Tracy K. Smith

Interview: Sara London

Sometimes the right book falls into your hands at just the right time, and that’s how we feel about Sara London’s new collection of poems, Upkeep, which is released today by Four Way Books. The poems in Upkeep feel somehow like burnished stones, solid and familiar in the hand, yet full of surprising veins and glinting minerals. Every word feels perfectly etched just where it ought to be, making each poem feel so fully formed you can’t imagine them being written any other way.

Through these poems, Sara London traces the pain of losing someone dear, the paths to finding a solid grip on the world again, and the ways we can all be both strangers and neighbors to each other. As the poet Tom Sleigh put it, “…her work embodies what Seamus Heaney once called ‘the steadfastness of speech articulation,’ in which her care for language is continuous with her care for other people and the world.”

We are so delighted that Sara agreed to do an interview with us, and we are even more delighted that Upkeep is here in the world at last! Go get your copy, and then read it out loud!

Sara will be reading along with Sue Burton at the Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington, Vermont, on Thursday, September 12 as part of the Painted Word Poetry Series. This is a great opportunity to see two wildly talented poets in one great evening.

 
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Literary North: Upkeep begins with an epigraph from Seamus Heaney's “Clearances" and contains a poem titled “Letter to Seamus." The language in your poems also certainly shares a linguistic heritage with Heaney's poems (blunt, concrete, chewy, Anglo-Saxon vocabulary). Can you speak a bit about your connection to Heaney and his influence on this book and your writing?

Sara London: I love your adjective “chewy” to describe Heaney’s diction—those tongue-to-teeth words that afford so much pleasurable munching for the reader. His language dazzled me early on, the alliteration and percussiveness of the consonance, the imagery, his invocations of a rural Irish childhood amongst frogs and bogs. And his edibles, blackberries of course (“when the bath was filled we found a fur”), oysters (“The frond-lipped, brine-stung / Glut of privilege”), and milk’s “scuts of froth.” I love all his books, but Death of a Naturalist was a revelation to me as a young poet, and I still go to his many volumes and teach his poems routinely.

Within that lyrical feast, there are loamy, pitted layers of human complexity. It was a treat to hear him read on a few occasions, and when he and his wife Mary visited Smith College, I was able to join a more intimate afternoon chat with students. He struck me as a deeply generous, wise and unpretentious man. His sonnet cycle, “Clearances,” an elegy in memory of his mother, is one I return to again and again. And on the topic of language, in one section, he writes of his mother’s feeling of verbal inadequacy. “She’d manage something hampered and askew” — which makes the speaker “naw and aye /…relapse into the wrong / Grammar which kept us allied and at bay.” (Of course the Irish-inflected idiom is a famously rich dish, no matter the grammar!) I still feel sad that he’s gone—that big, profound poetic heart.

LN
: Speaking of language, we were struck (and comforted) by your use of Yiddish in several poems. Did you grow up with Yiddish as part of your language at home? Does it enter your poetry naturally? How does it feel to play with multiple languages in a poem?

SL: My grandparents and great aunts and uncles (all gone now) would sometimes spice their English with Yiddish asides. These were uttered amidst laughter for private commentary or as punchlines inappropriate for the youngsters around the dinner table. And they used endearments like shayner-kops (“pretty heads”) for my sisters and me. Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish was as thumbed through as any dictionary or encyclopedia in my parents’ home.

My father seemed to take special pleasure in the humorous application of Yiddish, and in translating for us. I’ve kept a note he wrote in Yiddish after making a quick stop at my house in Northampton many years ago. In part, it reads: “Ich hob zum der w/c (oo) geganger . . . Das ist alles. Pa!” The full translation he provided reads: “I came, I saw, I drank a glass of water, I used the facilities, I sat on the porch. Be well, I love you, thanks, that is all — Dad!” For me, my father will always be associated in part with that older world in which Yiddish commonly punctuated Jewish American conversation. (These days, Yiddish is mostly used among Orthodox Jews.)

