Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review :: Teens and Computers

Teens and Computers
by Donna S. Bast
2007; 148pp
ISBN 978-1-4196-7075-6

Given my interest in technology and education, I couldn't resist getting a copy of this book, Teens and Computers: What's a Parent to Do? A Basic Guide to Social Networking, Instant Messaging, Chat, Email, Computer Set-up and More. I'm a sucker for anything that touts "and more." Of course, my real agenda in getting this book was to see just how teens were treated. I've listened to numerous speakers and read countless efforts by authors to help parents get "in tune" with their teen, and most come off as "us vs. them" masked behind a lot of ageist humor, which only serves to further divide the parent/teen relationship.

Let me further disclaim - I have never raised a teenager. But I work with troubled teens, and I know a lot about what parents do to screw kids up. Donna S. Bast, the author of this book, will not allow that to happen with what she has written here.

Trying to learn hip new technology, I've also read several ______ for Dummies books (like for Second Life - I'm STILL not off Welcome Island - Second Life Guantanamo...). The problem with those books: They're too stupid. Bast's approach is directed to parents who have some clue about what is out there, and perhaps even use some of the technologies themselves, but don't quite get how kids use the technologies like oxygen. Bast is able to tap into the realm of how critical these technologies are to teens and their social identities (HUGELY important to teens), and how parents can better work with their teens and technology instead of against both.

The book starts with "What are my Teenagers Doing on the Computer?" and covers IM/Text, chat, blogs, email [old school for teens now!], MySpace, Facebook, Xanga and video portals. Every chapter gives the basics of the technology, its attraction for teens, how new users can access it, what cautions should be heeded, and how to talk with your teen about these concerns.

It's not until the second part of the book that Bast gets into “Limits for Computer Usage.” But these have been discussed throughout, not so much as taking total control, but how to negotiate responsible usage with your teen. Still, her chapters on “Should I Control…” and “What are the Rules and Consequences…” provide insightful and patiently scripted suggestions. What I think gives Bast the greatest edge in this writing is that she is a computer geek, through and through (her business is Miz Fix-IT Tech). She likes technology and doesn’t want to see it get a bad rap in this parent/teen struggle.

But, the absolute best part of Bast’s book, which I have NEVER seen discussed in any other “how to deal with your teen and technology” forum is the chapter “What Should I Know about Plagiarism and Copyright?” Finally! Thank you Bast! This chapter puts some responsibility on the parents, who are working with their children on homework, to be sure that what their kids write is authentic and not “copy and paste” from the web. She also covers downloading and pirating of music and software. As an educator, this chapter alone (and the appendix on plagiarism) is one I wish every parent of a teen would read and put to use in working with their young scholars.

The rest of the book is devoted to basic computer and Internet education, including computer terms, useful sites, buying a laptop, MORE on plagiarism, and the “dark side” of the Internet. Rather than starting with this material, I like that Bast ends with it. This allows those who need more “basics” to get it, without those who don’t need it feeling as though the book isn’t for them when they open up to the first couple of chapters. Very well planned in terms of delivery of content.

The only drawback to this book that I can see is that it is self-published (available via Amazon and Borders). The double-edged sword. Sure, it’s out there, and I imagine Bast sells them at talks and trainings, but this book would better serve a much wider audience of readers – parents and teachers alike – that could be reached with, say, an academic publisher’s marketing plan. Hello? Scholastic?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Iowa Review Award Winners Announced

Winners of the 2008 Iowa Review Awards
May 29, 2008

First Prize

Nancy Geyer for "Where the Children Are"
Alexis Nelson

First Prize

Dave Snyder for "Bamboo Poem"
Mary Austin Speaker, Stephen Gibson

First Prize

Andrew Mortazavi for "Stop Six, Ft. Worth"
Jacob M. Appel

New Lit Listings on NewPages

New Sponsor
Superstition Review
Created through an imaginative collaboration between faculty and students in the Writing, Literature and Film program at ASU Polytechnic, the magazine is student edited, student written, and student maintained. Superstition Review is published twice yearly in May and December. Submissions (art, poetry, fiction, nonfiction) read fall (September and October) and spring (February and March).

New Lit Mags Listed
J Journal
Whitefish Review

New Online Mags Listed
Survivor’s Review

Fellow Travelers :: Liberation Portraits by Mark Thompson

Fellow Travelers is a collection of 14 stunning black & white images of Gay male liberation pioneers taken by Mark Thompson, one of the foremost chroniclers of the movement. Thompson is best known for his influential trilogy of books dealing with gay spirituality: Gay Spirit (White Crane Books), Gay Body, and Gay Soul. Fellow Travelers has exhibited at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, the New York Gay & Lesbian Center, the Los Angeles Episcopal Cathedral, Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Center, Salt Lake City's Queer Spirit, SF Public Library, ONE National Gay Archives. If your local glbt organization or gallery would be interested in this great exhibit, contact

A three part video program of this project can be found on YouTube:
Fellow Travelers Part 1
Fellow Travelers Part 2
Fellow Travelers Part 3

Prague Writers' Festival June 1-5

Prague Writers' Festival 2008
June 1 - 5, 2008

In 2008, the Prague Writers’ Festival celebrates its eighteenth anniversary. The Festival is one of Europe’s leading cultural events, through its unique mix of world-class authors, international media coverage and live broadcasts on the internet. The Festival is co-sponsored by the City of Prague and the Guardian, which presents the Festival through its book pages.

