Reflecting on the 1974 publication Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers and the work of its editors, Frank Chin, Jeffrey Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, the Winter 2018 issue of The Massachusetts Review is an ambitious special issue dedicated to Asian American Literature: Rethinking the Canon.
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials [pictured] and Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, editors for this issue write in the introduction, "[. . . ] the present-day terrain of Asian American literature is characterized by a profound geopolitical diversity that encompasses to varying degrees and often divergent ends the multifaceted experiences of native-born, immigrant, and refugee subjects. Such diversity by way of location is matched by a complexity with regard to histories of racialization, war, displacement, and resettlement. Last, but certainly not least, as the work in this special Massachusetts Review issue makes abundantly clear, Asian American writing — despite conservative claims 'otherwise' — is an integral part of the U.S. literary canon." Read the full introduction here.
In addition to the full TOC, which can be seen here, the editors have included A Poetry Portfolio, "in the spirit of" poet Fanny Choi's address, "(B)Aiiieeeee!: The Future is Femme and Queer" (included in the issue). To the "cis-het male vision of Asian American literature," the editors offer: "this folio invokes a decidedly different Asian American poetic landscape than [. . . ] Aiiieeeee! Its expansive focus includes queer, femme, gender nonbinary, mixed race, refugee, and adoptee poets of East, South, Southeast, West and Central Asian descent; its poems span diverse aesthetics, intersectional politics, and contradictory subjectivities. The guiding impulse is not merely illuminatory or inclusive, but decolonial. It asks us to see not only the erased but the practice of erasure and our respective roles in undoing that canonical violence - what more responsible reading and publishing practices might look like."
In his essay "Dialogue: Something to Talk About," Gregory Wolos writes: "Like everything else in a work of fiction, quoted words and phrases are inventions created to serve the purposes of the author. Paradoxically, because the meaning behind spoken language may be subtle, understanding it might demand more, not less, of the reader."
"Playing the Odds" by Melissa Yancy [pictured] is a uniquely grounding and encouraging perspective on writers keeping their eye on their own hidden gems rather than the prizes of others: "We read author bios, convinced that Iowa, the Stegner, or the right borough in New York City will increase the odds. Then what is already in hand becomes currency that we trade in for that gamble."
Readers can access the most current as well as a full archive of the Glimmer Train Bulletin here.
Academic Program Director Frank Montesonti wrote to NewPages about the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at National University to share the interesting stories of some of National University’s military students/alumni. He notes, "About a fifth of our MFA program is active or former military, and some students have even taken our program while deployed overseas. I thought it would be nice to tell a couple of their stories while highlighting how military friendly our program is."
This second in a three-part series was written by current National University’s MFA creative writing program student Fabricio Correa. Read the first story here.
Weston Ochse '09
Weston Ochse spent thirty years in the military. The first five years was as a communications specialist who carried the combat radio. Then he transferred to intelligence where he stayed for the remainder of his career. He performed humanitarian operations in Bangladesh, was deployed in Afghanistan, and near cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His intense military experience helped him carve indelible characters.
Weston has been praised for his positive depiction of soldiers with PTSD, both at peace and at war. Weston writes, “Too often a PTSD sufferer is the crazy in the grocery store or the sniper on the tower. Such negative depictions do little to further the cause of PTSD. Those examples are extreme and represent what can happen if society fails a person. I’d rather write about a PTSD sufferer and describe how they got PTSD and what they are doing to deal with it. There’s a lot we can learn from such things.”
In Papua New Guinea, Weston lived one of the most challenging experiences. “It was me and six rascals. They all had machetes and hungry looks. All I had was a smile. I managed to talk them out of killing and eating me by talking about American television. They liked our TV. It’s probably what saved me.”
Weston attended an MFA program at National University. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, he has won the Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his collection of short stories, Appalachian Galapagos, as well as won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.
Weston says of war stories, “too often, those who write military fiction glorify the violence, creating nothing more than gun porn for the mouth-breathing crowd. The best ones write about the architecture of the human soul, and how war changes it, both for good and bad.” Weston delves deep into his stories to reveal what is under the surface. “It’s important to understand that each soldier, sailor, airman, or marine is someone’s mother, sister, brother, father, son, etc. They are not one-dimensional characters. They are all too real, and it’s important to relate how war changes them to those who haven’t experienced war.”
This is a guest post from National University’s MFA creative writing program student Fabricio Correa:
Military stories have engrossed readers and viewers worldwide, ranging from iconic films like A Thin Red Line to visceral books such as Black Hawk Down. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting – no matter the genre – we are shaken by the grit of reality and the hero’s quests for victory or survival.
