My review of The Genius Plague, a novel by David Walton, has been published by the Internet Review of Books.
I haven't yahooed in a while because I'm lazy, but here are two acceptances for future publication:
My flash nonfiction essay, “A Quiet Man,” at Forge Literary Magazine.
A humorous flash, “Anonymous Man,” at Clever Magazine.
My story, "Watching Television," is up at Everyday Fiction.
My story, “Understanding Mama,” originally published in Fabula Argentea, has been selected for republication in their Fifth Anniversary Anthology, now available at Amazon.
I’ll yahoo again when the others appear.
I'm pleased to learn that I made a decent showing in a state poetry competition. I found out last night that I won a first place prize for my poem about my uncle and his love for playing his mandolin (titled Mandolin Breeze).
We recently talked (briefly) about J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy and my winning poem is related to that time and place. I also won two second places, a third place, and seven of my other poems placed in the top ten of their categories.
My first place winner will appear in their yearly anthology which will also list my second and third place wins.
Theresa A. Cancro
My poem "Visceral" has been published on Stanzaic Stylings.
Three of my haiku (all new) have been published in the British haiku print journal Presence, Issue #59 (November 2017). Joanna Weston is also there.
Judith Kelly Quaempts
My poem, "Lull," is up at Ariel Chart.
Also my poem, "Somewhere a Bird Sings a Foreign Song” is up at the same place.
Monday, November 20, 2017
Friday, November 17, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On November 17th, 1993, The Shipping News, the classic novel by the famous American writer Annie Proulx, won the National Book Award. It wasn't the first award her writing received; her previous (and first) novel, Postcards (1992) won the PEN / Faulkner Award.
The Shipping News is the moving chronicle of Quoyle, a man who faces unexpected and tragic twists and turns in his life and struggles to move on.
First, Quoyle's parents commit suicide, then his abusive, cheating wife Petal abducts their young daughters and runs off with her lover. After selling the children to a black market adoption agency for six thousand dollars, Petal and her lover are killed in a car accident.
Later, the police find Quoyle's daughters and they are returned to him, safe and sound. Unfortunately, his life is falling apart. Then his eccentric aunt, Agnis Hamm, (his father's sister) pays an unexpected visit.
Aunt Agnis convinces him to take the girls and return to the family's ancestral home in Newfoundland, (his father had emigrated to upstate New York) located on Quoyle's Point. There, he could make a fresh start.
In Newfoundland, Quoyle takes a job as a car accident reporter for the Gammy Bird, the local newspaper of Killick-Claw. (Quoyle had previously worked for a newspaper in New York.)
The editor also assigns him to cover the shipping news - the arrivals and departures at the local port. This results in Quoyle writing a series of popular articles on boats of interest in the harbor.
While making a new life for himself in Newfoundland, Quoyle makes new friends within the community and falls in love with a local woman named Wavey. He finds his emotional strength and self confidence growing - both of which he'll need, as disturbing secrets about his family history begin to emerge.
A year after it won the National Book Award, The Shipping News won its author a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 2001, it was adapted as an acclaimed feature film, directed by legendary Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom. It starred Kevin Spacey as Quoyle, Julianne Moore as Wavey, and Dame Judi Dench as Aunt Agnis.
Annie Proulx would become most famous for her acclaimed short story, Brokeback Mountain, which would be adapted as an Academy Award winning feature film in 2005.
Quote Of The Day
"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences, and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write." - Annie Proulx
Today's video features Annie Proulx being interviewed before a live audience at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Enjoy!
Thursday, November 16, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On November 16th, 1913, Swann's Way, the first volume of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, (In Search of Lost Time, aka Remembrance of Things Past) the classic epic novel by the legendary French writer Marcel Proust, was published.
Clocking in at well over a million words, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu is one of the longest novels ever written. When Proust began work on it, he planned to publish it as a series of seven volumes.
It took him over ten years to complete the series. He died while editing his finished drafts of the last three volumes, so his brother Robert finished the revisions (working from Marcel's notes) and published them posthumously.
After completing the first volume of his epic novel, Swann's Way, Proust submitted the manuscript to several publishers, all of whom rejected it. One editor complained about some minor syntax errors, while another had a different complaint.
"My dear fellow," he told Proust, "I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may I can't see why a chap should need 30 pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep."
