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Puffery: Why Am I Doing This?

Poet George Drew at MVSU

Puffery? you ask. We asked our friend George Drew to give our website visitors some insight into the book promotion process, and being a poet, he responded in poetic fashion…

That many of you might, in the heat of compositional battle, ask, Why am I doing this? I’ve no doubt. And after having won the war and you have your brave new book in hand, what then? How do you get the world to pay attention? Well, you send out emails to all your contacts, you take out advertisements, you get your baby reviewed, you do radio or tv spots, if you’re so lucky, and of course you go forth bravely and do readings, whether you like doing them or not. And in the midst of all that labor, you ask again, and again, Why am I doing this?

Certainly it isn’t for fame and fortune: We all know how fleet of foot those are. Why then indeed? Perhaps the reason is more basic than you generally take time to think. Perhaps it is because…

OF PUFFERY

Once I saw a book entitled Just What the World Needs: Another Freshman English Text, or something to that effect. I easily can imagine someone reacting likewise to this book:

“Oh, dear, another book of literary puffery!” Why, then, risk it? I’m not an essayist of any note—no Lewis Thomas, Loren Eiseley, E.B. White. I know I’m not precisely because I know and love the work of these and others of their pedigree so avidly. They’re full bred; I’m mixed, which has its benefits. Whereas I can’t aspire to their elegance of style and thought, I can to a tenacity that’s mine and owes no allegiance to any but my own gut feeling, genes and mental grasp. Why this book? The work exists, that’s why. It’s mine, and I wish to let you in on it. And that’s as close to noble as I get. The rest is skin and blood and bone: I’m damned tired of first having to locate and then lug around in a bulky black binder all these pieces when I want to read them to an audience, as I sometimes do. A single slim—and I do mean slim—volume is much less strenuous, thank you. It’s really that simple. Still, since it also will exist,

I hope you find some pleasure in this book. If so, that’s good; if not, who knows? There might one day be just what the world needs: a Puffery II.

Drumming Armageddon, poetry by George Drew

Guest Post by George Drew author of Drumming Armageddon

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Dress Code for AWP20 in San Antonio

AWP20 ad with Madville/Kestrel events

What should you wear to AWP20 in San Antonio this year?

For those who do not know, AWP is the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and their annual conference is coming up:

#AWP20 Conference and Bookfair

San Antonio, TX
Henry B. González Convention Center
March 4–7, 2020

Key Dates

Materials to View/Download

Social Networking

[I wrote the following observations following #AWP17 in Tampa, though it feels like I started writing them at #AWP16 in Washington DC. I hope my attempt at sarcasm offends everyone equally, but no one gravely!-KD]

I’ve just attended the 2017 Association of Writing Programs (AWP) conference with some 13,000 students and faculty from writing programs and universities around the United States in attendance. I sat among representatives of small presses in the cavernous hall that housed the book market. Everyone was trying to attract students to their writing programs, authors to their submission pages, and buyers to their books. Meanwhile, a profusion of recent MFA and PhD grads schmoozed and congratulated one another comparing notes about the dismal state of the academic job market and reminiscing about grad school. Many had job interviews in hotel rooms scheduled around the trendy off-site readings and parties, though with the advent of the Skype interview, the formerly nerve-wracking AWP interview is not now the right of passage it once was. Still, the young guns found their old friends and discussed who had landed increasingly rare tenure-track jobs and who was still on the market and spending hard-earned adjunct wages to be there. They compared the climates of their respective universities—politically and meteorologically. They drank too much and slept too little, while seasoned faculty members chaperoned grad students—the target consumer group for the massive book fair and the audience for the panel discussions and readings in and around the conference.

I sat behind a crenellated battlement of books I couldn’t even give away and watched people stream past for all three days of the conference. White male Boomer-aged professors wore sports coats and jeans, grey pony tails and earrings the fashion accessories of choice. The African American tenured men favored bright silks and glistening shaved heads. All wore “cool” more comfortably than their female counterparts, who, apart from the tastefully professional African American women, appeared to be either crones or mutton-dressed-as-lamb. Since I fall on that spectrum myself, I feel qualified to comment. The crones gossiped a little too loudly, hair in awkward tufts, mascara smudged, while the mutton-dressed-as-lamb draped chic, risqué clothing over skeletal frames a little too casually, their entourage of graduate assistants shielding them from direct light.

The newly tenured wore uniforms of respectability, tattoos covered. Button-down shirts and sweater vests for the men and blouses over cigarette-skirts for the women with stockings and sensible pumps. The millenials dressed in predictable gender-blended variations, hairstyles their most obvious concession to fashion. Extravagant undercuts and outlandish color declaring their lifestyle choices. Students showed facial-jewelry, body art, and outlandish clothes, while professors favored short buzz-cuts.

And there were poets everywhere. At off-site readings, I listened to angst-ridden verses about sex—childhood abuse, and low self-esteem. Young poets marveled that anyone would have them and ended in despair. Old poets read about their mortality, exploring the seasons through metaphor inevitably resigning themselves to the inevitable. Veterans read in the staccato rhythm of gunfire ending abruptly. Despite the repetitive themes, the abundance of creative writing programs has brought about a renaissance in poetry, but knowing how difficult it is to sell poetry, I expressed my dismay at this situation to Michael Gills—a seasoned fiction writer and professor in jeans and cowboy boots. He set me straight explaining that, in his view, all these programs obviously turned out far more writers than we need, but each of those new writers is also a voracious reader. It’s a kind of writerly-readerly circle jerk.

