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Diving for Pearls



Remembering Mary Oliver


The world lost nature poet Mary Oliver on January 15, 2019. She died from lymphoma at 83. Memorials, sketches, photos, copies of her poems, original poems in her memory filled my computer inbox. Teary eyed, I savored each post about Oliver. This wonderful poet who lived fiercely and died unafraid was cherished by many. 


Here’a a sketch of Mary Oliver by artist and poet Sandra Matucci, one (like so many) who grieved the poet’s passing. This portrait appeared on Matucci’s  Blog, One Single Drop, two days after the poet’s death.  She titled the work, She Changed the World in Word.


Mary Oliver wrote poems based on personal nature observation. She took  detailed notes about what she saw, felt and heard during solitary morning walks. She walked near where she lived on Cape Cod and in Florida and then returned home to write. She wrote plain and simple English about the joy she found in the company of plants and animals. Why? Because the ordinary inspired her to live fully. Oliver’s poetry takes fierce delight in nature’s disclosures. Her words revel in the grandeur and wildness of nature, both the dark and light. The lessons she learned gave her courage, they made her unafraid, even curious about dying, knowing death stands on the other side of living. Her poems translate detailed nature observations into words with the power to shake the reader alive to the wild and wonderful in this mortal world. My favorite Oliver poem is a fine example:

When Death Comes:

For a brief literary and biographical overview of Oliver’s work and writer’s life, Poetry Foundation is a good source. The site includes text links to several of her poems. Check out:


Hearing a poet read her own work is a way to approach another layer of meaning in a poem. While Oliver guarded her privacy, she enjoyed reading her poems to audiences. YouTube contains numerous links to spoken word performances of Mary Oliver’s poems, they are by her and others. These links take you to two famous Oliver poems in her own voice: 


Wild Geese:


The Summer Day:


Oliver’s obituary appeared in major and regional newspapers, social media sites applauded her. Articles were written by the press, by poets and citizens, by theologians and counselors, by inspirational speakers. Here are two  Mary Oliver obituaries, one from each side of the pond:  


Mary Oliver, 83, Prize-Winning Poet to the Natural World, Is Dead, - New York Times, 1/17/19,\



I was a life-long closet writer. I stopped writing in isolation when I retired. ModPo is where I got my start. This course helped me find a poetry community and introduced me to many of the writers and readers that support me as a poet today.


I’ve been taking ModPo since the class started six years ago. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Modern American Poetry. The teaching technique used is close-reading, a method favored by the program’s director, Al Filreis, a professor of English at University of Pennsylvania and Faculty Director of Kelly Writers House which hosts ModPo. The ten-week-class surveys Modern American poetry from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman up to the present. The core course covers representative poems by featured poets and begins each September. 


For those who complete ModPo (like me), we poetry lovers don’t graduate out of the course. There’s ModPoPlus to keep us engaged. We study additional poems written by authors featured in the

curricula. And once we’ve finished ModPoPlus, there are special interest threads. This past fall, I joined The Global Study Group and Haiku Corner (I write haiku and thrived in this Discussion Group. An added plus, we wrote Renga together. The haiku party that started in September is still going strong. It's so much fun, we don't want to end it.)This free online MOOC is where I met many of the poets who belong to my online writing groups. Early on, when ModPo ended in the fall, our poetry friendships didn’t. We continued sharing our writing and supporting each other by forming closed online writers groups. Two of the ModPo-inspired writer groups I belong to are online, global and still flourishing four years later. I have writer friends from ten nations. 


ModPo continues year round in a Slo-Po mode. That’s where the class is now, much slower paced, less intensive. Every year I learn about more great poems by modern American poets. As I expand my knowledge of the poets and their work, invariably I learn more tools of the craft for writing poetry.

ModPo keeps evolving. It’s a class that develops global poetry community and keeps expanding. ModPo is my-place-to-go, it’s where I learn about modern American poetry. Or it’s for anyone with an interest in learning more about English language poetry.


Students from all over the world bond over poetry and keep coming back. That's part of the course dynamic. I’m in contact with the ModPo-ers I met at the start, plus new ones who’ve joined each year. The class is open, diverse and free. To me, ModPo's success is a stellar example of democracy in action.


ModPo enrollment remains open. Once enrolled, you can sample the writing resources and poetry treasures. Or begin a self-paced study through the course. Students have free access to class materials, videos and emailed ModPo updates.


