Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest Winner!

For months, our small group of readers have been reviewing the 250+ chapbooks submitted to this year’s contest. Last week, we finally narrowed it down to 10 finalists and some honorable mentions–there were just SO MANY GOOD MANUSCRIPTS.

Guest Judge Sara Lippmann was sent the finalists, and after careful reading, she has chosen SJ Sindu‘s chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, for publication at Split Lip Press in early 2017.

SJSindu_authorpic

SJ Sindu

Of the manuscript, Sara said:

“This chapbook is raw and timely and unforgettable. I love the textured layers, how the stories unfold, the jagged edges, how they push up against one another in juxtaposition and in accumulation. The prose is assured, dynamic and alive, confidently moving through time and space. I love the mix presented: of style and structure, point of view — held together by a consistent yet refreshing voice. I love how the author comes at theme from different angles to prismatic effect. People ask me why I read, and my answer is for work like this: that stirs me out of my comfort zone, that upturns expectation and burrows into the deep, that grabs me by the heart and transports me, leaving me changed. This chapbook delivers on that front. There is a vitality and vulnerability to this voice, evidenced by how it shifts, often within story, breaking rules, that excites me in a way I have not felt in some time. The stories feel urgent and necessary and not overworked, seams showing, stories that speak to a big literary future ahead.”

FINALISTS

First Runner-Up:   Shasta Grant, Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home  

(which Split Lip will also have the great fortune to publish in summer 2017!)

Second Runner-Up:  Lara Coley, WE 

Samantha Duncan, Chaos Theory

Katie Flynn, Border Patrol

Katherine Gehan, National Treasure

Meghan McClure, Portrait of a Body in Wreckages

Clare Paniccia, Threaded Daughter/Threaded Child

Emily Pinkerton, Adaptations 

Jesse Rice-Evans, Twin Hungers (recently picked up by Damaged Goods Press!)

Pete Stevens, The Girl Who Could Float

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Kelly Dulaney, Grog Blossoms

Jessica Roeder, Staircases Will Outnumber Us

Susan Rukeyser, What is Reflected

 

Hugely grateful to our readers: Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, Jenne Knight, Sonya Vatomsky, Jon McConnell, and Sara Biggs-Chaney, as well as the talented + insightful Sara Lippmann for helping us make this really tough decision.

Stay tuned for more!

–AKM

 

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It’s HERE! I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World by Jared Yates Sexton

Happy Book Birthday to Jared Yates Sexton’s I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World, his second collection from Split Lip.  We are thrilled to be able to put this weird + wonderful stories out into the world.

OILcover

Here is a clip of Jared reading one of the stories, You Are But a Pilgrim Venturing to a Strange and Honest Land, originally published in Cleaver Magazine.

The book is now available through Split Lip (buy directly and support small presses) or Amazon, and you can save it and review it on Goodreads. Or if you’re a book reviewer for a blog or journal, we’d be happy to send you a .pdf or hard copy–just drop us a request: editor@splitlipmagazine.com.

Thank you for reading and supporting our authors and books! Keep an eye on our social media accounts all day long for a chance to win a I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World Leap Day Grab Bag, that includes a signed copy of the book, Split Lip swag, and other surprises.

Also: Jared will be on a panel at the upcoming Voices of the Middle West 2016 and at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles (w/ BULL and Split Lip at Table #233 and at our reading w/ Little Fiction/Big Truths). Be sure to shake his hand–and get his book if you haven’t yet.

 

 

Katie Schmid Wins the Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest!

Katie Schmid Cigarettes Web

Photo by Aaron Ottis Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though Split Lip Press does not condone or promote smoking cigarettes, take a look at this pic of Katie Schmid, winning author of our Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest with her manuscript Forget Me / Hit Me / Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor. Such a cool photo, but even cooler, her book tentatively forthcoming sometime in late summer. Stand by for the official release date announcement.

Though a tough decision, our guest judge Meg Pokrass selected Katie’s manuscript as winner, finding it original and expansive in its entirety, and I concur. The collection is diversified with regards to both content and form. Her poetics are delicious, and she is astute in discerning the form that will serve a given poem best, ranging from those only in line, others broken in stanzas of different lengths, others with some long lines / some short lines, others as prose poems, some formatted with text aligned to the right or centered, and my favorite part, her series in the middle called “Daughter Psalms,” which are not individually titled pieces, just blocks of text unified by the series’ title placed mid-page on each page of the section. Another cool part is a series of prose poems titled “The Boys of the Midwest,” followed by a number as per the order they appear in. And, most importantly, the quality of her writing is masterful and striking––full of risk, balanced and tasteful shifts in diction choices, daring syntactical moves, and a touch of wit within otherwise dark, haunting poems––how, at times, such wit serves as a stepping stone to begin a lineage of rising tension as seen in “Some Brief Information About the Spartans”––

Boys pay tribute to Saint Jude: patron saint of dollar single cigarettes from the bar, patron saint of working a double at the granite factory, patron saint of watching the bitter candle of your father going to hell.

