The Kind of Light That Shines in Minnesota
By Michael Nye
Last week, I went to the 2015 AWP Conference (along with 12,000 others, right?) to represent the Missouri Review in a range of different programs. Along with doing my best to meet with writers, editors, and publishers, I also was a part of several programs. On Friday night, TMR was one of six Missouri literary journals that hosted a reading at Segue Cafe, showcasing the diversity of our region and our magazines. On Saturday, I was a panelist not once but twice: the first was on literary podcasts, and the second was on teaching literary magazines in the classroom. Both went really, really well.
But what has really stuck with me was my Wednesday night event.
“Beyond Bars: Voices of Incarceration” was a reading, free and open to the public, in downtown Minneapolis at the Central Library. There were ten readers, all of whom (except for me) instructors and teachers and mentors in prison writing programs from throughout the country. Each of us read a brief piece, five to seven minutes at the most, on behalf of incarcerated writers. After, ten of us were on a panel to answer questions about how to support these programs, how to get involved, what challenges we face, and so forth.
I was invited by Jennifer Bowen Hicks from the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. TMR was the only strict “publisher” at the event, though several of these organizations have created and sold chapbooks and/or books of their students’ work. The other participating programs were Hennepin County Outreach Services (based in Minnesota), the Women’s Writing Program (also in Minnesota), Words Without Walls (Pittsburgh), and Revised Sentences (North Carolina). Several other organizations helped to support the event: Hennepin County Library, the Minnesota State Arts Board, The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University, Carleton College, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Red Bird Chapbooks, and the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Basically, lots of people got involved.
Our role has always been, I thought, pretty simple: TMR showcases nonfiction from inmates and instructors. That’s it. I didn’t realize how important our Literature on Lockdown series has been to both groups. But that’s what I heard over and over again last week: that what we publish matters, that the writers published in our series are proud to get their voices heard, that we are needed outlet for a group of writers very rarely represented in the small press and literary magazine community.
The AWP conference is a wonderful thing. Readers of this space know how much I enjoy the conference, and over the years, I’ve written blog posts leading up to the event and post-event roundups. There are plenty of those from a wide-range of writers, and they go up every year at the same time, regular as Christmas decorations. And they are all well and good, just like the conference itself, which, for whatever complaints people might have about it, really is a good and amazing conference.
And, yet, despite all the best efforts, it can feel a bit homogenized. You know?
When our previous social media editor, Alison Balaskovits, came up with Literature on Lockdown and the Working Writers series, what she was responding to was the palpable sense that there is a world of writers that is often left out of our culture. We needed to do something, no matter how big or small, to be an outlet for those writers. And this past week has shown me that Alison’s vision has taken shape into something critical and unique, thanks to the many writers and teachers who have answered our call for their work.
So here is our reminder: we want to read more.
If you have taught in prison or were formerly incarcerated and are writing, or know someone who currently is and would like to be a part of the series, please send an e-mail to us at email@example.com.
If you feel you fit our Working Writers Series — no major awards, no books in print, maybe only a few or no publications, but are still writing — get in touch. Our goal is to give voice to a wide range of writers, to learn from their experiences, and to open a discussion about living the craft. Please send an email to us at TMRWorkingWritersSeries@gmail.com
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Best of AWP14 SWAG
By Anne Barngrover
One of my favorite parts of the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference is always the generous armloads of swag I get to come home with afterwards: literary journals, magnets, mini notebook pads, pens, fortune cookies and saltwater taffy, and, of course, books of poetry. While at AWP14 in Seattle, I perused the enormous book fair for the most exciting new poetry books of 2014. Some books were long-anticipated and some were surprises, and I have been savoring them all in the weeks since I’ve returned to Missouri.
In no particular order—and in honor of the first week of National Poetry Month—here are the top five books I brought home from AWP14:
1. Seam by Tarfia Faizullah, Southern Illinois University Press
Winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry contest, Seam is described by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as “a beautiful and necessary book” with a “brave and unflinching vision.” Its driving force is outlined in the epigraph of the powerful first poem, “1971”:
On March 26, 1971, West Pakistan launched a military operation in East Pakistan against Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, and armed personnel who were demanding separation of the East from the West. The war resulted in a secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh. According to Bangladeshi sources, two hundred thousand women were raped, and over 3 million people were killed.
In her fierce and courageous debut, Faizullah intertwines words from the birangona women themselves (a Bangladeshi word that is translated as “war heroines,” although they were usually ostracized from their families and communities) and the speaker’s own coming to terms with how “the country of her birth/ became a veined geography inside// you, another body inside your own.”
The bravery and vulnerability of this stunning first collection took my breath away as the speaker asserts in the poem “The Interviewer Acknowledges Grief”: “Because you/ can’t reassure me I have/ the right to ask anything// of women whose bodies won’t/ ever again be their own.” Seam ends, though, with a line of hope: “The moon filled the dust-polluted sky: a ripe, unsheathed/ lychee. It wasn’t enough light to see clearly by, but I still turned/ my face toward it.” I am excited to read more from this poet who is steadfast in her search for the truth even in the most unimaginably dark places.
You can read an interview with Faizullah about Seam at The Paris Review.
2. Thieves in the Afterlife by Kendra DeColo, Saturnalia Books
Chosen by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, each poem in this debut collection fizzles and crackles with such energy you expect the book to burst into flames in your hands. It exposes a world that “belongs to the panty-less/ and unshaved” “where the road was a ripped/ vein and the night bled oil/ and the bodies swallowed up/ in the green music.” DeColo employs a language you can sink your teeth into, full of sex and grit and color, of “what is too precious/ to be said aloud,/ what is so beautiful it’s a sin.”
More than that, though, I read Thieves in the Afterlife as a lush, unabashed ode to female desire, pushing the boundaries of what women are allowed to say. The book opens with the first poem, “Anthem,” that begins with the words “I Heart Pussy,” and ends with the yearning “to love myself/ the way a match combusts// in a pocket.” And yet, the speaker knows that it’s not enough to simply voice this longing in a world where female desire is still considered taboo. The emotional heart of this book rings out in the lines: “It’s not enough to save a body/ from darkness but teach one to shine.”
You can check out Kendra DeColo and more of her work on her website.
