Faculty News & Newcity’s Summer Guide

In Faculty News: Please join the English Department in congratulating Kathleen Rooney for being named 2013 winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry for her novel-in-poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012).

A review in Booklist noted the following of Robinson Alone: “Rooney’s syncopated wordplay, supple musicality, and cinematic descriptions subtly embody… Robinson’s sardonic grace under pressure. An intricate, psychologically luminous homage, tale of American loneliness, and enthralling testament to poetry’s resonance.” Congrats, Prof. Rooney!

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Curbside Splendor Publishing is holding their second monthly Salon Splendor event tomorrow, Thursday, May 16th, at 7:30 p.m., and one of the evening’s featured readers is DePaul’s own Christine Sneed. The show will take place at Madame Zuzu’s, 582 Roger Williams Ave. in Highland Park.

The theme this month, Passages, will be taken on by authors Christine Sneed, Jac Jemc, and Scott Garson. The night will end with live music by house band Good Evening.

The series is confirmed through October, on the third Thursday of each month. Space is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. RSVP at sarah@madamezuzus.com.

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Next week, Newcity, Chicago’s free weekly alternative newspaper, is publishing their annual Summer Guide, and they’re looking for submissions. According to head editor Brian Hieggleke, “It’s one of the most free-wheeling issues we publish all year, on one of our favorite subjects, summer in (and around) the city.”

Newcity is looking for a wide range of meditations on the season, from the trenchant essay to the wistful memoir, from the dream state to the concrete. While they are not actively soliciting poetry, they’re not ruling it out, either.

They are also looking for learned and practical insights into summer (how to pack a proper picnic for Pritzker Pavilion, how to make the perfect summer cocktail, how to bbq on the lakefront), regional travel service pieces (what’s shakin’ at the House on the Rock? Is Detroit really the Chicago of the future?), and even itsy bitsy bon mots about a few of your favorite things about summer in Chicago. Please be specific in your pitch letter.

See summer.newcity.com for an archive of previous summer issues and see their guidelines page for more information. The deadline for copy for the Summer Guide is Saturday, May 18th, but sooner is better.

Printer’s Row Lit Fest Seeks Volunteers & A Reading by Mahmoud Saeed

Chicago Tribune’s annual Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest, drawing more than 125,000 book lovers and featuring over 250 authors and 150 booksellers, is approaching. Events will run all weekend on June 8th – 9th, 2013. The event’s success relies on over 200 volunteers and the organizers are looking for more help!

Benefits of being a Lit Fest Volunteer include free t-shirt, free lunch and rubbing elbows with authors such as Judy Blume, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, celebrity chef Rick Bayless and more.

The volunteer application can be found online at: http://trib.in/ZE9azZ. More information about this year’s presenters and other frequently asked questions can be found at: printersrowlitfest.org.

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The DePaul Humanities Center invites the DePaul community to attend a conversation with author Mahmoud Saeed and translator Kay Heikkenen about the just-released English translation of Saeed’s landmark Arab novel, Ben Barka Lane. Join them on Wednesday, May 22nd from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in room 400 of the Richardson Library (2350 N. Kenmore Avenue).

Saeed 05 22 13 libraryOriginally banned in Iraq, Ben Barka Lane was later presented with the Iraqi Ministry of Information Award.  It now appears for the first time in English translation.

In Ben Barka Lane we see the Morocco of the late 1960s through the eyes of a young political exile from Iraq—its beauty and misery, its unforgettable people. In this contemporary classic, Mahmoud Saeed offers us a unique portrait of a time and place, and a tale of the passion, politics, vengeance, and betrayal that take place there. “A landmark of the modern Arab novel,” in the words of one critic, Ben Barka Lane is now, at last, in English translation, as compelling today as when first published.

Sharqi, a political refugee from Iraq, comes to Morocco in 1964 and finds work as a high-school teacher in the small city of al-Mohammadiya. But Morocco proves no safe haven: the country is in political and social turmoil, as the state suppresses the recent leftist opposition led by Mahdi ben Barka. The opposition is scattered and the Hassan government is cracking down everywhere. Al-Mahdi himself has been forced to flee and has disappeared; rumor claims he has been killed in France. Sharqi just intends to keep his head down, and ride out the chaos. But he meets Habib, a friend and comrade of al-Mahdi, who, despite a severe heart condition, is considered a threat by the government. Habib is living in a kind of internal exile; his residence is now restricted by the government to this small town. Under these difficult circumstances, Sharqi and Habib form a close bond of friendship. But this brief respite ends with the appearance of Ruqayya, a beautiful young woman whose mysterious motives will divide them, and set off a chain of events and intrigue that no one could foresee.

