Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pushcart Nomination: How The Sun Burns, Minnesota Review

Photograph by Marion Doss, used under CC license
Good news! The Minnesota Review has nominated my story "How The Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble" for a Pushcart Prize.  This is the title story of my next story collection, and the third time I've had a story nominated for a Pushcart.

"How The Sun Burns" was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the journal

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Man Walks into a Bar: An Interview about Time, Writing, and What Isn't Revealed

Photo by Mark Kelly, used under CC license
The incredibly generous writer and editor, Michael Noll, is featuring my story "The Midwife" on his website Read to Write Stories.

On Tuesday he featured a writing exercise based on the story, and today's installment is an interview with me in which I discuss why I don't use advertising in a story and some of the problems caused by writing in present tense and how I tend to deal with those.

A man also walks into a bar. Come on over. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time Present and Time Past: The Midwife is Under Discussion

Photo by Alexis Fam Photography, used under CC license 
Over at Read to Write Stories, Michael Noll is featuring my story "The Midwife" this week in a discussion focused on ways that times moves in the story. Today he has based a writing exercise on it, and on Thursday, you can read an interview with me about some of the story's elements, and other writing-related thoughts.  

"The Midwife" was originally published in Glint literary journal and will be in my next collection, How the Sun Burns.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Million Writers Award Open for Nominations

The 2013 Million Writers Award is open for nominations.

Nominate any short story that was published in an ONLINE -magazine during 2012.

To fill out the nomination form, go here or copy/paste this link into your browser: http://www.storysouth.com/millionwriters/2013-individual-submit.html

Of my stories, "The Midwife" is eligible for nomination. Read the story here, at Glint literary journal.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Minnesota Review Spring 2013: How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble

the minnesota review: Spring 2013, Issue 80
My story, "How the Sun Burns among Hills of Rock and Pebble" is published in the Spring 2013 issue of minnesota review, which is now available for purchase (Issue #80).

The story is the title story for my next book, How the Sun Burns, and the story was a finalist in the 2012 Kore Press Short Fiction Award.

It also happens to be one of my favorite stories.

Here is the opening:

But aside from the black crepe ribbons that flap on the white poles of the fair entrance archway, anyone who didn't live in the town last summer or close enough to hear the nightly news or who didn't ask about the luminaries lining the dirt avenue that ran along the fair's midway last night, wouldn't know that a young woman named Helen Greene disappeared from last summer's Agricultural Fair.

To read the rest, order this Spring's edition of minnesota review.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Featured Author on LibraryThing

Evidently I'm one of the two featured authors today on LibraryThing, so that's pretty lovely.  It's also my nephew's birthday.  So, a good day all around.


Featured Authors

Today's featured LibraryThing Authors. Are you an author? Join up!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Burning Bard: The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert

These Great Fires: 1982-1990 
by Jack Gilbert

This week I read Jack Gilbert for the first time.  The poems I read are from his book The Great Fires.  Gilbert is an excellent poet.  One of our great bards.  I need not read all of his books to know this, to make what may seem like a sweeping claim. But I've read enough dead books to feel when a book is real, when the person's words come from are honest and display the rawness that is right.  No differently than a child can tell when an adult is talking down to her and when an adult is not.

Most every poem has hurt with its vision, but hurt in the way that happens when one finds that someone else has put words on life, held it still long enough to say, Yes, me, too, but this way.

The two poems that so far have shifted the world of words are these: "Guilty" and "Married."  The poem "Guilty" must be read out loud and alone, but here is the other:

(from the anthology Earth-Shattering Poems, edited by Liz Rosenberg--Google Books preview)

Those interested in hearing the man behind the poetry might be interested in the Interview with Jack Gilbert at the Paris Review.  The questions are sometimes inane, but the answers never are.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket: Celebrating National Poetry Month

We're four days into National Poetry Month over here in the United States.  If you know a poet, probably you know that this is the month where most everyone who writes and reads poetry takes the time to encourage the writing and reading of poems in any number of attempts to spread poems like a beautiful virus into the minds of others.  It's the month when readers are allowed to become desperate to find and infect new readers.

