My Very End of the Universe: Five Flash Novellas

October 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

MVEotU Final Cover (Low-Res)The flash movement has seen new and wonderful genres emerge, from micro-fiction to sudden fiction to flash fiction, from flash essay to flash memoir to flash nonfiction, from six-word memoirs to #cnftweets, and some of the best work, both defining the genres and providing brilliantly imagined examples, has come from Rose Metal Press.  This month, they introduce yet another genre, the novella in flash.

With My Very End of the Universe: Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the FormRose Metal Press celebrates, names, and defines the novella built of standalone flash pieces. The book includes novellas-in-flash by Tiff Holland, Meg Pokrass, Aaron Teel, Margaret Patton Chapman, and Chris Bower. Each novella-in-flash is accompanied by a craft essay by the author exploring how they came to use the form to tell their stories and how the genre works. Rose Metal Press editors Abigail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney open the collection with a genre-defining introduction.

To further investigate the unique characteristics of the novella-in-flash, the authors of My Very End of the Universe interviewed each other about their work, and Brevity will be running one of these interviews every Tuesday for the next few weeks.  Enjoy!

Today, Chris Bower Interviews Tiff Holland:

CB: I read an interesting review of your novella that was written by an Irish writer who had no idea what Central Texas looked like and she thought your stories didn’t really show her. It wasn’t a criticism because she went on to explain that so much of what happens here happens inside the house, inside stores, and a lot of time is spent inside the car, going place to place. How important was the setting of this story for you?

TH: I’m glad the Irish writer wasn’t disappointed that the novella didn’t have more of a Central Texas feel. She’s right in that the stories actually take place in cars, apartments, and stores. Still, there is a lot of Texas in the stories. The buzzards in “Barberton Mafia” both in their number and brazenness, are unlike anything I’ve encountered in other places I’ve lived, and I certainly can’t imagine a spontaneous prayer circle forming around my mother (or anyone else) in most parts of the country, certainly not in my hometown in Ohio. For me, the stories start when Betty takes the stage, when she gets in the car, talking about her pee-hole before she’s all the way in or butchers Shakespeare calling up to the narrator’s second floor bedroom window. So, I believe the stories would have been basically the same regardless of setting. They are set any time, any place within Betty’s gravitational pull.

CB: You write in your essay that Betty could be “difficult, demanding, and shinier than I liked.” Even with a character like Betty, who could have easily slipped into caricature, you are always able to find the humanity in her, even when she is being unpleasant. You also wrote in your essay that the opening story, “Dragon Lady,” was your road map for other Betty stories. Could you tell us more about her creation and evolution?

Tiff Holland

Tiff Holland

TH:  I had been writing “Betty” poems for years and realized that the character needed to be well defined and consistent if I wanted to possibly publish them in a collection, something I was just starting to consider when I wrote that piece.

As for her creation and evolution, Betty is very much based on my mother and I tried to be objective in “Dragon Lady.” I expected it to be merely a character sketch, but it ended up being a story, containing an arc that I hadn’t really recognized when I started writing. Betty then evolved as my relationship with my mother evolved. I always say that the birth of my daughter brought my mother and me together. However, I believe that writing these stories helped as well. I try to be an “objective observer” in my writing, to the point that I believe it can be a weakness and characters based on me can be as boring as oatmeal. I’ve learned to appreciate a little shine. I no longer balk at it. By the end of her life, my mother and I came to accept each other as we were. We appreciated each other, both our similarities and differences.

CB: I am fascinated with your evolution as a writer, from a poet to a writer of prose that still relies on your “poets eye” and attention to line.  Also, in some ways I prefer your use of the word “concentrate” to describe what came to be known as “flash.”  Do you feel like you have found a home here in this style and form of writing?

TH: Chris, I’m flattered that you find my evolution interesting. Really, it’s rather boring. I always wrote narrative poems. So, the line between genres was thin. As for “concentrate,” I could add water (words) to almost all of them and turn them into longer stories, novels, but I am partial to the line. I hate the idea of weakening something by adding words. If one hundred or five hundred words get the feeling across, why add more? I have faith my readers can connect the dots. My writing is not intended as instruction manuals but as art. Hopefully, it succeeds on that level. If not, then I’ll work on instruction manuals—I believe the pay is better.

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Tiff Holland’s Betty Superman is one of five novellas-in-flash forthcoming in My Very End of the Universe: Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form from Rose Metal Press. Betty Superman was also the winner of the Rose Metal Press Fifth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest in 2011.

