Yes, you read that right. The Economist, that bastion of dry, anonymous British wit, opinion, and
snobbery thought on all things economic, today published a few notes on the poetic device enjambment, here.
What could possibly
The fantastic New York Review of Books is turning 50 this year. As part of their celebration, there is this piece about the personals ads which appear in each edition of the review. (Be sure to follow the embedded link to the NPR story, too.) Aside from the inherent charm of the piece, there is a lesson to be learned. Whether you’re writing a novel or a personals ad or simply tweeting about dinner, every word counts.
Here’s an article about our literary journal, O-Dark-Thirty, from The Writer Magazine.
LITERARY SPOTLIGHT: O-Dark-Thirty
A literary project features the stories of veterans, their families and friends.
BY MELISSA HART
Author Beth Garland had heard of the Veterans Writing Project – a nonprofit offering no-cost writing seminars for veterans and family members – so when she saw that VWP planned to launch a literary journal, she sent in her short story Reintegration. “I wanted very much to convey the incredible dignity and bravery that real soldiers and their spouses who are coping with PTSD or severe injuries demonstrate every day,” she says, “while at the same time revealing how human they are.”
Garland is married to a member of 20th Special Forces Group. She believes American pop culture has romanticized the concept of a soldier’s homecoming. As her narrator in Reintegration observes, “You imagined that after he’d grabbed you up in his arms like Richard Gere did Debra Winger in the end scene of An Officer and a Gentleman, you two would speed to the closest motel and rip each other’s clothes off.”
Readers responded to her story, which appeared in the inaugural issue of the journal O-Dark-Thirty, with gratitude. They were “moved by the fact that reunions aren’t always those lovely images of soldiers hugging their families that we often see in the last twenty seconds of the evening news,” Garland says, “that there’s a lot more to it than that, especially for soldiers who are physically and/or emotionally wounded.”
Editor Ron Capps – a soldier for 25 years – launched
O-Dark-Thirty on Veteran’s Day 2012.
“I think it’s critically important to both integrate the writing by our veterans and their family members into the broader stream of American literature,” Capps says, “and to highlight that it is somewhat separate in that it has influences that other works simply don’t.”
Tone, editorial content
Readers will find humor in the pages of O-Dark-Thirty, along with sorrow and pain, trauma and rage. “There is work in our journal that was written by service members who are recovering from posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain Injury and pretty grievous physical injuries, too,” Capps says. “We also have some work from their caregivers, and you can only imagine what they feel.”
The writers in O-Dark-Thirty range from World War II veterans to soldiers on active duty and to support communities around them. One served in Iraq as an Army Scout medic and now works as an actor in Los Angeles. Another, a clinical therapist, is the daughter of a World War II Army veteran.
“We’ve had a few pieces come over the transom that sort of rang all the bells,” Capps says. He offers Jason Davis’s raw and courageous essay, Brian and Me, as an example. “Our nonfiction editor is a former Marine who fought in Fallujah,” Capps says, “and he wrote on Jason’s piece, ‘Please, please, please publish this.’”
He also points to Grady Smith’s short story Al Gomez. “Grady’s story is so subtle and disarming,” Capps says, “you don’t notice what’s happening until you’re thigh deep in it and past the point of no return. It’s masterful.”
Advice for newcomers
Capps seeks submissions that have nothing to do with the military experience. “The broader the range of topics we can present,” he says, “the better.”
He’d also like to see more writing from family members: “If you’re a military family member – spouse, partner, sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father, grammy, grampa, grandchild – send us your stuff.”
“A journal of writing by veterans, service members and military family members. We seek quality, literary writing on any topic.” Quarterly, $30. Types of work accepted: Poetry, fiction, nonfiction. Reading period: Year-round. Submission format: Mail or submission manager on website. Contact: Ron Capps, Editor. Veterans Writing Project, 6508 Barnaby St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20015. email@example.com. http://o-dark-thirty.org/
Melissa Hart is the author of the memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood. She teaches at the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.
Over at the Paris Review they’ve just put up part of one of their interviews with Marine veteran William Styron (Sophie’s Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, etc…). It’s worth a read. Styron’s life of letters crossed over into politics pretty often, apparently. But the bit at the bottom about the attributes of a good writer seems pitch perfect to me.
Here are some ideas from Kurt Vonnegut on writing. Vonnegut was, of course, a soldier in WWII and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, imprisoned in Dresden and survived the Allies’ firebombing of the city. He also taught at the Iowa Workshops and wrote some of the 20th Century’s best novels. Here, he gives us eight pointers on writing a good story.
Over at The Review Review website, Randy Susan Myers has posted this group of excerpts from books she
read studied that she considers her homemade MFA. We’ve discussed the eternal question of “To MFA or Not to MFA” before here, so we’ll let that dog lie for the moment. But Myers’ point is that if you’re uninterested in, unwilling or unable to suffer the slings and arrows of a graduate program in writing, you can build your own program.
Find books that you like as a start. Read through the first pages of books that interest you (you can usually do this online, but always in the store). If you like the approach, get the book and study it. Don’t just read through it. Study it. Take notes, make yourself write papers about the things you’ve learned. Commit them to memory. Then move on.
There are also other shorter, non-academic programs at writers’ centers and public libraries–and of course through the Veterans Writing Project–for people who aren’t interested in getting the academic credential but are interested in studying in a more formalized setting.
Finally, you could get into a writing group. Find a small number of other writers who are willing to share their works and their insights on yours. Build your own workshop.
But the most important thing is simply to write. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. So get to it.
Over at the New York Review of Books–of which Donald Rumsfeld reportedly believed that anyone who subscribed was clearly a communist–they’ve posted a snippet of writing by the newest Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, Mo Yan (who technically was a communist, Mr Rumsfeld) describing some of Mo’s experiences in the Peoples Liberation Army. It feels real to me, all that riding around in the back of trucks and hoping you’ll be the one selected for some new bit of training. So pop over and give it a read. Who cares what Rummy thinks, anyway.
Joseph Bathanti, the newly-named Poet Laureate of North Carolina, has written a new poem in honor of Veteran’s Day 2012. Bathanti is a friend of the Veterans Writing Project and has dedicated himself to getting veterans’, service members’, and military family members’ stories told. You should check out this new poem. Our friends at Press 53 publish some of his collections of poetry.
In anticipation of the upcoming presidential election, here’s a link to the Poetry Foundation’s website that lists a few of our former presidents linked to their favorite poets. General George Washington dug Phyllis Wheatley. Colonel Teddy Roosevelt read Edward Arlington Robinson so much he helped Robinson get a job. WWI National Guard artillery battery commander Harry S. Truman liked Alfred Lord Tennyson. Sailors John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter liked (respectively) Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling and Dylan Thomas. Now go vote.