“Paradise” is out in BLUE EARTH REVIEW!

Hello again!

It’s only been about a day, but I’m back, as promised, with pictures of the beautiful Blue Earth Review.

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I’m IN LOVE with the cover art, which was done by Drew Rhodes. He has a lot more work included in the pages of the review as well, all involving magnificent, vivid colors and desolate landscapes.

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I’ve mentioned my own story, “Paradise,” here before. It’s loosely inspired by the John Prine song of the same name, and by some of the real-life events that eventually led to the abandonment of the small town of Paradise, Kentucky, in the 1950s. My version of the story is my own fiction, though, focused on a made-up group of children living in the town. It’s a story about a coal company, a missing boy who went to the river and never came back, and a town being slowly overtaken by ash. Last year, it was one of two of my stories (the other being “Homecoming“) to jointly receive a Hopwood Underclassmen Fiction Award.

“Paradise” is actually a featured story on Blue Earth Review‘s website, meaning that you can read it here if you like! The website also features work by Leigh Allison Wilson (creative nonfiction) and Rob Carney, Natalie Homer, and Chris Santiago (poetry).

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Above is the full list of contributors to this issue. I am so, so honored to have been included in such a beautiful publication, alongside so many writers whose work I admire.

Again, if you like, you can check out my story “Paradise” here, and leave a quick comment under this post letting me know what you think!

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May Reading List

Hi everybody.

I’m back after a whole month with a list of things I read in May, which is actually a lot more sparse than usual. I think part of this is due to me forgetting to mark some things down on my list (which I update in Google Keep over the course of the month), but a big part of it is also just due to the inevitable truth: I haven’t been reading very much lately.

Sure, sometimes I’ll flip through a good book for half an hour or so, or scroll through a short story online to warm myself up before writing. And half the reason I log onto Twitter anymore is just to see what cool poems Kaveh Akbar has been retweeting. I have been listening to a great deal of music and paying close attention to the lyrics, which I think counts. But there used to be a time when I would pass entire afternoons just sunken into the reverie of some book or another, addicted to the fantasy, needing to know what would happen and caring about the characters and forcing myself not to skip ahead. I haven’t done this in a while; these days, I feel like I only do it when I’m trying to reach some deadline or another.

Luckily, I’m hopefully about to start having to read at least a little more—I’ve accepted a remote summer internship with a publishing company, which will primarily involve copyediting completed manuscripts. I’d also just like to get better about reading books on my own—there are so many on my list that I’m excited about in theory but haven’t picked up yet!! Especially in the realms of YA, science fiction, and fantasy, since we all know reading in your genre makes you much better at writing in it.

Anyway, here is the list without further ado:

Shame Stack,” by Anne Carson
What I Didn’t Know Before,” by Ada Limon
When the Neighbors Fight,” by Terrance Hayes
My Sentence,” by Dana Levin (which includes the phrase “the pixilate gold of the trees”)
Wild nights – Wild nights! (269),” by Emily Dickinson
“I Am…,” by Alejandra Pizarnik (translated by Yvette Siegert)
“Pledge 2.0, Tribe, Zoo,” by Carlina Duan
“what’s not to liken?” by Evie Shockley
“Under the Sign of Wolves,” by Vasko Popa (translated by Charles Simic)
Small Fantasia: Light Years,” by Ishion Hutchinson
It Is In Your Self-Interest to Find A Way to Be Very Tender,” by Safia Elhillo
Circe, by Madeline Miller
Incant Against Suicide,” by Mary Karr
dance moves,” by Kwame Opoku-Duku
Death and Memory,” by Frank Stanford
Logic,” by Richard Siken
Yilan,” by Kristin Chang
Obit,” by Victoria Chang
Vals” / “Waltz,” by Pablo Neruda

A lot of these I haven’t been able to find direct links for because they’re poems from books—either books I was reading or books that other people took pictures of and then posted online. It really isn’t a joke to say that Twitter is a fantastic way to discover random poetry. (Of course, it’s also a social media vacuum that I very often use to procrastinate for no reason—technology goes both ways, I guess.)

My writing goals for June:

I’m going to make hard progress on the book I’m writing.

