RIP Seamus Heaney



RIP Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

“Funeral Rites”

I shouldered a kind of manhood
stepping in to lift the coffins
of dead relations.
They had been laid out

in tainted rooms,
their eyelids glistening,
their dough-white hands
shackled in rosary beads.

Their puffed knuckles
had unwrinkled, the nails
were darkened, the wrists
obediently sloped.

The dulse-brown shroud,
the quilted satin cribs:
I knelt courteously
admiting it all

as wax melted down
and veined the candles,
the flames hovering
to the women hovering
behind me.
And always, in a corner,
the coffin lid,
its nail-heads dressed

with little gleaming crosses.
Dear soapstone masks,
kissing their igloo brows
had to suffice

before the nails were sunk
and the black glacier
of each funeral
pushed away.


Now as news comes in
of each neighbourly murder
we pine for ceremony,
customary rhythms:

the temperate footsteps
of a cortège, winding past
each blinded home.
I would…

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Call for Papers for LASA 2014 Panel—”Aesthetics of the Abyss: Memory and Visual Culture in the Postcolonial Caribbean”

Repeating Islands


Natalie Belisle and Marcela Guerrero invite you to submit abstracts for a LASA 2014 panel entitled “Aesthetics of the Abyss: Memory and Visual Culture in the Postcolonial Caribbean.” The deadline for submissions is August 21, 2013.

Description: In Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant describes the “memory of the abyss” as a productive metaphor for both death and life, loss, and the possibility of newness in the wake of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. From the “abyss” a shared knowledge of the Caribbean (Relation) emerged. Moreover, this “memory of the abyss” becomes the creative matrix for the genesis of the Caribbean.

Parting from this framework, we seek to organize an interdisciplinary panel of papers for LASA 2014 that explores how visual culture from the postcolonial Caribbean is mediated by a memory of the abyss (in its negative or affirmative sense).

Please send an abstract, of no more than 250 words…

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“Going Native” in Steampunk: James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson’s Vintage Tomorrows on

Beyond Victoriana

Recently, everyone and their grandmother are trying to place steampunk in the grander scope of things. Most of pop culture has poked at it at this point. Many in the SF/F community gives the subculture a passing nod (or are slowly edging away, since, being early adapters by nature, quite a few in sci-fi are tired of it already).

Still, questions about steampunk have set people in pursuit of the deeper meanings behind the aesthetic movement. Two years ago, Intel’s futurist Brian David Johnson wanted to answer the biggest one about steampunk’s rise: “Why now?” He was joined by a cultural historian James Carrott and they filmed a documentary, which permutated into a book by the same name: Vintage Tomorrows (or two books, actually. Steampunking Our Future: An Embedded Historian’s Notebook is the free e-book companion you can get online).

I had the pleasure of meeting them at NYCC a…

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Atlanta / Decatur Event: Sheri Joseph’s Where You Can Find Me

If you can’t make the book launch event tonight at the Decatur Library, be sure to read the glowing review of Sheri Joseph’s Where You Can Find Me: A Novel in the AJC.

Sheri Joseph ran the first ever writing workshop I took as an undergraduate. The class, filled with a good mix of young misfits, was a wonderful experience. In the class I met Stephanie Perkins, who would become a good friend. Sheri was patient and kind with regard to my stories in which nothing actually happened, or the same things happened over and over again. Thanks for making my first workshop experience painless instead of traumatic, Sheri!

If you’re in the area, try to get to the event sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book. Cheers.

New American Fiction, Swamplandia!, & the 2012 non-Pulitzer

“St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,”  by Karen Russell, was one my favorite stories I discovered in college. I first encountered it in the The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, edited by Ben Marcus. If I recall, there was also a stellar Wells Tower story in there: “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.” And how could I forget Padgett Powell’s “Scarletti and the Sinkhole”? This collection very much shaped my taste, in that it was the first story anthology I’d read where I loved the majority of the stories chosen by the editor. I sought out additional works by several of these authors.

However, it was only in the last month that I stumbled across the hardback story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, at my public library. Then, I got an email that let me know it was finally my turn to check out Swamplandia!, Russell’s 2011 novel, which was also a NYT Best Book of the Year. I think my name had been in that library queue for over a year.

You may recall the minor frenzy resulting from Karen Russell, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace being snubbed by the Pulitzer board. The New Yorker published a letter from the Pulitzer jury explaining what happened.