There are a number of ways this is done. One, for example, is by overheard transmission: this is when you find yourself in an elevator, on the way to floor 5, and a stranger begins to recite a poem.  Another method is by invitation to listen, or to be part of, a community poetry reading; many of these are recently inspired by the Favorite Poem Project begun by our former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. 

Aside: This is one of my favorite Favorite Poem mini-documentaries: 
undefinedWe Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
read by John Ulrich
South Boston, MA

Photograph by Ella Novak
used under CC license
This year, a new attempt at trying to grow Reading Culture and sustain poetry into the next century is a pocketed one.  You may never know that someone beside you has a poem in his or her pocket.  But it's true.  And if you ask, you might be given an incredulous look or, better, the poem for your pocket.

Poem in Your Pocket is a recent phenomenon that began in North Carolina, travelled to New York City, and is now spreading into the national scene.    

The Way It Works:
It's pretty self-explanatory. Put a favorite poem in your pocket and carry it about on April 18 (this is Poem-in-a-Pocket day, evidently). Make a copy for your friend's pocket. Then, join in any pocket-poem events near you, or lead one. These are some suggestions from the website:

  • Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places (Do this one. Also, it would be good to leave lone pockets about, with poems in them.)
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out 
  • Text a poem to friends 
  • If you want to find a new poem that is already pocket-size, then you can select one from the Poem-in-a-Pocket page on Poets.org.

    If today were April 18, I would carry this poem in my pocket: "The Committee Weighs In" by Andrea Cohen.  And I would print a copy for your pocket, too. 

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    "The Rabbit" in Big Pulp Spring 2013

    Big Pulp's Spring 2013 issue is now available in print, and the editors are slowly releasing the stories online. My short-short, "The Rabbit," is now available to read.

    This is my third publication with Big Pulp, and I was happy to work with Bill Olver again.  He's top-rate.  They've even made an author page just for me.  Awesome. :)

    The Rabbit (2013)
    Palestine, IL (2010)

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Photographer on Focus: Anka Zhuravleva

    photograph by (c) Anka Zhuravleva,
    all rights reserved by photographer
    It has mostly been my life experience to find soul-mates after they have died.  T.S. Eliot, for example.  I remember reading his work in college, falling head over his words, and then having to come to terms with the fact that he was, in fact, dead.  It happened again when I watched Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly, and then continued to watch all of his films.  He had not died yet, but I could not think of what to write to him on a postcard.  But then he died, as people tend to do.

    I don't know how I came across Anka Zhuravleva's photographs, but I did recently, and I think we have a similar vision of the world.  Or, at least, I recognize in her vision something of my own.  I suppose that's one sign of a great artist . . . making it sort of impossible for anyone not to see themselves in the vision.

    In her bio, she notes the deaths of her parents, within two years of each other, when she was a young woman.  Perhaps, then, that's what I share with her.  Perhaps there's something that happens, when that happens, if it happens at just the right time in a persons's life, and that person already had tendencies to imagine herself away. . . Maybe that's what I see in her work that makes it seem to me that she has shown me a photograph she took of my nightmare last night, and of my dream by day.

    Regardless, her work has a disjointedness about it that I enjoy.  The way she shows the impossibility of reality by showing what it can't do.  To show how impossibly grounded the world is by showing the wishes.  To show the limits of the body by showing images of the body in motion, the body outside of gravity, the body moved by the unseen that isn't. The photograph's attempt to capture the can't-be, as though it did catch it, like you will hear suddenly the voice of a long-dead friend saying your name, and you turn to it and find you'd heard the voice through your mind and not through your ear.  And then you remember why and see that you're still standing in the world, somehow, and on your way to whatever task you have.

