Winged: New Writing on Bees was kind enough to reprint some excerpts from my Prairie Gold nonfiction piece, “Letters After Achilles,” on their blog.
May 2, 2013
I feel I must apologize. I’m new to this apian life, and I regret not thinking of you first when Achilles came to Iowa. The cold air settled on my exposed back this morning, and I awoke from the chill. Snow shrouded the world outside my window, colonizing the tree branches like arctic lichen. Today, the snow didn’t fall simply down. It fell east and west, north and south. It blew up, buoyed by the wind.
Yesterday they warned us this storm was coming. They, who attempt to prophesy these kinds of events. They, who termed this record-breaking storm Achilles. I wonder how deeply they who selected the name understood its history. I wonder if they knew the word’s etymological origin—akhos laos, “the grief of the people.” I wonder if the name made them think of Homer or Brad Pitt. And I wonder if…
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I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am working with Taylor Brorby on a new Ice Cube Press anthology, Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America.
Taylor and I are currently seeking new writing that considers the implications of fracking. Submissions are open until June 1, 2015.
Guidelines on the publisher’s website.
It’s October now. Leaves are changing, the temperature is cooling, my wind chime is getting noisier. At the same time, there have been developments in my personal and professional life. Here are some updates from the latter:
I’m honored to have had not just one, not even two, but three pieces published in the October 2014 issue of Festival Writer. Check out the issue here and then click on my name to view all three of my contributions. These pieces tend to resist easy genre classification. This is how I would describe them:
“Baconer” is a prose poem (with formatting) about factory farming, from the perspective of a pig in a CAFO. Please note that this poem uses plenty of profanity and unpleasant imagery. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, but I think it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
“First Beard” is a nonfiction vignette about my dad, and “Performance Review” is micro fiction. They are so short, I better not say anything else about them (Spoilers!) except that I hope you enjoy reading them.
As mentioned in a previous post, our Midwestern book tour of Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland will include two October events: one at the Rozz-Tox in Rock Island, Illinois, (Quad Cites area) on October 9 and one at Prairie Lights in Iowa City on October 16. Details:
Our Quad Cities reading will feature fiction by T.C. Jones and Barbara Harroun as well as poetry by Esteban Colon, Salvatore Marici, and Ryan Collins. Part of the Midwest Writing Center’s SPECTRA Reading Series, the event will also include readings by featured poets Lauren Haldeman and Erin Keane. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.
Our Iowa City reading will feature nonfiction by Will Jennings and Meghan Brown, fiction by Barbara Harroun, and poetry by Salvatore Marici. Check out the event page for more details.
Since I switched from teaching English 150/250 at Iowa State University to my current position as a communications research assistant at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (also at ISU), I have been involved in a lot of cool multimedia projects. My job includes writing news releases and articles, updating the Center’s website, managing our social media, publication design, and video production. That last piece is such new and exciting territory for me, and I’m thrilled to share the final version of “STRIPS the Movie” (not the official title), a 13-minute video on the conservation practice of prairie strips that was four months in the making. It premiered at the 2014 Extension Energy and Environment conference in Ames and was followed by a Q & A with the researchers. Now that the feature documentary is done, we are in the process of using the extra interview footage to make a series of video shorts that will, among other things, help introduce a broader audience to the STRIPS project.
Our Goodreads Giveaway is still going on. Five free copies of Prairie Gold are up for grabs! The contest closes October 31. Details here.
If you already own the book and are on Goodreads, please take a moment to add it to your shelf, which you can do here. It helps us out when, after reading the book, our fans take the time to rate it, review it, and vote for it on relevant lists. (Contributors: Goodreads recommends that authors write a brief note on the inspiration for the piece in lieu of a review.)
Also, as part of having a book out, I’ve converted my personal Goodreads page into an author profile. It’s the same as before but with a few extra features, like the ability to have “fans” in addition to friends. I only have two fans so far! If you are on Goodreads and a fan of my work, please visit my author profile to make it official. (Lance needs more fans too. Here’s his author profile.)
