|Please join us in Seattle as we celebrate ten years of literary publishing online! We will be offering events all evening on Wednesday, February 26th at the Alibi Room, 85 Pike Street, in Seattle.(Find your way to our anniversary party by walking down Pike toward the Public market sign at the dead end. Pike turns to brick and splits- to the right you walk into the farmers’ market, to the left is the secret alley( under the theater sign) which takes you past ghost alley coffee and to Alibi bar! See you soon!)
7 p.m. Reading featuring Nina McConigley, Ed Pavlic, Rachel Richardson, and Ian Stansel
9 p.m. Reading featuring Rick Barot, Tarfia Faizullah, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Robert Lopez
10 p.m. Dance party with guest DJs including Kevin Young and house DJ Elena Tomorowitz.
Rick Barot has published two collections of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002) and Want (2008). His poems have recently appeared in The New Republic, Tin House, and The Threepenny Review. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer in Poetry. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University and in the low-residency Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His poem in Memorious was selected by Mark Doty for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2012.
Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry’s First Book Award. A former Fulbright fellow, Faizullah’s honors and awards include an Associated Writers Program Intro Journals Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, a Ploughshares’ Cohen Award, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Margaret Bridgman Scholarship in Poetry. A Kundiman fellow, she lives in Washington, DC, where she is an editor for the Asian American Literary Review and Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Series.
Diana Khoi Nguyen’s poems have appeared such places as Poetry, Kenyon Review online, and The Collagist. A recipient of awards from the Key West Literary Seminar and Academy of American Poets, she’s also received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Center for Book Arts.
Robert Lopez is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River, and a collection of stories, Asunder. He has taught at The New School, Pratt Institute, and Columbia University and is a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction.
Nina McConigley‘s debut story collection, Cowboys and East Indians, was released in 2013 by Five Chapters. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, Memorious, Slice Magazine, Asian American Literary Review, Puerto del Sol, and Forklift, Ohio.She was the 2010 recipient of the Wyoming Arts Council’s Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award and was a finalist for the 2011 Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award.
Ed Pavlic’s recently published his fifth collection of poems, Visiting Hours at the Color Line (Milkweed). He has been awarded the Honickman First Book Prize (judged by Adrienne Rich) and is a National Poetry Series award winner, in addition to receiving fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard College.
Rachel Richardson is the author of Copperhead (Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series). Richardson’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, the Hopwood Award, and five Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and lives in Greensboro.
Ian Stansel‘s debut story collection, Everybody’s Irish, was also released by Five Chapters in Fall 2013.His fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Ploughshares,Ecotone, Cincinnati Review, Memorious, Antioch Review, Sycamore Review, and others. His stories have been selected for inclusion in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the New Stories of the Midwest anthology series and shortlisted for Best American Short Stories. He is one of the new fiction editors at Memorious, having been introduced to us as one of our contributors with his title story.
For original poetry, fiction, art, interviews, and art song, please visit our magazine at www.memorious.org.
Contributor James Scott’s debut novel, The Kept, has been getting outstanding reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and more, as well as starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly. But here at Memorious, our interest in Scott goes back to 2009/2010 when Scott’s story “Salt Air” appeared in Memorious 13. In an interview with contributing editor Laura van den Berg, who asks what he is working on at the time, Scott says, “I’m writing a novel set in 1897. It’s been a long haul.” That long haul ended this year in a rich and dense novel that is a coming-of-age story, a murder mystery, and a story of family; this is the story of a mother, Elspeth, a midwife who is a thief of children, and her journey with her 12-year-old stolen child, Caleb, who seeks to avenge the murder of the only father and siblings he has known. The novel’s settings are vivid and lasting, from the homestead the novel begins in to the corrupt town where it ends. To champion a young protagonist in his battle through a largely unforgiving world may be a familiar, albeit satisfying journey for a novel, but to simultaneously bring us into the world of the mother who is this boy’s own only through a terrible crime with violent ramifications takes an art that Scott masters. James Scott has been kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the novel.
