It’s been quite a burst of publishing and production news from our students and alums this week…but the thing is, it’s not an unusual week for the students and alums of the Hottest MFA. It’s part of what we advocate: getting your work out there, selling it, producing it, making a career out of your writing.
Anna Hozian topped the Blacklist this week, for her script “Someday, Ohio.”
Gail Mackenzie-Smith is a quarter finalist for the Page International Screenwriting Award for her script “VIDOCQ: The First Detective.”
Liska Jacobs, on Jean Rhys and this life we live, in the current issue of The Hairpin:
I have a work friend who goes to see her mother a lot. This mother lives somewhere in Illinois and refuses to get on a plane. She is only 55, but already she doesn’t like to go outside. My friend saves her vacation time to fly home. Her mother is scared of everything: she is afraid of the bus driver and will not ride public transit, she fears the mailman, her second ex-husband, her first husband’s ghost, the dentist, and especially the mall. My friend took two weeks off last Christmas to help her mother move into an apartment. She came back thinner and nervous about everything. Her mother had sold her car and refused to drive. When my friend asked how she planned to get to the grocery store, to work, to the doctors. Her mother replied, hesitant: “I don’t know.”
American poetry has a rich tradition of taking on important political and social events. The 99 poems in this diverse and dynamic new collection edited by Dean Rader demonstrate how engagement with what Wallace Stevens called “the actual world” does not diminish poetry’s punch—rather it makes it hit harder. These are poems of anger, love, protest, humor, contemplation, hope, frustration, and beauty. These are poems of and for the real America.
Lizi Gilad Silver writes a letter to the poet Hoa Nguyen, in The Volta:
Dear Hoa Nguyen,
Life is strange. A few years ago I did not know your name, and then I knew your name but had not read your work, and then I purchased a book of your poems but it troubled me and I struggled with it. And then something happened, what happened, not only did I know your name but your name I called teacher, and your work I called teacher, and I returned again and again to spend time inside your poems. Your poems which continue to trouble me and struggle me, but which also light up my mind and language and sound in ways I’ve come to need.
Kimbel Westerson went on an amazing journey…and was surprised by how the news of it was greeted, in the latest Role Reboot:
During the months of preparation, as I announced my plans to friends, I was surprised by the responses, mostly from women my own 40-ish age. These were women for whom the heavy lifting had already been done: Bras burned. The Pill readily available, covered by most health insurance plans, and condoms on the shelves of Target and Walmart. Roe v. Wade decided. The closet door on sexuality creaking open. The board room door opened, too—even though the glass ceiling was under construction. These women grew up with Title 9, a rainbow of multi-colored ribbons representative of hitherto neglected groups. Nine to Five gave way to Working Girl. Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde.
Yet for every Erin Brockovich there was still a Pretty Woman, I suppose. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard the responses.
Sami Jankins examines what happens when life becomes unstable, for you and your parents, in HemAware:
There is a little voice inside each of us that repeats: “Are you really sure you want to do this?” And there is a feeling deep inside our guts that provides a familiar sensation when something is off. Sometimes we listen to these signals and intuitive feelings, and sometimes we shut them down. I stopped listening to my little voice for a long time. Any red flag I saw I stuffed firmly back where it came from until I couldn’t do it anymore.
When I heard the garage door opening mid-day, mid-week, in early December, I knew something wasn’t right. My dad never got home from work early. My dad didn’t even come home from work remotely “on time.” As a child, I remember crying because I hardly saw my dad. When I went to school, my dad was still asleep, and by the time he got home, I was already in bed. He worked six days a week during my childhood years. We sometimes joked that when he finally had time for me, I would’ve already followed his workaholic footsteps, so I would be too busy. That’s why I knew when my dad was home during the day, things were not good.
Eileen Shields walks in Hemingway’s steps…and in the echo of his shotgun, in the Rumpus:
The most famous celebrity in Ketchum is a dead man. His grizzled mug gazes out at you from signposts and store windows all over town. The elementary school is named for him, as are a half-dozen other small businesses and parks. He is buried in the local cemetery. Still, it was ten years before I realized Ernest Hemingway and I were neighbors.
Cynthia Romanowski takes a look at linked short story collections in LitCentral: OC:
The best story cycles are those that create a sense of overall development that rivals the feeling of closure that we’d typically associate with the end of a novel. Usually this sense of development grows out of the author’s ability to create meaningful links that create a feeling of unity within a collection. There are several different elements that authors can use to unify a collection and I like to think of them as falling into two separate categories.
First are the more major unifying factors, the story elements that do the heavy lifting as far as linking stories within a collection. These include: place/setting, reoccurring characters, structure, POV, and reoccurring plot points or events.
Then there are other, more minor unifying elements. These are the types of things that you can find in just about every short story collection, whether it’s heavily linked or not. These include mood, theme, tone, symbols, imagery, and topic.
Carol Damgen stars in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Other Desert Cities:
Family members with very different political views and a long-held secret are the focus of the play “Other Desert Cities,” opening at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as part of Redlands Theatre Festival’s repertory season. Ron Adams of Highland directs the play. A Hollywood star’s Palm Springs estate is glowing with Christmas cheer in Jon Robin Baitz’s award-winning play. But home for the holidays is daughter Brooke, a novelist whose tell-all memoir is about to rip apart an already politically and personally divided family. A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama, “Other Desert Cities” balances comedy and drama with wit and insight, focusing not only on family relationships but the relationships one has with society at large.
Mickey Birnbaum’s BACKYARD concludes an acclaimed run at the Echo Theater…here’s a great review:
Mickey Birnbaum, one of LA’s most gifted playwrights, returns with the stunningly brilliant and hilarious tale of teenage backyard wrestling in the wasteland of San Diego’s border suburbs. Birnbaum’s gift for dialogue and unsentimental character portrayal is on full display here, as he dissects with great humor and insight the lives of a family of lost souls. Adolescent Chuck, played by the rising young stage star Ian Bamberg, who recently shone in the highly-acclaimed Fireman at the Echo, has dedicated his life to creating a Hollywood-esque epic in his backyard, focused around mortal combat. Along with his pal Ray, in an outstanding performance by newcomer Adan Rocha, Chuck plans to stage the epic battle with the help of his mother Carrie, in yet another fine appearance by Jacqueline Wright.
Yoga has taught me how to savor the moments, how to get into my body and be unabashedly myself. Because for me, the practice is about learning how to live most fully. To love myself without condition, whether I “do yoga” or not. If I run or not. If am skinny or not. And I am learning to take those lessons beyond the scope of the yoga mat. Because it’s there, in the daily moments, the moments that matter, the moments I am there for, the moments I am alive and a part of the world and connected to the people in it, that the real yoga happens.