Survivors Guide to Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) As a Student

By: Faith Krech


The AWP Conference and Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America. Each year this four day explosion of authors, publishers, and independent presses is contained within a different city. This year the Conference was held in Minneapolis, and I was fortunate enough to attend with Robin Miura of Carolina Wren Press as an intern. The 2015 conference featured over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The book fair, the second facet of the Conference, hosted over 700 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world.

To say that stepping onto the book fair floor on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. sharp was an overwhelming experience is the understatement of the century. The constant roar of chatter and laughter echoed throughout the massive dome shaped building. Peering around, my eyes were thrust with adjusting to the myriad of tables representing different presses and literary journals from all around the country. These tables exhibiting different presses and literary journals stretched from the front entrance of the Center and covered the entire width and length of the Minneapolis Convention Center.

For three days, I advocated for Carolina Wren Press at the designated table, meeting authors of the presses publications, networking with fellow independent presses, and utilizing my salesmanship skills to sell publications and raise awareness about the press to anyone who passed by.

Arriving in Minneapolis for the conference as a college student, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly did not know any strategies or tips to make my conference the most successful. To help the next AWPers on their first adventure, I have crafted a list that highlights and suggests the top ten essential items to bring to AWP 2016 which will be held in Los Angeles, California!

AWP 2016:  10 Things To Bring

  1. Pen/Pencil

These writing implements are crucial to have on hand at the conference whether you are attending a panel and want to write down notes or networking at the book fair and need to solidify the transaction by scribbling down contact and other pertinent information.

  1. Comfortable walking shoes

These are essential items to obtain because walking through the book fair and to and from panel discussions in two-inch heels will bring pain and misery to anyone who dares. Bring those comfortable sandals or sneakers. Your feet and ankles will thank you after spending a whole day trekking through the AWP jungle.

  1. Business casual attire

Although the styles of dress run the spectrum at AWP, if you are a college student looking to professionally network, the best advice I could give is to dress how you would like to represent yourself in a professional setting. Have a goal in mind to visualize your ideal appearance on the conference day.

  1. Backpack or large tote bag

One of the many perks of attending AWP is that many presses and journals are giving away free publications, pens, and candy to drum up awareness for their press or journal. Bringing a backpack or tote is an essential item to help carry around all those freebies!

  1. Reusable water bottle

Before going to AWP, it might be a good idea to practice some throat clearing exercises because there will be an immense amount of conversations to be had. Whether it is networking for an internship or fawning over your favorite literary magazine, a water bottle is key to hydration for all that yammering that is bound to happen!

  1. Notebook

Like the pencil or pen, a notebook or journal is essential to bring to AWP to record amazing insights shared in panels, advice from literary editors, and to remember presses to look up later in the tranquility of your hotel room after all the literary chaos has died down.

  1. Business cards and/or sticky notes with personal information inscribed

Bringing along business cards or other contact information to AWP is not only important to have accessible for job or internship networking purposes but is also important have handy. AWP is an amazing opportunity to meet potential employers but to also meet friends and literary colleagues who share your same interests. Don’t let these connections dissipate after the conference, follow up on them. You never know what might occur from them!

  1. Money

Even at AWP, money makes the conference go round. Most presses and literary magazines at the book fair will be selling their wares for the full four days of the conference. Most presses accept all major credit cards and cash. On the second to last day of the conference, most presses and publishers slash their prices by at least 30% in hopes that they can sell off most of their publications before having to lug them all back on the plane.

  1. Map of surrounding city where AWP is located

One of the joys of AWP is the location changes every year. This provides amazing traveling opportunities and chances to see new parts of the country. That being said, it is essential to obtain a map of the surrounding city so you can be aware of the best places to eat and stay during your AWP experience. In addition, there are always off-site readings that happen after the official conference day is finished. This is when the real AWP magic happens. Poets and writers come together in harmony at different city locations to share work and be in community together. You don’t want to miss these spectacular moments! Get a map!

