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Giving College Admins What They Deserve

Published November 26, 2014 Posted By
Issue 10 of Saranac Review marks a decade that this annual of the SUNY College at Plattsburgh Department of English and Writing Arts Programs has been publishing. "No easy task," remarks J.L. Torres in the Editor's Notes. Torres mentions "then Provost Robert Golden, who secured budgetary support for the journal" in its infancy.

I'm glad Torres names Provost Golden. Such support as this is crucial for an academic publication to survive. A decade or so ago, I heard remarks from independent journal editors about how "easy" academic literary magazines had it because their funding was secure. I knew first hand this wasn't true. At one college, I founded and led the college's literary journal, and hoped the fact a key administrator's daughter was in a creative writing program would offer us some of that mythical security. It did not. The journal was pitted against the outdoor club for an annual scrap of funding, and lost. Seems our administrator enjoyed hiking more than reading.

Then the recession hit, and college administrators nationwide went after every penny they could seize. Literary magazines make easy targets: seemingly "frivolous" and non-essential, especially publishing works those in decision-making roles find difficult to understand, if they read them at all. Numerous times, NewPages went to bat for these threatened publications, writing letters on their behalf to presidents, deans, provosts, and encouraging others to do the same. Yet we watched them fall. (Isotope, I still miss you!)

I listened to the shift in conversation, to editors talking about removing publications from their academic homes in order to save them, to find their own means of secure funding, and to be able to control the content (another long-standing battle that can occur in academic settings). I watched publications move online, either under pressure from an administration that believed this meant the journal would be "free" to publish, or from editors simply trying to save the publication with this less expensive format (usually along with the loss of their stipends, release time, office space, support staff, etc.). This was a risky move since, at that time, online publications were considered suspect in terms of credibility and stigmatized as "lower quality."

The challenge continues, in this day and age of STEM not only is the focus on science, technology, engineering and math in education, but people in these fields tend to come with deep pockets that can support all kinds of initiatives (like new multimillion dollar campus buildings). Still, I am encouraged by the number of times I see STEAM as the emerging acronym, including "the arts" as being as vitally important to the creative process and on equal ground when it comes to critical thinking and developing the "whole" human being. It is an inclusion and partnering that is essential. The goal now is to continue encouraging and working with those in positions of decision making and power over the purse strings to see the value in the arts as much as those supporters of STEAM do, and as much as we do.

I don't know former Provost Robert Golden, but he has my respect, as do all chairs, deans, provosts, vice presidents, and presidents who support the arts at their schools - not just in words, but in the cold, hard cash necessary to keep the arts alive and vibrant, as whole and as valid as any other aspect of academic study, professional and human development.

I recently attended the anniversary of a famous American composer who came back to his former college to celebrate with the former college president. I listened to speeches about how the arts were funded and supported at the school. I watched colleagues and community members give this former president a standing ovation. I'm sure he wasn't a perfect president in his day, but whatever his faults may have been at the time, they hadn't followed him into the future. I wondered about other college presidents, how they might be remembered years after they retired. I can imagine the Saranac Review having a 10th anniversary celebration and Robert Golden being invited. I can imagine that he, along with those currently in positions of power, would receive a standing ovation for their continued support of the publication.

It's good to be recognized. If there are those at your college who have shown support in the past and in the present, I hope that you will take the opportunity to recognize them. Have some event where they are invited. Initiate a standing ovation to them. If you're online, maybe you can find some way to create a virtual standing ovation. It doesn't mean there haven't been and won't be struggles to survive, but don't let their good efforts go unrecognized. I think those who have not done likewise should know the recognition they've lost, the respect they will never experience ten years, twenty years, thirty years later. I have seen that over time, people have not forgotten this good work. Those in positions now should see what they can choose to continue or not, what their own legacy could be.

Verso Live Jour- nal

Published November 25, 2014 Posted By
versalAmsterdam-based Versal literary journal went on "intermission" last year, which Editor Megan Garr soundly defends does not mean the publication is dead. To the contrary, Versal is achieving goals they had set for their downtime (though selling out the back issues is still on the To Do List - which you all could help with!). In a bold step forward and away from their past, Versal has started a super cool new venture: Verso / live jour- nal which "renders the literary journal in live form." Each curated edition will feature one editor and one writer, and a selection of artists and thinkers in various forms: interviews, essays, slideshows, film, sound, and more. Each live issue is themed and edited: 1.1 "Hold Your Tongue" ed. Megan Garr; 1.2 "A Good Road to Follow" ed. Daniel J. Cecil; 1.3 "Chain Gang" ed. Anna Arov; 1.4 "Bad Dog" ed. Jane Lewty. Such a cool idea, but no surprise coming from Versal!

Cascadia Poetry Festival 2015

Published November 25, 2014 Posted By
cascadia-poetry-festivalThe Cascadia Poetry Festival, the third in an annual festival series that originated in 2012 in Seattle will be held in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo, BC, April 30 - May 4.

Organizers have received a $5000 grant from the Tourism Development Fund of Nanaimo, and a $2500 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for this festival. In addition to business, organization and individual sponsors, there will be a number of small presses purchasing tables at the festival, and tables are available for reservation.

Entrance is available via Gold Passes at $25.00 for a four-day all events pass (Workshops are separate.), $10.00 for students. There will be four workshops delivered by Canadian and International featured and headliner poets.

The NewPages Writing Conferences & Events Guide this and more conferences, book & literary festivals, workshops and retreats, residencies and writing centers. Check it out!

