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The Kenyon Review Newsletter November 2009

Poetry Contest logo

A Poetry Prize for High School Students

Are you a high school writer? Do you know one? Please help us spread the word about the 2010 Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize!

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize is a valuable opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors; the winning poem and runners-up will be chosen by KR’s Poetry Editor, David Baker and will be published in The Kenyon Review. Additionally, the winner is offered a full scholarship to the 2010 Young Writers Workshop at Kenyon College, a residential two-week summer program for aspiring writers.

Submissions will be accepted between November 1-30, 2009. Applicants should submit one poem through the online submissions program. Entrants must be high school sophomores or juniors.

For timely reminders, please consider joining our Facebook group: Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize 2010.

Kenyon Review Holiday Subscription Offer

Happy HolidaysTake care of your holiday shopping this season with one click! Subscribe today to give the gift of The Kenyon Review—not only will your gift recipient receive a four issue, full-year subscription to the finest work the literary world has to offer, but they will also receive seventy years of it! For the 2009 holiday season, a one year subscription to The Kenyon Review includes a one year subscription to The Kenyon Review archive via JSTOR—all for just $30! Save 25% off the newsstand price, and get access to the digital and fully searchable KR archive free! That’s over 200 issues for the price of four! Celebrate the possibilities of digital publishing while reveling in the continuing joys of the printed page—this offer has it all!

Here’s how it works: subscribe online today by clicking the link below. When we process the gift—typically within four weeks—we’ll begin the subscription with our Winter 2010 issue. Additionally, JSTOR will send an e-mail to the gift recipient at the address you’ve provided with log-in information to the KR archive—be sure to alert him/her to watch for it! Once users register with JSTOR, they will have immediate access from any internet connection to 70 years of the KR archive, a digitized treasure trove of the storied literary history of The Kenyon Review.

Looking to make a more lasting impression? A four year print subscription for $90 will include a free copy of Readings for Writers, the new anthology from The Kenyon Review. View the table of contents for this handsome new volume here. That’s four years for the price of three, and Readings for Writers, an $18.95 value—free!

Please click here to subscribe today!

Readings for Writers

Readings for Writers

Still need more holiday gift ideas? How about a copy of Readings for Writers, the new anthology from The Kenyon Review?

The Readings for Writers anthology is curated by Kenyon Review editors and staff to inspire and stimulate writers, not to mention provide plenty of surprise and delight to readers as well!

Contributors include such luminaries as Allen Tate, Dylan Thomas, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Flannery O’Connor, James Wright, John Berryman, Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard, Lewis Hyde, Pablo Neruda, Alice Hoffman, Carl Phillips, Mahmoud Darwish, Eavan Boland, Roger Rosenblatt, Githa Hariharan, and many more.

Bulk purchasing discounts available. Please call 740-427-5208 for more information.

To purchase a copy of Readings for Writers or for a full list of authors included in the anthology please click here.

From KROnline  Jess Lacher

A Hypothesis

Supporting Facts: Friday

Observation of nightly decapitation: Mark’s orange windbreaker, too light for this weather, sits just where he left it, on the back of the only chair in the room. In the night, light from passing cars plays over the ragged stucco on the walls, revealing brief mountain-scapes in shadow. So lit, the windbreaker becomes a seated man. He hangs his head low over the chair, as if he knows a terrible grief. In the morning, the truth is revealed: the man has no head.

First sighting: 8:37 AM. Observed edging out from the low crumbling space between the floorboards and the left rear wall of the closet, sniffing at the air, nose held in a cold line of sunlight. Moderate head-size: approximately 8 inch span, nose to tail? Retreats when Mark’s sneaker is thrown.

Fifth sighting: 10:06 PM. Tail only, receding under the door to the hallway. Must have been small, or at least limber. Space under the door measures less than the width of a thumb. Possibility of sealing door shut with masking tape considered, then abandoned. Would only trap more of them inside. Also, cannot find the masking tape.

Experiment on Eating Habits: Store food supplies (all but Mark’s protein shake mix, which would not fit) in air-tight metal container as advised and sleep with head under the quilt hewn by dead grandmother from ancient scraps of field hockey uniforms and prom wear. Will Rattus norvegicus, in the thrumming darkness, scale the half-wide sink in the bathroom, its beclawed pink feet skittering against the porcelain? Will it gnaw through the crimped plastic edge of a tube of Colgate, and, against all sense or reason, will it eat the toothpaste within? If not, how did these gnaw marks get on my toothpaste? (General note: Mark’s protein shake mix remains untouched.)

