Wednesday, February 3, 2016

South 85 ISO Excellent Work!

We Want to See Your Work!

South 85 Journal is currently accepting poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art submissions through April 30, 2016 for our Spring / Summer 2016 issue.

For more information, check out our submission guidelines.  Or visit our Submittable page to submit now!

We look forward to hearing from you.

This call for submissions is from the journal that is edited by the smart and talented MFA students and grads in the Converse low-res MFA program. To read the most recent issue of the journal, go here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Guest in Progress: Ryan Krausmann on Writing Two Pages

One of the things I love most about teaching writing is hearing from former students and seeing what their writing life is like. Here’s a lovely piece by a student who was in one of my workshops at the Writer’s Center, back in the olden days, and what I love most about reading this is that it echoes  exactly what I like to say: It is NEVER too late to write. All you need to do is…start.

The Leather Journal
By Ryan Krausmann

My wife knows me to be a writer.  She knows I graduated from college with a degree in Creative Writing. She knows I took time off between jobs in my twenties to write a novel which was never published or workshopped.  She knows I talk about wanting to be a writer.  She just never saw me doing any writing in the three and half years we have been together. 

Maybe she wanted to change that.  For our one year anniversary in 2015, my wife got me a present – a small leather journal.  It’s a present many writers probably receive.  Leather journals are beautiful things when they are blank and my first irrational fear is that I would hate to fill it up with poor, meandering writing.

This pretty collection of paper forces you to write by hand.  After a few days of writing I decided on a pattern – every day I would write two pages on a different character.  As the days went on I freed myself from that initial irrational fear – dirtying a perfectly clean journal with my weakly written words.  An empty journal untouched in a closet is like a nice leather jacket – it is meant to be used and to be among the elements.

I didn’t write every single day.  I was able to get writing done on Saturdays and Sundays.  On weeknights, I sometimes got around to writing at night after work and while my wife was cooking dinner.  I’d go into the bedroom, get my pen and journal from my nightstand, come over to the couch or leather chair, and I dove right into it.  Let the words come out.

 What I have experienced in my life since the last time I did any writing several years earlier was being put into words – marriage, relationships, and being a man in his thirties.  Again, the only goal when I sat down to write was to complete two pages.  I liberated myself and my psyche by not producing writing that I would re-read or re-write, or at least not re-read or re-write immediately.  I wrote like some would walk around their neighborhood at sunset – solely for the brisk act itself, to collect and articulate thoughts, to be reflective, and to find joy in the simple act.  I spent some small amount of minutes of my day doing something I enjoyed - something I have always told myself and others that I enjoyed doing.  And then, I closed the journal, put the cap on the pen, and put the journal back on my nightstand.

I wrote from March 1, 2015 to the journal’s completion on January 23, 2016.  I plan to sit down soon and re-read it in its entirety.  Maybe with a glass of red wine in one hand.  The leather journal has a first draft of something in there.    

ABOUT: Ryan Krausmann and his wife live in Sausalito, California.  He graduated with a BA in English from the University of Central Florida in 2002. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Writing Conference in Portugal! Win a Scholarship!

Disquiet has extended the deadline for the 2016 Literary Prize by one more week. But why wait? Enter now to win publication, airfare, accommodation & tuition.

2016 Faculty & Guests include Denis Johnson, M.T. Anderson, Molly Antopol, Erica Dawson, Arthur Flowers, John Hennessy, Cyriaco Lopes, Maaza Mengiste, Sabina Murray, Padgett Powell, Catherine Tice (associate publisher, The New York Review of Books), Chanan Tigay, Katherine Vaz & Terri Witek. Portuguese writers include Teolinda Gersão, Susana Moreira MarquesJosé Luís Peixoto, Jacinto Lucas Pires, Patrícia Portela, Patrícia Reis, Gonçalo M. Tavares, and many more TBA.

You have one more week to enter The Disquiet Literary Prize for writing in any genre.

The top winners in each genre will be published: the fiction winner in Guernica, the nonfiction winner in, and the poetry winner in The Collagist.

The grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship including tuition, lodging, and a $1,000 travel stipend to Lisbon in 2016.

Runners-up and other outstanding entrants will receive financial aid.
Read the contest guidelines and enter here.

For more info on the program, see our website or write us

Lit Prize Contest now closes 11:59PM E.S.T. on February 7, 2016.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Upcoming Events!

Monday, February 8, 2016
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA
Merten Hall, Room 1203

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
6 pm – 7 pm
Towson University
Towson, MD
College of Liberal Arts building/CLA, Room 3150

Saturday, February 13, 2016
3:00 pm – 5 pm
St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub (in Del Ray)
2300 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA
Reading with the Neighborhood Prompt Group
The reading will feature work by Mary Daly, Nina Sichel, Charlotte Safavi, Joanne Lozar Glenn, Michelle Berberet, Mark Morrow, Grace Morsberger, and me. Each of the pieces was generated by a prompt and developed during a 15-minute writing session.

Valentine's Day Fast Approaches....

From one of my favorite literary magazines, The Sun:

Flowers wilt, chocolate is fattening, and lingerie is a gamble.

Why not share the gift of great writing with your beloved this Valentine’s Day?

In The Mysterious Life of the Heart, fifty writers explore the enigma of romantic love in personal essays, short stories, and poems that originally appeared in The Sun. With candor and humor, Cheryl Strayed, Poe Ballantine, Steve Almond, Sparrow, and many others lead us through ecstasy and heartbreak, anger and forgiveness, fleeting crushes and lasting relationships.

Order today to save 20 percent off the cover price and ensure delivery before Valentine’s Day. (Only $15!)

(Disclosure: One of my stories in included in this collection, “Ten Things,” which is the first story in THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review from The Potomac Journal: "A Really Impressive Piece of Work"

I’m very pleased to read this smart review of THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST in The Potomac Journal, a journal of poetry & politics. I’ve heard of writers who claim not to read their reviews—an impressive feat, if true—but I’m too nosy not to. Writing thoughtful reviews is hard work, and I appreciate when one hits the mark, as this one does. No, not just because the reviewer says nice things! But because the reviewer seemed to me to “get” what the book was trying to do and be, and that is always exciting for any writer, to feel the reader understands. 

Also, I will have to confess that I like this last paragraph a lot, even with its criticism:

This Angel on My Chest is a really impressive piece of work, viewing a core event as through a prism, an ingenious concept for a book and fully deserving of any prize out there that recognizes literary brilliance. If I have any criticism at all, it's that the book is a little too tour–de–force–y. Stories like "What I Could Buy" and "Chapter Ten: an Index of Food (Draft)" seem too clever, written in service of the general theme. If it weren't for the bedrock existential seriousness of the subject, one might accuse Pietrzyk of being too clever at times in trying to balance irony and sincerity. But in the end I think she pulls it off. This is serious work.

Read the rest here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reading in Baltimore!

Thursday, January 21at 7 PM
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Rd, Baltimore, Maryland 21209

Come hear DC writers David Ebenbach and Leslie Pietrzyk, and Baltimore writer Kathy Flann read from new books.

David’s newest book, his first full-length collection of poetry, We Were the People Who Moved, is “a journey across America…a journey you will be grateful for having taken” (poet Jesse Lee Kercheval), and “a post-modern ‘wagons west’ of dislocation, brief homesteading, and the threads of regeneration” (poet David Gewanter). Poet Kelly Cherry calls We Were the People Who Moved “a book of continual brilliance.”

Leslie's short fiction collection, This Angel on My Chest, won the Drue Heinz Prize at University of Pittsburgh Press. It's a collection of unconventionally linked stories, each about a different young woman whose husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Ranging from traditional stories to lists, a quiz, a YouTube link, and even a lecture about creative writing, the stories grasp to put into words the ways in which we all cope with unspeakable loss.

Kathy's collection of short stories, Get a Grip, all set in Baltimore, won the George Garrett Award at Texas Review Press. Writer Stephen O'Connor says, "In her smart and beautifully observed stories, Kathy Flann drops us straight into the complex lives of a collection of imperfect strivers, who want love, want to be good, or want somehow to transcend their makeshift existences, and who are often their own worst enemies. Each of these tales is simultaneously a portrait of its grim-funny, yet touching protagonist and of a land, very like the United States, where everything is possible, and nothing is quite what it should be."


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.