This Week’s Tweeted Writing Prompts (October 12-18)

October 19, 2014 by

Each day, we tweet ways to help writers get out of their shell for the creative process. Follow us on twitter (@TSHighSociety) to be inspired daily, or subscribe to the blog to get a digest of the prompts every Sunday!

 Poetry

  • Sunday: Lists can be stressful or formative; what strange lists do you keep?
  • Monday: What smells are unique in memory or imagination?
  • Tuesday: Work on an Ekphrastic poem, like XJ Kennedy’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” based on the famous, yet originally “outrageous” impressionist/cubist painting by Marcel Duchamp.
  • Wednesday: Modernized persona poem from the point of view of Browning’s Last Duchess, if she survived.
  • Thursday: Write a poem that includes the words J-Pop, slink, and placemat.
  • Friday: Write a 30-line poem——then cut every 3rd line.
  • Saturday: Think of a phrase that haunts you. Repeat that phrase 5 times throughout. 20 lines. (Inspired by poet Cathy Smith Bowers)

Fiction

  • Sunday: 100 word flash story in 35 minutes. And….go!
  • Monday: Start with a cramped space and how it changes characters as they inhabit the setting: 500 words+
  • Tuesday: Write a short story that takes place in a single answering machine message.
  • Wednesday: Rewrite a tragic story as a comedy: 250 words.
  • Thursday: Write a dialogue in which a character is trying to convince herself not to do something, and then rewrite her convincing herself to do exactly that thing. 300 words each.
  • Friday: Detailed sketching. Look up, write down 5 specific details about the place you are in that make it utterly unique. Relate all of those items to a character, and create a conflict with one of them. 427 words.
  • Saturday: Write the paragraph /before/ a character finds a dead body. (prompt appropriated from John Gardner’s craft book, The Art of Fiction.
Turtle Power!

Sometimes starting writing can feel like this.

How did it go this week?  Which prompt was most generative?  We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments below.

Grand Prizes

October 16, 2014 by

Prizes. Honors. Awards. Writers don’t write to be acknowledged for their skill, originality, and talent, but no one would deny the warm and fuzzy feeling such acknowledgement provides, the validation that I am not only a writer, but a damn good one because look what I just won—the prize!

I avoid thinking about literary competition because I’ve always been uncomfortable with an “I’m in it to win” attitude. Sure, I’m in it for the long haul (is there another choice as a writer?), but to win? Every time I stare at a blank page I am playing against myself and that’s enough competition for me. Yet when I saw the short list in The New Yorker for the Man Booker Prize, I downloaded all the samples available on my nook, and as I began to read Karen Fowler’s, We Are All Totally Beside Ourselves, I thought: 1) This is fantastic. I need to buy this book. And then 2) Wouldn’t it be grand to win an award like the Man Booker Prize.

October is filled with the kind of grand literary competitions that can change the lives of the winners and nominees, and inspire those of us quietly working at our desks, in cafes, or wherever it is we write, to take a moment to imagine what it must be like to receive such accolades, until we lower our heads to the page again and keep writing.

Take a look below if you’re looking for a good book to read or just want to find out a little more about the prestigious literary awards in October.

The Nobel Prize in Literature:

  • Established 1901; awarded annually
  • An International award, all authors are welcome. Their body of work is considered, not just a single book.
  • Nominations are submitted by members of the Royal Swedish Academy, members of literature academies and societies, professors of literature and language, former Nobel literature laureates, and the presidents of writers’ organizations are all allowed to nominate a candidate
  • Candidates for the prize can only be revealed 50 years after their initial nomination. This year the candidates from 1964 should be made available.
  • The Award: a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a approximately $1,100,000.
  • 2014 Nobel Laureate: Patrick Modiano “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.

The Man Booker Prize

  • Established 1968; awarded annually
  • The objective is “to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.”
  • The Prize: £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a check for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book.
  • The Man Booker Prize, traditionally only open to citizens of the British Commonwealth and Ireland who published their book in the UK, as of 2014 has opened to “all novels written published in the English language.” Submission Rules.
  • The Shortlist: Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Howard Jacobson, J; Neel Mukherjee , The Lives of Others; Ali Smith, How to be Both
  • The Winner is: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

The National Book Award

  • Established in 1950; awarded annually
  • Four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature (all nominees announced in Oct)
  • For outstanding Literary work by U.S. citizens and published by an American publisher; “awards by writers to writers”;
  • Book is nominated by its publisher
  • The Prize: $10,000 ($1,000 to the finalists)
  • The Fiction Short List ; Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman; Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See; Phil Klay, Redeployment; Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven; Marilynne Robinson, Lila
  • Poetry Short List: Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night; Fanny Howe, Second Childhood; Maureen N. McLane, This Blue; Fred Moten, The Feel Trio; Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Winners: To be announced November 19, 2014

 

Unusual Calls for Submissions: October Edition

October 9, 2014 by

October is here, which means a number of your favorite lit mags have opened submissions for the spooky, the strange, and the downright pumpkin-spiced. Have a look at this month’s most unusual calls for submissions.