What was it like to leave behind Caleb and Elspeth after spending so many years with them? Have you imagined what becomes of the characters beyond the ending of your book?
You spent so much of your mental energy and reserve so much mental space for a couple of people and then all of a sudden they’re gone– it’s strange. I’d find myself thinking, “Oh, this is something Caleb would think” or “This is something Elspeth would do” and it would make me sad, honestly. I miss them. I really do.
So many of your characters are difficult yet compelling. (I’m thinking of Jorah and Elspeth for example, but there are others.) Who did you find most challenging to create with this level of complexity?
Thank you for saying that. The toughest character to write, actually, was the one who you would expect is the closest to me: Caleb. After all, I was once a twelve year old boy in upstate New York. However, Caleb hasn’t experienced the world, and I was quite precocious, and something about depicting his survivor’s guilt at witnessing his family’s murder while maintaining his innocence and inexperience proved really difficult for me.
What drew you to the particular landscape you chose for this novel?
My grandparents lived most of their lives in upstate New York and my father bought a house on the St. Lawrence River, and on those long drives, I would read. As a teenager, I fell in love with Southern Gothic, and because I’d never been to the South, I could only picture those stories happening in a place I was familiar with: those barren stretches of the New York State Thruway. Or, rather, what I imagined took place once you got out of view of the highway.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I saw a panel with Tom Franklin many years ago, in which he advised anyone writing historical fiction to get a Sears catalog– and he was right. Everything is in there: medicine, guns, clothes, toys. I read newspapers, and looked through a lot of photo banks and museum databases. The toughest research in every way was looking into the history of midwifery and childbirth, but I fortunately eventually found someone who helped me out immensely with all that. She was not only a midwife but a student of history.
What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened for you with this novel’s entrance into the world?
To be perfectly honest, it’s all surprising. I worked on this book for so long while purposefully ignoring what might happen when it was finished and then what might happen if it was published, that once those things happened, I had no expectations. It runs counter to how I usually am, because I usually try to map out all options and possibilities, and so it’s kind of nice to take everything as it comes.
Are you working on another novel and/or do you see a return to the short story? Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I still write short stories in breaks in the novel action, and I think that’s how I’ll continue. I’ve started another novel, though it’s been tough to work on it with everything that’s going on, that’s set in the 1990s in Vermont.
Last question: what’s in your reading queue? And fellow debut writers our readers should be looking out for?
I loved Molly Antopol’s collection of short stories, The UnAmericans, Rachel Cantor’s A Highly Unlikely Scenario, and Rachel Urquhart’s The Visionist, all of which are debuts, and all of which are fantastic, and I’m looking forward to Jesse Donaldson’s first book, but on my to-read shelf right now is Orfeo by Richard Powers, The Last Days of California by Mary Miller, At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon, All That Is by James Salter, On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee, and For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu. There’s never enough time, is there?
For original poetry, fiction, art, interviews, and art song, visit our magazine at www.memorious.org.
Today’s contributor, Anne Valente, will see her first short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names (Dzanc Books, 2014), released in October. She is the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics (Origami Zoo Press), and her stories appear in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review and The Journal.
When Megan Mayhew Bergman’s debut short story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise (Scribner, 2012), was released I’d already preordered the book to bring with me on a weeklong spring trip through Kentucky. I’d read several of Bergman’s short stories in literary journals and I was quickly drawn not only into the fluidity of her prose but the way her stories often centered on the animal world. When Bergman’s book arrived, its teal-blue cover illustrated with a single barn owl, I tucked it into my backpack and hit the road.
Reading proved difficult in Mammoth Cave, the first stop on the trip where I camped in the dark for two nights. But the calls of birds as the sun sank, as well as the smattering of stars that splashed the night sky without a curtain of light pollution, paved the way for the following days beyond wilderness when I would start the collection with nature fresh in my brain. I read the book in a single room at the Abbey of Gethsemani, a Trappist monastery outside of Louisville that welcomes visitors to stay for two days of solitude, quiet, and reflection. Throughout the rest of the week I would explore the Bourbon Trail, the hills of central Kentucky, and the clamor of Louisville. But during those two days of silence at Gethsemani, on the heels of immersion in caves and bird calls, I started and finished Megan Mayhew Bergman’s first collection with a heightened sense of the connections it makes between the natural world and our own human lives.