At the end of the day, when selecting what to pack for AWP20 in San Antonio March 4-8, remember who the audience will be. And remember what you are there for. If you want to sell books, dress like someone who belongs on a university campus. “Business casual” is always safe, but if something more casual is appropriate for your audience, then wear that. Be yourself.

What will the weather be like?

We can guarantee that the weather in San Antonio, Texas, is warmer than where you come from. But it will be early march. You shouldn’t need more than one of the following: a light jacket, blazer, hoodie, or cardigan. Bring light weight clothes you can layer. We predict that we’ll all start shedding layers by lunchtime.

Generally in March, San Antonio maintains an average daily high temperature between 71 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 25 degrees Celsius), while the average low temperature ranges between 48 and 54 °F (9 to 12 °C). 56% average humidity. San Antonio tends to get about nine days of rain most years during the month of March. Be sure to have a look at the forcast a few days ahead of your departure for San Antonio.

Where can you find Madville Publishing at #AWP20?

We’ll be in the Bookfair in San Antonio this year, at booth number 1658 alongside our friends at Kestrel Journal of Literature and Art.

A close up of the AWP 2020 book fair map showing Madville's booth #1658 in Sponsors Row

 

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New Titles for #AWP20

AWP 2020 Logo

We will have a bunch of new titles on hand at AWP20 in San Antonio!

It’s our home state, so we decided we had better make a good showing. That is why we pushed out everything we had for Spring 2020, as well as a couple of books we’ve been perfecting. These new offerings cover the full spectrum of what we publish, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. (Of course you can see them all to buy or pre-order on our website at MadvillePublishing.com

We’ll be offering all of our books at discount prices at #AWP20. Come by our booth, #1658.

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Runaway Anthology Results!

Runaway Stories

Runaway Stories: An Anthology edited by Luanne Smith, Michael Gills, and Lee ZachariasThe Runaway Anthology results are in at long, long, last. We had hoped to make this announcement three weeks ago. However, the universe conspired to slow us down with dreadful things like illness, injury, surgery and several deaths in our families, but we are gathering our wits at last. We are ready to announce the stories our judges have chosen to include in our 2020 short fiction anthology, Runaway Stories: An Anthology [working title]. *

Here are the judges’ choices:

  • “The Stones” by Richard Shelton
  • “Neighbor Boys and Cousins” by Jodi Angel* honorable mention $100
  • “Kansas” by Emily Chiles
  • “Ritual” by Albert Aden* #1 $200
  • “Running Toward Away” by Richard Jay Goldstein
  • “If That Isn’t a Sign From God, Then I Don’t Know What Is” by Philen Bradford
  • “Sugar” by Misty Skaggs
  • “The Whiskey Monkey” by Maureen O’Brien
  • “Vivian Delmar” by Louise Marberg
  • “Nothing to Light Our Way” by Emily Hoover* honorable mention $100
  • “Daphne: The Aspen Version” by Erica Olsen
  • “Reapers” by Jeffrey Byrem
  • “Reading Herzog” by Michael Simpson
  • “Iris with Mermaids” by Deborah Johnstone
  • “Sioux Falls, South Dakota” by Marisol Cortez
  • “Sever” by Kellie Carle
  • “Lubbock 1974” by Bobby Horecka
  • “Running in Circles” by Merrill Gray
  • “Under the Grapefruit Tree” by Shelbi Carpenter
  • “Willie’s Crucifixion” by Rick Campbell* #2 $200
  • “The Thing” by Lou Morrison
  • “The Anchor Song” by Maurice Ruffin
  • “After We’re Gone” by Brett Riley
  • “Xmas, Jamaica Plain” by Melanie Rae Thon
  • “The House of Unintelligible Omens” by Randall Watson
  • “Lost Her Way” by Jen Knox
  • “The Fishing Dog” by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Congratulations each of these fine authors. All of us at Madville along with our judges, Luanne Smith, Michael Gills, and Lee Zacharias wish you all the best!

* We are doing our best to have it ready in time for AWP 2020 in San Antonio! Come see us at booth number 1658.
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Neon Moon Reading Raised $250 for Casa Juan Diego

By the Light of a Neon Moon: Poetry Out of Dance Halls, Honky Tonks, Music Halls and Clubs

Janet Lowery and Meg Spesia smile for the camera under a blue and white sign reading "Casa Juan Diego 4818 Rose Entrada"
Janet Lowery with Meg Spesia, a Catholic Worker from Chicago now working at Casa Juan Diego in Houston.

With support from the English Department at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, on Wednesday Oct 16th in the Art Gallery on campus, poet Janet Lowery hosted a reading of poetry from By the Light of a Neon Moon, the anthology of poems she edited for Madville Publishing. With the help of the Montgomery Arts Council, fiction writer Cliff Hudder, and 2011 Poet Laureate Dave Parsons, a reading from the anthology was also delivered on Thursday October 17 at Lone Star College, Montgomery campus.

By the Light of a Neon Moon: Poetry Out of Dance Halls, Honky Tonks, Music Halls and ClubsSales from the anthology at both readings amounted to $250.00, all of which was donated to Casa Juan Diego, a House of Hospitality in Houston which provides food, clothing, and shelter—both long-term and short term—to immigrants and the homeless. They accept donations of food, clothing and other items on their premises on Rose Street and online through their website.

Poets from the anthology who read at UST with Janet Lowery included Katie Hoerth,  Lesley Clinton, Winston Derden, and Dave Parsons. Poets reading at Lone Star with Dave Parsons and Janet Lowery included Houston poet Winston Derden and poet Karen Head, editor of the Atlantic Review.