3. The Tulip-Flame by Chloe Honum, Cleveland State University Poetry Center
I loved this book. I loved these poems. Not just appreciated, admired, and were inspired by them, but loved. Shrouded in mist, set in an eternal spring where moths collide with throats and ballerinas never turn around, they pay homage to beauty amidst the overwhelming sensations of grief and loss. Even as these poems meditate on melancholy and sorrow, they expose a world that glimmers with unexpected musicality. The speaker’s senses here are so sharp, so finely tuned, nothing is ever what it seems. A house becomes “a wet coat/ we couldn’t put back on,” an absence of voice, “a bowl/ of very still water,” the pinch of hunger “a balloon tied to your wrist,” birds “white scarves in the wind,” “wet handkerchiefs,” “their wings turning like oars.”
Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith writes in the introduction to Honum’s book, which won the 2013 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, “Like a dancer, or like a dance, The Tulip-Flame is expertly wrought, built upon muscle and instinct and crafted into something that feels effortless and spontaneous.” This is a book I know I will return to again and again for comfort, beauty, music, and inspiration.
4. Abide by Jake Adam York, Southern Illinois University Press
What can I say about York’s final book, published posthumously a little over a year after his untimely death, that will do justice to its brilliance, beauty, and bravery? I didn’t know if anything could top Persons Unknown, which was my previous favorite of his books, but in Abide I felt the full weight and emotional resonance of York’s life and work, and it left me breathless. Did this book mean so much to me because I could feel the tragedy of his death pressing on it? Absolutely. Is this a fair critique? I don’t know. All I know for now is that I’m not done being amazed by this collection. So, instead, I’ll just leave you with the title poem from Abide, a book with a glowing white cover where the rest were black, and a book that’s filled with elegies, the blues, and the powerful work of one man’s life:
Forgive me if I forget
with the birdsong and the day’s
last glow folding into the hands
of the trees, forgive me the few
syllables of the autumn crickets,
the year’s last firefly winking
like a penny in the shoulder’s weeds,
if I forget the hour, if I forget
the day as the evening star
pours out its whiskey over the gravel
and asphalt I’ve walked
for years alone, if I startle
when you put your hand in mine,
if I wonder how long your light
has taken to reach me here.
5. The Keys to the Jail by Keetje Kuipers, BOA Editions
I’ll be the first to admit—I totally fan-girled over Keetje Kuipers after her University of Oregon alumni reading at AWP. I discovered Kuipers’ work back in 2011 when I stumbled on one of her poems on Verse Daily, and her first book, Beautiful in the Mouth, has remained one of my favorite contemporary poetry books ever. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to devour her second collection, The Keys to the Jail, also out with BOA Editions.
Elyse Fenton writes of Kuipers’ second collection, “These poems are not afraid to feel, not afraid of desire or beauty or the inevitability of their respective undoings.” In an age where everything feels like it’s layered under fifty cloaks of irony, Kuipers’ poems to me have always felt like the real deal. They take place in the actual world; they have their feet firmly planted on the ground. Kuipers’ work has meant so much to me for this reason and more—she doesn’t gussy up heartache but looks at it straight-on with fear, sure, but fear that is recognized and whole. She is a poet, first and foremost, of the heart.
The poems in The Keys to the Jail are wolf-strong, rooted in “the cold hassocks of snow-filled grasses” that elk leave behind, in the place where “The ocean is a fist, inside of which I/ am allowed to be heartbroken,” where along the road semis “make the dead/ bird’s feathers fly again, the deer’s town// leap from the gravel of the road.” They inhabit a place where, ultimately, the speaker, with all her full-hearted desires and flaws, “know[s]/ who you are, and goodbye (goodbye!) is forever.”
You can check out more about Kuipers and her website here.
I hope you check out these five fine books of poetry and enjoy them as much as I did. Happy reading!
The Postman Always Rings Twice
By Michael Nye
Last week, we held our first class since the AWP Conference, which I wrote about last Monday. Several of our staffers were in Seattle, so the offices were a little quiet, though there was plenty of work to be done. The frequently repeated line from AWP was “We read year round” so we were sifting through stories, poems, and essays trying to finalize the summer issue and load up the fall issue. The work never ends. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
In class last week, we focused on submissions to the magazine. First, we talked about our submission system; second, we talked about how and where we receive our submissions and the fact that we charge for online submissions.
For years, TMR had a custom online submission system. We’ve taken down all the old pages, so I couldn’t walk my class through it, but, in memory, it went through something like twelve pages (really) and three or four different URLs. I was impressed anyone every submitted that way! Then, the uploaded manuscript was put in an Outlook Inbox that was accessible by the senior staff, graduate editors, and interns. There were several subfolders for each class, and on Wednesdays, everyone received a fresh batch of reading material.
The problem with this system is obvious: it’s not very secure and difficult to track the path of a submission. It worked for us—we had been using it for ten years, roughly—but it wasn’t the best way to keep track of our writers’ work. So we looked at submission management systems and made the change that best suited TMR.
We went with Submission Manager, Devin Emke’s program that is recommended by CLMP. Though my students use it all the time, they hadn’t seen the back end, so I walked through what I can do as an administrator: track a submission, run reports, mailing information, all kinds of really useful stuff that makes the magazine run more efficiently. We also looked at Submittable and Tell It Slant, two other programs we considered; the former is very popular and used by many other excellent literary magazines.
For the second half of class, we talked about online submission fees. TMR charges $3 for online submissions; postal submissions remain free and always will be. I asked the class what they thought of this, and most of them, knowing full well that TMR already has this fee in place, initially said, yeah sure, no big deal.
Finally, someone said, (paraphrasing) “I don’t submit to magazines that charge an online submission fee. I can always send it somewhere else” and we were off and running. Here are some quick questions that were (or should have been) posed to the class:
Do you find online submission fees to be ethical? Just because something can be a revenue stream for a literary magazine doesn’t mean it should be.
Is the terminology important (reading fee, submission fee, convenience fee, etc.)? Branding matters more than one might think: calling something a “reading fee” is different from an “online submission fee” in the minds of many, even if the end result is essentially the same.