Here’s the link to enroll in ModPo.

Pearl Diving Editor Suggestion: 


Trish Hopkinson publishes a great writer’s Blog that I subscribe to and it’s free. Hopkinson sends many fine suggestions for literary journals that consider unsolicited poetry submissions.  


This week I learned about NaHaiWriMo, a project by Michael Dylan Welch that has been going strong for nine years. There’s a prompt a day to write a haiku that invites participants to post a haiku each day for the month of February. Haiku are so short, if you start now, you can catch up!  


The short form of haiku is a personal favorite. If you haven’t written haiku before, I can say from experience that writing haiku is how you learn. Welch’s form of haiku is NOT syllable specific (5-7-5), rather he uses a not-to-exceed 17 syllables guideline. The haiku contains two contrasting images that are juxtaposed. If you become addicted to the Way of Haiku (as I am!), prompts continue year round.  


Caution: If you participate in NaHaiWriMo with the intent to publish later, don’t submit what you write on the site because it is public. Many literary journals consider published what’s been posted on a Blog. 


Here’s the link to Trish Hopkinson’s Blog

Pearl Diving Editor Suggestion:


One of my online poetry groups writes haiku together. As a writer group, we wrote a tribute poem series in memory of the soul, gospel, jazz and blues singer Aretha Franklin, who recently died of cancer. The group’s tribute has been posted on a jazz blog called The Song Is… This music and literature site is administered by Marianne Szlyk, a US English professor and jazz devotee  If you miss Aretha Franklin or are a lover of jazz, I invite you to check out and submit to:

MARCH 2019

A worthy group of independent writers run Sabotage Reviews, originator of Saboteur Awards. They are my kind of people, the real ones I want to get to know. If old fashioned Mom 'n Pops are your style too, this group might interest you. Check them out at:

This UK based writers' group runs a literary contest called Saboteur Awards. They cover small writer goings-on around the globe. I like supporting my favorite literary endeavors by casting a vote for them in the Saboteur Awards.

In case Saboteur Awards 2019 sounds like fun to you, I'm passing on information to participate. But keep in mind, I like small presses, poetry chapbooks and independent book stores. All things micro-bright are beautiful to me.

Do you have a special literary magazine or journal (online or hard cover) that captivates you? I voted for Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual for BEST MAGAZINE. Do you know someone you’d like to champion who published a short chapbook this year (after March 30, 2018)? You could nominate that book in the category of BEST POETRY PAMPHLET (less than 40 pages). Or that BEST ANTHOLOGY you read or that published you?  Or how about that fine literary festival you attended - nominate it under BEST LITERARY FESTIVAL. Do you attend a SPOKEN WORD REGULAR NIGHT - nominate it. If you have a special spoken word artist you enjoy, nominate that person for BEST SPOKEN WORD ARTIST. And there are more categories....  

I voted for my favorite literary endeavors, you can too. I wanted my vote to count and made sure to vote in at least three categories. The rules state: “A minimum of three nominations (i.e 1 nomination in at least 3 categories) are required for your entry to count. Only one entry per person (which often translates to per computer since this form is anonymous!)”


P.S. Hint! Hint! I cast my vote for FAVORITE MAGAZINE for Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual 

April Is Poetry Month


April brings many opportunities to write a poem-a-day in the company of other like-minded poets. Groups meet online, the cost is free, participation is available to anyone who writes in English anywhere in the world! Having a writing goal, writing everyday by responding to a daily prompt delivered to your computer is one way to improve your writing. It’s how I stopped writing in isolation and connected me to a global network of writers. If you want to launch your writing into the world, participating in one of these projects may be good for you. Positive feedback and encouragement from other writers helps you flourish as a writer. I highly recommend learning and writing in community as a way to grow your craft. Writing is like everything in life - the more you do it, the better you get. As Christopher Merrill, Director of the Iowa Writers Group in the US often says, “Write On!” 


The following list includes some online journals and writer groups offering 30-poems-in-30 days during April 2019:  


Grilled Cheese- Subscribe at no cost to this online literary journal to participate. Daily writing prompts are posted at the start of each month. New prompts are offered each day of every month of the year. The journal has a flourishing literary community. Here’s a link to the April 2019 Calendar for daily writing prompts:   Daily writing prompts are archived in a handy feature titled A Pen in Each Hand. 

