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.
Dreaming Methods: Digital Fiction / Labs
Computer technology spurred experiments with lateral storytelling and hypertext environments some twenty-seven years ago. Robert Coover was an apologist and moving force. Classic instances evolved, such as “afternoon, a story” by Michael Joyce (1990) and “I Have Said Nothing” by J. Yellowlees Douglas (1993), both of which were excerpted in print in Postmodern American Writing: A Norton Anthology (eds, Geyh, Leebron, and Levy, 1997), but were published in full-on floppy disks. They emphasized random, branching plot choices by hypertext links in key words; and technically they relied on Storyspace software from Eastgate.
Twenty-seven years later, hypertext experiments have given way to experiments inspired by gaming and VR, as showcased by Dreaming Methods: Digital Fiction and their companion site, Dreaming Methods: Labs. Writer/developer Andy Campbell originally established the site “to fuse writing with digital media.” Both sites present award-winning narratives. I sampled “Changed,” by Campbell and Lynda Williams, about a tough young girl’s running away, first sex (“felt nothing”), first mugging (“I remember the gun”), desolation, and calling home, at last, for her mom to come get her. But I remain more impressed by the medium than by the melodrama. Originating in Wakefield, England, Dreaming Method is supported by Arts Council England, among others.
Hidden River Arts
An independent literary and performing arts organization entering its third decade, Hidden River Arts (HRA) was founded in Philadelphia by writer/playwright/editor/teacher, Debra Leigh Scott. The mission remains “to serve the unserved artist.” The primary means, explained by drop-down tabs on the site, include:
- publishing books under four distinct imprints;
- holding classes and workshops;
- three annual competitions and awards;
I am proud that Sweet Dreams, my memoir, was the first title in the Hidden River Press imprint (for literary fiction and non-fiction). Meanwhile overall, the Sowilo Press imprint, dedicated “to promoting writing by and about women,” has grown and regularly publishes the winners of HRA’s distinguished Eludia Award series.
The Eludia Award is for a first book-length novel or collection of stories of a woman writer, age forty or over. Winners have been Christine Whittemore, Tree Riesener, Orla McAlinden, and upcoming Cheryl Romo. There is a $30 entry fee and winners get $1,000 in addition to publication. HRA also has an annual playwriting award, offering $1,000 and a public reading to the winning play—Lee Edward Colston, II, is the most recent winner; and the William Van Wert Memorial Fiction Award for a short story, offering $1,000—recently won by novelist and short story writer, Mark Wagstaff. Guidelines, deadlines, and informaiton on the winners are detailed under the “competitions and awards” tab, along with updates under the “news” tab.
Scott, as HRA’s tireless and visionary Prime Mover, in addition to managing all these activities (while supported by a staff of two, plus interns, volunteers, and readers) writes her own stories and novels and has been developing a full-length documentary film about higher education’s exploitation of adjunct professors, entitled Junct: The Trashing of Higher Education. HRA will publish the book to accompany the film under its DeFarge Press imprint (for “left, far left, and fartherest left” books). She’s also activated the Many Frogs Press imprint (for educational books) with a first title, Your Voice ,Your Instrument: Learning to Play, by Jeff Lesser, due to appear later this year.
Writers of Color
Much as the advocacy site VIDA has proven a helpful tool and resource to promote literary inclusion for women, Writers of Color both makes a cultural point and offers a medium for networking and research among writers and between writers, readers, presenters, and editors. The reach is national, with writers listed on a searchable drop-down menu by city, and also listed by interests and expertise. Founded by Durga Chew-Bose, Jazmine Hughes, Vijith Assar, and Buster Bylander, the site remains a work in progress, is run by volunteers, and welcomes email “if you’re interested in lending a hand, or have suggestions.”
When I tried “Boston,” one of only twelve writers listed was Dalida María Benfield, identified as a “writer invested in contemporary art, new media, digital-art theory, and more.” Under links, there were two to sample publications; under topics “race”; and then tabs to follow her on Twitter, to search on Google (where a number of entries came up), and her email for contact. All twelve writers listed were new to me, but also writers prominent in Boston were absent, such as the Poet Laureates of Boston, Sam Cornish and Danielle Legros Georges, Sonja Larson of Grub Street, Helen Elaine Lee, and Gish Jen. Surely, both well- and lesser-known writers should be in the database. Also links to writer websites would be helpful.
Web del Sol: Locus of Literary Art on The WWW
Michael Neff, the “creator and producer” of Web del Sol (WDS), is a literary multitasker extraordinaire, based in Washington, DC. Neff began WDS in 1994 “to effectively utilize the Internet in the marketing and web-publishing of independent literary journals….As WDS continued to grow, several journals and literary projects formed and grew with it,” including Del Sol Press and Del Sol Review. During the past five years, WDS has expanded to offer metazines, blogs, video, music, culture, and cinema arts. It seeks to “frame the finest contemporary literary art and culture available in America, and abroad.”
No surprise that the primary WDS site appears supersaturated and takes some effort to navigate and unpack. The latest issue introduces “a new speculative fiction room addition looking for good SFF and whatever else.” Tabs across the top are for: “Review of Books, SolPix Film Reviews, Poet Critique, Algonkian Writer Conferences, Ctheory, Del Sol Press, Jazz, Rhizome, and Writer Friendships.” The content under each is substantial. Tabs downward on the left include a link to the current issue of The Potamac Review, The Algonkian Writers Conferences, issues of eScene (one presenting the best works from online mags, the other an extensive, annotated list of the best mags), the Interboard Poetry Community (which gives awards), the Literary Explorer (essays by writers such as Thomas E. Kennedy on travel), Portal del Sol (editors in conversation, journal reviews, and more), Writers on the Edge (“serious writers with serious issues”), and Writers on the Job (essays about writing while having to earn a living). Mid-page, a link to Del Sol Review is featured. Begun by Neff in 1998, and edited now by Kari Pilgrim and Kara De Folo, the current issue is #21; links to the full archive of earlier issues are displayed as well. All of this content is so busy, and so extensive, that it feels like wandering into the offerings of an AWP convention, but as Neff writes, “Take your time and peruse our archives. Great literature never goes stale.”
Copyright 2017 Woven Tale Press LLC. All Rights Reserved.