Essay Daily’s Advent Adventure

December 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

adventIf you haven’t yet discovered the Advent calendar of essays over at Essay Daily, let us be the first to show you the way.  Smart thinkers who write well explore various facet of the form, each and every day of Advent.

Our favorites so far:

Pam Houston extolling the virtues of Rick Reilly’s Sports Illustrated profile of O.J. Simpson, suspected murderer and golf addict.

Michael Martone’s experimental look at the fictive essay, Billy Pilgrim, and Vonnegut.

And Ander Monson’s Short Lessons in Hybridity.

Well that’s three out of four, and the fourth, from Phillip Lopate himself, is pretty nifty as well.  Bookmark the site — they’ll be adding new gifts every day for a few more weeks.

Exploring the Fringes of Nonfiction

March 2, 2013 § 5 Comments

blurring boundariesA guest post from B.J. Hollars, editor of Blurring the Boundaries: Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction:

One day I woke troubled by the hard fact about facts; that is, that their factuality is often in flux.  Sure, the world is round today, I reasoned, but hadn’t that observation once nearly cost Galileo his life?  And more recently (and perhaps more troubling to my own understanding of the universe): Wasn’t Pluto once a planetWhat the hell happened to Pluto anyway?

My heart broke further upon learning that not even photographs were as factual as I gave them credit for.  Take National Geographic’s 1982 cover photo—the one of the Pyramid’s of Giza—which, as a child, was solely responsible for hurling me headlong into my mummy phase.  Imagine my surprise when I learned, decades later, that those pyramids weren’t exactly as they appeared.  That those pyramids were, in fact, the victims of a digital alteration.  Apparently, an overzealous layout editor had crammed them tightly together so the photo could better fit the magazine’s frame.

If we can move an ancient pyramid with the click of a finger, I reasoned, who’s to say how far we’ll go?

As my grumbling grew louder, I began to realize that my frustration with facts was far less productive than my exploration of their unreliability.  And I figured if anything could put truth in a headlock and wrestle it into submission, it was the essay.  Not just any essay, mind you, but an essay that understood the value of the surprise attack, one willing to get the jump on truth by coming at it in a new way.

And so, weighing in at 268 pages, I humbly present to you Blurring the Boundaries: Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction—an anthology of genre-bending essays that (at least according to the back cover copy) continually toe the line between “truth and memory, honesty and artifice, facts and lies.”  Rather than whining ad nauseam about pyramids and Pluto, I asked 20 of today’s most renowned writers and teachers to help me put truth on trial by fiddling with form, fragmentation, structure, sequence, and all the other traditional conventions essay writers hold so dear.  I was seeking a new definition of nonfiction—or at least a renewed debate on the matter—and I was grateful for the legion of intrepid explorers who dared enter into the wilderness alongside me.  Writers like Marcia Aldrich, Monica Berlin, Eula Biss, Ryan Boudinot, Ashley Butler, Steven Church, Stuart Dybek, Beth Ann Fennelly, Robin Hemley, Naomi Kimbell, Kim Dana Kupperman, Paul Maliszewski, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Dinty W. Moore, Susan Neville, Brian Oliu, Lia Purpura, Wendy Rawlings and Ryan Van Meter.

Not only did they embark into this wilderness by offering their essays, but they even provided helpful maps in the form of mini-essays—each of which sought to give the reader new insight into the writer’s own explorations of genre.  Add to this pedagogically-practical and thematically-linked writing exercises, and readers now had a complete guidebook for this burgeoning terrain.

Taken together, these essays challenge and confound, but it’s my hope that they might also create a new space for the essay form, or at least encourage other writers to assist in mapping a landscape we know little about.

Who among us will put the pyramids back to scale or return Pluto to its planetary state?

Or more importantly, who will subvert what we think we know by showing us what we don’t?

The Essay Daily Advent Calendar

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

grain-sack-advent-calendar-terrainAnder Monson and the Essay Daily holiday elves are working hard to assemble an advent calendar (of sorts) over the next three weeks.  Here’s the announcement, and be sure to visit Essay Daily daily this month to read the results:

We’ve been on down time for a while but are going to be presenting posts, each day this December until Christmas … of essayists talking about an essay that they’re most excited about at present.

Authors to be presented include Amy Benson, Barrie Jean Borich, Simmons Buntin, Steven Church, Chris Cokinos, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Noam Dorr, Hannah Ensor, T. Fleischmann, Joshua Foster, Melissa Gutierrez, BJ Hollars, Julie Lauterbach-Colby, Allie Leach, David LeGault, Sean Lovelace, Brenda Miller, Ander Monson, Dinty W. Moore, Lisa O’Neill, Elena Passarello, Craig Reinbold, Morgan Sherburne, Jill Talbot, Nicole Walker, and Kirk Wisland. More to come—but in the meantime we’ll debut the first essay on 12/1.

We hope to also present excerpts or the entireties of the essays in question under the doctrine of some sort of rockin’ fair use.

Diagram Wants Unruly Beast Essays

October 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Things we like: essays.  Places we like: The journal Diagram.  Discuss:

DIAGRAM’s yearly Essay Contest encourages submissions of essays—essays in an expansive sense, meaning essay as experiment, essay as heterogenous and sometimes strange or unruly beast. The Essay Contest deadline for 2012 is October 31, 2012. This is the deadline for receipt of submissions.

