Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

The month winds down. Grant proposals in, students' dissertations read and passed, a pound of asparagus from the garden picked and roasted every day. The lilacs scent my garden, along with viburnum. The restlessness dissipates...

Three more poems to write. Hallaluah. This year, NaPoWriMo exhausted me. Too much going on, and (stupidly) I commenced running PURE through my Nudgers at the same time.

And my heart's in PURE, not the poems. So.

That said, I have a few poems with decent bones, words I can turn over when I'm more engaged. And the practice itself, the diligence of writing in response to a prompt is a phenomenal opportunity. Like this, in response to the prompt 'regret':

A Snowy Day Spent Otherwise

Your eyes scrunch from sun casting icicle
rainbows on blank pages, under eyelids,
rebuking you; a high-pitched whinny snakes
through walls, under skin despite the frantic

looping mantra… focus on the word, focus
on the... a pencil slams, clatters to
the floor, feet stomp down the hall
to parted curtains. The yard gleams

in treacherous beauty. A snowball shatters
glass; through melt smear a pink-cheeked child
slides down crystalline hills, whooping joy.
What is more important than the visceral

act of throwing limbs against slatted wood,
feeling air and icy shards smack against chin
and nose, your daughter, your only born,
pounce on you at ride’s end? Her face lights up –

she spies you at the darkened window. The muse
hisses in your ear; your eyes scrunch…

(I remember the day, a rare snow day; the kids off from school, the sun glittering on the icy hill, the kids laughing and I... chose to work. Me bad.)

==> CINDY PON's debut SILVER PHOENIX: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia hits the shelves TODAY! Young adult fantasy with an Asian flair - BUY IT!

==> If you're looking for reading inspiration, check out this new blog: FILL IN THE GAPS 100 PROJECT. Fifty of us - writers, readers, editors, all passionate about BOOKS - listed our top To Be Read lists, along with reviews. A special YAY! to Emily Cross for organizing what started as a comment thread over at EDITORIAL ASS.

==> Accepted into Lesley University Writing Workshop for late July in Cambridge, MA. Very excited - great faculty (including Julia Glass). Imagine - an entire week of writing, workshopping, and talking about writing. In my old stomping ground... yippee!

Keep on writing - and reading. Peace, Linda

Thursday, April 23, 2009

United Authors

Last year, at a health policy conference, I sketched out a similar paradigm for a brave new publishing world on a cocktail napkin with an economist friend. David Hewson may be on to something...

Now, just need the venture capital... Peace, Linda

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hint Fiction - up to the challenge?

For the micro-mini-flashers amongst you, check out this new fiction form...

Contest. 25 words or less. Due April 30, day after someone's birthday. Judged by Stewart O'Nan. Sounds like fun - wanna party?

Peace, Linda

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MUDBOUND, April's Debut Pick

Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep. Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me? The thought of it kept us digging even after the blisters on our palms had burst, re-formed and burst again. Every shovelful was an agony - the old man getting in his last licks. Still, I was glad of the pain. It shoved away thought and memory.

I didn't plan to review MUDBOUND (by Hillary Jordan; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) this month. But when my intended selection tanked (couldn't read past the first two chapters) and I walked into CONSTELLATION BOOKS, the independent book store located in my wee town, the cover beckoned and the proprietor gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

I was not disappointed.

In MUDBOUND, the consequences of two of the greatest atrocities of modern 'civilization' - World War II and Jim Crow - are seamlessly served upon two families, one white and one black, farming in the Mississippi delta. Laura, the educated, almost-spinster follows her new husband Henry (and his crusty, bigoted 'Pappy') to farm cotton. Black sharecroppers work the farm, including Hap, a farmer and man of God in the black community, and his wife Florence, wise in the ways of birthing. But the two most compelling voices were the two sons returning from overseas: Jamie, the charismatic white bomber pilot, and Ronsel, the black tank sargeant who has tasted a bit of better freedom on his tour of service. Both return to a world little changed, even though both are irreversibly altered, suffering from what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and coping with their return home in very different ways. This story follows each character's path to redemption in the wake of overt racism and a war fought thousands of miles away.

The writing is very accessible, straightforward, and compelling. Hillary Jordan tells the story alternating all six voices in first person with each voice distinct. No mean feat. Having each voice tell his or her story made the book come alive, and without spoiling the ending, made the resolution of MUDBOUND all the more powerful. A heartrending tragedy not easily forgotten, MUDBOUND won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, an honor sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver and bestowed on works of fiction that address issues of social justice.

About the Author: Hillary Jordan grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, and spent 15 years as an advertising copyrighter before obtaining her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She lives in Tivoli, New York.

About the Publisher: ALGONQUIN BOOKS is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (my alma mater - go heels!) and publishes leading fiction and non-fiction books, many with a Southern focus. Some feel this is one press that flies under the radar; I agree. I've read several stupendous titles from the impressive portfolio of this can-do publisher, including Alison Bass' SIDE EFFECTS, a fabulous expose of antidepressant drug development, regulation, and marketing in the United States.

Happy reading... Peace, Linda