UNCW Partners With HarperCollins

UNCW has recently developed an affiliation with HarperCollins, the world’s second-largest English-language publisher, to provide opportunities for BFA and MFA students that are typically available only to students in NYC-based publishing programs. The mentoring program will pair individual students in two advanced book practicum courses (BFA and MFA) with senior publishing professionals at HarperCollins for regular Skype conversations to answer questions about the industry, provide post-graduation career advice and resume counseling, as well as additional networking opportunities with other publishing professionals, authors, and agents—both within and outside of HarperCollins.

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For the first time yesterday, MFA and BFA students Skyped with Brian Perrin, Senior Director of Marketing for Harper Wave and Harper Business, and Sarah Murphy, Senior Editor at Harper Wave, about what they do, how they got where there are, and advice for students looking to break into the industry.

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“Publishing has always been an industry learned by apprenticeship. Everyone working in it today is grateful for the time and mentoring they received and genuinely happy—eager, even—to give something back. We’re very much looking forward to sharing what we know about this crazy, frustrating, wonderful business with students at UNCW,” Perrin said.

HarperCollins staff also will visit campus periodically to participate in the department’s annual Writers’ Week programs and to serve as the biannual four-week visiting publishing professional, next slated for fall 2017. Publishing arts students also will be eligible to apply for HarperCollins New York-based internship programs, offered in spring, summer, and fall. As a general-interest, broad-based publisher with global operations, HarperCollins will be able to offer students connections to every facet of the book business, across all consumer book categories, according to each student’s specific interests. We’re so excited for what’s to come from the partnership!

For more information about the partnership and other goings-on at UNCW, check out this article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

 

The 2017 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition is now open!

The 2017 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition is now open for submissions. This contest awards $1,500 in prizes to a piece of lasting nonfiction that is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians. Subjects may include traditional categories such as reviews, travel articles, profiles or interviews, place/history pieces, or culture criticism.

The first-, second-, and third-place winners will receive $1,000, $300, and $200 respectively. The winning entry will be considered for publication by Ecotone.

For full guidelines, and to submit, click here.

The final judge is Garrard Conley, author of the memoir Boy Erased (Riverhead, 2016), featured in Buzzfeed, Travel + Leisure, the LA Times, and many other publications as a must-read book. Megan Daum of The New York Times calls Boy Erased a story written “through the lens…of compassion,” and Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, calls it an “exceptionally well-written memoir.” Conley’s fiction and nonfiction can be found in Time, Vice, CNN, Buzzfeed, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation writers’ conferences. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

The 2017 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition is administered by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Department of Creative Writing, a community of passionate, dedicated writers who believe that the creation of art is a pursuit valuable to self and culture. The contest is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2017 (postmark).

The 2016 winner was Karen Smith Linehan of Carolina Beach, whose meditative nature essay “Magnolia grandiflora” displayed “solid sense of voice, language, and dramatic arc,” threading detailed memories into a lyrical read.

Rose Post worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing and earned the N.C. Press Women’s top annual award four times. She received the O. Henry Award from the Associated Press three times, the Pete Ivey Award, and the School Bell Award for educational coverage. Nationally, she won the 1989 Ernie Pyle Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for human-interest writing, and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ Award.

News Roundup

It’s been a strange time in America these last few weeks, so we’re heading into this Roundup trying to focus on some good things for our readers and from our contributors. Here are things to toot happy horns about, and inspiring reads in the aftermath of some disconcerting divisiveness.

First up, Lookout author Clare Beams has received a ton of wonderful attention recently for We Show What We Have Learned. Most notably, perhaps, from the New York Times! “Stories as well executed as these are their own reward, but it’s also clear from the capaciousness on display here that Ms. Beams has novels’ worth of worlds inside her.” But there was love too from many others, including Kirkus‘s list of Best Debut Fiction of 2016, Paste Magazine, Parnassus Books, the Fiction Writers Review,  the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Charlotte Observer, the Wilmington Star News, Shelf Awareness, Brit+Co, and Flavorwire, to name a few more notables. You can also hear Clare talk with fellow debut story writer April Ayers Lawson on WUNC’s the State of Things. And, here’s a roundup of photos from Clare’s very celebratory book launch here at UNCW.

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Could you possibly need more convincing that this is a book you should read?

Lookout author Ben Miller’s Mural Speaks! project, the aim of which is to translate William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” into each of the 140 plus languages currently spoken in Sioux Falls, is still looking for submissions. We love the way the project celebrates the diversity of the urban midwest.

