Book Vending Machines

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 10:35 am on Monday, May 17, 2010

cigmachauto.jpgA publisher in Hamburg, Germany has converted some old cigarette vending machines into book dispensers. The books are all new titles from Hamburg authors. Forget about iPads or e-readers; this is the new distribution method I want to sweep the nation. Also: Reading is more healthy than smoking.
I think I want my book sold this way!

via Bookninja

Sylvia Plath Speaking On Why She Lived In England

Filed under: The Writing Life — joy at 9:45 am on Tuesday, May 4, 2010

sylvia plath on why she lives in england spoken word listen mp3

Sylvia Plath would hate how people see her today. Like other iconic figures–Marilyn Monroe comes to mind–people don’t see the person she was but the things she symbolizes for them. Monroe is the poster for a sexually desirable woman, Plath is the poster for the tortured suicidal artist girl. But Plath wasn’t like that at all. Mental health issues aside, Plath was brilliant, hardworking, and very funny. The tragedy of Sylvia Plath is that she cut off her life right when she was starting to reap the fruit of all the labor she had put in during her teens and 20s by writing poem after short story after poem. She did not have a flash of genius, write her last poems, and then, with nothing else to say, kill herself. Instead, at age 30 Plath was finally coming into her own as an artist, and she didn’t stick around long enough for anyone to see what would come of it. We get a taste of her artistic maturity in poems like “Daddy,” but it’s just a taste–imagine what would have come later if she had lived. In the writing sense of things, Plath’s suicide is like cutting down a rose bush that is loaded with buds just about to open.

And that is sad. But I would like us to move away from seeing Sylvia Plath as some sort of emo goth-girl abandoned-wife victim, and instead try to understand what a brilliant, interesting woman she was. And that brings me to my latest toy: Sylvia Plath (Spoken Word), which has just been released by the British Library. It’s not available in the U.S. until July 15th, but no matter, you can order it from Amazon U.K. just fine. They don’t even charge you exorbitant shipping rates.

Recordings of Plath reading her poems have been around for awhile now–here’s Plath reading “Daddy,” for example–but Sylvia Plath (Spoken Word) is way more awesome than that. It includes an interview of Plath and Ted Hughes on their marriage, readings of lots of poems I hadn’t heard before, a review of a poetry anthology by Plath, and best of all, a short gem of a track where Plath talks about England.

She was part of a program called “What Made You Stay?,” where seven Americans were asked why they chose to live in England. Plath’s answer is delightful and sharp. In 7 minutes, she touches on her literary geekdom, how perplexing she found the British beaches, why she wants to raise her children in England, and how much she loves English butcher shops before launching into a funny story about an eccentric British woman. It shows more about her character and personality than most of the literary information about her that you can find.

And how could I set that up and not give you a sampling? So go ahead and listen to Sylvia Plath talk about why she lived in England here. Click to listen or right click on the link to download.

Joy in Superstition Review

Filed under: WP Publications — marcia at 1:32 pm on Thursday, April 29, 2010

Check out Word Pirates co-founder Joy Lanzendorfer’s short story “Rabble of Butterflies” in the Spring 2010 issue of Superstition Review. It’s a great read. Go, Joy!

Morgan in ZYZZYVA

Filed under: WP Publications — joy at 8:32 am on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

word pirates zyzzyva

Word Pirate Morgan Elliott’s work in the most recent issue of ZYZZYVA. They published a short graphic comic titled “Kallio Kiss.” Well done, Morgan!

You can check out more about the Spring Issue of ZYZZYVA here.

AWP Conference, Part II

Filed under: News — marcia at 9:19 am on Monday, April 19, 2010

AWP conference Besides learning and inspiration, another thing I gained at AWP was the worldwide beard game championship title. (At least, I think I was the winner of the beard game.) If you think yelling beard in a public place is strange, you haven’t attended a dance for writers. Now that is strange. When we saw this on the agenda, we didn’t think anyone would show up. But the place was hoppin’, and writers actually had some pretty sweet dance moves. Most of them also had social skills. A few of them did not … to the point of creepiness. Giving socially maladjusted people free alcohol may not be a good idea.

Speaking of ideas, one thing Michael Chabon said in his keynote that I really liked: Why would you try to be a writer if you weren’t full of ideas? The panels sparked so many ideas for me, but one of the reasons is that they weren’t trying to. The panelists all seemed to assume we were full of ideas and wanted to hear more about how to get those ideas out and arrange, share, and perfect them.

