Pantoum for the Rejected

June 10th, 2015

Nicola Mason: Threw this together in response to contributor Michael Robins’s wry Facebook post about summer rejection season. Sensitive subject for writers, and (I can attest) for editors too. In the next few weeks we will steadily work through the hundreds of submissions that built up during our reading period so we can start with a clean slate come fall and keep our response time from snowballing. Because summer is catch-up time for so many journals, writers who submit a lot often get inundated with rejections in a short span. It can be rough, but despite the seeming onslaught,  a “no” simply means your piece wasn’t right for a particular mag at a particular moment. We don’t enjoy rejecting work, but CR moves on, and hopefully so do all of you. In that spirit, I give you my (loose) Pantoum for the Rejected.

The term is over, the halls open.
I do not want to send you a rejection.
The grad staff is off for the summer,
scrabbling for work to make rent.

I do not want to send you a rejection.
The issue is nearly full, but unbalanced.
We like what you sent,
but we’re scrabbling for more creative nonfiction.

The issue is nearly full,
and still Submission Manager is a vasty deep.
We like what you sent
and wish for more pages, more funding.

Submission Manager is a vasty deep,
with life at different leagues.
I wish for more pages, more funding.
I do not want to send you a rejection.

Hitch in Our Giddyup

June 3rd, 2015

Giddyup_ButtercupDear contest types: We’ve run into an electronic snag re the payment process for the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards. In short, if you enter and pay, then return to Sumission Manager later to check on your entry, it will appear as though your payment did not go through. Rest assured, ALL IS WELL. You’re all paid up, and we’re diving into your poems, stories, essays. We’ve got people who’ve got people who are working to restore the communication line with Skipjack, which is ignoring us right now. But that’s our problem. Just alerting you so you do not pay twice. Repeat: DO NOT PAY TWICE! If you do, we can fix that too, but we’d rather save you—and ourselves—the trouble. Thanks for entering!  Exciting-looking submissions are rolling in. Remember you can enter multiple times (and receive multiple subscriptions), and we’re accepting work through July 15.

Let the Contest Commence!

June 1st, 2015

EnterToWinOur summer contest is officially open. Bring on your stories or essays about crazy uncles, camping trips gone bad, of conjoined twins marrying conjoined twins, about the takeover of talking oysters, the turncoat best friend or the boss from hell, the skeleton in the closet who starts dressing up and putting on skits. Send us your poems about prairie fires, annoying yacht salesmen, the ruminations of a slab of granite, about tides, wishes, crows, lutes, bridges, French tutors, nanotechnology, or any combination thereof. Which is our way of saying we’re open to everything—as long as your piece is well considered, fully imagined, and skillfully executed. Enter—as many times as you like—between now and midnight (eastern time) on July 15 using Submission Manager on our website. The fee for each entry is $20, and with each paid fee comes a year’s subscription. Multiple submissions means multiple subscriptions that are either yours to accrue or to give to a fellow lit lover.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable under the condition that you notify us if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. As the contest is judged blind, no contact information may appear anywhere on the manuscript file. Files that do include identifying information will be rejected unread, and entry fees will not be refunded (though you’ll still get your free subscription).

All entrants will be notified of the winners—who receive a thousand bucks each—on October 1, and an announcement will appear on our website and in the Winter 2016 issue. Winning entries will be published in the Summer 2016 issue, which comes out in May. Remember: Even if you don’t win, your piece could still be selected for publication. It happens a lot.

An important note for international entrants: Our payment gateway requires you to enter a US state or territory and zip code as part of your address. We suggest you use OH for the state and 45202 for the zip code. If you already have an account with us, you’ll need to change this information on your account page before submitting payment. After your payment has gone through, please change your address back, so that your free subscription will go to the right place.

If you have any questions about the contest or problems submitting and/or making payment, please email editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com, and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Robert and Adele Schiff Awards, 2015

May 22nd, 2015

moolah
Writers: Polish up your best poems, stories, and creative nonfiction, because we’re gearing up to read entries for the 2015 Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. One winning poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue. The entry fee of $20 includes a year-long subscription.

Submissions will be accepted from June 1 through July 15.

Please note that we consider only online submissions (through our Submission Manager).

Here’s all the official Schiff Awards information:

One winning poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue, and winning authors will receive $1,000 each. All entries will be considered for publication in The Cincinnati Review. (And yes, we occasionally publish work that does not officially win.)

RULES

Writers may submit up to 8 pages of poetry or 40 pages of prose (consisting of a single story, essay, or linked microfictions), per entry. Previously published manuscripts, including works that have appeared online (in any form), will not be considered. There are no restrictions as to form, style, or content. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable under the condition that you notify us if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

TO ENTER

Entry fee is $20, which includes a one-year subscription to The Cincinnati Review. All entries will receive equal consideration. And every time you enter, you receive a year’s subscription . . . so if you enter three times, you are a subscriber for three years, and so on. Note: You have the option of giving any of your subscriptions as gifts to delightfully lit-hungry significant others.

