Mid May Update

Hi friends!

It’s middle of May, the trees are leafing, the grass is greener than a dollar bill, the birds are nesting, and gobbling up seeds, insects, suet and whatever else moves. We had a turkey strutting through our yard yesterday, and the occasional deer saunters through the edges of our back yard. Life goes on, and on.

At Bending Genres we have our next online weekend workshop with Tyler Barton, May 22- 24. He’ll be teaching “Artifact Lit,” and the workshop is full, so it ought to be terrific.

I will return to the helm on June 19- 21, with “Stop Making Sense,” and here is the course description and registration page: https://bendinggenres.com/our-online-workshops/

On our Bending Genres blog, Haley Papa reviewed My Autobiography of Carson McCullers 

Also, Jonathan Cardew returns with his My Fave Five column for May, asking poet Alina Stefanescu for her favorite reads from April: https://bendinggenres.com/2020/05/15/my-fave-five-with-alina-stefanescu/

Meg Tuite is in charge of our Bending Genres Online Roundtable for May- August, 2020. She has nine writers signed up, and they did their first group ZOOM today: https://bendinggenres.com/bg-store/

And look at all of that new Bending Genres merchandise, mugs, journals/ notebooks, pens, bookmarks. And our first Bending Genres Anthology- Best of our first two years!

Have a terrific time today. Be safe, take care, love yourself.

National Poetry Month Recap

I’ve been reading a poem a day for April’s National Poetry Month! My caveat this third time around has been that I have to own the physical book so I can “show it,” and select a signature poem each morning. Here is the recap since my last blog:

April 14th, I read Justin Marks from The Comedown (Publishing Genius): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG4eBQW9HxI

April 15th, I read Kelli Agodon’s “Sketchbook with an Undercurrent of Grief” from Hourglass Museum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pvLBdzTW3w&t=8s

April 16th, I read Rogan Kelly’s “Withers Street, Next to the Greif Trucking Company” from Demolition in the Tropics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DYVY-7rXJY

April 17th, I read Katherine Seluja’s “The Psychiatrist Said” from Gather the Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JppUE3mTYu8&t=8s

April 18th, I read Philip F. Clark’s “Learning” from The Carnival of Affection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piwHuL9CPVs&t=3s

April 19th, I read Ruth Awad’s “Lessons in Grief” from Set to Music a Wildfire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EfSJ0Vu2lc

April 20th, I read Adam Clay’s “Immortality for Mary Ruefle” from To Make Room For The Sea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWyItu22nPQ&t=4s

April 21st, I read Dorianne Laux’s “The Shipfitter’s Wife” from Smoke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djj1nhLvUY0&t=28s

April 22nd, I read Kaveh Akbar’s “Fubu” from Calling A Wolf A Wolf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DrgSGWpiJM

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On the Bending Genres website, we have several new projects, including a new column curated by MicroViews editor, Jonathan Cardew called “My Fave Five.” His first contributor, Jude Higgins, adds her selections: https://bendinggenres.com/2020/04/16/my-fave-five/

Also, we will be rolling out some of our Bending Genres Anthology contributors, like Jayne Martin, who kicks off our new reading series “Bending Genres Presents”: https://bendinggenres.com/2020/04/21/bending-genres-presents-jayne-martin/

We have our next Bending Genres Weekend Workshop, Found in the Forest, with stunning writer/ teacher Wendy Oleson, April 24- 26: https://bendinggenres.com/our-online-workshops/

Thanks BG staff: Meg, Len, David, Samuel, Davon, Sara, Corey, Connie, Emily, Jonathan, Adam, and KJ. You rock my world.

And finally, please hold the ones you love even more dearly. We lost a dear college friend this week, and the world appears slightly upside down. Be bold, let those you love know how important they are to you. Stay safe, and healthy.

 

National Poetry Month Recap

One of the many reasons I adore April is because it’s National Poetry Month. And for the third time, I am reading a poem a day. This time, my caveat is I have to own the book in which the poem I choose daily is published, and also, that I have read, or re-read the poem within the past twelve months.

