Salvatore Pane

Tag: Blake Butler

Realism or Experimentation: This Isn’t Highlander; There Can Be More Than One

“An interesting thought is trying to reach us here, but the ghost of the literary burns it away, leaving only its remainder: a nicely constructed sentence, rich in sound and syntax, signifying (almost) nothing. Netherland doesn’t really want to know about misapprehension. It wants to offer us the authentic story of a self. But is this really what having a self feels like? Do selves always seek their good, in the end? Are they never perverse? Do they always want meaning? Do they not sometimes want its opposite? And is this how memory works? Do our childhoods often return to us in the form of coherent, lyrical reveries? Is this how time feels? Do the things of the world really come to us like this, embroidered in the verbal fancy of times past? Is this really Realism?”

-Zadie Smith

On Saturday, Salon published a review of Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW, under the headline “Literary Realism is Dead.” This follows a back and forth between Blake Butler on Vice and Stephen Tully Dierks on HTMLGIANT, the former arguing that realism is a bloated corpse, the latter arguing  we need realism now more than ever.

This is what I don’t understand: when did we become a society that can only consume one school of literature at a time? I love realism. I love experiential lit. There are some realistic books I dislike, and some experimental books I dislike. I don’t understand the need for these two camps to bunker down and hurl theses at each other like some kind of lit Cold War. Aren’t there enough readers to support both modes? Why all the negativity?

2012 Off Site AWP Guide

The best part about AWP is the nightlife. The panels are exciting, but hanging out with all the people you’ve been reading for the last year and sharing a beer is really where it’s at. This year is no different. The list below is what I’m most excited about from the official AWP site. I’m sure there are other high quality events, but I just don’t have time to track them all down across Facebook. If you know of one, PLEASE add it to the comments section. I’ve marked the events I’m reading at in blue so that if you want to specifically avoid running into me in Chi-town, you can.

SEE YOU ALL SOON, BROS!

Wednesday

7:00PM Monster Mags of the Midwest Reading
Location: Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 North Sheffield
Cost: Free
Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, and Ninth Letter team up once again to offer a fabulous off-site reading. Please come see Mary Biddinger, Brock Clarke, Matthew Gavin Frank, Michael Robins, Laura Van den Berg, and Keith Lee Morris at Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 North Sheffield, located directly across the street from Wrigley Field (and the Harry Caray statue).

8:00PM AWP 2012 CHICAGO KICK OFF PARTY
Location: The Empty Bottle – 1444 W. Chicago
Cost: free with rsvp (email rsvp@emptybottle.com with “AWP Party” in subject line & full name of attendee in body of email.)
Website: http://dogzplotnews.blogspot.com/2011/10/awp-2012-chicago-kick-off-party.html
Kick-off AWP 2012, Chicago-style, at Chicago’s iconic live music club, The Empty Bottle, with readings, party, mayhem, bands… Music by James Greer (of Guided by Voices) and special guests, Mutts, and more. Readers include Jeff Parker, Michael Czyzniejewski, James Greer, xTx, Sam Pink, Jamie Iredell, Mary Miller, Sarah Sweeney, Michael Kimball, Amber Sparks, Peter Schwartz, Mike Young, Ben Tanzer, Sarah Rose Etter, and others.

Thursday

6:15PM-8:15PM How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Web
Location: After-Words Bookstore 23 E. Illinois Street, Chicago Illinois
Cost: Free
Join Drunken Boat, Memorious, failbetter.com, Blackbird, and Midway Journal for night of worry free, poetry and prose! Come hear authors Michael Martone, Randall Brown, Sean Hill, Margaret Luongo, Nicky Beer, Erica Dawson, Caki Wilkinson, Daniel Nester, Sibyl Baker, Michelle Chan Brown, and Shira Dentz. After Words Books is walking distance from the AWP Conference Event Hotel, and is a straight shot down State Street, just off the corner of State Street and Illinois Street.

7:00PM Convocation in Chicago
Location: Beauty Bar
Cost: Free
PANK, Annalemma, and Mud Luscious will once again host a holy meeting of literary minds. Convocation in Chicago will feature performances by Scott McClanahan, Daiva Markelis, Jac Jemc, Robb Todd, Sal Pane, Brian Oliu, Aubrey Hirsch, Matt Bell, xTx, Chris Newgent, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, Casey Hannan, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Brandi Wells, Doug Paul Case, Ryan Bradley, Myfanwy Collins, Sarah Rose Etter, Laura Ellen Scott, Molly Laich, and Allyson Boggess.

7:00PM Joyland and Dzanc present Fiction Feed: Chicago Edition
Location: Quimby’s Bookstore,1854 W. North Ave · Chicago, IL 60622 · 773-342-0910
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.joylandmagazine.com
Joyland Magazine and Dzanc Books are two innovative publishers pushing fiction with great writing and new means of print and digital distribution. Join us for an evening with Eugene Cross, Kevin Chong, Jeff Parker, and Megan Stielstra reading from recently released books.

7:00PM-9:00PM Celebration of the Small Press: FLeng Rising
Location: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery – Downtown Chicago
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.rockbottom.com/Chicago
Florida English and the Rising in Hope Anthology team up for this event featuring Brian Dickson, Jeff Grieneisen, Kirk Nesset, Jesse Millner, Heather Schmidt, Jen Stewart. The first 15 to arrive receive a free drink (see Courtney for your drink ticket).

7:00PM-11:00PM This is beautiful, this is beautiful; six small presses
Location: Simone’s Bar, 960 W 18th St.
Cost: Free
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/174394975997326/
An offsite AWP reading hosted by 6 small presses: Bateau, Burnside Review, Interrupture, Rose Metal Press, Slope Editions and Versal. Readers include: John Gallaher, Brooklyn Copeland, Sean Lovelace, Chuck Carlise, Louise Mathias, Ryan Flaherty, Anna Moriarty Lev, Jane Lewty, Erin Costello, Nate Liederbach, Amaranth Borsuk, Trey Moody/Joshua Ware, John Jodzio, Kate Nuernberger and Brad Liening. The event is free and open to the public. Full bar! Food! Come!

7:30PM Black Lawrence Press/Devil’s Lake Reading
Location: Salud Tequila Lounge
Cost: FREE
Please join Devil’s Lake and Black Lawrence Press for a great night at our co-hosted reading! We’re proud to feature: Mary Biddinger, Jon Chopan, Lisa Fay Coutley, Brent Goodman, Casey Thayer, and Joe Wilkins. Come early to partake in the open bar.

7:30PM An Evening of Poetry with Cat, Dog & Hamster Quarterly
Location: Black Rock, 3614 N. Damen Ave.
Cost: Free
Join us for readings by Jason Bredle, Melissa Broder, Arda Collins, Jason Koo, Marc McKee and James Shea. Sponsored by Cat, Dog & Hamster Quarterly.

8:00PM-10:00PM The Wrong Kind of Reading
Location: The Galway Arms, Lincoln Park (2442 North Clark Street)
Cost: Free
A reading from seven “literary pulp” writers–lots of genre thrills. Featuring Pinckney Benedict, Kyle Minor, Robin Becker, Anthony Neil Smith, John Weagly, Nikki Dolson, and David James Keaton. Loosely affiliated with noir/transgressive ezine PLOTS WITH GUNS.

8:30PM-10:30PM Gulf Coast & Indiana Review Give You a Reading with Writers We Love
Location: Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 South Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605
Cost: $4 suggested donation
Website: http://www.gulfcoastmag.org, http://indianareview.org
Join Gulf Coast and Indiana Review for an evening of readings by Michael Czyzniejewski, Ross Gay, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Leslie Parry, and D.A. Powell. at Buddy Guy’s Legends (just around the block from Hilton Chicago & Palmer House Hilton)!

9:00PM-2:00AM AWP 2012 Karaoke Idol
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/index.php?id=237
After readings and other literary events, presses from Chicago and beyond will battle for the AWP 2012 Karaoke Idol throne, followed by Karaoke-dance party. Karaoke Idol Judges: Amy Guth, Joe Meno, and Patrick Sommerville. Presented by Another Chicago Magazine (ACM), Artifice Mag, Curbside Splendor, Featherproof Books — contestants, more info to come…

9:00PM-12:00AM OPEN BAR SPEAKEASY BLOWOUT: The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Hopkins Review, Barrelhouse, Entasis, Baltimore Review, Dark Sky
Location: Brando’s Speakeasy, 343 South Dearborn.
Cost: Free
Website: http://thedoctortjeckleburgreview.com/
Edgy readings and fun prizes erupt around 10 p.m. when Barrelhouse, Dark Sky, The Baltimore Review, DC’s Entasis Press, and The Hopkins Review join up to launch The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review from Johns Hopkins. Free beer and wine, cash martini bar, tasty snacks, saucy behavior, prizes, and worthy-cause raffles, with the Hopkins M.A. in Writing Program as host. Our AWP-easy location is midway between the Hilton and Palmer House, so come join us after the keynote!

9:00PM Propaganda: a reading
Location: Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph (Halsted & Randolph) – in the Drinking & Writing Theater
Cost: free
Website: http://www.propagandareading.com
Three to five minutes of propaganda from: Matt Bell, Jessica Anya Blau, Blake Butler, Alexandra Chasin, Molly Gaudry, Amelia Gray, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Stephen Knezovich, Samuel Ligon, Robert Lopez, Nelly Reifler, Joseph Salvatore, Jason Sommer, Matthew Vollmer, and Jess Walter.

9:00PM-10:00PM (and beyond) Wag’s Revue and Unstuck Host a Reading and Get Frisky Like Granny
Location: Cole’s Bar – 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60647
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.wagsrevue.com
Make your last stop Thursday night Cole’s in Logan Square. The reading will be hosted by the Chicago-based, online-only literary quarterly Wag’s Revue and the hot and brand new Unstuck Magazine out of Austin. There’ll be just four readers–Noam Dorr, Dylan Nice, Rachel Swirsky and Julia Whicker. Then, at 10:00, DJ Frisky Grannies will be playing some hits from the 20s and 50s. So stick around, drink some of the fine brews on tap like Allagash White and Bell’s Two Hearted and get frisky. Granny wouldn’t go home just because she’s tired. She’d get drunk and listen to some readers and she’d dance. So come on. Do it for granny.

Friday

5:00PM-6:30PM ASF and NER Take AWP
Location: Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln Ave.
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.americanshortfiction.org
American Short Fiction and New England Review join forces to create a supersized, rollicking happy hour reading at the best whiskey bar in all of Chicago. ASF supplies the foxy fiction writers, including Kevin Moffett, Jamie Quatro, Eugene Cross, and Laura van den Berg; and NER brings along wily, wily poets with names like Traci Brimhall, Eduardo C. Corral, and Tomas Q. Morin. Come warm up with words, whiskey, and wise ol’ lit mags.

