SR Pod/Vod Series: Writer Svetlana Lavochkina

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Svetlana Lavochkina.

svetlanalavochkinaSvetlana Lavochkina is a writer of fiction and translator of poetry. Her novella Dam Duchess was chosen runner-up for the 2013 Paris Literary Prize. Born and educated in Ukraine, Svetlana currently resides in Germany with her husband and two sons. Her work has been published in Circumference, Witness, Cerise Press, Drunken Boat, Eclectica, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Literary Review, and Chamber Four Fiction Anthology. Svetlana is co-founder and president of Leipzig Writers, a non-profit organization supporting literary projects.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel.

You can read along with the work in Superstition Review.

First-Ever Tempe Community Writing Contest

tempe writing contest

 

November may be National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but for ASU students and Tempe residents who’d rather try their hand at shorter works, this is also the month to start preparing for a new spring writing challenge.

ASU’s College of Letters and Sciences and the writing programs in the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are partnering with Tempe Public Library to host the first-ever Tempe Community Writing Contest.

The writing contest, which invites submissions in the genres of poetry, short fiction and nonfiction, is open to all Tempe residents, Tempe Library cardholders and all ASU students.

Entries will be accepted between Jan. 15, 2015 and Feb. 15, 2015 at this online submission link, and individuals may submit one piece in each genre if they wish. Entries will be read anonymously within three judging categories: high school student, college student (undergraduate or graduate) and community adult. One winner from each entry category will be chosen for each genre.

“The contest was the idea of several of the Tempe Public Library staff,” explains Jill Brenner, adult services librarian. “We’ve recently been offering more programming for writers as a natural extension of library services. The response has been fantastic, so we wanted to take it one step further.

“We immediately thought of ASU as a partner, since several of our writing workshops are being presented by ASU faculty members,” says Brenner.

She began collaborating in August with Jeanne Hanrahan, faculty associate and liaison for ASU Academic Success Programs, and Duane Roen, College of Letters and Sciences interim dean, to organize the contest and enlist judges from the university’s creative writing community.

“I thank the many faculty and staff who have enthusiastically stepped up to support the contest, and hope faculty across ASU will encourage their students to submit their writing,” observes Roen, who enjoys leading Tempe Public Library workshops to inspire family-history writing. “The process of writing, like any of the arts, can be an outlet for expression and a lifelong journey that enriches our individual lives and our communities.”

The Tempe Community Writing Contest winners will be announced in the spring and celebrated at a reception at Tempe Public Library. Winning entries will also be published on the library’s website. Additional information and contest details and a PDF of the contest announcement can be found at the Tempe Public Library events webpage.

For more information visit: https://asunews.asu.edu/20141110-tempe-writing-contest

Guest Post, Charles Rafferty: Maxims and Observations on the Writing Life

Compression is achieved by leaving things out — useless details, obvious emotions. This is why I prefer espresso. Its blackness tells me there is just enough water. Consider the following maxims and observations on writing to be fifty cups of espresso:

