Peach Mag Editor Reviews Organizing Isolation in The Public

Peach Mag editor Rachelle Toarmino reviewed Organizing Isolation in this week’s Public. Rachelle was the first person to see any drafts of these poems – it was Rachelle who suggested I reach out to Joel Brenden of Linoleum press to collaborate – and so it’s fitting that she should be the first voice to comment on the whole collection.

She liked it, I think.

The collection is a portrait of ultimates—love, religion, presence, absence—formed from the fragments of letters and postcards previously sent to Ryan by his loved ones. The resulting poems feed new life into moments whose hunger has long since abated. In a poem entitled “The Sister [September 2015],” Ryan collages text that reads, “I have no ideas / none significant or strange. / And living alone at the end causes me such unfunny anxiety. / I’ve never heard anyone shuffle like god / but I’m glad we are continuing.” The careful manipulation of the text speaks to the magical way we sometimes manipulate memories, given enough estrangement, in an attempt at what Ryan sharply terms “organizing isolation.”

Rachelle also noted Joel’s extraordinary book-artistry.

True to form, Brenden adds stunning craftsmanship to Ryan’s vision and produced an art object that plays with themes of organizing and the intimacy of handwritten letters.

Pick up a copy of The Public this week to see the review in print.

Organizing Isolation launched, on sale now from Linoleum Press

Last Friday night, the CEPA Studio Loft hosted the launch party for my debut poetry collection, Organizing Isolation: Half-Lives of Love at Long Distance.

Getting the #spot ready for tomorrow! Meet me @ 7pm right here.

A post shared by Aidan Ryan (@aidanlyaeus) on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:12pm PDT

The space was decorated with glossy prints of some of the poems from the book (as well as a taxidermied fox and a two-headed pigeon). My dear friends Noah Falck, Alana Kelley, and Gerry Crinnin read from their own work before I cracked open OI and read these poems to an audience for the first time.

About the Book

Organizing Isolation began with an initial act of theft. Emboldened, I embarked on a stealing spree that carried me from September 2016 through January 2017, a feat possible only, I think, because I was “lightly employed” as an adjunct professor at Canisius College during those months. Continue reading

One editor’s tips for writers submitting to journals, lit mags, and zines

There are “rules” for sending your work to literary magazines, and they don’t usually appear in submission guidelines.

Foundlings Vol. 3 will be out in just about two months. We’re very excited about this, but we can’t share any information about the contents just yet. Submissions closed at the end of March, and we’ve been reviewing them since then. It’s a humbling thing to see an inbox full of so much stirring work from so many writers, friends and strangers both, and a difficult task to pick just a few poems to include in each volume of the magazine. Being an editor, or any kind of curator, forces you to examine your own gut reactions to writing, and to articulate your artistic beliefs and preferences to yourself, to the other editors who share in this work, and eventually to the writers who’ve submitted. (At least, we try — more on that further down.)

I don’t submit my own work to magazines as often as I used to (and some day soon I hope to explain why), but I still devote a lot of postage every year to SASEs. My file of rejections — digital and physical — continues to swell steadily, at a greater annual rate of growth than any of my financial investments.

Now, though, a full year and a half since the other Foundlings editors and I decided to start our project, and after three rounds of submissions, I’m starting to think like an editor. I’ve begun to recognize the most common sins hopeful writers commit during the submissions process. And, lest you misunderstand me, I’m not about to dish on unsavory side of the Foundlings Gmail inbox. We do see some faux pas; some writers make us uncomfortable, and some are unpardonably swinish and rude. But the vast majority are awesome.

This isn’t about our submissions. Instead, I think, the act of editing now three volumes of poetry, and all the ways that’s drawn me into sharing more and more pints and conversations with other writers and editors, have made me more aware of the peccadilloes and travesties writers so frequently commit in their pursuit of publication. For most of the rules below, I could provide a counterexample from my own catalog of bad habits and regrets.

So, read on for a few tips all hopeful writers would do well to remember when submitting their work to lit mags and zines.

1. Be the Wayne Gretzky of letters. Or at least the Happy Gilmore.

While many have debated both the attribution and the mathematical accuracy of The Great One’s famous assertion that “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” even the most cynical cannot deflect this slapshot of an aphorism. I’ve heard many writers explain why they haven’t submitted to such-and-such a magazine, and their reasons are usually pretty similar: “I don’t know if they’ll like me,” or “I’m not sure if I’m ready yet,” or “They only publish people with MFAs/cool names.”

Image result for gilmore girls gifs

All of these things might be true. Editors might not like you. You might not be ready yet. And entire magazine staffs might have really idiotic and lame conscious or unconscious biases. But you should probably submit anyway. Take that shot.

In most cases, the excuses I’ve listed above are code for “I’m not a serious writer.” So, maybe you aren’t. That doesn’t mean you’ll never be a serious writer. The change could come when you decide that you have to be great, that you are great, and that other people will love you for it. Not all the people who feel that way are, great, of course. But the people who feel that way are more likely to keep writing and keep submitting until they do write good work; more likely to submit that good work; and more likely to see their good work in print.