6:00PM-8:00PM Come on, Seven!
Location: School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan
Cost: free
Seven of the leading risk-takers of the fiction avant-garde are betting you will love what they read from their works because baby needs a new pair of shoes! Yuriy Tarnawsky, Lidia Yuknavitch, Lance Olsen, Davis Schneiderman, Adam D. Jameson, James R. Hugunin, and Eckhard Gerdes. Organized by Eckhard Gerdes, Editor and Publisher, the Journal of Experimental Fiction and JEF Books. Sponsored by Writing Program, SAIC.

6:00PM Beecher’s – Parcel Happy Hour Reading
Location: Manhattan’s Bar – 415 S Dearborn St
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.beechersmag.com/
Beecher’s and Parcel, two sweet, young, little lit magazines invite you to come enjoy happy hour drinks, free pizza and a great line-up of readers in Chicago’s oldest skyscraper. This fast-paced event, just a few blocks from the conference hotel, will include readings by: Rebecca Evanhoe, Jenny Gropp Hess, Lincoln Michel, Scott Wrobel, James Yeh, and Nick Courtright. For more information about the lit magazines, please visit: http://www.beechersmag.com/ & http://www.parcelmag.org/

7:00PM-9:00PM Burnt Bridge & Flywheel Magazine Reading
Location: Billy Goat Tavern, 430 N. Michigan Ave
Cost: FREE
Website: http://burntbridge.net
Burnt Bridge & Flywheel Magazine will be holding an off-site reading at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago. The reading will be graciously hosted by our good friends The Billy Goat Tavern on Michigan Ave. Attendees or general Chicago dwellers are invited to come out from 7-9 and hear some literary grit hurled unceremoniously at their ears. We’re told the food is good, too.

7:00PM Stymie Magazine Presents: A Really Big Show
Location:Theory Sport.Dine.Lounge; 9 W. Hubbard
Cost: FREE
Stymie Mag is coming to AWP 2012 and we’re throwing a party, or at least a reading with words, beverages, and good times at Theory Sports Lounge. We couldn’t be more excited and hope you are too (and that you’ll mark the date/time on what we’re sure is an already busy AWP calendar)!

Featuring:
Cynthia Hawkins, Tim Kahl, Jeanie Chung, James O’Brien, Lauren Becker, Alex Moody, Steven Kowalski, Joseph Baron-Pravda, Diane Durant McGurren, Shaindel Beers, Sal Pane, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Joe Ponepinto, J. Bradley, Megan Cass, Elijah Burrell, Ilan Mochari, Tyler Gobble, Mark Cugini, and Maria Nazos

7:00PM-10:00PMBeautiful, Words
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/curbside/blog/beautiful-words-awp-2012-event
Readings by: Kim Addonizio, Kate Zambreno, Vanessa Veselka, Greg Olear, Stacy Bierlein, Michael Cyzniejewski, David Galef, Tod Goldberg, Jonathan Evison, Shannon Cason. Sponsored by: The Nervous Breakdown, Other Voices Books, Bookslut, Red Lemonade, Dzanc Books, Curbside Splendor, Emergency Press, Elephant Rock Books, University of California-Riverside MFA program, Sunday Salon Chicago. Live music by Rob Roberge and Vanessa Veselka, and live DJ.

7:00PM This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Location: The Horseshoe, 4115 N. Lincoln Avenue
Cost: free
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/203462383031095/
As we are unbeholden to any particular school, method, or ideology, the one constant for this reading is each participant’s unique kick-assness. Readers so far scheduled include Fred Arroyo, Sarah Barber, Shaindel Beers, Jesse Bradley, Sarah Carson, Larry O. Dean, Margie Flanagan-Wilkie, Nathan Floom, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, Anna March, Daniel Nester, Brianna Pike, Erika L. Sánchez, Mark Statman, Elissa Schappell, Ben Tanzer, Meg Tuite, Robert Vaughan, Chet Weise, Snezana Zabic, and Cindy Zelman, with more TBA. Immediately following will be music from The Injured Parties, Khalid Hanifi, and Decoy Prayer Meeting. The venue has a menu that includes food and drink. Come early, stay late!

7:00PM McSweeney’s AWP Party and Poetry Imprint Launch
Location: 826 Chicago
Cost: FREE
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/275318479190753/
Come celebrate the launch of our poetry imprint in a four-part reading. We’re featuring poets Matthea Harvey (Of Lamb, Spring 2011) and Rebecca Lindenberg whose collection, Love: An Index, is kicking off the McSweeney’s Poetry series. Also Adam Levin, author of the Instructions will be reading from his forthcoming short-story collection, Hot Pink and Tom Barbash, McSweeney’s Issue 39 contributor.

7:00PM Literary Death Match — AWP Special
Location: Buddy Guy’s Legends
Cost: $5 advance/$10 door
Website: http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/upcoming-events/march-2-2012-at-awp.html
Doty! Smiley! Strauss! Jackson! To celebrate our 200th episode at Buddy Guy’s Legends, we’re teaming with Versal and Painted Bride Quarterly for Literary Death Match: Journal Porn Edition at AWP, and we’ve assembled the most colossally-awarded lineup of literary superstars ever to participate in a LDM ever before. Other plans? Cancel them. This is going to be a sexy-literary-comedic night to remember

7:00PM-10:00PM Sixth Finch and YesYes Books reading
Location: Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts (1104 South Wabash, 2nd Floor)
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/events/198506656912495/
In conjunction with CPBA’s “Poems and Pictures” exhibit. Reception at 7 PM, followed by a reading at 8 PM featuring Emily Kendal Frey, Ally Harris, Matt Hart, Mark Leidner, Thomas Patrick Levy, Ben Mirov, Metta Sama, Nate Slawson, Leigh Stein, Gale Marie Thompson, Phillip B. Williams, Angela Veronica Wong and Matthew Yeager. Only two blocks from the conference.

8:00PM Literature Party
Location: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln Avenue
Cost: $10.00
Website: http://literatureparty.com/
A night of literature and party benefiting Young Chicago Authors. With literature from Dorothea Lasky, Mary Miller and Tim Kinsella, and a special performance by Jesse Ball accompanied by puppeteers Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood. Hosted by Zach Dodson and Lindsay Hunter. Bookstore by Vouched. Sponsored by School of the Art Institute of Chicago Writing Program, Bookforum, featherproof, Hobart, HTMLGiant, The Lit Pub, Publishing Genius, and Wave Books. See literatureparty.com

9:30PM-12:00AM Literary High Jinx
Location: Brando’s Speakeasy, 343 S. Dearborn St., Chicago (historic South Loop)
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.brandoschicago.com
Literary loons and AWP marauders, unite! Patasola Press and Atticus Books join indie forces to present a spirited night of reading high jinx, complete with quirky novelists, saucy poets, brainy sirens, and devious wordsmiths in a slick, private upstairs bar. Rae Bryant, Steve Himmer, Dave Housley, John Minichillo, J.A. Tyler and other underground small press sensations are on hand to incite sentence riots and more.

Saturday

1:00PM TJY & The Actionettes
Location: Multikulti, 1000 N Milwaukee Ave
Cost: $5 suggested
Website: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/219588
Sponsored by Action Yes! and Red Lightbulbs, an afternoon of queer, feminist, gurlesque & grotesque literary performance featuring kitschy, campy, glamorous and otherwise unruly bodies & texts, starring Kate Durbin, Ji Yoon Lee, Carina Finn, Meghan Lamb and Tim Jones-Yelvington.

3:00PM-5:00PM Woman Made Gallery Welcomes Women Who Write: Strong Words, Strong Voices
Location: Woman Made Gallery, 685 N Milwaukee Ave
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.womanmade.org/poetry.html
This year, Woman Made Gallery celebrates 20 years of supporting the creative endeavors of women around the world. Literature has been prominently featured among gallery programs, including poetry readings, often organized around the themes of the concurrent art exhibit. Honoring Women’s History Month, we bring together five seasoned poets with distinctive voices, vision and presence: Kim Addonizio, Brenda Cardenas, Nina Corwin, Patricia Spears Jones and Patricia Smith. The reading will be followed by a conversation and celebration hosted by six prominent women’s literary organizations from around the country.

4:00PM-6:00PM Many Mountains Moving Press Reading
Location: Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University
Cost: free to all
Website: http://www.mmminc.org/html/events/events_new.htm
Another terrific lineup from MMM: Anne-Marie Cusac, Renato Rosaldo, Patrick Lawler, Jeffrey Ethan Lee, as well as Scott Blackwood, and the Creative Writing Program. A beautiful large space within walking distance of the conference hotels at 18 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Il.

5:00PM-6:30PM Mixer/Paper Darts Last Chance Happy Hour
Location: The Beauty Bar, 1444 West Chicago Avenue
Cost:
Mixer and Paper Darts team up to present an epic reading/sendoff on the final night of AWP. Swing by the Beauty Bar and dip your callused and brittle hands in a luxurious wax bath while you hear the likes of Amelia Gray, Tom Bonfiglio, John Jodzio, Chelsea Martin, Edward Trefts and Anne Yoder.

6:00PM-9:00PM Ear Eater #13: The Impossible, The Extraordinary
Location: Beef & Brandy, 127 S. State Street
Cost: FREE
Website: http://eareater.tumblr.com/post/16833972149/ear-eater-13-awp-edition
Join Us for Ear Eater #13: The Impossible, The Extraordinary! ALL-STAR CAST: Amelia Gray: (Author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2). Her first novel, THREATS, is due March 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.); Vanessa Place: (Writer, lawyer, and co-director of Les Figues Press. She is the author of Dies: …A Sentence (2006), La Medusa (FC2, 2008), and The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality, and Law (2010); Kevin Sampsell: (Author of the short story collections Beautiful Blemish and Creamy Bullets. He is the editor of The Insomniac Reader and Portland Noir. His newest book is A Common Pornography: A Memoir. He runs the micropress, Future Tense Books); Adam Robinson: (Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he operates Publishing Genius Press. He is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems, (Narrow House Books, (2010). More info at the EAR EATER site http://eareater.tumblr.com/post/16833972149/ear-eater-13-awp-edition

7:00PM-9:00PM Before We Go
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/events/371496909532464/
Presented by Big Lucks, Gigantic Sequins, Knee-Jerk, Magic Helicopter, and Rose Metal Press. Readings from Amanda Auchter Jason Bredle, Adam Drent, Loren Erdich, Adam Golaski, Christie Ann Reynolds, Matthew Siegel, Justin Sirois, Jordan Stempleman, and Ben Tanzer.

2012 AWP Guide

And so it begins again. In less than two months we will be reunited in Chi-town to discuss our websites, publications, and favorite Nintendo games. xTx will play Dark Tower. Devan Goldstein will cry. Brian Oliu will rock a track suit. I will undoubtedly ramble about mid-nineties Spider-Man stories to vaguely interested new friends.

A-W-P!

