Salvatore Pane

Tag: Matt Bell

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

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What Are You Teaching In Workshop?: O Captain, My Captain!

I’ve been reading Cathy Day’s blog lately and all her insightful posts about her undergrad fiction workshop as they went through NaNoWriMo, and the whole time I’ve wondered why more fiction teachers don’t share their syllabi or process or what have you. I’m a sucker for community. It’s what drew me to a university known for its creative writing undergrad and eventually to the MFA itself. Now that I’ve graduated, I miss that feeling of being part of something. There are substitutes. HTMLGIANT. The Rumpus. We Who Are About to Die. Uncanny Valley. And so on and so on. But I don’t know many first year teachers who are teaching workshops, composition and community college. So I thought that maybe I would write about my experience here a little bit, include a draft of my new syllabus, and then if anybody wanted to share similar thoughts that would be great.

This is my fall semester intermediate workshop class. I showed up the last day and they were not only dressed like me, but they’d brought in a Spider-Man cake and noisemakers. To be sure, it was one of  the most touching and humbling moments of my life. I’m not exactly sure why the students responded so positively to the class and to me (I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that they all really got along and the level of criticism was really advanced), but I hope that it has something to do with how I tried to take them seriously as writers, that when they came into my class they weren’t student writers, they were just writers. (Much of my pedagogy comes from this video of Tom Bailey minus all the crying) A lot of them came into the class complaining about how previous workshops focused on inane guidelines (one student said he’d come from a workshop where students had to fit so many imperative, declarative and exclamatory sentences into stories), and I think they responded to how difficult I made the class. I ran it more like a graduate workshop and tried to focus on publishing and literary journals. We looked at PANK, The Collagist, Flatmancrooked, just an absolute ton, and the first student publication (of what I really think will be a lot) will go live on Metazen late this month.

Despite the difficulty (I’d go on about why I think this class is a lot of work, but I’ve included the syllabus below), 15 of 19 students signed up for my advanced fiction workshop in the spring which is the next step up in the program. I honestly couldn’t be happier (although, it poses some syllabus problems because I can’t use any of the same stories from this semester), and have taken this as a mandate to push them further, to expect more from them, to transform them into writing workhorses who believe in perspiration over inspiration and the daily writing schedule. So, with all that in mind, below is the first draft of my new syallbus. Please let me know what you think and feel free to share your own. Have you ever taught a workshop? What have your experiences been like if so? If not, do you want to, do you plan to? Why?

Required Materials

3X33: Short Fiction by 33 Writers edited by Mark Winegardner

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore


Welcome to Advanced Fiction Workshop

In this course, you’re going to write and read a lot. This is not going to be easy because becoming a writer isn’t easy. There will be no easy A’s, and no easy weeks. Writing is a constant struggle, and this course will reflect that truth. However, and I can guarantee you this, if you’re serious about the craft of fiction, if you’re willing to put in the work, you will be a better writer at the end of the course compared to the first day.

Each student will put up 15-20 pages of literary fiction for workshop twice during the semester. You can write a traditional short story, multiple flash fiction pieces, or a novel chapter, but remember, you have to demonstrate the fundamental principles of literary fiction in all of your workshop pieces. That means you shouldn’t hand in a novel chapter that is less than a page. I want to see structure, character, development. I want nuance and complexity. I don’t want filler pieces meant to get you closer to the page requirement.

Substantial revisions will be required. Substantial revision does not mean fixing grammar. Substantial revision usually means a complete rewrite and perhaps multiple rewrites. Students must also post 500-100 word critiques for every student story we workshop. Similarly, you will read a large amount of stories from 3X33 and a few handouts. Students will post 500-1000 word critiques for every assigned story we read. In addition to those critiques, you will write two 1200 word papers in which you do a craft analysis of the novels Super Sad True Love Story and A Gate at the Stairs.

Reading so much literary fiction will allow you to build a library of published stories in your heads. Students are expected to use their knowledge of writers like ZZ Packer, Richard Yates or Lorrie Moore to comment about peer work up for discussion. Students will make parallels and use the published work to inform their critiques of peer work. The majority of the course will be spent workshopping. The goal of the course is for you to not only become a better writer, but to become an active literary citizen who can participate in the ongoing dialogue concerning fiction.

