Blog Archives

In the Flesh? In the Flesh

Dear readers and patrons of our little magazine,

I am regretfully announcing our decision to definitely close submissions for Yorick Magazine. This was not an easy choice to make. This was not a digestible idea at first. This was not how we pictured Yorick at the end of 2013.

But there should be no tears but smiles at the finish of this road. Admire yourselves for having the bravery to submit your work and extend your mind to ours. When the magazine began, I had no expectations that there would be such a community to follow this jester of an experiment. I have more faith in the online literary world than I ever had and ever knew. Thank you.

Thanks also to Lauren Wainwright for your layout, design, and graphic productions for this magazine, as well as being a great manager to our staff. You were a fantastic help and a backbone for Yorick.

Thanks to Olivia Errico, Dean Terrell, Sam Levenberg, and Ed Jameson for your amazing work respectively editing, “social-mediating,” writing content for Yorick, and producing The Skullcast. You were a bliss to work with.

Thanks to Jeremiah Walton for your indelible efforts to promote and support Yorick. Cheers!

Thanks to the other literary publications that associated with Yorick, especially The Gap-Toothed Madness, for your ability to share the literary space we tread online.

And, so importantly, thanks to Cody Steinhauer for the wonderful idea. You didn’t know it at the time, but your drunken plans for a magazine brought all these people together.

The website will stay up as long as WordPress exists. The online issues, too, will remain as long as Issuu.com exists. When we find the funding, print issues of the Summer and Fall 2013 issue will be sent out to contributors.

It was a pleasure serving you all.

Best,
Alex Grover

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Beards, Zombies, SNES, and David Bowie: The Mind of Jayme Karales

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Disorderly, by Jayme Karales. Before Sunrise Press 2013.

Hello viewers! Since we’re nearing the holidays (a temporary asylum from the plague of day jobs), I thought it was high time to have another post. Today you’re in for a nasty good treat, since Yorick Magazine interviewed Jayme Karales, a young and horrorshow author and host of Shootin’ it with Jayme and Kenney.  I proverbially sat down with him to discuss the existential benefits of writing as well as his debut novel, Disorderly.

1. Tell me about yourself. Jayme Karales is a writer from Boston with a podcast and a cool ass beard. I want to know more!

First off, thank you for recognizing the awesomeness of my facial hair. You’re the first interviewer to do that and I think my beard is very underappreciated. Second, in addition to being a writer and podcaster from Boston, I’m also a cat hoarder, a Tumblr addict, and a passionate hater of all things Wes Anderson.

2. How did you find writing? Or did it find you? Writers always have that story that narrates the triumphs and tribulations of discovering the Golden Fleece of what they want to do for the rest of their lives. What was your quest?

I’ve always been interested in storytelling. If I weren’t a storyteller, I’d probably be a pathological liar. I can remember being 4 years old, sitting in front of one of those old, 30 lb. home-movie camcorders and just rattling off random stories—or telling my mom to write things down on a piece of paper while I drew the crudest fucking Power Ranger drawings you can imagine. So I’ve been interested in writing—in my own way—from the jump.

3. How would you approach a dystopian future that eliminated written forms of communication?

That actually doesn’t sound too bad. I figure I’ll probably square myself away in a cabin in the woods somewhere by the time I’m 50, so I’ll welcome it.

Now, about your stuff:

4. Why did you write Disorderly?

I came across a prompt for a short story anthology that essentially said, ‘write a zombie story that features a protagonist suffering from cancer.’ When I actually got into it, I couldn’t cut it down to 10,000 words so I just kept going and wound up writing my first novel, Disorderly.

When I did get into writing it, the goal became: break the reader’s expectations and deliver something that will push their boundaries. Based off of the reviews, I think I did that.

5. The setting in your work is always heavily emphasized and very real to you. Massachusetts and its communities especially play a part in “Youth” and Disorderly. What drives you to include these locations?

Convenience and character. I know Massachusetts better than I know any other state and I feel like there’s a certain flavor here that you can’t find in, say, Oregon. Go to the right part of Boston and you’ll find a well-dressed Harvard grad standing 10 ft. away from some Dorchester townie calling his buddy a “cawksuckuh.” There is a variety of over-the-top, clashing personalities here and in an unconventional way that’s part of its charm.

