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featuring Light poets and editors

Poetry by the Sea, the one-and-only poetry conference in beautiful coastal Connecticut, is open for registration. On the menu: a 3-day workshop tailor-made for the Light crowd: “Comedy in Everyday Life,” led by Light Editor-in-Chief Melissa Balmain. Other tasty offerings include a keynote address by Gregory Pardlo; a lecture by David Yezzi; workshops and seminars with Austin Allen, Anna M. Evans, Allison Joseph, David M. Katz, Joshua Mehigan, and other poets; spotlight readings by Teri Ellen Cross Davis and January Gill O’Neil; even more readings; intriguing panels; shell-collecting along the Long Island Sound; and outrageously good chocolate-chip cookies. The conference runs May 21-24, 2024. Details and registration here: (Space is limited.)

This summer (2024), Claudia Gary is offering workshops and “crash courses” via Zoom, including Freedom with Forms, Persona Poems, Natural Meter, and Poetry vs. Trauma. For information go to, click on “Browse Our Writing Classes” and then, under “genre,” choose poetry.

Al Basile‘s latest audio verse play, Fakespeare, premiered in November, 2023, and is now streamable on YouTube. Al writes that it’s “a combination literary hoax/science fantasy [that] centers around the purported discovery of a hitherto unknown Shakespeare play, and its attempted theft by a scientific genius who hates humanity while collecting its greatest art.”

Many Light poets are upcoming readers in the Powow River Poets reading series, sometimes in person in Newburyport, MA, and sometimes via Zoom. You’ll find the full schedule here.

Many Light poets have read and discussed their work in the following online series. Click blue names for videos: Able Muse Press (recent readers: Barbara Lydecker Crane, Daniel Galef, Stephen Kampa, Jennifer Reeser, and Robert Schechter; Poems On (recent readers: Melissa Balmain, Allison Joseph, Chris O’Carroll, David J. Rothman, and A.E. Stallings); and Rattlecast (including Maryann Corbet (#215), Jennifer Reeser (#185), Nicole Caruso Garcia (#169). Bruce Bennett (#162), Anna M. Evans (#152), Melissa Balmain (#96), Wendy Videlock (#84), A.M. Juster (#62), Amit Majmudar (#55), Rhina P. Espaillat (#53), A.E. Stallings (#82), Kathering Barrett Swett (#36), and Barbara Crooker (#23)). 

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from Light‘s recent night of Poetry & Punchlines (in Washington, D.C.) here. (If you live in a city with a high concentration of funny poets, and know of a welcoming venue, email us at We just might come to you next!)

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.

