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Beecher’s Contest Winners

Beecher‘s Spring 2014 issue publishes the winners of their recent contests in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction:

Poetry Contest Winner, selected by Frank X. Walker
Roy Beckemeyer’s “Tree Shadows
“tree shadows
    their     skeletal souls
          like  Chinese

Nonfiction Contest Winner, selected by Eula Biss
Anne Penniston Grunsted’s “The Art of Not Turning Away”
“My five-year-old son Bobby has terrible, all-consuming anxiety at the doctor’s office. Any doctor can trigger him—his doctor, my doctor, a vet. As soon as he realizes where he is, he starts to retch. I hold him. I distract him. I gently whisper calm assurances. His service dog sits near, providing comfort the best he can. Nothing, really, helps. We just wait together for the anxiety to pass…”

Fiction Contest Winner, selected Manuel Munoz
Penny Perkins’s “Car Ride Through Corn Fields (1975)”
“She is sitting in the backseat of the family station wagon. Her father is driving an scratching himself. Her mother is in the front seat next to her father, wearing sunglasses over puffy, red-stained eyes and looking straight ahead at the lonely two-lane highway that stretches out before them on the flat, Midwestern plain. She is a child, almost a teenager. She is the almost-teenager child of her parents and there is no escaping that oppressive fact. Even now, especially now, here on a teary Sunday afternoon drive.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

This cover of Southern Poetry Review features Cocoon Series #115 by E. E. McCollum, an artist from Fairfax, VA that focuses on the human figure through his fine art photography.


The cover of The Fiddlehead‘s latest issue may be mostly black, but the color of it is stunning. It’s Black Tulip by James Wilson.


If with this cover Fence wanted to stand out in the pile of literary magazines, they certainly have. The artwork is a video still from Priapus Agonistes by Mary Reid Kelley with Patrick Kelley.

Brevity Nonfiction Craft Essays

Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction published online regularly features insightful craft essays with each issue. With the emphasis on “brief” (under 750 words) nonfiction, the essays allow authors more word count to explore aspects of writing. The May 2014 issue includes “Can You Hear Me Now? How Reading Our Writing Aloud Informs Audiences and Ourselves” by Kate Carroll de Gutes, “The Editor at the Breakfast Table” by Charles J. Shields – a perspective on the need for writers to both seek and be receptive to feedback, and “The Nose Knows: How Smells Can Connect Us to the Past and Lead Us to the Page” by Jeremy B. Jones, in which he explores “how our awareness of the undeniable connection between scent and the past helps us to come upon essays. How might our noses get us to the page?”

Janice Tokar on Being a Poet: Best & Worst

Open Book Toronto: What is the best thing about being a poet….and what is the worst?

Janice Tokar: Best two things: the heightened flow state on those rare occasions when a poem catches fire and words spontaneously pour out; the creative and generous people I’ve met through writing. Worst two things: being stuck with a line mid-poem that has the exact right words but the wrong rhythm; the inevitable self-doubt and second-guessing that flutters about after I press SEND.

the rest of the interview on Open Book Toronto, “celebrating and profiles Toronto and Ontario’s non-stop literary scene, with a special focus on the books and events produced by Ontario’s independent, Canadian-owned publishers.”

A&U America’s AIDS Magazine Seeks Submissions

As a national, nonprofit HIV/AIDS magazine, the mission of Art & Understanding is to collect, archive, publish and distribute the growing body of art, activism, and current events emanating from the AIDS pandemic. It was created for the HIV-affected community. The editors are interested in publishing articles about AIDS-related advocacy, treatment and care, community-based organizations and campaigns, and artists and creative writers responding to the pandemic. The editors are looking for writers of all serostatuses to help use showcase a wide range of perspectives about living with HIV/AIDS. A&U publishes feature articles, viewpoint/essays, reviews, and literary submissions – poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, as well as visual works. For more information, visit the A&U submissions guidelines page.

August Broadsided :: Dear Atom Bomb,

August’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!

Love Your Librarian!

The Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, and college librarians. Administered by the American Library Association, with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Times Company, the program seeks nominations that describe how a librarian is improving the lives of people in a school, campus, or community.

Up to ten winners will be selected to receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York hosted by the New York Times.

Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Nominees must currently be working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university, or at an accredited K-12 school.

Nominators of public librarians must be public library users. Nominators of librarians in college, community college, or university libraries must be users of those libraries (e.g., students, faculty, or staff members). Nominators of school library media specialists must be library users (e.g., students, teachers, school administrators or staff members, or parents or caregivers of children at schools where the school library media specialist works).

Nominations will run through September 12, 2014.

Malahat Review’s Novella Prize Winner

The latest issue of The Malahat Review features the winner of the Novella Prize, Dora Dueck with “Mask.” Here’s a snippet from the beginning:

     I was fourteen before I saw my father’s face. The ruins, I mean, the face behind the mask. Holes instead of a cheekbone to cheekbone, though the tip had been spared and stood there by itself, pale and hideous, as if too stubborn or stupid to quit when abandoned. Nostrils like tiny arches. And where his right eye should have been, he had a crater too.
     I’d needed pins for my hair. I’d hurried into Mum’s room, hurried out again, and his door had slipped ajar. The morning sun, which he got through his east-facing window, was escaping in a strong white shaft like a barrier thrown up in the dim grey corridor. He was framed by it, and he was humming. For the one you love so well, Dolly Gray, in the midst of battle fell, Dolly Gray
     It must have been the humming that confused me. That made me stop. Dad didn’t hum or sing; this was Mum’s department. She sang while preparing our breakfast and supper, and it was usually a hymn she warbled through until she had the biscuits in a pan, the eggs boiled, the cabbage or asparagus steamed. But sometimes she sang “Goodbye, Dolly Gray,” her favourite song from the days of the War, because her name was Dolly…

Some Literary News Links :: July 2014

Why Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s Sexiest Book

What is Literature For? The U.K. removes American classics from required reading lists

New Exhibit as US Traces the Literary Roots of the Grateful Dead

Without World War I, What Would Literature Look Like Today?

