22 February 2013

Introducing PQ’s new Reviews Coordinator

I’m thrilled to announce Andrew Ruzkowski has joined the PQ team as Reviews Coordinator. If you submit reviews to PQ, you’ll be working with Andrew. He’s pretty excited to jump right in and match books with reviewers, so be sure to visit the Submission Guidelines if you’re interested in writing for us.

To help our readers get to know Andrew a bit more, I asked him a few questions which you’ll find below. He’s an involved reader, editor, and—of course—writer. Andrew’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Willows Wept Review, Black Tongue Review, The Camel Saloon, Emerge Literary Journal, [PANK], Midwestern Gothic, and The Bakery, among others.

And now, let's get down to business.... 

Andrew Ruzkowski
Andrew, welcome to the team! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
Hello! Thank you for welcoming me to the PQ team, I can’t wait to get going with you all. Well, where to begin? I was born in the Chicago-area but grew up in several places around the country, most notably Iowa and Colorado (where I did my undergrad at the University of Colorado-Boulder, fell in love with writing, and yes, actually graduated). I haven’t always thought of myself as a writer, more of an explorer and/or tinkerer.  I love a good experiment. In fact, I had every intention of spending my life studying natural science. However, I have always been an avid reader with the hopes of figuring the world out; I’m a lover of systems and their intricacies. And thus, poetry afforded me the perfect avenue through which to explore the world.  I’ll get back to you when I’m actually sure of something. Anyway, I had worked for a big bad bank after graduating from college but ultimately decided I wanted to make a career out of writing. So the next logical step was an MFA program. Currently I am a student at Columbia College Chicago as well as an all around busy person.  

What are you reading now? Perhaps you can tell us about some of your favorite recent books, too?  
Let’s see, currently I am reading The Vital System by CM Burroughs, Things Come On: an amneoir by Joseph Harrington, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson (for the third time), Threshold Songs by Peter Gizzi, Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy, The Arcadia Project ed. by Joshua Corey and G.C. Waldrep, Mini Love Gun by Kayla Sargeson, some Foucault to keep me on my toes, and some Keats and Shelley to remind why I spend my life writing. I’m also reading/experiencing many, many digital poems. 

Some of my most favorite recently published books would have to include Flower Cart by Lisa Fishman, Ladies & Gentlemen from Michael Robins, Ephemeron by T.R. Hummer, Bone Light by Orlando White, Mean Free Path from Ben Lerner, The White House by Joel Craig and the list goes on…  

You’re a voracious reader. Are there any literary journals you’re particularly fond of reading?  
I’m a big fan of Columbia Poetry Review, not only because it is edited by my fellows but because I believe the journal brings together poetic voices that need to be heard, both established and emerging. I love what people are doing over at [PANK]. Of course Jubilat, A Public Space, and Colorado Review are on everyone’s list because they are perennially amazing. Again, the list continues…  

What are you hoping to see from our review contributors?  
I cannot wait to see reviews that take me, as a reader, into the realm of the book being reviewed. I want to see visceral reviews, reviews that blanket me in poetry. I’m hoping to see writing that is as beautiful as the poetry itself. Also, anything a bit out of the ordinary is always lovely. 


Welcome to PQ, Andrew. And, dear reader, if you're interested in submitting a book review for PQ, be sure to visit the Submission Guidelines and introduce yourself to Andrew. 

07 February 2013

Reliable inspiration... by Ann E. Michael

The PQ editors were asked to write about their favorite non-poem inspiration, and here’s the first installment.  We’d love to hear from our readers as well, so give us a comment about your favorite way to be inspired.

Inspiration Series: #1
by PQ Contributing Editor Ann E. Michael

From where (or whence) does inspiration spring? Hasn’t enough been written on this topic already? Does inspiration really require further ontological exploration on the part of poets or other artists? Let’s say, for the moment, “Sure, why not…”
Personally, I have always been intrigued by stories of what sorts of experiences, readings, observations, and sensations inspire other writers. Mostly what I learn is that those things do not work for me; nonetheless, I admit a certain fascination with what makes the lightbulb go off in the minds of creative people. Here’s an example from the internet, quoting an anecdote I heard long ago regarding the German poet Friedrich Schiller:
Friedrich Schiller, as described by fellow poet Stephen Spender:
“Schiller liked to have a smell of rotten apples, concealed beneath his desk, under his nose when he was composing poetry. Walter de la Mare has told me that he must smoke when writing. Auden drinks endless cups of tea. Coffee is my own addiction, besides smoking a great deal, which I hardly ever do except when I am writing.”

How that idea resonated in my mind, those useful, rotten apples under the desk! I felt I must try it. But alas, while fresh apples evoke strong memories, even sentiment, for me, rotting apples have never inspired the composition of deathless verse.

Reading poetry inspires me and is probably my most reliable jump-start for writing poems of my own. I recommend that all poets read poetry for inspiration and elucidation, but there are many non-poetic encounters that can inspire as well—different for each writer. Here are a few that work pretty reliably for me.

• Science texts, particularly those written by experts for the layperson or armchair scientist. I never exactly excelled at chemistry or physics, but books on those subjects (and the New York Times weekly section called “Science Times”) have elicited many poem ideas.

• Jargon. I don’t care if it is business or psychology or multi-player online gaming jargon, the metaphors are rich and the juxtapositions with everyday language are often funny.

• Grammatical or spelling errors and “malclich├ęs” such as show up in student papers and, more and more often these days, online and in news headlines. Think of Bishop’s misreading, “Man-Moth,” and move on from there. The real challenge with poetry inspired from such errors is how to avoid being derisive, to transform the error into something compelling. A great prompt!

• Art, of the visual or plastic/sculptural variety. Yes, ekphrasis has a long and storied history among poets. Long may that influence and inspiration reign!

In general, I am inspired by the world around me, which is rural-tending-toward-suburban, Mid-Atlantic, temperate, geologically ancient. When my surroundings fail me, though, the sources above often provide images, experiences, and reflective “rooms” for developing poems.

What works for  you?

Ann E. Michael is a poet, essayist, and educator whose most recent poetry collection is Water-Rites (2012). She lives in eastern PA where she is Writing Coordinator at DeSales University. Her website: www.annemichael.com.