Monday, September 01, 2014

American Life in Poetry :: Matt Mason

American Life in Poetry: Column 493

Stories read to us as children can stay with us all our lives. Robert McCloskey’s Lentil was especially influential for me, and other books have helped to shape you. Here’s Matt Mason, who lives in Omaha, with a book that many of you will remember.

The Story of Ferdinand the Bull

Dad would come home after too long at work
and I’d sit on his lap to hear
the story of Ferdinand the Bull; every night,
me handing him the red book until I knew
every word, couldn’t read,
just recite along with drawings
of a gentle bull, frustrated matadors,
the all-important bee, and flowers—
flowers in meadows and flowers
thrown by the Spanish ladies.
Its lesson, really,
about not being what you’re born into
but what you’re born to be,
even if that means
not caring about the capes they wave in your face
or the spears they cut into your shoulders.
And Dad, wonderful Dad, came home
after too long at work
and read to me
the same story every night
until I knew every word, couldn’t read,
just recite.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Matt Mason from his most recent book of poems, The Baby That Ate Cincinnati, Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Matt Mason and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Is it a jinx or good luck to select Issue 13 of Superstition Review to feature for cover of the week? I'm going with luck considering the beauty of Melinda Hackett's watercolor. More of her works, along with those from a number of other artists, can be found featured in this online publication.


Big Fiction's cover caught my eye and my touch, being hand-set letterpress printed by Bremelo Press. Maybe selecting it is cheating just a bit, because it's a cover that really deserves to held to be best appreciated. Here is is full print, unfolded. Truly, letterpress is art.


The cover of West Marin Review Volume 5 made me smile, reminding me of high school days gone by (and maybe a few college days) of sneaking in or breaking in after finding myself locked out. Jasmine Bravo, Grade 12, Tomales High School contributed this digital photograph entitled "Sister's Keychain" (2013).


Poetry Northwest Summer & Fall 2014 features the stunning marine photography by Adam Summers: “Hedgehog Skate.” More inside the publication as well.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Glimmer Train June Fiction Winners

Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their June Fiction Open competition. This competition is held twice a year. Stories generally range from 2000-6000 words, though up to 20,000 is fine. The next Fiction Open will take place in June. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

First place: Michael Varga [pictured, of Norcross, GA, wins $2500 for “Chad Erupts in Strife." His story will be published in Issue 95 of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be his first off-campus fiction in print.

Second place: Dana Kroos, of Houston, TX, wins $1000 for “These Things.”

Third place: Christine Breede-Schechter, of Geneva, Switzerland, wins $600 for “Goodbye to All That (Or Not).”

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

Deadline soon approaching - Short Story Award for New Writers: August 31. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize is $1500 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Second/third: $500/$300 and consideration for publication. Click here for complete guidelines.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Students! Teachers! Readers! Shop for Lit Mags Here!

Now you can purchase single copies of a variety of current literary magazines from just one site with FLAT RATE SHIPPING $3! Buy one or buy a dozen, it's only $3 to your mailbox!

NewPages Magazine Webstore

• Find titles you recognize and discover new magazines.
• Browse issue content to find favorite authors as well as new voices.
• Research magazines before submitting your writing.
• Teachers & Students: FINALLY! One site to get classroom reading.
• Support writers and publishers of literary magazines!
• Put together lit mag gift baskets for friends.

Pick and choose single copies from the comfort of your keyboard and have them conveniently delivered to your doorstep.

Literature, Arts, and Medicine Research Database

I post this every fall because I think this is such a GREAT resource for academics: Literature, Arts, and Medicine.  This site is sponsored by New York University. Time and again, when working on analysis of literature, this site pops up, and I have found it immensely helpful in guiding some of my work. Specifically, "The Literature, Arts, & Medicine Database is an annotated multimedia listing of prose, poetry, film, video and art that was developed to be a dynamic, accessible, comprehensive resource for teaching and research in MEDICAL HUMANITIES, and for use in health/pre-health, graduate and undergraduate liberal arts and social science settings."