What is the cost of a paper submission? Add it up. Twenty page story. Envelopes. Postage, on both the submission and the SASE. Time, getting to the post office, which might also be measured in gas for your car. The numbers are about the same …
Should the fee be different for poetry? But not necessarily for poetry, which can be stuffed in a #10 envelope.
Should writers get more for their money, such as a more detailed critique? It’s a fair question. If you spend money on an online submission, one might argue that the editors should spend more time with the manuscript. This is probably a misguided way of looking at things—there’s a worldview of spending money that entitles you to something that is disturbing (read: I cough up college tuition; therefore, I deserve a college degree because I paid money)—but if that’s the worldview we live in, how does a magazine prepare for it?
Do we spend enough time with each submission? It’s very easy for an editor at any magazine, not just ours, to look at the stack of submissions and fire through them quickly. Sven Birkets of AGNI once wrote that he only looks at the first page before deciding do proceed (I think this was in an editor’s foreword in an issue of AGNI, but I can’t find a link).
Is it solely a business transaction? After all, literary magazines are in a strange situation: we don’t have a magazine without unsolicited manuscripts. And, many of our submitters are our readers.
Other questions on my mind included the following: What do you think about waiving online fees for subscribers? Are writers our “customers/consumers”? Is there even a distinction? What business are literary magazines in? Why, if there is an explosion of MFA programs, and consequently writers, is there little to no financial support for literary journals? Must TMR or any other literary journal charge fees? Should submission fees come with some sort of incentive: a quicker response time, a more detailed critique, or something else?
It’s not a perfect or complete list of questions, but for my students, this is the first time they’ve been asked to consider online submission fees in-depth. It’s far too easy to say “Oh, well, we’ve always done it this way” without asking why it’s always been done this way. Maybe it wasn’t the most groundbreaking discussion in history, but when it comes to literary magazines, there isn’t any one right or required way to publish literature. And if that leads to students asking “Why?” or (maybe even better) “Why not?” in the future, then the discussion took us in the right direction.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Sleepless in Seattle; Or, Yes, I Do Know You From Twitter
By Michael Nye
My recent Monday posts have been about my Internship in Publishing class, but this past weekend was the great big AWP Conference, and it seems like it would be a mistake to veer from the past and not write yet another of the thousand (give or take) post-AWP blog posts that will be going up over the next few days. Here are my posts from the last couple of AWP conferences: Boston in 2013, Chicago in 2012, DC in 2011, and Denver in 2010.
So this is Year Five for me with the combination of going to the conference and being a TMR employee. While everyone remarks on each year being bigger and badder (bad meaning good!), it has always seemed gargantuan to me. My first year, I was running around trying to introduce myself to people and figure out what my dual role: emerging writer and managing editor. When I went to Denver, I had only been at TMR for four months and was still getting my feet firmly on the ground with my basic job responsibilities. Now, on my most days, I’m certain of what I’m doing here and I’ve also been fortunate enough to publish my first book of short stories.
Each year, then, there are new and old friends that I want to spend time with, as well as new and old business colleagues that I want to talk shop with, and those two camps frequently overlap. Before I flew out, I sat down and started writing down the names of people I wanted to see, not even sure if they were all going, and within about ten minutes, I had filled an entire sheet of paper. And I knew there was no way I was going to be able to see all of them. This realization made me both happy and sad, and filled me with a certain amount of anxiety about the trip.
It didn’t help that my first AWP interaction in Seattle was awkward when I failed to recognize a fellow writer who I had done a reading with just a few months ago. Ye gods.
Anyway, I still haven’t really processed the trip. Yesterday was a travel whirlwind, and I’m trying to hit the ground running back here at TMR. Reflecting on all the things I learned, what I heard, concerns and complaints and hopes for publishing, plans for TMR in 2014, and so much more, it’s going to take a few days for it to all sink in and give me direction for what’s next. On the whole, though, I’d say the state of publishing and writing and editing, despite all you hear about the Death of Reading, is strong.
Here’s a few more scattered thoughts on my Seattle trip:
The Rejections and The Voice. I spent more time at TMR’s table than I have in past years. We sent fewer people to the conference this year than we have in the past, and I also found it easier to just stay in one place and let writers and editors know via Twitter when I was at the table. Frequently, I took the morning shift in order to let my staff sleep in (plus, I was wide awake at 6 am every day; my body was not a fan of the whole West Coast time zone thing) and I was at the table every day. I believe I was there for about twelve hours total.
Two things kept coming up from our readers. The first was that they really like our rejections. I know: sounds like an odd thing to hear, right? But, as a writer and a veteran of the conference, I get it. We don’t have a magazine without the writers who submit their work to us, and with so many magazines to choose from, why would they send to us? It’s an extension of the idea that VIDA stresses when it comes to publishing work by and about women: you have to let people know they are welcome. Sounds really simple, but it isn’t. And over the years, our staff has done an excellent job of encouraging the writers whose work was discussed as a possible publication, but didn’t ultimately make it into our magazine. We have to let writers know that we value their time, effort, and writing. It was great to hear that we seem to be doing that effectively.
The second thing surprised me a bit: people really love our blog. This is a huge compliment to our social media editor, Alison Balaskovits, who curates all of our platforms. We want our blog to sound like us, but we also want it to be a place where other writers can find a voice; hence, our Working Writers and Literature on Lockdown series. I was thrilled to know that the blog has found a readership. So, you out there: thanks!
RUN AWP might have been the single greatest event in the history of mankind. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But not by much. What was RUN AWP? It was a basketball game put on by poet Scott Cunningham, who curates the O, Miami biennial poetry festival produced in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the University of Wynwood, which advances contemporary literature in Miami. He’s a busy dude. He got with Indiana Review and they worked together to find a bunch of poet/hoops junkies to play ball for two hours in the middle of the conference. Open to the public, DJ spinning 90’s hip-hop, and a poetry reading to close: what could be better?
So, I ran with Marc McKee, Ross Gay, and Scott, and we played four-on-four in a quasi fullcourt game. How did we do? We won five straight. I got named co-MVP. I wore a neon green penny. We heard Blackstreet and Montel Jordan. This was such a good time. Getting away from the conference for basketball was the best idea ever. Big thanks to Scott, IR, and everyone else who made this wonderful event happen.
