Call for Submissions: Wigleaf

Wigleaf is now open for submissions.  They publish (very) short fiction.  Check them out!

SUBMISSIONS

We feature stories under 1000 words.

Submissions are welcomed via our SUBMITTABLE page.

(We’re open during the final week of each academic month,
with the exception of December. So: the final weeks of August,
September, October, November, January, February, March and April.)

For all other correspondence: wigleaf.fiction@gmail.com.

PUBLISHING SCHEDULE

We post new stories at least twice a week for nine months
of the year. Our summer break runs from early May until mid August.
Over the break we put up our annual, The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short
Fictions of the year.

Reading for Writers: Eva Saulitis’ into great silence

Toward Larger Truths:

Using Poetry in Creative Nonfiction

“Alaska. As a college student, a dream for me of blue-white tundra, wolves, caribou, moose, indigenous hunters: wilderness. A dream of emptiness, silence” (3).  With this first line in her first chapter of Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas, Eva Saulitis presents her reader with an idealized, poetic view of the place she is about to bring us.  With these images and sentence fragments, she paints us a lyrical picture of the place we will come to know and study through her.  Though she writes about scientific research and the imminent extinction of a group of transient killer whales, Saulitis uses poetry and poetic language throughout her account to allow her reader to feel her connection to Prince William Sound and to experience that same level of connection and loss.

Throughout into great silence, Saulitis weaves poetry and lyrical language throughout the text.  She begins her book with an epigraph of poetry by Dylan Thomas.  She also begins her prologue with lines of poetry by W.S. Merwin.  With these two epigraphs, Saulitis sets the stage for a book about science which the reader knows will not be a typical research book.  Though into great silence recounts her days as a field biologist studying whales and includes much of her research, she chooses to begin her book and her prologue with poetry.  This shows her reader that she will be narrating this story not only through the lens of a scientist, but also through the lens of a poet.

Saulitis continues to use epigraphs to insert poetry into her narrative throughout the book.  In particular, she uses the epigraphs to frame points of especially poignant emotion. For example, she begins Chapter 18, “Beast and Beauty,” with two lines of poetry by Cyrus Cassells.  This is a small cue to the reader that this chapter will be one of the most evocative in the book.  In this chapter, Eva slowly realizes the true effects of the Valdez oil spill.  As she says, “Every zooming skiff, every blackened beach, every harassment of whales triggered ire, until it seemed the oil was inside me” (92).  She goes on to compare the scene to a “war zone” (92).  This realization that some of the worst fears of the researchers are becoming reality is one of the most emotional moments in the book and Saulitis uses Cassells’ poetry to highlight that.

Saulitis uses a poetic epigraph again to begin the last section of the book, titled, like the book itself, “Into Great Silence.”  On page 179, Saulitis begins Part 4 of her book with a poetic quote from Li-Young Lee.  This section of the book is by far the most emotional.  Saulitis begins to leave her day-to-day accounts of research behind and allows herself to ruminate on the emotions and repercussions connected to the loss that she is witnessing and the grief that she is feeling.  She becomes more introspective and more speculative, trading in scientific research for meditations on death, loss, and ultimately hope.

Saulitis also chooses to begin her second to last chapter with poetry by Peggy Shumaker.  In this chapter, Chapter 47, Saulitis begins to write in present tense.  This is a chapter in which she uses some of the most introspective, reflective language.  It is in this chapter that she revisits her battle with cancer and relates it back to the story of the whales.  She reflects on the process of writing the book.  At the very end of the chapter we see Saulitis as the author who began the book  meeting herself as present author directly and telling us how her views have changed.  Not only does she begin the chapter with poetry, she rewrites the poetry as the title of the chapter.  The poem that she uses ends with the line, “In a language lost to us/god is singing” (239).  She chooses to name this chapter “In a Language Lost to Us, Eyak Is Singing.”  These poetic devices set her reader up for a very poignant ending.

Saulitis does not only use the poetry of others in her account of her whale research and the loss of the pod.  She also brings her own poetry into the retelling.  This happens most often in Saulitis’ use of letters to her parents and her own journal entries from the time.  These things give the reader a penetrating look into the narrator’s relationship with the world around her.  Her letters are often strikingly evocative.  Saulitis makes a real effort to pull those around her into her world.  For example, in her letter to her parents, she writes, “The hemlocks, gray-barked and bearded with lichen, remind me of ancient men in Tai Chi poses.  Gnarled, wind-scoured, half alive, they seem to hold each cry, each gasp of the Sound under oil, under boats, under trash, under storms, like memory given form.  When I lean my body against one, I’m dizzy from their knowledge” (80).  This kind of lyrical language does not just describe the place to the reader, but makes the reader also feel the connection and emotion attached to this place as if we are there with Saulitis and feeling the same sense of connection and attachment.

