Guest Post, Caroline Knox: Sound Mode

My heart and my brain are currently colluding to make me write poems in which sound is a main factor.  In the past few years, I’d made poems on a precise subject on purpose – a sculpture, an aromatic herb, a waterfall, a kimono, a collapsed shed.  But then I began to swerve away from choosing subjects beforehand, and toward writing poems where sound is foregrounded and seems a subject in itself.  I instance three poems, and wonder about why.  The first is called “Poem.”

 

Poem

 

The aoudad, a North

African sheep, doesn’t

eat the fruit of the

baobab tree, a South

African native.

“Chaos” and

“inchoate” sound

like words related

to one another,

but of course they

aren’t.  Totally

different roots.

American Heritage

says “inchoate” is

from Latin for “not

yet harnessed.”  It

says “chaos” is from

Latin (and Greek) for

“empty space.”  Well,

both words are lovely

noises to dramatize

confusion.  So are

ukes of koa wood,

a fine-textured

Hawaiian tree.

In Maori, the

particle noa means

all these words or

phrases:  only,

just, nearly, quite,

until, at random,

idly, fruitlessly,

in vain, and as soon as.

Noa sounds like

an adverb to me.

What is it with

O and A – alpha

and omega?

I logged onto

AOL to see.

Aonia is where

the Muses live,

in Helicon.  In

Italy, Aosta was

St. Anselm’s home

town.  The lifting

organ, the aorta,

carries blood for the heart.

 

gothic text A and OI’d always thought the words “chaos” and “inchoate” were weird and wonderful (and not very useful).  One day, digging around, I kept coming on other words in which O and A figured.  Who has heard of the aoudad sheep?  How many people know the versatility of the particle noa?  The items on my list clung together, together with the grand concept of A and O, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.  It seemed good in a poem to have small things brought into a relation with higher things.  And there’s nothing small about the aorta or about what its job is.

 

Saints Partying

 

On the Santa Ana winds this elevated group

soars, and at night by the light of St. Elmo’s fire

they drift as far as San Domingo and beyond.  You should

see them gyrating to “The St. Louis Blues”

and “The St. James Infirmary”!  The opposite of St. Bernards.

 

On breaks, this one reads Four Saints in Three Acts, by Stein;

that one is reading Saint Joan, by Shaw.  A third is

reading MontSaintMichel and Chartres, by Henry James.  They are all

reading about themselves in The Lives of the Saints

in St.-Tropez or St.-Moritz, watering-places of glamour.

 

The saints make frequent use of the antidepressant and antioxidant St. John’s wort.

Settling in with cases of St.-Émilion, one of them retells

the riddle of “As I was going to St. Ives.”  Another recites

“The Eve of St. Agnes.”  One is immersed in Rumer Godden’s

lovely novel A Candle for St. Jude.  They dine on coquilles St.-Jacques.

 

And they think this is lots of fun, but extreme hedonism and extravagance

and cultural overload catch up with every one of them.  So they go on the

historic pilgrimage – mountain and valley, desert and plain and swamp – to Santiago de Campostela.

 

The use of the word “saint” in this poem is distant from that of the historical figures revered by churches.  Many uses here refer to geographical places named for saints; some to literature, to music, to an herb; to a wine, to a stately dog breed. The situation is slightly absurd.  It’s not that saints have attached themselves to the secular world; rather, the secular world has attached itself to them.

I chose this poem-making method:  I ransacked reference works to get names of saints; I collected these names and tried to unite them on a page in some sort of relationship dictated by the repeated use of the names.  It didn’t make logical sense, and I didn’t expect it to.  It was an “artificial” method.  But when I had finished, I thought it had become a poem.  Repeating the word “saint” throughout the poem makes it seem like a litany.  Is it a secular one?  Or not?  The saints in this poem seem to be living in the midst of joy and energy, peaceable, the way we’re supposed to be.

