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Denise Hill

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open-minds-quarterlyOpen Minds Quarterly is a publication whose content continually and consistently packs some of the hardest-hitting writing I've ever read, with its unabashed focus on the poetry and literature of mental health recovery. The Summer 2014 issue is no exception, with one feature in particular that might well strike a deep chord with many of our readers: "An Open Letter to the MFA" by Hannah Baggott. Written in the epistolary style, Baggott addresses the stresses and pressures MFA students face in their programs. While often told to "take care of yourself first," Baggott confronts the contradictory nature the expectations of such programs foster. "Our workshop leader last term said you have to be sad to write well. This is the fallacy that you keep perpetuating." Baggot is "happy" in her program and "would not choose a different path," but she does offer some advice that if the MFA programs themselves won't follow, then the individuals in them should seriously consider how to better "take care."
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you-must-remember-this-webMichael Bazzett, winner of the Milkweed Editions 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, will have his collection of poems, You Must Remember This, published in November 2014. Pre-orders at a reduced price are being taken now on the Milkweed website. Bazzett will be reading at the Minneapolis Central Library on November 11 at 7:00 pm.
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Ann Akhmatov PrintWhat happens when you send artwork to a writer and ask them simply to "respond"? Pea River Journal Editor Trish Harris found out after creating four original linocut and woodblock print portraits of famous authors and sending them to writers with no requirements whatsoever except: respond. So far the series of 12 includes four authors: Ann Akhmatova, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, and Emily Dickinson. Ten of each, signed and numbered copies, are sent out "into the world," with a new release of ten planned every few weeks. As the responses come in, PRJis sharing them for readers here. Respondents thus far include Ab Davis, Laura Esckelson, Anthony Martin, John G. Rodwan, Jr., Edward Hunt, Corey Mesler, Jose Padua, Leslie Anne Mcilroy, Timothy Kenny, and Heather Hallberg Yanda.
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Writer Beware®: The Blog is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with additional support from the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association: "Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news and commentary, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world."

A recent post by Victoria Strauss is one that answers a question I have heard time and again: How Not to Seek a Literary Agent: The Perils of "Middleman" Services. Strauss begins: "I know I've written about this before [this links to a previous article]. But I'm seeing an increasing number of these kinds of 'services,' and they are all worthless."
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Paula Reiter, Mount Mary University, speaks in a video on "Creative Teaching Techniques: Flipping the Literature Classroom" addressing "the challenge of infusing the literature classroom with creative teaching techniques." Reiter notes, "I demonstrate how to 'flip' the classroom to make time for extended creative projects that involve students directly." Even more importantly, Reiter addresses the major concern/criticism of literature in our time: Why does this matter in my life?

Access this an numerous other pedagogy articles in Teaching College Literature, an online professional publication which is open to submissions, such as sample syllabi, advice on course planning and design, teaching tips, media (PowerPoint, video, etc.), as well as suggestions for links to resources including blogs, websites and media.
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After yet another season of school boards banning books most of them have never bothered to read for themselves (except, oddly enough, for all the naughty bits), Don Flood's commentary in the Cape Gazette provides a thoughtful response, exemplifying the professional respect librarians (and educators) deserve:
Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here, but it is my belief that librarians don’t choose their career out of a desire to destroy the minds and corrupt the values of our nation’s youth. They become librarians because of a deep, passionate interest in reading and education, a desire to help students develop into intelligent adults who think for themselves.
Read the rest here: Districts Should Take Advantage of Librarian's Expertise
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musicworksKeeping with its tagline, "Exploration in Sound," Musicworks truly does provide music "for curious ears." Based in Canada with subscription service to the US, each of the three issues per year includes a sampler CD of some truly unique music. In an almost overwhelming abundance of "new" to listen to from around the globe, Musicworks presentation is a helpful sifting of great art. Some of the tracks are available for listening on their website, but, for the truly ecclectic, two seconds into the first track on CD #119 (Jerusalem in My Heart - using buzuk, Analog Solutions Telemark synth, Oberheim two-voice synth and voice, and tape delay) should have you looking to have this publication delivered to your doorstep. As with any sampler, there may be some that don't quite suit, but that's what I love about samplers: the ability to try something completely new. There were a few I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to again - but I did enjoy them for the artistic quality and unique approach.

From their website: "For over thirty years Musicworks magazine has been dedicated to the development of new and passionate audiences for experimental music. Promoting both emerging and established experimental musicians, Musicworks features composers, improvisers, instrument designers, and artists who work in genres such as radio, electroacoustics, concert music, sound installation, and sound sculpture. This tri-annual magazine, along with its curated CDs, dynamic website and outreach programs creates an inclusive community within which to exchange and develop ideas, and tantalize curious listeners with adventurous music."
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114-AtomBombAugust's Broadsided Press collaboration, "Dear Atom Bomb," features a poem by Catherine Pierce and art by Ira Joel Haber:
". . . In Science class movies, you puffed men like microwaved marshmallows, raked blood from their insides, and always I could feel your heat like a massive cloak around my shoulders."
Edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, Sean Hill, Gabrielle Bates, Alexandra Teague, and Lori Zimmermann, Broadsided has been putting literature in the streets since 2005. Each month, a new broadside is posted both on the website and around the nation. Writing is chosen through submissions sent to Broadsided. Artists allied with Broadsided are emailed the selected writing. They then "dibs" on what resonates for them and respond visually - sometimes more than one artist will respond offering a selection of broadsides. Broadsided Vectors can download the poem in full color or black and white and poster it around town, campus, wherever! Become a Broadsided Vector today!
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Summer-Inspired Writing Prompts posted by Anca Szilagyi on the Ploughshares Blog includes short lists of prompts for five-minute prompts (#1 List all the scary things you associate with summer.), ten-minute prompts (#5 Describe the weirdest summer camp you can imagine.), and twenty-minute or longer prompts (#2 Write a story around the ideas of ripening and rotting.). There's still plenty of summer left to use these motivators, and bring an end to any summer writing procrastination!
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"I cannot abide a story told to me by a numb, empty voice that never responds to anything that’s happening, that doesn’t express some feelings in response to what it sees. Place is not just what your feet are crossing to get to somewhere. Place is feeling, and feeling is something a character expresses. More, it is something the writer puts on the page—articulates with deliberate purpose. If you keep giving me these eyes that note all the details—if you tell me the lawn is manicured but you don’t tell me that it makes your character both deeply happy and slightly anxious—then I’m a little bit frustrated with you. I want a story that’ll pull me in. I want a story that makes me drunk. I want a story that feeds me glory. And most of all, I want a story I can trust. I want a story that is happening in a real place, which means a place that has meaning and that evokes emotions in the person who’s telling me the story. Place is emotion."

From "Place" by Dorothy Allison, posted on the Tin House blog, originally published in The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House.
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