Was Neruda killed by Pinochet?




Exhumation of Chilean poet Neruda begins (via AFP)
The remains of Chilean Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda were exhumed Monday to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned by the Pinochet dictatorship he strongly opposed. Workers broke open the tomb housing his remains at his last home overlooking the sea in Isla Negra under the supervision…


The Next Big Thing: Interview with Miki Young

One of the things I find most interesting about The Next Big Thing is the variety of writers who have posted interviews.  We're pointed in the direction of work we might otherwise not encounter, especially a book like this one in which there is an interview with The Divine Source.  The writer I am posting today is one who was nominated by poet B.E. Kahn, whose interview I posted several weeks ago.  Miki Young has some interesting ideas for those who are on a spiritual quest (and who isn't?).  She has this interview up on her own blog but asked me to post it as well, so here it is.  At the end of her interview, Miki has posted links to several more non-fiction writers:  Lesley Mallow Wendell, Priscilla Rosenwald and Laine Love Dalby.


Interview with Miki Young, author of How to Hear God in 7 Days

1.What is the working title of your book?

How to Hear God* in 7 Days
(*Buddha, Allah, Jesus, Higher Power, Higher Self, etc., etc., etc)

2.Where did the idea come from for your book?

This may sound weird but the Divine Source guided me to write this book. I happen to be a well-grounded person who hears from the Universal Flow or sometimes I think it’s just my own Higher Self. Not quite sure.  I was working as a chaplain intern and as part of that class we had to imagine having a conversation with the Divine. For me, that conversation unfolded my deep desire to express myself as a writer. The Divine and I spoke about how my life had gone so far and what might be left on my agenda. It went like this:

Divine Source: What more do you want to do with your life?

Me: Well, I guess if there’s one thing I haven’t done. I’ve always thought that I was meant to be a writer, but I’ve always been too afraid to put it on the line. I’ve always been afraid that I really have nothing new to say. It’s all already been said. I don’t know what I really want to do with it so I don’t have a vision for it. But I’m still drawn to do it. I feel like that’s still left for me to do.

Divine Source: How pained would you be if you didn’t pursue it?

Me: Pretty pained.

Divine Source: More pained than if you failed?

Me: Yes.

Divine Source: Well then you know what you have to do.

I didn’t actively pursue this writing immediately, but it certainly did stir my truth to the surface. About six months later when I was meditating I was suddenly hit with this title, “How to Hear God in 7 Days.” And I knew that the book had been born and that my responsibility was to shepherd it into the world.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?

This is an interfaith spiritual workbook for people of all faiths and traditions who are new to this kind of thinking, for people who have had a spiritual practice for a while or anyone in-between.

4.Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm. Well, I don’t think of God as an anthropomorphic entity. In fact, I can’t really wrap my head around a concept of the Divine Power. The visuals in the movie The Tree of Life or 2001: A Space Odyssey are probably closest to representing the gloriousness of that Power and the sense of being held by something bigger than ourselves.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

How to Hear God in 7 days will help you understand the meaning of your life and add to that meaning by deeply listening to the Source that supports you, whatever that Source may be.

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

How to Hear God in 7 Days will be published as an ebook in the Spring of 2013 and will be available at howtoheargodin7days.com. I haven’t yet begun to pursue a publisher/agent but intend to do that.
                      
7.How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Five days. I went to a warm climate, woke up every morning and tried to write what I was hearing for 8 hours. Pretty straightforward, really. I figured if the Divine wants this message out, the Divine should do the writing.  I was the channel and the editor.

And while it was fast to write it is certainly a compilation of the last 20 years of my experiences with the Divine and my thinking about spirituality, relationships, truth and love.

8.  What other authors or books would you compare this to within your genre?

It’s a little mix of this and that.  A little Eckhart Tolle, a little Pema Chodron, and certainly a little Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. These truths are found in many different books about faith, traditions and beliefs. This book gives you a series of tools for you to have your own conversation with the Flow that Holds You.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been having these conversations for a while. In 2009, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That diagnosis made me start to listen more deeply to my own next steps. What I heard is that I was given these gifts to share, to help others learn how to hear their own personal messages and live meaningful lives of service to others.

10.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book is great to read and experience solely, with a partner or even with a group. I have led groups through this process and every person has experienced some level of deep transformation, hearing personal messages about his or her life, and feeling a deeper connection to others and to the world.



Miki Young has tapped new authors, Lesley Mallow Wendell and Priscilla Rosenwald whose book, When Leaders Leave, will be coming out in Spring 2013. Focused on non-profit organizations, the book helps organizations prepare for the reality of a transition in leadership before, during and after it happens.The authors have worked together for years under TransitionWorks to help organizations grow and thrive during executive transitions through the selection and development of strong leadership talent.Their experiences working with nonprofit CEOs and board chairs has given them a bird’s eye view of the trials and tribulations organizations face in finding and managing high quality talent that aligns with the goals of the organization. Their interview answers will also appear on www.transitionworks.com

Miki has also tapped Laine Love Dalby whose pending book LOVE=Currency: An Irresistible Guide to Unleashing Your Deep Gifts to Meet the World’s Deep Needs details all the practical wisdom and tools you need to make the shift into a life of pure abundance fueled by LOVE.
The book, coming out at the end of February, taps into the power within each person to radically open him or herself to fully experience abundance, magnetism, fulfillment and joy. Lainie Love Dalby, a.k.a. “The Lady Gaga of Consciousness & Spirituality,” is a transformational leader, cultural shapeshifter, visionary artist, & budding author serving up huge injections of creativity, courage & BIG love to instigate personal & social change. She has been featured in the New York Times, NY Arts Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine, Paper Magazine, Time Out New York, and other publications & blogs. She is a contributor to Your Bella Life and an elective faculty at One Spirit Learning Alliance. Her interview answers will also appear on www.LainieLoveDalby.com



The Next Big Thing: An Interview With B.E. Kahn



1.What is the working title of your book?