1. The Pinch “Feast or Famine” Audio Contest (prose, deadline unspecified): “For this contest, we are looking for audio prose pieces that are either fiction or creative nonfiction, and that somehow work with the theme of feast and/or famine. Pieces should be read and should not be longer than four minutes. The winner will receive a year’s subscription, three back issues of his or her choosing, and be immortalized on the Internets forever.”

2. 7×20 “Halloween Week” (fiction & poetry, deadline unspecified): “Fiction and poetry which fits in a tweet (140 characters or fewer). Literary and speculative work. We like haiku and get plenty of it. We like and don’t get enough American sentences, cinquains, gogyohka, senryu or prose poems. We also don’t get enough fiction.”

3. Masters Review “October Scarefest” (fiction, deadline October 15, $13 entry fee): “To put it simply, creep us out. Make our palms sweat. Scare us with the unsettling, the horrible, the surprising, and the terrible. Make the hair on the back of our necks stand up. We want to think twice before turning out the lights.”

4. Saraba “Survival” issue (all genres, deadline October 23): “A word from the 1590s, ‘survival’ implies the ‘act of surviving,’ of ‘continuation after some event.’ To ‘survive”’suggests to outlive, and to continue in existence after the death of another. From Latin supervivere, ‘live beyond, live longer than'; from super ‘over, beyond’ + vivere ‘to live.’ We expect submissions that respond to the possibilities of living beyond, in spite of, within.”

5. Bartleby Snopes “Everything October” issue (fiction, October 25): “We mean if it relates to October (Fall, October, Walpurgisnacht, Halloween), then we want to read it.”

6. The Golden Key “Things That Float” issue (fiction & poetry, deadline October 31): “We want things that are buoyant, things that are unmoored and drifting, things that rise up into the ether when their strings are cut. We want hot air balloons blown off course and helium balloons clutched tightly in hand. We want swimming lessons and messages in bottles. We want zero-g. Take us to Aoelia, Laputa, Perelandra. Give us sailing ships and airships and space ships. Make us feel weightless. Build castles in the air, leave us with the bends.”

7. Unlikely Story “The Journal of Unlikely Coulrophobia” (flash, deadline November 1): “Officially, Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns, but we don’t want to just just get rehashes of It. So the issue is open to anything involving clowns in some significant way. Think Stephen King’s Pennywise and Danny Kaye’s Jacamo in The Court Jester, think Sacred Clowns and Holy Fools. Horror, humor, existential angst, and tears of, we’re open to all that and more, in any combination. Heck, why not see how many different genres you can fit into a piece of flash fiction?”

Poetry Sounds: Charles Wright, “Together”

October 1, 2014 by

Poetry Sounds is a segment at Tate Street High Society that features poets reading their work aloud.

Charles Wright, selected earlier this summer as United States Poet Laureate, reads “Together” for an interview with PBS News Hour (2011).  This poem felt just right as summer draws to a close.

Of his poetry he says, “It’s been a way of sustaining my questions about life and mortality and all those things that we don’t like to talk about, but they’re always there, you know, knocking on the window.”

If you prefer, you can read along as you listen to Wright conveniently here.

 

National Poetry Month: Putting more Verse in the Universe!

April 11, 2014 by

Ah, April!  I imagine the origins of National Poetry Month stem from the hope that an abundance of poetry might encourage an early arrival of spring.  At our Co-Op in North Carolina, the doilied dogwoods, pink cherry trees, puffy bradford pears, and red tulips are blooming; the bright trumpets of daffodils have faded into their stalks, and azaleas are on the horizon.

Here are 10 ways we’ve decided to celebrate poetry this April, and we encourage you to do so too!

Poetry Month Revelry: Putting more “Verse” in the Universe!

And of course, you can always share this post, or email/comment love to the editors at Tate Street High Society!  What are you doing to celebrate poetry this April?

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Short Story Reverence: Nancy Reisman’s “Illumination”

January 24, 2014 by

Teaching short stories for the university setting is one of my favorite Lucia's Dress?aspects of my profession, and in preparation for this spring, I happened upon Nancy Reisman’s “Illumination.” Set in Buffalo, NY, 1933, what struck me about this piece is how the main character, Jo, is trapped by her body; trapped in a way that circuitously wraps itself into her actions and the way in which she sees her life through metaphor.  Reisman has a fantastic sense for creating tension with intimacy and distance; the writing, too, so closely knit, is difficult to cut even a  piece to examine without feeling uncomfortable.  Her first paragraph:

Lucia Mazzano is a loaf of bread.  Black hair pinned into a tight rosette, black lashes, olive neck, olive fingers, tapered, small, her dress a long flute, yellow of forsythia, yellow of butter.

