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[Call for Papers] Special Issue: Katrina- A Decade After

17 Apr

the minnesota review invites submissions for a Special Issue on “Katrina – A Decade After” to be guest edited by Gaurav Desai (English/African and African Diaspora Studies, Tulane University). Our aim is to reflect on the hurricane, the measures that could have been taken to prevent the massive devastation caused by it, and the immediate and long term response by the government, private industry, and civil society. How has Katrina left a permanent mark not only on the Gulf South, but also on our larger national imaginary? What lessons, if any, have we learned and what actions and policies have we adopted to better mitigate against future disasters? Haunting though the images may be, the impact of Katrina was not limited to flooded homes and emergency rescues from rooftops – it altered fundamental social contracts in cities such as New Orleans – from public education to public housing. It also awakened a new activism focused on calls for better levee protection to addressing the loss of wetlands in coastal communities.

We invite contributions that chart these changes and their significance to larger policy debates that confront the nation and indeed the world. In the spirit of the legacy of the journal, the best contributions will be those that take a stand, however controversial, and are prepared to make the argument in no more than 4000 words. In keeping with the multi-genre nature of the journal we welcome position papers, review essays, interviews with key figures involved with the hurricane, poetry, fiction, and photo-essays. Potential contributors are invited to consult with the editors before submission. The issue will be published in April 2015 to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2015. Final submissions are due on June 1, 2014. For further information and consultation, please contact editors@minnesottareview.org.

Contributor Update: Sam J. Miller

10 Apr

Sam J. Miller’s “Operation Skunk,” excerpted below, first appeared in Issue 70 (2008) of the minnesota review. Since its publication, Miller has also released Horror After 9/11 (2011), a critical anthology co-edited with Aviva Briefel, along with pieces in The Rumpus, Slice Magazine, Arts and Letters, Strange Horizons, and Electric Velocipede. Miller also has work forthcoming in Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Shimmer. You can read more about Miller and his work here. To read the rest of “Operation Skunk,” please visit our online archive, available through Duke University Press.

 

Operation Skunk

Pastor handpicked us, three of his best girls for the man from CBS to speak to. Earlene, who’s seventy-five; me, who’s forty; and Shelley, who’s seventeen. Pastor called me up and told me to orchestrate the whole thing, our outfits and posture and perfume, and how to coach the girls beforehand, and said I had to host it because Shelley’s mom’s trailer smelled like burned plastic and Earlene’s house was too big and fancy. I got rid of all my Glade Plug-Ins because Pastor said city folks think they’re tacky, and bought a tube of cookie dough and timed the baking so the whole house smelled nice when the CBS man came.

Pastor had called me after midnight the night before.

“Remember, this is our chance to show America what good work we’re doing,” he said. “You three are our ambassadors. Be
friendly and humble. Don’t answer his questions—respond with our message. He’s going to try to paint us a certain kind of way, and you cannot fall into his trap. So if he asks you What do you think of the War in Iraq or something along those lines, you answer All I know is, the government wasn’t doing its job out here on the highways of Kentucky, and good Christians stepped up and did it. Okay? Like we said. He’s not your audience—you’re talking to America tomorrow. You know things need to be perfect for the next phase of Operation Skunk.”

“I know it.” I was as close to exasperated as I could ever get with Pastor. My ear hurt from holding the phone against it with my
shoulder. My hands, slick with mayonnaise, drummed at the kitchen table. I’d been mixing up a batch of tuna for sandwiches and the wooden spoon wasn’t getting it done fast enough so I started using my hands. When I’m stressed out I need to seize hold of something. It’s a reflex, left over from a million nights where loneliness hit me so hard I snatched up a bottle or some man’s forearm.

“You’ll call me when it’s over?” he asked. He could sound so small sometimes. Up in front of five hundred people, his voice was wide and rich as Gabriel’s must be. Other times he’d call me up just inches short of crying. “The man said it would take about an hour, but you know how these people are. So call me when they leave and I’ll come over and we’ll talk about how it went.”

“Sure thing, Pastor,” I said. “Now I got to get back to fixing the spread for tomorrow.”

“God bless you, Sister Schram,” he said. “Helen.”

February wind made a baby-crying sound outside. I’d been out back til ten p.m., picking up the yard so it looked less trailer
trash. Where had they come from, those ruptured garbage bags and waterlogged cardboard boxes and faded plush and plastic Easter bunnies? I picked this little house for its loneliness, for how far it was from the squalid backyards I’d grown up in, but they’d followed me.

The tuna fish sandwiches would go on the sunflower tray; the peanut butter and jelly on the cow tray. I focused on what they’d
look like: crusts snipped off, cut into quarters, the tiny white bread triangles and the pitcher of milk and the cookies and the bowl of apples. The room full of bright lights and camera equipment and men munching on my food while the famous man from television interviewed us. Shelley, sitting on my couch, bracketed by me and Earlene, her chubby arm calm and dry against mine. In AA they tell us to focus on today, and not to worry about the ugly days behind you or the long dry days in front of you. Pastor, on the other hand, says think about Jesus, and think about the future. Think about your mission. Everyone has a mission, Pastor says, although most souls spend a lifetime just wondering what it is. My need was so great I got two of them. Shelley was my little mission; Operation Skunk was my big mission.

Horror After 9/11, University of Texas Press (Fall 2011). Critical anthology, co-edited by myself and the amazing Aviva Briefel. Reviewed in The New Republic, with a review forthcoming in Film Quarterly, and featured in New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix as “brilliant/lowbrow”!!

“Boy on the Rocks,” forthcoming in Lightspeed.

“Alloy Point,” forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“Kenneth: A User’s Manual,” forthcoming in Strange Horizons.

“Allosaurus Burgers,” forthcoming in Shimmer.

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” in Nightmare Magazine. Also published in the ebook version of Lightspeed, and on FearNet, and released in an audio version recorded by an actual actor who, among other things, has played Nazis on two separate Star Trek series. Accompanied by an interview with me, in which I somehow come across remotely not an idiot. AVAILABLE ONLINE

The Beasts We Want To Be,” in Electric Velocipede Issue #27. Soviet human experimentation, brotherly love, bloody revenge, and a maybe-magical painting. Reviewed in Locus Magazine, who named it a “Recommended” story!! “…The heart of it is this: How can ordinary people be brought to do acts of routine brutality? Or that there is something human in the worst of us?…” Later also cited in their year-end best short fiction post. AVAILABLE ONLINE

Sabi, Wabi, Aware, Yugen,” in Daily Science Fiction. December 6, 2013. Nanotech bad-assery, Westerners trying to adopt Zen aesthetics as a template for corporate dystopian survival. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Luke Letters” in Upstreet #8. Cited in Best American Essays 2013 as an “Other Notable Essay.” And lest I feel inclined to pity myself for not making it into the winners’ circle, I have only to look around and see that my fellow runners-up include Jhumpa Lahiri, David Sedaris, Jeff Vandermeer, Andre Dubus III, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay, Donald Hall, Nick Hornby, Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, and tons more great and/or famous writers.

“The Country of Dead Voices,” in Icarus, Spring 2013. Here’s a great summary that came along with a really nice review from 365shortstories.livejournal.com! “It revolves around a simple phone call to a phone sex line, and in the process of a conversation lays bear the narrator’s troubled past and feelings of guilt associated with former lovers. Is the voice on the other end of the call a ghost from his past or something quite different and equally as disturbing? I won’t spoil the outcome. I’ll just say that Miller’s narrator’s voice felt real and personal and the sense of unease that permeates the story is pitch perfect.”

“Who Killed Thomas M. Disch?,” in Strange Horizons. Sept. 22 2008. Essay about the suicide of one of my science fiction heroes, including interviews with his friends and colleagues. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“Black as the Sea,” in Arts & Letters Issue #25. Told by a little Jewish boy during the Odessa Pogrom of 1905, a sort of meta-Isaak-Babel piece, if Babel was writing with a full knowledge of all the horrors that the Soviet 30s and 40s would bring.