Workshop

You will be prepared for every workshop class by doing the following:

1.)    Write comments in the margins of stories up for discussion. You MUST use the comments feature in Microsoft Word. All comments will be transparent to the entire class. I want you to upload your marked up versions of workshopped stories to Blackboard. Failure to do so will negatively impact your grade.

2.)    Write a 500-1000 word critique for each peer written story we read this semester. You must critique the story based on its own intentions. For example, if the writer is attempting to write in the realist mode of Ray Carver, do not suggest a woman who gives birth to a newborn baby every night ala Amelia Gray just because you don’t like realism. On the flip side, do not knock a postmodern story because you prefer realism. Judge the story the writer wrote, not the one you want to write. Try and help them see how they could better serve their material and unique world vision. In your responses, first describe what you think the writer is attempting to do and what the story is about. Then discuss the piece’s strengths. Finish with prescription, a section where you point out very specific things that still need work within the story. Go beyond grammar. Character, plot, prose, all the building blocks of fiction are on the table. You must use the description, strength, prescription model.

3.) Post your critique and margin comments to Blackboard by 8PM the night before workshop. All critiques will be visible to all members of the class, and I encourage you to read what your peers are saying about every story. Name your thread on Blackboard after your favorite line of the story in question. If you don’t turn in these materials BY 8PM, you will lose points.

Example of a good critique:

[There’s a critique I wrote here in graduate school, but I’m removing it from the blog because I never told the person whose story I culled from. If interested, look in the Crow Room.]

Notes About Workshop

When you are being workshopped, it is very important that you are quiet, take notes, and do not respond to anything verbally. To reiterate, you are not allowed to talk when being workshopped unless I specifically ask you something, and that will be very rare. You are not there to defend your story. Your story must stand on its own.

Please proofread your work. If a story is excessively sloppy, I will not workshop it. Do not depend on your classmates to fix your grammar.

Distribution of Manuscripts

Stories are due from every student at specific points in the semester. Upload them to Blackboard on the due date by 9AM. If your story is late, your grade for that story will drop by an entire letter. If you are more than a day late, you will get an F, no exceptions. You are responsible for printing out your peers’ stories for discussion on workshop days.

Blackboard Reading Posts

On most weeks, you will be required to read at least one outside short story. On these weeks, you must post a 500-1000 word critical response to said story on Blackboard under the appropriately titled forum. Posts must be uploaded by 8PM the day before we discuss the story. If your post is late, you will take an F on the critical response in question. During the first two weeks in which we will be discussing two professional short stories a classroom session, you are required to write three 250-500 word responses each class session, one for each story we read (the exception being Super Sad True Love Story when Paper 1 will be due). Post your responses on the appropriate Discussion Board forum. There’s a forum designated by name for every professional story.

Let me be very clear on this. This is not a forum for you to explain whether or not you like the piece in question. I don’t care. What I’m looking for is a craft analysis. These stories are published. They’re not up for workshop. What can you learn from them? If you simply talk about why you love or hate a specific story, you will take an F on the critical response in question.

Papers

Two papers will be due in this course, one for Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shytengart and one for A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. They will be due on Blackboard the night before class at 8PM like our reading critiques. The goal in these papers will be to do a craft analysis and pick out a few pieces in the work in question that specifically helpful to your development as a writer. Do not analyze these novels in a vacuum. Feel free to tie in your own work or other books you have read.

Fiction Pods

After everyone has been workshopped once, I will break you up into Fiction Pods of four and five in which you will read each other’s revisions and then run mini-workshops. I will explain more about Fiction Pods when we reach that point in the semester. Keep in mind, you will be required to meet with your Fiction Pods for 90 minutes outside of class on two separate occasions during the semester. You will also have to e-mail me where and when you met and a very brief summary of the meeting.

Attendance

I want to be as clear as I can on this. If you miss class four times, you will fail. There will be no make up assignments. Don’t come back to class. The ONLY excuse I will accept is a doctor’s excuse. I am not going to make any exceptions on this front.

If you are unprepared for discussion or workshop, I cannot give you credit for attendance that day.

Grading

This is what you have to do if you want an A in this course. You have to put up two thoughtful workshop pieces. Then you have to take the time to substantially revise them. You have to be engaged in classroom discussions and add something relevant every class. You must do all the Blackboard posts and turn them in on time. You do all these things, you get an A. You slack off, turn stuff in late or short, doze off in class, and you’re not getting an A.