The Festival dates from Keats House, London 1980, when with “Index on Censorship” through the Helsinki Accords we brought vital authors from Central and Eastern Europe to the attention of the public. As Herzen noted: “Fish were born to fly, yet everywhere they swim.” Fortunately in 1991, we could fly east and bring outstanding authors to Prague. In 1997, the Festival became a Czech cultural foundation.

Festival Authors and Moderators
Tariq Ali, Homero Aridjis, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Slavenka Drakulić, Graeme Gibson, Natalia Gorbanevskaya, Jiří Gruša, Siri Hustvedt, Paul Kahn, Ivan Klíma, Petr Král, Günter Kunert, Antonín J. Liehm, Arnošt Lustig, Michael March, Michael McClure, Dimitris Nollas, Jiří Pehe, Igor Pomerantsev, Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Elena Schwarz, Ludvík Vaculík, Gary Younge

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bellingham Review Adapts

Brenda Miller, Editor of Bellingham Review, writes in issue 60 of recent changes at BR, brought on by a number of factors, not the least of which include the increased costs of both printing and mailing two issues a year. In response to this, BR shows an adaptive turn:

"So, beginning in 2008, the Bellingham Review will experiment with publishing and mailing only one print edition a year (a hefty edition, with same high production values you’ve come to expect), and we will finally overcome our technology phobias and work on making the Bellingham Review website a much more impressive and interactive venue for our readers. We plan to post more of our content online, with special features—such as current book reviews and author interviews—available only in this format..." [read the full letter here]

BR isn't the first to make this response in the face of hard economic times (or should I say "harder" since the MO of small press endeavors is always hard). As much as we did, will continue, and have every right to grumble and complain about the plight of "small publications," and fight against rising costs, for those who can respond as BR has, the change can create new avenues. Better? Time will tell, but for now: "You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die? Oh no, not I. I will survive..."

Awards :: Glimmer Train March Open

Glimmer Train has chosen the three winning stories of their March Fiction Open competition! This quarterly competition is open to all writers and all themes. Submissions may be sent for the June Fiction Open using the online submissions system at

First place: Frederick Reiken of Shutesbury, Massachusetts, wins $2000 for “Shadow”. His story will be published in the Winter 2009 issue of Glimmer Train Stories.

Second place: Yelizaveta Renfro of Sidney, Nebraska, wins $1000 for “Splendid, Silent Sun”. Her story will also be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train Stories.

Third place: Emma Roper-Evans of London, England, wins $600 for “Rice Dish”. Her story will also be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train Stories, increasing her prize to $700.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NewPages on Facebook

Thanks to Book Review Editor Matt Bell, NewPages once again has a presence on Facebook. Stop on by and become a Fan of NewPages! Updates include book reviews, lit mag reviews, submissions, and more - including the coolness factor of having yet another Facebook Friend!

E-Lit Conference Call for Papers 6.20

Call for Papers and Works
Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe

University of Bergen in Bergen, Norway
September 11-13th, 2008

The Fall 2008 Bergen Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe will build upon the work of the e-poetry seminar held in Paris in February 2008 at the University Paris 8, the 2007 e-poetry conference in Paris, the 2007 Remediating Literature Conference in Utrecht, and other recent activity in the field of electronic literature in Europe. Deadline for proposals June 20.

[Posted on jill/txt blog.]

Jobs :: Various

The Fine Arts Center of the School District of Greenville, South Carolina seeks a Director of Creative Writing. Betty Gerow.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Program in Creative & Professional Writing seeks visiting assistant professor/instructor for academic year 2008-2009; one-year appointment, potential for yearly renewal. Frances Zauhar, Chair, Humanities Division. June 1, 2008.

New Site Launch :: The New Criterion

"The New Criterion, now co-edited by the art critic Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball, was founded in 1982 by Mr. Kramer and the pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman. A monthly review of the arts and intellectual life . . . Serious, but not academic . . . a staunch defender of the values of high culture, an articulate scourge of artistic mediocrity and intellectual mendacity wherever they are found. . ."

The May 2008 issue includes a special feature on eduction, with online content providing limtied content access (subscribers have full access). The following

Introduction: What was a Liberal education? by Roger Kimball
An introduction to our special issue on education.

The New Learning that Failed by Victor Davis Hanson
On the value of classical learning.

The Age of Educational Romanticism by Charles Murray
On requiring every child to be above average.

The Old Story by William Logan

The Fossil-Finder by David Sanders

Some Kind of Happiness by Charles Martin

The Other Osprey by Molly McQuade

Gallery Chronicle by James Panero
On “John Dubrow: Paintings” at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, “Wayne Thiebaud: The Figure” at Allan Stone Gallery, “Gregory Crewdson” at Luhring Augustine, and “Lois Dodd: Landscapes and Structures, a Survey Exhibition” at Alexandre Gallery.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Memoriam :: Nuala O'Faolain

In catching up on my RSS feeds, I just now learned of the passing of Nuala O'Faolain. I am saddened to hear of this loss to us all, most especially those closest to her. I only learned of her work a few years ago while listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR. I was absolutely fascinated with O'Faolain's discussion of her memoir, Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman. As can happen with Rehm's interviews, their discussion went off onto many other topics, including O'Faolain's views on relationships and her lack of belief in any kind of afterlife. Her candid assuredness and openess in discussing these topic with Rehm led me to go out and gather as much of her writing as I could find. My respect of her grew through these as well as her staunch journalism work; and of her decision to travel during her last months of life, I find it in keeping with the fortitude of her character I will forever admire.

