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Published July 12, 2011
This Thing Called the Future (Cinco Puntos Press, May 2011) is the second young adult novel by J.L. Powers, better known around NewPages as Jessica. Jessica has been connected with NewPages for nearly a decade, writing reviews, feature columns and interviews. She is also editor of The Fertile Source, a literary ezine devoted to fertility-related topics, and publisher of a number of collections with her press, Catalyst Book Press.

Her first young adult novel, The Confessional (Random House/Laurel-Leaf, 2009), endeared her fiction writing to me, especially after it was banned from (and her speaking engagement cancelled with) the Jesuit high school that influenced the setting for the story. I taught the book in my college developmental writing class, and while it was challenging - dealing with issues of drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, immigration, racism, and all starting off with a murder - it was very well received by the students because of its honesty in discussing real-life issues. This Thing Called the Future might be the book to take its place. No less controversial, and no less honest in dealing with difficult subject matter, This Thing Called the Future is the story of 14-year-old Khosi set in HIV-ravaged South Africa.

The story begins -

A drumbeat wakes me. Ba-Boom. Ba Boom. It is beating a funeral dirge.

When I was my little sister Zi's age, we rarely heard those drums. Now they wake me so many Saturdays. It seems somebody is dying all the time. These drums are calling our next-door neighbor, Umnumzana Dudu, to leave this place and join the ancestors where they live, in the earth, the land of the shadows.

- and follows Khosi through several weeks of her life, living with and caring for her aging grandmother and little sister while their mother works away in the city to help (just barely) support them. The story deals very openly and matter-of-factly about the threat of HIV for young girls in Africa, but does so through the strength of Khosi's character - providing a clear and level-headed role model for any young adult responding to such challenging life issues. Khosi watches her careless friend Thandi involve herself with older men (who prefer younger girls less likely to have been exposed, and virgins most especially). Khosi cautions Thandi against her reckless behavior, warning her time and again of the dangers of HIV. Thandi's response is unfortunately typical of so many young people who believe they are infallible. Any young reader will have no trouble identifying with Khosi's rational and sexually conservative stance of self-preservation.

In addition to this clear front message of the book, Powers includes a great deal of South African Zulu culture as it straddles the generations and struggles to survive. Powers's own background includes a master's degree in African History from State University of New York-Albany and Stanford University, a Fulbright-Hayes to study Zulu in South Africa, and serving as a visiting scholar in Stanford's African Studies Department in 2008 and 2009. Her acknowledgements for the book give credit to a number of people with whom she worked in Africa to gain education and insight into the culture, as well as to live it day in, day out. This becomes fully integrated into the writing with the use of Zulu language throughout the text, and a full glossary of the terminology in the back of the book. This is the best kind of cultural exposure and immersion for young (and old) adults. Because there is repetition of key terms and concepts early on in the writing, readers come to learn this language by the end of the book.

Khosi's character and her relationship with the women in her family and the women in her community provide the symbol of the struggle for Zulu cultural survival. Khosi's grandmother believes in the traditional medicine and healing rituals of the Sangoma (female healer) and engages Khosi in a ritual cleansing with her. Khosi's mother has abandoned these 'ancient ways,' but also is either not accepting of contemporary, Western medicine, or is in denial of needing it. Khosi often finds herself conflicted, growing up in this divide of adults and their beliefs. Through the scope of the novel, she comes to make her own decision about what she will choose to follow - traditional medicine to help heal her AIDS-ravaged community, or the way of the sangoma to maintain the strong connection with her ancestral roots.

While Khosi's character provides a strong model of coming to "right behavior" in a variety of situations, understanding how scary and difficult it can be to make the right choices is only evident because Powers writes this fearlessly into the novel. Without knowing the truth of what exists and what young people face - in South Africa, in the United States, in ANY country - we cannot have the real and truthful conversations about what is right behavior, what it means to self-preserve, and what it means to honor both the past and the future. This Thing Called the Future does it all through the voice of a South African teen, tiny in stature, but large enough to shadow all we see looming.

Many YA titles deal with controversial subject matter, and I can only imagine many of them do not make it onto school reading lists. I am hopeful, though, that the young adults themselves are still finding access to these books - in libraries, bookstores, or on their personal e-readers. Controversial subject matter is the most difficult to discuss with young people, and all the more why it needs venues - such as books of fiction - that make it accessible for them to find.

The first five chapters of This Thing Called the Future are available on Powers's website, as well as AIDS & South Africa: A Teacher’s Guide to This Thing Called the Future.
Published July 12, 2011
Started by Art Director Sarah Horner and Editor Bonnie Ditlevsen, Penduline (pronounced PEN-joo-lyne) is a Portland-based literary and art magazine that seeks to create a presence for emerging as well as established graphic artists and writers of sudden fiction, flash fiction, prose poetry and short stories.

The first issue features writing by Margaret Elysia Garcia, Celeste Auge, Kenna Lee, Mai'a Williams, Jenny Hayes, Jenny Forrester, David Rynne, Rebeca Dunn-Krahn, and art by Verone Flood, Christopher Bibby, and Richard Lishner.