This is my third year writing a guide, and it’s my fourth time attending. Each year has been significantly better than the last. What began as an excuse to hang around an exotic city with my friends has turned into the conference where Facebook Comes to Life! Here are all those people that post things that I click a button to like! And most of them are great people too! And they’re all fun to drink with. Let me recap what I basically said in last year’s guide. There are two AWPs. There’s the day AWP where you engage in thought provoking panels and strike up conversation with interesting people in the bookfair who work for journals and presses. Then there’s the night AWP where you attend reading after reading and everything is in a bar and everyone’s going nuts. It’s the worst. It’s the best. It’s AWP.

In the unlikely event that you’re interested in hanging out with this champion (crickets), here are three times/locations you can definitely find me.

Thursday
7

Convocation in Chicago
Location: Beauty Bar
Cost: Free
PANK, Annalemma, and Mud Luscious will once again host a holy meeting of literary minds. Convocation in Chicago will feature performances by Scott McClanahan, Daiva Markelis, Jac Jemc, Robb Todd, Sal Pane, Brian Oliu, Aubrey Hirsch, Matt Bell, xTx, Chris Newgent, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, Casey Hannan, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Brandi Wells, Doug Paul Case, Ryan Bradley, Myfanwy Collins, Sarah Rose Etter, Laura Ellen Scott, Molly Laich, and Allyson Boggess.

Friday
7
Stymie Magazine Presents: A Really Big Show
Location:Theory Sport.Dine.Lounge; 9 W. Hubbard
Cost: FREE
Stymie Mag is coming to AWP 2012 and we’re throwing a party, or at least a reading with words, beverages, and good times at Theory Sports Lounge. We couldn’t be more excited and hope you are too (and that you’ll mark the date/time on what we’re sure is an already busy AWP calendar)!

Featuring:
Cynthia Hawkins, Tim Kahl, Jeanie Chung, James O’Brien, Lauren Becker, Alex Moody, Steven Kowalski, Joseph Baron-Pravda, Diane Durant McGurren, Shaindel Beers, Sal Pane, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Joe Ponepinto, J. Bradley, Megan Cass, Elijah Burrell, Ilan Mochari, Tyler Gobble, Mark Cugini, and Maria Nazos

Saturday
10:30am-11:45am
S143. Vampire by Vampire: Genre Writing and the Creative Writing Workshop
(Jeffrey Condran, Aubrey Hirsch, Alissa Nutting, Salvatore Pane)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
At a time when many students’ visual literacy is as highly developed as their traditional literary skills, when genre fiction dominates publisher and best-seller lists, and when many writers of literary fiction are open to narratives that reach beyond realism, instructors are often under pressure to include genre traditions in the fiction workshop. Four fiction writers teaching at colleges with diverse missions share stories and discuss strategies for including genre conventions in the workshop.

Below are the panels I’m thinking of attending. Let me be extremely clear on this. These aren’t the top however many panels of AWP. These are just the ones I’m most interested in seeing. That means there’s a huge fiction/comics/pedagogy/small press bias. Also, I’ll be rolling out a guide to the outside events sometime in the near future. Get pumped.

Thursday
9-10:15

R103. A Writing Life, After the Workshop
(Ilana Shabanov, April Newman, Daniel Prazer, James Lower, Sheree Greer)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
This intensive presentation covers what your MFA program might have missed: how to organize and sustain a writing life in today’s economy. Our event showcases planning ideas, technology solutions, and tools writers can use to take control of their career and maintain a writing lifestyle long-term. The approach is engaging to the audience, displaying websites and tools available to writers to promote their work. The audience members will come away with resources and an action plan for their writing life. A Q&A session follows.

R104. The Constant Critic Anniversary Panel: Poetry Reviewing in the 21st Century
(Karla Kelsey, Ray McDaniel, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Vanessa Place, Jordan Davis)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
In 2002, Fence publisher Rebecca Wolff began the Constant Critic, an online-only poetry book review website. The venues for poetry criticism have dramatically altered in the past ten years, but the ,CC, has remained. This panel, staffed by the site’s five critics (two of whom have been with the project since the beginning) discusses what it means to have a lengthy presence in one venue along with issues surrounding the rapidly changing world of poetry publication, dissemination, and criticism.

R108. Reports from the Trenches: Teaching Novel and Novella Workshops
(Richard Sonnenmoser, Sabina Murray, Katherine Karlin, Cynthia Reeves)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Workshops focused on long-form narratives are difficult for many creative writing teachers to imagine. This panel focuses on issues related to the effective teaching of novel and novella workshops for graduates and undergraduates. Panelists who have been in the trenches of long-form workshops will discuss course design and suggested readings and give advice about the problems specific to workshops focused on longer forms.

R111. Of, By, and For the People: Indie Lit in the Second City
(S. Whitney Holmes, Jacob S. Knabb, James Tadd Adcox, Amanda Marbais, Jonathan Fullmer)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Editors from a range of Chicago publications—online and print, established and upstart—discuss why independent literature thrives in Chicago, how their organizations contribute to a dynamic local literary community, and how their publications contextualize the city’s contemporary literary landscape for readers outside of Chicago. Panelists invite questions about how to get involved in the literary and publishing community in Chicago and offer advice for fostering such a community in any city.

R117. The Business of Publishing Your Novel with an Independent Press: Author and Publisher Perspectives
(Dennis Johnson, Joe Meno, Adam Levin, Christopher Boucher, Leigh Stein)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Melville House publisher and co-founder Dennis Johnson leads a practical discussion of the publishing process with four authors in various stages of their literary careers: Joe Meno has had seven books published since 1999, Adam Levin’s first novel was a 2010 critical hit, and Christopher Boucher and Leigh Stein have debut novels appearing in 2011 and 2012. Topics include acquisitions, editing, big house versus indie publishing, publicity, marketing, tours, social networking, and the changing role of the author.

R119. Flash Points: Publishing Flash Fiction in an Evolving Landscape
(Glenn Shaheen, Roxane Gay, Nancy Stebbins, Edward Mullany, Adam Peterson)
Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Editors from PANK, NANO Fiction, matchbook, SmokeLong Quarterly, and the Cupboard discuss trends they see in the flash fiction submitted to their journals. What are some tropes they’re tired of? Things they wish they’d see more often? Are prose poems and flash fiction pieces scrutinized differently when submitted? Join the editors as they attempt to (briefly, of course) characterize the landscape of contemporary flash fiction and give advice to those who are submitting their shortest work.

10:30-11:45

R127. Ideas That Always Work; Solutions That Never Fail: Best Practices for the Creative Writing Workshop
(Christopher Castellani, Ethan Gilsdorf, Lisa Borders, Jill McDonough)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Every workshop has problems: the dude who won’t stop talking; the lady who keeps psychoanalyzing; the inappropriately dirty/violent/creepy story. Every workshop needs new ideas: unique exercises that always yield worthwhile pages; rules that structure conversation without squashing spontaneity. In this panel, instructors of all genres will share case studies of how they deal with common problems and also reveal their best strategies for maximizing the effectiveness and fairness of workshops.

R130. Angles of Ascent
(Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dawn Lundy Martin, Vievee Francis)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
In this reading, representative voices of eighty poets spanning three generations discuss and read from the anthology Angles of Ascent (edited by Charles Rowell). This landmark project was published by W. W. Norton in February 2012. Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Vievee Francis will discuss the nature and importance of Angles of Ascent in American poetry. This will be followed by twenty minutes of readings and a ten-minute exchange with the audience.

R134. Phoning It In: Publishing through an iPhone App
(Maribeth Batcha, Tyler Meier, Sunyoung Lee, Daniel Pritchard, Chad Post)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Representatives from five leading publishers—Boston Review, Kaya Press, Kenyon Review, One Story, Open Letter—discuss their experiences: the pitfalls, successes, and strategies of publishing digitally.

R142. Ten Years of Literary Politics: Is There Still Room and Interest in the New Marketplace?
(Dennis Johnson, Valerie Merians, Jessa Crispin)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Jessa Crispin, founder of the seminal lit-blog Bookslut, leads a discussion with Melville House founders Valerie Merians and Dennis Johnson on the challenges and importance of publishing political literature in a changing industry. Topics explored include: books of longform cultural and political rhetoric in the age of the Internet, the specific demands of political publishing, and the dedication to activism in the arts.

12-1:15

R153. Writing the American West
(D. Seth Horton, Antonya Nelson, Toni Jensen, K. L. Cook, Claire Vaye Watkins)
Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Best of the West: New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri is an annual anthology of exceptional short fiction rooted in the western United States. Four award-winning contributors gather to read from their recently anthologized work. They will be introduced by D. Seth Horton, the series co-editor

R159. A Novel Problem: Moving from Story to Book in the MFA Program
(Cathy Day, David Haynes, Patricia Henley, Sheila O’Connor, Elizabeth Stuckey-French)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Short stories are often our main pedagogical tools, but the book is the primary unit of literary production. When are apprentice writers ready to write novels, and how do we review them in a workshop setting? How can we create courses and curricula that encourage students to move toward and complete book projects? This panel will explore the challenges of accommodating the novel or the novel-in-stories within the structure of an MFA program.

R164. A Reading from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop Instructors
(David Lynn, David Baker, Nancy Zafris, Rebecca McClanahan, Geeta Kothari)
Wiliford A, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Held annually in the month of June, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop is a week-long residential writing experience that focuses on the generation of new material in an intimate, creative, and productive setting. This reading by recent faculty offers the opportunity to hear the work of returning instructors and will include an audience guided Q&A about Kenyon’s process-oriented approach.

R170. Villains and Killers and Criminals, Oh My: Representing Evildoers in Literary Fiction
(Reese Okyong Kwon, Matt Bell, Eugene Cross, Brian Evenson, Lauren Groff)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Iago, the Misfit, Milton’s Satan, Judge Holden—some of the most memorable characters in literature have been the evil ones. “The death of Satan was a tragedy / For the imagination,” said Wallace Stevens. If this is true, how can fiction writers profit from the inclusion of villainy, and what might be lost? Join writers as they discuss their experiences incorporating elements of evil into their fiction, providing examples from their own and others’ work.

1:30-2:45

R175. The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment, and Earn
(Christina Katz, Jane Friedman, Seth Harwood, Robert Lee Brewer)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
What can a professor, a journalist, a novelist, and a poet teach you about new media? Using real-life examples from our own experience and that of other tech-savvy writers, we’ll construct a composite of how working writers use technology to invest in their careers, experiment and launch new works, and grow their income opportunities. Whether you need a day job, a part-time job, or just enough gigs to pay a few bills, there have never been so many ways for tech-savvy writers to earn.

R180. East and West: Creative Nonfiction and the Possibility of Post-Orientalist Travel Writing
(Joshua Schriftman, Faith Adiele, Fred D’Aguiar, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Oona Patrick)
Joliet, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
New travel writing too often builds on old notions of race. Developing cultures get reduced to romantic piquancy, and national identities become exotic foils to Western quests for identity: find prayer in one nation; food in another; love in a third. We may know Orientalism when we see it, but does this ultimately help us as writers to avoid it? How can Westerners writing on Eastern experiences use the tools of creative nonfiction to write outside of these old imperialist patterns?