I love the sound of the language, though sadly I know little of it myself. (For Yiddish enthusiasts out there: Philip Roth has a hilarious riff on the word “pupik,” belly button, in Operation Shylock, where he perfectly characterizes the “sonic prankishness of the [word’s] two syllabic pops…” And I recommend Aaron Lansky’s Outwitting History, his richly anecdotal account of founding the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.)

LN: The Martian poem series in the section titled “Fugitive You" is clearly about someone considered alien to our world or culture, but maybe not a true interplanetary alien. "Rain on the Red Planet," for example, made us think of the Jew as an alien in America. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the Martian poems and the interplay between Judaism and "Martianism"?

SL: So many thoughts converged in that poem. As we uncover more details about Mars, we come closer to “touching” the red planet, yet human touch comes with such serious liabilities historically and environmentally. There’s an apocalyptic note in that “hard rain.” And though I wasn’t making an explicit association between Martians (aliens) and Jews, I can see how one might decipher a link. The persecuted Jew and the Jewish immigrant hover as ghosts in some of my poems; they’re fixtures of my cultural and historical imagination I suppose. The Martian I’ve imagined, on the other hand, dwells in a sort of cosmic innocence—alien, yet safely so.

But the Martian series actually began as a sort of linguistic thought experiment: How might I describe both mundane and more profound aspects of human experience to “someone” who doesn’t know our world? It began with the playground swing—that universal apparatus of “escape” and “return”; children’s first release into “space.” I wanted to capture that uniquely kinesthetic sensation anew, “without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,” as Keats once put it. So the Martian became my test audience, but grew quickly “real” and complex for me, a being from afar for whom I grew increasingly affectionate. Not a god, but perhaps a sort of analogue of myself—a “nobody” in another realm of space and time, who became for me a pulsing “somebody” on the far side of my grief.

LN: The book includes several touching and personal poems about your father's death. What was your experience in writing these poems? How does it feel to be sharing them with the world (including your family)?

SL: Death is such a strange thing—there’s nothing commensurate, nothing like the thrust of close personal loss to so unsteady us. It’s a bit surreal. When I think of those days now, my father’s dying, I see it as a kind of cruel yet fascinating “magic” played upon the family, that “there/not there” conundrum. In that last phase, there’s an intensified physicality, as we note each breath; we lean in closer and closer, yet ultimately the very mystery of endings holds us at bay. We remain “outside” the experience.

An odd theatricality characterized my father’s last days—there was much that I couldn’t write about. Of course, there’s such a highly personal aspect to this sort of writing; a lot of raw emotion involved. One hopes that family members will understand that these privacies of grief are also shared, gleaming, human moments—they’re ours, yet also part of the sweeping mortal saga. I’m so grateful to have had poetry and family to help me through that time. And if my poems resonate with anyone, that’s a true bonus. The work simply flooded forth; never before or since have I been as prolific. The elegy is a vital inherited form, and poets’ lives are in some ways spent in preparation for a dip into these powerful waters.

LN: Did this collection begin with a specific idea or poem? How did the experience of writing this book—your second—differ from writing the first (The Tyranny of Milk, 2010)? What do you look for when you are gathering poems together to put in a collection?

SL: Unlike the first book, this one came together tonally, through elegy, though it took some time to get it all right. Organizationally, it was tricky; many poems focus on my father, but not all. And issues of tone created some challenges—the question of how to blend the humor, irony and sobriety in a way that would make for dynamic and logical reading and provide that desired “narrative arc.” I ended up taking out at least ten poems from the original manuscript (mostly more topical poems). And, at my editor’s wise suggestion, I placed the Martian poems at the front of the book rather than at the end, where they’d originally been. (They’re the most recent work in the book.) I think this reversal helped establish a more surprising, and, ideally, a more interesting point of view at the outset. I thought I’d go on to address this alien figure for a longer series (a couple of Martian poems were not included), but my weirdly extraterrestrial imagination proved finite. The Martian just stopped visiting. Nonetheless, I keep a glass of luminescent milk on my windowsill, in case my poem-pal returns!

