I haven’t posted links in a long time, so excuse me for linking to things you have already seen!
RIP Ellen Miller, author of the beautiful and disturbing novel, Like Being Killed. It’s the kind of book that sticks with you and messes with your sleep. I always wondered what became of the author and I am sorry that this is the end of the story.
Obama’s audio book bleeps.
Granta publishes a special issue about fathers. Maud Newton writes about the time her dad hired a prostitute who didn’t want to leave.
W.E.B. Dubois: back in print.
Saaed Jones on the topic of “universality“.
I’ve always envied poets because they have the Dodge Festival. Well, now they don’t. This recession thing is real.
The movie version of Sapphire’s novel, Push, played big at Sundance and got snapped up by Lion’s Gate. Let the hand-wringing begin.
Oooh, Mary Gaitskill interviewed splendidly at The Believer.
Suzanne Ondrus wants Aracelis Girmay to be her valentine.
Stephen King thinks Stephanie Meyer is a hack.
Um… start your NEA application right away. It’s complicated. And it takes a long time. For example, it takes 3 days for them to send your registration number.
La Bloga interviews children’s author Monica Brown.
While the rest of publishing is crashing and burning, self-publishers are blowing up!
It’s that time of year again. The annual meeting of the Assocaited Writing Programs, AWP for short. When I asked a good friend what her plans were for this year’s AWP, she said, “The usual: shaking hands and kissing babies.” We got a good laugh out of that because AWP reallly is about making connections. (Here’s a link an earlier post: To AWP or not to AWP.)
This year, AWP is in Chicago from February 11-15. I’ve got my ticket, hotel, outfits, etc., but for some reason I don’t have that sparkle that I normally have when I’m in the final stretch. Maybe it’s just because I am tired from my crazy travel schedule, or maybe it’s the dreary weather. Last year, AWP happened to coincide with some crazy personal drama, so it’s possible that I am having a flashback. But I really think it’s because this year, the hustlers seem even more intense than usual.
My facebook account has been overrun with people sending me “invitations” to their AWP events. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be thought of, but I feel like I am being schmoozed before I have even arrived. When we arrive at AWP, we’ll all be given a program letting us know what’s happening when. That’s invitation enough for me. If a person is inviting me to, say, a cocktail party, well that’s another matter entirely.
I suspect that the economic crisis is going to make this year’s meeting a little more frantic than usual. It’s always pretty expensive to go, but this time it’s going to be more a sacrifice and folks are going to be trying to get their money’s worth. Also, universities are cutting back on their budgets for readings, etc. so the competition to be included on the roster just got that much more intense.
A friend of mine was sort of sneering at literary writers, alledging that they think they are too “cute” to hustle, unlike commerical writers who eill do anything to promote their word. I could only chuckle in response. Obviously, he has never been to AWP.
Just a heads up for anyone in central Florida. I’m going to be giving a reading on Wednesday, February 4 at Stetson College in Deland Florida. The event is at 7:30pm in the Gillespe Museum. AND, apparently, students at Stetson get “cultural credit” for attending. I don’t know what cultural credit is, but I like the ring of it.
I would love to see you there.
I’ve been living in NY for about two years. Sometimes I think I should take myself back to Georgia where I belong. On other days, I think– oh yeah! THIS is what I came here for. This weekend was such a weekend. I spend quality time with my two favorite poet-boys, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Tyehimba Jess. Those of you in the know will point out that I spent plenty of time with them when we were all working together in Illinois. But NYC has sprinkled pixie-dust on both of them, so it’s all different now.
The New You Project. This is a crazy innovative campaign to publicize a novel, that came out (gasp) a year ago. The novel is called YOU or The Invention of Memory and she has two hundred copies to give away. What I love love about the project is that Lauren is challenging the golden rule of publishing– a book is only publicizable when it is new. Here’s a little quote from her blog post on how she came to take on this project:
I also got to spend some time with Lauren Cerand, my publicist and friend. Over lunch at Inoteca (another reason to live in NY!) she told me about her new projects. As always, hers are projects with conscience.
And if that isn’t enough, she’s working with “What is Green Architecture?” which will feature Diébédo Francis Kéré on designing prizewinning green buildings in his native Burkina Faso. Exactly. Later for “starchitects” who build high rise hotels. This guy is building green schools his village in Africa. The event is tomorrow at 6:30 at Columbia. I have to work, but You can be there.
And even more Lauren-related amazingness. Upstairs at The Square is hosting Nikki Giovanni in conversation with Emmanuel Jal. This is on Thursday. Again I have to work, but I a bringing my students. We need more poetry and memoir in our diets.
Lauren is the best publicist that is also a friend and kind of a therapist. On a bad boyfriend: Dump him. That sort of guy will eat your career. You’ll come home and find out that he just ate your laptop. On outrageous shoes: You don’t have to cram your foot into that boot. People love you anyway.
Basically, his latest novel, and in his (and others’) opinion, his best, came out last January and got one review before the fledgling indie publisher went under. Was there anything that could be done? I started to write my usual reply: no. I mean, anyone knows you have ten days after the publication date to get at least some initial traction, and you need to get at least a three month lead on planning for that. And then I thought, when did I get so boring?
You may remember that last year this time, I announced the publication of a special issue of PMS magazine, edited by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. Well there must have been some magic dust in the binding. So many good things have happened to the women published in that issue.
The latest is that my story, “Some Thing Blue,” published in PMS #8, has been selected to appear in the next issue of New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best. I am so excited because NSFTS is my favorite of the yearlies, but also because I love getting my southern credentials renewed. (Just for kicks, you can hear me read the story here!)
