Posts By: Indy Review

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REVELATORY WIT FOLIO: SPECIAL CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

In addition to accepting works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for General Submissions starting on September 1, Indiana Review is calling for submissions to our Revelatory Wit Folio.

It is truly a delight and, we think, a profound bodily conversation between audience and writer, when that sentence, line, sentiment, finely crafted, brings about a hearty laugh. From Podcasts to Netflix specials, there is seemingly enough material now for us to livelaughlove ourselves to infinity and beyond. Sometimes, though, humor might also prepare us, or open us to, sobering or incisive ideas and dialogues. A guffaw can be a moment of relief, or even pacification, but it may also bring us face to face with our absurd selves or pull back the curtain on the urgencies of our right now. For the Revelatory Wit folio, we are looking for poems, essays, and short stories that can both provoke a laugh and tell us about, or give a new understanding of, our world and ourselves.

REVELATORY WIT FOLIO SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

General and Special Folio Submissions are open from SEPTEMBER 1 until OCTOBER 31 (MIDNIGHT EDT). We will only accept submissions during this submission window.

There is a $3.00 reading fee for all non-subscribing submitters.

To be considered for publication in the Folio, please be sure to select “REVELATORY WIT Folio – appropriate genre” when submitting.

You may only submit to ONE of the following: General Submissions or the Special Folio.

Stories & Nonfiction: We consider prose of up to 6,000 words in length, and we prefer manuscripts that are double-spaced in 12-point font with numbered pages. Submissions should be formatted as .doc files.

Poems: Send only 3-6 poems per submission. Do not send more than 4 poems if longer than 3 pages each.

Translations: We welcome translations across genres. Please ensure you have the rights to the translated piece prior to submitting.

If you have been published in IR, please wait two years before submitting again.

All submitted work must be previously unpublished, which includes works posted to personal blogs, online journals or magazines, or any part of a thesis or dissertation that has been published electronically.

IR cannot consider work (other than book reviews, author interviews, or blog posts) from anyone currently or recently affiliated with Indiana University, which includes those who have studied at or worked for Indiana University within the past 4 years.

We look forward to reading your work! For complete guidelines, click here for our Submissions page.

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Announcing the 2020 Don Belton Fiction Prize Winner

We are excited to announce that prize judge Charles Yu has selected The Devil and the Dairy Princess by Pedro Ponce as the winner of the 2020 Don Belton Fiction Prize! We are honored to have read so many incredible novels, novellas, and short story collections. Many thanks to everyone who submitted their work and made this year’s Don Belton Fiction Prize possible. The Devil and the Dairy Princess will be published by Indiana University Press in trade paperback form in 2021 as part of the Blue Lights Book Series.

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2020 Don Belton Fiction Prize Winner

The Devil and the Dairy Princess by Pedro Ponce

Charles Yu says, “I found The Devil and the Dairy Princess to be strikingly original. Each piece is distinctive, innovative, and full of fresh surprises. Yet the collection as a whole is cohesive in tone and voice, evocative, playful, haunting spaces both dreamy and nightmarish.”

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Congratulations to our finalists…

Pretend It’s My Body: Stories by Luke Blue

Rabbit Moon by Alicia Fuhrman

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Interested in more publishing opportunities with IR / IU Press? Our Blue Light Books Prize is open Sept. 1 – Oct. 31. Send poetry manuscripts of 48-75 pages for a chance to win $2,000 and publication.

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What We’re Reading: Summer Spotlight

Summertime is all about kicking back in the warm sunshine with a good book to revisit lost worlds, meet new faces, and let nostalgia carry you through the afternoon. At least, that’s what the IR staff thinks! Here’s what we’re currently reading (when we aren’t reading your splendid 1/2 K Prize submissions, of course):

Alberto Sveum, Editor-In-Chief:

A couple years back, I had Paul Beatty’s The Sellout assigned in one of my courses, and I have not stopped thinking about it since. Lately I have been getting into an earlier one of Beatty’s, The White Boy Shuffle, which follows Gunnar Kaufman, the “reluctant messiah” in Hillside California. This is a book, an author, whose settings, characters, and dialogue are masterfully comic and ridiculous, and the 25 years since this book came out have only affirmed how astute and relevant Beatty’s witticisms on class, race, and culture remain.

