NER + NEA = More Support for Writers

Categories: News & Notes

NEA-logo-color-e1320093807889New England Review is delighted to announce that we’ve won the support of the National Endowment for the Arts for 2015 through an Art Works grant. In 2014 we were able to double our payment to writers for the print journal—the first increase in 20 years—and because of this grant we’ll be able to continue paying this higher rate through the next volume. But this year we’re going to do even better: beginning in 2015 we will pay contributors to NER Digital, our feature of original writing for the web. Up until now writers have been gracious enough to allow their work to be published there for the gift of a subscription to NER, but now we’ll be able to pay them an honorarium in cold hard cash as well. We’d like to thank associate editor J. M. Tyree for his dedication to the NER Digital project—for masterminding the idea and building it through its first years.

The NEA’s fellowships for writers, which in 2015 will be awarded to 36 poets, will honor a number of NER contributors. Congratulations to all who earned a place on the list this year, including Sean Hill (NER Digital), Eliot Khalil Wilson (29.4), Kerry James Evans (30.2), Anders Carlson-Wee (forthcoming, 36.1), Sara Eliza Johnson (29.4), Shara Lessley (33.1), and Melissa Range (34.1).

Charles Baxter Reads at Bread Loaf

Categories: Audio, Fiction

b695c060ada0e81deeecf110.L._V249535006_SL290_Charles Baxter is the author of, most recently, Gryphon: New and Selected Stories (Pantheon, 2011), and the forthcoming There’s Something I Want You to Do: a Decalogue, from which this audio is excerpted.

Baxter’s third novel, The Feast of Love (Pantheon, 2000), was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award and has been made into a film starring Morgan Freeman. He has also published essays on fiction collected in Burning Down the House (Graywolf Press, 2008) and The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot (Graywolf Press, 2007), and has edited several books of essays. Baxter’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, New York Review of Books, and Harper’s, among other journals and magazines. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories seven times, eleven times in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and translated into many languages.

All Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference readings are available on iTunesU. To hear more, please visit the Bread Loaf website.

Howard Altmann reads “Desert Sounds”

Categories: NER Community

Howard Altmann reads his poem “Desert Sounds” for Slate Magazine. The poem appears on their website in its written and audio form.

 

Howard Altmann’s poems “As a Light Snow Keeps Falling” and “Solitude” both appear in New England Review Volume 33, No. 3. A Montreal native, Altmann now lives in New York City.

 

2015 Pushcart Prize

Categories: News & Notes

2015CoverHomeCongratulations to all of this year’s Pushcart Prize winners. This year’s anthology has just been released, and we’re particularly pleased to note the inclusion of NER authors Tarfia Faizullah (“The Streetlamp Above Me Darkens“), as a recipient of the award, and Michael Coffey (NER 34.1), for special mention in fiction.

NER CLASSICS | First Encounters with the Elgin Marbles | Benjamin Robert Haydon

Categories: NER Classics

Parthenon_pediment_statuesI shall never forget the horses’ heads—the feet in the metopes! I felt as if a divine truth had blazed inwardly upon my mind and I knew that they would at last rouse the art of Europe from its slumber in the darkness.

These passages from Benjamin Robert Haydon’s 1853 Autobiography were published as a rediscovery in NER 19.3:

The first thing I fixed my eyes on was the wrist of a figure in one of the female groups, in which were visible, though in a feminine form, the radius and ulna. I was astonished, for I had never seen them hinted at in any female wrist in the antique. I darted my eye to the elbow, and saw the outer condyle visibly affecting the shape as in nature. I saw that the arm was in repose and the soft parts in relaxation. That combination of nature and idea which I had felt was so much wanting for high art was here displayed to mid-day conviction. My heart beat! If I had seen nothing else I had beheld sufficient to keep me to nature for the rest of my life. 

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New NER Digital from Matthew Lippman

Categories: Confluences, NER Digital

 

THE BIG BEAUTIFUL BARBEQUE THAT IS MANHOOD: Jay Nebel’s poem “Men” | Matthew Lippman

Jay Nebel drives a fruit-juice truck. I don’t even know what that means. He puts citrusy liquids in coolers and delivers them to places. I imagine restaurants, bodegas, supermarkets. He’s been driving this truck for years and writing poems for years and being a father and a good husband for years. I know this from his poems, from the way he talks with me about his struggle and joy, his forgiveness and his mercy. Today, I have this quiet image of him writing poems in the back of that van during his lunch break, the back doors open, his feet propped up on one of his coolers, the Portland rain laying its off-the-beat bounce for the noonday hour.

