Double Ds: Beth Gylys

Beth Gylys joins the Double Ds!

Gylys has two award-winning collections of poems: Bodies that Hum won the Gerald Cable First Book Award and was published by Silverfish Review Press; Spot in the Dark won the Journal Award and was published by Ohio State University Press.  She has two chapbooks; Balloon Heart, which won the Quentin R. Howard Award, and Matchbook.  Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Antioch Review, Columbia Review, Limp Wrist and other journals.

Denise asks:
Why the villanelle?

Beth Gylys:
I don’t remember specifically why I tried to write my first and very bad villanelle.  After that, I think I just wanted to write one good one.  It felt like a challenge.  I was in grad school and had been playing around a bit with form because Andrew Hudgins (my then teacher) had assigned a sonnet and because he was so gifted formally–I wanted to learn more about how to write in form.  I think after I’d written a couple of villanelles, I showed one to my friend Dina Ben-Lev, and she said, you should write a whole bunch of villanelles about sex.  So I just started writing one after another.  I wrote something like thirty in about a month and a half.

The other side of this is that I was in the throes of all kinds of emotional upheaval: I was moving rapidly toward divorce, I’d fallen deeply in love with a married man….The villanelle had the kind of obsessive repetitive quality that allowed me to work through some of that emotional mire.  I was  trying (obsessively, repetitively) to come to terms with who I was and what I was about, and the villanelles suited that intensity.

Dustin asks:
Cat or dog? Why?

Beth Gylys:
I should disclose from the outset, that i have two cats.  At one point in 2008, I had five cats living in my house.  I love dogs.  I adore dogs.  I had an Irish setter growing up, and she was MY dog.  She slept with me, taking up the lion share of my double bed.  After we adopted her, when I went away for the first time on a week-long trip, I came back, and she trembled like I had beaten her, looked down at the floor until I cried and hugged her.

I loved that dog.  But the answer is probably cat.  I can play hard to get. I am not an easy person to get close to because I am so fiercely independent (like a cat).  I love the beauty and grace and dexterity of cats, their curiosity, their weirdness.  Sophie and Sammy, the two cats who currently live with me, simply came to me.  My fifteen year old cat Cleo died about a year before Sophie (who is a gorgeous and very sweet part Siamese) took up residence in my crawl space and gave birth to her three kittens. This would have been about a year and a half ago.  My other cat Alexis was (at 16) dying of kidney failure.  So I had a dying cat inside and four flea bitten half feral other ones living underneath my house.  I (of course, being the softie I am) ended up feeding Sophie and her kittens (and two or three other feral neighborhood cats) and finally taking the four of them (mama and three boy kitties) into my house.  It was a wild time, but I was thankfully able to find a home for two of the kittens.  Sammy is still part feral, though he’s lived inside with me since about 12 weeks old.  He’s freaked when strangers come over, and he’ll hide under the comforter asleep or just crouched for hours and hours and hours.  I had housesitters in December, and he hid for days in the bottom of my closet.  A poet appreciates that kind of intensity.  Dogs are great.  Dogs are sweet and slavish and fantastically devoted, but I love the unpredictability of cats, their quirkiness, their insouciance.  The best poems take us to unexpected places. The best poems don’t give anything away.  Sometimes they purr and purr and then slash you in the face with a sharp claw.  Yes, cat.  No question.


A Statement From The Weekly Project Verse Judges

Project Verse Contestants,

The only rules in print are the rules you agreed to abide by when you applied to participate in Project Verse.

Is the collective work of each contestant important?

One of the prizes of Project Verse is a chapbook deal with two guaranteed book reviews in two fine publications. The poems from the competition will help create and shape the Project Verse winner’s chapbook. YES, the collective work of each poet is extremely important. Just like on Project Runway, especially toward the end of the competition, the body of work throughout the competition becomes more important in determining which of the lowest ranked contestants each week will go home. As we move into the last half of Project Verse, overall performance will play a larger factor in which of two lowest ranked competitors that week goes on permanent caesura. This shouldn’t surprise you.

Keep up the good work,
The Weekly Project Verse Judges

Week 1: Meet the Weekly Judges


Beth Gylys: Beth is a professor at Georgia State University and the author of Bodies That Hum (winner of Gerald Cable First Book Award) and Spot in the Book (winner of the Ohio State University Press The Journal Award in Poetry). She is widely published in such journals as the Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Antioch Review, Columbia Review, Limp Wrist and many others! Click here to check out a poetry sampler by Beth, which includes a poem that landed Beth in Drury’s Poetry Dictionary.