Entrants will be notified October 1 on our website, and the winning pieces will be published in the Summer 2016 issue.

That’s the basic stuff. We’ll send out another email with some particulars about setting up your entry in Submission Manager (e.g., there are some tricks for international entrants) next week.

Puzzle Solution

May 20th, 2015

solutionAll you crossworders who didn’t quite manage to fill in the blanks, click here for the solution to last week’s puzzle (created by fiction ed Michael Griffith). Congrats to Juliana Gray for getting us her completed grid in record time! Remember, there will be a real doozy of a crossword on the last page of our summer issue, due out in July.

Crossword Challenge Continued

May 14th, 2015

eveYep, the brain-tickling never ends here at Cincinnati Review. Today fiction editor Michael Griffith presents you puzzle-doing types with another upper-works workout. Click here for Eve’s Puzzle. Michael describes the difficulty as “moderate,” but we’re printing a real killer of a crossword on the last page of our summer issue (out in July).

As always, the first person to send a correctly completed grid to editors [at] cincinnatireview [dot] com receives a free issue (mailed to the person of his/her choice).

On an unrelated note: We’re gearing up for our summer contest. Look for details here next week!

Interview with Fiction Ed, Michael Griffith

May 7th, 2015

TrophyRead an interview with Michael Griffith, conducted by Superstition Review.

Return to Proof Mountain

April 29th, 2015

page mountainWe are in the thick of a thick stack of proofs for our upcoming summer issue—335 pages thick, to be precise. Yep, it’s our second long forms issue, and we aim to have it at the printer by mid-May. In other words, time is as short as the issue is long, and it doesn’t help that we keep lingering on arresting passage after passage, such as these lines from Brandon Amico’s “Book of Distances”:

 

Chapter eleven is ash, twelve wheezes out

of the book and accordions down the stairs,

thirteen is a map of my eyelid. The box

in the map’s corner shows one inch

to equal one year or one heartbreak,

whichever comes first.

 

Or these from Steve De Jarnatt’s “Harmony Arm”:

Ma let him in on some oddball Gunderson history. In the nineteenth century, half the clan had briefly given themselves over to an offshoot of the Charles Fourier Phalanx and run off to Utopia, Ohio. This collectivist movement believed that if humans could live together in peach for sixteen generations, a new appendage would evolve, a human tail called a Harmony Arm. It would be as powerful as an alligator’s, but supple as a cat’s. A sort of prehensile hand flexing at the tip—a huge thumb and two fingerish knobs with the retractable talons of an eagle. This reenvisioned noble ape in touch with his true nature would flourish, wielding the tail-arm as a labor aid, weapon, and even a source of sensual pleasure.

Look for more snippets in the weeks to come, and for a sneak peak at the cover, click here.

Vampires, the Interwebs, and the Voice of God: Sam Taylor on “#GodIs (2.0)”

April 21st, 2015

potluckIssue 11.2 begins with a raucous, sprawling, peripatetic feast of a poem that posits a contemporary definition of the Almighty: an omnipotent androgyne, both hilarious and terrifying, who “Says forgetabout in a New York accent,” “Reads self-help books,” and is most definitely “not going to attend your potluck.” Read on to discover the genesis of this expansive dialectic between maker and Maker, which includes a nod to the manic sixteenth-century author of Jubilate Agno, who was mistakenly confined in a mental asylum and eventually died in debtor’s prison.

Sam Taylor: I am a hardcore night owl—I jokingly call myself a vampire—and sometimes when I hit a particularly interesting flow of thought, I don’t go to sleep at all. I wrote what would become “#GodIs (2.0)” on one such night. I remember staying up all night writing and then going for a walk the next day with my friend, the poet Albert Goldbarth, in the groggy, altered state that skipping sleep often produces. While I knew I liked a lot of what I had written, I did not necessarily know if it was anything, or think of it as a poem, and I don’t think I even mentioned it to Albert.

mindbendingThe poem wears its writing process rather transparently, such that I feel a bit superfluous commenting on it. The writing began with the initial lines, with the thought of God getting reckless, revealing himself and her cosmic design rather directly in the infamous congressman’s name. But, it was really the voice, not the thought itself, that came alive there from the beginning. Once sprung, the voice surprised me with how much it had to say about everything.  I kept thinking it was done, kept beginning to write other things, only to have the voice start back up.

For me, it was exciting because it consolidated the mystical themes of my first book and the political themes of my second book, while wrapping both of them in a new voice.  I suppose the voice is part ecstatic and part ironic, part mystical and part outraged, part serious and part absurdist. It also discusses grand themes in an extremely casual vernacular that is irreverent and comic, but is not at all unserious.

