February: Poetry Picks & Prompts

Rebecca FeaturedAs an avid reader of literary magazines, I am embarrassed to say that I just learned about Five Dials a few weeks ago. Perhaps it’s one of those subtle, colonial snubs that folks in the U.S. don’t talk much about this phenomenal British mag, but I realized nearly as soon as I stumbled upon it that I was dealing with a very prestigious magazine, and that somehow it had escaped my attention for all these years. As a kind of apology for being such a dope, I subscribed to the magazine, as if that would serve as suitable penance for this gaping hole in my lit mag knowledge. Regardless: mea culpa.

What struck me most about Five Dials was its focus on translation – something that is  lacking in U.S. based lit mags. Both of the poems I selected for this column were translations – from Greek and German, respectively; perhaps because Five Dials is an imprint of Penguin, there’s an ease of access to original publication rights. The magazine covers everything from lists to “reportage” to poetry and fiction, and leaves a pleasant amount of space for “experiments.” It was almost as fun to explore the site as it was to read the work, which is always an added bonus.

Though there’s no shortage of interesting work in this magazine, I narrowed it down to two poems. The first, “Variations on Anne” from Greek translator and poet Eftychia Panayiotou, discusses the experience of translating Anne Carson into Greek as a series of “ifs;”

“If you must choose, you will choose to be a woman.
If he must choose, he will choose to be a man (though not a husband).
If you are a woman (then surely he’ll never see you as wife).
If he can choose, he will surely choose mistress (but where then is the wife?).
If dialogue demands roles, then you are the killer, I am the victim.
If he has given the key to the wrong woman.
If he says something witty, such as ‘Desire doubled is love and love doubled is madness.’
If she replies even more brilliantly: ‘Madness doubled is marriage.’”

I loved that this piece is a hybrid – part essay, part poem, all doubling back and turning around. It depicts in its writing the complicated nature of translation, and the simultaneous distance and connection the translator feels to the author. It’s both a process piece and a poem, simple and yet complicated. I love its twists and turns.

The second poem is by German author Marion Poschmann, a piece called “Self-Portrait as a White Lady.” It was the pacing and the lyricism of this poem that struck me. Poschmann writes:

“I shone

an igloo lit from within, in the spray zone
of star clusters, the cold extracts
of former community centres,

streets soused in alcohol, slow, gentle:
I made halls,
phantasms of origin”

This poem flows and flows and never stops until it’s last, breathless ending. The translation is intricate and beautiful, and I read the poem over and over, trying to navigate the rapid-firing of disparate images. It was a lovely, intriguing piece.



Write a poem where each line begins with the same conjunction, as in “Variations on Anne.” For inspiration, reference this list. Try to be comfortable with the incompleteness of each line.


January: Poetry Picks & Prompts

Rebecca Featured

For the new year, I’ve decided to change my focus for this column. I’ve decided to narrow my scope, and delve more deeply into one literary magazine each month; I want to explore the content that these magazines publish, but even more than that I want to talk about what they stand for, their mission, and the contributions they are making as a whole to the world of poetry publishing. Lit mags – and the often unpaid, hardworking editorial staff that keep them running – play a huge role in determining the future of contemporary poetry, and are the loud voices that help keep poetry alive and relevant in America and beyond. I want to pay homage to that effort, in this small way, and to help connect our readership with the vast network of literary magazines around the world.

