During the month of July, Black Lawrence Press author EJ Colen is on board to critique poetry manuscripts.
EJ Colen is a PNW-based educator, writer, and editor interested in long-form poetry, the lyric essay, literary and visual collage, and research-based approaches to storytelling and memoir. She is the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award and Audre Lorde Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. With more than two decades of social justice activism, EJ remains committed to centering marginalized voices in all the work that she does. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches in the English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments at Western Washington University.
EJ is accepting single poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:
- Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $20
- Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $50
- Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $195
- Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $325
All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is July 31. EJ will complete her work and respond to all participants by August 31.
EJ Colen's Statement of Purpose
A poem should yield potential pleasure on (at least) two levels. First, surface: the sonic qualities of language coupled with precise observation, syntax, and image should produce engagement purely with what’s presented on the page, sound and denotation. A reader should enjoy a poem for how the words play prior to any search for deeper ‘meaning.’ Second, whatever metaphors or allusions the poem is working with should add additional layering. A complicated understanding that a reader may or may not glean, based on what references and prior understandings they bring with them to the piece. This second, deeper reading may inform and even compete with surface pleasure, but it should never replace that surface pleasure. In short, whether or not a reader ‘understands’ a poem, a poem should please or stun.
I read best from that surface place of enjoyment, loving the words for what they are, stung cold when they don’t perform, worse yet when a writer packs a poem with loose and unnecessary sounds. Condense, condense. While I read to understand the deeper intentionality of a piece, it is the line-level urgency of communication I’m most interested in.
When constructing a whole book, the manuscript should move forward by way of narrative, concept, or mix-tape methodology, writer matching sounds from one poem to the next, accruing meaning through both intention (content) and intuition (sound).
My aesthetics are informed by ravenous reading habit, 2-4 books a week with a focus on contemporary poetry. It is my hope that by reading everything, all the secrets of language will unlock themselves, matrix-like before me. Poets I currently cannot live without include C.D. Wright, Gertrude Stein, G.M. Hopkins, Richard Siken, Shane McCrae, Craig Santos Perez, and Sueyeun Juliette Lee.