Issue 134

The whole week seems to turn
around the axis of Sunday afternoon—
to pause even as it rushes 
forward into tarnished hours—

-From "Sunday Afternoon" by Priscilla Frake

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Contributors: S.M. Ellis, Allen Forrest, Priscilla Frake, Bob Gilliland, Joddy Murray, Julie Wittes Schlack, T.A. Stanley, Rachel Welch

Issue 134 Contributors

Bob Gilliland
Bob Gilliland is a corporate America refugee who now works as a Circulation Assistant in a small public library. When not lost in the stacks he can be found reading, tending to his elderly dog, and collecting vintage vinyl records. His short story "Too Much Schlitz" was chosen by the Chattanooga Pulse for inclusion in their "Best Short-Short Stories of 2014" issue.

Julie Wittes Schlack
Julie Wittes Schlack writes essays, short stories, and articles for the business press. Her essays regularly appear in Cognoscenti, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Shenandoah, Writer’s Chronicle, The Louisville Review,  Eleven Eleven, Ninth Letter, and Tampa Review. Julie received her MFA from Lesley University’s low-residency program.

Allen Forrest
Born in Canada and bred in the U.S., Allen Forrest works in many mediums: oil painting, computer graphics, theater, digital music, film, and video. Allen studied acting at Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles, digital media in art and design at Bellevue College, receiving degrees in Web Multimedia Authoring and Digital Video Production. Forrest has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications: New Plains Review, Pilgrimage Press, The MacGuffin, Blotterature, Gargoyle Magazine, his paintings have been commissioned and are on display in the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection. Forrest's expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh creating emotion on canvas. 

Rachel Welch
Rachel Welch is currently a law student at Walter F. George School of Law. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Linguistics from Georgia Southern University. She has previously worked as a freelance writer and editor, and has recently had a short story featured in Five2One Literary Magazine.

T.A. Stanley
T.A. Stanley currently lives in New York City where she is attending NYU as a graduate student in the Draper Program for Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities and Social Thought. While that title is big and intimidating, she has chosen to focus on Gender Politics which is intimidating in a different way, but in some way more relatable. She received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and has yet to be published. She is currently working on a series of short fiction pieces that address the thin lines drawn between love and obsession and the violences attended to these emotions. She further wishes to investigate a gender binary which has resulted in the personal experience of physical and emotional violences inflicted against her and close friends as women. She uses magical and fantastic elements to illuminate the ways in which the lived experience of "womanhood" has made her feel through embodiments of these emotions in surreal acts and transformations. She works to encourage empowerment to the feminine and a resolution between the masculine and the feminine which does not result in violence against either male of female bodies in her work. 

Priscilla Frake
Priscilla Frake’s first full-length book of poetry, "Correspondence," was published in 2013 by Mutabilis Press. In 2012, she won the Lorene Pouncey Award at the Houston Poetry Fest and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in many journals including Nimrod, Atlanta Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The Midwest Quarterly.

S.M. Ellis
S.M. Ellis writes poems and lives in New York City.

Joddy Murray
Joddy Murray's work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 70 journals, including American Literary Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Bluestem, Carquinez Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Confrontation, DUCTS, Existere, Licking River, Meridian, Minetta Review, New Orleans Review, Pembroke Magazine, Stickman Review, Texas Review, and Wisconsin Review. He currently teaches writing and rhetoric at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wordsmith Interview - Robert McKean

Photo by Michael Bebabib
Robert McKean
Age: Old enough to know better
Location: Newton, Mass.
Education: BA/MA

The Writer

How long have you been writing?
Since 1970

Do you write full-time?
Every morning (6 or 7 to noon) that the world does not require my presence elsewhere.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
Winning a Mass. Artist’s Grant for my fiction (Mass. teems with writers, as you might imagine).

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Writing something good enough to show someone else.

The Work

“Mr. Mason’s Camera.” Story of an eleven-year-old boy who goes a long way to growing up on one particular summer day.