Night Spark: The Zoe Poems

2.Where did the idea come from for your book?

In the early 1990’s I was reading John Berryman’s The Dream Songs. Coincidentally I met Tom Lux at the Rosenbach Museum where he read in a program sponsored by APR and he suggested I consider attending a workshop that he and Marie Howe were offering at Martha’s Vineyard. I decided to go there and when I read the stunning beauty of Howe’s work and then heard her read, I recognized the need her poetry was fulfilling: 1) in participants whose experiences were similar to hers and 2) in other listeners  being made aware of this—up till Sharon Olds, probably—taboo subject— child sexual abuse.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?

It is a book of persona poems: Zoe appears, speaking in first and third person, as a child, teen-ager, young adult, and grown-up in various of these poems—with a scattered, “disassociated” mind-set, common to those abused.She is insightful even in her PTSD state. She manages to be funny in her kid way now and then. Night Spark is also political in the sense that everything is. It deals with the feminine aspect of sexual abuse.

4.Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

No contest: Zoe would be played by Quvenzhane Wallis, the wonderful 9 year-old actress(6 years old when filmed) now Oscar nominee for: “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  I’d choose her for the straightforwardness and poetry of the sound of her voice; for the spunk, grit, curiousity, innocent and vivid imagination she portrays via her character ,Hushpuppy. I’d choose her for her hair, though I didn’t picture Zoe originally looking like Wallis.

The perpetrator would be played by Jack Palance popular in the ’60’s 70’s? His wife would be played by …maybe a cross between Merle Streep, in serious mode and Angela Houston—her wry humor, dark hair and eyes.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Night Spark: The Zoe Poems  is a series of persona poems that tell of Zoe’s journey through the warzone of child sexual abuse, her survival, healing, thriving and beyond.

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Night Spark will be published by Finishing Line Press, August , 2013. (Advance Sales: April 23—June 7, 2013.)
                      
7.How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about 20 years—and reading and digesting wonderful poets such as Sharon Olds, Marie Howe, Linda McCarriston, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly—all amazing. There were a couple of other chapbooks simultaneously in the works and published before Night Sparks. I was also writing and reading on many other varied subjects in the same time period.

8.  What other books would you compare these poems to within your genre?

I couldn’t think of comparing my poetry with the above-mentioned, but in subject matter, yes, that’s the comparison.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Besides the poets I’ve mentioned—very important to me—the secret worlds of children, women; certainly men also, but I believe certain of their secrets best told by them or perhaps by other men about them. The belief that there is a world of healing needed by many of these secret-holders and that poetry helps. That is Zoe’s hope.

10.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This, to me, fascinating and because under-reported, wobbly statistic: that 1 in 4 women in the United States have been abused. It’s given as 1 in 5 for girls. Child abuse is much less reported according to, among others, the National Center for Victims of Crime. Picture a classroom, any kind, any where, or an entire audience at the Kimmel Center, or all of the family fans at a baseball game.  Try and guess who these 1 in 4 might be. Remember, this phenomenon appears in ALL segments of society, as a recent N.Y. Times edition testifies on n
early every other page: The U. S. Army, various religious groups, and neighborhoods. On a world basis: headlines from India, Africa, every where. Then imagine that number of women—perhaps with Zoe’s help—imagine what their lives might be like.

To think ahead with hope to a future clear of this scourge, I quote Adrienne Rich, from Dreams Before Waking:

                    “...What would it mean to stand on the first page of the end of despair?”

B.E. Kahn has tapped Miki Young for the next author to answer the ten questions.  Miki, the author of How to Hear God in 7 Days, is an interfaith minister, ordained from One Spirit Learning Alliance. She is also an officiant with Journeys of the Heart, performing weddings, funerals and baby namings. She practices Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism. In her work, she offers personal consultation to help people discover their personal destiny and give clarity to their souls. She also offers online workshops on Life's Meaning: Uncovering your personal spiritual curriculum.

Miki’s book is entitled How to Hear God in 7 Days.  She will post her answers on her own blog, One Foot Planted.


Barbara Daniels’ new chapbook Black Sails is available from Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press and her book Rose Fever fromWordTech Press. Her poetry has appeared in Mid-Atlantic Review, SolsticeThe Literary Review, and many other journals. She earned an MFA from Vermont College and received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  Barbara's interview about Black Sails will be posted soon at this link.

Joseph Dorazio Interview for The Next Big Thing


Here's Joseph's interview, answering the same ten questions as all the authors involved in this "round-robin interview" project. Joseph's poems have appeared widely in print and online literary magazines.  His latest book, As Is, earned an Editor's Choice award from iUniverse.