Will Fiction Influence How We React to Climate Change?

Feminist Science Fiction is the Best Thing Ever

Nadine Gordimer Offered a Model of How to Use Books as Social Force

How to Have a Career: Advice to Young Writers

Patients Need Poetry: And So Do Doctors

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

The colors of this cover of Able Muse are absolutely brilliant and eye-catching. Look closer and you’ll see that she is rising out of lava and fire. The image is called “Element Fire” by Catherine Langwagen.


Apalachee Review‘s current cover features the artwork of Susan Stelzmann, Occupy My House. A detail from her Blow Your House Down is featured as the frontispiece.


The Lindenwood Review‘s latest cover features the feet of a doll, just disappearing off the top of the page. The viewer is left to guess what’s going on in the scene. And, in fact, Eve Jones has more of these photographs throughout the issue, all giving a unique view.

Ploughshares 2014 Emerging Writer’s Contest Winners

Ploughshares, based at Emerson College, is excited to announce the winners of the 2014 Emerging Writer’s Contest. The contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. One writer in each genre receives $1,000 and publication in the Winter 2014 issue of Ploughshares. This year’s winners were Rosalie Moffett for her poems “Why Is It The More?,” “To Leave Through a Wall,” and “Hurricane 1989”; Elise Colette Goldbach for her nonfiction piece “In Memory of the Living”; and Tomiko Breland for her fiction piece “Rosalee Carrasco.”

New Balance Line of Literary Sneakers

No kidding. New Balance has announced a line of shoes called the “Authors Collection,” with color schemes inspired by American novelists and their works. Reminiscent of old hardback book covers, the styles are “earthy” in their color schemes. Almost more fun than the shoes is reading the comments on this new line from Twitter feeds:

JamesAllder: “I guess these shoes are designed for writers. On behalf of all writers, may I just say that we write in our socks. Thanks for thinking of us, though.”

aarontpratt: “Nothing quite says ‘I’m a casual yet cultured 30- or 40-something male’ like these. Reading Hemingway while grilling steaks, etc.”

JenHoward “Kickin’ it with Papa.” & “This is why we need English majors!”

The Book Map


Created by the artists of Dorothy, The Book Map is an artistic rendition of a street map made up from the titles of over 600 books from the history of English Literature. The Map includes classics such as Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Bleak House, Vanity Fair and Wuthering Heights as well as 20th and 21st Century works such as The Waste Land, To the Lighthouse, Animal Farm, Slaughterhouse 5, The Catcher in the Rye, The Wasp Factory, Norwegian Wood and The Road.

The Map, which is loosely based on a turn of the century London street map also includes fictional areas dedicated to the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Tolkien, Harry Potter and a children’s literature district featuring such classics as The Railway Children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Where the Wild Things Are. There’s an A-Z key at the base of the Map listing all the books featured along with the author’s name and the date first published.

Special “Strange and Wondrous Pairings” Section in The Georgia Review

“Strange and Wondrous Pairings” is the feature section of The Georgia Review‘s most recent issue. The five included essays “all raise questions,” writes Editor Stephen Corey, “very different questions—about the people or characters they bring together in quite unexpected ways. These works were not commissioned; they appeared by chance during the past two years and built for us, unbeknownst to their authors, a distinctive community.”

Martha G. Wiseman’s “Dr. No Meets J. Robert Oppenheimer”
Corey writes, “Wiseman revisits this movie villain and this real-life celebrity scientist while looking through the prism of her father, the actor Joseph Wiseman, who played the two in film and on stage, respectively. She also looks through in the other direction, seeing her father as he was reflected in the roles he played—and didn’t play—and herself as she was influenced by, and influenced, this man of many faces, an actor of sufficient repute in the early 1960s that the director of Dr. No ‘needed someone with a name, a presence,’ to counterbalance that newcomer, Sean Connery.”

Brandon R. Schrand’s “Finding Emily & Elizabeth”
Corey writes, “Schrand received from a neighbor the gift of a 1944 edition of Emily Dickinson’s poems . . . when he first sat down to peruse this particualr volume he immediately discovered, taped over one of the poems and surrounded by handwritten notations, a photograph of a teenage girl named Elizabeth who appeared to be dead . . . his Dickinson collection proved to be filled with many other annotations, all apparently by the young Elizabeth’s mother, and so his sought-after education becomes a doubling of his original intention.”

Albert Goldbarth’s “Two Characters in Search of an Essay”
Corey asks, “Who else would ferret out, and then present with wild and beautiful prose, the vital connections between John Keats and Clyde Tombaugh (the young man who discovered the now-maligned Pluto), and—remember, this is Albert Goldbarth—would also teach us countless other remarkable things along the way?”

Marianne Boruch’s “Pilgrimage”
Corey writes, “Boruch’s ‘Pilgrimage’ takes us, as no other tour guides have ever done, to and through the homes of Keats (on the Isle of Wight) and a seminal American poet, Theodore Roethke (in Saginaw, Michigan).

Brian Doyle’s “Sam & Louis”
Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson had a single face-to-face meeting, “but one whose substance went unreported.” Corey writes, “Doyle, an aficionado of both men’s work, asks ‘But what did they say?’—and proceeds to reconstitute what was very likely several hours of the most scintillating talk in history.”

