SPLIT LIP UPDATE: Best of the Net 2015, Fall Issue, and Releases

Hello, it’s your esteemed (ish) editor, Amanda.  I have spent this summer moving from Virginia to Pennsylvania in what became sort of a comedy of errors (though it was only funny in hindsight), but I am finally settled in and back to the Split Lip grind. We have SO MUCH going on, and I’m so excited to get back to it.

Best of the Net 2015 Nominations

This was incredibly hard to do because HOLY SHIT, we get to publish so much great stuff. But here are our nominations–congratulations, all!

Of Two Minds by Marlene Zadig
Smart: A Definition by Kelly Magee
taking riot selfies with Gina [1] by Sara Biggs Chaney 

Men and Fire by Lauren Davis
Just Another Shift by Nicholas Reading
Westward by Sandra Marchetti
Eighth Grade Bio by Nina Alvarez
NECROLOGY: Gerbils by Chelsea Biondolillo

FALL 2015 Issue

Because I’d fallen a little behind, I thought we were maybe going to do a combined Fall/Winter issue, or have a really small Fall issue, but we’re just going to have our usual amazing online quarterly, only a little later than it usually drops. I can say with authority that it’s our best yet. Stay tuned.


We’ve been hella busy, as you can see, but we could not be more excited to put this work out into the world and into your hands (and brains).

Tom Hunley’s full-length collection of poetry, The State Springfield is In (November 2015)

Katie Schmid’s award-winning chapbook, forget me, hit me, let me drink great quantities of clear, evil liquor (end of 2015)

Jared Yates Sexton’s I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World (early 2016)

We are currently in Tip Jar mode, but will be opening free submissions in a few days for Fiction and Memoir (sorry, poets, we’re still catching up with you!). We’ll let you know on Twitter!

Phew, I think that’s all? At least, for now. Back in a day or two with another big, awesome announcement!


The State That Springfield Is In by Tom C. Hunley Coming November 10, 2015


cover design by J. Scott Bugher

We are happy to announce Tom C. Hunley will be joining the Split Lip family with his killer collection of poems called The State That Springfield Is In, a full-length book of verse based on the Fox animated sitcom, The Simpsons. Here’s what we have to say about the book. We’re super excited to release it on November 10, 2015.

Inspired by America’s most prominent hallmark of modern pop culture, The Simpsons, poet Tom C. Hunley shares his narratives––autobiographical or allegorical––by channeling the eccentric personae of residents in the animated sitcom’s town, Springfield, and trusting their voices to speak on his behalf, resulting in true poetic entertainment. As author Denise Du Vernay states in the collection’s introduction, “Tom’s interaction with The Simpsons doesn’t follow sitcom or even cartoon rules. He doesn’t have to. Tom follows a mysterious set of rules, completely unknown to those of us without a poet’s sensibilities.” That is the sentiment that defines Hunley as an artist. He is a poet who has a firm grip on poetic formalism (the “rules”), but, as is the case with any true artist––perhaps a guitarist for the sake of a metaphoric example––Hunley knows when it’s time to part from his Eddie Van Halen trickery in exchange for what resonates with those who are unfamiliar with the “rules,” “theories, and “doctrines” of art: gritty power chords strummed in the manners of Kurt Cobain or Johnny Ramone.

While capable of boggling a reader’s mind with poetics only a limited audience bothers to appreciate these days, Hunley has taken to The Simpsons in order to depart from the shoebox diorama boundaries most readers and writers of verse wallow in, and instead reach out to those of us who want to feel aroused by humor and drama rather than feel disoriented by, for example, accounts of lucid dreaming juxtaposed with archaic Polish folklore found in the nationalistic opera of Stanislaw Moniuszko. In short, Hunley wants poetry back on the map as an element of pop culture rather than vaulted property of academia and patrons of Sotheby’s auction house. The State That Springfield Is In may very well be the poetry collection to materialize his bold objective.


A Poem by Split Lip Founder Scotty Bob Steevessffph

We’ve been bad bloggers, so here’s a poem by the guy responsible for all the damage Split Lip has done to the economy, healthcare system, education and federal reserve.