Name of book:  As Is:  Selected Poems of Joseph Dorazio

What is your working title of your book (or story)?
As Is:  Selected Poems of Joseph Dorazio

Where did the idea come from for the book?
From my interest in treasure hunting at yard sales, flea markets, rummage sales, etc.  

What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Jackie Gleason, John Candy - I like funny fat guys.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Poetry that stimulates the imagination and offers a quirky perspective on the commonplace.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
1 year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Kay Ryan's, The Best of It.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
During the last year or so I started working on a collection of poems that address our preoccupation and fascination with the past's things.  I studied archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, so you could say I've always had an interest in what human societies leave behind:  their materials remains.  I also like to observe other people and their reactions to objects they discover at flea markets, rummage sales, etc.  If you observe them carefully, listen to them carefully, you'll notice they act as if they've been reunited with some long lost relative or friend when they discover some innocuous object that either reminds them of something they had as a child.  Or maybe it's even the same object!

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
My poems have been described as "intense & ambitious."  A good many of the poems in my new book address global climate change -- which I believe will be THE issue facing humanity in the coming years.  

Joseph's pick for the next interview, which will be posted on February 3, 2013 is poet Mike Cohen.  Mike's answers will be hosted at his own sparkling and multi-faceted blog, mikecohensays, at http://mikecohensays.com/

Be sure to read Debra Leigh Scott's answers to the same ten questions at one of her blogs, Hidden River Writers, at http://hiddenriverwriters.wordpress.com/  She's pointed the interview toward two more writers, Karen Rile and Charles Dodd White.

I'll also host B.E. Kahn's take on the ten questions as she talks about her new book Night Spark: The Zoe Poems, dealing with the feminine aspect of sexual abuse.  Check back here for this interview on February 6.

And the beat goes on!
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The Next Big Thing @ Tree Riesener

          First of all, I have to thank the brilliant and prolific Susan Tepper for inviting me to be part of this “writers’ chain letter.”  It’s such a great way to link the current projects of a lot of writers, so I hope you’ll follow links backward and read a lot of interviews as well as following the links forward at the end of this interview on the dates announced for the next interviews.
 What is your working title of your book (or story)?
          The book is called Sleepers Awake.  
          That title is resonant, of course, echoing as it does such diverse applications of the phrase as  John Ashberry’s delightfully humorous poem of the same name that addresses the sleeping foibles of many iconic writers, the Ohio rock band, of course  Bach’s glorious Sleepers, Awake! A Voice is Calling, all of which tap into the verse from Ephesians, 5:14, which actually says “Wake up, O Sleepers.” 
          My usage is referring to spies living in deep cover  who do  nothing to communicate with  their shadow bosses and don’t even look around to see what’s going on. They acquire jobs and identities and blend into everyday life as normal citizens. The idea is that when their hidden employer invades, they will wake up and help defeat  the country.  
          My deep agents, my sleepers, are demons that Satan has placed on earth to await the final battle when Satan hopes to take over the earth. 
          In the meantime, my sleepers marry, have a good time, buy expensive coffee makers and fall in love.
 Where did the idea come from for the book
          I'm fascinated by the intrusion of the sacred into the profane.  It can be terrifying or, in everyday life, just a little bit quirky.  
          People can be going about their lives, looking for a bit of comfort in some TV and a drink at the end of the day but find themselves coping with losing that little first-class relic of a saint that keeps them safe while insider trading, the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) making herself comfortable in a California trailor park, cloning yourself into a nice little walking talking Adam and Eve to keep in a terrarium, or a smelly, cross-dressing Jesus in an Episcopal church on Judgment Day.
What genre does your book fall under? 
          Fantastic writing, of course.  Mind-blowing literature.  Pulitzer Prize material.  Joking aside, I would say it’s satiric literary fiction with a heart.
 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
          Well, for the sleeper demon in the title story, I went to an internet list of hot actorsI immediately eliminated ones where they posed shirtless with depilated chests and ones with their arms above their heads to suggest B&D and ones with spread-out legs in tight jeans or torsos in wet t-shirts.  
          I have to admit the one of Paul Rudd naked in bed with a looking glass, even though it violated many of my criteria, had a sense of humor with the sheets coyly sheltering his bits and pieces, a modestly hairy chest and might fill the bill.  I can see my demon checking up on himself to see if he’s hot enough.  
          If Paul is busy, I’ll go with Orlando Bloom (or, if he’s busy, with Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale, Tom Welling, Ryan Reynolds, Christ Pine or that sweet Mexican import, Gael Garcia Bernal).
          For his female love interest, I don’t think we could go far wrong with Emma Watson, whom I selected from an internet list of hot actresses.
 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
           The characters in this collection of short fiction exist in the surreality of life as they deal with their particular circumstances,  in which the conceivable has become comfortable, everyday reality. 
 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
          Sleepers Awake is the 2012 winner of the Eludia Award from Hidden River Arts.  I am honored to have won this award because just the list of finalists and semi-finalists was huge, so many good writers.  
          At this point, I’m not represented by an agency.  I also publish poetry (EK, my new full-length collection of widely and wildly interpreted ekphrastic poetry will be published this year by Cervena Barva Press); poets and short story writers aren’t terribly attractive to agents but I’m finishing up a novel and that may attract a publishing partner.
 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
          This is a hard question for me to answer because I always work on several things at the same time.  In addition, it’s a collection of short fiction so the various stories were written at different times over several years. 
          The final organization of the stories into a book that has an impact as a cohesive volume of work, the revision (and I revise extensively), the editing-- it all took quite a while, although I was working on other projects at the same time.  I would say that it was a several-year project.
 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
          Some of the writers I love, who write stories of somewhat the same genre, at least as part of their output, are George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Hannah Tinti, Karen Russell (who wrote the wonderful St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves),Donald Barthelme, whose work I love for the amazing variety of forms he used, and on and on.  The stories I like are ones that insert unfamiliar, offbeat, even zany characters and situations into the everyday world we know and then show us what happens.
 Who or what inspired you to write this book?
          Not any single inciting incident.  I am interested in many things—science, astronomy, alchemy (including all kinds of transformation), secrecy, hidden places, archaeology, all the permutations of love, fear, mythology, religion . . . .  The list is long.  As all writers do, I write from what is in my mind, my interests, so obviously I accumulate stories and poetry that fall into these areas. 
          The stories I collected into Sleepers Awake are stories that tap into what people have always done to fit their lives into an existing numinous, supernatural framework—invent tales of popular piety (as contrasted to formally received piety or mythology or religion).  In the case of this book, the results are, I hope, uproarious even if  the reader doesn’t delve into the subtext. Could what happens in the stories really happen?  I'm afraid so.
 What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
          The sacred and the profane are rounded off when Pope Benedict Ratzo XVI joins Regis and Kathy in the reviewing stand for the televised version of Judgment Day. Other stories fit in the collection nicely.  Enough said?          