Nuala O'Faolain, 68; Irish journalist, wrote memoir 'Are You Somebody?'
By Mary Rourke, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 19, 2008

Nuala O'Faolain, the Irish journalist and author whose 1996 memoir, "Are You Somebody?," captured international attention for its soul-searching candor, died May 9 in a Dublin hospice of complications from lung cancer, according to news reports from Ireland. She was 68.

O'Faolain, a resident of Barrtra in County Clare, Ireland, with homes in Dublin and New York City, recently announced that she had inoperable lung cancer and she had turned down the option of chemotherapy, choosing instead to travel in Europe until she had to be hospitalized.

She wrote about everyday events in a way that touched on basic human realities. For one column she visited the intensive care unit of a maternity ward where the fragile newborns didn't cry. They couldn't, she wrote, because they were sedated.

She often covered political and social issues from her outspoken, feminist perspective. In general, however, she was known to be unpredictable in her views, with a gentle sense of humor.

O'Faolain's bestselling memoir began as an idea for a book-length collection of her columns. She started writing an introduction that grew into several hundred pages of intensely personal autobiography. The memoir's subtitle, "The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman," suggests the change in direction.

"I had to answer the question nobody had asked: Where do my opinions come from?" O'Faolain said of her purpose for writing a memoir, in a 2001 New York Times interview. "The answer was simple. Ideology had nothing to do with it. My opinions come from my life."

[Read the rest on LA Times.]

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Contests Updated

I've been working away at the book contests page. Those listed are sponsored by publications, publishers and universities listed elsewhere on the NewPages site. If you have a contest that is not listed, please let me know by sending a weblink to:

New Lit on the WebBlock :: 5th Gear

Originally published in print from October 1993-April 2002 by Andy Fogle with the help of Chris Saywer (author of the zine Ingin the Ooh), 5th Gear dedicated itself to publishing a variety of poetic forms. When Saywer moved, the magazine took a hit in production quality and Fogle hung it up for four years. Now it's back with the help of Adam Parez and Mark Fitzgerald.

The publication now runs five-poem monthly installments. Fogle notes on the site that they started in January, but only March and April are currently archived online. "In this new format, in addition to poetry, we envision publishing reviews, essays, fiction, and artwork. However, at present, we are only accepting unsolicited poetry; for now, submissions for all other genres are by invitation only."

Although the publication is online, only paper submissions are accepted. The upshot is the response: "We reply in 3-12 weeks, and comment fairly often; if we like your work, don't be surprised if that commentary is pretty detailed/specific."

Additionally, Fogle puts this call out on the site: "I'd also like to reach out to any poets previously published in 5th Gear and old MFA pals. If you have fond memories (or even just decent ones; I fear there are also a few nightmares) of this magazine, just drop me a line at the Schenectady box; I'd love to see your work again."

For more information, swing by 5th Gear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Awards :: PEN American Center

The 2008 PEN Literary Awards recipients were determined by distinguished panels of judges, all of whom are writers, editors, translators, poets, or playwrights themselves. This year’s program will see the conferral of a new award: the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

PEN/Nabokov Award ($20,000)
To Cynthia Ozick

PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers ($35,000)
To Dalia Sofer

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($10,000)
To Janet Malcolm for Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice

Pels Foundation Awards for Drama ($7,500)
To Richard Nelson and Sarah Ruhl

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000)
To Theresa Nelson for Julia Delany: The American Version

PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000)
To Kimiko Hahn

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000)
To Rosmarie Waldrop for Lingos I-IX

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)
To Margaret Jull Costa for The Maias

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NewPages Book Reviews :: Matt Bell Takes the Helm

Matt Bell reads (a lot). Matt Bell writes (a lot). Matt Bell drinks beer (no comment - but we'll take donations for Matt as well). This was enough to get Matt Bell started writing reviews with NewPages a year or so ago. But this wasn't enough for Matt. He wanted more, and as we weren't the least bit abashed in taking advantage of that energy, crowned him Book Review Editor.

As editor, Matt is large and in charge of the section: recruiting and screening prospective reviewers, managing content, and reading for first edit. He does this in addition to keeping up with his own writing, having published numerous short stories and now working on his first novel, as well as maintaining a bill-paying job and a personal life in there somewhere that includes his wife, Jessica.

I don't know how he does it, but given the immediate ramp-up of the book reviews, and the positive feedback we've received thus far, it is definitely working. I asked Matt to explain what he sees as the role of book reviews for NewPages readers, and his role as a reviewer as well as editor:

"When I write my own reviews, my goals are to promote good writing, to explain why I think a book is worth the reader's time, and to dive in critically to try and expose some of what makes the book work. In editing other people's reviews, the goals are similar: I want to bring out the strengths in each reviewer's own style and to help them write as strongly and as clearly as possible.

"Overall, I want the NewPages book review section to be a place that is unapologetically enthusiastic about books, especially the great work coming out of the smaller presses. Every day I read news stories about declining readerships, the death of the short story, the relegation of poetry to academia, and I can't help but disagree. I think this is a great time to be a reader. There are so many good writers out there, and it's our job to keep giving those people the critical attention their work deserves.

"I truly believe that fiction in general and the short story in particular is in as good a shape today as it has ever been. Perhaps its commercial potential has diminished, but its artistic potential is off the charts. I'm less personally knowledgeable about the state of poetry, but I think excellent writing is being done there as well, at least judging from some of the reviews we've published lately and the enthusiasm of those reviewers."

