We have a publisher!

We are proud and grateful to announce that Red Hen Press (redhen.org) will publish Two-Countries Anthology in the Fall of 2017! We will be sure to announce its availability once it hits the market. Many thanks.

Best, Tina Schumann/Editor

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Pacific Northwest Writers’ Blog Tour

My dear friend, Jill McCabe Johnson asked me to participate in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Blog Tour. Below are my replies to the four questions asked. Thanks Jill!

QUESTIONS

1) What am I working on?

The anthology that I edited and have been actively working on for the last two years “Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents” is, for all intents and purposes, complete and now being submitted to potential publishers. Before, during and after the editing process of the anthology I continued tinkering with the sixty odd poems in my current full manuscript (moving poems to new sections, taking some out, adding new ones, editing for clarity and economy, etc.). Most recently I have been focusing on writing poems that concern my 82-year old father’s progressive dementia. At first I thought I would never write about it. It seemed too easy, too available, and there was the fear of flirting with sentimentality and the nagging feeling that I was in some way betraying my father. But the more I witnessed my father’s mind going astray the more the rich human material presented itself and I could not help but take notes. I began to think about all the things of this world that he loved, that defined him and that he was moving further and further away from; two of those being opera and classical music, especially Mozart. Fairly soon a title for a chapbook came to me “Requiem: A Patrimony of Fugues.” So with the title and the worlds of opera and orchestral music came a kind of structure I could hang my hat on, a stage on which to place the poems. Not to mention the intriguing lexicon, lingo and phrasing of both art forms to draw from. One of the side benefits of approaching this situation through the lens of poetry, is that this project has allowed me to deal in a more analytical way with what is the tragic (although all too common) disappearance of a much beloved parent. At the very least I can feel that I am attempting to make art (I hope) out of a no-win situation.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is an intriguing question, but not one I think I can speak to accurately. It begs the question: Who are these others? Who specifically am I to compare myself to? Poetry contains such a wide range of styles and visions and formulaic tendencies that without a specific poet to compare my work to I actually have no idea how my work differs from others of its genre. I suspect it contains more similarities to the work of other poets than differences. Didn’t someone once say that there are only two subjects in poetry: Love and death? I also like what Billy Collins said “There’s one subject in lyric poetry, and that is that you have this existence and at the end of it you are going to experience non-existence.” I think if we could distill all poetry down to its barest elements this is probably true. This particular question seems to present a forest for the trees quandary and I’m just happy to be one of the trees. Having said that, I would not label myself exclusively a “Language Poet” or a “Poet of Place’ or a “Nature Poet,” or a “Confessional Poet,” nor do I write in allegories or have much interest in Greek mythology, although at any point in my work I may incorporate any and all of those definitions, though not purposely or consciously, allowing myself plenty of latitude in creative writing seems instinctual to me. I love to experiment. Each of us has our unique perspective on similar life experiences through which we hope our individual voice expresses itself (or so our egos like to think) and at the same time I believe all “good” poetry is derivative to some extent. It should be if you are reading successful poets and attempting to walk in their footsteps. Two poets I admire immensely are John Koethe and Charles Wright. I instantly connect with their voice, vision, approach to the construct of a poem and their particular use of language. Their reflections on life viewed through the prism of philosophy, the big questions they address in their work about human beings never fail to stimulate, intrigue and move me. I have been told that my work is similar in that my poems are often asking the big universal questions about life, love, our internal world of emotion and thought vs. our relationship with the external world and our ability to grasp any sense of happiness while faced with the inevitable end. While I would never be so bold as to compare myself to these two masters, I do recall my relief upon discovering their work. I felt immediately at home and realized that they were accomplishing on another level what I was attempting to do in my work.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write poetry primarily to converse with myself, to hear myself more clearly, to attempt to understand myself (and by extension others) and my relationship to the world, to become as vivid a character in my own life as possible. Poetry allows me to feel that I am living and not simply surviving day-to-day. I suppose the main reason I write poetry is to preserve my sanity, or at least a semblance of sanity.

4) How does my writing process work?

“Process” is a scary word for me. I tend to resist authority, even if it is self-imposed. Admittedly, I do have a very flexible process that came together more of its own volition over the years due to life circumstances than any deliberate planning on my part. I had a poetry teacher early on who said “writing is like any other muscle; you must exercise it daily to keep it in shape.” I don’t know if I believe that. I think I would LIKE to believe that. But it is simply not true for me. If I try to put any kind of structure or discipline on my attempts at creative writing I would be sure to stop immediately. This might be because my profession as a researcher entails a great deal of process and so perhaps I avoid it as an artist. Creative writing for me comes when it comes and I attempt to capture it in the moment as best I can (on a napkin, a notebook in my bag, an email to myself, etc.). That being said I am usually always working on something (“working” for me includes thinking about poetry, reading other poets, editing old work, note taking, etc.) Perhaps the freedom I offer myself to NOT be disciplined makes it all the more available. I do, however, have tendencies when it comes to the building of a poem, which I do not think are very unique. For many years I have collected loosely associated notes on topics or an idea or a random line that comes to me, even snippets of over-heard conversations and lines from a movie that intrigue me. I place them chronologically in a WORD document I have labeled “Fragments.” I then go back and look at these fragment and work out the poem from there when it seems I have enough fragments to create something like the rickety scaffolding of a poem’s beginnings. Linda Bierds told us in grad school that she does something similar, only she referred to these fragments as “The abandoned image.”

