Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Life and Literature: On Snap Poetry, #InstaFiction, Creative Distractions, and Prairie Schooner's New Social Media Efforts

by Cameron Steele

I am an unabashed proponent of #instapoetry. There are few distractions I love more than taking pictures with my iPhone, sifting through Instagram filters, and forcing myself to quickly come up with short poems to accompany the posts.

Of course, this #instapoet habit of mine is mostly a way to take a time out from the more hardcore poetry writing and increasingly stressful life as a grad student and freelance reporter. But it’s also, I think, more than that: Combining Instagram fun and poetry has also become a way to share my love of language, to force myself through writer’s block, and – above all – to connect through social media to other writers and poets.

Laboring in the Gray Zone: A Review of Herta Müller’s The Hunger Angel

by Okla Elliott

When Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize in 2009, many readers had never heard of her, despite a modicum of acclaim in the German press and despite having already had four novels translated into English. There were some who complained that this was another political pick by the Nobel Committee; Müller was, after all, both from Romania (an under-represented nation on the literary scene) and a woman (an under-represented group on the list of Nobel Laureates). Despite the Nobel Prize’s less-than-perfect track record at picking great writers, I have only one response to this complaint: can’t a prize committee pick an excellent author who also happens not to be a man from a major Western nation? In the case of Müller, the answer is a resounding yes.

Contributor Spotlight on Matthew Shenoda

by Dan Froid

In “Christopher Columbus Was a Damn Blasted Liar,” Matthew Shenoda criticizes the parochialism of U.S. literary circles and discusses the problem of the narrative of “discovering” new writers, particularly writers of color. Read the article here. In his own work, the poet seems to attempt to push against some of the disappointing features of the literary landscape around him—for example, the “inability to see outside of one’s self, one’s own confines, geographies, institutions, regions, and nation.” Shenoda’s most recent work is Tahrir Suite, published by Northwestern University Press earlier this year. A book-length poem, Tahrir Suite follows a couple as they move from their home country of Egypt to the United States.

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.

Contributor Spotlight on Kara Candito

by Dan Froid

OKCupid, a VH1 countdown show, the film Scream; l’écriture feminine, 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, weird, and cerebral work. Take, for example, the beginning 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.

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:

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”:

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

Contributor Spotlight on Ana Castillo

by Dan Froid

During Ana Castillo’s recent appearance at UNL, she read her long poem, “‘Like the people of Guatemala, I want to be free of these memories…’—Sister Dianna Ortíz,” a moving and beautiful poem about the Ursuline nun of the title, who was captured and tortured during a missionary trip in Guatemala. The room was silent; it felt like everyone was, like me, overwhelmed by Castillo’s emotional performance of the poem—which came just minutes after she read “El Chicle,” a lighthearted poem about a piece of gum that falls from her son’s mouth.

Briefly Noted - October 9, 2014

Quick-to-Read Monthly Reviews

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

Vol. 3 Issue 6. October 9, 2014. Ed. Paul Clark.

The Map of What Happened by Susan Elbe | Reviewed by James Crews You Will Never See Any God: Stories by Ervin Krause | Reviewed by Tom Bennitt Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill | Reviewed by Ellen Birkett Morris

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