Dana Guthrie Martin: Dana maintains an interesting and entertaining blog titled My Gorgeous Somewhere, and she co-maintains, with Nathan Moore, a blog titled Mutating the Signature. She is the creator of Read Write Poem, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blood Orange Review, A Handful of Stones, Fence, Knockout, Ouroboros Review, qarrtsiluni, and many more mags! Take a moment to check out her project titled Shore Tags.

Dustin Brookshire: Dustin is the founder of Project Verse, and he hopes you’ll take a moment to Tweet about the competition and link it on your Facebook page. He is also the founder of Limp Wrist, an online magazine with queer sensibility, and Quarrel, a blog that aims to take readers on the journey of revision. He is currently seeking submissions for Queens of Poetry: A Tribute to Bosselaar, Duhamel, Laux, and Wier. Dustin has been interviewed on the Joe Milford Poetry Show, and his work has been published or is forthcoming in Ouroboros Review, qarrtsiluni, Ducts, Subtle Tea, OCHO, David and more.

Starting next week, Beth, Dana, and I will be joined each Wednesday by a guest judge. Project Verse’s guest judges range from Pushcart Nominees to Pushcart Winners to NEA fellowship recipients to a Lambda Literary Award winner. Drop by Wednesday of each week to find out the identity of that week’s guest judge!

What’s at stake in the Project Verse competition
 a contract for a limited edition chapbook published by Limp Wrist
 a weeklong residency at Marilyn Nelson’s Soul Mountain Retreat* (for the poet to revise and finish his/her chapbook)
 an interview with Joe Milford of “The Joe Milford Poetry Show
 a review of the chapbook that will be published in ouroboros review and Limp Wrist
 a year subscription to the Naugatuck River Review
 a copy of Best Gay Poetry 2008

Beth Gylys Event on Wednesday

It is no secret that I adore Beth Gylys. She is an all around sweetheart and my former professor. However, even if these things weren’t accurate, I would still adore her for the poetry she writes. So, yes, you must attend this:

On Wednesday evening, April 29th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kopleff Recital Hall, GSU soprano Sharon Stephenson and tenor Richard Clement, accompanied by pianist Peter Marshall, will be performing “Eight Personal Ads”, compositions by internationally acclaimed composer Dan Welcher, lyrics taken from Beth Gylys’s book of personal ads Matchbook. There will be a reception afterward. The event is free and open to the public. Please attend and invite your friends!

Project Verse Seeks Applicants!

Can you write under pressure without breaking a sweat?
Always telling friends that writing a crown of heroic sonnets is a cinch?
Do you dream of perfect line breaks?
If you think you’ve got the write moves, I’ve got the poetry competition for you.

Project Verse

Dustin Brookshire, through I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin and Limp Wrist, is proud to announce Project Verse, the self-proclaimed “Project Runway” of the poetry world.

Project Verse is a free competition set to be a grueling but fun competition for poets. It’s a 10-week competition, and the winner will be announced week 11. Each Monday, an assignment will be posted in I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin. Poets will have to complete and submit the assignment by noon Friday of the same week. The judges will read and score the assignments over the weekend, and the judgment will be posted in I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin the following Monday.

Who are the judges? Dustin Brookshire, Beth Gylys, and Dana Guthrie Martin are your weekly judges; however, it wouldn’t be fun without a little variety. Each week, except for the first week of the competition, there will be a guest judge. I would give you the list of guest judges, but that wouldn’t be any fun either! We have a varied list of guest judges ranging from Pushcart Prize nominees and winners to a Lambda Literary Award recipient to National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipients.

And a competition wouldn’t be complete without a prize! The winner of Project Verse receives the following prize package:
 a contract for a limited edition chapbook published by Limp Wrist
 a weeklong residency at Marilyn Nelson’s Soul Mountain Retreat* (for the poet to revise and finish his/her chapbook)
 an interview with Joe Milford of “The Joe Milford Poetry Show
 a review of the chapbook that will be published in ouroboros review and Limp Wrist
 a year subscription to the Naugatuck River Review
 a copy of Best Gay Poetry 2008
 a copy of the 2008 Squaw Valley Review

How do you apply to compete in Project Verse?
 Write a short bio with a max of 200 words. (Make it personal yet poetic.)
 In 500 words or less, respond to the words of Ellen Bryant Voigt, “It’s all a draft until you die.”
 Submit a max of 10 unpublished poems, no more than 20 pages total.
 If available, provide links to no more than two sites where your work may be viewed.
 Copy and paste the Rules/Regulations/All That Jazz section on its own page
 “I, *Insert name here*, agree to follow all items listed under the Rules/Regulations/& All That Jazz for Project Verse. I understand that not following these items, at any point during the competition, will result in my being disqualified from Project Verse.
 All requested information should be sent in the order requested above, in one Microsoft Word document, to Dustin Brookshire at by 3/01/09. The subject line of the email should read, “Project Verse: Insert Your Name.” Your name and email address must appear on every page of your Microsoft Word document. Numbering your pages will make us smile; however, it won’t sway our decision on having you as a contestant.