Magic Heckling. I heard more than one version of this story, but it’s an important thing to read. According to Naomi Williams, here’s what happened at Lucy Corin’s panel.
I Know You From Twitter! Though I’ve had a Twitter account since 2011, this was the first year where I felt it was a major part of my conference interaction. I’ve spoken to several people through Twitter in the last twelve months, and it is my preferred method of social media interaction, for a wide range of reasons I won’t get into here. There were people I was looking forward to seeing, many for the first time, who I know only through the Fail Whale.
Naturally, you don’t make fast friends with everyone, and these interactions can be strange. They can also be delightful. Though I definitely had a few “okay, that was weird” moments, on the whole, I loved hearing “You really like basketball, don’t you?” or “I know you from Twitter!” and getting to talk to people, face-to-face, for the first time, for a few minutes. But two moments really stand out.
I got to sit down and have coffee with Ashley Strosnider, a writer in South Carolina, and talk about novels, writing, post-MFA stuff. We didn’t get to talk nearly lone enough, but we definitely had a “hey, this person isn’t insane!” vibe going. The second was late Saturday, when I was sitting in the conference hotel lobby, trying to get my second wind to hang out for the fourth night in a row, and then this happened.
Bonus Moment: What’s up, Kima Jones?!
Eating Alone. Thursday morning, because of jetlag and all that, I was wide awake at four in the morning, and after a failed attempt to fall back asleep, I hopped on Yelp and looked for an inexpensive place to eat breakfast at 6 am. Remarkably few options that early in the morning. Anyway. I found Lola, a restaurant that had a perfect, chill ambiance, and rocked eggs with kale, octopus, beans, onions, and two slices of bread. Food was perfect, but also, the time to ignore all the noise and appreciate the fact that I was a part of this conference at all. It’s far too easy to bitch and complain about the conference rather than notice how amazing it is that the whole thing works at all. Quiet breakfasts are one way I did that this year.
…And With Others. On the other hand, stepping away from the conference with friends to have a meal is also a good thing. And calming. And a way to eat lots of seafood. Thanks and love to Lania Knight, Jessica Rogen, Lydia Ship, and Maura Lammers for talking to me and sitting through my messy eating habits, which include dripping sauce on my sweater, burping loudly, and asking for endless refills of water.
Fifteen Good Minutes. This can’t happen with everyone, but when it does, it means a lot to me. So, to those (off the top of my head) that I got to talk to for a little bit longer than I had any right to expect – Matt Bell, Phong Nguyen, Becky Tuch, Erin Monahan, Daniel Stolar, Amina Gautier, Katie Moulton, Steve Schroeder, Marianne Kunkel, Andrew Ladd, Anca Szilagyi, Stephanie G’Schwind, Liz Prato – thank you. Loved seeing you.
People I Missed. Too many to name or list here. Hey, look, it happens. No one is angry or upset about it (I hope). It’s just the nature of the conference. But after five years, I’m still learning to let it go, and I have a hard time accepting it. I wish I had the chance to see everyone that I wanted to, but the frenetic nature of the weekend prevents all the reunions. If I missed you, I am sorry.
Author Signings Under a Barrel. On Friday, I sat down at the Boulevard table with my friend Jessica Rogen to sign copies of my book. I had eight of ’em, and didn’t really know what to expect: would anyone come by? Sure enough, Dave Housely and Katherine Hill of Barrelhouse came over to say Yo and get an autograph and a beer koozie. I know them both a little bit, and also got to meet Tom McAlister for the first time at the conference. Remember what I said (see above) about just having that great vibe with some people? That’s them. Wonderful magazine, and better people. It was a joy to see them. And big thanks to everyone who bought a copy of my book! The Dude abides!
When This Is In Minneapolis … Yes, I have said and thought that already. A huge thank you to the entire staff of AWP (especially the volunteers) who made this conference as terrific as it was. I dig the conference. And I can’t wait to go back and do it again.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
AWP Seattle: Why Undergraduates Need to Attend
Should undergraduate students be encouraged or even permitted to attend the AWP Conference?
Last week, post-AWP Boston, my friend Andrew Scott (author of Naked Summer, Ball State professor, senior editor at Engine Books, and all-around champion of good things in contemporary literature) posted this conversation starter question on his Facebook wall.
He received comments—chimed in on by a range of authors, editors, and educators—that touched on a range of important questions, with legitimate concerns about the direction of AWP and its current goals. If you’r interested, you can read about AWP’s goals in their strategic plan, some of which you might find are problematic as aggressive expansion seems to be a crucial component of the ten-year plan (I doubt they would phrase it this way). But I want to focus on Andrew’s original question: to undergrad, or not to undergrad?But for the sake of keeping this blog post under thirty thousand words, I’m going to focus on the original question of undergraduate involvement, especially since I have a small advantage here: four undergraduates affiliated with The Missouri Review went to AWP Boston. Why don’t we ask them what happened?
The Missouri Review, like most established organizations, has a mission statement, and along with producing a quarterly literary magazine, we also have a strong educational component. Our internship program, for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Missouri, is a significant part of what we do. And a large part of that education is being a mentor to emerging writers and young editors. I’ve always felt that the most satisfying part of being a teacher is seeing your students’ success, the ones that kept at It, whatever It may be, long after your classes are over.
This year, we had four undergraduates who, on their own, attended the AWP Conference. They are all in different stages of their college career, and I asked them individually for their thoughts on this year’s AWP conference.
Jordan Durham, a second semester TMR intern who has been accepted into an MFA program for next year, was guided by John Nieves, one of her poetry professors here at Mizzou. Nieves, who will be an assistant professor of poetry at Salisbury University in the fall, showed Jordan and a fellow poetry student around the book fair the first day. He made introductions to poets and editors, not really holding their hand, just giving his MU students a little grounding to the conference experience. After that, Jordan and her friend(s) were off and running, but they were eased into their first day.
Olivia Aguilar, one of three TMR office assistants who went to AWP Boston, attended last year’s conference in Chicago. At the time, it was her final semester at Stephens College, and she found the experience overwhelming (certainly the layout in Chicago of the book fair and the narrow hallways to the panels didn’t help). This year, Olivia said, she was looking for three things: journals where she could submit her poetry, a job in literary publishing or a small press, and information on graduate schools. She went with a plan. Her lanyard identified her as a TMR employee. “Most people asked us about that,” she said. “They saw our tags. That’s why my experience was so different this year. I was more likely to be asked questions and have a longer discussion.”
