Becoming Earthlings by Resident Skeptic, James R. Cowles


James R. Cowles is a member of the diverse Bardo Group Beguines, which publishes The BeZine, a publication that  I manage and edit. James also regularly contributes to The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again. The jumping off point for this essay is The Martian (2015). The screenplay was written by Drew Goddard and is based on Andy Weir’s book (2011) of the same name. The questions are: Do we (the human race) have the “heart-ware” for space exploration? Have we (the human race) matured enough for the venture?  / J.D.

It might be a good idea to save this “Skeptics Collection” column, print it off, and put it in a safe-deposit box or a time capsule. You see, this post is going to be in the nature of a movie review. Sorta. Kinda. I normally do not do movie reviews, and consider movie reviews about as relevant to me, personally, as a bicycle is to a fish. Or a condom to a Republican. (Sorry … couldn’t resist!) But I am going to make an exception in the case of the recent and justly renowned Matt Damon science-fiction movie The Martian. Virtually all the reviews I have read concentrate on the movie as a paean to international cooperation, the STEM disciplines, and an essential optimism about the ability of the human species to triumph over catastrophe. All that is true. The Martian is all those things. But there is a darker and far more pessimistic subtext to the movie that, at least so far, has seemed to escape the notice of all the critics whose reviews I have read. Matt Damon’s razzle-dazzle and the technological / special-effects pyrotechnics, both Oscar-worthy, easily cause us to lose sight of the movie’s departure from – even its detachment from – historical context.


My apologies in advance for any spoilers in what follows. But the number of people who have not at least read a synopsis of The Martian could hold a convention in a phone booth. But just in case … the movie is about a medium-future – a few decades, but less than a century – expedition to Mars on the part of six astronauts. (I say “medium future” because all the cell phones look suspiciously like late-model i-Phones.) The expedition in question, Ares III, is the third of a projected five human expeditions to Mars jointly comprised by Project Ares. But a little less than halfway through their projected stay on the surface of Mars, a severe storm blows into the landing site, and the Ares III mission commander, Commander Melissa Lewis, coolly played by Jessica Chastain, orders the astronauts outside the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) to return to the ship and to prepare to liftoff the surface and into orbit:  if the wind blows the MAV over on its side, no one is going home. On the way back to the MAV, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by a piece of wind-driven debris, knocked unconscious, and basically buried in the shifting sands. Since the MAV is about to tip over from the vertical, Lewis orders the launch, leaving Watney behind. The rest of the movie is about the near-miraculous survival of Watney, his ingenuity in bolstering the abandoned living quarters on the Martian surface, his communication with Earth, and his eventual rescue by the mother ship, the Hermes, whose crew – basically staging a mutiny against the express orders of NASA senior management – elects to swing around earth, postpone returning to Earth, and return to Mars to rescue their lost-but-now-found comrade Mark Watney.

We can nit-pick at the few places where the movie taxes credibility. The most prominent such – though still inside the envelope of believability – is Mark Watney’s psychological resilience. But then, presumably one of the salient requirements for being a Mars astronaut would be exceptionally robust emotional strength. There are a couple of technical points one could question. For one thing, the vehicle Watney uses to rendezvous with the Hermes – a MAV for the future Ares IV mission pre-positioned on the Martian surface – is stripped of its nose cone to provide a means of egress into the mother ship … so, as Watney himself notes, when he ascends from Mars in the Ares IV MAV, he will be flying a “convertible”. There is also a subtle issue in which a Jet Propulsion Laboratory mega-nerd equates a slingshot trajectory with a Hohmann maneuver using the Oberth effect. But that may well be just a misinterpretation of movie dialogue on my part. (The movie plot was getting pretty intense at that point.) And in any case, all such reservations pertain to the “picture” of the movie. My problem is a more comprehensive issue with the “frame”, i.e., the larger historical context.


In what follows, I wish I were dead-wrong. But I don’t think so.