6. I absolutely love “SNES” from David Bowie is Dead, your collection of poetry/prosetry/multimedetry. How is fiction different for you than shorter, more lyrical works?

Fiction takes a lot more effort and a lot more care than poetry or prose. Poems are random blurbs that pop into my head. Fiction is a culmination of ideas that I can no longer keep bound to my brain.

7. Are you aware of anticipated obituaries? I typed up “David Bowie is Dead” in glorious Google and found this.

I was not. Now I have something new to aim for.

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Jayme Karales

“Jayme K. is the author of the novel Disorderly, as well as numerous short stories, essays, and poems. His work has been published by UnHollywood, Before Sunrise Press, Underground Books, Miracle E-zine, Nostrovia! Poetry, Slasher Studios, Your Daily Subvert, Moon Project, and Flash Fiction 365. He lives in Boston.”

The Return and the Departure

Dear Lovers of the Aubade who fight to never leave,

We’ve had a slight jumping off since the summertime. Many of you have emailed about when the new issue will be coming out. Many have wondered why we haven’t had as many posts as usual. Many have developed new-found passions for optometry and are pursuing a lucrative career in the medical field. To all of you, I apologize.

Tragedy has hit many members of our staff lately. It has convinced us to grab onto our knees and dig our nails into the skin. Loss begets nothing more than reaching for a glass and having it drop before you can catch it. It’s the unfair it could have been different than this circumstance.

Know that what we’ve seen will make us better for you. What drives us to serve you is the love for art and communication and to make your experience on this lovely, lonely planet the best it can be. While we won’t be in full capacity until 2014, don’t forget about us. We won’t forget about you.

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“Flower” by Abigail Allen

Today marks the publication of Yorick Magazine‘s fifth issue. We have harbored 44 unique writers and 9 artists since we began in 2011, and we are dogged to harbor more. Enjoy this new issue. It’s pretty.

Sincerely yours,
Alex Grover,
Editor-in-Chief,
Yorick Magazine

A Much-Needed Submitter-Contributor Appreciation Post

Dear people who cross the digital expanse and pray their submitted work gets in,

You are the champions of the literary world. If you do not view yourself as “equal to” or “greater” than the literary magazines you support, then you are looking at this culture all wrong. What is a magazine without its submitters? What does it really mean to submit?

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Courtesy of The Gap-Toothed Madness, a wonderful presentation of a blurb I wrote

Let’s look at the definitions of “submitting” for a moment:

sub·mit  (sb-mt)

v. sub·mit·tedsub·mit·tingsub·mits

v.tr.

1. To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.

2. To subject to a condition or process.

3. To commit (something) to the consideration or judgment of another.

4. To offer as a proposition or contention: I submit that the terms are entirely unreasonable.

 

(Courtesy of http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Submitters)

If applied to writers, the first definition imagines the submitter as a small kingdom who yields to an empire greater than itself. So, by this definition, writers are lesser than and must abandon themselves and their values for what they perceive as the greater good. Of course, by obeying the empire, these writers can bring glory and fame to their name.

That’s a disgusting perspective to have, but we’ll continue.

The second definition is more appropriate, though it seems to waylay the emotional ability writers have and need to submit their work. It is not just a “condition” or “process.” This definition forgets that it’s a love for the work. It’s a respect for the work. Therefore, it’s a love, respect, and need for the writer.

As the fourth definition doesn’t seem truly applicable, the third definition ascends to be our best bet. Writers committing (prose or poetry or artwork or photography) to the consideration or judgment of a magazine. Consideration seems to have a more positive connotation than judgment. Yet, while this is the most salient definition of “submitting” for the writer to bear in mind, the question for all writers to consider is “Does this magazine have the authority to judge my work?”

I will be the first to say that literary magazines do not and should not carry the pomp they brag of. The word “magazine” comes from the French word magasin, which translates to “storehouse.” Does the word translate to “publication that reaps the benefits of its contributors and is more important than them”? No.

Moreover, a storehouse must be filled with goods to function. Without the goods, there would be no storehouse. However, without a storehouse, the goods cannot be distributed. Nonetheless, I believe the ones who share their goods with the world are the better people at the end of the day.

