Clare Beams goes on Tour!


Clare at her first signing at the Women’s National Book Association-Greater Philly Chapter “Meet the Authors” event last week at Towne Book Center and Café

Lookout’s newest author, Clare Beams, is heading to North Carolina next week in support of her debut collection, We Show What We Have Learned. Her book tour, which includes not only readings but also writing workshops at middle- and high-schools, is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Beams’s tour marks Lookout’s second collaboration with South Arts—the first was with Honey from the Lion author Matthew Neill Null last fall—and provides opportunities to extend her audience to include students and younger readers, and to offer more meaningful and sustained engagement in Lookout’s home state.

Educational presentations will include a class on short story endings at the NC Writers’ Network Conference in Raleigh, a presentation at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, and a practical workshop on the importance of teaching writing for aspiring K-12 educators as part of UNCW’s Writers’ Week. Beams will also offer writing workshops to students at North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville and Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington, through the Department of Creative Writing’s longstanding Writers in Action outreach program.

The UNCW community, including Lookout Books’ faculty and student staff, will celebrate Beams’s book launch on October 31 (Halloween!) at 7 p.m. in conjunction with its annual Writer’s Week (full schedule here). Later that week, Beams will also give readings at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, Main Street Books in Greensboro, and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, where she will be joined by author April Ayers Lawson for a discussion about their highly anticipated debut collections. Listen for her on WUNC’s The State of Things with Frank Stasio on Friday, Nov. 4.

Her full tour schedule, including readings in Boston, Falmouth, and Washington, D.C., can be found on her website. And if you’re in Pittsburgh, you won’t want to miss Clare’s hometown book launch, Tuesday, October 25, 7 p.m., at the new White Whale Bookstore.

Save Your Place: No Limit, No Shade

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 the poem “Muybridge’s Clouds” by Joshua Rivkin  in Ecotone 17.

“His lens opens and the sky burns away. No limit, no shade. Just the color of the crater left by footprints in mountain snow or the bright blindness of a just-fired gun, the sky in early photographs appears white. In his darkroom, a library of negatives, he matches the right shape for the right sky.”

Ecotone + Lookout Deal, Plus Clare Beams in O, the Oprah Magazine!

We’re getting closer and closer to publication day for We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams! If you’re a fan of Lookout and  (and we hope you are), we’ve got a great special going on. Receive a one-year subscription to Ecotone and a copy of We Show What We Have Learned  for over 25 percent off the cover price. For just $25, you’ll receive two issues of Ecotone as well as Beams’s collection, due out in October 2016.
In other exciting news, O, the Oprah Magazine, has named We Show What We Have Learned one of “10 Titles to Pick Up Now.” In their micro-review, the magazine’s editors write, “This debut collection is full of promise and surreal delight. In the shocking title tale, a teacher falls to pieces in front of her class, not emotionally or metaphorically, but literally. We hope there’s much more to come from this writer.” Subscribe to the November iPad edition to read the first ten pages of the collection, or check out the full list of books in this month’s print issue.

Goodreads Giveaway – We Show What We Have Learned

Like free books? We will be giving away fifteen preview copies of Clare Beams’s debut story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, on Goodreads! Here’s how it works:

  • Jump on Goodreads to enter.
  • The giveaway is open from Monday, October 3, until Thursday, October 18.
  • Follow the instructions on Goodreads and sit tight. They’ll announce winners when the giveaway closes on October 18. Fifteen lucky people will receive copies of We Show What We Have Learned.
  • We’d love to hear from you! Please post a review on Goodreads, or e-mail us directly at to tell us what you think.


We Show What We Have Learned hits shelves on October 25 and is available for pre-order now via Lookout’s website. Check back here–or Lookout’s Instagram account @LookoutBooksUNCW–for a new digital broadside every Tuesday leading up to the book’s release.

It’s Best American Time

basnw16It’s that time of year, y’all: Best American time! Congratulations to all of our contributors whose work is reprinted or commended in this year’s anthologies—and shout-outs to the following authors, whose work first appeared in Ecotone. Subscribers can log in to our website to read most of these pieces, and we’ll make a few of them open-access during the month of October:

Amy Leach’s essay “The Modern Moose,” from the Sound Issue, is reprinted in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016.

In The Best American Short Stories 2016, two stories from Ecotone’s tenth-anniversary issue are listed as notables: Steve Almond’s “Dritter Klasse Ohne Fensterscheiben” and Jamie Quatro’s “Wreckage.”

The Best American Essays 2016’s Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2016 includes four from Ecotone: “The Ear Is a Lonely Hunter,” by Barbara Hurd, “Mapping the Bottom of the World,” by Kate Miles, and “D Is for the Dance of the Hours,” by Aisha Sabatini Sloan, all from the Sound Issue; and “Hope Without Hope,” by Ana Maria Spagna, from Ecotone 19.