Maura Lammers, another office assistant, is a graduating senior. She had never been to the conference before, but friends of hers at Mizzou had gone to AWP Chicago and had a blast. “For me, it was just a great opportunity to immerse myself in a community that I very much want to become a part of within the next few years. Although I’m not going to grad school for at least a year and I probably won’t be able to find a job in publishing immediately, it was still enormously helpful for me to mingle and talk to editors from journals I admire and grad schools I’m interested in. It’s always nice to be surrounded by like-minded people and to know that there are literally thousands of people who still believe in the power of storytelling, like I do.”
Kaulie Lewis is the only one of the four who still has a year left toward her undergraduate degree. Like Olivia and Maura, she volunteered to work the TMR booth and talked to people that came by to visit our journal. From this experience, she had different expectations when she was speaking to graduate students and magazine editors at the book fair tables. “I had one of the most awkward human social interactions EVER. But then other tables were super friendly. Or looking at some MFA programs, some people were like ‘Here’s a card.’ But another introduced me to the director of the program and I talked to her for fifteen minutes. It makes an impression on you when people are friendly and actually talk to you.”
All four students talked about their panel experiences which, as is typical, was a mixed bag. Olivia liked one in particular: “The Steve Almond one about turning essays into a collection. No pretentiousness.” Maura said, “At about half the panels I went to that had lesser-known writers, those writers were always referencing their own work or trying to promote it in some way. So I would just be sitting in the audience thinking: Okay, I want you to tell me about travel writing in general and how to do it–not tell me all the details about your book and try to get me to buy it. I guess I expected the panels to be more instructive (like mini lectures).’ In any case, though, if the moderator was prepared and had good questions to ask, the panels were almost always great. I do think the moderator can make or break a panel.” Kaulie added, “I was struck by how not helpful the panels were. There were very few things that I thought ‘I will take that home and use it.” The best of the panels and readings, all agreed, was the Cheryl Strayed and Augusten Burroughs reading.
For our three office assistants, they also unanimously agreed that working the TMR table was their favorite part of the conference. Olivia said “that was all of our favorite parts. We thought we were gonna like the panels but it turned out we only liked one or two of them of the eight we saw. Talking with everyone was the best part.” Kaulie agreed: “All of us enjoyed (working the table) way more than we thought we would.” Because of their experience on the other side of the table as part of a staff, all three women approached other journals and writing programs with confidence. They knew how to approach editors not just as curious submitters and avid readers, but as colleagues, treating both the exhibitors and themselves like they belonged. Which, of course, they did.
Further, all three agreed that going with writer-friends that were motivated and had similar writing goals made a tremendous difference. This is critical. All three women want to pursue a life in writing, creating or publishing it and reading it and everything else in between. They are in similar stages in their lives, working in different genres but generally in the same area of contemporary literature, and supportive as friends and writers. Maura said it best: “Being with Kaulie and Olivia is like sliding down a gigantic rainbow on the back of a unicorn while eating ice cream and petting a box full of puppies.”
When I asked them what they would tell an undergraduate planning on going to next year’s AWP Conference, they’re suggestions were similar. Olivia said, “Learn as much as you can. Everyone that goes comes away with something. Basically soaking it all in reaffirms why you are in this industry. This experience has made me want to keep going. See my favorite writers read, it was reaffirming.” Maura suggests an attendee “spend less time in panels and more time talking to editors or reps from grad schools or whoever you need to talk to. If I had to do something over, I would have spent more time on the floor talking to people from tables and taking my time instead of rushing through it over the course of a few hours in one afternoon.” Kaulie said it best about panels: sit in the back. Also, you should borrow a sweater from Austin Segrest (inside joke). And, she said you should not bring homework.
Also, all four students had fun but no stories of public drunkenness will be shared here. None of these women treated AWP like an academic Cancun.
For editors, writers, and teachers like myself, taking an active mentorship role matters. If this is a professional conference, introductions and connections and guiding our young writers should be a critical component of these four days. If we encourage our students to attend—AWP thinks we should, and I agree—we should also do so responsibly, with a willingness to show our students the ropes and when they come to our booth or table, treat them with the respect we would give any other writer. Attending AWP is expensive for individual writers, for MFA programs, for literary journals, for small presses. We need to make the most of it for those we are mentoring.
For undergraduates, keep in mind that it’s a professional conference. Yes, it’s absolutely a terrific time, tons of fun, and you won’t mind the fact that you will get no sleep whatsoever. Still. Attend with serious, like-minded emerging writers. Be courteous at the tables. Come with a plan. In the contemporary literary scene, there is nothing else out there like the AWP conference. It’s not an experience you want to miss.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Our Boston Tea Party (AWP Style!)
The AWP roundup has become its own fun genre of blog posts, not just with us, but with all the literary journals, small presses, and writers who attended the AWP Conference in Boston this past weekend. We plan on actively reposting, tweeting, and recommending as many of those as we can. Boston received a foot of snow on Friday, and then it was sunny and fifty on Saturday, and that kind of 180 is the way the conference can feel for, well, everyone. It’s a whirlwind. And an absolute delight.
We’re right back at it today. We have an audio competition with a deadline at the end of this week. We have our Editors’ Prize issue that should be out within the next four weeks. We have submissions to read. We have a thousand post-conference emails to read and send. And we’re getting started right now. But first, we wanted to bring you a super snappy roundup of our time in Boston.
- Despite the snowstorm in Chicago on Tuesday, DC on Wednesday, and then Boston on Friday, everyone on our staff who planned on attending was able to make it. Thursday wind, Friday snow, Saturday sun. Man, I miss living in Boston. Yes, really …
- The Boston weather ruined many people’s shoes.
- Our booth was up on the second level of the conference. While I did hear from several people that they didn’t make it upstairs (or didn’t even know there was a second level), our booth was busy. It was steady all weekend long, but not overwhelmingly crazy. We were delighted to meet all of you: a billion and one thanks for stopping and asking questions and snagging an issue and saying hello.
- Working the TMR booth is always the most fun.
