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Denise Hill

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jean ryan"Alabama for Beginners," Jean Ryan's featured essay in a recent issue of bioStories caught my attention; as the editor describes it, "a love letter to her new home and the unexpected welcome she has found there."

Ryan moved from San Francisco to Lilian, Alabama where she hopes her "modest savings will last longer" and she and her wife will "unearth the gay community—there must be one, some brave little enclave waiting for reinforcements." But then, "On deeper reflection," she continues, "maybe there is no enclave here, no separate community at all. Maybe these pockets are going the way of gay bars, no longer needed in this age of sexual fluidity, borders and labels all slipping away—now there’s a happy thought." (I'm hoping those happy thoughts with you!)

As I age, I also consider other places to resettle, and for anyone who is contemplating a move, this essay of discovering a new place - especially one so different in so many ways - was a nudge of encouragement. Learning the people, the places, the flora and the fauna, and, most essentially, the rediscovery of your own being amid a new environment:

"Each morning my wife and I have coffee on the back patio and watch the sun come up through the pines. As we often come out before dawn, I sweep a flashlight beam across the cement, making sure we don’t step on something that, like us, is not looking for any trouble, just a place to call home. The other day I saw a black wasp fly out of a small hole in the frame of my deck chair, reminding me of the swallows next door that made a nest in the open sewer pipe of the home under construction. You can find at least three wide-eyed frogs perched inside my hose reel box any time you lift the lid. Not for a minute does even the smallest crevice go to waste. There is panic in the air, the hum of a million creatures trying to stay alive."

bioStories is an online pubiication of nonfiction that publishes a new feature every week then collects them into two semiannual issues.

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abagail becastroAn online journal "dedicated to short fiction," Fiction Southeast features a monthly series of articles under the label of "Suggestions & Advice for Writers." Recent essays include "On Writing" by Devin Matthews, "Death of the Short Story" by G. D. McFegridge, "I Denigrate Myself" by Evan Dunsky, "A Time for Fantasy" by Abagail Becastro [pictured], and "On The Artistic Temperament and a Writer's Need for Privacy" by Pamelyn Casto.

Fiction Southeast essays/articles section also includes Writers Talking About Writing, which features author interviews, "The Story Behind the Story" and "Why I Write." Other sections are Conference/Residency Spotlight, Developing a Writing Life, Editing/Publishing, Fiction & Culture, Reading Lists, Reviews, and the most unique essay grouping: Storytelling in Contemporary Video Games.

A lot going on for writers in this publication!

Silver Lining Poetry

January 03, 2019
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mom egg reviewIn addition to the print annual, Mom Egg Review, offering "the best literary writing about mothers and motherhood," also offers readers MER VOX, an online quarterly of creative writing, interviews, craft essays and more that focus on "motherhood and on the life experiences of women." The December 2018 installment, Silver Linings, is one I think we can all appreciate, as Editors Jennifer Martelli and Cindy Veach introduce it:

"Since the 2016 election, the news has been mostly terrible. Both online and offline we have been barraged 24/7 by an overwhelming level of toxicity. We’d like to offer our readers a respite, however brief. For our December folio, we’re featuring poems that celebrate silver linings wherever they may be found: in those we love, in nature, in literature, in sisterhood, in memory."

Featured poets include: Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Jen Karetnick, Allia Abdullah-Matta, Catherine Esposito Prescott, Radhiyah Ayobami, Julia Lisella, and Keisha Molby-Baez.

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solstice winter 2019The Winter 2019 issue of Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices online is dedicated to reviews and interviews, from authors of a wide range of genres. Included in the issue are interviews with Ana Jelnikar, Genia Blum, Serina Gousby, Tenzin Dickie, Jennifer Martelli, and Adriana Páramo, and reviews of Then Again  by Ben Berman, Bad Harvest  by Dzvinia Orlowsky, Rewilding  by January Gill O’Neil, The Raincoat Colors  by Helena Minton.

Cover photography, in addition to a portfolio inside this issue, by Keith Flynn, which documents "the effects of the Great Recession on the individual lives of people living in Appalachia, within a 75 mile radius of Asheville, North Carolina."

Subprimal Final Issue?