  1. Your confidence

As a college student entering into the vast wilderness of AWP, it may be intimidating and overwhelming at first. It will take guts to walk into the book fair and see over 7,000 presses. It will take heart to bravely ask a question in a panel discussion. However frightening or immense AWP may seem to you now, I personally guarantee that with a little confidence you can have an amazing and successful experience as long as you put yourself out there to embrace all that the conference has to offer.

Untitled-4 Untitled-3 Untitled-2 Untitled-1

It’s Here! We’re Welcoming the New Volume of The Greenleaf Review!


The wait is over: 2015’s Greenleaf Review is already circling the campus. It features prose, poetry, and art alike! We’re very proud to be able to say this issue may be the best yet! It’s stuffed full of the work of some very talented Guilford students, and we’re excited to share their work with you.

This years Greenleaf Review features: Adrianna M. Allred, Teresa I. Bedzigui, AC Canup, Brittany Cominos, Niall Donegan, Julia Geaney-Moore, Nicole Gaines, Laura Hay, Elizabeth Houde, Jonahs Jones, Anna Kelley, Abe Kenmore, Faith Krech, Karlen Lambert, Kristy Lapenta, Justyn Melrose, Samantha Metzner, Kate Mitchell, Ilari Pass, Gabe Pollak, Emma Rountree, Subhadra Semetaite, James Trout, Eli Tuchler, Grace Van Fleet, and Eliana Weiner.

New York Times Bestselling Author Comes to Guilford College:

By: Beatriz M. L. Caldas

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Photos by: Anna Oates

What if the death of print became a reality? If books, newspapers, magazines and any other form of concrete knowledge were things of the past, what would you do? How would we live if language itself became obsolete or if iPads and iPhones could actually answer our questions even before we ask them? This is exactly how the world functions in Alena Graedon’s first novel The Word Exchange.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Graedon is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s MFA program. She has worked at Columbia, Knopf, and the PEN American Centre.

Translated into eight languages, The Word Exchange is considered “a nervy, nerdy dystopic thriller” by The New York Times Book Review, and “a sobering look at how dependent we are on technology and how susceptible we are to the distortions of language” by The Washington Post.

The book talks about a future not too far from our present when the world has succumbed to handheld devices that basically do all the “hard work,” like feeding us at the first small sign of hunger or to hail us cabs while we are still leaving the building we work in. Anana Johnson, the main character, works with her father, Doug, to create a new North American Dictionary of the English Language. People have been forgetting the good old times when it was possible to buy print editions of books and magazines instead of relying on electronic devices for everything. For this reason, Doug feels the need to finish what may be the very last edition of the dictionary.

One day, Doug disappears, leaving only one clue behind: ALICE, a code he and Anana created to warn each other about danger. Together with her friend Bart, Anana starts an adventure through basements and subterranean passageways to try to find Doug and understand what happened to him. She and Bart need to run against time and the effects of the “word flu,” which causes language decay.

On March 5, we had the pleasure of meeting Alena Graedon in person at Guilford College’s Art Gallery in Hege Library. The audience was eager to hear Graedon’s reading of the book and her comments on the writing process. She herself was also glad to be at our school.

“I’m really honored and humbled to be with you all,” said Graedon before starting to read a few excerpts from her novel.

The chapters are each named with a letter from the alphabet in alphabetical order. Graedon read a small section from the first chapter, “A,” in Anana’s perspective and then moved to chapter two, “B,” to tell the story from Bart’s perspective. As Bart was infected with the “word flu,” Graedon dragged the audience to a different moment in the story when we could see the development of the disease and the effects it had on him. At last, she went back to Anana’s point of view to finish the reading with a powerful quote from Hegel.

The reading then gave space to a Q&A. Graedon showed a lot of excitement when hearing the interest of Guilford students about her book and the writing process itself. Most of the students were also curious about publishing a first novel and dealing with writer’s block.

One of the questions was about deciding which point of view she would write in.