R187. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Reading
(Peter Mountford, Alexander Chee, Bruce Machart, Dean Bakopoulos)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
A reading by four writers who have had books published in 2011 by one of the most esteemed publishing houses in the United States, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The authors will read from their diverse work and discuss the challenges and benefits of publishing literary fiction with a large publishing house and the changing landscape for emerging novelists.

R191. Keeping a Debut Book Alive
(Justin Taylor, Heidi Durrow, Marie Mockett, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Dylan Landis)
Crystal Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
What happens once a publisher says yes? First, champagne—then the author’s hard work starts. In this economy, relying solely on an in-house publicist, especially for a novel or story collection, can hurt a new book from a little-known writer. Four emerging authors reveal how they generated their own buzz. They discuss publicists, websites, mailing lists, social networking, book festivals, blogging, the art of coaxing people to readings, the legendary book tour—and who really pays for it all.

R193. The Bookstore Is Not Your Best Friend: Effective Small Press Marketing Strategies
(Colleen McKee, C.J. Kearns, Erin Wiles, Behnam Riahi, Winnie Sullivan)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Many publishers and authors starting out mistakenly assume that the first (or even only) places they should market their books and journals to are bookstores. While bookstores should be their friends—and often are—they are not necessarily their best friends. In this panel, publishers and PR people from young yet successful small presses discuss alternative venues for readings and book sales, from anarchist bakeries to punk bars, galleries to outdoor fairs, burlesque nights to feminist groups.

R195. Beyond Pulp—The Futuristic and Fantastic as Literary Fiction
(Anjali Sachdeva, Victoria Blake, Kevin Brockmeier, Brian Evenson, Matthew Williamson)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
This panel examines the role of science fiction, horror, and fantasy writing in the world of serious literature. Literary journals’ submission guidelines often include the phrase “no genre fiction,” but these genres include talented writers who wield all the tools of literary fiction. Why are fantasy and sci-fi so often considered trivial? How do publishers separate literary genre writing from pulp fiction? The panel will discuss how literary genre writing is promoted, written, and published.

3-4:15

R208. Periodical Wisdom: Advising Student-Run Lit Mags
(Jay Baron Nicorvo, Jennifer Acker, Don Lee)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Current faculty advisors and publishers of literary magazines discuss the ins and outs of directing a student-run publication.

R212. There Will Be Blood: Writing Violence in Fiction
(Alexi Zentner, Antonya Nelson, Benjamin Percy, Alan Heathcock)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
As writers, we are often told to kill our darlings and to leave blood on the page. But what if we really mean it? Four writers talk about when, why, and how to introduce violence into fiction, how to choreograph a moment of physical savagery, and walking the line between too little and too much bloodshed.

R215. Points of View/Angles of Approach
(Peter Turchi, Robert Boswell, C.J. Hribal, Susan Neville)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Point of view is one of the most complex of the basic elements of fiction, with far more variables and possibilities than general discussions typically acknowledge. The writers and teachers on this panel will discuss “Deep Point of View: what we don’t talk about when we talk about point of view”; “The Reliably Unreliable Consciousness”; “First Person: From I to IIIIII”; and “Don’t Be So Sure: Interrogating the First-Person Narrator.”

R218. The Geometry of the Novel: Making “Shapelier” Fiction
(Peter Grandbois, Debra Di Blasi, Michael Martone, Lance Olsen)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
While Jerome Stern’s classic Making Shapely Fiction focuses on alternative narrative forms, most of the shapes are actually variations of the Freytag pyramid, for example, his “Journey,” “Visitor,” “Bear at the Door,” and “Aha” shapes. This panel seeks to expand Stern’s premise in order to explore not only the power alternative shapes offer in driving longer, book-length narratives, but also the aesthetic beauty of geometries that work with a story, not against it.

R221. What about Blog?: How Blogging Can Propel Your Career and Polish Your Craft
(Sarah Klenakis, Turi Fesler, Claire Bidwell Smith, Rachel Vogel, Caitlin Leffel)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Sure, lots of writers blog, but what can you do to actually capitalize from your daily posts? A writer, editor, literary agent, and blog sponsor come together to discuss what appeals to them when reading online, how you can better attract followers, make money from your blogging, and possibly even find a job. From sharing success stories to blogging “don’ts,” this panel will clarify the murky waters that surround online writing.

4:30-5:45

R233. The Renaissance of Midwestern Literature
(Jason Lee Brown, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Dan Chaon, Mark Wisniewski, Rebecca Makkai)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
There is no doubt that midwestern literature exists, but how do we define and support its eccentricities and its coexisting relationship with other regional literature? Contributors to the new anthology New Stories from the Midwest read excerpts of their work and comment on the burgeoning renaissance of midwestern literature.

R236. What’s Wrong with the Whole Truth?
(Susan Resnick, Philip Gerard, Peter Trachtenberg, Paige Williams, Rebecca Skloot)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Many writers feel comfortable molding the truth to create a more satisfying story, yet still calling their piece nonfiction as long as the emotional core and basic frame of the work remain true. Not the writers on this panel. These authors, journalists, and nonfiction professors will explore the philosophy of factual versus emotional honesty and discuss how to achieve both—beautiful and moving nonfiction writing that is 100% true.

R238. Opening the Circle: Connecting Workshop Pedagogy and Public Audiences
(Sarah Harris, Tim Mayers, Dale Rigby, Drew Krewer)
Wiliford B, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
The CW workshop has been often critiqued, but seldom clearly defined. We argue that the workshop is a valuable space for openness, collaboration, and creativity, and these pedagogical aims can be achieved when the circle of the workshop is opened to include real-world audiences. Presenters will describe current methods of instruction used in the workshop and present attendees with a variety of workshop methods that allow students working in various genres to connect their work with audiences.

R239. Poetry Reading for Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability
(Jim Ferris, Cecil Giscombe, Stephen Kuusisto, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Ellen McGrath Smith)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
A reading by poets featured in the new anthology Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability. The book originated from a panel of the same name presented at the 2010 AWP conference in Denver. Following the panel, presenters Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen came together to develop the anthology.

R244. The Way the Wind Blows: Trends in Contemporary Short Fiction
(Todd James Pierce, Steve Yarbrough, Kevin Moffett, M.M.M. Hayes, Darlin’ Neal)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
In this panel, five noted short-story authors identify trends in contemporary short fiction. From the research-based stories of Andrea Barrett and Jim Shepherd to the sardonic explorations of Stacey Richter and George Saunders, this discussion will focus on how the form of the short story has evolved over the past ten years, with an eye toward understanding where the form is headed.

7:00-8:15

A Reception Hosted by Chatham University
Private Dining Room 4, Hilton Chicago Hotel 3rd Floor
Join students and faculty from Chatham University for a reception.

Friday
9:00-10:15

F112. The Fiction Chapbook—A Sleeper Form Wakes Up
(Nicole Louise Reid, Eric Lorberer, Diane Goettel, Kevin Sampsell, Abigail Beckel)
Marquette, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
In recent years, the literary marketplace has seen an upswing in publication of fiction manuscripts as chapbooks—a format associated mainly with poetry. A chapbook is the perfect medium for a short story or a clutch of short-shorts, and is capable of bringing an intimacy and aesthetic appeal unattainable by full-length books. Editors from Black Lawrence Press, Future Tense Books, Rain Taxi, RopeWalk Press, and Rose Metal Press, will discuss a range of experiences with this exciting format.

F116. Thirty Years of Award-Winning Short Fiction: The Drue Heinz Literature Prize
(Shannon Cain, Adria Bernardi, Tina May Hall, Edith Pearlman)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
The University of Pittsburgh Press celebrates thirty years of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction, featuring a panel of four DHLP winners. The authors will read from their work and discuss how they discovered their literary talent, what inspires their writing, what excites them about the writing process, and how their work fits into their daily routine. The audience is invited to participate in a Q&A, and the authors will sell and sign copies of their books following the event.

F119. Literature and the Internet in 2012
(Roxane Gay, Stephen Elliott, Blake Butler, James Yeh)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The literary editors of four leading web magazines—HTMLGiant, the Rumpus, PANK, and the Faster Times—offer a roundtable discussion about how the Internet is changing literature and literary publishing in the 21st century.

10:30-11:45

F138. Apocalypse Now: A Multi-Genre Reading of Apocalyptic Literature
(Brian Barker, T.R. Hummer, Pinckney Benedict, Judy Jordan, Kevin Brockmeier)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Earthquakes, global warming, peak oil, and giant, man-eating ants: every generation has its version of the apocalypse and an abundance of writers who write about it. In recent years, the end of the world has become the subject for a number of literary writers, and a new genre of literature is emerging. Five award-winning poets and novelists read from their apocalyptic literature, examining how their work has been influenced by recent events and by the sense of impending doom we humans share.

F145. The Hollywood Stint: Prose Writers and Writing for the Screen
(Andrew Scott, Douglas Light, Tom Chiarella, John McNally, Owen King)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Writing for Hollywood has long appealed to prose stylists such as Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and many contemporary writers. These panelists will discuss writing across genres, what’s required to write for the screen, how their fiction writing skills aid or hinder their attempts to please Hollywood, their dealings with producers, studios, and television networks, and the changing perceptions about screenwriting within creative writing programs.

F147. Home and Away: The Influence of Travel on Writing
(Stephan Clark, Sabina Murray, Jeff Parker, Kyle Minor, Jensen Beach)
Wabash Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Every writer works alone, but some go to great distances to do so. This panel brings together five writers who have traveled extensively—to Australia, Haiti, Hungary, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine—to discuss how travel and living abroad have enriched their fiction and nonfiction, allowing them to tell stories they otherwise would not have known and, paradoxically, better write about their own culture.

12:00-1:15

F149. Ghostwriting the Eulogy: How to Survive and Make Your Name beyond the Academy with a Degree in Creative Writing
(Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, Kim Addonizio, Dana Gioia, Maggie Dietz, Simone Muench)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
With the expansion of programs in creative writing, more and more degreed creative writers are overwhelming the academic job market, causing many of us to seek different ways to make a buck while continuing to write. Ghostwriting, editing, independent scholarship, running a workshop, writing for TV: you name it and the five poets and novelists on this panel have done it. They will share with us the creative ways they’ve found to make a living and some tricks they’ve learned along the way.

F153. A Reading and Conversation with Jaimy Gordon and Rebecca Skloot
(Jaimy Gordon, Rebecca Skloot, Donna Seaman)
Grand Ballroom, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
A reading and conversation by best-selling authors Jaimy Gordon and Rebecca Skloot. The conversation will be moderated by critic and editor Donna Seaman.