Do I contradict myself by posting a shameless advertisement of Yorick as the picture in this post? No. It’s my job to shamelessly advertise my magazine. It’s a storehouse for crying out loud. How else are Greek citizens going to know to come here for their oil and fleece skeins?

I’ve talked with several individuals in the immediate literary community who are committed to caring for submitters. Jeremiah Walton, of Nostrovia fame, is continuously working to create projects like The Traveling Poet so that writers have more opportunities to be heard. Brittany Wright and Richard Barnhardt at The Gap-Toothed Madness have created a newsletter for their submitters and contributors detailing new ways to submit work. It’s magazines like these that appreciate the writer.

So, submitters: you are not the worthless creatures you believe yourselves to be. You are not the mercenaries who struggle to make a living by providing service to an emperor. You are the artifacts that the acolytes struggle to collect. Some artifacts are undiscovered, some are found and made public.

Whether admitting it or not, the acolyte, a wretch in torn cloth, dreams only of finding the best.

– Alex

 

Regarding Poetry: Part 2 – Getting your Poetry Out into the Wide, Wide, Gloriously Wide World

By Sam Levenberg, Staff Writer

 

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Hermetic Globe, by Durotriges

Hello again out there!

First of all, thanks to everyone who submitted to the Summer 2013 issue of Yorick! Alex and Lauren sent responses to all who submitted, so check your emails if you sent in work. Expect the full issue to be produced by mid-August. Contributors’ copies will be sent out in the coming months.

So in the past I’ve talked about my favorite literary magazines and the pleasure I find in my own and others’ poetry. What ties magazine love and poetry love together, though, is that both exist because people write poetry (including, I hope, some of you!). So, anticipating that someday I’ll read in some literary magazine a cornucopia of good poetry that brings me delight—some such that will be written by you, members of the blogosphere—I have three suggestions on going about submitting and possibly having your poetry accepted.

1)      Know what kind of poetry you write. I think this is the most important part of submitting your poetry, because every magazine is looking for something different. If you write humorous, nonsensical poems and submit them to a magazine that’s looking for deep, emotionally heart-wrenching poems, you’re going to get rejected. So know what kind of poetry you write, and then try to find magazines that publish those kinds of poems. It’ll greatly enhance your chances of getting them published.

2)      If what you’re looking at is a smaller, less well known magazine—like 32 Poems, vox poetica, or Circus Book—then your best bet is to go online and find out when their deadlines are and then directly email the editor. Many times these editors don’t get a whole truckload of submissions, at least compared to bigger magazines like Paris Review, so hearing from someone who is looking to get their poetry out and about is a joy for them. I’ve had two or three email conversations with editors of small magazines, and one thing they always mention is that they love hearing from new poets and reading their poems; they never know what to expect and are often amazed by what they read. So, in short, take initiative and don’t be scared to email an editor.

3)      Compared to smaller literary magazines, hulking magazines like the Paris Review and The New Yorker receive thousands of submissions by their respective deadlines. So, emailing an editor of a magazine like that is impractical because it’s unlikely they’ll get back to you. However, there are online databases for writers that can greatly help you in your submissions to these magazines. One of the most well known is called Duotrope, which not only lists a large number of magazines both big and small, but also provides statistics on how likely it is that anything you submit will be accepted and how long it can take for different magazines to respond to your submission. For up-and-coming writers, as well as those who are more experienced, websites like Duotrope can be a great help for finding the magazine that’s right for you. In sum, utilize online resources to their fullest extent.

That’s all I have for now. Hopefully what I’ve give is useful to those of you who are looking to expand your poetry throughout the wide, wide world.

So long, and thanks for all the fish,

Sam Levenberg
Yorick Magazine

Marching across/ the Bridge on the River Kwai

Dear Storywriters, Storyhearers, and Pythonians,

The Summer 2013 reading session is over. To those who submitted, wonderful work so far. We’re still evaluating your pieces and will come to a decision. To those who didn’t submit, shame, forsakenness, misdeed upon your household! Or your wifi. Whichever affects you more.

You can always submit to our fine little literary magazine at yorickmagazine@gmail.com. If you missed the deadline for the Summer 2013 issue, why not submit for the Fall 2013 issue?