This month, I’m featuring Duende, the literary magazine run by Goddard College’s BFA program. I love lit mags that are run by undergraduate students because the staff is always changing, which allows the magazine to change and make itself new with each turnover of the academic year. The magazine is named after Fredrico Garcia Lorca’s Theory and Play of the Duende – in the essay Lorca argues not for a poetry of angels or muses, but for one that comes from the soles of the feet, from the earth, from mortality and survival and the looming figure of death. The editorial staff describe their preferences in beautiful abstraction: “Duende tastes good on the tongue and caresses the ear. Duende seeks authenticity & soulfulness, earthiness & expressiveness, a chill up the spine. It encompasses darkness and intensity; elicits sorrow and joy; wrests a response from the body.” Duende promises earthy, real, expressive writing and that is precisely what the magazine provides, with both novice and experienced contributors and a submission policy that encourages those often ignored by “literary gatekeepers;” the “true beauty and diversity of the U.S. literary ecosystem … from writers and artists who are queer, of color, differently abled, immigrant, working class, youth, elder…” to put their work up for the editor’s consideration.

Without further ado, two poems from Duende, and a prompt inspired by the magazine’s namesake:

Four Poems from CA Conrad

Veteran experimental poet C.A. Conrad hit me over the head again with his sharp, evocative lines in these poems from his collection Width of a Witch. You can see what I mean most clearly in Pluto.4, which I’ve transcribed below (pardon the poor formatting here — see the poem as Conrad meant it on Duende‘s site):

we win from time to time
abandoned above adaptable positions of the losing
we risk everything in thinking we can navigate maverick of the green carry a
bottle of wine into the
pumpkin patch looking
for a new way to
angle the old songs
sell me a ticket to
your dance please
believe in the strength of
poetry a little stone in the moth
helps balance her on my breath

Two Poems from Caitlin Cundiff

Caitlin Cundiff’s first poem, “A Private Viewing,” struck me from the first stanza. She writes about her grandmother’s body beautifully, with a kind of authenticity and imagination that reads like a daydream, but the kind that bowls you over, that doesn’t pass easily from the brain. The first stanza is below; I hope it leads you, as it did me, into the rest of this beautiful poem.


The flowerbeds by the front door were Ima’s only children.
She crushed up her bones with a mortar and pestle
to put in the soil as if she expected her kneecaps
to bloom again.



Write a poem from the soles of your feet. Write from the center of the earth. In short, write a duende poem. Lorca talks about tango and bull-fighting in his essay about this form of poetics – what is your bullfight? Your tango? Write about a moment charged with energy, fear, lust, the raw feeling of being alive. Then, if you are feeling inspired, try to write the same poem again from Lorca’s other modalities – the muse and the angel.

November: What Our Editors Are Reading

Hey, folks! It’s been a hectic month in terms of books: the first movie spin-off of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was released on November 17; Carrie Fisher released her new Star Wars memoir, The Princess Diarist; and The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman and Looking For Alaska are slated for movies adaptations.

Our editors have been very slowly getting through our own slew of books. Let’s face it; books are always better than the movie versions… There’s no limit to the imagination that way.



I’ve just started reading my review copy of Rough Honey by Melissa Stein; another Copper Canyon Press poet. The oxymoronic nature of collection’s title certainly offers you a glimpse into the nature of the collection; raw, honest, and unstifled emotion pour out of every page like water (impossibly) on fire. I read each page and feel like I’m reaching into another world where my emotions are heightened and everything I feel, I feel shamelessly and with integrity. It shows that someone sweet can also be someone emotionally toughened by life’s struggles and its many unanswerable questions.


barbara kingsolver.jpg

As the school semester is coming to a close, my Women in Literature professor chose Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer as one of our final readings. Kingsolver’s novel is her ecofeminist manifesto written through the eyes of three alternating protagonists, Deanna, Lusa, and Garnett. Kingsolver tries to awaken a deep desire within her readers to set aside the urge to dominate nature and just embrace its natural balance between beauty and power.

 Deanna, having been left by her husband, secludes herself in nature by becoming a forest ranger. Her journey begins when a handsome stranger, Eddie Bondo, intrudes on her neck of the woods and insists on tailing her as she quests to protect the coyotes he wants to kill. Lusa, a tri-religion city-slicker, married into a typical Southern, close-knit family and must learn to navigate the eccentricities of her husband’s farming world. Throughout the novel, the reader watches as she finds the balance between her new home and her old. Garnett is a cranky old, sanctimonious man who constantly bickers, in the most hilarious way possible, with his eco-loving neighbour, Nannie. His life’s mission, besides criticizing the younger generation, is to crossbreed chestnut trees to repopulate the forests that his family had destroyed.