I’m going to delve more into reading, inside and outside my genre.

I’m going to get back into submitting my work. I have a lot of short stories just sitting around because I haven’t been in the mood to submit them anywhere, but life is only so long and most places take so long to get back to you, so I should probably go ahead and send them out before enough time passes for me to get back to hating them.

I think that’s pretty much it for now! My only other update is that I received my contributor copies of Blue Earth Review, which published my short story “Paradise”! I’ve been meaning to take some pictures of the review because it is JUST SO HANDS-DOWN BEAUTIFUL THROUGH AND THROUGH, but I haven’t yet, so I’ll save that for a future post.

And I’m finishing this post at 10 am, just in time to go hunt down some presale tickets to try to see Mitski! May anyone who happens to be reading this have just as content a morning!

Love in the Time of February

This is coming a couple of days late, but happy Valentine’s Day!!

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, if only for the candy and cupcakes. This Valentine’s Day was a little weird because I wrote two romance-related pieces for The Michigan Daily in the same week. The first was a “poetry playlist” for my literature column, which is pretty sweet and uplifting and contains a bunch of great love poems. The second was a music playlist full of mournful and/or angsty songs about being single. I wrote both of them on the same day, pretty much back-to-back, which made for kind of a hard gear shift. Maybe it’s official now — I don’t truly have any real opinions on anything, I’m just really indifferent, and I’ll stretch that indifference one way or another for the sake of trying to write convincing journalism.

I’m just going to fall back on my old reasoning that I truly believe many things, even contradictory things, at the same time. Like Alanis Morissette says: “I’m sad but I’m laughing, I’m brave but I’m chickenshit,” etc. I hate Valentine’s Day, but I love it!

Anyway, they were both really fun pieces that each include some good music/poetry recommendations, so I’d recommend checking them out if you have the time. 🙂

While I’m on the subject of the Daily, this isn’t Valentine’s-Day-related at all, but I also wrote my first lead for the B-Side! The B-Side is a biweekly insert that the senior arts editors put together on various subjects. This one focused on queerness in the arts, so I did some interviews and wrote a piece on queer art and social activism that you can find here if you’re so inclined. This was all in the span of the last week or so, so I’m in a journalism mood, big time.

Last but not least, bonus announcement: I might be going to AWP this year! :O Stay tuned!

New Poetry in The Merrimack Review

I have some new poems out in The Merrimack Review!

There are three of them—”Fur,” “The Tardigrade,” and “Winter in Oz,” and you can read them here (same link LOL). Very very happy to have some new poetry out there in the universe. I want to start writing more poetry because I’ve been reading a ton of it lately (January reading list coming soon), and I often come up with little lines and emotions and ideas that I feel like would fit ideally inside poems if I could only figure out how to write them. I guess the only way I’ll learn how to do that in a way that I really like is to keep practicing, so we’ll see!

Also, shameless plug for my friend Brooke White, whose nonfiction appears in the new issue of Midwestern Gothic. Midwestern Gothic is one of my favorite publications out there and Brooke is one of my favorite people, so if you have a chance to check out the new issue, I’d definitely recommend it! It features work from tons of other awesome writers as well (including Cortney Lamar Charleston, whose amazing poetry I just started reading within the last month or so).

In other news, I’m considering posting some very amateur photography here and would appreciate some input on whether that’s a good idea or a horrible one. 🙂

Forthcoming Fiction in Blue Earth Review

There’s no real point to this post other than what the title says: I’m getting published in Blue Earth Review!!!

Yay!!!!

The fiction in question is “Paradise,” a short story I wrote last year inspired by John Prine’s song of the same name. So naturally I’m back in my recurring John Prine mood for a few days. Everyone should listen to his eponymous debut album. Also the new album Ruins by First Aid Kit. (Glowing review coming soon from The Michigan Daily.) Also, according to it seems like everybody, the new Porches album? Although I haven’t listened to that one yet, so I guess I shouldn’t say. But the First Aid Kit one is beautiful—I can’t get enough of “Postcard,” and “It’s a Shame,” what beautiful songs!

Anyway, I’m off-topic now. Writing and music always end up going together for me—like right now, for instance, I’m in my house’s dining room listening to the soundtrack from The Last Five Years coming out of the kitchen. Now I really want to watch that musical.

