March 2, 2010
Results of the January 1-February 14 Open Reading Period
Bowling Green, KY—Steel Toe Books has selected Vertical Hold by Jeff Simpson from over 100 manuscripts submitted during our most recent open reading period. This will be the first full-length collection by Simpson, who recently completed his MFA in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University, where he won an Academy of American Poets prize and served as president of the Creative Writers Association. Poems from Vertical Hold have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, The Pinch, and other notable journals. Reading this manuscript, our attention was first piqued by Simpson’s titles, which often hinted at the poems’ surprising and unusual subject matter: “Ode to Love Handles”; “Paris, TX”; and “Feedback Loop for the Apocalypse,” to name a few. Simpson held our attention throughout the thirty-five poems, conjoining moments of personal nostalgia and regret with pop cultural touchstones, as in these lines from “Elegy with a Balcony and Opening Credits”:
Sometimes you’re the accelerant, sometimes the charred meat
at the bottom of the grill. But maybe if I run my hand up your skirt,
remembering how your Nazarene father banned you from tank tops
and matinees because he knew what can happen in the dark,
then maybe we’ll be forgiven, and I’ll whisper, Are you the gatekeeper?
And you’ll say, Are you the keymaster? The movie is almost over…
We would like to make honorable mention of the following manuscripts:
The Trials of Edgar Poe by Ned Balbo
All Morning by Joelle Biele
Intelligent Design by Richard Cecil
Bearable Weight by Michael Cleary
Silver by Jason Mccall
Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape by Marjorie L. Manwaring
Keeping Still with Water by Christina Poreba
Childhood’s End by Doug Ramspeck
What We Sign Up For by Lisa L. Siedlarz.
One of the hardest thing about operating a Mom-and-Pop operation such as this one is having to turn away so many writers whose work we admire. Poetry is abundant, and resources are scarce. However, four writers who submitted to us during this open reading period withdrew their manuscripts because they were accepted elsewhere. We take this to be a sign that there are a lot of opportunities out there for writers who persist.