A New Poem is Published

My poem is published in the “Night Terrors” issue of Perfume River Poetry Review.

Perfume River Poetry Review Issue 3

The call asked for poems from your worst nightmares and I think they gathered some chilling works for the anthology.  The issue is available in paperback or as a free PDF download at: Perfume River Poetry Review.  Look for my poem, Bones on the Clock, on page 37.  Their other issues are amazing, too.  Take a look for yourself…

Issue 1: Inaugural Issue: Where We Begin

When was it you first discovered that words could bring you joy, give comfort, sustain you, and create hope and beauty?

Issue 2: Ars Erotica

Ars Erotica explores aesthetics of love, sex, sexuality, and intimacy and how it makes us human.

Issue 3: Night Terrors

What are your fears of the dark?  What keeps you up at night–be it ghosts or hauntings in your heart?

Check them out.  Each issue is $10 in paperback or free PDF.  Also, keep an eye open for their next Call for Submissions.

My Poem is Published by Silver Birch Press

My Poem is Published in When Women Waken, the Knowing Issue

I am thrilled to announce that my poem, Unwavering Blue Scarf is published in this literary journal, When Women Waken, the ‘Knowing’ issue. Issue 5, Spring 2014.

The Table of Contents shows the names of all the contributors for this amazing issue and the links to their evocative pieces. You’ll want to read them all! Just scroll down to my name, Victoria M. Johnson, to read mine.

Or here’s the direct link to my poem.

Unwavering Blue Scarf by Victoria M. Johnson

A journal of poetry, prose and images, When Women Waken is the journal of Women Writers, Women Books and has a particular interest in writing and art about writing; women’s relationships to their selves and others, and to society and nature.

The journal can be read for free online, or you can order print editions as they become available.

The Importance of Publishing Firsts

I like to make a big deal over each of my publishing firsts. I know what you’re thinking: Don’t you publish for the first time only once?  No, absolutely not. If you’re writing in more than one genre or you write in more than one form, you’ll have many firsts, too. And that means you’ll have lots of opportunities to celebrate, which is something I like doing.

Did I mention that I had my first poem published? A wonderful online literary journal, When Women Waken, provided me the honor of inclusion in their inaugural issue, Spring 2013. I was thrilled and I certainly told everyone I know about it. I tweeted, updated my Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Redroom pages, and I emailed friends and family. My husband and I popped open a bottle of bubbly and we toasted the milestone in my publishing career. Then I got back to work writing.

I also created a hoopla over my first poetry reading, my first nonfiction sale, my first fiction sale, my first romance novel, and my first indie ebook. I can think of more firsts in my future to celebrate but you probably want to know why I make a fuss over these events, and why you should do the same. Here are five reasons:

The Importance of Publishing Firsts by Victoria M. Johnson

When Women Waken is an online literary journal publishing fresh voices and images primarily in English from around the world. Poetry, Prose, Fiction and Non-Fiction, and Images, Art and Photographs.

1. Publishing is an industry with many opportunities for rejection and disappointment. It’s important to celebrate each and every victory. It’s important to your sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Every hard-earned success is a moment to remind yourself that you are a talented writer.

2. Much of the publishing industry is a waiting game. You submit and wait for months to hear back. Friends and relatives don’t understand this part of the writing business and ask you constantly about your progress. Sharing your milestones with friends and relatives allows everyone to share the excitement and reminds them that you are seriously pursuing a writing career.

3. Sharing your success with your online connections is another way to get your name out there. It gives you a reason to self promote. It reminds people about you and your work. I know many writers are shy about self promotion, but we must do some. Perhaps sharing your news in the form of a “first time” announcement will make it easier for you to do.  Your online community will be happy for you, too. Just as you retweet and share the good news of others, some will do the same for you.

4. Ultimately, some of these friends, relatives and connections will read your work, which they can’t do if you don’t tell them about it. And isn’t having our work read why we write in the first place?

5. Everyone likes hearing about a first sale of some sort. It gives us all hope. We think, if you broke through, then we can, too. It’s good news for all writers. People enjoy spreading hope and good news.

The next time you have work ready for the public to read, ask yourself how is it a first? Stretch your imagination. Did I tell you my very first poem, The UFO, was recently published? I’m so excited about it and I hope you’ll click to read it!

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Jimin Han

Creative Spaces

Glass Room

I remember the starkness of the walls in a new house, the sounds of night those first days in a new place. I remember being afraid of what I couldn’t see in the dark and worried about what I would see the next morning in the faces of the new people I would meet. I had my parents, my brothers, an aunt and uncle and cousins who lived with us from time to time and whom we lived with at other times, a grandfather, my father’s friends from Korea. They came and went in various configurations, my aunt and uncle and cousins being the most constant even after they moved permanently away because I would visit them during summers. My most vivid memories are of mornings when I’d wake to the smell of ramen cooking in the kitchen. This is from the early Jamestown period, when it was my brothers, my parents and I. We had a kitchen box, a square brown box marked clearly in large hangul: kitchen. It didn’t go with the moving truck. It was packed in the car with us alongside the other marked box that contained our bedding. The kitchen box had five bowls (one for each of us), one large stainless steel pot, chopsticks and spoons. It would take me a while, those first mornings when I initially opened my eyes to remember where I was, and then I’d find my way to the kitchen where my mother commandeered the stove, the sink, the cupboards, the windows. The kitchen table was set with bowls and chopsticks, ramen waiting for us. I remember she filled the kitchen with her optimism, her hopefulness. It was hard not to believe that we hadn’t always lived there.