          Here are some new interviews that will be online on the dates listed; I’ll be hosting Betti and Joseph’s interviews here on my blog and Debra’s interview can be found on her blog:  
         
          Betti (B.E.) Kahn is the author of two chapbooks, Spring Apples, Silver Birch (Greenleaf Press, 2008) and Landscape of Light (2010).  She is a grant recipient from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and the Pew Foundation.  Her work has appeared in many literary magazines.  Look for her interview here at Tree Riesener's Blog on 2/3/2013.          

          Joseph Dorazio's  work has appeared in over 30 literary magazines.  His latest book, As Is, earned an Editor's Choice Award from iUniverse.  His first two chapbook collections were finalists in poetry competitions and in 2009, his poem, "The Tree of Life," was set to music by the composer Eleanor Aversa in response to the Dialogues with Darwin Poetry Project at the American Philosophical Society Museum in Philadelphia.  Look for his interview here at Tree Riesener's Blog on 1/27/2013. 
         
          Debra Leigh Scott will be answering the interview questions about her novel Piety Street.  Debra is also the author of a highly-praised collection of short stories, Other Likely Stories.  Her work in theater includes plays which have been performed at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Shubin Aprilfest, the New Light Festival, and the Playshops Festival of the Philadelphia Theatre Workshop.  She will host her own interview at one of her blogs, Hidden River Writers on 1/27/2013.



Tree Riesener Wins Eludia First Fiction Book Award

http://hiddenriverarts.wordpress.com/about/ 
Tree Riesener, Author of SLEEPERS AWAKE, winner of 2012 Eludia Award
Hidden River Arts is extremely pleased to announce Tree Riesener as the winner of the first annual Eludia Award, for a first book-length unpublished novel or collection of stories. The prize is open to women writers age 40 and older, who do not yet have a book-length publication of fiction. The winning manuscript will be published by our imprint, Sowilo Press, and our author will receive $1000 plus ten copies of the published book. Because of the wonderful response and exceptional quality of work submitted, we also have an extensive list of semi-finalists and finalists for the competition. Congratulations to all our writers. The talent and brilliance of all of those who have shared their work with us is simply overwhelming.

Poetry and Science

Ruth Padel discusses the relationship between science and poetry in this thoughtful essay from The Guardian, UK. "Scientists and poets focus on details. Poetry is the opposite of woolly or vague. Vague poetry is bad poetry – which, as Coleridge said, is not poetry at all. Woolly science is not science." http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/09/ruth-padel-science-poetry

Lightning, Thunder and Fire Writing! Part I.


We’re going to start with Lightning Writing today.

Remember the joy of writing with invisible ink when you were a kid? You’d buy this ink at a novelty store and write in it.Nothing would appear on the page but when you held it up to a light bulb, the words would appear.

You can use a technological equivalent for those days when the censor is sitting on your shoulder and you’re lingering too much on what you’re writing instead of trusting yourself and moving ahead.

The idea is to write in a text you cannot see or cannot understand but which you can easily change back to your normal black Times New Roman (or whatever) on a white background.
Okay, ready to go?

First, change your font color to white with the selection tool in the upper right corner of the toolbar area. Begin to type.You will see . . . NOTHING!

This is a wonderfully freeing way to write. You will feel a closer connection between your brain and your fingers when you write without the in-between appearance of the printed text.Your thoughts will fly freer. You can come back and censor, tweak, re-arrange later. That’s the part of writing that should come later, divorced from the act of creationg. Give it a try.

Now that you know how to do this, be really brave and start a folder in which to save your unseen writing. Don't peek. It’s okay to give it a retrieval name you can see. You’ll want to call it up later, select the text, and change it to black.
After writing something, I always put it “in the drawer” for a few days, at least, or better, a few weeks before I come back to it. My mind will have been working on it in another way and my thoughts and eye are sharper to revise.