  1. On the need to write every day: No one can shoot a nickel off the back of a galloping ox with just one bullet. The most one bullet will get you is a dead ox.
  2. On mistakes: There is a kind of progress we make when we trip and fall forward.
  3. The eye can see only by continuing to blink. This is an argument for stopping work when a poem gets stubborn and ceases to improve. Time in a dark drawer is always time well-spent.
  4. The critic has the blueprints, but the poet builds the palace.
  5. On my former aversion to prose poems: I used to think of them as mules — sterile hybrids. Now, I see the prose poem as a euglena — that cutthroat survivor with a foot in two kingdoms.
  6. There are works that I’m ashamed to have not read, and there are those that merely embarrass me. This is the difference between the greatness of the past and the enthusiasm of the present.
  7. Certain scenes are awkward because the characters don’t play well together — they are like dolls of different scales pushed into the same tea party.
  8. The painter with chopped-off hands will learn to sing better than the writer with inherited pitch.
  9. A good book should stay with you at least as long as your average tick bite. Reading it should make you itch.
  10. In a forest, the best poets think of axe handles and violins.
  11. On revisions: Don’t treat first drafts too preciously. Nobody carves a log before pushing it into the fireplace.
  12. Distancing yourself emotionally from the subject matter of your stories is important. But there’s a point at which the faces grow indistinct and we cease to have any stake in who dies or falls in love.
  13. On the popularity of confessional poems: The mirror always answers.
  14. The painter would make different choices if he began instead with a black canvas.
  15. On poems that refuse to get finished: It can be like carving your initials into the sea or digging up the shadow of your favorite spruce.
  16. I’m the kind of person who takes more pleasure in the novel he burned than he does in the novel he’s trying to finish. The former, at least, provides a good anecdote at a cocktail party.
  17. On the critic who tries to advance the careers of his friends by writing favorable reviews they don’t deserve: The dog is the planet to his fleas.
  18. On the charge of strangeness: The world is my materials. I won’t apologize for my materials.
  19. On ambition: Climbing the mountain doesn’t bring the stars any closer.
  20. Extra syllables at the end of a poem are like a squeaky piano stool as the final notes of a symphony try to evaporate.
  21. The dictionary is an anthology of one-word poems, footnotes included.
  22. A sonnet is a jail that lets us in.
  23. On the influence of dead poets: The wake of a swan continues long after it has taken flight.
  24. Trusting a poem is our first mistake. Living as if we had not read it is our second.
  25. That a poem means is more important than what a poem means.
  26. On obscurity: Poets in America are fourth magnitude stars, and everyone’s night vision has been ruined by sitcoms and football.
  27. On the growing number of people claiming to be poets: The tiniest flowers have no fragrance; America is full of tiny flowers.
  28. When I was young, if a poem wasn’t about being with a woman, it was about being apart from a woman — and all the great merits of either circumstance.
  29. On writer’s block: We need not fret about our occasional lack of inspiration. The guitar player needs to take a day off to let his calluses thicken and heal. A man needs a nap before screwing his woman a second time.
  30. On reading the lines I wrote when I was high: After the sunset, the pollution goes back to looking ordinary.
  31. Stories either start stable and become strange, or start strange and become stable. The ice is always melting or hardening.
  32. In defense of sonnets: The piano is an old instrument, but we can play new songs on it.
  33. On the charge of prettiness: Yes, the bell of the tulip is pretty, but it cannot rise without some dirt beneath it.
  34. The critic concerns himself with the parts of a poem the way a disreputable mechanic wants every piece to shine and be new. The poet simply wants the goddamned car to move.
  35. Nature poetry should be more than verbal postcards. In any glorious arrangement of mountains, we must find at least the shadow of a man.
  36. The poet transmutes the world into sound the way a bluejay turns trash into a nest.
  37. Don’t let your admiration of traditional forms override the notion of suitability. If the form doesn’t correspond to the subject, the poet will be accused of trying to fit a puppy inside a ringbox, of delivering a diamond inside an aircraft carrier.
  38. The will to criticism: It’s just the urge to have answers at a particularly severe cocktail party.
  39. We like listening to known liars. It’s the pleasure of hoping they’ll trip themselves up. A poem must proceed with the liar’s bravado. In this sense, a poem should leave the reader frustrated.
  40. On failed poems we can’t stop revising: There’s nothing so steady as a half-sunk canoe.
  41. On finding no one to publish a poem: It feels like a five-dollar bill with too much taped and missing.
  42. The worst poets treat their poems like puzzles — something merely to be figured out. In the most dire cases, they withhold several pieces, hiding them in their breast pockets, forcing us to come to them with questions we would rather not ask.
  43. Poems can fail in two ways: boredom or confusion. Boredom stems from too small a grasp — the ordinary sand grain in the palm of a hand. Confusion stems from extravagance — the attempt to palm a city. Given the choice, I prefer my poems to fail always by confusion.
  44. On self-promotion: A car can rev its engine just as loud whether the trunk is full of gold or horse shit.
  45. We are awestruck by actual sunsets, but embarrassed by their photographs. This is a proof that some beauty defies translation.
  46. On the need to take a break from the daily routine of writing: If a garden goes untended long enough, even the weeds come into flower.
  47. During the initial draft of a poem, when we are knocking on every door we come across, there is that moment when a peephole goes dark, and we know that the door must be kicked in.
  48. On inspiration: Sometimes, the girl is brought out of the marble by a single hammer tap.
  49. On our steadily fragmenting culture: At the rate things are going, someday even Jesus will require a footnote in the Norton Anthology.
  50. On ambition: I won’t be content to be called the American Shakespeare. I won’t be satisfied until Shakespeare is known as the English Rafferty.