(Read on …)

AWP Conference Part I

Filed under: News — joy at 9:43 am on Friday, April 16, 2010

I had never been to an AWP Conference before, but I enjoyed it. It was held in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, which has a statue of a giant blue bear trying to get inside the building:

word pirates awp denver

Roughly 9,000 people attended AWP this year. Even factoring in that many of those people are academics or wannabes, that’s a lot of writers. While some panels were standing-room-only, I was able to see everything I wanted to see.

There’s something for every type of writer at AWP–panels on fiction, poetry, nonfiction, publishing, teaching creative writing, playwriting, young adult writing, literary readings, etc. In my typical gung-ho style, I went to lots and lots of panels, pretty much non-stop panel hopping every day. The first day, we went to seven panels and the keynote speech, plus we found time to tramp all over downtown Denver. I later learned that many people only go to one or two panels a day. One woman said that she would be exhausted if she went to as many panels as we did. Why is sitting in a room listening to people talk exhausting, exactly?

There were a lot of men with beards at this conference. Marcia and I started playing a game where we said the word “beard” every time we saw one. Whoever said “beard” last was winning. A typical conversation went like this:

“I liked that panel–beard–especially the second speaker–beard. Did you catch his name? Beard.”

I can’t remember who won the game overall. I think it was Marcia?

The panels were run by intelligent folks who knew what they were talking about. It’s not so much that I learned that much–although I did learn some things, like how to put together a poetry book or the benefits of the 10 minute play form–as that the conference generated inspiration for me. I came away with a notebook full of ideas for short stories, articles, poem, Word Pirates prompts, and so on. That alone was worth the trip.

At the end of each panel, there was the Question and Answer period, which are always painful to sit through. Does anyone like Q&As? Here is Marcia’s breakdown of a typical question people tended to ask:

word pirates awp writer's conference

I was relieved that Michael Chabon, who gave the keynote speech, did not hold a Q&A because of the size of the audience. I don’t know how many people were packed into the ballroom at the Hilton, but it looked like hundreds, maybe even a thousand people. To appease those who love asking questions, Michael Chabon wrote the speech in Q&A form, where he asked questions of himself and then answered them. It was pretty funny.

word pirates awp writer's conference

Michael Chabon is so charming.

End of Part I. Over and out.

New Yorker loves poems about poetry

Filed under: The Publishing Biz — marcia at 12:54 pm on Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Brow Beat blog over at Slate looked at every poem in the New Yorker over the last few years and found that 27 percent of them were about writing poetry. How meta! Is it furtive pandering, since it’s likely that only poets read the poems in the New Yorker? (Ugh, why does criticizing the New Yorker make me feel guilty? Damn you, venerable magazine, for making me feel this way!)

I like poetry that evokes an emotional response, plays with language and challenges how I see things by showing me a unique vision. It’s possible that a poem about words and writing could do that, of course. But I think this figure, if true, points to an insular poetry editor.

To be fair, I can be a bit churlish about writers writing about writing in their fiction writing. I did, after all, throw “The Human Stain” across the room and yell “Whhhhy?” as soon as I realized someone in the book was writing a book about the characters I was reading a book about. (Criticizing Philip Roth to make a disclaimer about criticizing the New Yorker … that has to require at least a a dozen Hail Marys.)

Bonus: How to win the New Yorker cartoon caption contest

Joy in So to Speak

Filed under: WP Publications — joy at 10:42 am on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

joy lanzendorfer so to speak short story

My short story “End of the Line” is in the 2010 issue of So to Speak. Published by George Mason University, So to Speak is a feminist journal of language of art. “End of the Line” is about an old woman, Mrs. Dumas, who accidentally takes the wrong bus and gets lost in the city she has lived in all her life. If you get a chance, order a copy and take a look!

World’s Largest Book at British Library

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 12:40 pm on Saturday, January 30, 2010
Klecke atlas

With all those technology types talking about carrying around all our books in one little piece of plastic, it’s kind of refreshing to the contrarian in me to see this enormous book that takes six people just to lift it.The 350-year-old Klencke, the world’s largest book, will be on display in the British Library this summer.

It is almost absurdly huge – 1.75 metres (5ft) tall and 1.9 metres (6ft) wide – and was given to the king by Dutch merchants and placed in his cabinet of curiosities.

“It is going to be quite a spectacle,” said Tom Harper, head of antiquarian maps. “Even standing beside it is quite unnerving.”

As a contrast, one of the smallest maps in the world, a fingernail-sized German coin from 1773 showing a bird’s eye view of Nuremberg, will be exhibited close by.

Link – Guardian UK


Filed under: The Publishing Biz — joy at 2:27 pm on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yes. Hilarious. True.

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