Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Consultations with Cynthia Manick

During the month of April, Black Lawrence Press authors Charlotte Pence, Cynthia Manick, and Michele Battiste are on board to critique poetry manuscripts; and they are accepting everything from individual poems to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font.

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is April 30. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by May 31.

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

Note: Please do not send manuscripts that promote hate speech, are intended to harass or bully a specific person or group of persons, or include glorified sexual violence.

Click Here to Submit

Statement of Purpose

When reading individual poems I look for the creative spark first. I’m most drawn to poems that inform the reader; the word or line that pulls me into the poem or represents a change in thinking. For me that’s the moment when the poem takes flight. I believe poems should introduce questions, issues, characters, and images; and poets should use all the tools in their toolbox. In the same vein, good poems can reflect conflict and celebrate joy; each represents parts of the human experience. I always think of the poet CD Wright saying “you have deer here, but give me venison” meaning don’t shy away from details that enrich the work. Every poet has a unique voice and I enjoy discovering that voice in the work.

When evaluating chapbooks and full length projects, I believe that strength not length makes a good book. Most projects have themes and obsessions. As a consultant I try to find the strengths and weaknesses of those themes and see where it succeeds. I also think it’s great when poets go off theme and the reader learns something new. When reading connected work, I ask where do the various threads lead? Any new discoveries? More importantly, do the poems speak to each other? I try to identify the poet’s intention and work within those parameters. I believe most full-length projects represent a journey, so at the end of a book, the reader should be in a different head space.

In my own work, I deal a lot with imagination and memory. I also like to “corrupt” modern day forms like warranty information, dictionary entries, and shopping lists. I greatly admire the conciseness and power of Lucille Clifton; the act of witnessing represented by Nikky Finney; the narrative threads of Natalie Diaz; list poems; poems that combine the fantastical and real; and poets that take risk with language and form.

By Cynthia Manick

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

May – Fiction Consultations

June – Creative Nonfiction Consultations

Cynthia Manick

A Pushcart Prize nominated poet with a MFA in Creative Writing from the New School; she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Fine Arts Work Center, Hedgebrook, Poets House, and the Vermont Studio Center. Manick serves as East Coast Editor of the independent press Jamii Publishing and is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue. Select poems have been performed by Emotive Fruition, a performance series in NYC where actors bring to life page poetry for the stage; and most recently her poem "Things I Carry Into The World" was made into a film by Motionpoems, an organization dedicated to video poetry. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, African American Review, Bone Bouquet, Callaloo, Clockhouse, DMQ Review, Human Equity Through Art (HEArt), Fjords Review, Kweli Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Manick Cynthia © Sue Rissberger Author page