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Denise Hill

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Famous last words quiz on Christian Science Monitor challenges you to match closing words from literature with their novel titles and authors. I hate these quizzes! I love these quizzes!

And when you're done with that one, try What do you know about Asian literature?

The University of Texas' literary archive said it paid $2.2 million for the works of Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a price the school sought to keep secret until ordered to make it public by the state attorney general's office.

Ten musicians fueled by existentialism
: Nice to see one of my all-time favorites listed.

Authors Colin Winnette and Jeremy M. Davies, both creators of unreliable narrators, discuss Who's the Greatest Unreliable Narrator in Literature? (I don't know? Can we trust them?)

Patrick McCarthy has edited an edition of a once-lost novel by Malcolm Lowry, In Ballast of the White Sea. Peter Robb of the Ottawa Citizen talks with McCarthy about how the book was brought before the public, starting off with, "Why does Malcolm Lowry matter still?"

Heading to Bath anytime soon? The Independent has some travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours.

Finally: Scientists determine the nation's safest places to ride out a zombie apocalypse.
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The Prism Review has announced the winning entries for their annual short story and poetry prizes.

matthew-di-paoliFiction judge Sean Bernard selected Matthew Di Paoli [pictured] of New York, NY, who wins $250 for "Sweeping Glass." His stories have appeared in multiple journals, and he currently teaches at Monroe College.

Poetry judge Jen Hofer selected JLSchneider of Ellenville, NY, who wins $250 for "Your Place, Now." His poems have also appeared in numerous journals, and he is a carpenter and adjunct professor in upstate New York.

Both pieces will be published in Issue 17 of Prism Review, which is still accepting and considering submissions for its forthcoming issue. Past authors in Prism Review include Brandom Som, Elizabeth Robinson, Jessica Hollander, and many more (and Prism pays all contributing authors).

The Prism Review fiction and poetry prize for 2016 will begin accepting submissions in August 2015.
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"Slow" is the theme of the most recent issue of North Dakota Quarterly (v80.2). In their introduction, guest editors Rebecca Rozelle-Stone and William Caraher discuss the "wide range of experiences that fall under that heading," including slow as "a romanticized glorification of a supposedly 'simpler,' more thoughtful and more deliberate past, engaging concepts like Paul Virilio's "picnolepsy," the digital "information age," Nietzsche and existential anxiety, and how the slow movement has expanded "to embody a popular interest in slowing down the pace of modern life."

We have created both a celebration and a pedagogy of slowness in our lives, the editors write, and Anne Kelsch's essay on the Slow Teaching movement "attempts to balance the conscientious and deliberate pace of craft against the industrial expectations of the modern university." With the many battles I face daily on my own work front in higher education, and no doubt more to come with "free college," I was drawn to Kelsch's essay, hoping for some wizened argument from which to draw my next round of ammunition. War and Slow seem to be the two metaphors at work here, while the philosophy of modern education, and the whole concept of the liberal arts education that have come under scrutiny.

The university, like the two-year college, if not feeling already, soon will: How quickly and cheaply can you "educate" students to prepare them for a good-paying job? In essence, the college education is being replaced by job training. "Free College" will only be free as long as every credit counts toward graduation (and a job) and with fewer and fewer credits (I've recently learned the 62 previously allowed for federally funded two-year graduation will be dropping to 60).

This year, I continue a six-year-long fight with an administration that wants to see our four-hour Composition I class reduced to three hours, despite the fact that students are coming in less prepared and the fact that our state college-to-university transfer agreement now only requires one semester of composition instead of two (a total of four hours instead of seven, and now administration wants three instead of seven, all in the name of fiscal responsibility to our stakeholders - sound familiar?). One administrator argued that if we can't have the same success in fewer hours, then we're not very good teachers.

Seriously. We need to Slow. This. Down.

In her essay "Slow Teaching: Where the Mindful and the Modern Meet," Anne Kelsch writes of that introductory level classes are "typically crammed with an overwhelming range of content" and students do not see this "formal learning" as equating to "wisdom." And now we are being told to do even more with less. Kelsch draws connections with Romanticism and the Slow Movement: "Both intend to mitigate the negative effects of that change and to mold the human response to it. Both seek to restore a sense of wholeness to the human condition by recapturing what is being lost."

Kelsch draws from a number of educators, writers, and theorists in her essay: Mark Bauerlein, Geir Berthelse, Tara Brabazon, Nicholas Carr, L. Dee Fink, Bruce Hammond, Jim Hold, Carl Honore, Bob Cole and Jennifer Russell and many more. She explores the thread of Slow Learning and technology and high-impact practices.

One profound connection Kelsch makes is between George Kuh and Chun-Mei Zhao's research on learning communities that found "When faculty and institutions intentionally foster engagement, 'the learning is deeper, more personally relevant and becomes part of who the student is, not something the students has'" and Daniel Chambliss's and Christopher Takacs's study, How College Works, in which "they concluded that personal relationships with professors and peers were decisive in determining collegiate success. Their research established that a positive relationship with even one faculty member has a profound impact."

Slow Teaching addresses sustainability, Kelsch writes, "both in having students value it as a goal and in terms of sustaining life-long learning, rather than just producing graduates. Ultimately, Slow Teaching implies a critique of our current system of credits and degrees with its focus on what students have passed rather than what they have learned."

Keslch then quotes Tara Brabazon: "Simply because a curriculum is compressed into semesters, passed through validation protocols, squeezed into subject benchmark templates and signed off through show-trial external examination boards does not mean that life-changing education has been created."

