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Welcome to #fivewordfridays

a series of vocabulary-based prompts
white text that reads #fivewordfridays on a bright orange background

by Ashley Strosnider

Tackled the excercise below? Come up with something brilliant or hilarious? Tweet us a favorite line or phrase @theSchooner!

Good writing strives toward many things—often it’s momentum, stakes, and surprise. Ideally, when you’re writing carefully (or at the very least, when you’re revising!), you’re aware of the language of your work, instead of only the content of the idea or the narrative thrust, and you’re making careful, interesting, and economical selections to keep a poem or a story moving, and to keep a reader moving along with it. You brilliant writer, you, of course you choose your words wisely.

So You Wanna Win A Book Prize?

An Interview with Luisa Muradyan

by Jamaica Baldwin

Exciting news! The PS Blog is back from hiatus. We're kicking things off with a revival of our fun and useful "So You Wanna Win A Book Prize?" interview series. For the next several weeks, visit the blog for illuminating conversations between PS Book Prize Coordinator Jamaica Baldwin and writers who have played the book prize game and won! Don't forget, we're currently seeking submissions for the Raz-Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Click here for full details. Read on for Baldwin's conversation with Luisa Muradyan, who won the PS Book Prize for her poetry collection American Radiance.

"Private Stories of Desperate, Protracted Love": an Interview with Dessa

by Ilana Masad

Dessa is a writer and musician of incredible reputation. Her new book, My Own Devices, was released this month. Our nonfiction editor Ilana Masad asked Dessa some questions about the book and her work. Read on...

Hi Dessa! First of all, thank you so much for doing this interview. It's an honor. I have some general-ish questions and some more specific questions about the book, you as a writer, etc. so here we go:

1. Music and words--especially rapping and words--go hand in hand. Still, I wonder whether there are different sets of writing muscles for writing lyrics, for writing poetry, and for writing memoir and personal essays. Was the process of writing this book unique? How?

Songwriting demands particular attention to phrasing—the very same sentence can sound either poignant or cringe-worthy, depending on the cadence. 

"Searching for normal, when what I really needed was kindness": an Interview with Sarah Fawn Montgomery

by Ilana Masad

Starting Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir by Sarah Fawn Montgomery—out today with Mad Creek Books, an imprint of Ohio State University Press—was difficult. It’s always somewhat nerve-wracking to approach a book that deals intimately with an identity and subject-matter that is close to your heart, and so as a mentally ill person, reading books about madness tends to have a great effect on me. And boy howdy, did this one have an effect. Weeks after finishing it, I’m still thinking about it often, daily, and that haunting quality is part and parcel of what makes the book so incredible.

“A daily handful of wonder and awe”: A Debut Poet Roundtable, Pt. 2

Last we heard from our debut poets, they were discussing tardigrades! In the second and final part of this roundtable, five former members of Prairie Schooner’s editorial team—Sarah A. Chavez, Crystal S. Gibbins, Marianne Kunkel, Michelle Menting, and Hali Sofala-Jones—discuss the intersection of their first full-length poetry collection and the current American climate, some simple and bold self-marketing strategies, and what they’ll write next. Thanks for tuning in!

MK: How do you see your book fitting into this particular time in history? We’re all self-identifying women poets, but our identities are broader and more multi-faceted than that. Twenty or 50 years from now, what will your poems witness about the world in 2017-18?

“What I long for... never actually existed”: A Debut Poet Roundtable, Pt. 1

Last fall the PS blog ran a Debut Fiction Roundtable, and we think it’s time for poets to have a turn! Following that model, five former members of Prairie Schooner’s editorial team—Sarah A. Chavez, Crystal S. Gibbins, Marianne Kunkel, Michelle Menting, and Hali Sofala-Jones—chatted back and forth through email to discuss their experiences sending their first full-length poetry collection out into the world. This is the first half of their conversation, focusing on the theme of lack versus loss as well as practical research tips. Stay tuned for part two!

Marianne Kunkel: Although our books are all quite different, a common thread I see in them is lack—lacking life experience, professional success, connection to ancestors, home, environment, language, etc. Was it cathartic to write these poems? Do you think the lack you wrote about is something that can ever be resolved?

"Approach everything with humility": an interview with Patricia Engel

by Mac Wall

Patricia Engel is the author of The Veins of the Ocean and her story, "La Ruta," was featured in our Spring 2018 issue.

For our readers who only know you from what’s been published about you in the Prairie Schooner, is there anything from your life that tends to have an outsized influence on your writing? What you read, where you live, how you spend your day? 

First, I want to say that I’m delighted to be published in Prairie Schooner. It’s a magazine I’ve long admired. To your question, everything influences my writing, from conversations I have or overhear, images I take in through landscapes, art, or from my imagination; my heritage, fragments of my identity, my relationships, nature and its exploitation, books I read, music I hear, my hobbies, fantasies, and obsessions. 

"In a way all stories are about mental health": an Interview with Molly Quinn

by Gayle Rocz

Molly Quinn’s writing has either appeared or is forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, and Post Road. She was recently published in our Spring issue with the short fiction story, “Babies in the Water.”

Gayle Rocz: Your short fiction story, "Babies in the Water," is based around the relationship between a grown, unstable, and distant daughter, Kim, and her mother who is suffering from dementia. Their relationship is rather strained because Kim believes her mother intentionally poisoned her as a child. How did this scenario present itself to you? What were some influences that helped you create this situation between these two characters?

"Poems as an outlet for shock and grief": an Interview with Marianne Kunkel

by Kelsey Conrad

Marianne Kunkel is Editor-in-Chief at Missouri Western State University's national undergraduate journal, The Mochila Review, and has been published in several journals including the Missouri Review, the Notre Dame Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Rattle. She is the author of The Laughing Game, and her book of poetry, Hillary, Made Up will come out in September.

Kelsey Conrad: Your book, Hillary, Made Up, is set to release in September.  The book seems political by nature, but one thing that I found particularly interesting is how much it seems to revolve around makeup, and the idea of putting on a face.  When during the writing process did that idea start to emerge, or was it one that you started with?

Alberta Clipper: 6/27/18: "On Friendship and Maxine Kumin" by Alberta Arthurs

by Gayle Rocz

On June 27, 1693 the first women’s magazine was published in London. Titled Ladies’ Mercury, it was a spinoff of John Dunton’s The Athenian Mercury. This “magazine” filled one sheet front and back, and was mostly made up of an advice column aimed to attract both women and men. Admittedly, Ladies’ Mercury was no feminist crusade. It only lasted for about four issues and it was published by a man. However, it was the first time anyone thought that women might need or want a specialized publication.


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