Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Consultations with Elizabeth J Colen

Do you have an in-progress collection of poems that could use an expert eye? If so, we’ve got four talented poets, all of whom have a great deal of experience as writing teachers, who are ready to help.

Manuscripts may be up to 75 pages in length and should be formatted in 12 point font. The consulting fee is $250. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is April 30, 2017. Our poets will respond with their critiques by May 31.

Read on to learn more about Elizabeth J Colen. If you might be interested in working with TJ Beitelman, Bettina Judd, or David Rigsbee, click on the “Consultations” button at the top of this page and make your selection from the dropdown menu.

Space in this program is limited, so be sure to submit your manuscript soon!

Click Here to Submit

Statement of Purpose

A poem should yield potential pleasure on (at least) two levels. First, surface: the sonic qualities of language coupled with precise observation, syntax, and image should produce engagement purely with what’s presented on the page, sound and denotation. A reader should enjoy a poem for how the words play prior to any search for deeper ‘meaning.’ Second, whatever metaphors or allusions the poem is working with should add additional layering. A complicated understanding that a reader may or may not glean, based on what references and prior understandings they bring with them to the piece. This second, deeper reading may inform and even compete with surface pleasure, but it should never replace that surface pleasure. In short, whether or not a reader ‘understands’ a poem, a poem should please or stun.

I read best from that surface place of enjoyment, loving the words for what they are, stung cold when they don’t perform, worse yet when a writer packs a poem with loose and unnecessary sounds. Condense, condense. While I read to understand the deeper intentionality of a piece, it is the line-level urgency of communication I’m most interested in.

When constructing a whole book, the manuscript should move forward by way of narrative, concept, or mix-tape methodology, writer matching sounds from one poem to the next, accruing meaning through both intention (content) and intuition (sound).

My aesthetics are informed by ravenous reading habit, 2-4 books a week with a focus on contemporary poetry. It is my hope that by reading everything, all the secrets of language will unlock themselves, matrix-like before me. Poets I currently cannot live without include Gertrude Stein, W.H. Auden, C.D. Wright, Carl Phillips, Craig Santos Perez, Claudia Cortese, and Raul Zurita.

By Elizabeth Colen

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

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Upcoming Consultations

We’re planning some great consultations for 2017! Creative nonficiton with Abayomi Animashaun, fiction with Kelly Magee, poetry with Jessica Piazza and much more. Stay tuned for details!

Elizabeth Colen

Elizabeth J. Colen is the author of poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books, 2010) and Waiting Up for the End of the World (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012), flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake (Rose Metal Press, 2011), long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition (Ricochet Editions, 2014), and Your Sick (Jellyfish Highway, 2016), co-written with Carol Guess and Kelly Magee. She teaches at Western Washington University.

Colen Elizabeth Author page