Across twelve stories in Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Bergman offers varying glimpses of what loss means to twelve women in different stages of life, their grief tied to the animal world and its lack of separation from human biology. Grief comes to these women in the form of lost parents, estranged daughters, distant partners, and dying pets, each loss linked invariably to the struggle and impermanence of nature. Most of Bergman’s characters are solitary creatures, either fiercely independent or made lonely by those leaving them, this sovereignty at the core of each story compromised only by love – what binds us to one another, a biological need, and what change will break us apart, inevitable as nature where nothing stays the same.
Many of the protagonists in Birds of a Lesser Paradise resist in varying ways: they don’t want to love others as much as they do. In “Saving Face,” after a wolf attack disfigures a veterinarian and her sense of her own beauty, she learns to keep her distance from others. In “Night Hunting,” a young woman moves from Utah to Vermont with her mother, who is dying of cancer and wants to spend her last months near her family. Just as the natural world is full of predators, so too are our human lives. We are the prey of heartache, of human failing, of disease and old age. We will all leave one another in the end. As the narrator of the collection’s final story (“The Two-Thousand Dollar Sock”) asks her husband, a boxer, as they care for an ailing dog, “How do you step into the ring, knowing how bad it’s going to hurt?”
The grace of Bergman’s collection is not that her characters stay outside of the ring, independent and solitary, but that what binds them to others inevitably pulls them in. When the father in “Birds of a Lesser Paradise” has a heart attack, the daughter who has accompanied him on North Carolina swamp treks to spot the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker watches over him and resolves: “I wished for things to stay the same. I wished for stillness everywhere, but I opened up the rest of the bedroom windows and let the world in.” The heart of each story lies in knowing that nature is as inconstant as anything, that we inhabit a world where everything changes, but that we carry the constancy of love for one another regardless.
In the opening story, “Housewifely Arts,” a woman and her seven-year-old son seek out an African grey parrot that, in imitation, still carries the voice of her deceased mother. I read this first story by lamplight as the sun dropped behind Gethsemani’s hills, including the story’s final lines where the woman recalls of her mother, “My heart, she’d said. I can turn it off. For years, I’d believed her. But I know the truth now. What maniacs we are – sick with love, all of us.” Inside the Abbey and its silence, these lines broke me in half.
I’ve read Bergman’s collection again since my trip through Kentucky, its stories resonating in new and beautiful ways. I’ve learned unexpected routes through their words by reading them with students and hearing what resonates. I’ve kept Bergman’s book on my writing desk for inspiration when I’m trying to wade through my own work’s connections to the animal world. Each of Bergman’s stories is a meditation, transcendent to read, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.
For original poetry, fiction, interviews, art, and art song, visit our website at www.memorious.org.
We were thrilled to see that so many of our readers celebrated and shared our first post about contributor books, which lists ten prize-winning books due out in 2014. But that list was by no means comprehensive, and we want to make sure that you also know about some of our other contributors’ forthcoming books, including a few books that have since won publication prizes, and, of course, including the fine gentlemen we publish! (In case you missed it, our last list was all women.) Cheers to our wonderful and talented contributors whose work is going to continue to make 2014 a great year! - Rebecca Morgan Frank, Editor-in-Chief
Contributor Jake Adam York’s posthumous poetry collection, Abide, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press this March. Preview some of these poems, including the title poem, in issue 20.
Issue 18‘s Oliver de la Paz’s fourth collection of poetry, Post Subject: A Fable (University of Akron Press), is forthcoming in August 2014.
Sally Wen Mao, another issue 18 contributor, has a debut collection of poems, Mad Honey Symposium, due out in May 2014 as the winner of Alice James Books’ Kinereth Gensler Award.