Baltimore Review Summer Contest Winners

The Baltimore Review editors have announced and congratulated the winners of their summer contest, the theme of which was “How To.” Judged by Michael Downs, the contest was open to poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction. The issue itself features this same theme. Here are the winners:

First Place
Diana Spechler’s “How to Love a Telemarketer”

Second Place
Ginny Hoyle’s “How to Breathe”

Third Place
Shirley Fergenson’s “How to Leave a Garden”

Congrats. Read the winning pieces and the complete issue online here, featuring Erika Kleinman, Evan Beaty, Douglas Cole, Meng Jin, Marjorie Stelmach, Carolyn Williams-Noren, Justin Brouckaert, James Norcliffe, and more.

Required Reading :: Dear Editor, Dear Writer, PLEASE STOP!

James Duncan’s blog post Dear Editor, Dear Writer, PLEASE STOP! should be required reading for every writer sending out works for publication, for every publication accepting and rejecting writing, for every teacher, every student – cripes! JUST EVERYBODY PLEASE READ THIS!

A well-published author himself as well as an editor, Duncan has learned the intimacy of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the relationship between editors and writers – either having experienced it himself or having heard about it from others. His insight goes well beyond the response times and cover letter content. Such issues as editors giving rude rejections and (“on the flip side” for each topic) writers responding rudely to rejection, extraneous e-mails from both editors and writers, complicated guidelines and writers not following guidelines, closing submissions and over submitting, and many more such issues.

I’ve already had a side conversation with Duncan about one of his issues here, and we agree, there are some tough lines to walk in our business of writing and publishing. It would seem much of his advice is common sense and common courtesy. But it’s not that easy when new writers are trying to learn the publishing arena, and new editors likewise – or even established writers and editors wondering what they’re “doing wrong” or how to improve their professionalism. For all these reasons and more, Duncan’s essay should be the go-to guidelines for all writers and editors.

Amy Stolls, NEA Director of Literature

Amy Stolls. Photo by Carrie Holbo

Amy Stolls, author of the Palms to the Ground and The Ninth Wife, former literature professor at American University, and environmental journalist covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill, has been appointed Director of Literature of the National Endowment for the Arts. Stolls has served as acting director since May 2013, and has been with the NEA literature office since 1998.

Stolls says of her appointment: “To be part of the literary community—that passionate, wonderful lot of writers, teachers, publishers, editors, presenters, librarians, translators, and more who work tirelessly on behalf of books and reading—is an honor. To be in a position to help this community is a gift. I have always believed deeply in the NEA’s mission; I look forward to carrying out that mission as best I can in my new role.”

Read more on NEA News.

Conversation with Andre Dubus III

In the Fall 2014 issue of Willow Springs, Elizabeth Kemper French and Joseph Salvatore have a conversation (from March 2013) with Andre Dubus III, author of New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and Townie. The interview is lengthy and worth every word.

It begins with conversation about the digital age, which Dubus detests. “I don’t like modern life,” he says, “with these gadgets.” And although his publisher made him get a Facebook page, he doesn’t plan to ever update it (though points out that there is nothing wrong with others doing so). “It’s a philosophical turning-away-from, and a temperamental turning-away-from,” he says. “The older I get, the more simplicity I want. I don’t think these things have helped us. I think they’ve made us little rats, made us pay attention to little, stupid shit.”

And because the writing process is different for everyone, Dubus must write by longhand, not putting on the computer until it is completed: “I need the physical intimacy of flesh, blood, bone, wood, paper. It helps me enter the character.” He goes on to explain the necessity for him to slow down when writing, as writing longhand forces you to do:

“There’s a great line from Goethe: ‘Do not hurry. Do not rest.’ Some people say, ‘I need the computer, because my ideas are so fast.’ I say, ‘Ideas? I don’t trust ideas. Ideas are just ideas.’ I trust the other stuff. I love the line from Flannery O’Connor, from Mystery and Manners: ‘There’s a certain grain of stupidity the writer of fiction can hardly do without, and that’s the quality of having to stare.’ …”

It’s a quality interview, both entertaining and insightful. It’s worth every one of the almost 30 pages it takes up of the journal.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers Winners :: July 2014

Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their May Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The next Short Story Award competition will take place in August. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

1st place goes to Caro Clark [pictured] of Wakefield, RI. She wins $1500 for “The Kind I Really Am” and her story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is Caro’s first published story.

2nd place goes to Robert Kirkbride of Chicago, IL. He wins $500 for “These Things.”

3rd place goes to Gaetan Sgro of Chicago, IL. He wins $300 for “We Are All Snowflakes and Cities.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.

Deadline soon approaching! Very Short Fiction Award: July 31
This competition is held quarterly, and 1st place has been increased to $1500 plus publication in the journal. It’s open to all writers, with no theme restrictions, and the word count must not exceed 3000. Click here for complete guidelines.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Cover art for this issue of The Cincinnati Review is called Shallow Water, a 16in by 20in acrylic by Felicia Olin who also contributes a portfolio within the issue, all included pieces worth discovering.


The cover art for the “Reimagined: Bridging this World and Others” issue of Nimrod is a photograph by Brooke Golightly with just as an enticing of a title, “Beneath the Skirt of the Sea.”


Notre Dame‘s “Listen Here” issue features cover art by Gail Schneider. On the front cover, Right Ear made with clay and mortar. ” terra cotta. I wasinterested in the contrast of the soft sensuousness of the human body, the fragility of body parts such as the heart and ear and the impenetrable stability of brick,” she writes.

“No Typos Hear!”

