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This Week in Words – Apr. 28

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

I became a little bit obsessed with interviews this week. I’d visit one site, read an interview, and then a link on the sidebar would catch my eye and I’d be lost in the next interview. So I apologize: Most of my links this week are interviews. They’re good, though, I promise.

I found a post over at Big Other featuring a video clip of William Gass speaking in a Parisian bookshop. He reads a little excerpt of his work before speaking at length about the sentence in fiction. Along the way, he manages to bag a little bit on philosophers and Faulkner, and mention Hitler and the banality of evil before making his way back to what the big deal is about the sentence. All I could think was, “Man, I really want to go to Paris and write in that bookshop.”

Katherine Heiny talked to The Review Review about what it takes to be a writer. She talks about her favorite rejection letter (“We really like this story except for the characters and plot and dialogue”), how “thrilling” it is to have a story published in a lit mag, and the best advice she’s received about writing. It came from Evan Hunter, who told her that if she wasn’t getting up in the morning to write, then she was just a person who planned to write something in the future. She said taking his advice led her “from being a writer who wants to write to one who actually does, and there’s no better feeling than that. And none worse, either.” Amen.

Also from The Review Review (seriously, you should check them out; there’s gold everywhere), editor of Cobalt Review, Andrew Keating, gives writers some tips about submissions. He also sheds some light on what it’s like to run a lit mag (which I found personally gratifying). Key points he makes: follow submission guidelines and read the magazine. He admits this is cliché advice, but from an editorial and writer-in-progress point of view, I can say with utmost confidence that it’s critical advice. By the way, over at Cobalt, they feature interviews with “the most influential writers in the literary community,” which include educators, publishers, and well-known writers. I’d highly recommend burgeoning writers give those a read.

Since this is North Carolina, it bears mentioning that Ron Rash’s novel Serena is being adapted for the screen. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as the title character, with Bradley Cooper playing George Pemberton. (Jennifer Lawrence can’t seem to get enough of Appalachia, can she?) Oddly, filming is underway in Prague, not North Carolina. I have no idea why.

The Rumpus interviewed poet CA Conrad late last week about his work and his process, which is unique. Conrad conducts “(Soma)tic Exercises” in order to create his poetry. For example, he’ll eat only blue foods or only listen to a particular song for several days. He’s even used a mugging experience as inspiration. The results are organic and thoughtful. The interview starts with a story about a crystal and a bizarre encounter with a woman at Mt. Shasta. I almost quit reading, but I wanted something poetic for this article. I’m glad I stuck with it: I think this guy might be brilliant.

Speaking of poetry, National Poetry Month is coming to an end. As a send-off, here’s Shel Silverstein singing “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too.” You’re welcome.

This Week in Words – Apr. 21

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

On Sunday, Lookout Books held a release party for John Rybicki’s When All The World is Old. This collection of poems is Rybicki’s third, and it is inspired by his wife and her sixteen-year battle with cancer. Terrance Hayes, author of Lighthead, calls Rybicki a “true poet of ecstasy” whose poems “will make you vibrate.” For more information, including excerpts and where to buy, visit Lookout’s website.

In what may be the coolest mash-up ever, the grandsons of J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Dickens are collaborating on two children’s books due out later this year through the Thames River Press. Michael Tolkien, a poet and The Hobbit author’s eldest grandson, based the two fantasy novels on stories his grandfather told him as a child. Gerald Dickens will narrate the audiobooks in what had better be a very Dickens voice.

Poet Zach Houston is taking it to the streets. Armed with a sign that simply reads, “POEMS – Your Topic, Your Price,” an old typewriter (he calls it his “purse full of language” which is awesome), and not much else, Houston composes poems for strangers about anything from spring break to Legos. Five years ago, he quit his job to sit on the sidewalk in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market most Saturdays and write for the people. Though he admits it isn’t always a reliable income, you have to hand it to this guy for just going out there and doing it.

On a similar note, the Safety Pin Review is both bizarre and incredibly cool. This article explains more about it.

Michael Martone, writer and professor for University of Alabama’s creative writing program, talks to The Review Review about lit mags and why readership might not be booming. He says fame seems to be what’s important to some people in what he calls “the construction of this thing called an author.” When asked about his favorite literary magazines, he claims that they’re all good for different reasons, but he does love publishing in new magazines to help them “make a name for themselves.” That sounds good to me – where do we sign up?

Another excellent interview to check out: Miranda July in The Rumpus. July is a filmmaker, writer, and performer whose new book, It Chooses You, is composed of interviews between July and people she met through “for sale” ads in Los Angeles’ Pennysaver. The book, though not necessarily meant to be a companion piece, shares a similar thread with July’s new film entitled The Future. Some topics from the interview: strangers as inspiration, July’s awkwardness in one-on-one conversations, and the impact of modern technology on the quality of people’s interactions with one another. If you’ve ever read July’s work, you know what a unique voice she has and that definitely comes through here.

Want a free lit mag subscription? The Review Review is having a contest to see who knows the most about A cappella Zoo, “an independent magazine of magic realism and slipstream.” The winner will be chosen at the end of April and gets a free subscription to the mag in question: A cappella Zoo. Give it a shot. While you’re there, check out the other contests going on at The Review Review.