Do it. This is a warranted challenge. So is the following:

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“I Can Make it to the Gate in 3 Seconds, Can You?” by emilydickinsonridesabmx

As we run from attack dogs and march in tune, we realize that submitting work is a tough process. It’s equitable to raising children and sending them off into the world to get jobs—except your children can get rejected and you have to revise them to make them perfect.

Sounds pretty dystopian to me.

But it’s what writers do. All storytellers need to strive to find their medium. We don’t all have the honor of telling our tales to a tribe by the fireside in the desert. We don’t all have enthusiastic grandchildren who honor us with their ears. What we do have is the Internet.

The first magazine I successfully submitted to, Postcard Shorts, is a sweet affair with remote flash fictions that take your mind away for a few minutes, roughly. It’s an enjoyable publication and a reminder of why we write. Escape. A chance to travel to a new world, one not too far away but not so subtly in an inaccessible dimension.

That’s a lie. We submit to become famous. You want to be in an echelon where strangers will glorify your work and your friends will say, “Wow, I grew up with that chick, and now she’s a famous novelist/ short story writer/ poet? I really suck.” However, you can always relieve non-writer friends by reminding them that your pay affords the pens and paper you write with.

So escape and fame. What else? Here’s a thought: we’re all writing to concoct the same dream with different pieces, chemicals, people. A complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end (unless you’re one of those absurdist-surrealist compatriots, and to you I say write on). Detective solves a mystery. Lovers solve the mystery of love. Gloomy poets solve the mystery of isolation with more isolation. It’s completeness we seek; passengers on the same boat, towards the same lonely island, we take up different cabins believing we’re original.

So march on and whistle.

Submit.

Can you submit before the vicious dog reaches the fence in three seconds?

Yes. Absolutely yes.

Remember that even though our songs sound different, they follow the same tune. Go buy yourself some caviar, you peasant. You’ve earned it.

Love,
Alex

Artist Spotlight: Nick Kita

Interview by Alex Grover, Editor-in-Chief
Transcribed by Sam Levenberg, Staff Writer

Months ago, I trapped a young photographer into a long conversation that he probably didn’t want to have. He had the misfortune of having his work accepted in the Spring 2013 issue of Yorick, so I knew that his artistic insight would be beneficial to our dear community. When I successfully cornered him, he gave me the “dark eyes,” the look of frustration when you can’t get out of dodge and you subtly admit defeat. Here is an abridged interview with Nick Kita, possible double agent, definite swagger.

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Nick Kita, Photographer

Alex: Where has photography taken you in life?

Nick: Socially, it’s pretty cool what being a photographer does at a college. Just this weekend I was able to go and photograph Profstock and being at, being at the front of the stage everyone is dying for your attention. Everyone wants to go home and see themselves and it’s pretty cool. You know I never, I never really wanted to bend for people to become their friends, so it hasn’t made me exuberantly popular, if that’s the right word. It hasn’t made me the coolest kid on campus, but it definitely helped me be at the front of some social experiences and that’s pretty cool. Business wise—it’s pretty funny, because I never intended to take it toward a business aspect. I always liked photography, I’d always thought it was a cool thing to do, but I guess I’ve been blessed with somewhat of a raw talent because everybody, not everyone, let me rephrase…

Alex: (laughs)

Nick: …enough people talk to me and go, “Wow, you’re a really great photographer!” and I say, “Thank you.” I appreciate that, but you are the biggest critique of your own work. So, people have been pushing me toward it, to take it towards a business standpoint, and for me as a nineteen-year-old just turned twenty-year-old kid, I was comfortable making $9.50 at my Smoothie King and selling all those retail products. But when you can work six hours and make $500 easy, and that’s the lowest you’ll make, it’s kind of hard not to say, “Wow! I really love doing this! Why not make money doing it?” So business is coming second for me, but it’s going to be a priority and it’s going to keep me afloat whether or not it takes me deeper in the future with photography and that’s where most of my income will come from, or if it’s just a hobby that can help me buy cool stuff.

Alex: (laughs) Yeah. Well, you talk about this raw talent—what do you think that means? And what, how do you see yourself refining that raw talent?

