My 2018 Reading List

I love to read, but I struggle constantly with my own expectations of how and what to read and specifically with how much to read. The struggle comes to a head about this time of year when I look back and make some kind of judgment about how I spent my limited time and energy. For 2018, I ended up reading 52 books, obviously, an average of one per week, although it wasn’t paced out that way at all.

Dorie and Book Shelf
Seen here, my cat Dorie picks out her next book to read.

Does it matter? Does the number of books I’ve read make me a better person? Does it make me a better writer? There’s some science to back up both possibilities. But more importantly, I enjoy reading. I love a book that captures me with its language and its characters, and yeah, a great narrative helps too.

Two of the books I loved the most this past year are Jacob Shores-Arguello’s In the Absence of Clocks and John Brandon’s Further Joy. Neither writer was familiar to me when I came across their work in magazines. Arguello’s poetry was found in The New Yorker, and I found a short story by Brandon in Oxford American. Both journal pieces blew me away. I felt so lucky to discover that each had books that were as thoroughly good as their individual publications.

Here’s the list of all 52 books I read this year. I’d love to see what you read in 2018. And I’d love to year which books were your favorites and which ones will stick with you.

1. Russell Banks – A Permanent Member of the Family
2. Virgil – Eclogues
3. Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way
4. Laura Hunter – Beloved Mother
5. Elaine Fletcher Chapman – Hunger For Salt
6. Jacob Shores-Arguello – In the Absence of Clocks
7. Michael Dowdy – Urbilly
8. Eric Shonkwiler – Moon Up, Past Full
9. William Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice
10. Marie Howe – What the Living Do
11. Robert Pinsky – At the Foundling Hospital (Feb)
12. William Shakespeare – As You Like It
13. Marie Howe – The Good Thief
14. Jacob Shores-Arguello – Paraiso
15. Madeline Ffitch – Valparaiso, Round the Horn
16. Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge – Poemcrazy
17. Todd Boss – Tough Luck: Poems
18. Walt Whitman – Song of Myself (Mar)
19. Marc Harshman – Believe What You Can
20. Rita Quillen – The Mad Farmer’s Wife
21. Linda Parsons Marion – This Shaky Earth
22. Greg Wrenn – Centaur
23. John Brandon – Further Joy
24. John Lane – Anthropocene Blues
25. Larry Thacker – Drifting in Awe
26. Rachel Danielle Peterson – A Girl’s A Gun
27. Michael Knight – The Holiday Season
28. Jia Oak Baker – Well Enough to Travel
29. James M. Gifford – Jesse Stuart, Immortal Kentuckian
30. Manuel Gonzales – The Miniature Wife
31. Sharon Kay Penman – Falls the Shadow
32. Crystal Wilkinson – The Birds of Opulence
33. James Herriot – All Things Wise and Wonderful
34. Ottessa Moshfegh – My Year of Rest and Relaxation
35. Rowling, Tiffany & Thorne – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
36. William Glasser – Choice Theory
37. James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small
38. Sylvia Lynch – Jack Lord: An Acting Life
39. Kevin Fitton – Dropping Ballast (manuscript)
40. Jane Smiley – A Thousand Acres
41. Stephen Mitchell – Gilgamesh
42. C.D. Wright – One with Others
43. Kevin Canty – Into the Great Wide Open
44. George Eliot – Silas Marner
45. Michael Kardos – The Three-Day Affair
46. Christopher Smith – Salamanders of the Silk Road
47. Grant Faulkner, Lynn Mundell, Beret Olsen – Nothing Short of 100
48. Maureen Seaton – Fisher
49. Amy D. Clark – Success in Hill Country
50. Langston Hughes – Let America Be America Again and other poems
51. Cassie Pruyn – Lena
52. Kathryn Stripling Byer – Catching Light

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Recommended Reading 2/2/2018 – Short Stories

The best part about January being so long and cold was that it was a great time to read.  It was literally too cold to do anything else. February is starting off the same way. If you’re stuck inside this weekend and not sure what to read, here are some of the short stories I read last month. Try one or two or more.