 Kingsolver beautifully weaves these three different stories into a web that parallels, but never quite touches. Each protagonist has a connection to all the others, although they do not know it themselves. As their stories unfold, the reader is left gasping for more of their quirkiness, oddities, and all-around great characterizations. Kingsolver excels at creating three characters so true to life that it is hard to remember that they only exist in the fictional realm of Zebulon County.


I just started two books — both of which coincidentally involve the number one hundred.


The first is a Isabel Greenberg’s latest graphic novel One Hundred Nights of Hero, which I’ve only just started but so far is beautifully drawn, smart, and takes on the admirable task of giving a feminist interpretation of the Arabian Nights.


The second book is a translation from Swedish: a novel called The 100 Year Old Man who Jumped Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’m a few chapters into this book, and so far its amusing and whimsical, sort of the Swedish version of Forrest Gump with a lovable, relatively clueless protagonist who makes the impulsive decision to go on an adventure just hours before the city celebrates his hundredth birthday party.

Both books so far have been a wonderful escape from the world of politics and the winter blues, and I am excited to keep reading.



This month, I’ve been reading Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford: a memoir focusing on Ford’s female centric experiences growing up as a young girl, a teenager, a young adult and now a mother. She juxtaposes her personal experiences with body image, socialising, bullying, boys, female friendship, sexuality, work, pregnancy, motherhood and more against the backdrop of patriarchal structures. Ford exposes the influence of these structures in her staunch pre-feminist life and post-feminist epiphany; how feminism informs her work, her life online and the decisions she makes daily.

Fight Like A Girl is a fearless exploration of the female experience that holds no punches, and does so with an endless supply of wit and humour. If you ever wanted sincere honesty from a writer while they deconstructed the fragile state of our patriarchal world, you can’t go past this book.

An Interview with JT Lachausse: Matador Review

JT Lachausse, the Editor-in-chief of Matador Review, agreed to engage in a chat about the alternative literary magazine he co-founded. Here’s our conversation.

Tiegan Dakin: So here’s my first question– how exactly did you come up with the idea to start a literary magazine like Matador Review?

JT: The idea for The Matador Review first came around last November (2015) when I had been submitting to some literary magazines. My friends and I made an off-handed joke about which magazine is the “evil twin” of The Paris Review, and since we couldn’t think of one, we decided to make one. We wanted to find a way to channel all of our fondness for museums and magazines into a creative enterprise, and an online magazine made perfect sense to us. It still makes perfect sense for us.

TD: How exactly did you arrive at The Matador Review as the name for a literary magazine? It’s quite a strange name compared to the other ones out there.

JT: Magazines and journals are often named for what they represent; for The Paris Review, it was named after where it was established; for The Adirondack Review, it was named after the founding editor’s relationship with the Adirondack Mountains; and with magazines such as The American Poetry Review, they are named for the content they tend to publish. Our rationale behind the Matador name is a bit more complicated, however, though I feel that it is similarly justified.

The art of bullfighting was once reserved for the nobles, who would stride in on horseback with their lances and their cloaks of embroidered gold. At the time, these performances didn’t create as much controversy as it does nowadays; it was an honour sport of great spectacle; a chance to prove an individual’s deftness and power against a wrathful beast. Commoners on foot would accompany these maestros in their grand production, often assisting the torero (bullfighter) to succeed in the challenge. Eventually, however, these commoners began to gain enough importance to become the main act. Men and women began to leap from the audience – illegally, I might add – to challenge the beast on their own. This became a way for those that were poor to gain fame and fortune, by proving that they are truly a maestro, a matador de toros (killer of bulls).

