Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thank You to Our Critics

I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.

It’s Thanksgiving time, and we’d like to be thankful for a group that is rarely appreciated: critics. In the ocean that is the Literary World, some say that the critics are the sharks. Or the barracuda. I prefer to think of them as Killer Whales: massive, frightening and deadly, but also magnificent. And perhaps trapped in the cages of universities and writing programs.

Being a critic has helped many writers start their careers or supplement their incomes. I’d like to recognize some great authors who have also been professional critics, with perhaps some of the most vitriolic writing:

T.S. Elliot, who was a literary theorist and published multiple essays and books on literature.

Edgar Allen Poe, who edited Southern Literary Messenger, one of the first American literary magazines.

Alexander Pope, whose lambasting of Thomas Shadwell in The Dunciad has become one of our most loved poems.

So, thank you critics, for your hard and often-unappreciated work.

-Philip LaMaster

Monday, November 24, 2014

This Week in Writing

Anne Rice, author of the recently published book Prince Lestat, is on book-signing tour. She stopped in Tempe, Arizona this weekend. Pick up her book at Changing Hands.

The National Book Award for fiction was granted to Phil Klay on Wednesday after the debut of his short story collection, Redeployment, based on his experience as a Marine in Iraq. 

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti published NovelInteriors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature, bringing a modern look to living spaces from books: chairs from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, sofas described by Jane Austen in her novels, and library shelves described on Louisa May Alcott’s books. 

Viv Albertine, punk rocker member of The Slits, published her memoir Clash, Crash, Redemption. The book is based on her early life and career. 

R.A. Montgomery, c-founder of the publishing house Vermont Crossroads Press and author of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, dies at 78 years old

-Zalma Aguirre

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Dorothy Chan

Only a few weeks until Issue 55 is released! Meanwhile, we are gearing up for our special themed issue: CHAOS. Lauren Mickey interviews our poetry editor, Dorothy Chan, about boy bands, Nylon, and our upcoming issue.

Lauren Mickey: What are you currently reading (besides submissions)? 

Dorothy Chan: I'm currently reading a bunch of fashion blogs: We Wore What, Sea of Shoes, Luxirare, etc. I like to keep up with current trends in fashion and lifestyle -- I truly believe this enhances my writing and gives me a different perspective besides the literary. On the literary side, however, I'm reading The Crucifix Blocks by Todd Fredson as well as the current issue of APR

LM: How has being a poetry editor at HFR changed the way you write / read?

DC: Being poetry editor for 2 years has enhanced the way I read. Besides the benefit of reading submissions with greater speed, I'm also reading much more meticulously. I'm trying to get to know the person behind the writer behind each poem. 

LM: What is your go-to play-on-repeat song?

DC: Oh wow, I have so many. And I promise you, I'm not one of those writers who names obscure bands just to sound cool. Let's see, right now I'm hooked on 5 Seconds of Summer, this adorable band that's labeled as a "boyband," though they strive to be more pop-punk. I like their song "She Looks So Perfect" because it keeps referencing "American Apparel Underwear." Interestingly, I'm also a big Sinatra fan--I fell in love with his voice in a taxicab in Hong Kong when I was four. I love his duet with Bing Crosby from the film, High Society. With that, I love songs from old MGM musicals. As far as a playlist: "Evil" by Interpol, "Live While We're Young" by One Direction, "Biggest Part of Me" by Ambrosia, "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart, "Eyes As Candles," by Passion Pit, and [fill in the blank with almost anything catchy]. 

LM: Issue 55 — the “Chaos” issue — is coming out soon… Were you surprised and/or impressed by how poets incorporated themes of chaos into their submissions? 

DC: I am very pleased with the Chaos collection Jackie and I are curating. At first, I was worried we'd get hundreds of Dada poems, but there's lots of standouts in this collection. I'm glad that many writers incorporated narrative with chaos.

LM: I read your previous “Behind the Masthead” interview and saw that you read Nylon. Do you have a favorite Nylon covergal? (Mine is Tavi Gevinson, I think, probably.) 

DC: I love Tavi! I saw this fabulous pink fur outfit she wore on a fashion blog the other day. My other favorite would have to be Sienna Miller for the anniversary issue. I also like Taylor Momsen's cover on a summer issue of Nylon Singapore.

