Saturday, August 28, 2010

Contests: Rengamatic for the People and SPAM-ku Special

We're announcing two contests: one for this fall, and one for the spring.  The information is also on the submissions page, but we thought we'd put it here as well.

Rengamatic for the People: A special second issue in December 2010 will feature the best kasen (36 haiku linked together) or full renga (100 haiku linked together) submitted.  This is a hefty challenge, but we hope we get some submissions!

Deadline: December 1

The SPAM-ku Special: We are dedicating our April 2011 issue to the noble meat-ish product, SPAM.  This contest will actually feature a prize: besides publication in High Coup Journal, the winner of the SPAM-ku Special will be mailed a tin of Hormel's most notoriously delicious meat.  Useful as a doorstop.

Deadline: March 15

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Five Questions for an Editor: Joseph A. W. Quintela

For our first "Five Questions for an Editor" installment, we've snagged Joseph A. W. Quintela, editor of the ├╝ber-flash fiction and tiny poetry journal, Short, Fast, and Deadly. Let's see what he has to say...

1. You close your e-mails "In the future, 5 words will be a run-on sentence." Is that even possible?

Of course. Communication reflects society. We’re getting shorter. Text-ier. Concise information absorbed in volume. See. That was a run-on. Comparatively.

2. Your journal limits short stories to 420 characters for short stories (the length of a Facebook post) or 140 characters for poetry (the length of a Twitter message). What does extreme brevity do for writing?

Brevity is both a constraint and a device. Like meter or rhyme it forces the poet to consider language carefully, to choose words that have both form and function. Like plot or character if forces the writer to adhere to certain artifice in order to conjure a believable lie. The only difference here is that the artifice isn’t one of storytelling but rather one of society.

3. Are their any longer-winded authors or poets you're reading these days?

I’m an avid reader of the Modernists. Let’s face it: they were a bunch of wordy windbags. No exceptions. But their language fit the times: turbulent and explosive with new lines of thought running on and on in torrents. So it worked then. It doesn’t anymore. There are a few neo-modernists who I appreciate. Jeanette Winterson, for instance. But her style is much more spare. Anyone who writes long-winded poetry or prose these days will soon be forgotten. I’m not saying that the novel is dead. I’m saying that a novel must now read as quickly as comments appear on a pithy status update.

4. Your submission guidelines include (and I quote) "No Haiku! For the love of God. No Haiku" (Issue #27 aside). What do you see as the chief problem with most of the haiku you read?

When you have to read 1000 bad Haiku for every good one it just doesn’t seem worth the time. Would you play those odds at the poker table? Haiku is generally misunderstood. But I actually Haiku all the time. For fun. I have a friend with whom I only communicate in Haiku.

5. Writing flash pieces-- especially pieces as flashy as SFD pieces--requires a ton of editing. What are the top three things you'd like to see people edit out of their writing more often?

Let’s start with what not to edit out: Don’t edit out imagery. Don’t edit out character. Don’t edit out plot. You have to find a way to create all of these things, though some of them you may have to create by suggestion. So here are a few things you can edit out: flowery adjectives, excess articles, yourself. That third one is both a misdirection and the most important thing.

JOSEPH A. W. QUINTELA awoke at the stroke of midnight bathed in sweat scented faintly of pomegranate seed. He knows because he’s tasted both. His own sweat. Five pomegranate seeds. Spent a season or two in hell. Learned to love a man who held the balance of his life. Love is strange. It’s the worst kind of survival and the best kind of death. This is the thought that consistently reminds him of Clarissa Dalloway’s sweat. Which tasted nothing like pomegranates. He knows he loved it desperately but cannot call it to his tongue. And now she is gone.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


No, we don't intend to money-grub you to death.  This is still a literary journal, after all.  However, donations (while not tax-deductible) are greatly appreciated, and with enough we may be able to have some cash prizes for contests.  (A SPAM-based prize for SPAM-ku is in the works, but not finalized yet.)

If you donate, we'll be sure to send you a thank-you haiku out of sheer gratitude.  Just make sure to include your e-mail address.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review: Brains for Lunch

Holt, K. A. and Gahan Wilson. Brains For Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!  New York: Neal Porter/Roaring Book, 2010. 87pp.


When I first learned about haiku in middle school, we read a few pithy poems about nature from the textbook, wrote one of our own, and called it a day. The entire “unit” was yawn-worthy, and I promptly forgot about the little form until I had to regurgitate later on.

K. A. Holt's novel, Brains For Lunch, takes haiku out of the hands of the literary elite and into the rotting grip of zombies. The story centers around Loeb, a zombie middle-schooler in a world where the undead, “lifers,” and chupacabras exist side-by-side.