Proust's writing style was experimental in nature - dense and lyrical prose rich in symbolism and philosophy, eschewing plot in favor of a non-linear narrative. This reflected his fascination with the nature of memory.
The most famous memory evoked in Swann's Way is the narrator's memory of eating that classic French tea cake, the madeleine:
Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?
The memories in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu are recalled in incredibly rich detail. Its style was in complete contrast with the plot-driven novels of its time. This may have contributed to its initial rejection.
Some believe it had more to do with the fact that Proust, who was gay, wrote openly and honestly about homosexuality at a time when it was not only despised by society but also illegal - a crime punishable by imprisonment.
His narrator in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu is not gay, but other characters are (most notably the Baron de Charlus in the fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah) and homosexuality is a recurring theme in Proust's writings.
Unfazed by the rejection of Swann's Way by publishers, Proust raised the money to publish the novel himself. It made him famous. Scholars have proclaimed A la Recherche du Temps Perdu to be one of the greatest modern novels ever written.
The legendary Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov named it as one of the greatest prose works of the 20th century, along with James Joyce's Ulysses and Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. W. Somerset Maugham called it "the greatest fiction to date."
In 2002, Penguin Books published a new English translation of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Edited by Christopher Prendergast, it's a collaboration of seven different translators.
Ten years later, Naxos Audiobooks began releasing its acclaimed series of unabridged English language audiobooks of all the volumes of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, narrated by Neville Jason, famous for the abridged audiobook version of the series he'd recorded many years earlier.
I have already listened to the first four volumes of this new unabridged series, and the narration is magnificent. As always, unabridged audiobooks are the only way to go, especially when listening to the classics.
Quote Of The Day
"Reading is at the threshold of the spiritual life; it can introduce us to it. It does not constitute it... There are certain cases of spiritual depression in which reading can become a sort of curative discipline... reintroducing a lazy mind into the life of the Spirit." - Marcel Proust
Today's video features a complete reading of Marcel Proust's classic novel, Swann's Way. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On November 15th, 1887, the famous American poet Marianne Moore was born in Kirkwood, Missouri. She was born in the living quarters of her grandfather's church. He was a Presbyterian minister.
Marianne's father had walked out on the family before she was born, so she spent her early years living in her grandfather's home. Her grandfather died when she seven, and her mother moved the family to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she began her education.
After attending college and business school, Marianne taught at the Carlisle Indian School for several years. In 1915, when she was twenty-eight, her first published poem appeared.
Marianne continued to write and determined to become a professional poet. She and her mother moved to New York City, where she would become an assistant librarian at the New York Public Library.
As her publication credits grew, with her works published in major literary magazines and newspapers, she was befriended by some of the greatest poets of the day, such as William Carlos Williams, H.D. (Hilda Dolittle), Wallace Stevens, and T.S. Eliot.
In 1919, she struck up a friendship with Ezra Pound, a fellow American poet famous for his poetry and controversial for his political views. She continued to write to him even after the end of the war, as he languished in a brutal military prison.
Pound had been serving time for treason. A staunch conservative, in the 1930s he proclaimed his support for fascism and admiration of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. During the war, he had lived in Rome and recorded propaganda radio broadcasts for the Mussolini regime.
Although conservative herself, Marianne had denounced fascism long before America's entry into World War II and was revolted by Pound's anti-Semitism. Yet, she remained his friend. Pound would suffer a mental breakdown in prison, be declared insane, and transferred to a mental hospital.
Marianne Moore's first poetry collection, Poems, was published in London in 1921. It was actually published without her knowledge or consent by her friend H.D. as a surprise. When Marianne received her copy, she wasn't happy with the selection of poems, the editing, or the layout.
She continued to write and publish collections of her poetry, establishing herself as one of the finest poets of her generation. From 1925-29, she served as an editor for the famous literary magazine, The Dial (1840-1929). She won the Helen Haire Levinson Prize, awarded by the famous literary magazine Poetry, in 1931.
Marianne became a celebrity among the New York literati. She was quite a character; whenever she went out, no matter what the occasion, she'd wear her trademark black cape and matching tricorn hat.
She was a huge sports fan, and her favorite sports were baseball and boxing. She regularly attended ballgames and boxing matches. Her favorite boxer was Muhammad Ali, and she wrote the liner notes for his 1963 spoken word album, I Am The Greatest!
Marianne's fame also attracted the attention of the Ford Motor Company. The company's manager of marketing research asked her to name their newest car, a breakthrough model that they believed would make automotive history.