I can count most of them, all the places I lived before I left my family for college. My uncle’s house in Seoul, my grandmother’s house in Seoul, a house in Daejun, another house in Seoul, an apartment in Brooklyn, a mental hospital in Providence, a house in Providence, a second floor apartment in Providence, an apartment in Dayton, a house in Jamestown (Myrtle Street), another house in Jamestown (East Virginia Boulevard), another house in Jamestown (Maple Street), another house in Jamestown (Camp Street), a last house in Jamestown (Whitehill Avenue). My parents were always moving. They continued to move after I left for college. Some of the moves necessitated by finances, some of the moves necessitated by a quest my father had that I didn’t understand.

Years older now, old enough to make my own home, I have my own house. My children have known this same house for most of their young lives. I’ve chosen steadiness where I can, rooted myself to a single house, a permanent address. But something lingers from my moving days. I write in a small temporary room that’s mostly empty. I call it anyone’s room. The walls are blank. There is a bed in case someone comes to visit. In a pinch I can clear out, let a guest feel at home. The desk is a polished teak ellipse. It’s large enough for my laptop and a few notebooks. It faces a blank, white wall away from the casement window that looks out into a yard where a crab apple tree loads up with blossoms in the spring and beyond that a neighbor’s pasture where a horse grazes.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Jimin Han

After a life of moving, Jimin Han finally has a permanent “temporary” writing space.

When the writing isn’t going well, when I feel I’m failing, when the silence is paralyzing, I worry. I imagine crowding this room with things from my life for encouragement. A small painted rock the size of my hand, a quartz donkey figurine, a pale blue 19th century pill box, books that line the family room outside this room, paintings, photos of my children, my husband, my parents, my friends, my students, life that calls and calls to me. When the writing isn’t going well, I open the second door in my anyone’s room, the one behind my chair, and look at the dirt floor, look up at the broken slats of the wooden roof. Somewhere up there will be a room for me. Someday, a stair to it. The opposite of emptiness. A glass room. I have drawings of it. I have plans.

But for now and for years to come in reality, my small temporary blank room is all I have. All I might ever have. And I can’t say I’m unhappy with it. I know where I am. There is something that comes to this emptiness, something I am forced to make of it, make from it. I write and read and consider things in this place. I have always been here. My anyone’s room. Blank walls, blank canvas, silence or newness of sound, possibility. An unclaimed space. Something to work with.  Something that asks to be claimed, for the duration of the day, night, story, poem, essay.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Jimin HanBio:

Jimin Han teaches at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and lives outside New York City with her husband and children. Additional work of hers may be found in a variety of places, including NPR’s “Weekend America,” The Rumpus.net, Koreanamericanstory.org, eChook’s memoir app, Kartika Review and The Nuyorasian Anthology. She’s on twitter, @jiminhanwriter, and she blogs at Tumblr.

Writing Prompts and Story Cubes

I found a fun and useful writing tool in the form of Story Cubes.  These dice-sized cubes come in a nifty storage box to be taken out when you want a burst of creativity.  Take out four—or five, or as many as you want—cubes and toss them on your table.  Taking only the images that appear on the top of each cube write your poem or story.  The cool thing is an image can mean different things at different times depending on what genre you were planning to write, your mood, and in relation to the other cube’s images. 

Writing Prompts and Story Cubes

There are thousands of possibilities (their box and website says 10,000,000 possibilities).  I’m all for creative play and anything that will shake-up my imagination.  This story generation tool might work for you, too.  I like using them for flash fiction and I imagine poets would have fun with them as well.  Think of them as writing prompts on dice.  There are a couple of versions and there’s even an iPhone app!  I just added them to my growing list of the perfect gifts for writersDo you have a secret writing tool?   I’m eager to hear about it.

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by special guest Erica Goss

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”


Letter to Myself at Sixteen

I saw you on the street today

eyeliner planting little black seeds

in your tear ducts.

I picture you reading this

in one of your dreams, a jumble

of banned books, torn paper, frayed

blankets and advertising logos

where you work on your future

every rough or delicate detail

like the pieces in a child’s wooden puzzle:

shaped for incremental comprehension.

In this dream I have

your brief attention:

the past cannot be censored

and my archaeology is your future.

I want to protect you, bony girl

warn you away from what dazzles you

snatch the broken glass from your plate

but I’m just another

grown-up woman, creased brow

and a purse stuffed with middle-age

heading home to a quiet house

where paper sacks

filled with outgrown toys

wait by the door.

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica Goss

Erica Goss

____________________________________________________© 2012 Erica Goss

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica GossErica Goss bio:  Erica Goss is the winner of the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest. Her chapbook, Wild Place, was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press.  Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in many journals, most recently Connotation Press, Hotel Amerika, Pearl, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Eclectica, Blood Lotus, Café Review, Zoland Poetry, Comstock Review, Lake Effect, and Perigee.  She won the first Edwin Markham Poetry Prize in 2007, judged by California’s Poet Laureate Al Young, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010.  Erica is a contributing editor for Cerise Press, and writes a column on video poems for Connotation Press.  She holds an MFA from San Jose State University. Visit her website.