Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Five Questions for an Editor: Sandy Benitez

Our second installment of "Five Questions for an Editor" is with Sandy Benitez, founder and editor both of the new Cherry Blossom Review and the more-established Flutter Press. Let's see what she has to say...

1. As we discussed earlier, our readerships (and editorial tastes) are probably a little different. What "makes" a poem for you?

For me, a great poem is one filled with unique imagery and skillful use of metaphor. I'm all about the details in a poem that make it unique and subsequently invites me into the poet's world, experiences, perceptions, etc...

2. When, in your opinion, should a writer choose to use the haiku form?

I'm not an expert on the haiku form but I thought it would be nice to incorporate a different style of writing into Cherry Blossom Review besides the usual free verse or prose poem. Unfortunately, the inaugural issue won't contain any haiku but I'm always on the lookout for one that makes me sit back and say, Wow! There is no right time to write haiku. It's more a mood thing really. If someone has something to say but doesn't feel like writing a 5-stanza poem, sometimes it's just easier to say it in a few simple lines.

3. Cherry Blossom Review, like High Coup Journal, is pretty new. What motivated you to start your own journal?

The journal is new but it's not my first venture into running a poetry journal. I was the founder and editor of two previous journals, Flutter Poetry Journal and Menagerie. They were both extremely successful but felt they ran their course and it was time to delve into something simpler and easier to manage while still providing quality poetry. I'm already amazed at the number of poets and readers who have joined Cherry Blossom Review as members, it's remarkable and motivates me to keep going forward.

4. Are the titular cherry blossoms a Japanese scent, or do they represent something else?

I love the scent of cherry blossoms, it's actually one of my favorites. It's a nice, soft fragrance that doesn't overwhelm your senses. They also represent serenity and fragility because the blossoms look so delicate.

5. What advice do you have for people who have considered trying to get published but haven't yet made the leap?

I would tell them to be fearless and just go for it. If you know in your heart that poetry strikes a passion in you and you want your voice to be heard, then do it. The worst that can happen is that you'll get a rejection or two, or three and most likely more but that happens to every writer once in a while. Yes, rejections are hard to take but it comes with the territory. Just don't give up. On the other hand, please don't send one editor a batch of poems one after the other, give it some time, please! We are human beings too with our own lives and daily grinds to drive us crazy.

SANDY BENITEZ is the author of Ever Violet, a full-length collection of poetry (D-N Publishing, 2007). She has authored three chapbooks: Beneath a Black Pearl Sky (Flutter Press, 2009), The Lollipop Club (Victorian Violet Press, 2010), and Petal Storm (Flutter Press, 2010). Sandy's work also appears in two anthologies: Lilith: A Collection of Women's Writes and Postcards from Eve, (both Fortunate Childe Publications). She is also the Founder & Editor of Cherry Blossom Review and Flutter Press. Sandy's poetry has appeared in over 100 print and online poetry journals. She currently resides in Wyoming with her husband, 2 children, and 2 chocolate labs.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It's the 17th again, so here's yet another teaser, this time from Amy Harris:


Aaaaaaand that's it!  Have a good day (and an easy fast).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review: Sketches from the San Joaquin

McClintock, Michael. Sketches from the San Joaquin. Highland Park, NJ: Turtle Light, 2009. 30pp.

Even if I personally have a fetish for 17 syllables, a lot of great poets don't. And judging by the number of times I've seen Michael McClintock's name around haiku circles, he counts as a great poet. McClintock seems to use the form as it serves him, but is unafraid to stretch and truncate his lines to provide real punch in some cases.

with no kites in the sky
the wind
moves on

The behind-the-times formalist in me has a little trouble getting on board... but the kid in me likes the frosting side! Seriously, the sparseness adds to the windy feeling here.

The collection moves through the cycle of the seasons, beginning with spring poems and moving through summer and autumn to finish in wintertime. This natural theme structures the work overall, but smaller and tighter cycles can be found in other poems, such as the following:

A shining world--
dewdrops for the duckling
and the beetle it eats.

Along with hearkening to the yin-yang, this poem reminds me a lot of that great old hymn/Cat Stevens song, "Morning Has Broken." It's a poem that gets better the more I think it over-- and that's the very essence of what haiku should do, no?

Other poems succeed by providing jarring contrasts within three lines (a number that McClintock does maintain throughout). The main contrast seems to be between beauty and death/violence, as in these poems:

Easter morning...
a woman with an axe
walks into the chicken house

where three drowned
the lake water
sparkles in the morning

the day heats up--
I make the dog's grave
deeper by a foot

As much as I liked the collection, I did have the occasional quibble with McClintock's wording. A few poems seemed a bit looser than they needed to be, especially since we're already breaking form. Take the following example:

this is how life is--
hearing the cricket at dawn
just as it ceases

Once we've settled comfortably into the nature/meditative mode of tradition, shouldn't all these poems be "how life is"? Another occasional chafing-point was the use of some poetic inversion, such as in this poem:

eating a pear--
how small the seeds
in this modern variety

The poem seems to be bending over backwards to avoid using an existential verb. Additionally, though I recognize that punctuation isn't a staple of modern haiku, why did the em-dash and the ellipsis get a pass in this case? These aren't questions that in any way ruined the book for me, but they did make me wonder.

