Monday, March 04, 2024

two poems in Berkeley Poetry Review

Berkeley Poetry Review, issue #52: When the World Moves On, contains two of my poems:

“A Window”

“A Wind Is Blowing”

Of the theme the editors write: “‘When the World Moves On’” speaks to evolution and memory in a changing world.”

This is the first time I’ve had a poem in BPR since I was on staff back in the early 90s. BPR can change greatly from year to year. It’s a student-run publication, thus whether enough students show up will determine whether there is a BPR in a year. Some years, nothing. In this academic year the staff seems to be promising two issues. They are currently open for submissions

If you would like to read issue #52 online — or want to download the whole thing — you can do so at this link

Thursday, February 01, 2024


That magazine published those poems because the editors liked them. The editors got other poems that I know I would have liked — and perhaps would have liked better than anything I saw in their magazine — and the editors chose against them.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

2023 in publications

Evening Street Review
Pure Slush
Dark Winter
Cream Scene Carnival
The Quarter(ly)
Exacting Clam

Autobiography of a Book, a 220-page volume from AC Books, became available as a pre-order. Physical copies are expected in February. 

I found a publisher for a full-length poetry manuscript, but then things seemed to go off track. It may yet be possible to bring it back on track. We’ll see. 

I had a featured reading with Lyrics & Dirges here in Berkeley. I hit a handful of open mics. 

The list of publications is shorter than the average of the last few years. Did I send out fewer poems? That might be so. I spent quite a bit of energy rerouting rejected work. Looking at the list, the only poems accepted this year that hadn’t been previously rejected was the batch at Otoliths. It was Mark Young’s final issue so I sent him poems I’d just revised. It was a group that wouldn’t work for most, I thought. Too weird, maybe. There is another set from the same project; no bite so far. 

I got a friendly rejection from Poetry Magazine: “We won’t be publishing anything from this submission, but we really enjoyed reading and discussing it among the editorial team, especially ‘The Heart Again.’ We’d love to read more of your work and hope you will submit again soon.” At the bottom of the message they emphasized it: “P.S. We really enjoyed you work!”

After decades of sending Poetry poems — everybody who’s written a poem wants to see it in Poetry — this was the first time I received encouragement. The rejection came in October, 2023, the poems having been uploaded to Poetry’s submission manager in September of 2022. That’s a wait of thirteen months, right? 

I had a fresh batch of poems, so I sent those right away. Here is what came back: “We won’t be publishing anything from your submission, but we wish you the best of luck in publishing it elsewhere and appreciate you sending it our way.”

That is standard language, generalized, not cruel, but not really encouragement. No “enjoyed” — not once, let alone twice. The sort thing they’ve sent me from the beginning. Yet I only had to wait two months. That’s a record in recent history for me. Usually it’s a year or more. So maybe Poetry has different tiers? The when-we-get-around-to-it tier for all the unknown poets (my tier up to now), then a look-sooner-shows-promise tier? Or maybe they finally staffed up with enough first readers that rejection wait times have been pared down by 80%? Or … 

Anyway, it would be nice to have a poem in Poetry. The encouraging rejection may be as close as I get. As you’ve seen, I’m right back to the unencouraging. I sent again. We’ll see if I am back to a 13-month wait as well. 

Interesting that the poem singled out for praise — “The Heart Again” — was brand fresh in September 2022. I was so pleased by it I sent it immediately to Poetry. By the time Poetry rejected it, “The Heart Again” had been rejected by 27 other faster-deciding zines. It has since been rejected four more times. That’s true of all the other poems in that 5-poem batch. Back in my 20s I would not have been able to endure 30 rejections of one batch. It would have been too bruising — and too expensive! I would have given up on good poems because I couldn’t afford the postage and because I couldn’t handle the dislike. Here in my 50s what’s changed? The basic expenses are different — having a computer, which I couldn’t afford in my early writing years, having an internet connection, paying reading/entry fees. I rarely pay fees, though. I can’t quite justify them. The average reading fee these days is $3 — and these venues typically do not provide any compensation, not even a contributor’s copy (not that that’s a thing with online publication). “The Heart Again,” the poem Poetry almost wanted, would have cost me $90 in fees by now. I can afford more rejections these days, but $90?

There are likely better publication-seeking strategies than my rather random style, I admit that. But I’m a rather random person, and I’m not going to turn into somebody else. Besides, it’s hard enough justifying the whole thing. There’s no money in it. There’s very little compensation of any kind, including making a name for oneself. I continue to send out my poems to honor my poems. They are good poems. They deserve to be little stars in the universe of poems.  

Friday, December 22, 2023

Autobiography of a Book as told to Glenn Ingersoll

Autobiography of a Book is now available from Itasca Books. 


Autobiography of a Book is the life story of a book. The book must will itself into existence. And by “will” I mean talk. The book must talk until it comes to its end. With every word Book edges closer to its dream, its dream of being what it claims to be, a real, honest-to-goodness book. 