I’m going to give you a few days to try this and then I’ll post again, with some exciting variations.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel--Canterbury Tales for our Time


After reading The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I went to see the movie.  Both were interesting.  Having read them close together, I was very aware of the differences.  Book to film is something I always find fun to analyze.  I immediately liked the beginning of the film better than Deborah Moggach’s book, although she’s a great writer and I love her stuff.  The book started with a fairly long exposition of the troubles a daughter and son-in-law were having with her randy, flatulent, belching, selfish old dad, who in the film became a still randy old man but someone in search of love and companionship and a fairly attractive human being, very vulnerable.  The beginning of the film?  Well, think Canterbury Tales.  Each character is introduced before they begin their journey together (not the flight to India but the journey in the hotel toward whatever peace or pain they are going to find in their final years).  Although Chaucer’s pilgrims went on pilgrimage to holy shrines for expiation of sin (as well as a nice road trip, different food, and good company), the main sin of the pilgrims here and the reason for their residence at the Marigold was financial improvidence or other problems that left them unable to afford England.  The movie is billed as dealing with the trials of old age but I think it’s more about how we allow or forbid cultures to change us, whether the cultures are foreign countries or different micro-cultures we encounter as we travel through life in our own countries.  I loved a sentence that was repeated several times during the movie, especially by the endearing, ever optimistic young proprietor of the Marigold:  Everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end yet.  I can live with that.

Get my blog posts in your e-mail!

I've just added a new service to my blog, which you will find by following this link or going to treeriesener.blogspot.com. All you have to do is enter your e-mail and you'll get every new post.  I hope a lot of you will establish a relationship with me this way!

MOBIZ: The end of traditional paperback books

I found this article interesting because I still buy hardcover books, beautiful books, books with lovely paper and illustrations, nice fonts but I find I look for a Kindle copy instead of buying a cheap paperback.  MOBIZ: The end of traditional paperback books

New Blog Style to Celebrate 8000th View!

I've spent the morning giving my blog a new look.  Not so artistic but easier to read, I think, and easier to find posts that might be of interest. I'm not quite finished with tweaking but I'll be interested in what people think.  Oh, I'm celebrating--just passed the 8000th view!

Tree Riesener Reading At Bolingbroke



I'll be reading from my forthcoming collection of ekphrastic poetry, EK, which will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2012.  The reading will be at the Bolingbroke Mansion in Wayne, Pa. on December 7 at 7:00.  More information will be coming out soon but there will be my featured reading with slides of the images, an open reading and gorgeous refreshments, all in an old mansion decorated for Christmas. What's not to like?  Come on out and have fun!

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Poetry chapbooks by Tree Riesener:  Inscapes (Finishing Line Press), Angel Poison (Pudding House Publications), Liminalog (Inmates Run The Asylum Press).  Each book is $10.00 and shipping is free when you order from me!  If you'd like to know more about the contents, just drop me a line!  FORTHCOMING:  New full-length collection, EK, from Cervena Barva Press!

Tree Riesener Reading At University of Pennsylvania Bookstore

Penn Bookstore Series

Light of Unity Association and Mad Poets Performance Series
1st Thursdays, April through September
Hosted by Tamara Oakman

University of Pennsylvania Bookstore
3601 Walnut Street
University Square
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Admission: $7 or $5 for students, seniors & MPS members. Proceeds split in half between performing artists and a different charity each month. Event co-sponsored by the Light of Unity Association.

Thurs., June 3: Jeffrey Ethan Lee, Dan Maguire, Quincy Scott Jones, Mel Brake, Tree Riesener, George McDermott, and a musical/spoken performance by: Ian Wolf.
June proceeds to benefit Philabundance.

This series is supported by PA Partners in the Arts (PPA), the regional arts funding partnership of the PA Council on the Arts, a state agency. State government funding comes through an annual appropriation by PA’s General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Five County Arts Fund. Special thanks to April Williamson of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Authors' Contracts Will Look More Like Service Agreements

Fascinating article from Bruce Milligan's "Publishing Perspectives." Read the whole article by clicking on the title.

"Future contracts will reflect the multiple opportunities that authors have to market themselves and their works directly to their readers. “If you imagine a world in which authors ‘don’t need a publisher,’ it encourages the publisher to take a different view. The contract looks more like a service agreement. Publishers have scale and reach and access to funds that authors don’t have, but the paradigm looks slightly different.”

When Brevity Is a Virtue

Short stories have won unusual plaudits this year. Alice Munro won the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her body of work; Elizabeth Strout's short-story collection, "Olive Kitteridge," claimed the Pulitzer Prize. "Olive Kitteridge" has sold 472,000 copies according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 75% of book sales—impressive for any kind of literary fiction.

When Writing, Avoid Early Closure

There have been a few times in my life when a poem or a story composed itself like a house afire. My fingers danced on the keyboard. My pen slid over the page. I was completely channeling the duende and the work passed through me like sunlight through a window.

Not often.

Most of the time ideas start to gather like the harbingers of a storm. First a few clouds in the sky. Then a few drops of rain. Maybe a long sultry day before the first rain falls. Then a break, time to take a little walk, weed the garden a bit, put a bucket under the leaky place before the next installment of rain. Eventually all this foreplay is over, the heavens break open, rain drenches the ground, soaks in, swirls in rivers. The writing starts to come.

