Archive for September, 2011

Contest Winners!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Well, after a long summer of careful reading and discussion, we are excited to announce the winners of the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Prizes in Poetry and Prose! We had a goodly number of excellent submissions, so the winnowing process was tough. Many thanks to all who sent in poems, stories, and essays—and even more (multitudinous?) thanks to those who shelled out a bit extra for a subscription to the mag. Your varied offerings saw us through the three-week heat wave and the Cincinnati Reds’ slow fade.

With no further ado, we offer hearty congratulations to Tresha Faye Haefner for her poem “A Walk Through the Parking Lot at Midnight” and Elisabeth Cohen for her story “Mollusks and Optics.” Haefner and Cohen each will receive a $300 prize, and their pieces will appear in the May 2012 issue of The Cincinnati Review.


The judges—Don Bogen for poetry and Michael Griffith for prose—have also named the following honorable mentions, who came close:

Logan Adams
Jacob M. Appel
Douglas Boatman
Jeffrey Condran
Rebecca Foust
Christine Grimes
Becky Hagenston
Hairee Lee
Joan Leegant
Lori Martin
Lori McMullen
Andrew Peery
Paul Takeuchi
Joshua Van Dereck

The editors would like to thank Heather Hamilton, Don Peteroy, and Becky Adnot Haynes for their invaluable help with the judging.

Tune in next week for comments by the writers on their winning pieces and from the editors who chose them!

Game of the Month: The Result

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

So the result of the game of the month was (inhale, hold) . . . we stumped you. Verily, it is an arduous test, so we blame you not. However, two intrepid souls ventured outside the box (or test square, if you will) and came up with, er, not answers exactly, but augmentations that we judge deserving of recognition. If we were British aristocrats, we’d call them the wittiest japes of the season.

ASIDE: Actually, the staff suspects associate editor Matt McBride is a Brit hiding out at CR in an effort to escape his dark past. If you listen closely when he talks, his American accent is just a tad off.

Back to the contest participants: So . . . these two jackanapes get a prize. Please contact us via editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com to claim your slingpack, thermos, or issue.

Tune in tomorrow if you want to know who won this year’s Schiff Prizes in Poetry and Prose!

Online Submissions Open!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

We here at Cincinnati Review are pleased to announce that online submissions are now officially open and fully operational! That’s right, baby. You know that story you wrote about the disillusioned single mom who learns to love again when a traveling magician pulls a quarter from her ear and the cloud of bitterness from her heart? You can shoot it right to us, no post office or SASE involved. Or that poem you wrote about how you feel guilty when you don’t give money to the homeless guy outside of IGA, but how you also secretly suspect he’s not, like, “for real” homeless since he’s not there when it’s super hot out, which makes you suspect he has a place with a/c nearby, but then you also feel guilty because maybe you’re just projecting all that so you won’t feel guilty about looking at your feet when he sticks out that soggy cardboard sign that was clearly once a pizza box? Send us that poem too. Or whatever else you’ve been working on. For free. Right now. Click here: PRESTO.

Burning to Blog?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Think you’re special? Well, the odds are in your favor. But are you special in an “I make tiny replicas of the buildings in my hometown out of  dry bread and Vaseline” kind of way? Or more in an “I own every flesh-colored M.U.S.C.L.E. Men figurine” kind of way. Remember M.U.S.C.L.E Men? From the 80s? Well, even if you don’t, we still believe in you. That’s why we’re asking you to shoot us your best ideas for blog posts. If you’ve got a good idea for a post (or have a possible post already written) send it to our editors account: editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com, or simply comment on this post. If we like what you’ve got, we’ll host it on our blog. We would encourage you to look through our previous posts to see the kinds of things we blog about, but definitely feel free to deviate. We would, in fact, prefer it.

Accomplished Contributors

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

A slew of good news for our talented contributors!

Fellowship News:

Ari Banias (5.1) has been awarded a fellowship in poetry to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Sarah Rose Nordgren (6.1) will be a second-year fellow.

Laura Eve Engel (8.1) is the 2011-12 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist. (Read an appreciation of Engel’s poem  from issue 8.1 here.)

Dana Koster (7.1) and Mira Rosenthal (5.2) are Stegner Fellows in poetry this year. (Read an appreciation of Koster’s poem from Issue 7.1 and her description of that poem.)

Book News:

Stephen Haven (5.1) won the 2010 American Poetry Prize from New American Press for his book The Last Sacred Place in North America, chosen by T. R. Hummer.

Ted Sanders (5.2) won the Bakeless Literary Publication Prize for fiction for his novel, No Animals We Could Name.

