more information about her at belljarblog 

Submitting to journals: the Jo Bell method


I’ve spent some time lately with poetry journal editors – and also with the poor poetic beggars who, like me, send off work to them. It’s struck me anew that many people, especially those at the beginning of their poetry career, don’t have much idea of how submission works and what time span is realistic for an editor to consider a poem. Also, they’re wondering how to keep tabs on the seventeen different poems that they’ve sent out, in order to avoid the no-no of simultaneous submission.

What follows is the Jo Bell Method; the method of an immensely, award-winningly disorganised poet who nonetheless has managed to win awards. My vast and lofty experience teaches me that the key part of winning any prize or getting into a journal is this:


This is the only area of my life where such a streamlined system exists, but it has helped me to keep sending work out. It is Ever So Simple and it works for me. If you want to get into the habit of submitting to journals, it’s not too late to make this a New Year’s Resolution and start doing this in 2015.

This week
Make a table or database with four columns – Available. In Circulation. Published. Date When Available Again. Do it on the computer, because you will be cut-and-pasting from this for years. Put into the first column the titles of all your poems that you think are ready.

By the way, they are NEVER ready. You will NEVER send out a poem that you are wholly and perfectly satisfied with. Nobody does. Nobody does. Abandon that hope. Do your best.

January 30th (for instance)


Make a habit of setting aside one day a month for submissions. Put it in the diary. On the first occasion, take three ‘available’ poems and send them to Magazine A. Transfer their titles to ‘In Circulation’. Send three DIFFERENT ones to Magazine B, three different again to Magazine C, and two or three to Competition X. Put all their titles in the ‘In Circulation’ column. You’re in business. In the ‘Date When Available Again’ put a date six months from now, or the date when competition results are announced.

February 30th
Astonishingly, you have not heard a word from Magazine A, B or C. You have been waiting by your inbox like Greyfriars Bobby every morning but still no word. How very odd. Never mind. Send three poems to Magazine D, three to Magazine E, three to Magazine F. Once sent, forget them. They are dead to you until they come back or get accepted.

March 30th
Continue. NEVER send the same poem to two different magazines. Editors don’t want to slave through a pile of poems to accept a handful, proudly draw a line under them – and then find that you already had your poem accepted by another magazine. The only reward for their labours is that they have put your poem into print for the first time, and they want to do so without fear of copyright arguments or embarrassment. Don’t submit to two places at once.

April 30th
Etc etc. You are losing the will to live. You are running out of poems to send out. Fear not, you are about to get some back.

Four months is not unusual, six months not unheard of. You might get a response from Magazine A around now if you are lucky. Hurrah, they want one of your poems. It will always be the one you stuck in the envelope last, thinking it was a no-hoper. Send a brief mail saying ‘thanks, I’m delighted.’ Move the title of that poem into the ‘Published’ column, buy yourself a new pair of shoes, put down the deposit on that house. Tell everyone on Facebook.

And then put the poems that they *don’t* want right back into the ‘Available’ column. If they don’t want any of the poems, no need to reply. If you must, just send them a line saying ‘thank you for letting me know, good luck with this issue!’ Honestly. That’s all.

May 30th
Send out some poems, as usual. If you get an acceptance, hurrah. If you get a rejection, hurrah – you now have some poems free for the next journal or competition, just when you were wondering what to send out. Those which come back, put in the Available folder again, and then send them to magazines that haven’t seen them before. Those which are accepted, put in the published folder. Those which come back over and over again… er, may not be any good. Take that as a valuable piece of free feedback. Review, revise, put them back in the Available folder.

Keep sending the buggers out. The editor of Journal F, after all, has very different taste to the editor of Magazine A, and has not seen your poem before. It is fresh as a daisy to her. Remember however, that there is no shortage of daisies in her in-tray. She is eating and drinking poems. She is sick of poems. She wakes up in the night wondering why she does this. Cut her some slack.

Develop a stoical acceptance of the flow – some poems coming back, some going out, and every now and then a little firework going up to mark a success. Eventually you will be so serene about rejection, that you will be quite disappointed when a poem is accepted because this interrupts the endless recycling process.

Continue, ad infinitum. Check the dates in the fourth column of your table every so often. The competition results have been announced and you have inexplicably not won the National Poetry Competition (again)? Hurrah, those three poems are now free. Put them back in the Available column.