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Published November 24, 2014 Posted By
Issue 63 of Conjunctions is themed "Speaking Volumes," and Kerry Miller's mixed media piece Brehm Djurens Liv (Animal Life) does just that in its visual imagery.

To continue the theme of speaking, subtle ceiling is credited for this cover image on issue 44 of Berkeley Poetry Review. The tumblr account, is credited to carolina, a "mixed media maker of things" from California now in Gotenburg, Sweden. The issue itself features many works that create a "collage of discrepant (and sometimes discordant) voices . . . "
This cover image for Gigantic Sequins #52 seemed a natural flow from BPR. And likewise, a natural from book designer, poet, and artist Meg Willing.
And then this nice, natural flow of images to the cover of Black Warrior Review (Fall/Winter 2014): Nager in Cyan by Summer Johnson. Sometimes, these lit mag cover features just take on a thematic flow of their own.

Coffee House Press Allan Kornblum

Published November 24, 2014 Posted By
allan-kornblumWe were saddened to hear the news today that Coffee House Press founder Allan Kornblum has passed away. NewPages writer Jessica Powers interviewed Allan back in 2006: "The impulse to publish is the impulse to share enthusiasm." We shared this impulse and enthusiasm with Allan for decades. We will miss him dearly. We will all miss him dearly.

Some Literary News Links

Published November 24, 2014 Posted By
The Association for Library Service to Children has release six unique Graphic Novels Reading Lists for K-8.

Mitch Kellaway of The Advocate offers his list of The Year's 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books: Trans non-fiction writing has had a banner year, exploring love, sexuality, and family in deep and refreshing ways.

Apply by Dec 30 to win $3000 to promote your library from the Campaign for America's Libraries.

Landon MacDonald of USC's The Daily Trojan sleuths the truth about Sherlock Holmes and the curious case of expired copyright.

Major New Prize for African Literature Announced recognizing excellent writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages.

From the BBC's iWonder website Writing the Future: A Timeline of Science Fiction Writing.

The University of Iowa has undertaken to digitize science fiction fanzines from the James L. 'Rusty' Hevelin Collection of almost 10,000 fanzines.

American Short Fiction Contest Winner

Published November 22, 2014 Posted By

american-short-fictionThe Fall 2014 issue of American Short Fiction features Scott Gloden's "What Is Louder," the winning entry of the American Short Fiction Contest. His same story had been awarded second place in the Glimmer Train March 2014 Family Matters Contest.

Gloden's story is about a man who works in a post office and his brother who is soldier in Pakistan. Contest judge Amy Hempel praised the story for its new territory, commenting, "the ending is unnerving, very unsettling, and continues the story in a reader's imagination."

An excerpt: "My brother tells me that the bombs don't look like they did on television when we were young: they're not bowling balls with wick spouts that fire out like a sparkler. Instead, they're clock radios; they're wads of Silly Putty with electromagnetic current running through sparse wires; they're ramshackle, he even said—so much so, a bomb looks more like something you store in the garage, which you don't need every day but keep around in case of emergencies."

Winners of the American Short Fiction prize receive $1000 and publication.


Hudson Review New Writers Issue

Published November 19, 2014 Posted By
hudson-reviewThe newest issue of The Hudson Review (Autumn 2014) is their New Writers Issue and features essays by Mara Naselli, James Santel, fiction by Asako Serizawa, Edward Porter, Lauren Schenkman, and poetry by Cally Conan-Davies, William Louis-Dreyfus, Trent Busch, Katherine Robinson, Guillermo Bleichmar, Anne Nance, and Susan de Sola. Some of the works can be read in full on the journal's website.

Shenandoah Takes on the Whys and Whatfors

Published November 19, 2014 Posted By
Two great back-to-back posts on Snopes: A Blog for the Shenandoah Journal : "Why I Write, and Why I May Not Hve a Choice in the Matter" by nash16 (Emma Nash?) and "The Power of Storytelling" by Anna Kathyryn Barnes.

Nash and Barnes both question the value and importance of writing and storytelling. Nash references Orwell's essay, "Why I Write" as well as Alice W. Flaherty's book The Midnight Disease which explores of the neurological reasons for the 'need' to write.

Barnes takes on the questions of why what we write matters, whether or not stories have a point or make any change in the world. Big questions, to be sure, but she calls upon Chimnmanda Adichie's TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story" which supports the need for many stories in our lives. Barnes then connects this with The Facing Project, "a national non-profit organization that works with communities to connect through storytelling over a particular challenge or social issue." Her work with The Facing Sexual Violence Project combines the networking organization with her value of storytelling in an effort to address sexual violence in Rockbridge County, VA.

Both of these essays pose and respond to critical questions writers ask themselves time and again and together they make an excellent starting point for discussion and call to action. Snopes  has the helpful feature of print and PDF options on each of their blog posts, so these make it easy to assign as online reading that students to print and bring along to class.

2015 Bard Fiction Winner

Published November 19, 2014 Posted By
Laura-van-den-BergAuthor Laura van den Berg has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2015. The prize, established in 2001 by Bard College to encourage and support promising young fiction writers, consists of a $30,000 cash award and appointment as writer in residence for one semester. Van den Berg is receiving the prize for her book The Isle of Youth (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013). Van den Berg's residency at Bard College will be for the spring 2015 semester, during which time she will continue her writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading. Read what the judges had to say and more about the winner here.
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