The “frame” of The Martian, its fundamental presupposition, is a very simple – and simply impossible – postulate: the US has embarked alone on a massive, demanding, presumably staggeringly expensive, and unprecedentedly sophisticated multi-phase program of human exploration of Mars. The crew members are international, but the project is entirely American-financed – judging by some dialogue concerning congressional reluctance to finance Ares IV and V if an attempt were not made to rescue Mark Watney. Project Apollo “only” went to the moon, but Apollo strained America’s science economy to the breaking point, and even so, funding only persisted because the US was competing with the Soviets. (Without naming names, of course, I will say that I know perhaps a baker’s dozen NASA scientists, most deceased, some retired, who still resent Apollo’s monopolization of funding for space exploration.) The point is that The Martian – again, I wish I were wrong – is predicated on the type of large-scale science project that no individual nation has the resources to undertake: human exploration of the planets. (In fairness to the movie, I should probably say that, if the writers had dealt with this issue, neither the story nor the movie would ever have gotten off the ground … so to speak.) I say “I wish I were wrong” because I have always had a burning curiosity – “lust” would not be too strong a word – to see just what the hell is out there. And, while robotic probes are indisputably impressive, I want humans to venture forth and see for themselves. My conclusion: long-term, sustained human exploration of the planets — or even one relatively earth-like planet such as Mars — is a project that can only – only – be undertaken, not by any individual nation or even any restricted consortium of nations, but by the human race itself. Are we – meaning “the human race” – presently capable of this? That is, do we (= the human race) have the ability to work together as a global civilization, not for a few years or even for a few decades, but for time-scales that would support the sustained exploration of the solar system … almost certainly generations at least, most likely centuries?

My short answer: no. Nor do we (= the human race) show signs of being able to do so for generations … it may well be centuries. Remember Stanley Kubrick’s still-iconic 2001:  A Space Odyssey? It projected the human exploration of Saturn by 2001, a degree of optimism that makes my toenails ache now for its naivete. No wonder Mad magazine entitled its satire of the movie 2001 Minutes of Space Idiocy. Admittedly that is a bit harsh.  Remember: we were much more innocent and much less nihilistic in 1968.


Hardware is the easy part. Ditto software. In fact, I would venture the educated guess that the technology exists right now – this moment – to undertake a real-world version of The Martian’s Project Ares. What we lack, and will lack into the indefinite future, is not hardware but … well … call it “heart-ware”. The sustained, large-scale exploration of the solar system will require human beings to develop the capacity to act, not as a loose collection of squabbling, often warring, nations and tribes competing for preeminence on this one small planet, and will require something like the subordination of nationalistic competitions, religious prejudice, and racial fractiousness in favor of devoting prime loyalty to the human race as such, the human race per se, the human race tout court. Conservatives’ knees will jerk toward the charge of “collectivism” … one minor but telltale instance of the problem.

Herewith an analogy:  during the run-up to the American Civil War, it was customary to reference the United States with a first-person plural verb — ” … the United States are … ” — because the antebellum States were thought of as quasi-autonomous sovereignties in their own right. After the Civil War, the first-person plural verb became first-person singular: ” .. the United States is … “. State sovereignty was not forsaken. People still knew they were Virginians, Georgians, etc. But this sense of separateness was subordinated to a sense that the United States was not only, or even primarily, a collection of sovereign States, but “one Nation indivisible”. Then the process of Nation-building could begin in earnest, and the energies hitherto diverted by controversies over the great Compromises, States’ rights, nullification, etc., etc., could be directed toward truly national goals. The great Question of all questions had been settled:  we were one Nation. Note that this required, above all else, a change of heart. That is what I mean by “heart-ware”. In the period following 1865, the Nation underwent, is still undergoing, a “heart-ware” update. Something analogous will be required, something above and beyond and transcending mere law, something in the heart, before we (= the human race) can ever hope to undertake the serious and sustained exploration of the planets and — who knows? — someday, perhaps, the stars. Only then can the energies we presently devote to pointless competition among religions and ideologies, to developing newer and more efficient ways of hacking one another to bits, to the despoilation of the very planet we all share be diverted to the welfare of each other, the  nurturing of the common human spirit, and the exploration of the Universe before which we all stand in awe. Somewhere in the Galaxy, there may be species that comprises “hive minds”, a benevolent version of Star Trek‘s Borg or the formics of the Ender’s Game cycle. But I would speculate that, for species that evolved as individuals and developed tribal identities — in other words, nations — this may well be one of the “gates” determining how long the species survives a la the Drake Equation. In any case, before we have any hope of becoming Martians, we first have to become Earthlings.

