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Robin Black and Katherine Applegate to Judge Upcoming Contests

We’re excited to announce that Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This and Life Drawing, will judge the 2014 Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize and Katherine Applegate, the Newbery-winning author of The One and Only Ivan, will judge the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. The deadline for both prizes is June 30, 2014. Read all about this year’s great judges, guidelines for entering the prizes, and past winners here.


 Hunger Mountain essays named “notable” by Best American Essays series

We’re thrilled that four essays originally published in Hunger Mountain are listed as “notable” in this year’s Best American Essays anthology. Three of the essays appeared in Hunger Mountain 17: Labyrinths, “Corn Maze” by Pam Houston, “French Suite” by Jacob Newberry, and “The Open Door” by Steven Harvey. The fourth essay to be noted, “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone: A Letter to James Baldwin on the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of His Passing” by Kim Dana Kupperman was part of a special tribute to James Baldwin at Hunger Mountain online. Pam Houston’s “Corn Maze” was also selected for inclusion in the upcoming Pushcart anthology. In addition, former Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Editor Jennifer Bowen Hicks’s essay “Attention,” from North American Review and former Creative Nonfiction Editor Robert Vivian’s essay “Always a River” from River Teeth are both “notable” essays.


Pushcart News!

Congratulations to Hunger Mountain contributors Kwame Dawes and Pam Houston, whose work has been selected for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize Anthology (2014 edition). Woo hoo! Pam’s essay, and Kwame’s poems all appear in Hunger Mountain 17, the Labyrinths issue. And you can read Pam’s essay online too.


The Relative Nature of Things

An essay
by Lee Reilly
Winner of the 2013 Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize

The last cogent, in-person conversation I had with my father was about burying my mother. He was hanging out of a second story window and I was sneaking away in a mushroom dawn, trying to make a 7 a.m. flight.

“Wait!” he said. “I want to say something.” He paused to catch an elusive breath. “I realize that if you weren’t there to do it for us, we’d all still be standing in the bay.”   Read more.


Ruby Thursday

Fiction
by Richard Adams Carey

Then, Gus considered, he’d have his pick of hot women. No doubt Marcie would ring him up again. He’d send Marcie some money, no hard feelings, but he’d remember Orrie, who loved  him when he was nobody even before Marcie did, and he’d buy Orrie not just a house on an island, but the whole damned island. It would have to be somewhere way the hell out in the Pacific for them to have any privacy, not too far from Brando’s probably. He’d buy Orrie a horse to ride, and he’d also bring in horses to run wild. He’d have a horse as well, and he’d learn to ride it. Together in the morning mist they’d gallop through the island’s meadows and pick their way along its rivers. Herds of—what? antelopes?—would blanket the meadows, moving peacefully out of the way of their horses, hardly disturbed. The antelopes had no predators except—what?—the Komodo dragons that lurked near the watering holes…


Time Expanding the Air Forcibly
Loud Morgue
P.S.—

three poems
by Sam Ross


Vagabond Nurse

a poem
by Laura Rodley

A nurse is a good person to be
with a vagabond heart,
you can love a stranger instantly,
place your hands lovingly, true love,
upon their body to wash them, bathe them,
soothe them, feel their pulse, ask that
your good energy pass into them…


Red Line Stories

by C.L. Patterson
Winner of the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize, selected by Pam Houston
Three times, three times in his life of almost twice that many decades he thought—without a doubt—that he was on the verge of death. Each time was in Chicago. On an ‘L’ platform. In February.  (read more)


Your Writer Not-Gift Guide

from Writer, Inc.
by Erika Anderson
So began my desire to compile a Writer Not-Gift Guide, which upended just about every assumption I had made about us writers—first and foremost that we could be categorized at all. See for yourself what the writer you know and love really, really, really doesn’t want. Maybe.


A Tribute to James Baldwin—December 2012

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone [1]: A Letter to James Baldwin on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

An Essay
by Kim Dana Kupperman
It’s a typical mid-October morning in the Northeast: a grizzle-powder sky whose cloud cover is rent by brief bursts of sun that seem almost cliché in their force and divinity. I am traveling on Amtrak, from south-central Pennsylvania to New York City, rereading the two essays collected in The Fire Next Time, the second of which was first published fifty years ago in November 1962. You were thirty-eight and I had just turned three…


Baldwin in Omaha

An Essay
by Robert Vivian
When I first read the work of James Baldwin, I was house-sitting for a widow in Omaha, Nebraska as an undergraduate as she was trying to start a new life by attending law school at the state university in Lincoln at the age of 62. I was also responsible for her beloved yellow lab Dudley while she was away, so it was just me and Dudley in a spacious suburban house with a wooded creek in the back that Dudley liked to romp down into…


Another Country: James Baldwin at ‘Home’ (and) Abroad

An essay
by Sion Dayson
…I am an American writer of color living in Paris, as Baldwin was in his day. Revisiting Baldwin’s work was an exciting way to explore more deeply questions of home, identity, and the effect a different culture has on my own work, too…


James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, and the Ethics of Anguish

