Having a hard time writing during what feels like the apocalypse? On Runestone Journal‘s blog, Blake Butenhoff offers, “Tips For Writing In the Apocalypse.” He brings writers three funny, lighthearted tips to get those apocalyptic writing juices flowing: “Know your audience’s needs and time constraints,” “Find other ways to journal,” and “History will have the last say, so do it anyway.”
At this point, I would maybe ignore his advice to “start using clay tablets” if you run out of paper, but find “There are no rules anymore,” to be pretty helpful.
This past week, Sundress Publications and A Novel Idea bookstore sponsored Secluded: A Virtual Writing Conference with three days of online talks, readings, and even happy hours. I was able to attend Ira Sukrungruang’s keynote “Writing as Survival,” in which he spoke about the role of writing during times of chaos, uncertainty, and despair. Both a teacher and a father, his insightful honesty provided a sense of grounding. Ira named authors he encourages his students to read, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxanne Gay, and Claudia Rankin, commenting:
Not to say these books will give you an answer, but to me, these books inform me, it insulates me in a community of people who want to talk instead of who to say something – who is refusing to listen. One of the things that I always preach nowadays to my students is that I’d rather you listen to the world at this point before you even open your mouth. But when you open your mouth, and I encourage them to, I encourage you to write, to speak out, to protest peacefully, to go out there and say what’s on your mind, what’s ailing your heart. But I think you also have to listen to what the world is trying to tell you.
The conference was free and recorded for replay here.
Update your calendars—South 85 Journal has announced they’ve changed their reading general reading periods. They’ll now be reading from February 1 to April 16, and August 1 to October 15, though this is subject to change in the future. For now, make note and get your subs ready for August.
Or, if you’ve already been polishing your poetry and flash fiction and are looking for somewhere to submit, submissions for the Julia Peterkin Poetry & Flash Fiction Contests are now open until August 1. Marlin Barton will judge the flash fiction submissions, and Denis Duhamel will judge the poetry.
Considering all the cancelled or postponed or modified conferences and workshops, it’s comforting to know the August Poetry Postcard Festival is up and running this year just as it has been for the past twelve years!
The concept is simple: You sign up and your name is added to a group along with 31 others. Once the group is “full,” you each get the list with names and addresses of participants in your group. The week before August, you start writing and sending you postcards (so that the first one arrives around the first of August). You write one postcard per day and send it to the person listed after your name in the group. The next day, you write another poem and send it to the next person – and so on until you go through the list. One for each day.
The idea is spontaneous writing without editing, censoring, or revision. You can use the postcard as your prompt or not. Some people choose a theme to write on for the month. The postcards vary from store bought to homemade, contemporary to vintage. It’s really wide open to your creativity, imagination, and passion. Then, throughout the month of August, you will receive poems in the mail from the others in your group.
This year – the one change in the event has been year-round registration – so you can register now. Some participants have already started sending cards instead of waiting until August – in response to the pandemic – since we could all use a bit more poetry and a bit more connection in our daily lives. A few ambitious writers have already completed their 31 cards and have signed up for another group! The organizers welcome repeat participation.
This is a safe and fun way to connect, motivate your writing, and enjoy the wonderful gifts that others will send your way. Sign up today!