Pills fall, sheets of rain into a burrow

of wolves. My crow mind in hiding until dogs are

put to sleep. My life, an infant pear tree,

roots mingling with deadly nightshade underground.

Berries poison the delirium further, the fruit

that left Syd Barrett in his mother’s home until 2006,

the fruit that fed Brian Wilson voices

to harmonize with melody. My mouth is always open

like my mother’s basement door. Every time

I swallow, the crow loses memory of its abductor,

the pears decay before ever ripening.

–– J. Scott Bugher

What To Do If You’re Buried Alive by Michael Meyerhofer – Available Now!

Michael Meyerhofer, What To Do If You're Buried Alive









Super excited to announce Michael Meyerhofer’s What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, his fourth full-length poetry collection, is now available from Split Lip Press! Find it at our website or Amazon today, pick up a copy, read it, and then contact Split Lip Press and tell us how hard your world had been rocked––if you’re still conscious enough to write us.

In his latest collection of poems, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, Michael Meyerhofer’s narrative verse is tight and full of torque: storytelling in the vein of Richard Hugo, humor in the likes of Ron Padgett, absurdity a little like Stephen Dobyns and surrealism much like the dearly missed Tomaz Salamun. And this collection is huge! 130+ pages of the type of poems you can recite to a buddy at a bar without your buddy having any clue that you are speaking a poem aloud. This is the type of book for short story fans who want to explore the world of poetry while bypassing confusion, trickery, the diction of Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus and other poetic pollutants that interfere with one’s reading pleasure. If you’re seeking poetry you can feel you are a part of, know where you’re at in, and have a friend in the narrator, then this is the book for you! As poet George Bilgere puts it: “Meyerhofer sings in a pure American tenor, his voice haunted by late night diners, small town heartbreak, and somehow, out there in the desolate vastness of the heartland, a flash of humor and a sweet glimmer of hope.”

Michael Meyerhofer









A Note About Michael Written by Michael: My first fantasy novel, Wytchfire (Book 1 in the Dragonkin Trilogy) was published by Red Adept Publishing. The book went on to win the Whirling Prize from the Kellogg Writers Series, and was nominated for a 2015 Readers’ Choice Award in fantasy by the premier book review website, Big Al’s Books & Pals. The sequel, Knightswrath, will be released shortly.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing and publishing poetry for many years. My fourth poetry book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was just released by Split Lip Press. My third, Damnatio Memoriae (lit. “damned memory”), won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. I’m also the author of two other poetry books: Leaving Iowa (winner of the Liam Rector First Book Award) and Blue Collar Eulogies (Steel Toe Books, finalist for the Grub Street Book Prize).

In addition to my full-length poetry books, I’ve also published five poetry chapbooks: Pure Elysium (winner of the Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest), The Clay-Shaper’s Husband (winner of the Codhill Press Chapbook Award), Real Courage (winner of the Terminus Magazine and Jeanne Duval Editions Poetry Chapbook Prize), The Right Madness of Beggars (winner of the Uccelli Press 3rd Annual Chapbook Competition), and Cardboard Urn (winner of the Copperdome Chapbook Contest).

I’ve also won the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, the Laureate Prize for Poetry, the James Wright Poetry Award, and the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry. My work has appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Quick Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and other journals.

Split Lip News You Can Use

There is so much brewing in the Split Lip world that this little blog has been way too neglected. We are trying to make it a more regular thing so that you can come and read it more regularly.  Popping in today to share what’s been going on/what’s going to be going on:

Split Lip Magazine/Press at AWP 2015 in Minneapolis, MN
Table #1657 (with BULL: Men’s Fiction)

We’ll have SWAG and BOOKS and HUGS. And our Spring Issue on display.
Please don’t be shy–come and say hello!


And we have some more great news:

Congratulations to MICHAEL SOLOWAY whose non-fiction piece “Share the Chameleon” was selected for Sundress Publications’ 2014 Best of the Net!

Congratulations to JESI BENDER whose story “Linda,” was a finalist for the Queen’s Ferry Best of the Small Fictions Anthology 2015!

Much more to come, but we have errands to run and packing to do. Hope to see you all soon!