LN: What are the simple things that you encounter in a day that might move you to begin a new poem? Do you keep a notebook?

It’s hard to say just where most of my poems come from, but reading good contemporary poetry inspires me to write; reading has always been ignition for me. But often a memory or a phrase will come unbidden, and I’ll write something down that might develop into a poem. Observation, experience, memory—all feed my impulse to write. And I’m always eager to get those initial pen scratches onto the computer. I’m an inveterate reviser; my first drafts are typically weak. But I try to nail that first inspiration quickly, so I don’t lose it, and then I work on poems for months. I make notes constantly—words, ideas, images, phrases, little sparks that could lead me to greater illumination. I don’t use a single notebook; I’m not that organized or particular, but I do put scraps in (paper) files, to keep track of poems when they’ve made it to the “in-progress” phase.

LN: The final poem in the collection ("New Worlds") feels so uplifting after many poems of sadness: "the heart's / pipes never yet wrung, old tubes, they play on." What was the source of this poem and how did you choose it to cap the collection?

SL: That poem, dedicated to the Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, was, in fact, unique in that I wrote it for a Mount Holyoke College Art Museum exhibition catalogue. As a member of the MHC InterArts Council, I worked with an interdisciplinary team of faculty members involved in collaborating on the Anatsui exhibition catalogue. His dazzling bottle-top sculptural pieces inspired the poem, and my own memory of collecting bottle caps in Mexico as a child helped me respond very personally to his process of trash-redemption. I was thrilled to meet him when he came to campus to talk about his work. And I wanted my book to close on a note of affirmation. I’m passionate about the visual arts in general, and for many years wrote arts journalism and reviewed contemporary exhibitions. I also love ekphrastic poetry (poems about art) and often teach it in my classes. I find that visits to art museums can be poetically soul-pumping.

LN: What is the most memorable thing you've read this summer?

SL: The most memorable book of poetry I’ve read in recent years is Tyehimba Jess’s Olio. The artful ambitiousness of that collection, its use of many forms and employment of technical acrobatics (his graphically sprung “syncopated sonnets,” for example), is truly inspiring. The poems are instructive historically, and awaken a world of voices from unheralded African American musicians and performers of the past. The book is a paean to lost artists, and a political statement so crucial to our moment.

As for what I’m reading now: a fascinating study of empathy in the primate world, Frans De Waal’s Mama’s Last Hug. This summer has been one of interruptions, so I’ve begun a number of excellent books that I’m still finishing: Margo Jefferson’s Negroland; Tom Sleigh’s new essay collection, The Land Between Two Rivers; Tracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light and Patrick Donnelly’s Little Known Operas. In these terribly distracting and very troubling times, stretches of reading are too often broken up. But I’m always eager for the kind of linguistic, intellectual and emotional pleasure that’s most reliably found amidst the pages of books. I treasure that simple task of scrutinizing words, roaming among lines of poems—like Heaney’s lantern of Diogenes in “The Haw Lantern” —for that one honest thought.

 
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Sara London is the author of Upkeep and The Tyranny of Milk, both published by Four Way Books. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Common, Quarterly West, The Hudson Review, Poetry East, The Iowa Review and the Poetry Daily anthology. She teaches at Smith College, and has also taught at Mount Holyoke and Amherst colleges. Sara is the poetry editor at The Woven Tale Press. She lives in Northampton, MA.

The Dipper - February 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

February News

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Save the date! Literary North is proud to partner with our friends at the Brownsville Butcher & Pantry for Poetry & Pints in Brownsville, Vermont, on Sunday, March 10, from 5:15 to 7:00 pm. Doors open at 4:30 pm. Admission is by donation. The evening features poets Colin McKraig, Peter Money, and Ruth Antoinette Rodriguez; fabulous food, beer, and wine; plus an open mic so we can hear YOUR original work. Chef Peter Varkonyi is creating a cozy a la carte menu for the evening. Beer, food, poetry! It’s what you need to survive the end of winter. We hope you’ll join us. Visit the Poetry & Pints page on our website for full details.

