Friday, August 03, 2007

Poetry & History

One of the problems of writing historically based poetry is that of "knowing too much." For example, the fact that the Ambassador to Brazil went to Paris for several months in 1864 is useful to me. It provides an opportunity for Martin Johnson Heade to spend a bit of time with the ambassador's young and beautiful wife. That he did so--spend social time, that is--is a matter of record. Whether anything more happened is not.

That the purpose of the Ambassador's trip was to negotiate an agreement with Napoleon III for the withdrawl of French troops from Mexico is fascinating. I can do something with that information. What did the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II (pictured, left), himself a member of the Bourbon and Hapsburg families, think?

But then I am off on a tangent, aren't I?

Perhaps that is why so much history gets told in lyric rather than narrative forms--in ballads, for example. How much of the real history gets glossed or obscured because it gets (very much) in the way of the actual truth-telling, of the lyric moment? Which, by the way, is occuring in the mountain resort of Petropolis, on the porch of the Ambassador's house, while the Ambassador is in Paris, and the servants are away.

No, I am not writing a ballad.

I must also get some poems into the mail.


Blogger Brian Campbell said...

Hi Greg,

I'm curious about your last "reminder to yourself". I figure that whatever I send in August (if indeed the review is open to submissions in August) will be buried in a slush pile and has a good chance of being returned unread. Is that a misconception? Or are these reviews you know read in August?

7:23 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


This particular submission was for a new anthology of Midwestern writers that had a postmark cut-off date of August 4. I had also sent some poems earlier in the week to a contest that had a postmark date of August 1.

I generally try to send a lot of things out around Labor Day (the first weekend in September) and then again around New Year's Day. That way, I fgure that I catch the begining of each new semester--since so many journals seem to be associated with colleges and universities. Other than that, if I think what I have might fit somewhere, I send it out whenever that good thought occurs to me.

It is difficult to find journals tht read in the summer. It would be nice if there were a list of those somewhere.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Brian Campbell said...

Yep, that sounds like a sensible rhythm... although I often have a lot of obligations around those times, being involved in the education biz myself. I guess the trick is to prepare your subs ahead of those times. It's hard, though, to get in the mood for that in these hot summer days! If I do, I like to send them immediately!

Maybe we could trade names of reviews that at least accept submissions at that time. Three off the top of my head: Harpur Palate, West Coast Line (its reading period is July-August, although it may be a little "avant gard" (whatever that is) for me or you), and the internet review Octopus. Internet reviews tend to be more flexible in their reading periods and publication schedules, and there are some good ones (inc. Octopus). As you can see, I did some thinking after asking those last questions...

6:28 PM  

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