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featuring Light poets and editors

May 19, 2022, 8pm EDT: Timothy Steele and Marilyn L. Taylor join Al Basile in reading poems on characters, as part of the “Poems On” video series. Register to attend here, and email Al here if you’d like to read a character-themed poem (up to three min. long) during the open mic. Many other Light poets have appeared in “Poems On” interviews. Check them out here.

May 21, 2022, 8pm EDT, via Zoom: William Baer and Richard Wakefield join Brian Culhane in a reading sponsored by Able Muse Press. Register here.

May 24-27, 2022: Limited spaces are still available at the Poetry by the Sea conference in Madison, CT, with keynote speaker Marilyn Nelson. Many Light poets will be teaching, speaking, and/or reading from their work, including Austin Allen, Ned Balbo, Barbara Crooker, Anna M. Evans, Nicole Caruso Garcia, Julia Griffin, Allison Joseph, and Jean L. Kreiling. Light Editor Melissa Balmain will lead a 3-day workshop on “Funny Forms,” and there will be a reading in celebration of Light‘s 30th anniversary on May 26 with the bold-faced poets above plus Bruce Bennett, Claudia Gary, Chris O’Carroll, and Mark F. Stone. If you plan to attend the conference and would like to join in the Light reading, email Melissa here.

May 29, 2022 at noon EDT in Washington, D.C., David Hedges plans to read from his book Trump Über Alles: Rhymes for Trying Times, directly across from the White House in Lafayette Square. (Yes, that Lafayette Square.)

Hear Julie Kane weigh in as part of an NPR feature on the infamous “Poet Voice”!

Julie Kane and Jenna Le join Annie Finch in an online “salon” on the villanelle, recorded here.

Many Light poets have been featured recently in Zoom readings hosted by Able Muse Press. Browse the videos here.

You’ll find video interviews/readings with many Light fixtures on Rattle‘s YouTube channel, including Melissa Balmain, Barbara Crooker, Rhina P. Espaillat, A.M. Juster, Amit Majmudar, A.E. Stallings, Katherine Barrett Swett, and Wendy Videlock.

Enjoy all nine of our Light Verse in Dark Times readings, free on YouTube! Each 60-90 minute recording from 2020 includes at least a half dozen of your favorite Light poets, Zooming in from the US and beyond.

recently received by 
Light editors and contributors

Please join us in congratulating Light‘s Pushcart Prize nominees and runners-up for work published in 2021. The nominees have been sent to Pushcart Press for possible inclusion in its annual anthology. As usual, this was a crazy-hard choice for us, and we wish Pushcart would let editors nominate dozens of poems instead of six!

The nominees:

Diane Lee Moomey: “Straight-Laced” 
Susan McLean: “Small Wonders” 
Julia Griffin: “Sky High” 
Stephen Gold: “The Mud-Spattered Banner” 
J.P. Celia: “English Teacher” 
Jerome Betts: “Ophthalmic Note” 

The runners-up (aka near-nominees):
Donald Mace Williams: “Three Bugologues” 
Alex Steelsmith: “Roe Verses” 
Julie Steiner: “Rattlesnakes Are Reasonable” 
Jenna Le: “Ode to a Former Physique” 
Max Gutmann: “We Each Have Got Our Bliss” 

We also were delighted to nominate work for the Best of the Net anthology (writing and artwork published from July ’20-June ’21):

The nominees:

Stephen Gold: “The Mud-Spattered Banner”
Julia Griffin: “Sky High”
Jenna Le: “Ode to a Former Physique” 
Frank Schäfer: “Airhead” (cover photo)
A.E. Stallings: “Verses Starting with a Phrase out of Plato’s Republic”
Alex Steelsmith: “All Options on the Table Tennis” 
Julie Steiner: “Rattlesnakes Are Reasonable”

The runners-up (aka near-nominees):

J.P. Celia: English Teacher
Mike Mesterton-Gibbons: “Harry and Meghan” 
Robert Schechter: “Love Poem”
Ed Shacklee: “The Elephants’ Graveyard” 

Other recent honors:

David Galef is the new editor in chief of Vestal Review, the world’s oldest flash fiction magazine.

Nicole Caruso Garcia‘s poem “Is This Your Cow?” was selected by Kaveh Akbar for Best New Poets 2021. Her first poetry collection, OXBLOOD, was a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award. Robert W. Crawford and Claudia Gary received honorable mentions in the same contest.

Julia Griffin won both the individual sonnet and sonnet crown prizes in the 2022 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest. (Judge: A.E. Stallings.) Bethany Mootsey received an honorable mention for an individual sonnet, and Catherine Chandler was among the runners-up in the crown category.

Julia Griffin and Richard Wakefield each received a Best of the Net nomination for work that appeared in Better Than Starbucks in 2021.

Barbara Loots‘s The Beekeeper and other love poems was one of three finalists for the 2021 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award.

