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Monday, June 03, 2019

"Carolina Prize Writing Contest Judges Announced, Deadline Approaching" - The Grey Area News

Carolina Prize Writing Contest Judges Announced, Deadline Approaching - The Grey Area News: By Donna Campbell Smith

The Franklin County Arts Council’s Writers’ Guild is sponsoring its fifth annual Carolina Prize Writing Contest.  It is open to writers of any age and location for previously unpublished (this includes online publication) poetry, short stories, essays or creative non-fiction....

Judging the poetry division is award-winning author Marly Youmans, who is a native of the Carolinas, currently living in Cooperstown, New York. Forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing in mid-2019, The Book of the Red King is her fifth book of poetry. Her prior poetry books are The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza Press), Thaliad (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing), The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press), and Claire (LSU.) She has also published nine novels; next year will see publication of a tenth, Charis in the World of Wonders.

The prose judge is E. M. Jerkins. She describes herself as a wife, and mother of three from Charlotte, NC. She received her B.A. in mass communications from North Carolina Central University and has written and published three novels: Reach, If Ever a Time, and Where the Ground Cries Out. Ersula also owns Write-Hand Publishing, LLC, a company designed to aid in the production of all things literary.

Click the link for more info! And thanks to writer Kim Beall, who asked. Who is Kim? Answer: "a member of the Franklin County Writers Guild, an author of contemporary southern gothic fantasy who is so very grateful to have discovered I can't throw a rock without hitting another wordsmith here in the rural wilds of The Writingest State."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The lure of the Red King

Art by Kim Vanderheiden.

Here is just one of twelve works
made by artist Kim Vanderheiden
in response to a single poem from The Book of the Red King
Am I astonished? Yes, I am astonished.
Where possible, readings

will be accompanied by images of art-in-response 
by Kim, Clive Hicks-Jenkins (my longtime book-illuminator),
and Mary Boxley Bullington.

What a deeply touching thing to have serious artists 
surprise me with wonderful pictures
before the book even appears
from Phoenicia Publishing of Montreal,
under the 
guidance of Elizabeth Adams,
publisher of beautiful books.

What a marvelous
and joyful 
and entirely unexpected

The Red King approaches.
The Fool is singing on his journey.
And Precious Wentletrap is wandering the moon path.

Pub date comes near! 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Red King has a Heffalump, it seems...

Pub date TBA soon... 

Here's one of the interior images for my The Book of the Red King poetry collection, one recently shared in The Rollipoke along with a cockatrice (!) and some poems about the Fool and the Red King... Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Phoenicia Publishing

CC: twitter, facebook

Monday, May 06, 2019

Down and out in Cripplegate Ward

John Rocque's 1746 map of London, showing Grub Street in Cripplegate Ward, above and to the right of St. Giles and the Cripple-gate churchyard--running from Chiswell to Fore Street. Public domain, via Wikipedia 
I'm afraid there was no wondrous golden time for writers--oh, there were times when disparate talents came together in one region and vied with one another, but even then there was often jealousy and insufficient reward. Look back, and you find Robert Greene railing at that "shake scene" and "upstart crow," a Shakespeare "beautified" with pilfered feathers. Or look at the denizens of Grub Street, journalists and poets struggling to feed and house themselves in a poor bohemian quarter, only to be pilloried by that clever and amusing cripple, Alexander Pope.

In an essay for The New Republic, "Down and Out in the Gig Economy," Jacob Silverman (lovely name!) lodges a complaint that "freelance journalism is a monetized hobby," that it is nearly impossible to do more that "serve the whims of capital." Not only has he not found a secure, salaried perch, but he has learned a truth that many writers know--that it is quite possible to write a book that critics love but that does not sell, for reasons out of the writer's control. Well, I sympathize with his lot and agree that journalism is in a parlous way, that there were some brief, better years for essayists in the last century, and that it's difficult for a writer of any sort to find a happy niche. Publishing tends to be a winner-take-all scheme. Go to any airport bookstore and check out the Top 10 books on sale. There you go. Winner-take-almost-all!

Though I'd love for the writer's life to be easier and more straightforward, it is not these challenges that make me uneasy with "Down and Out" but the essay itself as revelation of how such disappointments may harm the writer, either for a period of time or permanently. Many, many writers have challenges like the ones Silverman names, and there are other, unmentioned disappointments that pop up unexpectedly--quirky, oddball twists of publishing fate. In the kingdom of writer-dooms, Melville has long been a hero of mine. Years after any notice was paid to him, an old man, he pursued the work it was given him to do, writing poems, writing Billy Budd. He endured the agony of being ignored and thought mad (and perhaps of being mad from neglect for a time), and yet he kept harrowing his piece of literary ground and planting new seed, even when no one remained to believe that what he made would mean anything in the world. He persisted. He won a victory, although he had no earthly reward for doing so. But I have known writers in similar situations whose minds and spirits were bent by lack of notice, lack of support, and who did not have the resilience to unbend. I won't say their names, but some drift into mind.

The dream of creating something strong and true matters to the soul. A strange joy, it burns in the mind. Resentment and bitterness will never help a work grow and achieve beauty. Putting words together in fresh patterns is a kind of alchemy that transforms the inner being of the writer--creation may make the self larger and more resilient on the inside. Yet self-poisoning by resentment and bitterness remains a risk for any maker. To a writer, young or old, I'd say that there's no shame in pursuing some other dream if resentment becomes a blight, just as there's no shame in keeping on despite self-judgment or the world's judgment, and in striving to pierce the cloud of bitterness...

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