Mahmoud Saeed, a prominent Iraqi novelist, has written more than 20 novels and short story collections. He was imprisoned several times and left Iraq in 1985 after the authorities banned the publication of some of his novels, including Ben Barka Lane (1970), which later won the Ministry of Information Award in 1994. He is an Arabic language instructor and author-in-residence at DePaul University in Chicago. He and his work have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Al Jazeera, and The New Yorker.

Kay Heikkinen received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and now teaches Arabic language at the University of Chicago. She is the translator of In the Time of Love by Naguib Mahfouz.

 

A Creative Writing Competition, Two Job Openings, & More!

Don’t forget, the Career Panel for English Students: How to Become a Publisher, featuring Albert DeGenova, Wendy McClure, and Doug Seibold, is happening TONIGHT at 6 p.m. in Arts & Letters Hall!

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Creative Writing Postcard_Page_1

The Union League Civic & Arts Foundation’s (CAF) 2013 Creative Writing Competition is now accepting submissions.

The competition is open to high school students (division 1), college students (division 2), graduate/postgraduate or young adults under the age of 30 (division 3).

This year CAF will award up to $13,000 in awards for excellence.  In addition to the substantial monetary prizes, this competition is a great opportunity for young writers to get their work noticed.  Past judges have included Golden Apple Recipients and published authors.  There is no application fee for participants.

Applicants can submit online at: civicandarts.org/index.php/arts_competitions. The deadline for application is June 1st, 2013.

If you have any questions, please contact administrative coordinator Meghan Phillipp at caf@civicandarts.org or (312) 692-2373.

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StoryStudio, a ten-year-old company which offers more than 150 creative writing and business writing classes each year to more than 1,000 students on Chicago’s North Side, is looking forward to making its first full-time hire.

Follow the Creative Programs Director StoryStudio link to download the complete a job description for the position of Creative Programs Manager. In addition to the qualifications listed, StoryStudio is looking for someone with a great sense of humor to join a small team. Excellent writing skills and positive energy are a must, as well as a creative mind and a love for social media.

Any potential applicants can send a resume and cover letter to Jill Pollack at: jill@storystudiochicago.com

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DePaul’s Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment is looking for a new Assistant Director for Teaching Support. This position will create and sustain programs and services that will improve the teaching quality of all faculty, especially new and part-time faculty, within departments and colleges as well as across the University.  This position will work with Deans, Associate Deans, department chairs and program directors, University/College/School Committees and individual faculty to promote and support innovative and effective teaching practices. One of the main responsibilities of the position is to oversee the Teaching Commons Teaching and Learning Certificate Program, which is a workshop series that incorporates building portfolios in Digication.

You can see the complete job description and requirements, as well as apply online, at jobs-depaul.icims.com/jobs/17558/job. If you are interested, please apply ASAP.

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It has just been announced that the 2013 Chicago Writers Conference will take place on September 27-29th, 2013. The conference will start out with a kick-off party on the evening of Friday, September 27th. Events on Saturday and Sunday will be held at Harold Washington Library, just a block away from DePaul’s Loop campus.

Registration will open in May. For more information, check the CWC blog for updates, or follow CWC on facebook and twitter.

On Campus Readings with Debra Bruce & Barrie Jean Borich

Open Mic FlyerDePaul’s Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society, is hosting a poetry open mic night with special guest Debra Bruce on Friday, May 31st from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Arts & Letters Hall room 404. During the first hour, students are welcome to read their original works of poetry, no registration necessary. For the second half of the event, Debra Bruce will be reading from her recently published collection of poems, Survivor’s Picnic.

Debra Bruce’s fourth book of poetry, Survivors’ Picnic, is just out from Word Press/Word Tech Editions. Her previous collections include Pure Daughter and Sudden Hunger, both from the University of Arkansas Press, and What Wind Will Do, from Miami University Press. She has published widely in journals including The Atlantic, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, and others.

Bruce’s writing has received the Carl Sandburg Poetry Award, as well as grants and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Poetry Society of America, and Poetry magazine.  She is a professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

The rich language of Debra Bruce’s Survivors’ Picnic—whether she’s meditating on cancer survival, describing the nervous colleagues of a transgendered secretary, or playfully satirizing a divorce support group—is sensual in its caress of the world, its music cascading into semi-formal free verse as well as sonnets, villanelles, and pantoums.