NaHaiWriMo  - Editor Michael Dylan Welch selects a guest haiku writer each month to contribute a daily haiku prompt and the project continues throughout the year. Once you subscribe to the FaceBook Page, daily haiku prompts keep coming.  Website page:  FaceBook page for April 2019, daily prompts provided by Devin Harrison:


NaPoWriMo- Write 30-poems-in-30-days during April.  Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Maine, started this poem-a-day writing project for the month of April in 2003. You can join the global version, called GloPoWriMo, it’s a kindred site. Both versions, Na/GloPoWriMo, share the same website. Daily prompts include links to good poems to read and a video-a-day. Here’s a hot link to Na/GloPoWriMo prompts and discussion:

NaNoWriMo Camp- The same group that sponsors writing 1,000-words-a-day-for-a-month on your novel during November now offers a poetry, non-fiction or fiction “camp” version of their word-count-goals for daily writing in the months of April. Link to sign up:


PADS Challenge- Join a month long poetry party facilitated by Robert Brewer at Writer’s Digest Magazine, Brewer is the magazine’s poetry editor of this worthy magazine for writers of all genres. Look for the Pads Challenge on the magazine’s website under the tab, Editors Blogs, then select, Poetic Asides:


         If you have recommendations for a 30/30 for the month of April, please pass along to:Ingrid Bruck, Network and Resource Editor  Between These Shores reader suggestions received will be posted under “Diving for Pearls”! 

JUNE 2019

The Wonder Code:  

three baskets of fresh produce....haiku fit in-between

I spent a day canning on my kitchen. In down-time between tasks, I read Scott Mason’s book, The Wonder Code: Discover the Way of Haiku. The book provides a new path to understanding haiku. It was deceptively simple to read, best taken in short bits because I often wanted time to stop and ponder before I read more. 


The book consists of five essays on the essential ingredients of haiku: 1- Think Small, 2- Come To Your Senses, 3-Feel the Moment, 4- Prepare For Surprise and 5- Only Connect. Each essential haiku ingredient is exemplified by a selection of haiku that demonstrate the principal (EX: small/senses/now-ness/ surprise/connection). Representative modern haiku follow each essay. The book includes a "gallery" of haiku taken from Heron's Nest archives. There is also a collection of Mason's haiku, they demonstrate how he walks the talk. Modern haiku references at the end of the book are excellent.

According to Mason, wonder derives from nature and fine haiku expresses this wonder. He is a follower of the wonder code, one who lives The Way of Haiku. Mason writes of British scholar R. H. Blyth who coined the term, The Way of Haiku: “<writing daily haiku> is also a way of living.” Mason says this describes his personal haiku practice, it’s one that I share. He contrasts haiku from eastern and western traditions, says he prefers haiku with an eastern world view, as does The Heron’s Nest. "Thinking Small" in the eastern sense is celebrated in this book. He says a good haiku combines "fragment" and “phrase” to culminate in a “Eureka" moment. Mason describes these haiku dynamics as follows: "<fragment & phrase> act as kindling, while the gap between them serves as oxygen; this mix, will combust as sensed experience in the predisposed reader's mind." His explanation helped clarify why I am drawn to reverence when I read haiku. 


Haijin Scott Mason works on The Heron's Nest editorial team. I found his bookilluminating. After reading the book, I felt like I’d spent the day with my new-best friend!     

Links to find out more about The Wonder Code and Scott Mason:

The WonderCode:

Haiku:  Poetry of Focus with Scott Mason:


Here are some links to my favorite haiku and senryu journals: 

Contemporary Haibun Online:

Failed Haiku:

Haibun Today:

Kokako Haiku Journal:

Modern Haiku:



Prune Juice:

The Heron’s Nest:

Under the Basho:

July 2019

Where Do I Submit What I Write, for Publication?

That’s a matchmaker question. Until you find a match with your writing style, you will get a lot of discouraging rejections. And if you pay entry fees, you will be even more disheartened.

When beginning to submit, I recommend you select journals that don’t charge a fee. Be aware that the majority of your submissions won’t be accepted for publication. That’s true for even established writers. Besides the financial cost, rejections can knock down your

confidence in yourself as a writer. The percentage of acceptances varies per magazine. The higher the bar, the greater the number of rejections. You want to submit “smart” to have the greatest chance of success. Persistence pays off. One day you’ll get published and it will be be thrilling.  


