Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s My Own Strange Beast

Mercer’s My Own Strange Beast is a cluster of short poems, most under twenty lines, packed with evocative language, lush image, and the dichotomy of the delicate and the sharp. There’s a lingering darkness here, a follower, something haunting this speaker through dreams, the smell of lotus, candles, and salted bones. They feel mythic, these women (mother/daughter, aunt/niece) in these poems, carrying baskets of dead fish, sitting in the glow of a brick oven, surviving together, searching together: “Your heart like a thin-throated flower,” she writes, “the small lamp of your face beside me.” (Porkbelly Press, 2017) » more & excerpt

about the poet

Melissa Atkinson Mercer is the author of Saint of the Partial Apology (Five Oaks Press) and five poetry chapbooks, including Star-Blind in the Family of Fortune Keepers (Hermeneutic Chaos), After the Miracle Season (Seven Kitchens Press), and ghost exhibit (Glass Poetry Press). Her work has recently appeared in Ruminate, Zone 3, Blue Earth Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and others and has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. She has an MFA from West Virginia University, where she won the Russell MacDonald Creative Writing Award in Poetry.

cover art

artist » Danial Powers
portfolio » Empress Dragon Arts

Pushcart Prize Nominations

We’re very pleased to announce our Pushcart Prize nominations for 2016. Congratulations to the nominees, and thank you so much for sharing in your poetic journey with us. (All of our nominations this year are poems.) We’ve pulled works from our micros, chaps, lit mag, and anthos:

from our chapbooks & micros

“from her mouth” from bindweed & crow poison: small poems of stray girls, fierce women (Porkbelly Press, 2016) by Robin Turner

“Sawaruna [“Do Not Touch”]” from hiku [pull] (Porkbelly Press, 2016) by James A. H. White

“The Pond in the Corner of the Yard” from A Map of the Farm Three Miles from the End of Happy Hollow Road (Porkbelly Press, 2016) by Amorak Huey

from our lit mag, Sugared Water, #005

“When I Grieve” by Wren Hanks : also appears in slightly different from in Ghost Skin (Porkbelly Press, 2016)

“According to My Father Peaches Ward Off Spirits” by Su Cho

from our anthology SKY+SEA

“Love Letter to Galileo: Axis” by Stacey Balkun

Call for Submission: Micro Chapbooks

Porkbelly Press seeks samplings of poems and micro fictions from poets & writers around the world. We’re reading poetical offerings of 8 to 10 pages (multiple pieces or a one or two long poems), or 8 to 10 pages of micro-prose (no more than 75 words each). Pieces should be linked in some way (theme, voice, image, place, etc).

Submission period: now through September 1.

We look for evocative work loaded with vivid image or sound, voices full of fierce attitude or lyric quality. We prefer free verse poems, love prose poems, and will consider both lyric and narrative. We’d be delighted to see some modern American haiku as well.

We’ll produce each chapbook in a handbound open edition. We may also release a special edition with hand altered covers, but the exact format will be determined at press time. (We’re also toying with the idea of sculptural covers.) For samples of our work, please see the current catalog: Porkbelly Press at Wicked Little Heart.

In addition to our regular size chaps, we’d like to offer these small works to introduce readers to a variety of poets and writers—a little something to give folks a taste of your voice.

We prefer that a piece or two be unpublished, but do not require it.

Requirements for Submission

  • 8-10 pages of poetry, prose poetry, micro fiction, or micro creative nonfiction. .doc, .docx, and .rtf accepted.
  • Short bio including blog or website link (if applicable) and any books or chaps currently available.
  • Dedication & acknowledgements do not count against page total. Table of contents is not necessary.

We read via Submittable and you can find us at Duotrope, should you wish to report your submission.

Payment for Accepted Works

10 copies of your micro chapbook (paper covers) or 3 if we do a sculptural cover. (We’ve got bookbinders & artists on staff, and we like to leave ourselves open to inspiration.) 30% discount on additional author copies.