BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
I'm writing this column on a very cold day, and it's nice to be inside with a board game to play, but better yet, for me at least, to be inside with a poem about a board game. This Monopoly game by Connie Wanek is from her book Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems from the University of Nebraska Press.
We used to play, long before we bought real houses.
A roll of the dice could send a girl to jail.
The money was pink, blue, gold, as well as green,
and we could own a whole railroad
or speculate in hotels where others dreaded staying:
the cost was extortionary.
At last one person would own everything,
every teaspoon in the dining car, every spike
driven into the planks by immigrants,
every crooked mayor.
But then, with only the clothes on our backs,
we ran outside, laughing.
We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by Connie Wanek, “Monopoly,” from Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Connie Wanek and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2017 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.
I was relieved to see it wasn't just me who heard the Bee Gees in my head when I saw the cover of Bennington Review Issue Four themed "Staying Alive." Editor Michael Dumanis opens the "Note from the Editor" with these two lines from the 1977's classic, "Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me / Somebody help me, yeah, I'm stayin' alive."
Dumanis explains, "As we were reading the poems, stories, and essays submitted to Bennington Review in 2017 for this, our fourth issue, we noticed a word that come up with remarkable regularity - the verb 'survive' in all its various permutations. In Issue Four, it occurs - frequently as a directive, occasionally as the noun 'survivor' - twenty-eight times. The word 'living' can be found twenty-one times, an the word 'alive' shows up an additional twelve."
A "tonal shift" from their previous issue, themed "Threat," Dumanis notes that "something has shifted in the cultural landscape. An acceptance of threat has bred a series of reactions - resistance, perseverance, even a measure of optimism . . . there's now a restored sense of agency."
Readers can find works by Patrick Williams, Erin L. McCoy, Marco Wilkinson, Ian Stansel, A. Molotkov and many more, with several contributors' works available to read online.
Stayin' alive? I'm all for it.
In addition to its regular content of 'extremely brief' (under 750 words) nonfiction, Brevity's regular feature of Craft Essays in its first issue of 2018 features Chelsey Dyrsdale's "Transforming an Essay Collection into a Memoir," Annelise Jolley's "Capturing the Numinous: Mary Karr's Sacred Carnality," and Felicia Rose Chavez's [pictured] "The Mental Load: Honoring Your Story Over Your To-Do List." All of Brevity's content is available online for free. No reason not to stop on by.
In "The Godfather Speaks," 3QR: The Three Quarter Review interviewed Lee Gutkind on the two-decade anniversary of the controversial Vanity Fair article, in which critic James Wolcott “accused creative nonfiction writers, of memoir in particular, of ‘navel gazing’ . . . lambast[ing] the form itself as: a ‘sickly transfusion, whereby the weakling personal voice of sensitive fiction is inserted into the beery carcass of nonfiction.‘" Wolcott labeled Gutkind as “The Godfather behind creative nonfiction.”
Gutkind reflects on what could have been devastating to some in their careers: “The Godfather label—the positive aspects of it—stuck. From that point on, emboldened, I was much more in an offensive rather than a defensive mode when it came to creative nonfiction.” And for this, we are all grateful to The Godfather.
The January/February 2018 issue of Kenyon Review features winners of their 2017 Short Fiction Prize:
“Lionel, For Worse” by David Greendonner [pictured]
“When Do We Worry” by Kimberly King Parsons
“Canto” by Lorain Urban
Each of these works can also be read full-text online here along with commentary on the selections by Judge Lee K. Abbot.
Published by the Department of English and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston, the cover image of Crazyhorse Fall 2017 is "Blue Hole," a digital photograph by Shane Brown.
Annelisa Leinbach's vibrant art is featured on the home screen as well as in a portfolio for the Winter 2017 issue of The Writing Disorder online literary magazine.
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
I've had a couple of aquariums (or is the plural aquaria?), but I didn't take very good care of either one. The glass clouded over with algae, and the fish had to live on whatever they could scrounge because I'd forget to feed them. Some liked eating each other. But here's a poem (a sonnet!) about an aquarium you can actually see into. The poet, Kim Addonizio, lives in California, and her most recent book is Mortal Trash (W. W. Norton, 2016).
