Monthly Archives: November 2012

Win Suzanne Scanlon’s Promising Young Women

To celebrate our anticipation of issue 39.1, as we proof and proof, Bombay Gin editors are excited to kick off a series of book giveaways.  I’m proud to announce our first giveaway is in collaboration with Dorothy, A Publishing Project, a small press edited by the fantastic Danielle Dutton that brings us innovative “fiction, or near fiction, or about fiction, mostly by women.”

Dorothy publishes two books a year, in complement to one another, and Bombay Gin will publish reviews of and give away BOTH of the 2012 pair.

First: Suzanne Scanlon’s Promising Young Women.

Naropa University M.F.A. candidate Rachel M. Newlon’s review of Scanlon’s first book will appear in forthcoming (think January) 39.1.  Rachel’s work has been published online (Thirteen Myna Birds, Big River Poetry Review, Horse Less Press, Cactus Heart, Foliate Oak Literary Journal) as well as in print (A Poet’s View of Being, Erasure, Bombay Gin).  Rachel’s interview with Suzanne Scanlon enriches her thoughtful review.

Here is a little taste:

…women within the pages of Scanlon’s writings struggle to have a recognizable voice in a world that is unable to accept their gender, their madness and in which they have no part to play.  Promising Young Women mirrors the content of the ward book – scientifically exposing perspective, stereotypes, bias, and failure.

Scanlon’s writing induces a confusing sense of eternity – the reader is lost in this place, where events perpetuate repetitiously, realistically, with no hope of ceasing.  Scanlon merges pastiche and iconic cultural references about females and madness into a skillfully written piece that is nearly impossible to ignore.

I promise, you want to read this—Scanlon’s book and BG 39.1.

For a chance to win a free copy of Promising Young Women, simply leave a comment below telling us why you’re interested.

The window to enter this giveaway will close at Midnight MST on Friday, November 30th, and the winner will be randomly chosen via random.org.

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Some Thoughts on Creativity

Whenever anyone says, “Oh, I’m not creative,” I don’t buy it. You don’t have to believe that you are creating the universe with every neuron that fires to admit that sensory input is just that, input, and still needs to be processed and organized by your amazing human brain. The world you live in every day is an interactive representation fabricated by the mind using color, shape, sound, etc., and then projected outside of yourself through the magic of psychic self-deception.

Now, you might argue that this magnificent illusion is created through involuntary bodily mechanisms similar to breathing and digestion, and, in some degree, I would agree with you. But your daily life is not involuntary. Every word out of your mouth is an original event, speech written in time, carved into existence where it will remain, unchangeable forever, in our collective past. Every movement you make, every time you opt to take a step, turn around, move right, or stop, you are inventing a brand new story. You are writing your narrative in the world with each choice you make and every thought that passes. If the entire world’s a page, then how can anything you do not be creation?

So let’s say, hypothetically, that I have broken my conditioning. Perhaps all of my life I’ve been taught that art is for wealthy elitists, that poets and painters are stuck-up intellectuals, thumbing their pointy noses at us, thinking they are better than the likes of you or me. But as a child I loved cartoons, and so I started drawing pictures. Or else comic books gave way to graphic novels gave way to my own fantasy stories. Or maybe I was so stunned by Rock music that I couldn’t live another day without drumming a beat out of everything in sight. Whatever it was, I got a taste for the sheer pleasure of creation, and now I’m hooked. So what am I supposed to do about it?

It has taken me 14 years of devoutly studying poetry to understand that you don’t need to study poetry a day in your life to write a poem. You don’t even need to read any. You just have to write.

Let’s say I’ve never read a poem or even heard of poetry. We don’t have to concoct an impossibly complex scenario to imagine how this might be true. There was a time when there was no such thing as “Poetry,” only songs and stories, traveling troubadours bringing the news on their lute-strings. There were no anthologies, because there was no literacy, no printing press; one couldn’t go to the local bookstore and pick up the latest revised edition of the Norton Contemporary. Does that mean there was no word art? No rhyme or meter? No public pontification?

Poetry, in its modern incarnation as a printed verbal art form, is relatively new in the life of the species. It had to be discovered and developed over time out of the raw creative impulses of sensible humans. If all of poetry were suddenly lost and our artistic memories wiped clean, we would make it again. Sooner or later, somebody would notice that slight and height sound alike, that speech bounces according to recognizable patterns, and that, when words that don’t normally go together find themselves in juxtaposition, something happens in the brain—something entirely new.

So I’ve never heard of reading or writing, but I’ve heard of speaking and singing, and to entertain myself when I’m bored, I sing little songs, nonsense songs that I am making up. After a while, though, singing the same tunes and the same words all the time, I start to get bored. I want to keep my entertainment exciting, so I begin mixing up the notes, singing off-key, trying out different rhythms and deliberately breaking them. I get tired of singing about what I’m doing and seeing, so I imagine what other people are doing and sing stories about them. Then I remember about singing off-key and run that experiment with the words as well. What might it mean to speak in off-key language? How can I make you misunderstand me?