Matt Bell lives in Ann Arbor, MI. His fiction has appeared in magazines such as Barrelhouse, Juked, Caketrain, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and is upcoming in No Colony and Hobart. He can be found online at

If you are a reader/writer interested in reviewing for NewPages, contact Matt Bell ( for book reviews and/or Denise Hill ( for literary magazine reviews.

If you want to know about having your book or lit mag reviewed on NewPages, please see our FAQ page.

Tupelo/Crazyhorse Publishing Institute - Deadline Extended

*Application Deadline Extended to June 3, 2008*

The Crazyhorse/Tupelo Press Publishing Institute
College of Charleston
June 3–30, 2008

The College of Charleston and the literary journal Crazyhorse have partnered with Tupelo Press, an independent literary press, to form the Crazyhorse/Tupelo Press Publishing Institute. The institute offers:

• training in the theory and practice of literary publishing and editing.
• preparation for successful careers as publishers and editors.
• a supplement to the curricula of MFA and Ph.D. programs that focus primarily on craft.

The Crazyhorse/Tupelo Press Publishing Institute brings together two important literary institutions: an internationally distinguished, award-winning publisher and a literary journal with nearly 50 years of continuous publication. The institute is open to graduate students and emerging writers. The program of study is unique in combining the opportunity for a practical internship at Crazyhorse with important lessons on the first book through an intensive, four-week course chronicling the selection of a winner in the annual Tupelo Press First Book Prize.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The "Obscure" Summer Reading List

Posted last week on the Village Voice, this article includes a list of famous writers' favorite obscure books, each with a brief comment. Check out a few mentions here:

Our Favorite Writers Pick Their Favorite Obscure Books
by Alexander Nazaryan
From the Village Voice Summer Guide
May 13th, 2008

Jennifer Egan
You Can't Live Forever, by Harold Q. Masur

John Banville
Some People, by Harold Nicolson

Donna Tartt
Blood in the Parlor, by Dorothy Dunbar

Rick Moody
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, by Ben Watson

Jonathan Ames
The Lunatic at Large, by J. Storer Clouston

Read the rest of the list complete with comments on Village Voice online.

Lit Radio :: Bibliocracy

Bibliocracy Radio is hosted by Santa Monica Review editor Andrew Tonkovich, Bibliocracy is a weekly literary arts program featuring readings and discussions with writers. Recent guests include: Al Young, Judith Freeman, Daniel Olivas, Reyna Grande, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Toni Mirosevich, Terese Svoboda, Katha Pollitt, Diane Lefer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

John Lithgow + Cheerios = Books

First Book has teamed up with Cheerios and John Lithgow to present this year’s Cheerios Book Donation Challenge, which gives readers the chance to determine where Cheerios will donate 100,000 new books by Lithgow to children across the country. For every question answered correctly, readers can vote for the state they'd like to receive new books for children in need. The top 5 vote-getting states will each receive 20,000 new books for local children! Votes can be cast from now until Sunday, June 15!

I tried the "quiz" - questions are taken from books promoted through Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program (with Simon & Schuster). For each question I got correct, I was able to pick which state I wanted to receive the books. I went through about 15 questions and, not having read the books, got 11 questions correct. It would be good encouragement for kids to have them read at least some of the books in advance and see if they could answer the questions for those books. I don't know if there's a cap on the number of questions - but wrong answers don't stop you from continuing.

Organizations that want to be considered to receive free books can sign up on the First Book website.

Georgia Review Receives Awards

The University of Georgia’s Georgia Review Wins General Excellence Award and Six Others in 2008 GAMMA Awards Competition

The Georgia Review, the University of Georgia’s nationally renowned quarterly journal of arts and letters, earned seven honors, including four golds, at the Magazine Association of the Southeast’s 2008 GAMMA Awards. Chief among the wins was the General Excellence award for publications with less than one million dollars in revenue.

Other gold awards for UGA’s standout publication were as follows: Best Feature, for “‘The Commerce Between Us’: Correspondence from the Archives, 1977-2000 (Spring 2007 issue); Best Profile, for “Annabel Before the War: Only What I See” by Joy Passanante (Summer 2007); and Best Photography, for “3-D” by Thomas Allen (Spring 2007). “Pursuing the Great Bad Novelist” (Fall 2007), the first-ever publication by Laura Sewell Matter, earned a silver award in the Essays category.

Read the full press release here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bard Fiction Prize 6.15

The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded annually to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application.

In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient will give at least one public lecture and will meet informally with students.

Deadline July 15, 2008

More info here: Bard College Fiction Prize

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Residency :: Lake Forest College 5.15

The Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize

Lake Forest College, in conjunction with the &NOW Festival, invites applications for an emerging poet under forty years old, with no major book publication to spend two months (February-March or March-April 2009) in residence at our campus in Chicago’s northern suburbs on the shore of Lake Michigan. There are no formal teaching duties attached to the residency. Time is to be spent completing a manuscript, participating in the Lake Forest Literary Festival, and offering two public presentations.

The completed manuscript will be published (upon approval) by the new Lake Forest College Press &NOW Books imprint. The stipend is $10,000, with a housing suite and campus meals provided by the college.

Send curriculum vita, manuscript in progress, and a statement of plans for the completion of the manuscript to Plonsker Residency, Department of English, Lake Forest College, Box A16, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045. Review of manuscripts by judges Robert Archambeau, Davis Schneiderman, and Joshua Corey will begin May 15, 2008 and continue until the position is filled.

Comments on the Absinthe Festival

The Absinthe Festival of New European Film and Writing hosted by Oakland University, Friday May 9-10 was a great cultural getaway. Close to home, we made a mini-vacation of it and caught Eamonn Wall and Valzhyna Mort reading on Friday night.

