Difficult People

Yes, difficult people.

At every stage of life, they slither out of the swamp to inflict their neuroticisms on the rest of us. Blindsiding with rapid mood changes and toothy lunges.

Charles Bukowski said it well in “The Laughing Heart”:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Bacopa Literary Review, an Invitation to Writers

 Bacopa Literary Review

Contest submissions open March 1 – May 31, 2018 with a $250 prize in each of four genres plus $25 payment for each published work. $3 submission fee (first submission free formembers of Writers Alliance of Gainesville). If accepted for publication, you agree to grant us First North American Serial Rights. 

 We’re looking for well-wrought poems. Intrigue us, move us, surprise us with stunning imagery, lyricism, soundplay, structure. Disturb our well-trod patterns of thought.

  • 1-3 poems per submission
  • Each poem maximum 88 lines including spaces
  • Do not double space: show the shape of your poem as it will appear in print.
  • 12-point type; Arial font preferred
  • Submit the file in .doc, .docx or .rtf only

Prose Poems are pure creation, the playful and daring edge of poetry. The writer must provide powerful lyrical language and, above all, a truthful, commanding voice.

  • One prose poem per submission
  • Limit 500 words
  • Do not double space; show the shape of your prose poem as it will appear in print
  • 12-point type; Arial font preferred
  • Submit the file in .doc, .docx or .rtf only

Short Stories must draw in the reader with their depth, clarity and voice. Elements of a short fiction story include characterization, conflict and change. Fiction of under 1500 words is welcome, but must revolve around a central story core. Keep the writing tight and concise, with a powerful, authentic voice.

  • One short story per submission
  • Limit 1,500 words; minimum of 250 words
  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point type; Arial font preferred
  • Submit the file in .doc, .docx or .rtf only

The Creative Nonfiction we publish has a moving inner voice. It holds to the same standards as other literary forms while remaining grounded in fact. As author John McPhee says, “Creative nonfiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.”

  • One creative nonfiction per submission
  • Limit 2,500 words
  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point type; Arial font preferred
  • Submit the file in .doc, .docx or .rtf only

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Click Editors’ BlogFacebookTwitter for examples of writing we publish   

Lessons from Mary Oliver’s “A Poetry Handbook”

“Oh, you don’t know anything about poetry, so how can you say this poem is bad? You shouldn’t presume that you can judge poetry. So you ought not even try.” The voice continues on.

With that “You don’t know anything,”  I stop listening, holding the phone six inches from my ear.  Instead, I fumble through the top shelf of my bookcase, looking for Mary Oliver’s slim book, A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry. Yellow, I’m looking for yellow, I tell myself. Ah, there it is.

It is, I’ll be honest, no longer a copy worth much on Amazon. Page after dog-eared page scrawled with black Pentel Wow! ink. A well-read copy, in other words.

I say to the voice, when it stops for a nanosecond, pausing for breath, “I know what I like and … .” Cut off by another onslaught of words, I move away from the phone and thumb through Oliver’s book. There, on page 110, lie the words I would shout if I could squeeze them through the mouthpiece, beam them up to a satellite, drop them into the voice’s ear.

Clearly they are very clever poems. Forsaken however in such writing is the pace – the energy between the start and the finish, the sense of flow, movement, and integrity. Finally the great weight of its glittering pulls it down. 

The fault in bad poetry lies not in the stars. It is the universal that falls to the sword of the personal in so much contemporary poetry.  It doesn’t take a person with an MFA or English lit degree to know that.

Oliver puts it this way, in speaking of the “finest” contemporary poetry:

And the finest of these poems brim from the particular, the regional, the personal, and become – as all successful poems must – “parables” that say something finally about our own lives, as well as the lives of their authors.  … they [poems] slip from the instance and become the exemplum of the general … .” (p. 80)

Yes, it is prudent to know the rules, the manner of arranging a poem, the many literary devices available to poets and other writers. Oliver dives into brief discussions of the following, clearly and concisely, using examples from skilled poets. I notice she doesn’t include her own work as examples.




Line length: monometer, dimeter, and so on (and – of course – the famous pentameter)

Rhythm:  iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee



In the end, it is rhythm that underlies everything. Not the singsong, but rather cadence, pleasing to the ear, swathed in imagery.

I know what I like. And so do most readers.