Here are the poems I’ve read since last Monday, April 6th:

4/6/20: I read Ocean Vuong’s “Untitled (Blue, Green and Brown): oil on canvas; Mark Rothko: 1952” from Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFkWKFz_XMk&t=4s

4/7/20: I read Jules Archer’s “How to Love a Monster with Average-Sized Hands” from Little Feasts (Thirty West): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhAzftRDM60&t=11s

4/8/20: I read Nico Amador’s “Self- Portrait with Cropped Hair (after Frida Kahlo) from Flower Wars (Newfound Press): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sESlflVKSs

4/9/20: I read Hala Alyan’s “Ordinary Scripture” from The Twenty- Ninth Year (Mariner Books): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md856nWuDms&t=3s

4/10/20: I read Joe Wenderoth’s “First Impression” from It Is If I Speak (Wesleyan University Press): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTii-0_C29k&t=7s

4/11/20: I read Kim Addonizio’s “The Work” from what is this thing called love (W.W. Norton): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3ZaenvwU80&t=2s

4/12/20: I read Patrick Johnson’s “Transubstantiation (AWOL)” from Gatekeeper (Milkweed Editions): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWCkqyJfcTA&t=11s

4/13/20: I read Mary A. Koncel’s “When the Babies Are Missing Again” from you can tell the horse anything (Tupelo Press): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugAL6b7wq7w&t=4s

Thanks for watching! And thanks for all of the wondrous poetry that you are all writing. Stay safe and take care of each other.

 

 

Bending Genres Issue 14

It’s such an interesting journey, living through these daunting times, and I’m buoyed by the creativity and impulses surrounding us. One friend mentioned he’s dipping back through the Twin Peaks series, another is watching the now most popular Netflix projects. I had the longest ZOOM workshop/stimulation/exchange with three of my dearest writer pals yesterday. It’s amazing what we can manifest. And this morning, I had a lovely message from a complete stranger who lives in Serbia: his mission is to send love, and eliminate fear, one person at a time.

Yesterday we reached another Bending Genres milestone: We launched our 14th issue: March/ April. We now have an incredible staff: for fiction we have Meg Tuite, David O’ Connor, and Len Kuntz. Reading poetry we have Samuel Fox, Davon Loeb and Sara Comito. We have added Corey Holzman to our CNF team. And Johnathan Cardew, recently returned from Cape Verde, will re-join Emily Bertholf on MicroViews. Also, thanks Adam Robinson for all that you do, and KJ for your behind the scenes support.

We also sold our 100th copy of the Bending Genres Anthology today, this tally is only from our website, not including the sales from our AWP20 launch in San Antonio.

Coming soon, we will have merchandise and our online store, including the Anthology, Bending Genres mugs (designed by Michael Seymour Blake), BG Journals (also MSB), pens, bookmarks and stickers (designed by MSB and Ron Kibble). Eventually we will have tee shirts (Ron Kibble Design) also.

And that, friends, is it for now. Be kind. Wave at a stranger. Be safe, keep distance. Send a loved one a kind note.

Bending Genres update

We recently launched our July/ August issue of Bending Genres Journal: issue 10! It is our most full issue since we began publishing BG in January, 2018. We have 18 flash pieces, 10 poets (some with more than one poem included) and 6 CNF pieces. A total of 36 all together. And we also reached another high: we had 1,788 hits (reads) on Tuesday, the day we published, and another 1,100 hits yesterday. This is incredible, and I’m so grateful to every person who read, shared, or posted about our new issue. Also, so happy to have the best editorial and IT team assembled: Meg Tuite, David O’ Connor, Jonathan Cardew, Jessica Mehta, Samuel Fox, Davon Loeb, Corey Holzman, Adam Robinson, and KJ. To read our latest issue: https://www.bendinggenres.com.

Our next Bending Genres weekend workshop is August 23-25 with Nancy Stohlman. She is leading a workshop in Absurdity, and says “let’s get weird!” Only five more spots left, don’t wait to register for this stimulating and terrific course! https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/.

Also, Meg Tuite and I have scored a new location for our very first MIDWEST RETREAT in 2020! This is very exciting! So, in addition to returning to Synergia Ranch on May 10-16, we’ll also be at Cedar Valley in West Bend, Wisconsin on August 16- 22. We will have the Wisconsin webpage up and working very soon! http://retreat.bendinggenres.com. Also, will share some photos from Synergia and Cedar Valley in my next post.

A dear friend of mine is finally free today. Congratulations! It’s been quite a year. Janis Joplin said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Are you free? Truly? Do we ever really know?

I'm Back!

We have some more exciting workshops to check out in our Bending Genres monthly weekend workshops, including Nancy Stohlman on August 23- 25; Robert Russell on September 20-22, and Steven Dunn on October 18-20. More information is available here:

https://bendinggenres.com/monthly-workshops/.

And on July 21-27, we will be back at Mabel Dodge Luhan House for our second Bending Genres retreat. There is more information about that here: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com. We’ve added our very first MIDWEST RETREAT for August 16- 22, 2020. More details are forthcoming! Needless to say, we are so excited.

