Exploring Coastal Carolina: Caw Caw Interpretive Center

DSC03133Today I purchased a Charleston County Parks “Gold Pass” membership that provides the holder with “unlimited admission to 11 county parks” for a full year from date of purchase. While I will certainly enjoy visiting Charleston County parks without having to pay the buck or so admission fee every time, I am most excited about the early morning bird walks offered twice a week at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, also free to pass holders. Located just off South Highway 17, the Caw Caw, which boasts six miles of hiking trails as well as numerous elevated boardwalks, is considered the birding hot-spot of coastal South Carolina, an impressive boast considering South Carolina is itself host to multitudes of bird species.Awendaw

The appeal of the Caw Caw bird walks for me is that they combine at least three of the activities that I love: walking, appreciating nature, and learning the specifics of the environment in which I live. The Eco-tours I’ve participated in since moving here two years ago have included two guided walks on the Tibwin Plantation near Awendaw, a day exploring Bulls Island, an afternoon singing with dolphins on the Edisto River, and a morning hunting for fossils on Edisto Beach. Edisto Beach ShotEach tour has provided insight into the area’s eco-diversity and brought me face to face with such wonders as the ancient shell rings of the Sewee, the hard to find blue indigo bunting, and literally dozens of alligators sunning on a wetland bank (through which I had to walk), each time impressing upon me the fact that I have only barely begun to see, or understand, just how unique Coastal South Carolina ecology is.

Though I am excited to add these bird walks to my dossier of SC adventures, it will be several days yet before my new Gold Pass arrives in the mail — adding about a week to my anticipation. I will bide my time patiently, however,Bulls Island Shot looking through the “Birds of South Carolina” field guide I bought last year and drooling over digital camera equipment on the internet in hopes that, some day, I can add photography to my birding experience. For now, I’ll satisfy myself contemplating the wonder of how the hobby I’d given up pursuing years ago has returned to me just in time for the cooler, drier days of another Charleston October.

Submissions Open Today

Zingara Poetry Picks seeks submissions of previously unpublished poems (on-line or in print) of 40 lines or fewer for 2016 picks. New, emerging, and established poets are encouraged to submit and all submissions will be given careful consideration.

Please keep the following in mind when submitting your best poems:

  • Reading period for Zingara Poetry Picks is from August 15 to December 31st. Unless the deadline is extended, submissions received outside of this time period will not be acknowledged or considered. In fact, they will be deleted.
  • There is no fee to submit
  • Title of poem(s) should appear in the email subject line. Poems should be attached as word documents and mailed to zingarapoet@gmail.com
  • The body of the email should include a cover letter and a professional biography of 50 words or fewer written in the third person
  • Attach a word document with no more than three poems of 40 or fewer lines
  • Only one submission at a time (please wait to hear back before submitting more poems)
  • Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let ZingraPoet know immediately if submitted work is accepted elsewhere
  • ZingaraPoet does not accept previously published work
  • Published poets receive bragging rights and the chance to share their work with a diverse audience
  • Poets who are published on Zingara Poetry Pick should wait 24 months before submitting again
  • Do not submit if you have had a poem featured on Zingara Poetry Picks in the last 24 months.
  • Submissions which do not follow these guidelines will be deleted without acknowledgement
  • If accepted work is later published elsewhere, please acknowledge that the piece first appeared as a Zingara Poetry Pick.

What I look for in a poem:

Like all editors, I like to see interesting poems that do what they do well. Whether traditional, conceptual, lyrical, or formal, they should exhibit the poet’s clear understanding of craft and, just as importantly, revision. Very elemental poems that have not undergone effective revision will probably not make the cut. Likewise, poems which are contrived, sacrifice meaning for the sake of rhyme, feel incomplete, do not risk sentimentality (or are too sentimental), or lack tension when tension is needed, will also be dismissed. Finally, poems which perpetuate harmful stereotypes of gender, race, or class will most certainly not be considered.

For a very good discussion on the elements of effective poetry, take a look at Slushpile Musings by James Swingle, publisher and editor of Noneucildean Cafe’

A note on formatting: poems that contain lines which are flush with the left margin are more conducive to publication on a blog site than those which have unconventional indention or unusual margin settings. Likewise, poems which feature long lines may require additional line breaks or may require the right-scrolling function to be viewed in full.

Response time is 6 months.

Five Weird Ways to Get Writing Done


Just a reminder:

Originally posted on A Writer's March:

IMG_0059Towards the end of any month-long writing challenge, the average writer finds herself grabbing at straws for inspiration to keep writing. All the great ideas that had been incubating up until the beginning of the journey are exhausted and she’s left with either a lengthy, cumbersome tome or yet another blank page of reticence representing the next poem or short story. All of the conventional approaches to consistent writing   adamantly advocated by leading writer’s magazines, websites, and blogs are likewise worn thin and their effectiveness called into question under the scrutinizing gaze of the inner wild-child — who simply wishes to create with abandon.