But, what good is all that learning if it doesn't get someone a job? That's the line I hear in my everyday. Especially if the government is paying for it, since a good percentage of our students are Pell Grant recipients. Free College may sound great on the surface, but scratch that, and I think what we'll see is the start of two distinct tiers of education. Job Training and Higher Education that aims to educate the Whole Person, as Kelsch says the Slow movement will do, with a "genuine desire that students learn in ways that are more meaningful and enjoyable. . . striving to ensure. . . students get what they need in order to live more fulfilled lives."

Like in so many facets of our culture, I fear that this may be a reaffirmation of the Matthew Prinicple, a continuation of some-will-have and some-will-have-not. Which leaves us teachers as it always has, fighting for what we know is right against all fiscal odds.
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This cover photo of Caketrain #12 is "Kingdom of Heaven" by Yonca Karakas Demirel, more of whose work can be found here on his tumblr site. And if you wonder if the cover is refelctive of the contents, you can find out for yourself in a generous 54-page exerpt of the print magazine offered online.

I simply appreciated the simple senitiment on this cover of Apt issue #5. Apt publishes "continously" online, but also offers print publications - holding to their love of long fiction. This issue features only five stories on its 208 pages. There's still enough winter left to sink into this one and enjoy it.

This cover art by Erkembode on Gigantic Sequins 6.1 just made me smile. Sometimes that's all it takes.
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I'm going for warm colors here, as once again it is snowing, blowing and below zero windchill outside. This front cover image of Off the Coast (Winter 2015) is "Indigo Meditation" by Iryna Lialko. The issue's theme "Get You Some Wings" comes from a Clint Smith poem included within.
I love this hypnotic design on the cover of CutBank #82. The image comes from with a bit of artistic manipulation by Art Editor Meghan O'Brien.
Parcel Fall/Winter 2014 features artwork by Juliana Romana, both on the cover (which opens to a full front/back of this oil painting to include one more young girl sitting at the foot of the bed) and within with several full-color images. Also included in this issue is a cool print by Giant Pancake, a screen print studio. The design looks a bit like the iconic reindeer sweater needlework, only with a skull and crossbones, tie fighter, and a hot air balloon "stitched" in.

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big-muddy-dogsI'm not sure what it is, but in the most recent batch of lit mags coming through NewPages World Headquarters I've found a recurring subject: Dogs.

Grasslimb starts with the short story "To the Dogs" by Kurt Newton on its front page.

The Hollins Critic features "The Dogs of Literature - Seymour Krim: Bottom Dogs, Part II."

The cover of Big Muddy: A Journal of the Missippii River Valley features a sweet pair of hounddoggies in a photo by Wes Anderson on its cover.

And finally, Barking Sycamores. Okay, it's not about dogs at all, but I coudn't help but make the connection. It's a unique publication I covered in this blog post.
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sinister-wisdom-posterTo celebrate its upcoming 40th anniversary, Sinister Wisdom is offering a commemorative poster to donors. Sinister Wisdom is the multicultural lesbian literary and art journal founded in 1976 with Editors Harriet Ellenberger (aka Desmoines) and Catherine Nicholson. The poster reads, "We needed more to read on, feed on, more writing to satisfy our greedy maws."

Current Editor Julie R. Enszer writes in the recent issue's introduction: "When I first started as an editor of Sinister Wisdom, my sole focus was on keeping Sinister Wisdom alive. I wanted the journal to survive; I wanted the journal to live to carry the dreams and ideas of lesbians into the future. Today, almost five years later, I still am aware of the precarious nature of all lesbian-feminist projects (I do not think that we can ever believe our work and our institutions will last forever, that we can ever become complacent about the things that we value), but I feel more assured about the journal's survival and about my role as editor."

I couldn't agree with Enszer more - that we need to stay actively engaged in those things we value. Supporting Sinister Wisdom through subscription and/or donation for the poster is a step away from that complacency. For forty years past and many more in the future.

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American Life in Poetry: Column 519

Many of us have built models from kits—planes, ships, cars. Here's Robert Hedin, a Minnesota poet and the director of The Anderson Center at Tower View in Red Wing, trying to assemble a little order while his father is dying.

Raising the Titanic

I spent the winter my father died down in the basement,
under the calm surface of the floorboards, hundreds

of little plastic parts spread out like debris
on the table. And for months while the snow fell

and my father sat in the big chair by the Philco, dying,
I worked my way up deck by deck, story by story,

from steerage to first class, until at last it was done,
stacks, deck chairs, all the delicate rigging.

And there it loomed, a blazing city of the dead.
Then painted the gaping hole at the waterline

and placed my father at the railings, my mother
in a lifeboat pulling away from the wreckage.

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 Robert Hedin from his most recent book of poems, The Light Under the Door, (Red Dragonfly Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Robert Hedin and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 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.
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tahoma-literary-reviewNow in its second issue, Tahoma Literary Review is a publication of poetry, fiction and nonfiction based in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Published three times per year, TLR is available in print, PDF, epub and Kindle formats. In addition to these print and electronic editions, TLR offers featured readings by contributors via Soundcloud.

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daniel-tordayDaniel Torday, Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College, shares his insight on writing monsters: "A number of years ago I encountered a workshop where, all at once, every one of the very talented writers I was working with seemed to want to write only fantastical short stories about monsters. Story after story came into workshop containing not just monsters, but the most fantastical of monsters: vampires who could fly and suck blood and seduce. Wolfmen who were as hirsute as the hirsutest of all wolves. Dragons that breathed fire and stole princesses and encountered hobbits. It was in a moment of desperation that, together with the most self-searching writers in that group, finding their stories needed something—but what?—we came up with a tool we called "The Monster Scale.'"

Read the rest in Glimmer Train Bulletin #98, a free monthly of craft essays.

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