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Terror and Wonder: Gothic Art Displayed in Review

Published October 30, 2014 Posted By
victorian-clockDigitalArts Editor Neil Bennett provides a photo essay on the recent Gothic art, design and literature show at the British Library: Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination – including visual works by the Chapman Brothers, Clive Barker, Stanley Kubrick and a vampire-killing kit.

Nimrod Awards Issue

Published October 30, 2014 Posted By

nimrod-v58-n1-fall-winter-2014Every year, Nimrod puts out a special issue dedicated to that year's awards: The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. This fall, Nimrod honors the selections made by fiction judge Chris Abani and poetry judge W. S. Di Piero. "The winning stories and poems display a breadth of style and creativity, each one unique in its approach to its subject."

The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction
First Prize
Shobha Rao's "Kavitha and Mustafa"

Second Prize
Jill Logan's "Little House"

The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry
First Prize
Mary-Alice Daniel

Second Prize
Christopher Buckley

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Published October 29, 2014 Posted By

If you wonder how we pick Lit Mag Covers of the Week, it really is just looking at the issue and catching ourselves saying, "Oh, that's a cool!" Exactly what I said when I picked up Whiskey Island issue 64. St. Paul, Minnesota painter Aniela Sobieski, also an MFA candidate at Syracuse University, has her work "Young Buck," oil on canvas, featured on the cover. While still gorgeous, it's not quite in full. Visit her website for the whole picture.


This September/October 2014 cover of Ragzine had been showing up on our slider feature, and each time, I am absolutely drawn to this image. "Ida & Disa" is a photo by Mia Hanson whose interview is included in this issue online.

Number 2 Summer 2014 of Red Earth Review struck me because I recognize that precarious-looking train trestel trusted to hold up a ton of freight through wooded swamp. We have a few of those near where I live, in addition to reminding me of the film scene from Stand By Me. "People Get Ready" is the photograph by Wilma Whittaker.


"Two Fates" oil on masonite panel by Alex Hall featured on the online literary magazine decomP is from his latest series "Relativity," which depicts individuals floating in time and space. Hall says of this series, "I chose to paint the figures with no distinct faces so they would relate to every man and every woman."


AQR & Genre Defiant Work

Published October 29, 2014 Posted By
Flipping through the newest issue of Alaska Quarterly Review, from back to front, it only took a page in before I was stopped by the image on the page. I won't explain it - has to be seen - "STRETCH IT OUT!" by Vis-à-Vis Society (Rachel Kessler and Sierra Nelson). Guest edited with an introduction by Elizabeth Bradfield, "Out of Bounds: A Celebration of Genre-Defiant Work" is pretty dang delightful. While AQR tries to bring it onto the page, the one piece connected directly from their website is really better in the e-version than in print. It's worth having it preserved in the issue, though both forms seem transient to their own degree, but "The Christmas When You Were Nine" is best experienced in its originally paced "code poem" form. But this is the challenge of works that defy genre, and is nothing new, Bradfield tells us: "Work that defies genre and authorship is not, of course, new. Japanese renga of the 8th century were written collaboratively. One might consider Homer a mashup artist, making his poem from the many tellings and retellings of an oral epic. French Surrealists mixed visual art into their experiments. The 'happenings' of the 1950s and 1960s were even more multi-disciplinary and worked to break the fourth wall between performer and audience." And what was once strange and new became mainstream. Strange and new, fun and playful, definitely worth checking out - with kudos to Alaska Quarterly Review for making efforts to harness that defiance for us to see - or have they harnessed the readers and brought them to this experience? Defiance indeed.

Interview with Cheryl Strayed in Booth

Published October 29, 2014 Posted By
cheryl-strayedBecause of her large success with her creative nonfiction title Wild, Cheryl Strayed is greatly known in the writing world, and in the latest print issue of Booth, Ashley Petry talks with her "about telling hard truths, making pacts with your readers, and of course writing like a motherfucker."

In the interview, Strayed talks a lot about how it is to share truth in writing and the challenges that come along with it: "I always say, if you're going to show anyone's ass, it had better be your own. Memoir writing is about the journey of the self. It's about saying, this is my subjective view of this experience, and that gives you an enormous amount of power. You get to say what's true; you're the god of that world. So I belive in searching my soul to tell the necessary truths, and sometimes that involves other people, but I always try to do it with a sense of compassion."

In response to a question about what she gains from writing about difficult experiences, Strayed conveys that writing is her own kind of therapy: "I've been able to forgive and understand and accept many of the hardest things in my life via my writing. The fictional character in Torch who is the stepfather, Bruce, is based loosely on my own stepfather. There was no way I could get inside the consciousness of Bruce without loving Bruce, forgiving Bruce, and understanding why he did what he did. Once I did that, I understood why my stepfather did what he did, and it wasn't about not loving me; it was about his own survival. Being able to step back from my own life by going deep into the life of literature has been healing over and over again. There's this strange dichotomy where you have to go deeper into your life while also stepping back from it so that you can craft it into a book or an essay."

The conversation wraps up with a thought from Strayed about the debate on if you need to live in NYC or have an MFA in order to be a writer: "I think that whole thing is so unbelievably ridiculous . . . What I say is, do the same thing as a writer that you do as a human, to seek out the people who inspire you, who comfort you, who challenge you, who enlighten you, who will offer you shelter when you need it and a push out the door when you need it. I root for real life."

A Resource for Young Writers & Their Teachers!