An Option for Poets in a Rut

I’m a poet, meaning I’m well acquainted with insecurity, plateau and stagnancy. Poets––the artistic type; not the CV-building, award-seeking, willing-to-write-whatever-to-get-published type––desire only one thing: growth. When asked which poem I’ve written is my favorite, I always say: “The one I haven’t written yet.” While a poet does, for one minute (one emphasized), feel pleasure upon completing a poem they like or can at least tolerate, and while a poet does feel proud (for one minute) when a journal picks up a piece, it’s still never enough. Poets want their next poem to be THE poem they’ve been meaning to write ever since the start, but oftentimes––even when a final piece presents an illusion that it is, in fact, THE poem the poet’s been waiting for but a day later decides it’s not––satisfaction is never at the level one would like it to be. This pattern is a lineage to utter frustration and thoughts about giving up.

If you’re a poet with no clue about anything above, clearly you are a very happy person without neurotic symptoms, or you are the type with an “anybody can write poetry just like anybody can play hand drums or paint abstract pictures” mindset. As for this poet? Well, you can say I’m familiar with mental health facility lobbies, and you can say I’m a stubborn dick who does not believe anybody can write poetry, though I should clarify–– While, yes, anybody can technically write a poem since there really isn’t a set of criterion to evaluate what makes for a good poem anymore, NOT everybody can write poetry with a deep, intense drive to master the art because that takes a lot of work, most being very hard work that needs to be done while feeling uninspired, exhausted, doubtful, self-loathing, et cetera. Simply put, while anybody can write a poem, only few are willing to do what it takes to write a good poem.

What can be done, then, if discouragement and doubt is beating a poet down? My answer, though pertinent to those not studying writing at a university, is: Investigate some universities or community colleges and look at what creative writing classes they offer––anything from Intro to Creative Writing through Advanced Poetry Writing. While combing a given semester’s course offerings, note the instructor’s name who is scheduled to teach the classes you’re interested in. When finished, Google the instructors’ names and see what you find.

I did this in 2013 just after I had completed my undergrad degree in creative writing. I didn’t need to go back for more classes because I didn’t know how to practice on my own; it was a desire for a new challenge, and by that I mean I like to write, at times, as per an assignment or prompt, and I’ll admit having a deadline is a nice motivator, too. During the Googling process, looking up those writing instructors, I didn’t find many I was interested in. There are too many old-schoolers out there with a very specified agenda, the same they’ve been teaching for up to decades. For example, you can take a poetry class with an instructor you know nothing about and then discover he/she teaches only Whitman––nothing else––because the instructor believes only Whitman is worth studying. It happens with fiction as well, the case often being: only Raymond Carver is worthy of study. I’m not going to quarrel with that, though. Carver is the man.

After several fruitless searches, I gave Ivy Tech Community College a try. (FYI, this is back when I lived in Indiana.) They offered an Intro to Creative Writing class taught by Norman “Buzz” Minnick. I pasted his name in Google and landed on his website, where I found this poem:



even the gumball machine, is grimy.

The mechanic has his name on a patch

above his heart. His fingernails

and the deep lines in his cracked hands

are forever black. The shop smells

like tires and stale coffee.

Chilton’s service repair manuals

and parts catalogues are stacked

behind the counter. No one notices

the zweep zweep sound of an air

impact wrench torquing lug nuts.

Cigarette butts float in the toilet

above which hangs a pinup

showing a woman wearing only a pair

of bright red high heels

that compliment

the bright red muscle car

she sprawls over.

She has thick, dark pubic hair

which upon closer examination

is only the smudge

of a greasy thumbprint.

First appeared in the Oxford American, later published in his book Folly.