She came up with a list of names, including the Resilient Bullet, the Ford Silver Sword, the Varsity Stroke, the Andante con Moto, and the Utopian Turtletop.
None of Marianne's names for the new car were chosen. Instead, Ford named it the Edsel. It did make automotive history; with its open vulva-like grille and incredibly poor workmanship, it was the worst American car ever made. In its two years of production, Ford lost $350 million on the Edsel.
In 1951, Marianne published her most famous book, Collected Poems. It won her numerous awards, including a Pultizer Prize. She was a Modernist poet who believed that love of language and heartfelt expression were more important than meter, as you can see in her classic poem, Poetry:
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important
beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it,
one discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not be-
high sounding interpretation can be put upon them
but because they are
useful; when they become so derivative as to
become unintelligible, the
same thing may be said for all of us – that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand. The bat,
holding on upside down or in quest of some-
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll,
a tireless wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a
horse that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician – case after case
could be cited did
one wish it; nor is it valid
to discriminate against "business documents
school-books;" all these phenomena are important.
One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half
the result is not poetry,
nor till the autocrats among us can be
the imagination" – above
insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads
in them, shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand,
in defiance of their opinion –
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness, and
that which is on the other hand,
genuine, then you are interested in poetry.
Quote Of The Day
"Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others." - Marianne Moore
Today's video features a rare recording of Marianne Moore reading her classic poem, Bird-Witted. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On November 14th, 1851, Moby Dick, the classic novel by the legendary American writer Herman Melville, was published in the United States. It had been published in England as The Whale a month earlier - a release that proved to be a disaster.
Melville's classic adventure novel was based in part on the true story of Mocha Dick, a giant albino sperm whale so named because his territory was the waters off the Chilean island of Mocha.
For many years, Mocha Dick terrorized the whaling ships that sailed through his territory. He was known to attack ships with incredible ferocity. He supposedly had around twenty harpoons stuck in his back by previous whalers.
By the time Mocha Dick was finally killed in the late 1830s, he had successfully fought off one hundred whaling crews and destroyed many ships. Sailors told stories about him in every port, and his legend grew.
When Herman Melville read a book about Mocha Dick, he became fascinated by the true story of a giant killer sperm whale and saw in it the potential for a great novel, one he hoped would prove to be his magnum opus. He had already become famous for such classic novels as Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847).
The narrator of Moby Dick is Ishmael, an itinerant sailor who signs up for work on the whaling ship Pequod along with his new friend Queequeg, a master harpooner from a South Seas island where his father was the chief of a cannibal tribe.
Also on the crew of the Pequod are harpooners Tashtego and Daggoo, and chief mate Starbuck. The crew is under the command of Captain Ahab, a tyrant with a hidden agenda.
While on a whaling trip off the coast of Japan, Captain Ahab's ship was attacked by Moby Dick, a giant albino sperm whale. The ship was destroyed, and in the process, the giant whale bit off part of Captain Ahab's leg.
The crew of the Pequod has no idea that their captain plans to risk their lives to satisfy his monomaniacal desire for revenge against Moby Dick. When it becomes obvious that this is no ordinary whaling trip, Starbuck is the only one who objects.
Captain Ahab isn't deterred from his quest when Starbuck points out the madness of his plan and that revenge is against their religion - they're Quakers. In the novel's exciting climax, Ahab and nearly his entire crew pay the ultimate price for his revenge. Ishmael is the sole survivor of the Pequod's final battle with Moby Dick.
Although today Moby Dick is rightfully considered an epic masterpiece of American literature, the novel was savaged upon its first publication in England. Critics referred to it as "so much trash belonging to the worst school of Bedlam literature."
The scathing reviews were thanks to Melville's monumentally incompetent British publisher, who chopped up his already experimental manuscript for the censors, rearranged the ending, and forgot to include the crucial epilogue.
Melville had no idea that the UK version of his novel was so badly botched until it was too late. Shocked and confused by the bad reviews in British magazines, he was relieved when Moby Dick was published in America in its correct and unexpurgated original version.
Unfortunately, by then, the damage was done. The American reading public's interest had changed from sea adventures to tales of the American West and the Yukon gold rush, and though Moby Dick did receive good reviews from American critics, readers still remembered the bad reviews of the English critics.
