Call for Submissions: The Litragger

Are you looking for a place to re-publish works that have already appeared in print?  The Litragger is the place!  Check out their submission guidelines below:

 

Dear Writers,

We are republishing work that has previously appeared in print, exists in back issues, but does not have an online presence. We believe firmly in the benefit of publishing in print. But we also believe that writers deserve the opportunity to place their work online in a well-designed reading environment, following the print publication cycle, so that they may find new readers and build an audience on the web.

So if you have a piece, send it to us!

Email a word document or PDF to submissions@litragger.com.

Just let us know where it appeared originally and when it was published, and we’ll read it and let you know if we think it’s a good fit.

– Adam and Landon

 

Reading for Writers: Dino Campana’s “The Night”

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There were a lot of interesting things happening in Dino Campana’s essay “The Night.” There were some incredible metaphors and exquisite language which made me wonder about the expectations that we usually have for nonfiction in terms of style and language. Another stylistic component of note is that Campana does not use any names to refer to the characters in this essay. Instead, the only names that he uses are those of famous artists and writers. Campana also has a really arresting way of changing the pronouns that he uses for the characters, including himself, in his work. The effect of this is jarring but also captivating.

The first thing I noticed about this essay was the language being used. It is incredibly poetic and lyrical. There are a number of really striking metaphors, for example, “broken hovels like old bruises, dead windows.” Or, even more gripping: “the white Mediterranean night joked with the huge shapes of the women while the flame’s bizarre death-attempts went on and on in the streetlamp’s cave.” Language like this, though interesting and beautiful may be jarring for a reader who is looking for a straightforward account of Campana’s escapades. It made me think about the expectations that readers bring to nonfiction and whether essays have an obligation to live up to these expectation. Is it factually true that the night was joking (Or, put another way, can that be fact checked?)? How does metaphor come into play in essays? Or, more directly, what is the place of metaphor and lyrical, poetic language in nonfiction? If the reader is coming to the piece looking for truth and accuracy, how far can the writer go with metaphors and poetic language? In general, I think that if it is clear that the writer is using metaphor and clear what the writer is intending to express, this kind of language can greatly enhance creative nonfiction pieces. However, in this piece the metaphors were so dense and thick that it may have obscured some of the reader’s understanding of the truths behind the language. It made me question whether that was intentional. Perhaps Campana’s experience was so dreamlike that he wanted to convey that to the reader. Or maybe he did not want his reader to have a clear sense of what was going on. Perhaps he wanted his reader to experience the feel of the situation more than the events surrounding it. Is this authorial prerogative?

The esoteric, dreamlike quality of this narrative is pushed further by Campana’s refusal to use the names of characters populating his essay. It’s interesting that he doesn’t ever refer to anyone in the narrative by their name, only by their physical description. This can make it difficult for the reader to follow at times, but it also is especially interesting given the subject matter. Perhaps Campana did not know the name of anyone with whom he interacted that night. This is made even more peculiar by the constant name-dropping that he does with famous writers and artists. The lack of character names in the essay is even more stark next to the names of Faust, Dante, Leonardo, and Michelangelo and the names of saints. It’s as if he is drawing the distinction between these exalted, nameable people and the people in his narrative.

In addition to not giving his characters names, he also switches the pronoun that he uses to refer to them. In one section of the essay, he refers to the amber-bodied girl as “she” and later he seems to be addressing her as”you.” The most striking instance in which he does this is when he goes from using a first-person perspective of his experience to speaking about himself in the third person briefly. He refers to “the person I had once been” as “he” for two sections. This gives an interesting effect of distancing himself from the events of the night, making it his former self and not him who had these experiences. However, he only can keep this distance for a short time before going back to “I” and owning the experiences again.

All of these things made this essay difficult to decipher, as if the reader were decoding the text instead of reading it. The use of metaphors and lyrical language obscured some of the concreteness of the experiences that he was ruminating on.   The failure to use names of characters often made who he was actually talking about ambiguous. Even his pronouns when talking about these people (including himself!) were not consistent. The combination of these things gave the essay a dreamlike, nearly impenetrable quality. However, for me personally, these things added an interesting depth and dimension to the essay as well as giving a peak into the possible obfuscation that Campana was attempting. It made me ask a lot of questions, mostly unresolved, but also very interesting.

 

*This post is part of a series on the craft of writing called Reading for Writers.  This series examines a variety of authors to ascertain the choices they’ve made in their writing and the effects of those choices.

Call for Submissions: The Great American Lit Mag

The Great American Lit Mag is open for submissions!  Check them out!

 

 

The Great American Lit Mag welcomes general submissions of prose and poetry. Our reading periods run for two months at a time with a month off in between for our editors to construct each issue. Our current reading period will run from August 1st-September 30th.

We are happy to consider simultaneous submissions, so long as you withdraw your work from consideration within ten minutes of it being accepted elsewhere.