The connective tissue, extended metaphors and supportive imagery of a poem will most likely be sparked during this assemblage of fragments, and of course revised and edited many times over. This revision period will also include experimentation with form. There are times when it seems the poem tells me right away what form it wants to take. But that is usually not the case. Some poems seem to me fairly complete on the third revision. Others take up to twenty revisions or more and still others seem as though they will never be done (whatever that means). I have to let those ones go for fear I will revise them into oblivion. You know that old saying? “A poem is never finished, it is simply abandoned.” At a point when I feel I am ready to share, the poem will go before the eyes of my writing group and/or a few other trusted friends. I get honest constructive feedback from other poets and that almost always leads to more editing. If I am lucky it will be to correct syntactical structure, punctuation or a misspelling. If I am really lucky another reader will point out an assumption I made and did not clarify or a transition that does not make sense, or a clunky word choice that disturbs the lyrical flow of the line. The gems of insight that other readers can and do offer is the most important part of my “writing process” as it were.

-Tina Schumann
September 2014

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My grandmother, my aunts and my mother (the youngest) in a passport photo. Approx. 1930.

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In process

The anthology has been through two edits at this point  I am still in the process of compiling the material and making it presentable for other publishers I have in mind. They all have different guidelines. My hopeful projection at this point is to have a publisher secured no later than the end of 2014, but these things are not predictable. I am the only editor of this anthology at this point and so all submissions and editing are done in my spare time. I will be volunteering at AWP in Seattle in Feb/March and plan to seek out publishers there as well.  I will let all contributors know when a publisher is secured. Think good thoughts!

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That’s it folks!

Two-Countries anthology is officially closed to submissions. Thanks to all who submitted so far. The collection is looking stout and robust indeed. I am in the processing of compiling the first draft along with an intro and book proposal that will go to my editor hopefully before the end of the year and then into the submission process. Stay tuned for news later in the year and into 2014. There is much work ahead. Thanks to all. I have high hopes for this collection and feel that its time has come.

Best, Tina Schumann.Editor

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Deadline decided

April 30, 2013. I am thinking that the anthology is nearly full. Though that is an arbitrary decision at this point, as anthologies vary in length. I need time away from reading submissions to really focus on the actual first draft and do a count on what we have and what we might still be in need of. The response so far has been tremendous. We are many! We exist! We are looking for corroboration of our experience. This is exactly what I was hoping for. Many thanks to everyone who has submitted so far.

I will keep the updates coming as things progress.

 

Best, Tina Schumann/Editor

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Friends and inspiration, first draft underway and new deadline

I thought it was time to post an up-date on the progress of TCA. I have put together the front matter, dedication page and begun jotting down  notes for the introduction this past month. Today I am beginning in earnest to put together a first draft of the collection. With over sixty confirmed individual pieces accepted for the collection so far I am still receiving and reading incoming material. The final call for submissions just appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine for March/April 2013, http://www.pw.org/classifieds/692709. I received my NOOK issue last night. So, I am now predicting a deadline of May 30, 2013. I wish to remain flexible on this until I see how the first draft is shaping up.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days with my friend and writer extraordinaire Holly Hughes last week. Holly is the editor of the anthology titled Beyond Forgetting; Poetry and Prose on Alzheimer’s Disease http://www.beyondforgettingbook.com/. Holly and I discussed the joys and disappointments of putting together an anthology. The learning curve, the choices one has to make and the strong sense of responsibility an editor has towards her contributors. Holly also had good advice on submitting the collection to publishers and the possibility of writing a book proposal.

Yesterday I had a lovely visit with the Associate Editor of TCA, wordsmith-grade-A, editor of two anthologies from the University of Nebraska Gender Studies Program, and most importantly to me, friend-in-the-first-degree Jill McCabe Johnson, http://jillmccabejohnson.com/. Jill and I discussed many interesting topics as usual, but as editors we talked about all the amazing writers we have been introduced to through the submission process and the friends we have made along the way. How honored we feel to be in service to these new friends and accomplished writers.

Thank you Holly and Jill, and to all my talented contributors so far. You humble me, in a very good way. I feel recharged and ready to tackle the big job of a first draft. Away we go!

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