The editors of Frontier Poetry, in keeping with their mission "to provide practical help for serious writers," especially emerging poets, has a series of interviews - Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances - with "great editors from around the literary community." Frontier Poetry asks for "frank thoughts on why poems may get accepted/rejected from their own slush pile of submissions, and what poets can do to better their chances."
Adding an interview almost every month, Frontier Poetry has so far interviewed Kristin George Bagdanov of Ruminate Magazine, Rick Barot of New England Review, Chelene Knight of Room, Esther Vincent [pictured] of The Tiger Moth Review, Talin Tahajian of Adroit Journal, J.P. Dancing Bear of Verse Daily, Gabrielle Bates of Seattle Review, Melissa Crowe of Beloit Poetry Journal, Marion Wrenn of Painted Bride Quarterly, Hannah Aizenman of The New Yorker, Anthony Frame of Glass Poetry, Luther Hughes of The Shade Journal, Don Share of Poetry, Sumita Chakraborty of Agni, Jessica Faust of The Southern Review, and Kwame Dawes of Prairie Schooner.
If my mother and I walk out of a store into the center of the mall or exit a building onto any town’s main street, there’s a 95% chance she’ll ask me which way we came from and which way we’re now headed. If we park in a crowded lot, she follows as I lead to her hidden car. When I’m with her, I am the navigator, the way-finder.
The 33-page nonfiction piece begins in an airport, Sellers struggling to find her way out to her car. From here, we work back, finding this was always an issue, cultivated when she was young as her mother struggled with mental illness and her father with alcoholism. Knowing which way to turn, when it’s okay to turn on a red light, how to navigate a college campus or a familiar neighborhood, recognizing faces—this is all foreign to Sellers. However, Sellers writes all of this straightforwardly and clearly as if she’s describing how we can make it out of an airport, a route we can effortlessly follow, her words a way-finder at our side.
After tracing back to examine the possible source of this predicament, she puts a name to it: prosopagnosia or topographical agnosia. Once it has a name, it’s easier to understand and cope with, which leads to the deeper point of Sellers’ piece. In witnessing others struggle, she notes that she’s not uniquely alone, and she realizes the compassion and patience she shows others lost with or around her. This sympathy is missing when dealing with her own directional mishaps, the rest of the piece a steady reminder for readers to treat ourselves and others with more compassion as we find our ways through the world.
The basic stories in much of our canon of literature are hardly subtle. Their power and wisdom come from the discoveries about human nature and behavior through characters and their struggles. Beware of pride-bound, stubborn, pigheaded leaders—yes and beware of the idea that the themes of classic literature are “irrelevant” today. The resiliency of literature comes also in the clear and perfect expression of the moments and moods of life through language, many examples of which cannot be forgotten—Hamlet with the skull of his jester, Keats and his nightingale, or the sheer poignancy of Nick Carroway at the end of Daisy’s dock, looking out on the green light, thinking "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Speer Morgan, "Collisions," The Missouri Review, Spring 2019
Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts is collaborating with Black Earth Institute on the publication of a major anthology of contemporary Chicanx writers. Until July 1, 2019, they are accepting submissions of Chicanx poetry and prose from across the country.
The editors for this collection will be Luis Alberto Urrea, Pam Uschuk, Matt Mendez, Beth Alvarado, William Pitt Root, Carmen Calatayud, Carmen Tafolla, Octavio Quintanilla, Theresa Acevedo, Denise Chavez and Edward Vidaurre.
Submission Guidelines: "We are looking for Chicanx writers of poems and prose, from the rasquache to the refined. We want writing that goes deep into the culture and reveals our heritage in new ways. We want experiences, from blue collar gigs to going into higher education and pursuing PhDs. We want work that challenges. That is irreverent. That is both defiant and inventive. That is well-crafted. That is puro Chicanx. We acknowledge Chicanx is an attitude that may intersect with Latinx."
For more information, visit the Cutthroat website.
In response to the recent abortion bans in the United States, Jellyfish Review has been publishing a series of “Pro-Choice stories” with their usual selections. In the days surrounding the bans, my social media accounts exploded with people in my life coming forward with their own abortion stories, each of their needs and wants behind their choices unique. The Pro-Choice stories of Jellyfish Review mimic this: varying voices and points of view from different walks of life, all of them valid.
“Now That I’m Being Honest” by Holly Pelesky is addressed to the child the narrator planned to abort and didn’t, back before she found her voice, highlighting how important the ability to make a choice is in a life. In “A Fetus Walks into a Bar,” Jonathan Cardew’s imagined fetus is cold-blooded and gun-toting, leading readers to consider the rights afforded gun owners vs. uterus owners.