An essay
by Carole K. Harris
In July 1957, after having lived nine years in Paris to escape an intolerable American racial climate, James Baldwin returned to the United States.  He had just written “Faulkner and Desegregation” in the winter of 1956 while still in Paris, and his biographer James Campbell believes that this essay marked a turning point in his commitment to civil rights and put him on a path of activism…


James Baldwin: A Conversational Review

A Sideways Review
by Marita Golden, Baron Wormser, and Liz Blood
Edited with an Introduction by John Proctor
I just finished Nobody Knows My Name in October, after reading Notes of a Native Son in September. I found it startling how much Baldwin refined and deepened and shaped his own perspective over the seven years between the respective collections’ publication. It seems like he was perhaps the perfect person to write from the inside about the most tumultuous, transformative period of American history since the Civil War, as his voice as a writer is absolutely fearless in confronting, yes, the issues of his time, but more importantly himself as a writer…


Misuse of Muggle Artifacts

A Sideways Review
by Sarah Seltzer & Sarah Braud
I wish we were sending this by Owl instead of email. Oh, well, let’s be prosaic and leave wizardry behind. A nickname for this new novel, which involves a contested seat for the town of Pagford’s Parish Council after a beloved local figure dies, is “Mugglemarch.”


From Reading to Wonder

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
I’m into athiest, hard-drinking, chain-smoking Ruby, the protagonist of “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.” The sisters want Ruby, the new groundskeeper, to talk to the tomato plants and make them grow.


Not Knowing

Fiction
by Stacy Patton
The boys passed behind her, and one of them whistled low. She pretended not to hear. She knew who he was whistling at, but she was alone, and they were boys, more than two. She tried to be flattered instead of afraid. She’d worn a new athletic skirt with quick-dry fabric and shorts underneath, and the summer heat rose from the asphalt, warming her legs, strong and tan from daily runs. The boys were laughing, the doors on their pickup thudding shut as she passed through the gate, remembering days when rowdy boys whistled more often—days when she might have gone swimming all afternoon with boys like that, instead of stealing a quick run before spaghetti night with her husband and two kids.


How He Did It: Interview with Kevin Wilson, Author of The Family Fang

A Craft Essay
by Sarah Braud
Wilson’s sentences, simply rendered, evoke a youthful, postmodern worldview in all its confusions. What is art? What is family? What is the age of accountability? When do American children really detach from their parents? Kevin Wilson blurs the lines beyond reason, and I loved every second of it. How did he do it? I asked myself over and over as I read and reread The Family Fang.


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Pride

from Writer, Inc.
by Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith
On our final deadly Monday, we get very, very full of ourselves. Now, Pride is less ninja-stealth and more like a Samurai Warrior, standing at attention and protecting one’s self-worth without giving in to the temptation of arrogance. And without giving in to the temptation to hide in a hole, if that’s your tendency.


Paul Lisicky: To Do

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Reduce towers of folded clothes on closet shelf. Put summer clothes in boxes, summer ended. Leave two pairs of shorts out for trip to Miami Book Fair next week…. Check out this 4th and final in a series of Fall To Do lists. What’s on your To Do list? What story does it tell about you?


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Wrath

from Writer, Inc.
by Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder
On another deadly Monday, we let rage course through our bodies and wonder what it might destroy, what it might create…. With a couple glasses of wine already working their black magic on my self-control, I nearly spat something out. Something loud. In the middle of a room of fellow writers.


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Greed

from Writer, Inc.
by Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder
Ahh, Greed. We writers don’t know the meaning of the word, right? Today, on another deadly Monday, we admit that we want the very best of everything. In most areas of my life, I possess what I call a “strong peace reflex.” Several years ago, as I and my then-new husband circled over the Greek island of Santorini, I gazed out at the ancient volcanic crater that would serve as our honeymoon destination and said, “If this plane goes down and we die, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done in this life.” In my writing life, however, I crash through waves of regret and despair….


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Gluttony

from Writer, Inc.
by Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith
We want more and more and more, today, on another deadly Monday. There is always one slice of pie that is cut larger than the rest, one that makes us feel queasy as we loosen our belt and scrape the last pieces off the plate toward our mouths—a deeper darker over-indulgence, and I’m not talking about Hemingway’s drinking, Burroughs’ heroin, Byron’s sex, Dostoevsky’s gambling, Rand’s amphetamines, or Dickens’ “repulsed attraction” to the morgue. I’m talking about the over-consumption of advice from other writers….


Rhoda Rapport

A Sideways Review
by Natalie Serber
You see, not only did Rhoda K. Manning reveal my passions and desires, my yearnings and missteps, she reveled in them. Gilchrist made them glorious. I adored Ellen and Rhoda.


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Lust

from Writer, Inc.
by Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder
Writers: Lust much? For inspiration, for a writing life that bursts at the seams, for the reputation of a “serious” writer? We get down and dirty on another deadly Monday. Page one might be wine, silk, and mood lighting. But page 200 is microwave popcorn for lunch and you’re lucky if you showered. Still love writing when it’s crabby and has morning breath?