Nick: I think it’s more raw talent for me in the way I’m trying to define it. I have an innate ability to see the beauty in the mundane. So, when I see something that normally someone would look at and say “Wow, that’s not that beautiful, that’s not cool,” I can see myself in a different light, in a different aspect, from a different perspective and make it beautiful. I can…with all my social experiences and how my first passion people, my second passion is experiences and my third passion is success. So, I’ve grown to know how people act and what usually comes next in a series of event, series of conversations and I can, I can predict when that perfect shot’s going to happen. But again, that can just come from practice with photography.

Alex: Yeah, so it’s almost this weird, precognitive, artistic…

Nick: …disposition that I have.

Alex: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

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“i play even though i know my sound falls on deaf ears,”
Nick Kita

Alex: It comes through in your work no matter what. And just to jump around, it definitely shows in your piece, “i play even though i know my sound falls on deaf ears.” It’s just very, it’s just very moving because everyone around him is static and there he is at the center. Tell me about that piece.

Nick: Yeah, just to go back to what I said before, finding the beauty in the mundane. What I wanted to emphasize the most in that piece is how this old man, one of our elders if you will, is sitting there, he’s most likely retired, I don’t know his name, I didn’t ask his name, I probably should’ve reflecting on this, but everybody in this world, we always move so fast. Here we are on a vacation, a vacation location, a getaway, and everyone is running past this beautiful artistic expression, they don’t notice him. People who are sitting behind him are on their cellphones, they’re looking in other directions, they’re talking to their partners and stuff like that, no one really stood and stopped to embrace the moment that he was providing for us. So I saw that, and saw that he was a very talented man, and I wanted to capture the picture. Though he is not named in the photo, I don’t know his name, I heard he plays there for, he’s played there for years and if I ever went back again I would most definitely ask for his name, maybe do a story on him, photojournalism, that’s something that interests me. That was a very cool, very cool guy. It was more or less to emphasize how quickly we move and how we overlook some of the coolest things. They’re right in front of our face and we walk right past never giving them a chance to blossom and bloom and become this great thing.

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“Our Time Has Come,” Nick Kita

Alex:  Your other piece was very interesting too. It’s almost, it’s almost kind of eerie, it was “Our Time Has Come.”

Nick: Yeah, yeah. What I was really trying to portray there was this existentialist type of artwork where, what I was going for was the very spiritual—I’m just totally kidding. It was a foggy day.

Alex: (laughs)

Nick: It was a foggy day and I told my RA, Ojas Patel at the time, I said, “Yeah Ojas, yeah come on, I love fog.” I really wanted to do this low-key photo shoot and so we walked over to the back of Edgewood Park Apartments, and there’s this light shining down, and I said, “Go ahead, jump, make it look like you’re levitating.” And it took about twenty shots just to get that one shot. I mean, as funny as, as much meaning as can be put into one photo, a totally…pointless, floorless meaning can be given. I mean there’s just, there’s just no meaning, no meaning for that photo, it was just a spur of the moment thing and I was like, “This looks cool, let me take it.” But the title again, as I went and reflected on it, it could mean so much to so many people. He’s in the shape of a cross, Christians could interpret it that way, and they could think, “Oh, it’s Jesus rising up.” Say I took that photo and I, I didn’t reveal it until Easter, you know, it’s, there are so many ideas that can be derived from something, and it’s all really what you see in art, and it’s what makes art and music and these creative expressions that you, that humans can create, that the human population can create, that’s what makes it so interesting to me. Now, my interpretation, I just, I simply know the facts. How I want it to be interpreted? There simply is no wrong answer. Take what you need from it.

We talked for roughly two hours, and in that barrage of ideas and ideals in April’s chill, I felt this cool connection to this fellow whose job was his passion, whose passion was an organ much like his heart. This next part was the last bit we suffered through, but I might just have enjoyed it the most.

Nick: Photography is part of me now, and it’s not like I can separate business from my normal life. I can’t separate work from my normal life because I love what I do. I try and be as humble as possible, because, I have no, I don’t have anything to back up me being the best. I just have my creative art expression, I just have my portfolio, and some people like it, some people love it, some people hate it.

Alex: Do you ever think that you’ll be the best?

Nick: To some people, yeah, absolutely, I’ll be the best to some people. I’ll be the worst to some people. It’s all, it’s all (sighs) it all depends on which spectrum you look at it from. Maybe I’m the best to my father, maybe I’m the worst to my mother. Who knows. Δ

Submit your artwork and photography to yorickmagazine@gmail.com.
Deadline is August 1st.

