March 19, 2006
Steel Toe Books selected Blue Positive from 115 manuscripts submitted during its open reading period last summer. We at Steel Toe concur with distinguished poet and Virginia Tech professor Bob Hicok, who writes Martha Silano's poems are full of sex and birth and food, mind and body. Their richness of detail makes reading this book like entering a home: there is a bustle to her language as she tries to gather everything she loves…. By the end of Blue Positive, I trust both her surprise and her wisdom.
We received 115 manuscripts this summer, and we have selected Martha Silano's http://www.marthasilano.com/ manuscript Blue Positive for publication. We will also be publishing our first solicited manuscript, Jeannine Hall Gailey's Becoming the Villainess, http://www.webbish6.com/index.htm as well as a new manuscript by Alaskan Fiddling Poet Ken Waldman http://www.kenwaldman.com/.
Here's a little bit about our process:
Each manuscript was initially read by two members of our editorial board. These readers evaluated the manuscript according to the six criteria listed and elaborated upon in our entry in the 2005 Poet's Market. If the two readers were in disagreement, the manuscript received a third reader. We then narrowed the pool down to eleven manuscripts and asked the authors to send them as MS Word attachments. Each member of the editorial board read all eleven and voted on them at our annual editorial board meeting/pizza party. Each first place vote received five points, each second place vote received three points, and each third place vote was good for one point. After voting, we discussed and debated the eleven manuscripts. Then we voted again. Blue Positive was the overwhelming first choice in both votes.
One aspect of Blue Positive that struck us immediately was the author's obvious delight in language, which is evident in poems like "My Words." Here's an excerpt:
Ones I never considered memorable or strange
bubble, banana, anemone bloomed
when my son began to use them
to describe falling snow, a crescent moon,
a cockatiel's plume. Plum is a terrible
word for a perfect fruit, . . .
Blue Positive is also loaded with poems that honestly and movingly address pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum depression, and other aspects of family life. Some of our favorites are "Crown of Sonnets for a Son," "Picking a Name While Picking Blackberries," and "Harborview."