- My last name is pronounced Krieg (inside joke)
- At the end of Thursday night (technically Friday morning), the bouncers at The Pour House threw out two separate groups of people with, um, extreme prejudice. Don’t mess with their bouncers.
- At the University of Cincinnati’s meet-and-greet at Dillon’s, I got to meet the wonderful writers Keith Lee Morris and April Lindner for the first time. Also, Brian Brodeur got me more drink tickets than I probably needed. I curse him and thank him for that in the same breath.
- Several months ago, I wrote a blog post about writing promotion and social media in response to Jamie Quatro’s blog post at Ploughshares. Since then, we’ve exchange many emails about writing and worries and family and a range of other topics. Right before the conference, James Wood wrote this about Jamie’s first book of short stories. So I was thrilled to finally get to meet her in person this past week and she’s an even better person than she is a writer. And she is a fantastic writer. Go buy her book!
- Arna Bontemps Hemenway was the guy who I saw frequently at the conference. Sharply dressed, conversational gem, he’s the younger version of The Most Interesting Man in the World. No idea if he was drinking Dos Equis, however. But it was great to meet a terrific TMR author and fellow short story writer.
- I am terrible with pronouncing last names. I must have butchered last names at least a half dozen times last week. Even screwed up a few first names, too. It’s a talent.
- I’m also terrible at introductions. I’ve long known this about myself, and yet, I can’t seem to fix it. I’m talking to two people and I assume, for no good reason, that they both know each other. Ten minutes later, one friend of mine turns to the other and says “By the way, I’m …” So, past and current and future friends: I’M SORRY!
- Andrea Martucci remains awesome.
- I hope you saw the snowman that was built on Boylston on Friday. It was on top of a massive snow drift just east of Hynes. The snowman had an upturned banana for a nose, and one antler/antenna/whatsit for an ear (or something). It looked kinda like a zombie snowman. Which is in vogue in publishing, so …
- The second annual Burger and Beer Lunch with Sophie Beck is my new favorite AWP tradition.
- When Eugene Cross and Alan Heathcock make an appearance, it is ON…
- This is obviously my favorite item at the Book Fair. And, yes, I already own one.
- I know I’m going to miss some obvious names as soon as I’m done typing this, but: great to see you again Becky Adnot Haynes, Katie Moulton, Richard Newman, Steve Schroeder, Andrew Scott, Peter Selgin, Alison Pelegrin, Jon Tribble, Carolyn Kuebler, Tyler Meier, Matt Sailor, Laura Beasley, Dionne Irving, Matt Bell, Michael Kardos, Jason Koo, Lisa Ampleman, Tessa Mellas, Rob Foreman, Katy Didden, Jeff Condran, Amber Sparks, Phong Nguyen, and the other two dozen people I’m leaving out.
- I’m know I’m going to miss some obvious names as soon as I’m done typing this, but great to finally meet you: Alex Estes, Laurie Cedilnik, Ashley Ford, Cam Terwilliger, Emma Bushnell, Deena Drewis, Andrea Dupree, Jason Ashlock, Marianne Kunkel, Jane Friedman, Daniel Morales, Abby Travis, and the other two dozen people I’m leaving out.
- My coat is black (inside joke).
- How terrific was Austin Segrest’s sweater?
- Listen. Next time, we all need to insist Aaron Burch comes to AWP. I need advance warning about this. We cannot allow that to happen again.
- I moderated one panel: “Because That’s the Way It’s Always Been Done: When Literary Journals Face Change.” We had, naturally, the best time possible, which was Saturday at 430 pm. Nonetheless, Cara Blue Adams of Southern Review, Andrew Ciotola of West Branch, and Anna Schachner and Lydia Ship of Chattahoochee Review were wonderful. Their ideas on content, internships, advertising and a range of other topics, were smart and helpful. The panel went over great, thanks for a great audience and a ton of hard work and preparation that Lydia put into the panel’s design well in advance.
- I heard mixed things about other panels, which happens every year. Some were terrific, some were a bust, and some rooms were so crowded you couldn’t get inside.
- From talking to other editors, distribution is the big thing we are all thinking and worrying about this year.
- The quality of book and magazine design that was on display this year was amazing. It’s extraordinary what so many different magazines can now do with their appearance to draw you in. All complaints about Barnes & Noble and Amazon aside, the lower barrier to entry for magazine and book production has lead to lots of innovation, style, and a showcase of talent that was really amazing.
- And finally, a monster thanks to the entire TMR staff for once again being terrific at the table. Friendly, informative, considerate–just really wonderful energy all weekend long and I know the people that came by the booth really appreciated. Thank you Evelyn, Dedra, Austin, Claire, Kris, Olivia, Kate, Maura, Kaulie, and Olivia: you’re what made the entire trip so successful for all of us.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Twelve Thousand Writers Walk Into a Bar
This week, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs will hold its annual conference in Boston. Or, you can just write AWP13 and everyone gets the picture. You have by now certainly read multiple blog posts on the event: Ploughshares, basically the home team this year, has a new post with links to another fifteen articles or so. Passages North tells you how to win at AWP, and novelist Courtney Maum has shared with Tin House readers, among other things, the true meaning behind the AWP acronym: “Awkward Writers’ Powwow.”
With a little imagination and snark, it can all read like dating advice. Do you really need to be reminded to chew with your mouth closed and not talk about your ex?
Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with humor (as a loose rule: funny = good!) or giving advice to all the new attendees. However, making fun of AWP feels like an easy joke, and of these estimated 12,000 people, how many have really never been to a conference before? What value are all these posts adding to you as a reader? Perhaps the Veterans of AWP (note: this is not an actual veterans organization) don’t read the blogs and don’t need suggestions and advice. Perhaps the readers of this post, and others like it, need all the advice they can get.
And I don’t write this with any pre-exhaustion or cynicism. I genuinely love going to AWP. For me, it’s the opportunity to see what all the other literary journals are doing, commiserate with fellow editors, swap ideas and stories of our successes and failures. Over the years, my writer-friends have spread throughout the country, so this is going to be one of the few times I get to see them. There are many people to have a few pints with, and I lived in Boston for several years, over a decade ago now, and so I need to see the old stomping grounds.