    I think one of the great things about Zhuravleva's work is that, unlike the typical visions we're given of impossible worlds (the romantic comedy, for example, or most anything on TV) is that she's asking us to ache for the can't-be rather than pretending that the can't-be can.  She provides longing for us, and lets us both feel it and think about it.  Her photographs don't say, Here is a fantasy for you to escape your life by living.  Her photographs don't say, Fantasy is better than reality, and so despise your reality now that it isn't like what you can imagine. Her photographs say, Look, look what I found for you, look at the impossibility of beauty through its impossibility.
    photograph by (c) Anka Zhuravleva,
    all rights reserved by photographer

    This especially becomes interesting when even scrolling down her Facebook page, for there is a mix of the obviously fantastical photographs with straight-eyed head shots, or a woman sitting at a table and not, as in another photograph, floating into the room.  And so the bleed-over from the fantastical photographs onto the more realistic photographs begins a deeper narrative about the real.  For suddenly, I think, the viewer begins to see the woman floating while being trapped inside the gaze of a woman who stares out, daring us to look away, to float away, to leave as all people do eventually.

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    AWP is in session, 2013 Schedule

    The big news in the United States literary-realism writing world is in Boston. The AWP (Associated of Writers & Writing Programs) Conference officially began yesterday, with today being the first full day of panels, discussions, and late afternoon revelry.

    So, if you're there, or like me, wish you were there, then you might be interested in looking at the ongoing events.  From the official schedule, I've compiled an itinerary for each day of the conference so that you don't have to wrack your brain for what to go to next:

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    "The Missing Time" in Lake Effect literary journal

    Just a quick announcement that my story "The Missing Time" will be published in Lake Effect, Volume 18 (Spring 2014).  This will be my third publication with the journal.  The most recent story, "Winter's Wooden Sparrows" is presently nominated for a Pushcart, and the first story they took was "Digging," one of the stories in The Floating Order.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Countdown to AWP 2013: If you were me on March 9

    The annual AWP conference is less than a month away.  Here at What She Might Think, I'm highlighting the top events for each day of this year's conference, which will be in Boston.

    We're on the third installment of the series, which brings us to Saturday, March 9, the last day of AWP.  The last day of any conference is tricky because attendees who have been thorough in their attendance begin to suffer fatigue and will be more inclined to spend the last day seeing the sights or making their way to airports because they have 60 papers to grade before Monday.  I tend to be one of these people, but if I were feeling especially focused, these are the Saturday events I'd most likely attend. (For the full schedule of Saturday events, click here.)

    Saturday, March 9

    9:00-10:15 A.M.

    "Translating Slippery Dreamers:
    French Surrealist Poetry in the Hands of American Authors"
    Room 204, Level 2

    Summary: The presenters, who are both poets and translators, will talk about the peculiar difficulties in translating aspects of French surrealism into English, such as automatic writing. 

    Why I would attend: Translation in and of itself has always interested me, especially in terms of what can't be conveyed. I'd be interested in what the particular experience is with surrealism since its expression is already an attempt to defy reality and often visual surrealism is difficult to describe, so I imagine the language of surrealism would be interesting to learn about.  Seems like a panel that would be inspiring.

    10:30-11:45 A.M.
    "Lower Your Standards:
    William Stafford in the Workshop"
    Room 107, Plaza Level

    Presenters: James Armstrong, Philip Metres, Alissa Nutting, Jeff Gundy, Fred Marchant

    Summary: The discussion will center on poetry workshop and the classroom experiences these instructors have had in using Stafford's teaching philosophy, and the benefits of integrating this view in the Creative Writing Classroom.

    Why I would attend: Any discussion about changing the workshop experience, and hearing other instructors share advice, would be useful now that I'm finding myself on the other side of the desk these days. 

    Conflict: George Saunders and others will be reading at this panel: "The Lake Effect: A Celebration of Fifty Years of Creative Writing at Syracuse." I've heard Saunders read before, enjoy his work, and would like to hear him read again. (Room 200, Level 2)

    Noon-1:15 P.M.