The emotion and passion with which she writes to her parents also comes through in her journal entries.  Amid a myriad of observations about wildlife, one journal entry muses, “If I sat here all day, what would fill these pages?  Out of nowhere, a helicopter.  Clouds sink and rise, wind rises and stills, the air becomes moister and cooler.  It’s impossible to predict what will happen next” (135).  This kind of imagery and introspection is incredibly effective.  It is clear in both her journal and in many of her correspondences that she is of that place.  There’s an immediacy about those passages that brings the reader into the experience.  In these instances, the reader can feel the place and Saulitis’ connection to it in a very powerful way.  Additionally, the speculation that she engages in here allows the reader to feel the possibility that the place holds.

This kind of lyrical language is juxtaposed with more straightforward accounts of her scientific studies.  She gives not only detached scientific explanations, but also an emotional sense of loss.  This juxtaposition comes to bear on both the factual portions and the poetic portions of Saulitis’ writing.  The lyrical portions are given a sense of authority when they are seen next to the research of a scientist who has been studying the place and the whales for years.  The scientific portions are made much more poignant and the reader connects with them much more when they are placed alongside poetic accounts.  Saulitis gives us not only facts on a page, but these facts are given meaning and weight through her use of poetry and poetic language.  Rather than undermining the validity of the scientific research that Saulitis did, it intensifies it.  The poetry and the science both become more authentic and more true.

Saulitis becomes most lyrical and introspective at the very end of her book.  She begins her last chapter writing:

Fine mist falling, fog down to the decks of boats in the harbor. On the breakwater, shags and herons cluster, hunch-shouldered against gusts.  I see them through the spaces in his ribs.  I stare down into the cradle of his rib cage, basket of bones, hoop of barrel staves, empty frame… I want to crawl inside, huddle at his skull’s base, a dark, secret place, to listen (241).

The strength of this writing is in the way it plays with images and lyricism.  We can feel the sense of longing and loss inherent in the way Saulitis talks about the space between ribs and wanting to crawl inside.  But we can also feel the sense of hope and connection in the resiliency of the hunch-shouldered herons and listening.  This echoes the feelings and imagery that she uses at the very end of the book in which she writes, “That what’s broken can be mended. That what’s shattered can be made whole.  That what’s damaged can be repaired. That the end of the story is ‘and then –‘  And then there was Eyak. Always and forever. Amen” (245).  In this, she closes the book much in the same way she began it, through the lens of a poet, someone who felt on a very special level a connection to a group of whales and a place and wants to bring that connection to the reader.

As writers of nonfiction, we can use these devices in our own writing as well.  Like Saulitis, we can include poetic epigraphs to heighten the poignancy of our nonfiction stories.  We can also use poetic language, such as metaphors, to share not only the factual details of our experiences but also the emotional facets.  We can juxtapose the lyrical, emotional language of our areas of expertise or personal experience to give our readers a fuller, more true picture of the events.  The use of poetic language in nonfiction can serve to enhance the experiences we are sharing with our readers.  Evocative, lyrical language can help take stories off the page and make them more visceral and relatable for our readers.

into great silence is also available on amazon.com.

Writing Roulette Results

 

She came dressed in nothing but the dust from butterfly wings and had dragonflies in her hair.  She shimmered with a silvery arctic sheen that barely covered her skin.  He wondered even if it was her skin.  He’d been in the mental hospital for so long that he wondered if humans had evolved this way, perhaps the climate was changing so much that people on the outside were developing ashen skin, burning in the sun until they came off on your fingers when you touched them.  He wanted her on his fingers like that, burned or not.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said. When she spoke, bumble bees came out of her mouth, whispering against his cheeks and wrapping him in honey.  They rested on his shoulders and chest, pollinating his skin.  He was hooked immediately.

“I’ve been here for years.”  He looked around to see if other people noticed her.  He didn’t trust his own eyes any more.

“You should have come sooner.”

“Why are you here?”

“Don’t you recognize me?” Her hair was white, long, silky strands, stronger than steel and he was caught in it.  Her eyes fluttered.   The bees which swarmed him tugged at something in the back of his mind, but she was too strange.  Her tongue curled and he was sure she was part insect.

Suddenly, her poetry came rushing back to him.

“Callie.”

 

Yesterday I posted a prompt about using various plot generators.  I wanted to share with you a little taste of what I came up with.  This came from one of the 5.1 million plots that Big Huge Thesaurus generated.  It was so inspiring as a prompt that it’s become a much, much larger (and still unfinished!) project.  I’ve shared the beginnings of it with you.  Has anyone else used any of these prompts?  What did you come up with?

Creative Commons love to Mr. Greenjeans on flickr for the amazing artwork.  Thank you!

Prompt: Writing Roulette: Plot Generators to Spice up Your Literary Life

 

 

 

Need a little spice and adventure in your writing life?  Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to write more and now your motivation is waning?  Did you join the My 500 Words Challenge, but can’t figure out what to write about?  Maybe you and the muse have just gotten into a rut and need a little more passion in your relationship.

Perhaps it’s time to leave things up to chance, play a little writing roulette and see where it takes you.  There is a huge array of plot generators out there, which will give you anything from a random sentence to hypothetical scenarios, to symbolism, to stories complete with weather and villains.  Here are some fun tools that might help get you through a little bit of writer’s block:

The Big Huge Thesaurus Story Plot Generator: 5.1 million possible story plots.  Just click the link for six possibilities.  Not inspired by those?  Just hit refresh until you find one that gets your fire going.  This one actually started me on a novel.