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If you haven’t gotten tickets yet for this year’s JAG Fest—JAG Production’s annual festival of new in-process plays by African-American playwrights—what are you waiting for? This year’s festival shines the spotlight on black female poets. Four staged readings will take place the weekend of February 9 to 10 at Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Vermont. Each performance features a post-show conversation with the artists, moderated by Dartmouth scholars. Tickets are $20 per performance, or $50 for a weekend pass that includes access to all presentations. Last year’s performances were stunning. You don’t want to miss this! (Note: You can meet this year’s playwrights for conversation and lunch at Dartmouth College on Tuesday, February 5.)

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Are you already a member of the Slow Club Book Club? If not, here are five reasons you might want to join us for our first pick of the year, Yoko Tawada’s The Emissary, translated by Margaret Mitsutani:

  1. It’s short. 138 pages!

  2. It won the National Book Award for Translated Literature.

  3. New Directions, a fantastic small press, published it!

  4. It takes place in a world of giant dandelions where only crows and spiders are thriving. (Aren’t you intrigued?)

  5. In Yoko Tawada’s author photo, she is posing with a pomegranate.

If you’re reading along, let us know! And if you post about it to Instagram or Twitter, be sure to tag us with #slowclubbookclub or #literarynorth.

Several of our friends are hosting workshops or events soon that we wanted to bring to your attention. Full details for all of these are in the Deadlines and Workshops sections later in this newsletter:

  • Poets, please consider applying for the Free Verse Farm Residency in the hills of Chelsea, Vermont. The location is stunning and we can’t imagine better hosts than Taylor and Misha. Applications are due April 1.

  • James Crews is hosting his online Mindfulness and Writing workshop beginning on February 2. James was a featured poet at our first Poetry & Pie event. His poetry is outstanding, and he’s such a kind person. You’re sure to enjoy his class.

  • Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden will be teaching their “Creating Graphic Novels for the YA Market” workshop at The Center for Cartoon Studies this summer. We interviewed this dynamic duo last year about the class. Registration for CCS Summer 2019 classes is open now.

To make room on our site for new events, we’ve collected information and links for all of our past events and projects on a single page. We hope this makes it easier for you to find out what we’re up to and what we’ve done before. We have some really fun ideas for 2019 and can’t wait to add them to the list. As subscribers, you’ll hear about all of it first! Thank you, as always, for your support, kind words, and enthusiasm. Your energy helps fire up this two-woman team!



February’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your reading life:

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  • Need a brush-up on your grammar? Look no further than Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief of Random House. Witty grammar lessons? Yes, please. —Shari

  • This amazing and moving essay in The New Yorker by Gregory Pardlo about his father and the 1981 air-traffic controller strike includes beautiful sentences like this: “All your delicate ideas have to remain perfectly clear and distinct in your mind at all times.” —Rebecca


February Highlights

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Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 pm, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, celebrates the life and work of Andre Dubus II in Sanborn Library with readings and discussion about Dubus’ work. The event features the editor of his re-issued series of Collected Stories, Joshua Bodwell, and the distinguished publisher David R. Godine.

The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vermont is holding A Celebration of Vermont Poets on Saturday, February 9, at 4:00 pm. The great lineup includes Dede Cummings, Chard deNiord, Karin Gottshall, Syd Lea, Gary Margolis, Julia Shipley, and Bianca Stone. With chocolate!

The Center for Cartoon Studies’ own James Sturm is on tour for his new graphic novel, Off Season. Catch him at the CCS in White River Junction, Vermont, on Thursday, February 14 at 4:00 pm. James’ presentation will also touch upon the drawing of dogs, crooked contractors, LSD, and 4 x 6 index cards.