Or maybe I have heard of reading and writing, but not art, not poetry, and one day I discover that, when there’s no one around to talk to, I can talk to the page. So I just let it all out, everything I am thinking and feeling, in a jumble even I can’t understand. But over time, as I write in my journal every day, I begin to pick myself apart, notice patterns in my thinking and behavior as I record them. I find I like the words and what they can do, and sometimes, by accident, something interesting happens. I am trying to understand an emotion I have and decide to use an analogy to explain how it feels, and I stumble upon the symbolic power of the image.

All of the great, early Blues musicians were self-taught. Many even made their first instruments out of whatever was lying around. What did they know that we don’t? If you want to sing, sing. If you want to paint, paint. If you want to write, you have to write. There is no other way.

As you maintain your regular practice, unoriginal language will fall by the wayside. You will begin to notice the clichés and easy phrases that occur most often and, inevitably, you will be bored by them. Uninspired by constant repetition, your writing will organically change. Through trial and error you will discover the same tools and techniques that all the other poets have found before you. The advantage, of course, to reading these poets is that they have already done much of the work. You can spend a lifetime in metered rhyme to come to the revelation of free-verse, or you can read Whitman today. They have been building this tower for centuries that we might stand at the top and lay new brick. But they were no more alive, no more human than you. Anyone can do this. You can.

So you want to be a writer? Grab a pen and the nearest piece of paper and start scribbling. Set an alarm for 20 minutes and don’t stop until the bell rings. Give yourself rules to follow, games to play. Test the limits of the page with the firm knowledge that you have no limits. You want to be a painter? Grab a blue pen and a red sharpie and whatever else you can find in the house and draw anything. You can go to the art store later, but start drawing right now. You want to be a musician? Hum. Sing. Beat on your desk and the walls of your room. And, when you are able, go get yourself an instrument.

Living is an act of creation. Even reading this, you are engaging your creativity by analyzing and processing, agreeing or disagreeing. It’s the very essence of your humanity: the ability to choose.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a beautiful black electric bass that I don’t know how to play.

-Eric Raanan Fischman

Some Helpful Submission Tips from Bombay Gin

Submitting creative work to a publication can be nerve racking for a number of reasons, especially if it is your first time. Gaining publication is an essential part of a working writer’s life, so here is a list of tips to help you along the way to becoming established writers.

1. Do Not Fear Rejection

This tip is the most important one I can give. You cannot fear rejection; it is going to happen, and it is ok. This is the first thing you, as a writer, need to grasp and understand. It is hard to send off your own work to be judged and analyzed by various editorial panels, but you should never take a rejection too close to heart. A rejection doesn’t mean anything about the quality of your writing. You could receive a rejection for any number of reasons. For example, your piece might not have fit the journal’s theme, you didn’t follow the journals guidelines, or the journal might not even read your work, because there is just too much to read. Whatever the case, you just need to continue to send your work to a number of publishers. Just be patient and have no fear; your work will find a home.

2. Submit to Journals You Like

Do your homework. When you are looking to submit work for publication, you should always look at journals that you admire or enjoy. Submit to journals you are familiar with so you know what type of work they publish. Mention in your cover letter that you have knowledge of the publication; it presents dedication on your part. Just make sure, regardless of where you submit, you do your research and take the time to learn about the publication. Take the time to read their mission statement. Know to whom you are submitting.

3. Follow the Guidelines

Always make sure to read and follow the guidelines for each journal and magazine to which you submit. Each journal has specific submissions guidelines. A journal’s guidelines tell you things like when to submit, how many pieces/pages to submit, the format in which to submit, and whether they take simultaneous submissions, among other things. Not following the guidelines gives the publisher an excuse to recycle your work and give you an immediate rejection. This is obviously what you are trying to avoid so always make sure to read the guidelines carefully first before submitting anything.

4. Write a Good Cover Letter.

A strong cover letter is essential, and you should take the time to create a template cover letter you can use to submit to various publications. A good cover letter should do the following:

  • Tout your accomplishments without telling your life story. You should mention your achievements, such as other publications and awards, but keep it brief. Most editors do not want to read an autobiography, because they have enough submissions to read as it is. Always update your letter as you accomplish more.
  • Include your contact information (address, number, email, etc). This way, the editors can contact with you about your submission or know where to send correspondance.
  • Mention your prior knowledge of the publication. This shows that you have taken the time to examine the publication before submitting and that you have connection with that particular publisher.
  • Makes you more appealing. For example, use “completing” instead of saying “going for my degree” when talking about your education. “Completing” tells a publisher that you are hard at work toward your goal and loyal to your craft.
  • Be courteous. Thank the editors for taking the time to read your work. Editors have a lot of reading and work on their hands.