“Black Babe,” in Slice Magazine Issue #7 - Fall 2010. Noir-style short story set in 1948, about a sex worker who has evidence that Babe Ruth was Black, and the conspiracy of gangsters out to silence her before she can spread the word….

“Sex, Death, Facebook,” in The Rumpus. September 2009. Creative nonfiction about how sex and social networking sites help us process grief. “Fucking and dying—these two things everyone has in common, that no one wants to talk about.” AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Last Sleepover,” in Gargoyle Magazine, Issue 56. 2010.

- See more at: http://www.samjmiller.com/publications/#sthash.Ag28JT9i.dpufH

Horror After 9/11, University of Texas Press (Fall 2011). Critical anthology, co-edited by myself and the amazing Aviva Briefel. Reviewed in The New Republic, with a review forthcoming in Film Quarterly, and featured in New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix as “brilliant/lowbrow”!!

“Boy on the Rocks,” forthcoming in Lightspeed.

“Alloy Point,” forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“Kenneth: A User’s Manual,” forthcoming in Strange Horizons.

“Allosaurus Burgers,” forthcoming in Shimmer.

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” in Nightmare Magazine. Also published in the ebook version of Lightspeed, and on FearNet, and released in an audio version recorded by an actual actor who, among other things, has played Nazis on two separate Star Trek series. Accompanied by an interview with me, in which I somehow come across remotely not an idiot. AVAILABLE ONLINE

The Beasts We Want To Be,” in Electric Velocipede Issue #27. Soviet human experimentation, brotherly love, bloody revenge, and a maybe-magical painting. Reviewed in Locus Magazine, who named it a “Recommended” story!! “…The heart of it is this: How can ordinary people be brought to do acts of routine brutality? Or that there is something human in the worst of us?…” Later also cited in their year-end best short fiction post. AVAILABLE ONLINE

Sabi, Wabi, Aware, Yugen,” in Daily Science Fiction. December 6, 2013. Nanotech bad-assery, Westerners trying to adopt Zen aesthetics as a template for corporate dystopian survival. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Luke Letters” in Upstreet #8. Cited in Best American Essays 2013 as an “Other Notable Essay.” And lest I feel inclined to pity myself for not making it into the winners’ circle, I have only to look around and see that my fellow runners-up include Jhumpa Lahiri, David Sedaris, Jeff Vandermeer, Andre Dubus III, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay, Donald Hall, Nick Hornby, Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, and tons more great and/or famous writers.

“The Country of Dead Voices,” in Icarus, Spring 2013. Here’s a great summary that came along with a really nice review from 365shortstories.livejournal.com! “It revolves around a simple phone call to a phone sex line, and in the process of a conversation lays bear the narrator’s troubled past and feelings of guilt associated with former lovers. Is the voice on the other end of the call a ghost from his past or something quite different and equally as disturbing? I won’t spoil the outcome. I’ll just say that Miller’s narrator’s voice felt real and personal and the sense of unease that permeates the story is pitch perfect.”

“Who Killed Thomas M. Disch?,” in Strange Horizons. Sept. 22 2008. Essay about the suicide of one of my science fiction heroes, including interviews with his friends and colleagues. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“Black as the Sea,” in Arts & Letters Issue #25. Told by a little Jewish boy during the Odessa Pogrom of 1905, a sort of meta-Isaak-Babel piece, if Babel was writing with a full knowledge of all the horrors that the Soviet 30s and 40s would bring.

“Black Babe,” in Slice Magazine Issue #7 - Fall 2010. Noir-style short story set in 1948, about a sex worker who has evidence that Babe Ruth was Black, and the conspiracy of gangsters out to silence her before she can spread the word….

“Sex, Death, Facebook,” in The Rumpus. September 2009. Creative nonfiction about how sex and social networking sites help us process grief. “Fucking and dying—these two things everyone has in common, that no one wants to talk about.” AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Last Sleepover,” in Gargoyle Magazine, Issue 56. 2010.

- See more at: http://www.samjmiller.com/publications/#sthash.Ag28JT9i.dpuf

Horror After 9/11, University of Texas Press (Fall 2011). Critical anthology, co-edited by myself and the amazing Aviva Briefel. Reviewed in The New Republic, with a review forthcoming in Film Quarterly, and featured in New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix as “brilliant/lowbrow”!!

“Boy on the Rocks,” forthcoming in Lightspeed.

“Alloy Point,” forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“Kenneth: A User’s Manual,” forthcoming in Strange Horizons.

“Allosaurus Burgers,” forthcoming in Shimmer.

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” in Nightmare Magazine. Also published in the ebook version of Lightspeed, and on FearNet, and released in an audio version recorded by an actual actor who, among other things, has played Nazis on two separate Star Trek series. Accompanied by an interview with me, in which I somehow come across remotely not an idiot. AVAILABLE ONLINE

The Beasts We Want To Be,” in Electric Velocipede Issue #27. Soviet human experimentation, brotherly love, bloody revenge, and a maybe-magical painting. Reviewed in Locus Magazine, who named it a “Recommended” story!! “…The heart of it is this: How can ordinary people be brought to do acts of routine brutality? Or that there is something human in the worst of us?…” Later also cited in their year-end best short fiction post. AVAILABLE ONLINE

Sabi, Wabi, Aware, Yugen,” in Daily Science Fiction. December 6, 2013. Nanotech bad-assery, Westerners trying to adopt Zen aesthetics as a template for corporate dystopian survival. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Luke Letters” in Upstreet #8. Cited in Best American Essays 2013 as an “Other Notable Essay.” And lest I feel inclined to pity myself for not making it into the winners’ circle, I have only to look around and see that my fellow runners-up include Jhumpa Lahiri, David Sedaris, Jeff Vandermeer, Andre Dubus III, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay, Donald Hall, Nick Hornby, Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, and tons more great and/or famous writers.

“The Country of Dead Voices,” in Icarus, Spring 2013. Here’s a great summary that came along with a really nice review from 365shortstories.livejournal.com! “It revolves around a simple phone call to a phone sex line, and in the process of a conversation lays bear the narrator’s troubled past and feelings of guilt associated with former lovers. Is the voice on the other end of the call a ghost from his past or something quite different and equally as disturbing? I won’t spoil the outcome. I’ll just say that Miller’s narrator’s voice felt real and personal and the sense of unease that permeates the story is pitch perfect.”

“Who Killed Thomas M. Disch?,” in Strange Horizons. Sept. 22 2008. Essay about the suicide of one of my science fiction heroes, including interviews with his friends and colleagues. AVAILABLE ONLINE

“Black as the Sea,” in Arts & Letters Issue #25. Told by a little Jewish boy during the Odessa Pogrom of 1905, a sort of meta-Isaak-Babel piece, if Babel was writing with a full knowledge of all the horrors that the Soviet 30s and 40s would bring.

“Black Babe,” in Slice Magazine Issue #7 - Fall 2010. Noir-style short story set in 1948, about a sex worker who has evidence that Babe Ruth was Black, and the conspiracy of gangsters out to silence her before she can spread the word….

“Sex, Death, Facebook,” in The Rumpus. September 2009. Creative nonfiction about how sex and social networking sites help us process grief. “Fucking and dying—these two things everyone has in common, that no one wants to talk about.” AVAILABLE ONLINE

“The Last Sleepover,” in Gargoyle Magazine, Issue 56. 2010.

- See more at: http://www.samjmiller.com/publications/#sthash.Ag28JT9i.dpuf

[From the Archives] The Wiggle Room of Theory: An Interview with Samuel Delany

3 Apr

“The Wiggle Room of Theory: An Interview with Samuel Delany,” excerpted below, first appeared in issue 65-66 (2006) of the minnesota review. This interview was conducted in writing between September 19 and October 4, 2005 by Josh Lukin, a Lecturer in English at Temple University. You can read the full interview via our online archive, available through Duke University Press.