Whatever literary journal you submit to, it’s a good practice to read what they publish. It will make you savvy about the magazine’s style and

preferences. Reading poems is a win-win—it’s as good for you as writing is and it’s the only way to gage if your work bears similarities to what a venue publishes. If the journal is post-modern with a preference for hybrid, this will notbe the best place to send a nature poem, haiku or sonnet for consideration.  

Adele Geraghty, Editor of Between These Shores Books, passed on this friendly hint. Editors like the courtesy of a cover letter. It can be as simple as: “I submit for your consideration… & thank you for reading.” Remember to do it, good manners can open the door.  


The list below contains some high-quality online literary journals that are new-writer-friendly. They are open for submissions and do not charge a submission fee. Good luck in finding a home for what you write. Do your homework and keep writing and submitting! 

A Summer Writing Conference: OR How to Keep Magic in Your Writing

August 2019

I attended a week-long writing summer conference hosted by International Women’s Writing Guild, for women writers of all ages. IWWG Summer Conference was held in Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. This year we met from July 12-19, 2019. 


I highly recommend attending a week long writing conference like this one. It’s terrific for learning the writer’s craft, networking and developing a writing community. 


People travel from all over the world to attend IWWG. This conference may (or not) be for you. A different writer conference might suit you better:  1- if you’re a male writer, 2- if you prefer a different class format, 3- if you don’t share IWWG’s values, or 4- if you’re not from the Northeast USA and want a writing conference closer to home.


For those interested in hearing what made IWWG conference so special, continue reading.  


The IWWG has been holding summer conferences for 42 years. I've been going for fifteen and keep coming back for the writing magic. This is my tribe, my primary face-to-face writer support community. I found my first writing teachers there. Guild summer conferences never disappoint.  I always bring home new writing skills, always leave inspired. 

The summer conference may be the biggest annual event but the holds regional conferences in the US year round. Membership includes an active global village for online writer connection and support anywhere in the world. The organization offers in-depth writer webinars for distance learning. I’ve taken three-- post modern narrative, pitching your memoir; beyond the writing margins-- and plan to take more. 


One unique aspect of IWWG classes is that teachers come as teachers AND learners. Teachers attend each other's classes with students; teachers write and read what they write along with students. Students come at all levels of writing skill mastery. No writing portfolio required— the only criteria is a love for writing and a desire to learn. The guild’s philosophy is that if you write, call yourself a writer. 


At IWWG, I like the rub of novice and professional, of nuts and bolts on woo-woo, the dynamics of cross pollination when you mix writers of all different levels, abilities and backgrounds. The writing guild gives every writer positive feedback. It’s all about positive reinforcement, the truism that the more you write, the better you get. Students write in class. Some students read what they write. When you read, others listen for a writer’s best words and repeat back only her words. No comment. No critique. Guild teacher, Dorothy Randall Gray, calls this giving ’word seeds' to the writer. Feedback and support comes to the writer in her own words. This kind of positivity gives a writer a draft to build on, edit and polish. It works for me. Each summer, I bring home ‘poem seeds’ to harvest. 

From Saturday through Thursday, five daily class sessions start at 8:30am and end at 5:30pm. Opening and closing ceremonies convene and end the conference. Evenings include open mike readings; social time follows until 11pm. Most participants stay in dorm rooms on campus and eat in the college cafeteria. A Quiet Room is available for those who opt to write instead of taking a class session. Evenings include open mike readings of what we wrote in classes. Writers with books sell them at two book fairs. Optional Salons are offered on Monday evening. On Wednesday evening before open mike, new play scripts are staged and performed by Play Lab students.  Day ends at Red Door Lounge with the opportunity to visit and network over wine and cheese. 


I could have skipped from teacher to teacher as I often do but this year I didn’t. I kept one class session open, selected four teachers and went to the same ones each day. I took six-days of class with Susan Tiberghian (memoir), June Gould (poetry), Myra Shapiro (poetry) and Eunice Scarfe (post-modern best practices).


That’s my IWWG writing conference report in a nutshell.  I’m holding open the week after 4th of July in 2020, just in case anyone decides to join me next summer. 

