Ends on

During the month of September, Black Lawrence Press author Marcela Sulak is on board to critique poetry manuscripts. 

Marcela Sulak has published four titles with Black Lawrence Press--three poetry collections, City of Skypapers, Decency, and Immigrant, as well as her lyric memoir, Mouth Full of Seeds. She’s co-edited with Jacqueline Kolosov the 2015 Rose Metal Press title Family Resemblance. An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Sulak, who translates from the Hebrew, Czech, and French, is a 2019 NEA Translation Fellow, and her fourth book-length translation of poetry: Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (University of Texas Press). Her essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, and Gulf Coast online, among others. She coordinates the poetry track of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, where she is an associate professor in American Literature. She also edits The Ilanot Review and hosts the TLV.1 Radio podcast, Israel in Translation.

Marcela is accepting everything from individual poems to full-length collections. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:

  •     Single poems, up to 2 pages in length, $25
  •     Folios of up to 5 poems, not to exceed 7 pages in length, $55
  •     Chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $225
  •     Full-length collections, up to 80 pages in length, $350

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is September 30. Marcela will complete her work and respond to all participants by October 31. 


Marcela's Statement of Purpose

I am seduced by tensions in poetry. With regard to the music of the poem, “tensions” might mean the slippage between an ideal form or meter and the physical form or meter embodied in the syntax of the sentence and line breaks. In narrative, it might mean the balance between what is said and what remains unspoken. In documentary poetics, it might mean the desire new facts and information create in me to change my life, or to learn more. In hybrid work, tension might mean the memory of a traditional genre in the unmapped freedom of an experimental form. 

Although we love most what we have to work for in poetry, as in most things, we also have to have a reason to invest our interest and our care. Sometimes poetry fails to engage us because we can’t access it—the poem is still in the poet’s head, speaking a private symbolic language. Sometimes a poem is so anxious to please us or so anxious not to be misunderstood, it spells everything out, overwhelming us. A good poem is an exploration the reader and writer make together. A good poem is a process—it introduces us to a new born world, rather than wrapping up a completed one.  A good poem is a generous poem, that gives the reader a space to feel, think, and discover connections for herself, through the gaps between what is said and what is suggested; what is and what might be. 

My approach to reading your poems and helping you maximize their creative tensions is discovering what your poem most values by determining how the poem works. Then, I can act as a poet-mechanic, helping you fine-tune the language, the music, the balance between what is there and what is implied. I pay special attention to the meaning-making music of your work (rhythms, vowel and consonant sounds, the play of syntax and stress, etc.).

My approach to reading your manuscript is to determine what your collection values, and how best to achieve the fullest effect, with regard to musical scope, narrative arc, and the timing of emotions, information, and sound. 

In my own work, I specialize in prosody (the music of lines), documentary poetics, hybrid work (prose poems, nano-nonfiction, essays in verse, lyric essays, etc.) and literary translation. In other people’s poems, I particularly enjoy work that engages with the world around it with fresh curiosity. I love work that is beautiful and musical, but not slight. I appreciate poems that are honest, vulnerable, complex, and that take risks. I like poems that are acts of investigation and discovery. Poets and writers I have recently been enjoying, and who have influenced me most long term include Yehuda Amichai, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Celan, Hart Crane, Natalie Diaz, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Yusef Komunyakaa, Layli Long Soldier, Sabrina Ora Mark, Erika Meitner, Pablo Neruda, Mary Ruefle, Wallace Stevens, C.D. Wright, Rachel Zucker, and Louis Zukofsky, to name a few.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.