Thursday, September 27, 2012

Too Much Literary Criticism?

Books bloggers are harming literature, warns Booker prize head judge:

"If the mass of unargued opinion chokes off literary critics ... then literature will be the lesser for it," he said. "There is a great deal of opinion online, and it's probably reasonable opinion, but there is much less reasoned opinion."

Literary criticism, said Stothard, needs "to identify the good and the lasting, and to explain why it's good. You don't read a literary critic to explain why a new Ian Rankin is any good – the people who know about him don't need that explaining. If we're going to keep literature and language alive, we have to be alert to the new, the things which aren't like what's been before. And as Howard Jacobson said, this may be unpleasant, it may be that we don't enjoy reading it, but it might matter hugely to the future of literature."

Read the rest on The Guardian UK.

Poets in Support of Obama Readings

From Dawn Lonsinger:

"We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out-of-control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed . . . yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us of kinship where all is represented as separation." --Adrienne Rich

Dear Poets who support Obama:

In the weeks following 9/11 New York City bookstores reported selling more poetry than ever before. In times of public and private crisis people seem to understand intuitively that uncomplicated answers and simplistic narratives are not going to suffice. Instead, they seek out more complex renditions of what it means to be human like those found in poetry. Might we say that we are now, also, in an instance (or a multitude of instances) of public and political crisis? How might we, as poets who continue to believe in the change that Obama stands for and wants to continue to work toward, behave civically and hopefully during these pre-election months?

Please consider organizing a POETRY READING . . . in support of OBAMA in your town or city in the coming month and a half.

If/when you do, please write Dawn Lonsinger (dawn.lonsinger at UTAH dot EDU> with the details and she will post it here: Poets in Support of Obama

"It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." --William Carlos Williams

[Please share this post/information.]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brevity "VIDA" Issue

Brevity's 40th Issue, Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count, is focused on the important contribution of female writers to the creative nonfiction movement, with new work from Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jenny Boully, Sue William Silverman, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Brenda Miller, Thao Thai, Lynette D'Amico, Diana Cage, Kristen Radtke, Sonya Lea, Debra S. Levy, Jennifer De Leon, and Deborah Jackson-Taffa. The artwork for this issue comes courtesy of Gabrielle Katina.

Transfeminism in Literature Panel

On September 27th, the Belladonna* Collaborative will host Transfeminism in Literature, a reading and discussion investigating transfeminist theory in contemporary literature, featuring poets Trish Salah and Tim Trace Peterson and critics Nicholas Birns and TL Cowan.

This panel is funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and will be held at Poets House, located at 10 River Terrace at 7pm. More details on Facebook.

The presentation will be recorded and made available on Penn Sound, organization that produces new audio recordings and preserves existing audio archives.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Art :: Mutatoes

Worth a look: Alimentum feature Mutatoes, "dazzlingly provocative work" by artist Uli Westphal. The Mutato-Archive is a collection of non-standard fruits, roots and vegetables, displaying a dazzling variety of forms, colors and textures. There's a rotating slide show of each image and a short video of the artist's comment on his work and others' reactions to it. Beautiful photos, brilliant commentary.

Plume Poetry Anthology

Plume, an online magazine, has just printed its 2012 poetry anthology which includes work from the first six issues, each of which includes twelve poems. In a forward by Ron Slate, he says "The Internet, home to Plume, supposedly has the legs to make its digital contents accessible in perpetuity, but if [Editor] Daniel Lawless should fail to pay his server invoice, Plume would vanish. So he is taking no chances. Petroleum-based print is his back-up medium."

"The first volume of collected Plume also includes new unpublished work from additional poets, and a special feature on the work of the Dutch poet M. Vasalis, translated by David Young and Fred Lessing."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Carl Sandburg Documentary

Great radio program on The Bob Edwards Show: The Day Carl Sandburg Died. Edwards talks to Paul Bonesteel - documentary writer, editor and director of the film The Day Carl Sandburg died, which airs Monday, September 24 on PBS stations  as part of the American Masters series (check your local listings).