Support Lit! 5 Magazines to Get You Started

Dear Wendigos and Other Beasts of Folklore,

Wendigo Trail, by Amir Syed

Wendigo Trail, by Amir Syed

I hope you’re doing well out there in the Blogosphere. I’ve heard it’s cold sometimes.

The poems, stories, artwork and photography we’ve imprisoned in our first issue from this year are screaming to get out and into your heads! If you haven’t seen our literary brig, go to our ISSUES section and take a gander at our literary magazine.

Here’s the fun part of this post—and definitely not the self-marketing in-your-face advertisement blurb—as I’d like to make a shout out to some literary œuvres de grandeur (see that! French!) that you should know about. They’re all very, very cool publishers of the best, the best of the best, and the best of the best bests, and deserve 96% of your attention. The other 4% can be zoned out. That’s totally fine.

Click on the pictures to visit their websites!

1. The Gap-Toothed Madness

This lit mag based in Sacramento, CA is already a strong contender as a fantastic and sophisticated compilation of work from around the world. One of their featured writers is actually a Yorick alum, Fred Pollack, one of our Spring 2013 issue’s poets. With amazing cover art and a printed magazine you can order here, this publication has a lot to smile about. This madness is currently accepting work.

The Gap-Toothed Madness - Lovely!

The Gap-Toothed Madness – Lovely!

2. Undergroundbooks.org

With a cryptic “Welcome Home” that makes me rethink where I’ve been these past two decades, Undergroundbooks.org deals in the cryptic and the utterly wonderful. Featuring eclectic poets and several neat ebooks, this online publishing house of silken onyx has scored a subterranean following as well as my heart. Some types of prose and poetry you may submit are prison diaries (if you’ve recently been to prison), poetry made through animated gifs, and children’s books, which will be tested on the editors’ children, among the more typical stuff. This underground dwelling is currently accepting work.

Undergroundbooks.org - Lovely!

Undergroundbooks.org – Lovely!

3. Hobo Camp Review

A four-season camp full of weathered raconteurs, this magazine is in its seventeenth issue. If you’re looking to read earthy realities and salient truths, come here. Some notable work to mention is by Melissa Prunty Kemp and James Tyner, among an amazing camp of “road-weary storytellers” that will surely send your dreams to the forest. This hobo camp is currently accepting work.

Hobo Camp Review - Lovely!

Hobo Camp Review – Lovely!

4. Miracle E-zine

Sporting gorgeous artwork, poetry, fiction, film reviews, writing contests, and other special features (I particularly like the “Writer’s Guide to Reading” in Issue 6), Miracle is a miracle—not that its talented staff and writers can put together such great work, but that we can have such a beautiful publication to grace our existence. For their writers’ group, click here. This miracle is currently accepting submissions.

Miracle E-zine - Lovely!

Miracle E-zine – Lovely!

5. Decades Review

This is the kind of lit review you look for when you sink back in your couch, pull up your laptop, and browse for good, meaningful writing. The Decades Review is inspiring, full of great management, interviews, and, of course, pieces of fine literature and artwork. I hope this publication runs for years. This decade is currently accepting submissions.

Decades Review - Lovely!

Decades Review – Lovely!

Thanks for reading, folks! Support these magazines with your time, love, and memory. Reading the work of others, comrades, is as important as submitting your own work.

It’s a monster of a world without friends. Even for a wendigo.

Love,
Alex

The Pleasure in Poetry

by Samuel Levenberg, Staff Writer

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Poetry, by V.H. Hammer. View her work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vhhammer/

Heidi ho out there!

A few days ago my editor – the esteemed Alex Grover – asked me if I wanted to write a blog post for Yorick about what I like about poetry. A few things immediately popped into my head – how its beauty is only in words and how it can be about much of anything – but what I think I like most about poetry is its unpredictable nature. When looking into poetry, whether in a literary magazine, a textbook, on the internet, my own drunk scribbles or even just research about it in general, the gems I find concerning poetry always lift my mood.

