2015 List of Indispensable Women Poets

On our contest entry form we ask poets to list 2-3 Indispensable Women Poets. What an amazing resource this is creating for us!

Here’s the list of names submitted as of December 20th:

Adrienne Rich
Akiko Yosano
Allison Townsend
Anna Akhmatova
Anne Finch
Annie Dillard
Aracelis Girmay
Audre Lorde
Beckian Fritz Goldberg
Bette Lynch Husted
Brenda Shaugnessy
Cathy Colman
Cecilia Woloch
Connie Willis
Dahlia Ravikovitch
Daisy Fried
Denise Duhamel
Eavan Boland
Elizabeth Bishop
Ellen Bass
Emily Dickinson
Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Glenna Luschei
Gwendolyn Brooks
Heather McHugh
Helen Klein Ross
Holly Day
Jane Hirschfield
Jane Kenyon
Joan Colby
Judy Rowe Michaels
Kay Ryan
Kim Addonizio
Liesl Mueller
Linda Gregg
Linda Hogan
Linda Pastan
Louise Erdrich
Louise Glück
Lucille Clifton
Lucy Tapahonso
Margaret Atwood
Marian Boyer
Marie Howe
Marilyn Hacker
Marsha de la O
Mary Oliver
Maxine Kumin
May Sarton
May Swenson
Maya Angelou
Muriel Rukeyser
Naomi Shihab Nye
Natasha Trethewey
Nellie Wong
Nikki Finney
Paisley Rekdal
Patricia Caspers Ross
Patricia Fargnoli
Patricia Smith
Pattiann Rogers
Quan Barry
Rachel Bluwstein
Renee Ashley
Rita Dove
Ruth Stone
Sandra Cisneros
Sharon Olds
Sonia Sanchez
Sylvia Plath
Tiffany Midge
Ursula K. Le Guin
Wislawa Szymborska

Our First Chapbooks Go On Sale Today!

Our 2014 On the Edge winners are being printed this week. We are so excited by the quality of the poetry and the beautiful book design our printer Joe Carlough created.

And the covers! Wow, the covers! QuillsEdge Board Member Anique Taylor created a painting just for The Garlic Peelers, and the multi-talented Suellen Wedmore sent us her own lighthouse paintings to choose from for Mind the Light.

You can buy them now on our QuillsEdge Press Web Store for $12/book, with free shipping. They will be mailed out starting October 10th. We’re offering a pre-shipping special deal – both beautiful chapbooks for $20.00

Both books contain a selection of poems from our four finalists: Eve Linn, Sarah Backer, Kim Baker, and T. Stores.


Of The Garlic Peelers, 2014 Judge Barbara Crooker said:

garlic peelersOne of the things I look for in a chapbook is unity of theme, keeping in mind Frost’s dictum that if 26 separate poems make up a book, then the 27th poem is the book itself. The Garlic Peelers exemplifies this. I love the stunning title poem, and the way the other poems unfolded, like cloves of garlic from its core. I also admired the variety of forms and voices used, and the central metaphor: women’s lives as many-layered and essential as garlic. I like the way Lucia Galloway plays with multiple levels of meaning (chase/chaste/chastened; skins/scraps/leavings/chaff), the quotes that are salted between sections, and the way each section is introduced by lines that are excerpted and reworked from the title poem. No good recipe is complete without garlic, and no poetry shelf is complete without this fine book.




Of Mind The Light, 2014 Judge Barbara Crooker said,

mind the ligh

Mind The Light has as its narrators five very different women who were lighthouse keepers, five separate personas, five unique voices, like the multi-faceted Fresnel lens used in lighthouses. Each poem is a small gem; “lapidary” comes to mind in describing them. The central metaphor, women finding their strength in adverse and sometimes unchosen circumstances, took my breath away. This is a book of poetry that reads like a novel, and I challenge any reader to come away unmoved.


Mind the Light also has photos of four of the women, and an original painting by Suellen Wedmore of the fifth.

We’ve been editing our hearts out!

Been a while since our last post – but only because we’ve been busy being editors!

The second of the two winning manuscripts just flew digitally to our designer, Joe Carlough, so layout can begin. We can’t wait to see the proofs, which will be coming soon. Soon soon soon.

Since QuillsEdge Press is dedicated to creating community, and not only to publishing “contest winners,” we’re doing something different with our first two chapbooks. Each one will have a complete winning manuscript in a front section, and then a separate section at the back where each of the other four finalists will have two poems. When you buy our books (and you WILL buy them!), you’ll also be getting four poems by each finalist as a sample of the depth and variety of poetry submitted to us.

And all six finalists will be invited to be readers for our next contest! Just like every other small press, we have to run contests to fund the work, but for us strengthening bonds between women poets is just as much our mission as publishing chapbooks.

