Content Tagged ‘Ecotone’

House Guest with Lesley Wheeler: every literary world is imaginary

In House Guest, we invite Ecotone and Lookout authors and cover artists, as well as editors from peer presses and magazines, to tell us what they’re working on, to discuss themes in their writing or unique publishing challenges, to answer the burning questions they always hoped a reader would ask.

Lesley Wheeler’s poem “Grant Report, New Zealand” appears in Ecotone’s Migration Issue, and her entry in our Poem in a Landscape department appears in Ecotone 19, our tenth-anniversary issue. Radioland, her fourth collection of poems, is newly out from Barrow Street Press.

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Editing a book of poetry is probably not on most people’s list of terrors, but I’d rather face public speaking any day, or maybe an egg sac bursting with baby wood spiders. You’ve been web-spinning for years and the results are almost ready for the public, but first you have to make sure the spacing and em dashes are just so. And that’s the easy part: it’s much harder to read your poems freshly again and again during the brief window your overworked editors allot for the process. If you don’t, however, you won’t catch the word whorl on three pages running, or a slightly bungled Dickinson quote, or the dropped italics. Then one day when, overcoming the existential nausea of book promotion, you stand at podium before those raised expectant faces, you’ll turn to page seventeen and the error you finally spot will break your heart.

Well, maybe you wouldn’t burn in shame about an em dash, but certain slips are more dreadful. While combing through Radioland, I worried particularly about my references to New Zealand. I spent several months in Aotearoa in 2011, and since then I’ve been negotiating my right to write about it: living there remapped the world for me, but I feared exoticizing the islands’ green cliffs and wild shorelines, skimming over pretty surfaces like a tourist. I quadruple-checked diacritical marks in Maori words, as well as facts about the 2011 earthquake. Differences between New Zealand and U.S. English also created quandaries. Maori would take a macron over the a in many contexts, for instance, but it doesn’t in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the reference my press uses to settle spelling ambiguities. One poem triggered copyediting marks with a reference to “the mad jangling / of tui in the punga.” Tui, the name of an extraordinary New Zealand bird, which can be seen and heard in the New Zealand encyclopedia Te Ara, appears in U.S. dictionaries, but punga does not and therefore must be italicized. The contrasting fonts looked distracting, plus I realized how difficult punga would be for an American reader to look up, so I ended up changing the latter to “tree ferns” (fortunately metrically similar). Cultural respect, levels of correctness, confusion for readers, elegance on the page—they’re tricky to balance.

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News Roundup

SFB2015poster_CageFreeVisual_0It’s a festival weekend, folks! Though we’re disappointed we won’t be at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, we hope that everyone who is going will stop by John F. Blair’s booth to check out our titles and to meet Matthew Neill Null, or find him on the panel “Whiskey-Bent and Gallows-Bound: Novels of Turn-of-the-Century West Virginia” (what a mouthful!). Speaking of mouthfuls, have some hot chicken for us while you’re there, will you? Maybe one of the many Ecotone contributors in attendance will join you. Keep an eye out for Rick Bragg, Ansel Elkins, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Lauren Groff, Ron Rash, David Shields, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Benjamin Percy. We also highly recommend a stop at Parnassus, where co-owner Ann Patchett is hosting a special welcome for those Friday morning visitors who stop in on their way downtown to the Festival!

Our festival of literary news includes lots of great goings-on this week. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named Matthew Neill Null’s Honey from the Lion one of twelve best Southern books to read this fall! “Beyond the high-profile returns of veterans like Mary Karr or Mary Gaitskill, the season brings engrossing new work . . . Here’s a peek at 12 of fall’s legends and future MVPs.”

Ecotone contributor Clare Beams has this great post, “Literary Teachers and Their Lessons,” on the Ploughshares blog, and Lauren Groff wrote about her inspiration, Virginia Woolf, in the Atlantic.