written, edited, translated, or contributed to by Light poets

Damian Balassone: Chime (2022).
Ned Balbo: Ultraviolet Chimera, a collection of original tunes and lyrics (including some comic ones), available to stream and download at
Melissa Balmain: Satan Talks to His Therapist (Paul Dry Books, 2023); The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books, 2021).
Jane Blanchard:  Metes and Bounds (Kelsay Books, 2023); Sooner or Later (Kelsay Books, 2022). (Reviewed here.)
Dan Campion: A Playbill for Sunset (Ice Cube Press, 2022); The Mirror Test (now available for preorder from MadHat Press).
Catherine Chandler: Annals of the Dear Unknown (Kelsay Books, 2022).
Edmund Conti: That Shakespeherian Rag (Kelsay Books, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
Maryann Corbett: The O in the Air (Franciscan U. Press, 2023).
Barbara Lydecker Crane: You Will Remember Me (Able Muse Press, 2023). (Reviewed here.)
Boris Dralyuk: My Hollywood (Paul Dry Books, 2022). (Reviewed here.)
K.E. Flann: How to Survive a Human Attack: A Guide for Werewolves, Mummies, Cyborgs, Ghosts, Nuclear Mutants, and Other Movie Monsters (Running Press/Hachette, 2021).
Daniel Galef: Imaginary Sonnets (Word Galaxy/Able Muse Press, 2023). (Reviewed here.)
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;” available via email from the author).
Andrew Frisardi: The Moon on Elba (Wiseblood Books, 2023).
Midge Goldberg: To Be Opened After My Death (Kelsay Books, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
David Hedges: Trump Über Alles: Rhymes for Trying Times (Road’s End Press, 2022).
Allison Joseph: Lexicon (Red Hen Press, 2021)
A.M. Juster: Gerytades: An Aristophanes Play…sort of (Contubernales Books, 2023). (Reviewed here.)
Girlatee (forthcoming in 2024 from Paul Dry Books). 
Steven Kent: I Tried (And Other Poems, Too), (Kelsay Books, 2023). (Reviewed here.)
Jean L. Kreiling: Shared History (Kelsay Books, 2022).
Peggy Landsman: Too Much World, Not Enough Chocolate (Nightingale & Sparrow Press, 2023).
Jenna Le: Manatee Lagoon (Acre Books, 2022).
Leslie Monsour: The Colosseum Critical Introduction to Rhina P. Espaillat (Franciscan University Press, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
Alfred Nicol (translator): One Hundred Visions of War, by Julien Vocance (Wiseblood Books, 2022).
James B. Nicola: Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (Shanti Arts, 2021).
Alistair Noon: Paradise Takeaway (Two Rivers Press, October 2023).
Chris O’Carroll: Abracadabratude (White Violet Press, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
Samantha Pious: Sappho Is Dead (Headmistress Press, 2024).
Kyle Potvin: Loosen (Hobblebush Books, 2021).
D.A. Prince: The Bigger Picture (HappenStance Press, 2022)
Orel Protopopescu: Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq (University Press of Florida, 2021).
Robert Schechter: The Red Ear Blows Its Nose: Poems for Children and Others (Word Galaxy Press, 2023) (Reviewed here.)
Leslie Schultz: Larks at Sunrise: Light-hearted Poems for Dark Times (2021). (Reviewed here.)
J.D. Smith: Catalogs for Food Lovers (Kelsay Books, 2021; reviewed here); Glenn Danzig Carries Cat Litter (2021); Transit (Unsolicited Press, 2022).
C. Luke Soucy: Ovid’s Metamorphoses: A New Translation (University of California Press, November 2023)
Katherine Barrett Swett: The Basket Cat: Quatrains from Quarantine (2022).
A.E. Stallings: This Afterlife: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022).
Marilyn L. Taylor: Outside the Frame: New and Selected Poems (Kelsay Books, 2021). (Reviewed here.)
Reagan Upshaw: In the Panhandle (Kelsay Books, 2023).
Wendy Videlock: Wise to the West (Able Muse Press, 2022; reviewed here); The Poetic Imaginarium: A Worthy Difficulty (essays; Lithic Press, 2022).
Richard Wakefield: Terminal Park: Poems (Able Muse Press, 2022).
Gail White: Paper Cuts (Kelsay Books, 2023). (Reviewed here.)
Paul Willis: Losing Streak (Kelsay, Books, 2024).
Marly Youmans: Seren of the Wildwood (Wiseblood Books, 2023).

Outer Space: 100 Poems (Cambridge University Press, 2022), edited by Midge Goldberg, includes poems by Catherine Chandler, Rhina Espaillat, Martin Elster, Ned Balbo, Allison Joseph, A.M. Juster, Leslie Monsour, A.E. Stallings, X.J. Kennedy, and Robert Crawford.

Lost Love and City! Oh City are the latest Potcake Chapbooks (Sampson Low Ltd., 2022), edited by Robin Helweg-Larsen and illustrated by Alban Low. They include poems by Wendy Cope, Amit Majmudar, Gail White, Maryann Corbett, Jerome BettsJ.D. Smith, Michael R. Burch, Brooke Clark, Martin Elster, Robin Helweg-LarsenJames B. Nicola, Martin Parker, Cody Walker, Melissa Balmain, and others.