    "Carol Shields: 
    Her Language and Craft"
    Room 109, Plaza Level

    Presenters: Eric Freeze, Aritha van Herk, Anne Shields Giardini, Genni Gunn
    Summary: The work of Carol Shields will be discussed, with a special appearance by her daughter.
    Why I would attend: Carol Shields is one of my favorite writers--of both short form and novels. Originally from northern Illinois, Carol Shields became a writer later in her life, and by that time was a full-fledged Canadian. Her work shares many Midwestern themes.  She died of cancer in the last decade. Oh, and she won the Pulitzer Prize.

    1:30-2:45 P.M.

    "Countering Stereotypes of Disability through Contemporary Fiction"
    Room 107, Plaza Level

    Summary: The writers will discuss what it is to write disabled characters, and read from their work.
    Why I would attend: I would like to be part of the dialogue and listen to what other writers have encountered.

    3:00-4:15 P.M.
    It is more than likely that this would be a time to go tour the book fair, or have a sandwich, but in the event that neither seemed a worthwhile pursuit, then I would go to this:

    "Salt: The Home of Beautiful Books
    An International Reading"

    Summary: England-based publisher will showcase readings by some of their writers who live across the globe.  And while there is no promise of this, perhaps there will be some discussion about Salt as a publisher since it's a small press and nearly went under a few years back.
    Why I would attend: I've been interested in Salt for a while, and would like the opportunity to meet some of the writers. I have a special affinity for writers who aren't from the U.S.

    4:30-5:45 P.M.

    "Counterpoint Press Reading"
    Room 309, Level 3

    Summary: The writers published by Counterpoint Press in 2012 will read from their memoirs and novels. The press's editor will reflect on the aspects of each work that drew his attention, and the authors will then discuss what it is to be a Counterpoint author.
    Why I would attend: Counterpoint is one of the presses that published Carole Maso, who is one of my favorite writers.  The press has a reputation for publishing innovative work, and so I would attend this panel in order to hear what it means to be innovative in Counterpoint's term in this newest of decades.

    6:00 P.M. to 8:25 P.M.
    As always, I would take this time to myself, but unlike the past two nights in which I scheduled myself nowhere, this night does have an event that I would want to attend:

    8:30 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.

    "Academy of American Poets Presents 
    Lucie Brock-Broido and Anne Carson"
    Hynes Ballroom, Level 3

    Summary: Self-explanatory
    Why I would attend: Anne Carson is one of my favorite poets.  I am always pleased to run across her work, and I would be pleased to listen to her read and converse.  She is a brilliant, interesting voice.  I don't think she could be a writer who would disappoint in person, or irrevocably change my opinion.


    What events would you most want to attend on Saturday?

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    A Book for a Valentine's Day

    This didn't happen:

    I was on the bus, riding it to an important place of trees and turning roads.

    This didn't happen, either:

    As I stood up when I was supposed to arrive, someone who had been sitting beside me reached out and touched my arm and said, This Valentine's Day, I would like to read a poem that is not a poem and a novel that is not a novel.
           Will it hurt you to fall in love with a person who isn't? I said.
                                                Do you wish to wish? I didn't ask.
                                                Yes, unsaid the person who wasn't.
                                                Well, I think Ava would be the book.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Countdown to AWP 2013: If You were Me on March 8

    This is the second installment in the "Countdown to AWP 2013" here on What She Might Think.  And while I'm not attending the conference this year, I am somewhat pretending that I am going to Boston, and sharing the events that I would want to attend.  Because a number of my old friends are attending this year's edition, the conference has been more on my radar than usual.

    To see my selections for Thursday's events, see "Countdown to AWP 2013: If You Were Me on March 7." For suggestions on where to stay outside of the conference hotel, since it's booked anyway, see "Youth Hostels in Boston."

    Friday, March 8

    9:00-10:15 A.M.
    "Get a Hold of Your Writing: 
    Book Arts in the Classroom"
    Room 204, Level 2

    Presenters: Meryl DePasquale, Emily Brandt, Genevieve Kaplan, Richard Mathews, Carol Ann Johnston
    Provisions by Frances Raven, 
    the uniquely made and handbound books by Interbirth Books

    Summary: This discussion will revolve around the creation of books, chapbooks, and broadsides and the benefits of teaching book design in the Creative Writing classroom.

