In this episode we read three poems from Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano’s poetry. Though they were originally submitted for an unthemed issue, they felt more suited to our Locals theme, one of two themes for Print 8. We expected reading submissions for Locals to expand our horizons, to help us to see different pockets of the world in a new way, but these poems helped us appreciate the every-day right in our backyard of Philadelphia.
Present at the Editorial Table:
Kathleen Volk Miller
SPECIAL GUEST: Major Jackson
PBQ Box Score: 2=1
Welcome to Episode 4 of the PBQ’s Slushpile. We take more time than other editorial boards, but we stand behind our methodology, so much so that we’re going to share our process with you through this podcast. Welcome to the editorial table. In this episode we read three poems from Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano’s poetry. Though they were originally submitted for an unthemed issue, they felt more suited to our Locals theme, one of two themes for Print 8. We expected reading submissions for Locals to expand our horizons, to help us to see different pockets of the world in a new way, but these poems helped us appreciate the every-day right in our backyard of Philadelphia.
Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano is a poet, professor, and co-editor of the American Review. She is the author of Slamming Open the Door (Alice James Books, 2009), which was the 2008 Beatrice Hawley Award winner, and also received a positive, full-page review in The New York Times, while Library Journal praised it as “A stunning first book.”
We were honored to read “30th Street Station,” “The Pool,” and “Jerzee’s Bar.” Reveal: Many of our editorial staff know Kathy well, and in fact, love her. We did what we always do when reading work of those we know; simply tried to remain as objective as possible; and made sure there were people at the editorial table who do not have a personal connection. These poems made us laugh and made our hearts hurt a bit. They gracefully walk the line between the specific and the universal.
And now for one of our occasional segments: “Something random I saw in a literary magazine this week.”
- This week, I visited Carve magazine’s site. It’s run out of Texas, publishes only fiction, and derives its name and ideology from Raymond Carver. On the submit page, they make an offer—if you become a subscriber at the time of submission, they promise to get you a response on your work faster, within two weeks.
- This flipped me out a bit and I didn’t even have time to process and think about what that does to the editor/author relationship, what it means, and then, I looked at Cleaver magazine (I guess I was on a cutlery theme) and they have this super complicated process—-their free submissions are currently closed, but if you pay them $5 you could still submit now. PLUS: In all genres, a voluntary $10.00 “tip-jar” fee will guarantee an expedited answer within two weeks.For fiction, flash, and nonfiction, a voluntary $25.00 “tip-jar” donation, which guarantees a two-week expedited answer plus a detailed personal response from one of our chief editors. We are not able to offer critiques for poetry at this time.
So—crazy genius or mercenary? This is a “thing?” Listen to what we had to say, but chime in on our Facebook page event, Episode 4.
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Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano
30th Street Station
Sweet old man in a tweed cap
soft shoes, soft brown skin,
says, Do you need a cab?
Yes I say and my heart is laughing;
this is how I get sometimes.
You look like my second grade teacher
Mrs. Richmond, I always loved
Mrs. Richmond, he says.
He ushers me to a silver Lexus.
This is not a cab. This is a bait and switch.
Behind the wheel, the driver,
300 pounds of muscle
arms like hams
a diamond ring on each pinky
a diamond in each earlobe
a red baseball cap backward.
I think a piece of his ear is missing.
I think he has a tattoo on his face.
Our eyes meet in the rear view mirror
Clang, clang, goes my danger meter
Don’t get in the car! says everyone.
So…I get in the car.
By 45th and Locust,
turns out his name is Steve.
Turns out he buried his younger sister this year
and his mom, the year before.
She was way too easy on his
brother with cerebral palsy—
51 years old and doesn’t like
to get out of bed!
I read him a poem
about my daughter, from my book.
And then he wants to remember my name,
and gets out a tiny pencil
to write it down.
My fifteen-year old son,
adopted from Chile,
pedals his bike back from the pool,
says some boys just called him a Spic,
and my brain explodes—
Ping, ping, says my brain.
Wait! says Louey.
I get in the car,
gun the gas pedal,
stomp past two
teenage lifeguards at the gate,
on my way to the deep end.
Did you call my son a Name?
I call across the water
to two skinny white boys
no older than twelve,
their goose-pimpled arms
hugging their concave chests.
They nod. Any minute they
might cry and their
their mothers might come over.
Listen, you! Words hurt!
I am yelling,
Don’t ever say that word again, do you
understand? Or I’ll come back here
and beat the shit out of you, do you understand?
Open-mouthed, they nod.
Maybe I didn’t make that threat aloud.
But we all heard it.
Louey says he was holding their
which is why they got mad
in the first place.
I love my rum and coke;
I love everybody tonight,
even the young roofer who has
drunk himself shit-faced on Budweiser.
He stands very still,
tries not to wobble when he, whoa,
sees his reflection in the mirror
behind the bar.
Seems I’ve known this guy all my life.
Tomorrow morning he’ll show up
at his mom’s house
all scraped up with a chipped tooth
and a story about some
asshole in the bar.
Should I take his keys?
Should I save him from
Should I call somebody
who loves him?
I sip my drink.
I smile at the band.
Tap, tap tap goes my foot.