Oh, but there’s so much more to celebrate from Ecotone contributors!

We’re thrilled that Dan Hoyt is the winner of the inaugural Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction for his novel This Book Is Not For You. Dan’s story “The Mad King” is one wild ride, in our current issue.

517zwtcc5zl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Patrick Phillips’s book Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, out this September, is reviewed in the Washington Post. You can read an excerpt from the book at Longreads.

Lynne Thompson and Douglas Kearney are included in this fabulous Black Lives Matter Poetry Reader.

Alison Hawthorne Deming offers the first entry in a new series at Terrain, “Letter to America.”

National Poetry Series winner Melissa Range is featured on PBS News Hour, taking on terms like “redneck” and “white trash.”

Annie Finch’s poem “Moon of Our Daughters” is featured on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day.

Megan Snyder-Camp, who has not one but two books out this fall, has three poems in the Sewanee Review.

Belle Bogg’s The Art of Waiting is one of Oprah’s favorite books of 2016!

In their October issue, Poetry Magazine published Issue 21 contributor Laurie Clements Lambeth’s poem “Cusped Prognosis,” which was originally part of her essay, “Going Downhill From Here” in Ecotone‘s current issue.

We hope these engaging reads offer some perspective, comfort, and enjoyment. We’ll see you back here soon for our next Roundup!

The Starving Artist: A Thanksgiving Meditation on Food and Literary Fuel

by Anna Montgomery Patton

There is a strange ache that comes with hunger.  One must take inventory of one’s body, locate the source of the hunger. Stomach? Brain? In fact, the feeling of hunger is not a message delivered to the brain from the stomach. It turns out that Neuropeptide not only communicates a desire for food to the brain, it also reduces pain, stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. Sometimes when I feel hungry I automatically assume my body is telling me it wants food. Perhaps it is simply wanting some sort of nourishment. And what I, and many others, find satiating is reading. Words are delicious.

It is no surprise, then, that an incredible amount of restaurants all over the world share names with well-regarded literary magazines and journals. During a meeting of the Ecotone practicum last semester, we discovered Prairie Schooner. No, not the noted literary journal of the University of Nebraska, which has been in circulation since 1926. This was Prairie Schooner of Ogden, Utah, a Wild West–themed restaurant where one can “dine in a covered wagon next to an open prairie fire while enjoying our delicious hand cut steaks, fresh seafood, and signature desserts.” I have not had the opportunity to dine at Prairie Schooner, but my experience reading an issue of Prairie Schooner was similar to enjoying a satisfying meal. And should that not be the goal of successful writing? If nothing else, a writer strives to leave a reader full, if not a little uncomfortable.

The discovery of Prairie Schooner (the restaurant) led me down a rabbit hole of dining opportunities linked to the literary, some more “fine” than others. Ploughshare Brewing Company in Lincoln, Nebraska (“Share the Bounty! Get Behind the Plough!”) was named best new restaurant in 2014, and boasts original brews and brats among its vittles. Wellington, England, is home to Tin House, a Cantonese restaurant with an overpriced (in my humble opinion) chow mein takeaway. McSweeney’s serves up twenty-one pieces of shrimp for a reasonable $4.50 in Pittsburgh. They are better known for their $1.95 red hots: hot dogs in steamed buns with McSweeney’s meat sauce and onions. The website warns, “onions buried, may cause sauce to fall off hot dog due to bun crisis of 2002.” I am uncertain about what this means, but it seems of a piece with the quirkiness and “daily laffs” of McSweeney’s.

Threepenny Cafe in Charlottesville, Virginia, not only won the OpenTable 2015 Diner’s Choice Award, and serves a $33 three-course prix fixe menu that sounds delectable (think charred romaine salad, pan roasted rockfish with champagne sauce, pecan bread budding with bourbon creme anglaise), but they have a lovely outdoor patio and live music. Back in the United Kingdom, the Granta has a mouthwatering menu of modern spins on British pub classics. Every Sunday they have a home-cooked roast along with seasonal vegetables, and Yorkies, also home-cooked. The literary Granta is similarly classic and attuned to long-time traditions.

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Save Your Place: A Rickety, Kaleidoscopic Feeling

Ecotone’s tagline is “reimagining place,” and we love work that brings us to a specific location, real or imagined. In this department, Save Your Place, we highlight our favorite descriptions of place from work we’ve published at Ecotone and Lookout.