I have lots of other exciting news I’d love to share, but I’m going to keep my beak buttoned for just a little while longer until details are finalized. So that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
First of all, I want to say thank you to Monica Hadley and Caroline Kilbourn at 100.1 FM, KRUU-LP in Fairfield, Iowa, for having Lance and me on the show this past Friday. It was both of our first time on talk radio, and we had a lot of fun talking about Prairie Gold with the mother/daughter duo. Thanks also to Monica for mentioning us on her blog.
If you missed the live broadcast, which also included me reading an excerpt from my nonfiction essay “Letters After Achilles,” they’ll be re-airing it Monday (tomorrow) morning at 8:00 CST. You can listen live on their website.
If that’s just not going to work for you (because you’ll be at work, say, and you’re a responsible employee who stays on task), they’ll be archiving it on Writers’ Voices, so check back there at a later date.
I do want to take the opportunity to make a couple minor corrections to my bio, which has changed since the final draft of Prairie Gold was sent to the printers. While I very much enjoyed my two years as an undergraduate English instructor at ISU, as of May 2014 I’ve (temporarily) hung up my teaching hat and have been trying my hand in a new field: multimedia communications. As the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture‘s communications assistant, I write news releases and feature stories, manage their social media, post updates on their website, design publications like their quarterly newsletter, and other fun stuff like helping produce a video for STRIPS, a cutting edge sustainable agriculture practice.
Likewise, I am no longer the nonfiction or social media editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. In order to give all of ISU’s Creative Writing and Environment graduate students the opportunity to serve on the editorial staff, Flyway positions are one-year appointments. I want to make sure credit for all of the wonderful work Flyway is currently doing goes to the right people: Adam Wright is now the nonfiction editor, and Erin Schmiel has taken over social media.
Of course, you can always find the most up-to-date information about what I’m up to on my Bio/Home page.
I couldn’t be more proud of Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, which I had the pleasure of co-editing along with with Lance Sacknoff and Xavier Cavazos. The multi-genre collection from 67 different authors illustrates just as many different perspectives on the Midwest, including my own epistolary essay “Letters after Achilles.”
I am so grateful to Jamie Campbell, who designed the beautiful cover; to Dean Bakopoulos, Debra Marquart, and Mary Swander for writing the introductions to our fiction, nonfiction, and poetry sections, respectively; and to the many others who helped in this incredibly collaborative project.
Prairie Gold is now available through the publisher that made all of this possible, Ice Cube Press. Get yours online or ask your local bookstore to place an order.
I’m honored that my poem “White Squirrel” was selected as the winner of the Multimodal Poetry Contest sponsored by the Iowa State University Writing and Media Center. I took home a $50 gift card to the ISU Bookstore (My kind of prize!), and they will be publishing my poem on their website. I look forward to updating this post with a link to the poem, which features the white squirrel, atomic history, and sycamore trees on ISU’s campus.
Friday, April 25, 2014, at 7:00 pm
The Orange Gentleman, 702 Clark Avenue, Ames, Iowa
The final installation of the 2013-2014 Emerging Writer Series will feature fiction by Andrew Payton, poetry by Xavier Cavazos, and nonfiction by both Chris Wiewiora and yours truly. I will be reading “A Terrestrial Brook Trout,” an essay about dead animals, conscience, and my relationship with my dad.
I am pleased to announce that Cardinal Sins has accepted “The Drawing,” my creative nonfiction essay about maple sugaring in Quebec, for publication in their Winter 2014 issue. It was selected as an honorable mention in their “translation”-themed creative nonfiction contest.
Though I am unfortunately unable to attend the Publication Reception at Saginaw Valley State University, I read an earlier incarnation of “The Drawing” in Ames last year at the April Emerging Writer Series event at Arcadia Cafe, shortly after returning to Quebec for the first time in about twenty years.
The print issue will be published in May and later archived online.
Friday, February 14, 2014, at 7:00 pm
Design on Main, 203 Main Street, Ames, Iowa
Eight graduate students in the MFA program for Creative Writing and Environment will present their fieldwork experiences and read creative work inspired by those experiences.
I will be presenting on my summer 2013 writing residency at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. I will read an excerpt from “CLAMPology,” an essay I wrote in appreciation for the community volunteers who do all of the water sampling for CLAMP, the Cooperative Lakes Area Monitoring Program, an initiative coordinated by Lakeside in partnership with the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa.