Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Book Map

Created by the artists of Dorothy, The Book Map is an artistic rendition of a street map made up from the titles of over 600 books from the history of English Literature. The Map includes classics such as Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Bleak House, Vanity Fair and Wuthering Heights as well as 20th and 21st Century works such as The Waste Land, To the Lighthouse, Animal Farm, Slaughterhouse 5, The Catcher in the Rye, The Wasp Factory, Norwegian Wood and The Road.

The Map, which is loosely based on a turn of the century London street map also includes fictional areas dedicated to the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Tolkien, Harry Potter and a children's literature district featuring such classics as The Railway Children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Where the Wild Things Are. There's an A-Z key at the base of the Map listing all the books featured along with the author's name and the date first published.

Special "Strange and Wondrous Pairings" Section in The Georgia Review

"Strange and Wondrous Pairings" is the feature section of The Georgia Review's most recent issue. The five included essays "all raise questions," writes Editor Stephen Corey, "very different questions—about the people or characters they bring together in quite unexpected ways. These works were not commissioned; they appeared by chance during the past two years and built for us, unbeknownst to their authors, a distinctive community."

Martha G. Wiseman's "Dr. No Meets J. Robert Oppenheimer"
Corey writes, "Wiseman revisits this movie villain and this real-life celebrity scientist while looking through the prism of her father, the actor Joseph Wiseman, who played the two in film and on stage, respectively. She also looks through in the other direction, seeing her father as he was reflected in the roles he played—and didn't play—and herself as she was influenced by, and influenced, this man of many faces, an actor of sufficient repute in the early 1960s that the director of Dr. No 'needed someone with a name, a presence,' to counterbalance that newcomer, Sean Connery."

Brandom R. Schrand's "Finding Emily & Elizabeth"
Corey writes, "Schrand received from a neighbor the gift of a 1944 edition of Emily Dickinson's poems . . . when he first sat down to peruse this particualr volume he immediately discovered, taped over one of the poems and surrounded by handwritten notations, a photograph of a teenage girl named Elizabeth who appeared to be dead . . . his Dickinson collection proved to be filled with many other annotations, all apparently by the young Elizabeth's mother, and so his sought-after education becomes a doubling of his original intention."

Albert Goldbarth's "Two Characters in Search of an Essay"
Corey asks, "Who else would ferret out, and then present with wild and beautiful prose, the vital connections between John Keats and Clyde Tombaugh (the young man who discovered the now-maligned Pluto), and—remember, this is Albert Goldbarth—would also teach us countless other remarkable things along the way?"

Marianne Boruch's "Pilgrimage"
Corey writes, "Boruch's 'Pilgrimage' takes us, as no other tour guides have ever done, to and through the homes of Keats (on the Isle of Wight) and a seminal American poet, Theodore Roethke (in Saginaw, Michigan).

Brian Doyle's "Sam & Louis"
Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson had a single face-to-face meeting, "but one whose substance went unreported." Corey writes, "Doyle, an aficionado of both men's work, asks 'But what did they say?'—and proceeds to reconstitute what was very likely several hours of the most scintillating talk in history."

Baltimore Review Summer Contest Winners

The Baltimore Review editors have announced and congratulated the winners of their summer contest, the theme of which was "How To." Judged by Michael Downs, the contest was open to poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction. The issue itself features this same theme. Here are the winners:

First Place
Diana Spechler's "How to Love a Telemarketer"

Second Place
Ginny Hoyle's "How to Breathe"

Third Place
Shirley Fergenson's "How to Leave a Garden"

Congrats. Read the winning pieces and the complete issue online here, featuring Erika Kleinman, Evan Beaty, Douglas Cole, Meng Jin, Marjorie Stelmach, Carolyn Williams-Noren, Justin Brouckaert, James Norcliffe, and more.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Required Reading :: Dear Editor, Dear Writer, PLEASE STOP!

James Duncan's blog post Dear Editor, Dear Writer, PLEASE STOP! should be required reading for every writer sending out works for publication, for every publication accepting and rejecting writing, for every teacher, every student - cripes! JUST EVERYBODY PLEASE READ THIS!

A well-published author himself as well as an editor, Duncan has learned the intimacy of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the relationship between editors and writers - either having experienced it himself or having heard about it from others. His insight goes well beyond the response times and cover letter content. Such issues as editors giving rude rejections and ("on the flip side" for each topic) writers responding rudely to rejection, extraneous e-mails from both editors and writers, complicated guidelines and writers not following guidelines, closing submissions and over submitting, and many more such issues.

I've already had a side conversation with Duncan about one of his issues here, and we agree, there are some tough lines to walk in our business of writing and publishing. It would seem much of his advice is common sense and common courtesy. But it's not that easy when new writers are trying to learn the publishing arena, and new editors likewise - or even established writers and editors wondering what they're "doing wrong" or how to improve their professionalism. For all these reasons and more, Duncan's essay should be the go-to guidelines for all writers and editors.

Amy Stolls, NEA Director of Literature

Amy Stolls. Photo by Carrie Holbo
Amy Stolls, author of the Palms to the Ground and The Ninth Wife, former literature professor at American University, and environmental journalist covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill, has been appointed Director of Literature of the National Endowment for the Arts. Stolls has served as acting director since May 2013, and has been with the NEA literature office since 1998.

Stolls says of her appointment: "To be part of the literary community—that passionate, wonderful lot of writers, teachers, publishers, editors, presenters, librarians, translators, and more who work tirelessly on behalf of books and reading—is an honor. To be in a position to help this community is a gift. I have always believed deeply in the NEA’s mission; I look forward to carrying out that mission as best I can in my new role.”

Read more on NEA News.

Conversation with Andre Dubus III

In the Fall 2014 issue of Willow Springs, Elizabeth Kemper French and Joseph Salvatore have a conversation (from March 2013) with Andre Dubus III, author of New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and Townie. The interview is lengthy and worth every word.

It begins with conversation about the digital age, which Dubus detests. "I don't like modern life," he says, "with these gadgets." And although his publisher made him get a Facebook page, he doesn't plan to ever update it (though points out that there is nothing wrong with others doing so). "It's a philosophical turning-away-from, and a temperamental turning-away-from," he says. "The older I get, the more simplicity I want. I don't think these things have helped us. I think they've made us little rats, made us pay attention to little, stupid shit."

And because the writing process is different for everyone, Dubus must write by longhand, not putting on the computer until it is completed: "I need the physical intimacy of flesh, blood, bone, wood, paper. It helps me enter the character." He goes on to explain the necessity for him to slow down when writing, as writing longhand forces you to do:

"There's a great line from Goethe: 'Do not hurry. Do not rest.' Some people say, 'I need the computer, because my ideas are so fast.' I say, 'Ideas? I don't trust ideas. Ideas are just ideas.' I trust the other stuff. I love the line from Flannery O'Connor, from Mystery and Manners: 'There's a certain grain of stupidity the writer of fiction can hardly do without, and that's the quality of having to stare.' ..."

It's a quality interview, both entertaining and insightful. It's worth every one of the almost 30 pages it takes up of the journal.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cellist Daniel Sperry Makes Music Out of William Stafford Poetry

Daniel Sperry, a quirky 59-year-old cellist, composer and spoken word artist, from Ashland, Oregon has recently received permission through the Permissions Company of Mount Pocono, PA, on behalf of the William Stafford Family Trust, to undertake a musical body of work with the poetry of William Stafford, America's first poet laureate, as its centerpiece.

The end result of the project is that people will come to a show that is incredibly entertaining, deep, and joyful. Stafford's words are just the vehicle to carry a thread of discovery about life, and the music will carry that feeling. Each member of the audience will leave transformed from the connection to that special quality that comes through the words and through the music. Daniel's mission is to bring that sense of connection that the world needs now, through music and great poetry, sung and played by vibrant, masterful musicians.

Daniel recently completed 200 concerts in living rooms around the country, traveling solo in his 200 Toyota Sienna van, couchsurfing along the way, sharing his original cello music and the poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, David Whyte, William Stafford and others. His current catalogue of creative work consists of two spoken word CDs and four instrumental CDs.

The new project focuses on the poetry of Willam Stafford, the reknowned American poet and author of some 20,000 poems. Stafford would have been 100 this year, and his poetry is being celebrated all over the world.

The goal of Daniel's Stafford Project is production of a CD, which will include 12 of Stafford's poems, the formation of a band with four vocalists, three cellos, mandolin, banjo, piano and upright bass and the production of a video featuring the new group. The band will be touring in performing arts centers around the country. This production is being funded by a Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign.

The funding through Kickstarter ends July 31st. The goal is to raise $6000 by then.

The recording will take place both in Nashville, TN, and in Ashland, OR.

Daniel's goal is to make great poetry available as a performance art in a fun, beautiful, entertaining setting that can be enjoyed by an audience of all ages.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers Winners

Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their May Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The next Short Story Award competition will take place in August. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

1st place goes to Caro Clark [pictured] of Wakefield, RI. She wins $1500 for “The Kind I Really Am” and her story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is Caro’s first published story.

2nd place goes to Robert Kirkbride of Chicago, IL. He wins $500 for “These Things.”

3rd place goes to Gaetan Sgro of Chicago, IL. He wins $300 for “We Are All Snowflakes and Cities.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.

Deadline soon approaching! Very Short Fiction Award: July 31
This competition is held quarterly, and 1st place has been increased to $1500 plus publication in the journal. It’s open to all writers, with no theme restrictions, and the word count must not exceed 3000. Click here for complete guidelines.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Cover art for this issue of The Cincinnati Review is called Shallow Water, a 16in by 20in acrylic by Felicia Olin who also contributes a portfolio within the issue, all included pieces worth discovering.


The cover art for the "Reimagined: Bridging this World and Others" issue of Nimrod is a photograph by Brooke Golightly with just as an enticing of a title, "Beneath the Skirt of the Sea."


Notre Dame's "Listen Here" issue features cover art by Gail Schneider. On the front cover, Right Ear made with clay and mortar. " terra cotta. I wasinterested in the contrast of the soft sensuousness of the human body, the fragility of body parts such as the heart and ear and the impenetrable stability of brick," she writes.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"No Typos Hear!"

"No Typos Hear!" is how Pat Stone titles the editor's note for the current issue of GreenPrints. He announces that for almost two decades, Ricki and Michael Cochran have been proofreaders for this magazine. As they know have a lot going in their lives, including seven grandchildren, they are officially stepping down; this was their last issue. As such, Stone puts forth his sincere thanks and states that the first who finds a proofing error (beyond the obvious one in the title) in this issue will receive a free one-year subscription to the magazine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mighty River and Wilda Hearne Contests

Big Muddy opens Volume 14 Number 1 with the winners of the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award and the Mighty River Short Story Award. Here's a glimpse of each:

Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award
Robert Garner McBrearty's "What Happened to Laura?"
     I'm in a coffee shop on an afternoon in spring when a man at a table near the creamers picks up his smart phone and says in a loud voice, "John? Doug here. Laura is back. She's pissed off. She's a really pissed off person...I don't know what she's pissed off about...Yeah, that's right...I'm taking her to the doctor today...It's a hard call, they might...That's good, that's good...She's real angry, she's real brutal, she's real cutting...Yeah, that's right...I don't know if I'm going to have to hospitalize her or not...It's brutal, it's real brutal, I'll call you after we see the doctor...Okay, thanks, right...That's good."
     Doug signs off. But he's back on a moment later. "Bob? Doug here. Laura came back...Well, she's pissed off, she's real pissed off...That's good, that's good...Well, she's real pissed off...We're going to see the doctor in about twenty minutes...Obviously...Excellent...Good idea...I'll hide everything..."
     He hangs up. We all look up from our tables to meet his widened eyes. A tall man rises up. He points a finger at Doug's chest. "I want to know what's wrong with Laura," he says.

Mighty River Short Story Contest
Catherine Browder's "The Canine Cure"
     Some days there's a bit of a flurry when I step on the elevator with the girls. Lola takes the lead, followed by Rusty, and then Didi. I bring up the rear. As we assemble inside, an orderly wearing hospital scrubs pulls himself up to his considerable height and scowls, never taking his eyes off my trio. A young Asian woman in a lab coat takes a small step back. I raise a finger. My three promptly sit, and I punch the button for the third floor.
     "Believe it or not," I tell my audience, "these girls are here to work." I give them my broadest professional smile. The man cracks a joke while the young woman titters uncomfortable. Neither has noticeably relaxed. The girls remain seated, their great brown eyes traveling from face to face and then back to mine. In the enterprise that looms ahead I am certain of only one thing: My troupe is obedient and well trained.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Robert and Adele Schiff Awards

The current issue of The Cincinnati Review features a special section for the winners of the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in prose and poetry. There is no commentary on the pieces, so you'll have to figure out why they won for yourself! Here is the opening of each:

Karrie Higgins's "The Bottle City of God"
My first summer in Zion, the Mormons deliver a latter-day miracle.
      A grasshopper plague is encroaching on a town somewhere out there in the vast Utah emptiness, on the other side of the Great Salt Lake: two thousand grasshopper eggs to the square foot, little exoskeletons bursting into being from thin air, like popcorn kernels on a hot burner.
      Local News Channel 4 bears witness: Every ten years, the grasshoppers come. Like clockwork.
      As an outsider, a Gentile, I have made this reporter my hierophant. The Mormons have their Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and I have a newsman. I never watched local news before moving here.
      The plague is supposed to happen.
      Backyards are popcorn machines, pop, pop, pop.
      Insecticide has failed us.

Martha Silano's "The World"
The world so big, so big and beyond, tumbleweed so turbulent in the wind,
the cormorants of the world so sunning themselves on shit-stained piers.

World a big son with his big-boy accretion, his magnesium need
for the screen, for his Xbox lithosphere. The world and the calderas

of the world and the peaks of the world with their toothsome fissures
toppling the calm. The world with its spiral notebook of incomprehensible

Monday, July 21, 2014

Last Call :: August Poetry Postcard Festival!

I've blogged plenty about it, now it's time for you to get signed up! Event Organizer Paul Nelson says there are already over 300 participants! Don't let that scare you; in brief, all you do is write one ORIGINAL postcard poem a day and send it to people on your own list (31 total), which means you also get postcards throughout the month. Writing start date is actually July 27, so deadline for signing up is July 26. If you haven't tried it yet, now is the time!

Winners of Passages North's 2013 Contests

Passages North showcases the winners of their 2013 contests in the 2014 issue, out now:

Thomas J. Hruska Memorial Nonfiction Prize
judged by Elena Passarello

Brandon Davis Jennings: "I Am the Pulverizer"

Honorable Mentions
Christiana Louisa Langenberg: "Foiled"
Sidony O'Neal: "Timely Reflections on the Death of Emergency"

Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize
judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Vandana Khanna: "Prayer to Recognize the Body"

Honorable Mention
T.J. Sandella: "My Mother Prepares Me for Her Death"

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Fiction Contest
judged by Caitlin Horrocks

Joe Sacksteder: "Earshot—Grope—Cessation"