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Sloth

from Writer, Inc.
by Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith
Sloth, be gone! Writers, how do you deal with the deadly sin of Sloth when it invades your writing life? On this deadly Monday we schedule a play-date with our Sloth-beast. As I researched Sloth for this essay, the soft, arboreal leaf-eater asleep in the trees morphed into a snarling, snorting beast pacing in front of my desk, ready to charge.


Dylan Landis: To Do

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Make packing list! Flannery book, my book, makeup, laptop, phone, chargers,  fabulous lace-up boots, aquamarine earrings…. Each month this fall, a writer will share one of his or her To Do lists. What’s on your list? What story does it tell about you?


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Envy

from Writer, Inc.
by Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder
Does the deadly sin of Envy infect your writing life? We celebrate another deadly Monday with an examination of the green-eyed monster. If I could film this kitchen scene B-movie-style, I’d add a murky shadow—some mixture of army green and pea—that hisses out of my eyes, nose, and mouth, and escapes through the grimy window.


7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life: Dear Sinner

from Writer, Inc.
by Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith
7 Deadly Mondays and today makes 8! Writers, how do the 7 deadly sins influence your writing life? How do you tame the sinful beast in all her shapes and sizes, then keep writing? Join the authors and 7 other writers, as they indulge in the sinful writing life. Today, Cheryl kicks off the series with a meditation on sin. As we fought Sloth and Wrath toward domestic responsibilities and dreamed of giving in to the Lust and Gluttony for our words, we found ourselves cycling through the seven sins without notice until Envy reared its green head and heckled us.


The Center of the Labyrinth

A Sideways Review
by Penny Blubaugh
Like all labyrinths, it paints you in. It grabs you. It holds you fast. And you may never escape once you’ve entered. The longer you travel the maze, the more it seems to grow.


Matthew Guenette: To Do

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Keweenaw Scotch Ale, Buffalo Trace, garlic, honey crisp apples.… Each month this fall, a writer will share one of his or her To Do lists. What’s on your list? What story does it tell about you?


From Reading to Human

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
The first time I read column #78, “The Obliterated Place,” written by a father whose twenty-two-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver, I did so with my feet on the couch, my knees bent, my chest curled over my laptop, the hood of my sweatshirt pulled over my head. I wailed.


Our New York, Too, Will Disappear

A Craft Essay
by Jessamine Price
“The Synthetic Sublime,” by Cynthia Ozick, was the first essay that ever made me cry. It was early winter, late 2001. I was living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on the salt-breezed fringes of New York. All four windows of my apartment looked out onto airshafts; every view was of red bricks crisscrossed with fire escapes.


We Are Not Alone

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
I left work after the second tower fell and walked all the way back to my apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn—through roadblocks and makeshift water stations, past bars full to capacity, then home over the Manhattan Bridge. I didn’t leave my apartment for three days.


Stories Speaking to Stories

A Sideways Review
by Cynthia Newberry Martin
Here’s a confession: For many months now, I haven’t wanted to read story collections. Each time I paused in front of my waiting-to-be-read stacks, the story collections would jump up and down, screaming it was their turn, while the novels did nothing but lie there.


On Characters: Dual Capacities

A Craft Short
by Diane Lefer
At the bookstore, he explained that in telling these stories, he had tried not to take sides: “I’m no longer interested in the conflict between right and wrong, but the conflict between right and right.”


Elizabeth Benedict: To Do

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Farmer’s market – bring bags – basil, heirloom tomatoes, red lettuce, corn. Each month this fall, a writer will share one of his or her To Do lists. What’s on your list? What story does it tell about you?


Celebrating Sendak

Join the Wild Rumpus: Interviews, Memories, Musings, and Illustrations by writers, critics, artists, and more…

Children are all we have in terms of whatever hope the planet has. To not address them significantly, seriously, lovingly and treat them as complex as they are…to assault them with trivia is an insult to them—and a danger. A danger because if they get weak and sloppy like we are now there’s no hope. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be good. And you have to have your heart and brain in the right place…    –Maurice Sendak (read the full interview here)


Andrew Scott: People, Places, Things

Lists: Literary & Laundry
A List, Written on a Plane Trip from Indianapolis to Boston, of What I Wrote This Week, Not Counting Fiction, Because Who Am I Kidding? I Can’t Write Fiction During the Last Week of a Semester


Elizabeth Mosier: People, Places, Things

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Primary Sources. Fairy tales teach us how time and telling changes a story—how, when we break with tradition, we leave a trace of the past even as we progress to something new. What lasts? What’s left behind?


Vishnu Floating on the Cosmic Ocean

fiction
by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
Visit with Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
The camp store is guarded by two wild parrots that squawk and drop fruit pits on you from their perch in the wisteria that climbs over the door.  Inside, the store’s no bigger than your bedroom at home, but it’s ringed with shelves offering all manner of strange and fantastic rations you’ve never encountered anywhere else—there’s practical stuff like shark repellants and cords of wood bound up with twine, but also pocket-sized kites and off-kilter yo-yos, six packs of grape juice in glass bottles shaped like rocket ships, compasses whose needles twirl as if eternally caught in magnetic storms.