September 2019

How can you meet other writers? How can you become a member of a writer community that supports you? You must meet other writers to form writing connections. Not everyone has a Kitchen Table Writers Group, library writer group or poetry open mike available. If you don’t have these kinds of local writer resources, others can be found online.


The writers I met in ModPo classes have developed into my primary online writer community. ModPo is the group that helped me find my own writer community. My community of writers supports me and my writing.  I’m a short form poet and enjoy writing haiku. At ModPo, I met other poets inspired by nature who enjoy writing haiku. We formed a closed writer group of people from six nations, write collaborative rengay (a haiku variant) and became online friends. I‘m a member two closed online groups that originated at ModPo. Both are five years old and thriving. ModPo also gave me a writing buddy. We exchange pieces of writing weekly using GoogleDoc. This helps to keep both of us on-track, helps with the process of revision and motivates us to keep on writing.  

I highly recommend ModPo as starting place. It’s public, free and open. Students are part of a global writer community that’s huge. With over 30,000 students, everyone talking at once, the course can be overwhelming at first. I found that joining a smaller discussion group on the ModPo site can be a good way to form personal connections with others, ModPo goes year round. The highlight of ModPo starts September 7, 2019, a ten-week course on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry. Now would be a great time to join ModPo.


I encourage investigating a variety of writer communities. Look for a good match to your style, theme and technique of writing. You may wish join an established online writer community that is small. Or start with a big group like ModPo and join a small discussion group with similar interests.


Attached is a list of the groups that form my online poetry community. I’m a member of all of them. It’s selective, offered as a guideline and a place to begin searching for your own writer community. Add or subtract from this list as you wish.

October 2019

Where Can I Submit My Nature Writing?

Do you write nature poems, stories or essays? You may be experiencing difficulty finding publishers of nature writing. I know I did. Rest assured, you are not alone. Renowned poet, Mary Oliver, wrote fine nature poetry yet publishers and even many critics treated her work as less-important than writing by post-modern authors.  


Writers write best about what they cherish. You know this. You’re a nature lover, one who appreciates the wonders of the natural world. This understanding transforms you into a nature witness and defender. You acknowledge forest bathing as a Muse without apology. You depend on nature as a source of strength, draw on its energy and wouldn’t have it any other way.


A prejudice still exists about the dubious merit of nature inspired writing. But you write about nature because it offers a well-spring of creativity and  close observation of the planet leads to the discovery of details that enrich and enliven your writing. You appreciate the value nature provides and refuse to give it up just because it’s not the current fashion.  

Changing trends favor nature writing. Rest assured there’s a growing market for it. A sub-set of journals seeks nature writing of witness and a celebration of place and all that inhabit it, animal, vegetable and mineral. They publish nature poetry, fiction, non-fiction and art. Some calls for for eco-literature include: climate change, animals, endangered species, clean water, animal rights, healthy food. If you write about subjects like these, check out online literary journals that share a passion for nature and preservation of the environment. 


I recommend an essay on this subject titled, “Not Your Grandfather’s Nature Writing: The New "Nature" Journals” by Andrea Nolan.


For a list of eco-literary journals, see: “ Literary Outlets for Environmental Writing.” Included is a list of 64 publishers of eco-lit writing. Literary Outlets for Environmental Writing

As a writer of haiku and short nature poems, I know how difficult it can be to find nature-friendly publishers. Below is a short list of online literary journals that favor nature writing:


BER: Blue Earth Review: MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY, MANKATO’S LITERARY MAGAZINE. Poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, art.


ecotone: reimagining place.  Magazine publishes writing and art that reimagine place, explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.


The Fourth River:  A Journal Of Nature And Place-Based Writing Published By The Chatham University MFA Program Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and visual art, that explore the relationship between humans and their environments, both natural and built, urban, rural or wild.


The Future Fire: Social Political & Speculative Cyber-Fiction. Short stories, poems, art.  Online Environmental Magazine of Literature. Poetry, fiction, non-fiction.


"Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts".

November 15, 2019 - December 31, 2019

A free online course from The University of Iowa.

Enrollment is open for "Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.” If you have never taken a MOOC from The International Writing Program (the IWP) at the University of Iowa, here is your opportunity. This online class is free and available over the internet to anyone anywhere in the world who writes English. The only prerequisite is English; course reading and writing is conducted in English. You will meet students from other countries working on their English language skills. You will encounter beginner to experienced writers, and life-learners, like me. Students are all ages. You engage and learn from people around the globe. 