January 04, 2019
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victor david sandiegoBased on Editor Victor David Sandiego's intro commentary, it sounds like the Winter 2018 issue of Subprimal will be its last: ". . . this is the final issue of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music, at least for a while. I have decided to take a hiatus from publishing Subprimal for 2019, and – with truth to be told – perhaps forever. It’s been a lot of fun during the last five years connecting with so many wonderful authors and artists, but I want to spend more time concentrating on my own work."

If you've not given this publication a look, do it now while you can. The time and effort put into visual and audio is astonishing. Not only do authors read their own works, but Sandiego creates musical compositions to accompany them. It's one of the most unique publications I've experienced in my time with NewPages. While I'm sorry to see Subprimal cease, I wish Victor the best and look forward to seeing where his creative energies lead him!

Good Story Checklist?

December 27, 2018
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terry kennedyThe Greensboro Review Editor Terry L. Kennedy writes in his introduction to issue #104 about trying to determine what makes "a good story" and the idea of creating a checklist for submissions:

"A checklist for 'a good story' might make my editorial deliberations easier, but it wouldn't be good for my staff or for the magazine. And I'm not so sure readers really want exact restrictions on a story, not anymore. What if a story has a memorable setting but there's no plot, nothing happens? A la Seinfeld. Where does that leave us? There are too many intangible aspects with which to blur the lines. . . I guess what I'm working my way around to is this: it's not that I'm incapable of creating a checklist as that I don't really believe, in my editorial heart of hearts, that I should. In the end, the best stories might just be the ones that do the things we thing a short story writer shouldn't attempt. But by doing them well, they win our hearts and make us shout, 'This one; this is the one!'"

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jennifer barberAfter twenty-six years as editor-in-chief of Salamander, Suffolk University's literary journal, Jennifer Barber has announced she is "stepping down to pursue other projects."

"The magazine will continue to be housed in and nourished by the Suffolk University English Department," she assures readers. The spring/summer 2019 issue will be guest edited, and any further information about future issues will be announced in the fall issue.

Our best wishes to Jennifer as she embarks on her new live adventures!

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jennifer bullisWith each new issue of its online poetry journal, Under a Warm Green Linden issues one of the poems as their featured broadside, signed by the author, available for purchase.

Regular readers know I'm a sucker for signed broadsides, and these are no exception. They are gorgeous, quality prints on solid stock and carefully packaged for secure shipping. I own every one in this series and FULL DISCLOSURE: I have paid for every one. This is NOT an ad, but an honest "I LOVE THESE and want to share this with you" post.

"Narcissus on the Hunt" by Rachel Bullis can be read here (Issue 6, Winter 2018), and was particularly striking to me as a teacher of mythology. I will definitely be sharing this one with my students.

The journal is free to read online; the broadsides cost $10 each or 3 for $25 with proceeds going to support Under a Warm Green Linden's Green Mission reforestation efforts. To date, the publication has "planted 205 trees in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Forest Foundation."

Asymptote for Educators

December 21, 2018
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asymptote fall 2018With each new quarterly issue, Asymptote online publication of poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction, interviews, and translations offers "an educator’s guide for those wanting to teach pieces from that issue. Each guide offers a thematic breakdown of that issue’s content, relevant information about the context of various pieces, and possible discussion questions and exercises."

The guides offer lesson plans on topics which incorporate the pieces from the issue, indicating appropriate learner level (middle school, high school, upper-level high school, college/undergraduate, etc.) as well as discipline when applicable (such as AP History, Beginner French Students).

Asymptote also invites educators to "Lend a Hand" assisting with pedagogy and feedback on the lessons provided.

ARC Poetry Walks

December 20, 2018
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arc walkApproached by Canada's Arc Poetry Magazine, with a grant from the Community Foundation, rob mclennan created four, hour-long literary walks - Arc Poetry Walks - that take participants on a tour of several Ottawa neighborhoods, each featuring poetry-related sites. Following each IRL event, mclennan posted the text from the walk on his blog along with photos and related links. Above/Ground Press created a broadside "poem handout" for each event. A great resource for those interested in learning more about Ottawa literary culture/history, and a helpful blueprint for others who might be interested in replicating this kind of event. [Photo by Chris Johnson]
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