Jane Springer (3.2, 6.2) won the 2011 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books for her book Murder Ballad. The title poem (a Pushcart Prize winner!) appeared in Issue 6.2, and you can read an interview with Jane here.

Chase Twichell (6.2) won the Balcones Poetry Prize for her book Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been (Copper Canyon Press).

Congratulations to all!

Game of the Month: Editing Test

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Here at CR we have an arduous training process for our new volunteers. We ask them to perform feats of physical strength and stamina, like doing sprints with heavy stacks of the current issue on their heads and standing atop a teeny platform for a really, really long time (the latter we stole from Survivor, but we think it’s important for our purposes, too). After that we test their balance and reflexes by having them walk a nine-foot-high balance beam while dodging banana peels and sandwich crusts left over from our lunches.

After they’re sufficiently covered in residual banana goo, we ask them to do still more rigorous things like opening the mail, juggling information within our various databases, and of course, processing submissions. They also participate in meetings about editing, production, marketing, and advanced paper-cut avoidance.

If they make it that far, we ask them to take our editing test, so they can judge their aptitudes for things like spelling, grammar, and judicious rephrasing. And now, readers, we’re inviting you to join the fun! (Balance beam excluded.)  Take a gander at a small portion of our test below and correct the punctuation and grammar problems. The first five people to answer all correctly will get to choose a prize (free issue, free thermos, or free slingback—all emblazoned with CR’s handsome logo).

Submit your answers via comment by next Wednesday, September 28. We’ll close the contest either on that date or upon receiving five sets of correct answers. To comment, just click on the post title above.

One more thing: We think your editing skills should come from within—sort of like the samurai spirit in martial arts movies—so we ask that you take the test without consulting the Internet. (Besides, do you want to find out how good your editing skills are, or do you want to spend the next hour scouring grammar message boards? Hmm? Hmm?)

Editing Test

Correct the punctuation and grammar problems in the following sentences.  Note that some sentences may be correct (we’re tricky like that).

  1. Tamar had grown up on a little, native, banana plantation.
  2. Jeff wasn’t feeling well so he went home and laid down.
  3. The situation is grim but, if we are prepared to act promptly, there is still one chance for escape.
  4. The gates swung apart, the bridge fell, the portcullis was drawn up.
  5. He is one of the ablest scientists who has attacked this problem.
  6. Among the five Gerry Bryant is the candidate, whom we hope will win.
  7. The ranger offered Shirley and him advice on several campsites.
  8. Surely, you’ve heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones’s?”

Peteroy’s Irrelevant Questions for Relevant Writers

Monday, September 19th, 2011

A few months ago, CR staff member Don Peteroy announced he was going to conduct an interviewing experiment.  His idea was to contact writers he admires (he is an intrepid, yea tireless, journal reader) and ask them each an absurd (yea, downright  ridiculous) question—a question designed to throw said writer off balance and elicit an unrehearsed, fresh (yea, sometimes silly) response. The results were crazy good fun, and in support of that spirit—as well as in support of writing and writers everywhere (not just in our pages)—we asked Don’s permission to post these questions and answers on CR’s blog. I mean, any clown can ask an author what writers influenced him/her, but only Don Peteroy would ask something like “If you were an item on the McDonald’s value menu, which one would you be and why?” And so, here is the first installment of Don Peteroy’s Irrelevant Questions for Relevant Writers.

Valerie Fioravanti’s linked story collection, Garbage Night at the Opera, won the 2011 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from BkMk Press. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including North American Review and Cimarron Review. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy to research her novel, Bel Casino. She lives in Sacramento, where she teaches private workshops from her home and runs the Stories on Stage reading series.

Question: Let’s say the ghost of Herman Melville appears in your bedroom. You’re completely sober and sane, by the way. He tells you that you must write Moby Dick II: It Lives, or else he will haunt your family for ten generations. Everyone in your family will go nuts. He also tells you that the book will ruin your career. What are you going to do?

VF: I’d say, “I would prefer not to,” of course. He deserves to be on the receiving end of that line, don’t you think? After that, I’d just tell him to bring it. I’m an Italian girl from Brooklyn, and ghosts wouldn’t exactly faze my family. They’d just commiserate with him about how much I hate being told what to do, and make room. That’s apartment life—there’s not space enough for everyone to go to private corners where stuff festers. You learn to confront your demons, living or dead, and find a way to coexist.

Besides, Moby Dick already has a sequel. It’s Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body. I’d read Hank some gorgeous bone passages, point out how homosexuality no longer needs to be a latent theme, and encourage him to rest easy in his afterlife. Art is legacy. It’s Ahab and his whale-sized obsession. Career is the middle-aged guy with the stressball, and who willingly chooses him? If Melville still needed placating (’cause really, what’s with all the threats?), I’d mention how “Bartleby the Scrivener” made my throat constrict from claustrophobia, and how much I loved Benjamin Britten’s all-male opera Billy Budd. Second generation innovation. The guy with the stressball can’t touch that.