I was SOLD. (I’m one of those frowned upon poets who champions poems that make sense, though Norm has the capacity to write some pretty tricky shit.) There was no need for any further investigation. I contacted the school, said I wanted to audit the class and showed up a few weeks later to the first session. Norm came in with tattoos cloaking his arms, and I think I remember his first remark was along the lines of: “If you can’t stomach vulgarity, sex, violence and such, then this might not be the class for you.” After letting the class know what they were in for, he opened with his first lesson by asking: “What is love?” Every answer was exactly what you had likely thought of just now––something grounded in a feeling or emotion. I didn’t say anything since I had no idea what he was trying to do. But as more and more clues started to surface every time he’d reply to an answer, I picked up on his trickery. I raised my hand and said, “Love is authentic gumbo found in Nebraska by a Louisiana native.” I had never been asked how to define an abstract noun before. I knew to avoid them when writing––not all the time, but more often than not––but I’ve never given very much thought to solving how to work around an abstraction, so I’d just bypass them altogether. That answer I gave triggered a poem I wrote called “A Cincinnati Boil,” which was later published by The Baltimore Review. In fact, after the semester studying with Norm, four out of however many poems I penned for the class wound up published. Along with Baltimore, poems were taken by Atticus Review, Hobart and Cleaver Magazine.

Through the course of the semester, Norm and I discovered we had a lot in common outside of poetry. In fact, I’d argue we have more in common with most everything BUT poetry since we’re both outspoken, stubborn assholes with strong opinions about the craft (e.g., Norm doesn’t care much for George Bilgere‘s poetry while I, however, think he’s a damn fine poet.) This is likely due to the fact we both were (me: past tense / Norm: still at it) members of punk and/or hardcore bands at one point or another. Norm is lead singer for a thrash hardcore band called Bush League. I was bassist for a few lesser-accomplished hardcore bands back in the 90s. So, as fellow punk-poet hybrids, we have had a few poetic debates (Norm knows well how to defend a good argument) over the past couple of years––always edifying, though. I will always remember meeting with Norm and his (who I think is) mentor Larry Atwood, who is as hardass as they come. We were at a bar reading our poems to each other. Following each reading came some serious shit-talking––sometimes warranted, other times just to be a dick––but it was a good time, and there were, for the record, moments we praised another’s work when we couldn’t deny its worth.

Anyway, I think I’ve harped a lot longer than I had planned to. Bottom line: If you want an extra boost when feeling like you’ve plateaued or that you’re in a rut, consider auditing a college creative writing class of some sort. Just be sure to look up the instructor so it doesn’t result in wasted money. Had I not stumbled upon Norm, I would likely not be posting this advice, but given the fortune I found in studying with the guy, and how I learned new things in new ways, I felt inclined to let fellow poets know that auditing a class is a viable option to help amplify your writing.

Interested in Norm? Here are some online poems I really like, and some just happen to appear in Split Lip Magazine. Huh. 🙂 5 Poems as Featured Poet in Atticus Review. 3 Poems in Split Lip Magazine. And 5 Poems in Gadfly. Find Norm online at www.buzzminnick.com.

And if you liked the “Repair Shop” poem among others from links above, you can find it along with other outstanding works in his latest book Folly. Go and get yourself a copy!


Split Lip Sunday Night Rumble (on a Monday, again), February 16

candy heart lips2_edited-1

image via Jayme Cawthern

Eventually, I am sure that I will be sitting down to write one of these on a Sunday night, but last night was my 33rd birthday, and I was a little incapacitated (by wine and exhaustion).  So here I am, on a freezing cold President’s Day that is not a three-day weekend at my house (or, rather, it is a three day weekend for my oldest child, which means she’s home, which means I don’t get any time to myself, except these few stolen moments at the computer when she’s playing quietly).

Maybe you’re just hanging out today, avoiding chapped-cheek-and-lip-weather. Maybe you need something to read.  Look no further:

New Issues

-Atticus Review’s Love Stinks issue came out last week and it’s really good (and I don’t just say that because I have a short story in it!).

-It’s not a new issue, per se, but Lockjaw Magazine has an awesome Choose Your Own Adventure project going on, which just launched yesterday.

Contributors Kicking Ass

-Jared Yates Sexton kills it yet again, with a story from his collection featured over at the Good Men Project (previously printed in PANK). Punch-for-Punch happens to be one of this editor’s favorites, so I’m thrilled to see it out in the world.

-Split Lip Press author Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach’s poem, “The Secret to Remembering” is featured over at the Sundress Publications’ blog, The Wardrobe, in this week’s Best Dressed.