If your wild child has grown bored with the carefully arranged, safety-approved environment of adequately structured playground equipment designed to stimulate just the right amount of brain activity and instead is testing the parameters of the playground itself, here are a few ideas to consider:


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Workspace Revision: What to do with old journals

Waiting for the new bookshelves.

With July coming to a close and a new semester hot on its heels, this weekend seemed like a good time to “revise” my workspace. This has involved: 1) moving my meditation and yoga accoutrements from my office to the bedroom, where there is more space for such activities, 2) ordering a couple of new bookshelves, and 3) boxing up the stacks of books that were lining the baseboard under the printer table.

Though I’ll have to step around boxes of books until the new bookshelves arrive, I am happy with the shape this little project is taking, and particularly like having a meditation space that is separate from my work space. Once the books make their final migration to the living room, where the new bookshelves will be placed, I will have a reasonably clutter-free, dedicated workspace for freelance work and writing.

I also went through a stack of notebooks stashed in the closet to see what was important enough to keep and what could possibly be recycled or re-purposed. There were a couple of half-filled notebooks whose pages were occupied with lists andIMG_0585[1] musings that I was willing to tear out and toss for the sake of using the last of the notebook paper. Other notebooks were filled with lesson plans and agendas from classes I’ve taught in the past, most of which have also found their way to the recycling bin. This leaves one and one-half smaller notebooks filled with favorite poems that I copied from various sources over the years that I will continue to use, and two daily planners marked with copious notes, task lists, and the names and phone numbers for people I barely remember. I’m pretty sure these are headed for the shredder.

What remains are journals spanning the years from 2017 to the present which were written during the years I spent living in New Mexico, Korea, Kansas City, and, in the case of the the latest addition, Charleston.

IMG_0586[1]The year 2008 is especially well represented with over two spiral-bound college-ruled notebooks dedicated to, well, mostly morning pages. That was the year I dedicated myself to the ideas in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and was writing three pages worth of thoughts every day. I was all about process over product and writing through the superficial stuff to get to the good stuff those days. The problem was that by the time I finished my morning pages, I had to get to work, so didn’t have time to work on the creative stuff. The other issue that I kept coming up against was that I was pretty much writing about the same crap every day, so much so that I felt like I was beginning to affirm the things in my character that I didn’t particularly want reaffirmed. I thought that writing about what worried me would help me get past them, but instead it seemed just to compound them. So, after about six months of devoting my early morning hours to morning pages, I revised my practice and started writing about other things, like ideas, images and poems. There is still plenty of complaining and fretting going on in these later notebooks, but at least a few of their entries are interesting. The rest, well, the rest was necessary, even if it doesn’t exactly show my best, most intelligent self. They were the crap I needed to write though to get to the good stuff.

The most interesting notebooks are probably the ones I kept while living in Korea, a year in which the value of a journal became most obvious to me. I was very careful about documenting everything that happened to me and every activity I tried because I knew I would only be there for twelve months. Some of those entries spilled over into a scrapbook, which I am still putting together, and others developed into blog posts, like this one about Building 63. Still others served as inspiration for a number of poems written and will probably serve to inspire poems yet born. Of all the journals in my closet, these are probably the ones I most enjoy rereading.

Journals I’ve kept since returning from Korea contain a lot of projects and plans. Their pages are filled with notes on how to IMG_0588[1]develop ZingaraPoet.net in 2011 and how to organize 200 New Mexico Poems posts and readings in 2012. Their pages are where I discuss the poems of poets I admire as well as the progress (or lack thereof) I experienced in the writing of my own poetry. Still peppered with concerns about my career, complaints about my environment, and commentary about my current mood, these journals were invaluable tools for deepening my relationship with self, leading me to understand that I could, and can, depend on my own inner resources rather than on externals.

The most recent journal, added to the collection just this week, is mostly concerned with my transition to Charleston, and, having spent most of my life west of the Mississippi, this transition has been considerable. The despair, confusion, and hope for better days expressed in its early pages are still fresh, allowing me to bring only a small degree of perspective to these past two years. But, like the journal I kept in Korea, this one represents intense growth of the kind only available when living far outside one’s comfort zone. The kind of growth experienced when a person is determined to move from survival to efficacy.

IMG_0589[1]So what will I do with this stack of water-stained, yellow-paged, dog-eared spiral notebooks and bound journals from the past? Well, appreciating these well-documented years is a worthy activity. I suppose, too, so is the sense of posterity I get in seeing the stack expand and grow.

David Sedaris once said in an interview that he indexes his journals, a practice that I sort of tried — only I used multi-colored tabs to indicate which entries were poems and which entries had potential to become essays or memoirs.