To many, Samuel Delany is the radical gay black New York critic who has written on the roles of race, sexual orientation, New York City, and semiotics in his life and in American society. He has appeared in documentaries about the city. In 1993 he won the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a Lifetime’s Contribution to Lesbian and Gay Writing and won the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2006. His 1987 book The Motion of Light in Water is a classic of African-American autobiography, and his bestselling volume of sexual memoir and urban sociology, Time Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999), is a staple of queer theory courses. But Delany is probably best known for his novels. Styling himself a Marxist, but deeply influenced by Foucault and deconstruction, his class-conscious and poststructuralist sensibilities are reflected in his science fiction and fantasy works, such as Dhalgren (1975) and the four- volume Return to Neveryon (1979-87).

Lukin Your first teaching gig occurred in 1959, when you taught remedial reading to young Puerto Rican men at your local community center in New York City; you taught your first creative writing class in 1967 at the Clarion Writers’ Workshop; your first university visiting professorship was at SUNY-Buffalo in 1975; you started your first permanent teaching position, a full professorship at the University of Massachusetts, in 1988. You have only spent one year in college, and, if I’m not mistaken, never had to apply for a teaching job. How does that happen to a person?

Delany The process is simple—and probably self-evident. Someone in a university, a dean or a significant portion of the faculty of one department
or another, who is in a position to hire, must think highly enough of your intellectual accomplishments to want to retain you despite your lack of formal education. In 1975 Leslie Fiedler recommended me for a term as the visiting Butler Chair Professor at SUNY-Buffalo. There I met Marc Shell and Murray Schwartz, then both junior faculty. After my term at Buffalo was up, I saw neither for a baker’s dozen years; but during that time both followed at least some of my work. When, in 1987, Schwartz became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Massachusetts and Marc was hired as chairman of the university’s Comparative Literature Department, they were looking for someone with scholarly interest in some branch of popular culture, such as science fiction, as well as a familiarity with developments in literary theory. Books of mine such as The Jewel- HingedJaw (1977), The American Shore (1978), and Starboard Wine (1984) probably played a large part in their decision to recruit me. So, for the next eleven years, I was a Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

I’ve been lucky enough that this has happened to me three times. Six years ago this process brought me to Temple University.

Lukin You were first “known” in the science fiction field, then as an “academic,” then as a notable voice in the gay world, and perhaps only recently as a writer that a young African-Americanist can study without risking stigma. In each of these milieux there have been occasions when you or your work has been dissed for your/its association with the other ones. Is there less of that now than there used to be?

Delany All writers with any sort of public get dissed from time to time. I never paid too much attention to it. Nor did I ever think there was a great deal of it—when it came along, I tended to ignore it. I’d even go so far as to say that people who like my work, in an effort to show how interestingly controversial I am, make more ofthe dissing than I do—to the point where, occasionally, I think they actually exaggerate the amount of dissing there: a clause about my rampant sexism in a David Foster Wallace article on something else entirely, a sentence in a John Podhoretz op-ed piece praising the Giuliani administration’s handling of the Times Square boondoggle at the end of the 90s and just after, an absurdly erroneous statement in a book on SF about my beliefs about AIDS transmission. And usually within weeks, someone writes, “What are these people on about? Have they actually read the piece in question?” Readers, black and white, who are put off by, say, the particular gay topics I have been handling for thirty years now, are likely to ignore Delany entirely. The same applies to those who don’t take science fiction seriously. For them, the fact that I write it pretty much pollutes everything else I might do. They’re not even going to bother to diss me.

Spring Reading Period Closes April 1!

27 Mar

Our spring reading period closes Tuesday, April 1, so be sure to send us your best poetry and fiction! Please remember that we won’t be reading creative nonfiction during this reading period, and we never publish reviews of creative work.

We will be accepting creative writing submissions via our new online submission system. Critical authors may still send submissions via email to editors@theminnesotareview.org.

Please consider our submission guidelines before sending us your work:

  • We only consider unpublished work. Please do not submit previously published material, including work published in anthologies, chapbooks, or online.
  • We read creative work August 1-November 1 and January 1-April 1 of each year. Submissions may be uploaded at any time.
  • Simultaneous submissions are permitted. Please notify us immediately if a work is accepted by another publication.
  • Due to the large number of submissions we receive, we must place a limit on submission of new work until three months after your last submission, regardless of whether we’ve made a decision on your most recently submitted work. If a work is still under review, you may withdraw it and submit new work, up to the limits already mentioned.

If you have any questions about the submission process or our new submissions manager, please email Lorin Shellenberger at support@theminnesotareview.org.

Issue 82 Coming Soon!

20 Mar

We’re excited to bring you our latest issue, due out next month! In the meantime, here’s a quick glance of what you can expect from issue 82. If you don’t have a subscription yet, you can subscribe here to make sure you won’t miss:

Creative Work from:

H. L. Hix
Jonathan Veach
Corey Miller
Nick Lantz
Ed Skoog
Edmund Sandoval
Whittney Jones
Joe Wilkins
Jay Udall
Brent Goodman
Alan Michael Parker
Douglas Trevor
Adrian Matejka
Amorak Huey
Kathryn Levy
Sandra Beasley
Verónica Reyes
Catherine Pierce
Ben Merriman
William O’Daly

Critical Pieces from:

Revaluation

José Felipe Alvergue
Wang Jinghui

Surveying the Field

Madigan Haley
Lisa Fluet
Joseph Darda

[From the Archives]: Roberto Esposito and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Dialogue on the Philosophy to Come”

13 Mar

Roberto Esposito and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Dialogue on the Philosophy to Come” first appeared in Issue 75 (Fall 2010) of the minnesota review. You can read the full article online through Duke University Press, available here.

[The following dialogue began as a result of prefaces Nancy and Esposito wrote for each other’s works: Nancy’s preface to the French edition of Communitas (“Conloquium,” translated in this volume) and Esposito’s preface to the Italian edition of The Experience of Freedom (L’esperienza della libertà).]

Esposito The first question cannot be about anything else but the meaning and destiny of that activity which, regardless of everything else, we can and still must call “philosophy.” This is particularly the case when philosophy “ends,” in the sense of a “coming to an end” as well as what is always already “finished,” namely what is constitutively incapable of reasoning its own proper reason for being. The question then becomes what does a philosophy after philosophy mean, how is it to be thought, or, better, how is a philosophy of non-philosophy to be thought? On the one hand, it is a question which brings us to Heidegger and his interpretation of the “end of philosophy” as the very task of thought. On the other hand, the end of philosophy marks a radical distancing from Heidegger and from the inevitably dialectic modality in which even that thought of the end winds up being captured in the philosophy of what announces the end. Without being able here to linger over the reasons for such an internal folding in Heidegger’s discourse, the reason for the end of philosophy, I believe, needs to be laid at the doorstep of its most radical meaning: a “finished” philosophy is a philosophy that “lies outside” philosophy. From this perspective a phrase from George Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological can provide us with a possible direction: “Philosophy is a reflection for which all unknown material is good, and we would gladly say, for which all good material must be unknown” (7). This means that every philosophical practice that is self-referential, endogamic, and self- centered has been exhausted, which is to say that every philosophy that demands to take philosophy as its own object or that demands that its object be proper to philosophy rather than “common” is exhausted. It also means that this is the case in which such self- reflexive behavior is given and still continues to be given, be it in philosophy, historiography, metaphilosophy, or the philosophy of philosophy. Canguilhem, in speaking against these forms, wants to tell us that what lies within philosophy is precisely philosophy’s outside.