Overall, McClintock has put together a pretty nice book here. I got a feeling for the wildlife and the farm workers, for the flowers and lakes and all that nature-y stuff in the San Joaquin Valley. It didn't compel me exactly, but I have a firm respect for how the work is organized and the portrayals of the landscape. It's a book that made me think in color, and thus is worth reading. And while this book wasn't my favorite of all time, I'll definitely be on the lookout for some more of McClintock's work to get a better appreciation of his poetry overall.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Haikugraphy #1

you can't wash your hands
stop slamming the door all day
damn porta potty

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Five Questions for a Writer/Comedian: Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is cooler than you, and you know it. Let's see what he has to say...

1. So I'm sure you get this a lot, but what was it like to be on the set of The Angry Beavers? (Great cartoon, by the way.)

Angry Beavers
A fine show that
I don't really remember

2. Apart from your other fame, you've become famous here in the High Coup Journal crowd for your "Haiku Songs." Can you explain the writing process?

Simple ideas in
concise sentences
A neat exercise, no?

3. People on your YouTube channel have made fun of you for not following the 5-7-5 structure line by line... have you told them to go fuck themselves because most modern haiku (other than at High Coup Journal, of course) don't give a shit about that structure, so long as the poem conveys the right attitude?

Morons try to destroy
what they cannot control.
They should get a life.

4. Perhaps the hardest question we've ever asked someone: what makes something funny?

Incongruous insanity meets order?
Fact is, nobody knows.

5. Where can we see you next?

If family, maybe tonight at dinner.
If not, good luck with that.

TOM WILSON is an artist of varied experience, with a long list of acting roles, live performances around the world, and painting exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at Nickelodeon world headquarters, as well as the Disney Gallery at DisneyLand. His short fiction has been published in many literary magazines, and he was anthologized in the book "Sacred Passages," published by Doubleday. He was recently seen in the film "The Informant," directed by Stephen Soderbergh, as well as "Big Love" on HBO.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

High Coup Journal - September 2010 Issue

(Photo by Ann Wright, Plymouth, IN)



Shana Dennis (Terre Haute, IN)

Amy Harris (West Lafayette, IN)

Amanda Hillenburg (Sherbrooke, QC, Canada)

Kevin James (Terre Haute, IN)

Julie Kelsey (Germantown, MD)

Vinnie Kinsella (Vancouver, WA)

Taylor Lampton (New Brunswick, NJ)

Mike Lushbaugh (Terre Haute, IN)

Nicole Reich (New Brunswick, NJ)

Ray Scanlon (Rehoboth, MA)

Richard Stevenson (Lethbridge, AB, Canada)

Maggie Wheeler (Terre Haute, IN)


Editor's Note:

Picking grapes is not
the romantic pastoral
task that poets claim.


Mike Lushbaugh

Summer is settled
Humid thunderstorms all day
swamp ass forever


Ray Scanlon

"Cheer up, cheerily,"
exclaim the robins at dawn.
Goddamn fucking birds.


Kevin James

The sparkling bowl
never stays that way for long
after the kegger

Dancing Fool enters
does The Worm down the aisle
your wedding's ruined


Maggie Wheeler

Cat in a trash bin
Woman won't give a reason
Throw her in instead!


(These next two haiku
are inspired by a hate
of FOX host Glenn Beck.)

Shana Dennis

Little man spreads hate
Dances for the camera
Dance, attention whore!

Amanda Hillenburg

Fat guy on TV
Claims to be true blue Mormon
Did it to get laid

(Read a ton more poems like these at http://www.haikuglennbeck.com/)


Amy Harris

Cerebral Palsy?
More like a sorry excuse
For shaking all day.


Taylor Lampton

I am in heaven.
spirals, rubbers, and stick-ons--
school supply shopping!


Nicole Reich and Taylor Lampton


Splendid are the curls
Of the crunchy snack-time munch
Bathed in orange dust


Richard Stevenson

in extended care
my dad zones out mid-sentence.
a hummingbird hovers


Vinnie Kinsella

Limp and impotent,
The power cord came unplugged--
Too short to connect.


Julie Kelsey


racing down the stairs
greeted by the waiting arms
of your sweaty shirts


idiblockon, noun:
idiot – blockhead – moron
a poet is born


under a blanket
curled on the sofa with you,
my friend, Nick-at-Nite


under a full moon
we kiss at midnight, yearning
for ibuprofen


September 2010 AWESOME SAUCE: Vinnie Kinsella

Two lines, one corner:
Basic trigonometry.
You and I converge.


Please send us more 'ku!
We will spend all October
scaring poems up.

highcoupjournal {at} gmail.com