Archive for January, 2013

Staff Picks

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

We’re finalizing edits for Cincinnati Review 10.1, our Summer 2013 issue. CR editors were asked to write a little something about their favorite pieces. That’s good. It’s been difficult to contain our enthusiasm, and the strain has been affecting our work, health, and personal relationships. To start off, here’s Associate Editor Lisa Ampleman:

I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Don Bogen chose “Exoskeleton” by Rebecca Lehmann as the first poem to lead off the poetry in our upcoming issue. It’s a knockout. Lehmann uses the repetend (a term one of my MFA professors used for repeated elements in a poem) of “I wanted you like . . .” to create movement. It’s an anaphora that happens at the beginning of sentences instead of lines, and because of enjambments, the repetition is more sinuous than metronomic as our eyes ride through, waiting for the next comparison. And the variety of those similes is startling—the “I” wanted the “you” like Henry VIII, like the garbage can, like a slutty tank top. This is no ordinary poem of desire thwarted.

For me, the poem turns when the speaker acknowledges, “I wanted the idea of you,/ that’s true.” The rhetoric of the sentences shifts after that, after the speaker tells us what we may already know: Desire, particularly unrequited love, means being drawn to the idea of someone, the version of him/her we have in our mind, rather than the actual person.

Affected by Art: Conn, Cooley, Smith

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Our contributors are cultured folk: They like the 2005 Bordeaux and donkey cheese, and prefer Dvorak to One Direction—well, usually. We did accept a long poem composed of interlocking haiku singing the praises of the youthful Harry Styles‘s floppy hair, but apparently another journal had already taken it. The following contributors from Issue 9.2 are connoisseurs of art, especially the particular images that inspired their work:

Brian Conn (on his story “The Perfumer”): Last summer I had a residency at I-Park, in rural Connecticut. On the first night, very late, I started wandering around the place in the dark. I ended up in the library, where, in a dusty box in a kind of cubbyhole under the eaves, I discovered an old tourist guide to Hearst Castle. Lots of fading color photos of opulent rooms where it seemed like they must have just finished shooting a cigarette commercial. I spent many nights at I-Park sitting in my writing hut, paging through this guide by the light of a small desk lamp and then looking out at the New England night and thinking I saw will-o’-the-wisps in the forest.

“The Perfumer” is the result of those nights.

Jordan Smith (on his poem, “A Convent Garden, Brittany”): A couple of years ago, I had my first chance to visit Dublin, and in the National Gallery of Art, I was especially taken with the Irish realists of the early-twentieth century. I know you’re not really supposed to look at art this way, but each painting struck me as a scene from a novel, one of those tangled and perhaps over-subtle studies of leisure-class affections that Masterpiece Theatre might dramatize in a heartbeat. Since as far as I knew this book didn’t exist, I decided to write a set of poems outlining its plot, “Sketches for a Novel,” all in the same form and each starting with one of the paintings. “A Convent Garden, Brittany” is the last of the group, and is after William John Leech’s painting of the same title.

Peter Cooley (on his poem “Possible Body”): Probably “Possible Body” emerges from my writing of ekphrastic poems in the past few years on Rembrandt, Rodin and Michelangelo, a triple header I want to make into a book. I think, especially, the sculptors play a singular role in my poem for CR. I know I wanted to say something about the body by fracturing the text yet still maintaining coherence. I think, in all honesty, that the hurricanes in New Orleans in the past few years have done their part in my embracing discontinuity. My wife and I stayed through Katrina and just recently Isaac. But to read my Katrina story you will have to read my book Night Bus to the Afterlife, due out from Carnegie Mellon in 2013.

(Read an appreciation of Cooley’s poem here.)

Staff Spotlight: Becky Adnot-Haynes

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Hobart interviews associate editor Becky Adnot-Haynes, a talented and accomplished writer as well as a brilliant editor!

Monster Mags of the Midwest III

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

From deep in the mysterious recesses of the Heartland, from amidst the famed amber waves and corn-mazes, from sparkling river communities, from dingy diners & dives, from lakeside campuses and cities named for expensive, bubbly wine (but especially from dingy diners and dives), the Monster Mags of the Midwest have emerged, literary heroes, ready to save the day—or at least to proofread it. We’re airing out our post-it-note capes and Smyth-sewn spandex, polishing our utility belts (complete with pocket dictionaries, word-division booklets, and mechanical pencils), and preparing to fly to Boston in March for the AWP Conference.