For now I am content reading through my notebooks and journal with no particular purpose or plan in mind – just an opportunity to cultivate a healthy relationship with myself and a way to spend my time —

waiting for the new bookshelves to arrive.

Behind the Editor’s Desk: Reading Fees, Literary Citizenship and Doing it for the Love of Poetry – An Interview with Editor and Publisher, Molly Sutton Kiefer


Tinderbox Poetry Journal announces fee-free submissions:

Originally posted on Women Who Submit:

Molly Sutton Kiefer, is an essayist and poet with numerous publications including the lyric essay, Nestuary (Ricochet Editions 2014) and two chapbooks. She edited for dislocate and Midway Journal before co-founding Tinderbox Poetry Journal with her friend, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins. She is now happily tackling the role of publisher for her newest project, Tinderbox Editions. In a submission call I picked up through the yahoo! listserv CRWROPPS (Creative Writing Opportunities List), Kiefer announced Tinderbox Editions’ latest open reading period will have a fee-free option until August 31st. As a poet who struggles with innumerable pay-to-play contests and open readings, I was excited to learn about reading fees from the publisher’s perspective and to hear more on running a journal and press. Here is what she had to share.

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

WOMEN WHO SUBMIT: In Tinderbox’s most recent submission call, it stated, “Due to an enlightening conversation…

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Call for Poetry Submissions – Southwest Persona Poems

Sunday Taos Pueblo and Rio Grande Gorge 018Poetry of the American Southwest, No. 2, Persona Poems Submission period: July 1 – November 30, 2015

Editors Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser are looking for well-crafted poems written in personae associated with the Southwest region of the United States — poems that demonstrate a strong connection to the land, history, and/or culture of the region. Personae can be famous, infamous, or relatively unknown; historical figures or characters from documented myth or folklore, living or dead. No stereotypes or bland generalizations, please! We are looking for a wide spectrum that reflects the rich heritage of the Southwest: Buffalo Soldiers, pioneers, tribal chiefs, artists, midwives, vaqueros, homesteaders, women who passed as men, ranchers, explorers, miners, lawmen, berdaches, outlaws, entrepreneurs, rabbis, preachers, curanderas, figures from Native American myths. . . .

While there is room for the well-known—Geronimo, O’Keeffe, La Llorona, Esteban, Kit Carson, etc.—we would very much like to see poems in the personae of lesser-known figures such as Chester Nez, Bill Pickett, Willie Velasquez, Kitty Leroy, Hoodoo Brown, LaDonna Harris, Henry Trust, and Jacob de Cordova. Surprise us! Sing to us in the voices of those forgotten in the stubble of history.

Only poems written in a persona will be considered. The speaker should clearly not be the poet-author. Think of the persona poem as one which reveals the character of the speaker, allowing the reader to empathize with him or her. For additional information on the persona poem, including sample poems, click here >>


  • We accept submissions only through Submittable.
  • Submit 1-3 original, unpublished poems, in a single document, each poem on a separate page.
  • Poems must be no longer than 65 lines — including spaces and title.
  • With each poem, provide a one to three-sentence contextual note that identifies its speaker. We may use this note in the anthology itself.
  • Do not put your name or any other identifying information on the document that holds the poems you submit. Do not include your name in the file name for your submission. We follow a “blind” reading system: our editors read all poetry submissions without knowing who wrote the poems.
  • Use Times New Roman 12 pt. for the text of your submission. Single space your poems; double space between stanzas.
  • Include a 60-word bio written in third person, providing specific information about your writing life and your previous publishing credits.
  • We welcome the expression of diverse voices, diverse cultures — including poems partly or entirely in Spanish. Please include an English translation of a poem written in a language other than English.
  • No previously published poems — print or online — including poems posted on personal websites or social network websites. If a poem can be found searching Google, we consider it published.
  • No simultaneous submissions. Our production schedule is too tight to accommodate poems submitted elsewhere
  • Acceptance for publication conveys First North American Serial Rights, first-print publication rights, and the right to post work accepted for publication on the Dos Gatos Press website. Rights revert to the author upon publication. Payment is one contributor’s copy of the anthology.

Day 17: The Power of Limited Choice

Originally posted on A Writer's March:

By Lisa Hase-Jackson, guest blogger

Fear is a familiar feeling to all artists, and writers are certainly not immune. Some of the more common triggers of fear include anticipated failure or, as is often the case, anticipated success. For writers in particular, fear is often triggered just by considering the likely ostracism that may occur from revealing family secrets, or by the realization that what was written in a passionate moment of active imagination will appear to be worthless drivel in the light of day.

Perhaps the biggest fear faced by many writers on a daily basis it that of the blank page. Even assuming a writer can overcome the overwhelming number of possibilities represented by the blank page, there are still myriad choices to make – or choices to rule out – once the page is no longer blank and writing has begun in earnest. Let us posit, then…

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