Jay Nebel is a man. Not a dude or a brother, though he is all of those things, but mostly, he is a man.

I have never met him but love him like a brother from the other coast. His poems speak to me in my own struggle with manliness-manhood. We eat the same produce, drink the same tonic, and attend barbeques with our boys. Whether these late afternoon happenings of beef and beer are his or mine does not matter. What matters is the struggle between poethood and manhood and how to find the balance, the comfort, in both, together, in an America that doesn’t give a shit about poets but loves a strong man. We want both—that tenderness and that fortitude—and work hard for both. Then, when the quiet moments come, we get to write our poems to show the world how and why our hearts bounce the way they bounce. It is because we are men.

When I came across Nebel’s poem “Men” sitting on my deck chair overlooking my tomato plant, grass, and grill, I was instantly transported to the party—hanging there with him and his fellas, whooping it up. There were no women and the dream of other women was everywhere. We were stupid for that, but that is what being a man is, perhaps, a married one, with kids, knowing deep into the “basalt cliffs” of my mind and heart that my wife is the only one in a world of many. Devotion, loyalty, and buckling down go a long way in my book; the barbeque in Nebel’s poem, the one in my mind, is always the loneliest place on the planet without the kids and the wife because it reminds us of what we were and what we are at the same time. The madness of a middle-aged man is trying to somersault back into boyhood knowing you will never actually get there. It’s a fragile tumble with a beer in one hand and a burger in the other, everything getting spilled, and broken, but that’s why we do it, the point, precisely.

And so as it is with Nebel it is with me—we’re “paper bag” men because we are paper thin and tough, simultaneously, writing our poems, paying the mortgage, worrying about the balance between loving and not loving, and wanting nothing more than for there to be only love—for the kids, for the women we share the world with—for that struggle. Whether it is in the dunes or the forest or the cockpit of the Apache helicopter, the steak on the grill is always ours—poet or banker or construction worker or gardener. It is what we know, as we stand in the hickory smoke with our tongs and spatula, working the T-bone, laughing away the insanity of our words knowing they are the best sustenance, invisible almost, and will keep us alive no matter how much potato salad gets in our eyes. Each night we wipe them clean, we take out the trash, we tell bedtime tales of goblins and rainbows to our children, we write our poems, and then we go upstairs to our women, stinky and greasy, and hold them soft and strong, hoping that this is enough, that we have done enough.

 

Men | Jay Nebel
Jay Nebel’s poem “Men” was originally published in Ploughshares Vol. 39, No. 1, edited by Major Jackson.

We’re in the middle of it, in the middle
of the backyard barbecuing steak
and chicken. Telling stories

with our wives and girlfriends away,
red and blue psychedelics, Coors Light
and breasts falling into our mouths again

like basalt cliffs into the sea.
Jeremy says, I did CPR on a gorilla once.
A girl gorilla, a big one.

I kept thinking, she’s going to wake up
and she’s going to fucking kill me.
But she just peed all over the floor

before dying on her back
in a room full of humans.
What do you think happens

to the male gorilla back in the cages
somewhere waiting for her?
Do they give him the news?

Slide her body into the cage
so he can smell her dead hand?
Zookeepers, Bill says. We should grow

mustaches. And we’re gone,
the Apache helicopter of our middle
age flying out over the dunes.

It’s not the gorilla that scares me.
It’s waking up alone. And I’m not a man
anymore but a paper bag someone’s blowing

into to keep from hyperventilating,
the camels long since sunk down
into their kneecaps, the sand everywhere.

 

Matthew Lippman’s three poetry collections are American Chew (Burnside Review Press, 2013), winner of the Burnside Review Book Prize; Monkey Bars (Typecast Publishing, 2010); and The New Year of Yellow (Sarabande Books, 2007), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize. He is the recipient of the 2014 Georgetown Review Magazine Prize and the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review. 

NER Digital is New England Review’s online project dedicated to original creative writing for the web. “Confluences” presents writers’ encounters with works of art such as books, plays, poems, films, paintings, sculptures, or buildings.  

