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Digging for Poems: The New Cape Cod Poetry Review

by Kim Baker

So you have been wondering why, with all the talented poets on Cape Cod, the Cape does not have its own poetry journal? Well, wonder no more, dear poets and poetry lovers.

Welcome to Cape Cod Poetry Review!

Writers John Bonanni and Gemma Leghorn are honored and awed to be in a community of talented Cape Cod writers. But John and Gemma saw a void in a journal reflecting and representing those creative word artists.

So after meeting at the Fine Art Works Center in the summer of 2010, they felt "very connected, both in literary taste and in friendship," says John. And they set out "to publish the best in contemporary literature while fostering community and arts education on Cape Cod."

In a recent interview on NPR's The Point, John and Gemma told Mindy Todd that "the most challenging part of launching CCPR" has been the funding. "I hate asking people for money," admits John.

But he credits the amazing Cape art community for coming to open mics and other small fundraisers. He and Gemma raised enough money to launch CCPR at the Guyer Barn in December 2012.

John and Gemma are proud that much of the journal costs are funded by the Cape Cod community at open mics and donations.

Their goal is to produce two issues per year and attain non-profit status for funding, with a long-term dream of dedicated space that can house the journal and its operations, as well as house a "walk-in Creative Writing Center and library, like Grub Street in Boston."

Also at open mics, they do something unique, something as John describes it, "I don't know of any other journal" doing. John and Gemma ask the audience to approve page proofs. This technique involves the whole community in the process of producing the journal.

John points to dedicated and talented Cape writers like Joe Gouveia and Joe's support of this adventure on his WOMR poetry show. John also says John Landry, Betty Jameson, Barry Hellman, Judy Askew, Susan Berlin, Lauren Wolk, and Victoria Bosch Murray are "among countless others who have offered me a great deal of solid professional and life advice."

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So you think you want to submit to CCPR? Well, whether you are a Cape resident, "wash ashore," or live in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, your work is welcome. The journal operates like other literary journals with work selected through blind reading, meaning without the author's name, by a jury of editors.

John and Gemma are already expanding the scope of the journal, including the talent of Cape artist David M. Cravenho to grace the cover of the inaugural issue. And they are opening the second issue to include art, photography, fiction, interviews, and essay.

When I asked John, "If poetry were an animal, what animal would it be," he responded, "An armadillo because why not?" Well, armadillos are prolific diggers. And John and Gemma are digging for the best writing they can find to publish in Cape Cod Poetry Review.

Gemma writes in the introduction to the inaugural issue, "When it comes to community, there is none more welcoming than the poetry community on the Cape. It is our hope that this journal will continue to strengthen an already thriving group of local poets."

"Its locale is its life!" exclaims John. And now, the Cape locale is home to talented writers across the country and beyond. Will you be one?

CCPR is available at bookstores and cultural venues around the Cape, as well as at the journal's website, where you can find the submission guidelines.

Kim Baker

When she isn't teaching the abundant virtues of the comma at Roger Williams University School of Law, writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, and doing the Cha Cha, Kim Baker works to end violence against women.

Kim's poems have been published online and in print and essays broadcast on NPR. Three short plays have been stage-read at Culture*Park in New Bedford.

Kim's first chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence: Musings about Poems and Paintings, is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Kim is currently working on a book of ekphrasis poems about the stories and portrayals of women in the paintings of female artists. Kim can be reached at

Under the Influence

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