This place is from “What Looks Like Mad Disorder: The Sarah Winchester House” by Joni Tevis in Ecotone 17.

“But for the kitchen, the Grand Ballroom, and the séance room, it’s hard to tell what most of the rooms were used for, and that’s not the only thing that gives the Winchester House a rickety, kaleidoscopic feeling. There are shallow cabinets an inch deep, and others large as generous rooms; one door opens onto a one-story drop, another onto slats instead of flooring. One staircase ends in a ceiling, and another forks into a Y, eleven steps up and seven steps down. Despite the fortune Sarah spent, the house feels temporary as a badly pitched tent.”

Seven Questions With Steven Church

img_4064In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today, we interview Steven Church, whose fiction “Exhibit #8: The Peach Pit Rodeo Half-Time Show (Temporarily Out of Order)” appeared in Ecotone Issue 5 (available to subscribers in the archive). He is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst, and Ultrasonic: Essays, and has published in Brevity, The Rumpus, AGNI, Colorado Review, and Creative Nonfiction, among others.

The Normal School is approaching its tenth year. As its co-founder and nonfiction editor, what has surprised you in your work there over the past decade?

Honestly, I’m often surprised it’s still alive and kicking. I mean, when we started the magazine we were ridiculously ambitious, but I’m not sure any of us could’ve imagined that, nearly ten years in, it would have the national reputation that it has, particularly in nonfiction. The best, most surprising thing, though, are the regular surprises I get as an editor. It’s just really fun to discover an essay in my “to read” pile that just blows me away; and I feel extremely lucky to get the opportunity to help shepherd the writing of others into the world.

Name a book you bought for its cover.

I don’t know if I bought it for its cover, but Nick Flynn’s first memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, with that title and the strikingly cool black and green first cover for the book, with the tree, really appealed to me. I still like looking at it. I’m still bummed they reissued it with a new title and cover.

img_3616Your fifth book of nonfiction, One with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals, comes out November 15. It explores the liminal space separating being human and being animal. What fascinates you about the distinction, or lack there of, between us?

I supposed one of the things that fascinates me about the distinction between human and animal is that, like genre in literature, it is both meaningless AND meaningful. It’s a boundary that shifts depending on the circumstances and our desires; and perhaps it’s a boundary that is drawn most sharply in moments of inter-species violence and savagery (also true with genre). Maybe the biggest difference between us is that humans have a more expansive morality, shaped by considerations beyond survival; and in these sublime moments of violence, that expansiveness collapses and we are faced with only one morality—the morality, or lack thereof, that a grizzly bear or a tiger lives by. The book takes the story of David Villalobos as a jumping off point for a consideration of what it means to not only court a violent interaction with an apex predator and the desire to “cross over,” but also what it means to obsess over these archetypal stories of savagery.

If you could adopt an animal you’ve encountered in literature, which one would you choose and why?

That’s a tough one, but I’d probably have to go with Frightful, the peregrine falcon from the novel, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, if only because of the nostalgic place that book holds in my heart. I loved the book as a kid and was inspired by it to live in the woods some day with my own pet falcon. It sounds silly, but I wasn’t alone. The protagonist of the novel, Sam Gribley, leaves his family home in NYC voluntarily and retreats to the woods in upstate New York to live off the land. Growing up in the 70s and the Reagan 80s, this kind of escape from the wider world seemed like a pretty good plan.

When do you feel most confident as a writer?

I mean, it’s nice to see your work in print. It feels good. But I’m not sure there’s a bigger rush of confidence or excitement than what I feel when I think I’ve nailed a great sentence. I’ve been known to fist-pump and whoop to myself when I get it right, when the words seem to do exactly as I want them to. These are often rare and fleeting moments, but I think they’re the reason I keep going.

You have a superpower: You can immediately give to every person on earth one piece of information. What is it?

I’m not sure that’s a superpower. It feels more like a curse . . . ONE piece of “information”? I’m waffling between a return to the existentialists (i.e. God is dead, radical subjectivity and freedom, etc.) or a return to 80s pop culture (i.e. primarily quotes from the movie, Red Dawn), both of which seem oddly relevant to our current political climate. So let’s go with a mash-up of the two: “God is dead, we’re all radically subjective humans responsible for making meaning and morality, and all that hate is gonna burn you up, even if does keep you warm inside. Wolverines!”

