Posts By: Cate Lycurgus

The Best Holiday Present Ever

As the first snow hits, the radio stations turn to Mitch Miller’s “Must Be Santa” on repeat, and peppermint descends on all things edible, I begin to panic. Not because I don’t love Advent, Christmas, the whole holiday season, but because along with good cheer and tidings of comfort and joy we must find something to give those who bring us so much of it.

Personally, I don’t need much this holiday season–maybe some warm socks, a bar of dark chocolate, the time to take long silken naps–but books always come to mind. There is nothing quite like curling up with a shimmering set of poems or a riveting novel to make a winter day merry and bright. As I day-dreamed of my favorite afternoons (I’ve loved these days since I was oh-so little) it struck me–the perfect present–subscriptions to Indiana Review!

Jam-packed with positively stunning poems, short fiction, creative non-fiction, book reviews, even, that inspire, what better gift to give the loved ones? You’ll support what we do (which brings us cheer) and spread the literary bounty throughout the year. To order, click here. A single issue is $9, and a year-long subscription, $17. Shopping: done. So easy! Now you have time for a square of chocolate and the pre-Christmas nap…

National Novel Writing Month

Today I ran into a colleague of mine who looked particularly haggard. It being the rear-end of a long and grueling semester, I thought nothing of it at first. But after watching her fall asleep during office hours and noticing the black pies pooled below her eyes, I asked how things were. Great, she assured me. I must have looked at her skeptically though, because she proceeded to explain that on top of her teaching and coursework, she has undertaken quite the task: writing a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. This means a little more than 1,600 words a day–no small feat! The novel must be new (no copy pasting from older writing) and all the original work of the author, and more than one word. Other than that, no rules, except the clock!

As I heard this I wondered a) at her sanity and b) at the type of writing a project like this fosters. On further reflection though, I can’t help think this is a pretty neat national campaign, especially in a culture less than obsessed with the written word. The value, I think, becomes less in finishing a 50,000 word masterpiece in 30 days, and more in putting up a valiant effort. Many people never finish, and only one wins the official contest, but the benefits are far greater. Making writing a habit, approaching it as a creative challenge worth pursuing, embracing it as a way of life–all things National Novel Writing Month fosters–are things I believe in.

I’m not a fiction writer but a poet, so the idea of writing 50,000 words scares me silly. That being said, I think I can learn from my fellow writers–part of writing is putting something on the page every day and believing in one’s ability to write something grand. It’s about writing as part of a community and encouraging each other in creative pursuits. About the powers of chocolate and caffeine and the inspiration procrastination can lead to. We’re halfway through November, so I don’t think I’ll be writing a novel this month, but I will be writing. Every day.

Tell us about your novel writing experience, or get going. Only 14 days left!

Head Off and Get Head Off and Split

In case you haven’t heard,  2011 National Book Award nominations were released in mid-October, and among the five titles (the winner will be announced November 16th in New York) named is Nikky Finney’s latest collection, Head Off & Split. I read the book this summer after attending a workshop with her, but have been surprised to discover many of my colleagues do not know her work at all.

In Head Off & Split, Finney invokes many influential African-American figures–Rosa Parks, and Condoleezza Rice, for example, in addition to a girl struck by lightning and a woman stranded in the floods of Katrina. While the collection deals with particular historical moments and people, and while she engages in a specific dialogue, these are in no way limiting; rather her collection serves as a much needed light in contemporary  American poetry. Finney’s dedication to what can be salvaged, her unfaltering consciousness and conscientiousness, and her dedication to the sublime power of language demand our attention. This fourth book is stunning, a definite must-read.

You can find more of her work here, or listen to her read     the poem “My Time Up With You” from Head Off & Split

Gathering Radiance

Dear Poetry People,

This weekend here in Indiana was glorious–a positively tropical 75!–and as a result I decided to take a drive through Brown County State Park to marvel at the magnificent reds and golds. I had forgotten, however, about wind and rain the previous week, and upon passing through the gate was devastated to see many of the turned leaves fallen, or hanging brown. I forgot how fast autumn goes, how easy it is to miss a season, or let life drain by. As I drove back, cider in hand, I couldn’t help long for a copy of  Louise Gluck’s chapbook October. It is a lyric beauty that both rails against and welcomes, questions and illuminates, the coming darkness that October foreshadows. Each year her words somehow prepare me for an impending winter, all the while reminding me of the wonder in a flagrant fall that announces its arrival. May you too enjoy October, for:

“This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.”

 

Fact, or Fiction?

See how you fare on our fiction contest quiz:

1. I’ve sent fiction to Indiana Review for regular submissions, but am still eligible to enter the fiction contest.

FACT! IR is currently accepting submissions for the 2011 Fiction Prize judged by novelist Kevin Brockmeier.

2. I have until October 15th to enter.

FACT: There are still 10 days to prime those stories and get them in!

3. The entry fee is a ridiculously good deal.

FACT:  It’s only $15 dollars to enter, and includes a subscription!

4. If I win, I get $1000 and will appear in the journal.

FACT:  Not only will you get an issue, it will have your name on it!

5. IR makes it easy for me to submit.

FACT:  see our contest guidelines here for more information.

6. Indiana Review has spiffy AGEs ready to read your work–one is waiting, as we speak, here, in the office, sporting a Shakespeare tie!

FACT: you will have to trust me on this one.

7. IR wants you.

your FICTION. send some!