CR has once again joined forces with Ninth Letter and Mid-American Review to bring you the coveted 3-for-1 subscription deal, so find us in the book fair. We’ll rescue you from the winter blahs with three magazines so full of monster talent they’re practically bursting their bindings.

And just so we kick off the conference right, we’ve planned an offsite reading on Wednesday, March 6, from 6-9 pm. Join us at the Back Bay Social Club, just steps from the convention center, to drink, to eat, to listen, to mingle. Stay tuned for our lineup of monster readers . . .

Why We Like It: “She Blinded Me with Molecular Nanotechnology”

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Of all our volunteers, Lisa Summe has the best collection of pants. She’ll tell you herself: she owns more than twenty pairs. What we haven’t yet shared on the blog is Lisa’s love of opening new batches of submissions. She gets crazy excited when she sees a big stack of envelopes and, when assigned mail duty, has been known to pump her fist and shout “Yessss!” Here are some other Lisa facts we’ve culled:

  • She slings Cincinnati-style chili to hungry customers, and always gives extra oyster crackers.
  • She’s a rabid fan of the San Francisco Giants, so October 2012 was a good month for her.
  • She likes to catch fish and then hold them, looking at them meditatively.
  • She is not Lisa M. Summe, MD, a local internist.

Though we won’t turn to Lisa to treat our gout or sinusitis, we do like to hear her insights about poetry while she sits in the office, tearing through manila mountains. We were recently treated to this off-the-cuff tribute to a poem from Issue 9.2:

Lisa Summe: What strikes me about Amorak Huey’s poem “She Blinded Me with Molecular Nanotechnology” is the way the poet relates the formulaic nature of the science with (arguably) the obvious nature of a failing marriage. What is the difference between science and marriage? Nothing, really. Both are predictable.

Despite the subject matter, Huey makes us laugh while giving us pause to think about the logistics of our own relationships. And, if your relationship is anything like that of the speaker, he’s breaking your heart, too: “We need a special microscope / to talk to each other anymore.” When the honeymoon phase is over, how do you deal with your lack of pleasure? Your boredom? Your realization that science knew the outcome before you did? There should be a formula for this.

Huey’s description, even of what is tiny, along with they way he combines jargon and colloquial rhythms, give this poem its push. Huey keeps it real; marriage doesn’t protect you from anything. It’s the vulnerability of this acknowledgment that is appealing to me.

(Read Huey’s explanation of the poem’s origins here.)

Game of the Month: Results

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Thanks to everyone who played our Game of the Month: Copyediting Extravaganza! A couple of you were oh so close to getting all of the answers right, but alas—the perfect score proved elusive.

For those of you who used to look forward to grading your own spelling quizzes (we admit it—we did), here’s the key:

1. B. Dilbert. Titles of regularly appearing comic strips are italicized.

2. True. According to Chicago, either version is okay.

3. C. “Fewer than 3 percent of the employees used public transportation” is accurate. Of course, not all numbers are treated the same as percentages.

4. Tooth-ache, cook-books, and commonly-held are incorrect (correct versions: toothache, cookbooks, commonly held).

5. False. Two spaces between sentences can create rivers in printed material. One space is correct.

Because there were several ties, we’ve decided to give all of our participants a prize! Please email us at and let us know your preference of thermos, slingpack, and back issue (due to an unfortunate storage-room flood we’re out of issue 2.2, but the rest are available).

For those of you who missed your chance: Tune in next month for another shot at some CR swag!

There’s Still Time!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Last chance, readers: Submit your answers to our Game of the Month by midnight tonight (Monday) for a chance to be one of five winners of thermos, slingpack, or back issue.

(The savvy test-takers among you may have noticed that there are some answers already posted, but beware. We’re not telling who—if anyone—is right.)

Game of the Month: Copyediting Extravaganza!

