The Offending Adam Journal—A Confession by Nicelle Davis

Submitting poetry is like trying out for the middle-school musical. I do not say this to demean the work of a writer nor the sincere angst of 13 year-old starlets. The emotions generated from these “auditions” are often extreme, because they require a person to put themselves “out there”—to be vulnerable. Every time I send out a submission, I feel like I’m putting on a t-shirt that says “LIKE ME. AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME, KICK ME.”

So why do it—why risk rejection? Well, I think the answer is complicated—but can generally be surmised as the desire for ones own place in the cafeteria Shakespeare production of Henry V. In other words, it’s nice to make things—it’s nice to make things with other people. It is also nice to belong, even if it means acting in the interpretive dance of the Battle of Agincourt (involving tutus).

Well, there were no tutus involved when Andrew Wessels of the Journal The Offending Adam accepted my poem “Faith as Seen on YouTube” in September. However, I was astonished that he liked my crazy poem (sometimes my poems are a little wacky). I was also blown away by “how” the poem was accepted; Andrew asked to see more of my work and prompted a conversation about my poetic process. I felt like the “cool kid” asked me the “new kid” if I would like share a bowl of green jell-o with him.

At first I was hesitant to play along—it seemed too good to be true—“cool kids” do not eat green jell-o. So I revisited The Offending Adam website and reread their mission statement which states: “The journal is a bridge between writer and reader, and we take that responsibility seriously.” And it’s true—they do—they do take writing seriously. I was elated. I wanted to tell everyone about this new journal that was coming out the first of February 2010.

My problem is, I don’t know “everyone” so telling them will be rather difficult. But I do know you fantastic somebody—so I am telling you—please support The Offending Adam Journal by reading its content and submitting your work. Tell your friends about it. Tell your friends to tell their friends about it. Join The Offending Adam on facebook and twitter. Enjoy being a part of a project that sincerely cares about words.

To learn more about this project please visit: A Compulsive Reade

Visit the Offending Adam Journal: The Offending Adam

The Offending Adam on Twitter: Offending Adam

The Offending Adam of Facebook: Offending Adam (Facebook)

Also The Bees’ Knees is featuring an interview with Editor Andrew Wessels this month. Read his thoughts on words and publishing. And co-editor Cody Todd’s chapbook is up for discussion in the Bees’ Knees book club.

My Best to You and All Your Creative Endeavors,

Nicelle Davis

Editor Andrew Wessels Explains The Offending Adam Journal

The Offending Adam—what is it? How is this journal different from other online journals?

Well, to list all online journals as a single entity is difficult.  Each online journal has its own tactic and strategy.  What we saw, overall at least, is that many online journals tend to be digital copies of the print-journal model.  Once, twice, or four times a year, a large bulk of material gets plopped on a website, which then sits otherwise dormant until the next group of material is published.  This is a necessity for print journals just because of the economics of the situation.  The online world, though, we thought was exactly set up for this to not need to happen.  By publishing regularly, in our case a new issue each week, we give each piece of content its own standalone time as the center of attention.  And this idea of attention and consideration is a driving force behind all of our decisions.  We want our readers to be encouraged to spend time with our contributions, not feel the need to breeze through as many as possible.  It is the difference between trying to see the entire National Gallery in London in 30 minutes and sitting down in front of Paolo Uccello’s Saint George and the Dragon for an afternoon to truly come to an understanding of the painting.

Where did the idea for The Offending Adam come from? And the name, it’s great! Where did you find such a provocative and witty title for a journal?

I certainly did not come up with the title of the journal.  Last summer Cody and I decided, once and for all, we were going to start a journal.  We focused primarily on what we wanted to do with the journal and what our purposes and aims were before really looking at the title.  Once we started discussing titles, we went through a number of names with varying degrees of like and dislike, primarily dislike, until Cody just out of the blue mentioned the quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V: “Consideration, like an angel, came / and whipped the offending Adam out of him” as something that had stuck with him.  From there we quickly jumped on the name The Offending Adam.  As we discussed what that quote and title meant to us, it became ever more apparent how the title really conversed well with our reasons and intentions for starting the journal.

The Offending Adam has set out to be “a bridge between writer and reader.” What is that bridge made of? Where will these “bridges” enable a writer / reader to go?