The Day Carl Sandburg Died tells the life story of the populist poet. Sandburg was known for bringing Chicago, “the city of the big shoulders,” to life in his writings and for his close associations with socialism. Carl Sandburg won two Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry, and one for his multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last Print Issue of Light

This special issue of Light is dedicated to John Mella (December 12, 1941 - April 16, 2012), the previous editor. With this John Mella Memorial Double Issue comes the end of Light's print presence. "The transition has proven harder than any of us had hoped, of course. The loss of John last spring still hurts. Meanwhile, finances make it impossible to sustain the magazine in the form we're all familiar with," says Melissa Balmain. "The good news, though, is that along with the rest of Light's new, volunteer crew, I'm determined to make sure light verse still has a dedicated home in this country. The best way for that to happen, we've realized, is to move the magazine online. We believe this will allow Light to attract more fans than ever before."

She notes that they hope to make the online version as easy on the eyes as possible and to print an occasional "best of" edition. She said they will still accept submissions the "old-fashioned way" via snail mail, however.

"It's a real honor to be picking up where John left off. I'm immeasurably grateful to him, Lisa Markwart, Margarita Walters and Thomas Gorman, and to the many donors, directors, advisors and others who have served the magazine so well these past 20 years."

In addition to work by Mella, there is writing in this issue from Dominic Martia, Charles Ghigna, Max Gutmann, Mary Meriam, Phillip T. Egelston, Henry Harlan, Daniel W. Galef, and Dan Campion.

Literary Media Galore!

Be sure to check out the NewPages Literary Multimedia Guide - podcasts, videos, and audio programs of interest from literary magazines, book publishers, alternative magazines, universities and bloggers. Includes poetry readings, lectures, author interviews, academic forums and news casts. Great for downloading and listening during the upcoming winter months - while traveling, walking, shoveling the sidewalks - you name it. If you have a site you'd like us to consider for listing, send a link with a description and contact information to  denisehill at newpages dot com. Good reading starts here! (And listening, too!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Food Themed Issue: The Iowa Review

The fall issue of The Iowa Review—whose cover features a boat adorned with oversized shrimp, "jumbo shrimp," if you will—is titled "The Food Issue. Er, Non-Food Issue." Noting that they don't normally put out themed issues, Editor Russell Scott Valentino says that the issue, at first, wasn't intended to be themed but happened as a result of several of the submissions including Meenakshi Gigi Durham’s essay, “Hunger Pangs,” Ayse Papatya Bucak’s short story “Iconography,” Elizabeth Cullen Dunn’s “A Gift from the American People,” and Naomi Kimbell’s esssay “Bounty.”

"For most magazines," Valentino writes, "the idea of a Food Issue conjures up sumptuous color spreads, aspirational recipes, accounts of treks around the world to sample the most exotic repasts. But since TIR isn’t mandated to promote the quest for consumer bliss, but rather given the freedom to seek out and present a much wider slice of human experience, our Food Issue could perhaps more accurately be called the Non-Food Issue. Or the Hunger Issue. And our answer to the lavish four-color spread is Erin Carnes’s photographic series Digesting Dystopia, in which idealized images of plants, animals, and agriculture roost amid more disturbing views of the modern food production and consumption industries. Yet, despite the dark themes one would expect from a Hunger Issue, each of the pieces mentioned above also hints at the plenitude of Kimbell’s title: a spoonful of honey that provides a taste of home for war refugees, a bumper crop of Roma tomatoes at the food bank, the 'chicken-butt soup' Durham’s future husband teaches her to cook as they fall in love."

Featured writers in this issue include Zach Savich, Kimberly Elkins, Eleanor Stanford, Tomaž Šalamun, Wendy S. Walters, and Stephanie Ford.

"The pieces in this issue," says Valentino, "whether about food or other human hungers, remind us of privation and unmet desires but also of unexpected sources of abundance, including the ones in our own lives.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Millay Colony Residencies

Each year Millay Colony for the Arts invites 52 visual artists, writers and composers for a colony residency. Residents are chosen anonymously by a panel of jurors in each discipline. The application process is competitive and based solely on on the merit of the artist statement and work sample. Past jurors and their bios can be viewed on the Juries page. An article on the jury process can also be found in the Millay Colony Spring 2008 newsletter.

