The Poetry Marathon is run (no pun intended) by Caitlin Jans (Thomson) and Jacob Jans, two writers and web publishers living in the Pacific Northwest. There is no charge to participate in the marathon, and in 2016, over 500 writers started the marathon, but many did not finish. Clearly, this is not an activity for the faint of heart.
Last year, I participated in the half marathon and found it to be demanding, frustrating (sometimes forgetting to write my poem!), but in the end immensely rewarding. I have run marathons and half marathons, and the feeling from finishing the Poetry Marathon was very similar. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, and at the same time, a bit of sadness that it was over. I had posted poems, offered feedback to others, received comments on mine - just like cheering each other on in a foot race. It was sad to be a part of such an intense, similarly driven community of writers, and then, just be done with them. It's what makes a person want to come back and do it again!
The Poetry Marathon website has an FAQ that answers the burning questions, like: How do I prepare for the Marathon? What if I can't be at a computer all day? What happens to the poems once I post them? and more. The site also features blog posts from previous participants who offer commentary on their marathon experience. If you're not sure about the commitment, just try it for a day on your own. See what it takes to get to the computer once an hour and write a poem (or at least write a poem per hour, because you are allowed to "catch up" at the computer if you can't get to one every hour).
This year, like last year, the organizers plan to publish a Poetry Marathon Anthology of poems written during the marathon. Some writers included in the first anthology: Sheila Sondik, Teri Harroun, Marie Moser, Raven Kingsley, Joan Leotta, J.I. Klienberg, Liam Strong, Will Jackson, Anne McMaster, Ebony Larijani, and Seema Ka.
This Thema cover photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett made me smile, but then as I read the theme for this issue, it made me laugh out loud: "Second Thoughts." Yup. That's the look.
Danny Ochoa's artwork is featured on the summer 2017 cover of Writing Disorder, an online literary journal. More of his illustrations and comics are included in this issue as well.
For you newbies, the August PoPo Fest goes like this: You sign up. You get a list of 31 names/addresses of other people who signed up. Starting late July, you write a poem a day on a postcard and mail it off to the next person on the list, so by the end of the month, you will have (hopefully) written and sent 31 poems and (hopefully) received 31 poems.
The poems are not supposed to be pre-written or something you've been working on for months. This is an exercise is the spontaneous, the demanding, the gut-driven, the postcard inspired - whatever it is that gets you to write once a day, each day, and send it off into the world.
Last year, poems from contributors were selected for publication in the 1st Poetry Postcard Fest Anthology, 56 Days of August, Poetry Postcards, to be published October 2017.
I've done this event since it began! I don't always keep to a poem a day; sometimes I get ahead one day, or catch up another, with several poems in one day. But I try my best. The event gets me thinking of poetry in my every day, when I rarely have time for it, and writing it down - something I have time for even more rarely.
I've received poems from across the state, the country and around the globe. I've gotten postcards made from cereal boxes, some with gorgeous original artwork, and lots of the lovely tacky tourist cards from travel destinations. I have cards from "famous" poets, and some who have since become more famous, and some never signed, so I'll never know, and it hardly matters. I've gotten poetry. Sent to me directly. From strangers. Lovely, strange, absurd, and funny. Poetry.
It's an amazing event, and I hope you will take the challenge and join in this year. There is a nominal fee for the event ($10). I can only imagine the amount of work it is to run this (with 300+ people participating), and keeping up virtual space to promote it. I'm not dissuaded by the fee, knowing the extraordinary event that it is, and knowing I've spent 100 times that on conferences from which I've gotten a great deal less inspiration...anyone else?
So, please writers, wanna-bes and needs-a-kick-in-the-arsers, poetry lovers, postcard lovers - this event is for you. Join us! Registration ends July 18!
Issue 43 of New Orleans Review is themed "The African Literary Hustle" and opens with the editorial by Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Laura T. Murphy, "This Hustle is Not Your Grandpa's African Lit." The two issue editors examine the historical 'presentation' of African literature published in Western culture as "all too often realist, in English, and in the spirit of Chinua Achebe. But romance, science fiction, fantasy, epic, experimental poetry, satire, and political allegory all find expression in Africa, though not necessarily publication." The editors confront this disparity, "Those who are called to write often have to hustle to get recognition by writing a coming-of-age colonial encounter tale or hustle even harder to have their unique voices heard. So the post-Achebe generation writer faces all sorts of firewalls."