“No Typos Hear!” is how Pat Stone titles the editor’s note for the current issue of GreenPrints. He announces that for almost two decades, Ricki and Michael Cochran have been proofreaders for this magazine. As they know have a lot going in their lives, including seven grandchildren, they are officially stepping down; this was their last issue. As such, Stone puts forth his sincere thanks and states that the first who finds a proofing error (beyond the obvious one in the title) in this issue will receive a free one-year subscription to the magazine.

Mighty River and Wilda Hearne Contests

Big Muddy opens Volume 14 Number 1 with the winners of the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award and the Mighty River Short Story Award. Here’s a glimpse of each:

Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award
Robert Garner McBrearty’s “What Happened to Laura?”
     I’m in a coffee shop on an afternoon in spring when a man at a table near the creamers picks up his smart phone and says in a loud voice, “John? Doug here. Laura is back. She’s pissed off. She’s a really pissed off person…I don’t know what she’s pissed off about…Yeah, that’s right…I’m taking her to the doctor today…It’s a hard call, they might…That’s good, that’s good…She’s real angry, she’s real brutal, she’s real cutting…Yeah, that’s right…I don’t know if I’m going to have to hospitalize her or not…It’s brutal, it’s real brutal, I’ll call you after we see the doctor…Okay, thanks, right…That’s good.”
     Doug signs off. But he’s back on a moment later. “Bob? Doug here. Laura came back…Well, she’s pissed off, she’s real pissed off…That’s good, that’s good…Well, she’s real pissed off…We’re going to see the doctor in about twenty minutes…Obviously…Excellent…Good idea…I’ll hide everything…”
     He hangs up. We all look up from our tables to meet his widened eyes. A tall man rises up. He points a finger at Doug’s chest. “I want to know what’s wrong with Laura,” he says.

Mighty River Short Story Contest
Catherine Browder’s “The Canine Cure”
     Some days there’s a bit of a flurry when I step on the elevator with the girls. Lola takes the lead, followed by Rusty, and then Didi. I bring up the rear. As we assemble inside, an orderly wearing hospital scrubs pulls himself up to his considerable height and scowls, never taking his eyes off my trio. A young Asian woman in a lab coat takes a small step back. I raise a finger. My three promptly sit, and I punch the button for the third floor.
     “Believe it or not,” I tell my audience, “these girls are here to work.” I give them my broadest professional smile. The man cracks a joke while the young woman titters uncomfortable. Neither has noticeably relaxed. The girls remain seated, their great brown eyes traveling from face to face and then back to mine. In the enterprise that looms ahead I am certain of only one thing: My troupe is obedient and well trained.

Robert and Adele Schiff Awards

The current issue of The Cincinnati Review features a special section for the winners of the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in prose and poetry. There is no commentary on the pieces, so you’ll have to figure out why they won for yourself! Here is the opening of each:

Karrie Higgins’s “The Bottle City of God”
My first summer in Zion, the Mormons deliver a latter-day miracle.
      A grasshopper plague is encroaching on a town somewhere out there in the vast Utah emptiness, on the other side of the Great Salt Lake: two thousand grasshopper eggs to the square foot, little exoskeletons bursting into being from thin air, like popcorn kernels on a hot burner.
      Local News Channel 4 bears witness: Every ten years, the grasshoppers come. Like clockwork.
      As an outsider, a Gentile, I have made this reporter my hierophant. The Mormons have their Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and I have a newsman. I never watched local news before moving here.
      The plague is supposed to happen.
      Backyards are popcorn machines, pop, pop, pop.
      Insecticide has failed us.

Martha Silano’s “The World”
The world so big, so big and beyond, tumbleweed so turbulent in the wind,
the cormorants of the world so sunning themselves on shit-stained piers.

World a big son with his big-boy accretion, his magnesium need
for the screen, for his Xbox lithosphere. The world and the calderas

of the world and the peaks of the world with their toothsome fissures
toppling the calm. The world with its spiral notebook of incomprehensible

Winners of Passages North’s 2013 Contests

Passages North showcases the winners of their 2013 contests in the 2014 issue, out now:

Thomas J. Hruska Memorial Nonfiction Prize
judged by Elena Passarello

Brandon Davis Jennings: “I Am the Pulverizer”

Honorable Mentions
Christiana Louisa Langenberg: “Foiled”
Sidony O’Neal: “Timely Reflections on the Death of Emergency”

Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize
judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Vandana Khanna: “Prayer to Recognize the Body”

Honorable Mention
T.J. Sandella: “My Mother Prepares Me for Her Death”

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Fiction Contest
judged by Caitlin Horrocks

Joe Sacksteder: “Earshot—Grope—Cessation”

Last Call :: August Poetry Postcard Festival!

I’ve blogged plenty about it, now it’s time for you to get signed up! Event Organizer Paul Nelson says there are already over 300 participants! Don’t let that scare you; in brief, all you do is write one ORIGINAL postcard poem a day and send it to people on your own list (31 total), which means you also get postcards throughout the month. Writing start date is actually July 27, so deadline for signing up is July 26. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time!

Passings :: Thomas Elias Weatherly

Thomas Elias Weatherly, born in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1942, passed away July 15, 2014. Poet Burt Kimmelman tells of Weatherly as “a brilliant, eclectic poet, the craft and reach of his poetry astonishing. He was a member of the inaugural poetry workshop at St. Mark’s, under the tutelage of Joel Oppenheimer, and the second cook at the Lions Head when all manner of writer and poet could be found sucking up the nectar there. No degrees post the U.S. Marine Corps Tom was, among other things, the resident bibliophile at the Strand Bookstore in later years, before leaving NYC to return ‘home’ to the South. He taught variously at a number of colleges and universities, from time to time, and with Ted Wilentz edited what at the time was a game-changing anthology of contemporary African American poetry, titled Natural Process (Hill & Wang, 1971) His own poetry was also not only eclectic but game-changing as well.”

