TMR Editors’ Prize
Our new, enhanced online anthology
Current Issue: 36.1 (Spring 2013)
Featuring the winners of the 2012 Editors' Prize as well as work by Cara Blue Adams, Jennifer Anderson, Aaron Belz, Jerry Gabriel, Darren Morris, and Brad Wetherell... along with a conversation with Steve Almond and William Giraldi and a look at the art of Al Hirschfeld.
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*Today’s guest post comes to us via Olivia Aguilar. Olivia is a recent graduate of Stephens College with a degree in English. She currently works as an office assistant at The Missouri Review, and is great.*
I, like many other college graduates, am searching for a job. Finding a job in publishing in today’s economy is like hunting the mythical chupacabra (if the chupacabra urged you to work as an unpaid intern). Sure, I knew what I was getting into when I declared a major in English, but I didn’t realize how time-consuming job hunting could be. I spend most of my nights combing through pages and pages of simplyhired.com and revamping my resume. I’m not complaining, but I do wish I had more time to write. The inspiration just hasn’t come to me. My notebooks are beginning to grow cobwebs. This lack of inspiration could be what some like to call “writer’s block,” or it could just be the anxiety that comes with my postgraduate uncertainty. Either way, I spend a lot of time staring at a blinking cursor.
My newfound interest in writer’s block led to me spending quality poetry-writing time searching the Internet for articles about the writing process (or for me, lack thereof). NPR’s TED Radio Hour published a story on the creative process and how different artists go about creating something. When does creativity start? Do poems exist in your mind or on paper? Alison Stewart, the show’s host, asks three artists, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Abigail Washburn about how they handle the creative process. As a poet, I found Billy Collins’ comments the most helpful. As the former U.S. poet laureate, I’m sure he doesn’t have as many bouts of writer’s block as I do, but it was nice to hear that even Billy Collins can’t write poems 24/7.
When asked what he thinks about as he writes his poems, Collins said that when he writes, he doesn’t focus on the fact that he is writing a poem. In fact, it’s the last thing on his mind. He tries to stop writing or it will go on forever (ugh, jealous). Alison Stewart then asked him the question I was dying to know the answer to: What do you do on those days when it just doesn’t come to you? Billy simply replied, “Go to the drycleaner. I mean the usual stuff. I just wait.” This may sound like a simple response, but to someone who is guilty of overthinking everything, this is just what I needed to hear. For the first time since I graduated, I didn’t feel the pressure to whip up a mediocre poem because I hadn’t written anything in so long. My writing wasn’t “blocked,” I was just waiting.
Throughout my college career, I wholeheartedly believed in the concept of writer’s block. If I couldn’t think of anything to write about, I would shrug my shoulders and mumble something about writer’s block under my breath. Billy Collins doesn’t believe in it because writers can’t write constantly or they would go insane. Telling yourself that you’re waiting for something to come along is far more healthy than thinking you’re a failure and you’ll never write a poem again. Collins says that his writing involves plenty of patience and intensity. I have yet to master that patience, but when I’m done waiting, maybe I, like Collins, won’t be able to put my pen down.
Last week Sarah Handelman, a former intern who is in working as a freelance designer in London, emailed me a blog posting about an exhibit at Mayor Gallery of 44 of Sylvia Plath’s pen and ink drawings. Many of these detailed images of farm animals and house pets, ordinary objects such as women’s shoes, an umbrella and a Chianti bottle, and scenes of small town life have been included in biographies and the afterwards of her novel The Bell Jar but I have never seen them assembled as a collection. More than her poetry, her sketches show a love for the simple and homey. There’s nothing dark and disturbing here.
Like Plath, many artists are adept at more than one medium. This is true of the authors collected in The Writer’s Brush: Painting, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers by Donald Freidman. The dust jacket features one of Plath’s cubist inspired paintings, “Two Reading Women,” which shows a sophisticated use of color, texture and perspective that’s not apparent in her quaint, rather straightforward sketches.
The coffee-table sized book is full of surprises. Faulkner’s artwork couldn’t be more at odds with his much-admired dark, lyric novels about the South. Influenced by the Art Nouveau style of popular illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley and John Held, Faulkner produced handmade, illustrated books as gifts. He often took as his subjects the flappers and their beaus and set them against the backdrop of parties and social clubs. If Sherwood Anderson had not suggested that he write a novel, he might have tried to make a career of illustrating for fashion magazines.
Another favorite is E.E. Cummings, who studied art in Paris, hung out with Picasso, and published a collection of ninety-nine drawings and paintings. The pieces featured in The Writer’s Brush show a whimsical, gestural, colorful style. He never struggled to reconcile his desire to both write and paint, believing that the function of all the arts is “the expression of that supreme aliveness which is known as ‘beauty.’”