I had to return both Russell books in three weeks, as others had requested them. Swamplandia! picked up quickly, and I couldn’t put it down. What was wonderful was being immersed in this absolutely bizarre, yet real, world of the Ten Thousand Islands. I say, go read it–at the very least, put it on your summer reading list.

I wonder if that fact that the novel is told from an adolescent perspective held it back–if the characters were not teenagers, but adults, would it have appealed more to the Pulitzer judges? Obviously, the story cannot exist in any other context, with different main characters, but I’ve thought about this: Why do some adults have such an aversion to reading fiction that is in a teenage or adolescent perspective? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the case for some readers. What assumptions do these readers make? Are they, in some ways, correct?

Three Game-changing Playwrights

Three game-changing playwrights you may not have heard of but probably want to know:


“Young Jean Lee is, hands down, the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation.” – The New York Times


“No playwright feels more current than Sheila Callaghan… The ultra-cool provocateur plays a cat-and-mouse game… [with] heady themes [and] cool tone… Roadkill Confidential isn’t just arid intellectualism. Callaghan has a sick sense of wit … and a sly fondness for big action movie plots… the hip theatergoer shouldn’t miss this cool work.” -New York Metro Mix


“Ruth Margraff is shaping the future of American theatre…a warrior riding the vanguard of New Wave opera…She travels everywhere, like an electrifying idea…” – The Austin Chronicle

— Neeley Gossett

Neeley Gossett is a playwright whose works have previously received productions and readings at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, The Coastal Empire New Play Festival, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, Mill Mountain Theater, Riverside Theatre, Studio Roanoke, The Ethel Woolson Lab, One Minute Play Festival Atlanta with Actor’s Express, and Big Dawg Theater, and she is published by YouthPLAYS. Neeley is a Kendeda Award finalist and will receive play readings at The Alliance Theatre and Lark Play Development next year. She holds an MFA from The Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, and MA in English from The University of North Carolina Wilmington.


I recently picked up Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge (2008) from the ‘new’ section of the library, namely because it sounded familiar. Then I noted the Pulitzer sticker, awarded in 2009. In addition, it won a 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. With none of the characters exactly likeable, all deeply flawed and complicated, it’s an enthralling read. The density of experience is something I could only ever hope to achieve on the page. Now, Olive Kitteridge is not exactly a mom to be celebrated for Mother’s Day (some may disagree). This book is about aging, more than anything else.

That said, what “mom” books have I enjoyed? I have a hard time recalling any except for Beth Ann Fennelly’s Tender Hooks, a book of poetry I read shortly after my son was born. If you need a gift for a mother, you can’t go wrong with Tender Hooks, unless she is expecting jewels—but then why not get both? Bling + literature = Mother’s Day success. And, maybe throw some food in there too. Or, booze wine.  I’ll take care of one part for you:

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple posted a list: “10 of the Best Memoirs about Mothers.”

Two titles that look especially compelling are Alison Bechdel’s second work of non-fiction, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club.  Bechdel’s book  is a graphic memoir. Having recently fallen for Bill Willingham’s Fables, I’d love to take a look.

Also on the list is Megan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye, which I’ve been meaning to read. It seems like something one needs to think on for a while, to work up to. I have no doubt it is brilliant, but I’ll wait until I feel open to immersing myself in the themes.

The most surprising item on the list is a memoir by James Ellroy, My Dark Places. Yes, Ellroy, and it sounds dark. See the full list by Emily Temple at Flavorwire.

Novel, stories, poetry, or memoir—what books about mothers do you recommend, have you enjoyed, or would you give as a gift? Please let us know in the comments.

April Date-Night Destination: Townsend Prize

From Lydia Ship:

If you’re a lover of Southern wordsmiths and flora alike then don’t miss out on a treat of a lifetime on the evening of Thursday, April 26th when Georgia Perimeter College’s Southern Academy for Literary Arts and Scholarly Research and The Chattahoochee Review host the reception and award ceremony for the 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction at the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Day Hall.

Created in memory of Jim Townsend, founding editor of Atlanta magazine and mentor to some of the state’s most lauded men and women of letters, the prize is presented biennially to a Georgia writer who is judged to have published the most outstanding book of fiction during the preceding two years.

Registration to the reception and award ceremony is available online in advance only via the following link:

 The deadline for all online registration is April 11, 2012 at 5 p.m.

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