The lines remained in my notebook for more than a year before I ever looked to do anything with them.  Initially, I thought that the poem would need to be trimmed and tamed more. I thought I might select the best lines and shape a more focused, compressed order. But the more I worked with it, the more I thought the poem’s essential life really lay in being a sprawling, wild ride of excess, something like Christopher Smart’s  “For I Will Consider My Cat, Jeoffry.” I kept cutting lines only to put them back in. Even the weaker lines that at first felt unimportant seemed to contribute to the larger pacing and rhythm of thought. So, in the end, the final poem is only slightly edited from the original writing. There are poems that take me years to write and others that arrive complete in a single day or in twenty minutes. This one took place in a few hours one night, but it took me years to know that.

Where the Heart Is: Davis, Kimbrell, Miller, and Vang

April 16th, 2015

cabinSara Watson: Since my MFA years at Chatham University, a program grounded in themes of nature and travel writing, I’ve developed a particular interest in poetry of place. So much of my own work looks inward, or, at its most ambitious, reaches out from my body toward another. I love it when other poets are able to look up, to look around, to record a world outside themselves. The contributors below have taken their inspiration from a number of locales, using place to investigate themes of home, family, history, and identity.

Susan Davis on “Bertie Mae”: The manuscript from which these poems have been taken is about houses and how people relate to them. How do they feel about the private and public parts, other people’s houses, empty houses telling wordless stories, ownership, centeredness, towns/villages/suburbs and cities, and how they shape the types of dwellings people call home? How did house-building develop in America? The “Bertie Mae” poems are specifically my mother’s stories, starting in 1921 on a farm, ending with a widow alone in a house filled with the memory of her husband. They are snapshots of her along that life path. Although the poems have an elegiac quality, she is very much alive at ninety-three, filling us all with admiration, and challenging me to think of how I will leave myself to my own children.

James Kimbrell on “Pluto’s Gate: Mississippi”: I ran across an article in 2013 about the discovery of an ancient cave opening in Hierapolis, Turkey, believed by archeologist Francesco D’Andria to be the famed gates of the underworld, replete with toxic mist capable of killing any animal that had the ill fortune to breathe there. We all have our own hells with their own gates. Naturally, I started thinking about my home state of Mississippi, and about how far the state—given its history of poverty and racism—has come, and how far it hasn’t. More than most poems I’ve written, I felt that this poem was out of my control, a feeling like being a ventriloquist’s dummy, my mouth getting worked by some unknown voice, both scary and one hell of a rush. In short, this poem is a love letter to Mississippi, and to my friends there, especially to poet C. Leigh McInnis, whom I’ve known since we were both teenagers in the Mississippi Army National Guard, writing poems on legal pads with our desk drawers open so that if anybody walked in our office, we could close the drawers in one quick motion and appear to be hard at work on matters of military readiness.

Wayne Miller: I wrote “Marriage” in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where my wife and two-year-old daughter had accompanied me for six months while I was teaching at Queen’s University on a Fulbright. We were living in faculty housing—a narrow, street-level apartment across from campus—and it poured freezing rain for the first three months we were there. Also important: My wife and I were in our eleventh year as a couple (and second year with a child)—a point in a relationship pretty much no one can imagine when they first get together. Probably because of the weather-induced confinement of those first three months, I kept dreaming myself into different, exotic locales, which was ironic since we’d just traveled all that way to be in Belfast—where, of course, I always woke to find myself. The way my mind kept reaching out and returning home—that lassoing—seemed to me a good description of how a relationship comes to operate ten (or more) years in. As soon as I found the rhyming form, the poem took off.

Mai Der Vang: “Cipher Song” emerged from my attempt to explore and reconcile the lack of an official literary history within my Hmong culture. It’s the idea of writing about not having writing. Yet how does one even begin to tackle such a daunting and elusive past? It’s overwhelming, to say the least, especially given that this history carries profound implications for a new generation of Hmong-American writers like myself, who are seeking to shape a literary identity. In this poem, I try to explore how something as simple as a jacket, along with other items of clothing, can have attached to it centuries of literary and historical documentation. As an oral culture, the Hmong fled southern China in the mid-1800s as a result of persecution, and many migrated into Laos along with other parts of Southeast Asia. Yet just before fleeing, the women secretly embroidered colorful symbols and patterns onto their clothes to represent what the Hmong had been through so they would not forget their history. Much of this traditional clothing is still worn today in our culture.

“Toward Home” is a poem in search of the idea of home, which, to me, is also the search for origin. I feel like I’m constantly digging toward the past, trying to find vestiges of my Hmong cultural history because so little of it was documented. While this poem does not explicitly take up that notion, it still tries to convey the sense of searching for something unexplainable only to be left feeling vulnerable. Craft-wise, I was obsessed at the time with pairing odd objects together, things that just didn’t make any sense. I seem to always be journeying backward, and so much of that internal process can be confusing and bewildering yet still lead to some bizarre and beautiful discoveries, like an oryx as a window, or a lighthouse inside a cave.