Jane Brox. Photo by Luc Demers

Jane Brox. Photo by Luc Demers

The lovely Jane Brox will be at The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on Saturday, February 16, at 11:00 am to read from her latest non-fiction work, Silence.

Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi reads at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, February 21, at 4:30 pm in the Sanborn Library.

You’ve got two great chances to see Pam Houston read from her recent book, Deep Creek. On Sunday, February 24 at 6:00 pm, she’ll be at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont; she’ll be at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. February 26.

Emily Bernard

Emily Bernard

Emily Bernard, a professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont, reads from her book, Black Is The Body, at 6:00 pm on Friday, February 22 at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.

The Painted Word Poetry Series is back at The Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington, Vermont. Stephanie Burt reads on Wednesday, February 27 at 6:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

LitFest 2019 begins on Wednesday, February 27 and goes through Sunday, March 3 at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Jamel Brinkley—whose amazing collection of short stories, A Lucky Man, was nominated for a National Book Award and for The Story Prize—will be reading on Thursday, February 28 along with fellow NBA nominee Brandon Hobson. Other writers in attendance will be Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Cullen Murphy.

 

Worth a Listen

  • What a treat to hear Zadie Smith and her husband Nick Laird speak about their books, both titled Feel Free, on the Shakespeare & Co. podcast.

  • Every single episode of the Slowdown podcast with Tracy K. Smith. Period.

We're Looking Forward to These February Releases:

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

It’s PoemCity and PoemTown season again! Submit your poems for consideration to be displayed in downtown windows in Montpelier, Randolph, and St. Johnsbury, Vermont, during the month of April. The submission deadline for Montpelier and Randolph is February 4. The submission deadline for St. Johnsbury is February 28. For more information about Montpelier and St. Johnsbury submissions, please visit the PoemCity Submission page and the PoemCity website. For Randolph submissions, please send 1-3 original poems as Word attachments to musbird@gmail.com. Include your contact information in the email (name, mailing address, email address and telephone number). Then attach each poem separately with the title of the poem as the document name and no identifying information other than the poem’s title on each document.

The Upper Valley Fiction group is accepting new members. The group meets monthly, September though June, to offer honest feedback on each other’s work. An MFA or publication is not required, but comparable writing expertise is preferred. To apply, submit one short story or one chapter (no longer than 20 pages) by February 11 to uppervalleyfiction@gmail.com.

The Poetry Society of Vermont is accepting submissions to its publication, The Mountain Troubadour, until February 14. You can submit up to three poems, of 40 lines or less. You must be a PSOV member to submit. For more information, please visit the Mountain Troubadour Submission page.

Applications for the next round of Vermont Studio Center residency fellowships for artists and writers are due by February 15 (for residencies scheduled between May and December 2019 in Johnson, Vermont), including the James Merrill Poetry, ALSCW, VSC/Callaloo, Helen Zell Residency, and Voices Rising fellowships. Every VSC residency includes private room, private studio space, all meals, and full access to the VCS’ schedule of evening programs and events. For more information, please visit the VSC Fellowships page.

The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program is seeking nominations for the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate. The Laureate is the PPLP’s main bridge to the community, a role model and recruiter for future generations of poets and sets the tone for two years in the life of the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program. Nominees should live in Portsmouth, Dover, Durham, Eliot, Greenland, Kittery, Madbury, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, North Hampton, Rye, or Stratham, or work at least half time in Portsmouth. To make a nomination, send an email about your nominee to info@pplp.org by February 20.

The AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is looking for storytellers for its next Mudroom event (March 14). Selected storytellers will be awarded an AVA membership and may bring a guest to enjoy the evening. Please include a very brief summary of your story (no more than 300 words) and a short bio (no more than 150 words) by February 24. For more information, please visit the Mudroom page.