The Millay Colony has announced that, starting this year, they are adding three new offerings to their roster of artist residencies on its upstate New York/Berkshire area campus. While continuing to offer month-long residencies to visual artists, writers and composers, the Millay Colony is now offering three new ways to spend time as a resident: Two-week Residencies in the month of September, Virtual Residencies and Group Residencies.

Next Application Deadline: October 1, 2012

Interview :: Nikki Giovanni

Check out “Words are Weapons of the Strong”: An Interview with Nikki Giovanni on Sampsonia Way: An Online Magazine on Literature, Free Speech and Social Justice. This is a great conversation with Giovanni that goes into territory other than approach to writing, like what the poet has to say about gun control, about the occupy movement, and about the influence of the hip-hop generation in political campaigns. And a strong word on censorship for those "in control" and not often addressed: "Censorship, as the sign says, is bad for your health. I am totally against it. But, and this is a question you did not ask, can anyone anthologize or record or perform for a set price? Sometimes publishers, and sometimes families, who had absolutely nothing to do with the work, can hold up or deny another generation access to artistic work by refusing permission or in some cases making permission fees so high they cannot be met."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

100 Thousand Poets for Change

September 29, 2012 marks the second annual global event of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a grassroots organization that brings poets, artists and musicians (new this year) together to call for environmental, social, and political change, within the framework of peace and sustainability. The local focus is key to this global event as communities around the world raise their voices through concerts, readings, workshops, flash mobs and demonstrations that speak to the heart of their specific area of concerns, such as homelessness, ecocide, racism and censorship.

“Peace and sustainability is a major concern worldwide, and the guiding principle for this global event,” said Michael Rothenberg, Co-Founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. “We are in a world where it isn't just one issue that needs to be addressed. A common ground is built through this global compilation of local stories, which is how we create a true narrative for discourse to inform the future.”

Organizers and participants are hoping through their actions and events to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability. Those that want to get involved can visit to find an event near them or sign up to organize one in their area.

There are nearly 700 events planned worldwide, including:

• 25 different events in the San Francisco Bay Area, the birthplace of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, with live poetry readings by Beat Legend Michael McClure, former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass and other major poets

• The Occupy Wall Street Poetry group kicks off a weekend of events in New York City with a poetry reading at the famous St. Mark’s Poetry Project

• Peace On Streets, R.O.A.D., Tasker Elite and SHARP will host performance artists, poets, musicians, hip hop artists and various youth and parent groups who will perform and lead workshops throughout Philadelphia to bring awareness to the ongoing problem of street violence in their city

• Wordstock, a 3 day festival at the Bamboo Arts and Celebration Center in De Leon Springs, FL, will include poetry slams, concerts, and an art exhibition focusing on images of war and peace

• In New Orleans, a blues festival featuring ten bands will help raise funds for medical care for aging musicians

• In Jamaica a week long Street Dub Vibe series called “Tell the Children the Truth” will include concerts, spoken word performances, art exhibits, lectures, and workshops to bring attention to the damaging culture of secrecy and denial surrounding the abuse, poverty and illiteracy impacting the nation’s children and destroying their future.

• Poetry and peace gatherings are planned in the strife-torn cities of Kabul and Jalalabad, Afghanistan

• In Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, poets, musicians and mime artists, in response to the revolution in Egypt and the major changes taking place in the Arab World, will perform in public spaces and theaters and explore new ways to communicate their concerns, and their roles as artists, in influencing the future of their country

• In Volos, Greece, there will be 5 days of poetry and music events, including an exhibition of photography looking at the new phenomenon of homelessness in Greece

• An event in Blackpool, England will celebrate activist poets and writers of past generations through a special performance of Bullets and Daffodils, a play about the life of peace poet Wilfred Owen

100 Thousand Poets for Change began in Sonoma County, Calif. The official Headquarters’ Event will take place at the Arlene Francis Center in downtown Santa Rosa and will feature poetry readings, group meditations, workshops, and music and dance of various styles including hip hop, flamenco, African drums, reggae, salsa, folk and more. The HQ event will also live-stream other 100 Thousand Poets for Change events worldwide. This 3-day event is sponsored by the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Arts Council.

