News Flash! One of My Poems Was Nominated for a Pushcart Prize

Pushcarts in January are in short supply in small Minnesota towns. Local readers might recognize the iconic “Book Bike” in the new atrium of the Northfield Public Library, parked under Rob Hardy’s engraved lines celebrating the spirit of our community. I share this image to celebrate another manifestation of community: I learned in the early days of this year that one of the poems I published last year was nominated last autumn for a Pushcart Prize.

When your work is nominated for a Pushcart Prize you know two things absolutely: first, that there is at least one professional out there who truly believes in what you’ve done; and, second, that the odds against actually winning are steep–Rocky Mountain steep. Himalayan-steep. (In poetry, for example, for the 2015 (the 39th anthology, and the one I have consulted) more than 4,000 poems were nominated but only 31 were prize winners. (A further 25 cited for Special Mention but not reprinted.)) My own poem made it only to the first level of nomination.

Both of these facts make each year’s Pushcart Prize announcement a very big deal to writers, celebrating as it does the incredible wealth of fine and inventive writing (poems, fiction, essays) that is published each year in the United States by small presses. Established in 1976 (the year I stumbled onto life-changing volumes of poetry by Howard Nemerov and Sylvia Plath in the Beloit Public Library,) the Pushcart Prize is the brainchild of a disillusioned Doubleday Editor, Bill Henderson. His enduring idea has been to identify each year some of the best work published by non-commercial presses in the previous year. Nominations come from a legion of editors (each journal is allowed a total of six across all genres) and from former Pushcart Prize recipients. The founding editors included such diverse sensibilities as Buckminster Fuller and Anais Nin. Nominations for 2017 closed on December 1, and the 2018 anthology is already available through Amazon or better yet, through your favorite Indie Book Store! Mine is Content Bookstore here in Northfield. Proceeds help to fund the next year’s project.

By creating an anthology of prize winners, as well as a non-profit structure to support it, Henderson continues to draw attention to vibrancy, diversity, and vigor of the good writing we all our doing. Part of the fun of each anthology is archival, for each includes a comprehensive list, alphabetized by last name, that includes the winning genre, title, and year.Last year, I spent months reading aloud all 500 of Amy Clampitt’s poems, and  I like knowing that her work is represented by two poems, “The Reed Beds of the Hackensack” (VIII) and “Grassmere” (X). Similarly, Richard Wilbur, another poet whose work has influenced my own, is represented by “Hamlen Book” (VIII). One can’t help noticing who else is not here, truly fine poets Here is a summary, with some quotes from Henderson, published by Poets & Writers three years ago, titled “Pushcart Prize Turns Forty.”

Knowing full well the great leap required to move from “nominated” writer to “prize winning writer,” I am savoring this unexpected validation. In the past forty-two years, something like 250,000 pieces of writing have been nominated. According to my humble and statistically unsound calculations, tens of millions of other fine essays, poems, and stories were not. (I have my own list of work I would champion retrospectively if I could, and surely you have yours. Perhaps that could be the subject of a future post.) But…They were written. They were published. They were read. It is thrilling to realize that excellent work is all around us, waiting for us to discover it.

My nominated poem can be accessed through the post I did in June (which includes a link to the issue of The Orchards in which “To a Former Friend, Whose Affections Are Withdrawn” was published.)

Wishing you a surprising day of joy,   LESLIE


News Flash! THE ORCHARDS Has Published Poems by Sally Nacker and by Me

I am so happy to share the news that one of my favorite publications, The Orchards Poetry Journal, has just published its third issue, and it includes three of my own poems: “The Widow Dreams of Sweet Breezes;” a sonnet, “Transportation;” and a villanelle, “To a Former Friend Whose Affections Are Withdrawn.”

Making this publication even more of a pleasure to me is that my friend, Sally Nacker, also has two lovely poems in this issue: “Robins” and “Night Snow.” (And our contributor notes are next to each other.) Regular readers will recall posts on Sally’s collection of poems, Vireo, and on her scholarship on the work of Amy Lowell.

I took the images here on recent trips to one of my favorite museums. These apple blossoms, offering up the most delicate and slightly spicy fragrance, were photographed in the courtyard of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. They seemed to me an appropriate complement to the spirit of The Orchards.

You can enjoy this new issue of The Orchards online now,  including not only an interesting group of poems but an interview with their first featured poet, Siham Karami. And you can also look at the first two issues of this fine publication. After all, what is more delightful than a lovely day in June, unless it is a fine June day with the music of a new poem!

Happy Reading!       Leslie


News Flash! THE ORCHARDS Has Published Two of My Poems: “Knot Garden” and “Christmas Season–Lake Charles”


I am very excited to share the news that two poems of mine are included in the recently published issue of the online poetry journal called The OrchardsI took these images in honor of their winter issue.

Wishing you all joy and color as we move toward the Winter Solstice,








Newsflash: My Poem, “Still Life with Poppies” is Reprinted in the Inaugural Issue of THE ORCHARDS

Orchard Tree

A few weeks ago, I received a surprising email.

Karen Kelsay, the poet who also publishes other poets’ work through Kelsay Books (including my own recent collection of elegies) let me know that she was launching a brand-new online journal called The OrchardsShe asked if she could reprint the title poem from Still Life with Poppies: Elegies.

My answer? Wow! Of course! Never before has a journal editor contacted me about reprinting a poem. Furthermore, everything Karen does has substance and beautiful finish.

The Orchards was published this week. It is, as I anticipated, sensitively arranged and beautifully presented. Each poem is a new surprise. A special delight to me was to read the wealth of sonnets as well as some villanelles that left me dazzled by the possibilities of these forms I love.

Karen plans to publish The Orchards three times a year. I am already looking forward to reading the next issue in December. Thank you, Karen!


(P.S. I took these photos of apple blossoms in Northfield, Minnesota, and the ones of the apples at an orchard in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.)

Dress with Apple Blossoms

Rose and Wasp

Orchards Two

Enjoy some luscious poems!     LESLIE