Penduline is accepting online submissions for Issue 2 through September 1, 2011. The theme is "Angst."
Published July 09, 2011
From the New Orleans Review website: Be a part of New Orleans Review redesigned.

Call for Design Entries

Each issue will be illuminated by designers whose work reflects and responds to contemporary culture. We believe that good design encompasses art, typography, motion, photography, and illustration, and welcome it as an element that both complements and enhances the quality writing that has always been at the heart of the magazine.

Call for design submissions that explore text and image in a dynamic way. We believe that good design encompasses art, typography, motion, photography, and illustration, and welcome it as an element that both complements and enhances the quality writing that has always been at the heart of the magazine.

Work will be selected by our design editors and a guest designer. Please enter unpublished original designs. Each designer is allowed up to 5 submissions. Winners will be featured in the first redesigned issue of New Orleans Review due out in early 2012.

Open to all designers with the exception of current students, or employees, or others affiliated with New Orleans Review or Loyola University of New Orleans.

Deadline October 1, 2011. Please label files accordingly: Smith_John_01.jpeg (or other acceptable formats), Smith_John_02.jpeg (or other acceptable formats), etc. Winners will be contacted by October 15, 2011 for print-ready files.
Published July 10, 2011
NISA is seeking qualified applicants for the job of Editor/Publisher. This position is a full-time, one-year contract (maternity leave placement) beginning early August. The Editor/Pubisher edits and publishes NISA's literary journal Open Minds Quarterly and The Writer's Circle Online. NISA seeks someone with the skills and knowledge to do the job, with first-hand experience of mental illness. The position is based in Sudbury, Ontario. Deadline is Wednesday, July 20.
Published July 11, 2011
Founding Editor Christina Phelps and Poetry Editor Elana Seplow bring us trans lit mag: a continually-expanding quarterly name-changing online literary magazine. Issue #1, "transmission" was published in Sept 2010, followed by Issue #2 - "transience" and Issue #3 - "Transform." Issue #4, "Transport," is still underway.

trans lit mag publishes fiction, poetry, artwork (including cover art), and literary nonfiction, with "special attention given to pieces that play with form in some way, but this should be very loosely translated. Transform comes from the Latin word meaning to change in form, and characters often do undergo a change in appearance or character, but we can also be changed by what we experience – as readers and as artists."

Contributors to past issues include Eric Sasson, Elana Seplow, Douglas Silver, Denny E. Marshall, Jaime Karnes, Shannon Anthony, Sergio Antonio Ortiz, Mitchell Waldman, Parker Tettleton, Jane Hardwidge, Donal Mahoney, Jim Fuess, Andrew McLinden, Jim Fuess, Anna North, Katherine Don, Edwina Attlee, Elizabeth Tenenbaum, Edwina Attlee, Jacqueline Simonovich, Howie Good, Hubert O’Hearn, Hillary Walker, Chizuco Shophia Yw, Jane Elias, Rigby Bendele, and Hubert O’Hearn.
Published July 11, 2011
The Poetry Forum on the Beloit Poetry Journal website is an online conversation with BPJ poets. During the month of July, join Jenny Johnson in a discussion of the interplay of sounds and (queer) bodies in her crown of sonnets, "Aria." Audio is available to listen to her read section 1 of the poem.
Published July 11, 2011
Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities
"With essayists ­— including Elizabeth Alexander, Robert Hass, and Patricia Smith — describing how poets and artists have brought poetry into different kinds of communities, and a 'toolkit' loaded with experience-based advice, tools, and strategies, Blueprints is a necessity for arts organizers and those in the poetry community." A copublication with The Poetry Foundation, this book is also available for purchase in print.
Published July 11, 2011
Bellingham Review Spring 2011 includes works by the 2011 first-place contest winners along with judge's comments on the published pieces. A full list of winners, runner ups and finalists is available on BR website.

The Annie Dillard Award in Creative Nonfiction
Final Judge: Ira Sukrungruang
First Place: Jay Torrence - “Buckshot”

The 49th Parallel Award in Poetry
Final Judge: Lia Purpura
First Place: Jennifer Militello - “A Dictionary of Mechanics, Memory, and Skin in the Voice of Marian Parker”

The Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction
Final Judge: Adrianne Harun
First Place: Lauri M. Anderson - “Hand, Mouth, Ring”
Published July 05, 2011
Narrative announced the winners of the Winter 2011 Story Contest:

Christmas Eve
by Kevin A. Gonz
Published July 05, 2011
Edited by J.C. Martin and Michelle Davidson Argyle, Stories for Sendai is "an anthology of inspirational short stories loosely themed around the strength of the human honor of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, Japan."

All proceeds will be donated to GlobalGiving in aid of victims of the earthquake and tsunami. GlobalGiving will disburse the funds to relief organisations and emergency services on the ground, including International Medical Corps and Save the Children.

Stories for Sendai is available for only $7.99 on Amazon. Send in a copy of your receipt to the editors, and you can be entered in a prize drawing for a number of fun prizes. See Stories for Sendai website for details.

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