Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kathy Fish & Joseph Young Collaboration--Coming Soon to an Educational blog near you

Tomorrow morning in a very special VIPSonvsf blog entry: Kathy Fish and Joseph Young collaborated on an amazing project where by they each wrote 5 micros, busted 'em in half, then sent the halves to each other to finish.

The result is 10 micros plus 10 hybrids. And they are stunning.

And then they offered them to me for my vsf blog. I am so thrilled. Let me be clear, I never solicited this work. Kathy and Joe offered me the material, plus notes on the process, so my class could see how this kind of adventure can work.

I love writers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

38 minutes of my life

So happy to see Reb Livingston and Dave Housley at Mason today, paneling for a session about local lit journals. They did a fine job, despite the lack of structure and a shy crowd--20+ of us in a venue that seats 100+. Well, they were shy as a crowd, but swarmed Dave and Reb after, which was kinda weird. Wonder what they wanted?

A friend said to me about Dave: "He's good looking."
A different friend said to me about Reb: "Oh wow, she publishes non-linear poems? I'm home."

Up top on the plaza, Richard Peabody was selling Gargoyle and Paycock Press publications from a table. He always recognizes me, but never knows who I am. That must bug him. Especially when I wave and smile like a nutjob.

When Dave's "Ryan Secrest is Famous" story made the top 10 of StorySouth's Million Writers list, I taught it to my class. But it was months after I connected with Dave and the Barrelhouse editorial pod (at their conference they traveled together, I assume so they could sing barbershop songs when needed), that I realized he'd written that very cool story. Similar experience with Paula Bomer--we were net friends for a while before we realized that we had been reading each other's stuff for years. Paula's great, she still reads print. She's Amish. Her specialty is Amish erotica.

So the Barrelhouse Mixtape podcast marks my first willing listen to a podcast. I'd been ignoring the announcements fairly successfully until today when Dave described what was covered, and I suddenly thought, oh hey--THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS. It's quite good, and as promised, in the style of This American Life, right down to the swallowing sounds from the host. Adam Robinson sounds exactly as I thought he would. Michael Kimball does not (I thought he'd sound more like a cartoon bear). And Mike Ingram? He just sounds troubled. Dave.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall For the Book

So here at George Mason we’re in the midst of Fall for the Book, a free festival with too many events, most of which take place on campus, with the others hosted elsewhere in the community. This year’s lineup is the hippest and the best.

Last night Sherman Alexie kicked ass, and yesterday afternoon I listened to Staceyann Chin give a thrilling performance in the plaza just below my office window. Hoping to go to the Rae Armantrout/ Ron Silliman reading tonight, and for sure I’m dropping into the Dave Housley/Reb Livingston panel on local literary magazines tomorrow. I’m gutted that I have to miss D. Harlan Wilson on Friday, but I’m sure he’ll get a crowd.

The Festival is in its 10th year, and is run by my colleagues Bill Miller, Art Taylor, Ruth Goodwin, and Wade Fletcher. With easily 130 panelists, readers, and performers to wrangle, and writers being what they are, the FFTB team deals with behind the scenes drama like you wouldn’t believe. But you also have happy accidents, like learning that Nathan Leslie lives in your own back yard (he introduced a speaker at an FFTB event hosted by Northern Virginia Community College).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Freshly Read Jello Horse

Ooo, just finished consuming Matthew Simmons’ A Jello Horse, and I really liked it. I saw a review that went gaga for the quirkiness of the novella, but I think the real power comes from the way Simmons uses "familiarity"--that sounds boring, so yeah the book is quirky as hell. It’s not a scary book, but it’s loaded with uncanny imagery. Oddly, the best parts are when the narrator is least interactive with the characters who know him, who have prior history with him. It’s when he is alone, or encountering new characters, that the book hits its highest notes. If that's too vague, how about this: there are BIG ANIMALS in it. I hear it’s going into a 2nd printing.

So a lot of interest in the Vips on very short fiction blog, and I’m delighted to say that new entries are forthcoming from Tim Jones-Yelvington, Michele Reale, Lauren Becker, Tiff Holland, and Molly Gaudry (if she doesn’t implode). Other contributors are more tentative—turns out real editors don’t stalk/pounce on people via Facebook chat. I think would have a tough time being a real editor, simply because I want to post EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. As opposed to delivering new content in a measured, sane fashion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Push the button, Frank

I will, I will push the button!

My VIPs on very short fiction blog is now open to the public. I'm so thrilled by the generosity of the writers who have helped out so far: David Erlewine, Robert Swartwood, Gabriel Orgrease, Erin Fitzgerald, Roxane Gay, Joseph Young, Ryan Bradley, and Scott Garson. New entries coming soon by Ethel Rohan and Lauren Becker.

No design to speak of, just an oppressive blue blogger template, but the essays are fantastic. And the most remarkable part is that the writers generated all this amazing content in just 6 days.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Head Tilt

Best of luck to Galleys: Online Journal of Literature as they prepare to launch their first issue. Heroic "about" page where they pledge all kindsa things.

An unexpected twist in the submissions page: under each category, including Poetry, Flash Fiction, they request an abstract of the sub.

I can imagine flash abstracts, I guess (and I'd love to see them), but an abstract of a poem? Is that even a thing?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

By invitation only: VIPs on vsf

okay, so I threw my little bloggy thing together, and already I've posted mini-thingies* about creating very short fiction from David Erlewine and Robert Swartwood. This is private for now, targeted to my students, but if you are a vsf-eer and you want to contribute, let me know. The concept is simple:

send me very short writing about very short fiction (any subject, technical, personal, recommended reading, etc)
+links to 2 o3 of your pubbed stories to help the argument

compensation: a bit of fun, distraction from grading, writing code, or serving your constituency, job satisfaction, promotion of your own projects (the usual)

over and out. the blog is blue for now. lotsa blue. with a picture of nuns

*I've been referring to the entries inconsistently as 'lectures' which causes confusion, but I know what I mean.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exploiting my friends makes my job easier

Enjoying Justin Taylor's notes about the intro creative writing class he's teaching at Rutgers--sometimes you get a group of students who are magical. Although my husband, who lives for teaching and teaches everything from poetry to tech writing, has pronounced that if you treat all your students like honors students, they'll act like honors students.

With that in mind, I'm trying to cook up a VIP guest lecture/reading series for my undergraduate advanced fiction writers--I'm going to try to get some of my flashy friends to write flash-length notes/essays on writing very short fiction that I can post on Blackboard (the evil gated community of social networks), along with links to two or three of their stories.

Anyone want to help out? Anyone have a better idea?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Suspicious person on Finch Drive"

. . . would be a great title for a story, but I can't be arsing arsed to write it. You can have it if you want. Comes from the Sheriff's report as printed in the Morgan Messenger, a genuine independent small town newspaper that comes out of the lovely spa and antique tourist destination of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Our cabin is the next "town" over, in Great Cacapon. One of the things about this newspaper that makes it so great is that the letters to the editor section shows a real community discussion, whether it be about health care, zoning, or anti-chaining legislation. You can't get the letters online, but you can get a taste of an uneasy pastoral by monitoring the editorials and police reports: drugs, uttering, lock-outs, and roaming livestock.

Too many great things to read out there, especially over the past few days. I haven''t even scratched the surface, but already I recommend Ravi Mangla's "Arrgh Luxury Cruises: An Authentic Pirate Adventure" from the current Storyglossia. Like Berkely Springs, Ravi's story is all about the dangerous romance of nostalgia.