9781555977283We’re excited about two new books by Ecotone contributors. Comic artist Melanie K. Gillman’s Nonbinary is reviewed at Women Write About Comics. And Paul Lisicky’s new memoir coming out from Graywolf, The Narrow Door, got this great review from Kirkus. An excerpt of the book appeared in Ecotone 19, our anniversary issue.

If you’re looking to be an Ecotone contributor, we’re open to submissions again, as of October 1. Why not send us something?

We hope your coming weekend is filled with the festival spirit, in your heart or in your books. Enjoy the festival of falling leaves this weekend too, if your in a place where that happens. Thanks for celebrating with us!

On Location with Andrew Tonkovich

This installment of On Location comes from Ecotone contributor Andrew Tonkovich, whose story, “Falling,” appears in the Abnormal Issue and Astoria to Zion: Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone‘s First Decade. More recently, his story, “Reelection Day,” appears in the Migration Issue.

Self-Storage

I’m curator of a thousand pieces of decaying artwork, including a few still-brilliant canvases, intricate miniatures, hand-illustrated broadsides, an unpublished (typed) book or two, posters, journals, sketches, all produced by someone dear and, yes, still near, nearer than ever.

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I’d lived decades with a representative sampling of these tattered pen-and-ink drawings, oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, and writings. Their titles: “The Discovery of California,” “You Don’t Have to Eat God,” and “In the Summer We Went to the Mountains.” All were made by the late Dr. Peter Carr of Laguna Beach, California. He was my Comp Lit professor, an activist, a larger-than-life fellow of small stature if terrific self-esteem who created in whatever medium he found handy. He scribbled, typed, drew, painted (even on cardboard and plywood), was perhaps a bit manic or only urgently, unceasingly productive. Just as well because he died, suddenly, in 1981 at age 56, no plan for any of it, not the life’s work, unpublished memoirs, anticipated triumphant gallery show, or incredible output. Thirty years later they came to me.

Here, the rest of it, in a storage unit a mile from my home, behind a roll-up corrugated door: flying-swimming humans and fishes, peace demonstrators, killer jets, Central American ghosts, talking bear, coyote, raven. Peter drew finely layered mountains, captured the transparent, glowing leaves of our Pacific kelp forest, organized the intricate botany of tide pools and assembled among these lonely, alienated humans he meant to save.

Think Kenneth Patchen meets German Expressionist George Grosz. Caricature meets narrative in visionary doomed landscape reverie. Intersecting colors with enthusiastic, funny speech bubble dialog from creature-persons. Or narration by an all-knowing off-stage guide sounding like Peter.

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News Roundup

It’s been a week of more rain, inter-cranial pressure changes, and discussions about how to pronounce Joaquin. But also lots of literary goings-on!

51cat7WErgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_We enjoyed a fantastic discussion late last week between Michael Taeckens and Belle Boggs, about the promotion for her story collection, Mattaponi Queen, and forthcoming book, The Art of Waiting. (You can read her essay, “Imaginary Children,” in Ecotone 17 for a sneak peek of her new book!) The discussion revolved around the perfect cover design (witness Belle’s first cover here, one of Michael’s favorites), whether to hand out character-themed jam at readings or not to, and how to be yourself on social media. We’re so grateful to Michael for all we learned from him as UNCW’s first visiting publishing professional this semester.

Speaking of social media, Ecotone got Instagram! Follow us @EcotoneMagazine (and Lookout’s as well, of course, at LookoutBooksuncw).

Lookout and Ecotone authors have been in the news nearly as much as Hurricane Joaquin this week!

Lookout’s debut novel, Honey from the Lion, has been all over the South, from our home state of North Carolina, to the book’s backdrop, West Virgina. Wilmington’s own Star News called it “a masterful effort, an evocation of a vanished time and place” in this review. The Charleston Gazette Mail says Honey “reads like a thriller, a sweeping epic, and historical fiction at its best.” We couldn’t agree more.

radiolandEcotone contributor and neighbor John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote a fun rock ‘n roll investigation for the Paris Review. Kirkus Reviews 2015 Book Finalists longlist includes Ecotone contributors Lauren Groff and Jim Shepard. We owe congratulations to Ecotone poet and essayist Lesley Wheeler, whose new collection of poetry, Radioland, is available, as of yesterday, from Barrow Street Press. And our own Binocular Vision appeared in the New York Times this week, in this meditation on the intersection of motherhood and gadgetry.