Here’s the grading breakdown. 70% of your final grade will come down to your final portfolio, i.e. all of your revised work at the end of the semester. The other 30% comes from Blackboard posts and participation. Please note: participation is mandatory. If you are not contributing to every single workshop, you are not going to get a good grade. This is a workshop course. The same goes for Blackboard. If you consistently fail to turn in work on time, you’re not going to get a good grade.

Final Portfolios

On the final day of class, you will be expected to turn in two revisions of your workshop pieces. Late portfolios WILL NOT be accepted.

Conferences

After your workshop, please schedule a conference with me during my office hours. Revisions will be due at the end of the semester, but you can turn them in at any point. Conferences are mandatory!

Outside Events

Students are only required to attend one event outside of class. On April 7th, writer Lydia Davis will read in the Frick Fine Arts Building at 8PM. You are required to attend and write a short, 500 word craft analysis of her reading. ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. If you cannot attend, you must go to a make up reading that I will assign.

Academic Integrity

Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity, noted below from the February 1974, Senate Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom reported to the Senate Council, will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz or exam will be imposed.

Plagiarism, as defined by the University of Pittsburgh’s Academic Integrity code, is when a student:

Presents as one’s own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources.

Submits the work of another person in a manner which represents the work to be one’s own.

Knowingly permits one’s work to be submitted by another person without the faculty member’s authorization.

Special Assistance

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services, 140 William Pitt Union, (412) 648-7890 or (412) 383-7355(TTY), as early as possible in the term.  DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Course Sequence

Week One

Thurs January 6

Syllabus

Introductions

Amelia Gray “Babies” and “Dinner”

Week Two

Tues January 11

Raymond Carver “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” 3X33

Tobias Wolff “The Liar” Blackboard

Dave Eggers “After I Was Thrown in the River but Before I Drowned” Blackboard

Thurs January 13

Antonya Nelson “Naked Ladies” 3X33

James Alan McPherson “Why I Like Country Music” Blackboard

Donald Barthelme “Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning” 3X33


Week Three

Tues January 18

Gary Shytengart Super Sad True Love Story

STORIES DUE


Thurs January 20

Workshop 1

Workshop 2

Week Four

Tues January 25

Workshop 3

Workshop 4

Thurs January 27

Workshop 5

Jonathan Lethem “Super Goat Man” Blackboard

Week Five

Tues February 1

Workshop 6

Workshop 7

Thurs February 3 – Guest Workshop w/Travis Straub

Workshop 8

Workshop 9

Week Six

Tues February 8

Workshop 10

Workshop 11

Thurs February 10

Workshop 12

Andre Dubus “The Fat Girl” Blackboard

Week Seven

Tues February 15

Workshop 13

Workshop 14

Thurs February 17

Workshop 15

Matt Bell “His Last Great Gift” Blackboard

Week Eight

Tues February 22

Workshop 16

Workshop 17

Thurs February 24

Workshop 18

Richard Yates “The Best of Everything” 3X33


Week Nine

Tues March 1

Workshop 19

Workshop 20

Thurs March 3

Workshop 21

Workshop 22 (IF NEEDED)

A.M. Homes “The Former First Lady and the Football Hero” Blackboard

SUNDAY REVISIONS DUE

Week Ten

Spring Break

Week Eleven

Tues March 15

Lorrie Moore A Gate at the Stairs

New Stories Due

Thurs March 17

Workshop 1

Workshop 2

Week Twelve

Tues March 22

Workshop 3

Workshop 4

Thurs March 24

Workshop 5

Workshop 6

Week Thirteen

Tues March 29

Workshop 7

Workshop 8

Thurs March 31

Workshop 9

Workshop 10 (IF NEEDED)

ZZ Packer “Dayward” Blackboard

Week Fourteen

Tues April 4

Workshop 11

Workshop 12

Thurs April 7

Workshop 13

Workshop 14 (IF NEEDED)

George Saunders “Sea Oak” 3X33


Week Fifteen

Tues April 12

Workshop 15

Workshop 16

Thurs April 14

Workshop 17

Workshop 18

Week Sixteen

Tues April 19

Workshop 19

Workshop 20

Thurs April 21

Workshop 21

Workshop 22

 

Salvatore Pane’s Guide to AWP Part 2: The Off-Site Events

Last time when I discussed AWP, I focused mainly on general pointers and the long list of panels I hoped to attend. What I didn’t cover were the off-site events. Usually, these events are put on by lit journals and have a much more laid back feel than the official AWP panels. They usually take place at night after most of the official AWP events are over, and sometimes they’re even held in bars or during happy hour. Below you’ll find a list of events I find most interesting. It’s clearly not an all-conclusive list, and once again I haven’t covered Saturday as I’ll sadly be on a flight returning to Pittsburgh.

