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Denise Hill

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Steven-Schwartz-1There's still time to submit conference papers, panel or roundtable proposals for the North American Review Bicentennial Creative Writing & Literature Conference, to be held June 11-14 at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls. Keynotes: Martín Espada, Patricia Hampl, and Steven Schwartz [pictured]. The conference will look back at the NAR's long and storied past while also looking to the future of the literary world as organizers bring together a wide range of writers, critics, artists, and teachers from around the country to share their work. You are invited to join the celebration! Deadline for proposals: February 22, 2015. For more information, visit the submissions page here.
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"100 Days of Summer" by poet and photographer Steve Lautermilch graces the cover of Cimarron Review's Fall 2014 issue. Images of summer are the perfect antidote to these remaining 100 days of winter.

fourteen-hillsBecause this cover made me look twice and then keep looking to really get the full sense of the image, Fourteen Hills 20.1-2015 makes the post. "Don Pepe" by Camilo Restrepo from the series Los Caprichos (2014) is ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, glue, newspaper clippings and saliva on paper. Yup. Saliva.

cahoodaloodalingFrom the online magazine, Cahoodaloodaling: "Our cover artist, Jenny Schukin, is a 20-year-old artist, born in Moscow, Russia, and currently residing in Israel. Mainly inspired by nature, mythology, and folk-tales, Jenny enjoys surreal, fantasy and animal themed artwork. Her preferred media is traditional and her tools of choice are watercolors, inks, and pencils. Jenny's plans for the near future include attending an art academy in the field of illustration." In a word: Gorgeous. More of her work is featured in the online issue.

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world-literature-todayI recommend reading World Literature Today cover-to-cover every issue, but if you need some extra incentive for the January-February 2015, here you go:

1. The article by J. Madison Davis: "The Idiotically Criminal Universe of the Brothers Cohen."

2. The special section of flash nonfiction featuring works by Brian Doyle, Josey Foo, Lia Purpura, Vikram Kapur, and Dmitry Samarov.

3. The "Suite of Contempory Ethiopean Poetry" with Misrak Terefe, Abebaw Melaku, Mihret Kebede, Eric Ellingsen, and David Shook.

And my two runner-ups: "Storytelling, Fake Worlds, and the Internet" by Elif Shafak and "Ping-Pong: or, Writing Together" by Sergio Pitol. And everything else in between. But I did say I would pick three to number.

Art :: Mequitta Ahuja

January 20, 2015
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georgia-reviewIn addition to the cover image, the Winter 2014 issue of The Georgia Review features what Editor Stephen Corey rightly refers to as "the striking art portfolio by Mequitta Ahuja" and notes this is the publication's "second-ever multi-panel foldout." This is both a generous and gorgeous dedication to artwork for journal readers to enjoy. Corey also footnotes the artwork introduction with this: "Mequitta Ahuja's Automythography marks The Georgia Review's first collaborative project with the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art Galleries. Sponsored by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, Ahuja will be in residence at the school from late January to early February 2015, and an exhibit of her work will be on display at the Dodd Galleries."
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salamander1Salamander #39 features the 2014 fiction prize winner judged by Jennifer Haigh: "Dimension" by Barrett Warner. Of his work, Haigh says it is a "coming-of-age tale turned inside out, the hit-and-run love story of an unlikely couple on the skids. Their ill-fated affair is sketched with marvelous economy, style , and verve. Wise, playful, startling in its insight, this is a story made of remarkable sentences laid end to end.'

 "When Desire Can't Find Its Object" by Margaret Osburn earned an honorable mention. Haigh writes that this work "depicts a meeting between old friends: a young draft dodger on a vision quest, and Iris, his best friend's mother, who is not long for this world. In supple, elastic prose, it telegraphs - in seven short pages - a curious love story, a brief interlude that illumines an entire life."

[Cover Art: "WC4173, 2010" by Ann Ropp]

MR Novella Issue

January 31, 2015
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mississippi-review-v42-n3-winter-2015The newest issue of Mississippi Review (42.3), besides having a pretty swank cover image, is The Novella Issue, featuring works by only four authors: Katie Chase (46pp), Kevin A. Gonzalez (62pp), Jaimy Gordon (28pp), and Paola Peroni (25pp). Rare to see this kind of page dedication to the long form in an entire issue, making this a great collection for the long read.

