November 27, 2020 § 2 Comments
Two Zoom readings and six amazing readers coming up next week as we continue our launch activities for the newly-released The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction. We are excited about early praise for the book, grateful to everyone who has ordered the book, and thrilled to hear from those of you who plan to give the book a test run in your writing classes next semester.
Oh, did we mention the New York Times review? Here’s an excerpt:
The immersive effect of reading this anthology straight through is the opposite of a flash experience, and is also lovely, like rolling down a sidewalk of lit windows… So much beauty, so much grief — the whole range of experience flashing by, leaving impressions as it passes.
We blush. But the credit goes to the remarkable authors who have sent us so much marvelous, powerful work over the past two decades. For instance:
On Tuesday, Dec. 1st, at 7 pm EST, the Literati Bookstore of Ann Arbor will host a reading featuring Amy E. Butcher, essayist and the author of the forthcoming Mothertrucker (Little A/Topple Books, 2022), also in development by Emmy-winning Jill Soloway and actress Julianne Moore for film; Matthew Gavin Frank, author of The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food, Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, Pot Farm, and other wonderful books; and Diane Seuss, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Guggenheim fellow, and author most recently of Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl.
You can read more about the Literati event and join the Zoom Reading and discussion here.
And on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 pm EST, McNally Jackson Booksellers of NYC will host a Best of Brevity reading and discussion with Rajpreet Heir, whose work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, and elsewhere; Torrey Peters, author of the novel Detransition, Baby, which will be published by One World in January of 2021, as well as the novellas Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker; and Kristen Radtke, author of the graphic nonfiction book Imagine Wanting Only This (2017), and the forthcoming books Seek You: Essays on American Loneliness (2021), for which she received a 2019 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, and Terrible Men, a graphic novel, all from Pantheon.
You can read more about the McNally Jackson event and join the Zoom Reading and discussion here.
Best of Brevity co-editors Zoë Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore will be part of the discussion at both events.
The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction is now shipping from warehouses across the country and available at your local independent bookstore through curbside service or distanced browsing.
June 24, 2020 § 4 Comments
The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction launches in November 2020, featuring 84 of the best-loved and most memorable reader favorites from our first 20 years, collected in print for the first time. The collected memoirs, narratives, lyric essays, braided essays, hermit crabs, and hybrids offer an unparalleled diversity of style, form, and perspective for those interested in reading, writing, or teaching the flash nonfiction form.
Preordering begins in mid-August, but you can have a sneak preview now by watching the book trailer posted by the brilliant publishers at Rose Metal Press.
Have a look, and in a few short months, have a book!
April 5, 2020 § 1 Comment
By Dinty W. Moore
Poems While You Wait, the Chicago-based collective of writers whose mission is to appear in public places — street festivals, museums, libraries, & theaters — with manual typewriters and bang out poetry on the spot, on any topic, brilliantly, is social-distancing like the rest of us. So that means “REMOTE-POEMING in the time of Pandemic.“
Poetry can save us, console us, amuse us, and lift our spirits in this difficult, housebound time, and it is all for a good cause, so order your poems now.
Here is how it works:
- Donate $5 to Rose Metal Press (a literary non-profit) via PayPal (use link, or just send to email@example.com through your PayPal account.)
- Email your poem topic (see note on topics below) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your PayPal receipt in the email body or as an attachment. The Poem folks will notify you when your topic has been distributed to one of the poets.
- Wait for your poem. (Poems While You Wait will email you a photograph of your hand-typed, one-of-a-kind, custom-made poem within 72 hours of confirmation.)
*** Note on topics: Give us as little or as much information as you think the poet needs. “Silver” is a wonderful topic, but expect a poem on either the color, the metal, the comic book superhero (Silver Surfer), a great-grandmother’s tea set, the tragic history of silver mining in the Colorado Rockies, or all of the above. If what you meant was something more specific (“A Silver Anniversary poem for my dearest husband Hank who invented the light bulb,” for example), you should include that extra information.
February 3, 2020 § 1 Comment
In anticipation of the Fall 2020 launch of our new anthology, The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction, with Rose Metal Press, we are working on a short book trailer highlighting the benefits of teaching Brevity. To this end, we would like to hear from those of you who use Brevity essays in your classroom and might be willing to speak briefly about what value Brevity has for you as a teacher and its impact on your students.
If you are planning to attend AWP 2020 in San Antonio next month and would be willing to sit for a two-minute interview on camera, please send a brief e-mail to email@example.com letting us know along with a sentence or two indicating what courses you use Brevity for and how you teach it in your classroom.
No head shots or acting resumes required.