More exciting news is coming soon, including our next competition, readings, how to BUY THE BOOKS, and announcements of new Board members!

Meanwhile, here’s part of the cover image for Lucia Galloway’s chapbook, created by poet and artist (and now BOARD MEMBER) Anique Taylor.

garlic cropped for blog

Finally Finalists

Finalists for the “On the Edge” Competition Have Been Chosen

After receiving 150 manuscripts, and reading carefully through all of them, Quills Edge Press is thrilled to announce these six finalists, which have been forwarded to judge Barbara Crooker:

Kim Baker, Warwick, RI, Hardship, Art, and Other Reluctant Mothers
T. Stores, Newfane, VT, Verge
Suellen Wedmore, Rockpart, MA, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife
Sara Backer, Hollis, NH, The Fourth Nest
Lucia Galloway, Claremont, CA, The Garlic Peelers
Eve F. W. Linn, Carlisle, MA, Album of Not

Women Poets Over 50 Rock!

Choosing only a handful of finalists was not easy. Every manuscript was read by at least two members of Quills Edge, and the final decision was made over a LONG lunch.

When we first announced our plans for Quills Edge, we of course had detractors who assumed a press that was not ONLY only women but ONLY only women over 50 would:

1. turn up very few good poets
2. produce manuscripts so alike they were monotonous

Wrong on both counts, of course. The range of voices and styles was enormous, and the lives informing the work were utterly diverse – the only commonality was that the poets had lived through decades of life changes.

All three of us – Jane Seitel, Elliott batTzedek, and Jude-Laure Denis, are happy that an external judge will be making the final decision, for we couldn’t choose. With more funding we’d be publishing all six, and hope to in the future.

So excited to have come this far!
Jane and Elliott
QuillsEdge Press: Indispensable Poetry by Women Over 50

Poets that shaped us deeply – Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker:

All poets have their chosen ancestors and affinities. As an American poet I see myself in the line of Whitman, Williams, and Ginsberg, those great enablers of the inclusive democratic impulse, the corollary of which is formal openness. As a student I wrote in traditional closed forms, as did they—before they discovered the joy and meaning of open forms. To write in open forms is to improvise. Improvisatory verse is like doing a jazz solo: we know what we’ve just done, and the next line has to be connected to it, has to grow out of it somehow, but there is an essential unpredictability. This is an American invention because we act, in America, as if the future is partly shaped by the past, but is not determined by it. We are (a little bit) free.

Older Women Poets Kicking Butt – Happy Birthday Anne Porter!

And in the realm of women poets who got serious late in life then kicked poetic butt – Happy Birthday Anne Porter! Anne published her first collection, An Altogether Different Language, in 1994, when she was 83 years old. The collection was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Today is the birthday of poet Anne Porter (books by this author), née Channing. She was born in Sherborn, Massachusetts, in 1911. When she was 16, she met artist Fairfield Porter, and they were married by the time she was 20. She had been writing poetry since she was seven, but now, as a busy mother of five, she didn’t have much time for her own pursuits. The choir and women’s group at the Methodist church were her only social outlets, apart from playing hostess to her husband’s artist friends. Sometimes she modeled for her husband’s paintings, but they weren’t portraits of her; she compared the experience to being an apple in a still life.

When her Fairfield Porter died in 1975, Anne lived with her daughter Elizabeth, and then on her own after her daughter married. Porter felt alone and vulnerable in the quiet empty house, and fell down the stairs twice. She knew she couldn’t live on her own any longer, and was all set to move into an assisted-living facility when her daughter and son-in-law invited her to move in with them. They built an addition to their house just for her, with vaulted ceilings like a cathedral. It was there, at a modest desk surrounded by her late husband’s paintings, that she began to devote more time to her poetry. She collected bits of it on whatever scrap of paper she found lying around, and turned it over and around in her mind, and only when it was nearly complete did she sit down at her old typewriter and commit it to the page.

50 & Counting!

50 FABULOUS MANUSCRIPTS have arrived! There are days when one shows up at 76 Wildflower like a single rose. And days when the mailbox becomes a bouquet, and the mail person knocks on my door and one day wonders what a QuillsEdge is? I tell her, a QuillsEdge is a poet, a Carol or a Kay or a Krista or a Jean or a June. A QuillsEdge comes in any variety of envelopes with secret surprises in the wrappers, and it is harder and harder not keep from jumping in and reading every single one. Yet for that I must wait a while longer, until both Elliott and I can sit down with some good java and take our time with them and compare our notes. But before even that I am coming up with a template which notices all those wonderful poetic things which makes the poetry–the heart, the soul, the craft.