Does Art Matter?

January 21, 2015
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robert-stewartNew Letters Editor Robert Stewart asks "Does art do much good?"

In his Editor's Note, "Making What Matters," Stewart shares, "In my home city recently, a 10-year-old girl named Machole and a 6-year-old girl named Angel, in separate events, were shot dead by gunfire. Machole was in her own living room when someone in a car shot several times into her house; Angel was walking out the door of a convenience store with her father. Other children continue to suffer abuse and violence, yes, but these two events, nine days apart, have caused many people here to examine the kind of landscape—city and country—we have shaped for our children."

Go to the National Art Education Association News page on any given day, and you'll see comment after comment from leaders across the nation proclaiming the importance of the arts in education, of turning and keeping the A in STEM for STEAM. It's not a new struggle among cultures, among communiites, as Stewart notes the Trappist monk Thomas Merton "in a 1962 letter, where he confessed to being disheartened by evil in the world, despite his own writings and art. 'Tell me,' Merton wrote to his friend, "am I wasting my time?'"

It's a question and concern that pervades and surfaces, resurfaces, confronts and confounds wirters, artists, educators, politician and policy makers. While Stewart answers the question in his commentary, an answer found through reading the works of authors in the journal and concluding on the worth and value of their efforts. A worth and value we need to retain and remind others of every chance we get.
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black-history-monthPlan your events now! The Black Caucus of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and NCTE are hosting The National African American Read-In, February 1-28, 2015. There goal is to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by asking groups and organizations, schools, churches, etc. to host an African American Read-In. Their website has lots of information about how to be recognized as a host, suggested readings and activities, and downloads for giveaways like bookmarks. It's free to participate.
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This cover of the newest issue of Image (#83) features performance photography by Zhang Huan from his series Breath, 1999, in Miami, Florida. More of his performance and series work can be found on his website.
It must just be the time of year, with snow storms and wind chill temperatures in the negative double digits, that makes me appreciate the brightly colored covers. Sugar House Review #10 celebrates their five-year annivesary with this special double issue packed with poetry. I believe credit goes to Natalie Young, editor and graphic designer.
And then, after the talk of bright colors, I pick this one? For good reason. I love 6x6 for their design. Ugly Duckly Press has been putting this magazine out - six pages of poetry by six different poets - since 2000, using offset printing with lovely inks and tactile papers, and each folded and bound with a sturdy, color coordinated rubber band. It's a production value that merits special appreciation in our digital age.

Some Literary Links

January 16, 2015
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If one of your New Year's resolutions is to be a nicer person who is more sensitive and aware of other people's feelings, read more novels. Really. (Psychology Today)

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Movies and Books: "While it's hardly novel to suggest that Hollywood is out of ideas, 2014 hasn't done much to prove otherwise. Of the top 10 grossing films released last year, every single one was inspired by a pre-existing media property like a novel, a comic book, or—in two cases—a line of toys." (The Atlantic)

"The man hired to smuggle Ulysses into New York City was sweating. . . The smuggler was following very specific instructions. He'd obtained the text, just like he'd been told. He stuffed the book into his suitcase. Then he boarded the luxurious Aquitania in Europe, with orders to disembark at this very port. But as he waited in line eying the customs officials, things weren't going to plan. In fact, it looked like the officer was just going to wave him through. This was not what the smuggler was being paid to do; he was under strict orders to get caught!" The Worst (And Most Important) Smuggling Job in the History of Literature. (Mental Floss)

Don't like your personality? Try reading a novel. Reasearchers "propose that there are specific ways in which fiction can engage readers in ways that enhance important personality qualities.. . . all other things being equal, people who read more fiction are also better at reading other people's emotions. It's not just that empathic people read more, but that reading promotes empathy." (Psychology Today)

Satre told the Nobel Committee he would say no, only they didn't get the memo. History shows he was true to his (late-arriving) word. (The Guardian)

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