Issue 11 contributor Mary Biddinger’s third poetry collection, A Sunny Place with Adequate Water (Black Lawrence Press), is due out in May.
Issue 13 contributor Aaron Belz’s third collection of poems, Glitter Bomb, will be released by Persea in May 2014.
Issue 20 contributor Jericho Brown’s The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press) will be released in August 2014.
Contributor Karin Gottshall‘s second collection, The River Won’t Hold You, has been selected as the winner of the 2014 OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry and is due out this year.
Issue 18′s Anne Valente’s debut story collection, Light We Knew Our Names (Dzanc Books), is forthcoming in October. Sample one of her short stories,”Mollusk, Membrane, Human Heart,” here.
More contributor book news can be found in our Anticipated Books of 2014 list.
For original poetry, fiction,art, and art song, please visit our magazine at www.memorious.org.
Because the New Year brings about a lot of fresh starts and new beginnings, we would like to celebrate some “firsts.” We asked our Memorious 21 contributors and new fiction editors to offer up a toast to some opening lines that they admire. Here’s what they had to say.
Memorious 21 contributor Joseph Wood chose these opening lines of “The Parachutist” by Jon Anderson:
Then the air was perfect. And his descent
to the white earth slowed.
became an ability to rest–as
the released breath
believes in life.
Why I love it: So many reasons. First, I absolutely love how the reader is placed within the moment; it is done with the utmost efficiency. There’s no scaffolding, no introduction. Second, the ear is impeccable. The first line is purely trochaic, but done with such ease it doesn’t jump out. Anderson knew how to score a line, and particularly in this entire poem, where the line length underscores the tension between falling and stasis, life and death. But mostly, I adore the opening because the poet plays for keeps–it’s life and death at its most core and primal levels, the stuff which binds humanity together.
* * *
From Memorious 21 Contributor Kevin Simmonds:
The first stanza from “A Meeting of Minds” in All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents (Leapfrog Press, 2013) by Charles Coe:
One day, when my first-grade class was learning to write, Sister Edna took
the pencil from my left hand, put it in my right, and told me to keep it there.
I have to say I love this opening: straightforward, provocative, glinting. I grew up Catholic, went to Saturday catechism class and know that nuns will take your stuff. But a pencil?
Like all the rest in this collection, this poem displays Coe’s brilliance in evoking his deceased parents’ foibles and loving ferocity. Where this poem ends up…you’d never believe.
A tsunami of a poem set off by this one-sentence quake.
* * *
From Memorious 21 Contributor Maureen Alsop:
In the mail today I just received a book of poetry I’d ordered, Annie Lighthart’s Iron String. These are the first four lines from the first poem in the book, “The Second Music:”
Now I understand that there are two melodies playing,
one below the other, one easier to hear, the other
lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard
yet always present ….
The celebration of the under-sound, the under-story, the victory of years, the ghost trails of ghost comets… What a wonderful listening open into the new year.
* * *
From Memorious 21 Contributor Maya Pindyck:
Here are three opening lines of poems I’d love to celebrate. I’ve opted not to explain why; I think each line speaks for itself:
”The stars had only one task: they taught me how to read.”
–Mahmoud Darwish, “Poetic Regulations,” Unfortunately, It was Paradise, 2003, translated by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forche.
”It’s not that the octopus wouldn’t love you–”
–Mary Szybist, “The Lushness of It,” Incarnadine, 2013.
”Between is a hard place to live.”
–Kamilah Aisha Moon, “No Room for Gray,” She Has a Name, 2013.
* * *
From Memorious 21 Contributor José Rodríguez:
From the poem “Fists (for my father)” by Joe Weil, from the book Painting the Christmas Trees (Texas Review Press, 2008):
It was the sense that your fists were worlds
And mine were not
That caused me to worship you;
All those thick rope veins,
And the deep inlaid grime of your life,
The permanent filth of your labors.
* * *
From Memorious 21 Contributor Jeff Alessandrelli, the opening of David Markson’s The Last Novel (Counterpoint, 2007):
Dante will always remain popular because nobody ever reads him.
