By DeWitt Henry, Literary Bookmarks Editor
Monthly link highlights to online resources, magazines, and author sites that seem informative and inspiring for working writers. Most are free. Suggestions are welcomed.
Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction
Founded by Rebecca Morgan Frank, Robert Arnold, and Brian Green in 2004 in Boston, the biannual, online Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction is now published from Mississippi, where Editor-in-Chief Frank teaches. It features poetry, fiction, art, art song, and interviews, and is imaginatively edited and elegantly designed. “Work from Memorious,” their blog boasts, “has been reprinted in New York Time Magazine and Best American Poetry 2012; has received special mention in the Pushcart Anthology, and has been featured in the print anthologies Best New Poets and Best of the Web.”
In her chapter in The Little Magazine in Contemporary America (U. of Chicago Press, 2015), Frank is concerned about issues of prestige related to the online medium and misconceptions still to be overcome. These include archival longevity, a preference for multimedia work, and poor quality or amateurish work. What matters, she argues, is respect for the editor and mission, along with the medium’s success in cultivating greater numbers of readers than print. When fiction writer Laura van den Berg joined the staff, she helped to build their presence on Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere. The twenty-seven-issue archive (searchable by issue, author, or genre) includes such highlights as Rob Arnold’s interview with poet Bill Knott and Laura van den Berg’s with Jim Shepard, and distinguished poetry and fiction by both established writers and newcomers.
They also publish a blog with posts by different hands, spotlights on contributors, and informed and judicious columns on Art Song Contests, Big Loves, Anticipated Books, Forgotten Writers, Women Editors Online, and more. The current issue includes poems by Norman Dubie, WTP Contributing Editor Joyce Peseroff, and David Welch; fiction by Peter Grimes and Sarah Anne Strickley; and an art song collaboration by Elizabeth Kelly and Trenton Pollard.
The Matador Review
Founded in 2016 “to promote ‘alternative work’ from both art and literature,” The Matador Review is edited by JT Lachausse with Shayne Bailey as art editor and illustrator. Their choice to print in white and red on a black background can be an eye-strain, especially at length, but they have cause to celebrate their first year in terms of three issues at 30,000 words each, offering three quarters of content from writers and one quarter from artists. They also take pride in 600 Facebook likes, 600 Twitter followers, and almost 17,000 page views. Whether written or graphic work, the magazine “wants all your redheaded stepchildren, but we want them on a damn good hair day. And they better not behave.” The winter 2017 issue showcases interviews, stories, essays, visual art, reviews, flash fiction, and poetry.
Interviews invoke their idiom of creativity. John Darnielle, a singer and novelist, wants to collaborate with poet Frank Bidart. Short fiction writer Cyn Vargas lists literary touchstones: “People need to find these writers,” she says; “you know they’ve been working hard. Just read, read and share and keep the book, or pass the book to someone else.” The band Wild Beasts talks about song writing, inspired by reading. Nathan Hill, author of The Nix, speaks of John Irving, Virginia Woolf, and David Foster Wallace as inspirations.
Fiction by Lana Elizabeth Gabris, Sam Wiebe, and Tamika Thompson share transgressive characters, social taboos, and “the unconventional,” including an erotic beast dream, grotesque satire about a career wrestler costumed as “Chief Red Stick,” and comic melodrama about social justice in a hick town. Nonfiction by Katherine Schaefer, Karl Sherlock, and Ania Mroczek deals with a rural girl’s effort to win a 4-H prize for baking bread, the coming of age of a gay man subjected to priest abuse and nuns who “wore their broken insides on their outsides in sweeping black robes of enigma,” and an anorexic person’s road trip with a binging rape victim. Art includes paintings by Brigitte Dietz with realistic portraits of iconic writers overlaid on abstract designs; finger paintings by Donna Festa, fantasy figures by James Deeb, and more. In the review section, Jim Hepplewhite, reviewing three sci-fi titles, states, “I’m not the audience for Pirate Utopia, but if you like cyberpunk…you might be the audience Pirate Utopia [by Bruce Sterling] seeks.” Following on all this, the flash fiction and poetry sections seem a little anemic; but overall MR is an accomplished, edgy and ambitious venue. Visit their site and read the spring 2017 issue, out now.
Hippocampus was founded in 2011 by Donna Talarico, who came up with the idea during her time as an MFA student at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hippocampus is a monthly online publication that seeks “to entertain, educate, and engage writers and readers of creative nonfiction.” The name refers to the site of long-term memory in the brain.
In addition to the magazine, this fall they are hosting HippoCamp 2017, a conference for creative-nonfiction writers, to take place in Lancaster and include keynote speakers Tobias Wolff, Beverly Donofrio, and Dinty W. Moore (editor of Brevity, reviewed previously). They’ve also published their first book, Selected Memories: the First Five Years of Hippocampus, edited by Talarico.
Their issues are attractively designed, with tabs for 1) Memoirs, 2) Essays, 3) Flash, 4) Interviews, 5) Reviews, 6) Craft, 7) Writing Life, 8) Most Memorable, and 9) Hippo News. They pay contributors $45 for up to 4,000 words. The also hold an annual contest, “Remember in November,” with a grand prize of $1,000.
In their March 2017 issue, some essays need editorial work, particularly the longest, “Hallowed and Hollow” by Morgan Kayser. Many involve angular, human situations. “Grocery Stores” by Shaun Turner is one standout, with effective short paragraphs, sharp observation, and sardonic lines of dialogue. But “Code Grey” by Caroline Siegrist is a clear candidate for the annual award anthologies. Narrated by a female chaplain on her first assignment to an Emergency Room, its manner recalls Alice Munro’s in its heart, richness, and clarity.
Celebrities in Disgrace: first the book, then the blog, soon the film
Fiction writer Elizabeth Searle’s adventurous, thematically centered blog about “all things celebrity related” originated as an extension of her novella/story collection, Celebrities in Disgrace (Graywolf, 2001) and sought to continue her probing of our contemporary obsessions, literary and social, with celebrity. “I’ve come to feel celebrity stories are our modern folk tales,” she writes, “our ‘shared narratives,’ the stories almost everyone knows and follows in this fractured isolated society.”
The result is neither fanzine nor a Web echo of Oprah or of People magazines, but rather an ongoing project in cultural criticism crossed with an open workshop for writers and an anthology of writings on the celebrity phenomenon. Readers are invited to post their own celebrity-related writing and recommended readings: articles, stories, memoirs, and poems. The blog was originally supported by Bravo Sierra Pictures in conjunction with their 2010 film, Celebrities in Disgrace, co-scripted by Searle and based on her book. One page of the blog, “StarLit Gallery,” is devoted to photos connected to the film as well as to original art submitted by blog readers; another is “StarLit.: your star-inspired writings.” The blog continues to build.
The blog’s monthly archive dates back to 2009 and contributors, along with Searle herself, include Thomas Lux, Joyce Peseroff, Caitlin McCarthy, Jaime Clark, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Nancy Holder, Lisa Borders, and a number of newer writers connected with the Stonecoast MFA program.
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