But that’s me. For AWP to work for you, it has to be what you want and need it to be, not what other people tell it should be. It’s actually very similar to writing workshops. People can tell you all the time what your story should be doing but, hey, it’s not their story. You have to write the story you need to write. And you need to have the AWP experience that you need to have.
Maybe this means going to panels all day and readings all night. Maybe this means walking away with 100 literary magazines and 20 new subscriptions to literary magazines (note: every litmag editor in the world would love you forever for this. I’m just sayin’ …). Maybe this means sitting in the hotel bar all day long and just grabbing people to the table for one drink, one meal, one conversation, and they go and someone else joins and it’s just an all day long rotation. Maybe this means you have a job interview and you have to walk around in a suit the whole time. Maybe this means you spend one day at the conference and the rest of the time wandering Boston.
If we fit your plans, and I hope we do, swing by and say hello to us: TMR is posted up at Booth 2806 for the conference. We’re pretty friendly and love talking a little shop with new and friends. Bonus points if you bring us a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee…
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
The Not So Fine Art of Giving Thanks
Two weeks ago, I received an email from a student who was in my Intro to Fiction Writing class last semester. This student is currently enrolled in an Intermediate Fiction Writing class (Mizzou has three levels for undergraduates: Intro, Intermediate, and Advanced) and he gave me a brief update on how the semester was going. He wrote that I taught him all the basics that he needed to focus on more complex elements in his work, and that he felt more prepared to write better stories this semester. He wanted to let me know that he appreciated what I did, that my teaching mattered. He wanted to say thanks.
This is one of the best things a teacher will ever hear.
The goal for my Intro to Fiction Writing class was simple and one that I stated the first class: keep writing. That’s it. Oh, sure, there are other things—understand the basics of point of view, how to create vivid characters, plot arc, an appreciation for language, etc.—but in the end, really, my hope was that all my students would keep writing. I won’t know, of course, for a long time, if ever, I succeeded in that goal. But the first time I ever considered writing fiction as a Thing To Do was in a college classroom, and I have long hoped to get my students to experience the same thing.
So, thinking about all this, I’m not sure I adequately expressed my gratitude to my former student when I wrote him back. I’m terrible at taking compliments, a deficiency I’ve been working really hard on improving since my book came out. Recently, I discovered a guy I had been playing basketball with for years is a journalist and sports broadcaster here in Columbia on ABC 17. When I told him this, he smiled genuinely and said “Thanks for watching.” I’m aware there is nothing especially inventive there yet I’ve heard those words in my head for days—Thanks for watching!—because it was so gracious and so simple and so true and, man, why can’t I think of something like that to say?
As the managing editor, I only get the chance to formally teach two classes per year, one in the fall (fiction writing) and one in the spring (Internship in Publishing). I have no complaints about my job, but I do miss teaching fiction writing this semester: the workshop environment, the one-on-one discussions with students about their fiction, and reading their manuscripts, particularly the moments when they write a sentence or paragraph or scene of vivid, memorable drama.
Along with stumbling and bumbling toward a better way of expressing thanks and gratitude, I’ve also wanted to let my writing professors know they mattered. I saw Lee Abbott in St. Louis a few years ago, and probably wrote a full paragraph on the title page of my book before I mailed it to him. I introduced Melanie Rae Thon when she visited Mizzou last year, mostly just speaking off the top of my dome about what her class and her books and her encouragement meant. Proximity certainly helps, so I’ve been able to see Mary Troy and John Dalton in person over the last few years. And I really am deeply appreciative of every reader and every student I’ve taught (okay, most: I have taught a few knuckleheads).
It might sound a little corny, but hey, it’s not my fault our world distrusts sincerity. With a batch of new students getting comfortable in the internship, with AWP coming up (next week!), and everything else, the reasons I thank people and the reasons I struggle to accept thanks have been on my mind. I hope to keep getting better at it, and I know that I’ll have many more people to thank in the future.
Next week’s conference tends to be overwhelming and chaotic, and you’ll hear many people refer to it as a schmoozefest (and other terms that are best left unwritten in this post). If you’re going, chances are you’re going to run into someone you should thank: a professor, an editor, a publisher, an old classmate. They all matter. And in the four days madness of AWP, find the time to be gracious and thankful to those people in your writing life that have shaped you, especially those who did so in ways that, perhaps, you didn’t fully appreciate five, ten, or however many years ago it’s been since you last saw ’em. I know I will. Even if I stumble and bumble the words, I hope the person I’m thanking will know that I mean it.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
A Personal Blueprint for AWP Chicago
Next week is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference and bookfair. Which is a mouthful. Most people just say AWP. It’s in Chicago this year, and sadly for those of us here in Columbia, it’s at the exact same time as the True/False film festival. But duty calls, so our entire senior staff, graduate editors, and a health dose of our office staff and interns are all headed north. At our table, we will be giving a way issues of The Missouri Review (that’s right: for free!), rolling out our new iPad app, subscription deals, offering the chance to meet three of our favorite authors, and generally talking about any and every thing that you might want to know about our magazine and writing in general. Please come by and say “Yo!”
In this space, we’ve written about AWP before. Michael Kardos wrote about how overwhelming it can feel. Michael Petrik wrote about last year’s conference in Washington D.C. before we went, and I did a roundup after we got back. The year before, I wrote about AWP Denver. And if you keep picking through our blog archives, you’ll find that everyone has different responses: former managing editor Richard Sowienski wrote about AWP 2007 (held in Atlanta). Officially, AWP has its own useful series of questions and answers, and the good folks at Tin House can help you identify poets.
The other day, I ran into one of my friends who is a first year MFA candidate at a Big University. He said that he too was headed up to Chicago, and asked what it was like and what he should do up there. Which got me thinking about my last couple of AWP experiences and how they’ve shaped my current plans. Here’s a quick rundown:
2004: Chicago. I went with my graduate program. Our program didn’t have a table at the book fair for the program or our literary journal, so we went as a wandering pack of about two dozen people. The first year I went to a lot of panels and picked up a ton of free merchandise and cheap sample copies. Back home, I dumped my back of thirty some odd journals and a weird mixture of Things I Do Not Need (rulers, bookmarks, shot glasses, pens, etc.) on the floor of my apartment and wondered what I was supposed to do with all of this stuff.