Stories I Loved

It was actually pretty fortuitous that I waited to post this today because I fell in love with a story and can’t get out. Go, read Susannah Felt’s piece “Map” at Smokelong Quarterly.

Stay warm–and well-read,


Split Lip Monday Night Rumble, February 9

On Saturday, I reminded myself that I needed to write a Sunday Night Rumble post, but between a freelance deadline and my really terrible organization skills, I forgot.

So here we are, rumbling on a Monday night, which isn’t so bad because Mondays traditionally suck. But at least now you’ll have some great things to read.


New Issues

Hippocampus Magazine is a fairly new-ish destination for short creative non-fiction. Their new issue went live February 1st and includes a piece by yours truly (my first published CNF piece, so I feel like I’m allowed to humblebrag a bit).


Contributors Killin’ It

Jared Yates Sexton isn’t just a contributor–he’s also the author of Split Lip Press’s first full-length collection, The Hook and the Haymaker.  He has a great story over at Juked right now, and you can check out the first review of his collection over at Alternating Currents (thank you to Al Kratz for reading and seeing all the good in it that we saw).


Stories I Loved

Two Hurts by K Brattin  at Wigleaf

Tell Me What to Do by Kerry Cullen at Luna Luna Magazine (I may be a little biased, but still. Read it.)


Rumor has it that it’s National Pizza Day (I know that for some of you out there, it’s every day), and I have a couple pies on the way. Hope your evening is as delicious/fraught with heartburn/etc.


Split Lip Sunday Night Rumble, February 1st


Editor’s Note:  In the spirit of literary citizenship (and the cheesy title I just thought of for this series), I’m going to be rounding up some weekly favorites from around the web here on the blog.

Happy Super Bowl (some roman numerals) to you all! We don’t have cable because we’re poor, and we also don’t have cool friends who have fun parties, so here I am, on Sunday night, writing a blog that likely no one will be reading.

But maybe you’ll catch it during your Monday morning crockpot-dip hangover.

New Issues

Our friends at Noble/Gas Quarterly released their second, super-stellar issue. Check it out here.

Contributors Killin’ It

Loved and lol’ed at (Issue 7) Tabitha Blankenbiller’s Guy Fieri fanfiction (oh yes she did) over at The Mondegreen (who also released a killer inaugural issue a few weeks ago).

(Note to previous contributors: I try to keep track of you on Twitter, but it’s hard–especially since some of you don’t even use Twitter! If you have news or pubs to share, please feel free to email so I can include them here.)

New Magazines

The inaugural issue of THIS. Magazine blew me away. Gorgeous design, even more gorgeous work. I especially liked Shasta Grant’s piece “Don’t Ever Change.”

Story I Loved

“I Knew I Loved You” by Claire Comstock-Gay in the newest issue of Midnight Breakfast.

Happy reading!



20 Questions with Jared Yates Sexton

We here at Split Lip are super stoked about our first full-length collection coming out this Thursday (tomorrow!), Jared Yates Sexton’s The Hook and the Haymaker. In anticipation of the book’s launch, we (well, Amanda, Split Lip Mag’s EIC) sat down with (well, emailed) Jared to talk to him about the book, his writing life, and some other random stuff.

I just finished Jared’s collection An End to All Things a couple weeks ago, and I’ve read a lot of the stories coming out in this newest collection online. I have been a huge fan of JYS’s writing since we were featured in the same magazine a year or so ago (shoutout to our friends at Buffalo Almanack!) and I was able to follow his work–which is no easy task considering how prolific he is (check his website if you don’t believe me).  He’s a master at realistic dialogue and subtle action. And his endings always slay me. The stories in his upcoming collection, especially, I think, highlight the extraordinary moments in seemingly ordinary lives. Seriously, even though I am admittedly biased, I can’t wait to have this book in my hands.

I asked Jared twenty questions, in honor of his book coming out soon–some serious, some not. He was a good sport…except for all the punting in questions 18 and 19.