Do NOT (even, indeed especially, whilst drunk and discouraged) send journals a slightly tetchy email saying “I haven’t heard from you, and I should have thought that four months is long enough”. You *might* perhaps send an email (after six months, not before) saying “You won’t remember my poem On The Digestive System of the Hippopotamus – this is just to let you know that there is an RSPCA competition on Pachyderms at the moment, so I’m withdrawing the poem, in the unlikely event that you wanted to use it. Good luck with all your sifting, I know you have a lot of poems to wade through.”

Because they do. They have a heap of poems as deep as their desk and they mean no offence by hanging on to yours. They very possibly haven’t read it yet. They certainly have a lot of other poems (more than you imagine and by better poets than you might think) to consider. They have poems piled up in the lounge, the bathroom, the bedside table. Their partners already think they spend too much time on this. The work is not only unpaid, but they have to scrabble for funding to keep the magazine floating at all. It is stressful and almost entirely unrewarding. They have day jobs, often running small poetry presses which make them just enough money to pay the bills if they are lucky. Like you, they have children and social lives and commitments. Like you, they are trying to write their own poetry and (possibly unlike you) they are also putting something back into the poetry ecosystem. They get ten or twenty tetchy notes a week saying “I sent you my poem last Tuesday and am exceedingly surprised that you have not yet replied to it.” They feel bad about this. They dread going to book launches because someone who has a grudge against them, for rejecting a poem which they don’t even remember, will say something snide about the time it takes them to reply. The only reward for all this is that occasionally they get to put into print someone whose work they love. It might be you. It might not. Hey ho.

I’m not putting the editor on a pedestal – but do remember that in this process, you are the supplicant. The editor has more poems than s/he knows what to do with. No matter how great your unrecognised genius, indeed no matter how great your recognised genius, editors are doing you a favour by considering your poem. They will not remember your name as one of the dozens of poems on their bedside table – but they will remember it (immediately and for a long time) if you join the ranks of the narky, sarky and unpleasant who bitched about their response times.

So, set up that database or table and get started. Gradually you will start to accumulate titles in the ‘Published’ column, but there will always be a lot more titles in the Available column.

If you’re disheartened by that, it may be that you’re looking for an excuse to be disheartened. Really, it is not so hard to put a poem in an envelope or send it by email and then *forget about it*. And it really does get easier, the more you do it. So do it, huh?

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AuthorSteve Lavigne

The Pygmalion Music and Lit Fest is this weekend. Our own Jim, aka Jim O'Brien aka James Escher will be participating in the Lit Crawl. He will be reading at the Brass Rail in downtown Champaign just after 4:00 pm. He will only get 8 minutes so don't be late. Cheers!

There are free poetry and literature events Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday as well


There will also be a book fair at Esquire Lounge from 11 to 4 Saturday. 

More details here 

Let us know if you can make it.


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AuthorSteve Lavigne

Sometimes we kid out of spite, sometimes out of love. In my case, it's mostly out of jealousy with regards to mfa programs. On the one hand, I wish I had my shit together when I was younger. On the other hand, I wouldn't be where I am today. I guess best of both would be to know what I knew then blah blah blah get to the funny stuff already. 

First up is an MFA for the rest of us - kind of a Festivus of writing programs. I found it via twitter and you can find it here. It's from Rebecca Makkai, who has a regular and interesting column on Ploughshares Literary Magazine. 

Second, though if you skipped the other one this will be first, is How to Be Sincere in Your Poetry Workshop by Roberto Montes.  This link will take you to day one and you can then click through the rest of the days. Unless you are reading this on your phone. In which case you are on your own. 

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AuthorJames Escher

Here's a piece from NPR that reminisces about the way things used to be. I've heard plenty of protest poetry coming from our not-so-humble group of CUPpers, but the other point of the article is that poets no longer have much of a voice in the mainstream. Vidal asks if poets stopped talking or the public stopped listening? Clearly, I have to pin this one on the public. Cheers.

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AuthorJames Escher

These are borrowed from

1. Seventeen syllables in one line.

2. Seventeen syllables written in three lines.

3. Seventeen syllables written in three lines divided into 5-7-5.

4. Seventeen syllables written in a vertical (flush left or centered) line.

5. Less than 17 syllables written in three lines as short-long-short.

6. Less than 17 syllables written in three vertical lines as short-long-short. (Ala Barry Semegran)

7. Write what can be said in one breath.

8. Use a season word (kigo) or seasonal reference.

9. Use a caesura at the end of either the first or second line, but not at both.

10. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-on sentence.