“The main reason why I wanted to write in first person is because I really wanted to show what language does, what it is and how it connects people,” she said.

When asked about the chapters, Graedon was honest.

“Writing it in 26 chapters sort of messed me up,” she said. “Because, when I was trying to go back, revise and move things around, it was a lot harder, so I had to break things in strange places. Sometimes it’s really helpful to have a container into which to pour your narrative.”

At the end, she confessed to the audience that at times she would fear failure.

“I had no idea if anybody else besides my mom would ever read it,” she said. “(But) that was also liberating because I could do insane things like having a lot of stuff about Hegel. Even if nobody else reads it, I thought, at least I’m writing the book as I imagine it should be.

“The best thing about (writing a book) is that you go into a process of discovery, but that’s also really hard. You ask yourself ‘what will happen when I’m done?’ So writing is the best thing that I do and the hardest thing as well.”

After answering every question, Graedon stayed longer to talk to everyone who was eager to know more about her work and to give autographs for those who had bought The Word Exchange from Guilford’s bookstore.

If you didn’t have the chance to meet this amazing New York Times bestselling author and would love to give her novel a try, just go by the bookstore in the basement of Founders Hall.

The Greenleaf Review hopes you enjoy your ride through a wordless world.


Hyperrealism: Insights on a Progressing Art

By H. Layla Rafaoui


Background: Defining the Terminology and the Shift of Photorealism to Hyperrealism

Photorealism began in the late 1960s in the United States; it was born when a cluster of artists began using photography as a source to paint commonplace scenes and objects with astonishing realism.  The term Photorealism was coined by Louis K. Meisel in 1969, and it appeared in print for the first time in 1970 in a Whitney Museum catalogue for the exhibition “Twenty-two Realists.”  Two years later Louis K. Meisel provided a five-part definition for what precisely classifies as Photorealism at the request of Stuart M. Speiser, who had gathered a large collectionof Photo-realistic paintings, which ultimately grew into a traveling show titled “Photo-Realism 1973: The Stuart M. Speiser Collection” (Schiller).  The clauses of Meisel’s definition were documented as follows:

1. The Photo-Realist uses the camera and photograph to gather information.

2. The Photo-Realist uses a mechanical or semi-mechanical means to transfer the information to the canvas.

3. The Photo-Realist must have the technical ability to make the finished work appear photographic.

4. The artist must have exhibited work as a Photo-Realist by 1972 to be considered one of the central Photo-Realists.

5. The artist must have devoted at least five years to the development and exhibition of Photo-Realist work.

Inspiring and Opposing Art Forms:

The Photorealist movement evolved from Pop Art and was meant to counter both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.  With inspiration from Pop Art, the art style inherited “a passion for the icons of consumer society, the metallic surfaces of the glass and mirrors of shop windows, and the deformed images they reflected, dazzling cars and motorbikes, neon signs, the bright colors of fast-food restaurants, Art Deco architecture and all kinds of kitsch iconography” (Hyperrealism).  However, while the Pop Artists were largely attempting to point out the absurdity of much of the content (i.e. the imagery and symbols), the Photo-Realists were primarily trying to recover and promote the socially held value of an image.  Photorealistic artists strive to alter elements of everyday life, trite scenes, and consumer goods into artistic motifs.

By the time the Photo-Realists started crafting their work, the snapshot had become the dominant means for replicating reality and abstraction was at the center of the art world.  Through the first half of the 1900s, realism had persisted as a surviving art movement, and even resurfaced in the 1930s, but, by the 1950s, modernist critics and the popularity of Abstract Expressionism had all but eradicated realism as a serious art form.  Although Photo-Realists had some shared characteristics with American realists, they did their best to separate themselves from traditional realists just as they did with Abstract Expressionists.