Rules/Regulations/All That Jazz
 Contestants will be selected from a pool of 15 semi-finalists, which in return will be narrowed down to the 11 Project Verse contestants.
 Contestants may not have published more than one full collection of poetry. (Number of chapbook publications does not matter.)
 Contestants must not have studied with any of the weekly judges in a collegiate setting or be related to any of the weekly judges (by blood, marriage, or love affair).
 Contestants must work solo on the weekly Project Verse assignments. Outside help from friends, family, professors, etc. is strictly prohibited and is cheating. Cheaters will be disqualified from Project Verse and thoroughly gossiped about throughout the blogosphere.
 Contestants must agree not to use any previously written poems for a Project Verse weekly assignment, unless the weekly assignment requests it.
 Contestants must be willing to complete pages two and three from the Soul Mountain Retreat application package. (Click here to see the forms.)
 All written information collected from the application, excluding the information from the Soul Mountain Retreat forms, may be published in I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin.
 The winner’s chapbook will be published in the Limp Wrist limited edition chapbook series. The chapbook will include, but will not be limited to, the poems the winner wrote during the Project Verse competition. The chapbook must receive approval from Limp Wrist before being published.
 By participating in Project Verse, you agree to acknowledge Project Verse as first publisher in future reprints of books, anthologies, website publications, podcasts, radio, etc. Copyright reverts back to authors upon appearance in the Project Verse competition, which takes place on the I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin site.
 While the copyright reverts back to the author upon appearance in the Project Verse competition, Dustin Brookshire in combination with Project Verse and I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin, reserve the right to use any poems from the competition to create an anthology in the future.

*Please note: The winner of the competition will be required to arrange transportation to and from Soul Mountain Retreat. The fees of the residency are taken care of by Dustin Brookshire on behalf of I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin.

Don’t forget about the autographed items on raffle: CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON THE LIMP WRIST SCHOLARSHIP RAFFLE

Update: LIMP WRIST Scholarship/Poetry Contest

Hello Blogosphere:

You might have already received information regarding the Limp Wrist scholarship/poetry contest for LGBT youth; however, there have been a few changes, so please take a moment to read the details portion of this post. I apologize if you fill pestered; however, ever bit of publicity helps make this scholarship a success, so PLEASE, take a moment to share this information via a blog, Myspace, Facebook, and/or email list.

As many of you know, in April 2008, I started Limp Wrist, and I am proud to promote Limp Wrist as an e-zine with queer sensibility. I am also proud to announce that Limp Wrist is offering a small scholarship to a LGBT High School Junior or Senior via a poetry contest. Even more exciting than the small scholarship is that the scholarship recipient wins a spot at the 2009 Juniper Summer Writing Institute. A huge thanks to the talented Dara Wier for making Juniper possible.

~ NO entry fee required.
~ Student must identify as a member of the LGBT community.
~ Student must be a high school junior or senior for the 2008-2009 school year.
~ Only one poem of no more than 75 lines may be submitted in the body of an email. The poem should be submitted to, and the subject line must read “LW Sholarship” with the student’s first and last name.
~ The poem submitted should not be a previously published work or have won a previous contest.
~ The email must include the following statement: “The poem submitted is my own original work and has not been previously published.”
~ The submission email must also include the student’s name, mailing address, and name of high school attending.
~ All submissions must be received by 1/31/09.

As mentioned above, the winner of the poetry contest will receive $150 and a spot at the 2009 Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Airfare to and from the ’09 Juniper Summer Writing Institute is also covered by Limp Wrist.

Dr. Beth Gylys will serve as the inaugural judge. Dr. Gylys’s work has been published in numerous magazines/journals (including Limp Wrist), anthologies, and she has received a mention in Drury’s POETRY DICTIONARY as well authored two award winning poetry collections: SPOT IN THE DARK and BODIES THAT HUM.

All this isn’t possible without out a price– if anyone is interested in donating please click here for more information on how to make a tax-deductible donation.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or comments.