“No Good” by Hala Alyan

“Freezer Burn” by Ron Austin

“Shine” by Ron Austin

“August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury

“The Ceiling” by Kevin Brockmeier

demonman-1-768x461

“Demonman” by Julialicia Case is an amazing story that appeared online this month at The Master’s Review. Here’s how it begins:

“I am eleven the spring Demonman comes, first to the alley behind the Kroger, where the dumpsters reek like fermented orange juice, then to the train tracks by the boarded-up video store, then to the Harding mansion, still for sale, then to a snot-colored van with flattened tires. He comes to our nightmares, our whispered worries, to newspapers and televisions and notices in the post office. He’s called something else, a different name, although, of course, he is still Demonman. Since the shootings upstate, the police struggle with the race riots, but they claim to be searching for him, following the leads.”

“Expensive Lessons” by Anton Chekhov

“These Certain Young People” by Dave Eggers

First Night

“First Night” by Kevin Fitton appeared online this month at Storgy. I loved reading this story that covers a large emotional range but still manages to impart some humor. Here’s how it begins:

“It was the morning of New Year’s Eve, and a dull light confessed the start of another winter day. In Vermont this time of year, the days were short. It was dark when Brian woke in the morning for work and dark when he drove home from the office. It was the time of year Vermonters did their best to survive by taking vacations to the Caribbean, talking to their therapist, and drinking. The night before it was snowing when he went to sleep, and Brian dreamt that the roof was covered with two feet of heavy snow. In his dream, he could feel the house sweating as it tried to hold the weight, could hear the rafters cracking under their burden—pop, pop, pop, like the last kernels of corn on the stove.”

“The Miniature Wife” by Manuel Gonzalez

“Mermaid in the Jar” by Sheila Heti

“Plan B” by Michele Johnson

 “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

“My Name is Jean-Pierre and I am Still an End Table” by Dana Schwartz

“Saying Goodbye to Yang” by Alexander Weinstein

 

If you’ve read a great short story lately, please tell me about it in the comments.

Eric Shonkwiler’s Moon Up, Past Full

Frank Bill may have said it best when he said that Eric Shonkwiler “has an eye for detail and a lot of heart. His words stay with you.”

I picked up Shonkwiler’s collection of novellas and stories, Moon Up, Past Full, when I was in Washington DC in 2017 for AWP.  For the rest of the year, the book sat at the top of my to-read pile, but I was having a hard time reading anything. When I finally picked the book up this week, it was like taking a shot of good whiskey—smoother than you could hope for and over quicker than you want it to be.

MUPFfc

I admire this book and Shonkwiler’s writing so much.  His stories are perfectly balanced between character and action. His imagery is great. His language has some beautifully poetic turns but is also perfectly precise. So much happens in each story that even the shorter pieces feel completely developed and novelistic in scope. However, it is in the longer works in this collection where Shonkwiler really shines.

The longest piece in the collection, “GO21,”—an apocalypse-type story that I didn’t want to end—was also one of my favorites. The story works on so many levels.  It’s a must read.

Another favorite was the story, “Rene,” originally serialized in three parts online at Fiddleblack. Rene is a young woman on a horse with a sick mother.  Like all of Shonkwiler’s stories, the complications keep adding up as the story goes along. Unlike most of the other pieces, Shonkwiler is exploring issues of race and class in this story. I highly recommend you click the link and read the story for yourself.

It’s not by any means one of the longest stories in the collection, but “My Wakeup” is probably my absolute favorite of these stories.  The story was originally published online at Splinter Generation, and again, I recommend you read it now. Like Shonkwiler’s other work, this story is detailed and deceptively simple.  It starts off with Geier, an Iraq war vet, on his return home from the base in Kuwait. Once back and unsure of what to do with himself, he hooks up with another former soldier, Jones, and the two take a road trip cross country.  Some of the drinking and drugging and whoring might be predicable, but (like all of Shonkwiler’s stories) the feeling behind it all feels tragically sincere which makes it unique. And beautiful. And well worth the read.