Throughout the Conference

Museum Of Contemporary Art
Location: 1485 Delgany, Denver Co 80202; 303.298.7554
Cost: $5 admission for all attendees and participants in the AWP conference
Website: http://www.mcadenver.org
MCA DENVER is an activator, content provider and immediate research vehicle of culture in the making—a museum without a front door—a place for public engagement. MCA DENVER has five distinct galleries, three spaces for education, multiple sites for special projects/commissioned works and one live art/lecture hall. MCA DENVER excites artists and visitors alike to enter into creative conversations that extend beyond our walls.

A world class museum for five bucks? It’s hard to turn down this one when it’s open to AWP attendees during the entire convention. After 72 hours of straight literary discussion, you may need some type of deviation to recharge your batteries.

Wednesday

4:00PM-8:30PM DoubleCross Press, Lame House Press,and Slash Pine Press Presents A Poetry Marathon
Location: Rackhouse Pub, 208 S. Kalamath St.
Cost: None
Website: http://www.slashpinepress.com/awp/
Whether for a happy hour of local microbrews, a good pub dinner, or the entire four+ hour reading, our presses invite you to the work of over thirty poets. Readers include Abraham Smith, Kate Greenstreet, Malachai Black, John Dermot Woods, Anne Shaw, Jen Tynes, Farrah Field, Gina Myers/Nate Pritts, Matt Hart, Claire Becker, Matt Rasmussen, Brian Oliu, MC Hyland, Nathan Hauke, Dolly Lemke, francine j. harris, among others. 8 minute drive or 20 minutes by light rail + walking.

This one’s a bit of a trek, but I appreciate that it gives people arriving on Wednesday–such as myself–something to do. Plus, the allure of Denver “microbews [and] a good pub dinner” might be too much for me to turn down.

7:00PM-10:00PM AHSAHTA / OMNIDAWN READING
Location: The Magnolia Hotel Ballroom, 17th & Stout (Only 3 blocks from the Colorado Convention Center.)
Cost: No charge for the event.
Please join Ahsahta Press and Omnidawn Publishing for a reading. The readers will be: Christopher Arigo, Susan Briante, Dan Beachy-Quick, Maxine Chernoff & Paul Hoover, Gillian Conoley, Ben Doller, Lisa Fishman, Noah Eli Gordon, Richard Greenfield, Janet Holmes, Hank Lazer, Laura Moriarty, Rusty Morrison, G.E. Patterson, Craig Santos Perez, Bin Ramke, Don Revell, Elizabeth Robinson, Heather Sellers, Heidi Lynn Staples, Michelle Taransky.

This one’s a lot closer to the conference and a great opportunity to catch an event by Ahsahta, one of the major poetry publishers in the country.

7:00PM-9:00PM COUNTERPATH BOOKS / DRUNKEN BOAT / GUERNICA / PERSEA BOOKS / POOL PERFORMANCE
Location: Dikeou Collection, 1615 California St., Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202; 303.623.3001
Website: http://www.dikeoucollection.com
Join five of the most innovative journals and literary publishers showcasing their contributors in multiple genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and video installation. Performers include Laird Hunt, Steve Katz, Alexander Chee, Susan Taylor Chehak, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Irina Reyn, Robin Beth Schaer, Dean Rader, Karen Holman, Elizabeth Bradfield and Dylan Landis. Free and open to the public, and only minutes from the conference hotel.

This one’s a no-brainer for me. I love most of the hosts of the event, and Irina Reyn has really been an instrumental help to me as I’ve worked on my book. Plus, Elizabeth Kadetsky–former Pitt faculty–will be reading along with a performance by Peter Yumi, a musician I had the chance to see collaborate with poet Karla Kelsey in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. This one should be epic.