Fine for med students, as a lit student/teacher, this site works great for me! Each entry specifies genre (including medium for art), keywords (which help direct analysis from a medical perspective and are linked to others with the same theme), summary and commentary. Bibliographic information is also provided.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Milkweed Editions Award Winner Michael Bazzett

Michael Bazzett, winner of the Milkweed Editions 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, will have his collection of poems, You Must Remember This, published in November 2014. Pre-orders at a reduced price are being taken now on the Milkweed website. Bazzett will be reading at the Minneapolis Central Library on November 11 at 7:00 pm.

Pea River Journal :: The Prints Project

What happens when you send artwork to a writer and ask them simply to "respond"? Pea River Journal Editor Trish Harris found out after creating four original linocut and woodblock print portraits of famous authors and sending them to writers with no requirements whatsoever except: respond. So far the series of 12 includes four authors: Ann Akhmatova, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, and Emily Dickinson. Ten of each, signed and numbered copies, are sent out "into the world," with a new release of ten planned every few weeks. As the responses come in, PRJ is sharing them for readers here. Respondents thus far include Ab Davis, Laura Esckelson, Anthony Martin, John G. Rodwan, Jr., Edward Hunt, Corey Mesler, Jose Padua, Leslie Anne Mcilroy, Timothy Kenny, and Heather Hallberg Yanda.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Aren't You Reading Writer Beware®?

Writer Beware®: The Blog is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with additional support from the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association: "Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news and commentary, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world."

A recent post by Victoria Strauss is one that answers a question I have heard time and again: How Not to Seek a Literary Agent: The Perils of "Middleman" Services. Strauss begins: "I know I've written about this before [this links to a previous article]. But I'm seeing an increasing number of these kinds of 'services,' and they are all worthless."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Death of Humanities and Lit Flipping

Paula Reiter, Mount Mary University, speaks in a video on "Creative Teaching Techniques: Flipping the Literature Classroom" addressing "the challenge of infusing the literature classroom with creative teaching techniques." Reiter notes, "I demonstrate how to 'flip' the classroom to make time for extended creative projects that involve students directly." Even more importantly, Reiter addresses the major concern/criticism of literature in our time: Why does this matter in my life?

Access this an numerous other pedagogy articles in Teaching College Literature, an online professional publication which is open to submissions, such as sample syllabi, advice on course planning and design, teaching tips, media (PowerPoint, video, etc.), as well as suggestions for links to resources including blogs, websites and media.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hear This :: "Butcher Day" by Kami Westhoff

The 2River View online publication of poetry, art, and theory, includes audio recordings for each of its featured poets. Each poet reads his or her own works, introducing themselves by name and title of poem. My general instinct when I find a site where an audio starts up immediately is to look for the X button to make it stop. There is no such option on The 2River View, and perturbed at first, I was grateful once I listened through "Butcher Day" by Kami Westhoff.

This poem was a stunner for me. It is haunting enough in its shift between contextual imagery, but the audio recording takes all its content a step further for the reader's experience. Westhoff's reading aloud forced me to continue at a steady pace through the connections she makes, from the slaughter of a family cow, to the rape of her sister, to their innocence as children:
Today is butcher day. Clover drags her impossible tongue over the salt lick, slips it into one then the other nostril. Our dog, Blackie, burrows into a bone from last night's roast, her teeth clunk low and wet until the marrow offers. . . 
. . .Today we are eight and twelve, and don't yet know there is never enough time to be forgiven.
Her reading added to the emotional gravity of the poem, which by the end had gripped me so strongly, I was on the verge of tears. Like many of the poets in this issue, Westhoff has a second poem, which the recording went directly into. I had to hit the mute button on the computer to give myself "a moment" to let that poem resonate before moving on.

Other poets in this issue include Bradley J. Fest, Kathryn Haemmerle, April Krivensky, Kristin LaFollette, Michael Lauchlan, Gloria Monaghan, Darren Morris, Sherry O’Keefe, Jacqueline Dee Parker, Sally Van Doren, Kami Westhoff.