For more about Eric Shonkwiler and his writing, check out his webpage: http://www.ericshonkwiler.com/.  Follow him on Twitter: @eshonkwiler

Michael Dowdy’s Urbilly

This week, I’ve been reading Michael Dowdy’s amazing debut collection, Urbilly, the winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.  This is a great collection of poems that all work together to voice something really meaningful that is in some ways about modern Appalachia and its people. But it’s also about a great deal more.

cvrurbilly_postcard

Through the pages, the idea of the “urbilly” becomes so vivid. I would attempt to explain, myself, what an urbilly is, but I think Dowdy does that best on his website:

“Urbilly?  Think antic field guide to parts (un)known & exploited. Mountain / megacity mashups, rural / urban hullabaloo, New River / Gowanus cocktails. Backwoods & Brooklyn. Mountaintop removal & Edison bulbs, landfill & farm-to-table, Muriel Rukeyser & Big Daddy Kane, James Still & girders of steel. Think Urbilly as the anti-Hillbilly Elegy.”

When I was an editor at drafthorse a few years ago, we had the pleasure to publish a few of Dowdy’s poems that are included in Urbilly. Click on “drafthorse” to read a group of the poems, but here’s one of my favorites.

The Out-Migrant’s Family Tree, as Seen through Binoculars

Smudged along the lower ridge
a copse of knobby hardwoods

withers in coils of cold wind.
Squint past the blind curve scribbled

in cut banks of brush, just there,
where fog-coated sycamores

unfurl scrolls of icy bark,
where taillights trickle beyond

Oblivion, Virginia,
where calm haunts the revenant.

Laurel hells strangle hearth and flue.
Even springs zigzag uphill.

No good here my wistful words.
Those provenance jackets veil

a sparrow chest and stuffed gut.
Here, where decades stretch threadbare,

my grave dark eyes, sockets deep
as karst caves, skitter and rest.

A tongue rhododendron tied
slips loose; restless legs snap to.

My sneakers swoosh in hoarfrost,
scything kin from the harvest

of time, stutterers who hauled
fieldstone, sunk wells, and raised beams

right about there. You have to
cock your head just so, just there,

where clouds lung the mountains’ ribs.
Where trunks bend and crack the last

inky leaves bear down, hold outs
against the thieving north winds.

 

 

 

 

Elaine Fletcher Chapman’s Hunger For Salt

hungerSalt

I’ve spent this week slowly reading Elaine Fletcher Chapman’s beautiful collection Hunger For Salt.  Elaine describes her own writing style as minimalist. She says she’s in love with the white space. I can’t argue with that.  Certainly, most of the poems are very short in length. I believe the shortest, a poem titled “Still Mourning” is a mere three lines.  But to describe Elaine’s writing or these poems as minimalist doesn’t paint a full picture because each poem is so realized.  Elaine’s choices are so precise and thoughtful, even short poems feel very full.  So many of these poems feel meditative, and that tone is strengthened by spiritual references.  Her poem, “Searching,” is one of my favorites in the collection, and in it, she tells us that she borrows phrases from the Buddhists.  Read the poem below:

Searching

Still trying to accept loss,
I borrow phrases from the Buddhists:
a bowl and a spoon, a single robe,
chop wood, carry water.
Name this one room studio
Holy place of contemplation.

Last week I stepped into the stone labyrinth
and immediately heard, go home.
For a week I asked, Where is home?
I open the door to hear the rain
and distant thunder. I pour
a cup of freshly brewed tea, add ice
and fresh lemon. I ask again,
Where is home?
I return to Basho,
and St. Teresa of Avila:
interior, interior.

Another of my favorite poems is “Anticipation of Blossoms.”  Instead of copying the poem’s text here, I’m going to attempt to embed a video of the poem that was created by the very talented Laura Lipson. (If the embed doesn’t work, please see the link to Elaine’s webpage below.)


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/211019399″>Poetry Video: Anticipation of Blossoms</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/elainefletcherchapman”>Elaine Fletcher Chapman</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Laura created 3 poetry videos from Elaine’s work, and they’re each beautiful.  They would also be very useful for teaching purposes. I hope you’ll take the time to visit Elaine’s website where you can view all of the poetry videos as well as a great trailer about the collection: http://elainefletcherchapman.com/poetryvideos.html.  I’m glad to have had this book to help me through this past winter week.

Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s No Way Out But Through

One of the great pleasures of my graduate studies was the opportunity to work with Lynne Sharon Schwartz. She was a tough reader and a firm critic—not ungenerous at all—but she was not the kind of person who suffered fools or foolish writing. She was one of the best mentors I could have asked for.

LSS and Denton

I learned a lot by working with Lynne Sharon Schwartz, but I have probably learned almost as much from reading her work. I read her novel, The Writing on the Wall, after my first semester with her. Later, I read her memoir, Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books. I loved it so much that I bought copies for many of my friends who were writers, knowing they too would see the beauty she describes in her life-long relationship with reading. It wasn’t until after I finished my graduate work that I also realized this excellent prose writer was also a skilled poet.

nowayoutbutthrough

I have loved everything by Lynne Sharon Schwartz that I’ve ever read, and her latest collection of poetry, No Way Out But Through, is no exception. So many of these poems are elegies—elegies for her parents, her sister, her youth, even for the Brooklyn where she grew up but that’s gone now, forever changed. Even in the poems examining death and the loss of her closest friends and family, there’s something beautiful, almost hopeful, in the way Schwartz shows how we remain connected to those who have passed. But among these poems of loss, there is also great humor. Schwartz has a brilliant eye for seeing what’s askew, and even when she’s deadpan in her delivery, the note is always just right.

Here is a poem from the collection, “Forgetting,” which originally appeared in Narrative. You can view the original publication here: http://www.narrativemagazine.com/issues/poems-week-2014-2015/poem-week/forgetting-lynne-sharon-schwartz.

Forgetting

Absence rarely makes the heart grow
fonder, or so my mother said, popping
a blackberry into her mouth—
we’d raided the patch at the far edge
of the woods. Absence, she said,
begets forgetting. And while you mightn’t
so swiftly forget a blackberry’s taste
or a thorn’s prick, or a cloud’s sheep shape
skimming low like a darning needle
over a lake, how fast the lineaments of face
or voice or touch vanish, like that!
She snapped her fingers,
bolted down the berry.

Rachel Hadas reviewed No Way Out But Through for the Los Angeles Review of Books, describing Schwartz’s poetry like this: “She’s an archivist of memories, a celebrant for the forgotten or nearly forgotten, who also writes eloquently of the undertow of oblivion. She’s an anthologist of anxiety dreams. Irritated by Cordelia and partial to the Fisherman’s Wife, she’s a contrarian reader. At all times, Schwartz’s poetic voice is piercingly honest. Her tough-minded intelligence leaves plenty of room for questions and regrets.” You can read the entire review here: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/times-technique-on-lynne-sharon-schwartzs-no-way-out-but-through/#.

As I mentioned, Schwartz has an excellent sense of humor. One of the many poems where that comes out is in this poem about sex.

What the Poets Never Write about Love

The actual words murmured: not
Ah, your silken thighs, your breasts
like tender hills, but, Shit,
my zipper’s stuck. My arm
is getting numb, please move. Wait,
I’ll do the sleeve, and no, it hooks
in front not back. Hold on a sec,
I have a hair in my mouth, and move your ass,
I can’t breathe this way. Remember,
I asked you once before to cut your fingernails?
Not to rush you or anything but
I can’t stay in this fucking position another minute.

This act they say displays our animal nature
yet we’re not, after all, like animals in love,
who finish, pant, grunt, saunter off.
They do not lie together after, or kiss,
laughing at their words of love, awkward
intimacies of bodies getting in their own way
on the tumbling, humbling path to bliss.

The voice of each poem is so strong, and Schwartz’s characteristic wit constantly shines through. I look forward to coming back to these poems again and again. I’ve enjoyed them as a reader. I’m learning from them as a writer. And I’m excited to think about Schwartz will write next.

My 2017 Reading List

Some year, I’m going to read 100 books within a space of 12 months.  It wasn’t 2017 though.  My list for this past year is so short, I’m almost ashamed to show it.  But here it is anyway.  Several of these books were read in manuscript form and aren’t available on the market yet.  Look for them in 2018.

I’ve talked a lot about how problematic I find J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.  And I never skip a chance to say again what a bad book it is. Beyond that, I recommend so many of the beautiful books on this list for various reasons.

