This Week in Words – May 5

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

First off, a little local love. A poet here in North Carolina, John Mortara (that’s his awesome and innovative website), started an equally awesome program for sharing poetry called Here’s how it works: call 910-703-POEM, read a poem, hear it on the website. It doesn’t even have to be your poem, as long as you give the author credit. What’s great about this concept is that you get to read your work – and have it heard – just as you intended it. It’s brand new, so give them a ring and get your work out there.

Boston Review is having a poetry contest for a $1,500 first prize. Submissions cost $20 a pop and you get a complimentary six-month subscription to Boston Review, which is a win right there. The deadline is June 1 and the winner will be announced no later than November 1. Click the link for guidelines and links to past winners.

I think April was Matt Bell Month in the lit mag community. He did an interview in Cobalt Review on the 20th, and last week he talked to The Rumpus. I read the latter first which sent me searching for the former. Though some of the questions and answers overlap, both interviews have some new material. The Rumpus mostly covers the depth, thematic elements, and meaning behind Matt’s new book, Cataclysm Baby. Cobalt deals more with Matt’s technique, form, and general writer-ness. I’ve only ever read one Matt Bell story (“Alex Trebek Never Eats Fried Chicken”) and these interviews made me painfully ashamed I haven’t read more than that. At the end of the Cobalt interview, he summed up what young writers should never go without: “Curiosity as a reader and a writer, generosity toward other writers, and a writing schedule you can actually keep.” This guy just blows my mind. It sounds like common sense, but you hear it from Matt Bell and it’s like he’s invented sliced bread.

The Rumpus also talked to Elif Batuman, mostly about Mike Daisey, his monologue about Apple, and the way the media – particularly This American Life – handled the revelation that some of it wasn’t factual. They mention her book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them too. I remember hearing about the Mike Daisey story, but it never occurred to me to look at it from the writer’s point of view. This discussion with Batuman makes some good points about recent opinions regarding fact and fiction.

Finally, just for fun, a slide show over at Flavorwire lists literature’s most cryptic book titles and what they mean, if anything.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!