Ken Craft

4 posts

One of My Poems Wins a Pushcart Prize — To Be Published in 2025 Anthology

I’m pleased to announce that my poem “The Pause Between” was selected for a Pushcart Prize and will appear in Pushcart Prize XLIX: Best of the Small Presses (2025 edition), Pushcart’s annual anthology scheduled for publication on Dec. 3, 2024.

The poem appeared in the 2023 issue of Deep Wild: Writing From the Backcountry, and also can be found in my third collection, Reincarnation & Other Stimulants (Kelsay Books, 2021).

A heartfelt thanks to Heidi Blankenship, Poetry Editor at Deep Wild, for nominating the poem, and to the Pushcart Committee for selecting it for this honor.

Here is a link to Deep Wild’s blog making the announcement.

Reincarnation & Other Savings (Redux)


On September 4th, I wondered out loud about Amazon’s pricing policies vis-a-vis my most recent book. While the first two books remained at suggested retail, Reincarnation & Other Stimulants had somehow been enrolled in one of Amazon’s “Huh?” pricing schemes. Back then, it had sunk to 22% off. But then it bounced back up in price as September gained momentum. And now? Now it is trending down again, as if the Princes of Price are passing away a rainy day.

Seriously. I checked this morning and they’ve got it down 39% , where it’s enjoying (for how long, who knows) another life at $11.22,far below it’s suggested of $18.50.

How does this make a poet feel? Conflicted. On the one hand, I feel like I have no control (a typical, Amazonian-type affliction). On the other, I feel it might draw a few bargain-hunters, causing more people to read my work (a feeling every poet can relate to).

Who knows, however, how long it will last? In real life, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. On Planet Amazon? The price is more fickle than any sun I know. Meantime, I’ll continue to watch the prices various reincarnations.


*********************************************************************** Original Post (Sept. 4, 2022) below******************

Far be it for me to explain Amazon dot all-is-calm (in the Ridiculous Profits and Not Paying Much in the Way of Taxes World), but recently they’ve cut the price of my latest book, Reincarnation & Other Stimulants, by 22%. I would add that they offer “free shipping,” but that’s only if you are yet another member of Prime Nation (I am not a citizen but, like Ponyboy and Dally, prefer to be an Outsider).

Better still, I have cut the price of the remaining books I have on hand for readings, which pretty much haven’t happened due to that funny thing that happened on the way to the forum called “Covid-19” (you may have heard of it).

Not to be outdone by Amazon (even though I am past my Prime and still paying my unfair share of taxes), I’m offering what’s left of my stockpile of Reincarnation for $12 (that’s 35% by my sketchy math) with free shipping as well if you’re living within the States. Not only that, these books will be signed, meaning they may someday be worth something… or not. All you have to do is click BOOKS on the upper right hand corner of this screen and, voila (minus an accent aigu or grave or some such), you are there on the “Add to Cart” page.

It doesn’t hurt to mention that I have a few of my two earlier books available, too. These are on sale as well — while supplies lasts, anyway. What can I say? Christmas in September? Black Friday every day? Whatever marketing coinage (“Pennies a day, Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Customer”) works!

If you do choose to support your local (if you live in Maine) or far-flung (if you don’t) poet, all appreciation goes to you. Like small independent bookstores, up and coming (read: not household names yet) writers need your support more than our friends at Amazon, Barnes, & Ignoble. It keeps sites like this available. It also keeps me writing more poems.

Cheers, and thanks in advance if you choose to support poetry. I’m almost sure you’ll like some — maybe even a lot — of the poems that will come your way, Snail Mail Express.

It’s a Sherpa!


The new book is a preemie. Expected in December, arrived in November. And it’s a Sherpa! Most unusually, a lost one. I figured, if I ever hired a sherpa to see me to the summit, that’s exactly what would happen. Nowhere to go but up, and we still get lost.

A few people have asked, “Do the poems in Lost Sherpa of Happiness have something to do with Nepal or Mount Everest?” Uh, no. Like most things in life, it’s more complicated.

The idea started with the story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Indian prince who would eventually become the Buddha. Legend has it that he lived a royal life in a royal palace when his royal curiosity got the better of him (sound familiar, Adam and Eve?). When Siddhartha journeyed outside the protective walls of his royal digs, he encountered old age, sickness, and death. This shook him up mightily. So much so that he gave all his worldly goods up and set out on a quest for enlightenment and nirvana (which look a lot like happiness in my book).