Ploughshare bio page
Poets & Writers bio page

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Passages North‘s 2014 cover is simple but effective. It’s done by Jennifer Burton of Vermont: “Her work draws on imagery from old photographs found in family albums, both her own and those of others.”


Okay, this cover of Frogpond looks so tasty that I could lick it, seriously, but not really. It certainly says, “Hey, it’s a hot summer day. Open me up; it’ll be refreshing.” The design and photo is by Christopher Patchel of Mettawa, IL.


The cover illustration for Sterling‘s latest issue is done by Bill Frenec, but, unfortunately, that’s all we know about it. It is, however, an excellent homage to Minneapolis—the unofficial theme of the issue—including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry. (Plus some awesome buttons featuring elements of the cover art.)

Free Resource :: Best Practices for Fair Use

The Center for Media & Social Impact has created numerous documents, codes, and teaching materials related to issues of fair use in the arts, including documentary, journalism, online video, visual arts, library science, poetry, dance, archiving, open courseware, and video. The publication Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, among many other publications, is available free online or as a PDF download. “This code of best practices helps poets understand when they and others have the right to excerpt, quote and use copyrighted material in poetry. To create this code, poets came together to articulate their common expectations.”

Teaching materials include fair use scenarios, fair use language for course syllabi, teaching fair use for media literacy education, and examples of successful fair use in documentary filmmaking.

What’s Your Normal?

What’s Your Normal?” is a series of personal essays, accompanied by resource lists, highlighting the different kinds and forms of identities within Asian Pacific American populations. The essays were started following the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on August 5, 2012.

An Asian Pacific American Library Association member sent an e-mail with basic information about Sikhism and links to resources asking for it to be shared with the public. From that, that APALA began accepting stories from the public that “give insight into your identity(ies) or what is normal for you.”

The essays are published on the APALA website at regular intervals in the features section, with the resources lists being compiled in the resource section on the site. The APALA does this “Because we want to learn about you and from each other. Because we want to showcase the diversity within APA populations. Because we want to create resource lists that will be useful to librarians, other information professionals, and the general public.”

For information about submitting essays and accessing resources, visit the APALA website.

Free Little Library Prevails

I love those little “Free Little Libraries” I see in people’s neighborhoods. If you don’t know what these are (yet), it’s a structure of some kind where people can put books to give them away for free and others can take books for free – or borrow them to read and return with no system for checking in and out. I first saw one while visiting New Orleans and was happy to leave behind the book I had brought to read on the plane. Again, at a conference in Madison, Wisconsin, there was one in the neighborhood nearby the hotel where I was staying. I walked past it each morning, and though I didn’t have any books to give away that time, I made some folded blank books and left them behind to share with others. In my own neighborhood, I want to try a free library, but unfortunately, where we live – so close to a bar district – our own yard, fence, neighborhood signs – are often the target of post-2 a.m. revelers. Alas, I’ve been hesitant to build and put out something that would make such a tempting target. However, I am impressed with and admire those who can do this, which is why I was so upset to read about the plight of Spencer Collins whose free little library was shut down by the due to an ordinance that prohibits free-standing structures on people’s properties in Leawood County, Missouri. After petitioning the council, Spencer will be able to have his library back. Although the article says “temporarily” (ending October 20), I would hope that this becomes something the county, and any others like it with such ordinances, will look to make a permanent exception. For as often as I am distraught and depressed by the news that surrounds us every day, it only takes something like this for me to feel hope. Cheers to Spencer and all the other Free Little Library Curator!

The Vacation by Wendell Berry

This seems worthy of reposting as we head full swing into vacation season:

American Life in Poetry: Column 425

If we haven’t done it ourselves, we’ve known people who have, it seems: taken a vacation mostly to photograph a vacation, not really looking at what’s there, but seeing everything through the viewfinder with the idea of looking at it when they get home. Wendell Berry of Kentucky, one of our most distinguished poets, captures this perfectly.

The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2012 by Wendell Berry, whose most recent book of poems is New Collected Poems, Counterpoint, 2012. Poem reprinted from New Collected Poems, Counterpoint, 2012, and used with permission of Wendell Berry and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 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.

Book :: Every Day is Malala Day

United Nations declared July 12, 2013 Malala Day to honor the fifteen-year-old education rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Malala Yousafzai. Every Day is Malala Day is a photography picture book created by Rosemary McCarny, leader of the Plan International Canada Team. The images are of young women from around the globe, each either labeled by country on the page or in the photo credits in the back. The text comes from letters written to Malala from youth around the world, and famously begins: “Dear Malala – We have never met before, but I feel like I know you. I have never seen you before, but I’ve heard your voice. To girls like me, you are a leader who encourages us. And you are a friend.” A video of the letters that inspired the book can be seen here.

The book is designated by the publisher for ages 5-8, which I would say is in regards to presentation and language reading level. The text discusses the shooting, how bullets are used to “silence girls” but that they are not the only means: early marriage, poverty, discrimination, violence are all named in the book, each with its own symbolic photographic subject. The full color photography on each page is rich – visually and culturally. The compositions are simple, but the message and emotional impact of each is strong.

The book ends, of course, with words of hope, courage, and empowerment. Also included in the book is an excerpt from the speech Malala gave on July 12 to the UN. I think it would be great to share this with young children, since the message is one that should begin at an early age for all if there is going to be any hope of changing attitudes across cultures.