    Why I would attend: I attempted to have students create an anthology of work that they each selected and then designed.  As this was my first time assigning the project, it would be useful to hear other thoughts about the process. Secondarily, I have always had an interested in creating books, from my pre-literate days when my mother made books out of my thoughts.  If you haven't, check out these two awesome presses whose books are created by hand: Interbirth Books and Little Red Leaves (especially look at the textile series by LRL).

    Conflict: "In Sickness and In Health: Literature at the Intersection of Medicine, Science, and the Arts" (Room 203, Level 2).  This would be a difficult panel to miss because it's closer to my interests as a writer and my more recent interests as a reader.  Since it's right next door to the other panel, I'd probably have to peek into both rooms before deciding.

    10:30-11:45 A.M.
    "Art of the Ending"

    Writers: Miles Harvey, Amy Hempel, Michele Morano, William Lychack, Scott Blackwood

    Summary: The writers will discuss the problematic situation that comes with ending a work, especially in terms of closure and reader wishes.

    Why I Would Attend: While I have more trouble with beginnings than endings, one of my professors in college gave several excellent lectures/discussions on endings in short fiction, and ever since then, I have become very vigilant about my endings and the endings of others (in real life and in fiction).  And I think there's much about the endings in poetry that fiction can learn from, and so it would be good to listen in on this.  

    Conflict: "Show and Tell: Audio and Video Production 101" (Room 312, Level 3). It's like a mini-workshop on how to do the basic things that writers often need to do by themselves for online marketing.

    Noon-1:15 P.M.
    "How to Catch a Pair of Flying Hands:
    A Reading by Deaf Writers"

    Writers: Raymond Luczak, Kristen Harmon, Allison Polk, Kristen Ringman
    Summary: The writers will read their work, but the AWP description makes it unclear whether the writers will discuss their work afterward.
    Why I Would Attend: Two of the three essays I teach in English 101 revolve around Deafness, and I'm interested in what works the writers will choose to share since the panel title and AWP description is focused more on the aspect of the writers' deafness than their work.
    Conflict: "A Poetry Reading by Four of Ireland's Most Dynamic Younger Poets," Bookfair Stage, Exhibit Hall A, Plaza Level. Of course, it will be a while before I'm in the same room as these people, so this would be my second choice.

    1:30-2:45 P.M.

    "A Reading by the 2011 AWP Award Series Winners"
    Room 107, Plaza Level

    Writers: Marcia Aldrich, Kirstin Scott, Laura Read, Corinna Vallanatos
    Summary: Each year AWP holds a writing contest in poetry, short fiction, the novel, and creative non-fiction: The writers who won the 2011 contest had their winning manuscripts in late 2012, and many are on tour for those books right now. 
    Why I Would Attend: My friend and colleague Laura Read is presenting, and so I would be there.

    3:00-4:15 P.M.
    "Don DeLillo & Dana Spiotta: 
    A Reading and Conversation"

    Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

    Summary: Self-explanatory.
    Why I Would Attend: I've read several DeLillo novels, have found all of them interesting, smart, and good, and so I would like to hear his voice through the sentences.  He's also going to talk after, and I wonder what he'll say.  He writes some of the most fantastic dialogue I've read. 

    4:30-5:45 P.M.

    "Alison Bechdel & Jeanette Winterson:
    A Reading and Conversation"
    Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

    Summary: Self-explanatory
    Why I Would Attend: The first college class I ever skipped was at Columbia College in Chicago.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, and even though it was my poetry class, it was a three hour class.  I spent the day on the beach of Lake Michigan reading Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (a book recommended, in fact, by my poetry instructor).  That was one of the most wonderful days of my life. 

