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Denise Hill

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According to writer Amina Gautier in the September Glimmer Train Bulletin (#92):

amina gautierRevision is the kick in the pants that propels the writer out of complacence, jars him from the euphoria that tends to come when he thinks he's completed something. Revision is the inevitable and necessary faceoff between one's lazy writer self who defends the good enough draft, "This sentence / passage / description / scene / character is fine the way it is" and one's higher writing self who argues, "Yes, it's good enough and it says what I want, but does it say it in the right way? Does it say it in the best way"

Read the whole craft essay here: Joy of Revision (yes, Joy!).

Keeping Rejection Classy

September 04, 2014
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carveCarve Magazine takes the "Classy" award for their treatment of works their own editors have rejected. REJECT! is a regular feature in the Carve Premium Edition (lots of free content online, but some is only in the paid-for premium edition - a move that seems quite fair, actually, so don't kvetch). In it, the publication features an author whose work Carve readers had previously rejected but was selected for publication elsewhere.

Their reason for doing this beyond an exercise in pure humility? To show how NORMAL rejection is, how editors preferences can indeed be "subjective and varied," and to actually encourage writers to keep trying if they want to be successful.

The latest issue features feedback the Carve reading committee had provided to author Lynn Levin, her response to the feedback, and an excerpt of her story, "A Visit to the Old House," which was subsequently published in Rathalla Review, Spring 2014. The notes include when the story was rejected and whether or not the author had revised the piece.

I applaud Carve for providing such a constructively cool feature in their publication. So often, rejections leave writers disheartened and bitter toward the very community in which they wish to participate. This approach provides a unique perspective from the editors and publishers that is both humbling as well as encouraging, upping the conversation from ranting to professional.

Thanks, Carve, for keeping it classy!
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new-england-review-v35-n2-2014New England Review poetry editor C. Dale Young will be leaving the publication's masthead after the next issue (35.3), closing out nineteen years with NER. That issue, the editors promise, will be a memorable one in honor of Young's legacy.

Joining the publication in her new role as international correspondent is Ellen Hinsey, based in Paris since 1987. Hinsey will be "looking to make connections between authors and translators, editors and readers. She keeps her ear to the ground and her eye on the bigger picture."

And behind the scenes, Middlebury College has had great success in establishing an Editor's Fund in honor of Stephen Donadio's twenty years as editor. The fund will help to offset annual expenses.
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big fiction thumbThe most recent issue of Big Fiction (No. 6) features the winners of the 2014 Knickerbocker Prize, selected by David James Poissant. Poissnat provides an introduction to the winners: Alan Sincic, first place for his novella "The Babe" and Margaret Luongo, second place for her novella "Three Portraits of Elaine Shapiro."

Big Fiction publishes long-form fiction in a twice yearly print publication, paying $100 and six copies for selected works, and $500/$250 +publication for contest winners.
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The newest issue of Paterson Literary Review (#42) features the 2013 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award winners, including the full list of honorable mentions and editor's choice selections. In the top tier:

paterson-literary-reviewFIRST PRIZE (shared)
Svea Barrett, Fair Lawn, NJ
Grace Cavalieri, Annapolis, MD

Charles H. Johnson, Hillsborough, NJ
Carolyn Pettit Pinet, Bozeman, MT

Alice Jay, Miami, FL

More information about the prize as well as the full list of winners can be found here.
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first-lineSince 1999, The First Line magazine has been issuing the starting point for writers to engage their creativity and publishing the finished works to share with readers the many different directions writers can take when given the same start point. After so long a successful run of sharing first lines (like the one for the next issue: "We went as far as the car would take us."), The First Line is ready to mix it up a bit.

The Last Line is an "experiment" to see how writers respond to using the prompt as the final sentence of the story. The guidelines are the same (300-5000 words), and the editors will publish selected works in a December issue. If it seems to go well, there may be more in store for last line writers and readers. The experimental last line: "Brian pocketed the note and realized it had all been worth it."

Start the creative engines and put it in reverse! Submissions are due October 1, 2014.

Bonus: The editors are looking for a creative cover idea for The Last Line issue. Visit their website here.
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Twice annually, The Southeast Review Writer's Regimen is a 30-day set of emails containing daily writing prompts, a daily reading-writing exercise, a Riff Word of the Day, a Podcast of the Day, a Quote of the Day, craft talks, weekly messages from poets and writers - tips and warnings on the craft and business of writing, a dedicated Writer's Regimen contest for a chance to have work published, a print copy of a current or back issue, and access to the online literary companion.

Gees! Is that enough?! All  for only $15 starting October 1.