I’ve not heard of Eamonn Wall before, and I am grateful for the introduction to his works. Combined with strong, rooted imagery, a number of his works read like stories and were easy to follow for an oral reading, but I kept feeling that I wanted to go right back and read to myself what I had just heard in order to more fully absorb it. Refuge at DeSoto Bend, his newest collection published by Salmon Press, includes a section of poems on the Wexford Container Tragedy, a piece of history from 2001 I vaguely recalled – thirteen immigrants seeking asylum found in a crate that was misrouted before being brought to Wexford, Ireland. Eight of them had died. Eamonn’s treatment of this tragedy creates a historical retelling as well as emotional reliving of the event, but also attempts some sense of respectful remembrance.

Valzhyna Mort followed, and began in dramatic fashion by reading the first poem of her collection Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press) in Belarusian, then in English. She remarked on the nature of translation, that, because of cultural differences, “some things you just never get,” but how she also enjoyed translation “so much better than writing.” She continued reading from her collection, interspersed with commentary about her work. She remarked on some poems and their interpretations. For example, the poem “Men” readers often think is a love poem. “It’s not,” Mort clarified. “It’s a hate poem.”

In an interesting discussion of “A Poem About White Apples,” Mort reflected on the nature of translation by telling about one of her readings when she spoke with the sign interpreter. Before reading the poem, Mort explains that white apples are a common fruit in her native country, and that the poem is a reflection on that first moment when she truly felt displaced. How she craved the taste and texture of this specific fruit that could not be found in the U.S. At that previous reading, the sign interpreter had thanked her for this explanation, because having read the poem, he was going to interpret the apples as “breasts.” Mort said, “It’s just about apples.” I and others in the audience laughed at this story, but were brought up abruptly when she said, “And it’s a sad poem.” Then read on.

Much of her reading is this way; as you might think to relax and feel warmth in any moment, it is suddenly pulled up short, and the language – heavily metaphoric and imagistic – in her creations have a repeated pummeling effect on your core. It reminded me of how a little cartoon hero might seem so unassuming visually, but in punching its opponent, sends the villain flying through the air to smash through several brick walls, leaving the outline of the helpless body. Poem after poem, line after line of her work caught me, threw me, held me up against that wall before letting me drop down. It is exhausting poetry to read/hear, but of such allure that once is never enough. I bought her book so I could experience these feelings again and again.

It was curious that she mentioned several times that this or that poem might be "lighter" than the others, and read one saying that it would be a funny poem. She seemed almost apologetic that her poems did not bring laughter to the audience. Do we expect poets to make us laugh? I wondered. I have quickly come not to expect that from her poems, and am grateful for what they do deliver in terms of my responses to them. I don't need to be made to laugh. Other emotional responses are just as important for me as a reader, and often times much more lasting.

Saturday brought the German film Yella , the Romanian film How I Spent the End of the World, both of which I would recommend to viewers, and a reading by Polish poet Piotr Sommer. Sommer’s works were a contrast to the previous evening’s readings. His works are short, almost hard to listen to because they go so quickly and were so condensed in their language and imagery. Several times, I wanted to say, “Would you read that one again?” but not because I wasn’t listening. I just needed a second chance to take it all in.

A Q&A followed his reading, and I asked, “What do you think is lost in translation and what do you think is gained in translation?” His being not only a writer whose works are translated, but a translator himself, he seemed to first beg off the question by saying, “I’m not good at aphorisms.” Confessing it would be easier to look at specific examples to make more direct analysis, he did offer the generalized observation that if it is a good poem, well written, that for the purpose of translations, nothing really will be lost, and that which is may not be that important to the culture of the language into which it is translated. He went on with some raised interest to speak of how much can be gained in the translation, how translated works can become something new of their own. Not necessarily completely different from the original piece, but each working on its own plane, parallel to one another.

There were more events at the festival, including a reading by translators Doris Runey, Marilynn Rashid, and Keith Taylor, a screening of the Russian film The Island, and numerous short films by Oakland University students. Unfortunately, we were not able to take in all the festival had to offer, but with such a strong start, I hope that Absinthe is able to offer this opportunity again next year. Kudos to Dwyane D. Hayes, Jessica Bomarito and all the Absinthe and UO folks who made this a very well organized and memorable event.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Art :: Wheelchair = Paintbrush

Tommy Hollenstein: Tracking Art
By Sam Maddox
New Mobility, April 2008

"Tommy Hollenstein's artwork is colorful and chaotic yet infused with the optimism and transformative drama that define the Southern California experience. Tommy is a native Angelino ex-surfer boy who sports a mini-Mohawk bleach job and a tanned and mellow Valley boy manner. He's been getting lots of traction, so to speak, with his work. He paints by joystick — that is, with the tires of his power wheelchair — rolling through paint spilled on the floor, or with a dab of color coated on the tires to layer colors toward a unique, complex whole. He calls it a sort of 'action painting.'"

Read the rest and see several more images of Hollenstein and his art on New Mobility.

Visit the Red Room

No, I'm not talking about The Shining...

"The Red Room online community was founded in 2007 by CEO Ivory Madison. Madison previously founded the Red Room Writers Society, a brick-and-mortar writers’ community in a historic mansion in San Francisco. While only four writers signed up for Madison’s original "Red Room Writers Studio" back in 2002, by 2007 hundreds of authors, including Pulitzer Prize winners, had joined forces to launch the online home of the world’s greatest writers."

