Breaking free from "digital dictatorship;" reflections on publishing poetry; inside Blackbird and Fiction Magazine; submissions advice from Room & Pleiades Editors; jobs, markets & more
Thanks for this update, and especially for sharing the good news about Blackbird. If I could, please allow me to give a shout-out to Blackbird's sponsor: Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. I'm always grateful when colleges and universities continue to commit to sponsoring literary journals.
What a shame about Bluepepper's reason for shutting down.
Terrific article ,Becky if only for Will Bllythe's description of the ACT (at times a DARING MOVE with certain (guaranteed unpredictable writers among them Vi Khi Nao, Toni Morrison, Etgar Keret( Israel), ZakarIa Tamer (Syria), James Kellman (Scottland, Asa Larsen (Norway, and, currently, the finest Surrealist poet in the world Hysoon Kim of South Korea.
For most of my life- I am 78, many highly intelligent people in the field of literature have in their own exccruciatingly pontifical -what I call TABLETIC TEMERITY- as in God giving Moses the Ten Commandments (more on this soon) bestowed from their ivory towers The WORD on the theory, and perusal of literature, and even of the PRACTICE of CREATING LITERATURE, although three or four of the main enlighteners have , to my knowledge never themselves written a single poem, play, short story, or novel. These people are Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler,Marjorie Perloff, Allen Bennett, and let's include also some prelosers -old chestnuts like Irving Howe(as in "How's THAT, Irving; better stick to your fine history of the Lower East Side") and Lionel Trilling (who wrote a thin shallow novel a bout having Allen Ginsbeg as a student,completely oblivious to the kaleidiscopic possibilities of such a concept - a novelist's dream but he slept on it without a wink of waking.
But Trillling's challenge was to RENDER (as the great American poet Sterlng A.Brown always advised and PRACTICED. And as the Russians did so well,especially Tolstoi, Gogol,and Turgenev..
Bloom, Vendler, Bennet, and Perloff all grew up when the study of "English" in the university allegedly was 'We. teach only work written in English"; our courses are about ninety five percent works by British writers and American writers."
Few people were willing to point out the hypocrisy and, basically,THE LIE,, of this stance.
First of all, many colleges had required courses in the English major purporting to be a little more broad such as Literature and Society, and Literature an Psychology. In the Lit. and Psychology courses, many teachers of Freudian and Jungian persuasion used such works as The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Death In Venice by Thomas Mann, and The Death of Ivan Ilyitch by Tolstoi, or The Stranger by Camus or Jean Paul's Sartre's Nausea (Two French Fried( so to speak).
There was also, depending on HOW WE WORD IT, the 1) borrowing, 2) commandeering, 3)pilfering of "Common"WEALTH /comrades from IRELAND, such as James Joyce's Dubliners or Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man, Gulliver's Travels and/ or the infamous essay "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift,Deacon of Dublin, any play by Oscar Wilde, the poetry of Tennyson and the Scottish giant Robert Burns whose most famous poem millions sing every New Years.
In the "American" Literature classes, literature was and STILL is mostly white USA. You couldnt accurately say American because the real world literally IS and CONTAINS North,South and Central America but in the great English Departments of Yale,Harvard, Columbia etc these places had no place for any stories that did not center on lower to upper middle class white people.
Our schools public, private,religious, all of the k-doctorate are victimized by the deep jingoism of American publishers who publish less than ten percent of international writers. Many of the writers who do get published do not get on many curriculum lists, nor are they discussed in college teacher training programs.