Observation on the radiator: Issuing strange sounds. Its usual metronomic steam clanging greatly slowed. Trying not to read too far into this.

Field Notes: Saturday

Fourth sighting: 3:55 PM. Low movement along west wall. Resists taking focus, like a blurred dream-face that slides away when looked at directly. Movement coincides with a burst of static on the television. Similar flicker at several other points throughout the day. Coincidence?

Seventh sighting: 8:07 PM. Six-incher asleep in empty cereal bowl, curled against blue porcelain, a sleep-ship for rats. In the twitch of its whiskers: a remembered voyage from cold ports, its tight immigration in the hold of an old boat, slinking progress over heaps of chain and seasickness. Took aim with Mark’s sneaker but decided to let it rest.

For further research: Dream habits of Rattus norvegicus. Association with radio waves and the distortion of sound and light. . .

Click here to finish the story

KROnline is the online complement of The Kenyon Review. New fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews are published on a biweekly basis. Check back often to read some of the most cutting edge material you’ll find anywhere on the web. Click here to see our latest offering.

From the KR ArchivesReadings for Writers

Roger Rosenblatt, a frequent contributor to The Kenyon Review, was recently named one of three finalists for the Cherry Teaching Award, a prize of $200,000 given to America’s best college professor. His short piece “The Writer’s Wife” is reprinted in KR’s new anthology, Readings for Writers. It first appeared in KR Fall 2007, Vol.XXIX, No. 4).

The Writer’s Wife

Look at him, my active man. Sometimes he sits and turns to the left. Sometimes, to the right. I wouldn’t think of disturbing him. He is dreaming his writer’s dreams, and his dreams are inviolable. I have the privilege of serving him, and of watching him.

Did you say something, dear? Nothing yet? Still dreaming? Well, while you’re at it, I’d better get to my chores. No, don’t get up. I can handle it: Fix the engine on the Prius; recondition the Steinway; point up the bricks on the west wall; build a bathroom in the basement, from scratch. Busy, busy is the writer’s wife.

And please, don’t even think of lowering yourself to the details of bill paying, dry cleaning, shopping, cooking, dishwashing, trash toting. May I get the door for you? May I get two?

Am I complaining about my lot? Never, sweetheart. The intellectual challenges alone make it worthwhile. How many ways can I invent to assure you that you’re not losing your touch? Our topics of conversation: Your obligation to your gift. My obligation to your obligation. Were you born before your time, or after your time, or just in time? I forget.

Then there’s our social life. The dinner parties, where everyone speaks in quotations. The book parties, where everyone says, “There he is.” Or variously: “There she is!”

Do I want to go to Elaine’s? Are you kidding? I want to live there!

And don’t worry. I’ve laid out your uniform. Dark suit, dark shirt, dark tie. Your special look.

Do you think you might speak to me this month? It was so nice last month, or was it the month before that, when you asked me how I was. For a moment there, I thought you’d asked who I was. That’s just a little joke. Nothing to upset yourself about. But what am I saying? Why would you be upset? Why would you — sitting there in your dreamscape — why would you even look up?

My folks, having met you but once, suggested I marry an actuary or a mortgage broker. Or a wife beater. Hell, what do parents know about the life of the mind — yours. The precious moments we share — 

Such as the times you ask me to read something you’ve written, and if I say “I love it!” you say I’m blowing you off, and if I appear disappointed or confused, you go into a clinical depression, and if I say, “Then, please don’t ask me, if you don’t want my opinion,” you go into a clinical depression.

Oh, dear. Did I say, “That was the best thing you ever wrote”? Of course, what I meant to say was, “Everything you write is a masterpiece. And this latest masterpiece just proves it.” That’s what I meant to say. You’re right. I must learn to say what I mean. Forgive me?

But soon we make up, and you’ll say, “Let’s go to so-and-so’s poetry reading.” And I’ll say, “Oh, darling! Let’s! Just give me a minute to freshen up and hang myself from the hall chandelier” — which, by the way, I repaired last week.

Memories? Say, rather, treasures! The day your agent returned your call. The day your editor returned your call. The day you found your name in the papers. In the phone book. Remember the time we saw your first novel on sale in the Strand for one dollar? How we laughed! The night you awoke with an inspiration for a story, and in the morning it sounded so silly?

Remember when I tried to write something myself, and you said it was “interesting”?

You know? I used to like books.

