We’re heading to AWP! If you’re also going to DC this week, you’re probably doing what we’re doing: scurrying around packing and scouring the schedule for your favorite authors. We dove in to see when and where some of our recent Lookout/Ecotone contributors will be sharing their insights. The three women at our helm, Emily Louise Smith, Beth Staples, and Anna Lena Phillips Bell, will also be presenting, as will our most recent Lookout author Clare Beams. Come say hello and pick up our newest publications at tables 400-401, which we share with sister UNCW publication Chautauqua at the Bookfair. Don’t forget to pack light, and leave room to bring home books!
Here are our picks:
The Craft of Editing Poetry: Practices and Perspectives from Literary Magazine Editors. (Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Sumita Chakraborty, George David Clark, Jessica Faust, James Smith) Ecotone practicum students love editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell’s submit-a-thons. This panel expands on those, as she and other editors who publish poetry share what goes on behind the scenes, demystifying the poetry editing process. Thursday 9-10:15 a.m. Room 209ABC, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Award-Winning Professional Publications with Preprofessional Staff: Mentorship and Applied Learning in Literary Publishing. (Holms Troelstrup, Steve Halle, Emily Louise Smith, Meg Reid, Kate A. McMullen) Industry Q&As always seem to offer one solution for breaking into the publishing industry: apprenticeship. But what does the mentor/mentee relationship look like, and how do you get the most out of it? Both sides report, including current UNCW MFA student Kate McMullen and Lookout-Ecotone alum Meg Reid. Friday 9-10:15 a.m. Room 202B, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Reading As An Editor: The Intimate Hermeneutics of a Work in Progress (Catherine Adams, Peter Dimock, Mara Naselli, Hilary Plum, Beth Staples) Come to find out why editor Beth Staples’s new band is calling themselves the Intimate Hermeneuts…and stay to hear her and other top editors in a lively conversation on what happens to your own projects when your day job burrows you into another authors’ work. Saturday 4:30 pm to 5:45 p.m. Marquis Salon 7 & 8, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Leashing the Beast: Humanizing Fictional Monsters. (Anna Sutton, Steven Sherrill, Clare Beams, Kate Bernheimer, Julia Elliott) Clare Beams has obviously knocked our socks off as a short story writer, but her craft lectures at UNCW’s Writers’ Week and on her book tour were beyond fabulous: engaging, entertaining, and helpful. Catch more pearls of wisdom from Clare, moderated by Lookout-Ecotone staff alum Anna Sutton. Thursday 10:30-11:45 a.m. Capital & Congress, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Beautiful Mysteries: Science in Fiction and Poetry. (Robin Schaer, Amy Brill, Martha Southgate, Naomi Williams, Camille Dungy) How do we present field findings in prose and poems? Camille Dungy has done this in her nonfiction and poetry contributions to Ecotone, and we can’t wait to hear her insight in person. Thursday Noon to 1:15 p.m. Liberty Salon L, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Together with All That Could Happen: A Teaching Roundtable. (Michael Martone, David Jauss, Josh Russell, Hugh Sheehy, Deb Olin Unferth) We can’t wait for you to read Michael Martone’s “Postcards from Below the Bugline” in the brand new issue. Those of us who’ve been lucky enough to have him at the head of the classroom are eager to hear him share his take-aways from years teaching too. Thursday 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. Marquis Salon 12 & 13, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Zora’s Legacy: Black Women Writing Fiction About the South. (Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Tayari Jones, Bernice McFadden, Crystal Wilkinson, Stephanie Powell Watts) While Ecotone publishes writers from all over the world, we’re based here in North Carolina, and continue to be interested in the discussion of Southern literature from the African American woman perspective. Tayari Jones wowed us when she visited UNCW for Writers’ Week in 2015, and we can’t wait to hear more from her. Friday 10:30-11:45 a.m. Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Looking Outward: Avoiding the Conventional Memoir. (Steve Woodward, Paul Lisicky, Belle Boggs, Angela Palm) Not one, not two, but three recent Ecotone essay contributors will talk about how they approach writing intimate nonfiction. Friday 1:30-2:45 p.m. Marquis Salon 5, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Following the Thread of Thought. (Steven Harvey, Phillip Lopate, Ana Maria Spagna, Sarah Einstein) Ana Maria Spagna’s “Hope Without Hope” (Ecotone 19) was a notable essay in 2016’s collection of The Best American Essays, about the Maidu tribe’s stand to preserve their forest land from being timbered for energy. We’re excited to hear more about her process for bringing her ideas into fruition. Friday 3-4:15 p.m. Liberty Salon N, O, & P, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Good Grief. (Heidi Lynn Staples, Janet Holmes, Steven Karl, Prageeta Sharma) Do you find comfort and catharsis in poetry? Heidi Lynn Staples, whose poems from her stunning collection, The Arrangement, graced our pages in Issue 18, shares her experiences writing from grief. Friday 4:30-5:45 p.m. Supreme Court, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