Dear god, the escalation: a gritty denotation of the Saint Jude figure.

And then how she manages to personify her narrators and characters with such a high degree of verisimilitude. It fascinates me, like this passage in “Letter to the Midwest”––

I too, am afraid that I can never escape:

these cracked sidewalks, the empty storefronts

like raw wounds, the fair weather drunks

who lie in doorframes with their abandoned

bodies in a puddle of vomit. And me:

I wake to find myself scuffed, badly bruised,

like a peach your thumb could sink into

with the lightest touch.

Beautifully tragic in my opinion.

So, that’s the skinny on our winner Katie Schmid, but let’s give props to those contestants who wound up finalists:

In the Valley of the Sun by Gleah Powers

The Prophetic Western by Meredith McDonough

11:58 by Ann Stewart McBee

PERSONA: Noun, Feminine, Singular by Carolyn Moore

Sleepstart by Heikki Huotari

Stranger Underneath by Trish Hopkinson

American Spirits by Jackson Burgess

Take Me Home by Sarah Levine

Tiger Laughs When You Push by Ruth Lehrer

Velocity by Martha Clarkson

Winter & Construction: Michigan Stories by Matthew Fogarty

Rock n Roll, Split Lip fans. We appreciate your support and look forward to bringing you Katie’s book Forget Me / Hit Me / Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor this coming summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to The Hook and the Haymaker!

Happy official publication day to Jared Yates Sexton and his short story collection, The Hook and the Haymaker.

thehookandthehaymaker

Click to Purchase

Want a little try-before-you-buy?  Check out these stories:

+ Maggie from Southern Humanities Review (Pushcart Prize nominee)

“Maggie was a widow of seven years, and every Sunday, her husband’s brother, Dick, dropped in to keep her company and play cards. She would fix a pot of spaghetti, Dick’s favorite, while he drank beer and told her about his week. He worked at the same mine where his brother had been killed, so he was careful with the details.”

+Coming Home from The Account

“There was some­thing won­der­ful about sit­ting down for roast and veg­eta­bles with the fam­ily, drink­ing a glass or two of wine, help­ing with the dishes, and then mak­ing up some excuse as to why I had to go back to the office—papers to grade, classes to prep—and then chok­ing the life out of the evening by crawl­ing bars with Macken­zie and her hot-tempered friends. It was the best of both worlds, the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of ice and fire that made my life so very enjoy­able.”

+ Listen to Jared read Punch-for-Punch from PANK Issue 10 (Then go buy it here.)

 

We hope you’ll support a talented author and our budding indie press by buying a copy for yourself and one for a friend (or two, if you have more than one friend who likes to read, and we really hope you do) and helping us spread the word.

What People Are Saying:

“Here he is, the successor to Jim Harrison, William Gay, Richard Ford, Jared Yates Sexton is a raw talent, the kind of writer that you need to tell your friends about, the kind of writer you envy and will follow to the ends of the earth. The Hook and The Haymaker is explosive, slicing through us like a literary scythe. His characters traipse through darkness with only the faintest hope of light on the other side, and Sexton leads them – and us – through it all with def precision. This blisteringly smart collection is destined to be an instant classic, and I hope others will rejoice in saying so too.”
– Robert James Russell
Author of Don’t Ask Me To Spell It Out and Sea of Trees

“Jared Yates Sexton lays down a strong confident hand in The Hook and The Haymaker. He is a writer most excellent at details, both huge and tiny – the monstrous wildfires and infinitesimal sparks that warm a life, a relationship, a heart. These stories are sturdy and meaty with smoky ribbons – a substantial collection on which to feast and fill. Delicious.”
– Leesa Cross-Smith
Author of Every Kiss A War

Congratulations, Jared! We couldn’t be prouder. This collection is killer.

Any press/interview/review queries, please email Scott Bugher: editor@splitlippress.com.

Split Lip Magazine: New Editor-in-Chief

amanda_miska

After searching for a significant period of time, and as we waited patiently for the perfect person for the job, Amanda Miska was recruited to serve as Split Lip Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief in December, 2014. She joined with her fists up throwing brass knuckle punches with all sorts of plans to push Split Lip to its next level. She is the former fiction curator at Luna Luna Magazine, one of the most visited online magazines out there, and one that also features media outside of literature like music, fine art and film. Split Lip’s perfect fit.