Ah. You’ve turned to the left again. I’m pooped, just watching you. Watching you in your dreams. I dream, too. Here’s mine:

Lord, please let him find a younger woman.



Literary Festival Logo

The third annual Kenyon Review Literary Festival was held in Gambier, Ohio on November 4-7, 2009.

Writers' HarvestThe Festival kicked off with the always-popular Writers’ Harvest, a student-organized community-wide reading event that raises money for Knox County Food for the Hungry. The audience was wowed by original fiction and poetry, the song-stylings of the Chasers a cappella group, and the free-flowing Middle Ground coffee.

Thursday saw a well-attended student-led Love Medicine book discussion cosponsored by Library and Information Services, as well as a reading from XOXOX Press authors. Food for the HungryFriday’s events were overwhelmingly popular – the Empty Bowls Dinner fed over two hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members, and together with the Writers’ Harvest raised over $4,100 for Knox County Food for the Hungry. The Ojibwe Poetry reading which followed in Peirce Lounge drew a huge crowd, and the audience heartily enjoyed both the poetry and the purple donuts!

Louise ErdrichThe culmination of the Festival on Saturday provided a daylong series of readings, panel discussions, and seminars, as well as the CLMP Midwest Lit Mag and KR Preview Book Sale, a fiction writing workshop, a book-arts demonstration, and an encore presentation of Lipsha’s Journey: A Readers’ Theater Adaptation of Love Medicine. In addition, students from local high schools who had participated in the Big Read Knox County joined Kenyon students for a lively hour-long Q&A session with Louise Erdrich in the afternoon. The Festival was capped off by the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture: An Evening with Louise Erdrich. An Evening with Louise ErdrichOpening remarks were made by representatives from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts and then David Lynn, KR editor, introduced Louise Erdrich. In a particularly telling moment, while reading an excerpt about a flock of birds from The Plague of Doves, a murmur went through the packed house as a bird was spotted flying among the rafters of Rosse Hall. As if on cue, Erdrich acknowledged the bird and the topical circumstance of its suddenly magical presence. She concluded with a reading from Love Medicine, and took a few questions from the audience before signing copies of her work for those in attendance.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the KR Lit Fest such a success in 2009!

From the KR Blog

Print Vs. Internet: An Ongoing Conversation

David Lynn


November 2nd, 2009 — David Lynn

This blog is largely drawn from my Editor’s Notes to the Fall Issue of The Kenyon Review. If you read on, you’ll see why it’s appropriate to this venue as well.

I’m about to finish writing a new short story. To whom should I send it? That’s become a more interesting question in recent years. Instead of the print journals in which I’ve published for thirty years or more, perhaps I should try an electronic magazine. Would the Internet, I wonder, provide the same sense of satisfaction, let alone cachet? In other words, am I willing to put my own work where I regularly assign others — in the equivalent of a KROnline rather than a Kenyon Review?

Right now I’m in that final stage of polishing, of developing particular moments or scenes, of shifting sentences here and there. For me, this is where writing fiction is the most fun. I am not as impatient as when I was younger. The engagement, the act of writing, has over the years become more important to me. It’s finally the only solace for this profession — and more fulfilling than publication itself.

Nevertheless, this is also the moment when I begin to ponder where I might submit the story. Certainly, many traditional journals continue to flourish, among them TriQuarterly, Southwest Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, all places I’ve happily published my work over the years. [Since I wrote that sentence the horrid news has gone out that Triquarterly will no longer be published in its current form or by qualified editors.] But I’m also keenly aware that other journals with noble histories, such as New England Review and Southern Review, are in great peril in this period of financial turmoil.

(An historical aside: when both the Southern and The Kenyon Review faced similar calamity in 1942 because of the war, John Crowe Ransom reached out to his pals Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. Their initial thought was a collaboration or joint publication. When it became clear, however, that the Southern was doomed, Brooks and Warren allowed KR to fulfill outstanding subscriptions, thus permitting its survival for nearly another thirty years before a decade’s hiatus.)

Another possibility would be, as I’ve mentioned, to send the new story to any one of the dozens of electronic journals burgeoning on the Internet. But what would it mean for me to abandon print? Less status? Not least foregoing the tactile pleasure of holding the printed thing itself in my hand? How much is that worth?

Click here to finish this blog post.

The KR Family Tree

Think of this section as a bulletin from KR in which we brag about the accomplishments of the extended KR family and leave out the gall-bladder surgeries.