I’ll Take You There: Place in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction. (Ethan Rutherford, Paul Yoon, Edward McPherson, francine harris) Ecotone’s tagline is Reimagining Place, and we frequently debate what it means for a piece to be ‘place-based.’ We are so excited to hear what these writers have to say about place, especially Paul Yoon, whose fiction appears in the new issue. Saturday 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Such Mean Stories: Women Writers Get Gritty. (Luanne Smith, Jayne Anne Phillips, Vicki Hendricks, Stephanie Powell Watts, Jill McCorkle) Jill McCorkle hails from just down the road in North Carolina, and we listen to her every chance we get! Especially when the subject is why women writers are under greater scrutiny than their male counterparts when they tell tales of grit. Saturday 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
The Ecotone/Lookout team is thrilled that so many of our contributors have been recognized by the 2017 PEN Literary Awards. Each year PEN uses its Literary Awards program to honor the best and brightest in fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, and poetry, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for these writers as the award announcements approach!
From Publisher’s Weekly: “Beams is an expert at providing odd and surprising details that make her stories come alive, and the result is a powerful collection about what we need from others and, in turn, what we can offer others of ourselves.”
The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood (Graywolf Press), Belle Boggs (“Imaginary Children” and “Peanut Hospital” in Ecotone)
From the New York Times: “[A] thoughtful meditation on childlessness, childbearing, and—for some—the stretch of liminal agony in between.”
From the publisher: In this posthumous collection of essays, Eva Saulitis meditates on martality, the art of living fully, and her advancing illness and nearing death, confronting the waiting question without fear or sentimentality: how are you going to live when you know you are going to die?
The Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W.W. Norton & Company), Patrick Phillips (“The Singing” in Ecotone)
From the publisher: A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.
From the publisher: Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile.
Award finalists will be announced by PEN on Jan. 18, 2017, and winners will be announced Feb. 22. (With the exception of the awards conferred for debut fiction and essay, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the PEN/Nabokov Award, which will be announced live at PEN’s award ceremony). And finally, the winners will be celebrated on March 27 at the PEN America Literary Award ceremony hosted at the New School in New York City.
It was an especially exciting week at Lookout HQ with the launch of Clare Beams’s story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, on Tuesday. The Lookout team has been hard at work on this amazing book for quite some time, and it’s been fun to see it getting the attention it so deserves. Here are a few of the special places you can read more about it.
The story “All the Keys to All the Doors” was featured in Electric Literature‘s Recommended Reading this week, with a fantastic introduction from Megan Mayhew Bergman: “Upon reading her, you make it to the third or fourth paragraph and realize this is not the restrained narrative you expected, that there is a cutting strangeness and profundity afoot.”
Clare got a bunch of love in Pittsburgh, the town she calls home, including this interview in the Pittsburgh City Paper, this review in the Pittsburgh Tribune, and a packed release party at the White Whale Bookstore.
And if you haven’t heard by now, she also got love from O, The Oprah Magazine, where it was featured as one of “10 Titles to Pick Up Now.”
This coming week, Wilmington will host its own special launch party for Clare as part of Writers’ Week on Monday night. To read more about it–and the other fabulous writers coming to Wilmington including Mei Fong, Maurice Manning, and Chinelo Okparanta–check out this article from Encore.