 

 

The third and final poem is a ghazal.  The form has the built-in sound repetition of the compulsory end words, repetitive whether you like it or not!  (I’ve only written one ghazal before.)  As I wrote, I heard the long O’s and short O’s make themselves known.  I thought they helped make the poem both unified and ridiculous (the latter especially, in that the poet thinks she would be any good at playing a horn).  “Bone Ghazal” praises “distinguished figures” with sonorous names – the Aldas, Marilynne Robinson, Goya.  (The Bonapartes are of course distinguished for warfare.)  All three poems were calling to me to pay careful attention to the aural presence.

 

Bone Ghazal

 

There is a handsome wildflower/weed, eupatorium perfoliatum, bone-

set, which I worked my fingers to the bone

 

trying to transplant, without success.  It bears white umbels –

umbrellas, really – and its blossom is the color of bone.

 

Alan Alda, they say, told a Columbia Physicians and Surgeons

commencement that “The headbone is connected to the heartbone.”

 

The brother of Napoleon, seated on the throne of Spain,

was painted by Francisco Goya:  this was Joseph Bon-

 

aparte, they say.  Glamour and privilege; in those circles

they dined on the delicate veal sauce and marrow-bone

 

flavor of osso bucco.  You wouldn’t find this dish in the

town of Robinson’s masterpiece, Housekeeping, Fingerbone,

 

Idaho.  Boneset was used in home remedies, teas to assuage

pain of ague, flu and colds, indigestion in the elderly, bone

 

fractures.  (Boneset tea!  Catlap!)  Alan and Arlene Alda gave so much

to help the world of poetry, I think there isn’t a mean bone

 

in the body of either one.  Goya painted masterpieces

galore, despite a tumor on the legbone.

 

This ghazal celebrates distinguished figures

whom I wish I had the musical talent to praise with the trombone.

Paris Literary Prize Accepting Submissions

The Paris Literary Prize, an international novella competition for unpublished writers, is now accepting submissions for 2012. The Prize is sponsored by the De Groot Foundation and Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned English language bookstore.

The three Paris Literary Prize awards are The Paris Literary Prize Award of 10,000 Euros and two runner-up awards at 2,000 Euros each. All three winners will be invited to a weekend stay in Paris to attend the Prize ceremony and read from their work at a special event at Shakespeare and Company.

Last year, the winner of the Paris Literary Prize was Rosa Rankin-Gee for The Last Kings of Sark; the two runners-up were Adam Biles for Grey Cats, and Agustin Maes for Newborn.

Submission deadline is September 1, 2012.

 

2012 Paris Literary Prize Open For Submissions

The Paris Literary Prize, an international novella competition for unpublished writers, is open for submissions. The Prize is sponsored by Shakespeare & Company and The Groot Foundation.

Shakespeare and Company, the famed Paris book shop on Paris’ Left Bank, has a long-standing tradition of opening its doors to aspiring writers and in keeping with that philosophy, the 10,000€ Paris Literary Prize is open to writers from around the world who have not yet published a book.

We have long been admirers of the novella, a genre which includes such classics as The Old Man and the SeaAnimal Farm, L’Étranger and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The Paris Literary Prize celebrates this small but perfectly formed genre while giving a unique opportunity to writers whose voices have not yet been heard.

There are three Paris Literary Prize awards:

The Paris Literary Prize award: 10,000 Euros
Two Paris Literary Prize Runner-up awards: 2,000 Euros each

All three winners will be invited to a weekend stay in Paris to attend the Prize ceremony and read from their work at a special event at Shakespeare and Company.

Last year, the winner of the Paris Literary Prize was Rosa Rankin-Gee for The Last Kings of Sark; the two runners-up were Adam Biles for Grey Cats, and Agustin Maes for Newborn.

The submission is open and must be submitted by September 1, 2012. The Prize Ceremony will be June 15, 2013. For more information, see https://www.parisliteraryprize.org/

Storyville Winter 2012 Story Contest: Deadline February 15th

The Sidney Prize. Here is what you need to know.

Prize: $1,000 cash and publication in Storyville.

Final judge: Legendary editor and literary tastemaker Richard Nash.

Entry Deadline: February 15, 2012

Eligibility: Current subscribers of Storyville may submit one original, unpublished story of up to 5,000 words.

