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In November of last year, we interviewed Lisbeth Redfield, the Literary Arts Manager of Pen and Brush, about the organization’s venture into publishing. Back in October, for the launch of their new imprint, they published two e-books—one, a book of prose; the other, a debut poetry collection by Lauren Amalia Redding. This Thursday, February 11th from 7:00-9:00 PM, come see their idea put into fruition with a conversation between Redding and Augury Editor Kate Angus, who helped curate P&B’s literary endeavor.

For more information about the event and P&B’s mission, head over to their website.

Lauren Amalia Redding is an artist and poet living and working in Astoria, Queens, New York. She received her B.A. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in New York, New York. She has exhibited her artwork from Chicago and New York to Tokyo, with pieces in private collections in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Redding has also been featured as one of “Today’s Masters: Artists Making Their Mark” by Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. In October 2015, she will be an artist in residence at the Florence School of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, housed in Giorgio Vasari’s old studio. Though Redding works primarily as a visual artist, she first expressed herself by writing, and has been writing in secret for ten years. This is the first time any of her poetry has been published.

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James Tate

Tomorrow evening, Arisa White, whose full-length poetry collection you’re the most beautiful thing that happened is forthcoming from Augury this fall, will read in tribute to poet James Tate at The New School. Several other poets will be reading to honor Tate as well, including John Ashbery, Matthea Harvey, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dorothea Lasky, Charles Wright, and Matthew Zapruder. In addition, David Lehman will be introducing, and music will be provided by Eve Beglarian and Charles Wuorinen, with vocals by Maya Sharpe.

This event is open to the public, and seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Find out more about this event on The New School’s website.

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Garo‘s apropos slogan, “Work that connects people to the land and each other”, did just that with their feature of “Diatomaceous Earth” by Augury’s forthcoming author Sara Schaff last Friday.

“Diatomaceous Earth” is from Schaff’s short story collection, Say Something Nice About Me, our prose selection for 2016 which we will publish this fall.

Like much of Schaff’s prose, “Diatomaceous Earth” is a haunting, naturalistic tale, heavy on dialogue, showcasing the many forms intimacy between two people can take.

After combing through online chat rooms devoted to households plagued by indoor ants, Ella, Stephen, and I finally settled on a remedy that sounded feasible and only mildly dangerous: diatomaceous earth, a powdery, porous substance that occurs naturally, is safe near food preparation, but illegal to sell in Ann Arbor. I purchased a bottle online.

When it arrived, days after my afternoon with Ella and Stephen, Gerry was downstairs with me. He thought we should celebrate me being done with all my papers. Also, he felt hopeful about getting the job in Dearborn. “The interview went great. They responded well to my enthusiasm.”

Gerry’s enthusiasm. My secret, gloomy future. I guess that’s why he and I had ended up in bed again, which is where we were when I heard the mail delivered. I put on a robe to go outside, and when I returned to the bedroom, I held out the package to Gerry. “I’m being proactive about my ant problem, see?”

Together, we laid the trail of diatomaceous earth: behind the toaster, leading from and to the hole Ella had spotted. “That’s where they’re coming from,” I told Gerry. “They’ll come out, gather the powder on their little bodies, and without realizing it, take it back with them to their nest.”

“And then?”

I shuddered, in spite of my new conviction. “Eventually, they all dry out, become little husks of their former selves.”

Sara Schaff’s fiction has appeared in FiveChapters, Southern Indiana Review, Carve Magazine, and elsewhere. A graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at the University of Michigan, she has taught in China, Colombia, and Northern Ireland, where she also studied storytelling. Sara is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Oberlin College. Find links to her work at saraschaff.com.

More of Sara Schaff:

Sara Schaff’s website

Author Page

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A detail from Cyanotypes of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843), courtesy of the Public Domain Review

Open Alphabet recently shared a short interview with Carey McHugh which covers everything from the daily writing practice to Robert Frank to rejection in one condensed form.

Open Alphabet: How did you come to poetry? At what point did you know you were a poet?