We first have to grow up.

© 2015, James R. Cowles


Our Small Beginning, a poem …. and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Brooklyn, 1970

From the beginning, Son
you were our most profound joy,
a fresh poem finely etched in old gold,
holding fast to beauty and grace,
faithful to your own gentle spirit

Just yesterday
I retrieved my soul at last,
moved by the placid persuasion of a psalm
reminding me of my rootedness
in the archives of heaven

In earlier times
life lay ahead, a rhythm of reciting tones,
a paced chant before all that somber news
and facing facts and the quiet homely work
of peacemaking for your sake

But this morning
I awoke a fading mendicant nun,
reading my own rich requiem Mass,
a celebration of my heart’s trove
and your constant love

Another breath or two
and I’m a whisper in your ear,
just an old story of someone who birthed you
now melting into the ground of Being
leaving only our hallowed cord

Listen now, Son, to the voice in the wind.
. . . . .Listen, Son –
How love whooshes and swirls, encircles and fills,
echoing from our small Beginning
into the great Forever

© 2016, poems, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


Write a poem for your child or grandchild or a niece or nephew and share it or a link to it in the comments section below. If you are new to Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a photo and short bio to It will be shared along with your poem/s by way of introducing you to readers … and to me.  🙂  Work shared on theme will be published here next Tuesday.  All are encouraged to participate: novice, emerging or pro.  You have until Monday, April 16, at 8 pm PDT to respond.

“enough, Enough, ENOUGH!” … and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

The responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, April 4, Where is the will of the cup to overcome the sword?, are marked by compassion, concern, insight, and sadness. A collection of heartfelt works by three poets new to Wednesday Writing Prompt (June G. Paul, Frank McMahon, Siobhan Tibbs – bios included by way of introduction) and by three of our dear regulars (Paul Brookes, Sonja Benson Mesher, and Mike Stone).  As a part of her response, Sonja has treated us to some of her artwork this week.

Thanks to all six poets for generously sharing their work and coming out to play. We hope you’ll join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome – encouraged – novice, emerging or pro.

The Golden Shovel Poem

The bar brawl began after midnight, blood and wine splattered where
she was sitting and asking herself, Has everyone gone out of their mind? Tell me if this is
real? Is it true that some people still do not believe that the holocaust has happened?  The
ignorance and denial of people, the erasing of and rewriting, of the history of mankind will
certainly be the cause of the end of
us all. And will the end of the world come before the end of all time? The
woman wondered, as she leaned over to pick up the cup
he had dropped during during the brawl. Standing there with the empty cup she opened her mouth to
speak, quietly asking him in whispers, Why is it so hard for you to overcome
your past, your addiction to alcohol and fighting about the weapons of warfare when it was the
Word of God, who spoke before and on the cross, offering peace with his two edged sword?
“Where is the will of the cup to overcome the Sword?”*
© 2018, June G. Paul
* line in the poem:  time for the temple whores to sleep with insanity, and take the war from it,   (c), 2017 by Jamie Dedes
enough, Enough, ENOUGH!
We drink the cup of the new covenant without
taking in its meaning, for God’s sake
Jesus Christ
turned water, into wine, into blood.
The blood of the Passover lambs replaced with
the wine in the Passover cup he called the blood of the new covenant.
There is wine to be shed, wine to be poured out at the altar
instead of blood being shed all over this earth.  Enough!
Enough drinking from this cup without living into its meaning,
without remembering Jesus Christ and his will for us – Peace.
Enough! Overcome the sword, wake up, stay, and pray, save yourselves.
Enough of the drunken soldiers drinking, trying to forget, and crying over
the blood shed from all the wars they’ve fought on this earth, Enough!
Enough! Drink, all of you, the cup of the new covenant and remember
Jesus Christ
lifted the cup in his hands while speaking his will for it and for all –
Drink, all of you, it will be shed for the forgiveness of sin.
He poured out his life of prayer for us, remember Jesus,
Remember his will for us – Peace.
It’s time we sacrifice our sin for Him, to overcome the sword,
for our own sakes and for God’s sake, to save ourselves from
the hell we’ve been causing on this earth – Nuclear blasts and bombs
bursting over and under and into the air, the land and the sea
we’re polluting ourselves and our own eternity.
enough, Enough, ENOUGH!
Now is the time to cease our fighting, now is the time to bring an end to war.
enough, Enough, ENOUGH! the battle cry of peacemakers,
Kings and Queens and Princes of Peace on earth are crying out.
Now is the time to call out and bring out the peacemakers
Those who believe in the will of the cup and the new covenant
will overcome the will to draw their swords, setting world at ease
There is time, Today, time to fill and bless the cup and lift it up
There is time, Today, time enough to be forgiven of sin,
There is time, Today, time enough for us all to sacrifice our sins and live
There is time, Today, for us to live in peace with all nations.
Now is the time to set the nations at ease instead of keeping them on edge
Now is the time for the will of the cup to overcome the sword and the world.
In peace, let the people of the earth, heal and forgive,
In peace, let us all find joy in co-creating Heaven on earth,
for that and therein is where the will of the cup is found.
(c) 2018, June G. Paul

