Book Recommendation: New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood


2017-04-28 (1)I want to say it was 2010 the first time I experienced Olivia Gatwood. In 2010 I was 39 and I think she was still in high school or newly graduated. I only mention that because ageism is real and make perceptions and expectations skewed. I believe in the ageless nature of art, but life experience does affect what one writes/speaks.

But, on with my story.

I was in Albuquerque because at the time I was doing feature performances regularly. I happened to be in town the weekend of the ABQ Grand Slam to decide which poets would represent the enchanting city at the National Poetry Slam that year.

All of the poets brought their A game that night. The stage was filled with prowess and clever wordplay the whole evening.

Then there was this high school girl that touched the mic (as we all seem to do) before cracking the air in the room open like a sudden lightning strike. She spoke with as much authority and conviction and skill as anyone twice her age or more. She had a gift.

It’s been years but I think she won that night. As I was reading this collection of poems from a woman seven years away from the incredible force of nature that I met briefly in 2010, I couldn’t help but think of back then and how much she deserves every bit of success and accolades she has gotten since then.

She has a natural level of skill that her academic experience has only made even more apparent. She is truly one of the masters of the prose poem in the way she portrays narratives in what I am guessing are autobiographical vignettes.

Reading the series of stories her poems portray (autobiographical or not) took me to the other side of the world to places I have not seen nor experienced. I was intertwined into some of her portrayals of girlhood and connected by similarity and relatability to the themes and descriptions.

BOTTOM LINE… This book is well worth the read. If you like poetry at all, you will love this book. Even if you don’t normally like poetry, I suggest this book because of its predominant narrative quality of so many of the pieces. Seriously, get this book.

Want to aim high? 15 respected lit mags to submit to from Authors Publish

Reblogging this as much as a note to self as to share the information with my fellow poets on my reader list. :-)

Trish Hopkinson

This list from Authors Publish is the cream of the crop–the envy of all creative writers when it comes to dream lit mags or journals where they’d like to see their work published. Have I submitted to some of these? Yes. Have I been rejected? Of course. You’ve probably heard the stories of writers who kept all their rejection letters from coveted magazines and wallpapered their bathrooms with them. Most rejections come electronically these days, but why not plan to receive one from each of these 15? Take the risk, send them your best work. Set a goal to receive a certain number of rejections each year–the benefit is, it will push you to keep submitting–and somewhere along the line, one of your poems may just be the right fit.

And now for the list! Big thanks to Emily Harstone for doing the research and creating such a great resource…

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Nat’l Poem in Your Pocket Day is tomorrow! –April 27, 2017 #NaPoMo

Trish Hopkinson is a treasure trove of relevant poetry information. If you write poetry and you are not subscribed to her blog, you should fix that! :-)

Trish Hopkinson

Participating in National Poem in Your Pocket Day is easy and fun!

Put a poem (your own or one of your favorites) in your pocket today and share it with:

  • friends,
  • family
  • co-workers
  • go to an open mic in your area

Looking for a local poetry slam, open mic, workshop group, or event?

There are plenty of listings online to find a local poetry group or event, such as open mics, readings, poetry slams, poetry societies, and more. Here are some popular listings to get you started.

Official announcement for Poem in Your Pocket Day on


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A Worthy Project to Support – We’re On: A June Jordan Reader

As a poet and a Black woman, I fully support this project. I would love to see it come to pass.  Please click the link above to donate. Every $1 and share helps.

Book Recommendation – The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance




Another non-poetry related post, but since The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance is giving the proceeds to Planned Parenthood, I figured it would be worth posting here.

Most of the negative reviews I’ve read about this are critiquing the political stance of this book. I am going to first review this as a writer. I am going to comment on the technical merit and surprising clarity and skill that each woman presented her story in the aftermath of the crushing Hilary defeat. It is hard in this instant gratification age to find things to hold my attention and this collection of stories did just that. For this, I am glad.

The women who presented their stories resonated with me. I may not have the same situation as they do or even have the same ideology in some things, but our shared femininity bonded me to these stories. As a member of several marginalized groups, I could relate to their stories of frustration and fear in the wake of Tiny Hands Twittler’s entrance into the presidential office. I could also relate to their insistence on maintaining hope in the face of this fear.

This book is definitely for anyone who is feeling these things during this time of extreme global upheaval at the hands of a man that the narrow majority of our country felt to be the best choice. If you are hanging on by a thin thread right now and want to do SOME kind of small act to show the power you feel is slipping away nearly daily, then purchase this book to show your support and help keep Planned Parenthood around for the people who need it for birth control and reproductive healthcare.

This book is available on in eBook, paperback, and hard cover.

Please consider buying a copy of this book to be a part of the resistance. Thank you.

PAYING/NO FEE Submission call & interview–Frontier Poetry, DEADLINE: Always Open

For those of you on the submissions trail…

Trish Hopkinson

Frontier Poetry is a new online poetry magazine launching in May 2017. They are open for submissions for their New Voices category year round. New Voices is open to any new and emerging author who has not published more than one full-length collection of poetry.

I wondered how and why this lit mag came to be, so I asked Poetry Editor Josh Roark a few questions to find out. See my interview with Roark and a link to their submission guidelines below.

HOPKINSON: How/why was Frontier Poetry originally started?

ROARK: Frontier began as an arm of The Masters Review (, a publication that focuses on new and emerging fiction and narrative nonfiction writers. The Masters Review started six years ago when it produced a single anthology of ten writers selected by an established author (Lauren Groff), and has grown into an organization that offers workshops, resources for writers, and has since…

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“What does it mean to be a Poet?”

“What does it mean to be a Poet?”

Of course, this question can be answered differently by any poet to whom it is asked. It is a very personal and subjective topic. So… what does it mean to ME? Poetry for me is something that I have done almost my whole life mostly in a diary/journal way. Just my thoughts in words arranged in decorative ways.

When I started doing poetry on stage, being a poet took on more facets of meaning. Being a poet had some responsibility to it whether I liked it or not. Even in the tiny fishbowl that I inhabited, the four or five people that witnessed me do my thing are affected in some way by my words.

Now in 2017, I am branching out to submitting my poems to literary journals in an attempt to build my poetic credibility for scholarships and grants. The nature of submission (think about the meanings of that word for a second) is that I have to find the parts of me that fit into a particular line of thought expressed by a particular publication. Being a poet has become a constant state of learning to revise but not losing my voice in my writing, editing parts without losing my narrative and my story.

Being a poet is, was, and probably always will be a multi-faceted and varied thing even within one poet’s mind and life.

So, I’m curious… what does being a poet mean to YOU?