Thursday, March 2, 2023

OH! The Company She Keeps


Karren Alenier, a.k.a. the Steiny Road Poet, says don’t go into the Steinian woods alone and so the literary community is paying notice to her new creation From the Belly: Poets Respond to Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons.


From ModPo Professor Al Filreis:


Al Filreis’ blurb on the back cover means that this online endorsement has been announced to thousands of people who have been reading Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons thanks to this professor’s MOOC Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course that has been running every fall for 12 years.




Distribution of From the Belly:


Find the book for sale at Small Press Distribution (SPD)



The Word Works is the publisher of From the Belly:


Learn about the collection of brand new titles that  From the Belly is being launched with at AWP Seattle.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

From the Belly Launches in March


It’s official—From the Belly: Poets Respond to Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons Volume I will launch from The Word Works in March. See it first at AWP Seattle, Table 411.

Who is in it? Here are the poets who ventured into the Steinian woods: Karren Alenier, Indran Amirthanayagam, Rae Armantrout, Mary Armour, Carrie Bennett, Margo Berdeshevsky, Julien Berman, Andrea Carter Brown, Susana Case, Grace Cavalieri, Nikia Chaney, Roberto Christiano, Henry Crawford, Michael Davis, Denise Duhamel, Amy Feinstein, Barbara Goldberg, Harold M. Greenwald, Don Illich, Jacqueline Johnson, Hiram Larew, JoAnne McFarland, Kevin McLellan, Nils Michals, Brad Richard, Margery M. Ross, Martha Sanchez Lowery, Roger Sedarat, Lisa Sewell, Margo Stever, Miles Waggener, Lillo Way, Nancy White, Carolyne Wright, Bill Yarrow, Burgi Zenhaeusern, and Jason Zuzga.


What’s the value of this anthology? It teaches the reader how to think outside of the box and to enjoy Gertrude Stein’s most enigmatic poem. And the reader is invited to treat this book as a workbook where the reader can write their own response poems!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Reaching your Reader


Among the things the Steiny Road Poet is grateful for in 2022  is how she  learned about the big publishers’ process for getting books reviewed.


For example, how does a book get considered by Publishers Weekly these days? The answer is get the book accepted in PW’s GalleyTracker, an online system. What this involves is having the book’s publisher go to the effort and expense to publish an advance reader copy (ARC). Fair Warning: be sure to print across the half-title page:



This book is scheduled for [month year].

Please send your review to [publisher email].


If a publisher doesn’t put this notice on the front page, then Amazon will start filling orders immediately which blows the publisher’s credibility with the big review entities.


This process is what lit the fire under Steiny to seriously circulate From the Belly:Poets Respond to Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, Vol. I. Oh, and don't forget to keep track of where you send your ARCs!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Highs and Lows of an Opera Workshop


The Steiny Road Poet and her collaborating composer went to an opera workshop in Washington, DC recently because we always learn something from these productions, and we want to know what else is out there.


First Steiny will preface this discussion with an admonition from our opera theater director—workshops should NOT be reviewed. The purpose of spending the time and money to hire a venue, singers, musicians, and music director is to see what happens when all the parts are put together. What works and what doesn’t. The audience is supposed to help by making comments.


The audience was told up front that the event, a two-act opera, was scheduled for three hours. About 45 minutes in, Steiny passed a note to her composer saying I can’t understand a single word, can you? This was an opera based on a Hemingway novel, which in Steiny’s mind means every word should be easy to hear since Hemingway’s writing is known for its simple word choices. Steiny’s seatmate’s answer: nope and for that matter, is it in English? She was being facetious.


Steiny found the music beautiful and accessible, but one number blended into the next without differentiation or emphasis. Her partner’s response—very monochromatic, lack of variety, too much ensemble singing and little in the way of emotional high points which are usually created by a single voice singing an aria.


Moreover, the highly talented singers had been placed behind the orchestra (clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello, base, piano). This made it easy for the music director to cue the singers but then the orchestra overpowered their words. This raises the question where was the opera theater director in this lineup of players? Oops, the printed program listed the composer, librettist, music director, and dramaturg but no opera theater director who would have never allowed the singers to be placed so far away from the audience. For that matter, opera workshops are normally done with piano only.


While the church had good acoustics for a musical program, the wooden bench of the church pew got harder and harder to sit on. Steiny and her partner also realized that not only was Act I too long (running 90 minutes), but the summary (available through a QR code) didn’t reveal any action on the stage beyond the main character walking in and out of cave. Yes, there was a love story and some shouting but that didn’t provide enough excitement to forget their aching backsides. While some comments were written out for the composer and his colleagues and left with an usher, the QR code provided another easy way to send them feedback. Steiny and her partner left at intermission. Both learned a lot and plan to keep these lessons close as they work on their opera.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Launching an ARC


What is an ARC? Some kind of rescue boat in the hungry mouth of a flood?


Well, yes, sort of.


An Advance Reader Copy or ARC is an early peek at a book that a publisher is trying to float above the deluge of other new books. The publisher is fishing for a review. More specifically, a review from a big reviewer like Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal.


Getting reviewed by the Big Guys of publishing often means the book will be bought by libraries and teachers. This means the author’s book gets wider distribution.


The big drawback for a small press (usually meaning limited resources—financial and editorial) is that the book needs to put its best foot forward (with as few errors as possible) and it is NOT for sale. It’s another case where you cannot go fishing when you are hungry.