2009: Chicago. Went representing River Styx, though we couldn’t afford a table. Out of graduate school, none of my old workshop buddies were there. Went to less panels. Spent more time at the book fair and at the bars. Randomly ran into Richard Bausch again (I’d met him in St. Louis the year before), and he actually remembered me! Brought home less stuff.
2010: Denver. My first year with The Missouri Review. Nice to be behind a table. Went looking for, and found, lots of other editors to ask them questions about their magazines and what made them great. Wonk-ier. Lots more off-site readings. Saw many old friends this time. Warmer weather. “It’s the altitude!” was the running not so funny joke. Bummed I missed the Nuggets game.
2011. Washington D.C. Nightmare trying to get there due to 20 inches of snow (!!!) in Missouri. Half our staff didn’t make it. On a panel about print journals with online content. Otherwise, didn’t go to any panels. Tons of friends to see for catchup drinks and dinner (read: more drinks). Hotel room was awesome. Refused all free gifts at tables. Missed about a hundred people that I wanted to talk to. Exhausted by Saturday night. Did not bother seeing if there was a Wizards game.
Based on this experience, here’s my current loose rules of thumbs—subject to change at any time—for this year’s AWP.
Skip the panels. Controversal advice, I’m sure. A regular criticism of AWP panels is that they are not particularly good and poorly organized, and that panels are selected for name recognition rather than the quality of the presentation. I wish I could disagree. Most of the panels were far more interesting to me as a grad student than they were once I was working at a literary journal, but even then, the rooms were cramped, the panels started late, and mostly, I wanted to have a conversation with a particular panelist rather than hear what all of them had to say. I usually just looked for said panelists over the course of four days. Remember, everyone wears badges.
Hit the bookfair hard. The bookfair, to me, is where it’s at. I’m completely and totally biased: I work on a literary magazine, and love it. So, of course, I go to the tables and want to hear about what they are doing and what they are up to. I love talking shop. And when you find a table, and the editors are really interesting? You learn a ton about publishing. I highly recommend it.
Do not drink at the hotel bar. Last time I was in Chicago, I ordered two mixed drinks: whiskey and Coke, and a gin and tonic. This cost me $22. Really. And I waited fifteen minutes to get these drinks. You’re in Chicago. Go find another place to hang out.
Do not plan to go to any readings. This will make people mad, but, so be it. If you ask me about a reading, I will say “I’ll do my best.” And I really will. But I go to a lot of readings already. Readings are cool. But I can do that anywhere. There are sixty billion readings in Columbia alone. What’s another reading? This does not mean that I don’t go to readings; in Denver, Christina Hutchins said “Have you ever heard Forrest Gander read?” with such awe that I thought: Gotta go. Plus, I got to hang out with Christina Hutchins. Sold! But that wasn’t planned. My reading attendance is more of the standing in a pack of people variety, someone asks what we’re up to, someone else answers “There’s a reading across the street!” and we say, “All right, let’s do that!” So, I go to readings. I just don’t pre-plan to go.
Smart Water. When I get to town, I find a convenience store and buy as much Smart Water as I can. I drink an entire liter before I go out, and when I come back, I drink an entire liter before I go to bed. You really should not need an explanation why.
Eyes up. It’s aggravating how people look at your lanyard before deciding whether or not you are worth talking to. Remember that you are with other writers, and we’re all really eager to say Hello to a wide-range of people: politeness and dignity can go a long way in making good impressions. Don’t be that person (though, at AWP, we are all that person). Keep your eyes above the neck. It’s much appreciated by all.
Above all, enjoy it. That’s the biggest thing. It sounds like the kind of advice your parents give you, but AWP is really what you make of it. It really is a wonderful time. Do come talk to us: we’d love put a face to a name, see old friends again, and make lots of new ones.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Book signings at our AWP table that you won't regret attending!
You’ve probably been wondering what kind of book signings will take place at the Missouri Review table this AWP. “How many will there be,” you’ve wondered. “There are so many writers. Which ones will I get to meet at the Missouri Review table? And, for that matter, when exactly will I have those opportunities?”
Grope helplessly for answers to these questions no longer! The book signing schedule for our AWP table is an exciting one, and here it is:
Thursday, March 1st at 2 pm: Greg Brownderville
A native of Pumpkin Bend, Arkansas, Greg is the author of a volume of poems entitled Gust (Northwestern University Press, September 2011). His poems have appeared in the Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, Measure, and several other journals and magazines. He has been the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Jane Geske Award from Prairie Schooner, and the Porter Prize. Brownderville completed an MFA at the University of Mississippi in 2008, and currently teaches creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Friday, March 2nd at Noon: Lucy Ferriss
Born in St. Louis, Lucy Ferriss has lived on both coasts, in the middle, and abroad. She is the author of nine books, mostly fiction. Her memoir Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante was called Best Book of the Year by the Riverfront Times; her novel Nerves of the Heart was a finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize competition; her collection Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories was the 2000 winner of the Mid-List First Series Award. Other short fiction and essays have appeared most recently in the New York Times, Missouri Review, Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Georgia Review, and have received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Faulkner Society, the Fulbright Commission, and the George Bennett Fund, among others, She received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and currently lives with Don Moon in the Berkshires and in Connecticut, where she is Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College. She has two strong sons and abiding passions for music, politics, travel, tennis, and wilderness. She has a historical novel, The Woman Who Bought the Sky, on deck, and is working on a new novel, tentatively titled Honor.
Saturday March 3rd at 12:30 pm: Danielle Deulen
Danielle is a poet and essayist. Her collection of poems, Lovely Asunder, won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and was published with the University of Arkansas Press in 2011. Her memoir, The Riots, published with University of Georgia Press in 2011, won the 2010 AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2011 Grub Street National Book Prize in Nonfiction, and won the 2012 GLCA New Writers Award. Formerly, she was a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her poetry and essays have appeared in such journals as The Utne Reader, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Smartish Pace, and The Indiana Review. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and her PhD in English from the University of Utah. She currently lives in Ohio where she is an Assistant Professor of poetry in the Graduate Creative Writing program at the University of Cincinnati.
All three authors will be at our table for an hour. We welcome you to visit, meet these writers, buy their books, and have them signed. We will have enough pens, don’t worry.