“It's against the rules.”
“What's against the rules? Fighting?”
“No. Eating your peers.”

There is an “invisible” line between the “lifers” and the more unusual students, which leads to subtle hints of revolution and social change. All of this comes to head at the climax of the novel-- a poetry contest, where Loeb reads haiku.

“Lifers, Chupos, Zs
Melting pot of dopes and thugs
Or are we just kids?”

I don’t know if it’s a trend, but in my experience, novels in verse are usually in first-person and adopt a diary format. Brains for Lunch follows this same concept, but the poetry acts like a running commentary inside Loeb’s undead brain. This is the main vehicle for the novel's tangled romantic plot. Holt attempts to make it simple in the trailer for Brains for Lunch, but when is love in middle school ever anything but complex?

I can't clear my head
Even with all the holes
Fincher, Siohan, brains

This is my life, huh?
It's “The Catcher in the Fly”
Lame teen zombie angst

The haiku flow easily from one to the next, and zombies apparently talk in haiku-like rhythm anyway. The action sequences are a little hard to understand the first time through, and I personally wish it were a little longer. Still, it's a long length for young and/or reluctant readers. Last but not least, Gahan Wilson's illustrations are whimsically zombirific.

Over all, Brains for Lunch is a great resource for teachers for introducing haiku to middle schoolers. Not that those dry haikus in the textbook are entirely unreadable, but with something like Brains, students are more likely to hang onto the idea of haiku and maybe even write some snarky lines of their own.


MARTI FUERST (Rapid City, SD) is a BS graduate of Indiana State University's English Teaching program currently working on her MLIS at San Jose State University. Fuerst spends her days answering reference questions and her nights writing, knitting, and making faces at her dog. You can find her online on her blog or on Twitter under the moniker zealofzebra.

Upcoming Features...

We've settled into a rhythm here at High Coup Journal of trying to get an issue out on the 1st of every month and a review somewhere around the 15th. That's still two weeks between fixes for you, so we're going to be trying some new features.

First off, photographer Cory Harbour is going to be beginning an as-of-yet-unnamed segment each month that combines her visual art with a single haiku. This should be up on the 7th of each month.

Secondly, we'll soon begin our "Five Questions for an Editor" segment, interviewing editors who publish haiku and haiku-related poetry. Look for that on the 21st of each month.

If any of you have additional suggestions, please let us know.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

High Coup Journal - August 2010 Issue

(Photo by Ann Wright, Plymouth, IN)



Joseph Carfagno (Fairfield, CT)

Andy Cognata (West Lafayette, IN)

Michael Frissore (Oro Valley, AZ)

Rosemary Foster (Bloomington, IN)

Amy Harris (West Lafayette, IN)

Kim Keith (Gold Canyon, AZ)

Lisa McClintock (Sheridan, WY)

Ray Scanlon (Rehoboth, MA)

Don Thackery (Dexter, MI)

Maggie Wheeler (Terre Haute, IN)


Editor’s Note:

Despite moving north,
August still feels hot as hell
in Grandma's attic.


Maggie Wheeler

Round Kick to the jaw
Crazy bitch knocked me out cold.
Concussions suck ass.

The cat stares at me
With fish running through his brain.
Duh, I just fed you!


Lisa McClintock

A message sent, not
really meant. Too late now for
feeble excuses.


Kim Keith

In Need of Salvation (and a Podiatrist)

My feet have callused
cracks, so I worry about
my immortal sole.

Taste Test

Murder on a bun
or bean-curd-veggie-burger?
The cows win—and lose.


Rosemary Foster

So friggin' tasty
Freshly slaughtered pineapple
Bleed into my mouth

Rain steaming concrete
Washing my dirty skin clean
Born again again

Shit closed captioning
How dare you crap out on me
My deaf ass needs you


Michael Frissore

Changing Diapers

The difference between
Comedy and tragedy?
Being peed on and...


Amy Harris

Gas stations pepper
A great divide too wide to
Conquer or enslave


Joseph Carfagno

Stalled in the hallway
Thinking my murderous thoughts
No weapon at hand

AM Consonance
Radio actor speaking
Tires or tooth repair


Don Thackery

conceive an image
write three lines to make haiku
trivial pursuit

spring rains make roots wake
birds return for the warmth’s sake
my dry old joints ache


Andy Cognata

Flordia is hot,
A grave for the unprepared.
Ice cream is God's love.


Ray Scanlon


Clothesline in March breeze,
cotton breathes wintry freshness.
Spider in my shorts.


August 2010 AWESOME SAUCE: Kim Keith


You ask for my name
as I call you Grandfather—
Alzheimer’s stole it.


Send in your haiku!
September is coming soon,
right along with school.

highcoupjournal {at}