Hopefully the bridge is made of reinforced concrete and steel beams and whatever else goes into current high-end bridge-building these days.  To go back to your first question, when we thought of other journals, there seemed to be a disconnect between the three participants – author, reader, journal.  There is no indication of any relationship between the author and the journal, and any relationship between the reader and the journal is made difficult by the lack of communication between the two (hence our editorial introductions) as well as the mass of work that is offered all at once.  Questions I ask myself when I pick up a journal are “Where do I start?” “Why is it in this order?” “Does the order mean anything?” and “Why did they pick this?”  That last question is vitally important I think.  We have to remember that for most journals the editor(s) read a number of poems from each submission, yet more often than not pick just one poem out of the batch.  That editor is at a huge advantage as they have seen a mini-ouvre that has helped to inform that poem that was selected.  What happens when that poem exists in isolation surrounded by a number of other disparate poems in isolation?  We can’t always sense why something is included or how it really works.

By providing the bridge of the editorial introduction, as well as publishing almost exclusively multiple poems from each contributor, we believe that there will be a greater connection in understanding between the author/contribution and the reader.  Instead of reading the selections with an “oh, ok” perspective, we believe our readers will dig into the poems and interact with them on a more personal level.  Poetry, for myself at least, gets more and more interesting and exciting the deeper one is involved with it, the more one learns and experiences from it.  We designed a journal, as represented by this bridge image, that explicitly pushes readers to do this.

What makes a poem catch your editorial eye?

This is a very difficult question.  First, perhaps, a quick overview of how we go through our editing process.  We run an editing work-process that is single level.  Submissions don’t get “passed up” to the above editor.  Submissions don’t have to get 4 check marks from readers then a check mark from an assistant editor and then and only then be shown to the head editor.  That process seems to discourage the unique and singular work, because it’s best chance of survival is by not-offending.  For us, if an editor likes your submission and wants to take it as their submission to curate and introduce, then it is accepted.  There are a number of submissions that we do discuss as a group, if somebody likes it but isn’t quite sure.  So, that being said, I can only attempt to answer this question for myself.

Actually, here is a good way to answer it.  Earlier today an old friend of mine who writes fiction contacted me because she is judging a youth writing contest and suddenly was handed a group of poetry submissions and asked to grade each on a 10 point scale.  I got a frantic text message asking me “how do you judge poetry?”  I kind of danced around a specific answer, giving pointers for specific things to avoid, such as ridiculously bad rhymes i.e. “You have to start / by filling up my heart” or poems that think that old-sounding-language is poetry.  But, basically, I couldn’t figure out a way to give her a decent answer.  Then, about half an hour later, I got the following text message: “Holy shit, I just found a 10. When poetry is good, it is GOOD!”

That is what I look for.

Andrew Wessels, your project “The Compulsive Reader” is fantastic. As a compulsive reader, what do you think the relationship between reading and writing should ideally be?

This has been debated for probably forever.  I wonder if Homer was going to conferences about this issue.  For me and my writing, I absolutely have to read.  I generally tend towards the belief that you have to read well to write well, but I don’t necessarily think that that means you need to read everything.  I enjoy reading a lot and it is good for me, but I also don’t think that you can prescribe an amount.  What I try to do is push myself to that limit where I simply cannot read more without my head exploding, then I try to read a teensy bit more.  At that point I usually can start writing some poems.  More than anything, reading generates an excitement in me.  An excitement for the word, for thinking, for poetry.

It is really easy to badmouth people who write and submit poems without reading journals and without reading books.  For the person who literally does not read at all, yes that is applicable.  But for the typical decently-read poet sending out poems, this doesn’t apply.  As I discussed above, I think the journals hold at least some part of the blame by separating themselves from the reader and creating a canyon that just cannot be traversed.  Many smaller poetry publishing houses seem to be understanding this and creating a real aesthetic vision that again helps the reader connect with the work without the work needing to be dumbed down.

If I could wish for a moment, here is my one wish.  I wish that all poets and aspiring poets would write one book review a month.  Not a little 300-word blurby review.  A 1000+ word review that begins to really deal with what the book is, why it exists, how it works and why someone might want to pick it up.  It would be nice just to have that much conversation about the books that are being published.  And, for each person doing the reviews, I do just absolutely believe that by being forced to consider and think about a poem or book of poems, you cannot help but be more attentive and understanding of your own poetry.

What book should we be reading that we don’t know about?

What one book should everyone read?  Can I name more than one?  I first just want to say that I love what Omnidawn books is doing.  They are perhaps the one publishing house that I have enjoyed every single book of theirs I have read.  That is not to say that there aren’t a lot of other publishers out there I adore, but they especially stand out to me.

Ok, let me see if I can choose one or two books.  Tom Raworth, a wonderful British poet who deserves a lot more attention over here, is a poet who really informed my thoughts and writing last year (I have a couple of his poems reproduced and discussed on my blog if you want to link to those).  I just re-read Donna Stonecipher’s Souvenir de Constantinople and continue to just revel in it.  How about a third?  There is a great translation of Ece Ayhan, my favorite Turkish poet, called Blind Cat Black & Orthodoxies.