8:00PM-11:00PM Cave Canem/Kundiman Reading & Salon
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver, CO 80205; (303) 294-9281
Cost: $3 suggested donation — to benefit Cave Canem & Kundiman (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Website: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=474228325544&ref=ss
Join the Cave Canem & Kundiman Families for a Reading Featuring Toi Derricotte, Sarah Gambito, Cornelius Eady, Oliver de la Paz, Dawn Lundy Martin & Kazim Ali + a salon featuring Cave Canem and Kundiman fellows & family (bring a poem to share!)  Emceed by Ching-In Chen & Tara Betts.

Toi Derricotte is another Pitt faculty member, so if Cave Canem is your thing, definitely check this one out.

Thursday

5:30PM-7:30PM Prairie Schooner “Baby Boomer” Reading
Location: Common Grounds Downtown Coffee, 1550 17th St, Denver, CO
Cost: Free
A group reading by contributors to the special “Boomer” Issue of Prairie Schooner.  Readers include: Hilde Weisert, Robert E. Wood, Harriet Millan, Marilyn Kallet, Paul Lisicky, Maureen Seaton, Stephen Gibson, A.E. Stringer, Sharon Dolin, Julie Kane, Annie Finch, Edward Falco, Michael Waters, Kate Sontag, Robin Becker, Susan Aizenberg, Charles Harper Webb, Ellen Doré Watson, Toi Derricotte, Dorothy Barresi, Donald Morrill, Christopher Howell, Ray Amorosi, Albert Goldbarth, Bill Lavender, and Marianne Boruch.

Who doesn’t love Prairie Schooner? Who doesn’t want another chance to see Toi Derricotte if they missed her the night before? Another great aspect of this event is the time. It’s one of the earliest off-site events on Thursday, so if you just absolutely have to get away from the conference, this one may be your best bet.

7:00PM-8:30PM Born Magazine @ Gypsy House
Location: Gypsy House Café, located at 1279 Marion Street (on the corner of 13th and Marion) Denver, CO 80218
Cost: Free
Born Magazine and the Gypsy House Reading Series present an evening of experimental writer-artist collaborations on Thursday, April 8th from 7–8:30 PM at the Gypsy House Café. Please join us for a screening of Born projects, with readings by Ander Monson, Monica Drake, Esther Lee, Emma Ramey, Keetje Kuipers, and Thomas Crofts.

A free to the public event featuring “experimental writer-artist collaborations”. Could prove very interesting and worthy of your time.

7:00PM FC2 Flash Reading
Location: Dikeou Collection, 1615 California St, Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202
Matt Roberson, Rob Stephenson, Steve Katz, Vanessa Place, Lynn Kilpatrick, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Susan Steinberg, Brian Evenson, Brian Kiteley, Cris Mazza, Debra Di Blasi, Lance Olsen, Jan Ramjerdi, Steve Gutierrez, Lidia Yuknavitch, Jeffrey DeShell, Elisabeth Sheffield

I couldn’t find much information about what exactly FC2 Flash is, but I’m imagining with the number of participants–and some of the familiar names–that it’s some kind of flash fiction reading. A favorite genre of mine, I’ll definitely try and make it to this one. If anyone knows exactly what this is, please leave info in the comments.

7:00PM Northwestern University Press / &NOW Books / Artifice Magazine Reading
Location: The Celtic Tavern, 1801 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Cost: None
Website:http://www.artificemag.com/events
Join Northwestern University Press, &Now Books, and Artifice Magazine for an evening of readings. Three imprints at different ages showcase authors writing at the frontier of contemporary literature.

I’m a big fan of Artifice so you can be certain I’ll be checking this one out.

7:30PM DOGZPANK
Location: Forest Room 5
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.pankmagazine.com/pankblog/?p=2080
Short fiction reading comprised of joint DOGZPLOT and PANK contributors: Aaron Burch, Anne Valente, Beth Thomas, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Matt Bell, JA Tyler, Erin Fitzgerald, Molly Gaudry, Kathy Fish, Angi Becker Stevens, Matt Salesses, Pedro Ponce.

Damn is this a packed time slot. I really enjoy DOZPLOT and PANK–I’m doing book reviews for PANK now too–and would love to catch a Matt Bell reading after missing him at Modern Formations in Pittsburgh due to work.