Other PMS Contributor Fabulousness includes:
Edwidge Danticat’s “Uncle Moise” (from PMS #8) has been chosen for Best Creative Nonfiction of 2009.
Khadijah Queen was featured in the article “12 Debut Poets” in Poets and Writers.
Allison Joseph’s chapbook, VOICE: POEMS, coming out from Mayapple Press today.
Raina León’s first book of poetry, CANTICLE OF IDOLS was just published.
Latasha Diggs won an award in poetry from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.
Patricia Smith’s latest book of poetry, BLOOD DAZZLER was nominated for the National Book Award.
Elizabeth Alexander was named inaugural poet.
Natasha Trethewey was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year.
Remica L. Bingham’s poem, “Marchers Headed For Washington, Baltimore 1963” was published in a special collector’s issue of Essence.
Heidi Durrow won the 2008 Bellwether Prize for FictionYou really have to read this special issue. Order your copy before they are all gone!
I am at a stage in my career as a writer that I sometimes am asked to nominate folks for awards, or reccommend contributors to journals. Usually, I pass these opportunities on to emerging writers. I am motivated by a desire to emulate the writing who helped me out when I was just a little pup. When I was in school at Spelman College, Dr. Cole explained to me that life was like a train ride. The scarifices of the older generation had paid my ticket and now it was my obligation to buy a ticket for someone else.
This made sense to me when I was just a teenager and I vowed to do my part, pay it forward, if you will. But now, I am thinking that it’s time for me to think about paying it back.
Many times the best teachers and mentors are not the most famous writers you will ever know. A teacher at a liberal arts college who teaches four classes a term can change a life of a student, but not have much time for her own work. Maybe your best mentor was a person who taught you everything you need to know about character development although her own writing has not received the attention it deserves.
Paying it forward is all well and good, but I want everyone to think about paying it back. Think about the people that have been good to you and think what you can do to help them. If you run a reading series, extend an invitation. Editing a journal? Invite them to submit.
I know it’s hard to think about your mentors as needing your help, but maybe they do.
I orginally planned this entry to draw your attention to the magnificent poem, New Day, Kwame Dawes wrote in honor of the inaugration of Barack Obama. I still want to draw your attention to it– for it is brilliant, and I mean brilliant as in genius but also brilliant as in light-filled– and I still want to thank Mina J for sending me the link. I have loved, loved, loved all the love and beauty and celebration this week as we celebrate this historic milestone. (I was there in my evening gown popping a cork with the best of them.)
But… and there is always a But… We are going to have to chill with some of the boogie-oogie-oogie and start thinking about the change we want in the world. Yesterday, I was in a store and an older black man said to me, “Obama has done his job just by getting elected. That’s all I need. To see him in the white house with his wife, and those pretty babies. That’s all I need.” All around him, people nodded in a agreement.
Well, that’s not all I need and it’s not all America needs.
I just read the most upsetting post on the blog of Alisa Valdes Rodriguez, the author of the “chica-lit” breakout book, best-selling The Dirty Girls Social Club. Alisa is very ill. She needs heart surgery that will cost about $200,000. And despite her success as an author, she is self-employed and without health insurance. She is considering moving to Cuba in order to get treatment.
As writers, we all dream of losing the day job and doing our writing full time. But can we ever do it as long as health insurance remains tied to employment? Even if you cuold make enough from your writing to pay your bills, you probably wouldn’t make enough to take care of your health.
46 million Americans are without health insurance. This must be our top priority when we think about Change. I am not sure what we can do as individuals, but I am looking into it. When I find something out, I will post here. Meanwhile, go over to Alisa’s blog and leave her some love in the comments.
Get well, Alisa. You are in our thoughts and our prayers.
The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts has published the schedule for this summer. I am offering my signature course: “Tales From The Kidscape“, which is all about writing young voices for the coming of age novel. The dates of the class are June 14-19.
Disclaimer: Tayari Jones is not suggesting that she has ever attended any event to which she has not purchased a ticket. She is a writer and this is merely a work of imagination.
A lot of people were wheeling and dealing to get tickets to various inaugural balls. Well, as we start planning for inauguration 2013, I would like to present this handy five point guide for getting into events to which you have not been explicitly invited. In other words this is what you do when don’t exactly have your ticket situation sorted out.
Know Somebody. You’ll be way more successful in getting into a ball if you know someone on the inside who will be willing to vouch for you once you make it past the monitors.
Crashers Can’t Be Choosers. To successfully crash an inaugural ball, you need to laid back about which ball you go to. I’d say give yourself a list of three places you’d like to be and then head out. If you have your heart too set on one particular ball, you’ll be way too determined for the easy-going persona of the successful ball crasher.
Blend. Try and pick a gathering that you basically look like you belong to. I probably wouldn’t try and crash the “Tuxedos and Cowboy Boots” ball, because, well, I’m me. (I thought about crashing the google ball, but the invitations were barcoded. That technology intimidated me.) If you are ball crashing in an environment in which you are pretty comfortable, you can achieve the I’m-Supposed-To-Be-Here attitude which will discourage anyone from asking to see your ticket.
Gussy Up. If the monitor likes your dress, s/he is way less likely to hassle you.
Be Discreet. Please don’t crash a ball and tell everyone that you did it! There will be people in attendance who paid good money for those tickets and they do not want to see you gloating while scarfing down a plate of lamb chops.