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Published June 23, 2014
High Desert Journal was founded ten years ago by Elizabeth Quinn whose vision was "to create a platform for the artists and writers of the interior West, a place to showcase their talents, and by doing so bring to a wider audience the art and stories that come from the place they call home." And the first eighteen issues (the journal is now on issue 19) were all designed by Thomas Osborne. Editor Charles Finn writes, "There is not a better looking, classier, more visually engaging literary magazine on the stands today. Period. Thomas put a look to Elizabeth's vision, and between the two they created one of the most respected journals in the country." And due to the many thanks that Finn has to these to for making the journal what it is, it is with a heavy heart that he announces that both of them will no longer be working with the journal on the day-to-day. They will remain, however, as advisors.

And the torch of a vision will be carried on: "High Desert journal can't help but change, evolve as all endeavors such as this do, but I'd like to take this opportunity to say what it will not do is cease to be the visual and artistic voice Elizabeth and Thomas foresaw, a journal built to be a witness to the West," Finn writes.

To carry on this vision, Sheryl Noethe, previous poet laureate of Montana, and Joe Wilkins, award-winning author of The Mountains and the Fathers, will join the team along with new Art Editor Kerrie Rosenstein and new Fiction Editor Jane Carpenter. The new design team will consist of Benjamin Kinzer and Chloe Frommer.
Published June 24, 2014
Janice N. Harrington's The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home come from her experience working as a nurse's aide: "It was work; it was a way of life, and I wanted people to understand who the people are who are helping the elderly . . . Even when I read some of the poems in public, people will assume they're nurses, but these are the nurses' aides. These are the people who do the grunt work, the underpaid work. I wanted to tell those stories."

The latest issue of New Letters features an interview with this author, where the quoted text above comes from. And as Editor Robert Stewart asks how she kept the details from so long ago in her mind, she responds, "I never forget the people I worked with. Even now I know what their conditions were . . . I still remember their names . . . I think we were in that intense, compressed situation, and their stories somehow became a part of my memory."

The interview deals with the inspiration behind the book, her background in writing, and her writing process. "If I'm writing a poem," she says, "I'm writing it for a reader; I'm writing it for another human being. I want the reader to understand me. I want there to be some communication. I know that there's argument about being too simplistic. It's not that I think poems are just about communication. Sometimes when I'm writing something, because I appreciate the sound of it, that's what I want you to pay attention to."
Published June 25, 2014
"Our contest winners feature powerful writing about the vulnerability of migrant women in foreign lands; transgendered characters trying to find their place in society; family and motherhood, and the gut-wrenching experience that happens with it all falls apart and when the pieces are put back together," writes Room Editor Amy McCall in the latest issue. The judges of the 2013 Contests were Yasuko Thanh (fiction), Jane Munro (poetry), and Betsy Warland (creative non-fiction).

1st Place: “Essence” by Carol Lazare, Toronto, ON
2nd Place: “Totem” by Katherine Sinclair, Markham, ON
Honourable Mention: “Wishweeds” by Jess Taylor, Toronto, ON

1st Place: “liquidation of the ashettes” by Karen Sylvia Rockwell, Belle River, ON
2nd Place: “Lovenoise: an eviction in parts” by Megan Hyska, Port Moody, BC
Honourable Mention: “leaving 7516 tronson” by Lyndsay Thornton, Vernon, BC

Creative Non-Fiction
1st Place: “Writing, in transit” by Najwa Ali, Toronto, ON
2nd Place: “Under the Skin” by Nicola Harwood, Vancouver, BC
Honourable Mention (tie): “Doppelganger” by Paula Freed, Sea Bright, NJ
Honourable Mention (tie): “The Good News” by Veronica Fredericks, Toronto, ON

View the shortlist entrants by genre here.
Published June 25, 2014
In honor of the 75 years The Kenyon Review has publishing, they are putting out credos from writers who have been previously been published within their pages. In the current issue, they invite George Saunders to contribute his credo, to which he starts, "I don't know that I really have a credo, unless it's 'Trust the process.'"

"For me, the process is to take some tiny scrap of text," he writes, "as unladen with 'meaning' or 'theme' or 'intention' as possible, and see what it wants me to do. The way I prompt it to tell me what to do is to revise it, and the means by which I revise it is, more or less, 'to ear.' I look at it, read it internally—and see how I feel about it. Often a slight rearrangement (a cut, a reordering, the insertion of a new phrase) will suggest itself instantaneously. Other times, a next sentence or small narrative beat will appear ('Oh, she should follow him into the store.') And I do mean 'appear'—ideally this next bit of text alteration or froward movement does not come willed, exactly00it arrives on its own, instantaneously, unstoppable. This is where the mystery comes in—from where do those strong impulses-to-improve come? ... This is also where a terrifying idea presents itself: the difference between a good writer and a so-so writer is the quality of these unwilled intuitions."

Read the rest in the Summer 2014 issue.
Published June 26, 2014
The latest issue of Freefall features the winners of the 2013 Annual Prose & Poetry Contest, judged this year by Marina Endicott.

