Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slush: Not A Pleasing Fruity Drink

The Wall Street Journal released this article about how getting read (nevermind published) from the slushpile has reached astronomically difficult proportions. For example, The Paris Review, publishes one solicited story a year, making the odds .o08%. So, do we draw up the noose, pile up the back issues, and jump?

By way of response, I would like to say that even today, in this supposed dearth, new writers get noticed. Who ever said writing was easy? People seem to cling to these glory days when the short story market paid the bills. And when was that? And how long, in the grand scheme of writing and publishing, did that era last?

Technology has made multiple submissions easy for the writer. Writers don't have to painstakingly type manuscripts, and then wait for their return. Now they can fire multiple copies off and carpet bomb if they like. Editors, lest they wind up drowned in sheafs of paper, have had to create lines of multiple defense. Having read for a lit mag, I don't blame them.

No, you can't mail your newly minted book off to Random House and expect a response, but if you are writing and submitting good work, publication is not dreaming the impossible dream. In the past three years Montana MFAers (as in, my fellow classmates) have cracked some tough markets, including The Colorado Review, The North American Review, The Black Warrior Review, The Boston Review, McSweeney's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Mid-American Review, and The Gettysburg Review. Books by former grads (that seems to take a few more years) have been published.

A quick look at The Paris Review told me this pub is not for the emerging artist. This month's issue (for example) has work by Robert Haas and Aimee Bender. Furthermore, I don't believe it's the responsibility of every lit mag to focus on emerging writers. It's not as if Aimee Bender and Robert Haas are spamming American.

Still, I'm glad for the lit mags that give us newbies a chance. Allow me to say, thanks. And if you are an emerging writer, consider supporting a mag that supports us.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kim Addonizio at Benaroya Hall

Thanks to po-friend Maggie, I got a free ticket to see Kim Addonizio and Gary Lilley read last night at Benaroya Hall here in Seattle.

She played harmonica. I found this video on YouTube that features one of the pieces she played last night. The video itself is from a reading at the Folger Library in D.C. Of note, her rad jacket in the video is the same one she wore last night. I covet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

P is for Publication!

I have a book review in the latest edition of Brevity. For those unfamiliar, Brevity is an online lit mag dedicated to "concise nonfiction," meaning less than 750 words. "Over the past year Brevity has averaged 6,000 visitors per month, or 24,000 visitors per issue," (from the website). And it's free!

So get with it. Here's a link to my favorite from this issue.

Monday, January 18, 2010


On images

While I attempt to reconcile my day job--working in the department of chemistry at a research university--with wanting to write, I find artful endeavors in unlikely places. So, naturally, I have to pause what I'm doing and savor. Then blog about it.

Nanotechnology is all the rage in the material sciences right about now. Chemists enjoy working on a scale undetectable by just a human being. Equipment--marvels of technology, sure-- have removed the hands of a person away from the medium of the human body and made the humans' hands useful for knobs and computers to control the equipment. These people use bright & shiny equipment, and end up working at the cellular level with contrast agents & other cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. I get to see the equipment and see the writing in proposals. The narratives surrounding cancer research is a little awe-inspiring and a lot confusing.

In this image library, you can see these neat-o images. While looking at these images without the research background to understand can be unnerving--can I really know the exact significance and effort poured into making these by the aid of a giant microscope?--it makes a new kind of art gallery.

On language

In animal testing parlance to euthanize a rodent is to "sacrifice" it.

On text

If you can find anyone more concerned for formatting than the federal government, I'd like to know.

Does cancer research and being caught up in this department make me feel a little of this lazy bastardism? Yes, I fear, sometimes. Then this means I'm not trying hard enough.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dispatch from Ohio

  • It's winter quarter, and I'm taking nonfiction workshop which is the most awesomest workshop ever. (Hi Dinty!) Here's a link to a fun Gmap inspired essay by my prof.
  • Professor Dinty Moore, two other nonfiction cohorts and I are also developing a 19th Century American Essay course. This has been interesting, as nonfiction had yet to be formally invented. Perhaps this creation of a specialty qualifies us to be academics. Lesson One: all this past decade fracas over honesty in nonfiction would have been considered a non-issue back in the day.
  • I'm trying out a new strict persona as comp instructor this term. I make students read the textbook. I lecture from the textbook. Texting = Death. I don't take late work. DO WHAT I SAY YOUNGUNS. I wear black-rimmed glasses even though I have 20/20 vision and have affixed extra cat hair to my cableknit L.L. Bean cardigan.
  • OU is hiring a Nonfiction professor, and all the interviewees are coming to visit over the next few weeks. I will not be gossiping online about this process, however, as that would be unprofessional (Hi Dinty!). The important thing to remember is that there will be luncheons and colloquia. At last, Latin.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Exposition is a very windexed window.

This is why poetry is not exposition.