Immediately following September 29th, all documentation on the website, which will include specific event pages with photos, video and other documentation compiled by each city coordinator, will be preserved by Stanford University in California. Stanford recognized 100 Thousand Poets for Change in 2011 as an historical event, the largest poetry reading in history. They will continue to archive the complete contents of, as part of their digital archiving program LOCKSS.

About 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Co-Founder Michael Rothenberg is a widely known poet, editor of the online literary magazine and an environmental activist based in Northern California. Terri Carrion is a poet, translator, photographer, and editor and visual designer for

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GT Advice for Writers Publications

In addition to their quarterly publication of stories, Glimmer Train also publishes two writers newsletters: Writers Ask, a print quarterly of "useful techniques, informed perspectives, and inspired nudges" on select topics. For example, Writers Ask Issue 57 includes comments by writers and writing teachers on: Forms, How Reading Shapes Writing, Place and Setting, Publishers and Agents, as well as the Focus piece: "Reverse Storyboarding" by Cathy Day.

The second quarterly newsletter is a monthly e-bulletin which regularly features essays on writing. Anyone can sign up for the bulletin here and have it delivered to an e-mail address. The September 2012 Bulletin #68 includes:

Karen Brown: The Story That Will Not Write Itself

Joe Bunting: Eight Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer

Stefani Nellen: Things to Do in German When You're Bored

Sybil Baker: Writing the Unfamiliar: Incorporating Different Cultures and Lands in Your Fiction

Expats: New Feature

ZZYZZYVA, a magazine that has "defined its regional character with a longstanding dedication to publishing writers, artists, poets, and translators who live on the West Coast." In the editor's note of the most recent issue, Laura Cogan writes, "As many of us have sensed at one time or another, the West Coast is more than a region. It is a state of mind, an experience you carry with you, wherever else life leads."

"In this wider context, we're compelled to note the continuing contributions to this literary conversation by those who've passed through the region and left their mark. With this issue we launch the debut of a new special section titled 'Expats." Here you'll find poetry and literature by West Coast writers whose work or lives have now drawn them, for the time being, eastward."

Writers featured in this new "Expats" section are John Freeman, Dagoberto Gilb, Edie Meidav, and Luis Alberto Urrea. Other writers in the issue include Brian Boies, Gilad Elbom, Jane Gilliette, Tomás González, Karl Taro Greenfeld, R.T. Jamison, Jennie Lin, Tatjana Soli, Darin Ciccotelli, Brendan Constantine, John Olivares Espinoza, Jennifer Elise Foerster, Judy Halebsky, Jesse Nathan, Dan O'Brien, Kathlene Postma, Ryan Ragan, and Wendy Willis.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Celebrating Silent Spring at 50

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, published in 1962, is considered by many to be an essential book that helped to spark the modern environmental movement. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring's publication, and programs celebrating this anniversary have been happening in the U.S. and around the world.

The Borderbend Arts Collective is working with other partnering organizations to present "Celebrating Silent Spring at 50." This program includes creative responses to Silent Spring and celebrations of Rachel Carson's life and legacy - with events, artistic contributions (writings, music, visual art, multidisciplinary works), and more. One of this program's goals is for people and organizations from each of the U.S.'s 50 states to contribute to "Celebrating Silent Spring at 50," and the organization welcomes contributions from around the world.

[Text from the Silent Spring at 50 website.]

NewPages Classifieds

NewPages now has classified listings for calls for submissions, contests, conferences, and services, as well as our popular LitPak of PDF fliers.

Our new format allows for more text and the inclusion of a PDF - unique to The NewPages Classifieds! Print out the PDFs to post or photocopy to share with others (great for classroom use!).

Editors: All basic calls for submissions which fit our guidelines and which have no fee for writers are free ads. For contact information, click here.

Become a Broadsided Vector

Edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Sean Hill, Alexandra Teague, and Mark Temelko, Broadsided has been putting literature in the streets since 2005. Each month, a new broadside is posted both on the website and around the nation.