We invite your submissions of unpublished (in a serial/book or on a non-personal website—blogs etc. are okay) essays. (“Unpublished” means you must be able to assign us first serial rights, if your work is selected.)

To enter: Get us your essay entry of up to 10,000 words with a $15 reading fee by Oct 31, 2011.

The prize is $1000 + publication. This contest is judged by Nicole Walker and Ander Monson. We’ll shoot for publishing several of our finalists with the winner in DIAGRAM, as we have the last few years.

FAQ stuff:

  • We prefer our entries electronic (if possible), with the manuscript itself anonymous. A removable cover page would be ideal if you send hardcopy. If you send electronically no cover page is necessary; just don’t put your name on the manuscript.
  • Anyone with more than a casual relationship with either of the judges is ineligible (though we’re happy to read your work via regular submissions). Sorry lovers, former lovers, friends, students, mentors, and so on.
  • Images are fine as long as you have or can get rights to print/reprint (or if they are in the public domain) if selected.
  • We don’t have any particular aesthetic biases for this contest other than the name: we are looking for works of nonfiction that essay interestingly–however you’d like to define. That’s a pretty open definition, we admit.
  • If you’re sending something multimedia sometimes it’s easier to send snail mail if the file is too big (or unwieldy). The submission manager system only accepts files less than 10 megabytes or so. (Remember when that was a crazy size for a file?)
  • Multiple submissions are fine. Simultaneous submissions are fine as long as you notify us as soon if an essay is no longer available. In which case, congratulations on getting it published! Then you can withdraw your submission manually from the submissions manager if you sent it electronically, or email us below.
  • We read everything for contests anonymously, ethically, and rigorously.
  • We expect to notify finalists and winners in February 2012 or before. Thanks for entering! And good luck. Questions can go to nmp–atsymbol–thediagram–dot–com.
  • Multiple authors are fine, if a little weird.

The Funky Defuncty Needs Your Work

October 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

The good folks at Defunct are looking for well-crafted essays, and they are looking for you to write them:
DEFUNCT publishes essays of 2000 words or less on everything that’s had its day.  We’re not a repository for nostalgia, but rather a glance over the collective shoulder at what’s gone by.  Sometimes the essays are elegiac, sometimes ironic, sometimes form-busting, sometimes traditional.
DEFUNCT  has received a good deal of attention over the past several years.  For instance, Ander Monson’s essay, “Long Live the Jart,” was named one of the Top 100 Journalistic pieces of 2010 by the Atlantic.  You can read it here:
We have consistently tried to publish the best work on Defunct-ness from around the world and have had many fine contributors, both well-known and emerging.  Among our contributors are Lia Purpura, Joe Wenderoth, David Shields, Dinty W. Moore, Paul Collins, Judith Kitchen, Sven Birkerts, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Ryan Van Meter, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Bonnie Rough, Ron Tanner, Sue Silverman, Jessica Handler, Alfred Corn, Sonya Huber, Margot Singer, Dinah Lenney, Kerry Howley, Lawrence Sutin, Joe Bonomo, Marion Winik, John Michael Rivera, Roxane Gay, Angelo Lacuesta, Inara Verzemnieks, Lisa Teasley, Kevin Haworth, Daniel Nester, and many others.
We’re currently a bit low on submissions and have had to delay the publication of our Autumn issue as a result, so we’d be grateful if you might consider submitting an essay to us.  If you’re unfamiliar with the journal, please take a look at it:  If you’ve submitted before and we’ve published you, please consider submitting again.  If you’ve submitted before and we were unable to use your essay, we apologize and hope you’ll try us again.

Submit here.


2012 Barthelme Short Prose Prize

July 24, 2012 § 1 Comment


Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the 2012 Barthelme Prize for Short Prose. The contest is open to pieces of prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-essays of 500 words or fewer. Established in 2008, the contest awards its winner $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will also appear in issue 25.2, due out in April 2013, and all entries will be considered for paid publication on our website.

This year’s contest will be judged by Ander Monson, the author of a number of paraphernalia, including a website, a decoder wheel, several chapbooks, as well as five books, most recently Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir (Graywolf Press, 2010) and The Available World (Sarabande Books, 2010). He lives in Tucson where he teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arizona and edits the journal DIAGRAM and the New Michigan Press.

Entries are due September 1, 2012. All entrants receive a free one-year subscription to Gulf Coast with their $17 entry fee.

Gulf Coast will accept submissions both via our online submissions manager and via postal mail.  Visit for more information, or to read last year’s winning pieces, chosen by Sarah Manguso. 


Brevity’s New Issue, New Look

May 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

We’ve launched our new issue, with our new web design and nifty functionality.  Also, sixteen sharp new flash essays, including work from Ander Monson, Patrick Rosal, Sean Prentiss, Jennifer Sinor, Gary Percesepe and a host of other fine writers.  The artwork for this issue comes from the enchanted pen of Marc Snyder.

We also have book reviews of Kelle Groome’s I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, Julie Marie Wade’s Small Fires, Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and Rosamond Bernier’s Some of My Lives.

In our Craft section, Tabitha Blankenbiller explores the difference between an MFA thesis and a book, Tarn Wilson explores the pitfalls of writing about family, and  Christin Geall interviews Kim Dana Kupperman.

Come and explore.

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