All of which brings to mind another proposition, this one from Deleuze, and it too centers on the constitutive relation of philosophy to non-philosophy: “The philosopher must become nonphilosopher so that nonphilosophy becomes the earth and people of philosophy” (109). With the reference to the earth and the continual movement of territorialization and deterritorialization to which our tradition of thought is assimilated, it seems that Deleuze provides us with a further clue vis-à-vis the epochal meaning of the end of philosophy and perhaps an explanation as well of the profound reason for how the end of philosophy seems to outstrip Heidegger’s thought. Heidegger, when speaking of the “end,” continues to treat philosophy in the dimension of time, while what is probably needed today is to bring the end in line with a spatial semantics. This is how Deleuze puts it: “Thinking is neither a line drawn between subject and object nor a revolving of one around the other. Rather, thinking takes place in the relationship of territory and earth” (85). Although this would expose philosophy to the risk of circumscribing it within a fixed earth, it would also certainly open philosophy to the possibility of making itself, as you argue, the thought of the world in the subjective and objective senses of the expression.

Nancy On the question of space that you raise, if you will allow me I would like to take up a theme that I already touched on in the preface I wrote for my friend Benoit Goetz on the architecture of thought. What we are dealing with here is really space. For more than forty years now we have known that we are living in the epoch of space (Foucault was one of the first to tell us this in the 1960s). More often than not, this epoch of space is juxtaposed against the epoch of history that would have come earlier, which then died out little by little in the second half of the twentieth century. There can be no doubt that this century will be remembered for the suspicions it raised against history, since history was at the center of the previous century’s attention. Yet it is not enough merely to diagnose the succession and the substitution of a spatial model for a temporal one given that there are deeper and more complex reasons that account for putting forward the spatial schema (or that of spacing) in a horizon such as the present one.

The history in which Enlightenment thinkers, Romantics, and proponents of industrial progress recognized themselves was for the most part the history of the conquest of space: the completion of the process of the colonialization, independence, and development of the Americas; territorial realignments in Europe; and immigrations that were the effect of the two preceding phenomena—all accompanied by a growing technical mastery of maritime and terrestrial distances (steam, air, pistons), of electric communications either underwater or above, and of the spaces of urban and interurban circulation. In that epoch the streets, the railroads, the cables, and the cities in which we live acquired their present configuration. The surface of the planet no longer has any terrae incognitae, maps no longer contain blank spaces: Timbuktu and Lhasa, the deserts and the North and South Pole—everything has already been explored. Expeditions to far-off territories have achieved their mission and now give way to a conquest of interplanetary and interstellar space that does not have the same rhythm or meaning. This is because we are no longer dealing with uncovering the secrets of the earth but rather of coordinating the extension of transmissions in the confines of a reciprocal surveillance and the intimidations of economic and political powers [potenze].

Contributor Update: Valerie Bandura

6 Mar

Valerie Bandura‘s poem “Step Right Up” was first published in Issue 78 (Fall 2012) of the minnesota review. Since then, Bandura has just released a new book of poetry, Freak Show (Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books, 2013). Bandura’s poems have also appeared in numerous journals, including PloughsharesAlaska Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Mid-American Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. You can read more about Bandura’s most recent book on her website.

Step Right Up

This is how I see it:
from the same mother came two fists—I mean sisters,
and in one was hidden a prize. Any sane person
would guess the sane sister won.
I don’t know, sometimes I think
the other sister was spared, thinking she’s sane.
You tell me. Here we are:
choose.

[Call for Papers] Special Issue: Katrina- A Decade After

27 Feb

the minnesota review invites submissions for a Special Issue on “Katrina – A Decade After” to be guest edited by Gaurav Desai (English/African and African Diaspora Studies, Tulane University). Our aim is to reflect on the hurricane, the measures that could have been taken to prevent the massive devastation caused by it, and the immediate and long term response by the government, private industry, and civil society. How has Katrina left a permanent mark not only on the Gulf South, but also on our larger national imaginary? What lessons, if any, have we learned and what actions and policies have we adopted to better mitigate against future disasters? Haunting though the images may be, the impact of Katrina was not limited to flooded homes and emergency rescues from rooftops – it altered fundamental social contracts in cities such as New Orleans – from public education to public housing. It also awakened a new activism focused on calls for better levee protection to addressing the loss of wetlands in coastal communities.

We invite contributions that chart these changes and their significance to larger policy debates that confront the nation and indeed the world. In the spirit of the legacy of the journal, the best contributions will be those that take a stand, however controversial, and are prepared to make the argument in no more than 4000 words. In keeping with the multi-genre nature of the journal we welcome position papers, review essays, interviews with key figures involved with the hurricane, poetry, fiction, and photo-essays. Potential contributors are invited to consult with the editors before submission. The issue will be published in April 2015 to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2015. Final submissions are due on June 1, 2014. For further information and consultation, please contact editors@minnesottareview.org.

See you at AWP!

20 Feb

We’re getting excited for this year’s AWP conference in Seattle, February 26-March 1! We’ll have a table at the bookfair, so stop by and check it out. You’ll be able to look through display copies of our recent issues, meet some of our staff (including our creative writing editors!), and we’ll have subscription information and submission guidelines as well. For more information on the conference, please visit the AWP website. Hope to see you there!

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Erin Pringle-Toungate

13 Feb

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in recent weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you an excerpt from Erin Pringle-Toungate’s “How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble,” which wraps up our 2013 nominees. Congratulations to all our Pushcart Prize nominees!

How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble

But aside from the black crepe ribbons that flap on the white poles of the fair entrance archway, anyone who didn’t live in the town last summer or close enough to hear the nightly news or who didn’t ask about the luminaries lining the dirt avenue that ran along the fair’s midway last night, wouldn’t know that a young woman named Helen Greene disappeared from last summer’s Agricultural Fair.

Under the fair entrance archway linger the men who served pancakes at the church last month and sell fabric poppies at the one lighted intersection on Memorial Day weekend.  They wear neon yellow vests over their T-shirts and bellies.  Just before dark, the traffic into the fairgrounds will become steady, and when dark falls, they’ll swing their flashlights and raise their hands in greeting to the people they recognize, and they recognize most everyone.

Tonight, the carnies will speak in tongues and the town will drop screams from the rides, buy tickets, carry whorls of  cotton candy back to their trailers and leaning homes—until somewhere in the middle night the sound of the fair will become one constant chord, like the interstate heard in the distance or the sound of light rushing through glass bulbs–if light made sound.

This afternoon, most the game booths are as empty as the stores in town or the houses out in the country or the eyes of the divorcées whose children, after the fair each night, will drag themselves back to the garage to sit in lawn chairs and pick seeds from dry leaves before filling, then passing, the pipe.  They want to talk about the fair but say nothing because it’s the same goddamned thing that it was last year, which they do say.

In one stall, a carnie sets a box down on the counter.  He takes off the lid and plucks out tiny, mechanical birds and lines them up on the narrow counter.  He turns each knob, and when the line reaches the wooden maze, he lifts the small sliding door, and the birds waddle in.  Tonight, he and all the game carnies on down the row will prop a boot on the counter, throw open their arms to the dawdling fair-goers, and let whoever hears know it’s yer lucky night, just a dollah, ownee a dollah and win yerself a purdy animal.  They wink.  Their eyes crinkle in the lights.  The birds wobble and wheeze up the wooden avenues, like the clusters of  teenage girls who drag their flip flops up the fair’s dirt avenue.

The girls’ new hips pull at the seams of their cut-offs.  They walk in the most middle of summer, which, after the fair packs up and returns to the interstate, will tip toward autumn and school doors and Friday night football fields.  They carry bottles of water and soda cans like boredom.  They roll the bits of string from their cut-off shorts against their thighs, balls of  lint under their fingernails.  Now and then one of their prepaid cell phones rings, but if it’s not that boy, they don’t answer since their mothers won’t buy another refill card from the dollar store until next month.

“How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble,” was first published in issue 80 (Spring 2013) of the minnesota review. Originally from Illinois, Erin Pringle-Toungate now lives in the Northwest with her husband and three dogs. Her first collection of stories, entitled The Floating Order, is published by Two Ravens Press (2009). Her work has appeared in War, Literature & the Arts, New York TyrantBarrelhouse, among others. “How The Sun Burns [. . .]” will be in her next book, Midwest in Memoriam. To learn more about Pringle-Toungate and her work, please visit her website. You can read the rest of “How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble” or any of our other Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Bradley Harrison

6 Feb

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you Bradley Harrison’s “Miniature Horse.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.