These poems, then, are about man’s endless–and often rocky–search for happiness. Thomas Jefferson called it “the pursuit of happiness,” and Buddhists and Hindus call it samsara, but round and round it goes because the line is not a direct one and may take more than this lifetime.

Why? Because life isn’t easy and the obstacles are many. Interestingly enough, these obstacles exist as much INSIDE your head as OUTSIDE your body. Thus, the poems range from the challenges of childhood to middle age to the wintry days of our lives’ Decembers.

The second of the new book’s three sections (called “searches”) treats exclusively on animals. We’re not the only ones who have it rough, trust me. My hope was to mirror life by including humor, sadness, nostalgia for the past, hope for the future, desperation, and joy. And as was true with my first poetry collection, The Indifferent World, nature poems are as profuse as birdsong in April.

My sophomore effort: If I smoked, I’d light up a cigar to celebrate. If I drank, I’d pour myself a tumbler of Jameson Irish whiskey. As I do neither, I’ll just take a deep breath, inhale the crisp air of gratitude, and try to keep up with my sherpa, who seems to be losing me….


Take the Free Book (and the Long Odds)!


I’ve written about Goodreads’ Book Giveaways before. To say the least, I have ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, they’re good publicity for the little guy (read: humble author) who’s lost in a big jungle (read: the published world). On the other hand, the odds of winning (meaning you) are longer than a certain island off the Connecticut coast, and the odds of garnering a review (meaning me) are wider than a certain mouth in the White House.

In any event, for the third go-round, The Indifferent World, is now available as a Goodreads Giveaway until June 9th. Yes, you could win a signed first (and no-doubt last) edition for free, and yes, you could get hit by lightning (unsigned, I’m guessing), but that’s why Hope waited til last to slip out of Pandora’s box. It’s also why you might just enter your name.

I’m rooting for you, trust me. The fact that you’re reading this post tells me you’re a fan of poetry’s, or at the very least, a fan of writing’s. That means you’ll probably actually read the book if you win. It also means you’ll be kind enough to write a review.

If I could fix the damn giveaway, I would. This is the Age of Authoritarians, after all, so one can dream about silver linings that work in one’s favor, no? The past three GR Giveaway books I’ve mailed into the world, suitcases packed with destination stickers, have disappeared into a void. Nothing but nothing in response! Just Simon & Garfunkel’s dreaded “Sound of Silence” (cue melancholy disc jockey).

Those books, I fear, were snapped up by the Freebie Junkies, the professional Goodreads Giveaway people who have 398,875,193 books on their “To-Read” shelves and 0 books on their “Reviews” shelf.

But, no. This time–perhaps the last time–I have faith. And, as the New York Times has failed to publish this version of the “Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book” series, I’ll slip it in here in case free things intrigue you:

When did you first get the idea to write this book?

The idea lies in the first of the book’s four sections, titled “Woods & Lake.” This suite of poems was inspired by my years on a Maine lake where time seems to have stopped because not much has changed there since the Eisenhower Administration. Were he alive, even Thoreau would be at home there. (Thoreau gets a cameo in one of the poems, by the way).

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

By God, I can write poetry! Originally, the plan was to write short stories with a long-term plan for working up to novels. In fact, I actually completed a young adult novel in the 90s. The feedback from one New York editor was something to the effect of “wonderful descriptions… it’s the plot that needs attention!” Like my lake surroundings, my prose often took leisurely turns toward lyricism and imagery. Poetry in prose’s clothing, in other words! Coupling that realization with a full-tilt teaching schedule, my shift to the more compact (and challenging) genre was complete.

In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?

Some writers start with a master plan, an endgame in sight before the first word is writ. This would not be that book. The Indifferent World evolved as I wrote and rewrote it. Eventually I noticed common themes and grouped the poems accordingly. The four parts are entitled Woods & Lake, Homebodies, Mysteries, and The Indifferent World.

Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Most of the book was written to his music. It fit the mood I was trying to create. I wanted the poems to be simple yet thoughtful, something readers could relate to. Like Pärt’s music.

Persuade someone to read “The Indifferent World” in less than 50 words.

The poetry is approachable. It’s also not afraid to break “rules” because, frankly, I was not up on the “rules” when I was writing it. I did not avoid certain words, like (gasp!) “darkness.” I did not avoid certain topics, like dog poems. Instead, I wrote what inspired me, figuring that would inspire readers, too.