Join the Conversation at Poetry East

This guest-post is from graduate assistant and MAWP student Andrew McNamara. As associate editor for Poetry East, Andrew has learned a lot about poetry this quarter. Read on to learn more about the journal.

Admittedly, I’m no poet. I know Ezra Pound from James Dickey, and like most, I’ve read Maya Angelou. But I’m not intimately familiar with the world of modern poetry, its poets, or the myriad of journals dedicated to the craft.

But somehow I find myself working every day, up to my elbows in poetry, and loving it.

My renewed (if it ever existed in the first place) passion for poetry can be attributed to, in large part, Richard Jones and Poetry East. A well published poet, Jones’s enthusiasm for accessible, universal poetry is infectious, and that fervor is apparent when flipping through the pages of any number of issues of Poetry East, the bi-annual journal Jones founded thirty years ago and still edits to this day.

I arrived at Poetry East with a background working in book publishing, and I’d never heard of the journal before accepting the graduate assistantship as its associate editor. Several months later, after reading countless submissions, digesting past issues of Poetry East, and listening to Jones passionately discuss poems and poetry, I find myself privy to a conversation between poetry and the world that’s been going on for thirty years. A conversation I was unaware of until now. One concerning, among other things, politics, paintings, snapshots, and love poems.

Before arriving at Poetry East, I was both anxious and eager to begin work with a form of writing I knew little about. I’ve never written poetry, aside from a few attempts in an introductory undergraduate creative writing course, and I don’t regularly read poems. But I’m always keen on adding diversity to my background in publishing, strengthening it in the process. I see working at Poetry East as a challenging and rewarding way to achieve just that.

I’m fortunate that my previous experience in the technical side of publishing (laying out books—designing and styling interiors, laying out covers, etc.) made for a relatively painless transition. However, a large portion of my time, in addition to researching and planning new issues, is reserved for reading submissions to the journal. Poetry East receives hundreds, if not thousands, of submitted poems each year—many from acclaimed poets. A daily average of five to fifteen poems finds their way to our mailbox. And, as odd as it still sometimes feels, I’m responsible for providing my opinion of them.

But thanks to Jones’s encouragement, I’ve developed my own voice in the dialogue.

It’s also exciting to be involved with such an established, well received publication. Initially conceived as a ten-issue journal, Poetry East is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the spring of 2011 with its seventieth issue. In the past, the journal’s received much acclaim, and it was described by Choice as “one of the best current journals of poetry,” and ranked by London’s Poetry Review as one of the top twenty literary journals in the United States.

For those who’ve read and enjoyed Poetry East in the past, I’m delighted to join your ranks, and I look forward to having a hand in future issues. And for those who’ve never browsed the pages of the journal, I invite you to pick up a copy and join us in the conversation.



Nancy Grossman to Publish First Novel

Please join the Department of English in congratulating Nancy Grossman on the coming publication of her first novel by Disney/Hyperion! It’s a Young Adult novel, the story of an Amish girl on the brink of rumspringa, the period when Amish adolescents are permitted to run wild as they prepare to make their adult decisions. The working title was “Flight of Fancy,” but it’s since been changed to “A Wandering Heart” and Nancy is hoping that it will change again. The release is planned for the fall of 2012.

Congratulations, Nancy!

For Make Benefit Great Nation–In Response to Borat

In his monthly series, Matthew Fledderjohann (MAE) discusses his adventures and misadventures teaching English Literature abroad. Read his previous post on Kazakhstan here. This post, written in response to a comment on his previous story, explores Kazakhstan’s response to the movie Borat.

I lived in Kazakhstan for twenty-seven months and I never once met Borat Sagdiyev. The closest I ever got to his global celebrity was seeing the pluralization of his name on a sign outside a commerce building in city of Shymkent. “Borats”—posted above an uncertain advertisement depicting an extreme close-up of a high-heeled foot. But what did it mean? The word itself is neither Kazakh or Russian. Is Borats a brand of luxury shoes? A nearby store? A maladjusted attempt to cash in on a Western phenomenon? It was all a disconnected jumble. I took a picture of the sign, memorializing my brush with fame, and moved on.

Of course, since Sacha Baron Cohen decided to use Kazakhstan as the cultural context for his 2006 movie, the country itself has had a much harder time of simply moving on. Many citizens view Mr. Cohen’s antics as a direct affront to their national pride. They love their country and are quick to defend it. Their counter-arguments reference the rapid industrialization of their capital city, their economical allocations of natural resources, and their supposedly stunning education statistics. Not to mention the fact that Kazakhstanis don’t smile or like facial hair. And did you know that the supposed home-country footage for the film wasn’t even shot in Kazakhstan? That was Romania.

There is a large sense of disconnect regarding the Great Nation’s response to this parody. For starters, many of the Kazakhstani-critics are so busy vehemently opposing the movie that they miss its intentions. I tried to explain to my offended neighbors that the real joke is on good ol’ American ignorance and xenophobia. Cohen could have just as easily used Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, or Azerbaijan. Of course, then my neighbors were taken aback by the idea that their country was thought to be expendable.

But, the fact is, Cohen chose Kazakhstan, and in so doing, he accomplished what no other event (the USSR space program, the Virgin Land Campaigns, the excommunication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn) ever has; he put Kazakhstan on the map. This particular expendable trope has been brought forward into the American consciousness. Now the world at least knows the place exists.