LM: What is your ideal writing environment (coffee shop, a dark room, lost in the woods, etc.)? 

DC: My ideal environment is anywhere noisy...hopefully with enough attractive things or people to look at.


Dorothy Chan is a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PlumeChaKeyhole, and Vine Leaves. She is a poetry editor at Hayden's Ferry Review

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Week in Writing

The English translation of The Three-Body Problem, the first of a science fiction trilogy by Liu Cixin, was released on Tuesday by Tor Books.

Warsaw Ghetto, scrapbooks created by Polish author Jewish Mary Berg in 1945, disappeared in 1950, and have surfaced recently to shed light onto the Nazi genocide. The family of Ms. Berg has requested to cancel the auction of her diary.

Former President George W. Bush publishes 41: A Portrait of My Father, a biography about his father and being the second president in history to follow in the steps of his father.

David Ritz, author of celebrity biographies, will publish Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin this year. This is his second time working with Ms. Franklin since 1999.

Upcoming writer Atticus Lish publishes Preparation for The Next Life, about a love story lived in the shadows, based in part on his own experiences.

-Zalma Aguirre

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Beat Movement and its Influence on Music

I’ve been obsessed with the Beat movement for a couple of years now, and I’ve always had a love for music. As I began to read Kerouac and Ginsberg, I started to notice similarities both in the style and the subject matter of the writing of some of my favorite artists from the 1960s and 70s. I got so wrapped up in this that I started to do a little bit of research to see if these ideas could be credited in any way.

In the 1950s and 60s, the writers of the Beat Generation sought to spiritually and sexually liberate humanity, decriminalize drugs, and promote a counterculture lifestyle. The works of Beat authors Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs proved to be very influential on rising musicians of the day. Songwriters and bands latched on the Beat movement’s ideals, which a majority of the public considered unmoral, in the 1960s as rock and roll music grew across the globe.

I quickly found out that some of my favorite musicians had direct connections with the Beat Movement. Ginsberg was friends with Bob Dylan and had even met the Beatles, on multiple occasions. He even accompanied Dylan on his 1975 tour for “Blood on the Tracks,” which many fans consider to be his best album. There are short, but interesting videos of Ginsberg and Dylan visiting Kerouac’s grave and discussing other famous burial sites that they have both seen.

The influence of the Beats can be heard throughout Dylan’s music, both in his earlier, so-called “protest” songs, like “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” and his later works, which often sounded more spontaneous and experimental; “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” come to mind.

The members of the Grateful Dead were familiar with Neal Cassady, a hero of the Beat Generation, who also spent time with author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, Driving around the Country in a psychedelic bus called “Furthur.” The Dead also hung out with that crowd, and so were graced with the stories of Cassady, which they later turned into songs of their own. In a 1968 song, “That’s it for the Other One,” Bob weir sings “Cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never ever land.” Many of the Grateful Dead’s live shows were based in a spontaneity that members of the Beat generation would’ve approved of; they often became long jam sessions.

Other bands influenced by the Beats were The Doors and the Velvet Underground, were not as close to the main writers of the beat generation, but their music was still greatly influenced by their works. Ray Manzarek, the organ player of The Doors once said that, “if Jack Kerouac had never written On the Road, The Doors would never have existed.” Jim Morrison agreed with this statement, citing Kerouac as a major influence. His lyrics and poetry were often aimed at opening the minds of listeners to new experiences and ways of thinking.

I hadn’t listened to the Velvet Underground until about a year ago, but as soon as I listened to the band’s debut, “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” I could hear the influence of the Beats. The album was originally criticized for its harsh lyrical themes — use of illegal drugs, prostitution, and S & M. In 1967, it was unusual for songwriters to address these topics so blatantly. The Velvet Underground changed that with songs such as “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Heroin.” The band was interested in displaying the realities of life in the late 60s, something that would’ve appealed to the Beats.

These are just a few of the bands that took cues from the Beat Movement. The writers of that period greatly contributed to what would become the counterculture movement of the 60s, which would prove to be one of the most important musical periods in history.

-William Ruof