Keep it Clean.  I.E., Puns Welcome

The E-Book Has Landed

The E-Book Has Landed

AStar in the Face of the Sky is now an e-book.  Resolving (slowly) to an electronic book retailer near you.

Turns out there’s a lot more to converting a print book to an e-book than simply pushing a few buttons.  Lots of behind the scenes business related to formatting and margins and the fact that some readers allow you to do things such as “stretch” the screen and change fonts and font size.  Also, as it happens, we’re still in the “VHS vs Betamax” days of electronic books.   Different readers require different conversion formats.  

This is already more than  you or I needed or wanted to know about this subject.  For those of you who have been waiting, the kindle edition is up and other formats will appear over the next few hours/days.    Of course, you can’t sign an ebook, but I would be happy to deface your Nook with my Sharpie.

Stephen Burt Has Some Questions

Stephen Burt Has Some Questions

In addition to almost hiring me away from SMU to come back and teach at my Alma Mater, Macalester, Stephen Burt is also one of our finest literary critics, essayists and poets.  I am intrigued with a post  that he wrote for the VIDA blog.  VIDA, founded in 2009, encourages female writers of literature and others to engage in conversations regarding the critical reception of women’s creative writing, and among other projects it has tracked the percentages of women published and/or reviewed in leading literary publications.  In his blogpost, Burt puts pressure on the assumptions that underlie “the count.”

Here are a few questions from the post:

7. Is it possible to read a piece of literary writing without imagining that the author has a gender (perhaps an unusual gender, or maybe two gender or three genders, but at least one)?

8. How do you think the answer to that question (beginning “Is it even possible”) would differ in a language, such as Persian, where neither pronouns, nor noun case-endings, differed by gender?

9. Is it possible to read a piece of literary writing without imagining that the author has an age, or a profession, or an ethnic identification, or a height, or a weight, or a race?

10. Is it possible to read a piece of literary writing without imagining that it has an author?

11. What about cookbooks, hard-news journalism, government documents, furniture-store instructions, math? Must we imagine authors for all those?

The other twenty-five questions are equally engaging.  I’m linking to Burt’s piece today, and then I thought I’d spend the week answering a few of his question myself.  Click on the link below to read the rest of the post.

AWP 2014 — It’s a Wrap

AWP 2014 — It’s a Wrap

Imagine one of those ven diagrams: three intersecting circles where one circumscribes introverts, the second agoraphobics, and the third misanthropes.  That little dot where the three intersect: that’s me.  They could do a “Hoarders” episode on the way I covet private time; I loathe crowds of any kind (a crowd is any more than two other people who I don’t know within ten feet of my person); and as for the misanthropy part, well I don’t hate people nearly as much as some other writers I admire or your garden-variety politicians do, I just wish they’d go do all that rude obnoxious crap they do over there some place.  Preferably next to you.

From “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine : Poetry Magazine

From “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine : Poetry Magazine

I haven’t done much if any of this: reblogging original writing from other sites, but this poem by Claudia Rankine…

I read this and I felt like I got smacked upside the head hard, with the wisdom stick.  I hope you like it, too, but the primary reason I’m posting it here is so I will always know I can get my hands on it.  Never know when I’m going to need a refresher or  to go upside someone else’s head.

From “Citizen”


You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.


You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.


Read the rest of the poem here: From “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine : Poetry Magazine.

What Is It Called When a Star Births a Star?

What Is It Called When a Star Births a Star?

Because I had been too literal in my own imaginings of what the cover of A Star in the Face of the Sky should look like, it took me a minute to fall in love with it.  But only minute, and I have remained smitten ever since and brag more shamelessly about the cover than I ever would about what lies between. (I get my picture taken with it and everything!)


BIG congratulations to Rachel Brixius for being a finalist for the prestigious da Vinci Eye Award, an annual prize awarded to independent and small press books with outstanding cover art.  Eternal gratitude to Rachel for wrapping A Star in such beauty.

Pictured above: Rachel schooling us on the art of great cover design.

Kimbilio 2014

Kimbilio 2014

So this is the week of updates on my other projects. I’m so excited to be hosting in July the second summer retreat for Kimbilio. Find more about the project and about the application process on this webpage.

And here, from the Book Country blog, is an enchanting blogpost about the Kimbilio experience by the equally enchanting young woman, pictured above:

The Importance of Meaningful Writing Communities by Khaliah Williams

Sometime in the autumn of 2006, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I took several writing workshops at The New School in New York City, where I worked. I often found myself scribbling down ideas that would be the foundation of my novel (still in progress) in notebooks during my hour long commute between the village and The Bronx. Getting in the way of my writing ambitions was the problem of my full time job. My writing life, I wrote in my graduate school applications, exists in stolen moments at the office and crowded subway cars. I wanted more.

Click on this sentence to read the rest of the post.  

Professional academic researchers in the social sciences of many colleges and universities exploit the struggles of oppressed peoples. Oppressed peoples are left stranded with little to no resources after researchers leave their communities high and dry.

Researchers steal value from oppressed peoples by making them the subjects of theoretical research without lending them access to information that could better help their communities. Articles, books, and dissertations written about marginalized populations are written for academics, not working people, and as such have little impact on the people whose lives are the subject of this research. Liberal academics and social scientists are more concerned about developing the wealth of academic literature than addressing the immediate material concerns of the communities they research.


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