Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Second That Emotion

Dan Chaon is the judge for the 2010 Indiana Review fiction prize. Last January I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a master class of his and one of the most reflective moments came when he discussed his writing process. He said he sometimes worked on multiple projects at once, going each day to what spoke to him. I found it similar to my own process, where six out of seven days in the week a look at my computer screen will give a glimpse of eight or nine opened documents, all in different states of completion. It’s funny how there’s a certain comfort as a writer knowing that what you’re doing is not that different from someone else.

When I’m working through a writing slump I often turn to the words of my favorite authors to get me going.

Here are a few:

"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all."

-Black Boy (Richard Wright)

“The writer’s business is to make up convincing human beings and create for them basic situations and actions by means of which they come to know themselves and reveal themselves to the reader.”

-The Art of Fiction (John Gardner)

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”

-On Writing (Stephen King)

What’s your process? What are some of your favorite quotes on writing?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Imagination Exercise

When I was a kid, I was afraid of growing up because I thought I might lose my imagination. This caused me a great deal of anxiety until my mom bought me a magnet with the famous Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland:
"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

This quote and my third grade P.E. class taught me that with a little exercise I didn't need to be afraid of growing up. My imagination was a muscle just like my biceps.  So, I'd like us all to flex our imagination muscles this Halloween. IR needs a costume idea! Dress up one of your copies IR in a costume and we will post the most imaginative ones as our Facebook profile pic. Send photos to inreview (at) with "Costume Contest" in the subject line.

Have an imaginative day!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Featured Poetry Website:

Hello poetry peoples,

For this installment in our occasional series highlighting poetry on the interwebs, we bring you "From the Fishouse: An Audio Archive of Emerging Poets" ( It's a site known to many, but certainly not enough. offers a hearty helping of readings by poets mostly with one or two books, such as Matthew Zapruder, Matthew Dickman, Sandra Beasley, John Murillo, and so on into a vast nebula of other exciting poets. I strongly suggest you check it out. Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Click on the picture below to be redirected to

Best wishes,


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We're delighted to extend our congratulations to a former contributor, Dan Beachy-Quick! His collection, This Nest, Swift Passerine, was a finalist for the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry! His poem, titled "Poem (Achilles' Shield)," was featured in issue 31.2 of IR.


Friday, October 15, 2010

National Book Award Finalists Announced!

Terrance Hayes featured in issue 30.1 in the Funk Feature was named a 2010 National Book Award Finalist for his book Lighthead 

In his fourth collection, Terrance Hayes investigates how we construct experience. With one foot firmly grounded in the everyday and the other hovering in the air, his poems braid dream and reality into a poetry that is both dark and buoyant. Cultural icons as diverse as Fela Kuti, Harriet Tubman, and Wallace Stevens appear with meditations on desire and history. We see Hayes testing the line between story and song in a series of stunning poems inspired by the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presenta­tion format. This innovative collection presents the light- headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time. Fueled by an imagination that enlightens, delights, and ignites, Lighthead leaves us illuminated and scorched.

Check out all the finalist here.  Or order a back issue of the Funky 30.1 to get a taste of Terrance Hayes and other fine writers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Readings at IU!

We invite you to a reading by Karen McElmurray tonight in Bloomington, hosted by IU's MFA Creative Writing Program:

Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center
Bridgewater Lounge

Karen Salyer McElmurray’s newest novel is The Motel of the Stars (2008 Sarabande Books).  The novel has been nominated for The Weatherford Prize in Fiction, was a Lit Life Novel of the Year and was named Editor’s Pick by Oxford American. She is also the author of Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, recipient of the AWP Award for Creative Nonfiction, as well as Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing.  Associate Professor in Creative Writing at Georgia College and State University, McElmurray is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Arts and Letters: A Journal of Contemporary Culture.  


And! You're also invited to a reading by Mark Strand tomorrow:

Fine Arts Lecture Hall 015

Mark Strand was born on Canada's Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934. He received a B.A. degree from Antioch College in Ohio in 1957 and attended Yale University, where he was awarded the Cook prize and the Bergin prize. After receiving his B.F.A. degree in 1959, Strand spent a year studying at the University of Florence on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962 he received his M.A. degree from the University of Iowa. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Man and Camel (Knopf, 2006); Blizzard of One (1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Dark Harbor (1993); The Continuous Life (1990); Selected Poems (1980); The Story of Our Lives (1973); and Reasons for Moving (1968).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Can I Get A Witness

Sampsonia Way has a great interview on their website featuring Sapphire author of the novel Push, which was adapted into the Academy Award nominated Precious. I highly recommended you check it out.

Click on the picture for the website:

Don’t forget the 2010 Indiana Review fiction prize deadline is coming up fast. October 15 is the last day to submit! So send that story burning a hole in your computer!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Now you can sing America too!

Poetry peoples,

I just stumbled on this website and had to share. It's that priceless. For the third installment of our poetry on the web, I bring you "Off the Charts: Web Karaoke." The good folks at PBS have created a website devoted to turning your poetry into song. With this website, you can plug in your poem, hear a tune, and record your beautiful voice. Enjoy and you're welcome.

Click on the picture for the website: