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Archive for January, 2016

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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

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**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.

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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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This coming Tuesday, January 26th at 7 PM, Unnameable Books in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn will host a night of reading and celebration by and for various Augury authors as well as a launch for Alicia Jo Rabins‘ Divinity School. Among the authors present will be Joe Pan, Frances Justine Post, and Augury’s founding editor Kate Angus. Join us for what will surely be a night of wonderful prose and great company.

Alicia Jo Rabins is a poet, composer, musician, and Torah scholar. She was born in Oregon and grew up in Baltimore and New York City. Alicia’s poems appear in Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, 6×6, The Boston Review, and elsewhere. She teaches ancient Jewish texts to children and adults and performs internationally as a violinist and singer. Alicia lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, daughter, and son.

Joe Pan is the author of two collections of poetry, Hiccups (Augury Books) and Autobiomythography & Gallery (BAP). He is the publisher and managing editor of Brooklyn Arts Press, serves as the poetry editor for the arts magazine Hyperallergic and small press editor for Boog City, and is the founder of the services-oriented activist group Brooklyn Artists Helping. His piece “Ode to the MQ-9 Reaper,” a hybrid work about drones, was excerpted and praised in The New York Times. In 2015 Joe participated in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space artist residency program on Governors Island. Joe attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, grew up along the Space Coast of Florida, and now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Frances Justine Post is the recipient of the “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize, the Inprint Paul Verlaine Poetry Prize, and the Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Her poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, The Kenyon Review Online, The Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Western Humanities Review, and others. Originally from Sullivan’s Island, SC, she received her MFA from Columbia University and her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She lives in the Hudson Valley of NY.

Kate Angus is a founding editor of Augury Books. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Indiana Review, Subtropics, Court Green, Verse Daily, The Awl, The Rumpus, Best New Poets 2 and Best New Poets 2014. She is a recipient of the “Orlando” prize from the A Room of Her Own Foundation, as well as Southeastern Review’s Narrative Nonfiction prize and American Literary Review’s award for Creative Nonfiction. A former Writer in Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy, she has also received residencies from the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach, the Wildfjords trail in Westfjords, Iceland, and the BAU Institute in Otranto, Italy. She is a Creative Writing Advisory Board Member for the Mayapple Center for Arts and Humanities and a Guest Literary Arts Curator for the nonprofit arts organization Pen and Brush, where she curates the “Pen and Brush Presents…” reading series. Her collection, So Late to the Party, is forthcoming in Spring 2016 from Negative Capability Press.

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Le spectre de la rose by Valentine Hugo, 1912 via New York Public Library.

Yesterday on the Tin House blog, Robert Ostrom shared a recent conversation with Carey McHugh about her book American Gramophone, taxidermy, and flying, among many things.

CM: …There’s a lot of taxidermy in the book. And in fact, we had this one deer head hanging in our living room for a long time. It was a deer that my dad had shot, and I was always appalled by it. I didn’t understand it. Why was it inside the house? Why did it have eyes? I remember being really young and looking up at it, and I remember this panic but also intrigue. How did this come to be here like this? And sometimes they’d take it down to dust it and I’d just pet it and be like, “Is it creature? Is it ornament? What is this thing!?”

It’s a reminder, maybe, of some history that I visit but don’t completely enter. Because I don’t hunt like my dad and my uncles and my brother. I’m a vegetarian in fact. But it’s something that’s always been present in my life. There was always talk of camo and bird dogs and guns. It wasn’t like those things were foreign objects. They were always in the mix somehow. And that’s so foreign to my life now that I think I go back there in my memory and I try to pull it up somehow and understand it.

Come for McHugh’s always wise musings on poetry, memory, and the writing process, stay for the smart (and adorable) questions Ostrom relayed from his seven year-old niece.

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American Gramophone is available for purchase online through Amazon.

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What happened was, William had a stroke. A mild one, the doctor said. But he was out for a few minutes. I found him in the living room, collapsed beside my bag of knitting, his cheek against the carpet, the television blaring Larry King. The window was open; from outside came the rumbling of a truck, the laughter of the children next door playing in their front yard. It was an early autumn evening, hot and dry from the Santa Ana winds. The breeze coming in through the window offered no relief from the stifling heaviness in the air.

Of course I was scared when I saw William like that. Of course my heart started beating fast and I ran over to my husband and stroked his face and tried to wake him. Of course I called 9-1-1 and cried into the phone for an ambulance.

 
Later, when I sat beside William’s hospital bed and he reached over and squeezed my hand and smiled, I felt relief like none I’d ever felt before. That I wasn’t alone in this world. That he hadn’t left me yet.

But then he came home from the hospital, and he started going on and on about God and Jesus and being “saved” and “seeing the light.” At first I thought it was just a phase, just something he had to get out of his system. But it’s been four months now, and if anything he’s just getting more belligerent about it. He wants me to go to church with him. He wants the two of us to get baptized together. He keeps a Bible on the nightstand and reads passages out loud before bed, like a preacher in a movie. I always roll over and pretend to be asleep. Any response from me would just encourage him, make him dig in his heels even more. William is stubborn as the waves crashing onto the beach, breaking rocks down into sand.

 

Dallas Woodburn, a recent Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing,
has published fiction and nonfiction in Zyzzyva, Fourth River, The
Nashville Review, The Los Angeles Times, North Dakota Quarterly, and
Monkeybicycle, among others. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she
won second place in the American Fiction Prize and her work appears in
American Fiction Volume 13: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by
American Writers (New Rivers Press). Her short story collection was
previously a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short
Fiction and the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. She is the founder of
Write On! For Literacy, an organization that empowers young people
through reading and writing endeavors: www.writeonbooks.org.

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