I suppose the book I’m most proud of reading this year is Cormac McCarthy’s The Orchard Keeper.  I started this book about 15 years ago–maybe longer.  I suppose I wasn’t read y for McCarthy.  And though I’ve read several of his other novels in the past decade, The Orchard Keeper sat on the shelf, never finished.  Going back to it this year, I found it to be a really beautiful book, and I was glad I had kept it around all those years.

I’d love to hear what your favorite books were from 2017, or the one you’re most proud of reading. Let’s all read more this new year.

Here’s my full list:

1. Jim Wayne Miller – The Mountains Have Come Closer
2. J.D. Vance – Hillbilly Elegy
3. Alison Stine – Ohio Violence
4. Lincoln Michel – Upright Beasts
5. Ron Houchin – The Man Who Saws Us in Half
6. Iris Tillman Hill – All This Happened Long Ago – It Happens Now
7. Blas Falconer – A Question of Gravity and Light
8. Claudia Emerson – The Late Wife
9. Charles River Editors – The Library of Alexandria and the Lighthouse of Alexandria
10. Gerry Wilson – Crosscurrents and Other Stories
11-18. 8 manuscripts for a poetry contest
19. Mark Wunderlich – The Earth Avails
20. Timothy Liu – Don’t Go Back to Sleep
21. Anais Duplan – Take This Stallion
22. Peter LaBerge – Makeshift Cathedral
23. Jeanne Bryner – Both Shoes Off
24. Keith Lesmeister – We Could Have Been Happy Here
25. James Arthur – Charms Against Lightning
26. Ocean Vuong – Night Sky with Exit Wounds
27. Sean Frederick Forbes – Providencia
28. Clifford Garstang – Everywhere Stories Volume 2
29. Jenson Beach – Swallowed By the Cold
30. Adam Clay – Stranger
31. Joanne Nelson – If Not For the Mess
32. Katlin Brock – The Dead Always Stay OR Between the Wounds
33. Wes Sims – Taste of Change
34. Mark Powell – Small Treasons
35. Carol Grametbauer – Homeplace
36. Cormac McCarthy – The Orchard Keeper
37. Richard Hugo – The Triggering Town
38. Donald Morrill – Beaut
39. Lynne Sharon Schwartz – No Way Out But Through

Submission Calls for Writers 12/15/2017

submissions

Here are a dozen new submission opportunities just waiting for your work. There’s only a couple of weeks left to submit to a few of these excellent journals, so pay close attention to those deadlines.  This is likely the last of these postings for the year.  Thanks to all of you who have used and shared these lists.  Best of luck submitting, now and in the new year.

Foundry

Foundry is always open for general submissions (free). Please submit 3-5 original, previously unpublished poems through Submittable. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. We pay $10 per poem. Foundry publishes a range of styles and forms, from short lyric poems to prose poems and longer narratives. We are committed to inclusivity and warmly welcome submissions from marginalized voices.

http://www.foundryjournal.com/submit.html

 

Split Lip Review

Split Lip Review is open for FREE submissions during the months of December. We’re a literary journal of voice-driven writing with a pop culture twist. We publish online monthly and in print yearly. We accept fiction between 1,000 and 5,000 words, flash fiction under 1,000 words, and memoir up to 2,000 words.  We accept only one (yes, just one) poem at a time. Please do not send us more than one poem. Send your best poem, but only one. We mean it.

http://www.splitlipmagazine.com/submit

 

Barrow Street

Our open reading period is from December 1st to December 31st. There is a $3 charge per submission from January 1st to March 15th. Submit up to six poems or eight pages. Response time is one week to four months.

http://barrowstreet.org/press/submit/

 

the museum of americana

the museum of americana is open to submissions of prose and poetry from until December 31st. We seek work that engages with or repurposes the complex cultural history of America.

https://themuseumofamericana.net/submissions/

 

Folio

FOLIO is a nationally recognized literary journal affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in Washington, DC. Since 1984, we have published original creative work by both new and established authors. For Volume 33, FOLIO is particularly looking for work responding in some way to the theme of “crossroads and intersections.” All we ask is that you send us your best work that brings us to the place where two ideas, two paths meet, converge, collide, or divide. Submit fiction up to 5,000 words, nonfiction up to 4,500 words, or up to 5 poems.  Deadline: Jan 2, 2018.