1st Place: Marlene Grand Maitre “Slip the Knot”
2nd Place: Patricia Young “Too Many Guns in the House”
3rd Place: Patricia Young “Puzzle”
Honourable Mentions:
Cassy Welburn “A Kindness of Bees”
Wendy Donawa “About the Snow Queen: A Question for Hans Christian Anderson”
Alec Whitford “Nameless Creek”

1st Place: Hermine Robinson “Tipping House”
2nd Place: Paddy Scott “The Bull of Heaven”
3rd Place: Theanna Bischoff “Pear”
Published June 27, 2014
Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their April Very Short Fiction Award. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers for stories with a word count under 3000. The next Very Short Fiction competition will take place in July. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

First place goes to Julian Zabalbeascoa [pictured] of Boston, MA, wins $1500 for “Gernika.” His story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories.

Second place goes to David Abrams of Butte, MT, wins $500 for “A Little Bit of Everything.”

Third place goes to Meghan Pipe of Minneapolis, MN, wins $300 for “Contingencies.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.

Deadline soon approaching! Fiction Open: June 30
Glimmer Train hosts this competition quarterly, and first place is $2500 plus publication in the journal. This category has been won by both beginning and veteran writers - all are welcome! There are no theme restrictions. Word count generally ranges from 2000 – 8000, though up to 20,000 is fine. Click here for complete guidelines.
Published June 27, 2014
Cimarron Review's front cover message states, "Don't worry, nothing is wrong everything is fine, seriously." It's very tongue-in-cheek as right below the message is a tank of dead sea animals. This piece, along with the image on the back cover ("Keep up the good work" alongside a dead flower), are excerpts from Kat Eng's comic Everything is Fine.


Room's cover features Jade Hill's Dancing with Fire, digital documentation of a fire poi performance. "I take inspiration from the beauty I may find present in all circumstances," she writes, "and from the relationship between life and myself."


Green Blotter's 2014 issue features cover art by Dylan Rigg. I'm not entirely sure what to think of this cartoon elephant headed man, but it has me thinking, and that's the important part.

Published June 29, 2014
American Life in Poetry: Column 483

The poems of Leo Dangel, who lives in South Dakota, are known for their clarity and artful understatement. Here he humbly honors the memory of one moment of deep intimacy between a mother and her son.

In Memoriam

In the early afternoon my mother
was doing the dishes. I climbed
onto the kitchen table, I suppose
to play, and fell asleep there.
I was drowsy and awake, though,
as she lifted me up, carried me
on her arms into the living room,
and placed me on the davenport,
but I pretended to be asleep
the whole time, enjoying the luxury—
I was too big for such a privilege
and just old enough to form
my only memory of her carrying me.
She’s still moving me to a softer place.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Leo Dangel from his most recent book of poems, Saving Singletrees, WSC Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Leo Dangel and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
Published June 30, 2014
The Broadsided art/poetry collaboration for July features "A Poem by Brian McGuigan," which is actually a poem by Kate Lebo, and art by Sarah Van Sanden The website features a collaborators' Q&A, in which Artist Sarah Van Sanden notes, "The poem immediately evoked the yin/yang symbol for me and everything followed that lead by drawing forms from the poem." Poetry lovers and those who simply love postering the neighborhoods are encouraged to download the broadside and "vectorize" your quadrant! Also of interest, it would seem Kate Lebo is something of a pie aficionado. Check out her Pie School, "a cliche busting pastry academy."
Published June 30, 2014
Paula Carter writes that, "live nonfiction storytelling is hitting a nerve. Audiences are showing up all over the country, and even more are listening online, looking to enjoy some real-life struggle vicariously—or, for that matter, to tell their ow personal stories. As the scene continues to grow, it is becoming clear that this is a golden age of storytelling, and it is something to relish—maybe even to love." This is part of her contribution to a section in the current issue of Creative Nonfiction called "Under the Umbrella: Getting Intimate with a Crowd of Strangers."

Creative nonfiction doesn't have to just be on paper. Carter explains it this way: "Like the narrative nonfiction essay, live stories reveal the truths of who we are. They air the unspoken, make fun of idiosyncrasies, and demonstrate our common humanity. Unlike at a comedy show, or even a theater production, audiences are asked to connect directly with the person on stage. Spectators fail and fall in love and overcome obstacles along with the storytellers. We see ourselves in the stories. We've been there."

In the next section, Graham Shelby takes us on stage with him as he goes through the experience of performing at The Players, The Moth Mainstage: "My story will be recorded and maybe someday broadcast to the roughly one million weekly listeners of The Moth Radio Hour," he writes. Shelby tells us that there is something very rewarding with this type of nonfiction:

"I love writing. I do. But it can be isolating. When we're writing in our rooms, it's easy for our eventual readers, unknown in name or number, to remain abstract. So easy to focus on what we want, rather than what they need. Live storytelling never lets you forget about the audience. The form offers one more gift, as I see it, one that springs from the very aspects of storytelling that sometimes keeps writers away: it's public, it's interactive, and you have to go somewhere to do it. Sometimes, if you're lucky, that means you leave the house with one story, but you come home with two."

Both pieces are insightful and great reads. Editor Lee Gutkind writes in his opening note, "Storytelling is our oldest, most powerful art form; we use it to entertain, to inform, and to inspire. A good story can change the world. That is what his issue is all about."

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