Epitaph

a poem
by Gary Moore
Visit with Gary Moore
Word music inspires me with a charge nearly as enticing as the erotic. I often start with a line or two whose concepts attract me, but I don’t stay with a start if I don’t hear an internal rhyme or assonance to allure me, and the next thing you know I’m on some far galactic cliff or indifferent ocean shouting Help or Alleluia


Salvia and Vigil

two poems
by Paul Carroll
Visit with Paul Carroll
Contrary to the good advice of my mentors, I do not write regularly. If I did, I would end up stringing some pretty words together, signifying nothing. Instead I wait until an idea visits, stays a while, and then refuses to leave. That can take weeks or months. In the meantime, I look for ideas…


Raw Milk

an essay
by Judith Hertog
My greatest worry is that Beth, the organic farmer farther down the road from our house, will find me out. When I come home from Price Chopper I always drive through the East side of town to avoid passing her farm. I’m afraid she’ll be standing outside, wave me down for a chat, and then recognize the scent of plastic and preservatives wafting from my shopping bags…


Story, Image, and Idea

A Craft Essay
by Clint McCown
What I’m saying is that for me, poetry was the training ground where I learned the importance of story, image, and idea. Poetry taught me how to write fiction. And not just in my beginnings, but even today, poetry remains my best avenue into fiction. If I’m stuck in a section of a manuscript of prose, I’ll turn away from what I’m working on and pick up a volume of poetry. Pretty soon, worlds begin to open up, just as they did when I was five.


How To Fool Ourselves

A Sideways Review
by Kristopher Jansma
Around this time I began to wonder if I was drawn to liars. How better to learn the craft of fiction than to hang around those who found deception effortless? It was this curiosity about the fine art of lying that drew me to The Runner by David Samuels.


On Material: Writing by Chance

A Craft Short
by Amy Souza
At the time I was reading about surrealists and chance-based art, and I thought something a bit “out there” would suit Dawn’s piece. So I created a game that would introduce an element of chance to my drafting process.


Three Poems on Three Books

A Sideways Review
by Stephanie Friedman
Don’t fear the wolves or woods.
The darkness is the story,
always new, already known.


Other than books, what do you write?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by Shaindel Beers, Susanna Daniel, Alan Heathcock
I continue to write lyrics, too, just because I enjoy it. I start most days by reading a poem or two, then work on a song for an hour or so. This morning I wrote the lines Dissonance and dance don’t mix to fix a mind made up to last….


Last Dog

Fiction
by Claire Burgess
Visit with Claire Burgess

Joel was worried about the dead dog in his trunk. Heat rose off the road in front of him, rippling the air like a photograph warping over a flame—he was beginning to regret his decision to pack the ice inside the trash bag with the dog. In this heat, he knew, the ice would be melting, soaking the fur, and if there’s a smell worse than dead dog, it’s wet dead dog. What he should have done was put the dog inside its own bag, put that bag inside another bag filled with ice, and then put that bag in the suitcase…


Interview with a Blacksmith and These Gifts (Letter to Brooklyn During War)

two poems
by Chris Featherman
Visit with Chris Featherman

Both “These Gifts” and “Blacksmith” I wrote several years ago while living in Spain. I wrote the first drafts of “These Gifts” in response to witnessing, and then participating in, the anti-war demonstrations in Barcelona just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq…


How To Be a Writer

from Writer, Inc.
Sampling and Riffing with Michael Martone
ed. by Claire Guyton

Michael Asks: What’s your turf? What’s your worry? Your preoccupation? The Writing Life celebrates May Day and a YEAR of publication with 9 inter-locking essays, meditations, and lists from 14 writers, all framed by excerpts from an interview with Michael Martone, and all aimed at pulling the curtain back, just a little, on that most important character we craft: The Writer.


From Reading to Empathy

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
Like the real, live, very human girls of the world, Schappell’s female characters get to be ugly, annoying, insistent, depressed, compromised, childish, and judgmental. Her heroines wear silk slips to the farm bar at 4:00 am. They don’t know how to talk about “it,” the rape of their closest friend. They try to save their sons from bewitching girls who remind them of themselves.


Other than books, what do you read?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by Heidi W. Durrow, Dave Malone, Dinty W. Moore
Do not use near children or pets, anywhere food is prepared, or in the vicinity of air circulation vents. In fact, just list the ten spots in your home you would least like to have large black ants covering the floor. Don’t use this product in any of those areas.