I’m actually seeing a musical this weekend! The Lion King. I’ll be in New York City for a concert of my dad’s. My goal is to take a bunch of pictures and to bond with my family. A+ goals!

I’ve been in such a good mood the last few days—I don’t even know if it’s the publication thing, I kind of don’t think so. Although that is great! But I think writing a lot just puts me in a good mood. The night before last, I was on my way to bed at 1:00am, but I kind of felt like writing, so I sat down to write a few paragraphs, and I ended up writing around 2500 words. I went to bed at like 2:30. And I’m not the sort of person who normally does that—I really usually just write in the morning or early afternoon, by the time night comes around I’m a lot worse at thinking. But it was really fun, very stream of consciousness. By the end I was writing all about Japanese maples. I’ve been getting really into specificity lately and I just can’t believe how beautiful they are.

And then today I woke up early-ish to work on something for my fiction tutorial, and I wasn’t really expecting to get through the whole thing because it was very last-minute and I only left myself two or three hours to do it. I was expecting to just use the Japanese maple CNF thing. But then I did get through it—I actually felt really good about it—and now it’s like my whole day is better. I love how that’s how it works, writing and feeling good, or sometimes just feeling better. It’s like this whole reciprocal thing.

Anyway, I have real things to go and do (for Midwestern Gothic! I’m officially an intern there now!), so I should sign off. It’s weird how this started out with me patting myself on my back and it sort of ended there, too. But also it started out as kind of an announcement and then it turned into more of a diary entry. I think I must be very big into stream of consciousness these days.

Publications of (Christmas?) Past, Present, and Future

Hey everyone!!!

I know it’s the middle of the night, but even as I write that, I know I’m not really justifying it to anyone except for me. And I don’t care anyway.

Never mind! It’s morning time now. But I’m not going to delete those first few sentences and write new ones because I just don’t feel like it!

I have a new short story published!!!!

It’s called “Homecoming,” and you can read it here in Solstice Literary Magazine. I wrote it last fall (2016 fall) for my creative writing class, so getting around to seeing it published has been kind of a long process. Very early this year, I did get to see it win a Hopwood Award in fiction from my school (alongside another story of mine, “Paradise,” which is still home-searching), which was really exciting. Now, at the tail end of 2017, I’m very, very happy to have found a home for it in Solstice.

I think one of the coolest parts of having a story published is that (ironically, since now it’s out there for all to see) you can kind of tuck it away. I spent a lot of 2017 trying to find a place to put “Homecoming,” and now I can be satisfied that I’ve found the perfect spot for it. Now I have room to focus on sending more of my stories out there to be read, because I’ve written a ton recently. Winter semester last year was admittedly dry for me, but I spent my four-month-long summer (thanks, U of M) writing a literal crap ton of random novel stuff every single day. Actually: if a crap ton is a real measurement, which it is, then that’s how much I wrote. Then I took two separate creative writing classes this semester, and I wrote a crap ton of stuff for each of them, too.

I have so much stuff that I hope will be up for other people to read soon. Knowing myself and the current quality of those drafts, it may be a while. I still need to do some revisions on some of them, and then even after I submit them all over the place, there’s still the matter of waiting to hear back from various lit mags. But I’ve got a lot of work right now that I have faith in: I have a romantic arcade story, a supernatural war story, a surreal road trip story, a ghost story about a cop, and even a couple of essays about my own life.

Speaking of which! I have a couple of Michigan Daily pieces from this semester that I’m actually really happy with, and I’ve decided that I’m going to start including some random journalism, nonfiction, and reviews of mine in the “My Writing” section of this blog, because just because it’s not fiction or poetry doesn’t mean it’s not writing that I’m proud of. Off the top of my head I can think of two emotional and kind of personal pieces that have to do with The Beatles, and one article about Anna Akhmatova that might not be my best writing, but should still be read because I think people ought to know more about Anna Akhmatova. I also might put up a link to a book review I wrote last year, because I really trashed the book that I read and I saw yesterday that someone had posted a mean comment about my review. This makes me feel kind of cool because I don’t think I had ever gotten a hate comment before.