I’ve taken several terrific IWP courses from the University of Iowa and highly recommend them. Classes are instructor led; teachers are excellent. Respect is the class culture. These classes have broadened my knowledge of literature. I’ve learned writing tools that I continue to use and have improved my writing. I value the global connections I’ve made and the understanding I’ve gained by interacting with writers from different cultures and backgrounds.


 "Hidden Meanings", a MOOC (massive online learning course), begins on November 15, 2019. A teacher-team leads classes. The course runs from November 15, 2019 - December 31, 2019.” The curriculum remains open for self-paced learning until March 15, 2020. "Hidden Meanings” is presented by The International Writing Program (the IWP) at the University of Iowa, with generous support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the US Department of State. Why that funder? An informed electorate is essential to the success of Jeffersonian democracy. The community building component of this class supports that objective. University of Iowa classes writing classes are truly an example of democracy in action. Democracy depends on the strength of enlightened people who take facts and make up their own minds.

Do you think writing is political? I do. We live in the post modern era. Information inundates us. Can you feel the overload? I do. Can you tell good information from bad? I struggle with that. The internet can be a friend that breaks down borders, opens communication and creates connections between people all over the world. But it can also be an enemy when it serves up fake news, misinformation and disinformation as facts. I struggle through the plethora of misinformation and disinformation. If you are like me, you resent anyone trying to recruit you based on self-serving lies. If you are like me, you want all the information you gather to be the ‘real stuff’, so you can make up your own mind. I look forward to learning techniques to uncover the truth, evaluate the reliability of sources and determine which information is factual.

December 2019

Who Publishes Inspirational Writing?

Does your writing style express positive values? Are you a truth seeker? Do you write with the goal to heal? Are you informed by formal religion, Eastern or Western? Are you inspired by the wonders of nature? The supernatural? By beauty. Or meditation? The mystical?


If your writing is inspirational, you may feel outnumbered and obsolete. You don’t fit into the post-modern mainstream. A post-modern worldview — one that’s existential— predominates current art, music and literature. Post-mod is the elephant in the room.  


I am comforted by the thought that the ‘elephant’ has a positive counterpart in “hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,” offered up by Emily Dickinson. It’s good news for inspirational writers that Emily’s abstract bird has living brothers and sisters. Some publishers value the positive and support inspirational writers who build on the positive and act as change agents with words in the world.  


Yes, despite the popularity of post-modern writing, interest in spiritual writing and inspiration continues. Some literary publications and presses seek inspirational writing. They may be small in number compared to the post-mod crowd but they produce high quality literature and art.  


Positive value publishers are difficult to locate because they are scattered, small candles on corner shelfs and under bushel baskets. This is because they tend to come “slant” toward the positive (per E. Dickinson). They are outsiders and don’t gather in a group. 


If you are a positive value writer, you have to negotiate between two inspirational camps to find publishers in your venue. The camps come in two divisions: formal and general. The formal religion division covers spirituality that emanates from a traditional religion. The generalist division sets claim to all other spiritual alternatives outside organized religion: nature, healing, beauty, supernatural and mystical-spirituality… 

Writers who adhere to a formal religion maintain their roots in their organized religion. A writer from inside the fold tend to stick with their own and search for publishers within their religious tradition. For writing within a spiritual tradition, the search for publication is two-pronged: 1- search the specific religion (EX: Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism…), 2- extend the search beyond dogma to “inspirational writing”.   


I’m in the second camp which contains a cross-disciplinary group of inspirational generalists. I (and spiritual writer peeps like me) flock to literary journals that are prophets of positivity. Our writing champions positivity in all races, creeds and colors. Disclosure: the resource list below of “Inspirational Writing (Secular)” is highly subjective— I list my current personal favorites; it reflective of my alignment with the Generalist Division.  


In my experience, formal religions tend to address insiders and exclude outsiders. Why? Because organized religion inclines to circle the wagons and address their chosen. For this reason, ‘formal religion’ publishers may not make a suitable writing match for an inspirational writer with a renaissance appetite for diversity (like me). But also consider that there is much overlapping. Some journals and presses belong to both camps.  