20 Questions with Jared Yates Sexton, Author of The Hook and the Haymaker

Jared Yates Sexton1. Everyone always asks which story is your favorite, or which story is the most “you”, but I’m more curious: which story do you feel the most distance from? Or, I guess to ask it a different way, which one is most absent of autobiography?

That’d probably be “Maggie,” considering I don’t have a brother, dead or alive. However, I always had this strangely vivid picture in my head of a man standing in front of a mirror with another man’s razor and shaving his face. I’m not sure why that is, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by bathrooms and how it’s the one room of the house where we leave all of these intimate objects and things around to be discovered by people who have carte blanche and the time to explore. That got imagined maybe five or six years ago and I’ve started it, finished it, and came back to it too many times to count, but it’s always had some kind of pull.

2. What was the last book you read? 

A couple of days ago I just reread Freedom for the second time. It’s been useful for crafting language and tone for the novel I’m writing now. Before that was Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment and the last fiction book was Roth’s American Pastoral, which was a punch to the gut. Right now I’m reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk on the suggestion of a buddy of mine.

3. Name something/someone who might be a surprising (to readers) influence on your writing.

Stephen King. I grew up reading him at way too young of an age and I think that did me a ton of good. It basically gave me the green light to write anything I ever wanted, which is important. Not to mention, the guy’s a hell of a craftsman. Outside of him, probably Flannery O’Connor. She was brutal.

 4. How was putting together your second collection different than putting together the first?

The first collection was this thing that I looked up one day and suddenly there was a book. The stories all kind of hunkered around the same theme because it was written, primarily, during the Great Recession, meaning there were apocalypses aplenty. This one had a little bit of a different birth in that I’ve started writing a lot of different genres and styles, only my realistic fiction, I noticed, was centered around characters and their second and third and so on and so on chances. Or, men and women who want them, who’ve squandered them, who don’t even realize they’re possible. If the hub of the wheel with An End To All Things was environmental, then maybe this one was more incidental.

 5. What career would you choose other than writing/teaching/editing?

Sometimes I have these flights of fancy where I think I could start up a brewing company or learn to cook. Cooking’s a thing that, if I hadn’t have gone to get my MFA, I think I would’ve liked to have pursued, whether it was going into a program or just focusing on it more.

6. Any weird writing rituals—food or drink habits, meditations, readings, knuckle-cracking, pen selections?
I have to read. I tell students all the time that reading is fuel for the engine. I have to sit there and pick through sentences and hope that maybe I can pick up some inspiration or some kind of focus. When I was little, and used to bang away on this old sky-blue typewriter, I decided, for whatever reason, that whenever I wrote I’d have a bowl of white grapes on my desk. Needless to say, that was kind of dumb and probably had more to do with the grapes in the fridge at the time.

 7. Who would you to play you in a movie of the life and times of famous author Jared Yates Sexton?

I get told I favor Charlie Day sometimes, but I think that’s due to the beard.

 8. Follow-up: Who would play (Split Lip Press Editor) Scott Bugher?

This is an excellent question. There’s this guy who was in a Mad Max movie I saw one time who was a spitting image, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you the name.

9. A lot of the stories in your last book (An End to All Things) were apocalyptic, focused on the end of the world or the end of (cough) all things. Kinda dark. This collection is less dark, but would you say there is an overarching theme or focus? Or are they more connected by style?

I’ve already answered this question, but I think the one thing I could point to is that I’ve grown as a person since that book. It stands as a pretty good testament to what it’s like to be in a place of depression and hopelessness, both as a person and citizen, while this book’s got some more hope, some more solid ground beneath its feet. Nobody could mistake it as being overly optimistic, but the sun comes shining in every so often.

10. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Before I could read and write I used to write this gigantic, Star Wars-like space sagas where I drew these spaceships – usually just triangles pointing at each other from across the page – and would make up backgrounds for the pilots. Then I’d take markers and draw lasers blowing up the ships. If I remember, those battles got pretty hairy.

 11. What do you like about the short story form (vs. the novel, which you also write)?

The short story is such a beautiful little artifact in its own right. You get these glimpses into lives that allow the reader to fill in holes, visualize some of the more vivid details, and have these intense moments of connection. They’re little flings that are multi-faceted and passionate, but fleeting in certain ways. The novel’s exhaustive. A several decade-long relationship that twists, turns, and develops and falters. By the time you’re done with both you should feel changed, more in touch with yourself and the rest of humanity, but they take different routes getting there.