Writing is chosen through submissions sent to Broadsided. Artists allied with Broadsided are emailed the selected writing. They then "dibs" on what resonates for them and respond visually - sometimes more than one artist will respond offering a selection of broadsides.

The resulting letter-sized pdf is designed to be downloaded and printed by anyone with a computer and printer. The goal is to create something both gorgeous and cheap, to put words and art on the streets.

The site contains a gallery of past broadsides, a map of cities/state/countries that have been broadsided (and where you can add yours), and links to other broadside sites.

Staple guns and duct tape to the ready - time to get your city on the map!

[Pictured: September 2012 Broadside: "Dhanaivi at 16 in the South Bronx," writing by Dolan Morgan, art by Sarah Van Sanden]

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Lit on the Block :: Swamp Biscuits and Tea

Swamp Biscuits and Tea, a new quarterly online magazine, publishes magic realism, literary fiction, slipstream, noir, surrealist, bizarre, weird tale, experimental, science fiction, absurdist, mystery, hard-boiled, quirky, fantasy, and cross-genre. Editor Henry Sane says, “there’s no deep or exciting story behind the name.” He and Co-Editor Joseph German tried to come up with something that “would capture a certain style—a certain mental image, something that would get people interested and get their imaginations flowing while at the same time exuding our aesthetic of strangeness and wonder.”

Sane says that readers can expect to find “good, imaginative fiction.” He says, “Nearly every story we publish will offer some speculative element, whether subtle or outlandish. So if you like weird—whether it's hidden comfortably in the shadows of a familiar environment, or springing at you like a tentacle-haired wildebeest robot—we think we'll have something to satisfy your cravings. One of our goals is also to offer readers a series of unforgettable tales, which may be because they are either strange, beautiful, or just too damn engrossing to put down.”

“Joseph and I have always liked the same kind of stuff,” says Sane, “whether it be in art, music, film or literature. Naturally, after many years of profoundly weird conversations, we decided it was time to collaborate on some kind of creative project. As to the nature of the project, that was still uncertain. That is, until one day when inspiration struck me, telling me to create a fiction magazine. ‘We'll get to name it, design it, and read stories to create our own style,’ I said. ‘Brilliant,’ said Joseph. Since that fateful day, the idea hasn't lost even an ounce of momentum.”

And if that momentum continues, Sane says that they will consider an annual print issue, cataloguing the best stories of the past year’s worth of issues. “One hope is that we’ll eventually be able to move into full print publication, with eBook, Kindle, etc. as additional options for readers,” he says. “If things go swimmingly, we hope we can one day pay our contributors, and (fingers crossed) make this our livelihood.”

The first issue of Swamp Biscuits and Tea features Alex Aro, C. E. Hyun, Beth Spencer, Marc Lowe, and Adam C. Richardson. Submissions are accepted year-round through email.

Very Short Fiction: What to Call It?

There are many names out there to describe very short fiction—sudden, flash, nano, short-short, micro, minificción—but how is it classified? Are these very short stories still considered stories? Is this genre a "renaissance or a reinvention?" In "The Remarkable Reinvention of Very Short Fiction," in World Literature Today's most recent issue, Robert Shapard takes a look at these questions.

"Very short fiction has many names," he writes, "which vary by length of story and by country. In the United States, the most popular name, perhaps, is flash; in Latin America, the micro. On average, a very short fiction is ten times shorter than a traditional story, but numbers don't tell us everything." Later in the essay, Shapard says, "As Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler (a novelist who also writes flash fiction) has said, 'Fiction is the art form of human yearning, no matter how long or short that work of fiction is.' I agree with Butler. It's a matter of focus."

This essay introduces a special feature in WLT of "very short fiction." "These works, by eleven authors from ten countries, take many forms and range in length from sudden (about two pages) to flash (about a page) to micro (less than half a page)."

This special section includes stories from Carmen Boullosa, Hisham Bustani, Alex Epstein, Vanessa Gebbie, Josefine Klougart, Sylvia Petter, Nora Nadjarian, Andrés Neuman, Lili Potpara, and Clemens Setz.