Please join us in congratulating Bonnie Jo Campbell and Carl Phillips on being named finalists for the National Book Award! Campbell’s collection of stories American Salvage was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her story “Boar Taint” appeared in the Summer 08 issue of KR. Read an interview about the story with Bonnie Jo and KR’s fiction editor Geeta Kothari. Phillips’ collection of poems Speak Low was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry. He originally published the poem “Conquest” in the Winter 09 issue of KR. Read an interview that discusses “Conquest” and other topics with Carl and KR’s poetry editor David Baker.

Leslee Becker‘s story, “The Little Gentleman,” appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Crazyhorse. Another story, “Chicken Lake,” is forthcoming in Northwest Review. She recently won the 2009 Moondance International Film Festival Award in the Short Story Category.

Nicky Beer’s first book of poems, The Diminishing House, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2010. With her husband, the poet Brian Barker, Beer was named co-winner of this year’s Campbell Corner Prize. Beer and Barker have also joined the editorial board of the journal Copper Nickel (along with Jake Adam York, Teague Bohlen, and Jennifer S. Davis), published by the University of Colorado Denver.

Kelly Cherry has two books forthcoming in November: The Retreats of Thought: Poems (LSU) and Girl in a Library: On Women Writers and the Writing Life (BkMk Press of the University of Missouri Press).

Cynthia Cruz has poems forthcoming in The New Yorker, Boston Review and Paris Review. Her second book is forthcoming from Four Ways Books. In December she will be a fellow at Yaddo.

Carol Frost’s new book of poems, Honeycomb, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. In 2008, she was appointed Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Professor of English at Rollins College, where she directs Winter with the Writers, a yearly festival of the literary arts.

Tess Gallagher’s new book, The Man From Kinvara: Selected Stories came out in September from Graywolf Press. The Seattle Times called it a “joy”, and a profile of Tess and her life with Raymond Carver recently ran in the Oregonian.

LeAnne Howe’s novel Miko Kings, An Indian Baseball Story was chosen as the 2009-2010 Read-In selection at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. This past year, she was promoted to full professor at the University of Illinois where she teaches both American Indian Studies and Creative Writing. You can find her blog about American Indians, baseball, and other literary events about American Indian writers here.

Rahul Mehta’s debut short story collection, tentatively titled Quarantine, has been acquired by Random House India and will be published in India next summer. The title story of this collection first appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of KR.

Erika Meitner’s manuscript Ideal Cities was recently chosen as a 2009 National Poetry Series winner by judge Paul Guest and will be out in 2010 from HarperCollins. Poems from the book are forthcoming in VQR, The New Republic, APR, and The Journal, among other places. www.erikameitner.com.

Jennifer Militello’s book, Flinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award, has just been published. Her poems, “A Dictionary of Wooing and Deception in the Voice of the Sociopath,” “A Dictionary of What Can Be Learned in the Voice of the Sociopath’s Lover,” and “A Dictionary of the Symphony in the Voice of Ludwig van Beethoven”, were chosen by Li-Young Lee as runner up for the Iowa Review Poetry Prize and will be included in the December issue.

Derek Mong‘s first book of poems was recently accepted by Saturnalia Books, and will be published in 2011. To learn more, visit www.derekmong.com.

Mukoma wa Ngugi’s novel, Nairobi Heat, was published on October 1st by Penguin Books, South Africa.

Ira Sadoff’s book of poetry and aesthetics, History Matters: Contemporary Poetry On The Margins Of American Literature was published by the University of Iowa Press this past May.

Anne Sanow’s short story collection, Triple Time, winner of the 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, has just been published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. One of the stories, “Safety,” was first published in KR. Another story in the book, “The Grand Tour,” has won the 2009 Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune.

Grace Schulman’s First Loves and Other Adventures: Essays is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press at Christmas, 2009. She describes the book as “essays, some new, some reprinted, all having to do with the writer’s passion for reading and the desire to share that exhilaration with others.”

Deema Shehabi has a poem “Diaspo/Renga” written in alternating Renga with Marilyn Hacker, which appears in the latest issue of New Letters.

Steven Ray Smith has new poetry featured in the new issue of the Raintown Review.

Kevin Stein’s essay, “Death by 0s and 1s: The Fate of Literary ‘Papers,’” which appeared in the inaugural issue of KROnline, will be included in his forthcoming book of essays, Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age, due in May 2010 in the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry series. The book, which will appear in both print and digital versions, refutes the widely-held notion of poetry’s demise and argues for poetry’s current reemergence in the public sphere.

Patrick Tobin’s story “Cake”—which appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of KR—will be republished in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, forthcoming next month.

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