“None of It Was Easy” by Meghan Louise Wagner is a short, thirteen-part nonfiction piece that walks through each step, from the first hint that Wagner is pregnant to the afternoon the day of her abortion, ending with the sentence “I felt sick and empty but, most of all, I felt relieved,” her relief palpable.
Filled with tension is “The Morning After” by Andrea Rinard, a mother supporting her daughter after her daughter’s assault, the desire to protect her battling with the knowledge that she must let her daughter make her own choices.
The stories continue, each different, each important. The editors include links to pro-choice organizations after every piece, inviting readers to continue to support the choices others make for their bodies, all as different and important and valid as the stories Jellyfish Review presents.
Review by Katy Haas
The Courtship of Winds each issue asks five questions of writers whose work has previously appeared in the online publication. The Winter 2019 Digital Forum invited Perle Besserman [pictured], Sandra Kohler, Denise Kline, and Jennifer Page to respond to questions to discuss how they see the #MeToo movement now - post initial profound effect, post backlash, post Kavanaugh hearings, and post Christine Blasey Ford testimony.
The writers each responded to five questions posed by the editors, including the Kavanaugh hearings, Trump's mocking Al Franken's stepping down, "utilitarian calculus" as addressed by Sonia Sadha, the impact of movements like this, and any inherent 'dangers' for men and women in our current climate of accusations and speaking up.
"In my view, writing, at least literary writing, is not just a matter of inventing out of whole cloth or drawing on things we remember, but also of accessing sought-for words and connections. Do we, when we're writing, reach in to actively find the parts of our next sentences, or are those 'given' to us? It often feels like the latter, which naturally makes me wonder through what agency. As Joseph Brodsky wrote somewhere, life is a gift, and where there is a gift there must be a giver."
The cover of Booth’s Winter 2019 issue invites readers in with little square scenes of bright colors and caricatures, with text promising the Nonfiction Prize winners inside. Of the four pieces selected by Judge Brian Oliu, two touched me most: “A Fractured Atlas” by Alex Clark and “Remember the Earth” by Angelique Stevens.
In the first, Clark recounts the fractured memory of being molested as a child by a friend’s father. Points of view are manipulated. “Her” becomes “you” which sometimes slips into first person: “you grow my nails out.” Throughout the piece, names are redacted, reduced to “( )” for the friend and “// //” for the father/abuser. The switches in POV, these redactions, font changes, and layering of text and image parallel the ways memory works. Details are left out, forgotten, rearranged, repeated, layered with other memories. Each page feels like decoding a map, like uncovering a new memory, a truly inventive piece of nonfiction.
In “Remember the Earth,” Stevens explores the idea of death, of what and who we leave behind. After her sister Gina’s suicide, she faces their tumultuous relationship and the years, months, and days that lead up to Gina’s death. She tries make sense of the timeline that brought both of them there. A tender and intimate work, Stevens packs so much raw emotional energy into one short piece, I had to read it in little bursts.
Both deserved of placing in the Nonfiction Prize, Clark and Stevens peel back layers of their memories. While constructed completely differently, both give stark and honest examinations of a moment in each of their lives.
Published by the Black Earth Institute, dedicated to re-forging the links between art, spirit, and society, the May 2019 issue of About Place is themed "Dignity As An Endangered Species."
Issue Editor Pamela Uschuk notes that the editors "chose work that addressed the question, what is dignity?" from the starting point that "dignity is endangered during these times." Assistant Editors CMarie Fuhrman asserts, "It is necessary that we begin to define, for ourselves and as a Nation, that which makes us human, humane." And Maggie Miller
Having served as editor of Kenyon Review since 1994, David Lynn will be stepping down next spring. The publication board, staff and college will be setting a timeline for the application process to consider candidates this upcoming fall or winter. The submission period for this year will be limited as a result of this transition. "In anticipation of a new editor’s arrival, we must maintain space in upcoming issues, so we will be limiting our open period of submissions to September 15-October 1, 2019," writes Alicia Misarti, The Kenyon Review Director of Operations.
Fortunately, Lynn plans to remain active at Kenyon College, as the college president Sean M. Decatur notes, "We’ve already been in conversations on some ideas about other initiatives involving writing and literature for the College."
Our thanks to David Lynn for his years of commitment to the literary community as editor, and our best to all at Kenyon Review during this time of change.