What inspired this "Mr. Mason's Camera?"
Mr. Mason’s camera is the movie camera I bought secondhand as a boy (a boy slightly older than Sandy). I still have it – the camera sits on my bookshelves and would still work, I imagine, if one could find a roll of 8mm film to fit over its sprockets. The camera caught my eye one day and, like a grain of sand in an oyster, around it began to accumulate the ingredients of a story.  

How long did it take you to complete this piece?
A couple of weeks for a workable draft, but then the manuscript went through numerous edits.

Tell us about another project you have published or are currently working on.
"Someone To Watch Over Me:" a novel of the 1937 Little Steel Strike in the steel industry. A project I have just begun.

What inspired this work?
I worked (summers) in a steel mill, my father worked all his life there, both my grandfathers worked there, even an aunt worked there during WWII. Pretty much everybody’s father worked there. Western Pennsylvania and its crockpot of nationalities are all I have ever written about.  I have a Gazatteer (as I call it) with a list of some 300-400 named characters and close to a  hundred business that populate my stories and novels. Fundamental to the story of Ganaego is the founding of that mill, the importation of thousands of laborers, the 1937 strike, and the ultimate shutdown in 1983.

The Methods

Where do you write? 
My home office on the third floor of our house – me and the birds.

What time of day or night makes you most productive as a writer?
Mornings.  By noon I’m brain dead.

How many drafts do you generally go through before you consider a piece to be complete?
Way too many, dozens.

What is your usual starting point for a piece?
Something gets it going, a camera, for instance, a fellow shopper in Trader’s Joe’s, a fragment of a dream, the detritus left over from a sleepless night (there are a lot of sleepless nights).  Once it starts, things begin adhering to the original idea as if it were a flannel board.  Long walks help to sort things out, also staring out the window, playing the piano (poorly).

How do you react to editorial rejections of your work?
Everything is personal, everything negative burns like hell.  Writers who pin up their rejections notices are, in my opinion, mad.

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
Well, one, don’t pin your rejection notes up around you; two, find someone you love and hold on to that person with all your might. You’re going to need help.

The Madness

What is your favorite book?
The single book I am permitted to carry off to my Elba would be my Pelican collection of Shakespeare (Penguin Books). This tattered volume has sat by my bed for decade after decade offering me its wisdom and joy.

Who is your favorite author?
See above.  Plus, the geniuses of the third-person, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Malcolm Lowery, and now Hilary Mantel.

If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
Falstaff. Maybe because Falstaff possesses more life than any person I have ever met.

What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
Losing confidence.

What’s in that cup on your desk?
Black tea (Assam, Darjeeling, Keemun) with powdered milk and honey. I know why you’re asking this: the beer stein I use for a teacup. But I can’t find a large cup that will keep my tea warm and that I can manage up the stairs without spilling.

How many of your character have you ended up killing off?
I remain continually and pleasantly surprised that my characters haven’t killed me off by now.

Cats or Dogs?
Cats, but dogs get on well with me.

Beer or Wine?
Wine, but prefer a dry martini straight up with a twist.

Pen or Pencil?
Fountain pens are a personal affectation.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

Issue 133

The moon called last night, 
three fifty-one a.m. Full
to the brim—she had to tell

- From "The Moon Called Last Night" by Ani Tuzman

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Issue 133 Contributors

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier
Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier is a photographer, writer and poet who loves finding the odd within the beautiful, the spark within the mundane and capturing the nightmare as well as the dream. Published internationally, regionally, as well as in heritage and military museums, she's been featured in Zen Dixie Magazine, Artemis Journal, Cactus Heart Press, Dactyl, Fine Flu Literary Journal, The Scarborough Big Art Book, Sand Canyon Review, The Notebook, Shadows and Light Anthology and Vagabonds Anthology to name a few of the creative places she dwells. Follow Karen @KBG_Tweets

James Seals
James Seals earned his MFA in Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University. His stories have been published in Amoskeag Journal, Forge Journal, Rio Grande Review and others. James also has published an essay and numerous poems. His stories "White, Like You" (’13) and an excerpt, "Turned His Eyes Away" ('14), from his masters’ thesis, American Value, won SNHU’s graduate writing contest. SNHU's MFA faculty awarded James' masters' thesis the Lynn H. Safford Book Prize.