F154. Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem
(Harold Schechter, Cornelius Eady, Lynn Emanuel, Patricia Smith, Brian Turner)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
What are the moral implications of writing about violence? Where is the line between portraying violence and exploiting it? The danger of writing about violence is that we might wind up aestheticizing it. If there is a difference between sensationalism and truth, when do we put down the pen and do something to help the victims? Or is writing about violence a form of action, an effective way of addressing the problem? Panelists will address these questions and more.

F156. Measuring Creativity: What Do Grades Have to Do with Artistry?
(Cass Dalglish, Heather Gibbons, Kate Green, Ellen McGrath Smith, Cary Waterman)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Creative writing teachers constantly face the inadequacies of conventional grading as they work in an unconventional field that often defies prescriptive norms. Five faculty members with diverse backgrounds—lecturer, instructor, assistant professor, and professor from community college, private college, and public university settings—will offer meaningful assessment tools for the survival of students and teachers alike, including self-evaluation, scoring machines, grade contracts, and chapbooks.

F160. Works in Progress Mix Tape
(Ken Chen, Nami Mun, Don Lee, Prageeta Sharma)
Marquette, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Participants read new work and the life behind their literature: private writing rituals, relationships with mentors and peers, favorite books, songs on iTunes repeat and performance-enhancing alcoholic drinks, social media and other procrastination devices. Ask nicely and they’ll talk about writing as Asian Americans when only 5% of the authors reviewed in the New York Times are writers of color. Presented by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

F166. Short but Not Too Sweet: Three Emerging Writers Read from Debut Story Collections
(Megan Mayhew-Bergman, Emma Straub, Stuart Nadler)
Crystal Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Long live the short story! Writers are often discouraged from pursuing short story collections, but this panel will prove they are still viable. Come hear emerging writers read from their debut story collections. The panelists will then engage in an honest, lively, and practical discussion about what it takes to get a short story collection published and open the floor for questions.

1:30-2:45

F178. National Book Critics Circle Celebrates Award-Winning Authors
(Jane Ciabattari, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Egan, Jane Smiley, Isabel Wilkerson, Darin Strauss)
Grand Ballroom, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
A reading by Bonnie Jo Campbell (AWP Prize, 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Fiction), Jennifer Egan (2011 National Book Critics Circle and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), Jane Smiley (1992 National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), Darin Strauss (2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction), and Isabel Wilkerson (2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction and Pulitzer Prize Winner in Journalism).

F181. Reinventing Realism: The Craft of Alice Munro
(Catherine Brady, Rachel Hall, Kim Aubrey, Michael Byers, Alice LaPlante)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Alice Munro has much to teach about the elegant execution of craft fundamentals. She also deserves her due as a daring innovator who’s inexhaustibly curious about the possibilities of form and the conventions of fiction writing. Panel participants will discuss Munro’s use of time in narrative; consider her methods of characterization, including her depiction of thought; and discuss her manipulation of point of view in the service of dynamic plotting.

F182. Let’s Work Together: Pedagogies of Rhetoric in the Creative Writing Class
(Richard Greenfield, Minal Singh, R.J. Lambert, Robert Houghton, EmmaLee Pallai)
Lake Huron, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Exploring the intersection of creative writing and composition, this panel will discuss pedagogy practices where the writing of composition texts integrates creative writing pedagogy with an emphasis on rhetoric. We will also discuss the benefits of utilizing rhetorical analysis as the basis of discussing creative writing texts in workshop as well as informing composition of the creative writing text itself. Each member of the panel will provide assignments or exercises as examples.

F189A. Anytown, USA: Representing Place in Fiction
(Ron Hansen, Ladette Randolph, Eric Goodman, Sherrie Flick, Robert Vivian)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
How do we define place in fiction? Does the location matter? How do place and region shape the writing and vise versa? This panel aims to answer the larger question of how to define place while also representing the sometimes misunderstood middle coast, featuring authors whose fiction is set in the Heartland, a place many times more clearly defined by what it is not than by what it is. Each author will share a unique approach to representing place in writing.

F196. Between Song and Story: A Reading from the New Autumn House Nonfiction Anthology
(Sheryl St. Germain, Debra Marquart, Michele Morano, John Price, Jane Fishman)
Wabash Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Readings and discussion from the newly published Autumn House anthology of essays, Between Song and Story: Essays for the 21st Century. This anthology is the first of its kind to focus on the lyric and formally adventurous essay. Five contributors, including one of the editors, will read and discuss their essays, focusing on formal strategies that challenge the traditional essay form.

3:00-4:15

F208. Will Write for Food: Writers Working Outside Academia
(Chloe Miller, Alison Hicks, Patricia Lewis, Valerie Martinez, August Tarrier)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
During the past two years, openings in English departments declined more than 40%. Creative writing tenure-track openings declined more than 30%. At the same time, the demand for writing opportunities is widening, encompassing community-based, travel, and virtual writing communities. Panelists will discuss writing lives outside academia, including entrepreneurial ventures in online teaching and mentoring, editing and coaching services, workshops and retreats, and community engagement projects.

F218. Gender Interrupted: Poetry of the Alternatively Gendered
(Stacey Waite, Joy Ladin, Ely Shipley, Samuel Ace)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
This reading features the work of alternatively gendered poets and writers, work that re-imagines and redefines the terrain of gender itself. In this unique and first-of-its-kind reading, the voices of transsexual, transgendered, and intersexed writers make their contribution to the rich and diverse aesthetics and politics of queer writing in the 21st century.

4:30-5:45

F232. Writing Games: Gaming, Digitally, and Creative Writing Pedagogy
(Stuart Moulthrop, Lane Hall, Anne Wysocki, W. Trent Hergenrader, Matthew Trease)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
This panel discusses relationships among writing, digitality, games, and the creative writing classroom. Addressing Surrealist parlour games, Oulipian constrained writing techniques, Candyland, Uno, animation, and videogames, panelists consider the possibilities of games and digitality for developing generative writing exercises and helping students understand how textual experimentation fits within the craft of writing.

F238. Chapbook Publishing in the 21st Century
(Genevieve Kaplan, Lucas Southworth, Kristy Bowen, Elizabeth Wilcox, Ander Monson)
Wiliford B, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Even as print traditions are evolving rapidly, chapbook publishers embrace and promote a somewhat antiquated literary form: the printed chapbook. Chapbook editors and publishers participating in this roundtable will offer perspectives on the business and art of the chapbook, centering their discussion around advantages of the printed chapbook format, aesthetics and innovations in chapbook publishing, and methods for success for new and established chapbook publishing ventures.

F245. Finding the Time—And Money!—to Write
(Angela Veronica Wong, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Kirstin Chen, Farrah Field, Kim Liao)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
All writers struggle with this quandary: either we have time to write and no money, or money and no time. But there are ways you can have both! Get practical advice and aesthetic inspiration from five writers under thirty-five who have all received grants, residencies, and fellowships propelling their careers forward. Especially useful to emerging writers battling the post-MFA slump, all genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, scholarly research/writing) and many varieties of funding sources are addressed.

Saturday
9:00-10:15

S103. Connecting with Readers via Your Website and Social Media
(Michele Wolf, Kim Addonizio, Leslie Pietrzyk, Matt Bell, Paul Lisicky)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
Having a vibrant, user-friendly Web presence—via your own website (supplementing a publisher’s and/or employer’s page for you), blogging, Facebook, and other social media—has become a key asset for engaging readers and students, being part of the conversation, and expanding interest in your work. Learn how to create an appealing, fun-to-click site that best represents your books and passions, what resources and social media contact that readers most appreciate, and what pitfalls to avoid.

S104. Midwest Gothic: Dark Fiction of the Heartland
(Jodee Stanley, Brian Kornell, Dan Chaon, Cathy Day, Michael Czyzniejewski)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
From the stories of Sherwood Anderson to contemporary Midwestern fiction, authors have explored the darkness that lies beneath the placid exterior of an often-dismissed region of America. Five Midwest-based writers and editors will discuss how the prairie landscape and traditionally Midwestern character traits, including politeness, stoicism, and a wariness of the unknown, combine with traditional Gothic literary elements to create a rarely discussed subgenre of fiction, Midwest Gothic.

10:30-11:45

THIS IS WHEN MY PANEL IS, DOPES.

12:00-1:15.

S165. Mine Is Clouds: Revisiting the Life and Work of Richard Brautigan
(Shawn Mitchell, Joe Meno, Sean Lovelace, Theresa Williams)
Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
A forefather of flash, a witty poet, and a great American surrealist, Brautigan has influenced artists ranging from Haruki Murakami to Neko Case and from Aimee Bender to Tobias Wolff. But despite having sold millions of books during his lifetime, he remains less known compared to other Beat and cult writers. At this panel contributors to the forthcoming tribute anthology, Mine Is Clouds, will consider Brautigan’s importance today and celebrate his life and legacy with a reading of his work.

1:30-2:45 

S180. Writing Visually: Using Comics in the Writing Classroom
(Anne Panning, Matt Madden, Hillary Chute, Jarod Roselló, Jessica Abel)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Many incorporate reading comics in their classes these days. But how can you use comics to teach writing? On this panel, two teaching cartoonists and three literature and writing professors will discuss ways to introduce the practice of comics into the creative writing classroom and how that can benefit students’ writing—of prose as well as of comics. Approaches include the Bechdel method of writing comics without drawing and using panels to visually activate prose (or poetic) writing.

S183. Ambitious Fiction: Tackling Big Ideas, Lots of Characters, and/or Lush Language
(Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jane Smiley, Achy Obejas, Allen Gee, Brian Bouldrey)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Everyone admires a spare, economical story or novel that moves forward with seemingly little effort. But some stories just can’t be told simply. They may have a large cast of characters. They may involve big, even complicated, ideas. They may call for a lush, rather than frugal, style. What is involved in biting off a big storytelling mouthful? This group of fiction writers will discuss their choices to sometimes write rich, rather than minimalist, fiction.

S189. A Reading Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Product, the Center for Writers Literary Journal
(Kent Quaney, Michael Knight, Andy Plattner, Mary Miller, Damian Dressick)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi has just published the 25th anniversary edition of its student literary journal, Product, and as a celebration of this landmark will present a reading to showcase some of the best writers the program has produced. Noted alumni Michael Knight and Andy Plattner, recent graduate Mary Miller, and current student Damian Dressick will represent the Center for Writers in a reading exemplifying the artistic standard of the program.

S190. Unrequited Love: Renewing Your Vows to the Troublesome Novel
(Elizabeth Brundage, Stewart O’Nan, Jenna Blum, Alice Elliot Dark, Carole DeSanti)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Unpublished novels are like unrequited love affairs, they linger in the hearts and minds of writers for years to come; many of us have one stashed in a drawer. And yet often within the existing work, a new novel can be rescued. This panel will explore strategies of revision, encouraging a fresh perspective, a renewed faith in the text. Other topics will include structural elements such as characterization, pacing, thematic possibilities, and our enduring commitment to the sentences we make.