Plot Generator UK: This one takes a little bit more of your own input into consideration.  Choose a genre.  The options are Romance, Crime, Teen Vampire, Mystery, and Song Lyrics.  Or (my personal favorite) you can recreate a lost Bronte Sisters novel, complete with a well-to-do hero and a poor, lower class hero and a weather description. For this one, you can choose the names, jobs, descriptions, weapons, and hometowns of your characters, or the generator will suggest them for you.

Writing Exercises UK: This generator gives you characters, a setting, a situation, and a theme and you can put them together to create your plot.  If you don’t like one of the elements you’ve been given, just hit the button again to get a new one.  One of the exciting things about this site is that it also has other writing exercises, like a random first line, random title, subject or random words to use.  Very, very useful if you just need a little kickstart.

Seventh Sanctum Story Generator:  Another one where you can choose the genre, this generator gives more in-depth scenarios in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Modern, or Free-for-All categories.  These plots are interesting because of the details that they contain.  This website also has a What-If-inator and a Symbolitron, which might be my favorite find in all of the plot creators!

Hopefully this will be enough to get your writing juices flowing.  If any of these work out for you, please share the results with us!

 

Creative Commons love to Adam Lerner for the awesome photo!

Sharing: Evolve by Lyttleton

A wonderfully evocative poem by Lyttleton over at 10cities10years, which is an incredibly interesting blog about living in 10 cities in the U.S. over the course of 10 years.  Check it out!

Evolve; or: The Divergence of Species

We can get over anything
given enough time and miles:

I was a fish with sea legs
and you a protozoon
still beneath the wave of blankets
and this was our first goodbye
of many.
I’s a goner and you’s still there
replicating like teardrops
in a bus station
where we once kissed and spread
like meiosis;
now half the man I once was.

I don’t want to be remembered
for how I’ve changed,
unless I’m your genetic match.
But you’ve also evolved
and suddenly I’m a species unknown,
unique,
extinct.

 

Evolution of Fish

Call for Submissions: Writing Tomorrow Magazine

Writing Tomorrow Magazine is now accepting submissions.

About WT

Writers are the architect of the future. Our reflections on the past foreshadow the years to come; our fantasies of the future become the foundation of new ideas; our foray into relationships adds to the understanding of humankind. Not only do we write tomorrow, but we right tomorrow.

Writing Tomorrow is a new literary magazine looking for emerging and established writers. We offer writing tips, articles on craft and publishing, and even a special place among our pages for youth works. We believe great literature and artwork instill in us a sense of beauty, a promise of hope, and every possibility.

Join us.

Submissions

Thank you for your interest in submitting to Writing Tomorrow! We publish both emerging and established writers in print and digital media. We accept previously unpublished fiction (up to 12,000 words), poetry, creative nonfiction, novel excerpts, and artwork. We offer $50-100 for fiction/nonfiction and artwork. The rates for poetry and flash fiction begin at $25. Please refer to the guidelines below before submitting through our submissions manager. (Click the link at the bottom of this post.) Stories published in Writing Tomorrow will be nominated and submitted for prizes and anthologies such as Pushcart, PEN/O’Henry, and the Best Of series among others.

  •  Specify in your cover letter whether your work is poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or artwork.
  •  Please put a word count and a short bio in your cover letter. Headers and footers are not necessary.
  •  If you have multiple poems or artworks, send them in a single attachment.
  •  You may send up to six poems or three works of fiction at a time. Please do not send more until you’ve received a response from us.
  • Indicate whether your work is a simultaneous submission in the cover letter.

While we believe in the freedom of expression and will read anything you have to say, we will not print:

gratuitous sex/profanity/violence
overtly religious/political works
genre thriller/horror stories without a substantial theme.

We expect already polished works and will print those pieces that refuse to be forgotten. We may, however, edit your work. You will have the chance to work with us and review any changes. And of course, you will retain your full rights after publication.

Are you ready to submit?! Click here. 

We look forward to reading you!

Sharing: The Widow’s Pension from Postcards from Thursday

I was completely enthralled with this poem by Alison over at Postcards from Thursday and just needed to share it.  Enjoy!

 

Grandma's hands

The Widow’s Pension

A dead finch in each hand,
bile and memory heaving out,
years, decades of speaking loudly
and weeping into book binding,
though she once ached to be left
with scratches along her ears,
to be the vandal, to touch
the bottom of the river.

She’s lived her life one miracle short,
but, for herself, she will say at least this—
she has seen beauty in a quilt of torn blouses,
found that it’s the slow pour that spills over.

She trampled bees on the night when she woke
and left that bed. No leaf of Eve, no more blessed thing.
Radiant is all her grayness.

 

Alison, who writes Postcards from Thursday, also includes original photography on her blog.  The above photo is one of her creations as well.  Check out her moving photography and poetry.  It’s well worth a look!