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Alberta Clipper 10/28/14: “Beauty and the Beast” by Neil Weiss

During the last week of October in 1946, Nebraskans were enjoying the season’s typical weather with temperatures in the mid 50s, only slightly above the average 48°. Meanwhile across the globe, Jean Cocteau’s famous La Belle et la Bête was released. The film, starring Jean Marais and Josette Day, brought to life the popular Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and enchanted audiences with its stunning cinematography.

In a similar fashion, Neil Weiss’s poem “Beauty and the Beast,” published in Prairie Schooner in the fall of 1962, depicted the fairy tale’s last scene. —Emily Burns

Neil Weiss
Beauty and the Beast

She is running to meet me
and I am dying here
by this wretched canal.
It’s the story of my life.

Life and Literature: The #FreeTheNipple Movement and its Literary Foremothers

by Cameron Steele

“Once I grew breasts my unchaperoned days were over,” award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her 2001 collection of essays “Small Wonder.”

I was struck by this quote researching for this week’s column on the female writers who preceded the #FreeTheNipple movement. (Barbara Kingsolver, obviously, is one of them).

Oh my God, I thought, I’ve spent my whole life trying to chaperone my own boobs.

Well, duh.  I was raised in a culture where displaying cleavage labeled you – still labels you – “vapid and dumb” or “looking for some.”

Contributor Spotlight on Kara Candito

by Dan Froid

OKCupid, a VH1 countdown show, the film Scream; l’écriture féminine, Federico García Lorca, the minor god Cybele. What do these things have in common? For Kara Candito, they are all poetic subjects or inspiration for her funny, strange, and cerebral work. Take, for example, the opening lines of “Sunday Afternoon Watching Scream I”:

Mmm this guacamole’s really good
and Rose McGowan’s nipples
get so fabulously hard right before
the ridiculous death scene in the garage.
Confession: I should be home right now
preparing a lecture on Ginsberg
and the counterculture.

Life and Literature: The Supreme Court’s “Kind-of” Coming Out on Gay Marriage

By Cameron Steele

It’s been an auspicious if somewhat ambiguous month for marriage equality in the United States. On Oct. 6, just five days before National Coming Out Day, the Supreme Court – sotte voce – declined appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. The decision cleared the aisles for gay couples in those states and others affected by the lower-court bans in what most consider a surprising victory for marriage equality and gay rights. 

Still, it hasn’t exactly been a definitive “coming out” for the constitutionality of gay marriage. Many have found the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s actions in the subsequent days ambiguous at best and obfuscating at worst. Does the decision mean gay marriage is unequivocally legal? Everywhere? Or is it just another geographical move in a veritable game of Risk?

Briefly Noted - October 23, 2014

Monthly book reviews in brief from the staff of Prairie Schooner and associates.

Vol. 3 Issue 7. October 23, 2014. Ed. Paul Clark.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna | Reviewed by Linda Downing Miller Wittgenstein’s Nephew: A Friendship by Thomas Bernhard | Reviewed by Lindsey Drager Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman | Reviewed by Ellen Birkett Morris

Guest Review of Our Fall Issue

by Sharon Harrigan

“Who do you think you are?” If I had to summarize this issue in a phrase, that might be it. If asked for a theme, maybe “aging iconoclastic female protagonists.”

We’re never too old to come of age. We can be fifty or fifty-seven or even retired, then set off on an emotional journey and discover that we’re not who we thought we were, that the line between truth and lies (including the ones we tell ourselves, about ourselves) keeps shifting. It’s refreshing to see these ideas played out in Prairie Schooner. In three remarkable stories by Pam Houston, Rebecca Morgan Frank, and Dana Fitz Gale, a trio of opinionated and determined women drive, fly, and hike their way past our usual expectations, and their authors surprise us with structural innovation and language dripping with style.

Pam Houston’s “Maggie on the Road: A Triptych”

Contributor Spotlight on Ron Villanueva

Divination, transfiguration, haunted graveyards, traps, and blessings…R.A. Villanueva (or Ron, if you know him like we do) is not, as far as we know, a boy wizard. But his debut has a bit of magic in it—evoking the liminal spaces of myth and faith that reverberate with an ever-evolving identity and sense of self. Villanueva, the winner of last year’s Prairie Schooner Book Prize for his collection Reliquaria, published by the University of Nebraska Press this September, has made a number of recent appearances, both online and in Brooklyn, giving interviews and doing readings. His charming enthusiasm for talking anything literary is a solid recommendation for the strength of his deft and haunting work.

Verse Daily recently featured Villanueva’s poem “Swarm,” excerpted below:

Alberta Clipper 10/14/2014: “A Visit to Laugharne” by Rose Rosberg

On October 14, 1913, Senghenydd, Wales witnessed a horrifying mining disaster. A terrible explosion from inside the local coal pits killed 439 miners and one rescuer, making the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster the worst coal mine explosion in the history of the United Kingdom. Coal mining was an early and long-lasting major source of income in Wales, and evidence of mining in the area dates back to the 14th century.

In 1963, Prairie Schooner published a section featuring Welsh poetry in the fall issue. This section explored the rhythm and different sounds represented within Welsh bardic writing forms. The fall of 1963 was a particularly warm one for Lincoln, NE, with 94 percent of the days in October reaching higher-than-average temperatures. This particular fall was not only blistering hot, but October had the clearest skies of the entire year. –Clarissa Siegel-Causey

Rose Rosberg
A Visit to Laugharne

From the Archives: FUSION #7

by Dan Froid

Now that fall is here—September 23 brought us the official fall equinox—and the leaves will soon turn colors and drop from the trees (maybe the only consolation for Nebraska winters), it’s the perfect time to revisit FUSION #7.

Each issue of FUSION, Prairie Schooner’s quarterly online publication, features poetry and essays from a different country, accompanied by poems from the Prairie Schooner archives. The seventh issue presents the work of Filipino poets, including Merlie Alunan and Marjorie Evasco, as well as work from the archives by Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Friman, and John Kinsella, among others. All of its poems center on trees. Kwame Dawes introduces the issue with the essay “Naming Trees”:

Life and Literature: Poets on Race

By Cameron Steele

Welcome to the Prairie Schooner blog’s “Life and Literature” column – a new weekly effort to connect one of the main conversations happening in the news, on social media, in the legislature to relevant works of literature. To the poets and writers and essayists who have something important to say about these issues that we should take into consideration as we make decisions for ourselves about how to react to what's going on around us. In this column, I'll turn to literature as a way to broaden and reexamine conversations about our contemporary world.

Because really, in the increasing shallowness of the 24-hour news cycle, click-bait articles masquerading as informed journalism, and the incendiary language of pundits on the right and left, the lessons and insight we can glean from creative writers --- past and present --- are more important than ever. 

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