S192. You + Me = We: Collaborative Authorship as Pedagogical Practice
(Lily Hoang, Sequoia Nagamatsu, EmmaLee Pallai, Adam Crittenden, Kelsie Hahn)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Authors often work together to create scholarly articles, novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, and beyond. Collaboration allows all parties to parlay their strength to the page, be it research, sentence structure, concept, or more. It also provides a rich learning experience improving not just writing skills, but also interpersonal skills. This panel will discuss ways of incorporating the collaborative model of authorship in the composition and creative classrooms.

3:00-4:15

S206. Orion 30th Anniversary Reading
(Jennifer Sahn, Amy Leach, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Benjamin Percy, Luis Alberto Urrea)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
For thirty years, Orion has used literature to bring our relationship with the natural world alive, in the belief that the arts connect people to the world, inspire action, and provide a way of thinking about a better future for people and the planet. Join Orion’s Editor-in-Chief and four of the innovative and exemplary writers who have helped make Orion one of the most respected magazines dedicated to the intersection of literature and the environment.

S215. Men from Venus, Women from Mars: Writing from the Perspective of the Opposite Sex
(Reese Okyong Kwon, Jennine Capó Crucet, Alan Heathcock, Kyle Minor, Kevin Wilson)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The old canard that fiction writers should write what they know would seem to prohibit writing from the point of view of characters of the opposite sex. Meanwhile, some of the most believable and compelling men in literature have been created by women, and vice versa. What is the appeal of writing from the head of an opposite-sex character, and how does one do so credibly? What politics should we consider? Panelists will offer perspectives, tips, and examples of effective embodiment of the other.

4:30-5:45 

S220. Ear Candy: Teaching the Pleasures of Poetic Meter
(Liz Ahl, Jeff Oaks, Annie Finch, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tara Betts)
Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Rooted in a diversity of aesthetic and pedagogical perspectives, this panel focuses on the teaching and learning of meter: how, when, and why might one teach meter to young poets? Is teaching meter like teaching other elements of poetic craft and technique? Is meter akin to music or language when it comes to learning and teaching? How can we help our students sing out rather than slog through? How might activities like scansion, reading aloud, or imitation, help poets develop an ear for meter?

S223. Poetry Reading: Pitt Poetry Series
(Ed Ochester, Toi Derricotte, Ross Gay, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, David Wojahn)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
Series Editor Ed Ochester will introduce the poets as they read from their new books from the Pitt Poetry Series of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

S225. Home Sweet Home: Short Story Collections and Small Presses
(Caitlin Horrocks, Amina Gautier, Shannon Cain, Adam Schuitema, Kelcey Parker)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
With trade publishers less willing to take a risk on story collections and agents and editors advising writers to just finish a novel, where can the story writer turn? Five debut authors discuss their experiences with the small, independent, and university presses that are increasingly the most welcoming homes for story collections. They’ll discuss how they found their publishers, what small publishers can (and can’t) offer story authors, and how these presses are helping collections thrive.

S233. The Art of the Short Story Collection
(Mary Rockcastle, Richard Bausch, Laura van den Berg, Tiphanie Yanique, Daniel Libman)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
In the successful short story collection, the individual stories must move, delight, and entertain, and the collection as a whole must do so as well. What makes a collection of short stories a satisfying whole? How should it be put together? What should the writer consider when deciding upon content, placement, length, title? How easy or hard is it to sell? Robert Bausch, acknowledged master of the short story form and author of eight collections of short stories, joins three authors of very different, all successful, debut short story collections. Each will talk about his/her process in creating, shaping, and publishing the short story collection.

S236. Why Independent Publishers Matter / Independent Publishers and the Changing Industry
(Michael Miller, Tom Roberge, Jeff Shotts, Laura Howard, Eric Obenouf)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Bookforum editor Michael Miller, along with selected editors and publishers from various independent presses, will discuss the changing landscape of the publishing industry and the ongoing rise of independent publishers: why they are leading the way and what this means for the future of the industry as a whole.

Fall 2011 Fiction Recommendations

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is recommending fiction to students. There’s almost nothing better than reading a student story and thinking, “This person absolutely needs to read Lorrie Moore!” Matching students with their established counterparts is an integral and rewarding part of the job. I vividly remember being an undergrad creative writer and going to meet with Tom Bailey or Gary Fincke. Their office shelves were lined with books, most of which I’d never heard of. They’d go over my drafts with me and then list off three or four writers I had to read right that very second. Most times, I’d walk straight to the library and take out every last book they recommended. Reading everything I could get my hands on helped me develop as a writer, and I try really hard to pass that enthusiasm on to my students.

That being said, I’ve decided to again share every fiction recommendation I’ve given out this semester. This term I taught two fiction workshops, one at the University of Pittsburgh and another at Chatham University. In total, there were 33 students, meaning 66 workshops and individual conferences. The same ground rules I set forth last spring still apply. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the writers I teach. In fact, most of the writers on this list don’t show up in my syllabus. I recommended them because students put up work that was in conversation with these established writers. There was something to be learned there, something we might not have covered in the classroom or maybe not in enough detail. Some of the writers who appear the most often were in the syllabus, and I kept recommending other work by them to remind students of the lessons we’d learned throughout the semester. And literary journals! There are a bunch of literary journals at the bottom of the list. I want all of my students to become active literary citizens in the vein of Blake Butler, and that means supporting (submitting AND reading) emerging and established literary journals.

The numbers alongside the names represent how many times I recommended a specific author. Please leave suggestions in the comments feed. I’m always looking to shake up my reading list. If you have certain writers you recommend to students again and again, share. If you’re a student and were truly impacted by a specific writer, share.

George Saunders 15
Alissa Nutting 14
xTx 11
Andre Dubus 10
Matt Bell 8
Patrick Somerville 7
Kirsty Logan 7
Amber Sparks 7
Etgar Keret 7
Raymond Carver 7
Lorrie Moore 6
Martin Amis 6
Wells Tower 5
Breece D’J Pancake 4
Tom Perrotta 4
Alice Munro 4
Emma Straub 4
Bobbie Ann Mason 4
Roxane Gay 4
Kelly Link 4
Brian Allen Carr 4
Cathy Day 4
Scott Snyder 4
Deborah Eisenberg 3
Tillie Olsen 3
Colson Whitehead 3
Don Lee 3
Joyce Carol Oates 3
Matthew Simmons 3
Donald Barthelme 3
Gary Fincke 2
James Alan McPherson 2
Tobias Wolff 2
ZZ Packer 2
Alice Munro 2
Paul Yoon 2
Richard Yates 2
Barry Hannah 2
Bret Easton Ellis 2
John Fowles 2
Benjamin Percy 2
Donald Ray Pollack 2
Blake Butler 2
John Minichillo 2
Steve Himmer 2
Rick Moody 2
Philip Roth 2
Trey Ellis 2
Tim Jones-Yelvington 2
Junot Diaz 2
Steve Almond 2
Jonathan Lethem 2
Justin Taylor 2
Tina May Hall 2
Tom Bailey
Stewart O’Nan
Sarah Gardner Borden
Deborah Eisenberg
Teddy Wayne
A.M. Homes
James Baldwin
Peter Bognnani
Jayne Anne Phillips
Rebecca Barry
Aubrey Hirsch
Joe Meno
Richard Ford
Seth Fried
Rick Bass
Sherwood Anderson
Jeffrey Eugenides
Brian Oliu
J.A. Tyler
Lydia Davis
Dennis Cooper
Douglas Coupland
Cormac McCarthy
Cory Doctorow
Mike Meginnis
Rachel Glasser
Kevin Wilson
Gregory Sherl
Dave Eggers
Jay McInerney
Miranda July
Scott McClanahan
Brock Clarke
Peter Mewshaw
Frank Hinton
Shane Jones
Aleksandar Hemon
Tim O’Brien
John Irving
Gary Shteyngart

The Emprise Review 5
Hobart 5
kill author 4
PANK 4
Metazen 3
Prick of the Spindle 3
Flywheel Magazine 3
Annalemma 3
Atticus Review 3
Monkeybicycle 2
Decomp 2
Gargoyle Magazine 2
Dark Sky 2
Barrelhouse
Pear Noir!
Parcel
The Collagist
Diagram
Weave
FRiGG
Caper Literary Journal
Elimae
Stoked!
Barrelhouse

Here’s Everything I’ve Recommended to Fiction Students So Far This Semester

So, I’m running this advanced fiction workshop and it’s all like woah. One thing I like to do in a classroom setting like this is meet individually with every student after they workshop. I remember very vividly going to see Tom Bailey and Gary Fincke in undergrad and how reassuring and empowering it was to know that writers I really respected were taking my work seriously (not that the students necessarily respect me in the same way I outright worshiped Tom and Gary). In my conferences, I always bring a marked up copy of their manuscript along with a one page note with strengths and prescription. But there’s also, usually, a note at the end with some writers and journals to read, and maybe even a few places to begin submitting to. At AWP, Amy Hempel said one of her favorite parts of running a workshop is putting an emerging writer with a published one, giving a young writer the book they absolutely have to read right this second. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job too, and I’ve kept track of what I’ve recommended so far.

Keep in mind, we read a lot of stuff in class. So I rarely touch on writers we’ve discussed ad nauseam like George Saunders or Lorrie Moore or Gary Shteyngart or Amelia Gray. Also, it’s only halfway through the semester. So there’s still a lot of time. Basically, what I’m trying to convey here, is this isn’t a list of the best writers for undergrads. It’s merely the group that this particular class needed to read at this particular moment. When there’s something lacking in student work that is absolutely nailed in a story collection or novel, students need to see that–in fact, there are a few writers on here I respect without actually enjoying their work. So, without further hand-wringing, here’s what I’ve recommended so far this semester.

Writers

Andre Dubus (5)
Ray Carver (4)
Wells Tower (4)
Alissa Nutting (2)
xTx (2)
Bobbie Ann Mason (2)
Emma Straub (2)
Sean Ennis (2)
Stewart O’ Nan (2)
Adam Levin
Michael Chabon
Trey Ellis
Tobias Wolff
Matt Bell
Don Lee
Ethel Rohan
Tina May Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips
Bret Easton Ellis
Jay McInerney
Douglas Coupland
Martin Amis
Cormac McCarthy
Joshua Ferris
A.M. Homes
Rick Moody
Jonathan Lethem
James Alan McPherson
Joyce Carol Oates
Deborah Eisenberg
Cathy Day
Richard Russo
Blake Butler
Miranda July
Aleksandar Hemon
Shane Jones
Jeanette Winterson
Philip Roth
Deborah Willis
ZZ Packer

Journals

The Fourth River (4)
Flatmancrooked (4)
FRiGG (2)
PANK (2)
Bluestem Magazine (2)
Weave (2)
The Emprise Review (2)
Metazen (2)
Hot Metal Bridge
Annalemma
Barrelhouse
Dark Sky
Fairy Tale Review
The Good Men Project
Wigleaf
elimae

Comics

Fables

Kanye West is the Public Avatar of 21st Century Digital Narcissism

Full disclosure time: I have two short stories forthcoming about Kanye West and a third I’m trying to place. Two are excerpted from my novel which has a section where Kanye West leaves Earth to find eternal life only to end up on Mars a hundred years in the future where he destroys the remnants of our current generation who have all been quarantined there on an Infinite Porch by the New Youth. Oh, and Yeezy’s riding a stainless steel horse and talks in a Shakespearen dialect. Full disclosure two: I love Kanye’s music and once actually went out of the house looking how I do below, and it was maybe only 30% ironic.