There's a natural tendency to want to finish a bit of writing. The soul yearns for the finished project. But for me, most of the time, I'm not channeling a poem. I'm laboriously building it up, word by word, phrase by phrase. I've learned to trust the process. As I take a walk, ride trains, read, run errands in the city streets, I live with the poem or story. It's always with me. I wake up in the morning and discover my brain has been busy all night.

I've learned to wait until a fair amount of notes, jottings, little sketches, cryptic phrases are there on the page. Only then is the best time for me to begin writing. After the first draft is more-or-less finished, I put it aside and resolutely ignore it (or try to ignore it) for at least a few days. The day comes when I feel it would be okay to work on it again. By this time, the well of ideas from my subconscous is overflowing again for the revision process, one of the most rewarding, voluptuous parts of the composition process.

Don't cheat yourself of all this joy by feeling the work must be brought to completion too quickly. It really is true that the process brings great happiness and almost always (except when the duende visit you) results in deeper, more redolent writing.

Read this poem, Ithaka, by Cavafy. It's probably the best poem ever written about enjoying the voyage as much as the port.

Bruce Milligan: In Praise Of The Lowly Chapbook

From Bruce's article: "The books themselves run the gamut of printing and binding techniques: letterpress, offset, even laser printing; commissioned handmade paper, high-end linen paper, best-available-at-the-local-paper-store-on-Friday-afternoon paper; almost all have hand-sewn bindings—Coptic, Japanese, or plain saddle stitching. All are signed and numbered, with print runs no larger than 500 copies. Prices range from $14 to $75. What they all have in common is that they almost always sell out within the first year or two and, being “collectibles,” the last few available copies inevitably escalate in value, sometimes precipitously."

Susan Tepper Interview: Final Question

Tree: Well, Susan, these are going to be your last soul-searching questions, unless we come up with some more. I want to pry a bit into your innermost thoughts today, so my first question is this:

Do you keep a journal?

Susan: I have never kept a journal. I was taught if you write it down, you've already begun. I'd rather just dive right into the fiction and poetry.

I spend a huge amount of time revising my fiction, many stories have gone through thirty to fifty rewrites. Same thing with the novels.

Huge amounts of time spent on rewrites. I end up with a mound of papers before the piece is complete for me. Raymond Carver said you know you're done when you take out punctuation, put it back, then take it out again. In other words, when the redundancy kicks in. I can tell I'm done when I'm happy with it each time I read it over.

Sure, over the years, I can see things in published work that I might tweak a bit. But once it's done, it's pretty much set in stone for me.

Poetry is a little different. I write short poems that come out fast. Some work well and get published quickly. Others, I let sit, and might revise a year later. Revision for me, with poetry, is more about form than words. I write abstract poetry, so in revision I might slide the lines around a bit, which can cast the poem in a different light. Abstract poetry is more like painting, in the sense that it makes its statement on the page by where it appears when the line is "speaking." I hope that makes sense.

Tree: I know this is a question asked of all writers but for me it has an enduring interest. What writers do you return to and read over and over? Contrastively, who are some new writers you are excited about?

Susan: William Trevor is a staple for me. I have never read a William Trevor story that failed. He has brilliance on every level: his craft, his choices, the way he understands the human psyche and its weaknesses and failings. Simply amazing. I think that's a true gift some are born with, and he made the decision to steer it into writing.

I also read Jean Thompson. Her unusual take on life really spikes her fiction, I'm very fond of her work.

Mark Wisniewski, who I've been reading for twenty years, just knocks me out. He goes places I wish I could go. I think of Mark as my "spirit writer." I finally met him, when I invited him to read in my FIZZ series at KGB Bar. He is as nice as he is talented.

With poetry, it's Simon Perchik that I read over and over. I interviewed him twice, and reviewed his opus book Hands Collected for the Boston Review. That book spanned fifty years of his poetry. We have become close friends, and Simon is my poet mentor. I feel truly blessed by this.

Tree: I go back to Trevor over and over, keep his big fat collected stories beside my bed. Mark Wisniewski is a favorite as well. What an enigmatic thinker! I'll have to investigate Jean Thompson (like tomorrow!). Simon Perchik is wonderful. We like so many of the same writers. No wonder I'm drawn to your work. Okay, let's go on to the next question.

Would you free associate these phrases. No need to explain. We won't make the mysterious mundane!

The first phrase is this. What do you think of when you think of a good place to be?

Susan: My bed, in a sweater, St. Martin in the Fields Church concert, KGB announcing my readers, greenhouse in winter, local ice cream parlor, Prague, Waterloo Bridge, tea in the Crypt, St. James Park, Marios cafe, the Jimmy concerts

Tree: What are some places where you wouldn't want to go?

Susan: Cemeteries, Madrid, Las Vegas, Detroit, para-sailing, deep sea diving, family reunions

Tree: Well, I said I wouldn't ask but I hope someday you'll explain these to me. I can understand not wanting to go to Detroit, but Madrid? And I've always thought Las Vegas would be the Grand Canyon of Neon. Love to go there just once.

Okay, this is the final question. Let us in on the secret. What are you working on now?