Unlike most other publications, we are happy to consider previously published work. However, it is unlikely that we will republish any work that is not INCREDIBLE. If you choose to submit previously published work, please note it in your cover letter and include the following sentence: This work has been previously published at (fill in appropriate time and place); however, all publishing rights have been reverted to me, the author, and I am knowledgeably and willfully submitting it for republication under the expectation that my original publishers will be acknowledged. Our response time is typically less than 3 weeks. We want you to be able to get your work into as many hands as quickly and with the least amount of reluctance as possible if it doesn’t find a home here, so we aim to respond quickly.

We do not pay contributors for any work published in The Great American Literary Magazine.

 

Fiction

Prose should be no more than 3,000 words.

Please send your submission via email to thegreatamericanlitmag@gmail.com with a cover letter and a subject line including your last name and the word “fiction”. For example: Smith Fiction Submission.

Poetry

For poetry, please submit no more than 5 poems.

Please send your submission via email to thegreatamericanlitmag@gmail.com with a cover letter and a subject line including your last name and the word “poetry”. For example: Smith Poetry Submission.

Reading for Writers: Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a collection of essays by Joan Didion, all based on the theme of things coming undone. She looks at this theme from a variety of angles, both personally reflective and also commenting on society at large. In this collection, Didion makes very interesting use of narrative structure when retelling events, adding to the feeling that “the center cannot hold” (xi).

Didion begins her book with the famous poem by Yeats in which he examines things coming undone. She also titles her book after the last line of this poem, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.” In her Preface, which is quite strange, Didion explains her collection. In rather defeatist, pessimistic terms, she presents us her work. She says that it is representative of her coming to terms with “the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart” (xiii). Throughout the book, the reader can feel this sense of crumbling and a loss of groundedness or centeredness. We see it in the way that her rock-like ideal of John Wayne falls apart with cancer and the way that she struggles with ethics in “On Morality.” Didion wrestles with ideas of a world coming undone, both the larger society and on a more personal, individual level.

However, this effect is most interesting when it comes out in the structure of her writing. This is apparent from her very first essay. In “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” Didion does, in fact begin at the beginning of the story. “This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country” (3). However, after a bit of background about the place and the history of the place, the linearity of the essay begins to fall apart. Like the falconer losing hold of the falcon, the essay almost seems to get away from Didion. She jumps from the background of the land to the death of the husband, to the funeral. She starts a new section with the birth of Lucille Miller through to her unhappy marriage and then brings her lens in close on the day in question before recounting Lucille’s arrest, jumping back to the night of the accident and then to the building of the case. The next section recounts her affair starting with a generalization and jumping straight to the end, before explaining more. Then Didion recounts a litany of events that happened the same day as the Miller trial began before recounting the trial and bringing us up to the present day at the time of writing. In this present day, she focuses in on the house left behind, the child of Lucille, and the inmates that Lucille is surrounded by instead of focusing in on the main character of the essay itself. The essay then returns to the past, ending at Arthwell Hayton’s second marriage. This jumping and twisting of time, structure and focus mirrors Didion’s words of things falling apart. Not only is the time not linear, but the lens of the narration moves too, sometimes focused on Lucille, sometimes the place, sometimes those whose lives mirror hers, such as her fellow inmates, others in the news the same day, or Arthwell Hayton’s new wife. This poignantly gives the reader the effect that the center, cannot, in fact hold. We can feel the way that Lucille must feel, that her world is unravelling, and also the way that those watching the story must feel: what is becoming of our society?

This is most powerfully shown in her essay after which the collection is named. In “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” Didion gives us a picture of San Francisco in the 1960s. However, she does not explain it to use as much as she makes a pastiche of vignettes to give us a picture of the chaos and disorder of that place and time. She tells us from the get-go what she is getting at: “The center was not holding” (84). She tells us what is missing and how the reality is not meeting expectations. She gives us an array of sources to show us the disparate voices: a sign trying to find a missing person (almost perversely in verse), communiques from Chester Anderson, song lyrics, an excerpt from a newspaper, questions asked to her by other people, fliers. The weaves these throughout vignettes of stories of people she’s met in her time in the Bay Area. Even when telling the stories of these people, she jumps: from Deadeye to Max to little girls to runaways to Debbie to Officer Gerrans, back to Max. And that is just the first quarter of the essay. It’s not even clear that the vignettes are arranged chronologically. This cut-and-paste of the stories she experiences in San Francisco serve to further the feeling that things are coming apart: people are not acting as they should, time is not moving as it should, the narrator is not recounting as she should. Instead, the people are out of control, time is set spinning, and the narrator’s hold on the gyre is slipping.

 

 

*This post is part of a series on the craft of writing called Reading for Writers.  This series examines a variety of authors to ascertain the choices they’ve made in their writing and the effects of those choices.