Finally, we’re very pleased to report that the Sound Issue is one of The Best American Essays’s Notable Special Issues of 2015! In celebration, during the month of October, we’re offering copies of the issue for $10—0r you can add a copy of Sound to a new subscription for just $7—$21.95 for Sound plus issue 22, the Country and City issue, and issue 23. If you’d like to see what we’re up to next, be sure to subscribe or renew.

Happy fall, happy reading, and congrats to our fabulous contributors!

News Roundup: Not Feeling Listless

Fall is finally here, and along with it–and pumpkin spicing and starting to wear socks and breaking out the cardigans–comes lists of what to read this fall. We’re thrilled to find Ecotone and Lookout mentioned in a bunch of different lists. (And, for one more list, check back to the blog Monday to see the full roundup of Ecotone‘s Best American reprints and notables!)

Matt Broderick, the Review Review Reviews Editor (say that five times fast) introduced his list of lit mag journal editors sharing love, with this lovely thought, “One of my favorite things about this community of writers and editors is our willingness to give each other pats on the back and high fives for work well done.” He talked to a few editors he admires to find out which journals are on their radar, and we were excited that Chicago Review of Books Editor-in-Chief, Adam Morgan, mentioned Ecotone as one of his favorite lit mags.

national-reading-group-month-selections-400x600Over at Book Riot, Aram Mrjoian rounds up a list of  “5 Lit Journals for Readers Who Love a Sense of Place,” and Ecotone tops the list. Aram says, “We naturally expect and desire for stories to transport us, to teach us about the specifics of an unfamiliar environment, and that our preconceived notions of the physical world will automatically skew our perception of what we read on the page.” We love the idea that Ecotone helps readers grapple with that kind of transportation and perception, and are so grateful to make the list.

On the site My Booket List, they’re kicking off their book club to celebrate National Reading Group Month by partnering with the Women’s National Book Association (Greater Philadelphia Chapter) to suggest a list of “fun, inspirational, and page-turning books” including Lookout’s We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams. Check out these other three books on the list, and head on over to their site if you want to join in the conversations.

The Masters Review has a fantastic list of seven upcoming fall titles they’re excited about, including our very own Clare Beams yet again. Clare joins other debuts from Anne Valente and Derek Palacio, along with Zadie Smith’s wildly anticipated new novel. We love the succinct plug in their description. “We love Lookout Books, and we love a good debut collection.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

We hope this list of lists has helped cure any listlessness or even any listing to the right or left. There are so many good things coming for you to read. Ge thee to a list and start making your way through it!

What We’re Reading: First-Year MFA Student Edition

Having survived the first few jam-packed weeks of grad school, the first-year MFA candidates are already looking back on August with a nostalgic glow, remembering a different era when they could read purely for pleasure. We asked two fiction students, one nonfiction student, and one poetry student to discuss the books that they were reading and re-reading as they started the MFA program, the ones that made them excited and inspired, and the ones that perhaps they’ll pick back up in December.


I’ve been working my way through a small pile of pastoral literature as research for a piece I’m working on. All were set before 1950 and I wanted to add something more contemporary to the mix. I picked up Evie Wyld’s All The Birds Singing and found a realistic, harsh, yet beautiful rendering of surviving on a farm. The story traverses landscapes, from a small British Island to the Australian Desert, connecting place to the narrator’s personal history. It’s a story that doesn’t shy away from cruel or vulgar situations. Instead, it embraces them and pinpoints the beauty that can be found there.

—Suzzanna Matthews-Amanzio, MFA candidate in fiction

A particularly bookish friend told me I must read Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing With Feathers, so off to the bookstore I went. The setup to this 114-page novel is fairly straightforward: a recently-widowed father and his two young sons are visited by a shape-shifting, mischief-loving Crow (the titular “thing with feathers”), who takes up roost in their London home while they grieve. What isn’t straightforward is how Porter chooses to tell his tale, mixing poetry, prose, play, and essay, cycling frequently between the viewpoints of the father, his boys, and the crow. It’s a bizarre and deeply beautiful book, and left me wondering how a happily married, thirty-something, first-time novelist can so masterfully capture what it’s like to be ensnared in such crippling grief. But also: where was this voice and what will it say next?