Thanks so much,
Zoë Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore
December 20, 2019 § 6 Comments
By Sheila O’Connor
This is true: I didn’t know how to “classify” my hybrid book, Evidence of V. I knew I’d written a deeply researched book that made ample use of fact, of archival documents, and narrative nonfiction. I knew it was inspired by the factual truth of my maternal grandmother, a fifteen-year-old dancer who in 1935 was incarcerated for being pregnant with my mother. I knew the intention of the book was to illuminate this little-known U.S. history of imprisoning thousands of girls for immorality and incorrigibility in the first half of the last century.
But, I also knew it was a book that welcomed fiction. In brief, lyric flash pieces collaged between the research and the facts, I attempted to recreate the missing character of V, the talented young singer unjustly sent to the Minnesota Home School for Girls, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. My artistic impulse to imagine V to life through the act of fiction, grew out of my long-time writerly belief that imagination often yields a second kind of truth. An emotional, lived truth.
During the years I focused on writing Evidence of V, I didn’t consider what I’d call it, beyond “a hybrid text.” Instead I attempted to create a literary work that mirrored the negative space of absence—absent people, absent language, absent truth—and my own inability to piece together a cohesive narrative of my fractured history or family. As I’ve done with every project, published and unpublished, I allowed form to follow function regardless of the genre. Collage? Assemblage? Hybrid text? A Book-in-Pieces? A Lyric Puzzle? At different points in time, in conversations with editors and agents and fellow writing friends, I called it all those things.
Early readers called it a poetry collection, creative nonfiction, a lyric sequence, a book of flash. Later, in his generous description of the finished manuscript, the poet Ed Bok Lee calls it among other things a “police report, ethnographic study, noir screenplay, historical account, existential spreadsheet” and “several other forms that are uncategorizable.” For so long, its inability to be labeled energized me. The book’s nerve came in part from its refusal to conform, its mirroring of a family legacy of noncompliance.
And yet, when Rose Metal Press—a publisher committed to literary works that move beyond the traditional genres—prepared to launch it, a subtitle was requested and required. What to call this text so that readers, booksellers, reviewers, grants and contests have the ability to name it, to place it in a category? In my mind, the book was as much a work of nonfiction as fiction. As much poetry as prose. Settling on any of those designations risked narrowing the scope of what it truly was. And yet, how to be sure the book would be read from start to finish, not as a collection of disconnected, separate pieces, say a collection of poetry, or lyric essays, or flash (all of which it also was), but as a work with a forward moving-narrative trajectory that opened on page one? In addition, there was the question of invented texts which was completely clear to me: the intimate details of V’s young life had been imagined.
The need to classify Evidence of V felt fraught with narrowing, with a kind of genre compliance I’d resisted from the start, but eventually we settled on a subtitle: Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions. While it wasn’t without compromise, and perhaps not entirely accurate, in the end I’d advocated for calling it a novel, in transparent admission of all I had imagined, and in support of the way I wanted readers to enter and exit the book.
And perhaps more importantly, I considered it a statement on the truth and formal innovation I felt the novel form could hold. And yet the need to “genre” V immediately distanced it from discussions of poetry and nonfiction, despite the fact that pieces of the book have been published and recognized as both. And stranger still, most readers continue to refer to it as a work of nonfiction even with the designation of novel on the cover. As one reader recently told me: “I thought the facts were fiction. They were that impossible to believe.”
Evidence of V is only a single text, but it’s one in a line of published hybrid texts that resist classification. And what to do with these incorrigible texts? Is there a future where agents and publishers, bookstores and journals, grants and contests and residencies, and MFA programs across the country, recognize the validity of the hybrid? Is there a possibility that literary gatekeepers and genre zealots will invite these hybrid books into their company without saying all they’re not? All the ways hybrid texts have failed to conform. Is there a way we can resist the need for tidy genre classifications in our desire to keep things clean? Or at least work toward genre inclusivity as the hybrid text continues to claim its voice within the literary landscape?
In the case of Evidence of V, I made a choice to write a book that’s nonconforming, incorrigible, exactly like the girl for whom the book is named. Fortunately, the price I’ll pay for that decision is significantly less than the six-year punishment my grandmother endured for her refusal to conform. A book is just a book, but if Evidence of V has done its work, I have to hope it will find its willing readers, and maybe a literary gatekeeper or two, will open up the door.
Sheila O’Connor is the author of six books, including her most recent hybrid novel, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts and Fictions (Rose Metal Press). Inspired by her maternal grandmother’s incarceration as a pregnant fifteen-year-old in 1935, Evidence of V combines imagination and archival documents to shed light on the history of committing “immoral” girls. Sheila is a professor in the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University where she serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.
October 14, 2014 § 1 Comment
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 Form, Rose 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?
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.
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
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/
October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
November 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
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