Can I name an old&dead poet?  He is generally skipped over in your standard Brit Lit classes and I didn’t first come across until a couple summers ago while reading the Norton Anthology from start to finish.  Thomas Traherne, who is only given 2 poems and a brief excerpt of prose, was the biggest surprise of those many thousands of pages.  His verse stands out as a revolution in many ways compared to what surrounds him, much in the same way that Blake stood out or Christopher Smart or, to use an example from above, Uccello’s paintings stand out.

I could honestly give recommendations all day long.  There is so much wonderful writing out there, I find it absolutely amazing that anyone can even leave their house to do anything except go to the grocery store.


for more information please visit: A Compulsive Reader and / or The Offending Adam (Info.)

or visit The Offending Adam Journal at: The Offending Adam

A Hybrid Poem to a Hybrid Poem by Kelli Rodin

After Tsang Chih

a reply

I was you and you were every girl in the world,
left unwanted because we were too “smart”
and couldn’t play dumb.
But what would have happened if
we had hitched a ride with the truckers,
moving with them into the future,
too fast for us, I think.
Our stars would have faded before they
had time to shine.
Kelli Rodin lives outside Dayton, Ohio with her son Casey and their two dogs. She likes to make beautiful things; she sews totebags, refurbishes furniture, and works in a library preserving CDs and DVDs. A large portion of her home is used to house books. When she is not writing poetry, Kelli authors the blogs: Pens to Paper and Crafty Geek Mama.

Hybrid Essay by Alexis Vergalla

The Ever Amazing Anne Carson and my Love Affair (or, How I Travel by Bus)

One afternoon my phone vibrates in my pocket; it is Jacob, recent transplant to New York City. “I know where anne carson works out. (and sweats.)”  He calls me later as I stand on the corner of Pike and 3rd Avenue.  The rain pours around me, buses steam and splash, and Jacob tells me Carson came to a reading tonight to preview her new play.  I miss most of the details to the storm.  As my heels finally click and slide down the bus aisle I say “I will call you back, I want to know more,” when what I mean is, I wish I had seen it. Her. The play. The dark bar, the bulbous wine glasses and slanted golden beer.

I will be honest; I don’t understand Anne Carson.  Her work is full of vacant spaces, of references that pass over my head.  And still, to remain honest, I love Anne Carson.  She keeps me at arms length. She does not let me in.  I fight and I crawl between words and I look up and she is one step further away. (Is this is what I love: the one who lures and walks away?) It hurts me to know this, she writes. What a word of possibility, this.

So, of course, I want to write about her. But I think I am writing a map of my own intimacies.  I think I will lose Anne. [How text can condense time- I have written, but you have yet to read. So it has unfolded for me but you have yet to begin uncreasing.] I love her, but I cannot fathom her.  Of course this isn’t about her at all.

How is it that one can love without comprehension? [On the bus, the women screech like birds. There are other women wrapped in babushkas like cabbages. It is not cold, but to look at them you could not know this. They are potatoes. They are earth things. In the sky, gulls screech.] I am in love with this city.  I fall in love with it every morning, and then I begin the slow process of falling-out-of-love. Only to begin again. Someone asks, so, how are you liking Seattle?  If only I could explain.

[Years ago, I was on a train home and light struck the sludge beside the tracks.  Slumped piers. The windows were scratched Plexiglas-our fingers tapping look look look. I tap the bus window and there is no one to remember this. But me. I am here too. Was I in love then?  There was less a sense of shifting, I had yet to spend days beneath an oppressively blue sky.  How un-unsafe I felt.  I cannot remember if I was in love, or falling out, but I don’t remember feeling rootless.]

I am told my writing is sad, but heartfelt. I think of the beating pulpy thing, reaching arteries into a text, and I think this is okay.  She writes Our empty clothesline cuts the sloping night and of course there is sadness, but isn’t there beauty as well?  Isn’t that more important?  The clothesline divides; it draws up between the house (living) and the gate (latched).  Boundaries are important.  If a boundary is defined by where edges touch, by the join/divide, then love is approaching and holding the difference between You and Me. And moving one step closer.  And another.  I am told You don’t put your foot down very often. If at all.  To put my foot down would be to pin down the shifting edge, a bare foot on the blade-like division. [How it feels, like cutting lemons. Or skin.]  I balance on the kitchen stool and say, “No, that isn’t true.” See, I am putting my foot down, painfully. You exist (at the stove) and I exist (on the stool) and we float words into the air.

