Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ It’s National Poetry Month, people!

The Academy of American Poets created National Poetry Month in 1996. Check out their site for more information on events in honor of poetry. One of the most interesting events in the second annual “30 Days, 30 Poets“: 30 poets are chosen to curate the Academy’s tumblr during April, and “Each featured poet will have 24 hours to post an array of ephemera—in the form of text, images, audio, and video—before passing the baton.” You can also receive a “Poem-A-Day” in your email by subscribing here. celebrates NPM with a SFF poem every Sunday. The first two poems are “Mouse Koan” by Catherynne M. Valente (April 2nd) and “Nemi” by Jo Walton (April 8th).

Here’s a poem I like: “I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Speaking of Peeps and art (wait, what do you mean I wasn’t just speaking about Peeps and art?), here’s two variations on a theme I enjoyed:

The Picture of Dorian Peep by Janice Helmann and Chad Larsen, 2012

The Picture of Dorian Peep by Jesse Strack, 2011

♦ I love photographs of Virigina Woolf (I also love Awesome People Reading).

As a bonus, here’s Florence + The Machine singing about Woolf in “What the Water Gave Me”:

Double bonus! The Story’s tribute to Woolf’s “The Angel in the House”:

I both of these songs so hard.

Book Nook.

Are book covers different for female and male authors? Flavorwire has an interesting article on the subject. (Found via a Facebook post by Sheila Boneham, who’s a student at my MFA alma mater.)

At The Guardian, Tom Cox writes about how to reorganise your bookshelf using the honesty system (via). Here’s a teaser:

I reorganised my book collection a couple of weeks ago. I’d been meaning to do this for three or four years for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to find a scheme where I didn’t get the constant sense that the worthy books I’d repeatedly chickened out of reading were getting together to look down their noses and whisper about me. The task took a couple of days in total, which might seem like a long time, but was perhaps only to be expected for a job I’d convinced myself was tantamount to reclassifying my own internal organs.

Caitlín R. Kiernan returns to comics this week with Alabaster: Wolves from Dark Horse. The protagonist is Dancy Flammarion who kills monsters with a big knife (a character from some of Kiernan’s novels—and, truthfully, what first led me to Kiernan’s work). Kiernan’s editor, Rachel Edidin, has a nice piece on about Dancy that’s worth reading. Check out artist Greg Ruth‘s cover to the first issue:

Omnivoracious has a great video interview with Jeanette Winterson (via). While I love Winterson’s fiction, it’s her collection of essays, Art Objects, that had the most profound effect on me. Some of my favorite highlights from the interview:

Jeanette Winterson on…

“[Fiction and poetry] are medicines, they’re doses, and they heal the rupture that reality makes on the imagination.”

“Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.”

“Reading’s not a luxury, art’s not a luxury. It’s about your soul, and it’s about yourself. And if reading is luxury, being human is a luxury.”

Rose Lemberg posted a piece of short fiction, “Giant,” on her website about the great folklorist Alan Dundes. “Giant” is written in the second person and is quite affective.

Michelle Dockery reads "How to Be a Woman"

“The final sentence.” describes itself as “An evergrowing compilation of ‘final sentences’ from every literary work, if we could find them all, that has ever existed” (via). Those of you who like to read the last chapter of a book first will definitely appreciate this tumblr. Here’s a nice one from Mindy Nettifee’s This Is the Nonsense of Love: “I will never again dream of having the whole world.”

My friend Andy sent me this link to an e-reader comic which made me laugh out loud!

Morgan Macgregor at BookRiot discusses the magic of the sentence, riffing on a New York Times article by Jhumpa Lahiri, “My Life’s Sentences.” As someone who collects books and Word documents of sentences, I can get behind a sentence like nobody’s business, like this one from Geoff Ryman‘s Lust: “The world is not to be seduced by words” (307).

Fascinating article about parasomnias (sleep disorders) at io9—everything from talking in your sleep to getting a divorce, cheating on your partner, or murdering your mother-in-law. Some of the parasomnias I wouldn’t mind include making art and conducting an orchestra.

♦ Wallace Yovetich shows us Libraries of the Rich and Famous: Part Three (I hope this series never ends—these libraries are so magnificent). Say what we must about the Star Wars prequels, George Lucas knows how to make a library (click to see larger):

Writers’ Corner.

A reader asked Neil Gaiman on his tumblr if he spends “much time on writing prompts, exercises, and test chapters,” to which Gaiman responded, “Life is much too short for writing prompts, exercises and test chapters. If I do them, I’ll do them in a way that allows me to publish them,” and more besides. I liked this response because I myself don’t like writing prompts or exercises, and I really don’t like writing on the spot (yes, despite the fact that I assign exercises in my creative writing classes and make the students write on the spot; I think prompts and exercises are good things for beginning writers, but after a certain point it depends on the individual writer).

Gaiman also had some additional thoughtful responses to the question, “How should an aspiring writer know that she has talent? Where is the best place to find a judge of such things?” His first response was “On the page. And, possibly, in the heart,” but he had more to say, including my favorite bits here:

I tell aspiring writers that they should write. It’s the only real advice I have. If you think you have talent, then write. You’ll find out if you’re any good. And you’ll also find out that it takes a lot more than just talent to be a writer. You have to be willing to write on the days you don’t feel like writing, for a start. And you have to learn to finish things, and to start the next thing.

And if you’re going to be a writer, don’t ask someone else if you have talent, or if something’s any good. What do they know?

Chuck Wendig offers “How to be a Full-Time Writer: A ’25 Things You Should Know’ Investigative Report.”

Bryan Thomas Schmidt has eight copyediting tips for writers.

io9 has some writing advice from C.S. Lewis originally sent a young fan in 1956.

If you’re looking for a market for your hint fiction (hint, hint, Cameron), you might consider Safety Pin Review,

a new, weekly literary magazine featuring fiction of less than 30 words, with a major D.I.Y. twist: in addition to being published online, each story is hand-painted onto a cloth back patch, which is attached (via safety pins) to one of our operatives—a collective network of authors, punks, thieves and anarchists—who wear it everywhere they go for a week. (via)

Click the image below to see issue 24 of Safety Pin Review in larger action:

♦ I’m all for maiden armies, but I don’t know what to think about this team of Satan-battling ingénues….

♦ This book trailer for Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is pretty funny. Who she must know to get all these cameos! Here’s the official synopsis:

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.


♦ The second episode of Super Best Friends Forever!

Walking Dead Mad Men! Too funny, and I don’t even watch The Walking Dead.


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