Mirror, Mirror

by Ellen LaFleche
Winner of the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux
Visit with Ellen LaFleche

There is a wonderful story behind the inspiration for this poem. A few summers ago, I took my family to a minor league baseball game so we could see the future stars of our favorite team. And after the umpire told the teams to “play ball,” a group of nuns came trotting out of the dugout! True story. The Mother Superior walked to the mound and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was a wonderful moment—a crowd hushed in reverence, the elderly nun winding up, her long robes whipping in the wind, the catcher kneeling to receive the ball…


Prayer for What Disappears

by Emily Pulfer-Terino
Runner Up in the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux
Visit with Emily Pulfer-Terino

When a friend of mine passes, I tend to read a lot of elegies; I try to ground my experience in an understanding of the enormous ranges of grief. Re-reading Hayden Carruth’s Poem “Ray,” about writer Raymond Carver, and thinking of my friend Chad, a writer who had recently died, I decided to try to respond to Carruth’s poem…


Reading the Flamingo’s Smile

by Sandra Stone
Runner Up in the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux
Visit with Sandra Stone

Think this: there are some faces that stop you in your tracks. If you’re a writer, you’re already on it inventing narrative for the face. If you happen in another part of your life to rummage in flea shops looking for you have no idea—stop! We’re compatriots….


Divination, Sky

by Wendy Miles
Special Mention in the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux
Visit with Wendy Miles

A spool of smoke unwinds across the sky.
Crow clack, cicada, bodies open to the sky.

In 79 AD ash and roasting heat seal an envelope
around Herculaneum; they look but find no sky…


I Make Easy Emptiness and The Antelope Tree

Two Poems
by George Kalamaras
Visit with George Kalamaras

I remember well my inspiration for “The Antelope Tree.” I was walking in the early evening on an old gravel road in Colorado a couple years ago when I came upon this pine tree containing the leg bone of what appeared to be a deer. Not five minutes before, I’d seen a lone doe grazing on Sheep Mountain Road. As soon as I saw the discarded leg, I thought, mountain lion. I later heard from my friend, Sue, that sometimes the big cats will cache a bone in a tree. I feared for the deer I’d just seen—any deer—and as I continued my walk this poem began to unfold…


Out of Time

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
Each essay, while enclosed in its specific time frame, becomes timeless, as relevant in the aftermath of 9/11, when they were both finally published, as in the throes of World War II, when they were written.


Contagion and Someone Saved My Life Tonight

Two Poems
by Trina Burke
Visit with Trina Burke

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” was inspired by a combination of the Elton John song of the same name; my favorite children’s book, Corduroy, by Don Freeman; and my mother, who died when I was an infant. “Contagion” was inspired by an extremely high fever.


Ballpoints/Homecoming and Cold Spring

Two Poems
by W.M.Lobko
Visit with W.M. Lobko

My work tends to spring from the chance occurrence or the overheard word as opposed to some imagined “What if…” scenario. I’m a magpie for sensations and phrases.

 


Museum of Natural History and Urge and West 3rd Street

Three Poems
by Holly Virginia Clark
Visit with Holly Virginia Clark

I like to write at home at my desk. The bed has to be made, which is about ritual, I guess, and tidiness of mind. I nearly always start with a line or image, or, if I start with an idea, I spend a lot of time thinking of what vehicle can carry the idea, what image, metaphor, scene. Once I acquire that starting point, which always takes a mysterious and inconsistent amount of time, I write to answer why I am compelled by said image or idea…


All Afternoon and Britannica Man

Two Poems
by Sally Rosen Kindred
Visit with Sally Rosen Kindred

“All Afternoon” is about losing my stepmother, Mibs. In the months after her death, I found myself needing to think of her as a girl—to give her back all that time ahead of her: that illusion of summer, a future…


From Reading to Quarantine

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
I wanted to tweet the whole damn thing but more so, I wanted everyone to read and adore it. I read the following sentence regarding the narrator Milo’s “good shitty job” to my roommates….


The Potential of the Peripheral:
Secondary Characters in Jane Smiley’s The Age of Grief

A Craft Essay
by Robin Black
Visit with Robin Black

Writing short stories at the time, a form for which necessity is a common demand, I was terrified (a strong word, but an accurate one) of introducing anything or anyone a reader might consider irrelevant….


Reading Drunk

A Sideways Review
by Hollie Loveless
This truth in alcohol is exactly what I was looking for—literarily, not literally. I began to read memoirs by alcoholics or addicts who included alcohol in their numbing repertoire. Why? Probably because since I’ve been sober, reading “Alky Lit” is the closest I can get to drunk.


On Endings: Loving Limbo III

A Craft Short
by Claire Guyton
I enjoy a good “limbo” ending, in which we leave our character in a crucial moment, resolution forever denied. If done well, a limbo ending is incredibly satisfying, so powerful because I’m left to meditate on possibility.


A Charming Combination

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
I had to stop reading the 2003 volume for a few days when Francis Spufford’s “The Habit” and Cheryl Strayed’s “The Love of My Life” broke my damn heart so badly that I needed time to grieve.