Susan: A bunch of things. A novel of linked stories, a story about a museum guard, a story about a man who lives in Prague. And always poems... when they want to come to me. !

Tree: Susan, thank you for spending this time with us. Good luck with Deer

Susan Tepper Interview, Question #3--Intuition or Planning?

Tree: I know you have characterized yourself as an intuitive, spontaneous writer, as compared to an outliner or planner. Could you share some thoughts about your writing habits, even such mundane things (that can be very important) as, for example, pens or pencils. Special kind of pen? What kind of notebooks? Home or cafés? Any computer programs? Neat or tidy desk? Give us a picture of you as a working writer!

Susan: If you can picture someone acting compulsively, then you pretty much get me as a writer.

It's my drug of choice.

I wake up with poems on my brain in the middle of the night and dash into the next room to write them down. Lately that has eased up a bit, thank god.
But I'm like the person who buys the big double pack of Oreos and sits down and eats until the last cookie is gone. In other words, I have no will or willpower over writing.

Tree: But as a writer, you do have to sit down and work on something. Of all the writing projects I presume you have in your brain, how do you organize the day's work?

Susan: I don't make decisions. I don't say: I want to write a novel. I sit down at my computer in a cramped, pathetically overstuffed little room and start typing and whatever comes through me onto the page, that's what I write. The other day, I overheard someone saying something in a diner, and I thought: that would make a good story title.

If writing wasn't so completely enthralling to me, I probably would have gone nuts by now. The whole thing totally absorbs me. The writing, the submitting, the promotion, the editing, the magazine, my writer friends, my reading series... on and on.

Tree: But what about the times you need for actual writing? Do you like mornings, afternoons, any particular needs of that sort?

Susan: The only time I'm not writing on a daily basis is when I'm traveling. I never travel with a laptop or notebook. I adore travel so much, I want to take in everything without being distracted. If I could travel endlessly, I might quit writing.

Oh! I just caught a little insight. Writing is travel! So that's the key to the puzzle -- I'm a compulsive traveler! In actual travel, I travel with my husband, Miles, who is a great travel companion.

Tree: What can I say? I'm an organized writer who makes endless lists and action plans. But a part of me is just like you. I usually start the day with very free-wheeling writing exercises and I have to say some of my best writing has come from those times when I empty my mind and just type whatever comes directly from my brain to my fingertips.

I think it's good for writers to be comfortable with both approaches and draw on them as needed, maybe trust an intuitive approach for the initial work and then re-approach it more critically for the revision. But we have to trust the duende who bring us the ideas and the flow, right? Never second guess them or they might stop helping us! Thanks, Susan. Until tomorrow!

Susan Tepper Interview, Question #2--Magical Realism

Tree: Okay, we're ready for question #2, continuing our exploration of the scenes behind the scenes of your stories, and here it is!

Transport one of your characters to his/her dying days. Using first person, talk about a moment (or two or three) when this character was happiest, when something "clicked." In other words, what are one or several things in life that brought him/her some happiness in spite of everything?

Susan: Very cool question! Ok, I'll go with the character Maura, in Elvis Out of The Meditation Garden.

Tree: Before we read more about Maura's dying thoughts, could you fill us in a bit on her background?

In the story she's a young woman in her twenties, kind of sweet and not especially interested in her boyfriend Ramey, who is pressuring her to marry him. But Maura is very interested in Elvis, who they've stolen from his grave, and transported to their Elm Street Community Theatre, for a special Elvis musical event. For the purpose of answering your question, Maura is now in her forties.

Whoever knew that living near power lines could cause you so much trouble? I was just so happy to finally have a house, a nice old white clapboard house. For about the first decade we lived here, I never really paid attention to the phone lines and all that electricity strung pole to pole through the back yards.

I was busy raising our twins, Julie and Jim, while my husband Mark was on the road a lot. Sales. I never liked when he had to leave, it worried me, not that I'm afraid of being alone, but I worried about the women. There are always women around men who travel. Elvis traveled. Priscilla must've spent a lot of time alone with Lisa Marie.

But back when I knew Elvis, that short while at the theatre, I'll confess I wasn't really thinking about Priscilla. Sure, her name had come up a few times but she was history. I wasn't. I was there and Elvis was there and it was magic! He had touched my breast! Held onto it. Until my boyfriend Ramey made him let go.
Now I touch where my breast used to be and hold my breath remembering.

If only I had figured out a way to be alone with Elvis before he had to leave us. I should have gotten Ramey out of the theatre on some pretense. I should have led Elvis over to the pink velvet couch from our Arsenic and Old Lace production. I know Elvis would have followed me.

I knew it then and still know it. Nothing can take that away. I touch my phantom breast again and I can feel Elvis inside me, deep in my body. That makes me rest more easily.

Tree: When I read this story, I think "magical realism." Did you consciously write this story to fit into this category? Is this a school of writing you are interested in?

Susan: Magical realism is wonderful! I love the stories of Garcia Marquez, which I read intermittently. I have written a few pieces that I suppose could be put into that genre. One is a story called "Above the Clouds Midnight Passes" which was published by Crannog Magazine in Ireland, and inspired by seeing a Max Ernst exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What an incredible painter!