Thus, the call went out for this issue, and writers responded with the editors hoping "to provoke some interesting and unpredictable writing and thinking that would reflect and respond to the spirit of the hustle." Oddly enough, the editors note, "eighty percent of the submissions were from white non-African-identifying writers who thought they could hustle their way into a volume of African literature and had no qualms about it." Seriously.
The editors close on the comment, "But what is African literature? Is there, can there be, was there ever and African literature? In asking you have answered your question. African literature is a question. It is an open question that invites, and has to keep on inviting, different geographies, languages and forms."
Thus, this issue of New Orleans Review: The African Literary Hustle.
2016 Mighty River Short Story Contest
$1000 Award and Publication
"In the Jungle" by Jeremy Griffin [pictured]
2016 Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest
$500 Award and Publication
"Frayed Cords and Pink Underwear" by Shannon Sweetnam
During the Great Depression, a New Deal program brought books to Kentuckians living in remote areas.
In 1936, packhorse librarians served 50,000 families, and, by 1937, 155 public schools. Children loved the program; many mountain schools didn't have libraries, and since they were so far from public libraries, most students had never checked out a book. "'Bring me a book to read,' is the cry of every child as he runs to meet the librarian with whom he has become acquainted," wrote one Pack Horse Library supervisor. "Not a certain book, but any kind of book. The child has read none of them."
Read the full article and see more photos here.
"Stylites Anonymous" by Maureen McGranaghan
"Very Many Hands" by Aaron Coleman [pictured]
Each winner receives $1000 in addition to publication.
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
One of my favorite poems is Louise Bogan's "The Crossed Apple" which mentions two species, Meadow Milk and Sweet Burning, and since reading it many years ago I have made notes of the names of apples, a poet's delight. In this touching poem by Cathryn Essinger, who lives in Ohio, I've come upon yet another for my collection. Her most recent book is What I Know About Innocence from Main Street Rag press.
I planted an apple tree in memory
of my mother, who is not gone,
but whose memory has become
so transparent that she remembers
slicing apples with her grandmother
(yellow apples; blue bowl) better than
the fruit that I hand her today. Still,
she polishes the surface with her thumb,
holds it to the light and says with no
hesitation, Oh, Yellow Transparent . . .
they're so fragile, you can almost see
to the core. She no longer remembers how
to roll the crust, sweeten the sauce, but
her desire is clear—it is pie that she wants.
And so, I slice as close as I dare to the core—
to that little cathedral to memory—where
the seeds remember everything they need
to know to become yellow and transparent.
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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 Cathryn Essinger, “Summer Apples,” from Alaska Quarterly Review, (Vol 33, No. 1 & 2, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Cathryn Essinger 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.
Elizabeth Girdharry writes of math and sciences with "Filling Empty Spaces," including the lines "Mathematical formulas, / on how to stay tangent to the line, / somehow slipped my mind," and "There Was Geometry" begins: "There is geometry in my junk drawer." And comes back around to, "More importantly, / there is geometry in my junk drawer. / Angles and tangents twist out of circles / the same way you smooth back flyaway wisps of baby hair / when you're pondering a hard science theory."
Elise Wing crafts strong imagery to draw her readers in. "The Microscope" begins "Dead diatom / Crisp as a leaf skeleton," and "The Living That Terrifies" begins with the amusing but poignant, "Your ears are the trees for egrets to nest in," and "Tomorrow, the Seagulls" starts, "The future is as frightening as a three-headed hyena."
NewPages includes Hanging Loose in our Young Writers Guide where we list publications written by and for young writers and readers as well as a vetted, ad-free list of contests for young writers.
You have to take a close look at this detail from "Iron Horse" by Kent Monkman on the cover of Brick #99 to get the full effect of the kind of cultural/historical mishmash that makes up this image and a great many of his works.
"Myth" by Eiko Ojala is a papercut illustration for the cover of the May 2017 issue of Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, an online bi-monthly publishing poetry and prose.
1st place goes to George Makana Clark [pictured] of Milwaukee, WI, who wins $2000 for “Pluto.” His story will be published in Issue 102 of Glimmer Train Stories.
2nd place goes to Madiha Sattar of Karachi, Pakistan, for “Mulberry Street.” Her story will also be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train, increasing her prize from $500 to $700.
