Hossein M. Abkenar: “Classmates” (Witness, Trans/lation Issue, Spring 2015)

We were some forty or fifty students in a large class. After we graduated, we each went our own way. That same year, Javad decided not to continue with his education. Reza Karimi went to the front and was martyred. When they returned his body, a ceremony was held at the school. Afterward, a large crowd went to his memorial service at the mosque. When Ramin finished his military service, he started his own company. Supposedly, in the services industry. Rassouli became a pilot. His plane crashed during the war and he was captured.

— “Classmates” by Hossein M. Akbenar, translated from the Persian by Sara Kahlili (Witness, Spring 2015)

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue (Spring 2015)

Where is self? She is here, right here:

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

This issue of Witness features writing from around the world. And self is more than proud to be in the same issue as:

  • Dario Belleza (translated from the Italian by Peter Covino)
  • Arthur Rimbaud (translated from the French by Donald Revell)
  • Hossein M. Abkenar (translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili)
  • Christos Chartomatsidis (translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova)
  • Moniru Ravanipour (translated from the Persian by Shirindokht Nourmanesh and Moniru Ravanipour)
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)
YAY! Self made it! She is here!

YAY! Self made it! She is here!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Sunday

This one’s from the March/ April 2015 issue of  Boston Review. They were handing free copies out at the Book Fair yesterday.

Building a Joke (an excerpt)

 by David Hernandez

In the season before trees begin
their ritual of swapping green for rust,
a DC-9 airliner and Cessna
collided over the city where I grew up.
This isn’t funny, but comedians will tell you
laughter is possible with any tragedy
if one waits long enough, time
and timing are key. It’s been 27 years
since I stood alone in the backyard
Read the rest of this entry »

Bluestem, Spring 2015

Yay, Bluestem! They launched the spring issue at AWP 2015!

Here is the lovely Poetry Editor, Charlotte Pence, holding up a copy of the issue.

Self’s story of climate change, “The Freeze,” is in this issue. She just picked up her author’s copy today.

Exciting!

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Looking at storySouth

storySouth is one of those on-line e-zines that published one of my stories (a long one) several years ago, and that I’ve continued to read with delight.

Here’s an excerpt from the story by James Pate, In the Desert:

The next afternoon, I started cooking. I had been laid off from the Catholic high school where I’d been teaching music for spitting in the face of one of the richboy students after he had made a snide remark about my weight in the school parking lot. Since then, I was the one who cleaned and cooked and did the shopping. I didn’t mind — cooking had been a big thing with me since I was a kid, when my mom had taught me the recipes she remembered from growing up in South Carolina — but it was starting to get irritating when Ruthie came home. She would be all awake and talkative from working at the cafe she was part owner of in the Pinch District.

And a soliloquy:

The nearest other house was a forty-minute walk and you couldn’t see it from my place — not even when it was bright outside. So at night, it would really begin to feel as if you were the last person on earth. I think if I’d been living alone out there the entire time, I’d have gone crazy.

Love the scenes in this story, the characters are so well-drawn and the dialogue is so smart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Two of Self’s Flash Were Published This Month (April 2015)

“The Ark” is in the Spring 2015 of Local Nomad, an e-zine edited by poet Jean Gier.

“I Am Cyclops” is in the inaugural issue of Nimbus Cat, edited by novelist (and writing group member) Lillian Howan.

Both are speculative fiction.

2666, and The Small Magazines That Deserve Your Attention

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At this point, self has to be realistic.  She has to own up to the fact that she will probably never get to p. 800 of Robert Bolaño’s masterwork. She’s been reading it for almost three months and has only gotten to p. 248. It is hardback, it is heavy. She borrowed it from the Redwood City Public Library ages and ages ago. It’s only the fourth book she’s read this year. For a while she was doing really well. January, in fact, was great.

Don’t get her wrong. Self loves Bolaño. She tore through The Savage Detectives in Bacolod, a few years ago. It made her go all elegiac over the Daku Balay (the Big House, you can see those posts if you enter the search item “Bacolod”). She did some of her best writing ever after reading that book.

Now, alas, the only discernible writing she’s produced since the start of the year is: one short story. (Nothing doing, she’s also written 40 chapters of fan fiction). Why why why?

This was supposed to be “her” year. The year she gets to:  Mendocino, Minneapolis, The Banff Writers Studio, and etc etc etc etc

Today, the writer Jill Widner gave her a shout-out after reading self’s story in the spring issue of Witness. Self did not know that Jill subscribed. Jill said that self’s story reminded her of something she had read in Ploughshares. Which was a compliment so vast it produced in self all kinds of feelz.

And further, today, self heard from Lillian Howan, a member of self’s San Francisco writers group. Lillian is editing a new magazine called Nimbus Cat. Nimbus Cat accepted a piece of hers for their inaugural issue, and it just so happened to come out today.

It is a tough and generous undertaking to start your own literary magazine. Lillian is a woman of many hats: mother, novelist, awesome friend. That she chooses to launch this venture is sheer crazy! But self means crazy in a “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-and-generous-you-are” way.

Here are two other magazines that are small yet bountiful. Local Nomad is helmed by Jean Gier, who launched the Spring 2015 issue while negotiating a hectic move to Santa Cruz. Don’t ask self how.

And Elsewhere Lit is helmed by fabulous Nandini Dhar out of Miami, Florida. She teaches full-time, she just put out her chapbook, Lullabies are Barbed Wire Nations (exquisite), and yet she co-edits this magazine.

Let’s give these courageous women a big, big hand.

Finally, a magazine that has a big piece of her heart: Your Impossible Voice. Which just came out with Issue # 7. And has been doing more copies in print, which have been selling briskly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Local Nomad

Local Nomad took self’s Biblical Revisionist Story “The Ark.”

YAY YAY YAY YAY!

The editor called it “lovely and disturbing.”

Here are their submission guidelines.

Stay tuned.

 

Eunoia Review: Last Wednesday of February 2015

By the time we fled our house
and the jackals
we’d become expert thieves,
really wonderful liars.
We smiled and told people how happy we were
while picking their pockets.

— excerpt from “Muscle Memory,” by Len Kuntz

*     *     *     *     *

For special occasions we ate
Glorified Rice,
white rice slathered with whipped cream and pineapple chunks.
Before that was German food,
hamburger baked inside dough,
fried dough and potatoes

— excerpt from “Glorified Rice,” by Len Kuntz

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of the story collection Dark Sunshine (Connotation Press).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reflections, Yesterday

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

It was warm yesterday! While walking around the Stanford University campus, self saw that someone had stuck glittery red hearts around the planter box in front of the Bookstore. The Post Office looked exactly the same. They’re tearing down Meyer. Which means self will have to re-write the stories she’s set there. Yes, she does have stories set in Meyer Library.

The students she spoke to yesterday certainly made her think. Yes, she told them, the stories in Mayor of the Roses were written while she worked at Stanford at various administrative jobs.

Did you ever go to The Bridge (24-hour free counseling service on campus), someone asked. Of course! self replied. Didn’t everybody?

Self told the students that she had a more recent story about the Bridge, but in tone the story is as different from the one in Mayor of the Roses as night and day. In self’s story, which appeared in Waccamaw, the Bridge is a counseling hot-line called 1-800-U-R-Saved. The story is “Bridging.”

She talked about her Creative Writing Program years, and how she felt at the time she wrote the stories in the collection. She really really wanted to take a picture of Professor Miner’s copy of Mayor of the Roses because it was completely marked up. Notes on the margins, arrows pointing every which way. Looked like a piece of post-modern art.

She told the students she was writing science fiction now.

The time was really too short.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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