Applications are open for Free Verse Farm’s week-long poetry residencies. Residents will stay in an off-grid small vintage camper on the farm in Chelsea, Vermont. The residence fee is $250/week, which includes coffee and tea, but all other groceries must be provided by the resident, with meal preparation occurring in the camper. Poets are welcome to bring a partner at no extra charge. The application deadline is April 1. For more information and to apply, please visit the Free Verse Residency page.

The Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts (June 16 to 22) is accepting applications. The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams. The non-refundable application fee is $40. For more information and to apply, please visit the Juniper Institute website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Poet James Crews is offering his four-week Mindfulness and Writing Online workshop from February 2 to March 9. This generative online writing workshop will examine connections between the practice of meditation/mindfulness and the act of writing fearlessly from the heart. Though not required, attendees will be invited to share their work via email with each other. Beginners and all skill levels are welcome. You do not need any previous experience with mindfulness, meditation, or online courses; all you need is an internet connection, email, and an open mind. $295 for four sessions. For more information and to register, please visit the Northshire Books events page.

On February 9 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, join the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and romance author Ana E. Ross at SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, for “So You Think You Know Me?” This workshop focuses on three vital elements of characterization in storytelling: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (GMC). This interactive workshop invites you to bring a character you’re working on. $65 for members; $80 for non-members. For information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is hosting a six-week “Preparing Your Manuscript for an Agent’s Eyes” workshop, where you can work your manuscript into a polished version ready for agents, professional review, and publishing consideration. You will work directly with Amanda Forbes Silva, a professional writer and editor who will help you better evaluate your writing and determine how to edit your work for clarity and concision. All genres are welcome! The workshop meets on Saturdays, February 16 through March 23, 1:00 to 4:00 pm at SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire. $390 for NHWP members; $510 for non-members. For information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

On March 9, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is offering a “One Photo, Four Stories” writing workshop where you will use a photo of your choice as a prompt for four separate stories. This class is open to all levels. $68 for members; $80 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the AVA Gallery website.

Already dreaming of summer? Registration for Summer Workshops at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is already open. This year’s workshops include Graphic Memoirs with Melanie Gillman, Creating Graphic Novels for the Young Adult Market with Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden, and a Graphic Novel Workshop with Paul Karasik. For all the details and to register, please visit the CCS 2019 Summer Workshops page.

The Dipper - December 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

December News

December is a quiet month in terms of readings and literary events. (If you squint at the month of December on our calendar, it looks a bit like a snowy field dotted with a few bare, beautiful trees.)

This month might be the perfect time to catch up on your TBR pile and your Slow Club Book Club reading. If you’re like Shari, you might want to start searching out titles that you want to add to your wish list for 2019.

In the new year, be on the lookout for our “Year in Reading” posts again, as we follow suit with The Millions.

Remember that books make great gifts! Support your local independent bookstores. Happy Holidays from Literary North!

December’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month:

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  • BBC Radio 4 invited Cheryl Strayed, Ocean Vuong, and Sharon Olds to visit Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst and to write in her room. Many interesting reflections on her life and work. —Shari

  • Speaking of snowy fields, do you know about Shelley Jackson’s beautiful, slow Instagram story written in snow? She’s been writing the story, word by word, during the snowy months in New York since 2014. I absolutely love the slow pace of this project, and the way it meanders through the months and years. (Tip: If you’re not good at reading a story backwards, you can read at least the first six sentences in their correct order on Electric Lit.) —Rebecca


December Highlights

Leath Tonino

Leath Tonino

Leath Tonino will be at Flying Pigs Books in Shelburne, Vermont, on Saturday, December 1 at 6:30 pm to read from his essay collection, The Animal One Thousand Miles Long.

On Saturday, December 8, at 6:00 pm, Andre Dubus III will be reading from his latest novel at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont.

Louise Penny, author of the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series, will be at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, on Sunday, December 9, at 1:00 pm. Ticket are $38 and include a signed copy of the latest book in the series, Kingdom of the Blind.

