Thursday, April 24, 2014


Hello Lit-Citters,

I think we're all familiar with the name Ariel Gore. If not, let me offer a quick introduction. Gore is  the author of  How To Become A Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words In Print And Your Name In Lights from Three Rivers Press, a foundational text in the fields of creative writing pedagogy and literary citizenship; She is the founding editor of the zine Hip Mama; and she is currently doing a reading tour with her new book The End of Eve from Hawthorne Books.

Over the past week, Gore has been catching flack for the cover of Hip Mama's 55th issue, which features a self portrait of Ana Alvarez-Erreclade breast-feeding her four year old son. For more details be sure to check out Sarah Mirk's article at

After Facebook banned the cover photo, newsstands began to follow suit. The question is why? Mirk's article offers some possible reasons. She explains that some viewers may be uncomfortable with the age of the boy, or that fact that the photo isn't displaying the female form in a conventionally sexualized manner. It's ironic that as readers we are more at ease with pictures that actually degrade women, so much so that any time we see any nakedness of the female form we expect sexual content.
But what is it about this picture that's making newsstands and readers squirm? My guess is that, in some sense, our culture encourages us to take pride in our callousness. We resist the image because it displays a sort of intimacy and tenderness that makes us feel vulnerable. We favor the idea of independence in such a perverse way that we can't even stand to witness and acknowledge the power of motherhood.

Though Gore is putting out a slightly censored version of the cover for issue 55, she's asking her readers to make a little noise at their local newsstands. To me this seems like a great opportunity to commit a simultaneously supportive and subversive act of literary citizenship.

Ask your local book vendors/magazine stands to carry the un-sanitized version of the new Hip Mama on their shelves. Or, alternatively, subscribe to Hip Mama via Etsy. Gore says all subscribers will get the uncensored cover.

Remember, when you support Ariel Gore, you're supporting a writer who has made a career of supporting other writers, poets, and artists of all types. Even if you don't subscribe, at least give it a gander and spread the word.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Critic Raves

                                                                     On the War of Art
Steven Pressfield has at least one valid message in his book The War of Art. Work ethic is important. But that message is hidden in a collected reiteration of some of the most clich├ęd, regressive, and harmful myths about writing and creating. His thinking is far more magical than practical; it’s superstitious and flimsy in its reasoning. In his own way, Pressfield is trying to reestablish the antiquated notion that the artist/writer is predestined to his calling, that writing and creating can’t be learned and practiced in terms of skill or craft. Moreover, his stubborn insistence on using the masculine voice – he always refers to the theoretical artist as “he” – signals his intention to Resist progressive theories about writing and engaging the world.


It’s hard to argue against Pressfield’s personal success. He’s published twelve books. But this is one I won’t be recommending.


Lighten up a little Steve-O; we’re in the 21st century.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hello fellow Lit-Cit bloggers,

I'm making my leap into the blogosphere with good news; a new literary magazine is being born. Bear Review is set to release its first online edition in September. Founding editors Marcus Myers and Brian Clifton are busy reading work and raising money to provide us with access to established and emerging voices in poetry, flash fiction, and essay. (Of course, this also means that we creative writers have one more place to submit and publish our work).

In terms of literary citizenship, I'm particularly impressed with their use of the on-line fundraising site Indiegogo. Myers and Clifton have found an endearing way to attract investors without the risk of surrendering creative control of their project.

Let's take a look at the Indiegogo site for Bear Review. Myers and Clifton give us a straightforward pitch for what they want to achieve and why they need our funding. They are also quick to remind us that our contributions are meant to benefit the literary community as a whole, not just their new pet project. The money that goes into the coffers of Bear Review is a means of funding readings, calls for submissions, prizes for literary contests, and operating expenses. Moreover, they offer donors a tangible connection to their project.

Ten dollars gets you a signed thank you note, thirty gets you a screen printed tote bag, one hundred dollars gets you a limited hand bound copy of the first edition (add fifty and the hand bound copy is signed), three hundred gets you a home cooked meal, and for six hundred Myers and Clifton will let you name Bear Review's writing contest.

These two poets provide a great model for how to go about nurturing a reciprocal and productive literary community. They reinforce their dedication to community by making it clear that what they value more than anything is the opportunity to read, publish, and promote original writing.

Check out Bear Review on Facebook and Submittable, and remember to check out their inaugural issue in September.