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Briefly Noted – February 2014

Monthly book reviews in brief from the staff of Prairie Schooner and associates
Hand-Drying in America

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

Vol. 3 Issue 1. February 2014. Ed. James Madison Redd and Paul Clark.

Hand-Drying in America by Ben Katchor | Reviewed by Claire Harlan-Orsi The Obstinate Snail by Rachid Boudjedra (A Short-shrifted Review) | Reviewed by Jack Hill Chord Box by Elizabeth Lindsey Rodgers | Reviewed by Hugh Sheehy

Reflections on "A War Portfolio"

by Cathy Dobson

First, I want to thank Brian Turner and all the staff who worked on A War Portfolio to make it a part of the Winter 2013 issue of Prairie Schooner. I’d also like to thank the writers and poets whose work is featured in the volume.  I hope my words seem humble, because I feel humble in the face of the subject, the talent, the effort that this work represents.  The voices in these pages have challenged me as a reader, influenced me as a writer, and I know that I have grown as a human being in the experience of them.

Some pieces in the issue haunt me.  I don’t even have to pick up the volume to remember them.  I don’t know what I can write to explain or describe my response to “Child Bomb.”  Pedro Serrano found the words to tell this story, but I find none I can use in reply.

The Storyteller Firangi: An Interview with Professor Jonathan Gil Harris (Part 1)

by Nabina Das
Jonathan Gil Harris

I first met Prof. Jonathan Gil Harris in January of 2013, when it was bitter cold in Delhi, and not sunny enough to meet outdoors. I found my way inside the food court of the opulent and sprawling Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, having first got lost in the meandering alleyways of the garish superstores, showrooms and malls, all strung together on the piece of land flanking Jawaharlal Nehru University. Prof. Harris was patiently waiting for me at a coffee shop and I was embarrassed, for I was late beyond the polite limit, but something about his flaming hair was heartwarming, as was his disarming smile. I realized that unlike many academics I’ve encountered, our “Gil-sahab” (“Call me Gil, after KPS Gill,” he had quipped.

The Taste of Your Own Tongue in Your Own Mouth

by Ryan Van Winkle

As 2014 begins, I wanted to share this excerpt from my podcast with Jane Hirshfield. She was kind enough to invite me into her home near San Francisco, and we had a sprawling conversation that hardly exhausted itself by the time I had to leave. Since that day I’ve held Jane's New Year ritual in my mind, as well as the poems she shared, which I'll always associate with her home and her generosity as a human and a poet.

RVW: Tell me a little about your widely read and celebrated poem “Tree.”

Editors of South Asian Literary Zines & Mags

by Nabina Das

Traditional editors loom large on the literary scene, and their role as gatekeepers is still seen with some reverence as well as consternation. With the expansion of cyber literary forums, literary zines, e-books, and the social media, I looked around to find a bevy of smart eager editors (who are writers too) steering zines as well as print journals that don’t always cater to the mainstream. The editorial practices of these people are not too different from their traditional counterparts.

Interview with Kevin Simmonds

A Crooked Letter Special Feature
Kevin Simmonds
Kevin Simmonds is a writer, musician, and performance artist originally from New Orleans. Mad for Meat (2011) is his debut collection of poetry. He is the editor of Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality and Ota Benga Under my Mother’s Roof. He also wrote the music for the Emmy Award-winning documentary HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica. Most recently, he wrote the music for Emmett Till, a river, a Japanese noh-inspired theatre work debuting at Theatre of Yugen on November 7, 2013.

Crooked Letter Year in Review

James Redd's Mississippi Authors Conversation Series
James Madison Redd
I wash ashore in Lincoln a few times a week in the company prairie schooner. I’m the Schooner’s Southern messenger, receiving email and transcribing spoken word from Mississippi writers, many of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet – recently, Richard Ford and Natasha Trethewey. I seek conversation with contemporary writers whose feet have pressed the rich soil of the Mississippi Delta, caressed the warm sands of the Gulf Coast, or crushed a bed of Pine Belt needles. My passion for music, spirituality, the oral tradition, family, and the past have blown me easily through this year and on to another.

We Can Talk About These Things

World Wide Poetry Studio Interviews Alvin Pang
Alvin Pang
Alvin Pang is a Singaporean poet whose latest book, When the Barbarians Arrive features new and selected poems. I, of course, wanted to talk to him about his satirical, shrewd, and energetic poems (and in the full podcast you will hear that) but we also had an enlightening digression about his work as an editor and advocate for Singapore's diverse poetry scene. I had no idea!

The Irresistible Nature of Certain Kinds of Truth: An Interview with Melissa Febos

Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Prairie Schooner's Assistant Editor - Nonfiction, recently interviewed Melissa Febos, winner of Prairie Schooner's second annual Creative Nonfiction Contest. Read on as they discuss the irresistable nature of certain kinds of truth, Montaigne, trying to say the unsayable, and more.

SFM: In her interview with Prairie Schooner, guest judge Lia Purpura said, “The essay is wildly capacious and inviting and open to invention—perhaps because it’s grounded in, a priori, a human’s singular experience of the world. That’s the promise the form makes, and it’s an intimate, exciting one.” Why does nonfiction appeal to you as a writer? What about the form—in this case the form of the essay—speaks to you?

Priest Pond (Part 2)

Below is the second part of Lisa Gornick's story from our Fall 2013 Issue, "Priest Pond." Lisa Gornick is the author of two novels, A Private Sorcery (Algonquin) and Tinderbox (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux). ‘‘Priest Pond’’ is part of a forthcoming collection of linked stories, Louisa Meets Bear (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

priest_pond_lisa_gornick

Priest Pond by Lisa Gornick

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