Archive for August, 2009

August 31, 2009

MFA Application Help

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Looking for a creative writing consultant to help boost your MFA application? The Suburban Ecstasies, a personal and MFA blog, recommends Nancy Rawlinson. The host of The Suburban Ecstasies, poet and attorney Seth Abramson, also co-manages his own creative writing consulting firm, Abramson-Leslie Consulting.


Whereas a consultant for law or business school applications wouldn’t surprise me, this does. I don’t know how effective their) services are or whether it’s actually needed but I think the very existence of consultants for the MFA application shows how much the academic field of MFAs has grown and how much of a business it has become. If you’ve used a consultant service to support your application, I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether it was useful or not.


Please note: The mention and inclusion of consultants and business on this zine is for the purposes of interest to our readers only and is not meant as endorsements of the quality of the consultant or business.

August 30, 2009

Classic Children’s Books

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I never knew until recently what a list fiend I am. I’ve always dismissed “top ten” lists (which is probably why I’ve never enjoyed David Letterman) and all those “What’s hot/What’s not” lists in various magazines. And yet here I am again writing up another list for this zine’s blog. I guess I love book lists (I keep an active Goodreads account, both for the blog and for myself).


In the spirit of excellent lists (as opposed to mediocre lists), here’s NPR’s A Classic List of Children’s Must-Read Books (with comments).


The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I loved The Boxcar Children series growing up and read all of the originals plus extras written by ghost writers after Warner had passed on. Mystery, thrills, orphans, boxcars (though it took me a while to learn what, exactly, a boxcar was) this series was my first of many obsessions.


The Witches by Roald Dahl
I’ve actually never read The Witches. (gasp!) In fact, I never read any Roald Dahl growing up, unless it was for school (James and Giant Peach). I did, however, see the movie Mathilda, based on a Dahl book, probably thousands of times as a babysitter of young children. I’ll have to add this to my list of books to read.


The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt
Ditto to this. Never read it though I love the title.


Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Ditto. Man, NPR is busting me up.


Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Wasn’t there a Lindsey Lohan movie of the same title?


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer
I loved this book growing up, even if I didn’t quite get it. What’s not to love: he boy representing the .5 in the 2.5 kids for the average American family; the Promethean task the protagonist is given; the wonderful and curious illustrations. I need to go back and re-read this one.


The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
Okay, wow, another one I’ve never read. Did I just have an abnormal childhood?


From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
Konigsburg’s tale combined two of my favorite things growing up: learning and mysteries. While I can’t quite remember all the details of the mystery involved, I do remember my immense jealousy that the siblings in the story were able to stay the night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, long before Ben Stiller hit the Smithsonian with a synergized pale comparison.


Watership Down by Richard Adams
I truly must be the only American youth who has not read Watership Down. I’ve heard lots about it though: talking rabbits, references in Donnie Darko, death, destruction. One of those classics I suppose I should pick up someday and enjoy with the pessimism of an adult.


The House with the Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, illustrated by Edward Gorey
I’ve never even heard of this but I love Edward Gorey’s dark drawings and twisted humor. This is definitely on my to-read list.

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August 29, 2009

Good-bye Reading Rainbow

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“Reading Rainbow”, an iconic children’s television show, aired its final episode yesterday. The show lost support from PBS and the Department of Education, as the former Bush administration shifted its funding priorities to phonics and spelling, rather than supporting a general love of reading. “Reading Rainbow” first aired in 1983 and was hosted by LeVar Burton.


I feel sad over the loss of “Reading Rainbow” to a generation of kids, past and present. I grew up watching PBS alongside network and cable cartoon and kids’ shows (including another PBS favorite, “Wishbone”) and dreamed of appearing on-air with LeVar Burton to talk about a great book I enjoyed. While I’m certain that other reading-focused shows will replace “Reading Rainbow” in the spectrum of kids television, nothing will ever spark a joy for reading quite the way “Reading Rainbow” did for over two decades.


August 29, 2009

Write Away #21

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What is Write Away?

August 27, 2009

Non-fiction by Rabbit White

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Are You Positive You’re Sex Positive?
by Rabbit White


What comes to mind when you hear the words sex positive? Feminist lectures about looking at your vagina in a mirror? Your sex ed teacher putting condoms on bananas? Drunken flashbacks to last year’s pride parade? I’ve read a few definitions of sex positivity online and they all seem to define it as the idea that “sex is good”; or “people who are working towards a better relationship with sex.” However, with sex positivity there seems to be this notion of “all consensual sex is good” and that sleeping with a lot of people and being proud of that makes you sex positive (the ever popular pro-sex feminist approach). One problem with this is that it is sexist,: it does not include any room for men. This just flips and reinforces double standards, if a chick has a lot of sex she is a slut and that’s cool and positive, but if a guy does than he is a slut and that’s sleazy and gross. I think that sex positivity is actually something very hard to reach, something that should be striven for but is in no way easy.


