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November 2014

Listen to This, Listen to That: Eat Like a Writer

by Dan Froid

No two things in all things can seem only one;
Because two things so must be one thing alone.
Howbeit, reading of books and eating of cheese,
No two things, for some things, more like one than these.

Life and Literature: Not Mockin’ Ya, More YA Dystopian Novels to Read After the Hunger Games and Co.

by Cameron Steele

Katniss Everdeen was my improbable savior five years ago when I spent three days buried under 19 inches of snow.  I was cold, tired, and unsure if I would survive, but Katniss burned the snow away from my frostbitten mouth so quickly that – even today – I still have scars where my eyebrows should be.

OK, not quite. In real life, my normal eyebrows are really normal. And while I did find myself caught alone in an honest-to-God snowstorm in Virginia, Katniss didn’t save my life. She did, however, set fire to the boredom that had settled under the comforters with me, and I spent my few days without heat, water and electricity with a fresh copy of the first Hunger Games book to read by candlelight.

Alberta Clipper 11/25/2014: “Unpatriotic Art” by Anna Boothe

November 22, 1963 was a day of mourning across American when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Three days later, on Thanksgiving Day, his body was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.  In “Unpatriotic Art,” through ekphrasis, Anna Boothe discusses a painting of Kennedy that hangs in the Truman Library. Published in Prairie Schooner in the fall of 1970 (a mild season in Lincoln, as the temperature averaged a cool 52 degrees Fahrenheit), Boothe’s poem not only considers the physical act of painting but also remarks on Kennedy’s casualness rather than his presidential air. Boothe’s commentary on Kennedy as a person suggests that he was far more than only a dignitary, leader, or chief. – Evan Berry

Anna Boothe
Unpatriotic Art

I wonder at the daring
of her stroke,
yellow and green
in the face of a president,

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.

Listen to This, Listen to That: Everything's Environmental

by Dan Froid

In “Listen to This, Listen to That,” a new feature from Prairie Schooner, we pair episodes of our podcast series Air Schooner with songs that strike us as thematically relevant, insightful, or enjoyable complements.

Kathleen Flennikin served as 2012-2014 Washington State Poet Laureate and won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize for her collection Famous. Flennikin grew up near the Hanford Site, the former home to numerous nuclear reactors and plutonium processors established as part of the Manhattan Project. Steve Edwards’s memoir Breaking into the Backcountry (2010) tracks his time as caretaker of a ninety-two-acre homestead in southwestern Oregon. These two writers appear in Episode 22 of Air Schooner, “Everything’s Environmental,” where they read from their work and discuss environmental literature. Check out the episode here.

Contributor Spotlight on Michael Bazzett

by Dan Froid

In a November 11 tweet, Michael Bazzett wrote, “#NaNoWriMo Tip #93: Imagine the words ‘Lacerating, ‘Cutting,’ and ‘Trenchant’ on the back cover as you dip your pen in blood.” That should give you some idea of his witty and slightly wacky Twitter persona—a persona that also carries over to his poetry. Bazzett manages to strike a balance between the amusing and the unnerving. Take , for example, “The People Who Came Afterward”:

Alberta Clipper 11/11/14: “Let’s Hear it for Goliath” by Jon Dressel

In America’s more aggressive past, there was a time when we thought it fitting to invade Canada and capture Montreal. During the War of 1812, on a cold and raining November 11, 1813, America suffered for it during the Battle of Crysler’s Field, in which our 8000-some troops were sent reeling by a British and Canadian combined force of just 900.

From the Archives: Kit Yan

by Dan Froid

Last month, October, was LGBTQA+ history month, and we’re remembering last year’s visit from slam poet Kit Yan, who has been vigorously involved in Prairie Schooner activities. Every year, the LGBTQA+ Resource Center on the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln campus hosts a banquet celebrating the history of sexual and gender diversity as well as diversity within the campus and community. This year’s banquet took place last week, featuring a keynote speech by comedian Gloria Bigelow, an out lesbian and black woman who places issues of gender, sexuality, and race at the forefront of her work, tackling the ridiculousness of racism and what she calls “low lesbian esteem.”

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.