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith

US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will be at The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, December 12, at 7:00 pm to accept the 2018 Hall-Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Tickets are $5-10.

Mitchell S. Jackson will be at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, on Wednesday, December 12, at 8:00 pm. Jackson’s new book, Survival Math, is due out on March 5, 2019, and we’ve heard excellent things about it!

On Friday, December 14, at 7:00 pm, George Howe Colt, will be at The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont, to read from his new book, The Game.

Madeleine Kunin will be reading from and discussing her memoir, Coming of Age, at The Norwich Congregational Church in Norwich, Vermont, on Wednesday, December 19, at 7:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

  • Idra Novey will be reading at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, December 5 at 8:00 pm.

  • Also in South Hadley, Massachusetts, poet Eileen Myles will be reading at the Art Building at Mount Holyoke College on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 pm.

  • On Saturday, December 8, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, will hold an open house to celebrate the poet’s 188th birthday. During this free program, visitors can tour the Homestead and The Evergreens at their leisure; enjoy holiday decorations and traditional music; decorate an ornament with a special birthday message; and, of course, enjoy coconut cake made from the poet’s own recipe.



Worth a Listen

Shari has been enjoying the Keeping a Notebook podcast by Nina LaCour. The episodes on writing are short, inspiring and thoughtful.

 

We're Looking Forward to These December Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Hotel Vermont has asked the Burlington Writers Workshop to assemble a small collection of Vermont writing for young people to be available to guests in their rooms at the hotel. The hotel already features BWW writing for adults in all its guest rooms and would like to add work specifically aimed at children and teens. If you have work you are interested in submitting for consideration, please contact the Burlington Writers Workshop.

The Burlington Writers Workshop is seeking a writer/editor to write for their Opportunites & Announcements blog once a month. If you’re interested, please contact the Burlington Writers Workshop

Marble House Project is a multi-disciplinary artist residency program in Dorset, Vermont, that fosters collaboration and the exchange of ideas by providing an environment for artists across disciplines to live and work side by side. The three-week Artist Residency is open to artists in all creative fields, including but not limited to visual arts, writing, choreography, music composition and performance. Applications for 2019 residencies are open through December 16. The application fee is $32. For more information, please visit the Residency Applications page.

Bloodroot Literary Magazine is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction for their 2019 Digital Edition through December 31. For submission guidelines, please visit the Bloodroot website.

The Frost Place is accepting submissions for their annual Chapbook Competition. The competition is open to any poet writing in English. The submission fee is $28. Submissions will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Chapbook Competition page.

Applications are now open for the Dartmouth Poet in Residence program at The Frost Place. This is a six-to-eight-week residency in poet Robert Frost’s former farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire. The residency begins July 1 and ends August 15, and includes an award of $1,000 from The Frost Place and an award of $1,000 from Dartmouth College. The recipient will have an opportunity to give a series of public readings across the region, including at Dartmouth College and The Frost Place. Applications will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Residency page.  

Every summer, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, awards residency Fellowships to artists in seven disciplines, including literature. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. The deadline for the 2019 Summer MacDowell Literature Fellowship is January 15, 2019. The application fee is $30. For more information, please visit the Residency Application page.

The Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts (June 16-22) is now accepting applications. The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams. The non-refundable application fee is $40. For more information and to apply, please visit the Juniper Institute website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

The Burlington Writers Workshop annual meeting will be held on December 2, from 2:30 to 5:00 pm at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont. All members are invited to attend. To RSVP, please visit the BWW website.

The League of Vermont Writers’ annual business meeting and winter writing craft workshop will take place at Trader Duke’s in South Burlington, Vermont, on January 19, 2019. For more details and registration information as it becomes available, visit the League’s Facebook page.

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is hosting a Travel Writing workshop, led by author Dan Szczesny on the campus of SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, from 10:00 am to noon on January 19, 2019. Registration is $50 for NHWP members; $70 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.