Category Archives: Grey Sparrow / River Otter Press

‘Almost Rain’ — new poetry from Simon Perchik, available now!

Almost Rain by Simon Perchik

Almost Rain by Simon Perchik

Two months ago I was approached by Diane Smith, the founding editor of Grey Sparrow/River Otter Press (who published my book), about editing a book of poetry that she was considering publishing. I agreed, and within the hour I had an eighty page poetry manuscript with a familiar name on it — Simon Perchik.

Simon Perchik is an American poet who has been writing poetry since the 1960s. And when I say he’s been writing, I mean writing: with over 20 books credited to his name, he is one of the most widely published and prolific poets of our day. Repositories of his work and correspondence reside in the Library of Congress Rare Book Collection, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Yale, and the Avant Writing Collection at Ohio State University. In short, he’s a pretty big deal.

And I got to edit his work. Talk about pressure.

Themes of loss, loneliness, and longing are prominent in Perchik’s work, which thrusts the reader into a world of turmoil somehow still filled with beauty. What the poet accomplishes best is the conveyance of mood — to read one of these poems is to become one with the speaker; to feel the his pain, his joy. To put it bluntly, Perchik is the kind of poet that I one day hope to be. His poetry is the kind of poetry that someone can read, and reread, and reread and come away with a different interpretation each time; a new layer.

This poem, from the end of the book, is emblematic of the rest of the work within the monograph:


These waves still surface, not sure

it’s her lips that open and close, kept moist

though you can’t hear her voice

scented with rotting wood, weeds

and bottom sand—you row this boat

left, right, swinging your arms

half moonlight, half almost makes out

the words rising from empty shells

and the dress you first saw her in

—you need more arms, clear summer nights

from that inch by inch love song

heavier than these overgrown paths

no longer listening for her forehead

that once anchored the Earth

and water too knows what it has

reeling from a gentle stroke, another

another, facing the sky

it leaves behind, caressing her hair

her breasts, her shimmering—some nights

you can hear her, one by one

—some nights it’s colder, colder.

If you’re a reader of poetry looking for a book that capitalizes on over 40 years of training and practice — a careful honing of skills — then this is the book for you. It is a collection by a poet at the pinnacle of his career; a lifetime of expertise distilled into one beautiful tome. And to top it all off, it’s accompanied by the haunting art of Peter Ciccariello, who’s artwork has been featured in such notable publications as Poetry Magazine and the cover of Rae Armantrout’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Versed.

Some say that life begets life. I say that poetry begets poetry. Pick up a copy of Almost Rain today and bring some poetry into your life!


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Grey Sparrow seeking submissions!

Grey Sparrow’s logo

Grey Sparrow seeks submissions on a rolling basis — meaning that you can submit anytime (which is absolutely wonderful). They are, however, currently awaiting submissions — particularly of flash fiction (under 1,000 words). If you’ve got any work done, now would be the ideal time to submit, while the editor is actively seeking it out!

The call, from Grey Sparrow Press’s facebook page, below:

We’re a little low on submissions… Possibly because it’s the summer, but always receiving quality work–could use flash.

So get out there and submit! Submissions details here.

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Grey Sparrow’s Summer Issue now complete and ready to be read!

“Cutting Wire” by Grey Sparrow’s 2013 Summer Issue guest photographer Tracie Van Auken.

The Summer Issue of Grey Sparrow is finally done and can be found here. This issue features work by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and photography by guest photographer Tracie Van Auken, as well as work of fiction and poetry by new and established writers. Take a look today and learn something new about the world!


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Yale University has requested an annual subscription of Grey Sparrow!

Grey Sparrow Press’s beautiful logo

I know this might not sound like a big deal, but Yale University has requested an annual subscription of Grey Sparrow! Believe me when I say that this is tremendously great news for a small literary magazine — when Yale notices you, you know you’ve made it big.

Grey Sparrow is a literary journal published by Grey Sparrow Press, which was established by Diane Smith in 2009. Since its inception, Grey Sparrow Press has published both online and print editions, with a current policy of publishing one annual print edition that aggregates the best submissions from the entire year. In addition to this, Grey Sparrow Press has spawned a separate press — River Otter Press — for its book publications, which include Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson; The Northwoods Hymnal by Luke Hawley; and my own book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, which was actually River Otter’s first publication.

(I should note that there are two books that were published by Grey Sparrow Press before River Otter was created — Overwatch by Allen Gray, and Shenanigans! by Joseph Michael Owens)

Both presses are open for submissions on a rolling basis, so if you’ve got anything to submit, you can do so anytime! River Otter Press accepts single-author books of poetry and fiction, and Grey Sparrow Press accepts everything from poetry to fiction to creative nonfiction to flash. Take a look today!

I really can’t convey how thrilled I am to be a part of such an amazing pair of presses as this! Congrats, Grey Sparrow, for your ivy-league subscription!

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‘Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer’ on sale for only $8.99!


So, Amazon notified me today that my book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, was put on sale at 10% off — bringing its price down to only $8.99! I don’t know how long the sale will last for, but if you’ve at all been on the fence about buying a copy of the book, or you’ve been waiting for the right time, today’s the day. Also on sale at 10% off are two other Grey Sparrow/River Otter books, Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson and Shenanigans! by Joseph Michael Owens.

Pick up a copy today!

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Professor Gina Barreca visiting me at our table at the Boston AWP Bookfair!

Me with my wonderful professor, Dr. Gina Barreca, at the Grey Sparrow/River Otter table at the AWP Bookfair.

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Submissions details for River Otter Press

River Otter Press’s beautiful logo

River Otter Press is now open for general submissions of poetry and fiction. Here is the official link to River Otter’s page on Poets &Writers!

My book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, is the first book to have been published by this fantastic press, and I’ll be the first to tell you that the editor, Diane Smith, is an amazing woman. Diane guided me through the publishing process step by step and worked with me the entire time to ensure that the book lived up to both her, and my, expectations.

An offshoot of Grey Sparrow Press, which publishes a literary journal, River Otter Press exists to publish literature that encapsulates the human experience. Since publishing my book in October of last year, the press has gone on to publish two other books: Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson, and The Northwoods Hymnal by Luke Hawley. Both are astonishing works by amazingly talented writers.

I want to point out that River Otter Press is run by a dedicated group of volunteer editors, who do not benefit financially from the publishing process. They are involved solely to promote the development of fantastic literature. If you are lucky enough to find yourself working with this amazing press, you will become a member of a very tight-knit community — a second family, really — who wants nothing more than to see you and your book succeed.

Below, please find some submissions details that can also be found at the Press’s Poets & Writers Page.

River Otter Press

Genres Published: Poetry, Fiction
Representative Authors: Seasoned and emerging voices welcome.
Book Types: Chapbook, Novella, Short story collections, Novel, Poetry collections
Formats: Paperback, Hardcover
Reading Period: Jan 1 to Dec 31
Reporting Time: 3 to 6 months
Charges Reading Fee: No
Accepts Electronic Submissions: Yes
Accepts Simultaneous Submissions: Yes
Accepts Unsolicited Submissions: Yes

Editorial Focus

We publish flash fiction, poetry, and prose regarding global themes that haunt us all.

Tips From the Editor

Ah Tips: Please, literary writing only. Three chapters, a synopsis, and street address with electronic submissions only to: No themes of romance, pornography, horror, or gratuitous drug use.

Contact Information

Diane Smith, Editor
PO Box 211664
St. Paul, MN 55121

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