The idea that any publicity is good publicity has continued to be hard for locals to get behind. They still don’t like the movie. In fact, a Kazakh director is in the process of making a response-film. My brother, Borat will supposedly express the true essence of Kazakhstan in order to build up its reputation. There are rumors that it will feature a comedic plot line in which Borat’s brother will be impregnated by a goat. Which brings us back to that disconnection between offended townspeople, unwitting popularity, high-heels in Shymkent, and the fact that this country still has no idea what to do with Borat.

DePaul’s “Book Tasting” Features Faculty Authors

You are invited to attend DePaul’s Inaugural Book Tasting, which features DePaul faculty and their recently published books, on December 8th at 6 p.m.

Treat yourself to hors d’oeuvres and a wine tasting while you “taste” new books written by DePaul faculty, including English department faculty Achy Obejas and Rebecca Johns Trissler. You must be 21 or older to attend, and an RSVP is required. The event will be held in the University Center Conference Chicago, 525 S. State St.

Please visit the DePaul Newsline for more information on this event.

Chicago Women in Publishing

Interested in networking? This guest post by Lindsay Branca (MAWP), who is a student member of Chicago Women in Publishing, will explain how to get involved in one of Chicago’s best publishing organizations.

Chicago Women in Publishing (CWIP) is a non-profit volunteer organization that serves the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Don’t let the name fool you, though, it’s not just women who are members of this organization. CWIP was formed in 1972 for professionals in the publishing industry and allied fields. Its members are copy and manuscript editors, web content writers and editors, communications managers, and proofreaders. Job industries range from marketing to graphic design and from printing to media and public relations.

The group meets on the third Wednesday of every month on the 33rd floor of the Willis Tower for networking and career-related educational programs and seminars. There are also mixers for current, new and prospective members throughout the year. The last mixer was held on November 11th at the Argo Tea at the corner of Madison and Dearborn. This coming Wednesday, November 17th, there will be a seminar for CWIP members on ePublishing titled: “eBooks, Enhancements & Apps, Oh My! ePublishing and You.”

Members of CWIP are given discounted admission to programs and events put on by the group and are also given exclusive access to many features of the website not normally available to the public, such as their bi-monthly newsletter (“Clips”), an online membership and freelance directory, and CWIP’s Jobvine. A basic membership with CWIP costs $75 per year, but undergraduate and graduate students are able to become a member for only $35 per year with proof of enrollment.

CWIP is truly a great resource for students to network with others in the publishing industry who come from various backgrounds and companies. If you would like to learn more about CWIP, or would like to apply for a membership, please visit their website at Nonmembers may also join the organizations Listserv on Yahoo! Groups, located at

Chicago Publishes

Chicago Publishes, a new online resource and community for Chicago’s publishing industry, launched its brand-spanking-new (and eye-catching) website today.

A launch party for the website is scheduled for this afternoon. The party begins at 4 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center in the GAR Rotunda and Claudia Cassidy Theater. This event is also a launch for the website The event description is as follows:

“Join us to celebrate the launch of two new literary websites: and CAR-Literary on Don’t miss: *Performances by The Paper Machete ( — *A website walk-through by artist researchers — *Free giveaways and prizes — A special happy-hour hosted by the Park Grill ( will follow at 6pm. Sponsored by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.”

This website will prove to be an invaluable resource for DePaul’s MAE and MAWP students, and I encourage everyone to bookmark the site. The event should be a great networking opportunity as well.

Common Review’s Annual Short Story Prize

From The Common Review‘s website:

The submission period will open in November for the second annual Short Story Prize 2011!

First prize: $400 and publication
Second prize: $200
Third prize: $150 

The 2011 guest judge is Gina Frangello!

Gina Frangello is the author of two critically acclaimed books of fiction, Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press 2010) and My Sister’s Continent (Chiasmus 2006). She is the executive editor and co-founder of Other Voices Books and the editor of the fiction section at The Nervous Breakdown. Gina’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a wide array of publications including Prairie SchoonerFenceStoryQuarterly, and Swink. She teaches in Columbia College’s Fiction Writing Department. and her novel, London Calling, will be published in 2012. Gina can be found online at

All prize winners, plus two honorable mentions, will receive a free copy of

The Great Books Foundation Short Story Omnibus and a one-year subscription to The Common Review. The first prize winner will be published in the magazine during 2011.

Deadline for manuscripts: Manuscript envelopes may be postmarked no later than February 15, 2011. All manuscripts must be mailed to:

The Common Review Short Story Prize
The Great Books Foundation
35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60601

Please include full contact information, including email with your submission.

Electronic submissions will not be considered. Contest results will be emailed to all contestants. Manuscripts will not be returned. Previously unpublished manuscripts from 500 to 5,000 words.

The 2010 Short Story Prize:

First Prize and publication in the summer 2010 issue: “Free,” by M. Garrett Bauman
Second Prize: “The Edge,” by José Skinner
Third Prize: “The Office,” by Barbara Arno Modrack
Honorable Mentions: “Bangalore,” by L. Charles Fiore, Jr., and “A Penny, A Pound,” by Princess Perry

All prize winners, plus two Honorable Mentions, received a free copy of The Great Books Foundation Short Story Omnibus and a one-year subscription to The Common Review. Judges for the contest were novelist Achy Obejas, former Poetry magazine editor Joseph Parisi, and Chicago journalist Danny Postel. All three are members of The Common Review’s editorial advisory board. A big thanks to all those who sent in submissions and made our first annual Short Story Prize a success!