5. Submit to as Many Places as You Can.

Most publications allow for simultaneous submissions, which means you can submit work to them that you have already submitted to other publishers. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, because what is not good for one journal might be good for another. If you do end up submitting work simultaneously, always make sure to contact other publishers after a piece gets picked up for publication so they know to disregard it from your submission.

6. Keep Track.

Create a chart or someway of organizing where you have submitted work. This is for your own personal record and sanity.

7. Be Patient.

Give the editors time to get back to you. If you submitted work to a journal two days ago, then don’t start asking them about the status of your submission. Likely, they haven’t even had a second to look at the majority of submissions they have received. It can take a few months for you to receive any word. If you haven’t heard anything from a publisher in over a few months then just assume your work was rejected and move on from there.

There is a lot of pressure, especially for younger writers, to gain publications in order to become more established. My hope is to help relieve some of that pressure with advice. Getting published is not easy; it takes a large amount of effort and persistence. These tips can get you on track toward gaining new honors and publications, setting you on the path toward becoming an established writer.

-Mike

Mike Malpiedi is a first year MFA candidate in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.  Mike also serves as Associate Editor, Graduate Assistant for Publications, for Bombay Gin.

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Origin Story: Birth/Unbirth and Free Gin Giveaway

Ever wonder how Bombay Gin Lit Journal received its illustrious name? Here’s your chance to find out. Send a short poem or prose piece, citing or creating the birth of BG to bgin@naropa.edu by the end of this year. The winner will receive a copy of our forthcoming issue, featuring work by Anna Joy Springer, CA Conrad, Serena Chopra, and many others. In the meantime, here are some vintage BG covers to stir your imaginations.

http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/spring_1976.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/summer_1976.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/winter_spring_1977.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/summer_fall_1977.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/winter_spring_1978.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/summer_1978_spring_1979.html http://www.poetspath.com/exhibits/bombay_gin/summer_fall_1979.html

-Brenna Lee

Brenna Lee is the Art Editor of Bombay Gin and a current Writing Fellow at Naropa University. She is a second year MFA candidate and a Co-Editor of Blooming Plants, a multi-media conduit.

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A Toast to Autonomy: CA Conrad Interview

Hello lovely readers,

For your reading pleasure, we’ve decided to release an excerpt from Bombay Gin’s upcoming interview with the incredible poet CA Conrad. Look for the interview in its entirety in our soon to be released issue, 39.1, and check out CA’s poetry and (Soma)tics at caconrad.blogspot.com.

Brenna Lee: You’re work seems to explore elements of working class culture and white-trash culture. I’m interested in these ideas as history but also as archive and art. It reminds me in a way of Ilya Kabakov’s archives of trash as installation. Or Warhol’s film Trash. How do you think your interest in these cultures affects your own work?

CA Conrad: I won’t deny where I came from, but I’m not interested in it any more than I am interested in any small-minded group of mean-spirited people. There’s nothing romantic about homophobia and racism and an inane sense of power from alcohol. Trash may be an aspersion, but it’s accurate. I saw my mother arrested when I was nine, and her third husband was a pedophile, and by the time I was ten, I was completely paranoid from the task of protecting my younger sister from this creep. I hate where I came from. Hate’s a strong word, and I’ll use it. These people will always disgust me. I grew up in a part of rural Pennsylvania where the Ku Klux Klan has a foothold. Two filmmakers from Delinquent Films are making a documentary about me, and they went back to where I grew up to interview my father. I think they were wondering if I was exaggerating the details of this bigoted little town. They asked my dad about the KKK, and he closed the windows and drew the blinds before saying anything, and he talked about their resurgence in the 1990’s. In the 90’s, the coffin factory in town closed, a factory that had been there for over a century and was one of the area’s main sources of income. The Klan feeds a community’s financial fears with their illogical and frightening campaign to blame people of color. Meanwhile, it was President Clinton’s NAFTA that was to blame, of course. Anyone who lived in the initial era of NAFTA in America knows how the factories all headed south to use the people of Mexico as fodder for new factories with NO EPA standards, NO OSHA standards. Decades of labor rights to protect workers could be wiped clean in Mexico. So, the Klan was blaming immigrants and African Americans when the real people to blame were rich white men who owned the factories and bought their way through Washington. When I was outed in high school, the town’s hatred of homosexuals changed me. For me, there was life before I was outed, and then a very different life after being outed. It’s like one day no one will talk to you and this new way of living begins, and it’s amazing when that kind of societal switch gets flipped in your life. It’s most definitely a form of Hell on Earth with the ridicule, daily assaults, and the shunning. There was a bet about when I would kill myself. Junior year? Senior year? I wonder if someone bet that I was too strong for the tyranny? They were the winner! Being branded a zero gives you tremendous freedom though. In fact, it makes you freer than your oppressor will ever be, because you don’t have to follow their rules, because you are forbidden to signify the good citizen. Unless of course you’re one of those boring faggots or dykes who actually wants to assimilate. A toast to autonomy! Eileen Myles once said, “It’s good to be hated.” I understand that.

-Brenna Lee

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