3rd place goes to Oguz Dinc of Istanbul, Turkey, for “The Hurricane.” His story will also be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train, increasing his prize from $300 to $700.
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadline soon approaching! Short Story Award for New Writers: June 30
This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize wins $2500 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Second/third: $500/$300 and consideration for publication. Click here for complete guidelines.
Self-Portrait as Girl Being Led On
By Clare Paniccia
I watched them do it,
their small, fat fingers taking
to the swell of chest a blunt scalpel
and peeling, no, sawing into stomach
their fitful curiosity, the frog’s
glass eye staring outward and empty,
staring toward the very mouths of schoolboys
who entered so brutally the crevice, the abdomen’s
silenced bell. . . .
Read the rest and hear the poem read by the author on TriQuarterly.
Translation Review is a forum for the discussion of the art, practice and theory of literary translation published by UT Dallas Center for Translation Studies and available online via Routledge Taylor & Francis Online. The full issue can be accessed here for individuals/institutions with logins. Without a login, the full preface can be accessed as well as beginning excerpts from each work published.
From Di Bari:
"We are seeking a freelance assistant for outreach to the literary community, strategize, manage and curate media content for social media and blog."
Artists have tremendous courage, a necessary quality when it comes to expressing personal dreams and emotions so all can see them.
Artists break down barriers of thought, time, custom, and expectation.
Artists make the intangible tangible.
Artists see the trees and the forest.
Artists challenge us to see and understand our world differently than we do now.
Artists are born with open hands and open hearts, courageously willing to accept whatever is given.
Imagine our world without artists, without their ability to see, dream, express, break down barriers, and challenge the rest of us to imagine our world differently.
Excerpted from Christine Brooks Cote, "Imagine Our World Without Artists," from Still Point Arts Quarterly, Summer 2017.
The Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem
Dominique Bernier-Cormier's "Fabric"
Read an interview Bernier-Cormier here.
Poetry Honorable Mentions
Tammy Armstrong's "Blessing the Boats"
Kim Trainor's "Bluegrass"
Short Fiction Prize
Kate Finegan's "Blues Too Bright"
Read an interview with Finegan here.
Fiction Honorable Mentions
Steven Benstead's "Will There Be Clowns?"
Ann Cavlovic's "The Foundation"
Winning entries can be read on The Fiddlehead's website.
The editors reached out to friends and colleagues of Elliot for their remembrances. Twenty-two poets, fiction writers, and academics in various fields responded and their works are collected in this issue. Also featured are several interviews both with (previously published elsewhere) and by Elliott.
MAYDAY Magazine is published by New American Press and its full contents can be read online here.
Chen writes: "Gwendolyn Brooks’s literary archives, now in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reveal that she clustered and bundled papers as well as life experiences: she tucked notes inside pieces of paper folded into makeshift pockets, slid photographs behind other photographs in albums, and pasted clippings on top of each other in scrapbooks. She added further layers of meaning with her copious annotations, like the detailed notes she wrote on the backs of many of her photographs (given in quotation marks in the accompanying images) in order to preserve the knowledge of the people and events they captured."
Read Chen's full introduction to this feature as well as view a slideshow of the photographs and artifacts here.
In her essay, "Ngato! Ngato! Shoes!" Ugandan Poet Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva [pictured] writes, "It's often the most silent shoes that are the strongest. It's the shoes that allow thieves to stalk upon unsuspecting people and the shoes that enable a cheetah to pounce on its prey. The silent shoes do not desire unnecessary attention to detract them from their mission."
Read the full issue here.
Winner in Fiction
Selected by Patrick Ryan
"Papijack" by Carol LaHines [pictured]
Winner in Nonfiction
Selected by Jill Talbot
"First Visit" by Vince Granata
A full list of the finalists can be read here.
Gutkind likens this to our need to review our own practice, weed out bad habits we may have developed over the years, and get back in tune with the basics: "In yoga or writing—or in practicing any art or skill—it does not hurt to start over once in a while just to make sure you know what you think you know. In fact, it occurs to me this is also why teaching can be reinvigorating—I know many writers who make their primary living by teaching and who often find their inspiration in writing prompts given to their students. But maybe there’s also something about focusing on the basics that can inspire innovation and transformation."
Read the full editorial here.