I already confessed that formal religion is not my camp. My bias alines with the generalist camp. I think that an inspirational writer may (or not) believe in God, that spirituality is what matters most to an inspirational writer. I champion spiritual writing that is positive, inspirational and life-changing. These are the reasons I prefer a broad reading audience of more than one religious group and multiple cultural orientations.


The point of this column was to crack open the door to possibilities for publication of inspirational writing. Unfortunately, the more you broaden a search for inspirational literary publishers, the narrower the field becomes. Each individual writer has to decide what works best. Below are some links to good online journals and presses to check out. Good luck!


Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal - family friendly,  a magazine promoting inspirational and uplifting poetry no matter the topic.


Ginosko Literary Journal: Grace Spirit Vision - between literary vision and spiritual reality, the recognition of truth from experience.


Halcyon Days: Promoting the peaceful things in life- online/print magazine. Editor Monique Berry (Canada) seeks poetry and fiction that is peaceful.


Not Your Mother’s Breast Milk- inspirational literature and art that nurtures the spirit


Parabola: The Magazine of Myth And Tradition - explore quest for meaning.


Peacock Journal - online & print. Devoted to all things beautiful. Poem/fic/non-fiction.


Poppy Road Review - poems and flash fiction between the cracks that linger and haunt


Ruminate: A Contemplative Magazine Chewing the Mysteries of Life.  A contemplative magazine for spiritual travelers.


Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing - accepts new and previously published work on the theme of healing (emotional, physical, spiritual, community.


Soul-Lit: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry - the Soul-Lit team created this online journal to counter the scarcity of venues for spiritual poetry.


Tikkum: The Prophetic Jewish, Interfaith & Secular Voice - to heal, repair and transform the world. interfaith art and literature for social change guided by spiritual and ethical values.


Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature - non-sectarian, non-dogmaticpoetry, prose, and art. Bi-annual. Fostering Peace Through Literature & Art.


Image Journal: Art, Faith, Mystery - quarterly journal. Grapples with religious faith in Western tradition (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)


Labyrinthine Passages - prose and poetry. faith inspired work. raw emotion that cries out to God.


Letters Journal - creative writing that connects belief, faith and spirituality with art.


My Macberet - Weekly Blog by Erika Dreifus - contains Jewish literary news and commentary. Free to subscribe.


The Other Journal - faith and spirituality in the Christian tradition


The review review: View on Publishing Flesh Made Word: Five Lit Magazines Defined by Christian Faith~ by Chris Wiewiora.


The Uncertainty Club: A Magazine of Zen & the Arts - Zen koans embrace our vital unsteadiness in the boundary space between Zen and creative process


Chicken Soup for the Soul - open for submission of inspirational, true stories about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences that open the heart and rekindle the spirit.


Inspiritus Press - Canadian. Inspiritus, means “breathe” and contains the word for “spirit”—to be filled with the Muses, to be filled with the gods or God. The logo represents a breath of air, a gust of wind, the winds of change, and a spirit, a force, that carves its way forward.


Orison Books - spiritually engaged poetry, fiction and non-fiction. They seek to publish work that has a transcendent aesthetic effect on the reader, and reading it can itself be a spiritual experience.


The Christian Science Monitor  -  nonprofit news organization that publishes daily articles in electronic format as well as a weekly print edition.  Daily newspaper was established in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. Inspirational writers may wish to check out The Home Forum and People Making a Difference paper sections which consider unsolicited submissions.

January 2020 published a list of major poets who died in 2019:  In Memoriam 2019  The following list includes links to work by:

In thinking about these silenced voices, I realize how sad I am for the loss of poets who inhabited my personal writing and reading world in 2019. Until they died, we inhabited the same literary world. They won’t produce new work in 2020. What they wrote made the literary world richer. These notables—ones who inspire my art—write no more. Suddenly, we no longer occupy the same present. I stay in the present but they are thrust in the past. We, the living writers, have been left behind and feel bereft. We confront a future without our mentors’ voices singing in harmony with our work and lives. We are consigned to stand on their shoulders, as we do on those of the ancestors.  


Mourning the loss of poets happens on both a global and local level. This year I grieve two special poetry friends from England who were part of my personal writing universe: Reuben Woolley and Rachel Sutcliffe.