Entry fee: None, if you are a current Storyville subscriber. (Okay, so that means if you’re not a current subscriber you have to pay $4.99 for a subscription. Go to the Apple App store and subscribe, or subscribe on Kindle.) Click here for Apple iTunes. Click here to buy Storyville on Kindle.

How to Submit: Send an email with your story as a Word doc attachment to storyvilleapp1@gmail.com. In the subject line write “Sidney” and your last name.  In the body of the email include your name, phone number, email address, and (* importantly) your Apple or Kindle receipt for the subscription. If you lost it send the email address you used to subscribe to Storyville. Briefly list relevant publication credits.

Winner Announced: March 15. Publication in Storyville in April 2012.

The Sidney is named for Sidney Story, the architect of New Orleans’ famed red light district that gives Storyville its name and will be awarded to the author of the best new American story.

Storyville publishes stories from newly-published collections, giving the general reader an overview of contemporary literature as well as hand-picked gems that might not otherwise be found. This year, translated works have appeared alongside selections of big commercial houses and small presses, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan’s first published work, “The Stylist,” which appeared in The New Yorker in 1989. Other writers who have graced subscribers’ screens this year include Anthony Doerr, Yiyun Li, Robert Boswell, Steven Millhauser, Emma Straub, Josip Novakovich, Lynne Tillman, Edna O’Brien, Xiaoda Xiao, Rahul Mehta, Tiphanie Yanique, Mavis Gallant, Alan Heathcock, Edwidge Danticat, Seth Fried, and more.

 

Calling All Contributors, Deadline Feb. 29th

With the launch of Issue 9 coming in just one month, our reading period is quickly coming to a close. There is still time to submit your submissions before the February 29th deadline.

No previously published work will be accepted. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please notify the Superstition Review team if you have submitted your work elsewhere.

Thank you for your submissions. We are looking forward to the April launch of Issue 9.

Deadline January 31st: Third Coast Fiction and Poetry Contests

Third Coast is accepting new submissions for a Fiction and Poetry Contest.

Contributors have the opportunity to submit one previously unpublished story (up to 9,000 words), or three previously unpublished poems for a chance at winning a $1000 prize and publication in Third Coast. This year’s judges include award-winning novelist Jaimy Gordon and Major Jackson, poet and author of Leaving Saturn. The $16 reading fee includes a 1-year subscription to Third Coast.

Third Coast is accepting both mailed and online submissions. Mailed submissions must have be postmarked by the January 31, 2012 deadline. Winners will be announced April 2012.

You can find more information about how to submit and contest guidelines on Third Coast.

Contest: New South

Contest Guidelines:

The 2012 New South Writing Contest will be held from December 1, 2011 through March 5, 2012. (Entries must be received or postmarked by midnight on March 5, 2012.)

Each year, New South awards $1,000 to a first place winner, and $250 to a second place winner in the genres of poetry and prose.

The 2012 New South Writing Contest will be be judged by Tom Hunley in the genre of poetry and Joshua Harmon in the genre of prose.

While we take the greatest care in handling your entries, we assume no responsibility for lost manuscripts. Only unpublished work will be considered. Simultaneous submissions will be considered with notification. All rights revert to author after publication. Current students, staff, and faculty at Georgia State University are not eligible.

New South publishes quality literary art promoting the work of emerging and established writers. New South holds no subject biases. The staff will select the best work regardless of style or genre. The final round of judging will be anonymous (the names will be removed from the manuscripts before the final judges see the entries). Judges from outside the staff will pick the winners from finalists selected by the New South staff.

Please send up to three poems, one short story, or one essay per entry fee. (Prose pieces should not exceed 9,000 words.) Whether it is submitted online or via the mail, each entry must include:

1) A reading fee of fifteen dollars ($15). Entry fee includes a copy of the Summer 2012 issue, which will contain the winning entries.

2) The submitter’s contact info, including telephone number, email, and mailing address, preferably contained within a formal cover letter.

TO ENTER:

*Visit Tell it Slant (http://www.tellitslant.com) for online submissions. Payment accepted via PayPal.

OR

* Send your manuscript, along with a check or money order for $15 made payable to Georgia State University, to:

New South
Campus Box 1894
Georgia State University
MSC 8R0322 Unit 8
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3083