7:30PM-9:30PM Publication Party and Reading
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver
Website: http://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-You-Me-Breakup/dp/1590202821/
Publication party and reading for the anthology It’s Not You, It’s Me: The Poetry of Break Up. Featuring Patricia Smith, Kim Addonizio, Jerry Williams, Angela Ball, Kevin Prufer, Martha Rhodes, and others.

It’s getting worse and worse. Kim Addonizio is easily one of my favorite working poets. This will be my first real chance to catch her read, so I really want to try and make it to this one too. It looks like some serious sacrifices are going to have to be made.

8:00PM-10:00PM A Magazine Party: Colorado Review, The Normal School, Denver Quarterly, The Pinch
Location: Wazee Supper Club, 1600 15th Street
Cost: cash bar and apps
Website: http://www.wazeesupperclub.com
Come celebrate with some of your favorite magazines.

Colorado Review? Denver Quarterly?! Come on 7-9 time slot!

9:30PM TypewriterGirls Poetry Cabaret
Location: Mercury Cafe 2199 California St, Denver CO
Website: http://www.typewritergirls.net
The TypewriterGirls’ Dada-bred performances are collage-work theatre formed from sketch comedy, poetry, music, whiskey games, collaborative writing, burlesque, and a little magic. In essence, they strive to embody the Comte de Lautréamont’s creed “poetry must be made by all” with a play and a dance party. This event will feature some of Denver’s finest poets and performers.

This one is notable because it’s hosted by the TypewriterGirls, a cool little outfit based in Pittsburgh that puts out Weave. Definitely worth your time.

10:30PM-1:00AM Genres and Generations
Location: Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge, 930 Lincoln St, Denver, CO 80203; 303.839.5100
Cost: Free Event- No Passes Required
Website: http://www.dazzlejazz.com
Genres and Generations is featuring Tarpaulin Sky, Fact-Simile, Monkey Puzzle Press, Fast Forward, Bombay Gin, and Zero Ducats. These presses publish genres that span generations of crafting to genres that have yet to be. Please join us for a wonderful evening of literary collaboration.

This one sounds like a good late-night event, and I’m assuming there will be booze , always a plus.

Friday

3:00PM- 4:30PM DENVER QUARTERLY Reading and Publication Celebration
Location: The Dikeou Collection, located in Downtown Denver: The Colorado Building, 1615 California Street (at 16th Street), Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202 (Only a two-block-walk from the Colorado Convention Center.)
Cost: There will be free wine and snacks, and no charge for the event.
Please join the Denver Quarterly and Coach House Press for a reading on Friday, April 9th, from 3-6pm at The Dikeou Collection. Featuring: Dan Beachy-Quick, Julie Carr, Malinda Markham, Martha Ronk, Cole Swensen, Brian Teare

A particularly early event and a chance to catch a Denver Quarterly shindig if you missed the one on Thursday.

4:00PM- 6:00PM failbetter.com’s 10th anniversary
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver
Cost: No cover, cash bar
failbetter.com celebrates its 10th anniversary with a cocktail party and reading, featuring: Sherman ALEXIE, Michael MARTONE, Terese SVOBODA

Uh… did you look at who’s reading?

5:00PM- 7:00PM Black Warrior Review / Blue Hour Press Reading
Location: Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto, 1632 Market St, Denver, CO 80202
Cost: Free
Website: http://bwr.ua.edu/ & http://www.bluehourpress.com/
Start off your evening of off-site events at Double Daughter’s (just an eight-block walk or free bus ride), where ten readers will share the work they’ve published in the physical pages of Black Warrior Review and the digital pages of Blue Hour Press: Christopher Cheney, Miriam Cohen, Shanna Compton, Nick Courtright, John Gallaher, James Grinwis, Emily Kendal Frey, Brian Kubarycz, Sabrina Orah Mark, and Alexis Orgera.

A couple things to say about this one. First off, it’s hosted at Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto. I can’t even imagine what that is, so needless to say my curiosity is piqued. Secondly, I love, love, love Black Warrior Review. It’s one of my perennial lit journal subscriptions.

7:00PM-10:00PM Creative Nonfiction Launch Party & MFA Program-Off Reading
Location: The Shag Lounge, 830 15th Street, Denver, CO
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.creativenonfiction.org
After a long day at the conference, come relax with Creative Nonfiction and listen to readings from the finalists and winner of the MFA Program-Off Contest. Off-site event, but only three blocks from the convention center. Free copies of the newly redesigned CNF magazine, plus plenty of cheap drinks for all in attendance.