The evolution of the matador is what we embody; not the animal abuse, not the frenzied celebration of blood-sport, but rather, the idea that this art belongs to no one, and anyone can join the fight. We look at humankind’s obsession with the man vs. beast conflict – from Mithra’s vanquishing of a bull to Theseus’s slaying of the Minotaur – and strive to embody a similar spirit of spectacle and controversy. This title, The Matador Review, it represents all of what we want to put within our magazine: the thought-provoking and the unconventional. And, of course, it sounds nice.

TD: As it seems your magazine supports the unconventional- as it says on the Matador Review website, and so your eccentric history suggests- what are your thoughts on the Antioch Review controversy that happened recently (assuming you’re familiar with it)? Has it in any way shaped the sort of work you’ve accepted since?

Perhaps Antioch Review, in wanting to publish something unconventional themselves, shot themselves in the foot.

JT: Good question. I was recently asked about this same controversy, so I’ve got some ammunition on this one.

The fallout that came of that publication decision was, in my opinion, befitting for the offense, and I believe that despite whatever academic purposes that Antioch College found in featuring the essay, it is not worth the pain that it serves, nor the peculiar perspective it offers. That may be perceived as a slight against academic freedom, or an attack on free speech, or whichever, but the case remains: a good publication must select work that is mindful of the human spirit. We want the radical, and we want the bizarre, but we aren’t interested in work that escapes a creative enterprise to hoist up a scandalous persuasion. Yes — bring on the questionable, and bring on the counterculture, but do it in a way that is charged by an artistic or informative purpose, rather than intolerance.

As for our editorial decisions, I think that we will receive a lot of positivity, and I think that we will receive negativity. Just a few weeks ago, we received an email that read, “Your Satan worshipping garbage is completely disgusting. Try Jesus!” And although I can’t fathom what brought that on, aside from our red logo, I’ve decided to find the humour in it. There will be good reasons for criticism and there will be bad reasons, and we will just have to face them as sincerely as we can, because sometimes, as I’ve mentioned, the criticism is well-deserved.

TD: Every literary magazine does, of course, receive its fair share of criticism from the sensitive writers and artists they reject.

After starting Matador Review, have you gained a better understanding of the difficult decisions which editors have to make?

It must have prompted you to make a different approach to lit mags when submitting to them yourself.

JT: We have grown a lot, and we’ve learned that most of our decision-making is rooted in listening and learning from others. We like to work with our writers and readers, rather than tugging them toward our own desires.

As far as submitting goes, we haven’t been doing as much. We’ve taken a step back to work on longer work, especially between Shayne (acting as illustrator) and I. However, we’ve narrowed the field of interest when it comes to where we want to submit; this is especially because we’ve become more familiar with the community.



Hey, everyone!

I’m sorry it’s been so long since our last blog post.

I’m just writing to let you know that The Drowning Gull editors are working hard to read through all of your fantastic submissions. However, some of us are a bit strapped for time at the moment (we’re working from different places around the world), so please do be patient while waiting for a response. We promise we’ll get back to you no more than two months after you’ve submitted (but it will often be sooner).

We’re excited about the release of our December issue, and also some other things coming up right here, on the blog. Stay tuned! There will be more later.

Keep writing, and send us something amazing!



Shonavee Simpson: Nonfiction Editor

I’m proud to announce that Shonavee Simpson is our new Nonfiction Editor!


Shonavee Simpson is a freelance writer and editor with a background in publishing, copywriting and coffee. She is currently undertaking her Bachelor of Arts – English Honours degree, focusing on online feminist writing, and is a fun-loving, cat-loving feminist killjoy! She was born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, and is a 7th generation Novocastrian who never goes to the beach and prefers a quiet cuppa in bed with her kittigans, Coco. Yes, she calls her cat ‘kittigans’. You should too.