SR Pod/Vod Series: Poet Kathleen Winter

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Kathleen Winter.

kathleenwinterhsKathleen Winter’s collection Nostalgia for the Criminal Past won the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award for a first book of poems. In 2012 the book won the Antivenom Poetry Prize and was published by Elixir Press. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, The New Republic, AGNI, Field and Memorious. Work is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Poetry London and Alaska Quarterly Review. She was awarded fellowships by Vermont Studio Center and the Prague Summer Program, and will be the Writer-in-Residence at the James Merrill House in January 2015. She teaches writing at Napa Valley College.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel.

You can read along with the work in Superstition Review.

Jeredith Merrin at Changing Hands Bookstore

CUP_Final CoverChanging Hands Bookstore in Phoenix:
Reading by Jeredith Merrin
December 8, 2014, 7PM

Author Jeredith Merrin reads from her work CUP with the members of her Piper Writer’s Studio RoundTable. CUP is up for pre-purchase at Amazon.com (with delivery on the CUP’s official release date of December 1), and is available for immediate purchase and delivery at Changing Hands Bookstore and on AbleMusePress.com.

Intern Post, Nicole Dunlap: The Job Market for English Majors

jobsearch

I graduated from ASU in 2010 with a degree in English Literature (truth: on my resume, I leave off the “Literature” part). A little less than one year later, I got a job at an environmental consulting company where I have grown to be the sole editor of the small, 60-employee firm.

I originally applied to be a “Word Processor” via their Craigslist post. A lot of people are shocked to find out I found my steady, full-time, full-benefits employment through a website known for its scams. When job searching, I still check out Craigslist as well as LinkedIn, Monster, and other sites. You come to recognize the scams on Craigslist, and have to be okay with many of your applications likely going nowhere.

Here is what I’ve learned in my years since graduation.

If you want to work with words, regardless of how boring your job is, the money seems to be in the Technical Writing field. My only regret from my education is not taking a course or two in technical writing. I, for one, am totally okay with having a boring job. (Note the difference, I am not unhappy with my job, it’s just not the most exciting work in the world). I made that distinction when I graduated; separate the enjoyment I find editing (work), from my investment in writing and poetry as an art form (passion). Boring as my desk job may be, I still find great satisfaction in knowing that, because of my work, some small fraction of the words going out into the world read well and look nice. Give me the boring for eight hours a day so I can pay my bills and have the free time to develop my passions.

Technical editing, what I do for Transcon Environmental, is also in some demand. What I’ve found, though, is that you need to have another skill-set or area of expertise to fall back on. I happen to be incredibly organized—almost to a fault—so when my editing is light, I function also as the Administrative/Executive assistant for the company. You will market yourself better if your writing/English degree is the backbone for your other talents and skills. And don’t discount your liberal arts education (I highly recommend David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech about the value of a liberal arts education); these four years at university have turned you into a well-rounded, disciplined, learned individual. Everything you’ve learned in school, every way you’ve grown and the traits and habits you’ve developed should be included in your resume/cover letter/application process.

There are places to put your English degree to use outside of academia. I have been introduced to the environmental consulting and urban planning industry. In order for utility companies to build and alter their infrastructure, they need consultants like us to ensure they are complying with federal and state laws (among other things). We produce reports based on our research and field surveys, these reports get circulated through federal agencies, tribal nations, land management companies, etc. I never knew such an industry even existed, let alone that they produce numerous reports that, through rounds of revisions, get signed-off on by the government so that construction companies have to follow the mitigation we outline in the report. It’s important that these documents are thoroughly proofread, wordsmithed, and clean of technical errors. Just because you like to work with words doesn’t mean you’re stuck in the academia or publishing worlds.

