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Contributor Spotlight

Contributor Spotlight on Brock Clarke

by Dan Froid

“Take a hapless Danish cartoonist with a fatwa on his head. Put an American secret agent with secrets of her own in charge of his well-being. Give her the half-baked idea of hiding said cartoonist in an upstate New York town, disguising him as a high-school guidance counselor. Turn up the emotional boil on love triangles and spy intrigue, then arm everybody with a gun.” That’s how GQ’s recent interview with Brock Clarke describes his newest novel, The Happiest People in the World (Algonquin Books, 2014). When I read the description, I thought two things: 1) “This sounds weird,” and 2) “I should read this.” Invoking those sentiments seems, fortunately, to be Brock Clarke’s game.

Contributor Spotlight on Mari L'Esperance

by Dan Froid

In an interview with Matthew Thorburn, Mari L’Esperance notes, “When writing, image almost always comes first. Images represent the earth’s body and ground us in the physical world. By the time an image makes its way into a poem, it’s been simmering internally for a good, long while.” Often dreamlike, L’Esperance’s poems are full of striking images, sometimes tenebrous, sometimes disarming. A poet, writer, editor, and practicing psychotherapist, Mari L’Esperance is also the winner of the 2007 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

Contributor Spotlight on Ursula K. Le Guin

by Dan Froid

What do you get for the woman who has everything? The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, perhaps. Ursula K. Le Guin, author of science-fiction and fantasy novels, children’s books, short stories, poetry, and essays—and winner of a slew of additional awards and prizes—received one of American literature’s highest honors in November. The Foundation recognized Le Guin for “[defying] conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcend[ing] the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction . . .

Contributor Spotlight on Batsirai E. Chigama

by Dan Froid

Slam poetry has exploded in popularity in the last few years. It seems to be almost everywhere, moving beyond local slams to, for example, the Nerd Poetry Slam of Vancouver—which featured poems referencing Star Trek: The Next Generation and potential future reptilian overlords—and to youth camps for students in New York City. This week, we’re highlighting a slam poet of our own, whose work we love even if it doesn’t discuss Jurassic Park.

Contributor Spotlight on Nguyen Phan Que Mai

by Dan Froid

The Internet has been alive lately with the sound of translation. Or perhaps the lack thereof: on the Melville House blog, Mark Krotov issued a call to action to bring back the National Book Award for Translation.  Still, we have much to celebrate: in the run-up before the announcement of the finalists for the Best Translated Book Award, an award organized by the Three Percent blog of the University of Rochester, a number of posts have popped up that debate potential contenders. And many of the nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2015 are works in translation.

Contributor Spotlight on Matthew Gavin Frank

by Dan Froid

It’s well-known by now that Margaret Atwood rejected science fiction as a label for her work—science fiction, she noted, was about giant squids in space. Admittedly, she’s clarified and developed her statements on science fiction and genre labels since then; the gist is that labels too frequently become reductive selling-points, ignoring the complexity and range of writers’ bodies of work. This issue of labels is also pertinent for Matthew Gavin Frank. Frank has written several volumes of nonfiction, ranging from Barolo (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), a memoir in which he recounts his illegal work in the Italian wine industry, to Pot Farm (University of Nebraska Press, 2012), which details his work at a medical marijuana farm in California.

Contributor Spotlight on Roxane Gay

by Dan Froid

Roxane Gay could be anywhere right now. She’s been almost everywhere lately. Earlier this year, Nolan Feeny wrote in a review of An Untamed State, “Let this be the year of Roxane Gay.” And that seems to be ever increasingly the case. This year, she released an essay collection, Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial), as well as her debut novel, An Untamed State (Grove Atlantic). Both books have enjoyed impressive reviews and equally impressive sales; they’ve both had spots on the New York Times bestseller list, and Bad Feminist recently entered its seventh printing. (How often does that happen to a two-month-old book that Amazon classifies under “Women Writers” and “Feminist Theory”?) In addition to her latest successes, Gay also has a formidable online presence.

Contributor Spotlight on Louise Erdrich

by Dan Froid

Today, Louise Erdrich, one of our much loved past contributors, will be recognized as the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. The biannual award of $25,000 marks lifetime achievement in American fiction. Erdrich is the first woman to win the award, joining the male-dominated ranks of Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, and E.L. Doctorow.

Contributor Spotlight on Jennifer Perrine

by Dan Froid
Jennifer Perrine

This week, we’re shining the spotlight on contributor Jennifer Perrine, who has been very active lately on the Prairie Schooner scene. She recently won the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize for Poetry for her manuscript No Confession, No Mass. She has appeared in two episodes of Air Schooner. In episode 24, she featured as part of Air Schooner’s reading series, in which leading poets and writers read from their work. Perrine read several of her poems, including “In the Human Zoo” and “When Life Gives You Lemons Make.” Listen to episode 24 here.

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