Survivors Picnic is full of generous poems, their rifts loaded with ore. From pithy narratives to evocative lyrics, these are poems that can take us out of ourselves, by a poet who has learned her art, who knows that poetry is song at heart. Brava, Debra Bruce!”–Annie Finch

“Debra Bruce’s poetry is a secret treasure–to be discovered and read and re-read. Every lover of language can partake of Bruce’s passionate picnic.” — Molly Peacock

Be sure to check out the event’s Facebook page, facebook.com/events/155132487992980

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The Visiting Writers Series is excited to announce that their next reading will be by DePaul’s own Barrie Jean Borich. Please join them on Thursday, May 21st, at 6:00 p.m. in the Richardson Library room 115 to hear Borich read from and discuss her newest work, Body Geographic.

Barrie Jean Borich is the author of My Lesbian Husband, winner of the American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. Her new book, Body Geographic is published in the American Lives Series of the University of Nebraska Press. She’s the recipient of the 2010 Florida Review Editor’s Prize in the Essay and the 2010 Crab Orchard Review Literary Nonfiction Prize, and her work has been named Notable in Best American Essays and Best American Non-Required Reading. She was the first nonfiction editor of the Water~Stone Review and a longtime faculty member in the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is currently a member of the creative writing faculty of the English Department and the MA in Writing and Publishing program at Chicago’s DePaul University and splits her time between Minneapolis and Chicago.

One coordinate of Borich’s story is Chicago, the prototypical Great Lakes port city built by immigrants like her great-grandfather Big Petar, and the other is her own port of immigration, Minneapolis, the combined skylines of these two cities tattooed on Borich’s own back. Between Chicago and Minneapolis Borich maps her own Midwest, a true heartland in which she measures the distance between the dreams and realities of her own life, her family’s, and her fellow travelers’ in the endless American migration. Covering rough terrain—from the hardships of her immigrant ancestors to the travails of her often-drunk young self, longing to be madly awake in the world, from the changing demographics of midwestern cities to the personal transformations of coming out and living as a lesbian—Body Geographic is cartography of high literary order, plotting routes, real and imagined, and putting an alternate landscape on the map.

“Body Geographic is as astonishingly original as it is profoundly humane. Barrie Jean Borich writes of the body, the psyche, the land, and real life with a reach so grand and a mastery so definitive it clutches the heart. This is a beautiful, bold, blow-your-mind book.”–Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

This event is free and open to the public.

Independent Publishers Gather for IBPA’s Publishing University: Guest Post by Alia Neaton

On April 27-28th, independent publishers, writers, and students gathered at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago for the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University 2013. Luckily for us, MAWP student Alia Neaton was in attendance all weekend, and has graciously taken the time to write up what she saw and what she learned about independent book publishing for today’s guest post. Alia says she found the conference “informative, inspiring, and helpful,” and would recommend it to anyone interested in attending next year. Thanks, Alia! 

“There are two kinds of authors,” Guy Kawasaki’s eyes leveled the crowd, “The kind who want a big advance and liars.”

Laughter filled the Monroe Room of Chicago’s Palmer hotel as the keynote speaker continued his lecture on self-publishing and his experience in the industry. Kawasaki, the former Apple evangelist and author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, opened the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University 2013 on Friday, April 27th. With the theme of “Discoverability: How to Reach Your Readers and Sell More Books,” the not-for-profit trade association developed a two-day conference filled with leaders in the independent publishing industry, covering topics ranging from “Secrets of Successful Amazon Selling” to “Strategies for a Winning Social Media Campaign.”

Attendees bustled from session to session, learning tips from the experts and exploring the vendor tables in the Adams Room, where printers, designers, and publishers displayed their services.

Saturday’s Keynote Luncheon featured Dominique Raccah, the founder of the largest woman-owned trader publishing company, Sourcebooks. She described her humble beginnings in 1987 with one book, which, in her words, “sucked!”

In 2012, Sourcebooks sales had bloomed into nearly 8 million books sold. Raccah’s lecture distilled her experience growing the company into the success it is today. She spoke about how publishers needed to consider the experience of their readers, “Discoverability is easier if people want to talk about your book.”

According to Raccah’s formula, there are four “Fundamentals of Making a Book Publisher”:

  1. Create a really strong book
  2. Communicate
  3. Distribute
  4. Rinse and Repeat

While it sounds simple, the groundbreaking work stems from the creative aspect. With the number-one problem in publishing being the disproportionately high failure rate of books, Raccah encouraged the audience to devote attention to the book itself, listing four components to creating a stronger book:

  1. Positioning
  2. Title
  3. Content & Internal Design
  4. Cover & Packaging.

The importance of the book’s cover, title and design had also been emphasized by Guy Kawasaki the day before. In a metaphor pitting publishing against the dating industry, Kawasaki described the consideration with which readers buy e-books as less like eHarmony and more like HotOrNot.com. Readers judge books by their cover.