Amanda received her MFA in Creative Writing from American University. Her work is all over the place in fine journals like Whiskey Paper, CHEAP POP, jmww, The Collapsar, Storychord, Five Quarterly, Cactus Heart, Lockjaw Magazine, Pea River Journal, Hippocampus Magazine, Cartridge Lit, Atticus Review and elsewhere. She lives and writes in the Northern part of Virginia, but you can find her procrastinating on Twitter: @akmiska.

 Check out a few of her stories below:

Sorry Not Sorry @ Five Quarterly

Strangers @ CHEAP POP

ISO @ Whiskey Paper

Ed Harkness on Richard Hugo & the MFA Controversy

HUGO

Ed Harkness was selected by Michael Meyerhofer as runner-up in Split Lip’s 2014 UpperCut Chapbook Awards. His new chapbook, Ice Children, to be published by Split Lip Press, is set for release on November 21, 2014. In this quick essay, Harkness talks about his first encounter with poet Richard Hugo and his time studying with him at the University of Montana. Though, in the spirit of Hugo, Harkness is an artist above academic, his essay concludes with Harkness’ defense for the MFA. Find out more about Harkness at www.edharkness.com.

My Time with Richard Hugo by Ed Harkness

I first met Richard Hugo not in Missoula, where he taught at the University of Montana (UM), but rather in Seattle in 1970. He’d come to teach a summer poetry class at the University of Washington, where I was just eking out my BA in English. The precise moment I felt the arc of my life change was when I heard Hugo read on a sweltering August afternoon in Savery Hall. The boom and crack of his voice (“You might come here Sunday on a whim. / Say your life broke down.”) gave me a chill in the overheated auditorium. I had no idea poetry could sound like that: hard, loud, clear and fierce, like a jackhammer in the hands of a musician. I resolved that I’d follow this man anywhere. And that’s what I did.

Robert Wrigley, a poet I much admire and whose work has also appeared in Split Lip Magazine, shares with me a lucky distinction. We both studied with Richard Hugo at the UM way back in the 1970s. I can’t speak for Bob, though I doubt he’d disagree, but my connection to Hugo for those two years in the MFA program were life-changing. I’ve tried many times to explain to others—and mostly failed—what it was about Hugo that made him such a remarkable teacher and mentor. After all, those of us who got to study with Dick were doubly blessed to be students of his colleague and friend, Madeline DeFrees, a wonderful poet in her own right, and, like Hugo, a gifted and nurturing guide for us young writers.

Here, then, is one more effort to say what it was about Hugo that drew many of us to him.

His laugh.

Despite what might seem to be the grim and sometimes glum tone of his poems, Hugo was really funny, in class and out. He loved funnymen like Jack Benny and Groucho Marx and could quote freely from Marx Brothers films like Duck Soup. The line I remember Dick repeating (more than once) is Groucho’s exhortation to his men during a comically absurd battle scene, made, as always, at the expense of the stuffy society woman played by Margaret Dumont, Groucho’s hapless foil in many Marx Brothers films: “Remember,” Hugo said, in his bad imitation of Groucho, “you’re fighting for this woman’s honor, which is probably more than she ever did!” Hugo would explode with his bellowing laugh, and the roar was so loud that it frightened some of us rather serious graduate student into laughing along with him. In turn, if someone in class said something funny, or quoted from the same movie, Dick would roar even louder.

More than once Hugo told me that had he not become a poet and English professor, he would have liked to be a comedy writer. His love of jokes and funny lines from movies and poems kept everyone loose. One line I remember that he claimed came from a student in a class he taught in Seattle went like this: “By the shores of Lake Sammamish [near Seattle], I sat eating a ham sandwich.” He’d pause to let the ridiculous line sink in, then his booming laugh would rattle the classroom windows. We loved it, just as we loved his awful off-color limericks.

Hugo, the academic outsider.

In demeanor, Hugo was the opposite of the stereotype of the erudite scholar standing before the lectern. In fact, I never recall him lecturing. He just talked poetry. Sometimes he’d even poke fun at his colleagues in the UM English department, mocking their slightly formal speech. “At an English meeting the other night,” Dick once told us in class, “a guy next to me looked at his watch and actually said, ‘Considering the lateness of the hour…’ Jesus Christ, why not just say ‘It’s getting late’?” It was Hugo’s way of reminding us of the divide between “us” and “them,” the flakey creative writers and the more serious-minded academics and their pompous way of saying things.