Miniature Horse

Gorilla man choked my brother in the pantry.
For clinking a spoon on his teeth.
Every day Blarney killed a coon and carried it up.
To the deck where he’d ripped Adam’s leg to the marrow.
Polaroids milky his shin with black rust and the lawsuit.
Gorilla Man says Adam’s mom is a meth head.
Before making me gather the stones from her garden.
I hit all of his golf balls out into the pasture.
I thought I had found them when the miniature horse.
Beau died intestines snaked from his asshole Gorilla Man says.
He swallowed one you must have missed.
He stood on the deck in his spandex shorts.
Thick bent dick pulse beating my mother.
Nodding behind him in her flannel bathrobe.
Gorilla man says stop eating like a nigger.
Says you’re lying to me when I wasn’t.
I threw rocks at parked tractors I shot swallows with my pellet gun.
Before my seventh grade football games he taped both my ankles.
On the gate of his pickup.
His hands leather hammers I learned how to throw.
My neighbor Chesley told me his mom told him.
To stay away from Gorilla Man that he’d shoved toothpicks one.
By one in the four year old ass of his previous son I was ten.
Then building a dam in the creek behind the house.
Gathering branches moss chicken wire against some steel.
Posts already staked in the bed it was raining.
Dead dogs I ran into the woods.
Should have checked first for stakes but I didn’t.
I just jumped.

 

“Minature Horse” appeared in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota reviewBradley Harrison is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in Austin. His work can be found in New American Writing, Forklift Ohio, West Branch, Best New Poets 2012 and elsewhere. His chapbook Diorama of a People, Burning is available from Ricochet Editions (2012). He currently teaches at Truman State University. You can read more from our Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.

 

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Sara Novic

30 Jan

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you an excerpt from Sara Novic’s “On Late-Stage Pediatric Cariomyopathy.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.

On Late-Stage Pediatric Cardiomyopathy

Should you find yourself coming-to while being wheeled out of your high school calculus class, it is best not to open your eyes.  Feign unconsciousness for a few more seconds, until the EMTs have turned the corner out into the hallway.  You will get that feeling, not pain but pressure, as if you are in some reverse barometric chamber and the air is breathing on you.  Do not make eye contact with your peers in this state.  Your guard will be down; someone perceptive might see your future flickering across your dilated pupils.

When you return to school, make jokes about the “episode.”   This will put your classmates at ease.  They will give you terrible nicknames which they mean to be endearing.  Accept these with a smile, internalize them, use them in reference to yourself; they are your only remaining link to your place in the social order that was once so important.

The problem with congestive heart failure is I sometimes forget I have it.  I am seventeen, heart failure is a disease for old people, and I forget.  I have normal days, breathe easy, walk at an upbeat pace.  Then I go and do something stupid and end up back here—bum a cigarette off my friend Benny behind the Dunkin’ Donuts, or chase the bus down Lincoln Street, like death is a problem I could escape if I could just run fast enough.

At Memorial West, people know me.  The ambulance driver calls to let them know I’m coming, and the triage nurses high-five me on the way in.  A white hot pain blazes inside my ribcage each time I move my arm, and I try not to flinch.  Igor, the janitor, updates me on the scores of the baseball games.  He’s Ukrainian and can’t pronounce his “W”s.

“Ey, Ven-dee, your Mets are heartbreakers this week,” he says.

“Leave Wendy alone,” says the woman in the information booth.  “She doesn’t need any bad news.”

“That’s why I like them!” I call to Igor as I’m handed off to a new worker who pushes me toward the elevators.  But my voice shakes more than usual, and I don’t know if he’s heard me.

They take me straight to the cardiac wing, where I am approximately forty-six years younger than the average patient.  They park my gurney alongside the nurse’s station while they try to find me a room.  A student nurse removes my shirt, affixing sticky electrodes in complex patterns up and down my torso, leaving my chest exposed, nipples prickling against the chill, sterile air.  There was a point when I was ashamed of lying half-naked in public, but that seems like a long time ago now.

 

“On Late-Stage Pediatric Cariomyopathy” appeared in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota review. Sara Novic studied fiction and literary translation in the MFA at Columbia University, where she currently teaches a human rights-themed composition course. Her writing has appeared in Electric Literature, the minnesota review, LA Review of Books, Blunderbuss, and Circumference. She is also the founding editor of the Deaf rights and education blog Redeafined. She is at work on her first novel, which will be published by Random House in 2015. To learn more about Novic and her work, please visit her website. You can read the rest of “On Late-Stage Pediatric Cariomyopathy” or any of our other Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Thomas Hawks

28 Jan

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you Thomas Hawks’ “Oysters for Breakfast.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.

Oysters for Breakfast

Spent fuel rods dream in their baths
While Sir Laurence Olivier laughs because Tony Curtis
Thinks he means oysters.  The green baths
Steam.  Nothing in this world can hurt us

But in the next, cloistered fuel rods dream
Of flying over Tokyo.  It’s really about sex
Sigmund Freud explained nearly a hundred years ago. I only seem
To be crying.  Our safeword is: a tyrannosaurus rex

With the face of Tony Curtis rises out of Tokyo Bay.
This happens every day.  And when the first ship disappears
In whirlpools Tony Curtis and Sir Laurence Olivier
Fill their marble bath with tears

And feed each other golden Nashi pears.
This happens everywhere.  One night, in Prague
Behind a velvet curtain, up spiral stairs
Tony Curtis unfurled his green flesh like a flag.

It was surprisingly dry. Even the red spine
Quivering beneath the lips of Harajuku girls
In sailor skirts, those pouty lips the shade of iodine-
131, even the tips, even the swollen frills

Were dry.  He only seemed to be bleeding and I
Practiced descending by him on the stair.  Scarlett O’Hara
Was not more sheer than I.  I was all sky.
My pearl gown burned behind me like a cloud, and in my mirror

Tony Curtis wept for the dead.  Atlanta.  Sendai.
The concrete-reinforced containment tanks are bones, bone-
Dry and fuel rods burst into translucent flames. Is it my birthday?
Oh, you shouldn’t have. The only thing to give to Rome
Is love.

“Oysters for Breakfast” appeared in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota review. Hawks teaches English at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. His poems have appeared previously in the Antioch Review, The Literary Review, the Seneca Review and are forthcoming in Sou’wester and Poet Lore. You can read more from our Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.

Interview with Stevie Edwards of Muzzle Magazine, Part 2 of 2

23 Jan

Part two of an interview with Stevie Edwards of Muzzle Magazine.

How do you think Muzzle is conversation with, situated against, or challenges prevailing aesthetics in publishing right now?

While there certainly is no national shortage of online and print poetry journals, small presses focused upon poetry, and poetry readings, there does seem to be a shortage of non-poet readers and listeners of poetry. This disengaged public attitude toward poetry can be observed in Alexandra Petri’s recent Washington Post blog entry, “Is poetry dead?”  Petri discusses whether or not Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco’s achievement of the American Dream is a joke because he has overcome great odds as an immigrant and gay man merely “to excel in poetry, a field that may very well be obsolete.” Petri’s condemnation of poetry as a dead field elicited quite a stirring from the literary community, poets across the nation yawping But I am, I am, I’m certain I am. Petri responded to the flood of complaints from poets with a snarky second post, “‘Poetry is not dead,’ says poetry.” Although the earnest poet in me is tempted to pick up a pitchfork and shout with my not dead voice toward the general direction of Petri, citing all the not dead poets I have met over the past few years, I wonder if her comments might present a good cause for pause and reflection within the poetic community upon the function of audience. Perhaps it is high time that greater critical attention be paid to general-audience-driven literary movements, such as the Poetry Slam.