The site offers a page for each of its author members with information about their books, events, video, and links. Visitors can search or browse authors, books, events, blogs, podcasts and more. Individuals can also sign up for membership to participate in the site.

Great feature for readers looking for new authors: authors are searchable by genre and areas of interest (such as LGBT or cultural studies).

Don't delay - swing by the Red Room now!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Comics :: The Secret Life of Nancy

The Nancy Book
By Joe Brainard
Published by Siglio Press

The world has in Joe Brainard a semi-secret maverick hero who will win new friends indefinitely one by one.--Peter Schjeldahl

From 1963 to 1978 Joe Brainard created more than one hundred works of art that appropriated the classic comic strip character Nancy and sent her into an astonishing variety of spaces, all electrified by the incongruity of her presence. The Nancy Book collects more than fifty of these images for the first time and features collaborations with luminary poets Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Frank Lima, Frank O'Hara, Ron Padgett and James Schuyler, as well as original essays by Ron Padgett and Ann Lauterbach.

Also available are limited editions, which include a hand-pulled photo-lithograph housed in a foil-stamped portfolio and slipcased with the trade edition. The edition is 100, numbered and stamped by the Estate of Joe Brainard.

Festival :: Absinthe - European Literature and Film

Absinthe Festival of New European Film and Writing
Co-hosted by Oakland University
May 9-10, 2008

Eamonn Wall, Valzhyna Mort, and Piotr Sommers are among the writers appearing. In addition, there will be screenings of three feature films: from Germany Yella, from Romania The Way I Spent the End of the World, and from Russia The Island. All events are FREE and open to the public.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

New Lit on the WebBlock :: Kartika Review

Kartika Review publishes literary fiction, poetry, and essays that endeavor to expand and enhance the mainstream perception of Asian American creative writing. The journal also publishes book reviews, author interviews, and artwork relevant to the Asian Diaspora or authored by individuals of Asian descent. Kartika plans to sponsor readings, panel discussions, writing contests, and other creative activities for the Asian American community in both New York City and the Bay Area.

Downloadable e-Book versions in PDF format are always free of charge and in addition, they will publish a print anthology of the best works every three issues. The print publication will be available for purchase online or through participating bookstores.

As a quarterly journal, they release issues in March, June, September, and December. Submissions by electronic mail year-round. Sim/subs accepted.

The Dzanc Prize :: More than Money


The Dzanc Prize provides monetary aid in the sum of $5,000, to a writer of literary fiction. All writers applying for the Dzanc Prize must have a work-in-progress they can submit for review, and present the judges with a Community Service Program they can facilitate. Such programs may include anything deemed "educational" in relation to writing. Examples would include: working with HIV patients to help them write their stories; doing a series of workshops at a drop-in youth homeless center; running writing programs in inner-city schools; or working with older citizens looking to write their memoirs. All community programs under the Dzanc Prize must run for a full year.

Last year, Dzanc Books awarded the inaugural Dzanc Prize to Laura van den Berg. Laura is currently in the middle of a series of workshops she’s running in the New England prison system. At the end of Laura's year, an anthology of work by the prisoners she is teaching will be compiled and published by Dzanc. Laura's story collection, What the World Will Look Like When All of the Water is Gone, will also be published by Dzanc Books in fall 2009.

Submissions accepted from now through November 1, 2008.

See Dzanc Books website for more information.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Conceptual Poetry Symposium and YouTube Challenge

Conceptual Poetry and its Others
Keynote Speaker Marjorie Perloff
May 29-31, 2008

The forthcoming publication of Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith’s Anthology of Conceptual Poetry (based on the online Ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing) is only one sign of the recent interest in the “tensions between materiality and concept” (Dworkin), in a “new new formalism,” based on constraints, both the Oulipo and Cagean variants, on citationality and found text, on sound play, and visual device. Is such “non-expressivist” poetry too extreme? Conceptual Poetry and Its Others brings together a variety of leading poets to debate the issue. Featured artistis: Caroline Bergvall, Charles Bernstein, Christian Bok, Craig Dworkin, Peter Gizzi, Kenneth Goldsmith, Susan Howe, Tracie Morris, Cole Swenson.

YouTube Challenge!
Videographer Jonathan VanBallenberghe built this YouTube video for the Conceptual Poetry and Its Others Symposium. We are struck by the endless possibilities of the form, and so have decided to create a challenge for you, the audience, to create your own video to answer the question, "What is conceptual poetry?" The only constraint is that somewhere in the video, this text should be included:

"Conceptual Poetry and Its Others. May 29-31, 2008."

Upload a video to YouTube by May 21 and let us know about it. Top videos will be featured on the Conceptual Poetry webpage (and may be screened at the Symposium keynote address) and the winner will receive a cash prize, provided by someone, to be announced soon.

Georgia Review Hosts Pulitzer Week

The Georgia Review
“The Pulitzer Legacy in Georgia”
27–30 October 2008
at the historic Jekyll Island Club
Jekyll Island, Georgia

Featuring Pulitzer Prize–winners Stephen Dunn (poetry), Natasha Trethewey (poetry), Edward J. Larson (history), and Hank Klibanoff (history), with additional writers to be announced.

Visit The Georgia Review website for more information and updates.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New Lit on the Block :: Southern California Review

Southern California Review, formerly known as the Southern California Anthology, is the literary journal of the Master of Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California. It has been publishing fiction and poetry since 1982 and now also accepts submissions of creative nonfiction, plays, and screenplays. Printed every October and April with original cover artwork, every issue contains new, emerging, and established authors.

