For USF students–English Honor Society

Sigma Tau Delta, an international English honor society, is now accepting applications for membership. You must have and maintain a 3.0 GPA and have completed 3 semesters of English study (English Education majors are included, as are creative writing majors).

Benefits include access to several scholarships and awards, opportunities to publish in the Sigma Tau Delta literary journal, Sigma Tau Delta on CVs, resumes, and graduate school applications.

Deadline for application is October 15. Membership is lifelong, so you can still apply even if you are graduating. Application available on the website.

September 24, 2010. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Call for submissions to Saw Palm

Saw Palm, the Florida-themed literary magazine out of USF, is taking submissions for issue 5. While we don’t publish the creative work of current or recent USF students and faculty, we do accept student and faculty reviews and interviews of any Florida-related subject: author, book, film, tourist attraction, CD, website, beach, park, etc. etc. These reviews will go on our website,

We’d also very much like to receive submissions for our Places to Stand in Florida feature, which asks you to go to any location in Florida and describe what it’s like there in 500 words or less. Include GPS coordinates, if possible.

All submissions can be done electronically using our submissions manager at This is an especially good opportunity for students to get publishing credit. The submissions deadline is 10/1.

September 23, 2010. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Watch this video.

Seriously. It’s called “Poetry Bear” and there are several of them and they’re hilarious. Watch them all.

September 16, 2010. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Area readings next week

September 10-12–Deep Carnival, a literary celebration of Tampa, at HCC Ybor City Campus. See schedule for times and specific locations:

Tuesday, September 14–The Lakeland Poetry Slam, GrassRoot Organic Restaurant, 1212 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, FL 33803, 7pm (doors open at 6:30), $3 donation at the door.

Wednesday, September 15–John Henry Fleming, author of Fearsome Creatures of Florida (fiction), in the USF Library Grace Allen Room. Reception at 2pm (free snacks!), reading at 2:30.

Thursday, September 16–A. Manette Ansay, author of Good Things I Wish You (fiction), at 2pm. Place to be announced.

September 8, 2010. Uncategorized. 2 Comments.

Never too many poets

In “The Trouble with Poetry,” Billy Collins (tongue in cheek, as usual) repeats a common sentiment when he says “the trouble with poetry is/that it encourages the writing of more poetry,/more guppies crowding the fish tank.” Woe is us, we hear, continually, when the state of literary publishing is brought up, or the state of creative writing programs, both graduate and undergraduate. There are too many poets, too many writers, some say. As Collins suggests in this poem, one big reason for this ongoing lament is that we loathe the idea of more competition. Too many poets and not enough places to publish! Our favorite magazines cluttered with poet-wannabes who take OUR places in their hallowed pages. And yeah, it’s tough to get published–in literary magazines, and particularly in book form. It took me 18 years after getting my MFA to get my book accepted. I wish no one else would have to wait that long.

But come on. The other arguments we make–that poets lower the level of poetry by writing and publishing mediocre stuff, that we’re doing our students a disservice by letting them major in creative writing and get MFAs when there are so few jobs and so few chances at publication–are almost equally self-involved, if not as self-serving. Where’s that universal standard of what’s great poetry again? Oh right, there isn’t one. We’re making it up as we go along, just as we always have. Sometimes great stuff rises to the top, gets published, gets noticed. Sometimes it doesn’t. What we’re lamenting is the completely unchangeable state of the world, which is that it’s not fair.

And that lack of fairness has caused heartbreak for every one of us, every single person who has tried to be a poet, writer, artist, dancer, musician. Some of us want to save our students from that heartbreak. That’s understandable, even admirable.

But enrollment in creative writing programs continues to rise. There are more poets in the world, or at least more people who admit to wanting to write poetry. And that’s for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that–completely aside from the business of poetry or of making a living–poetry matters to people. It talks about what we most need to understand: ourselves, the world. And if someone understands the world through language, then the act of studying poetry is the act of understanding life. It is “the examined life.” It is how we make sense of the losses and the triumphs, the frog frantically hopping across the road that we think we missed with our car, the wash of wonder when we see one more cliched pink and orange sunset. That stuff isn’t easy to understand, no matter what the self-help books say. It is mysterious and complex and variable–like poetry.

Billy Collins ends his poem by finally turning to the serious point he’s making, which is that despite all the “trouble,” poetry does serve a purpose, when he talks about Lawrence Ferlinghetti “whose little amusement park of a book/I carried in a side pocket of my uniform/up and down the treacherous halls of high school.” So let the poets proliferate like guppies, like rabbits. I find that prospect pretty interesting, and far less frightening than a population explosion of lawyers, entrepreneurs, corporate rats and salespeople.

Everyone’s a poet! Fine with me.

September 2, 2010. Uncategorized. 1 Comment.