To write something completely esoteric and complain that nobody reads it seems slightly illogical, but I think we frequently see poets who are highly published in literary magazines doing just that. I think what Muzzle does well, and I’m not sure if I entirely understood it was what I was setting about at 23 when I started this thing, is publish poems that care about aboutness, poems that care about audience, poems that stick with people because they are trying to stick with people.

What journals are you/Muzzle reading right now? 

I like RattleVinyl PoetrySouthern Indiana ReviewDrunken BoatBirdfeast, BlackbirdGuernica, and PANKI also try and through as many others as I can — but I think the journals have editors doing really good work.

Which poets are you currently excited about right now? Who do you think people should be looking out for?

A number of our former contributors have new books out or coming out soon that I think need to be read widely: Rachel McKibbens, Marty McConnell, Jamaal May, Marcus Wicker, Sally Wen MaoVievee Francis, Eugenia Leigh, Brynn Saito, and Kendra DeColo. I’m sure I’m missing some people; but they’re all books I’ve already read or am planning on reading soon.

Also, Rickey Laurentiis, Ocean Vuong, and Saeed Jones don’t have full-length books out yet, but I think people should keep their eyes out for them.

For writers we haven’t published, I’m really excited about Natalie Diaz, Traci Brimhall, Aracelis Girmay, Jericho Brown, Richard Siken, and Roger Reeves.

If Muzzle were a booming American city, which city would it be and why?

It’d be Chicago. That’s where it came from. I think living in the most segregated city in the USA and working in non-profits that provided programming for CPS schools in my early 20s greatly influenced my focus on diversity, on representing different kinds of intelligences and life experiences. Also, Chicago is where the Poetry Slam was born and was the first place where I really felt like I was part of an artistic community.

What does Muzzle look for in poems? 

I believe that it’s important to represent diverse voices, and when I say that I mean much more than what somebody looks like or how they pray; I think it’s important to publish a variety of life experiences, of writing styles and influences, of emotions, of kinds of music. I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of having poems from a variety of emotional registers lately; gosh darn do I like a good, bleeding heart confessional poem. But also, delight is awesome. We really need delight. And fantasy. And new visions out of grief. I’m really into non-corny routes to hope lately.

Also, at the end of the day, I just want something that moves me. Of course, it needs to be well-written, but there are a lot of well-written poems that don’t do much for me. If something with strong craft makes me weep or deep belly laugh, it’s probably going to go in the magazine.

Do you pursue solicitation at all? How do you feel about solicitation for Muzzle? 

Most of our issues include about 15 writers, 1-2 of whom are usually solicited. However, we never guarantee publication. I’ve had to reject a couple people I solicited work from. That was awful. I am very stingy about solicitations. Most of what we publish comes from blind submissions, and I’d like to keep it that way. It seems fairer, and I love the joy of discovering a new poet for myself that I didn’t know I was going to love.

How has being the editor for Muzzle, and its founder, informed your writing as a practicing, publishing poet? Can we divorce the two? Should we? 

I think, at first working on a literary magazine really boosted my confidence because I got to see how terrible a lot of people were who were submitting (and sometimes getting published) in literary magazines. However, as time has gone on and I’ve grown up as a human and an editor, I’ve really lost that sense of schadenfreude derived from the bottom tier submissions. I find myself more and more hearing myself replaying the knit-picky complaints I make about the really solid final round submissions that get cut—I think it’s made me really afraid of being mediocre or complacent, maybe to a degree that isn’t helpful.

I do think that working for a lit mag makes you more sympathetic to the lives of editors and much less likely to be a jerk to them (which is good).

Lastly, is there anything that you’d like to add that I may have missed in the questions, or that you’d like to address? If I could have asked anything for you to have liked to answer, what would that be?

So, I had a failed experiment with a magazine called Brusque that I learned a lot from. The concept behind Brusque was that I’d give honest responses to everyone who sent a submission. If I loved something, I pledged to be ecstatic about it. If I hated something, I pledged to be scathing about it. As somebody frustrated with getting the nice version of form letters, the ones that say “we liked this and try again but we didn’t like it well enough to publish it,” I thought this would be more humane. I thought, even if it’s nasty, I’d like to know what people think. And I think that’s a common frustration for emerging and maybe even mid-level writers.

What I’ve learned is, at least on the lower tier submissions that have no chance, a form rejection is actually the kindest thing. There are a lot of people who regularly publish in really terrible magazines and that makes them feel happy and validated; and that’s okay. Maybe they’ll buy some poetry books. We need people to buy poetry books. They aren’t hurting anybody and sending harsh feedback to someone you don’t think has any promise is actually not helpful to anyone. I think in general, we all need to be a little more generous with each other and focus on building literary community, not feeding our own egos.

 Okay, there’s actually one more question: What is your favorite drink when at a bar? I’m a fan of Sazeracs. Or an Old Fashion. Classic is always best. As is whiskey

I like a good Manhattan. Sometimes I like Bloody Marys in the night time because I feel like I’m being healthier.  I also really enjoy wine; pretty much as long as a bar has chardonnay I’m a really happy camper.

Interview with Stevie Edwards of Muzzle Magazine, Part 1

21 Jan

I recently had a lovely Internet chat with the esteemed and gracious Stevie Edwards about the impetus for starting the booming Muzzle Magazine; her favorite spirits (not like Hemingway, but more like his drinks); the magazine’s herculean editorial board; some of her favorite emerging writers; cats in cover letters; and the magazine’s push to marry slam poetry with arguably more traditional poetry. Muzzle accepts rolling submissions, so get after it! And be sure to check back on Thursday for the second part of the interview!

What was the impetus for starting Muzzle Magazine?

I founded Muzzle Magazine about a year after I finished undergrad. One of the reasons I did this was that I was a writer-in-residence for an organization in Chicago called Vox Ferus, (http://martyoutloud.com/vox-ferus/) and I was supposed to start a “community” based project. Most of the other writers-in-residence were very involved with the slam poetry scene in Chicago and had projects that involved community events and readings. However, that all terrified me. Having my toes in the water of both groups, I thought a literary magazine that provided a dialogue between poets from the poetry slam community and academic poets could be exciting. Also, after learning in a publishing workshop from Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (http://aptowicz.com/) about the bias that exists in the publishing industry against poets with slam and performance backgrounds, I thought the magazine could be very necessary and wanted.

(Note: Vox Ferus still exists and hosts an amazing pay-as-you-can workshop series in Chicago and some other events, the but writers-in-residence initiative is no more).

Outside of the impetus for starting Muzzle, what was your vision for Muzzle, and what is your vision moving forward following your last beautiful issue?

3.5 years later, we still publish a mix of poets from the slam poetry and academic communities. I have also somewhat widened the vision from focusing on that dynamic to focusing on diversity of voices, both in style and lived experience. I want to keep having “academic” and “non-academic” poets published along side ago. I want to keep publishing poems that move people, poems that resonate.

What did/do you look for in the members of your editorial board? 

I look for people whom I admire. I look for people who are doing things in their poems that I don’t know how to do. I look for people with different backgrounds, different reading lists than me. Although, I also look for people whose tastes I think are somewhat compatible with mine. I don’t think we’re likely to become a highly experimental journal any time soon.

Also, as a volunteer only staff, it’s very important to me that people are independent and self-motivated. I don’t have the energy to be constantly nagging people about deadlines.

When you state that Muzzle aims to pay “special homage to those from communities that are historically underrepresented in literary magazines,” what are those communities precisely?

Originally, I had a specific vision of putting slam poets and academic poets side by side. However, I have since widened that vision. There are lots of underrepresented communities: writers of color, women, queer writers, writers from working class communities, the mentally ill. I want to hear voices that I’m not hearing enough of in major publications, like The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine —although Poetry recently got a new editor (Don Share, formerly their managing editor) who seems to be interested in broader aesthetics and backgrounds.

I have to admit, on my to-do list is re-rewriting that dang mission statement so it’s less vague. And redesigning the website, so it’s more 2013.