Samuel Vargo
Samuel Vargo has written poetry and short stories for print and online literary magazines, university journals and a few commercial magazines. Mr. Vargo worked most of his adult life as a newspaper reporter. He has a BA in Political Science and an MA in English (both degrees were awarded by Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, USA). Vargo was fiction editor of Pig Iron Press, Youngstown, Ohio, for 12 years. A book-length collection of Vargo's short stories, titled "Electric Onion Head and the Rotating Cyclops of the Month," was published by Literary Road and had a web presence for five years. 

Julie Wittes Schlack
Julie Wittes Schlack writes essays, short stories, and articles for the business press. Her essays regularly appear in Cognoscenti, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Shenandoah, Writer’s Chronicle, The Louisville Review,  Eleven Eleven, Ninth Letter, and Tampa Review. Julie received her MFA from Lesley University’s low-residency program.

Mitch Kellaway
Mitch Kellaway is a transgender writer and editor who currently contributes to The Advocate and the Lambda Literary Review. He earned a B.A. in Gender Studies from Harvard University. He has published (or has forthcoming) essays and articles in Original Plumbing, Cliterature, Outrider, Zeteo, and Jonathan. 

Karen Hildebrand
Karen Hildebrand’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in various journals, including Blue Earth Review, Blue Mesa Review, Fourteen Hills, A Gathering of the Tribes, great weather for MEDIA, G.W. Review, The Journal, Maintenant, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Nimrod International Journal, and Poet Lore. Her play, "The Old In and Out," cowritten with Madeline Artenberg and adapted from their poetry, was produced in New York City in June 2013. Karen has had two chapbooks published, "One Foot Out the Door" and "Final Shot at Love," and her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. 

Ani Tuzman
Ani Tuzman is a writing mentor at Dance of the Letters Writing Center that she founded in 1982 to help children, teens, and adults experience the joys of writing. Years earlier, before leaving city life, she also cofounded A Kangaroo’s Pouch (El Buche del Canguro), a bilingual and multicultural school in the Boston area. Ani’s work has been published in CALYX, Mothering, Tikkun, Sanctuary, Darshan, FamilyFun, and Body Mind Spirit, among other journals and magazines. Her writing is included in such anthologies as "Chicken Soup For The Mother & Daughter Soul," "Divine Mosaic," and MotherPoet. Her poetry is also featured on two CDs, "Spirals Of Light" and "Poetry and Chamber Music on Themes Of The Holocaust." She has received the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize for Poems on the Jewish Experience and the Peter K. Hixson Memorial Award for Creative Writers. 

Tennae Maki
Tennae Maki is a weekend writer that works for an architecture firm by day. She holds a Master's degree in Art History, where she studied architecture zines and urban planning. On a pro bono basis, she is also the audio archivist for a Brooklyn based arts radio station. Her work has been published in numerous print and digital literary journals, including; 491, Spillway, Eunoia Review, Futures Trading, The Bicycle Review, Lone Star Poetry Magazine, and Pure Francis. 

Issue 132

Whether or not you and your hubby
unraveled the secrets of the universe,
or were visited by celestial day-trippers - 
these assertions are irrelevant. 

- From "The Widow and the Scrivener" by Marie Lecrivain

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Contributors: Vincent Barry, Gwendolyn Edward, Marie Lecrivain, Robert McKean, Jay Merill, Katherine Minott, Ann Robinson, S.C. Sirleaf

High Quality Templates
Copyright © 2013 Crack The Spine.