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

Extreme Formal and Extreme Sonnets II (Rhizome Press, 2021 and 2022), anthologies edited by Beth Houston, include 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, Daniel Galef, Nicole Caruso Garcia, Claudia Gary, Max Gutmann, Robin Helweg-Larsen, Jean L. Kreiling, Barbara Loots, Susan McLean, Leslie Monsour, Chris O’Carroll, Alexander Pepple, Kyle Potvin, Wendy Sloan, Rob Stuart, 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.)

recently received by 
Light editors and contributors

Please join us in cheering Light‘s Pushcart Prize nominees, finalists, and longlisters for work published in 2023. The nominees (chosen by Editor-in-Chief Melissa Balmain and Managing Editor Kevin Durkin) are being sent to Pushcart Press for possible inclusion in its annual anthology. (Speaking of which, our recent winner, Lily Jarman-Reisch, now has her poem “Chemo Becomes Me” in Pushcart’s latest anthology, available here.)

The nominees:

Clyde Always: “Swell”
Allison Joseph: “Good Vibrations”
Jean L. Kreiling: “Partygoer’s Ghazal”
Susan McLean: “A Roman thought has struck him.”
Samantha Pious: “The Voice” 
Gail White: “On Viewing Barbie” 

The finalists (aka near-nominees):

D.A. Cooper: “Petrarch on (Not) Reading Dante” 
Gold: “If Only”
Julia Griffin: “All Rigged Out”
Steven Kent
: “It’s a Business Doing Pleasure with You”
A.E. Stallings
: “William Leonard Henry Poe”
Alex Steelsmith
: “Breakthrough”


Marshall Begel: “Beauty is Veneer Deep”
Dan Campion
: “Ford’s Theatre Revisited”
Joshua Coben
: “Six-Word Stories: Rhyming Edition”
Barbara Crooker
: “Incidental”
Daniel Galef
: “Donne to Death”
Midge Goldberg
: “The Other Mother”
Julia Griffin: “Chocolate Barbells”
A.M. Juster: “Schrödinger’s Kitty Litter”
Philip Kitcher: “Flattery Falls Flat”

Paul Lander
: “Writer’s Strike Haiku”
Jenna Le: “Of Waists and Glands”
Joe Medeiros: “A Letter to the Supreme Being”
Simon Mermelstein: “Vanilla Icebox”
Chris O’Carroll
: “Chillanthropy”
Nina Parmenter: “How Do We Deal with Carbon?”
Christopher Scribner: “A Case of Hives?”
Alex Steelsmith
: “Challenging Dogmas”
Katherine Barrett Swett: “A Man’s Jan”
Wendy Videlock: “Nature Never Hurries”
Richard Wakefield: “Kik the Woolly Mammoth, a Cautionary Tale”

Other recent honors:

Nicole Caruso Garcia‘s debut collection, OXBLOOD, received the 2023 International Book Award for narrative poetry.

Barbara Lydecker Crane and Jean L. Kreiling are the winners of the 2024 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest, Barbara for her sonnet crown “Roughly True” and Jean for her sonnet “Calling Hours at the Funeral Home.” Daniel Galef, Mia Grogan, and Gail White are among the finalists.

A.E. Stallings has been named the forty-seventh Oxford Professor of Poetry.

Lily Jarman-Reisch‘s poem “Chemo Becomes Me”—published and nominated by Light—has won a Pushcart Prize. It appears in Pushcart’s 2024 anthology (of work originally published in 2023).

Jean L. Kreiling‘s poem “Clair de Lune” won Plough‘s 2023 Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award. Midge Goldberg‘s poem “Argument of Periapsis” was one of the two finalists.

Barbara Lydecker Crane, Claudia Gary, Midge Goldberg, Jean Kreiling, Kathleen McClung, and Marly Youmans are among those shortlisted for the 2023 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest (judged by Julia Griffin). 

Amit Majmudar’s novel The Map and the Scissors (HarperCollins, 2022) won Tata Literature Live’s Book of the Year award.

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.


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 in the body of your email or as a single attachment. Include a cover letter with a link to more of your work.

The annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest will open for submissions August 15, 2024.