Two gems in particular always make me smile when I see them. The first is a drunken scrawl I wrote about a month ago when I was having a conversation with a random girl I had just met. I mentioned I was a poet, so she challenged me to write a poem. I asked her for a word and she said to me “CRY.” I said “Okay,” and I wrote this for her:

Cold fusion does make

radioactive music.

YES, said the hero

I almost forgot this poem, because I’d written it on a napkin and given it to her so I thought I had lost it. But about two days after this night, I was taking a look at my jeans and saw something written on them. Wadda ya know, it was this poem, and when I saw that I couldn’t help but grin.

The other gem that always makes me smile is that there are 190, 899, 322 different ways to write a sonnet (thank you John Lennard’s The Poetry Handbook!) because for a while I was of the opinion that you could only write a sonnet one of two or three ways – in English, Italian or Spenserian forms. However, after reading these numbers in Lennard’s book and doing a close reading of “Ozymandias” by Shelley, my mind was opened to the adventures that writing sonnets can hold. So, whenever I look at this number I am reminded of this, and it makes me smile.

So, farewell. I wish you hope out there in the blogosphere in finding your own gems to smile at.

Best,
Sam “The Grimm” Levenberg
Intern (in turn)
Yorick Magazine

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (Or a King in a Zeppelin)

Dear Spider People and People Spiders,

Yorick, your friendly neighborhood literary magazine, is here again at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference in, well, Philadelphia. Specifically the Wyndham Hotel on Race Street. If that even matters. It’s raining like a king who can’t spell, or who’s crying too much in his zeppelin above the city. So that part’s awful and relatively lends itself to a bildungsroman story. Oh rain.

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Carla Spataro discusses the world’s wonders with a pupil.

But! The first session of Carla Spataro’s Short Story class was a great start to the conference (Ed Rendell was the real beginning, but unfortunately I was being a senseless consumer and bought a cup of coffee at the Starbucks down the road during the speech). Carla is not only the Creating Writing MFA director at Rosemont College, but she is also the editor-in-chief of Philadelphia Stories, a wonderful publication with powerful fiction, poetry, artwork, and photography. It’s awesome. So with that introduction to this fine instructor, let’s start off with a few pointers she had to provide about the lugubrious art of short storytelling.

1. A successful short story is structured as follows: conflict, complication, more conflict, then resolution. Carla addressed the old adage that literary fiction is strictly character drive, but what’s very important to realize is that literary fiction must still have a plot. Even though writers stigmatize genre writing as being trite and unintelligent because its stereotypically undeveloped characters, plot should still be a realized part of any good piece of short fiction. To be fair, genre fiction is not the bugbear that professionals think it to be. There’s a reason that genre fiction sells.

2. A successful short story is also structured as follows: exposition, development, and drama. Yet another road towards the same Rome. This theory, developed by Frank O’Connor in his guide to writing, The Lonely Voice, helps us determine if our story can even stay afloat. Carla had us write a sentence for these sections for a hypothetical or working story. If one section proves difficult, then that section needs improvement. Short stories, though they need not be outlined, should have a strong logical foundation. Without such, a story becomes a couple at a bar talking about nothing and going home. Have things happen! Create conflict!

 3. A successful short story is also structured as follows (tired of this yet?): you’ve heard of Freytag’s Pyramid, the traditional five-act structure that progresses from exposition to the rising action to the climax to the falling action and then to the denouement, that vague French term that comes close to meaning some sort of resolution. Carla informed us, however, of the contemporary story structure, which starts in media res, or in the middle of the story, and continues to the exposition and then the inciting action. With the following rising action leading to another conflict and falling action, the structure looks like a surreal checkmark mountain range, going up, up, up. Most postmodern fiction comes in this form nowadays. It eliminates excessive exposition, which Carla said “makes her want to poke her eyes out.”

4. There are about 157 million ways to approach a short story. But my advice, friends, is to simply write your story, then analyze it for its flaws. A zeppelin with a king inside can’t get off the ground if the king cries too much about the whole damned thing (full circle, eh?) Anyhow, I don’t want to steal too much of Carla’s thunder. Consider her program if you’re serious about creative writing and submit to her wonderful magazine.

Here’s a question: what stories are you working on? What do you think needs to be fixed? But give yourself some credit. What do you like about your story? You always need something to like; otherwise, what’s the point?

 

Signing off (for now),

Love,
Alex