And we will have our July/ August issue of Bending Genres available at the beginning of August. Some terrific writers are submitting, and we are still taking more fiction, poetry and CNF. Send us your best! www.bendinggenres.com

I hope your summer is rocking your world. Wasn’t it so great to see our Women’s Soccer USA team win the World Cup? Terrific for young girls and boys everywhere. For everyone, really.  ]]>

Writing News

New Micros: Exceptionally Short Fiction, was published by W.W. Norton. This was expertly edited by Robert Scotellaro and James Thomas, and I was fortunate to have two of my pieces included, both formerly published in RIFT, my co-authored collection with Kathy Fish. Writer and Editor Tommy Dean is now conducting interviews about the craft, the construction, and ideas behind the pieces chosen for New Micros. I was so happy when he asked me to participate in his project, and our exchange was published at New Flash Fiction Review. Thanks, to everyone, for believing in my writing, both in the publishing realm, and in these kind editors like Tommy, who endlessly support writers and writing. Also, thanks to NFFR, who have a terrific team and publish innovative writing. Check out their journal and submit your best! In three short days, I head to Portland and AWP commences. I hope to see so many of you, my writing tribe. I’m both excited and terrified. And I have new Bending Genres postcards, thanks to Adam Robinson and his talents, so be forewarned. And last, here is a goofy office photo of me in rad shades. Future’s so bright?!! Happy Spring:  ]]>

New Online workshops

  • Published ten solid issues of fiction, poetry, CNF, art, and VOICES
  • Our first Flash Fiction Contest with guest judge Kathy Fish; vetters Len Kuntz, Dianca Potts, and Nicholas Cook (winner was Quinn Madison)
  • Held three other postcard contests, (winners were Kara Vernor, Meghan Phillips, and Becky Robison)
  • Three readings at different venues in Milwaukee (with hosts Dora Diamond, Jonathan Cardew). Many of our magazine contributors read at these events.
  • Opened our new offices in Walkers Point, added our exceptional intern, Corey Holzman. Thanks, Ricco!
  • And to our amazing staff, some who remain, some who’ve moved on, I am eternally grateful: Meg Tuite, Chelsea Laine Wells, Jamal Parker, Caitlin Scarano, Samuel Fox, David O’Connor, Jessica Mehta, and Corey Holzman. Your hard work and editorial skills have made it the magazine for so many writers and diverse voices: over 30 different countries, a multitude of cultures represented, outstanding risk-taking writers.
  • In 2018, we will be launching our all new Bending Genres ONLINE WORKSHOPS!!! Beginning January 19-21, with Meg Tuite teaching Fast Flash Fiction: Close to the Edge. More information is here: http://boinkzine.com/january-fast-flash-fiction/. You can take this workshop from anyplace in the entire world! Don’t wait too long to nab your post, we are already filling up! Also we are adding to our current magazine staff: Fiction Editors Meg Tuite and David O’Connor; Poetry Editor Samuel Fox and our new Poetry editor Jessica Mehta; all new column curated by Jonathan Cardew called Microviews (might include reviews, interviews and more), and our inimitable intern, who does so much more than any intern, Corey Holzman. All this, and these are just a tip of the entire journey. I’m indebted, and so grateful to you all. Thanks for the amazing year. Sincerely, Robert Vaughan, Editor-in-Chief, Bending Genres]]>

    Omega Institute: Nick Flynn

    You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, his new memoir about his mother. Plenty of bewilderment! The workshop was held in the Creekside cottage, which was a tight space for 25 writers! After selecting a word from the white board (I chose “to Lose”) we were given a postcard image. We meditated for seven minutes (a welcome recurring theme before our writing prompts) and then wrote “descriptive writing”- trying to stick with details. We repeated this exercise with slight suggested revisions, so that eventually we had written four or five different prompts. We also read Larry Levis’s lyric poem, “Sensationalism.” My small group was Laura, Kathryn and Carrie. I also partnered with Sean on a couple of exercises. Teacher Nick Flynn, author of several books, including his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which I read during our Omega workshop. (http://www.nickflynn.org) One evening, we saw Aja Monet read from her stellar poetry collection, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter at the Omega Library. She was amazing. In class we also drew maps of a specific location, and a map of our body (placing both trauma and joys on the body). These were used for prompts. We did a movement exercise with Omega staff and writer JoJo that helped us to identify a place in which we might go deeper into a writing piece. Then we wrote a piece toward a direction on our maps. We also visualized our ‘home direction,’ and figured out a gift to give to our “person,” (used from our original postcards) and wrote a fairy tale prompted piece to a younger self in a deep woods. Stanley Kunitz, a mentor of Nick’s said: “You have to become the person that can write the poem.” (of compassion, of anger, of solace, etc.) On Wednesday, Nick’s friend and music collaborator, Guy Barash visited the Omega campus. We did an afternoon workshop with Guy, directing us with non-musical instruments, graphed and designed on paper. We did a silent meditation just listening to local ambient sounds (heater, planes, crickets, etc.) and “recorded” them, then attempted to translate them to the class (from our papers). Then, in groups, we performed our pieces. Then Guy directed the entire class as an aural orchestra. We dubbed ourselves the Unstable Atomic Pigs! Nick was so kind, he invited us to open for Nick and Guy’s performance in the Lake Theater that evening. Also Jared Handelsman, another collaborator, provided video footage. Their show was beyond inspiring! On Thursday our class occupied the Lake Theater at Omega. This was an entire day devoted to our “working project.” We went through our various collected pages, new writing and brought pieces, and various favorites from the group. We marked the “resonant parts,” and Nick coached us to be generous- not one or two words, mark “whole passages.” From there, we literally cut out those parts, and placed them onto 30 blank sheets of white paper. I sort of figured out that I had three or four threads for my project. And I had organized them all in these groupings. Then Nick came over, listened as I described my chaos, and said, “okay, now you can switch them all up- move them around, etc.” I literally felt nauseous! But so did everyone else. Chaos… opposite of organized. The last morning, Nick fielded a quick question and answer. Because I had to leave early on Friday, I was the first in order for the final reading. I read “Tributaries,” and “When He Left it all to Me.” I was only able to stay for the first four or five other readers. I felt so badly when I slipped out, but I had to catch the train, to the cab, to the plane, to the car ride home. My dear friend David Carter (who incidentally was the first friend I workshopped with at Omega in 1994), came and spent an overnight on Thursday, and transported me to the Rhinecliff train station. Bless his heart. What a week. So grateful to Nick Flynn, teacher extra-ordinaire, my co-writers and creators, to Omega for hosting this amazing workshop. To friends, new and old. And always to my honey, who makes life seem more technicolor than ever.]]>

    The Hardest Thing to Express

    When I first began to publish more actively in online and print journals, around 2009 and 2010, there was a community called 52/250. I just ran into one of the three editors of 52/250 in D.C. at the AWP conference, John Wentworth Chapin! It brought back so many memories of that entire year, workshopping and showcasing our work as a supportive online community, and even more, using the venue as a vehicle for experimentation, pushing writing conventions, or “rules,” or boundaries. Being willing to fail on the page (as Beckett made famous- ‘fail better!’) Simultaneously, I was taking notice of the online journals that seemed to have pizazz, and moxie, the journals that published more edgy, experimental, or a range of writing that interested me. Among many was a site called The Nervous Breakdown, started by Brad Listi in the mid- 2000s. On a whim, after seeing the Joan Rivers documentary movie, I wrote a whimsical “review,” but not really a review, more a commentary piece about Joan. I decided to send it to The Nervous Breakdown, and although Brad was confused about what category of writing it was, he sent it to Cynthia (pictured above). She was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loved it, and published the piece: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/a-piece-of-work-joan-rivers/ Then, a few months later after I’d seen a rather bizarre movie called “Inception,” directed by Christopher Nolan, I wrote another strange piece called “I Had a Dream” (Thanks Mr. King), and Cynthia again loved it, despite it being a sort-of fiction/ prose poemy/ creative non-fiction piece. She published it at Nervous Breakdown: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/i-had-a-dream/ Years later, when RIFT (my last book, co-written with Kathy Fish) was selected as the Nervous Breakdown‘s Book of the Month Club (December, 2015), Cynthia sent me the most flattering congratulations “fan letter.” I was buoyed by her sweet, wonderful words and enthusiasm, and her referencing those earlier pieces she’d published in the journal. Her work, and her words are still online here: http://cynthiahawkins.net/blog1/ Dearest Cynthia, we miss you. I MISS YOU. The world seems slightly less lovely without you here.  I will miss discussing all things cultural: movies, actors, plays, etc. If you knew Cynthia, or are reading this and feel moved to help her family (husband, and two girls), you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/CynthiaHawkins In short, I’m so grateful for everything you ever gave to me, and my writing, Cynthia. I hope that in our support of one another, I gave you as much encouragement and gratitude as you have towards me. Thanks for your bright light, your laugh, and your writing and wit.]]>