Being sex positive is not about being open about your sex life or being pro-slutty. To me, being sex positive is honestly examining your sexual history and your sexual preferences. What made you who you are sexually today? What do you like and why do you like it? This definition also includes sometimes not engaging in things that we like sexually if they are destructive or physically and psychologically unhealthy. I think what sometimes happens is that people call things sex-positive for the express purpose of avoiding examining whether or not they are actually positive.


In my younger days I identified as a strong assertive woman and a feminist. Yet, sexually as a total bottom. I was constantly covered in bruises and cuts because I liked being really roughed up in bed. I told myself that was okay because I knew I liked it and could initiate it, I was sex positive.

Continue reading Are You Positive You’re Sex Positive?

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August 27, 2009

Write Away #20

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Use the ten unrelated words below and include them all in your story or poem:


ditch, dog, unilateral, brevity, pun, captured, mink, broken, official, lovingly.


What is Write Away?

August 25, 2009

Write Away #19

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“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.”
~Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”


What is Write Away?

August 24, 2009

Google & Privacy

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We all know the internet isn’t a very private thing, even if you’re typing away in your empty house or in a fog of privacy at a coffeeshop. But as Google scans books for its online book project, there are some concerns about maintaining the privacy and identity of individuals choosing to read those books. Read or listen to the NPR story.

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August 24, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes

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RULES: Don’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Next, share your list with 15 friends.


I took seven minutes to come up with my list. I don’t unilaterally love all of these books. Some are on the list as books that “will always stick with [me]” for better or worse. There are three short stories on the list because I love short stories and as I was thinking of my fifteen books, they came into my head. Also included are a play and a children’s book. The list is in the order the books came to me.


this zine’s 15 Books in 15 Minutes:

1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
2. Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol
3. 36 Children by Herbert Kohl
4. Madame Bovary by Flaubert
5. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
6. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
7. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
8. Singing from the Well by Reinaldo Arenas
9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
11. “The Descent of Man” (short story) by T.C. Boyle
12. “Rape Fantasies” (short story) by Margaret Atwood
13. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
14. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
15. “The Dead” (short story) by James Joyce

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August 19, 2009

Write Away #18

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“Honesty’s the best policy.”
~Miguel de Cervantes


What is Write Away?

August 17, 2009

New Links!

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Librarians should look at Library Story Time, a site and blog dedicated to the work of children’s librarians.


The Second Pass is a book review site that is updated frequently and reviews new and old literature.


I am absolutely in love with Newpages, a website and blog that has links and information to everything literary accessible on the web. The submission and contest pages are updated frequently and the site includes some thoughtful discussions on writing and the elements of writing. I visit this site daily.


Finally, Color Online is a great site to support a young women’s organization in Michigan and, for those not living in Michigan, to learn about great multicultural literature.


All links have been added to our link list on the right side of the page. Know of a great website? E-mail us the link and tell us why we should check it out!


August 14, 2009

Indie Bookstores Are More Green

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Check out this great video from the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC. Think you’re being green by shopping online from stores like Amazon? Think again!

August 13, 2009

Discovering Connections Through Books

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In a a recent Guardian article, Molly Flatt discusses how people cross the solitary nature of book reading by bonding over books. She cites personal experiences as examples, adding that books “are social objects, and we use them to brandish our identities, mark our allegiances and broker our relationships. They can provoke passions as strongly as politics.”


I’ve definitely experienced the thrill of commenting on a book someone was reading, excited that they were reading a book I loved. Only once has my comment been completely ignored. Most people smile kindly or state that they are/are not enjoying it, usually followed by a statement of how or why they came to read the book. (“My sister recommended it to me” or “I heard her speak on the radio” or “I absolutely loved his other books.”) We don’t become lifelong friends over a shared interest in the same book but, especially in urban areas where, more often than not, we don’t know our own neighbors, the momentary commonality is enough connection to add an extra skip in my walk for the day.


Flatt goes on to describe ways reading books has crossed cultural and language boundaries, testifying in a very personal and very real way, how the love of reading and the love for particular texts provokes strong reactions in others, both good and bad.