But I have to say I don't consciously choose which way a story goes. The Elvis story could have turned out to be one that takes place while he's alive. But somehow his wanting whiter teeth forced it into the present. And, of course he's dead! So the story had to become whimsical on some plane. Here's what I remember about the "Elvis" story. I woke up with the first line in my mind and could picture Elvis saying it. I typed that first line and the rest followed. I'd be happy to have someone call this story Magical Realism.

Tree: Well, Magical Realism is one of my favorite genres and I think this story definitely has an honored place there. Thank you, Susan. I look forward to your answer to tomorrow's question, when we pry into your writing habits! Until then!

Susan Tepper: Interview

Last month I posted a review of Susan Tepper's new and acclaimed book of short stories, Deer.  This month I'm following that interview up with a series of interview questions.  I'll be posting one question and answer each day this week.

Here's the interview for today!

Tree:  Susan, since you lived with these characters a long time as you were I wonder how you would assimilate into your characters' landscapes, the worlds they live in.  Of all the characters in your stories, which one lives in a landscape in which you would most like to spend a year?

Susan:  Wow, tough to answer.  My first thought was none.  Most of these characters are struggling.  Then I decided I could live in the landscape of childhood again, particularly the landscape of Henrietta in "Velvet Box."  She's a scrappy girl, smart and independent.  Life doesn't touch her.  It's the suburbs, in the 1950's, when children were allowed to run free.  She has her little tribe:  younger sister, Bibi, and younger cousin, Pete.  She's the leader of this pack and the world is her oyster.  She tears around the neighborhood saying and doing pretty much as she pleases.  There's grass and trees and dogs and caterpillars and hydrangea bushes and plastic lawn deer.  There's also a violent neighbor, a repressive church and a dying uncle.  Henrietta remains aloof from all that is not life affirming.  She does this unconsciously.  That life can be bad or difficult simply doesn't penetrate her spirit.  And that is the ultimate freedom.  I could definitely live there.

Tree:  That sounds like my childhood.  I would take off all day on my pony, with a BB gun and a lunch.  Nobody worried about me all day.  It's a sort of freedom children today don't know.  I could live in that landscape again, although I'd do without the BB gun!

Tomorrow:  Susan turns to the other end of life for one of her characters and discusses her thoughts when nearing death.

Susan Tepper's Deer & Other Stories: Step Into Her Scary, Tender World


With this publication of Deer & Other Stories from Wilderness House Press, her first book of short fiction, novelist and poet Susan Tepper is well on her way to establishing her own territory, even as Cheever, Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor have done.  Instead of the world of monied but angst-ridden New Englanders, violent and ancestor-ridden Yoknapatawphans, or Gothic, God-ridden Southerners, Tepper has her world of late-Twentieth-Century-ridden lost but valiant souls.

The leitmotif of this book is the deer, who makes an appearance in each story whether as a head on a wall or hanging upside down in a garage, draining.  Putting a deer in each story could have been a tiresome affectation, something dragged in to achieve continuity, but when deer cross from their wilderness into contemporary civilization (or what passes for it in a Tepper story), my first thought is of the deer as elegant, out-of-place creatures standing frozen in the lights of a car.  We know they will soon be transformed into road kill, much as many of the characters in this book will be transfixed and wounded by the lives they find themselves out of place in, whether that place is cleaning a filthy rented house or sexually servicing the Beatles along with the lesser Mahareeshi in India.

It is a measure of Tepper's excellent writing and the tenderness with which she views her characters that we care what happens to these high school students playing hooky and driving illegally while passing a joint, this mismatched honeymoon couple with a wife trying to cope with a mouse-haunted house and a husband who wants sex "with devices," all the while worrying if such a thing might leave her with a permanent vibration, a young boy struggling with life in Italy with his grandparents, his only friend another young ex-pat who tells him his family "defecates" in the ground.  "Naturally we have a toilet.  We're not animals.  We shit to fertilize the garden.  We give back what we get from the ground.  We get very large radishes.  You'll see."

The stories are fascinating but let's talk about the language we find in this book.  Susan Tepper writes damn good sentences, sentences to enjoy, to linger over.  As someone who has taught writing, I could pick any page in this book and have students study the variety of sentences, the texture they lay on the page.  A lush variety of beginnings, from prepositional phrases to participial phrases to single words.  Front-loaded sentences, back-loaded sentences.  Balanced, coordinated sentences and the occasional short, starkly declarative utterance.  This is the writing of a language lover, not cunningly devised but flowing easily with a gorgeous balance of language perfectly suited to the characters.

Immediately and especially noticeable is the onrush of exciting, powerful verbs.  Teenagers clock eighty-five, things are rammed, chilly wind beats, food is shoved into mouths, a wife flashes a sweetly savage smile.  Details are crisp, clearly observed, telling, not overloaded with adjectives and unneeded adverbs.

The dialogue here is language that would naturally issue from the mouths of her characters but even in passages where the characters are not speaking, we share in their interior lives with interior monologues.  This is an immediate book and we are sucked into these difficult lives and stay with them until the resolution, wishing the story could go on a little longer. 

The thing to remember when you rush out to buy this book (which you should immediately, it's that good) is that these people (I won't even call them characters) are US, in our infinite variety, pain, and machinations to survive.  Along with us, they are all afraid of dying and camouflage that natural human tendency in a variety of ways, their hopeless, stumbling rush toward oblivion honestly but lovingly chronicled.