“Illumination” was first published in Tin House, and can be found in The Best American Short Stories (2001), edited by Barbara Kingsolver.

Poetry Sounds: Robert Pinsky, “The Shirt”

July 28, 2013 by

Poetry Sounds is a new segment at Tate Street High Society that features poets reading aloud their work.  Sometimes, as readers, we forget that poetry is an intensely visceral form, one that began with ancient storytelling and song in which bards interpreted and communicated the  heroics of the time. Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky reminds us of the importance of listening to the genre of poetry in this fascinating interview with the Paris Review:

…the medium of poetry is the column of breath rising from the diaphragm to be shaped into meaning sounds inside the mouth. That is, poetry’s medium is the individual chest and throat and mouth of whoever undertakes to say the poem—a body, and not necessarily the body of the artist or an expert as in dance.

In homage, we’ll start with one of Pinsky’s  poems, “The Shirt,” in which the sound imagery and cadence underlie the power of the astounding narrative that he develops.

What are your favorite poems to read aloud?

Sophocles’ Antigone, Modernized

July 3, 2013 by

Burial at Thebes CoverSeamus Heaney brings his skill of translation to the ancient Greek tragedy, “Antigone,” first written by dramatist Sophocles in the 4th century BC.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 79 pages.

While Heaney’s “The Burial at Thebes” play translation was published in 2004, the crispness of the controlling pentameter he offers Creon and the lilting rhythm of Antigone borrowed from 18th century Irish lament Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire create a sense of modernity and honesty within the meter. Of the latter, Heaney says this:

I remembered the opening lines of Eihbhlin Dhubh NiChonaill’s lament, an outburst of grief and anger from a woman whose husband had been cut down and left bleeding on the roadside in County Cork, in much the same way as Polyneices was left outside the walls of Thebes, unburied, desecrated, picked by the crows.  But it was the drive and pitch of the Irish verse that clinched it: in the three-beat line of Eibhlin Dhubh’s keen I heard a note that the stricken Antigone might sound in the speedy haunted opening moment of the play…

And, with Seamus Heaney’s empathetic and technical brilliance, “The Burial at Thebes” maintains the honor and emotional tenor necessary to give voice to a young woman fighting for dignity of the dead, and the strained loneliness of a King trying desperately to hold on to power.

A cooling summer read for nostalgia, defiance, and historical significance.

Suddenly, A Review

May 3, 2013 by

KeretOn the surface, Etgar Keret’s stories aren’t so much stories as they are fabular anecdotes that unfold with the concision and wit of a fatally funny joke (many of the stories in his newest collection come in under two pages, many of them are as funny as they are bleak). What’s more, you might accuse Keret of gimmickry or occasionally preciousness—consider that there are stories in his latest collection, Suddenly, A Knock at the Door (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2012), in which an angel appears, a pet goldfish grants wishes, and an unrepentant killer is reincarnated as Winnie the Pooh (!)—but these recriminations miss much of the weird joy that Keret evokes here, and much of the sadness, too. These are finally stories about what it means to live in the world, to be compromised by it, and to be compromised by one’s own desires.

Chicago’s Poetry Whores

January 29, 2013 by

Yes, exactly.

According to Kathleen Rooney’s expose, “Pimp My Poem,” you can find poetry whores in Chicago.

What is the set up?  Here’s Rooney to set the mood:tattoo victorian

“You will enter a dim room appointed with fireplaces, silk tapestries, velvet banquettes, and damask wall hangings flecked with tiny mirrors and sequins. Every available surface will be either carved hardwood or plated with gold leaf. Because no self-respecting bordello would be caught without a piano player, there will be one, alternating his sets with DJs spinning the greatest hits of the 1890s and early 1900s.”

And, if you wear period–read: Victorian–clothing, you get in for only $5 (normally a $10 cover).

But, once you’re in, you can buy a chip that will give you access to a one-on-one poetry reading from one of the “troupe of acclaimed poets who provide visitors with the most unique and intimate poetry experience available in Chicago. (from the Chicago Poetry Bordello website).”

Rooney argues that the Brothel provides a service that fills a niche and a need for the literocrats of today’s society: “The poem you get for five dollars at the Poetry Brothel is literally more dear than the dozens you get for zero dollars at a regular reading because most people do not actually believe the best things in life are free.”

Does a payment, dim lighting, a slight buzz, and a costumed tempter/ temptress reshape the way we value poetry?  It’s an interesting question, and though the answer definitely is one of double entendre, the novelty and gumption of this tactic deserves wonder and admiration.

And…would you go, if you had the chance?


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