New & Noteworthy Books

NewPages New & Noteworthy Books is a regularly updated page where we list books received for listing and review consideration. If you want to browse a variety of independent, university and small press titles as well as literary imprints, then bookmark this page and make it a regular visit to keep up with what's new and noteworthy. Good reading starts here!

Human/Machine 9/11 Poetry

Beard of Bees has just published ]] and other 9/11 works, a "human/machine poetic collaboration" which is "also a rigorously humane meidtation on events of 11 September 2001." It's available full-text as a pdf.

Human co-author Eric Goddard-Scovel writes in the introduction: "The three texts which make up this collection were all completed around the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, roughly between August and October of 2011, using a variety of digital methods and procedures. I think that it is important that readers are aware of the processes behind these compositions, as this information is integral to fully understanding them."

Scovel then goes on to provide commentary for each of the three works included, explaining the digital process used in creating each one.

Beard of Bees is an independent, free press based in Oak Park, Illinois and Paris, France "committed to publishing quality chapbooks by liberated poets from Anywhere."

Saturday, September 08, 2012

August Poetry Postcard Thanks!

A special THANKS to Brendan McBreen with the Striped Water Poets for organizing this year's August Poetry Postcard Festival! According to his post, 160 people signed up to participate this year, with 16 from outside the US (Canada, UK, India, Singapore, South Korea, Ireland, Germany, and Tasmania Australia).

I was eager to get the mail each day and pleased to have received some really beautiful poems as well as postcards from all over the US and two from Germany. In all, I received 23 postcards and a few more may still find their way here.

I honestly enjoyed every poem I read. We are asked to dash these off and not revise or rewrite them, and that has some wary about participating. Linda H. from Germany noted on her card, "I hate sending rough drafts, but I just have enough time to write one each day and not revise. Still, it gets me writing again and this postcard project is fun." And the poem she sent me, "Words," complete with a scribble or two, was brilliant. She's right: it can be unnerving. At the same time, taking the risk gets us writing, not worrying about a poem being "good," and sharing our writing with others with no fear of negative feedback.

I'd love to mention all the poems I received, but here are just a few:

Nonie Sharpe of Port Angeles, seeing where I lived, wrote a poem about Michigan, noting "Memories of our Ann Arbor days."

From Phillip Brown: "Colors and verbs were selected from a list and paired at random to serve as a starting point (inspiration) for the poems in this project." Great idea! The poem he wrote for me was inspired by "lavender" and "flinch."

Catherine Giodano created a found poetry piece from newsprint and regularly blogs such work here.

Emma Bolden created her own intricately detailed pen/ink drawings for the postcards. Beautiful.

All of the cards were uplifting to receive and fun to read, re-read, share out loud with others, and use to inspire my own writing.

This is the fifth year I've participated to the end: I did complete all 32 poems (we were asked to take an extra participant). This August Poetry Postcard Festival really fires me up each year. It gets me actively engaged in thinking "poetry" throughout my day as I look for what I might pen to a card when I have a moment, or forces me to just sit and write to get it done and in the mail.

When the month is over, that last card sent, I feel a bit sad. I try to carry on the motivation to keep writing and reading poetry regularly, but as the year wears on, I find other activities taking precedence. I use this postcard festival as a way to 're-center' the importance of poetry in my life and look forward to August each year to help me do this.

I hope Brendan (or someone) will generously take the time to organize this next year. And I hope at least 30 others feel the same way and sign on to participate. I certainly do appreciate it.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Paul Dry Book Sale

Paul Dry Books is having a moving sale with a selection of backlisted titles available at $5 each when you order two or more titles. Some books are a few bucks more, but there's a pretty good selection at this rock bottom pricing. The sale is good through September 26. What a great way to help someone move without hurting your back!

Banned Books Month on PEN American

For Banned Books Month September 2012, PEN American's The Daily Pen American Blog features daily posts by writers, editors, literary illuminati, and PEN staff about the banned books that matter to them most. Contributors thus far: Amy King on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple; Melissa Broder on Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal; and Matthew Zapruder on Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago.