The warm reception by American critics to the definitive version of Moby Dick was not enough to undo the damage done to the novel by its British publisher and make it the magnum opus Herman Melville had hoped for. It sold less than 3,000 copies during his lifetime. His total earnings from it were $556.37
He continued to write over the next several years, but after his novel The Confidence-Man was published in 1857, he plunged into alcoholism and depression and his writing came to a screeching halt.
In 1876, Melville published his classic epic poem Clarel, and it sold so poorly that he couldn't afford to buy back the unsold copies at cost, so they were burned. Unable to make money as a writer, he scraped by as a customs agent for New York City.
When Herman Melville died in 1891 at the age of 76, he had been completely forgotten as a writer. In a final insult, an article on Melville published in The New York Times ten days after his death mistakenly referred to him as Hiram Melville.
His last work, the classic novella Billy Budd, Sailor, was published posthumously in 1924 and became an instant classic that would rekindle an interest in his work. Moby Dick would finally receive its due as one of the greatest American novels of all time.
Quote Of The Day
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." - Herman Melville
Today's video features a complete reading of Herman Melville's classic novel, Moby Dick. Enjoy!
Monday, November 13, 2017
Joanna M. Weston
I have a poem up at Poets' Corner.
Thanks to everyone who helped me at the Niction list get my hub, Powerful Words Makes Powerful Prose, into shape at Hub Pages. Although I originally sent it to Letter Pile, they believed it would be a better fit at Hobby Lark for some reason. It’s now available at that niche site.
I’ve heard back from Calorie Bee via Hub Pages on my last Leafy green Vegetable hub last week. Thanks for everyone who helped me get it into shape last month.
Friday, November 10, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On November 10th, 1973, copies of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), the classic novel by the legendary American writer Kurt Vonnegut, were burned by administrators of a high school in Drake, North Dakota, as per the orders of the Drake School Board.
Slaughterhouse-Five, considered to be Vonnegut's masterpiece, was a landmark experimental novel. Opening during the Battle of the Bulge in the second World War, its main character is Billy Pilgrim, an American soldier.
A poorly trained soldier who hates war, Pilgrim is captured by the Nazis and becomes a prisoner of war. He and his comrades are interned in a prison camp whose quarters used to be a slaughterhouse.
Pilgrim soon finds himself "unstuck in time," as he travels through the past and the future, experiencing historical events out of sequence. He meets a failed science fiction writer named Kilgore Trout, who would return in Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions.
In his most memorable adventure, Pilgrim is kidnapped by space aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who exhibit him in their zoo, along with his "mate" - a sex film starlet named Montana Wildhack.
Vonnegut's brilliant, fantastical, and scathing antiwar satire was controversial for its political themes. The novel explored the Allied extermination of thousands of German civilians in the Dresden bombings.
It was also one of the first major literary works to explore the fact that in addition to Jews, Gypsies, and political opponents, the Nazis also exterminated homosexuals during the Holocaust.
An English teacher at the Drake high school had assigned Slaughterhouse-Five to his students for classroom study. One student complained to her mother about profane language in the novel, and the disgruntled parent contacted the principal, who then brought the issue to the attention of the board of education.
The Drake School Board decided not only to ban Slaughterhouse-Five from the classroom and the school library, but also to confiscate students' personal copies of the novel and burn them.
Most of the students refused to turn over their copies of the book, so school officials just raided their lockers and took them.
All the seized copies of Slaughterhouse-Five (and other books banned by the Board, including James Dickey's classic suspense thriller Deliverance) were tossed into the school's furnace and burned.
When Kurt Vonnegut learned that copies of his novel had been burned, he wrote the following to a member of the Drake School Board:
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school.
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life.
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the education of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books — books you hadn't even read.
You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive. Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
Nine years later, in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment limits the authority of school boards to remove books from middle and high school libraries.
Students had sued the Island Trees School Board over their decision to ban Slaughterhouse-Five and other books, which the Board had declared "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-[Semitic], and just plain filthy."
Public burnings of books still take place in the United States. More recently, church groups conducted public burnings of J.K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter fantasy novels, which they accuse of encouraging children to practice real witchcraft and dabble in devil worship.
Quote Of The Day
"Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae." - Kurt Vonnegut
Today's video features Kurt Vonnegut speaking as part of a panel discussion on the Dresden bombings at Florida State University in 1997. Enjoy!