Thinking with someone else’s brain.
Schopenhauer called reading.
Markson’s last novel was, appropriately enough, entitled The Last Novel; in it he continued the idiosyncratic examination of artistic and cultural anecdote initially begun by him in his book Reader’s Block. The Last Novel almost wholly consists of largely unknown facts and curiosities about writers, artists and thinkers seminal to history. Although the book’s narrator very occasionally pokes his head through—“There are six floor in Novelist’s apartment building…And then the roof”— for the most part Markson’s last novel consists of his saying goodbye to what he spent his entire life reading, studying, and living. As an obituary, it’s mesmerizing; as a novel it’s even better.
* * *
From Fiction Editor Ian Stansel:
“William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen. Eight years later, during the height of World War I, he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree and accepted an instructorship at the same University, where he taught until his death in 1956. He did not rise above the rank of assistant professor, and few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses.” -John Williams, Stoner
I love this opening because of how un-compelling it should be. It goes on to give away the entirety of the titular character’s life, telling us that, really, nothing significant ever happened to him. Yet we are about to spend 300-plus pages covering that uneventful life. And that’s part of the intrigue. It asks us to start to contemplate the difference between inner and outer lives. It even, in its own unassuming way, call into question the very nature of story. How can a man who “achieved” so little be the subject of a novel? What will fill the next 300 pages?
* * *
From Fiction Editor Joanna Luloff:
“It was a bathroom in an unfinished house in Somalia in the year 2012. There was a hole in the wall where the water pipe was meant to come in and the floor sloped away to a drain where the suds were meant to flow from a shower along a trench to the dirt outside. In some future time, the shower might be fitted. In some future time, it might become an incidental place. But it was not so for him. For him it was a very dark and specific place.” – J.M. Ledgard
I love the precision of these opening lines from J.M. Ledgard’s novel Submergence. Against the matter-of-factness of the narrative delivery, there is already a hint of menace and mystery. All of those conditional “meant to’s” and “mights” and then the abrupt “but.” This opening moves through time (a stark present versus a possible future) and begins to prepare the reader for the movements between time and place that the novel will eventually travel. A English spy being held captive by jihadist fighters and a biomathematician exploring the ocean floor are the central characters who share a past and an uncertain present in this contemplative novel.
For original poetry, fiction,art, and art song, please visit our magazine at www.memorious.org.
Ten years, ten women poets!
Every year we like to look forward to the books of the New Year. (You can take a look at last year’s list and see whether you think we did a good job of telling you what to look out for.) My list this year is dedicated to nine contributors (all women!) who have swept the poetry book contests this year and who have books forthcoming in 2014. My mission at Memorious has always been to seek out exciting emerging writers, so it is thrilling to see so many of our contributors publish their first and second books. My bonus tenth poet, Lisa Williams, publishes her third book this year with New Issues. So in celebration of ten years of publishing, here are ten Memorious poets to look out for in 2014!
-Rebecca Morgan Frank, Editor-in-Chief
Contributor Kara Candito‘s Spectator (University of Utah Press), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
Contributor Chloe Honum‘s The Tulip Flame, winner of the 2013 Cleveland State University First Book Prize for Poetry
Contributor Sara Eliza Johnson‘s Bone Map (Milkweed), Winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series
Contributor Sandra Lim’s The Wilderness (Norton), winner of the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize
Contributor Sarah Rose Nordgren‘s Best Bones (U of Pitts Press), winner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
Contributor Caki Wilkinson’s The Wynona Stone Poems (Persea), winner of Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award
Contributor Lisa William’s Gazelle in the House (New Issues Press)
Contributor Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, winner of the Crab Orchard Review Series in Poetry First Book Award
Contributor Vandana Khanna‘s Afternoon Masala (University of Arkansas Press), co-winner of the Miller Williams Award
Contributor Stefanie Wortman’s In the Permanent Collection (University of North Texas Press), winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry
For original poetry, fiction, art, and art song, visit our magazine at www.memorious.org. To learn about more posts like this, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.