—Jeff Oloizia, MFA candidate in fiction

I’m reading A Field Guide to Getting Lost, a book that first intrigued me as a fan (read: President of the fan club) of Rebecca Solnit, but also caught my attention for its title, posing as a type of manual for losing oneself. Solnit seems to peer so deeply into moments that feel undiscovered, or unnoticed, or simply ambiguous in their beautiful, human complexity, that she actually gives these ideas a type of directional clarity. But the way in which she muses on the idea of being lost itself allows her readers to lose themselves with her, to feel a comfort in what we don’t know or have yet to discover, and to rejoice in where we arrive together as the exploration unfolds. And we trust her as our guide because she so eloquently blends her personal narratives with cultural and historical examples, finding nuance and meaning in our shared human experience. This book feels important not only for the strength of her craft, but for the value in what we can take from it, as writers and thinkers, delving into uncharted territories of our own.

—Nicholl Paratore, MFA candidate in nonfiction

This summer I reacquainted myself with Larry Levis through The Widening Spell of the Leaves. The title is an effective metaphor for the way his best work operates, beginning in scene and then expanding imagistically outward and ever-outward to include politics, place, and history. Like the visual trope of the molecule that expands into a galaxy that expands into a molecule as the perspective widens its scope, the poem eventually leads us back into a single moment, with all new layers and resonances. Instead of a poet’s usual sonic tricks and repeated symbols to create patterns, Levis creates rhythm from scenes and images in precise, journalistic writing that recalls Carver’s “Cathedral” and Didion’s Salvador.

—Elliot Smith, MFA candidate in poetry

News Roundup

beamd3dcroplbWe’re rounding up this week’s Lookout and Ecotone contributor news with thoughts about the great white whale we all chase. If you squint, you’ll see him showing up throughout this post. Here we go!

We’re getting closer and closer to the release of We Show What We Have Learned by Lookout author Clare Beams, and so much good feedback is rolling in. The East End Book Exchange, where Clare is having her launch, is re-branding itself as a store focusing on new titles and getting a new name–The White Whale–and they mention Clare’s book in their Littsburgh interview about it! “It’s a short story collection that’s at times creepy, at times surreal, and wholly engrossing.”

James Scott (Clare’s issue editor at One Story) has a podcast called TK, and Janet Geddis of Avid Bookstore in Athens was on the show to talk about fall books! She discusses the whale of an endeavor that is opening an independent bookstore, and both her and James have some really lovely things to say about Lookout and WSWWHL, including about its cover. Definitely check out the whole episode and James’s other interviews.


We’re absolutely thrilled for long-time Ecotone contributor Brad Watson, whose new novel Miss Jane was named as a finalist for the white whale of literary prizes. Check out Brad and all of the other great writers on the National Book Award long list.

Ecotone issue 20 contributor, Anya Groner, has a piece out in Guernica: “Healing the Gulf with Buckets and Balloons.” Groner discusses how her group’s efforts to use balloons to map the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill shifted the paradigm from citizen science to community science. She explains, “Instead of answering a researcher’s questions, community science empowers ordinary people ask their own scientific questions and follow through with data collection and analysis.” There’s a whale reference to me made somewhere here, I’m sure.

And finally, we celebrate some new writing from Belle Boggs, whose book The Art of Waiting has been making a whale of a splash for the past few weeks. This essay from the New Yorker is all about the book that taught Belle what she wanted to teacher her daughter. She was fantastic on WUNC’s The State of Things (listen here), and there’s even more to be found from Belle on NPR and the Powell’s bookstore blog.

Whatever you’re up to this week, we hope you’re chasing some suitably challenging but approachable whale, and we wish you all the luck in catching it! See you next week.

“Happiness” in this year’s O. Henry Prize Stories

-1The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016 was released this week, and we’re thrilled that Ron Carlson’s story “Happiness” is included. And we were even, ahem, happier to see the attention the story got in editor Laura Furman’s introduction.

“This year, as always, when the reading got under way for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016, the stories in the just-published 2015 collection whispered in my ear that this would be the year when I wouldn’t find another twenty worthy of succeeding them. The haunting prediction held for a while, and then the first right one appeared. This year, Ron Carlson’s “Happiness” reassured me that once again there were more wonderful stories to discover.”

She goes on, we gleefully note, for several paragraphs about the story, including this one:

“The unhurried pace of the narration speaks of happiness as the narrator luxuriates in his modest way. He isn’t about to rush anything, not his descriptions of the weather, land, trees, water, trout, or deer. Even the cabin’s copper Levelor blinds have their moment. Happiness might glow and inspire, in memory and in its presence, but it doesn’t last, a truth here not stated but implied.”

We’re also proud to congratulate other Ecotone contributors for their inclusion: Charles Haverty for his story “Storm Windows” from One Story, Adrienne Celt for her story “Temples” from Epoch, and Wendell Berry for his story “Dismemberment” from The Threepenny Review.