Yeah. That's me in Vegas. You wanna ball with the kid, watch your step you might fall trying to do what I did. Mama ugh, Mama ugh.

This is all to say that you should take what I’m about to argue with a grain of salt. But when people used to ask me, “Hey, Sal. Why does Kanye West show up in your novel (The Collected Works of the Digital Narcissist currently seeking representation hint hint!) about non-famous white kids?” I used to give some lame answer about how West’s journey mimics the protagonist’s, which in all honesty, it actually does. But today, I think I finally hit on the reason why West keeps inserting himself into my work again and again. It’s because Kanye West is the public avatar of 21st century digital narcissism.

This all started, like so much in this dramatic post-Obama life, over at HTMLGIANT. Blake Butler put up a post that ended with a pretty funny non-sequitor: “Kanye West still sucks.” In the comments section, I tried to convince Blake to come over to the dark side of Yeezy supporters and Stephen Dierks of Pop Serial linked to this awesome article on The New York Times about Kanye’s new video.

In a coming video for his single ‘Power’ that was created by the artist Marco Brambilla, Mr. West is seen standing imposingly with a heavy chain around his neck. As Mr. West raps, the camera slowly zooms out in one continuous, unedited take to reveal him in a classical structure, surrounded by female attendants who are partly or entirely nude; some kneel before him on all fours, others wear devil horns and still others are suspended upside down from the ceiling. The sword of Damocles hangs precariously over Mr. West’s head, and behind him an unseen executioner is preparing to strike him with a blade.

Ah, a nice allusion to the apocalypse. That’s usually all it takes to win me over. But then Stephen linked to Kanye’s twitter which he just started today. Let me share some of the radical highlights.

kanyewest: I hate stickers on laptops

kanyewest: I need this horse… Kings need horses http://twitpic.com/29suqi

kanyewest: I’m just saying… what’s your credenza game…#DON‘TTALKTOME!!! http://twitpic.com/29sqph

kanyewest: I’m not getting paid to say any of this…………. yet…….. hahahhaha

kanyewest: Sipping Molnar Family Poseidin’s Vineyard Chardonnay in the middle of the day sidebar out of gold cups for whatever that’s worth

kanyewest: my thoughts on Twitter so far… at the end of the day, God damnit I’m killing this shit!!!

AND MY FAVORITE:

kanyewest: I specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery!!! What do I have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh

Photo courtesy of Anirudh Koul

He has a quarter million followers yet he follows no one. What I realized today is that Kanye West is the summation of every thing I think and fear about this generation distilled into one horrific/totally awesome human being. Facebook, Twitter, and other online outlets have given every one of us (and especially those of this generation) a voice and the illusion that we all have something very powerful to say, when in fact, most of us probably do not. Kanye West is walking insecurity. Despite growing up in the same kind of baby boomer controlled children media era that told kids they were all special and amazing and even their shit smelled like the gentle rains of the Amazon, Kanye is saddled with a crushing inferiority complex. He overcompensates with golden stages to perform on and is constantly barraging us with his opinion. I mean, have you guys read his blog? It’s insanity. And now he has twitter! And what does Kanye do when he doesn’t like something? He stands up and grabs the microphone off some lame teenage girl and tells the world to go fuck itself. His Taylor Swift stunt is the equivalent of writing DISLIKE under somebody’s status update.

KANYE MOTHERFUCKING WEST IS FACEBOOK TURNED SENTIENT!!!!!111

The hunger has returned to Mr. West's brain, but it never really left.

The Paris Review Ignites the Greatest Controversy in the History of Literature

Last week, Tin House ignited the greatest controversy in the history of literature. This week, The Paris Review did them one better. I’m not sure who exactly broke the story, but I first became aware of The Great Paris Review Poetry Purge of 2010 through Mike Young on HTMLGIANT who linked to a story by Daniel Nester on the always fantastic We Who Are About to Die. Nester writes:

Picture this: you have your poems accepted by The Paris Review.  Such an acceptance can mark the start of a great career, lead to a book deal or to be anthologized, or perhaps solidify a reputation in the small world this correspondent and others call Poetryland…

You have this acceptance.  Months, even years pass after this acceptance.  You wait for the issue with your poems to appear.

Then you get an email from Lorin Stein, the new editor of The Paris Review.  With perhaps the memory that there had been an announcement, written about in New York Observer, about a change at the Poetry Editor desk.

‘Dear XXXX,

Recently I replaced Philip Gourevitch as editor of The Paris Review and appointed a new poetry editor, Robyn Creswell. Over the last month, Robyn and I have been carefully reading the backlog of poetry that we inherited from the previous editors. This amounts to a year’s worth of poems. In order to give Robyn the scope to define his own section, I regret to say, we will not be able to publish everything accepted by Philip, Meghan, and Dan. We have not found a place for your [poem/s], though we see much to admire in them and gave them the most serious consideration. I am sorry to give you this bad news, and I’m grateful for your patience during the Review’s transition.

Best regards,
Lorin Stein’

Yikes. More news broke out throughout the day, some of it humorous (check out Blake Butler’s reaction) some of it not. The Rumpus spent a lot of time discussing the fallout. The comments section from their first post recently exploded, and a lot of well-known writers and editors are sounding off. Lincoln Michel of the recent literary journal rankings and Gigantic:

It is fair to note, I think, that according to Stein over a year’s worth of poetry was backlogged. So these new editors wouldn’t be able to put any poetry they wanted, not even 10%, for the next four issues.

I think this is a complicated issue. On one hand, as a writer I totally sympathize with people feeling awful about this and I know that I’d probably die if I’d gotten into TPR and then gotten my piece pulled. Of course, I’m a struggling starting writer, not an established writer like I assume most of the poets being unaccepted. On the flip side, as an editor I can’t imagine getting an editing job and not being able to do my job for several issues. If I didn’t like the work, I wouldn’t want my name attached to it.

And I must say I do think it is odd that, as others noted above, non-fiction routinely gets killed and it isn’t unheard of for stories to be unaccepted. What about poetry makes it unacceptable to be pulled if it is acceptable to pull other pieces?

Also, I disagree that there are no external pressures here, as Amy suggests. Lorin Stein was hired with plenty of buzz and noise and a mission to redo the journal, to make it more relevant and exciting again. He and his staff are, I assume, under plenty of pressure to make their mark and enact their vision. You can’t really hire someone to relaunch your journal and then tell them they can’t do much for the next few issues and by the time they can, most people will have forgotten.

I DO think they could have found a solution, such as a special web section, that would have worked for everyone. But I can understand why editors would want to edit.

Then this journal propped up promising to produce an e-book of all the unaccepted material. And of course, incoming PR Editor Lorin Stein’s response to the culling was dug up by The NY Observer:

Over the last month, Robyn and I have been carefully reading the backlog of poetry that we inherited from the previous editors. This amounts to a year’s worth of poems. In order to give Robyn the scope to define his own section, I regret to say, we will not be able to publish everything accepted. … We have not found a place for your three poems, though we see much to admire in them and gave them the most serious consideration… It’s never fun cutting things. But an editor’s job is to put out a magazine by his or her best lights, and that means you have to have discretion over what you publish.

So to sum up: a lot of anger, a lot of frustration. I’m not going to weigh in on this just yet, because like the Tin House thing, I’m more interested in what you all have to say. Is it cool that The Paris Review did this? Did they have any other choice after inheriting an entire year’s worth of poems? Isn’t this par for the course in the publishing world? Or is the literary journal playing field smaller, and thus, deserving of more courtesy? Let me know in the comments section.

Tin House Ignites the Greatest Controversy in the History of Literature

This is going to be old news for some, but I was out of town and mostly away from the computer the last few days, and I feel the need to touch on this briefly. I don’t know if you know this, but days before the 4th of July Holiday Weekend, Tin House ignited the greatest controversy in the history of literature!

On July 2nd, Tin House altered its submission policy:

Tin House launches Buy a Book, Save a Bookstore Between September 1 and December 30, 2010, Tin House magazine will require writers submitting unsolicited manuscripts to the magazine to include a receipt for a book purchased from a bookstore. Writers who are not able to produce a receipt for a book are encouraged to explain why in 100 words or fewer. Tin House will consider the purchase of e-books as a substitute only if the writer explains why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore or why he or she prefers digital reads. Writers are invited to videotape, film, paint, photograph, animate, twitter, or memorialize in any way (that is logical and/or decipherable) the process of stepping into a bookstore and buying a book to send along for our possible amusement and/or use on our web site.

Seems innocent enough, right? They’re not asking writers to buy copies of Tin House at indie stories, just any book in general. Matthew Simmons, who I interviewed on PANK, posted a relatively innocuous entry on the policy over at HTMLGIANT. Here’s the post in its entirety:

If you want to submit to Tin House, you’ll need to send a receipt proving that you bought a book in a bookstore. What do you think?

Moments later, all hell broke loose as the comments section ballooned to well over two-hundred posts including thoughts, and occasionally tirades, including everyone from Steve Gillis, publisher of DZANC Books, to Andy Hunter, co-editor of Electric Literature. I’m going to include a few of the arguments, but not necessarily in the order they were posted. If that somewhat distorts the nature of the discussion, I apologize. It’s not my intention to sway your opinion on the matter, but merely to report on both sides of the argument.

Authors Laura van den Berg and Lily Hoang both made brief comments in favor of the submissions policy. Laura wrote, “I’m for it. Especially after having worked for a lit mag. And if you only submit to Tin House, say, twice a year, then that’s only 2 books,” while Lily said:

If I start a journal/press, I’ll require people link/photocopy a book review with their submission. That would promote books and ensure that people actually read and think about the book critically, rather than just blindly consume. No? I’m unlikely to start a press/journal any time soon. Besides, with that kind of submission policy, no one would submit.

