Also from socallitlist, an opportunity from the poetry magazine Rattle for Angelenos (that’s my preferred spelling, no disrespect to Rattle’s):

Our Summer 2016 issue will be dedicated to Angelinos. The poems may be any subject or length, but must written by poets who have lived in the Greater Los Angeles Area (which includes Ventura, Orange, and the Inland Empire) at least half of their lives.

We no longer publish essays, but always include brief contributor notes discussing how being an Angelino influences your poetry. Feel free to include this with your submission, or provide it upon acceptance.

Submit here.

From socallitlist:

The Santa Ana River Review, the literary journal of the University of California, Riverside’s MFA program, is now accepting submissions for the spring 2016 fiction contest “Writing Southern California.” We are looking for short stories from Southern Californian writers that shape, challenge, and upset contemporary notions of what it means to be a part of this diverse, dry landscape.

Special guest judge Helena Maria Viramontes, acclaimed author of Under the Feet of Jesus and Their Dogs Came with Them will select the winner. The first place winner will receive  a cash prize and publication in our spring 2016 issue. All submissions will be considered for publication.

Submissions should be less than 5,000 words and set in or exploring themes surrounding Southern California (Southland, Imperial, San Diego, etc.). We are especially interested in stories by underrepresented California writers. All rights revert back to author after published. No simultaneous submissions or previously published work; any disregard to these stipulations will result in entry fee forfeiture and contest ineligibility. Deadline: January 31, 2016.

One of the pleasures of winter break was a lunch out at Aroma Café with two well-read and well-reading friends.  Friend #1 was spending break immersed in a Dickens novel (I can’t remember which one except that I know I haven’t read it, maybe Our Mutual Friend?), but Friend #2 was, as usual, full of recommendations, including Mohsin Hamid’s novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising AsiaAn Officer and a Spy, a historical novel about the Dreyfus Affair by Robert Harris, and Life Itselfa memoir by the late film critic Roger Ebert.

A few days later, I was trawling through my commonplace book and found a brief quotation from Ebert’s New York Times obituary, which is both very plain and very memorable:

Mr. Ebert believed a great film should seem new at every watching; he said he had seen “Citizen Kane,” his favorite, scores of times. His credo in judging a film’s value was a simple one: “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you.”

And really, isn’t this true?  Other people can tell you that what you respond to isn’t worth responding to, that it’s cheap or cheesy or sentimental.  Maybe your intellect agrees with them or is at least willing to go along.  Maybe it even convinces you not to listen to your heart for once.  But don’t let it tell you your heart is lying.


Reading Ruthellen Josselson’s Playing Pygmalion: How People Create One Another:

People’s sense of reality is constructed in interconnection with those who make up their social world.  There is not an “out there” world to be perceived accurately or inaccurately. Instead, we together create a reality that we live in. Thus, when we have in mind certain “characters” that we need in our world and find people who seem to live out these characteristics, and who find in us characters that fit into the reality they aim to construct, then we together shape a script or play that we will live in together. Seldom do we investigate too closely whether these people who are important to us are in some sense “really” what they seem to be for us. We regard others as being somehow just already there in the outside world.

Wondering: how does this dynamic map out over the course of childhood, adolescence, the different stages of adulthood?  Does it begin with the earliest awareness of people as others? Are there moments at which we’re most intensely seeking characters to act with us?  At which times are we least in need of–or most closed against–introducing new characters? And finally, what is the range of normal?  Surely there are people who have very little social world to speak of, who barely do this at all, and, at the other end of the spectrum, people who are intensely over-involved in the act of creating characters out of other people?

Just about six weeks shy of a year since I posted last.  Yes, I read Volume 4 of My Struggle this summer.  Along with a lot of other books.

In Volume 4, he’s a callow young man, just eighteen and graduated from gymnas (I’m glad Bartlett, the translator, chose to preserve the Norwegian word instead of translating it as “high school”–it feels more precise), teaching primary school in northern Norway.

Oh, the muted lights in buses at night and the muted sounds. The few passengers, all in their own worlds. The countryside gliding past in the darkness. The drone of the engine. Sitting there and thinking about the best that you know, that which is dearest to your heart, wanting only to be there, out of this world, in transit from one place to another, isn’t it only then you are really present in this world?  Isn’t it only then you really experience the world?  (162)

Of this passage, a few lines later, he observes, “Only a forty-year-old man could have written that.”

Yes, and so?

My eleventh graders are reading “Self-Reliance” this week:

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. That which each man can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it.

This is part of what is so exciting about reading Knausgaard.  Nobody taught Shakespeare to be Shakespeare, says Emerson. Nobody taught Knausgaard to be Knausgaard.  He is in conversation with what the novel is, but he is not writing the novel as defined by anyone else.

There is so much I want to say about My Struggle.  

And one of the first things I want to do is to share some of the passages I have copied out.

But this is wrong since it’s not a book of aphorisms and many of the passages that have most moved me are impossible to detach from the novel.  It would be like scooping up a cupful of water from the Colorado River–yes, it’s water, but it’s not the Colorado.

And yet I’ve tried.  Since 2011 I’ve kept an electronic commonplace book–a Gmail thread to myself, now 91 messages long.  I started a new thread just for Knausgaard.  The passages are massive even though the sentence or two that shimmered out at me might be quite short.  I keep going back and back, looking for where the thought begins.

Often it begins at the start of the book.

I had read quite a lot about the novels before I began them, but I didn’t read or didn’t retain that they have no chapters.  After reading them, chapters in other books seem a bit artificial.  Stagy, like a curtain being rung down or a curtain going up.  Anyway, an effect while reading them is that it all seems at times like one long utterance.  A thought on page 142 may have started on page 89.  Or, indeed, on the first page.

For volume 2, the one I was able to renew at the library and therefore was able to keep longer to finish copying out passages, I still ran out of time and wound up photocopying and scanning pages.

Why not just buy the book and mark it up?  I will–although I want the hardcover Archipelago editions and not the paperback FSG ones with Knausgaard’s face.  It’s a fine face but I like the reserved Nordic look of the hardcovers.

Well, here’s a fragment anyway.  It is part of a much longer passage with more shades to it, but I do like it fairly well as a fragment.  God knows it feels true.  It’s from volume 2, A Man in Love:

You could also, if you were willing to put in the hard work, write poems yourself if you were one of those for whom poems did not open themselves; after all, only a poet would see the difference between poetry and poetry that resembles poetry. (142)

More about this and other things soon.


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