June G. Paul

JUNE G. PAUL is an aspiring poet, wife and grandmother who enjoys creativity.  She and her husband live in Portage WI.  She recently scheduled a series of monthly poetry readings with featured poets and open mic time.  June is currently working on several different writing and art projects.  She has self-published two books and will be soon coming out with her first Chapbook which she is titling, My Poems: Chapped not Trapped.



Find me words to stop the slaughter.
Find me words which will be heard
and  not just heard but taken up,
amplified and echoed. But not

just  voiced by millions or painted
onto banners. Find me words which
will pierce concrete walls and steel-clad
minds, find me words which will stop.

Find me powers to lay across
their desks and war-room floors broken
bones and flesh, find me powers to
make them cradle in their arms

the headless child, to salve her mother’s
napalm-shredded skin, unclog
the students’ gas-filled lungs, prise out
the shards of shrapnel while they order

more assaults. If they will not desist,
then give me power to move them
to the cellars, the shattered streets
and farms and make them wait alone
while we decide their future. What
can they offer to atone? The dead
and maimed must speak, pronounce. Find
them words to write the final page.

© 2018, Frank McMahon, originally published on Reuben Woolley’s I am not a silent poet

FRANK McMAHON is a professional social worker in the UK and includes work with the Red Cross. He’s written several plays and more recently had a creative burst writing poems. His publications include I am not a silent poet, The Cannon’s Mouth, and Cirencester Scene. Frank lives in Cirencester. He’s had two more poems to appear later this year in other journals and is also a member of a local writer’s group.


a few help the others, while the others suffer


there was a picture of a bomb   in blaenau, next

to a drawing of a dick, and a passage from the bible.

hash tag.


SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events, and Other News and Information


Opportunity Knocks

ARTEMISpoetry, the bi-annual journal (May and November) of the Second Light Network, published under their Second Light Publications imprint, has an open call for submissions for the November 2018 issue for poems by women of any age. Poems should be typed or, if written, then very neatly. Each poem should commence on a new page, headed “Submission for ARTEMISpoetry”. Please send two copies. Do include your name with each poem and include your name and full contact details in your submission. Long poems are considered. Submit up to four poems to a maximum of 200 lines in all. DEADLINES: Poetry by 31st August 2018, know by 31st October 2018; Artwork by 14th September 2018, know by 31st October 2018; Members’ News & Readers’ Letters by 14th September 2018. Further details HERE.

CAGIBI, /kä’jēbē/ ▸n. a literary space, accepts submissions year round for fiction, nonfiction, translation, poetry, visual arts and graphic narrative. Submission fee: $3. The deadline for the Special Section Issue 3: Recovery is Tuesday. Details HERE.

COPPER NICKEL, a national literary journal housed at the University of Colorado and founded by the poet Jake Adam York, publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction and translation with a special but not exclusive focus in work with a sociohistorical context. Submissions for the next issue are open between September 1 and December 15. Modest payment.  Details HERE.