The truth is that Hugo knew more than we ever would about poetic technique and could, if the mood struck him or the moment seemed right, recite whole poems by Roethke or Yeats or Bogan by way of illustrating a point about rhythm or the gunshot-like power of single-syllable words (“…Stumbling upon the blood-dark track once more…” from Yeats’ poem “Hound Voice”). Often, in commenting on a student workshop draft, Dick would go so deep inside the poem it was as if he knew more about what was going than its author did. But his comments were usually less interpretive and more about the mechanics of the poem, its syntax, diction and rhythm, or the “stance” the poem projected. “The words are fine,” he’d say of a student poem, “but there’s no stance.” He’d then add, “If your poem doesn’t have a stance, make one up, the weirder the better.”

In his writing workshops, he wasn’t big on theory but rather stressed the practical matters of writing poems, including such mundane issues of whether to use pen or pencil and what kind of notebooks to buy (pencils only, #2; hard-backed notebooks with green-lined paper, as he recommends in the chapter “Nuts and Bolts” in his classic book of essays on writing, The Triggering Town).

But Hugo also understood the complicated psychology of being a writer, and many of us loved to listen to him explain to us what it was we were doing, and why, since some of us (me) didn’t have a clue. Hugo offered much-needed “reasons” that justified our efforts at trying to be poets, a main one being the need to assert, in our poems, that our lives mattered, even when the world said otherwise. These justifications were both illuminating and comforting and can be summed up by things he said in class and later wrote in The Triggering Town: “You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything,” “Never let facts get in the way of the imagination,” “To write a poem you must have a streak of arrogance—not in real life I hope. In real life try to be nice.” He encouraged us to be fearless, to risk being melodramatic, even sentimental in our poems—edging up to the line between sentiment and sentimentality, but not crossing the line. “All great art,” he’d say, “has an element of schmaltz or corn.” He’d challenge us to “write off the subject.” That last phrase, made famous in The Triggering Town, may be Hugo’s most subversive idea about the creative process. It was his way of saying “Stop making sense!” What he asked was that we teach ourselves, to discover, in the act of writing, our own voices and ways of sounding, and to give at least as much attention to the music of words as to their meanings.

Hugo as mentor and friend.

During my time (early ‘70s) at the UM, Hugo lived alone, having divorced his first wife some years earlier. In that span of several years before he met and married Ripley Schemm in 1974, Dick sought out social connections, first by spending much time at local bars, where he became a regular, and later, when he stopped drinking, looked for companionship from his graduate students and teaching colleagues, male and female, to go out to dinner or to a movie, or on the weekend go fishing at one of the many lakes and reservoirs near Missoula, or go on a drive to one small Montana town or other. One such drive inspired what may be Hugo’s best-known and most powerful poems, “Degrees of Gray in Phillipsburg.”

One afternoon Dick asked if I’d like to accompany him on a drive up to the Flathead Reservation north of Missoula. Of course I said yes. The aim of this drive, Hugo told me, was to deliver a copy of his just-released book, The Lady in Kicking Horse Resevoir, to Victor Charlo, a Salish elder and poet. One of the poems in the book was dedicated to Charlo. In fact, Dick dedicated at least half of the poems in that book to specific individuals—friends—and titled two sections of the book tellingly: “Montana With Friends,” and “Touring With Friends.”

Another time Hugo took me fishing to that very reservoir, Kicking Horse, a subject I wrote about in detail in a reminiscence I published in Fine Madness (Vol. 2, #1) shortly after Dick’s death in 1982, titled “‘Someday I plan to Visit Everyone I Love’: Remembering Dick.”

Here, then, was another way that Hugo was, for many, unlike any teacher they’d ever had. He removed the artificial wall between his role as professor and personal friend. You’d attend his class, and that Saturday he’d invite you to go with him to the local park and watch a fast-pitch softball game. Even after he remarried, Dick and Ripley maintained friendships with his students and writer friends, inviting them to barbeques at their house on Wylie Street in Missoula.

***

University writing programs, like the MFA program at the University of Montana, sometimes come under attack for producing a kind of standardized, homogenized poetry, characterized—according to the critics—by an arch cleverness, blandness and a lack of emotional punch. I don’t buy that sweeping claim, but I’ll save that debate for another day. For those who like to talk about all that “bad” contemporary MFA poetry, go find a book called A Heap O’ Livin,’ by Edgar Guest, a wildly popular American poet of the 1920s, decades before the invention of the MFA degree, and see if you can read Guest without gagging. My experience as a student in the UM MFA program, where I got to know and learn from Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees, and from other writing teachers as well, including the novelist and short story writer Bill Kittredge, was a two-year treasure I wouldn’t trade for the world.