A powerful tool in shaping the thoughts of a military fiction writer is a creative writing workshop. It provides a means to hone their writing craft and become part of a writing community.
Active-duty military and veterans can take advantage of many benefits in applying for a MFA program. National University accepts the GI Bill, the Fry Scholarship, the Spouse and Dependents Education Assistance, and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, and offers tuition reduction for active-duty military members. The MFA program has rolling admissions and is entirely online. This flexibility allows veterans as well as active duty service members to pursue a graduate degree.
Over the next several weeks, NewPages will feature three alumni who share their experiences in the military and at National University’s MFA in creative writing, a military-friendly MFA program entirely online.
Susan Caswell has been in the Army for twenty years, eighteen and a half on active duty. She was a direct commission as a chaplain. Most of her work is of a non-religious nature. She provides counseling to deal with combat and financial stress, relationship and medical issues, among other sensitive cases. Most of the service members are between the ages of 18-24, extremely young and away from the safety of their homes.
Susan is a writer of non-fiction. She says, “I write essays about experiences that haunt me. I feel some release when the experience is honored by putting it to paper.” Her short story “Three Hours and Forty-Nine Minutes” encapsulates the vulnerability of extreme situations. The story was featured in the GNU 2016 Summer Edition. “The feedback from my peers is invaluable. They help me understand what they can connect with, and what needs to be elaborated.”
The intensity of her experience can be felt in the nail-biting excerpt “A memory surfaces from my third deployment. I was in a chapel service in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2012. The sirens sounded just as the sermon started. Without missing a beat, Chaplain Vaughan reminded the congregation, ‘Lie down on the floor and protect your head with your hands.’”
As for the military writer being a powerful contributor to our society, Susan says, “I think my writing provides a window into the war. I write about the experiences that may not be reported in the press. People tell me that they have new insight into the war after reading my work.”
Just what fans of Jane Austen need: Our own society of Austen lovers!
Started by Henry G. Burke, J. David Grey, and Joan Austen-Leigh, the great-great grand niece of Jane, the Jane Austen Society of North America "is dedicated to the appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing. Join us in celebrating her life, her works, and her genius."
JASNA hosts a three-day conference each fall that includes lectures by Austen scholars and JASNA members, exhibits, workshops, and a banquet and Regency ball. Yes, a ball! Each year, the conference is themed with a reading list provided in advance.
The 2019 conference (200 Years of Northanger Abby: "Real Solemn History") will be held in Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia on October 4-6, and the 2020 conference (Jane Austen's Juvenilia: Reason, Romanticism, and Revolution) will be in Cleveland, Ohio, October 9-11.
In addition to the conference, JASNA publishes peer reviewed journals, a newsletter, book reviews, and holds an annual student essay contest. JASNA also has an International Visitor Support Program which provides a $3,250 fellowship to assist with travel and research expenses.
For more information, visit the JASNA website.
Issue 8 2018 of the West Coast Gold Man Review
Judged by Joshua Ferris
"Rules of Engagement" by Mi-Kyung Shin [pictured]
Judged by Chen Chen
“Church Board Interrogations” by Josh Tvrdy
Judged by Lacy M. Johnson
"Blessed Be the Longing that Brought You Here" by Jessie van Eerden
For a full list of honorable mentions in each category and judges' comments, click here.
The Fall/Winter 2018 issue of The Chattahoochee Review is themed on "Lost & Found." Editor Anna Schachner [pictured] writes in the editorial: "In many ways, this issue's special focus of 'Lost and Found' is an homage to the writing process itself - the many slivers of ourselves we concede when we write and the inevitable discovery via writing. That emphatic 'and' is important because it suggests an organic progression: that to lose something is to also create space to find something else, not just in writing, but in our thoughts, our expectations, our relationships. So many of the submissions we received seemed to concur, as did so many of the pieces ultimately chosen and featured herein."
Contributors include Cooper Casale, Margaret Diehl, John Hart, Lindsay Stuart Hill, Raina Joines, Timothy Krcmarik, David Rock, Sophia Stid, Brian Phillip Whalen, Jennifer Wheelock, Erica S. Arkin, John Brandon, Kieran Wray Kramer, Michele Ruby, Kevin Wilson, Ginger Eager, Jennifer Key, Caitlin McGill, Marilyn F. Moriarty, Raul Palma, and Rachel H. Palmer.
Again with the Concho River Review (Fall/Winter 2018) because, again, the cover image is gorgeous, while at the same time, a reminder of the dangerous power of nature. Tim L. Vasquez of Untamed Photography is becoming the most regularly featured artist for this column, and rightly so.