Raccah’s lecture proved this phenomenon when she provided examples of books that had sold only 5,000 copies until a makeover of the cover and title boosted that number to 85,000. The recurring suggestion of multiple panelists was to always involve professionals and experts in the design, copy editing, and cover art of the book. From self-publishing on Wattpad or Smashwords to distributing through BookBaby or Vook, books can increase their possibility for exposure and reception by tapping into such experts.

“Quit narrowing your possibilities, “Raccah urged, “Create books that inspire you.” Her lecture closed with the insistence that she wanted her presentation to be from heart, “It’s about, in the end, touching people.”

For more information about the Independent Book Publishers Association, visit ibpa-online.org

For a copy of the full 2013 program, visit ibpapublishinguniversity.com/sessions-2013.

Student News, Stanley Fish at DePaul, & an Essay Contest

REMINDER: Registration for Fall Quarter 2013 begins this week. Check Campus Connect to find out your exact registration date and time and to fill your course cart. English Graduate classes are posted on Ex Libris under Autumn 2013, and are being updated with course descriptions from the professors.

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In Student News: Congratulations to MAWP student Lisa Applegate, whose piece, “Heartland Love Story: This Is What Your Government Would Tear Asunder,” was published as the cover story of this week’s Newcity magazine. Lisa originally wrote “Heartland Love Story” for Prof. Ted Anton’s Literature of Fact class in Winter 2013. In addition to reading Lisa’s work in Newcity online, you can also pick up physical copies of the magazine for free around the city, including at DePaul’s Richardson Library.

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Fish 05-08-13The DePaul Humanities Center would like to invite the DePaul community to attend the next event in their Nostalgia and The Age of Enlightenment Series. On Wednesday, May 8th, 2013  at 6:00 p.m. in room 314 of the DePaul Student Center, (2250 N. Sheffield Avenue), prominent literary theorist and New York Times columnist Stanley Fish will present: What are the Humanities Worth?”

This talk considers two recent books in the ‘crisis of the humanities’ genre, and finds in them opposing attitudes toward what both authors see as the accelerating decline of the humanities. One author is trying to think up strategies for slowing down the decline; the other believes that the decline and eventual demise can’t happen fast enough. After drawing out these positions, Fish makes a distinction between the humanities in general and the academic study of the humanities, and then asks what would be lost if the latter were allowed to wither. In order to have an object before us as we think about the question, he will analyze two poems by George Herbert , “The Holdfast” and “The Forerunners.”

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami, and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Duke University, in Durham, N.C. Fish is the author of 10 books, including “How Milton Works,” “The Trouble With Principle”, “Professional Correctness: Literary Studies and Political Change” and “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too.” His essays and articles have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, The Atlantic and The New York Times.

This event is free and open to the public.

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Notting Hill Editions is delighted to announce The William Hazlitt Essay Prize, a new annual literary prize for the best essay in the English language, published or unpublished, on any subject. The award is named in honour of William Hazlitt (1778-1830), great master of the miscellaneous essay.

The prize will be judged on the originality of the ideas, the quality of the prose and the ability to communicate to a wide audience. All entries for the competition must be between 2,000 and 8,000 words.

Award value: £15,000. Five runners-up will each receive £1000.
Judges: Harry Mount (chair), Gaby Wood, Adam Mars-Jones, Lady Antonia Fraser, David Shields.

Eligibility / Submissions:

  • Authors of any nationality are eligible, but submissions must have been written originally in English.
  • If already published, the essay must have appeared for the first time in periodical (print or online) rather than book form, between January 1st, 2012 and July 31st, 2013.
  • Submissions (one entry per author) may be made by author, publication or agent. Submission of an essay by a publisher or other third party will be taken as agreement by the author that he/she is willing for the submitted work to be considered. The judges reserve the right to call in any unsubmitted eligible essay.

Submissions deadline: August 1st, 2013.

Entries must include a cover letter and be uploaded to the NHE website using the link nottinghilleditions.com/essay-prize. Each entry must be paginated with the title of the essay on the top of each page. All entries must also be double-spaced. Please only include author name on the covering letter so that authors remain anonymous to the judges. There is an entry fee of £10 to cover administration payable via our website.

Complete terms and conditions can be found at: nottinghilleditions.com/essay-prize.

For further information contact Jessica Lawrence at essayprize@nottinghilleditions.com.