https://foliolitjournal.submittable.com/submit?mc_cid=84b9946a5c&mc_eid=508eb4b613

 

Brevity One-Minute Memoir

The Brevity Podcast is seeking submissions for our One-Minute Memoir episode. We’re looking for ultra-flash nonfiction of 100-150 words (on paper) and up to one minute (recording time). Accepted pieces will be broadcast in our February episode and receive a $25 honorarium. Deadline for submission is January 6, 2018. You may submit in one of two ways: 1) Text only. Submit a .doc. We will record accepted pieces in the Brevity studio. 2) Audio file. Submit an MP3 or WAV of your own recording PLUS a .doc with the text. Recordings should be a maximum of 60 seconds.                  Brevity publishes well-known and emerging writers working in the extremely brief (750 words or less) essay form. We have featured work from two Pulitzer prize finalists, many NEA fellows, Pushcart winners, Best American authors, and writers from India, Egypt, Ireland, Spain, Malaysia, Qatar, and Japan. We have also featured numerous previously-unpublished authors, and take a special joy in helping to launch a new literary career. Over the past year Brevity has averaged 10,000 unique visitors per month. The Brevity Podcast launched in 2016, and has featured interviews with Andre Dubus III, Dani Shapiro, Rick Moody, and other nonfiction notables.

https://brevity.submittable.com/submit

 

The Stinging Fly

We publish new, previously unpublished work by Irish and international writers. We have a particular interest in promoting the short story. We also welcome submissions of poetry and prose in translation.

No more than one story and/or poetry submission should be submitted during any one submission period. For poetry submissions, all poems should be included in a single file. Short stories and poems should always be just as long (or as short) as they need to be. Our next open submission period will run until Thursday, January 11, 2018. This will be for our Summer 2018 issue.

https://stingingfly.org/submissions/?mc_cid=84b9946a5c&mc_eid=508eb4b613

 

Outlook Springs

Send us stories we can’t put down. Our emphasis is literary fiction, but we aren’t biased against genre. Send poems that ooze with sonic pleasure and stagger from line-to-line with an animated corpse’s lingering bravado. As for nonfiction, send us your travel narratives, your lyrical essays, your personal essays, and everything in between. If it’s real, if it’s interesting, if it’s well-written and gives us a new and exciting way to see the world (or – even better—inside your head), then we’ll publish it. Our current reading period ends January 15, 2018.

https://outlooksprings.submittable.com/submit?mc_cid=84b9946a5c&mc_eid=508eb4b613

 

The Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award

Minimum 3 pages; maximum 10 pages. Maximum 1 poem per author. Doris created new worlds with her unexpected poetics. Following upon her spirit of creative invention, engaging wit and ingenious playfulness, discovery in construction, and radical appropriations based on classical forms, pastiche, etc., and love, the Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award is given to a poet with a truly inventive spirit. The winning poet will receive $500 and publication in the Spring 2018 issue of Fourteen Hills. Poems not chosen for the award will be considered for publication in Fourteen Hills. Deadline is January 15, 2018. There is no submission fee.

https://fourteenhills.submittable.com/submit/23931/the-stacy-doris-memorial-poetry-award?mc_cid=84b9946a5c&mc_eid=508eb4b613

 

Cincinnati Review

The Cincinnati Review welcomes submissions from writers at any point in their careers. We read until March 1, 2018. Please submit up to six poems or a total of ten manuscript pages at a time. Fiction submissions should be no more than forty double-spaced pages. We’re interested mostly in pieces of nonfiction less than twenty double-spaced pages, though you can try us for longer pieces if you think they’ll knock our socks off.

http://www.cincinnatireview.com/submission_guidelines/

 