Kris Somerville is the marketing coordinator of The Missouri Review
It is impossible to be a theater buff and not be a fan of Shakespeare. It is even more impossible to be a fan of Shakespeare and not be excited about the recent news that they have found the theater where Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were first performed.
After a dispute with the landlord at their previous venue simply named The Theater, Shakespeare moved his company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to The Curtain Theater north of the River Thames in Shoreditch, an area east of London’s business district. The theater was the main venue for his plays for about two years until the Globe Theater opened across the river in 1599. Ben Jonson’s work was also performed there.
Like the Globe, the Curtain was a polygonal structure and served as a venue for all sorts of Elizabethan pastimes such as bear baiting, sword fights and acrobatics. Scholars were left with the impression that Shakespeare was never quite happy with the venue and found his real home at the Globe.
Nevertheless, the Curtain was one of Elizabethan London’s longest surviving theaters, functioning as a playhouse until the 1620s. The discovery of the Curtain follows other recently significant Shakespeare-related archeological finds. Remains of both The Theater and The Rose were discovered down the road from the Globe in 2008.
As someone who enjoys playing groundling at the Globe when I am in London, these archeological finds make me excited about what there is still left to learn and discover of Shakespeare’s world.
Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review
We’re very sad to hear that the beloved author Ray Bradbury died last night in Los Angeles. He was 91.
In 2004 The Missouri Review published as part of our “found text” series, a collection of letters by Ray Bradbury to his British publisher Rupert Hart-Davis. We became interested in the letters because they show a close, more than fifty-year relationship between writer and publisher. The men, both enthusiastic lovers of books, occasionally met over the years to sit down and go over edits. Perhaps strange for a writer, Bradbury loved to be edited, particularly by a man as astute about literature as Hart-Davis. He also loved travelling abroad and meeting people whose work interested him. The letters are full of accounts to his publisher of his encounters with the critic and collector of Italian art Bernard Berenson, movie director John Houston, and philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell.
In the foreword to the feature, we marveled at Bradbury’s prolific output as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. He wrote over six hundred short stories, twenty-seven novels, movie scripts, essays, poetry and plays. He was one of the most anthologized writers in American literary history. At least five of his stories were winners of Best American and O. Henry awards.
Bradbury was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay Icarus Montgolfier Wright, adapted from his short story about the history of flight, and his screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick was greatly praised.
He was best known for his novels Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, which is still standard high school reading. The dystopian novel, a Cold War satire against government control of thought, was made into a film written and directed by Francois Truffaut in 1966. These three works in particular have lasting literary interest.
Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review
Today we’ve launched a completely new design for our website. We hope you’ll find it simpler to use and easier on the eyes. There will be some growing pains over the next couple of weeks as we make further refinements and implement so additional new features, but we hope these improvements will make that much nicer of an experience.
The TMR Webteam
Dear Friends of TMR:
The search continues for missing poet Craig Arnold. The following message comes once again from Jess Piazza, one of the primary forces in marshaling resources that first raised the alarum and is continuing to work with Craig’s friends and family to keep up search efforts:
With the assistance of the University of Wyoming, a fund has been established to support the search efforts to find Craig. Even the smallest contribution would be of use. Thank you so much for your love and support.
Donations can be made via the Paypal link here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick& hosted_button_id=5149253
Or by sending checks made out to “Find Craig Arnold” to the following address:
UNIWYO Federal Credit Union
1610 East Reynolds Street
Laramie, WY 82072
This fund has been created to support the search efforts for Craig Arnold. The outpouring of concern for Craig has been remarkable, and your donation will be deeply appreciated. Thank you for your help and support.
Your donation will be used for the following purposes:
To fund the inclusion of an independent non-profit expert international search and rescue team, 1 SRG (http://www.1srg.org/)
To (potentially) fund the expense of continuing to engage local Japanese resources beyond Sunday, should that prove necessary.
To fund Craig’s safe return to the United States and, should there be any, medical expenses to bring him back into full health either in Japan or here or both.
In the event that there should be any funds remaining in this account after the search has been concluded and Craig has been recovered, any and all remaining funds will be used to establish an educational fund for Craig’s son Robin.
Full disclosure: the account “Find Craig Arnold” has been opened in the name of Beth Loffreda (the director of the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Wyoming, where Craig teaches). This was done to create the fund quickly, with the full permission of Rebecca Lindenberg. Control of the account will be transferred as soon as possible to members of Craig’s family.
Again, confirmed news can be found at the Facebook site or findcraigarnold.blogspot.com.