Shonavee has always been an avid reader, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get the stories she wants to read, which led to her stealing her first book at the ripe old age of 5 from her Kindergarten classroom. However, she reformed in her later primary school years, reading as many books from the library (and returning them) as she could get through – until Harry Potter happened.
Growing into her teen and young adult years, reading and writing remained huge parts of her life. This love of reading and writing took her to university, first in a Communication degree, then her Arts degree, and even took her to the University of Oxford to study in 2014.
These days, Shonavee spends more time writing than reading. She has written reviews for the lifestyle publication Weekend Notes, news and features as the Editor for the online magazine Highway Games, and has worked on copy for a range of companies. She is very much looking forward to reading your submissions to the Drowning Gull and can’t wait to work with all our wonderful readers out there!
What sort of work am I hoping to see submitted to The Drowning Gull? The kinds of submissions I am looking for will exhibit honesty above all else. I think that is hugely important in non-fiction, as so many of our memories are skewed by perspective and circumstances that being honest in what you’re presenting is of the utmost importance. Also, I will be looking for a message; something the reader can take away with them and ruminate on, that tickles the fancy or illuminates the everyday in a new way – think about WHY you’re sharing this story.

Issue #2 Theme: Announcement!

Dear readers,

I sought suggestions from readers regarding a possible theme for the next issue, but was met with stony silence.

That means I had to come up with one myself before the next submission period starts. So here it is! The theme for issue #2 is…


Maybe you are the victim of a snake bite. Maybe a wild animal randomly walked up to you for a pat. Perhaps you’re a researcher who works with animals.

The issue will be NONFICTION AND ART ONLY. I want to read funny and awkward true stories. I want to see animals and plants captured in a camera lens or created on paper or canvas. The upcoming issue features only a few pieces of nonfiction, so I need anyone reading this to spread the word!

I look forward to reading your submissions.






Become A Staff Member! 

Dear readers,

I thought it was about time that I started expanding the number of staff currently working at The Drowning Gull (i.e me). Too much weight is currently on my shoulders, and I would love to work with dedicated writers and artists. These will all be unpaid positions– but one I hope will reward its applicants with pride and experience. Listed below are positions available. (There is a guide for how to apply at the bottom of the page.)



  • At least 2 years of editing experience, and/ or ridiculously proficient spelling, grammar and punctuation skills.
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Trustworthy
  • Degrees in publishing/ creative writing and speaking a second language are both bonuses
  • Very reachable over social media
  • Must speak English as a first language
  • Reliable access to computer and internet connection


  • Update Chief Editor of goings-on over social media or e-mail
  • Make sure other editors are working cooperatively and effectively
  • Read submissions (in the absence of other things to do). Work with editors of each category to ensure agreement upon acceptance, if necessary.
  • Be on the lookout for new ideas The Drowning Gull can coordinate.
  • Answer the questions of other editors, when necessary
  • Work with Chief Editor to make issues
  • Promote events, blog posts, and competitions that The Drowning Gull has done or hosted.



  • Experience using Facebook and Twitter
  • Trustworthy
  • Degree in journalism/ publishing a bonus
  • Enthusiasm
  • Reliable access to computer and internet connection


  • Remain in contact with Chief Editor and/or Managing Editor, asking what is permissible to publish on social media.
  • Stay active on social media, posting on Facebook and Twitter every couple of hours at the least.
  • Promote events, blog posts, and competitions that The Drowning Gull has done or hosted.
  • Be polite when corresponding with followers
  • Make catchy headlines and spark discussion (particularly on Twitter)
  • Manage The Drowning Gull group page on Facebook.
  • Find ways to promote The Drowning Gull call for submissions through other people, websites and organisations (yahoo groups, NewPages, etc).
  • Seek advice, when necessary, from the Managing Editor/Chief Editor



  • At least 2 years of experience in editing, and/or ridiculously proficient grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  • Degree in creative writing/publishing/journalism and/or a second language are bonuses.
  • Trustworthy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Reliable access to computer and internet connection
  • An understanding of The Drowning Gull’s goals and the ability to accept or reject works based on those goals