Mary Hamilton is a writer and optician living in Los Angeles. Her debut book, We Know What We Are, was released last year from Rose Metal Press.

Question: If a star vanished from the night sky every time you used a verb, would you continue to write? If yes, explain why.

MH: To be a total nerd about this, the truth is a star “disappears” at least every day. Such is the way of the universe. But, if it was really up to me, like, if it was my fault, well, yes, I would use one verb a day. Just to keep the balance going. I think I would feel important, having such responsibility. Of course, what calamity if, one day, my verb makes our sun disappear. That would suck. But, such is the way of the universe.

Bonus Material: Pierce, Chitwood, Cohen

Friday, September 16th, 2011

In their waxing and waning, seasons are like radio signals, and as we climbed toward our McMicken Hall office this morning, the forty-nine-degree air was a cold static on our naked forearms, calves, and flip-floppeted feet. People smug in their jeans and windbreakers were giving us impertinent looks. Once inside, we ransacked the CR’s desk drawers and file cabinets, hoping for a left-behind sweatshirt nothing had nested in, but unfortunately all the left-behind sweatshirts had been nested in—by mice, spiders, Lit PhDs, etc.

Then we turned up these three comments from contributors talking about poems in the current issue, and though we didn’t feel any less underdressed, we realized there are other ways of making do when the temp. starts to drop for good.

Catherine Pierce: When I was younger, I spent many long summer days imagining the life I would someday live. Those daydreams were often the best parts of my days, because the experiences I imagined having were, I was sure, much richer and more exotic than anything I could experience at home (I will be a world traveler and learn seven languages! No, I will live in a cabin without electricity and spend my days hiking unforgiving terrain! No, I will somehow develop artistic talent and be a painter!). There’s a particular rush that accompanies this type of wide-open-future imagining, and in “Dear Self I Might Have Been” I wanted to explore what might happen if that rush of almost, of will be, of soon, were pursued obsessively and indefinitely.

Michael Chitwood: I went to a scout camp on a small lake for several summers as a kid. During the day, the dock area was all shout and shove, splash and knock; the oars thunking in the oar locks. It was good ruckus. But I would wander back to the dock in the late evening when all the gear had been stowed. It was quiet, but you could still feel the potential energy of the place. The memory of that was how the poem got started, and, as with many of my poems, I had no idea where it would go from there. “At the Dock at Dusk” was a surprise for me. I consider it as a good sign when language takes its own turn.

Bruce Cohen: For what seemed like a hundred years, going to the beach was work: eagle-eyeing my three boys to make sure nobody drowned, or consumed too much sand, or stood too close to the edge of the gangplank of breakers, or sliced their feet on barnacles, or buried each other alive. . . . Of course, in this exhausting chaos of my own ineptitude I couldn’t be too concerned with the way they disrupted the enjoyment of other families. On those days, all I ever daydreamed about was one relaxing afternoon where I could simply read and snooze and not be bothered. And that, in fact, happened: All of a sudden the boys were grown and had no interest in going to the beach with us, but I found myself watching strangers’ children, walking out to the breakers myself, contemplating the large issues of life, death, generational disappointments, evolution—what is, in fact, missing from our lives. And in composing “Beach Day,” I know I was thinking about that Philip Larkin poem about going to the beach, and that resigned sadness and sense of loss and never-coming-back seemed to infiltrate my poem as well.

Monster Mags of the Midwest, Part II

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Get ready, ’cause we’re gearing up for a second installment of Monster Mags of the Midwest at this year’s AWP conference in Chicago. That’s right. Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, and Ninth Letter are once again teaming up to deliver what will be, in all likelihood, the most awesomely monstrous reading ever. Because if there’s one thing the Midwest is known for, aside from antiunion legislation, it’s first-rate literary publishing. Our lineup includes some of the finest poetasters and fictionauts to have graced our collective pages. Please come see Mary Biddinger, Brock Clarke, Matthew Gavin Frank, Michael Robins, Laura Van den Berg, and Keith Lee Morris on Wednesday, February 29 at Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 North Sheffield, located directly across the street from Wrigley Field (and the Harry Caray statue). Oh, and did we mention that this evening of entertainment would be . . . FREE. Really, the only thing that could make it even cooler is your presence, so pencil it in to your calendars now and plan to arrive at the conference in time to attend this hotly anticipated (by us, anyway) event!