Catching up on Sewanee!

Things been humming here so I’m a bit behind. Fellows readings are always great. The day started that way yesterday and today – but an hour earlier today since there was such a busy schedule. Unfortunately, I missed todays because I wanted to spend some extra time on my readings for workshop in the afternoon and there was a sign-up sheet for some agents and an editor so I couldn’t skip breakfast. As it turns out, I’m glad I made the extra effort because in the lottery to decide who gets a time slot, there weren’t anywhere near enough, I was lucky enough to get one with Mike Levine from Northwestern University Press.

Yesterday, there was a Barry Hannah tribute that was (well forgive the melodramatic) quite touching. I never had the opportunity to meet him but after everyone spoke, I thought they had given me their heartfelt thoughts about his friendship and how much they would miss him. Bob Shacochis, Erin McGraw, Christine Schutt, and Tom Franklin were on the panel.

Claudia Emerson and Beth Henley both gave readings. Beth’s was the reading of a new play, She’s a master of humor and I know that anytime I have an opportunity to go to one her plays, I definitely will!

Don Share the editor of Poetry and David Lynn from the Kenyon Review were on a panel this morning discussing everything from the different criteria used for the online version of Kenyon Review versus the print version (the online version is different from the print version) to how Don Share had to admit to someone in year’s past that he was the dancing monkey that turned down someone’s poem. He says he’s friend with the poet now but he still remembers what happened so we should keep that in mind when dealing with the journals. Hallelujah and Amen! Kenyon Review now is willing accepting simultaneous submissions. I’ve always held off because of first the simultaneous submissions thing and secondly that they do publish  some pretty impressive, completely established great writers, so why bother. But he assured us that they are looking for new talent so submit away starting September 15th! I’ll be giving them a try!

Gary Fisketjon from Knopf and Elizabeth Schmitz from Grove Atlantic rounded out the morning. I had no idea that they accepted unsolicited submissions. They did, however, suggest that we still get an agent because it was for our own good.  Much of the question and answer period and discussion was about the state of the publishing industry which everybody is kind of freaking about. Saw that Amazon had higher sales volumes and lower profits reported recently and Elizabeth did talk too about how their e-sales are way up. The tough thing for them as a publishing company, is that they don’t know if the e-sales are additional sales or if they are selling copies of e-books to people who wouldn’t be buying the hardcopy. Both of them said that fiction writers did not need a “platform” as so many are talking about unless of course, your talking about name recognition and blurbs from established authors – those always help. They emphasized that a platform was necessary for nonfiction writers who needed to prove that they had the credentials to write their books. I talked to Elizabeth Schmitz briefly after the talk and I hope that I am lucky enough to work with someone like her someday.

Wyatt Prunty read wonderful poetry to us today and Christine Schutt gave use a taste of her new book that is filled with so much wonderful language! All in all – it is great and everything I thought it would be here – worth applying for next  year folks!

We also had our next workshop today. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a great group of people for workshop before. A couple of guys from another workshop observed ours today and couldn’t get over how polite we all were! I suppose we are. It’s easy to be nice when everyone is brainstorming about such creative, interesting writing.


About marystojak

Mary Stojak has published numerous short stories, her latest will be published September 28th in Mystery Weekly.
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