 

Top 10 Reasons Why “Navigating Emptiness: Benefits and Drawbacks of Teaching the Lyric Essay” Was A Great Panel

March 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

dreamtigers_coverby Sally Ashton

10. Smart Women Panelists

The scheduled mixed-gender panel of four turned out to be three women, three very smart women well-suited to the discussion of the “lyric essay’s delight in gaps, association, and the unknown,” a panel who also presented effective teaching strategies. Panelists included moderator and editor of Rose Metal Press, Kathleen Rooney; Dr. Nicole Walker, Northern Arizona University; and Dr. Julie Paegle, Associate Professor of Poetry at California State University San Bernardino.

9. A Hot Topic

Lyric Essay. This brief form might be voted Most Popular AWP Concept 2014 if you take into account the number of panels devoted to any murky combination of short form considerations. I counted thirteen, though more might have been lurking behind cleverer titles.

8. Best Neologism to Replace Clunky “Cross-Genre-Hybrid-Form-Trans-Blended-Flash-Shorts-Lyric-Essay” Terminology

Thanks to Kathleen Rooney for introducing “Open Form Essay,” and for explaining how she arrived at a term whose definition enacts what it names. She says the term occurred to her after reading Naked Poetry, a 1969 anthology, Stephen Berg, ed.

7. Concrete Tips

See also: #2, Handouts.

6. Sample Assignments

Well-articulated assignments accompanied by either clear instructions or detailed handouts made this panel’s take-away value high. Assignments included “imitation” assignments from readings; working with the Petrarchan sonnet as an generating structure for a piece; and writing secrets, one true and one false that both appear to be true, to be redistributed and serve as a prompt for another student’s essay.

5. Cool Recommended Texts

The texts were chosen to serve in specific themed courses, but having titles listed in the syllabi helped me to better envision the connections each instructor was looking to make. Three books that I felt I would read anyway were A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)Tics, by C.A. Conrad; Dreamtigers, by Borges (I’ve read only selections); and The Noisy Egg, poetry by panelist Nicole Walker. The panelists did seem to be teaching the lyric essay in a cross-genre fashion for the most part, and this was reflected in their hybrid booklists.

4. Good Hybrid Form Apologists

I guess we’re always anxious to know the why of everything and this panel revealed a number of reasons why a hybrid approach is a good strategy for teaching grad and undergrad student writers. Panelists variously claimed that this mode was useful for grads to cross-fertilize their “home” genre, that a short form can serve more concisely as a teaching model for how to understand and manipulate a text, that the open form lends itself to manageable self-reflection, and that in certain student populations it can be empowering for students to realize they can use literary strategies to process trauma.

3. A Well-organized Presentation

At 9am on an AWP-Friday morning, clear and useful presentations full of ideas and hewing to time limitations that also allow ample time for Q&A makes you glad you answered the alarm instead of sleeping through it. Like you wanted to. They were a fast-paced, smart, and superbly prepared panel.

2. Helpful Handouts

You might feel like a shopper at a sale table when an AWP panel offers a handout. Mine! These Navigators offered three. I especially appreciated that at least one panelist brought an assistant to insure the sheets were evenly distributed and that there were enough handouts for the entire group. Except for the last handout that proved to be one short. Mine. However, these panelists offered to email material to those who missed (tip to future panelists: we are writers, after all. We will read and likely hoard the stuff). Handouts include complete course syllabi as well as lists of course texts and a couple of assignments.

And the TOP reason “Navigating Emptiness: Benefits and Drawbacks of Teaching the Lyric Essay” was so good:

1. Smart Women Panelists Who Said the Following Memorable Near-quotes

Nicole, in regards to instructing students, stressed that they need to “ground floating thoughts . . . Thoughts need an audience. (I tell them) your thoughts need to be seen as a character. Put yourself in a character on the page.” Kathleen, defending her term “Open Form Essay,” stressed the need to avoid designation that over-determines the writing before it’s written, but instead to “allow form to develop organically. To let content shape the piece.” Julie, in discussing the tension inherent in lyric’s epiphanic transport and narrative’s movement through time, said that the lyric essay can be thought of as “a time machine that renegotiates suspended time.” Besides being intelligent writers, they were friendly, engaged, and generous. Thank you, all.

Sally Ashton is Editor-in-Chief of DMQ Review (www.dmqreview.com), an online journal featuring poetry and art. She is the author of three poetry books, and she has just completed Behaviour of Clocks, a hybrid collection. Ashton teaches at San Jose State University and in Disquiet International Literary Program, Lisbon. http://disquietinternational.org/

Rose Metal Opportunities

October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our friends at Rose Metal Press announce a call for anthologies, craft guides, and brief prose chapbooks:

SPECIAL READING PERIOD FOR HYBRID-GENRE ANTHOLOGY PROPOSALS

Rose Metal Press announces a special reading period for pitches for creative, innovative, hybrid-focused anthologies, craft guides, or other types of multi-author projects. This reading period will run from October 15 to November 15, 2012, and have no reading fee. Please review our catalog and website to ensure that your proposal fits with our mission and focuses on hybrid work of some kind. Your proposal should be a full professional pitch including a description of the project, a list of potential contributors, your bio and qualifications to edit the book, the potential market for the book, and comparative titles already published. During the reading period, please email your pitch as a Word document or PDF to rosemetalpress@gmail.com.