Jackie Corley, from Word Riot, made a similar argument, saying, “Why would anybody want to be in a magazine they don’t care enough about to buy a copy and read?” Blake Butler, at first, wrote the whole discussion off.  “Is it that hard to get your hands on a receipt for a book purchase? i mean, it’s not exactly plutonium. if you aren’t buying books you shouldn’t be wanting to publish one yourself.” A commentator brought up the library argument, the idea that some writers only read books they can get from libraries, which set Blake off:

i mean, why publish it if you believe in the library system over the bookstore? photocopy a zine and give it to some dudes and stick it in with the other books in the spots where people gather. that also said: not all books worth reading appear in libraries. if your reading history can be all found within the walls of a library, or all of them, you aren’t reading very hard.

Two major points came from Justin Taylor and Andy Hunter. Hunter first:

My first reaction to the Tin House policy was, “Ha Ha. Good for them.”

The economic arguments against it are a joke, as are the ‘local bookstore’ arguments. Most people can afford to buy a couple books a year. Most people live near bookstores. And if you don’t? Write a note explaining that. Not much to get outraged about.

Sometimes I’m amazed at how quickly commenters get outraged around here, but then I realize: being outraged is fun.

Anyway, the condescension complaint is valid, although I think TH meant it in good humor – which apparently didn’t come off.

The thing that I think many here are missing is the incredible volume of submissions Tin House must get. EL is not half as well known, but we get thousands of submissions every issue, and even with 35 readers, it’s very hard to keep up. Especially because everything is read twice. Sometimes we regret our open policy, but it was the policy we wanted to see when we were on the other side, as writers. Now that we’re on the publisher side, it gets a little rough. There are many, many writers who are scanning duotrope and submitting to magazines they’d never fit in. The majority of these writers don’t seem to read enough, to be honest. They really ought to buy and read more books. Collectively, EL spends thousands of hours reading submissions, which is exponentially more time than we spend on anything else. The temptation to put up a small hurdle for submitters is understandable. Especially one that is directed at helping your industry, and supporting what you love.

For about 4 months, EL offered $6 off subscriptions to writers who submitted work to us, via a coupon code. It brought the cost of a digital subscription down to $3 an issue. Out of over 3,000 submitters during that time, less than a dozen used that code. I’m sure Tin House has similar stories.

There has been a lot of wondering, here and elsewhere, if emerging writers do enough to support the institutions which they wish to support them (i.e. ever buy a literary magazine). Tin House decided to playfully push the issue, and lighten the slush pile for themselves at the same time. It’s not so horrible.

Now Taylor:

Did anyone read the actual press release at the TH site? it’s headlined “BUY A BOOK, SAVE A BOOKSTORE.” Hardly an ignoble position or goal. It’s here- http://www.tinhouse.com/all_news.htm Also, if you read the whole post at the TH site, you’ll see that this is part of a larger project designed to instill a sense of happy pride in patronizing brick-and-mortar bookstores. Ever heard of Record Store Day? Comic Book Day? This isn’t just one day, but it’s sort of like that. From their release: “Writers are invited to videotape, film, paint, photograph, animate, twitter, or memorialize in any way (that is logical and/or decipherable) the process of stepping into a bookstore and buying a book to send along for our possible amusement and/or use on our Web site.”

And to all the people waging the classism argument, I would like to suggest, with all due respect–which is to say, not much–that you are full of shit and that, what’s more, you damn well know it.
Let’s say I want to submit a book manuscript to Tin House. I enclose a copy of the receipt for the last book I bought new in a bookstore, in this case ON BEING BLUE by William Gass from McNally Jackson books on Prince Street, NYC. This paperback book has a sticker price of $11.95, and I got it at 10% off because it was a staff pick.

That makes OBB about the same price as a movie ticket, or a full-album download on iTunes, or two drinks at a reasonable bar. Granted, those are New York prices, but any urban center is going to be within about spitting range of those numbers (iTunes of course costs the same all over), and if you happen to live in the sticks, where you’re used to dollar drafts all the time and $4 steak dinners–hey, good for you, bud. Spend that extra scratch on a second book.

I think it’s incredibly noble of Tin House to forgo any kind of “reading fee” that they would keep for themselves, and instead encourage you to simply present evidence of an active engagement with literary and bookstore culture today. Presumably, because you are an aspiring writer and an avid reader, you are not being “forced” to go out and buy a book just to submit your work–you probably buy books on a semi-regular basis, and so it is really no problem for you to simply dig out the last receipt you generated and send it along.

I think the people who are asking about the library card option are missing the point. This isn’t an elitist disenfranchisement scheme–it’s not a matter of proving your literacy to them. The fact that the majority of respondents here presume it is their “literary-ness” which is under question says worlds more about y’all than about TH, which I assume takes it for granted that people who write, read, and vice versa. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that they don’t really give a shit if you even read the book you’ve got a receipt for having bought. They are looking for displays of enthusiasm for the process of publishing on the consumer-side, from those who would inflict themselves on the world of publishing on the supplier-side.

If patronizing a physical bookstore in order to purchase a new book at its full retail value strikes you as morally derelict in some way, then you have no business asking Tin House Books–or anybody–to publish your work. It’s emphatically not a question about book-reading, but about book-buying. They are book-makers, and book-sellers, and they are looking for people who are interested in what they do: make books, and make books available to be bought. If you hate those things, and hate them for doing those things, why would you want to court their attention in the first place, or pursue this course for your own work?

All that being said, many, MANY detractors showed up over the course of the thread. Some of the most insightful commentary came from Roxane Gay:

As a sort of publisher, I can absolutely say the money goes further when people buy our books or magazines directly from us. The distributor takes 50 percent. We’ve been working with a distributor for a year now and haven’t seen a penny.

Some of us live in towns where there are no actual bookstores but I buy books almost every day online, from big outlets and small. This requirement largely excludes people who live in rural areas. The ability to buy a book in a store is not that easy for everyone.

The rural argument was one that few of the pro-submissions camp could effectively deal with. Mike Meginnis, Co-Editor of Uncanny Valley, and Steve Gillis both had funny replies about the absurdity of the situation. Meginnis wrote, “Anyone submitting to Uncanny Valley a manuscript accompanied by a receipt showing five hundred dollars spent on pornography will be automatically accepted.” Steve had this to say:

Having had a night to sleep on the Tin House policy, I have had a change of heart. What a brilliant concept. We at Dzanc Books will now require a resume and college and grad school transcript – there must of course be grad school – with all unsolicited manuscripts. The submitter will be required to provide a reading list of all the books they’ve read in the last five years. We at Dzanc will also provide a reading list and the submitter will need to have read each book on our list and provide a review. Failure to meet these standards, the submitter will have to bake us a cake. And not just a cake but a poetic cake, and a film of them baking the cake. As we receive thousands of submissions a year at Dzanc, we have every right and reason to limit the folly of would be submitters thinking they can just submit us their work. This is brilliant. Thank you Tin House for blazing this trail.

About a day after the original post, Jimmy Chen uploaded this to HTMLGIANT and tried to recruit as many people as possible into submitting with this receipt.

But one of the funniest posts came from Matthew Simmons, the original poster, who seemed a little horrified by the amount of venom spawned by his two-sentence post. Halfway through the thread, he wrote this: “Okay. Let’s just forget I mentioned this. How about that World Cup?”

I’ve very intentionally tried to leave out my biases and position on this argument (I definitely have one), and what I’m interested in is what you think. Is Tin House‘s submissions policy the end of modern literature? Are they blazing a path that other journals will soon follow? Is their initiative simply misunderstood and similar to Free Comic Book Day like Justin Taylor suggests? Or is this whole argument ridiculous and another example of writers getting pissed off over absolutely nothing? Sound off in the comments.

An Online Panel on Literary Journals (Part 3 of 4): Those Writerly Calluses

Check out the first two installments of our discussion on lit mag publishing here and here. We continue today with thoughts from one Adam Reger. He earned an MFA in fiction from Pitt in 2008 and has published stories in the New Orleans Review, Pear Noir!, and Juked. He lives in Pittsburgh.

From Adam:

“I would second everything Robert mentioned. I also worked on Hot Metal Bridge, and found the experience instructive not just in the ‘I can’t believe someone sent this in’ sense Robert mentions, but as a chance to see how many good stories got rejected for nebulous reasons having everything to do with the readers’ tastes at that particular time—it was an opportunity, basically, to see how arbitrary the process can be. Applying that insight to my own submission process has helped me develop those writerly calluses one needs to be rejected over and over again. Every rejection slip says that it’s not personal, and that many good stories get rejected, but you never quite believe it until you see things from the other side.

And on Robert’s point about subscribing to lit mags, I’d also suggest buying sample copies (which are usually cheap, in the $5-$10 range). For both, the point is not so much supporting the magazine (though it helps that way) as getting to know what they publish. I’m just reiterating classic advice here, but it pays to know the market; many years ago I read in Writer’s Market a fiction listing wherein the editor said that most of the stories he rejected ‘were inapt, rather than inept,’ a line that’s stayed with me. To be honest, a couple of my publications have come about via shot-in-the-dark submissions to magazines I hadn’t read, but in all cases going about it that way took a needlessly long time and was pretty much a matter of getting lucky.

One thing I’d (sort of) disagree with Robert about is submitting to lesser-quality journals. I wouldn’t submit to the kind of places he mentions, either, but I want to warn against taking this mindset too far. My overall theory on this goes as follows: insofar as I’m going to keep writing short stories, and presumably they will be better than the ones I wrote last month, I’d do well to have some publication credits to list in my cover letter so that these (hypothetical) better stories get a more favorable reading when I send them to Tin House and Harper’s. (To refer to the Hot Metal Bridge experience again, editors are absolutely influenced by the previous publications listed in a writer’s cover letter (although, in support of Robert’s point, listing a long string of journals with ridiculous titles that no one’s ever heard of won’t necessarily help your cause).)

This is not to say that you shouldn’t send your best stories to the best literary magazines, and in general give every story a good chance to be published somewhere you’d be excited to see your work. But if your best stories keep getting form rejections, and you’ve already gone down the ladder quite a ways, in my opinion you should be open to submitting those pieces just about anywhere and moving on. (If this advice seems really abhorrent to you, though, consider acknowledging that these pieces are not quite working and going back to the drawing board. I’ve done this before and, while it can be pretty damn humbling, the redrafted pieces were far better than what I started with.) You want to avoid the kinds of questionable publications Robert talks about, but my own feeling is that when your book of stories comes out, the place where the fifth story in the collection was published will be of minor interest to anyone. The way to inch closer to publishing that book of stories, meanwhile, is getting those pieces published rather than their collecting dust on your hard drive.

Finally, this is a little beyond the scope of the question being considered here, but I would recommend reading and thinking about this post, by Blake Butler (as recommended by Cathy Day, a Pitt professor]. The internet has made it incredibly easy to reach out to writers whose work you like, and with sites like Facebook it’s not at all difficult to stay connected with those people in a kind of support network. Doing so can help in practical terms: a couple lit mags have friended me (after rejecting my stuff kindly) and having them on my news feed has alerted me to some interesting contests, calls for submission, etc. But in terms of karma or whatever, supporting others’ work is also a good thing to do.”