What kind of benefits or hindrances have you faced as primarily an online publication? 

Benefits: low cost, easy to share on social media, easy to make edits

Hindrances: Some people don’t take online publications as seriously as print. I think we’re established enough that it’s less of a problem. I admit, when I see a new magazine pop up; I’m a little hesitant to submit to the first couple issues because so many close their doors relatively quickly.

Would you ever like to move Muzzle into a print publication? Why or why not?

We did a print “Best of the First Year” issue. I lost about $700 (I think) of my own money. Unless we had a grant or became connected to a university, I’d be hesitant to try print again. Although, maybe we’d have better luck now that we’re more established.

What advice would you have for young/new/blooming contributors or editors?

Unless you feel incapable of not being a writer, don’t do it. It’s endless work and rejection and politics and not a lot of pay. If you seem to be permanently a writer from best you can tell, read and write your butt off. Give yourself permission to write terrible things that you don’t have to show anyone. Give yourself permission to read hard things that you don’t fully understand. But do it. And read widely, not just the most popular whomever all your friends like. Read some stuff that is really difficult for you; that’s how you grow. I always try to have at least one of the books I’m reading be something that takes a considerable amount of effort. You can’t really be great at editing or writing in a genre you don’t understand, and we’re always growing in our understanding; that’s not something that stops (at least from best I can tell). I’m still working on the being great part, but I try really hard and think I’ve at least moved past terrible.

Also, if you want to be a literary editor but not a writer, at least go read your patooty off, though I think dabbling a little at writing can be helpful to editors. Trying to write in a genre makes you more aware of the form.

What do you look for in cover letters, if anything at all? 

When our editors read submissions, they read them blindly. I do have a special admin account I login to when I need to send rejections or acceptances. I really try my best not to look at cover letters at all. However, having worked for EPOCH (a print literary journal out of Cornell), I suppose I could give a list of no-no’s:

  • Don’t spend a lot (if any) time explaining the meaning of your work or where the ideas of it came from.
  • Don’t use a weird font, especially not the one that looks like a typewriter.
  • Do not include a picture of yourself or your cat. Definitely not yourself with your cat.
  • Don’t list more than a half-dozen lit mags you’ve been in, especially if they aren’t really prestigious ones.
  • Don’t list self-published work.
  • Don’t get the name of the journal or editors wrong.
  • Really, there’s not reason to write more than a page. Just be polite and straight to the point.
  • Read the dang submission guidelines and follow them.

If you could compile a dream team of contributors/poets, whom would that team be comprised of?

I really do believe our editorial board is a dream team. I couldn’t respect the people I get to work with more. I also am really happy with the poets I’ve gotten to publish thus far.

What would you qualify Muzzle’s aesthetic as? 

Fierceness.

 

Be sure to check back on Thursday for part 2 (of 2) of the interview!

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Beth Gilstrap

16 Jan

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you an excerpt from Beth Gilstrap‘s “Yardshow.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.

Yardshow

It ain’t garbage if you turn it into something. Something slow dipped and pulled apart. Put back together again upside down. Round side out. Glib. Free. A vulture made of wire hangers. Fabric ripped, draped, coated in splash zone compound. Shingle seals barking up at spraying feathers.

I got a scrap heap under a tarp up in the back yard. Sunday, that’s my girl’s name, says its all junk. I need to get shit of it if I want her to move in with me. I can’t picture her up in here, though. She’s too pretty. Got long nails and a sweep of collarbone that gets me off task. I’m just fine with her uptown at her tidy little woman’s place with fresh sheets and curtains and all.

My house is about as bad as my yard. I keep buckets of empty spray paint cans in the kitchen. Paint done gone to its place in the spotlight on other yard shows. One bucket colored a great big rooster up on Dunlop Street. That one was commissioned. Not really yard show if it’s city-funded, I guess. Still, my big cock gonna last a long time, I like to say. I plan on taking a mallet to those cans, smashing them to planets. I got paper bags of old beer cans. They make my house smell sour but one day they’ll be tall Black-eyed Susans jutting out from an old tire swing. I’ll run the chains bolted to the tire with ribbon, maybe nylons. Colored Legg nylons –that kind that comes in a plastic egg at the drugstore for fifty cents.

I got an old carpet remnant rolled up in the corner. It could have some cat pee on it, but I say that just adds to it. Going to be a piece for all the senses and Lord knows a sense of smell is a right powerful thing. An eagle will hang from barbed wire. Maybe some old bamboo fishing poles, tie some ripped scarves to the top, so they can catch the wind and decorate my yard with whipping fabric, wind-dancing blues and muddy purples. They can hang limp during rain showers, dry hard in the sun. Grow green spots of mold. Start to disintegrate.

Those high-art folk like to talk about decay these days. Painting in blood. Horseshit, I say. We been doing this down South ages.

Yardshow” was first published in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota review. Beth Gilstrap was a recent writer-in-residence at Shotpouch Cabin with the Spring Creek Project for ideas, nature, and the written word at Oregon State University. She earned her MFA from Chatham University. Her prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Ambit, Quiddity, Kudzu Review, Superstition Review, and Twisted South Magazine, among others. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and animals. To learn more about Gilstrap and her work, please visit her website. You can read the rest of “Yardshow” or any of our other Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.

[Call for Papers] Special Issue: Katrina- A Decade After

14 Jan

the minnesota review invites submissions for a Special Issue on “Katrina – A Decade After” to be guest edited by Gaurav Desai (English/African and African Diaspora Studies, Tulane University). Our aim is to reflect on the hurricane, the measures that could have been taken to prevent the massive devastation caused by it, and the immediate and long term response by the government, private industry, and civil society. How has Katrina left a permanent mark not only on the Gulf South, but also on our larger national imaginary? What lessons, if any, have we learned and what actions and policies have we adopted to better mitigate against future disasters? Haunting though the images may be, the impact of Katrina was not limited to flooded homes and emergency rescues from rooftops – it altered fundamental social contracts in cities such as New Orleans – from public education to public housing. It also awakened a new activism focused on calls for better levee protection to addressing the loss of wetlands in coastal communities.

We invite contributions that chart these changes and their significance to larger policy debates that confront the nation and indeed the world. In the spirit of the legacy of the journal, the best contributions will be those that take a stand, however controversial, and are prepared to make the argument in no more than 4000 words. In keeping with the multi-genre nature of the journal we welcome position papers, review essays, interviews with key figures involved with the hurricane, poetry, fiction, and photo-essays. Potential contributors are invited to consult with the editors before submission. The issue will be published in April 2015 to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2015. Final submissions are due on June 1, 2014. For further information and consultation, please contact editors@minnesottareview.org.

Pushcart Prize Nominee: Christopher Citro

9 Jan

the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks.  This week we are excited to bring you Christopher Citro‘s “Sword Swallowers in Transition.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.

Sword Swallowers in Transition

What we do is get together in a room
and just sort of talk. We get into issues.
Last week, we discussed how we felt about
string theory, but really we weren’t talking
about string theory at all. One man burst
into tears when someone mentioned the tenth
dimension. He began relating this lost
memory—he was four years old, at a carnival
with his father. A man in a lion suit
pranced around, his fur matted
with sawdust. He smelled of stale sweat.
This lion-man ran up to him
waving his paws about. The boy
burst into tears, but the lion kept at it—
probably he couldn’t think of anything
else to do—the sobs coming in
gasping waves. His dad ran to a stall,
grabbed a pirate sword, and stabbed
the lion in the armpit. He fell dead
at the boy’s feet. A lady watching
from the candy apple stand clapped.
We clapped, too, then elected this guy
head of the group.

 

“Sword Swallowers in Transition” was first published in issue 80 (Summer 2013) of the minnesota review. Christopher Citro lives in Syracuse, NY, and his poetry appears or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Ninth Letter, Subtropics, Third Coast, Salamander, Cream City Review, The Hollins Critic, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. His creative nonfiction is forthcoming in Colorado Review. He received his MFA in poetry from Indiana University. Visit him at christophercitro.com.

