Content Tagged ‘National Poetry Month’

News Roundup

During a time when there’s lots of talk about borders and walls and travel bans, we’re trying to remind ourselves of the power of great writing to break down walls, to help us really see one another. This week we’re celebrating both powerful new work from Ecotone and Lookout contributors, and the happy recognition of writing from the past year.

Lookout author Clare Beams is a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and Ecotone contributors Belle Boggs, Eva Saulitis, and Patrick Phillips have all made PEN finalist lists too! (The Bingham Prize has a surprising tie to our hometown, Wilmington, NC, funny enought. See the full scoop from the Star News.) To top it off, Clare’s book found itself on the long list of titles recognized by The Story Prize, which received 106 books published by 72 publishers or imprints as entries this year. The list—beyond the three finalists and The Story Prize Spotlight Award winner—honors sixteen books that stood out for the judges.

Sure, she’s keeping herself busy with writing and readings, but, like the rest of us, Clare found time to watch Stranger Things things year. In this interview from Flavorwire, Clare reminds us of the literary power of Winona Ryder:

If you could write fan-fiction about any pop culture character, real or imagined, who would it be?

Hmm. Maybe Winona Ryder? When I was a kid she embodied cool, for me — and then recently, along with the rest of the world, I got totally sucked into Stranger Things. It’s interesting to think about what it must have been like for her (after her fall from grace, period of relative obscurity, etc.) to be part of that show, set back at the start of her heyday, but as the mom character this time.

Care to give us a few sentences of micro-fiction about that character?

Winona looked around the set. This, she thought, was like coming home. She brushed back her feathered hair. Home, but with differences.

Samiya Bashir has a video-poem up that’s based on her poem in Ecotone issue 19. Her book, Field Theories, will be out soon from Nightboat Books.

Issue 21 contributor Safiya Sinclair will judge for The Adroit Journal’s Prize for Poetry. The prize seeks to honor writers of secondary or undergraduate status whose work inspires action. The deadline for submissions is February 15–check it out.

Leila Chatti, whose poems appeared in Issue 21, has a new poem up on Rattle‘s website called “My Mother Makes a Religion,” a moving exploration of faith including this line: “A child, I heard the trinity wrong— / thought God was a ghost, her faith / a haunting.”

Issue 18 contributor Aimee Nezhukumatahil’s poem “Invitation” is featured on the Poetry Foundation website. “Invitation” reminds us to contemplate what lies beneath that blanket of sea with lines like, “Squid know how to be rich when you have ten empty arms.”

Ecotone and Astoria to Zion contributor Kevin Wilson’s new novel Perfect Little World came out from Ecco last week. As our friend Ann Patchett wrote of the book, “What I love about this book is that it’s full of good people and all their good intentions. That doesn’t mean everything works out, but you can’t help but think, Oh, what if it could?” And Mary Laura Philpott of Parnassus Books created this amazing book pie chart. Doesn’t EVERY book need a pie chart?!

We like ending on a note about good people and good intentions. We intend to keep to keep sharing all of the goodness we can.

What We’re Reading: The Graduation Edition

In honor of the MFA students graduating from our program at UNCW this semester, and because we think National Poetry Month should be every month of the year, we found four graduating poets and one professor to share the poetry collections sitting on their bedside tables. What we discovered is a delightful array of poetic bounty that is sure to help inspire through the long days of summer–or life in the “real” world.

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photofrom left: Pernille Smith Larson, Jacob Bateman, Christina Clark


I’m reading Ron Rash’s New and Selected Poems alongside The World Made Straight. I’ve become obsessed with his North Carolina/ Appalachian lexicon and how his masterful prose lines sometimes read like poetry. I’m beginning to see that he operates much like Carver in that some of his narrative poems reincarnate in his novels, and I’m always a sucker for genre-stealing/genre-complicating. Up next is Above the Waterfall, which I hear is even more lyrical. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if I read him outright by summer’s end.

Elizabeth Davis, MFA candidate in poetry


I’m currently reading Chloe Honum’s poetry collection The Tulip-Flame. Initially, I picked the book up because it was chosen by one of my favorite poets, Tracy K. Smith, for a first book award. The Tulip-Flame includes different narrative strands with thematic connections: a mother’s suicide, a failed romantic relationship, the art and practice of ballet, and the growth, decay, and resurgence of a garden. These poems are stark, short, and gorgeous. They are both emotionally restrained and deeply moving. Not too long ago, I heard a writer tell an audience that writers should read outside of their comfort zone, by which s/he meant reading the kind of poems, stories, novels, etc., that you do not write yourself. I’m reading outside of my comfort zone by reading The Tulip-Flame, and it’s an inspiring and pleasurable experience.

Pernille Smith Larson, MFA candidate in poetry


Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, by Franz Wright, was one of those books I’d been told to read about a half dozen times, but had never gotten around to. The poems are brief and clear. You can read them very quickly—they have that kind of accessibility, which generates interest in what comes next. Moving back through them it became clear that they work just as well if you take each poem slowly and seriously. I remember a professor once saying, of some poem we’d read, that it was unimposing in its artfulness. I thought of that often reading this book. I think it’s the kind of work most poets would really love to be able to generate.

Jacob Bateman, MFA candidate in poetry


I first heard about Anne Sexton’s Transformations via Pernille Smith Larson, one of my MFA classmates. I had been working on a fairy tale series, and the collection was mentioned as a good potential reference for inspiration. Transformations is striking in that it haunts and at the same time manages humor. It retells old Grimm fairy tales while also redefining and refining them into modern poetry. Sexton accomplishes this in part through her use of more modern diction and imagery. Prior to reading this, I had also read a handful of Sexton’s most famous poems, “The Starry Night” and “Her Kind” come to mind, as well as her award winning collection Live or Die. Transformations lived up to and has exceeded my expectations as a collection. It manages to breathe new life and adult themes into stories that have been around for centuries–stories that we’ve known in some version since we were children. I would really recommend this book to anyone interested in fairy tale lore or anyone who is a fan of Sexton’s other works. Especially if you are inclined—as I am—toward weaving fairy tale imagery and concepts or themes into your work.

Christina Clark, MFA candidate in poetry


I have two very different books next to my reading chair. One is just out from Emily Carr, a former student and UNCW alum: Whosoever Has Let A Minotaur Enter Them, Or A Sonnet from McSweeney’s Poetry Series. It is bold, fresh, fractured and surprising, trying to approach emotion through language in new ways. The other is Tugs in the Fog, selected poems by Joan Margarit, the Catalan poet. Margarit has written some beautiful, direct poems about ageing, grief, and memory. I find myself moved by both books, in different ways.

Mark Cox, MFA faculty in poetry

News Roundup

Beams WSWWHL cover FINALRGBWe’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 litpub21cen-texturefantastic 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.

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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!

What We’re Reading :: Poetry Month Edition

Lookout celebrated National Poetry Month by releasing John Rybicki’s When All the World is Old last week. The book of raw and wise poetry pays homage to the brave love John and his wife, Julie, shared during her sixteen-year battle with cancer. If we do say so ourselves, it is a collection for every kind of reader. To continue to honor Poetry Month, some of the Lookout interns would like to share the other poetry currently on their nightstands.

“I just finished reading Rocky Dies Yellow by Michael Lally. Fantastic poems, but I may have some kind of a bias because Lally is a Jersey boy, too. Read it through one sitting, and plan to read it again before giving it back to my professor, Mark Cox. A+ for teachers who lend students awesome poetry all the time!”

(Rocky Dies Yellow is out of print. It was published by Blue Wind Press.)

– John Mortara, Lookout Intern

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