Unsolicited manuscripts are read year-round; response time for submissions is three to six months. Sim/subs accepted. No queries required.

The inagural issue - Volume 1 Number 1, Spring 2008 - was released late April under Editor-in-Chief Annlee Ellingson, and features:

Cover art by Amber Arseneau
Fiction by Gary Fincke, Judith Freeman, and Michael Buckley
Poetry by Richard Foerster, Bonnie Louise Barrett, Susanna Rich, Jennifer Jean, Daniel Polikoff, Moira Mageson, and Paul Brancato
Nonfiction by Christopher Buckley
Stageplay by Lee Wochner
An Interview with Nathan Englander
And prize-winners in One-Act Play - Kristna Sisco Romero, and Poetry - Elisabeth Murawski, CB Follett, Leonard Kress.

SCR is also holding a fiction contest, deadline August 31, 2008, and a poetry contest, deadline December 31, 2008.

Jobs :: Various

East Los Angeles College English Department seeks applicants for a tenure-track position in English.

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey seeks applicants for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Literature for their Literature Program to start September 2008. Dr. Robert Gregg, Dean of Arts & Humanities.

American University Department of Literature in the College of Arts & Sciences
invites applications for a one-year, full-time temporary assistant professor in Creative Writing/Fiction for the 2008-09 academic year to teach upper-level & graduate courses in fiction writing as well as in General Education courses. Jonathan Loesberg, Chair, Department of Literature. May 15.

Saint Louis University, a Jesuit Catholic institution dedicated to student learning, research, healthcare, and service, seeks applications for a Assistant Professor of English specializing in Creative Writing. Professor Sara van den Berg.

Books :: Victorian Women's Relationships

Between Women
Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England

by Sharon Marcus

Women in Victorian England wore jewelry made from each other's hair and wrote poems celebrating decades of friendship. They pored over magazines that described the dangerous pleasures of corporal punishment. A few had sexual relationships with each other, exchanged rings and vows, willed each other property, and lived together in long-term partnerships described as marriages. But, as Sharon Marcus shows, these women were not seen as gender outlaws. Their desires were fanned by consumer culture, and their friendships and unions were accepted and even encouraged by family, society, and church. Far from being sexless angels defined only by male desires, Victorian women openly enjoyed looking at and even dominating other women. Their friendships helped realize the ideal of companionate love between men and women celebrated by novels, and their unions influenced politicians and social thinkers to reform marriage law.

Through a close examination of literature, memoirs, letters, domestic magazines, and political debates, Marcus reveals how relationships between women were a crucial component of femininity. Deeply researched, powerfully argued, and filled with original readings of familiar and surprising sources, Between Women overturns everything we thought we knew about Victorian women and the history of marriage and family life. It offers a new paradigm for theorizing gender and sexuality--not just in the Victorian period, but in our own.

Sharon Marcus is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

*Thanks to Bronte Blog for noting this book.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Workshop :: Antioch 7.12

Antioch Writer's Workshop
July 12 - 18, 2008
Yellow Springs, OH

Fiction, Narrative Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir, Mystery
Keynote: Myla Goldberg, Author of Bee Season and Wickett's Remedy

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Online Lit Mags :: Hello?!

Sponsored or not, I would appreciate knowing when you post new issues online. NewPages has a Magazine Stand on which we update our readers about new publications received, including Online Literary Mags. Since we can't really "receive" new online mags through traditional mail, all you have to do is drop me a note when you post new issues: Of course, sponsor mags get 50 or so words to describe their publication (sponsors please send me this!), but all others get at least a link. C'mon - don't be shy! Let our readers know you want to be read!

Finalists Announced :: Tupelo Press

Best of luck to finalists and semifinalists of the Tupelo Press 2008 Snowbound Chapbook Award. They anticipate announcing the winner this May.

Lisa Beskin - Belchertown, MA, Shadow Globe
Remica Bingham - Norfolk, VA, The Body Speaks
Deb Casey - Eugene, OR, Spit & Purr, What Shines: A Several Sisters Chapbook
John de Stefano - New York, NY, From: Critical Opalescence and the Blueness of Sky
Mary Molinary - Memphis, TN, The Book of 8:38
Jamie O'Halloran - Los Angeles, CA, The Visible Woman
Howard Robertson - Eugene, OR, Three Odes to Gaia
Robin Beth Schaer - New York, NY, Almost Tiger
Suzume Shi - New London, CT, Ao
Jacob Shores-Arguello - Fayetteville, AR, John Barleycorn Must Die
John Surowiecki - Amston, CT, Mr. Niedzwiedzki's Pink House
Janet Sylvester - Kittery, ME, The Unbinding
Stacey Waite - Pittsburgh, PA, the lake has no saint