Since the early 1980s much of the best literary fiction has been from the blossoming small press movement that grew out of the mighty civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements. This was when the cream of African American artists hit their full stride- Alice Walker,Toni Cade Bambara,Toni Morrison who in her brilliant editorial career brought in Henry Dumas,Gloria Naylor,Wesley Brown and others.The poet Don Lee started Third World Press publishing much of Gwendolyn Brooks later poetry and her one stunning novel Maud Martha.The poet Dudley Randall of Detroit did Broadside Press famous for it's one page poems. Neil Ottenburg's Thunder Mouth Press republished such black classics as Chester Himes' If He Hollers Let Him Go, John A. Williams' The Man Who Cried I Am,and John O .Killens' Younglood. Curbstone Press (early publisher of Martin Espada) published Latino writers from the US, and from Latin America,and, later novels and short story collections from Vietnam. Interlink Press and Lynn Reiner/ Three Continents were publishing Middle Eastern Writers such as the poet Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis,and superb fiction writers Sahar Khalifeh and Ghassan Kanafani. Three small presses are now powerhouse publishers- Copper Canyon Press )mostly poetry; Graywolf, poetry and some fiction, and Cofee House Press, mostly fiction. Other dedicated presses included The Feminist presses, Heresies, Conditions,Kitchen Table Press; West End Press, publisher of Meridel LeSeur's fiction (that remains grossly underreviewed( but that's a whole other article); Hanging Loose Press ( first publisher of Sherman Alexie); Art De Publico, one of the first Chicano presses; The Kearney St. Workshop and Isthmus were publishsing Asian American writers.
I have a stack of fivebooks in front of me as I now type There are about twenty more iin a nearby bookcase. All of them are literary fiction published in 2016,2017,2018,2019.2020: Guatamala's Eduardo Halfon's The Polish Boxer(Bellevue Literary Press); Thailand's Duanwad Pimwana's Bright (Two Lines Press); U.S's Jamel Brinkley's A Lucky Man(Graywolf Press), Serbia's Dasa Drndic's EEG(New Directions); Ruanda's Scholastique Mukasonga's The Barefoot Woman(Archipelago Books)
Today there are more literary presses than ever:
Many current lit mags and organizations owe a debt to the rambunctious small press movement of the last forty years that grew out of the great Civil Rights and antiVietnam War movements of the sixties.
Some American universities who have not shut out the waves of international and "BIOpec" writers here, are publishing Arab Syracuse U Press and UC Berkely/ U. of Virginia publishers Caribbean poets such as reknowned (globally) Aimee Cesaire of Martinique and his classical long poem "Return to My Native Land"; Both the University of Arkansas and Texas have published Middle Eastern writers; Michigan State University publishes Eastern European literature in their Anvil Books series. The University of Arizona does outstanding work publishing Native American writers as has, for DECADES, The University of Washington publishing Asian American classics such as Toshio Mori's brilliant post WWII short story collection 'Yokahama, California", John Okada's searing 'NO NO BOY" along with Carlos Bulosan's classic about farmworkers "America Is In The Heart."
Credit the wondrous work of such still current presses as Third World Press, Interlink, West End, Graywolf, Coffehouse, Milkweed,Hanging Loose Press ( the first publishers of Sherman Alexie), The Feminist Press, Tia Chuca, , Dalby Archives (they are reissuing novels by the fine satirist Ishmael Reed). They laid the groundwork and modeled excellence for today' great presses, including Archipelago, Wave Books,Action Books, Fence,as Red Hen,, Black Lawrence Ocean, anBlaze Vox, BOA, Tupelo, and three presses that particulalry focus on lgbtq writers: Write Bloody, yesyesyes, and Siblng Rivallry.
I hope this helps. As far as the annual analysts bemoaning the passing of Literary Fiction , I suggest you check out books mentioned. Knock yourself out. Keep,byyour sde, keep a box of ductape for the story(iesdf) or nouvella/anovel that blows the top of your head off.
For more, page me. Even if Im in a bit of a bind, I'm available.
best. Ernie Brill
This was deliciously chockful of interesting things, Becky. Thank you.
I am still reading submissions at Punk Noir Magazine - Until August 24.
The theme is : "Things are not what they seem". I want stories of grifters, con artists, forgers and fakers. Humor welcome, head scratchers too!
Max word count is 2,500 words
At the end of each week we post the stories that have been selected, so don't wait for August 24!
We had cool stories the first week from Jay Butkowski, Kaye George and John Floyd.
We don't pay but we love you :)
Send subs to: email@example.com
Starnino is worth paying attention to in general, if you’re interested in quality poetry, and I’m glad to be reminded of that. (And so is Jason Guriel, an associate of his.)
Thanks for including Mirsky's note/interview. Years back, when I was first submitting short stories, I sent regularly to Fiction. Mark always responded with a personal note, which was so helpful to keep me going. Because of his kindness, I did. He often said that while he loved the piece I'd sent, they couldn't come to an agreement within the staff. It was an education, and a hopeful one, to work with him. I'm glad he's still around.