Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Consultations with Marc McKee

During the month of July, Black Lawrence Press authors Lisa Fay Coutley, Amelia Martens, and Marc McKee 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 are 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 July 31. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by August 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

It is a curious thing to say I love poetry. It is absolutely true, but it’s also increasingly difficult to prove. Let’s try, though. Here is what I know, maybe all I know, about my relation to poems: the longer I look at any—and I do mean any—given poem, the closer I come to seeing something so interior in it as to almost be visible to the naked eye, the initial spark, the beating heart, the flush of oxygen turning blue blood red red red, the shadow darkening then darkening further. Once I have that sense as a careful, critical but encouraging reader, as I progress through the rest of the poem I will try to assess how close the poem comes to honoring or deliciously resisting its driving reason for being in the first place. How do the surfaces of the language amp the poem’s deepest impulses? How close can it come to earning its reason for being in the world and its demand to fill our eyes and ears? That’s how I begin reading poems.  That’s how I’ll start with yours.

My work with poets, whether they are aspiring, peers, or far beyond my ken and station, is derived from wanting to honor what makes them make the poems they craft in the first place. To that end, my discussion of people’s poems will read them first and foremost as worthy of consideration, and further and more importantly, worthy of being made better. I will get to the heart of what you are doing, and I will in all my best lead you to ways of doing it with increasing meaning, value, and power. This goes for whether you’re writing poems about flowers keeping curt diaries, the prospect of a Palestinian state, or love and death, which, after all, all poems are about. I’ll help you sharpen your knives and bring your roses along.

I am also interested in helping writers place their aesthetics and their creations in the context of the longer poetic tradition itself. In addition to my own suggestions, I will call upon the books, manifestoes, poems, YouTube videos, and playlists that I believe can help improve the richness of your poem and also give it a cultural context that gives you the opportunity to see yourself and your work not just as an isolated, Romantic quest for expression, but part of an ever-burgeoning community of writers, living and dead, whose work seeks to enlarge human experience on this earth. I’m serious about that. Of course, sometimes just eating a chocolate chip cookie enlarges human experience on this earth, so keep that in mind.

My own work I’m terrible at describing without going on for a very long time. Let it suffice to say this: I come from a particular line of American poetry that can be traced from Walt Whitman to Wallace Stevens to Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch to more recent contemporaries from Dean Young and Mary Ruefle to Tomaž Šalamun to Mark Doty and Marie Howe. Yusef Komunyakaa, Jericho Brown, Adrian Matejka, Gabrielle Calvocoressi. I don’t know what joins all these except a regard for the world that is larger than their own personal experience and a dedication to challenging, exciting language. To this day I sometimes start a poem of one of this expanding group and hopelessly can’t finish it because I have to jump up and write the poem they inspired in me. Love and death. Food and weather. Satire and terror. I also can’t stop putting helicopters everywhere. I have lots to say about where I would like to see them as something totally different is going on. I have lots to say about the elements you can’t love any more, that you can’t keep out of your poems. I can’t wait to see them.

By Marc McKee

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

August – Fiction Consultations with Thomas Cotsonas and Jen Michalski

September – Hybrid Consultations with Elizabeth Colen and Gayle Brandeis

Marc McKee

Marc McKee is the author of What Apocalypse? (New Michigan Press, 2008); Fuse (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); and Bewilderness (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Consolationeer is his third full-length collection, and a fourth, Meta Meta Make-Belief, is due from Black Lawrence Press in early 2019. Recent poems appear in Rockhurst Review, The Laurel Review, H_NGM_N, Copper Nickel, Inter|rupture, Memorious, Southern Indiana Review, and others. Here, recent means since about 2015. Three of his poems have been translated into Ukrainian and are included in Anthology of Young Poetry of the U.S.A. (A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishers: Ukraine, 2016). He teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray, and their son, Harold.  

McKee Author page