12. What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing life?

The self-doubt. There’s no getting around it either. Every artist I’ve ever met or studied has been plagued with it. Regardless of how something’s reviewed, revered, or how it sells, the doubt is still lingering there in the back of your head. Sometimes it’s your career or canon as a whole, others it’s every single, solitary word you write. There’s just no real way to overcome it in full. Not that I’ve ever come across, anyway.

13. Follow up: the best part?

The thing I tell students who are thinking about going into writing is this: it’s the worst thing you’ll ever do and the best. That’s just how it is. With all of the doubt and self-flagellation, there’s a wonderful opportunity to externally digest the meat and grit of existence. Everything I’ve ever suffered or gone through is available as fodder for the mill, and maybe if I meet it head on and work through it on the page, I’ll be able to heal, understand, and overcome in everyday life.

14. What do you do when you feel like you can’t write anything?

I don’t believe in blocks, truth be told. If I can’t write, usually it’s because I haven’t been reading or writing with regularity. If that’s the case, then I push forward. I grab something off the shelf that always inspires me and read. I make myself write some terribly stilted prose and hope eventually the motor will kick in. Worse than that? I walk away. Go for a walk. Listen to some music. Pray it’s only temporary.

15. You’ve been known to tell your own creative writing students (at Georgia Southern University) to write what terrifies them. What are your worst fears (Top 3)?

Top three really narrows it down. I think every writer is terrified that it will just stop. Because someday it will. Someday you and I will write our last piece and that will be the summation of everything we’ve ever done. That’s a powerful realization, a living death that’s almost impossible not to think about and almost impossible to function while thinking about.

With that, I think all artists are afraid they won’t ever truly be happy. The condition that allows writers to write their stories or poetry is the same condition that makes existence occasionally bleak and unbearable. There’s some kind of quiet hope that maybe someday this malaise will break completely and forever leave us be, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

And last, but not least: losing everyone I love.

16. Best piece of writing advice anyone’s ever given you? (or was it to write what terrifies you and you’re just recycling that because it’s great?)

 The story will tell you what to do. I heard my graduate advisor Beth Lordan say that in graduate school and I didn’t understand it until maybe four years ago.

17. Fine, I still want to know, even though you’ll probably get tired of answering this question: your favorite story in the collection?

That’s almost impossible to answer. I have favorites, but for varying reasons. I think the title piece is one of the lushest things I’ve written and it came from a marathon writing session one afternoon where everything broke the right way. “Yankee” (from Hobart)  was this thing that took me almost no time at all and arrived fully-formed and virtually perfect. And “Punch-For-Punch” (in PANK). I just like the hell out of that one.

 18. Who are some up-and-comers writing right now (and no, you can’t say me—that one’s obvious) who inspire you?

I’m going to punt on this one because it’s just going to turn into a list of the people I love. There are just so many writers who are hustling their asses off and getting words on the page that say more about existence than anything on our TVs, phones, commercials, or websites. And it’s not even close.

19. Online journal/s you get excited about reading (besides Split Lip, which would, again, be obvious)?

This falls into the same category, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a journal online, or read one on a bookstand, where I didn’t find at least one thing that got me excited about writing.

20. What’s next for you in the literary world?

That’s a hell of a question in its own right. I don’t know. I’ve got another collection coming out from Split Lip next year – an experimental one called I Am The Oil Of The Engine Of The World – and a crime-novel forthcoming from New Pulp Press called Bring Me The Head of Yorkie Goodman. I’ve got another three novels finished and am working on another right now. It’s an exciting time, for sure, the future filled with book ideas for as far as the eye can see. Certainly better than the alternative.

Hell yes it is, JYS.

Thanks to Jared for taking time out of his super busy teaching/writing schedule to answer these inane questions. The Hook and the Haymaker will be available tomorrow, Thursday, January 15th, and we couldn’t be prouder to have him as part of the Split Lip family.