CRAZYHORSE, a premier American literary magazine, publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Reading period is through May 31. Submission fees: $3. Details HERE.

THE ENCHANTED CONVERSATION FAIRYTALE MAGAZINE is open for submissions of stories (700-2,000 words, 1,500 preferred) and art for its June issue entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Paying market. There’s also a opportunity for flash fiction publication. Details HERE

EYE TO THE TELESCOPE of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, an online journal of speculative poetry is published quarterly. The  October issue, which will be edited by Ashley Dioses, is themed Witches. Deadline: July 1st. Details HERE

FRONTIER POETRY, “a quality home for new poets” is an online publication open year-round for submissions by new and emerging poets who have not published more than one full-length collection. Payment: $50 – $150.  Details HERE.

SETTING FORTH! ON A LITERARY ITINERARY has an open call for submissions of fiction, memoir and other creative nonfiction and poetry on climate change. This is an Deadline: July 1, 2018. Details HERE.

 SPECULATIVE MASCULINITES, an anthology to be published by Galli Books “Socially Conscious Speculative Fiction” is open through April 15 for fiction, poetry and nonfiction. The editors seek “submissions from authors from marginalised identities and backgrounds, especially where those identities complicate the author’s relationship with masculinity, including but by no means limited to disabled writers, trans writers, and writers of colour.” Paying market. Details HEREWatch the site for announcements late in 2018 on another planned anthology, Rosalind’s Siblings.

THEMA LITERARY MAGAZINE seeks “to provide a stimulating forum for established and emerging literary and visual artists. The second is to serve as source material and inspiration for teachers of creative writing. The third is to provide readers with a unique and entertaining collection of stories, poems, art and photography.”  Themes and deadlines: Where’s the Food Truck?, July 1, 2018; The Critter in the Attic, November 1, 2018; and, Six before Eighty, March 1, 2019. Details HERE.

TRAMPSET, a literary journal for tramps, Let’s be friends seeks short fiction (short stories, flash fiction, one-act plays, excerpts from longer works), nonfiction (personal essays, micro-memoirs, culture and criticism, reviews), and poetry.” Submission fee. Details HERE.

WIGLEAF [very] short fiction is open for submissions of stories up to 1,000 words in the final weeks of March, April, August, September, October and November. Details HERE

The BeZine

Call for submission for the June issue.

THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be. Submissions for the June issue – themed Sustainability – close on May 10 at 11:59 p.m. PDT .

New rules: Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment. Send photographs or illustrations as attachments. No google docs or Dropbox or other such. No rich text. Send submissions to

Publication is June 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.

No demographic restrictions.

Please read at least one issue and the Intro/Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples. 

  • June 2018 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
  • September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.

Previously published work may be submitted IF you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions of short stores, feature articles, music videos and art for consideration. 


THE FRONTIER NEW VOICES IN FELLOWSHIP offers opportunities twice yearly and  is open for summer applications from January 1st – May 1st and  winter applications from July 1st – November 1st. Details HERE.


AMBIT 2018 POETRY COMPETITION is themed Home and the deadline is July 18, 2018. Submission fee: £6. Details HERE.

CRAZYSHORTS, an annual contest sponsored by CrazyHorse Literary Journal will open for submission of 1-3 shorts up to 500 words on July 1st. Submissions fee. Cash award and publication. Details HERE.

THE FRONTIER INDUSTRY PRIZE to be judged by Don Share (Poetry magazine), Nicole Sealey (Director of Cav Anem, and Matthew Zapruder (Editor of Wave Books) awards $3,000 to the top winner of the competitions and $100 each to two honorable mentions. Submission fee, $20. Deadline: May 15, 2018. Details HERE.

THE JAKE ADAM YORK PRIZE, a collaboration between Copper Nickel Journal and Milkweed Editions, will open for submission by U.S. poets only in July 2018. To be eligible for the prize, poets cannot have published more than one full-length book of poetry. (Chapbooks and individual poems in magazines are okay.)  Cash award ($2,000) and publication. Reading free: $25, which comes with a subscription. Details HERE.