Night of the Spiders

fiction
by Sheldon Bellegarde
Visit with Sheldon Bellegarde

It’s almost midnight but I have got to clean out my bedroom closet. It’s packed with junk and has, like, the most vicious spider problem this side of a radioactive-arachno movie. I’m delving into terror. At least I don’t have a big shoe collection, since spiders like to hide in shoes. For a girl who’s supposed to be at her most fashion-conscious age, style is not my middle name…


Fossiliferous

an essay
by Nancy Lord
Visit with Nancy Lord

I rested my hand on a sun-warmed rock toe. This was no ordinary fossil, no mere leaf or shell print in rock; a dinosaur had walked here. To hold that rock was not quite like grabbing a dinosaur by the toe, but the sensation was ticklishly related. I was not in a museum or a roped-off tourist attraction, and I was not looking at a photograph; here was the solid, physical manifestation of a very large near-mythic animal that had once—so very long ago—not only lived, but lived here…


River Otters and Jungle

poems
by Michael David Madonick
Visit with Michael David Madonick

My wife does not believe me, in fact
she has started to mock me, to register

in her discourse and demeanor a kind of
flippant disregard for my sincerity. I suppose

if I were Darwin just back from the Galapagos,
or Audubon with dripping carcasses of spoon

bills and egrets, she’d offer me some credence…


The Herd

a poem
by David Starkey
Visit with David Starkey

What is it about my seaside town
ninety miles north of LA

a chattering of starlings, a labor of moles…


Back Porch, Twilight

a poem
by Murray Silverstein
Visit with Murray Silverstein

Back porch, twilight, garden on its late-summer binge.
Striders all over the pond. My mother called them Jesus bugs…


Luke Reynolds: People, Places, Things

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Five Fictions for Truth’s Sake. When I met Harper Lee on the penultimate car of a long steam train, I asked her a question: Do you ever wish you had written another novel? Ms. Lee looked at me, winked, and smiled as if she had a marble in her mouth. Who says I haven’t?


Loving Limbo I

A Sideways Review
by Claire Guyton
In my experience, people rarely change. When they do, it takes a tremendous amount of work over a long period of time. To suggest that a moment of clarity at the end of a story will leave a character changed forever seems like the worst kind of silly lie.


Take It Personally

from Writer, Inc.
by Natalie Serber
Even now, writing these words, I am afraid. This essay is another level of exposure. The story of course has a life of its own, with readers bringing their unique experience to the page, but, with the story, I can still hide behind the word fiction.


From Reading to Generosity

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
The Buddhist practice of Right Speech considers three conditions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? …I propose we apply these questions to memoir for the purpose of contemplation, knowing that not every standard can be met.


On Revision: Pulling Up Widows

A Craft Short
by Pam Houston
One of my primary goals in writing Contents May Have Shifted was to make a book in which each of my sentences worked harder than they ever had before…. I still believe the poets are the real wizards, all that humanness crammed into just a few perfect lines.


South Omaha From the F Street Exit, JFK Freeway

by Dani Bojanski
Winner of the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
Visit with Dani Bojanski

My parent’s house is a big yellow shoebox with a green-shingled roof and gable scrolls that my mother ordered from a catalogue.  The picket fence that lines the yard is warped and worm-eaten and swallowed here and there by bean vines, morning glories, moonflowers.  There’s a cowbell hanging from the front gate, jingle bells hanging on the back.  There’s a bear standing in the fountain at the side of the house, his feet glued to bricks so that he’s harder to steal….


Blackout

by Daisy Hernandez
Runner-up in the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize
Visit with Daisy Hernandez

Newsrooms are set up like mazes.

It is an endless series of desks and television screens and everywhere you turn is another white man. You are meant to be the intern who gets lost and can’t find the elevators, or at least I am. Looking out across the third floor, I see only receding hairlines, white foreheads and bushy eyebrows….


I Got So Much Love, I Don’t Know Where to Put it

by David LeGault
Runner-up in the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize

My name is written on a bathroom wall at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. I put it there. The words appear in blue highlighter (earlier attempts with a ballpoint pen were unsuccessful, the numbers and images wouldn’t take to the surface, not to mention the thinness of the marking, the lack of visibility). The image is the focal point of the otherwise unmarked wall—this stain, this unauthorized addition, commanding attention among the Muzak piped in through the speakers in the ceiling, the immaculate tile and faux-gold fixtures.


The Speed of Sound

by Elizabeth Gonzalez
Winner of the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
Visit with Elizabeth Gonzalez

A new moon and a clear, cold Michigan night, the sky dead black and loaded with stars, so clear you could see the tendrils in the Milky Way dust—things were aligning, and Arthur Reel was prepared. He called the two neighbors across the road, who were kind enough to turn off their automatic lights whenever Arthur said he would be skywatching. Three a.m. found him perched in his rooftop observatory, sitting in his padded folding chair next to a telescope that was almost as big around as a basketball, waiting. He was there to watch Leo rise…


The Ghosts of Takahiro Ōkyo

by Donald Quist
Runner-up in the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
Visit with Donald Quist

Daisuke would find them in varying levels of decomposition, bleeding out into the snow or scattered over hiking trails, half eaten.  Most would be hanging from the trees, the trunks so close and tight that in the perpetual twilight of Mount Fuji’s shadow their limbs looked like strange branches sprouting from the shaggy moss.  They were businessmen or star-crossed lovers, victims of incest and criminals.  They came from all over.


