Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ahead of Schedule

Last night I finished compiling my ten page manuscript for the Lily Fellowship application. While selecting poems I hit a thematic groove. Despite planning to lead the collection with "Snares", that particular piece wound up on page eight. I'm surprised by how smoothly the pieces work together. I'm quite pleased with the consistency of the entire thing.

The self-introduction, as expected, felt entirely self aggrandizing to write. Granted, submitting this application  requires that I expect that I might be selected as one of the top five most promising young American poets. I avoided introducing my poetry as if I were introducing my latest favorite, hot-off-the-press collection and chose to provide more of an artist's statement. Now, I just have to wait til August for anything to happen either way.

Here's a peak at the acknowledgment page.

Under Orion” appeared in vox poetica
Hymn to Apollo” and “Skyline” appeared in The Camel Saloon.
“The Moth” is slated to appear in Verse Wisconsin.
The Night Watch” appeared in Heavy Hands Ink.
“Laying of Hands” appeared in nibble Magazine.
Snares” appeared in Puffin Circus.
from “Toponomy” and “No Posada” are currently under consideration for publication.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lilly Fellowship (cont.,)

Working on my application for the Lilly Fellowship requires that I create a manuscript of ten pages of poems. Each page can contain multiple poems or single poems or possibly even half or quarter poems. The total page count, however, must arrive at and reside at ten. To assist me in choosing the best assortment of my work, I am reviewing each published piece in situ. This practice lead me to Puffin Circus to revisit the January 2011 issue (2.1).

The poem that appeared there has made my shortlist of set-starters for my application. Even with the heavy-handed Dedalus steal, it still feels spontaneous. It also presents me with a possible theme for my introduction - terroir and time.

Of course, the order of poems within the manuscript is another matter to labor over. Fortunately, I have another excuse to repost another poem.


Ineluctable. The word itself a net
Bringing in footprints on a snot green sea
Strand, before thought or recognition set in.
The same, stepping out in the brisk and
Dreary winds of fall, losing for a moment
All sense of place or time, only to find
Neither the gravel driveway nor chipped asphalt
Of dry, ill-lit six Manchester street,
But instead the pine street parking ramp’s paved
Sidewalk slapping dust beneath my feet.

When the right combination of
Smoke, dirt, cologne and sweat converge
And fill my ears with the phantom sound
Of distant traffic and slurred Italian,
Excuse me if, for a moment, I seem removed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ruth Lilly Fellowship

It's been six months since I received my first acceptance letter. I remember standing in the kitchen after work and opening my e-mail. Upon seeing an unread e-mail from Jeff Fleming with the subject line "Re: Sean Butner: Poetry Submissi...", I readied myself to accept the rejection and send my poems again. Instead, the letter informed me that the good folk at nibble magazine would like to publish a sonnet that I had written after the first brisk night in August.

Six months later I have more than a dozen poems appearing in print and online and am finally starting to think of myself as a poet. Two days from now, the Poetry Foundation will stop accepting applications for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. The award goes to five American poets between 21 and 31 years old based on a self-introduced collection of ten poems.

Although I'm not holding my breath to receive an e-mail this August informing me that I've made it to the shortlist, I'm not going to prevent it. To help stoke myself for writing my own introduction, I'm reposting "Laying of Hands" - the poem that six months ago Jeff Fleming decided should be available in print.

"Laying of Hands"

I dread the fall's first frost
Laying fearful bony hands
On the small specks of rain and
Veiny webs of dew sprawling across the
Windshield. All the wet and warm of summer
Will give way to those fretful fingers
And crisp crystalline limbs.

But those are not our days yet, nor not
Now do we worry of cold snaps or quick
Freezes. Our mornings make mist
Of moist fields and furrows from the still high sun,
And our evening air teems with flying things
And all manner of minor wildlife.

The horizon sparks with soundless light.