The job search process is frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes heart-wrenching. Be prepared for this. Build a thick skin now, in preparation. I lost count of how many jobs I’ve applied to over the years. I recently relocated and, before being offered to transfer and stay with Transcon, I was applying back home on the east coast to around 10–15 jobs per week. I applied for things I was over-qualified for, under-qualified––anything––I just wanted a lead. Resumes, once formed, are easy and don’t change much. Cover letters, on the other hand, is where your time and effort should be invested during your job search. Try to make yours stand out from the rest. Show your potential employer you are serious about the job; show them you’ve done your research by doing things like including their physical address on the cover letter, or alluding to details on their website. Explain how you, as a person with your own individual personality traits, would benefit their company. Don’t rush through customizing your cover letter. The job search takes time and commitment, just like class assignments; try to respect it with the same level you’d respect an assignment. Your resume should highlight your work experience, your cover letter should highlight your personality traits, and NEITHER should be intended to get you a job. Your resume and cover letter get you an interview; your performance in the interview gets you the job (no pressure).

Try not to get frustrated during your job search, don’t discredit or doubt your English or liberal arts education, be persistent as you apply for jobs (I called my current employer every week for months until my position with the company was firm). Sell yourself and what you have to offer. Write your cover letter, walk into an interview with the attitude that it is the THEIR loss if they don’t hire you.

Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review Reading: Show Us What You Got!

Marooned Annual Reading

Next Thursday, November 20thMarooned Undergraduate Creative Review will be hosting their annual reading to celebrate their most recent issue at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus in room 316 of the Durham Language and Literature building from 6-9 pm.

We are excited to present the amazing work from some of our 23 contributors for Volume 12. So far, our lineup of readers includes Jillian Mason, Jessica Swarner, and Kevin Hanlon.

Then following the scheduled readings, audience members will be able to perform in our open mic session. If you are interested in reading at the open mic, you should arrive a little early to sign up.

We will be providing food and drinks. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Marooned vol 12 cover

Marooned is a literary magazine supported by the Arizona State University Department of English. We are currently run by five undergraduate interns and supervisor Bob Haynes.

We accept submissions in poetry, fiction, essay, photography, and art starting in the fall semester until our submission deadline on April 1st. Copies of our current and past issues are available for purchase for $5 from our interns on ASU’s Tempe campus, and will be available at our reading.

Come join us for a fun evening in celebrating contemporary literature from Marooned’s most recent issue.

Michael Cohen is a student in Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. He is pursuing a degree in creative writing and hopes to continue his writing education upon graduating, while working towards becoming a published author. He is also an editor for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review.

Elizabeth S. Hansen is a senior at Arizona State University Tempe pursuing degrees in creative writing and communication under Barrett, the Honors College, as well as a writing certificate. She is an intern for the literary magazine Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review, as well as Superstition Review. Her work has been published in issue 8 of Miracle Magazine. Upon graduation, Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in the writing and/or teaching industries.

Tamara Ignatian is a senior pursuing her degree in English through Arizona State University online and is working as an intern on campus for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review. Outside of school, Tamara reads anything that she can get her hands on and runs a poetry blog. After graduation, Tamara intends to further her education in the hopes of one day teaching English or editing professionally.

Haley Marshall is a senior at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in film studies. Also a member of Barrett, the Honors College and an editorial intern atMarooned, she’s hoping to work in the publishing industry after graduation.

Madison Ruffner is a junior at Arizona State University pursing a degree in English literature, as well as minors in both Business and Japanese. In addition to being an intern for Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review she has a passion for writing in both languages. After graduation she hopes to pursue a career in publishing in either language, in either Japan or the United States.

Bob Haynes currently teaches professional and technical writing classes at Arizona State University and is Director of the Writing Certificate Program. He is also the faculty advisor for the student-run literary magazine Marooned. Bob has also written educational nonfiction for children and his works have been published in journals such as Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. His background includes journalism studies at the George Washington University, professional publishing at Stanford University, and creative writing at ASU. He retired from NASA in 1998 and has been teaching at ASU since 2002.