For my own part, people who comment on the books I’m reading often ask me where I purchased the title. Since I’m a fierce supporter of independent bookstores, I always direct them to the local indie shop (and, consequently, glare pointedly down at their Kindle if they’re holding one).


What experiences have you had discovering connections through books?

August 12, 2009

August Poetry Postcard

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My camera has been returned to me and I’m excited to present the postcards I received at the end of last week! Read on for the fun!



“He who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” ~Estonian Proverb

10 Things I am Grateful for Today
1. It’s Friday.
2. It’s not raining…yet.
3. Next week I’ll be on vacation.
4. Bill’s garden.
5. Emily’s call.
6. Dinner with Emile, Maureen, and Nancy
7. Italian food.
8. Reading at lunch.
9. Music on.
10. Iced coffee.
–JM Simpson




Start too low
and you focus on feet
Tired, flat
Nowhere to go
then up
To the knees (what knees please?)
And on to the gut
A smackrel of mackrel
up to the nose
down to the tie
catch the eye
–Diane Cammer






And here are some of the postcards I’ve sent recently. I used the Gravity Dancers postcard image for the first poem.




A Limerick
There once was a girl from Nantucket
Whose curly head was trapped in a bucket.
She sat down dark and cross
Because she was at a loss
and said to herself, well fuck it.


Her hands
travel my body, touch sweet tucked places
and trace my lips, tap my closed
eyes in code. Her hands leap
across skin and hair, flapping. Flying. Singing
over deserts, ravines, prairies, mountains,
and plains. Her hands nestle into mine,
soft and still, palm to palm.

August 10, 2009

Write Away #17

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Take the following dialogue and include it in your story or poem:


Person 1: I said I didn’t want to.
Person 2: Things are different now.
Person 1: You never understand.
Person 2: You aren’t the same. Nothing is the same.


What is Write Away?

August 10, 2009

New Header!

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You might have noticed a change to our look. Yes, we’ve finally pulled ourselves together and changed our header to better reflect the theme of this zine. And thanks to the editor’s personal obsession with organizing her books by spine color, there’s a nice purple-blue calming effect as well.

August 10, 2009

“The Anniversary” – New Fiction by Heidi Ash

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The Anniversary
by Heidi Ash


Floating in that pleasant haze between sleep and wakefulness, she realized today was her wedding anniversary. She stretched, carefully, because at 67 years of age, some seldom used tendon or muscle could suddenly rebel and put you out of commission for days. She had allowed herself to sleep in, since everything for the party had been readied yesterday.


She took it slow in the bath. Swirling the bubbly water with her hands her gaze softened as she leaned her head back onto the cushion she had received for her wedding shower so long ago. Through half closed lids she saw her body transformed into that of the 18 year old she used to be.


With breathtaking intensity those feelings came rushing back to her. She had been radiant. The evening he proposed, she had touched a deep place of communion within herself. She loved him, the two of them and the whole world. She felt connected and expanded at the same time.


They would be buddies, friends, lovers. They would be there for each other and accomplish things together. She wasn’t sure what those things were, but she knew they would be grand. Finally, they looked good together, something that really matters at 18. It had been the happiest day of her life and she had celebrated it every year since. She smiled, feeling that same sense of suspense and anticipation of adventures yet to unfold.



Continue reading “The Anniversary.”


Heidi Ash worked 23 years as an R.N., taught 12 years of Yoga and Meditation, and for 3 years ran a Retreat House in the Indiana corn fields. For the past 5 years she has been providing private elder care for primarily Alzheimer’s patients.


August 9, 2009

Poetry by Michelle Dominique

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We Were Too Reckless With Our Hearts
by Michelle Dominique


I swear to God
you are Cupid’s son


I have a stone rattling around in my heart
and my body aches for you.


All I want is to stomp (ram) my
feet into the dirty Earth.


You saw me as a butterfly
in the cool rain
my wings pulled apart by the drops
and frozen by the snow.


There are fireworks on the ground
I feel the fire, but I don’t see it falling.


You broke us.


We were too reckless with our hearts that summer
because all we wanted was to be held.


In our final phases
you promised me that things would stay the same.


I loved us chest to back.
When I was ironing your shirt
Or leaning against the dusty car.


I loved my arms around your neck
Front to back
and back to chest.


Sleeping in the bed where we never made love
on dark days
your leg hooked around my waste.


I am yearning.