Shreya Fadia, Associate Editor:

Lately, I’ve been craving truly immersive worlds, the sorts of books you can get lost in, in that flashlight under the covers, middle of summer, cicadas buzzing and glass of iced tea within arm’s reach kind of way. But I’ve also been struggling to commit to any one story, and certainly not to a whole novel. R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days and T. Kingfisher’s Jackalope Wives and Other Stories have managed to thread both needles. Narayan’s fictional Malgudi and its inhabitants are rendered honestly but tenderly, and in terms of craft, these stories are models of concision. As for Jackalope Wives, the collection (especially the title story) has just the right balance of strange and creepy and funny and magical and visually rich. Next on the list? If my attention span is up to the challenge, probably N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, and if not, Tananarive Due’s Ghost Summer: Stories.

Morgan Heck, Prize Intern:

I recently finished reading Maya Angelou’s first autobiography in a series of seven, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Since its publication in 1969, it has continued to endure and inspire. Angelou’s descriptions of her childhood are poetic, yet direct; painful, yet packed with strength and hope for a better, more just tomorrow. Her own experiences give a voice to the tragedies—racism, rape, etc.— and triumphs—liberation, self-discovery, etc.—many Black children have shared throughout American history. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a celebration of Blackness, of family, of dignity. Despite the trauma and hardships Angelou faces in her youth, she overcomes.

“We were on top again. As always, again. We survived. The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls” (184).

Interview with 2020 1/2 K Prize Judge, Tiana Clark

The 2020 1/2 K Prize is open for submissions until August 15th! In this interview with IR, 2020 judge Tiana Clark talks about concision, her favorite poets, and what makes a great flash piece.

Photo of Tiana Clark by Daniel Meigs from the Nashville Scene

Tiana Clark is the author of the poetry collection, I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Clark is a winner for the 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award (Claremont Graduate University), a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, a recipient of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, a winner of the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. She was the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Clark is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (M.F.A) and Tennessee State University (B.A.) where she studied Africana and Women’s studies. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The Washington Post, VQR, Tin House Online, Kenyon Review, BuzzFeed News, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Oxford American, Best New Poets 2015, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. More about her can be found at tianaclark.com.

Your book, I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood​, includes one- to two-page poems, as well as some poems of medium or longer length, like “The Rime of Nina Simone.” Thinking about your own process, what do you find most exciting and challenging about writing shorter poems in comparison to writing something longer, that stretches into four, five, or more pages? 

Concision is hard for me, which is funny, since I’m a poet, ha! Short poems are actually extremely difficult and rare for me to write. I tend to chase my poems to a point of breathlessness, which often means my poems are discursively long and wild and bombastic. I envy and marvel at Jack Gilbert and Kobayashi Issa’s short poems that nail the precision of feeling in so few lines. Oh, that singing cricket!

It’s another time, pre-COVID, and you and three authors of your choosing get to go out to a restaurant and talk writing! Who will you invite, and where would you go?  

Oh wow! I LOVE this question. I call pre-covid time “BC” for before coronavirus. I would select: Ross Gay, Ada Limón, and Gabrielle Calvocoressi. 1) Because they all have the same poetry agent, so I think it would be easy to book, lol! 2) They are some of my three favorite poets ever, and also some of the most generous humans on and off the page. 3. I think they all nail and encompass what Mary Ruefle calls in Madness, Rack, and Honey the “emergency of feeling” when I encounter their work. 4. I would want to go to Ross Gay’s house (if he would have us), and have us all cook things up from his amazing garden! I’m inviting myself over in my imagination! 

Across genre, whether for a micro-essay, flash fiction, or a short poem, do you see any commonalities in great flash pieces (however you define them)? 

I think no matter the genre you have to trust and chase your own imagination. I think all great writing takes some kind of risk in its execution. A great flash piece revels in its rebellious origin story and liminality. What’s great about flash is that it doesn’t have to be just one thing, but it needs to try do all the things well: the lyricism, the narrative (or is it trying to actively push away from linearity?), the syntax, the sentences, the heart, the duende, the secret, the stake, the surprise, the tension, all of it. All of it has to morph and shine and sway together. Or, it has to subvert all of those expectations in a fascinating way, which leads me back to my original thought about risking a new entry point into language and feeling. In all writing, I’m looking for something dangerous and desirous that pierces my attention, makes my want to dog-ear the page.   