What advice would you give to someone about to write a novel?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by Dorothy Allison, Charles Baxter, Connie May Fowler, Thomas Christopher Greene, Pam Houston, Dani Shapiro
Patience. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a relationship you enter. And, just as in a relationship, the dailyness, the showing up, the steady rhythm, the paying of attention are qualities to cultivate.


Beads, Fabric, and Yarn

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
I should reveal here that I have no interest in knitting, or in necklaces, or in fabric or beads really. I’m one of the many men who “feign polite interest and then change the subject” when it comes up, as Grosholz mentions in her essay. But I find myself, as a reader, completely transfixed by these essays….


Corn Maze

A Craft Essay
by Pam Houston
When it was decided (When was that again, and by whom?) that we were all supposed to choose between fiction and nonfiction, what was not taken into account was that for some of us truth can never be an absolute, that there can (at best) be only less true and more true and sometimes those two collapse inside each other….


From Reading to Costco

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
The twenty rolls of toilet paper, the quadruple pack of painkillers, the mounds of frozen food one can purchase wholesale assumes a life that stretches out miles and miles before us….


Please Eat the Pastrami

A Sideways Review
by Claire Guyton
He is very comfortable with his two friends or he wouldn’t eat with his mouth full. He is so impatient for the joy of eating that he can’t stop, put the hamburger down, argue a point. And trust me, I know, he holds that sandwich like a man who loves to eat….


Hunger Mountain Pushcart Nominations for 2011

An essay, two stories, and three poems
Richard Farrell
Heather E. Goodman
Mayumi Shimose Poe
Nancy Eimers
Bradley Harrison
William Olsen


On Material: Writing Prompts

A Craft Short
by Christy Bailey
A dominant left brain can lead to over-thinking, playing it safe, and self-judging—all of which can block the creative right brain. Prompts help us loosen up and let go of control.


Michael Martone: People, Places, Things

Lists: Literary & Laundry
Time in a Vacuum Bottle: A Genealogy. On weekends, he played clarinet in a Dixieland band; during the week, he practiced in the yawning room. The big loft windows reached up, opened, three stories tall, with all the stars mapped out in the panes’ grid. He drank hot tea he mixed with cold milk, kept an eye on the auger worming coal from the bunker into that constant fire.


The Two Sides of Albert Goldbarth

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
I’ve now read two Goldbarth essays, “Everybody’s Nickname” from The Best American Essays 2008 and the book-length Griffin, and while their topics are different, they’re essentially about the same thing—bifurcation.


Winners of the Prize for Young Writers

selected by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Rumor Has it in Winthrop ~ FICTION by Lin King

It is generally agreed amongst the townspeople that this whole sorry incident has been the most tragic and romantic “love story” Winthrop has ever witnessed…

 

What You Can Tell from My Childhood Heroes: Feminism and Other Things  ~ CREATIVE NONFICTION by Sophie Haighney

I liked the way eyeliner smelled, waxy and synthetic and a little bit like wood. It reminded me of my mother. There had been no occasion for me to wear makeup throughout my younger years, so I associated make-up only with her as she prepared for parties, evening light splattering her mirror like white fire. I used to think it was the light that tasted like violets, but it must have been her perfume.

 

Threshold and The Office POETRY by Delali Ayivor

I was nine years old when my mother came to me,
told me of her
designs for the modern black woman.
“No more pain,” she said. The wailed
refrain of so many heartsongs…

 


Mad Men and The Writing Life

from Writer, Inc.
by Sue Eisenfeld
Every creative writer’s dream is to leave the day job and just write. No longer shackled by other responsibilities, deadlines, or inter-office politics, you could spend your days at home, or at a coffee shop, addressing your literary whims and dreams….


Children of Paradise

an essay
by Sascha Feinstein
My parents, both abstract expressionists, never took me to kid movies. In general, they treated me more like a friend. I saw my first Disney film overseas, at the age of twenty-nine, and by accident. (The theater in Singapore hadn’t changed the marquee; I thought I had purchased tickets for My Cousin Vinny and instead saw Aladdin. Talk about a whole new world!) (read more)


Deposition

a poem
by Doug Ramspeck

Say two crows at dusk in an auburn sky.
But which is the augury of which? Or then
a cottonmouth slipping like ripe fruit into the reeds.
Our ribs feeling as hollow as a stream bed… (read more)


Field Guide at Dusk

a poem
by Doug Ramspeck

It will not do. This weak-willed light slipping
from the grass, pale as hands folded on a chest.
No breeze to animate the hickory leaves,
to ripple the surface of the creek… (read more)


Her Last Costume

A Sideways Review
by Claire Guyton
I clocked the bleached ponytail, the fake fur collar on the short jacket, the tight, pink, glitter-speckled tee-shirt—yegads, a bare midriff!


I’ll Be the Moon

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
Let me now not only reflect upon the moon but assume its stature. I am enamored of the Sun and the Earth. I sing to one the light of the other, but….