[The bus passes a statuary, and someone has balanced a small ferret of stone on the head of a medium sized lion. The kind that guards doors and gateways. A shape with a lion body, but the head of a lion.  The lion does not look up (it can’t) and the bus passes by it again and again. The auction house beside the statuary is empty and for rent. Sometimes the sky is snow-silver, and three nights ago the moon was a bare hook ringed in clouds. A teeth mark on the flesh of night.]

I always thought I was leaving, always moving forward and away from love, but I am beginning to suspect I had the perspective wrong: I am attempting to arrive. (Anne, help me arrive. But you slip away, you evade my gaze.)  A box arrives at my doorstep, an arrival of things I have been without.  Anne has arrived.  My approximation of Anne- her text.

I open her book. I have been like one asleep. Sleep caught.

[A girl with a fur-lined hood throws her head back. I can see her laughter.

[The women cry like birds. The women trundle like earth.

[What woman am I?

I dream I am lines of snow, driving into glass. I dream I am zipping a shirt over my bared breasts as the door opens and I turn to the rectangular patch of light.  I dream I am laughing and there is a brass window, just out of reach, and open slightly.  Like your mouth, bare hint of smile. Of teeth.

The lake water wakes me. Gasping.  Jacob was there, and he is in New York now, watching Anne’s newest play.  I am growing accustomed to rain.

[I mistake the word Breakfast for Keats, as if the all-night diner holds a memorable past. The formica tables and their spilled sugar.

There are bulbs emerging, a false spring.  A skiff cuts across water and the buoy bobs, nonchalant.  If I were to bring in love, it would be a gaping hole. The vacant space I circle, the interior of a prism, the mechanism to striate light.  The mountains radiate all day and I have a wheel to show me night’s constellations, but for a more southern latitude.  Some nights I laugh until it my ribs hurt, some nights I dance until my body is drenched.  Some nights I simply sleep and wake and begin again.


Field of swans. Same color as snow geese. The migratory patterns diverging but here (there) is a field—green white and smelling of bird shit.  So what of the changing context?

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I am condensing histories. His stories. You and you and you and you.  Really, it is an attempt to return to myself and I open Anne’s page to And suddenly a vacancy, a silence,//is somewhere inside the machine./Veins pounding. We watched snow geese | we rode trains | we drove down the mountain as night shuttered herself against the car. You ground your teeth | you snored lightly | I slept on the couch until you carried me back. You bent my arm around my back | you bit my shoulder | you kissed my eyelids | you drew first blood. I—what did I do?

[I have lost the thread of Anne. My affair. I have wandered off as I always do.]

Anne arrives in boxes, but she only approximates arrival.  I love and fallout.  I love and fallout. Me, as ever, gone.

*Italic text from Anne Carson’s Decreation.


Alexis Vergalla is often distracted by shiny objects and stories about ether.  She  is the   author of two chapbooks, Letters Through Glass (2009, Finishing Line Press) and Experiments in Light and Ether (forthcoming, Dancing Girl Press).  Her work has appeared in Diode, Anemone Sidecar and elimae, among others.  She formly edited CRATE and The Manuscript and her blog,, is updated somewhat frequently.  If you ask her about John Tyndall or Sir Oliver Lodge she will talk to you for hours.

To order a copy of “Letters Through Glass” please visit:

American Hybrid. Hybrid America. by Nicelle Davis

Hybrid: to blend. to breed. making one of two. (this / that) (w)hole.

The content. The form. Of Hybrid poetry is

constantly falling apart / constantly coming back together.

Jane Miller writes,

I can’t remember enough I make shit up.

Jane Miller writes,

I’ve spent most of my life / thinking art would make sense of it

C.D. Wright writes,


C.S. Giscombe writes,

For the sake of argument, let image be the writhing end of hoop-la. I’m as interested as I should be. Let tomorrow come.

a coin toss.
(       ) don’t feel worth a penny. up in the air. constantly taking a wager.

Today. It is raining / snowing / shining. Where I live.

Bedroom Community. Next to. Neo-Nazi. Next to. Reds. Next to. Broken mirror. Next to. Blues. Next to. orange poppy preserve. Next to. 630 to 1 sex offenders. Next to. 2,000 sleeping in the streets. Next to. Community College. Next to. tiger breading compound. Next to. fault line. Next to. station. Next to. school. Next to. swap meet. Next to. Men for hire. Next to. meth lab. Next to. horses. Next to. clinic. Next to. wholly rolling. Next to. A prison. Next to. Headline.

can no longer read the news / just read the news              maybe 200,000 gone. swallowed up.

