Our Nominations for Best of the Net 2010

It’s always difficult to choose from the wonderful work we publish in our magazine when it comes time to nominate writers for recognition. As my co-editor said to me this morning, “We should just nominate the whole thing,” and he’s right because we fall in love with everything we publish. That said, we cannot nominate everyone so here are our nominees for the Best of the Net. Our nominees are some of the stories and poems we would grab if the magazine were on fire. Good luck, writers!

Anne Leigh Parrish for Snow Angels
Shanna Germain for Big Red

xTx for Do You Have a Place For Me
Rachel Andelman for Harquebus
J. Bradley for How Esmerelda Estrus Got Her Revenge
Carrie Murphy for The Strongest Men in Town
Ori Fienberg for Revolution

Everyone tired and sore, raise your hand, say AWP.

Another year, another AWP. It was a good one this year, kids, so good I’m still hurting today. Altitude, dry air, endless boozing and the endless boozey hand shaking, a book fair that needed a zeppelin hanger it was so huge, way too little sleep, way too many old friends and new friends with whom to get into trouble with… If I had stayed in Denver any longer I’d have irreparably damaged myself. Anywho, here’s my three-point recap that you might profit without having to slog through the long list of who I drank with and what panels I attended. Giveaway for the strong.

1. DOGZPANK rocked. We packed our wing of Forest Room 5, made fast friends with our bartender, Duke, heard some truly great writing from some truly beautiful people, and recorded the whole thing for posterity (Roxane will undoubtedly be posting it soon, I’m sure). Look for the camera drop in the second act (preexisting condition + alcohol + altitude = hope you’re feeling better, L.). Special thanks to  our readers for burning it down:  Matthew Salesses,  Erin Fitzgerald,  Kathy Fish,  Pedro Ponce,  Lauren Becker, Bill Barr, Maggie Glover,  Nicolle Elizabeth,  JA Tyler,  Molly Gaudry,  Beth Thomas,  Jac Jemc,  Aaron Burch,  Angi Becker Stevens, and Tim Jones-Yelvington.

2. Our panel, The In Sound From Way Out, was well attended and discussion had to be cut off at the end, so there’s that. We had a couple of early evacuations during my intro when I announced to the audience that what they were largely going to hear at AWP amounted to a bunch of white hot lies, but that our panel was there to deliver them from evil. One writer in particular, I’m told, may have muttered the words “pompous ass” as she fled, or something to that general effect. I guess she took it less joke than hubris, but I vow to never again take our earthshatteringly important literary work so heedlessly light. Shame on me. That said, she should of stuck around because Jen Woods, Aaron Burch, James Grinwis, Margaret Bashaar, Roxane and myself had a really great conversation with the audience about the ins and outs of little magazine publishing. Thanks to all the panel members and to the aforementioned generous audience, wherever they may be.

3. The book fair was in a zeppelin hanger. I mentioned that, right? A tad overwhelming. I live in a cabin in Liminga, MI, and that’s not a euphemism for something else. Thousands of nerds come together for the literary equivilant of Comic-Con (don’t think for second AWP doesn’t have its costumes) ain’t generally my style of socializing. Yet I persevered, salved my social anxiety at the AWP wet bar (and with Hobart’s whiskey shots), and found myself pleased to be able to finally put so many faces to so many names and to meet so many new bright and shiny people. Plus, PANKsters, we moved every piece of merch we took to the conference, including a giant box of PANK fortune cookies that Roxane sold someone for $40. Sold out, brothers and sisters, amen.

And here you are at the bonus offer. Thanks for sticking to it. You thought daddy would come home, all this way, to his most beloved kids, empty handed? No way, my little bunnies, you’re the best. Send daddy a six-word story in the comments section below by Friday at midnight. I’ll pick my eleven favorites and the winners will receive one of the following in the mail: The Lumberyard 5, Redivider 7, Eleven Eleven 7, Versal 7, Agriculture Reader 4, Booth 1, Burnside Review 6.1, Fractions 2, Hobart 11, Artifice 1, or Annalemma 6.

And look for us next year in D.C. We’ll see you then if not before.

All About Us

In the March, 2010, issue of  The Writer Magazine, Mary Miller offers up “7 hip literary magazines you need to check out.” And whom might that selective cabal include? Why, none other than Keyhole, Kitty Snacks,  NOÖ,  The Normal School, Open City, Opium, and, whom else, PANK. Joy!

Mary writes of PANK:

What: A nonprofit literary magazine publishing new work online each month as well as a beautiful annual print issue chock-full of great writing. Free audio content online and an active blog. Who: Published by Mighigan Technological University, though it doesn’t fee anything like a university-run magazine. Looking for: Poetry and prose. Submit up to five pieces or 5,000 words through the online submission manager (I love online submission managers!). Reading period: Year-round. Why I love it: The blog is awesome, as is writer and associate editor Roxane Gay. Publishes work worth rereading; though many of the writers can be considered “emerging,” the work is always top-notch.

Righteous, Mary, thanks.

And over at Six Questions For… I offer scant insight on PANK’s editorial process (transcript below). There are, however, quite a few similar interviews there from a fairly diverse range of lit mag editors. Good for those of you interested in such things.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

MBS: Passion is first. If the writer hasn’t cared enough for the work to really climb inside it, live there, make it work, then how is a reader to stay involved?

Mindfulness is second. I like writers who know who they are, but who understand the contexts within which they craft, and who put the requisite time into producing words worth reading.

Third, I like to be surprised. Good luck parsing that one out.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

MBS: Bloodlessness, poor craft, and sleep inducement all pretty much seal the deal alone or in combination. But every submission is unique in some way and stays or goes based on a host of criteria that are nebulous at best and nonexistent at worst. I’ve rejected things I wish I hadn’t as I’ve accepted things I wish I hadn’t.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

MBS: When a writer doesn’t give me exactly what I want in exactly the way I want it at exactly the right time, I lose the wood.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

MBS: Sometimes. PANK‘s associate editor, Roxane Gay, is more prolific with comments than I am. Because PANK is pretty much a two person show, because it ain’t the day job, because we get thousands of submissions year round, it boils down to time. We do what we can.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I’m sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

MBS: Yes, we’ve received rejections of our rejections. I don’t mind, nobody is blacklisted, but we do keep the funny ones on file for our entertainment.

What do I want writers to know? That PANK is a little magazine on a little budget with virtually no staff. That if their feelings get hurt and their egos bruised from the submission process, I’m sorry. That they’re welcome to ask questions, but aren’t automatically entitled to a response.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?

MBS: Q: PANK makes more people happy than it makes sad?
A: Yes.