Interview with Joy Katz at Pleiades

7 Jan

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joy Katz, Editor-at-Large for Pleiades and Pleiades Press. In addition to her work with the journal, Katz has released three collections of poetry: Fabulae (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002), The Garden Room (Tupelo Press, 2006), and—most recently—All You Do is Perceive (Four Way Books, 2013). She also coedited with fellow Pleiades Editor-at-Large Kevin Prufer the anthology Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2007). Joy spoke to me over Gchat from her home in Pittsburgh. Our discussion follows. It has been modified from its original version to fit your screen.

Amy Long: What exactly does it mean to be an “Editor-at-Large?”

Joy Katz: It’s a fun job. It means I get to ask poets whose work I find in journals, or whose readings I attend, for new work. Sometimes I’ll read with someone I have never met and love one of their poems. And I can ask for it! Or if I see a poem I admire printed somewhere, or online, I will contact the poet and ask to see work for Pleiades. My job is just to be at large in the world, reading and being attentive to poetry.

AL: That does sound fun! So, you’re not going through the slush pile. Does the rest of the staff do that? Are you involved at all in dividing up those responsibilities?

JK: I don’t go through the slush. I’m in Pittsburgh, and it’s a lot of trouble to send poems back and forth. I’ve worked a lot of slush piles, though. The Missouri editors [Wayne Miller and Kathryn Neurnberger] divide up those tasks. Sometimes they send me poems; I can weigh in when Wayne wants another set of eyes on the work. And vice versa.

AL: Does that free you up to do your own writing, and how does being At Large in the poetry world affect your work?

JK: “Free” to do my own writing has taken on such a different meaning. It always does, depending on what one is doing: graduate school, full-time or freelance work, being a parent… I would say that the At Large arrangement allows an editor to have an impact on the breadth of work available to a magazine, especially work in a different region. A relatively big impact, I mean, given that the other work—the slush pile work and all the editing and managing-editing—happens in the Pleiades offices in Missouri. It’s a good arrangement because it allows all of us to do to what we are able to do given our different locations and circumstances. I don’t have enough time to be a Managing Editor, but I know and love the magazine and want to help shape it, so I can have this job as At-Large Editor. On the other hand, I have a much smaller hand in the magazine than do Wayne and Kathryn and the other editors. My job is really very small.

Being At Large in the poetry world helps my work in that I’m always extra-attentive to writing I encounter. Of course I’m thinking about my own poems all the time. At-Large is a small job, but it spreads into my consciousness as a poet because I’m always “on” for both tasks, paying close attention to all the poetry I read and hear.

AL: Speaking of helping to shape the magazine, how would you characterize the general aesthetic of Pleiades? Or would you ascribe one aesthetic to the journal at all?

JK: Pleiades prints many different kinds of poems. We are all editors who like different kinds of poetry. For instance, once Wayne asked me a question about a narrative poem that came in from someone we had published before. I was resisting the poem; it just wasn’t doing something I was interested in at that particular moment in time. But then Wayne explained how he saw the poem, and it made me see that I had been thinking about the poem in a limited way. I changed my mind about it. (I should say that I am not against narrative poetry. Not at all. I just found this particular poem sentimental, and then after Wayne and I talked, I didn’t.) I appreciate this part of the editing process.

Other magazines have a narrower bandwidth, aesthetically. I like those kinds of magazines, too. If I open the Brooklyn Rail, I’m probably going to find poems I like. Anselm Berrigan is the poetry editor, and there’s a certain aesthetic; it’s his vision. I like to see an editor’s vision. It’s just a different kind of magazine.

AL: When you’ve dealt in slush piles previously, what made something stand out to you? Or—maybe more fun—was there anything you’d get tired of seeing in submissions?

JK: I’m always happy to be surprised. I would rather find an ambitious, slightly messy poem than an airtight poem that feels like all the life was workshopped out of it. But I never tire of seeing any kind of poem. Just when I think, “Please, no more poems about childhood,” I’ll read a poem with childhood in it, and it will be stunning. I think the key is to stay open and not shut down when I see a sestina just because I think the world does not need another sestina. But I believe editors all together form a big net. So, if I let something good fall through, another editor will catch it.

AL: If you get that risk-taking, surprising but sort of messy poem, do you ever ask that someone resubmit a cleaned-up version? What do you do with work that’s so promising you want to accept it but is not quite “there” enough to actually publish?

JK: I try to ask myself if what I perceive as messiness could be part of the meaning of the poem. If the answer is “no,” I might write to the poet and ask to see more work. Or if there are a couple of things that I have strong impulses about, I might ask the poet about those lines or words. I don’t think it’s good for an editor to be prescriptive, though. It leads to all kinds of problems and possibly to disappointment and frustration on both sides. I have once or twice asked a poet to consider a minor change, but I don’t like to do that; it’s not my approach.

AL: You’ve mentioned that Pleiades seeks aesthetic diversity, but what about other kinds of diversity (gender, race, class, established versus emerging writers, etc.)? As an Editor-at-Large, do you take specific steps to foster diversity in the pieces that get published in the journal?

JK: Yes. Diversity is important to me. I am currently working on poems about racial identity, which is a big change in my own work that has affected my editing. All kinds of things are becoming clear to me that I never noticed before. For instance, we need more white editors (and more editors of color, of course—that’s a given and whole topic for another day) who are interested in and seeking work by writers of color.

I was at a panel at the last AWP called “Post Black?” during which a black poet asked the panelists (who were black) about places to publish his work. Should a black poet (for instance) feel limited to journals whose focus is the black aesthetic (not an easy thing to define; in fact: impossible) or that specifically publish lots of or mostly black poets? I hope there will be more white editors reading, following, and seeking work by poets of color. There were not many white people in the room at this panel. It made me see how limited one’s reading can be.

In graduate school, I was in a small class. We were all white-identified poets. I always believed that I was interested in good work by poets of any color. I thought that race did not matter to me; what mattered to me was reading good poetry. But no one said, “Okay, what journals are you reading? What books are you reading? What is coming across your desk?” Those would have been good questions for me to have been asked. What I was reading was pretty much all poetry written by white people. Now when I think back to that time I think, How did I expect this good work by black poets, for example, to find its way to my desk?

AL: The Minnesota Review staff has been asking itself these kinds of questions a lot lately. We’re trying to find ways to increase the submissions we get from writers of color, but our ideas often end up seeming sort of problematic and potentially ghettoizing or tokenizing. Do you have any advice on that front.

JK: I think you have to go out and solicit work from writers you like. You have to be really intentional. You have to find work you like and take an interest in who writes it. It’s more work than waiting for poems to roll in on their own, but I think it’s critical. It means you have to find journals that might not be sitting in your office. You have to ask around and look all over the place online. I’m only talking about race here, but the same goes for poetry of disability, poetry in translation, and other forms of diversity.

Again, to put myself at the awkward center of this awkward topic, back in graduate school, when I thought, “I’m just waiting to come across this great writing that I know must exist by a black poet,” I felt absolutely certain that it would show up somehow if I just waited. It won’t, though. I don’t know the answer, and I’m sure there’s not One answer to the question of diversity. But if a pool of editors does not have in it someone with a strong interest in finding work about or out of disability, for example, it’s probably not going to come in. (There’s a great anthology called Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. If someone’s interested in disability, that would make a great table of contents to scan!). There has to be a reason for that work to show up.

 

Amy Long is a first-year MFA student in fiction at Virginia Tech. She holds a BA in English and women’s studies and an MA in women’s studies from the University of Florida and is a contributing editor for Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.

Cash Bar at the MLA Convention

2 Jan

the minnesota review invites you to join us at the MLA Convention in Chicago, January 9-12!  We have arranged a Cash Bar for Saturday, January 11 from 7:00-8:15 pm in Chicago E of the Chicago Marriott Hotel (session #667).  For more information, please refer to the conference program, available here.  We hope to see you there!

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