The fish are drifting calmly in their tank
between the green reeds, lit by a white glow
that passes for the sun. Blindly, the blank
glass that holds them in displays their slow
progress from end to end, familiar rocks
set into the gravel, murmuring rows
of filters, a universe the flying fox
and glass cats, Congo tetras, bristle-nose
pleocostemus all take for granted. Yet
the platys, gold and red, persist in leaping
occasionally, as if they can't quite let
alone a possibility—of wings,
maybe, once they reach the air? They die
on the rug. We find them there, eyes open in surprise.
We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1994 by Kim Addonizio, “Aquarium,” from The Philosopher's Club , (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994). Poem reprinted by permission of Kim Addonizio and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2017 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.
The fall 2017 print issue of Schuylkill Valley Journal includes a special section of poetry written by men imprisoned at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia. Fran B. provides an introduction to the section entitled, "A Poetry Workshop at Graterford Prison," which begins, "In January, 2017, I started a poetry workshop at Graterford Prison. I had wanted to do this for a long time, several years, and my semi-retirement enabled me to think that I finally had the time to devote to the project." Fran explains how he worked with the Prison Literacy Project of Pennsylvania and a group called Lifers, Inc. in Graterford Prison to get the workshop started, building a rapport with the inmates, and developing guidelines for their sessions. Fran shares some of the prompts he developed and the responses these elicited from participants.
Contributing Writer Eric Greinke provides an editorial comment on the works selected: "Although all of the poems that were submitted have merit, this particular group of five poets display special talent and affinity for poetry. Poetic talent can appear anywhere, under any circumstances, because it is the result of the inner human drive to evolve and connect. These five poets transcend situational concerns and rise to a universal level that communicates to our shared humanity. Their poems have in common an emotional intensity but each poet sings with his own unique voice."
Included are ten poems by five poets: Reginald L., Terrell C., Ben C., Aaron F., and Eduardo R.
Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their September/October Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held three times a year and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The January/February Short Story Award competition has just opened: Short Story Award for New Writers. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.
1st place goes to Maxime Kawawa-Beaudan [Photo credit: Scott McCrae] of Berkeley, California, who wins $2500 for “Waiting for Fireworks.” His story will be published in Issue 102 of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be his first major print publication.
2nd place goes to Kristen Hamelin Tracey of New York, New York, who wins $500 for “A New World.” Her story will also be published in an upcoming issue, increasing her prize to $700. This will be her first major print publication, as well.
3rd place goes to Oliver Kammeyer of Boston, Massachusetts, who wins $300 for “They’ll Fix That in Turkey.”
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadline soon approaching! Family Matters: January 12
Glimmer Train hosts this competition once a year, and first place has been increased to $2500 plus publication in the journal, and 10 copies of that issue. It’s open to all writers for stories about family of any configuration. Most submissions to this category run 1000-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. Click here for complete guidelines.
In these turbulent times, we can't help but wonder just exactly how words do matter, in the sense of "for good" instead of what we see so much of bandied about in terms of knee-jerk thoughtlessness. World Literature Today provides the perspective "Words Matter: Writing as Inspired Resistance" in their January-February 2018 issue. In addition to its regular content is "Treasuring the Tradition of Inspired Resistance”: A Conversation with Maureen Freely by Michelle Johnson, poetry by Iossif Ventura and Anna Maria Carpi, an essay by Liliana Ancalao, three audio poems (online) in Mapuzungun, Spanish, and English, by Liliana Ancalao, a web exclusive interview “Breaking Open Gates: A Conversation with Emmy Pérez,” by Norma Cantú and Chelsea Rodríguez.
Readers can access five articles per month without a subscription; WLT is a paying market for writers and encourages subscriptions.
Ecotone's mission is to publish place-based work exploring "the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought." The Fall/Winter 2017 issue is themed on "Craft" and opens with Editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell's "From the Editor: The Craft of Editing," which includes the insightful list of eight "Guiding Principles for Ecotone Editors."
Content includes fiction by Jill McCorckle, Alexis Schaitkin, and Farah Alie, nonfiction by Ellie A. Rogers, Andrea Mummert Puccini, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ben Miller, and poetry by Cortney Lamar Charleston, Nina Sudhakar, George David Clark, Jessica Guzman Alderman, Dawn Manning, Lauren Camp, Cate Lycurgus, Lynne Thompson, David Macey, Athena Kildegaard, and Molly Tenenbaum. Each contributor also offers one sentence on craft, "what hopes and concerns about craft, writerly and/or otherwise, the writers and artists who are part of the issue might have."