One of the wonderful bonuses of this labor of love is that I decided, early on, to do things a bit differently, (and as time goes on you will see how different a press we are inventing or re-inventing) and so I try to call each contributor, to say thank you and got it, to ask how you heard about us, and for those whose manuscripts we will be reading for review, what would be helpful for us to notice about your poetry that would nurture you as a writer? Each call has been a blessing for me–my goodness, I’ve never spoken to anyone in Spokane before! And I am thrilled at the diversity of voices from different regions. This is a banquet –a genuine banquet. Thank you all for this thanksgiving


Editor’s Note: On Starting a Press


Hello all. The sun is doing its job on this beautiful summer’s day & I thought this would be a good time to add a note. Elliott has been posting word of the contest on websites near and far—I have been putting in leg- & headwork into reading samples of small press chap books, some of which are remarkable, as well as getting info on the ins & outs of printing, paper, book design, art, etc.—all the material stuff that goes into establishing a press.

Like most small presses, start ups are hard. I had the idea of doing this over the last two years, as I became aware that older poets faced particularly challenges, amongst them a presence as specialized chapbook press. Elliott agreed, so here we are doing this out of conviction with a small bit of start up money squirreled away. We know this is a hard time for everyone, especially for seniors, financially. So let me take a moment to address entry fees and the add-ons we offer for things like manuscript evaluation and having a copy of the winning book sent to you.

Personally, I hate entry fees. I remember all the ones I have personally have written checks for and how I’d fume when I didn’t even get a rejection notice! Undertaking the press, however, I have developed a bit of a different perspective. Like it or not, fee taking is a necessary practice if a press is to have a chance to do what it sets out to do and as is necessitated by the task. Employing a book designer, a printer, seeking out art is all part of the creation of a chapbook of poetry. So lately, I am very conscious that when I sent out to a contest or journal which includes a submission fee, it needs to go to a press I feel is a asset to the community of writers, and I want to support. Because I take this view, then acceptance becomes only one of two positives, since the action in itself gives me an opportunity to support something I feel good about.

You may notice there are “add ons” to the entries. One of these, an opportunity to have one of us either speak to you or write you about what we see are the strengths of your manuscript and what you may want to think about in revision or restructure, is something I feel is a service to contributors as well as a way of funding the start up. Many poets live in relative isolation and, while it is a terrific thing, don’t have regular, productive and supportive input into their poetry. So this service, which is, by all comparisons, modest in cost, may have value to certain members of our writing community. The other add on is receiving a copy of the book selected. While we will henceforth hope to have a wide range of voices represented, this will give you an idea of our starting point, and may have value in your creative process.

I would also encourage you to browse other chapbooks and presses to get an idea of what you think makes a great chapbook. We offer some links to some of these presses which we consider our sister organizations. My best to everyone for a summer of joy and enrichment, and if you decide to send us a chapbook, I can assure you it will be read with appreciation, seriousness, and delight.

At work again

Another long pleasant afternoon of Press work at Jane’s house in Morristown. The competition opens in a little more than four weeks and we still have so much work to do. (Of course, we always will, or at least that’s our goal).

Jane’s just back from a book binding workshop, and she learned an amazing amount. We know our first few chapbooks will be simply bound, probably 3 hole/ribbon, but considering the possibilities is so exciting. I’ve become so enamoured by possibilities that I see in the graphics/comics world, like McSweeney’s monthly packs of odd books, letters, postcards, puzzles, etc. There’s no reason why we can’t think outside the book and move towards engaging new forms – never doubt that an Old Broad can blow your mind with a new idea. Never.

Here’s an intriguing format we just came across from Kristy Bowen at Dancing Girl press and studio – a beautifully designed box of pages entitled billet-doux

This special dancing girl press limited edition collection of missives is sure to entice and delight. 15 poets. 15 love letters. Each piece written and designed by the poet themselves and collected in a lovely box. A volume sure to thrill the poetry and art lover (as well as the occasional voyeur.)

billet doux

Love it? You can order it here: Dancing Girl Press

Also today, as always, we’re talking and thinking and scheming about the HUGE miss-match between the incredible richness of chapbooks being created and the incredible lack of ways to get those books to the attention of, and into the hands of, poetry peers. We’re making a small start with our chapbook reviews page, but what else can we do? What else can you do? Can any of us do? There’s no reason not to consume chapbooks like Poetry Pringles, bought by the can-full and munched nonstop until you are satiated (temporarily)

Contest Guidelines Accomplished

A morning with media wizard Elliott, computer, caffeine, canines and Jane cooking up the Contest Guidelines. Mission accomplished and the guidelines are posted. The website now has the contest guidelines and we are now officially signed up for CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and Publications) and have also joined the party at MailChimp to stay connected with everyone on the mailing list. So take a look.