AWP 2014: Writing Feminism in Creative Nonfiction


Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:

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A lot of folks are talking about feminism right now, especially in writing and publishing. And a lot of folks are talking about creative nonfiction, the wayward fourth genre that’s finally asserting itself in classrooms and literary journals. But we aren’t talking much about the intersection of feminism and creative nonfiction. And we ought to be.

Sarah Lenz’s AWP panel on ‘Writing Feminism in Creative Nonfiction’ featured five women who have spent a lot of time thinking about the feminist issues unique to nonfiction writing: Lenz, Marcia Aldrich, Kristen Iversen, Sonja Livingston, and Mary Kay McBrayer. Rather than report on each panelists’ talk, let’s just dive in to the most urgent and interesting ideas.

Creative nonfiction is a genre of de facto feminism:

“I’m a de facto feminist,” Lenz said, opening the panel. “I write from a woman’s perspective because I can’t escape my own identity.” Regardless of their initial motivation or agenda, all…

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Book of the Week: Jacinda Townsend’s ‘Saint Monkey’


Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Two things tend to worry me in novels by authors I’ve never read before. One is a setting in a period of American history that’s more than 50 years in the past; the other is a story told from the point of view of two or more narrators. For her debut novel, Saint Monkey, Jacinda Townsend has done both of them. She writes from both Audrey’s and Caroline’s point of view, and the book is set in the late 1950s. What’s more, she shifts the story’s setting back and forth between the Jim Crow-era South and Harlem. These are all difficult tricks to pull off, but Townsend executes them effortlessly.

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International Prize for Arabic Fiction Judge Mehmet Hakkı Suçin: Advice to Young Novelists


Originally posted on Arabic Literature (in English):

At the time of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) shortlist announcement, ArabLit and 7iber had interviews with four of the five judges. One judge was missing, Mehmet Hakkı Suçin; he was unable to make the events in Amman because of health troubles. He graciously followed up with an email interview. 

mehmetArabLit: Did you have particular criteria as you went through and looked at the books? When wading through the initial 156 (!), what told you if the book might make the first cut?

Mehmet Hakkı Suçin:  At the beginning of the process, we discussed as a committee the criteria on which we would rely in the process of reviewing the books. I said to myself: Is it possible for us to define criteria with which to choose one book over another? And indeed, I had set definitions to use during the evaluation process.

But after conversations with…

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A Bird Is Not a Stone: The Palestinian Poets ‘Rarely Translated into English’


Originally posted on Arabic Literature (in English):

A Bird is not a Stone , ed. Henry Bell and Sarah Irving, is a collection of poems by contemporary Palestinian writers forthcoming from Glasgow’s Freight Books. The translations are done — through the bridge method — by 25 of Scotland’s top poets. Irving talks about the collection, which she suggests is perhaps “freer” for being a bridge translation:

A_bird_is_not_a_stone_270.270ArabLit: Can you say a little more about what the George Wyllie sculpture “A Bird Is Not a Stone” has to do with the ethos of the project?

Sarah Irving: There were several reasons this ended up as the title. Partly it was to do with the history of the sculpture itself, which was built by the Berlin Wall and which ‘keeked’ over, and there are obvious parallels with the situation of Palestinian poets having to ‘keek’ over real and metaphorical walls which have been constructed around them. And then in…

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Hope and Joy Amid Difficulty: The Lowland


Originally posted on The Bookshelf of Emily J.:

I’ve been a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri’s since reading her first novel The Namesake (2003), and I moved from there to her short stories, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999).  I will read anything she writes.  So when her second novel The Lowland (2013) came out last year, I jumped at the chance to read it.  I quickly put my name on the library list, and then I had to wait many months to actually get my hands on it.  It was worth the wait.

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The novel is about two brothers, born around World War II.  Udayan becomes a Naxalite Communist in India in the 1960s, while the Subhash goes to Rhode Island for school.  He stays in the United States and earns a Ph.D., eventually marrying his brother’s wife!  It is an interesting and tragic twist of fate.  His brother is arrested and executed for being…

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Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Abide


Originally posted on Vouched Books:

York From 2004-2005, I was a graduate student of Jake Adam York’s at University of Colorado-Denver; I also worked as a poetry editor with him on some early issues of Copper Nickel . Having known Jake personally and being familiar with his dedication to and enthusiasm for all-things poetry, it was heartbreaking to hear of his untimely death just over one year ago.

After recently receiving a copy of his posthumously released Abide (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014) in the mail, I was thankful for the opportunity to read new work by him; but that thankfulness was tempered by the sadness of knowing that he is no longer with us.

Abide serves to reinforce these conflicted feelings. On the one hand, the poems demonstrate York’s deft musicality, attention to craft, and adherence to an ethical imperative that originates in the historicity and spirit of the Civil Rights movement. On the other…

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