PEN American Center is the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 in direct response to the ethnic and national divisions that contributed to the First World War. PEN’s programs reach out to the world and into diverse communities within this country. They promote writing and literature at every level and are founded on the belief that free expression is an essential component of every healthy society.

Poetry :: Minnie Bruce Pratt

American Life in Poetry: Column 389

Perhaps by the time this column appears, our economy will have improved and people who want to work can find good work. Minnie Bruce Pratt, who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., has a new book, mentioned below, in which there are a number of poems about the difficulties of finding work and holding on to it. Here’s an example:

Temporary Job

Leaving again. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be
grieving. The particulars of place lodged in me,
like this room I lived in for eleven days,
how I learned the way the sun laid its palm
over the side window in the morning, heavy
light, how I’ll never be held in that hand again.

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 ©2011 by Minnie Bruce Pratt from her most recent book of poems, Inside the Money Machine, Carolina Wren Press, 2011. Reprinted by permission of Minnie Bruce Pratt and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 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.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Thomas Meyer's Beowulf

A new publication of Beowulf  translated by the poet Thomas Meyer has been recently released by Punctum Books. It is edited with a preface by David Hadbawnik, and includes an introduction by Daniel C. Remein, and an interview with Thomas Meyer.

Hadbawnik writes: "This is an open access publication, which means it's available for free download; however, there is also an option to purchase a physical copy of the book, and I would urge anyone who's interested in Tom's work, Old English poetry, or supporting independent publishers to buy a copy. Tom's translation was done 40 years ago during his studies at Bard, and it's pretty groundbreaking, especially compared to what poets have usually done with this poem."

Interview :: Judy Norsigian: Our Bodies, Oursleves

"When a small group of women published the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves in the early seventies, it was one of those books young women hid the book from their parents and husbands. Jerry Farwell called it 'obscene trash.' Recently, Time Magazine named it one of the best non-fictions books of the 20th century. No matter how you reacted, there's no mistaking it was a ground breaking book, one that's now considered iconic."

Bob Barrett interviews Judy Norsigian, Executive Director of Our Bodies, Ourselves, on WAMC Northeast Public Radio's The Health Show (#1274). You can listen online or go to their podcast page to subscribe on iTunes.

For those of us who remember hiding the book and sneaking reads of it, and for those of you who could never imagine such a time, this is an interview well worth a listen as Norsigian talks of the importance of women's health issues forty years ago when the book was first published and what has and hasn't changed in our society today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Short Fiction Contest Winners

The American Short Fiction 2012 Short Story Contest winners have been announced. First place winner James DeWille's story "Last Days on Rossmore" is featured in the most recent issue of American Short Fiction. The contest judge, Justin Cronin, says, "This story grabbed me right away with its off-kilter scenario, compact characterization, and downright zingy dialogue. Everything here felt completely original, nothing that had ever been written or imagined before, which is the hallmark of a first-rate short story."

Second place (not printed in the issue) goes to Suzanne Barnecut for "On Great Mountain." The announcement on the website says that "Cronin admired its deft use of second person and said the story is 'full of wise observations.'"

Other writers in the issue include Max Ross ("Exorcising"), Elizabeth Ellen ("Teen Culture"), Alyssa Knickerbocker ("The Daughter of a Squaw Man Smuggles Wool and Other Goods"), and Roxane Gay ("We Are the Sacrifice of Darkness").

NewPages Magazine Stand

Got a bookstore or library near you with dozens of new lit and alt mags on the racks? Yeah, me neither, which is why we created the NewPages Magazine Stand for information about some of the newest issues of literary and alternative magazines. The Magazine Stand entries are not reviews, but are descriptions provided by the sponsor magazine. Sometimes, we'll have the newest issue and content on our site before the magazine even has it on theirs. Good reading starts here!

Barrelhouse Presents Dark Sky Magazine

In what can best be categorized as a major communication snafu, Gabe Durham, Editor of Dark Sky Magazine writes that after accepting submissions and, along several other editors, putting together issue #17 of DSM, he sent it off to the founder/publisher. The reply: Dark Sky was closing shop - both the magazine and the press. That's when "the editors of Barrelhouse stepped in and generously offered to host the issue on their site. The editors and contributors [of DSM] were unanimously in favor of this idea." Wow.