CNF is a Pitt MFA related publication, so I have to give it some hype here. If you’ve never read the journal, you might as well come out, get some cheap drinks and a free copy of the magazine.

7:30PM-9:30PM Barbed Wire Reading Series
Location: Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar, 1 Broadway Suite B
Cost: No cover * Half price bottles of wine
The International Reading Series! Come hear the literary work of artists from Denver, the Southwest, Latin America, and the Deep South at the long-running, multi-genre Barbed Wire Reading Series. In 2004, Barbed Wire was birthed from the University of Texas at El Paso bilingual MFA program, where it continues to the present. It spread to the University of Alabama in 2007.  MCed by Denver’s own Trent Hudley, and Kevin Brown of the University of Alabama.
*In keeping with the tradition of the Barbed Wire series in Tuscaloosa, AL, Michelangelo’s will be offering half price bottles of wine especially and exclusively for the  Barbed Wire event.

I don’t know a thing about this event other than the half-priced bottles of wine. That’s all I need to know.

Why Literary Magazines Are (Still) Not Dead

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock these last few weeks due to the stunning Democratic loss in Massachusetts and the subsequent three-year spending freeze, Editor of  the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ted Genoways, published an article on Mother Jones entitled “The Death of Fiction”. His hypothesis: nobody reads literary magazines, and therefore, literary fiction is doomed, doomed, doomed! The comments section of said article exploded, and a bunch of notable up-and-coming fiction writers, Matt Bell included, rushed to fiction’s defense as so many have in the past when the elderly rely on that tried argument that the novel should be dead and buried. The venerable HTMLGIANT published a great counter-argument citing many prestigious online journals that have sprung up in recent memory as proof that it’s not literary journals that are dead, but specifically print lit journals.

I’d like to take that train of thought and run with it. For two years I served on the Editorial Board of Hot Metal Bridge, one of the many small, university sponsored lit journals to come out in the aughts. I was Fiction Editor, then Editor-in-Chief, and now I’m Emeritus Editor. What I can say about reading slush piles is that there’s more writing being done than ever before. I inherited the magazine with only two issues under its belt and we received hundreds of submissions (in fiction alone) and that number grew exponentially with each new issue. That much is in line with what Genoways argues; he’s not saying there’s no writing being done. He’s saying there’s no readers. But with Hot Metal Bridge, our readership grew at the same steady pace as the number our submitters. If we got two-hundred fiction entries, we usually ended up with readers in the four or five hundreds, a readership that’s comparable to the many prestigious print lit mags that I deeply love. And as we instituted a monthly podcast series, a fiction contest judged by Tom Perrotta, and bi-weekly book reviews, our readership only increased.

So what’s the problem? It can’t be that people actually prefer reading on screens over reading print, and no one is arguing that the work being done on the onlines is inherently better than the fiction being published in the print mags. I suggest looking at that other fore-bearer of print media: traditional newspapers. At the start of the decade, major coastal newspapers struggled with how to handle online content (you may recall how at first you had to register free accounts to read material from LA Times and the New York Times online). But then the floodgates opened and pretty much every newspaper in the country decided to offer every lick of content (and sometimes more) for free. This has contributed to the collapse of the print media industry. Rumors that the old guards are trying to seal the genie back in the bottle by charging for online content will only give more of a lead to specialized news sources like Drudge Report, Huffington Post and Politico.

This same line of thinking can be applied to literary journals. With the advent of the free online lit mag (Narrative, The Collagist, failbetter, etc. etc.) it’s become less and less likely for readers or even working fiction writers to pay for more than a handful of print lit subscriptions if any at all. The literary magazine is not dying; the print literary magazine is decaying. But even that can be salvaged with an embrace of change and emerging technologies, not a steadfast belief that American letters’ best days are behind it. Take a look at Electric Literature, the upstart journal of last year. They offer established and emerging authors in a variety of formats. There’s print-on-demand for traditionalists, but also options for PDF copies of the magazine along with versions for the iPhone and Kindle. Perhaps this is the path forward. Not a “this side or nothing” mentality but a combination of both the print AND the online that can shepherd literary fiction during the decades to come.