Lightning round:

Coffee or Tea? Coffee, of course. Now, please.

Morning or night? Morning.

Typing or longhand? Sadly, typing now . . . but there was a time when all first drafts were longhand.

Earthquakes or hurricanes? Earthquakes.

Music or quiet? Music.

Highlight or underline? Underline.

Bookmark or dog-ear? Dog-ear (even if I scold my kids for doing it)

Steven Church is also the Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor of The Normal School. If you’re not reading and submitting, get with it. This fantastic literary magazine, a staple on bookshelves for almost a decade, coming out of California State University at Fresno, where Steven teaches in the MFA program. In anticipation of his new book of nonfiction, One with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animal, we tracked down Steven for a Seven Questions. One with the Tiger hits shelves Nov. 8, 2016.

House Guest: Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck’s poems, “The Woman in Our House,” “Asmahan,” and “Listen” appear in Ecotone 21. In the piece below, Zeina tells us about the process of writing 3arabi Song, using a glossary of some of the Arabic words in the chapbook.

3arabiCovWriting 3arabi Song: A Glossary of Arabic Terms

Tarab: a kind of Arabic music. The word is also used to describe the emotional effect of this music on the listener, who is almost in a state of trance.

Tarab: When Mom began an Umm Kulthum song in the kitchen, Dad replied from the corridor. When my parents’ friends came over, everyone sang. The only video footage my parents have of me as a toddler is me singing in the middle of a living room, surrounded by clapping adults. This was Lebanon in the ’80s, during the civil war. Every day at lunch or dinner, Dad made the same joke about a line from a famous Abdel Halim song – a line about how time was coming to heal us.

Ya’aburnee: literally means “you bury me.” A term of endearment, often used by Arab mothers, expressing their desire to die before their children, rather than live without them. Can’t be translated in one word.

Ya’aburnee: Three summers ago, my cousin was shot dead on the street in Tripoli, Lebanon. My aunt sat in her living room, crying and singing about her asmar, her dark-skinned boy. That same summer, two Tripoli mosques were bombed. I don’t know how many people have buried loved ones in Syria, in Iraq, in Palestine. How to write the untranslatable?

3arabi: the Arabizi way of writing “Arabic.” Arabizi” comes from the combination of “Arabic” and “Englizi” (English); it uses numbers to represent sounds that are specifically Arabic, and has become well-known among Arabic speakers (especially online and in texting).

3arabi: One of the books we had in our house in Tripoli was a big, blue, French-Arabic/Arabic-French dictionary. It’s one of the earliest books I remember going through; I liked its thick cover, its smell, its thin pages, its weight. Looking back now, I find it interesting that, like me, it was bilingual. Like many Lebanese, I attended a French school then an American University. I feel I live in many languages, and so does 3arabi Song. But living in many languages means using the language of the colonizer, the Empire – do I forgive myself? And how do I break English to create a space for my 3arabi self inside it?

Ra7eel: departure | 3awda: returning

Ra7eel | 3awda: In one of the first stories I wrote as a little girl, I gave my character a very Western name: Grace. I remember struggling to come up with it because, in my little girl’s mind, I probably thought, Who names their characters Zeina or Ahmad? Who sets a story in Tripoli? One thing 3arabi Song says is, Oh for God’s sake, who the hell is Grace?

Bahr: the sea. Also means “meter” in Arabic poetry.

Bahr: The sea isn’t always merciful. Refugees keep drowning in the Mediterranean. And poetry seems simultaneously useles and powerful. But language is what I do, so I do it.

Habibi: my love.

Habibi: I lose count of how many times a day I use the word habibi. I lose count of Allah too.

Allahu Akbar: God is greater.

Allahu Akbar: These words didn’t use to invoke fear, or beheadings. When I visited the US for the first time last year, I wanted to read the poem “Adhan,” which contains the words Allahu Akbar. My husband worried some people in the audience might not get it, might be scared. He also worried some people in the Arab world might be offended. This is what happens when you live in the liminal. I read the poem.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet. Her first collection, To Live in Autumn, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize. Her second collection, Louder than Hearts, has won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in April 2017. She’s also the author of two chapbooks: 3arabi Song, winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and There Was and How Much There Was, a 2016 smith|doorstop Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Forward Prize, and has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and The Rialto, among others. She lives in Dubai, where she has founded and runs PUNCH, a poetry and open mic collective. Zeina’s readings often have a strong performative quality, and she has participated in literary festivals in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.