 

 

 

New from NER 35.3 | Travels with Richard Tillinghast

Categories: Nonfiction

Eastward Bound, Across a Storied Landscape | Richard Tillinghast

[view as PDF]

Leaving Portland, with its microbreweries, Pacific Rim restaurants, lumberjack chic, and drive-through coffee stations, I drove east along the Columbia River Gorge on the first leg of a four-thousand-mile trip that would take me to northern Michigan and then down to South Carolina and Tennessee. The Gorge’s mist-wreathed granite cliffs, rising above the onrush of the Columbia River, look as though they could have been painted by a Chinese landscape artist from the Tang Dynasty. In late-afternoon light the stone takes on a purple glow. Taoist hermits might be meditating in caves up in those hills.

Above White Salmon, Washington, where I spent my first night, pioneer days had not, it seemed, entirely ended. As I drove up precipitous roads that reached up from the Columbia River to my nephew’s house, where I would spend the night, some of the hillsides had that desolate, shredded look that follows clear-cutting. One little house partway up, a shack really, was flanked on one side by a pile of rough-cut logs, each about the length of an American car from the fifties. It looked as though the householder had wrangled them there for sizing into smaller chunks as fuel was needed during the long winter. The month was May, but a cutting wind sliced across the steep hills. My nephew and I took his son, six years old, to his baseball game down in the town of White Salmon. The diamond, with its boys’ and girls’ coach-pitch three-inning game, and the pure Americanness of the scene, were thrown into perspective by the massive, timeless hills, verdant with the spring rains, towering above it.

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Richard Tillinghast is the author of twelve books of poetry and four of creative nonfiction. His Selected Poems came out from Dedalus Press in Ireland in 2009. He was a 2010-2011 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. His latest nonfiction book is An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul (Haus Publishing, 2012), which was published in the UK and nominated for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize. Tilinghast, who lived in Ireland for five years, returned to the States in 2011 and now divides his time between Sewanee, Tennessee and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Poetry from Brigit Pegeen Kelly in NER 35.3

Categories: Poetry

The Dragon | Brigit Pegeen Kelly

[view as PDF]  

The bees came out of the junipers, two small swarms
The size of melons; and golden, too, like melons,
They hung next to each other, at the height of a deer’s breast
Above the wet black compost. And because
The light was very bright it was hard to see them,
And harder still to see what hung between them.

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New Essay from Natasha Lvovich

Categories: Nonfiction

Sister in Russian, Cousin in English | Natasha Lvovich

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She is walking on Park Avenue, elegant and slim, irreproachably fashionable, drumming Sinatra’s “New York, New York” with her high heels. Her allure is businesslike and confident: she is focused on her destination, on the potholes in the asphalt, and on countless rushed yet important thoughts, while at the same time she talks into her phone. Only real Manhattanites, fortunate to have been born on this celebrated land—firmly grounded, perfectly well-oriented, perpetually overbooked, and multitasking with ease—move with such a gait. She murmurs into her phone in a language that has been for centuries, for millennia, for eternity, her own: “Honey, don’t wait for me, just order yourself some Chinese. I’ll be home in a little while. Yeah, I know, I know. I’ll get you some. Love you.”

The trace of a Russian accent is almost imperceptible. Thank goodness for those caramel English words, which make her a different person and a different mother than her own, less dramatic and less rough around the edges, with the sweetened texture of an American mom raised in an Upper West Side apartment. She looks at her watch; she checks her messages; she passes her hand over her platinum hair as if to make sure the makeover hasn’t melted away.

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Natasha Lvovich is a writer and scholar of bilingualism and of translingual literature—literature written in non-native language. Originally from Moscow, Russia, Lvovich teaches academic and creative writing at City University of New York. She is the author of a collection of autobiographical narratives, The Multilingual Self (Routledge, 1997). Her creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Life Writing, New Writing, Big.City.Lit, Post Road, Paradigm, Nashville Review, and Epiphany, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Poetry from Debora Greger in NER 35.3

Categories: Poetry

 

Head, Perhaps of an Angel | Debora Greger

limestone, with traces of polychromy, c. 1200

[view as PDF]  

Point Dume was the point,
he said, but we never came close,
no matter how far we walked the shale
broken from California.
Someone’s garden
had slipped, hanging itself by a vine
from the cliffs of some new Babylon
past Malibu.

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