Friday, January 11th, 2013

It’s that time of the year: We’re copyediting like mad. Colored pencils are flying across pages. Brian’s downing thermosfuls of coffee. Becky’s chain-eating Laffy Taffy because the sugar and constant jaw movement “help her concentrate.” Nicola’s using her eraser so furiously that a small cloud of rubber-scented dust hangs above her desk. Lisa complains that her body is becoming withered and atrophied from lack of sunlight and exercise, but we’ve noticed that her forearm muscles are getting totally ripped from lifting The Chicago Manual of Style so many times.

In the midst of our copyediting blitz, we’re pausing to let you, readers, sample the process. Submit your answers to the Chicago-inspired quiz below by clicking on the post’s title. First five readers to get all of the answers right win their choice of free back issue or CR-branded thermos or slingpack.

In accordance with the 16th edition of the CMOS, answer the following questions.

1. Titles. Choose the correct version of the following sentence.

A. DILBERT is my favorite cartoon.
B. Dilbert is my favorite cartoon.
C. “Dilbert” is my favorite cartoon.
D. Dilbert is my favorite cartoon.

2. Time. True or false: In the following sentence, the a before quarter is optional.

He left the office at a quarter of four.

3. Numbers. How are percentages typically expressed in text (nontechnical)?

A. With both the number and the word percent spelled out: “Fewer than three percent of the employees used public transportation.”
B. With numerals and symbols: “Fewer than 3% of the employees used public transportation.”
C. With numerals and the word percent (spelled out): “Fewer than 3 percent of the employees used public transportation.”

4. Hyphens. Identify the incorrectly hyphenated words or phrases in the sentences below.

He suffered acutely from a tooth-ache.
Her career was a flash in the pan.
He had recently been diagnosed with type A diabetes.
She treasured her mother’s old cook-books.
It was a commonly-held belief.

5. Punctuation and Spacing. True or false: In typeset matter, two spaces should be used between sentences.

CR in Cambridge: Update!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Some weeks ago, we announced that the latest Greetings from Cincinnati Review event (Boston incarnation) was in the works. Poetry Editor Don Bogen has now hammered out the details:

WHEN: Monday, March 4, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Porter Square Books, Cambridge

READERS: Kathleen Aguero, Andrea Cohen, Martha Collins, Richard Hoffman, Pablo Medina, and Lloyd Schwartz

HOST: Don Bogen

Below we paste wee excerpts from poems (published in CR) by each reader.

Kathleen Aguero, “Belt”

How the strap loves the hardware,

the way its little mouth cinches the deal.
Andrea Cohen, “The Composer Must Have a Piano”

Even if its keys have been stolen.

Even if its pedals have been melted

with clarinets for munitions.

Martha Collins, “Earthscape” (with Pamela Alexander)

Two salmon on the beach, bones exposed, fat

crows, pebbles, all shining in the rain.

Richard Hoffman, “Cove”

Soft flesh in a broken

shell. Tangled rope.

Stones worn human.

Pablo Medina, “Speak Not of It to the Sober Ones”

The wine makes knowing clean. Like the white bird,

knowledge has no shadow, landing on the head

of the dead with a mouthful of blue tongue.
Lloyd Schwartz, “Cut-Up”

You said your nightmares make you afraid to sleep.

Or wake you up. You were in therapy. On heavy-duty

sleeping pills. Taking early retirement,

you bought a small condo near the prison: to make it

easier to visit. And easier to leave.

Stevens Winner on Staff

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Our amazing associate editor Lisa Ampleman heard over the break that her full-length poetry collection, Full Cry, has won the Stevens Manuscript Contest sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Today—our first day back in the office—Nicola brought in cupcakes to celebrate . . .  and to test the staff’s New Year’s resolutions. Lisa failed. Becky failed. Matt stayed strong. Linwood laughed uncomfortably and did not partake. Brian looked deeply into the cupcake’s eyes—or rather into the eyes of the cheerful plastic butterfly on top—and won the staring contest (who knew plastic could blink?). Nicola failed. Lisa Summe actually made a stop-and-come-no-closer gesture at the cupcake box. Michael hasn’t come in yet, but we predict he will fail times two. Don would fail but is in California, where (we speculate) many people are unaware cupcakes exist.

Coincidentally, our department is also home to last year’s Stevens winner—Jenn Habel (Good Reason). This year’s judge was Maggie Anderson. Look for Lisa’s book this June. . . .