Published October 28, 2014 Posted By
Know some young readers & writers? Are you a K-12 teacher? Check out the Young Authors Guide on

This is guide where young authors (as defined by each publication - sometimes it includes college-age) can find places to publish their writing. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a select list of publications in print as well as online that have open submissions with guidelines, an editorial selection process, and a regular print cycle. Some publish only young authors, some publish all ages for young audiences. For more specific submission guidelines, visit the publication's website.

Also included in this guide are contests for young writers. These are carefully selected for quality and sensitivity to not wanting young writers to be taken advantage of (with promises of publication and high entry fees). Almost all are no-cost entry with some awarding scholarship money.

This is not a paid-for page or an advertising page in any way. It is a page I have put together as a resource to encourage young writers in their interest.

If you know of other publications or contests that could be added to this list, please e-mail me with information:

Word Trucks Feed the Mind

Published October 28, 2014 Posted By
I appreciate Robert S. Fogarty's humorous but hard-hitting editorial in the newest issue of The Antioch Review, "Word Trucks: I and You; Here and There; This and That." In this "nation of fads," he writes, one is hard pressed to keep up with all of them." Fogarty goes on to discuss the food truck phenomenon - how in his foreign travels he had been warned against eating from street vendors, and now, here in the US, those curbside eateries are all the rage. He muses, "Literary magazines have been in the food truck business for a long time, serving up a variety of dishes that were intended to stimulate the intellectural palate with 'the best words in the best order.'" [Qtd Coleridge] While Nicholas Carr looks at "What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains" in his book The Shallows, quoting a Duke University instructor who says she can't get students to read "whole books anymore," Fogarty seems unshaken - his stronghold in the "word truck" realm has long been feeding hungry minds to satisfaction. "A heady meal," he claims - "and it's gluten free."

2013 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Published October 28, 2014 Posted By
yang-mu"The Newman Prize for Chinese Literature is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition, and is conferred solely on the basis of literary merit." The winner for 2013 is Yang Mu, and the recent issue of Chinese Literature Today includes a special feature on the writer, including poetry by Yang Mu and an interview.

Here is a short bio from Chinese Literature Today, and you can read a few of his poems on their website: Yang Mu was born in 1940 in the small coastal city of Huilan in east Taiwan as Ching-hsien Wang 珙씀獻. He received his BA in English from Tunghai University in Taiwan, his MFA from the University of Iowa, and his PhD in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at many universities in North America, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, but he spent most of his academic career at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has also served in important administrative positions, including the founding dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Dong Hwa University in his hometown of Hualian and the founding director of the Institute of Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica, the premiere national research institution in Taiwan. He currently holds an endowed chair at Dong Hwa.

Yang Mu has been writing poetry continuously for sixty years. The longevity of his career is matched by his extraordinary creativity, which has exerted a transformative influence on Taiwanese poetry in general from the 1950s to the present. His poetry assimilates the best that the Chinese and the Western traditions have to offer, deftly blending classicism and surrealism, romanticism and modernism. His poetry may be lyrical or dramatic, contemplative or defiant, elegiac or erotic. In an age when poetry is indisputably considered to be minority literature, Yang Mu enjoys enduring popularity among readers of several generations. His accomplishments beyond the realm of poetry are demonstrable in prose, literary criticism, scholarship on classical Chinese poetry, comparative literature, and editing, as well as the translation of poetry.

Yang Mu has been married to Ying-ying Hsia for thirty-five years; they have a son, Bruce. The couple now lives in Taiwan most of the year, dividing their time between Hualian and Taipei.

Some Literary News Links

Published October 27, 2014 Posted By
As if being selected isn't reason enough to read them, Mashable Social Media Assistant MJ Franklin gives us 7 Reasons You Should Read This Year's PEN Literary Award Winners - matching each reason with an award-winning book. With #1 being "They empower children" it seems enough said, but do read the rest.

Columnist Fanfic writer Elizabeth Minkel weighs in on (whether or not) adults (should be) reading YA literature on the New Statesmen: Read whatever the hell you want: why we need a new way of talking about young adult literature.

Princeton University now houses 180 linear feet of materials documenting Toni Morrison's life, work, and writing methods - with more to continue being added.

I guess it's time to re-read Moby Dick and Nathaniel Philbrick's book that shares its title with the Ron Howard film In the Heart of the Sea so I can keep up with the coming onslaught of comparative news stories and blog posts.

Grad School's Mental Health Problem and When Education Brings Depression are two insightful articles that might just be what someone needs to read or have shared from a friend, and don't discount comics for their reach in portraying psychological illness. [Thanks Gerry Canavan for this trio of links.]

Books :: Killing Trayvons

Published October 27, 2014 Posted By
KillingTrayvonsPublished by CounterPunch, Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence tracks the case and explores why Trayvon’s name and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict symbolized all the grieving, the injustice, the profiling and free passes based on white privilege and police power: the long list of Trayvons known and unknown. With contributions from Robin D.G. Kelley, Rita Dove, Cornel West and Amy Goodman, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Etan Thomas, Tara Skurtu, bell hooks and Quassan Castro, June Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Tim Wise, Patricia Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Vijay Prashad, Jesmyn Ward, Jordan Flaherty and more, Killing Trayvons is an essential addition to the literature on race, violence and resistance. [Description from the publisher.]

CounterPunch Magazine is a political newsletter of independent investigative journalism, published 10 times per year in print and digital. The CounterPunch website offers content free of charge. This, along with many other alternative magazines on a variety of topics, can be found on the NewPages Big List of Alternative Magazines.

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