There are only two reasons that should ever stop you from licking that stamp. One, don’t submit if you know in the blue flame of your writerly heart that you’d be mortified to see some flawed or unfinished work in print. For the second reason, keep reading.

Continue reading

“Speak, poet”: Buffalo News highlights new poets in the city’s scene

The Buffalo News Gusto cover last week featured an arresting image: facing out of the page, a man in a black leather jacket, head bent to a slim volume in his right hand, left hand rising and cupping as if around a palmed bird or baseball, lips curled to push out a poem.

This is News photographer Mark Mulville’s shot of Justin Karcher, on the night of the launch party, at Alley Cat, of his latest release, the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs, from Cringeworthy Poets Collective Press.

This night brought together several of the key players, collectives, presses, and movements Lizz Schumer covered in her excellent Gusto feature “Speak, poet,” on the vibrancy of the Buffalo poetry scene, and on the young people keeping the city’s rich poetic traditions alive and fresh.

Go on — read the article.

Oh, right: and that’s me pictured above, again thanks to Mark Mulville. Schumer was kind enough to include a shout-out to Foundlings, and mentioned the upcoming release party for my collection Organizing Isolation (Linoleum Press).

Submissions Open For Buffalo “Under 40” Poetry Anthology

Buffalo poets aged 40 and under can submit to a new anthology of verse through April. BlazeVOX will publish the project in December 2017.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Buffalo poetry lately. The Just Buffalo Literary Center continues to do great work for the city — this year alone they brought Booker-winner Marlon James, Guggenheim Fellow Laila Lalami, and Irish legend Edna O’Brien; their 2017 literary calendar will close with appearances from “rock star” poet Eileen Myles and the extraordinary Dave Eggers. Over the past two seasons the Canisius Contemporary Writers Series brought to Buffalo Theo Dorgan, Kevin Kling, Anne Enright, Cristina Henriquez, Emma Donoghue, and Diana Goetsch; while this year’s UB Oscar Silverman Reading featured Campbell McGrath.

Buffalo continues to enjoy a never-ending carnival procession of literary luminaries, thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the people at these great schools and cultural institutions. But that’s not the buzz I was talking about.

Last spring, two new magazines launched almost simultaneously: the digital native Peach Mag, and my own biannual print publication Foundlings. These joined another lovely publication, Steel Bellow. All three were conceived by people under the age of 30. All three have garnered huge followings in the city and beyond, and have hosted some of the highlight events of the past 12 months.

  • Peach, for example, has created a pipeline to Buffalo for writers associated with alt-lit outlets like Metatron in Montreal and Monster House in Bloomington, IN. Their readings at venues like Sugar City and Dreamland have brought Buffalo poets together with visiting writers.
  • Foundlings, too, has had some success in the import-export game. We brought seven Buffalo poets on a five-city tour (with stops in Fredonia, Rochester, Syracuse, and Toronto) during the 2016 election. We’re proud as well that our magazine features the work of up-and-coming Buffalo writers alongside established writers from around the country — like bilingual poet Don Berger of Baltimore, the Anglo-American poet Lytton Smith of Rochester, and Jason Irwin of Pittsburgh. We’ll continue this with the launch of Vol. 3, June 3rd a Nietzsche’s, featuring the poets George Wallace, George Guida, and Gerry LaFemina, all visiting from NYC.
  • Steel Bellow, meanwhile, maintains a tighter Buffalo focus, giving local poets extended treatment in their issues, really like triptych chapbooks.
  • The most energetic of us might be the Cringeworthy Poets, who in the space of just two months brought alt-lit and slam phenomena Steve Roggenbuck and Neil Hilborn. This summer, their reading tour will take them all the way to California.
  • Also in the summer, Buffalonians will enjoy the sixth installment of the Silo City Series, a project bringing multidisciplinary word, music, and installation art events to the grain silos on our waterfront. These generally feature a Buffalo poet alongside a visiting poet (last year’s season ended with Ocean Vuong). Again, a young person was behind it all: Noah Falck, Education Director at Just Buffalo.
  • Meanwhile, the Buffalo slam community (including the Pure Ink team) continue to host visiting artists and send local talent to compete in the National Poetry Slam. Other open mic events like Wordism bring poets together with musicians.

Those bullet points account for only a fraction of the cool things young Buffalo word-artists are doing. These things are “new,” but the fact of young people taking a lead in the Buffalo arts community is not so new. Because of that, many of us in the community thought it would be a good time to collect young Buffalo writers in one place.

Last night Road Less Traveled Theater put on a poetry showcase that served as our official announcement of the “Buffalo Under 40 Poetry Anthology” (don’t worry — that’s not the title). As I said at the event (in the video above), this is our small contribution to a long and unbroken “revolution” in Buffalo arts, stretching back more than a century.

The project has been underway for a few months now. Co-editors Noah Falck and Justin Karcher are heading up the project, backed by an outstanding editorial board of Buffalo-based poets and curators: Rachelle Toarmino, Paige Melin, Tom Dreitlein, and Eve Williams Wilson.

For the month of April, the team will accept unsolicited submissions. Send work to under40Buffalo@gmail.com, and see www.under40Buffalo.com for guidelines. BlazeVOX will publish the book in December 2017: expect parties.