Into That White Hot Center

A Sideways Review
by Sara Yu
I am a feverish dreamer. Every night I am plagued by wild dreams packed with elements of a good story: sensory details, action, ridiculous tension. But none of these dreams ever makes sense….


One Perfect Sentence

A Sideways Review
by Claire Guyton
If I were to right now type out that last line, it would, I know, fall lightly on the page—unobtrusive, entirely harmless, taking only the space allotted.


On Characters: FATE

A Craft Short
by Bruce Machart
I remember the steam on the windows of the classroom, the snow swirling itself dizzy outside. I remember Lee’s burr-cut hair and the vein above his temple that announced his level of concentration.


What book do you re-read most?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by DeWitt Henry, Dylan Landis, Bruce Machart, Katrina Roberts
I open the pages, and it whispers, “Look. Look at how, in careful prose, everything is possible.”


Being My Own Book Publicist

from Writer, Inc.
by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson
Maybe Beyoncé and Margaret Atwood have an entourage, but I find myself muttering the prelude to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”—’Cause in this life, things are much harder than the afterworld. In this life, you’re on your own. Or as my mom would say, “Buck up, little Buckaroo!”


Idiosyncratic Tone in the Novel

A Craft Essay
by Wendy Voorsanger
Visit with Wendy Voorsanger
Tone is the emotional color or musical pitch of a novel. It’s typically a feeling or atmosphere a writer establishes and maintains through an entire piece of writing. It’s not what is being said or done—it’s how it’s said or done.


A Blind Date

A Sideways Review
by Erika Anderson
Having decided that fashionably late was uncouth for dates of the blind variety, I stepped through the threshold of the forgettable dive on St. Marks a nerdy thirteen minutes early.


The Dearth of the Eulogy

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
So I hone the eulogy, omitting what frequently seem to me the most defining and consequential elements of the deceased’s life until I have a proper eulogy, befitting and respecting the dead.


Tuning in to Voice

A Sideways Review
by Claire Guyton
After re-orienting my own expectations, I discovered what must have enchanted Geraldine Brooks—it’s not something I felt but something I heard.


On Rhythm: In Sentences

A Craft Short
by Annie Penfield
I ride horses, always have. Everything I know about how to raise children, or survive school, comes from my life with horses. So it was only natural I would turn to horses to teach me about writing.


From Daniel Torday’s The Duct Tape Brother

Lists: Literary & Laundry
“When I’d finally saved up enough duct tape,” he says, “I made myself a duct tape brother.” The following list comes near the middle of the novel. Dan brings his brother to dinner with his friends.


The Cycle of Cool

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
Perhaps the most powerful, stunning part of this essay for me is when you interview the coolest guy you knew in boarding school, the guy who had all the girls, who wrote poetry….


A Prose Writer Reads a Few Poems

A Craft Essay
by Richard McCann
Visit with Richard McCann
Let us look now at two poems by Marie Howe, the poet of my generation from whom I often feel I’ve learned more as a writer (and yes, as a writer of prose) than most anyone, perhaps because when she speaks about the process of writing, she speaks about it as being something far more than a craft.


I Am the Turnstile

A Sideways Review
by Rebecca Macijeski
He is, as I am through reading him, the space where time becomes rounder and allows the unknown of tomorrow to slip through into the reality of today. I am the turnstile.


On Poetry: Sine Waves

A Craft Short
by Seth Abramson
In the poetic sine wave, the “peaks” of the hills correspond to moments of lyric intensity or condensation, such as those orchestrated by a compound image, a metaphor, or sustained sonic density.


Robin Black: To Do

Lists: Literary & Laundry
The repetition of the word novel here is because it’s really more of a cheer than a statement of fact…. The one thing it doesn’t mean is that I’ll actually work on my novel.


I Craft, Therefore I Am:
Creating Persona through Syntax and Style

A Craft Essay
by Erika Anderson
Visit with Erika Anderson
If you speak to the reader in long, meandering or breathless sentences, you translate differently from a persona who speaks in short, staccato bursts. And of course our personas are far from static, but we aim for consistency in tone. In general, how you reveal yourself, is, well, revealing.


A Mantra

A Sideways Review
by Benjamin Woodard
God gave me a small gift to help me clarify my world. These twelve words, uttered by artist/murderer Fabian Vas, are lifted from page 249 of Howard Norman’s novel, The Bird Artist.


On Essays: How Structure Creates Movement

A Craft Short
by Allison Vrbova
Unlike most modern poets, however, an essayist must generally keep her reader engaged for pages at a time. How does she do it? Without a strong narrative arc, what carries the reader through the piece?


What is poetry?

Lists: Literary & Laundry
by Mark Cox, Matthew Dickman, Honor Moore, Grace Wells
A means of making language and therefore thought “new” by peeling away the calcification of usage that paralyses and limits meaning.


A Crush

A Sideways Review
by John Proctor
I think I’m developing a crush on you, Brian Doyle. You’re just as much a poet as an essayist, and you also seem to be a compulsive lister. I like poetry, or at least poetic language, and I love listing things.


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