life, poetry, publishing, Uncategorized, writers, writing

Advice to Myself: The Snobbish Travel-Brag Poem

The Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal. Summer of 2016.

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life, poetry, publishing, Uncategorized, writers, writing

The Big Announcement

After years of writing and months of preparation, Hard Inheritance is now available! Just in time for the holiday season, this new volume contains works first published by such literary powerhouses as Nashville Review and similar respected journals.

Perhaps more importantly, though, it is a testament to life lived in rural Florida. Following in the footsteps of its older brother, Middle Class American Proverb, Hard Inheritance offers readers a glimpse into the trials, joys, and landmark events of time spent in places that barely get their own map-dot. Moreover, it presents a portrait of such places’ people — the hard, the charitable, the native.

Notable southern poet Andrew Hudgins says this about Hard Inheritance:

“The poems in Hard Inheritance are set firmly in the poet’s ‘ancestral terrain’ of small-town Florida. The landscape is lovingly but unsentimentally brought to the page, and it is peopled by the poet’s family, friends, and fellow parishioners. … These truly are ‘songs sculpted by home’s hard structures.'”

And award-winning poet Sandra Beasley adds:

“What is architecture, without its inhabitants? ‘In our heart pine handmade farm house, / my grandparents were window weights: // cast iron bars tethered in country wood, / plumb and place-holding pendulums.’ What is a field, without the hands that tend it? In HARD INHERITANCE, John Davis, Jr. recognizes the potent ecosystems of everyday life, as in “What the Grove Knows”: “Stirred soil lifts its secrets to the sky. / Revealed and overturned crickets / invite snowy egrets who eat them.” Readers will enjoy taking a joy ride on an untethered dock, hunting down poisonous white frogs, harvesting worms before a father and son’s angling expedition, and hand-nestling one newspaper section into another before the morning’s delivery. Yet these poems resist mere nostalgia; the author’s voice is attentive, conversational, and wise to how class shapes the landscape at hand. Given graceful and balanced stanzas, consonance of word choice, and the unexpected glimmer of a pantoum, I admire both Davis’s rigors of craft and vitality of spirit.”

I’m incredibly excited by this new release, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy to fill a stocking or to surprise that word-lover on your list. Get one for yourself, while you’re at it. Here’s wishing everyone the warmest of holiday seasons! Happy Reading!

BUY HARD INHERITANCE HERE: Link to purchase the book


poetry, publishing, teaching, writing

Television Appearance

So here was a first: My interview with local literati member Jane Waters-Thomas: Writers Den

Lessons learned:

  1. When doing an author interview, never resign oneself to a chair that tilts backward, making you push every ounce of your neck flesh out from under your face. The camera already adds 15 pounds; don’t make it worse with posture.
  2. Avoid using verbal fillers like “if you will” and random catch-all adjectives.
  3. Know when to SHUT UP. There’s a fine line between adding details and bloviating.
  4. Keep your eyes on the host, or on one of a few select spots around the set. Too much eye-shifting seems disingenuous.
  5. Read the text that’s in your book, even if you’ve changed it in a later, better draft. Avoid creating cognitive dissonance.

There you have it. If I had it to do over again, I’d probably lose the tie, also. But we all live and learn, I suppose. Hopefully I get another shot at TV sometime — I liked the format, and I truly appreciated the opportunity to get the word out about my writing and teaching. And now that I know what NOT to do, I’d love another shot at speaking to an audience through broadcast. Great conversations are always welcome!

poetry, Uncategorized

Simultaneous Submissions and Such

Flooding the market has its ups and downs

As an active working writer, I confess: I simultaneously submit work all over the place. A lot of journals these days have woken up to the fact that authors are going to be sending their work to multiple places at various times, and therefore, editors have broadened their horizons about simultaneous submissions — manuscripts sent to more than one venue at a time.There are a few journals’ bosses that still frown on this practice however; they assume that you must value their opinion so much that you would NEVER send your work to someone else at the same time. This elitist and frankly inefficient mentality is a holdover from a more Guttenbergian time, when “gentlemen” were expected to give their exclusive attention to one press at a time. Rarely do things operate in such a way today, though. Journaleers who expect writers to give them some kind of preferential treatment are as obsolete as tophats and typewriters.Recently, I submitted some pieces to a publication that included among its guidelines the statement, “We prefer no simultaneous submissions.” In my cover letter, I told the editors forthrightly that the pieces were being “shopped around” to other publications — if they want my work, they’ll have to come to grips with the fact that I have bills to pay and I operate largely on a “first-acceptance, first-dibs” basis. This isn’t some kind of snobbishness on my part; it’s just sound business practice. I want my work out there efficiently and presented well. Whoever does that the fastest and the best is the proverbial “winner.” If writers have to grapple with competition from others, why shouldn’t editors and publishers as well?Granted, the aforementioned publication might frown upon someone so recklessly disregarding their preferences, but at the end of the day, I know I have to face myself as a professional poet, and sometimes that means going against the grain. Here’s hoping I haven’t burned a vital bridge in the process…