Speaking of hometown love, Wilmington’s Salt Magazine did a fabulous profile on Lookout and Honey from the Lion, saying, “The care and adoration lavished on a Lookout book is obvious…. French flaps, beautiful graphic design, and tailored page layouts are the hallmarks of a book that someone cares about…. At Lookout, each book radiates that level of care.” And Parnassus Books created this roundup of “Small Presses: Little Gems With Big Impact,” calling out Lookout books by Clare Beams, Edith Pearlman, and Matthew Neill Null. (Thanks, you guys!)
There’s good news for other Lookout authors, too! Matthew Neill Null’s novel, Honey from the Lion, has been named a fiction finalist in the 2016 Massachusetts Book Awards from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and has sold to Albin Michel for publication in France in 2018. Oui oui!
And Ben Miller, author of the memoir River Bend Chronicle, accepted the Cornell College Leadership & Service Award for “contributions to American literature.” Ben’s acceptance speech is funny and inspiring, and we’re so happy for him.
And there are book launches in the world of Ecotone contributors to boot! Melissa Range’s new poetry collection, Scriptorium, hit the shelves this month. Chosen by Tracy K. Smith for the 2015 National Poetry Series, it’s now available from Beacon Press.
This is the post that nearly launched a thousand books. We hope your reading all the great new literature you can handle–thanks for checking out ours!
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.
You may have heard the news by now, but we wanted to do an official announcement here on the blog: we’re thrilled to broadcast the details about Lookout’s next book, the debut story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, by Clare Beams. The stories blend the fantastic, the historic, and the literary, and capture the true strangeness of being human. From bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort, Beams’s landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her characters’ desires stretch the limits of reality.
Clare’s editor here at Lookout, Beth Staples, published the title story from the collection years ago during her time at Hayden’s Ferry Review, and was even more excited to work with Clare on a newer story for Ecotone, called “Granna.” The success of that relationship, and the Ecotone/Lookout team’s enthusiasm for Clare’s work, led to the acquisition of this fabulous collection. And now, after many months of editing, publicizing, designing, and planning, we’re all so excited for October 25, when the book will make its way to readers.
We’re not the only ones excited. In a starred review Kirkus calls the collection, “A richly imagined and impeccably crafted debut.” Publishers Weekly adds, “Beams is an expert at providing odd and surprising details that make her stories come alive, and the result is a powerful collection about what we need from others and, in turn, what we can offer others of ourselves.” And Amanda Nelson of Book Riot says, “These stories are angry and odd, and I loved them.” Head to Clare’s website to read all the love, including quotes from Joyce Carol Oates, Chang-Rae Lee, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Mary Laura Philpott of Parnassus Books, and Rachel Richardson of Hub City Writers Project.
We’ll be giving all of the details about Clare’s tour and reading schedule shortly, but you can have a look at what’s planned so far here. We’re also so excited that Clare will be here in Wilmington as part of UNCW’s Writers’ Week.
And you don’t have to wait until October 25 to find your copy–you can preorder the collection now. We hope it will delight, challenge, and surprise you in all the best ways.
Last night, students in the MFA program here at UNCW hosted their End of the World Reading. School is over, and many of our students–some who have worked so hard on Ecotone and Lookout–are leaving us. We’re sad to see them go, but so excited about the possibilities ahead for them. In honor of this end-of-the-world feeling, and because we have so much good news to share this week, a request: read the following bits of news quickly, and to the tune of REM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
Like the whole rest of the world, we were saddened by the death of Prince this week. Ecotone Sound contributor shirlette ammons wrote this tribute for a Triangle-based Indy publication.
“Uh oh, overflow!”
This week saw the first annual Edith Pearlman Creative Writing Award given at Brookline High School. Congrats to Alma Bitran! And to Edith Pearlman, whose work continues to inspire and change us.
Speaking of Lookout authors, Matthew Neill Null’s forthcoming story collection (from Sarabande) was reviewed by the Rumpus this past week, and they had nice things to say about Honey from the Lion too: “It has become one of the laziest clichés to claim that the place in which a story is set becomes a character in that story. Works of fiction as great as Matthew Neill Null’s epic evocations of West Virginia deserve better.”
“Feeling pretty psyched.”
