“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair.”

Sarah Manguso, “Green-Eyed Verbs

Love is everywhere! Welcome to the LOVE edition of the Bull Pen, where each week we round up good news, including links to new poems, essays, and stories from the literary citizens of the larger Bull City!  —Noah Stetzer

❤️Love is in the air at Slate Magazine where Jay Deshpande has collected a sampling of love poems from some of our favorite contemporary writers. Click LOVE.

Matthew Poindexter

Matthew Poindexter

“Our wives and sisters shoo us from the kitchen when Uncle Jeff won’t stop opening the oven to check on the roast. The brothers spill out through the back door and I follow, a herd of men shuffling toward the barn, where Ed and Lee will talk about who needs to borrow the Kubota next, and Jeff will again tell me not to fail the family.”  Read Matthew Poindexter’s, editor of INCH, “Run to Seed” at apt–literary journal.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, (contributor to Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series), delivers another amazing poem, “I’m Learning Nothing This Night” at Poets.org. And then gets into love poems with the equally talented Nate Marshall as part of the Poetry Off The Shelf series.❤️

“Of all the rules that artists follow, this one is paramount: never ever fill in details before the structure is done.”  head over to the blog at Ploughshares to read this illuminating essay, “Structure: What Writers Can Learn from Visual Artists” by 

Kenji Liu

Kenji Liu

“I chase their bright twenties / and the steeple of their youth.” begins Kenji C. Liu’s (participant in the Daily Grind Writing Series) poem “Search History” posted last week at Vinyl Poetry and Prose.

The new podcast TK with James Scott features in its first episode, There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights author, Laura van den Berg and FSG senior editor, Emily Bell.

How I Changed My Submissions After Editing a Major Lit Mag: some advice for submitting posted at The Review Review.  “4. Proofread your submission with language economy in mind.  Too many “I”s can make a piece feel solipsistic and trimming prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns allow the pertinent ideas to stand taller and bolder.”

Contributor to Inch #16, Ron Reikki, has a poem, “A Poem to the Kid Who Shattered My Collarbone in Sixth Grade,” up at Work to a Calm that begins:

Ron Riekki

Ron Riekki

It was raining. You were a devil
for a day. It happens. You think
gasoline, your father storms out

of the house and so you take a bat
to the world, clubbing the story
out of everything.


Congratulations go out to Alexandra Lytton Regalado & Ruth Baumann who are the winners of the 2015 St. Lawrence Book Award & Fall 2015 Black River Chapbook Competition, through Black Lawrence Press.

Now hear this! Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet, author of The Greenhouse, reads her 2015 RHINO poem “Charge.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

I can’t decide which / I prefer: the struggle / or the boredom.

–excerpt from “L’Heure Bleue, or The Judy Poems” by Elisa Gabbert, contributor to Inch #16, online at Guernica: a magazine of art & politics.

Check out issue #12 from Birdfeast, it features plenty of great work including the poem, “Hymn Gasoline” from Philip Schaefer, finalist 2015 Frost Place Chapbook contest..

❤️From the Weird Love series at Barrelhouse Magazine, two poems by Julia Shipley, “Slug Poem” & “Remorse / Re-Morass;”  and a short piece, “Please Be Careful With Your Eyes” from Colleen Abel–both participants in the Grind Daily Writing Series.

 no choice have

The folks at Cultured Vines have a list of ten small presses to check out in 2016 (we’re sure to make the 2017 list 😉).

Gulf Coast has made their Winter/Spring issue available online for a limited time. Head over now to read poems by our very own Anders Carlson-Wee (author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Competition) and Jenny George (contributor to Inch #17), and many many more.

❤️We were reminded of BCP alum, Matthew Olzmann’s beautiful poem, “mountain dew commercial disguised as a love poem” when Rattle reposted in honor of Valentine’s Day.

Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams

Hold on to your socks, because “Sonnet with a Cut Wrist and Flies” (up at Shade) by Phillip B. Williams, contributor to Inch #17, will knock them right off. Which is why, of course, when The Culture Trip lists 8 Young Poets From Chicago To Watch Out For the amazing Phillip B. Williams is among that great good company.


“The impulse to be lyrical is driven by the need to be no longer constrained by oneself. As poems have testified for centuries, we become lyrical when we suffer, when we love.”❤️

James Longenbach,Lyric Knowledge: Ideas of order in poetry.”


NOW: Apply for the 2016 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction.  $2,000 will be awarded for the best short story, which will be published in the fall/winter 2016 issue of Colorado Review. Deadline March 14. APPLY.

NOW: Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant welcomes submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories. Deadline May 1. APPLY.

NOW: The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference is accepting applications for this summer’s conference scheduled to run August 10 until August 20. APPLY. Deadline March 1.

NOW: The Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry Vievee Francis, judge. For a book-length collection of poetry written in English by a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection. Previous publication of a chapbook is fine and those poems may be in the collection submitted. $1000.00 honorarium and participation in a Four Way Books reading in NYC. $30.00 processing fee. Online or paper submissions accepted. We will respond by Labor Day. Deadline March 31.  SUBMIT.

NOW: The Sewanee Writers’s Conference begins to accept applications on January 15 for this summer’s conference scheduled to run from July 19 until July 31. APPLY.