Can a novel that anthropomorphizes language be a page-turner? Glenn Ingersoll’s Autobiography of a Book says, “Yes!” And this reader agrees.

                                                        — Eric Darton, author of Free City

Book came to me as a voice and demanded I type as it spoke. I usually scoff at people who claim their writing is dictated by the muse, so I find it funny to be saying something like that myself. But Book is a character, in both senses of the word, and I was ready to listen and to work. Whatever it said, I was happy to go along. 

Book is imbued with the longings of a body, the vulnerable reality of a Frankenstein’s Monster or a Velveteen rabbit, the pangs of creator and created, and all the fragile, vigorous, shambolic longings of humanity. To read Ingersoll’s wildly inventive prose debut is to be transformed.

— Maw Shein Win, Storage Unit for the Spirit House

Book and I both wondered during the process if a respectable book length would actually be achieved. At roughly 44,000 words, 220 pages, I think it did. Is that short for a novel these days? Not that “novel” is necessarily the right word. I struggle with how to characterize Book. There's nothing fictional in it. Everything Book says happened because Book is all language and anything Book says is undeniably Book, even if impossible. Does Book have human arms and legs? Yes, when Book finds it convenient to imagine so; when imagination is defeated, Book borrows the reader’s hand, the reader’s heart. 

It’s quite a magic trick to read something totally original that also echoes something inside.

— Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist, creator of Too Much Coffee Man

Also unlike a novel (perhaps like a life?), Book does not have a plot. Book has ideas, actions. Book has thoughts and more thoughts and tries to work them out. Book’s parts often read as essays. Perhaps that’s the way Book would be most properly classified — as a collection of personal essays, the personal essays of someone whose person is no more (somehow more?) than those essays.

"Those who fear the novel is dead or dying can rest easy. Between the pages of this revelatory revenant—the art form revivified with heart, humor, and layered perception—is a bildungsroman of a book, literally. Think Italo Calvino. Think David Markson. Now remember Glenn Ingersoll." 

— George Salis, author of Sea Above, Sun Below

Because the essays usually read as separate propositions I submitted them in small batches to literary magazines and ezines, in hopes editors would like them, and think them sufficient in themselves. Sixteen did. One editor even nominated for the Pushcart anthology. 

So a book walks into a bar with an identity crisis…, and fractals through one hot, exercised imagination. It’s like Gertrude Stein’s hair setting itself on fire in a crowded theater. What fun! Long a fanatic for Ingersoll’s poetry so no surprise this epic is a stunner. Absurdly original and far out, this baby steams along toward its very sublime amen with muscle, pathos and love.

— Michael Martin, award winning poem-filmmaker and author of Extended Remark: Poems from a Moravian Parking Lot

Please follow these links to journals that include Autobiography of a Book excerpts, most of them online:

Inverse Journal


It does no disservice to Glenn Ingersoll to call him the author of the exhilarating Autobiography of a Book, but doing so might be taken as an offense to the Book, which is, as we discover, self-authored, as is the case with so many great works of literature. “Life begins with an utterance. A word. Another word to grow on. A third to give the first two meaning. One more and we begin to have context. We are now in the midst of it. This is living.” Thus the Book begins. Already both its charmingly quirky personality and its erudite intellectual acumen are in play. The Book does not censor its flow of anxieties nor disguise its capacity to be amused at its failings even while remaining committed to its existence; it is imaginative enough to be willing to venture into (and experience) dark and even dangerous scenarios, and (of course) to linger in and fret over its intimate relationship with words and their organization into sentences. Book, after all, has no other existence. Having an existence, meanwhile, means it has context; it inheres in a world—its world—of experiences. It is thus that it accrues personality: “[R]egardless of whatever creation, work of art, or deed has come about, someone has lived. Are we someone? Are you someone? Try to be someone!” So writes Julia Kristeva in the preface to her biographical Hannah Arendt, but it’s something that the Book too might say. Listen well.

— Lyn Hejinian, author of My Life and The Cold of Poetry

Caveat Lector

Hawai’i Pacific Review

Why does the smell of books captivate us so much—that particular combination of paper, ink, glue? Because it’s the scent of imagination and possibility, when, as this book tells us, “I am so new. I am just starting… I am such a promising young thing… Anything could happen.” Including the book in your hands addressing you directly—yes, you, the person reading this blurb! “Dear reader, I need you. When it comes down to it, I want to live. When I am read, I live.” The best part? As you read life into this book, it returns the favor. First it’s your child, then your lover, then you’re switching places, then—but I can’t, I won’t give away the wondrous secrets inside. You’ll never look at a book the same again.

— Hardy Griffin, founding editor of Novel Slices


Witty Partition (formerly The Wall)

[thank you to the editors for the Pushcart nomination]

Book is quite a character and a likable one. I now even think of Book as a friend.