The book was published by Second Story Press in conjunction with McCarny and Plan International, a charity organization started in 1937 to end global poverty. Because I Am A Girl is Plan’s global initiative to end gender inequliaty, promote girls’ rights and lift young girls out of poverty. October 11, 2012 marked the first international Day of the Girl which continues its campaign to ensure girls around the globe receive a minimum of nine years of quality education.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

Magical. That’s the word I would use to describe this cover of Cutbank. It’s called Cosmic Forest by Matt Green and was created with acrylic on a wood panel.

Smartish Pace‘s cover is fun, with a mixed media piece called I’m Dying, It’s Okay. Let’s Go! by Rashawn Griffin with chocolates, fabric, needles, nuts, paper, pigment, plastic, reed, resin, screws, spray paint, and water soluble water paint.

The design of the cover of The Stinging Fly summer issue is fun, and it just makes me smile. It’s designed by Fuchsia MacAree. See more of her work here.

Louisiana “Wasted” :: Marthe Reed on Documentary Poetry

In the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter feature On Writing #33, Marthe Reed comments on the changing landscape and environmental destruction of the birdfoot delta of the Louisiana coastline. Reed, who spent just over a decade in south Lousiana before moving to Syracuse, speaks to the impact we, including herself, have on the natural world around us. She confronts this in a form of “documentary poetry,” which she says: “allows me, an outsider, to write my way into this beautiful, vanishing world without anger, without falling prey to the temptation to preach. Documentary poetics allows grief into the poem without bathos or sentimentality or feigned authority.” Her poem in image “wasted” appears in the column, including painstakingly detailed tracing of the landscape in which to embed her text. Lines like “fecal coliform (sewage),” “chlorine, metal complexing agents,” and “ammonia 17B-estradiol” seep out into the waterway space on the page, just as in real life. The combination of her personal narrative, environmental research, and this resulting work have a lasting impact on the reader, just as I’m sure she hopes to do, answering her own question: “Is it possible to bring urgency to the back page news item, the flickering story on the nightly news?”

Pleiades Editor Edits His Last Issue

In the editor’s note of the latest issue of Pleiades, Wayne Miller announces that this will be his last issue with the journal. He will be teaching in the fall at the University of Colorado Denver and work on the staff of Copper Nickel. “I’m very grateful to the many extraordinary authors I’ve had the privilege to publish over the last twelve years,” he writes, “and I’m indebted to the wonderful editors I’ve worked with…” Phong Nguyen and Kathryn Nuernberger will be in charge of most managerial items. “I have no doubt Pleiades will continue to be a vibrant and important voice in the world of contemporary literature under their stewardship, and I feel privileged to have played a role in the journal’s history and development during my time here,” he said.

American Indian Youth Literature Awards 2014

The American Indian Youth Literature Awards are presented every two years by the American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association. The awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.

This year’s winners:

Picture Book Award
Caribou Song by Tomson Highway (author) and John Rombough (illustrator)
Published by Fifth House, 2012

Middle School Award
How I became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle
Published by The Roadrunner Press, 2013

Middle School Honor Book
Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner by Time Tingle
Published by 7th Generation, 2013

Young Adult Award
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Published by Tu Books, 2013

Young Adult Honor Book
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013

AILA was founded in 1979 in conjunction with the White House Pre-Conference on Indian Library and Information Services on or near Reservations. At the time, there was increasing awareness that library services for Native Americans were inadequate. Individuals as well as the government began to organize to remedy the situation.

Membership is open to individuals (with student discount) as well as institutions.

[All information from the AILA website.]

Looking for a Dialect? Try IDEA

“The International Dialects of English Archive [IDEA] was created in 1997 as the first online archive of primary-source recordings of English dialects and accents as heard around the world.” Founded by Paul Meier, IDEA was originally started as a way to help actors practice character speech, but has become popular for any number of other uses. Dialects can be selected from a global mapping image or from drop-down menus. Each recording provides background information of each speaker – age, place of birth, date of birth, occupation, ethnicity, level of education – as the information is available. IDEA accepts submissions; full guidelines are available on the site.

IDEA also has a Special Collections section which includes General American (“Comma Gets a Cure” recordings), Holocaust Survivors, Native Americans, Oral Histories (native speakers talking about the places they live), Phonetic Transcriptions, Play Names & Terms (sound files of native speakers pronouncing place names, people names, and idioms from well-known plays often produced in the theatre), Received Pronunciation (“Comma Gets a Cure” recordings from British speech professionals), and Speech and Voice Disorders (a short essay by Joanna Cazden discussing the use of disability speech characteristics in oral productions).

Stealth: The Mix Tape

Awesome Tapes from Africa is exactly as it proclaims. Ethnomusicologist and DJ Brian Shimkovitz curates this collection of hundreds of cassette tape recordings from various regions of Africa dating back to the 70s. Shimkovitz recently contributed a mix-tape of popular 50s Egyptian music for New Directions Books in celebration of the US release of Stealth by Sonallah Ibrahim, Egyptian activist and novelist.

Motion collage artist and poet Nathaniel Whitcomb had already created a mini-animated trailer to celebrate the book: “Inspired by vintage View Masters, Whitcomb flips through photos taken by Don Church of 1950s Cairo to let the viewer ‘peek in with care’ to Ibrahim’s childhood world. Accompanying the animation is music by the great 20th century Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.”

New Directions also interviewed Shimovitz about his work with Awesome Tapes from Africa, his creation of a mix tape ins
pired by Stealth, and the future new label created for ATFA.

Maya Angelou Interview with Howl

Howl is a unique publication in that is is staffed entirely by high school students, but open to submissions. Howl publishes book reviews, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and art online as well as producing an inaugural print publication. Cool, too, Howl offered a screening of the film Big Fish directed by Tim Burton, followed by a Skype talk with the book’s author, Daniel Wallace.