Reuben Woolley, born in England, lived in Spain, died Dec. 1, 2019. Reuben was an activist editor and modernist poet of witness. One of my poetry friends, S.E. Ingraham, wrote this about Reuben:  “He was only 67 (too young by far, in my view). In any case - I know there are others that have written for his site, I Am Not A Silent Poet, so I am posting the news in a few places. I for one am deeply saddened at Reuben's loss - not only a remarkable poet and fair editor but a fine human being and advocate for social justice. He will be missed.”  


For more information about this poet, his life and writing philosophy, see the Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Reuben Woolley, of 9/8/18:


Here are two hot links to online memorials for Reuben Woolley: 


Tributes paid to innovative poet and protest verse editor Reuben Woolley

by Greg Freeman


A Sad Day: Rest in Peace Reuben Woolley, your voice will never be silenced…~ by Jamie Dedes


Rachel Sutcliffe was a great loss to the UK and English speaking haiku community. This gifted haijin lost her battle to illness. Below is one of Rachel’s fine haiku from a recent Tweet by MyHaikuPond:  


In case you missed MyHaikuPond's Tweet

Today's Find #2:


windfall apple

another bruise

I can’t hide


Rachel Sutcliffe (1977-2019)


Prune Juice, July 2018


Rachel lived in England. Her Blog, Project Words, remains alive online and contains some of her haiku:


Here’s a link in memory of Rachel Sutcliffe:,-rachel.html


May the memory of the poets we lost in 2019 live on in our words!

February 2020

Why All the Buzz about Ekphrastic Poetry?

There’s an upsurge of popularity in ekphrastic poetry. Lately I’ve noticed more published poems inspired by art and photos. I’ve noticed frequent, new ekphrastic poems appearing in many online literary journals. This device was not only used by classic poets—many modern poets embrace the form.


What is ekphrasis?  A good place to find a concise definition is from Poetry Foundation. Here’s what they say:


Ekphrasis: “Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. A notable example is “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” in which the poet John Keats speculates on the identity of the lovers who appear to dance and play music, simultaneously frozen in time and in perpetual motion. (From The Poetry Foundation: Glossary of Poetic Terms Ekphrasis | Poetry Foundation )

To learn more about ekphrastic poetry, I took an online webinar last fall that was instructive and fun. The art and poetry class was titled, “Accurately Uncertain Things: Writing Through Georgia O’Keeffe’s Art”, taught by Colorado (US) poet and teacher, Marj Hahne. Marj offers hands-on classes where students practice what they learn by writing. I’ve taken many of Marj’s great classes in the last fifteen years, though she’s been doing this with success for twenty. To check our Marj, here’s a link:


Rattle Poetry is a high-profile, high-quality journal that publishes online poetry in digital and hard copy. You can subscribe to Rattle at for a daily free poem in your inbox. Rattle pays attention to popular trends and that includes ekphrasis. They hold a monthly contest called Ekphrastic Challenge. Two monthly winners receive a prize of $100. Here’s the link to Rattle’s Challenge:  Ekphrastic Challenge

To learn how ekphrastic art and poetry works, select a piece of artwork that speaks to you. For example, I’ll select Albert Altdorfer’s painting of a green spruce tree so grand and lofty, the canvas can’t hold the whole tree - the draped evergreen branches dwarf a mountain range and sky in the distance, a speck of a man sits underneath the tree. First I brainstorm words, colors, feelings, inside and outside of the frame. Next, research the painting and take more notes. Then I do a short free-write, timed for twenty minutes. Don’t let pen leave paper to make cross-outs or corrections. Presto: you have a first draft, a starting place for an ekphrastic poem…   


Combining art and poetry makes good cultural entertainment. Many art associations and art museums hold annual ekphrastic shows and exhibitions that combine art and poetry in tandem. Here’s a global sampling of some places holding annual ekphrastic shows:  Wickford Art Association (Rhode Island US), Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center (Pennsylvania US) Randolph College’s Maier Museum of Art (Virginia US), Marshall Arts Center (Minnesota US), Cultural Center of Cape Cod (Massachusetts US), Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (UK), Artlyst in association with The Poetry Society (London UK), The Hamblin Centre (UK), Boghossian Foundation (Brussels, Belgium), Kunstmuseum (The Hague, Netherlands). Check the What’s Happening calendar in your area—you’ll discover new local art treasures and inspiration for ekphrasis.