6 hours with you, and my bones are falling apart.
6 hours with you and my eyes are electronic.


Nobody else feels the same to me.


I am bursting from my joints.
I can feel my muscles shake.


The string that connected our souls has snapped.
And all I can do is run my fingers through the
air that was once you.


Michelle Dominique divides her time between Chicago and Northern Virginia. She lives to write. Read more of Michelle’s poetry.



published by this zine
August 9, 2009

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August 9, 2009

The Philosopher’s Daughter – New Fiction by Lisa Fu

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The Philosopher’s Daughter
by Lisa Fu


This story deals with very sensitive subject matter and is not intended for immature readers or reader under 18.


Photo: Paweł Strykowski

Photo: Paweł Strykowski

My name is Chloe. Brown eyes, two of them, long dark hair, a reddish
mouth, both hands, about 5’4”, you know all that. Thin and pale.


His name is John. He was a hands-off sort of parent, didn’t really
look into our lives too much or baby us. We had no mother to speak of;
she left us when we were just babies. He was always a young father,
hurrying in and out of the apartments we lived in, always going
somewhere, chain-smoking, or writing, sometimes stopping to give us a
kiss or two, or play a game of chess. Only I never really knew how to
play, and he was impatient with lack of skill like that, inability on
the part of anyone, even a child, his own. He explained and tried to
teach me, but I never quite got it, never learned.


Continue reading The Philosopher’s Daughter.


August 7, 2009

Updates & updates

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So, silly me, I allowed a friend to borrow my digital camera this weekend without uploading my poetry postcard photos first! So no visual updates on the poetry postcard until after Tuesday. I’m disappointed because there’s some fun stuff traveling my way through the postal service — I received two more today.


I’ve also been flooded with numerous submissions to the this zine mailbox and I desperately want to read and post many of them. I’m excited to share the great work I’ve been receiving.


I also have hopes of creating a submissions page that’s easier to read and adding to our links and tapping into the wide network of amazing zines and sites that exist on there. I’d like to get more international submissions — so if you know a talented writer abroad, send them to this and encourage her to submit!


August 6, 2009

Write Away #16

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Write a story of at least 500 words without using the word “the.”


What is Write Away?

August 5, 2009

Poetry Postcard

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I’ve received more poetry postcards from the August 2009 Poetry Postcard.


This first postcard was sent on a blank index card, so the front contains no image.



Butterfly Love
David, you were a moth —
Dark & direct, flying helplessly,
surprised you had wings.
Laughing too easily:
deep, dimp, crooked teeth
wide, sweaty forehead,
small, squinty, smiling eyes
watching me
As you bumbled.

I had to smash you–
I was a butterfly
Pure & pretty (careless)

Why am I stained red?
I didn’t want you
to want me
You are a moth, dark
& dirty.
But I am no longer a


I love the graphic on the front of this next postcard. There’s also great formatting on the back, where the poem is written. Very fun!



Crossing Canal
I visited students at a grammar school on Baxtar St., they’d be meeting me at the Whitney the following week, a chance to get to know one another, a chance to think about art.
We looked at abstract paintings of NYC, pop art and minimalist sculpture.
Sometimes They giggled, sometimes their heads
tilted to help along new thoughts.
They raised their hands, spoke up, listened to each other, got past being shy.
But when I put up the slide of
Edward Hopper’s wife, naked,
looking out her window onto the day
Blue sky didn’t matter.
Neither did why artists pay attention to light
by eyes turned down,
32 tiny hands in unison covered the windows
of their souls.
I quickly put on
a Georgia O’Keefe flower
and we carried on,
pondering why
she made things big.
~Lynne Shapiro


Finally, here’s what I sent out recently. The idea for the poem came to me after a two hour blackout at work one afternoon, effectively shutting down everything, though we were expected to continue working. Hard to do without electricity and with the reliance on computers!


Darkness bursts unexpectedly,
breaking like thunder
with a sudden roar
of silence.

And the shiver of fear
at the blackness,
the monsters that prey
from the shadows.
~Lacey Dunham


I received two more postcards in the mail yesterday, plus my own that I’ve sent out. I’ll include those in another update!


August 5, 2009

Write Away #15

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Water Raining

    Water astonishing and difficult altogether makes a

  • meadow and a stroke.

~Gertrude Stein


What is Write Away?

August 1, 2009

Write Away #14

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Write a story or poem set during a war and written from the perspective of a dog. Do not mention that you are a dog.


What is Write Away?