    6:00 P.M. and on

    While there are a number of events scheduled after this (many more than on Thursday night), such as a conversation with Richard Russo, but I'd probably have to end my AWP experience for the day and go on a long walk to decompress--especially after having just heard Don DeLillo and Jeanette Winterson back-to-back.  To see the complete schedule for Friday, click here.  For off-site events, click here.

    Stay tuned for my Saturday selections.
    What's one of the Friday events that you would have to attend, and why?

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Countdown to AWP 2013: Youth Hostels in Boston

    Like most conferences, the AWP conference takes place in one hotel, and attendees are encourages to book their rooms there. Because the AWP conference is so large, there are several associated hotels called "overflow" hotels.  All of these are very expensive.  The main hotel, Boston Sheraton runs for $259 a night, and up.  And while this seems pretty steep to me, especially for MFA students who, even if they have a teaching assistantship, are making about $1,000 a month.  Or maybe the starving artist part comes later.  Or. . .  anyway.  The Boston Sheraton, and the "overflow hotels," are already sold out.

    So, if you're attending AWP this year, and you are trying to spend as little as possible, here are some other ideas.

    Youth Hostels.  No, they are not only in Europe.  More and more cities have more than one hostel for young-ish travelers, and medium cities are starting to follow suit.  Of course, Boston is pretty large, so there are so many choices.  They also seem perfect for writers since writing requires absorbing as much of the experience that exists outside of the standardized one.

    I've stayed in hostels in Europe and in the U.S. and have found that they always add a more unique experience than the standard hotel room since the hostels encourage discussion among travellers and are often located in neighborhoods, or at least in parts of the city that aren't dedicated only to high-end shopping and chain restaurants.  I haven't stayed at the hostels below, but if I were attending AWP this year, I would try to book a room in any of these.

    Hostelling International
    Here's the situation with staying at Hostelling International:

    As of 1/29/13, there are rooms available in the premium and standard dorms for $44.99-$59.99 a night. A private room with a bath is twice as much but $100 less than the Sheraton.


    Private Room W/ Ensuite Bath


    Premium Female Dorm


    Premium Male Dorm


    Premium Mixed Dorm


    Standard Female Dorm


    Standard Male Dorm


    Standard Mixed Dorm


    Economy Female Dorm


    Economy Male Dorm


    According to their website, to stay at a youth hostel, you need to have a membership, which costs all of $3.

    As of 1/29/13, this is what was available at 40Berkeley, according to their website:

    1. Standard Doubles contain two twin-sized beds, a desk, lamp, chair, and night stand. Most rooms include a ceiling fan and either a clothing rack with hangers or a closet. All bathrooms are shared, with both a women's and a men's bathroom on each floor.
    We are currently renovating all of our rooms. During this
    transitional period, you may stay in either a renovated or a
    non-renovated room.
    Click on photo to the right for pictures of both room types.



    Standard Triples contain three twin-sized beds or one twin and one set of bunk beds. Most have a bureau, night stand, ceiling fan, lamp, and some have a sink. Room specifications can be requested in reservation notes, but are not guaranteed. All bathrooms are shared, with both a women's and a men's bathroom on each floor.
    We are currently renovating all of our rooms. During this transitional period, you may stay in either a renovated or a non-renovated room.
    Click on photo to the right for pictures.


    Guests at 40Berkeley also evidently get some additional perks--for free: free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a free pass to New England Aquarium, Museum of ScienceHarvard Museum of Natural HistoryPrudential SkywalkLoew’s Boston Common Theatre

    Of the three hostels, this hostel has received the best and most consistent reviews via Google. It's also the most inexpensive of the three.  As of 1/29/13, this is what was available:

    Room Types5th6th7th8th9thNo. Of guests
    Basic 6 Bed Mixed Dorm28.0028.0028.0028.0028.00
    Standard 10 Bed Mixed Dorm28.0028.0028.0028.0028.00
    Basic 10 Bed Male Dorm28.0028.0028.0028.0028.00
    Basic 10 Bed Female Dorm28.0028.0028.0028.0028.00