Anastamos

Anastamos is a modern interdisciplinary journal. Each issue focuses on a single topic with diverse perspectives on the human experience, weaving together creative, scientific, philosophical, historical, and social perspectives on common shifting themes. We live in a world frequented by sets of binaries. One such set is between order and chaos, or as we are naming it for the third issue of Anastamos: DIS/ORDER. We seek submissions that explore the complex relations that come out of this deceptively simple set. Disorder is often bound up in deterioration and decay, but through this decline life emerges, new opportunities swell. Structures change and order and sense are inlaid upon a new world. Tell us about the order of things, probe the structures and boundaries of your work. Submissions for issue 3 close March 23, 2018.

https://anastamos.chapman.edu/index.php/submit/

 

Sycamore Review

Sycamore Review is looking for original poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. POETRY manuscripts should be typed single-spaced, one poem to a page, up to five poems. PROSE should be typed double-spaced, with numbered pages and the author’s name and title of the work easily visible on each page. NONFICTION should be literary memoir or creative personal essay. Sycamore Review does not publish scholarly articles or journalistic pieces, though we do publish experiential journalism with a memoir bent. We are interested in originality, brevity, significance, strong dialogue, and vivid detail. There is no maximum page count, but remember that the longer the piece is, the more compelling each page must be. Our general reading period runs now through March 31, 2018.

https://sycamorereview.com/submissions/

Recommended Reading 12/12/2017

The year is slipping away, but here are a few last-minute reading recommendations.  Enjoy!

Megan Culhane Galbraith has a short essay about sex, virginity, and Planned Parenthood online at Boink: http://boinkzine.com/2017/11/10/losing-it/.

Linda Michel-Cassidy’s essay, “This Snow, This Day,” (originally published at Harpur Palate) has been republished at Entropy: https://entropymag.org/this-snow-this-day/.

Rosemary Royston has two poems in the new issue of museum of americahttps://themuseumofamericana.net/current-issue/two-poems-by-rosemary-royston/.

Brian Tierney’s poem, “Morning in Galilee,” is online at Cincinnati Reviewhttps://www.cincinnatireview.com/samples/morning-in-galilee-by-brian-tierney/

You don’t want to miss this fascinating conversation in real pants, “HALF REVEALING, AND HALF CONCEALING THE SOUL: BARRETT WARNER INTERVIEWS CASSIE PRUYN”: https://realpants.com/half-revealing-and-half-concealing-the-soul-barrett-warner-interviews-cassie-pruyn/.

And Christian Whitney’s story, “Acceptance,” was a finalist in the summer fiction contest at Gulf Stream Literary Magazine.  Check out the story here: https://gulfstreamlitmag.com/acceptance/.

Keegan Lester’s “A Psalm against J.D. Vance”

I’ve written and spoken much about my disgust for media darling J.D. Vance and his book, Hillbilly Elegy.  If you don’t already know my position, you can check out my review of the book in issue #189 of Meredith Sue Willis’s Books for Readers.  There have been far more articulate arguments against Vance’s terrible book, but up until now, most of those responses have been in the form of reviews and op-eds.

I was excited to discover that Keegan Lester responded in a beautiful poem, published recently online at Anastamos and well worth the read.

A Psalm against J.D. Vance by Keegan Lester

Spill a little lighting for Ryan & Marcus, Natalie, &
my great grandfather. Spill

a little lightning for Tom & Jason & Joe & Teresa.
Graveyards round here full

of people cause there’s a thousand ways into the mine,
a thousand ways to be

killed in the mine, cause the American coal miner
can only be seen in light

when they’re dead. The only time the media has a big interest
is the day after & one day a hundred years will pass

& they wont even love nature anymore,
& they will say what we did to the natives was genocide

& they will say what we did to those cities was apartheid
& they will say what we did to Appalachia was colonialism,

we treated them as if not our people, but things
to bring ore up out of a mountain,

& one day they will use the word slave
& one day they will let Appalachian children speak for themselves

& one day they will let Appalachian children into colleges
& not ask them to denounce the place they came from

their culture, their religion, their hands,
& one day they will let Appalachian children speak

& the Appalachian children will say you can’t lose but so much blood,
then the body

shutting down; it was cheaper to destroy a mountain
than put up a man to work underground,

my brother’s body mangled in such a way,
every bone crushed, I could not recognize him,

that’s what they gave us back
of the miners up at Upper Big Branch,

Don Blankenship’s employees, they were our friends, beneath the surface.
They were brave men at work.