ANNUAL SHORT SHORT CHAPBOOK CONTEST

Our Seventh Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest submission period begins November 1 and ends December 1, 2012. Our 2012 judge will be Deb Olin Unferth. The winner will have his/her chapbook published in summer 2013, with an introduction by the contest judge. During the submission period, please submit your 25–40 page double-spaced manuscript of short short stories (fiction or nonfiction) each under 1000 words to us through our Submittable page with a $10 reading fee. Individual pieces in your manuscript may have appeared in journals, both in print and online, as long as the entire collection itself is unpublished. Please do not send or email unsolicited manuscripts to the Press outside of the specified reading periods.

Field Guide to Flash Nonfiction

June 28, 2012 § 8 Comments

Here’s a sneak peek at the newest Brevity-related book project, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction, edited by Brevity founder and editor Dinty W. Moore. The book publishes in September and preorders will begin in August.

The new Field Guide contains craft essays on writing flash nonfiction from these esteemed writers, editors, and teachers in the nonfiction field:

Barrie Jean Borich, Jenny Boully, Norma Cantú, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Carol Guess, Jeff Gundy, Philip Graham, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, Judith Kitchen, Eric LeMay, Dinah Lenney, Bret Lott, Patrick Madden, Lee Martin, Maggie McKnight, Brenda Miller, Kyle Minor, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Anne Panning, Lia Purpura, Sue William Silverman, Jennifer Sinor, Peggy Shumaker, Ira Sukrungruang, and Nicole Walker.

Stay tuned!

Rose Metal’s Sixth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest

November 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Our good friends at Rose Metal Press are launching their Sixth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest. The submission period begins November 1 and ends December 1, 2011, so move quickly.

The 2011 judge will be Randall Brown, author of the award-winning flash fiction collection Mad to Live (Flume Press 2008) and founder of Matter Press, a community-based, non-profit literary press that publishes The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts.

The winner will have his/her chapbook published in summer 2012, with an introduction by the contest judge. The contest considers 25–40 page double-spaced manuscripts of short short stories (fiction or nonfiction) under 1000 words.  Individual pieces in your manuscript may have appeared in journals, both in print and online, as long as the entire collection itself is unpublished.

More details here:  Rose Metal’s Sixth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest

Rose Metal Press Looking for Hybrid Manuscripts

February 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

From the fine folks at RMP:

From February 15 through March 30, 2011, we will be actively seeking full-length hybrid and cross-genre manuscripts for consideration for publication in 2012. We are particularly interested in short short, flash, and micro-fiction; prose poetry, novels-in-verse or book-length linked narrative poems; flash nonfiction or book-length memoirs in shorts; and other literary works that move beyond traditional genres to find new forms of expression.  We welcome submissions in all styles and on all subjects, and encourage a broad and expansive interpretation of hybridity.

Please email your manuscript of 48 pages or more—double-spaced for prose, single-spaced for poetry (or both, if it’s mixed)—between February 15 and March 30 with a $10 reading fee paid via our website (the payment button will appear when the reading period opens). Please also include an acknowledgments page of where individual pieces have been published, if applicable, as well as a brief author biography. We welcome submissions from outside of the U.S. and Canada, and ask that interested submitters from outside the U.S. and Canada simply use the “Donate” button on the Support RMP page to pay their fee. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email us.

via Rose Metal Press Announces Its 2011 Open Reading Period for Full-length Hybrid Manuscripts!.

Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest

October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Those of you who write brief prose:

The Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest submission period begins October 15 and ends December 1, 2010. The 2010 judge will be Kim Chinquee.

During the submission period, email your 25–40 page double-spaced manuscript of short short stories under 1,000 words each to rosemetalpress@gmail.com either as Word docs or rtf files. Individual stories may have appeared in journals or anthologies, but collections as a whole must be previously unpublished. Please accompany your entry with the $10 reading fee, either via the payment button on the website or by check.

Writers of both fiction and nonfiction are encouraged to enter, and the contest is open to short shorts on all subjects and in all styles.  Previous contest winners include How Some People Like Their Eggs by Sean Lovelace (selected by Sherrie Flick) and We Know What We Are by Mary Hamilton (selected by Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore).

Winner and finalists will be announced by February 2011. The winning chapbook will be published in July 2011 in a limited edition of 300 copies, with an introduction by the contest judge.

More Information here: http://rosemetalpress.com/Submit/Submit.html

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