  • Read fiction submissions ONLY.
  • Provide notes on why they rejected/accepted a submission.
  • Organise accepted submissions in an effective manner
  • Edit accepted fiction submissions (and work with the contributor to do so, where necessary)
  • Prepare submissions for publication
  • Work with Chief Editor to make issues
  • Promote events, blog posts, and competitions that The Drowning Gull has done or hosted.
  • Remain in contact with Chief Editor and/or Managing Editor



  • At least 5 years of experience writing poetry, and exceptional spelling, grammar and punctuation skills
  • Degree in creative writing or a secoond language is a bonus
  • Very reachable over social media
  • Must speak English as a first language
  • Reliable access to computer and internet connection
  • An understanding of The Drowning Gull’s goals and the ability to accept or reject works based on those goals


  • Read and respond to poetry submissions ONLY
  • Provide notes on why they rejected/accepted a poem
  • Prepare poems for inclusion in issues
  • Work with Chief Editor to make issues
  • Edit accepted poetry submissions (and work with the contributor to do so, where necessary)
  • Remain in contact with Chief Editor and/or Managing Editor



  • At least 2 years art-viewing or art-making experience
  • Proficient spelling, grammar and punctuation skills.
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Trustworthy
  • Degrees in the arts or graphic design and speaking a second language are both bonuses
  • Very reachable over social media
  • Must speak English as a first language
  • Reliable access to computer and internet connection
  • An understanding of The Drowning Gull’s goals and the ability to accept or reject works based on those goals


  • View and respond to art submissions ONLY.
  • Solicit artists to publish in issues (in the event of few art submissions)
  • Provide notes on why they rejected/accepted a submission.
  • Organise accepted submissions in an effective manner
  • Prepare submissions for publication
  • Work with Chief Editor to make issues
  • Promote events, blog posts, and competitions that The Drowning Gull has done or hosted.
  • Remain in contact with Chief Editor and/or Managing Editor over e-mail or social media


Positions marked with * are the positions I most want people to apply for.


E-mail: thedrowninggullAToutlookDOTcom

If you want to apply, please follow these steps:

1) Put your name and the position you are applying for in the subject line of your e-mail, addressed to thedrowninggull@outlook.com.

2) Write a cover letter in the body of your e-mail, detailing a couple of publications and why you want to be a member of staff at The Drowning Gull. Let your personality shine through.

3) Attach two samples of your work- relevant to the position you are applying for- as either a jpeg or a word document. If you’re applying for the art position, we’ll allow a few more than 2 art samples. If you’re applying for the Managing Editor position, attach 2 samples of work in the genre you like most.

4) Wait for a response. One should come in only a couple of days.


I can’t wait to hear from you! Here are some perks to being a member of staff to get you excited:

  • Experience
  • Comradery
  • Enjoyment
  • Pride
  • Insight into the issues before they come out
  • Insight into how you can improve your own craft
  • No travel involved (they’re all remote positions).


Call For Submissions

What is The Drowning Gull thinking about?

We’re thinking about the fantastical.

Mythical creatures.

Fantasy worlds resembling Narnia.

Planets inhabited by hundreds of billions of tiny little people, ant-man style.

Growth-ray and shrink-ray.

Greek mythology adaptations with a modern edge.

Bears with wings.

Heaven on Earth.

Dogs talking in a way that humans can understand.

People that can breathe underwater.

Time machines.


Welcome to The Drowning Gull!


Welcome to The Drowning Gull!

This is the place where writers can submit their work if it does not “conform” or meet societal expectations. Where those eccentric pieces of writing/art/multimedia can find their place.

Submission Guidelines page is already up. If you feel the potential of our literary magazine, you can submit straight away if you think something is for us.

And if you’re reading this, please help the Drowning Gull gain exposure! Like and share this post, and like us on our Facebook page.