Ecotone contributor Melissa Pritchard was awarded the 2016 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers at the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Georgia. She’ll be living in Carson McCuller’s childhood home for three months this fall.
Ecotone Sustenance issue contributor Toni Tipton-Marton won a James Beard Award this week for her book The Jemima Code (which was excerpted in our issue).
“Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline.”
Guernica did a nice interview with Ecotone issue 19 contributor Paul Lisicky, largely about The Narrow Door (we excerpted that too).
Clare Beams, author of Lookout’s forthcoming book We Show What We Have Learned, has a great Ploughshares blog about the difference between flashy short stories and longer ones that go for the “slow reveal.” Also, here’s a photo of Clare holding a galley of her book. So much greatness in one photo!
Speaking of Ploughshares, this blog post by Ecotone issue 13 contributor Emilia Phillips about lyric essays, and how she turned to them after she had cancer removed from her face, is so very moving.
Ecotone contributors Christopher Cokinos and Eric MaGrane will be doing a reading and discussion about the Sonoran Desert tonight at Tucson’s Antigone Books.
“You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right? Right.”
Orion is finishing up its national poetry month feature, curated by Ecotone contributor Aimee Nezhukumatathil–photographs of poetry books in the wild. Here’s Anna Lena’s (Ecotone‘s edtitor).
“Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom.”
Ecotone contributor Shawn Vestal has a novel coming out called Daredevils. Check out this excerpt from LitHub.
I’ll leave you with this final lyric to ponder: “It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone).” Join me back here next week when we’ll start a new world all over with the best news of the week.
We’re rapidly approaching the end of the semester here at UNCW, and are trying to cram in as much learning as possible in these last few weeks, even as spring beckons us to the beach. In honor of the teaching and learning we all do, this week’s post corrals some news worth getting to know.
First up: have you pre-ordered Lookout’s new title yet? Clare Beams’s We Show What We Have Learned comes out in October, but you can reserve a copy now here. About half of the stories take place in schools–from odd assemblies to fraught classrooms–and combine the literary, the historic, and the fantastic into one fabulous collection.
Speaking of Lookout specifically, and the idea of the teaching press more generally, Lookout founder and publisher, Emily Smith, has an essay in the anthology Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century (Milkweed), edited by Travis Kurowski, Wayne Miller, and Kevin Prufer, which was officially released on Tuesday of this week. Among some really fantastic and thoughtful essays about the work of–and challenges facing–independent presses and literary magazines, Emily’s essay documents the founding of Lookout Books; the historic success of our debut title, Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision; and our innovative teaching press at UNCW.
We’re lucky here at UNCW to have wonderful teachers, and to bring in guest writers and publishing professionals to boot. Last semester’s visitor, Michael Taeckens, interviewed editor of the NYTBR, Pamela Paul, for Poets & Writers this week.
For those in the know: if you didn’t make it to #AWP16, we still welcome you to use our AWP subscription discount for Ecotone! The code AWP16 grants you two issues for $14.95—two issues at more than 50% off the cover price! Use this knowledge well, friends.
For National Poetry Month, during which we all get to learn and enjoy poetry even more than we usually do, Ecotone is sharing poems from our Sound issue and archives all month long. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see when new poems are live. The first few are here, here, and here. And if you’re still hungry for more poems, Ecotone contributor Angie Macri has two poems in Terrain.org. And Ralph Sneeden has another Sound-centric poem (about Hendrix!) in the Southeast Review. Here’s a picture of Ralph reading his poetry this past week at Word Barn for its Silo Series of readings. We heard the acoustics were amazing, and it sounds like such a cool space wherein to learn about words. Thanks to Paul Yoon for the photo!
To take us out, we give you two topics we never tire of learning about: Donald Trump and mini golf. Ecotone contributor Jeff Sharlet had this fascinating story about Trump rallies in NYT Magazine. And have you ever wanted to learn more about mini-golf courses? Me too. Luckily, Ecotone contributor Sarah Bryan has an interesting audio piece up at the Southern Review about her dad’s role as one of the country’s preeminent mini golf course designers.
We hope we’ve given you lots of new things to learn and think about this week, and that your quest for knowledge never ends. We’ll see you back here next time!