On How I Got Six Essays Published in MQR: Guest Post by Zhanna Vaynberg

Earlier this week, we received an exciting piece of Alumni News: after a long wait, MAWP graduate Zhanna Vaynberg‘s series of six short essays had finally gotten published in the Michigan Quarterly Review. We asked Zhanna how this unusual publishing contract had come about, and when she sat down to write out an answer, the story turned out to be quite long. We’re posting Zhanna’s story here as a guest post in hopes that it interests those of you looking to publish your writing in literary journals– and we would like to send Zhanna our thanks and congratulations!

On how I got six essays published in MQR’s winter 2013 issue:

Back in December of 2011, I e-mailed Michigan Quarterly Review asking if they’d had a chance to read over a short-short called “Roots” I’d sent them in the mail back in August (I was new to the whole submitting process, or I would’ve known that four months was basically one second in magazine-publishing time). Surprisingly, I got an e-mail the very next day from Jonathan Freedman, the head editor, saying that he’d just read it — I think it had gotten misplaced or they just had forgotten about it or something — and while he’d really enjoyed the essay, they just didn’t publish things that short (it was about a page long). He said, however, that he’d be happy to read something else I’d written. So I sent him two things — one of which was a short fiction piece that Bellevue Literary Review ended up publishing in fall, the other, a piece I’m still working on. His response was basically “I love your writing, but these aren’t stories that I want to publish.” Which I wasn’t offended about at all, because at that point both of them were quite old, and my writing had moved far past it. Then Jonathan presented me with a challenge. He said that the original story, ‘Roots,” which was basically about the ambivalence I’d felt towards my Ukrainian upbringing, had really stuck with him, and what if I wrote 5-6 more short pieces like it — in his words, something “world-weary in the best Russo-Jewish-American-Chicago way” — and he would publish them together?

We then went on to have a very long e-mail exchange that ranged in topics from our mutual hatred of Jerusalem (coincidentally, also a subject of one of the essays) to whatever happened to CBGB’s (it’s now an outlet store) to the best Thai food in Chicago (Thai Avenue on Broadway and Argyle). Then I didn’t really hear from him again until March or April of 2012. Meanwhile, I had just finished up the DePaul MAWP program, and after taking Michele Morano’s Travel Writing course was honestly a bit fed up with writing nonfiction and really didn’t want to do it again; and that is in no way to say I did not like Michele Morano or that class — I loved that class, and I think Michele Morano is one of the best professors out there (in fact, that I write nonfiction at all can be entirely traced back to a summer multi-genre course she taught, and four of the six essays in this bunch were originally written in classes she taught). It’s just that I don’t enjoy writing nonfiction all that much. I’ve always been a fiction person; even though much of it is intertwined with real experiences I’ve had or people I know, I like being able to play around with facts, and to hide behind that curtain of “it’s fiction!” anytime someone asks how much of a story I’d written was true. I wanted to get back to that.

However, it had been a few months already since we’d discussed the possibility of a collection of essays, and Jonathan asked me, in a very friendly way, if I had made any progress on our little project. I’d had some early drafts of two of the essays that would eventually end up in the issue, but I hadn’t really been working on it much. I’d also been published a few times by then, so I wasn’t in a big rush at this point. However, after a few weeks of relishing my post-grad-school freedom, I did slowly begin working on them again because I am an anxious person and don’t like to leave things unfinished. By July I had about half of them done and sent away to Jonathan. He wanted more — I wrote more. Then, just when I thought I had a good batch, five total, and would never have to write nonfiction again, he said “Yes, I’ll take them! But you have to write one more; something more current.” (All of the essays took place circa 2005 – 2010.) Luckily, it was nearly September, and my sister’s wedding was coming up — what better occasion to write about the authentic Russian-Jewish experience? So, even though it was very strange to write something I knew was for sure going to get published, and even though I’d drunk enough vodka to make an elephant pass out, I still managed to remember enough of the event to write a final essay about the experience. It wasn’t intended to tie together all the other essays in a neat bow or anything cheesy like that, but in a subtle way, there was a somewhat final tone to it. A little bit after that, I found a title to encompass all of them — as much as I could, away, considering each one is a separate entity to me. Then it was just a matter of waiting. First, it was supposed to go into the fall issue, but it didn’t fit — then, the winter issue, which was supposed to come out some months ago. Now, two days before May, the issue has finally been released! End of very long-winded story.

I’m actually very appreciative of the whole experience — it definitely helps to have deadlines and someone pushing you along so you don’t get too lazy, especially when you’re just out of school. Now that I’m used to being on my own, I have no problem writing on a pretty regular basis, but who knows if I’d still be at that point without having had that goal to work towards. And of course, the very patient Jonathan Freedman, who really gives magazine editors a good name.

You can order the Winter 2013 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review at michiganquarterlyreview.com/2013/04/winter-2013.