Alan Bern, author of Waterwalking in Berkeley


The Collidescope

You are now reading a blurb endorsing the gloriously inspired Autobiography of a Book — as told to Glenn Ingersoll. This book wants to know you as intimately as only a book can. This book wants to live in your library with your collected books. Maybe in your biography section. Consider this non-fiction, as it is the true testimony of the book you now hold. It may not speak for every other book, but it offers an incredible journey deep into the pages of itself unlike anything you’ve read before.

 —James Cagney, author of MARTIAN: The Saint of Loneliness, winner of the 2021 James Laughlin Award from Academy of American Poets

Ginosko Literary Journal

A Door Is A Jar

At the core of its winding soliloquies, witty, surprising, in which it muses, complains, splits, burns, gods, the book asserts that you, its 'dear reader', give it life and that it in turn wants nothing more than to pulse its life back to you.

— Richard Silberg, author of Nine Horses and Associate Editor of Poetry Flash

Second Chance Lit

GAS: Poetry, Art & Music

"I love promising. I love imagining. I am ready to offer myself." So says the eponymous book of this book. In an age of high-falutin’ memoir and auto-fiction, Glenn Ingersoll's ingenious Autobiography of a Book pleases with its freshness and naivete, its openness to the world that it comes into. It is a book about being and speaking and wonder. It is a book about the making of a book. How do books exist for us — and we for them? How do we exist for ourselves? Autobiography of a Book teaches as it entertains, provokes and — quite literally — entrances.

—Katy Lederer, author of Pokerface: a girlhood among gamblers and The Heaven-Sent Leaf


Unlikely Stories

In 1644, in Areopagitica, the Puritan poet, John Milton announced that “books are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them.” In 2022, the American poet, Glenn Ingersoll has taken Milton’s notion––not to mention the later notion of “the death of the author”––one step further. What if a book awakened and began to speak, to write itself? Autobiography of a Book is an I-based production, but this “I” is not a human author: this “I” is an object, a thing made of paper and words, written words. If a human life begins with a breath, a book’s life “begins with an utterance. A word.” But the book is not “finished”: like a human, it must develop, it must explore infinite possibilities. “I am so new. I am just starting.” Ingersoll’s brilliant concept results in a book about almost everything, including pages “left intentionally blank.” It is, as the book itself tells us, “more idea than construct, more spirit than body.” It is also one of the most delightful and original reads of any season. Who needs an author when one has a book?

—Jack Foley, author of Visions & Affiliations: A California Literary Time Line and Eyes: Selected Poems

Over the Transom

The curated reading series Quiet Lightning also included an excerpt that was previously published in Hawai’i Pacific Review. has reprinted the chapters that originally appeared at Hawai’i Pacific Review.

A fascinating journey! But take courage, whoever opens this book. What begins as a bizarre and charming conceit -- letting the book write itself -- morphs into a true-pitch recording of the subtext running underneath, well, everything. It’s uncanny. Even running underneath everything I do. Bringing into view all manner of creativity, any creativity, any motion, any act, and then calls into question their value, without ever stating that’s what it’s doing. Are these demons of my own device? Are they truly running underneath everything? Can you continue without dealing with the questions? I did write “courage,” and that is what I meant.

—Clive Matson, author of Mainline to the Heart and Let the Crazy Child Write! finding your creative writing voice


Book and I thank the editors of these journals for giving Book life. Editors provide readers an opportunity to read something new, and even when editors choose against a particular poem, story or essay, an editor has to read it to make that choice. Every editor is a reader. When Book is read that is when Book really lives. That is the true life of Autobiography of a Book — a reader making it part of theirs.

[See a June 2020 post for an earlier version of this introduction to Autobiography of a Book.]

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Autobiography of a Book pre-orders

[update as of June 2024: I am keeping the post below as it is for the historical value. Autobiography of a Book is currently available from Itasca Books, a book distributor in Minneapolis MN, which has taken on AC Books.]

You can now preorder Autobiography of a Book from Small Press Distribution

[update as of April, 2024: Small Press Distribution has gone out of business. At present there is no distributor for AC Books. As soon as it is possible to order Autobiography of a Book I will tell you all about it.]

Though the “publication date” at the SPD page says 10/31/23, my publisher tells me the book will probably ship in February. (The AC Books website doesn’t yet have a page for it.) 

I encourage you to visit SPD and click on the “peek inside” button. I had input on design, but the white print on black paper was publisher Holly Crawford’s idea. The white print continues through the first half of the book, while the black of the pages gradually lightens to a dark gray. At the midpoint the print switches from white to black, the paper continuing its shift to white. With book in hand you can animate the transformation, the shade shift as fast or as slow as the reader drags a thumb along the outer edges of the pages. 

“When does life begin?” Book asks.

Book’s life begins with a reader. Readers bring Book to life. And Book is grateful for the life each reader gives it. 

Chapters from Autobiography of a Book were published in a variety of places. If you would roam through the excerpts, get a taste of what the whole will be like, I have rounded up links in a blog post:

click here