REFLEX FLASH FICTION SUMMER 2018 CONTEST is open for entries through May 31, 2018. Cash award and publication. Entry fees. Details HEREWatch the site for info on the August 2018 contest.


  • Book Festivals U.S., 2018, Book Reporter
  • 2018 Independent Bookstore Day (U.S.), April 30, check HERE to find celebrations in your area
  • Poetix: Poetry Events for Southern California 
  • UK Poetry Festivals,The Poetry Business
  • National Poetry Month, Academey of American Poets, 30 Ways to Celebrate
  • Check out poet Anne Stewart’s poetrypf for events in London and surrounding area.
  • The arc 26 public reading April 10, 7pm – 10 pm UTC+3, 17 Rashi Street, Tel Aviv; a public reading of poetry and prose featuring contributors to arc 25 (A Calm Inside a Storm), the latest issue of the Journal of the Israel Association of Writers in English (IAWE). Details HERE.


How much of how we suffer makes us who we are and results in the art we create? How much of these feelings are the natural experience of the artist, and when is it time to seek help? What do those forms of help look like?

After a sold-out debut at Queens Council on the Arts in February 2017, Audrey Dimola’s “HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE: intersections of art & mental health/mental illness” arrives in its next generation at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s ROUGH DRAFT FESTIVAL 2018. #awarenessisempathy
Join us for another angle of ROUGH DRAFT- vibrantly pieced together from a group of artists and performers viscerally experiencing their personal realities of mental health. Hosted and curated by

Queens native and poet/curator Audrey Dimola, “HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE” is an open and honest evening of multidisciplinary performance and presentations about the too-often stigmatized topic of mental illness, particularly in connection to creativity as an outlet, outcome, or survival mechanism.

Throughout our cultural history, many of the legendary artists we know today, from painter Vincent Van Gogh to writer Virginia Woolf, grappled in this way- yet it becomes a passing line in their bio, a tragic footnote- and their brilliant work remains. In the present day, a rapidly increasing number of individuals of all ages are struggling in similar fashion, frequently in silence and shame, due to overwhelming fears regarding judgment, job security and social status, and access to help.

A variety of local featured artists will present their stories, poetry, dance, and more, in addition to a sharing of resources and experiences on these topics. All are welcome- this is a safe space. ///

Olena Marukhnyak
Deborah Emin
Bryan Bruner
Nick Neon
Steven T. Licardi
Richie Alexandro
Keys Will
Dina Gregory
Danny Matos
Bri Ana Onishea
Jonathan Cherlin
Lynne DeSilva-Johnson
Lauren Hale Biniaris
Buttered Roll / Jason Swartwood
Sam Combs
Rachel Brown / Oikofugic Rchl
Audrey Wildfire Dimola

Roll up early, as of 4:30pm Steve Vazquez of Queenscapes will be on hand taking portraits of ALL attendees and participants for a special version of his #CapturedInQueens series designed to help build awareness and attention to art & mental illness ♥ !!!

5-8pm in the LITTLE THEATRE
FREE event, please bring a friend who feels or needs this ///

RSVP @–mental-health-mental-illness

Rough Draft Festival is a one of a kind series curated by LPAC’s Associate Director Handan Ozbilgin. As a window into the creative process, The Rough Draft Festival is a celebration of artists/organizations and their work under development. RD features a wide array of artists whose work is at various levels of development all striving towards a finished product. Each year we push the boundaries of theater presenting pieces that give a voice to meaningful works. #IAMARoughDraft

CHECK THE REST OF ROUGH DRAFT FESTIVAL’s performances & offerings through APRIL 21


“I had to get old to understand that almost nothing in the world is personal.
You get rejected; you get hurt; you feel betrayed. It’s not personal. It’s the world having its way with you the way it has its way with everyone. You learn to handle it well.
You can’t eat or yell or fuck your way out of it.
You ride through it. Find the means to ride through it.
It’s not personal, and it is temporary.” Marlon Brando (via the poet Amy Barry)

YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • send PDF to (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything. Thank you!)
  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • your book or other product  should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.



PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two.

Often information is just thatinformation – and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.