Issue #17 of Dark Sky Matter can be found here on the Barrelhouse website (though the cover image may make you sorry you looked - and yet, I'll bet you'll look at it twice!).

What a great show of support from Barrelhouse to all associated with DSM. I'm pretty sure it's what Swayze would have done.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Glimmer Train June Fiction Open Winners

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

First place: Stefani Nellen (pictured), of Groningen, The Netherlands, wins $2500 for “Men in Pink Tutus.” Her story will be published in the Fall 2013 issue of Glimmer Train Stories. [Photo credit: Niels Taatgen]

Second place: Tom Kealey, of Greensboro, NC, wins $1000 for “The Lost Brother.” His story will also appear in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train Stories.

Third place: Ben Fowlkes, of Missoula, MT, wins $600 for “Something Something Land Down Under.” His story will also be published in Glimmer Train Stories, increasing his prize to $700.

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

Upcoming Deadline for the next Fiction Open competition: September 30, 2012

Pongo :: Working with Troubled Teen Writers

Based out of Seattle, the Pongo Teen Writing Project offers a wealth of resources for those working with young writers, especially in similar populations as Pongo's focus - teens who are in jail, on the streets, or in other ways leading difficult lives.Pongo provides writing activities and other resources for teachers, counselors, and advocates working with teens.

The Pongo Project Journal is a regularly updated blog of youth writing and advocate experiences. The most recent post is "The Color of Their Lives" by Pongo mentor Vanessa Hooper. Vanessa writes about her experience working in juvenile detention. In addition to the dark internal storms of the teens' childhood trauma, and the greyness of the institutional settings where the youth find themselves, the Pongo authors also have vital lights, as expressed in the hopeful process of poetry.

This Pongo story is part of the following KING5 TV special, by John Sharify and Doug Burgess, about the role of the arts for people who are struggling: It's Just So Powerful. (Note: I started watching this, and couldn't stop! It's extremely well done, and Pongo is the first story in the show, so you can catch it right away.)

Pongo collects surveys from their authors when there's time at the end of a session and learned that one-third of their writers had previously written only a little or not at all. Pongo has collected over 700 surveys from their young writers with the following STUNNING results:

100% enjoyed the Pongo experience
98% were proud of their writing
73% wrote about things they don't normally talk about
86% learned about writing
75% learned about themselves
83% felt better after writing
94% expect to write more in the future
92% expect to write when life is difficult

To learn more, visit Pongo Teen Writing Project and tell others about the writing activities and other free resources on the Pongo web site!

Endings :: Other Voices, Canada

A post on Canadian Magazines blog let us know that Other Voices magazine of Edmonton has ceased publication. Started in mid 1988s, the magazine had a long history of publishing outside of the mainstream. Managing Editor Bobbi Beatty cited changes in the publishing industry and economy as two contributing factors to the decision to cease publication. The magazine website is no longer functioning.

Editor Changes: Iron Horse

In the most recent issue of Iron Horse Literary Review, Editor Leslie Jill Patterson announces that Managing Editor Brent Newsom, who also writes the Horselaugh column at the back of every issue, will be leaving for a tenure-track job in Oklahoma. "Brent has been a God-send to us this year," she writes, "a young man quick to laugh and also real sly about calming tempters and quashing trouble in the office. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard as he and I did one day when proofing one of our issues. People passing by in the hallway must have thought we were drunk, howling as we were. I'll miss him tremendously but am so happy for he and his wife, Amanda, as they start their lives as 'real' people, not poor, struggling students any more. Of course, it was only appropriate that Brent, with his sense of humor, created and wrote the Horse Laugh column at the back of every issue."

She announces that there will be one more column from him in an upcoming issue, but then Iron Horse will start up a new column featuring the new managing editor, Landon Houle.

The actual issue includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from Harryette Mullen, John Hart, Mike Alexander, Alison Stine, Jennifer Bullis, Josh Booton, Ashley Seitz Kramer, Sean Bernard, Karen Regen-Tuero, and Amy Monticello.