The gorgeous cover and bookmark insert for this issue deserves recognition: designed and printed by Rory Sparks at Working Library in Portland, Oregon, with text hand-set in Lining Gothic, Franklin Gothic, And Garamond Italic, and printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell 100lb on a Vandercook Universal I AB P.
Founded in 2011 by Christine Brooks Cote, Shanti Arts celebrates and promotes Art, Nature, and Spirit. Along with publishing a wide array of books, Shanti Arts also produces Still Point Art Gallery and Still Point Arts Quarterly. The print publication features full-color art throughout, and the website includes the full exhibition of artwork. Nature's Textures is the current exhibit, running through January 31, 2018.
Artists' works honored in this exhibit:
Best in Show
Award for Uniqueness of Concept and Originality
Award for Exceptional Composition and Design
Award for Distinctive Interpretation of Theme
In a double issue (Fall 2017/Winter 2018), The Chattahoochee Review focuses on "Neighbors."
Editor Anna Schachner writes, " Some of our special-focus topics are more wistful than others. This one - Neighbors - certainly is. When our editorial staff chose the topic, I don't think any of us were specifically thinking of borrowed cups of sugar or Christmas carolers at our front door, but, given current national and global events, it's hard not to yearn for that simplicity and purity. Still, most of the work in this issue fluctuates between a kind of yearning for proximity, for connections, and a kind of wry suspicion of it."
See a full list of contributors here.
Prime Number is a quarterly online publication of "distinctive poetry and short fiction that takes readers to new places, introducing them to interesting characters, situations, and observations." A publication of Press 53, the editors enjoy engaging writers in two monthly contests: the Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Contest, which is a low-cost ($7 - a prime number) reading fee with a prime number first prize of $251, and the 53-Word Story Contest, which is free (is 0 a prime number?) and comes with a prompt.
Both winners are published in future issues of the publication.
Winners currently featured are Flash Fiction “Interrogation” by Michael Chin and 53-Word Story "Dance on my Grave" by Hannah Ambrose [pictured].
Winners of the Terrain.org 8th Annual Contest in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry each receive $500 in addition to publication. Finalists are awarded $100 and publication.
Judge Robert Wrigley
“Tying a Tie” and “Airborne”, two poems by Edward Harkness
Finalists: Poems by Ellery Akers, Deborah Fass, and John Pass.
Judge Nicole Walker
“Ghost Trees” by Jennie Goode [pictured]
Finalists: “What Remained” by Kristina Moriconi and “Northern Wardens” by Alisa Slaughter
Judge Padma Viswanathan
“N-Place Exiting” by Thomas Ausa
Finalist: “The Stilled Ring” by Luther Allen
Read more about the winning works here. The contest re-opens in January 2018.
"The Cowards" by French photographer Iva Iova on the cover of Into the Void #6 is from her series, The Remains , of which she writes, "The last decade held a concentration of questionable political and social events. [. . . ] A population raised and educated to be Deaf, Cowards and Heartless."
Kikki Ghezzi's oil on linen entitled "Snow Flake" is featured on the cover of Salamander #45 with a full-color portfolio of more of her works inside the issue. She writes, "My paintings are increments of time and increments of marks and strokes in a meditative moment. They are the time of a walk, the time of process. The kind of 'glow”' time in my paintings is infinite in both directions, outward in accumulated, immeasurable brush strokes and inward towards a glow point."
Oil on canvas "21 August 2017" by Lynn Boggess invites readers into the December issue One online poetry magazine, which features a "Second Look" section in which writers discuss poems they admire. This issue's Second Look is Patrick Kavanagh discussing The Great Hunger.
The Editors at Broadsided Press write:
We have, according to the constitution, the right “to keep and bear arms” in the United States. But how, in the wake of Las Vegas, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and other abuses of firearms—by citizens and in some cases by those trained to protect and serve—do we bear that right? How do we bear it?
At Broadsided, we believe that art and literature belong in our daily lives. They inspire and demonstrate the vitality and depth of our connection with the world. We had to speak out—we had to make a space for you to speak out—on this issue as part of our ongoing "Broadsided Responds" feature.
We put out a call to visual artists asking for submissions. Work came from all over the country, in all media. Powerful, provocative, dynamic work. Guest Arts Editor Stacy Isenbarger selected six pieces that offer a range of attitudes, aesthetics, and opportunities. Of her decision, Stacy has this to say:
How do we confront that of which we already hold tightly? Collectively, these chosen works offer a dimensional conversation of this weighted issue. Some may suggest a boundary of societal judgement, but they don’t necessarily reveal what side they are one. Instead these pieces offer evolving space. They welcome an opportunity for viewers to discuss how we bear that which touches our lives.