My family is trying to leave for breakfast, so I’m going to wrap this up. But check out “Homecoming,” fresh off the digital presses, and I should have those articles linked here later today!

New story up on Bad Pony!

Hey everyone! Last year I wrote a piece of horror/fantasy-ish flash fiction for The Michigan Daily’s Story Slam. I hadn’t done much with this type of writing in the past (either fantasy or flash fiction, come to think of it), but I’m very happy to report that as of today, that piece has been published by Bad Pony Magazine! It’s called “The August Yield,” it’s about a zombie-ish-type boy and a farm, and you can read it here.

Even cooler than that is the fact that this issue features so many other awesome people, too. One of them is actually an old classmate of mine from high school, Dean Symmonds, who does some really amazing work with poetry. I was so excited to see zir name when I was checking out the poetry section of the issue, and both of zir poems are obviously just plain great.

So anyway, I’m pumped to see my work in Bad Pony, alongside the work of Dean and so many other talented people. (The magazine is also based out of my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, which adds a whole new layer of coolness for me.) The homepage of the website can be found here, so feel free to click around at will.

LHSP Release Party

This post will be short because I’m trying to get to bed before midnight, which is 8 minutes away so I’m really racing the clock. But tonight was the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program’s literary magazine release party, which I thought was worth mentioning!! (Shout out to the title of the magazine, which is literally “Things Worth Mentioning”.) My Caldwell-winning poems, “How Was Your Trip?” and “Winter in Oz,” were published in this year’s anthology, alongside a ton of awesome work from other current and former LHSP students. I took a picture so you can see what the cover looks like (along with a random corner of my bedroom):

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I flipped through the anthology as much as I could before people started reading, and there’s some really awesome work in it, some of it written by people I know and have studied with! I also got to read “Winter in Oz” tonight, and to hear some of the other published work read aloud. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned LHSP here a lot before, but at any rate I’ll say again that I’m so glad to be a part of such a creative and supportive community.

In unrelated news, I got three things today: two of them were rejections (holla @ my haterz) and one of them was my copy of New American Stories edited by Ben Marcus!!!!

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(A moment of appreciation for the line “You have to stare down a story until it wobbles, yields, then catapults into your face.”)

I took that photo with my bed as the background, so you can tell I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I guess I’m just so proud of myself for knowing how to embed images in a post that I want to show off that skill as much as possible. Anyway, this collection looks great, I’ve already read two of the stories for my fiction class and I can’t wait to check out more.

Okay and it’s midnight, so that’s all my content for tonight! Peace out!!

FAIR PEOPLE is up!

Issue #19 of Ginosko Literary Review is officially published!

As someone raised in Indiana and going to school in Michigan, I love the Midwest and feel at home in it, but I also know that thanks to politics, history, and general public culture, there are plenty of people who are not made to feel at home in the Midwest at all, even though they ought to be. (Obviously this problem extends beyond the Midwest, this is just the region I was thinking about when I wrote this story.) I was thinking last fall about how hard it can be to reconcile a love for one’s hometown with an awareness of the town’s underlying judgments and prejudices, and whether this reconciliation is even possible. The resulting short story, “Fair People,” is about Midwestern pride and the problems that exist under its surface. I often use real experiences of mine as very loose jumping-off points in fiction, so it’s based in part off of truth — namely that, like the narrator, I’m from Indiana and I went to a county fair last summer — but all of the characters and events are completely fictional. If you want, you can check it out at the link below. Enjoy!

http://www.ginoskoliteraryjournal.com/images/ginosko19.pdf

Published!!!

I got word today that a short story of mine, “Fair People,” has been accepted for publication in Ginosko Literary Journal! “Fair People” is like 5000 words long and therefore probably the longest short story I’ve written before, and I honestly wasn’t expecting anybody to want it, so it made me really surprised and happy to find a home for it with Ginosko. I’m especially glad because all of my previous publications have been with campus and school-affiliated literary magazines, and while I’m super thankful to be featured in all of those, it also feels good to branch out a little into the broader scheme of things. Yay for publication!!

The issue should be up in a couple of weeks and it’ll be available online, so I’ll be sure to post a link here as soon as that happens.