Hadara Bar-Nadav - Kansas City, MO, Fable of Flesh
Colin Cheney - Brooklyn, NY, Here There Be Monsters
Mark Conway - Avon, MN, Dreaming Man, Face Down
John de Stefano - New York, NY, From: Three-Body Problems
Joanne Diaz - Chicago, IL, Violin
Jennifer Kwon Dobbs - Astoria, NY, Mongrel Angels
Matthew Hittinger - Astoria, NY, Spectacular Reflection
Christina Hutchins - Albany, CA, Dark Creek
M. Smith Janson - Florence, MA, Letter Written in this Life, Mailed from the Next
Jesse Lee Kercheval - Madison, WI, My Life as a Silent Movie
Sandra Kohler - Dorchester, MA, Final Summer
Gary Copeland Lilley - Swannanoa, NC, Wade In Da Wahtuh
Matthew Lippman - Claverack, NY, Moses
Mike Maniquiz - Clovis, CA, Cooking Frutti Di Mare on This Early Evening Before the Night Falls on Kentucky Hillsides
Mary Helen Molinary - Memphis, TN, This Book of Sun
Rusty Morrison - Richmond, CA, Insolence
Teresa Pfeifer - Chicopee, MA, Little Matryoshka
Joseph Radke - Milwaukee, WI, A Source of Reasons
Boyer Rickel - Tucson, AZ, reliquary
Reginald Shepherd - Pensacola, FL, Photos of the Fallen World: Poems
Page Hill Starzinger - New York, NY, Black Tongue
Barry Sternleib - Richmond, MA, Winter Crows
Jonathan Weinert - Concord, MA, Charged Particles

A First! :: First Book on eBay

From Kyle Zimmer, President, First Book:

First Book is joining forces with eBay Foundation, the charitable arm of eBay Inc., for Community Gives – an online fundraising campaign designed to engage the eBay Community in supporting First Book’s mission to provide new books to the children who need them most.

First Book is one of only three organizations eBay Foundation has chosen to support, based on input from the eBay Community. The campaign kicked off on Monday with a $1 million grant split evenly among First Book, Best Friends Animal Society and Oxfam. In addition, to encourage participation eBay Foundation will give an extra dollar to First Book for every person who donates.

Funds generated will support First Book’s to reach and provide brand new books and educational resources to tens of thousands more Recipient Groups nationwide.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New to U.S. :: The Drawbridge, London

Alice Waugh, Commissioning Editor of The Drawbridge, London, wrote recently to give us the heads up that their publication will be jumping the pond to make its way to the U.S. later this year. She writes:

"The Drawbridge is an independent quarterly magazine, established in 2006 with the aim of delivering wit, thought and reflection. It takes the form of a full-colour broadsheet newspaper. It has attracted written contributions from Isabel Allende, J.G. Ballard, John Berger, Hugo Chavez, Tishani Doshi, Terry Eagleton, Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Ondaatje, DBC Pierre, David Rieff, Slavoj Zizek and many others, including a number of emerging writers, along with a wide array of top photography and drawing from renowned image-makers including Edward Burtynsky, Paul Fryer, Robert Polidori, David Shrigley and Joel Sternfeld. Each issue has a theme. Earlier topics include Failure, Freedom, Risk, and Memory. Our next issue, on Rage is published in May."

We'll look forward to seeing this one hit the stands!

Awards :: storySouth Million Writers Award

From Jason Sanford, editor, storySouth:

"The Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2007 have now been released. The preliminary judges picked 164 notable stories, more than in any of the awards from the previous four years. This growth appears to have come in selections from the many new online magazines which have popped up in the last year, proving that online literature is still in an amazing growth period.

"The MWA award for best overall online publication goes to Blackbird for having seven of their stories selected as notable stories of the year. The MWA for best publisher of novella-length fiction goes to Jim Baen's Universe, while the award for best new online magazine or journal goes to Farrago's Wainscot (with runner ups being Wheelhouse Magazine and Coyote Wild)."

The top ten stories will be released in late May, at which time public vote for best overall story will begin.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Alimentum Menu Poems Succeed a Second Year!

Dinner, and a Side of Poetry
by Desiree Cooper
April 26, 2008

From Weekend America: "Alimentum, a literary journal all about food, chose to celebrate the month with food poetry. For the second year in a row, they distributed a menu of poems to New York City restaurants and cafes. We visited some of the eateries to see what people thought about getting their meal with a side of verse."

The audio includes interviews with a number of menu poem readers, some relating their own stories of poetry in their lives, some responding to the idea of menu poems, and some reading the poems from the menus. Several poems are available on the WA website, as well as images of the menu broadside. Lucky New Yokers! Well done Alimentum!

Ontario Review Retires after 34 Years

Posted on Crossing the Border: Joyce Carol Oates News and Opinion
March 14, 2008 by Randy Souther

"With the passing of its editor, Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review itself will cease publication with the forthcoming Spring 2008 issue. Smith began Ontario Review in 1974 in Windsor, Ontario, with his wife Joyce Carol Oates as associate editor; the Review later moved with its editors to Princeton, NJ..." Read the rest here.

I'm an Author, He's an Author, She's an Author...

Wouldn't you like to be an Author too?

Rachel Donadio's essay in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, You’re an Author? Me Too! explores this very phenomenon - or is it pestilence - of book "publishing." Beginning with what we all know by now - U.S.ers are reading less, yet, "In 2007, a whopping 400,000 books were published or distributed in the United States, up from 300,000 in 2006, according to the industry tracker Bowker, which attributed the sharp rise to the number of print-on-demand books and reprints of out-of-print titles."

And at the same time our nation is reading less, there are more writers in the U.S. than at any other time in our history, and credentialed MFA programs kicking out an exponentially growing number of these. Additionally, Donadio notes that for as little as $3.50 a copy, "authors" can have their books printed and distributed through Amazon, and Borders is no in the fray, offering print packages starting at $300, with the "premium package," which includes some actual editorial work, starting at $500.

While Donadio discusses the role of the writing programs as the "democratizer" of the talent pool, Gabriel Zaid, critic and author of "So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in the Age of Abundance," says: "Everyone now can afford to preach in the desert."

Good? Bad? Hard as writers, publishers - and readers - to be indifferent on this topic.

Read the full article here.