“I was waiting out my twin sons’ soccer practice, reading Binocular Vision, a collection of short stories by Edith Pearlman, on my iPhone. The boys were dribbling their way around cones; I was in the gym bleachers, moved by Pearlman’s meditations on mortality, having a bit of a moment in an unlikely place.”

We hope your week is filled with only the best kinds of storms and unlikely realizations: ones that bring much-needed rain and understanding.

(And: Joaquin. There, we said it one more time!)

West Virginia review

 

What’s Your Ecotone?: “Our eighty-mile stretch of river”

This week’s What’s Your Ecotone? comes from Jennifer Clark, who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

MI(1)I live near the Kalamazoo River. In 1848, before she became polluted—before she was deemed a superfund site, and we all fell into a stupor waiting for the giant, sleepy paws of the Environmental Protection Agency to save her—author James Fenimore Cooper noted this about our eighty-mile stretch of river: “The woods around them were the unpeopled forest of Michigan and the small winding reach of placid water that was just visible in the distance as an elbow of the Kalamazoo, a beautiful little river that flows westward, emptying its tribute into the vast expanse of Lake Michigan.”

headshotJennifer Clark is director of community relations for Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and a founding board member of the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition. Shabda Press published her first book of poems, Necessary Clearings, in 2014. Her work has been published in failbetter, Concho River Review, Nimrod, Fiction Fix, Midwest Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

A place-based pair: Ecotone and The Common subscription special

ecotone-common-300x300It’s a good year for place-based literature: Ecotone turns ten, and The Common, one of our favorite literary magazines of place, will publish its tenth issue. We’ve teamed up to offer a year’s subscription to both magazines. For $39.95, receive two issues of Ecotone and two issues of The Common!

Order by Wednesday, September 30, to take advantage of this special.

And watch for an upcoming post featuring The Common’s editor, fiction writer Jennifer Acker.

News Roundup

It’s been a notably rainy week here in Wilmington, turning our thoughts toward fall at last. You know fall is coming when you scroll down your Facebook feed, and no less than four friends have posted links to this oldie but a goodie from McSweeney’s.

9780544569621_p0_v2_s192x300In other notable news, we’ve got our list of stories and essays that were honored in the Best American series! Best American Stories 2015 NOTABLES include Matthew Neill Null (for issue 17’s ‘The Island in the Gorge of the Great River”) and Chantel Acevedo (for 17’s “Strange and Lovely”). Several of our essayists earn NOTABLE mentions in Best American Essays 2015: Belle Boggs (for issue 17’s “Imaginary Children”), Camas Davis (for 18’s “Human Principles”), Joni Tevis (for 17’s “What Looks Like Mad Disorder”), and Toni Tipton-Martin (for 18’s “Breaking the Jemima Code”)! We’re so happy for our talented contributors!

Notable reviews abound: Lee Upton’s Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles gets a glowing review in The Literary Review, Claire Vaye Watkins’s new novel got a great review in Slant Magazine, and Ana Maria Spagna’s new book Reclaimers got this review in the Seattle Times. Last but not least: Chantel Acevedo, Edith Pearlman, and Jim Shepard—all Ecotone contributors—were longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.

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We were notably excited to meet so many booksellers at the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance (SIBA) conference last weekend. We had a great time at the panels, signings, and exhibitor show, where we talked up Honey from the Lion. The South is filled with so many great bookstores, and we love getting to know the people behind them. Check out the Seven Questions section of our blog, where we interview writers and, yes, booksellers! We already have some amazing interviews, including ones with Hub City, Quail Ridge, and Parnassus. If you’re a bookseller and are interested in participating in this blog series, let us know.