It's like boot camp for writers! Teachers: This could BE your class for the month! Students: What a great way to supplement your classes! Writers: Make October your best month by signing up now!
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masters-reviewNow in its third volume, The Masters Review is a collection of ten stories from students in graduate-level creative writing programs across the country (MFA, MA, PhD). Selected by such well-known authors as Lauren Groff (Volume I), AM Homes (Volume II), previously featured authors have gone on to publish novels, short story collections, and win awards, including a Nelson Algren Award finalist, an Academy of American Poets Prize winner, and a Fulbright Fellow. Many have gone on to continue their publishing in literary journals nation wide.

Volume III, with stories selected by Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author and Times book critic, includes Drew Ciccolo (Rutgers-Newark University College; MFA), Amanda Pauley (Hollins University; MFA), Eric Howerton (University of Houston; PhD), Maya Perez (Michener Center for Writer; MFA), Shane R. Collins (Stonecoast University of Southern Maine; MFA), Courtney Kersten (University of Idaho; MFA), Meng Jin (Hunter College; MFA), Joe Worthen (University of North Carolina Wilmington; MFA), Andrew MacDonald (University of Massachusetts Amherst; MFA), Dana Xin (University of Montana; MFA).

In addition to its annual anthology, The Masters Review also accepts submissions year round for its regular online feature New Voices. This is open to any new or emerging author who was not published a work of fiction or narrative nonfiction of novel length. Fiction or narrative nonfiction up to 5000 words accepted for New Voices pays .10/word up to $200 with no submission fee.
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WP 20140907 006It was another great year for the August Poetry Postcard Festival! Organized by west coast poet and teacher Paul E. Nelson, over 300 people from a dozen countries signed up to write a postcard a day and send it to someone in the month of August.

As of today, I've received 22 postcards of the 31 expected. I imagine a few more will trickle in, considering the countries they are coming from may take a bit longer, and, well, if some were like me, that 'poem a day' promise might have slipped a bit. I did send a couple out a few days into September.

But I did send all 31! And it's an amazing feeling to be doing it, struggling to do it some days (maybe a few times even resenting the guilt feeling when I didn't do it), and when it's all done, feeling a bit forlorn.

The premise is simple but challenging: put a poem on a postcard and send it. Postcards aren't that big, so it's not that much to write. Still, the intention is to just sit and write daily - a necessity writers understand as such but still seem to struggle with as if some kind of luxury.

My own poems came to me in two ways. On my morning walks, I might see something that would cause me to reflect on the image and feeling in language, or a line would simply jump into my head, like this one: "It was summer when you said you would..." That's not a line that has any connection to anything in my life, it was just language that formed that thought and then became the poem about broken promises. As soon as I got home from my walk, I'd be jotting down lines, then rummaging for a postcard and getting it down as a poem.

The other way the poems came to me was simply sitting down with the postcard and writing using the image on the card as a kind of prompt. Sometimes I wrote on the front of the card right on the image, sometimes on the back. But it was from my mind to the pen to the paper. The only editing I did happened when I reread the poem and would scribble out or correct a mistake, or simply try to make the writing more legible.

I type up and save all of the poems I write. I make note of who I sent them to and the date as well as any notes about the card that may have prompted the poem. Going back and rereading these for the past seven years is a fun reflection. There's some really bad poetry in there, and yet, there's some pretty good stuff too.

And what else I have is a box of great poetry from other writers. I love going back through those cards, from so many people from so many countries. Some were famous then, some have become famous since. Some are unsigned and I'll never know who wrote them. But all of them are truly wonderful works - not just as poetry, good or bad, but in knowing there are so many others out there who would do this. Who would take time from their day to get themselves to write and to share. It's an amazingly warm and comforting experience to feel this kind of connection with total strangers. But then, isn't that the power of poetry? Of poets?

I'm happy to have completed PPF 2014 and appreciative of all the others who did the same. I look forward to this event every year. Huge thanks to Paul Nelson for taking it over.

See you in August 2015!
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tin-house-v16-n1-fall-2014The most recent issue of Tin House (v16 n1), themed "Tribes," features an essay in the Readable Feast section by Roxane Gay, "The Island We Are: At Home with Food." The quote line the magazine chose was "When you are overweight in a Haitian family, your body is a family concern." That caught my interest (well, and of course, it's Roxane Gay for cripes sake), but what stuck with me throughout her piece was the repetition of 'loving, and loving hard':

"We talk about our lives. We debate and try to solve the world's problems. We are a holy space. We love each other hard."

Following the "overweight" quote, Gay writes: "Everyone - siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandmotehrs, cousins - has an opinion, judgement, or counsel. They mean well. We love hard, and that love is inescapable."

"They want to help. I accept this, or I try to."

"As I eat the foods of my childhood prepared by my own hand, I am filled with longing, as well as a quiet anger that has risen from hard love and good intentions."

Her writing is a mirror of that: subtle, persistent in keeping you reading, and hard hitting in its meaning, which isn't at all sneaky. It's there throughout, and you can't help but to keep reading it, wanting to be a part of it, loving it.

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