11. Have two images that are only comparative when illuminated by the third image. Example: spirit in retreat / cleaning first the black stove / and washing my hands

12. Have two images that are only associative when illuminated by the third image. Example: fire-white halo / at the moment of eclipse / I notice your face

13. Have two images that are only in contrast when illuminated by the third image. Example: two things ready / but not touching the space between / fire

14. Always written in the present tense of here and now.

15. Limited use (or non-use) of personal pronouns.

16. Use of personal pronouns written in the lower case. Example: i am a ...

17. Eliminating all the possible uses of gerunds (ing endings on wording).

18. Study and check on articles. Do you use too many the's? too little? all the same in one poem or varied?

19. Use of common sentence syntax in both phrases.

20. Use of sentence fragments.

21. Study the order in which the images are presented. First the wide-angle view, medium range and zoomed in close-up. (Thanks to George Price for this clarification!)

22. Save the "punch line" for the end line.

23. Work to find the most fascinating and eye-catching first lines.

24. Just write about ordinary things in an ordinary way using ordinary language.

25. Study Zen and let your haiku express the wordless way of making images.

26. Study any religion or philosophy and let this echo in the background of your haiku.

27. Use only concrete images.

28. Invent lyrical expressions for the image.

29. Attempt to have levels of meaning in the haiku. On the surface it is a set of simple images; underneath a philosophy or lesson of life.

30. Use images that evoke simple rustic seclusion or accepted poverty. (sabi)

31. Use images that evoke classical elegant separateness. (shubumi)

32. Use images that evoke nostalgic romantic images. Austere beauty. (wabi)

33. Use images that evoke a mysterious aloneness. (Yugen)

34. Use of paradox.

35. Use of puns and word plays.

36. Write of the impossible in an ordinary way.

37. Use of lofty or uplifting images. (No war, blatant sex, or crime)

38. Telling it as it is in the real world around us.

39. Use only images from nature. (No mention of humanity.)

40. Mixing humans and nature in a haiku by relating a human feeling to an aspect of nature.

41. Designation of humans a non-nature and giving all these non-nature haiku another name.

42. Avoid all reference to yourself in the haiku.

43. Refer to yourself obliquely as the poet, this old man, or with a personal pronoun.

44. Use no punctuation for ambiguity.

45. Use all normal sentence punctuation

: = a full stop

; = a half stop or pause

... = something left unsaid

, = a slight pause

-- = saying the same thing in other words

. = full stop

46. Capitalize the first word of every line.

47. Capitalize the first word only.

48. Capitalize proper names according to English rules.

49. All words in lower case.

50. All words in upper case.

51. Avoid rhymes.

52. Rhyme last words in the first and third lines.

53. Use rhymes in other places within the haiku.

54. Use alliteration. Example by Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes: twitching tufted tail / a toasty, tawny tummy: / a tired tiger

55. Use of words' sounds to echo feeling.

56. Always end the haiku with a noun.

57. Write haiku only from an "ah-ha" moment.

58. Use any inspiration as starting point to develop and write haiku. (These are known as desk haiku.)

59. Avoid too many (or all) verbs.

60. Cut out prepositions (in - on - at - among - between) whenever possible; especially in the short 1/3 phrase.

61. Eliminate adverbs.

62. Don't use more than one modifier per noun. This use should be limited to the absolute sense of the haiku.

63. Share your haiku by adding one at the close of your letters.

64. Treat your haiku like poetry; it's not a greeting card verse.

65. Write down every haiku that comes to you. Even the bad ones. It may inspire the next one which will surely be better.

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AuthorWilliam Reger

I am Only Real When


I am only real when

        carried on the backs of slaves

Sometimes love is not enough

My daughter says meat

                             is like fish




A marriage of 

a leaf

            and a dreary 


                       will strand

the sun in misery.


Boiling          peaches

bounce through the 


                     navigated by

blowflies and wasps

                     20 had shrunk and wrinkled 

           covered in oil.


The legless beggar is like

the seed of a star


killing flowers who cannot be


the eye of a newt from

           a well-run sewage treatment



The sun is blinding the grass

                    grateful                   against my

overheated fire

                       red white or 


           ripened on the green stem

                           of the turning



Max was launching his unsuspecting


                              like sludge

peeping through the circular colon

Yellow flowers


       motorcycles                  under the bridge

                                                     the rain

                     asked how the

earth was created.


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AuthorWilliam Reger

Here is one rally against the Poet Voice. You probably know it when you hear it, but there are several examples linked in the article. I use it in most of my readings, but I do have a couple poems with a narrative that requires something a little more excited. What do you think?

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AuthorJames Escher