Marilyn L. Taylor won second place in the 2021 Better Than Starbucks Sonnet Contest, Catherine Chandler won third place, and Rhina P. Espaillat and Michael Cantor received honorable mentions. 

written, edited, or contributed to by Light poets

Brian Allgar: An Answer from the Past: being the story of Rasselas and Figaro (Kelsay Books, 2020). (Reviewed here.)
Bill Ayres:
What Passes for Wisdom (Finishing Line Press, 2020).
Ned Balbo: Ultraviolet Chimera, a collection of original tunes and lyrics (including some comic ones), available to stream and download at
Melissa Balmain: The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books, 2021).
Jane Blanchard: In or Out of Season (Kelsay Books, 2020).
Dan Campion: A Playbill for Sunset (forthcoming from Ice Cube Press, 2022); The Mirror Test (forthcoming from MadHat Press, 2022).
Catherine Chandler: Annals of the Dear Unknown (forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2022).
Brooke Clark: Urbanities (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2020).
Maryann Corbett
: In Code (Able Muse Press, 2020).
Nicole Caruso Garcia: OXBLOOD (Able Muse Press, 2022).
Claudia Gary: Genetic Revisionism (a companion to her course “The Poetry of Science, the Science of Poetry”).
Midge Goldberg: To Be Opened After My Death (Kelsay Books, 2021).
David Hedges: Trump Über Alles: Rhymes for Trying Times (Road’s End Press, 2022)
Phil Huffy
: Rhymal Therapy (2020).
Allison Joseph: Lexicon (Red Hen Press, 2021); In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020).
A.M. Juster: Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry Books, 2020). (Reviewed here.)
Julie KaneMothers of Ireland (LSU Press, 2020).
Daniel Klawitter: The Misuse of Scripture (2020). (Reviwed here.)
Barbara Loots: The Beekeeper and Other Love Poems (Kelsay Books, 2020). (Reviewed here.)
Amit Majmudar: What He Did in Solitary: Poems (Knopf, 2020).
Leslie Monsour: The Colosseum Critical Introduction to Rhina P. Espaillat (Franciscan University Press, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
James B. Nicola: Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (Shanti Arts, 2021).
Chris O’Carroll: Abracadabratude (White Violet Press, 2021).
Kyle Potvin: Loosen (Hobblebush Books, 2021).
D.A. Prince: The Bigger Picture (HappenStance Press, forthcoming in Nov., 2022)
Orel Protopopescu: Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq (University Press of Florida, 2021).
Leslie Schultz: Larks at Sunrise: Light-hearted Poems for Dark Times (2021). (Reviewed here.)
J.D. Smith: Catalogs for Food Lovers (Kelsay Books, 2021).
David Southward: Bachelor’s Buttons (Kelsay Books, 2020). (Reviewed here.)
A.E. Stallings: This Afterlife: Selected Poems (forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022)
Marilyn L. Taylor: Outside the Frame: New and Selected Poems (Kelsay Books, 2021).
Wendy Videlock: Wise to the West (poems; forthcoming in May, 2022, from Able Muse Press); The Poetic Imaginarium: A Worthy Difficulty (essays; forthcoming in August, 2022, from Lithic Books)
Richard Wakefield: Terminal Park: Poems (Able Muse Press, 2022).

The haiku anthology Eating Salad Drunk (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2022) includes work by Paul Lander and dozens of other professionally funny people, including Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia, Margaret Cho, Jerry Seinfeld, and Sasheer Zamata.

Extreme Formal (Rhizome Press, 2021), an anthology edited by Beth Houston, includes poems by C.B. Anderson, Melissa Balmain, Bruce Bennett, Jerome Betts, Jane Blanchard, Susan Jarvis Bryant, Catherine Chandler, Maryann Corbett, Susan de Sola, Kevin Durkin, Nicole Caruso Garcia, Claudia Gary, Max Gutmann, Robin Helweg-Larsen, Jean L. Kreiling, Barbara Loots, Leslie Monsour, Chris O’Carroll, Alexander Pepple, Kyle Potvin, Wendy Sloan, Gail White, and others.

From the Finger Lakes: A Memoir Anthology (Cayuga Lake Books, 2021) includes poems by Melissa Balmain and Bruce Bennett, alongside poetry and prose by dozens of others, including Joyce Carol Oates.

The anthology Moving Images: Poems Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publishing, 2021) includes poems by Bruce Bennett and Bob McKenty.

The Powow River Poets Anthology II (Able Muse Press, 2021), edited by Paulette Demers Turco, with a foreword by Leslie Monsour, includes work by many Light contributors. (Reviewed here.)

The latest Potcake Chapbooks (Sampson Low Ltd., 2021 and 2022), edited by Robin Helweg-Larsen, include poems by Melissa Balmain, Michael R. Burch, Brooke Clark, Wendy Cope, Maryann Corbett, Martin Elster, Julia Griffin, Max Gutmann, Robin Helweg-Larsen, Jean L. Kreiling, Amit Majmudar, Bruce McGuffin, James B. Nicola, Martin Parker, Nina Parmenter, D.A. Prince, Ed Shacklee, A.E. Stallings, Marilyn L. Taylor, Cody Walker, Gail White, and others.


The staff of Light is unable to vet every contest or call…
but we’re happy to pass the info along.

Potcake Chapbooks Editor Robin Helweg-Larsen is “keen to read and consider rhymed and metered verse that has already been published” for new chapbooks in the series. Poems may be on any topic and run up to 40 lines (though ones under 20 lines are likelier to be chosen). Other things Robin is looking for: wit, elegance, a variety of traditional and nonce forms, and a variety of voices and moods. Submit 3-10 poems (your own work only, and you must have the rights to it) to—either attached or in the body of your email. Include a cover letter with a link to more of your work. Robin is especially seeking poems on fall and winter holidays (Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.), but again, any topic is welcome. 

The annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest will be open for submissions August 15, 2022-April 1, 2023.

Rhizome Press seeks poems for two anthologies: Extreme Formal Poems II and Extreme Sonnets III. For guidelines and contact info, click here. Submissions periods TBA.