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Matthew Neill Null’s Carolina tour, supported in part by the great folks at South Arts, culminated with his appearance at SIBA, and it was a resounding success (even Leopold Bloom the dog thought so!) If you missed him in North Carolina, catch him in Nashville, Tennessee on October 10 at the Southern Festival of Books. He’ll be giving a talk with Glenn Taylor titled “Whiskey-Bent and Gallows-Bound: Novels of Turn-of-the-Century West Virginia.” And big thanks to Tennessee’s Chapter 16 for giving him this great review in advance of his visit!
The weekend is here, and we hope it’s filled for you with many notables. (Naps are in order here, friends.) Have a great one!

On Location with Ben Miller

Ben Miller’s memoir-in-essays, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa was published by Lookout in 2013. He sent us this update about life after his Radcliffe Fellowship and a cross-country move for our regular department On Location, where writers share a picture of a meaningful place.

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After completing my fellowship year at the Radcliffe Institute in May, I made a spinning leap from Cambridge to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and landed on my feet in front of the celebratory mural in Meldrum Park created in 2013 by artist Dave Loewenstein and the children of the Whittier Neighborhood. Squeezed in my left hand is a manuscript containing the sixty-one new translations of William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” that I gathered over the last year from generous poets around the globe. It is my dream to hold a park reading at which this tiny poem of vast vision will be delivered in each of the 143 languages currently spoken in homes in Sioux Falls. Any translator interested in participating, please e-mail me at muralspeaks@gmail.com! I am in particular need of translations of the poem in African and Asian languages.

Ben Miller is the author of River Bend Chronicle: the Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa. His prose is forthcoming in the New England Review and the St. Petersburg Review. His awards include fellowships from the NEA and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. On October 17 in Hooksett, New Hampshire, he will be presenting shrub-based polyphony in front of the New England chapter of the International Lilac Society. Selected works from his ongoing collaboration with the painter Dale Williams can be seen very soon in Brooklyn.

What’s Your Ecotone?: “I am drawn to any place near a large body of water”

This week, we hear from Tegan Nia Swanson, whose story “The Memory of Bones” appeared in Ecotone 15, and who currently lives in Lyon, France.

I am drawn to any place near a large body of water—the Pacific coast or the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador; the coral atolls of the Marshall Islands; the Boundary Waters between Minnesota and Canada; Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin; the Mississippi River all the way from the headwaters to the Gulf. A kind of subliminal pressure pushes down on my soul when I spend too long away—like right now, when I am living in a city apartment building that’s surrounded by cement—and it happens so slowly that it’s almost unnoticeable at first. But as soon as I get near the water again, I realize how much less I had been in its absence. It might be clichéd or romanticized to think of this circumstance as stemming from some intrinsic biospiritual need, but I can’t explain it any other way.

maskTegan Nia Swanson is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment Program at Iowa State University, where she was the 2011 Pearl Hogrefe Fellow. Her fiction appears in Ecotone, Bellingham Review, Connu, and in the Black Earth Institute’s About Place Journal. Her novel-in-artifacts Things We Found When the Water Went Down won the 2014 Horatio Nelson Award for Fiction, and is forthcoming from Black Balloon Publishing/Catapult Co.

Save Your Place: A dusting of backlit snow

2015S-Ecotone19-frontcover-650x964Ecotone’s tagline is “reimagining place,” and we love work that brings us to a specific location, real or imagined. In this new department, Save Your Place, we’ll highlight our favorite descriptions of place from work we’ve published at Ecotone and Lookout.

From Jamie Quatro’s story “Wreckage” in Ecotone 19

“What a thing it is to see moonlight on the tips of saguaros. A dusting of backlit snow. And the Catalina Mountains, dimensional at sunrise, crevices and folds articulated in light and shadow—flattening into a stage set by evening, gradient purples and blues becoming uniformly dark against the darkening sky.”