What’s next for you? What are you most excited for this year?​ 

Ah! Right now, I’m focusing on my breath. Besides that, I’m working on my next poetry collection and a non-fiction book (which is all about some hybridity, baby!). I’m most excited about traveling (when it’s allowed again). I really want to marinate by a large body of water. I’ve been craving the ocean: the salt-smell, the sand, the metronomic waves.  Hopefully, I’ll get there somehow by the end of the year. I’m excited about taking a new risk with non-fiction by embracing failure and all the uncertainty ahead!

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MICROREVIEW: CRISTINA A. BEJAN’S GREEN HORSES ON THE WALLS

Review by Roxana Cazan

“From the start I was told my dreams / Weren’t possible / That I was crazy / That I needed to be serious / That theatre was a hobby / I was always merely chasing the green horses / And it was time to grow up / Because they didn’t exist,” writes Cristina A. Bejan in her debut collection Green Horses on the Walls (Finishing Line Press, 2020). This is often what children born to immigrant parents hear growing up, an attempt at righting the wrongs that compelled the parents to uproot themselves and move. Through its searing attention to the challenges of embracing a hyphenated identity both as a second-generation immigrant living in the diaspora and as a poet whose verses coalesce from trauma—Bejan is a Romanian-American poet-survivor—this collection astounds the reader with its overwhelming earnestness. The poems display a resistance to narrative, while still unavoidably relying on it, as they illustrate fragments of a life both halted and propelled by the violence of immigration, communism, mental health issues, and sexual assault. The poems together speak about an equilibrium, a way to survive trauma by finding an outlet through which to recreate oneself.

The poem that holds the key to understanding this collection is entitled “Equilibrium.” In it, the speaker puts into balance the experiences that underlie a world of pettiness and hurt with the noble moments when she is able to grasp a flicker of hope. “People may shit on each other here, but that is not all they do” because “a young city man buy[s] an old country man / breakfast,” “[a]nd when it feels like too much—which it often does / I know I can go home. I know I have a home / And how many people can say that?” Regardless of how many hurdles life can throw at the speaker, she concludes that as long as “someone somewhere, even here, is listening” to her story, then she is “standing in equilibrium.”

“Opening the Orange Envelope” is a prose poem in which the reader is called as witness to a negotiation between the language of evidence and that of transcendence, as Philip Metres says in an essay on the documentary poem. Bejan strings together vignettes that show glimpses of the ways in which her grandparents and parents struggled to survive communism and its lingering ghost, living with the terror of being followed, caught, and imprisoned as enemies of the state. As she retells these narrative fragments, she also presents her own anxiety at having inherited her family’s trauma. The poem underscores the effect of listening intently to stories of hurt and peeking into the notorious orange envelope that contains photographs of her family’s survivors of communism. By listening to other stories, both the speaker and the reader experience an erasure, an expansion, and ultimately a reclamation of identity.

Other poems illustrate the speaker’s traumatic past as a victim of sexual and emotional abuse. The poem entitled “To my rapist—or ‘the man who raped me’ rather—with Gratitude” employs anaphora to list the many ways in which sexual abuse has affected the speaker. Through a hypnotic whirlpool of “thank yous,” the anaphora lends the poem the quality of an incantation, so that by the end, the speaker can actually be thankful that she was able to survive her rape. She writes, “People can tell you: forgive, move on, it’s in the past/ But every day the victim has so much to thank the rapist for/ See?/ So, my rapist, thank you for your exit today from my mind and life.” That this poem is therapeutic, describing in chilling detail the incident and its aftermath, is clear to the reader. But the poem does more: it establishes the purpose of the entire collection, as all the poems together offer a therapy session of sorts to a wandering soul seeking a safe place to land on.

As she writes her way towards and away from her Romanian identity and her trauma, Bejan leaves the reader with one lesson to ponder: “with the days and the years/ Everything that I’ve seen will make sense/ And I will understand why I was given this path/ And/ With no more hopping, no more escaping, no more means/ Breath by breath/ Here/ I will be free.”

Finishing Line Press, May 27, 2020, $13.99 paperback (46p), ISBN: 1646622154.