Carey McHugh: I distinctly remember, at age seven, receiving a rejection letter for a poem I had submitted to Highlights Magazine. This was the beginning of rejection, and so, perhaps the beginning of true poethood.

Head over to their website to read the interview in full and for more conversations with first-book poets.

More of Carey McHugh:

Author page

Purchase American Gramophone through Amazon

**Below is an excerpt from prose finalist Ellen Winter, which, due to a glitch in technology and spam folders on our end, we’re getting to you a few weeks late. We hope you’ll take a second to read and enjoy Ellen’s prose as you did our other finalists.**

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“The Little Mission” from Wee Hours and Other Stories

Swede was slowing for the cattle guard that marked the final fence line when something shifted in the clearing below him, catching his eye. He braked hard, cranking down a window sluggish with mud. At first glance it all looked normal enough. The pasture was a small one, backed by woodlands and divided by Little Mission Creek. There were a couple of outbuildings he’d never found a use for, an old loading pen that held cattle in its day. The creek ran right through the middle, all but a glint of it hidden by the trees.

In the shadow of one of those willows, a large animal was trying to be still. It was a horse, a well-groomed bay, head lowered to the ground as if grazing. The gelding was saddled—that was the first thing that struck Swede as odd. And it wasn’t grass he was nibbling at, but the collar of a woman’s shirt. The woman lay on her side, hands tucked beneath a cheek. She looked peaceful, so much so that Swede nearly opted to drive on by. But most folks wouldn’t nap so close to a roadway. He would have to investigate. Pulling onto the grassy shoulder, he parked.

The truck’s heavy door opened with a screech and the horse spooked. Swede approached the woman with stealth, worried he might catch her in an act of a private nature. When he was close enough he crouched, hands on knees, peering cautiously into her face. It was Elsie Tarnower; Swede should have known that by the oversized clothing. Elsie was fond of menswear. Long-legged Wranglers were cinched at the waist by a wide leather belt. Her shirt was a well-worn flannel. Pointed flaps held the pockets closed with pearly snaps. If there were breasts under there, Elsie did her best to conceal them.

It was the look on her face that undid him. Only babies should be capable of such repose. That peacefulness was odd to see on the likes of Elsie Tarnower. She was a big gal and a busy one, proud of the fact that she could outwork most of the neighborhood men. She’d been called antsy by some and hyperactive by others. One rancher had gone so far as to say she was spastic—annoyed, no doubt, that she’d been hired by someone else.

Swede tried whistling. Then he tried shuffling his feet. Spurts of dust settled on her head and shoulders, but Elsie Tarnower was unperturbed. He called her name, softly at first and then louder. Bending close, he whispered a string of obscenities in her ear. If she was faking, he’d know it by now.

Ellen Winter’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Fiction, New Letters, The Antioch Review, and Brain, Child. Her first collection, The Price You Pay: Stories, was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award, and went on to be published by Southern Methodist University Press. A second collection is being circulated, and there are a couple of novels in the works. Awards include fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Bread Loaf. She lives with her husband and three children in Livingston, MT, where she makes a living as a housekeeper.

Due to this weekend’s blizzard and unstable travel conditions, we’re sad to report that tomorrow’s Alicia Jo Rabins/Augury Family reading at Unnameable Books has been moved tentatively to Monday, April 11 at 7 pm. Follow the Facebook event for updates and information and we hope we’ll be seeing you there in April!

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Orchi’s flower via New York Public Library’s Digital Collections

On Tuesday, Augury founding editor Kate Angus provided us with a much-needed resource over at Vida: Women in Literary Arts. Kate recently went looking for a list of women run presses and after her search turned up empty handed, she decided it was high time to write the list herself. Kate takes us through the process she went through herself to compile the list—unsurprisingly not the quickest tally to make, as the faces and heads of so many presses are men. But the final product is one that we hope all readers will be able to use in the future, whether looking for literary events, new prose, or a home for their own work. Head over to Vida to see the complete list.

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