We now ask you to respond with words to six works of visual art by Sandra Cohen, Jonathan Frey, David Kamm, Osceola Refetoff, Dixie Salazar, and Kristen Woodward.
When you submit your writing, be sure to be clear as to which piece you are responding.
DEADLINE: December 27, 2017.
The December 2017 Glimmer Train Bulletin is a fun read this time around, with an eclectic mix of craft essay written from teachers and authors, some of whose works have recently been published in Glimmer Train Stories.
Author of the novel The Luster of Lost Things , Sophie Chen Keller's [pictured] essay, "On Writing from a Child's Perspective for Adults," is a topic I have often tried to better understand as a reviewer assessing others' writing;. This was an instructive perspective to read, as Keller asks, "But how to manage that voice while keeping the novel from becoming a book for younger readers - especially when my inspiration for plot and tone was those books for younger readers?"
For essays on writing and revision, University of Chicago Professor Will Boast offers his advice on "Cutting Out the Bad Bits," while Andrew Porter, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Trinity University in San Antonio writes on "The Long First Draft."
And, in these volatile times, Iranian-American writer Siamak Vossoughi comments on "The Political Lives of Characters," noting the decision writers face: "Political beliefs can matter a lot, in stories and in life, and they can not matter at all. [. . . ] A writer only runs the risk of being preachy or dogmatic if he or she makes a character of one political belief less three-dimensional and human than that of another."
The Glimmer Train Bulletin is free to read online each month here, or have it delivered monthly to your inbox.
Ruminate Winter 2017 features the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize recipients awarded by judge Shane McCrae:
"Elizabeth Asks" by Maggie Blake Bailey
"Bookend Quote from Bro. Yao" by Amanda Hawkins
'"All These Months Since Your Diagnosis" by Emily Ransdell
Finalists whose works are also included in the issue: Jen Stewart Fueston, Dante Di Stefano, Janine Certo, Mason Henderson, Jake Crist, Jehanne Dubrow, Kerri Vinson Snell, Charity Gingerich, John Sibley Williams, Berwyn Moore, and Mark Wagenaar.
One of the cover images, "Lotus Buddha" by Christine DeCamp, for the online publication Leaping Clear is reflective of its mission, to promote "accomplished artists whose work is informed by dedicated meditative and contemplative practices." There is more from DeCamp and other visual artists and writers in the Fall 2017 issue.
The cover image of the fall 2017 issue of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative is a gorgeous waterfall photo from White Mountains, N.H. by David FitzSimmons.
Tim L. Vasquez of Untamed Photography offers a seemingly surreal image for the cover of the fall/winter 2017 Concho River Review.
Speculative Fiction in Translation (SFT) "often flies under the radar, despite the fact that it is an important part of the speculative fiction universe," writes author and editor Rachel Cordasco in her introduction to a special section of "Speculative Fiction in Translation By Women" in Anomaly 25. While "SFT has been growing in popularity over the last few years," Cordasco notes that, "like the publishing world as a whole, the world of SFT is often dominated by male authors."
Her selection of included works highlights some of what she feels are the best female authors writing speculative fiction in languages other than English, offering readers a variety of stories and styles. In addition to this, Cordasco started SFinTranslation.com, a site on which she indexes SFT, reviews works, and posts news and interviews relative to SFT. Cordasco herself is working on translating Italian SF.
It's hard to get the full effect of the Fall 2017 The Georgia Review cover art, which features work by poet and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffiths printed on mirror metallic stock. A portfolio of her work and essay, "What Has Changed," is included in the issue, with an introduction by Jenny Gropp.
An untitled enamel on plywood by Mose " Mose T" Tolliver attracts readers to the Fall 2017 issue of Field: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics.
Love love love Mary Jo Karimnia's work, which she describes in her Artist's Statement, "I draw in the backgrounds and enhance certain areas with glass beads. Cropped purposefully to omit faces, the images - such as teenagers in costumes at cosplay conventions, dancers in Bolivia, and Catrina icons at a Day of the Dead festival - emphasize how costumes can allow us to explore alternative personae in an anonymous way, which helps us to learn about our past or to imagine a future in which the acceptance of eccentricities is the norm." The Cincinnati Review Winter 2018 includes her work on the cover as well as a portfolio inside.