Howl has established quite a name for itself this past year as the students interviewed 10 Pulitzer Prize winning authors and other award winning writers, among them, Maya Angelou. The interview with Angelou took place on February 26, 2014, which Dylan Emerick-Brown, English teacher and faculty adviser for the student-run literary arts magazine says is the last known recorded interview of the author before her passing in May of this year. The recording has been accepted for archive by the Library of Congress.

Angelou closed her comments to the interview with this: “Poetry, when it is done right, can be of use to anybody . . . But good poetry belongs to everybody all the time. And to the young men and women in Mr. Brown’s class, continue…continue to read and to write. Continue, my dears, to read and to write, and read aloud.”

August Poetry Postcard Festival :: Sign Up Now!

Paul Nelson writes: It is almost August once again and this means POSTCARDS!

The August Poetry Postcard Fest is an exercise in responding to other poets. You write a poem a day for the month of August, write it directly onto a postcard and send it to the next name on your list. When you receive a postcard poem from someone, the idea is that the next poem you send out will be a response to the poem you just received, even though it will be sent to a different person. Ideally you will write 31 new poems and receive 31 postcard poems from all over the place.

To participate, send your name, mailing address, and email to [email protected]. Use the word “postcard” in the subject line.

Again, one long list will go out this year this year instead of individual lists of 32 names. You can send postcard poems to the 31 names below your name, please do not use this list for advertising or for any other purpose than postcard poems. DO NOT SPAM THE LIST.

I [Paul] will send out the list twice. Our international participants often require an earlier start due to longer delivery times, so I will send the incomplete list out on July 16th and the final version around July 26th. The 26th is the cut off date, I will not be adding any more names to the list after that, the list sent out on the 26th will be the final list for this year. Really. I’ll be out of the U.S. myself. Please be sure to send in your information before that. I will email the list to the participants in a google document as well as in the body of the email.

If you know anyone who would like to participate, feel free to forward them this message! Hope you enjoy the Poetry Postcard Fest!


On or about Sunday, July 27th, look at the list to see the three people listed below your name. Write them each an original poem on a postcard, put their address on the card and affix the necessary postage. $1.15 for international cards leaving the U.S. Consider scanning your cards or photographing them to document each poem/card before you send them out. Do not recycle old poems for this. Do not compose a long poem in advance and cut it up into hunks for this. It is an experiment in composing in the moment and your poem has an audience of one. This is designed in part as a conversation.

(If you are near the bottom of the list, send a card to anyone below you then start again at the top.) Ideally, you would write 3 different short poems — remember they are being composed on a postcard and please keep your handwriting clear. If your handwriting is lousy, typing the poems is ok. If you have folks outside your own country on your list, you can start sending poems early…)

Write about something that relates to your sense of “place” however you interpret that, something about how you relate to the postcard image, what you see out the window, what you’re reading, a dream you had that morning, or an image from it, etc. Like “real” postcards, get to something of the “here and now” when you write. Present tense is preferred… Do write original poems for the project. Taking old poems and using them is not what we have in mind. You may want to use epigraphs. One participant last year used his daily I Ching divination to inform his poems.

This is also an experiment in community consciousness. Try to respond to cards that you get with subject, image or any kind of link if possible. Often newsworthy events happen in August. How would our community respond? Letting a card that you receive linger for a while before you respond to the next person on your list is the preferred method. When you go to your mail box each day, put the bills aside, read the poems you get and think about them as you compose to the next person on your list.

A GREAT story about one man’s conversion from being a postcard CHEATER is here: http://changeorder.typepad.com/weblog/2010/08/sending-postcards-to-strangers.html

A workshop handout for the poetry postcard writing exercise is here: http://paulenelson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Postcard-Exercise.pdf

You may also view that handout at this link: http://paulenelson.com/workshops/poetry-postcard-exercise/

Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew Micro-Fiction

River Styx received close to 300 submissions for their eighth annual Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew Micro-Fiction Contest. “We thought the overall quality of manuscripts was exceptionally high,” the editors write. The top three winners are featured in the latest issue of the magazine (39th Anniversary Issue: “Because who wants to turn 40?”)

First Place
Doug Crandell, “Dangerous to Inhale”
“The state park cannot be named. If it is, you’ll know where this happened, and if that were the case, he might come back and get me. I don’t want that. Yes, he’s dead, but one thing you’ll find out is that the dead are never really gone here. He gets to go wherever he wants, the Magic Marker Man, that is…”

Second Place
Landon Houle, “Right to the Bones, Right to the Marrow”
“My mother texts me, says, Lisa lost the baby again. I don’t think about it at the time. At the time, I’m in the bathtub, and I’m getting my phone all wet and soapy, and to my credit, I’m not thinking about electronics and water or the manner of my mother’s message. To my credit, I’m thinking of my cousin Lisa, and I type back, Oh no! …”

Third Place
John Hearn, “Billy”
“He told me he remembered the day his parents brought Billy home from Union Hospital, the day he met his sixth sibling. The christening, too, with the Boston relatives crowding the apartment early that Sunday morning, the adults dressed in their church clothes, baby Billy in a christening gown brought by his aunt Madeline. In the apartment, just minutes before the ceremony, a discussion continued over what to name him..”

Monsterama 2014

Monsterama is an Atlanta convention that celebrates the fantastic in film, literature, and art. It takes place from August 1-3, 2014. The convention will feature celebrity, artist, and author guests, screenings, programming on film, literature, and art, as well as other fan related events and panels.