I want to: rip ground apart /fold ground back into itself

Be specific: got love all wrong. gotta earn it. gotta earn it more. made a door of sticks — made a bed of mud. if I give it all to you — would you let knocking in — set sleep down.

Our parents are loosing

their roofs. My kid has a cold. A soup and

tissue fix. My friend has cancer.

I donate 5 dollars.

It will cost me

35 after over

draft fees.

1-800-Costomer Service: see the line. are you blind. the bottom.

love? will you take my picture. take against my disappearing.

would you get out of here. I. you clutter up the place. body like a wall.

you’re too serious. like a clown.

ground rips apart. ground folds  back into itself.

wasn’t the original plan to find someone to disassemble the bones. wash the red out of blood. but instead there is more bone. more blood. my son is asleep in the car by the river. this water will be gone tomorrow. what is there to say: ground shifts in currents. like a coin in the air. light catches in movement.

Call (     ) by its name.

Even if its body cuts your tough out. Say what catches in the light. Say

(        ) as a hybrid (hope)

Wanted: Guest Bloggers

Dear Bees’ Knees Poets,

Hello Everyone!

Anyone interested in guest blogging at the Bees’ Knees?

I’d like to take a close look at the anthology American Hybrid…take it one poet at a time. Please message or email me if you are interested in writing a short essay about a “Hybrid” poet.

Authors to choose from include:

Adnan Etel, Angel Ralph, Armantrout Rae, Ashbery John, Bang Mary Jo, Beckman Joshua, Bedient Cal, Bendall Molly, Berssenbrugge Mei-mei, Burkard Michael, Clary Killarney, Cole Norma, Conoley Gillian, Corless-Smith Martin, Doris Stacy, Dubie Norman, Emanuel Lynn, Fraser Kathleen, Fulton Alice, Galvin James, Gander Forrest, Giscombe C.S.    Gizzi Peter, Goldbarth Albert,Graham Jorie, Guest Barbara, Hass Robert, Hejinian Lynn, Hillman Brenda, Hoover Paul, Howe Susan, Howe Fanny, Joron Andrew, Keelan Claudia, Kim Myung Mi, Lauterbach Anne, Levine Mark, Mackey Nate, Marlis Stefanie, McMorris Mark, Miller Jane, Moriarty Laura, Moxley Jennifer, Mullen Laura, Mullen Harryette, Notley Alice, Palmer Michael, Powell D. A., Ramke Bin, Rankine Claudia, Ratcliffe Stephen, Revell Don, Robinson Elizabeth, Ronk Martha, Ruefle Mary, Sikelianos Eleni, Shepherd Reginald, Smith Rod, Snow Carol, Spahr Julianna, Stewart Susan, Taggart John, Vogelsang Arthur, Waldman Anne, Waldrop Rosmarie, Waldrop Keith, Welish Marjorie, Wheeler Susan, Wier Dara, Willis Liz, Wright Charles, Wright CD, Yau John, and Young Dean

Looking forward to reading your ideas about the lines and breaks of things,

Nicelle Davis

Please send your questions, essays, ideas to:

NicelleCDavis at gmail dot com

PANK Magzine Helping Haiti

Article Re-posted from PANK Blog: PANK blog


[M. Bartley Seigel / January 14th, 2010 / Young Bright Things ]

We often plead for our readers to support small press literary publishing by purchasing magazines and entering contests and buying the books of the writers they love. We would like to make the same plea today for your support of something very unliterary — the relief efforts in Haiti in the wake of Wednesday’s earthquake.

PANK Magazine has a very personal connection to the events in Haiti through the person of our much beloved associate editor, Roxane Gay. Roxane recommends both the International Committee of the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders as possible recipients for your generosity. If it helps to grease your wallet, PANK Magazine will donate all direct sales of its magazine or chapbook between 1/13/10 and 2/13/10 between those two charities.

Every little bit counts. Please consider donating.

To purchase book please visit: PANK

Offensive: December Poetry Prompt

Sometimes offensive is the only way to get at the better part of humanity. Write something that makes us all uncomfortable–write something that makes us all the more human for having felt something.

Main Entry: 1of·fen·sive
Pronunciation: \ə-ˈfen(t)-siv, especially for 1 ˈä-ˌfen(t)-, ˈ-\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1564

1 a : making attack : aggressive b : of, relating to, or designed for attack <offensive weapons> c : of or relating to an attempt to score in a game or contest; also : of or relating to a team in possession of the ball or puck
2 : giving painful or unpleasant sensations : nauseous, obnoxious <an offensive odor>
3 : causing displeasure or resentment <offensive remarks>

of·fen·sive·ly adverb

of·fen·sive·ness nou

Enter your offensiveness and be entered in a drawing to win a book of poetry.