Yours (on 5)

I am very focused these days on experimental poetry, on machine poetry, on finding words with meanings that come at us from surprising approaches. I am most interested in reusing, recycling, if you will, words i have already written for another purpose, so the writing is 100% mine, even though the meaning I originally intended is subverted by a preordained erasure. Below is the result, and at the source text is at the bottom.


Years      my         just          publishing           a             gave      a             not         the         told       apart     had         nearly  formally                like         authority             also        advice,                 they       some     three     poem


publish,  such. In               rejected,             maybe  me,        near       inclined               or            three, and            the                 have       is             needs    closing  is             thing      a             own      I               this

weak  hardly.


This         bit          designed              May      of            a            In             might   of             now. Maybe       new       here.     I                  edit        your       poet       this         disguised             which    from     Feel       apart.


 note        quite,  one,       deliver.”

 past,  our            your       not          our         best       few


you          published            spot        get         chance                  am         poem.  do           are        about    action. which      the                  long       event     go           and        turn?    You         the         even      need     action    no  to lines           section,                  If             your       respect                 it.


to  an





the          tiny        big          twelve  the         world    One        me,        on           little      is.




I                syrup    see,         my          sticky     other     front      black     the         bloody  edge      the.







The Source:


About Editing Poetry – Mine and Yours

Years ago, I first started publicly reading my poetry in 1994, and in just over a year, I started publishing other people’s poetry, I had a hard rule. I almost never gave advice about how to improve a poem, and NEVER gave it unless, not only was I asked, but the person insisted, even if I told them I might tear it apart for them. Even though I had already been writing poetry for nearly thirty years, I was not formally trained and did not feel like I was enough of an authority to offer advice and I also knew 99% anyone gave me advice about one of my poems, they just made me mad.

For some reason, each of the last three issues, we have had a poem that we almost wanted to publish, but it was flawed in such a way, we just couldn’t. In the day, I would have rejected and moved on, but now, maybe it’s the grandfather poet in me, I don’t know, but when a near miss comes in, I am inclined to respond with a suggestion or two.

So far, of the three, all have taken the suggestion, and we were happy to publish the edited work. One thing I have noticed as a common drawback is the poem that feels it needs to explain itself in the closing line or couplet. Often this is a restated title. The funny thing is, I have done that a great many times in my own writing. One of these days I might go back and purge this from my own work….

But I am such a weak judge of my poetry, I hardly know where to start. This brings me to my closing bit for this blog. When I first designed Better than Starbucks back in May, I envisioned “From the mind of” as being a bit of a hodge-podge, as I am. In the mix I thought I might publish a poem or two of my own. I haven’t. But now I think I will. Maybe I will publish my entire new unpublished volume in serial form here. And as an added benefit, I invite you, the reader, to edit my poems, as respond with your version.

First, the note the poet who submitted the “almost” poem this month. I hope I have disguised it enough you cannot tell which poem it was:

Then two from my Black Snakes and Happy. Feel free to tear them all apart.

The page editor sent a note back saying “Close, but not quite, especially close on the last one, except the ending did not deliver.”

Sometimes, and especially in the past, I would have forwarded you our standard rejection:

We appreciate your recent submissions.

Unfortunately, we do not feel they would work for our publication.

We wish you the best of luck.

But, for a few reasons, not the least because you said you have not been published and I have a soft spot for helping a new poet get published, I will take the chance and offer some advice. I am not going to rewrite your poem. What I am going to do is ask you if you are interested in trying again.

Think about the little actions of no action. Think about losing the word which is usually thought of in the context of mental health therapy long past the moment of the event remembered.

Did the he quietly go to his room? Stand up and hug her? Open another beer and turn back to his TV show? You will have to return to the moment to finish it, but even if he did not overreact, we need an action, even if the action is almost the act of no action. If you would like to give me two or three lines as strong as your middle section, I think we can publish it. If you want to stand by your work, as is. I can respect that, but I can’t publish it.


And now mine (would love to know what you think of an editor giving you unsolicited advice):



Mama’s green dress

and hair in a tight bun

holding me on the old wooden porch of the tiny parsonage, while daddy and my big brother bring Happy and her twelve puppies around the corner of the house, looking for all the world like an unspotted version of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and me, a two-year old sitting on the porch amazed, transfixed and a little horrified, only now realizing

this is my first

memory of life.



Daddy and my big brother

rush into the house where

I am eating my biscuit with syrup and butter

“Come see, come see, Daddy killed a black snake!” my brother yelled. Biscuit in one sticky hand and mama holding the other I tumble out on the front porch to see a long black snake at the base of the steps neatly chopped into twelve bloody pieces. I peer over the edge down

the three feet to the dirt

and finish my biscuit.


Black Snakes and Happy

a long poem

  1. Connell’s Point, Arkansas

By Anthony Watkins





About anthonyuplandpoetwatkins born in Jackson, The United States August 04, 1959 gender male website genre Poetry, Historical Fiction influences James M. Lancaster, Brenda Black White, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Al Filreis member since March 2011 About this author edit data As one of the most public lives ever lived by a private citizen, there is little about me that isn't already available at Facebook or Shelfari and countless other places. Poet, writer, construction worker, salesman, truck driver, climber into the attics of total strangers, father and husband, and all around one of the luckiest men on the planet. My luck continued with a win in the June Goodreads Newsletter Contest! What an honor! http://anthonyuplandpoetwatkins.wordp... Additional Influences: Bob Dylan, William Faulkner, Barbara Kingsolver, Gloria Naylor, Eudora Welty
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s