Tequila Mockingbird :: Literary Libations

From Running Press, Tequlia Mockinbird should be every readers compendium volume! Author Tim Ferdale “Broadway actor, word nerd, and cocktail enthusiast” (and author of the YA comic novel Better Nate Than Ever) offers readers/drinkers 65 literary themed recipes along with commentary on the source novels, drinking games, food recipes, and illustrations.

A few examples: One Flew Over the Cosmo’s Nest; Rye and Prejudice; The Cooler Purple; Frangelico and Zooey; A Midsummer Night’s Beam; The Old Man and the Seagram’s; The Sound and the Slurry – and I could go on! The book is divided into sections Drinks for Dames and Gulps for Guys (why the gender divide, I don’t know – I found BOTH lists appealing!), and Bevies for Book Clubs, Refreshments for Recovering Readers, Bar Bites for Book Hounds, and Games for Geeks (with games for Drinking All by Your Lonesome as well as Drinking with Friends).

I’m only sorry I didn’t have this book when I was in grad school – it would have made all those novel-a-week classes a lot more fun! A definite must have for literary lovers, a great gift for bookies on your list, and required reading for anyone heading off to English grad programs this fall!

And to look forward to: Federle’s Hickory Daiquiri Dock is due out December 2014. Nursery rhymes made even more fun? Who knew!

American Life in Poetry :: Barbara Crooker

American Life in Poetry: Column 484

I’m especially fond of sparklers because they were among the very few fireworks we could obtain in Iowa when I was a boy. And also because in 2004 we set off the fire alarm system at the Willard Hotel in Washington by lighting a few to celebrate my inauguration as poet laureate. Here’s Barbara Crooker, of Pennsylvania, also looking back.


We’re writing our names with sizzles of light
to celebrate the fourth. I use the loops of cursive,
make a big B like the sloping hills on the west side
of the lake. The rest, little a, r, one small b,
spit and fizz as they scratch the night. On the side
of the shack where we bought them, a handmade sign:
Trailer Full of Sparkles Ahead, and I imagine crazy
chrysanthemums, wheels of fire, glitter bouncing
off metal walls. Here, we keep tracing in tiny
pyrotechnics the letters we were given at birth,
branding them on the air. And though my mother’s
name has been erased now, I write it, too:
a big swooping I, a hissing s, an a that sighs
like her last breath, and then I ring
belle, belle, belle in the sulphuric smoky dark.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Barbara Crooker from her most recent book of poems, Gold, Cascade Books, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Crooker and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 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.

Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

This cover features an old passport of Mavis Gallant, the writer who is being honored and feature within the first half of this new issue of Brick.


The Meadow‘s 2014 issue features cover artwork from Marti Bein titled “Aurora View.”


It’s rare that I don’t like a cover from Parcel. This one is by Cable Griffith, an artist and curator living in Seattle whose work also graces the inside pages. “Return to the Source” and “Gallatin Passage” are two of my favorites.

Interview with Anne Valente

Get the latest issue of Iron Horse Literary Review, then read Anne Valente’s fiction piece “Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down,” and be rewarded with both the excellent prose and the interview with her that follows. Valente discusses her inspiration for the piece: “This story did develop from so many recent news stories about school shootings, as well as the difficult of even imagining the pain for everyone involved. From the remove of watching on television or reading the newspaper, I felt overwhelmed but also guilty for feeling this, as if I had no right. After the Sandy Hook shooting in particular, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unbearable weight of that kind of grief and where that pressure can even go. From there emerged the image of a sorrow-turned-to-fire, of grief having no outlet but to burn everything down.”

More generally, you also learn about Valente, that she has always wanted to be a writer, and if she wasn’t a writer, according to the career aptitude test in her high school, she’d be a tree surgeon: “In retrospect, this doesn’t seem to far off the mark; when I’m not writing, I’m usually outside or wanting to be outside.” Currently, she is working on a full-length novel that grew out of this published story as well as a collection of short stories about the city of St. Louis.

Mississippi Review Prize Issue 2014

The latest issue of Mississippi Review features the winners of the 2014 Contests. Winners received publication and $1,000.

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the fiction prize winner. Here is how her piece starts: “When she heard the blind girl was coming to spend mornings at the normal school, Jill suspected they’d stick her in the desk next to hers. She had the best grades and the fewest friends, a combo that made her uniquely qualified to keep company with a cripple.”

And Harold Whit Williams won the poetry prize with “Blue Dreams” which starts:

At this juncture the river is too wide,
Too swift and too strong. A bottleneck
Slide scraped along taut catgut strings
That sing and moan like a crop-beaten
Beast of burden. Cry gee, then cry haw.
Cry over evil deeds done at midnight.
Holler sweet Lucifer back in his hole.
What a sight! This old muddy flooding
Fields, lapping the levee. I’ll get there
Somehow, someway, and on that day
You’ll be sorry you’ve done me wrong.

Brick Celebrates Mavis Gallant

Right from the front cover (her passport) of the new issue of Brick, you can tell that this issue means to celebrate Mavis Gallant. And as you open the issue, you get a quote from her before you delve into the issue itself: “I have lived in writing, like a spoonful of water in a river.”

It starts with a short piece by the editors that discusses “Working with Mavis Gallant” as in 2007, they published an interview with her, conducted in French and then translated. Gallant called many times to make corrections and work on editing the interview, eventually relinquishing the care of the work to Tara Quinn. “There would be no more auspicious a start to life at Brick than to be show by Mavis Gallant how to edit an interview,” Quinn and Nadia Szilvassy write. “The experience informed how we edited all interviews in issues to come. The voice had to come through wit ha force equal to that of Mavis on that first phone call. We’d all do well to keep listening.”

The issue continues with four more pieces “For Mavis Gallant” from Michael Helm, Francine Prose, Alison Harris, and Michael Ondaatje.