Like Pop Art and Minimalism, Photorealism sought to have a detached and impersonal vibe from the artists’ work because of the systematic techniques they used.  Yet, many thought, Photorealism’s effort to revitalize illusionism—with their detail-oriented tactics—was meant as a challenge to the work of Minimalists.  Correspondingly, many believed, the Photo-realistic movement was meant as a stab against the celebrated gains of Abstractionism.

Photorealism’s Original Artists

The initial generation of American Photo-Realists contained such painters as John Baeder, John Kacere, Howard Kanovitz, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Charles Bell, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle, and Tom Blackwell.  They often worked independently of one another and with extensively diverse starting points.

Historic Photo-Realist Artists:

Hyperrealism Americahyperrealism red car

John Baeder was primarily known for his detailed paintings of American roadside diners and restaurants

  Howard Kanovitz

Hyperrealism red dancing

The Dance, 1965, 81 x 70, acrylic and canvas

Hyperrealism art gallery

Man Regarding Nude Greek, 1965-8, acrylic and canvas










 Audrey Flack

Hyperrealism Shrine

Marilyn (Vanitas), 1977, 96 x 96 in.

Hyperrealism stuff

Chanel, 1974, 84 x 60 in.










Public Recognition:

The movement reached international recognition when it participated in the Kassel Documenta of 1972.  Then, in 1973, a Belgian art dealer, Isy Brachot, coined the French term Hyperréalisme as the title of an exhibition that took place at his gallery in Brussels.  The exhibition was predominantly American Photorealists such as Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle, and Richard McLean; however, it also encompassed some influential European artists such as Gnoli, Richter, Klapheck, and Delcol.  Photorealism, then, developed into what widely became acknowledged as the Hyperrealist movement.  Photorealism and hyperrealism are also occasionally referred to as Super Realism, New Realism, and/ or Sharp-Focus Realism.

Contemporary Hyperrealism

More than forty years after hyperrealism originated, it has managed to maintain its place as a visible and flourishing art form.  Many of the movement’s pioneers are still active and working alongside new artists who also paint using a photorealist technique.  Artistic resources and themes have progressed and changed over time, but Hyperrealistic paintings, with their eye-capturing level of definition, accuracy, and detail, continue to captivate their audience.

Art in the Age of Technology:

Both Pop Art and Photorealism were reactions to the constantly-growing abundance of photographic media.  The invention of photography, in the nineteenth century, shifted the Westerners’ cultural values on two-dimensional, historic art forms and the public’s general understanding of prior media.  When Photorealism began to gain momentum in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and permitted artists to use photographs to aid their work, it was countered with severe criticism, despite the fact that visual aids had been used by artists since the fifteenth century.  Within the art movements of the 1800s and 1900s, it is documented that artists used photographs to aid in their work, but heavily denied using them because they feared that their work would be perceived by critics and the general public as imitations.  Artists who painted portraits and scenes were thought to produce inferior work in comparison to the camera and many of them ultimately changed to careers in photography.  By mid-20th century in the west, photography had become such an enormous phenomenon that it threatened to diminish the value of imagery in prior art forms.

However, the invention of the photograph also led to a period of artistic experimentation.  Hyper-realistic artists begin their artistic process with a camera in an attempt to capture seemingly inconsequential subjects that are found in the world around us, and then—with painstaking detail—they create an illusion of photography on canvas.  Ironically, the method is completely contradictory to the immediacy of the snapshot itself.  When creating a hyper-realistic painting, the artist systematically transfers their photograph onto the canvas, which is typically done either through projection or a traditional grid system.  The final painting often looks identical to the photograph, and is merely larger.  These techniques result in a precise and extremely realistic painting.

Reaching a Wider Audience:

Hyperrealism touches a wider audience than that of abstract art.  Abstract art was once about reaching the people as it rebelled from prior more “trained” and “refined” styles, while integrating political dilemmas and analyzing one’s own culture; however, with time, it has managed to simply join the many other art forms through-out history that were and are limited to the elites and those in the academic sphere.  Unlike Abstractionism, Hyperrealism doesn’t need to be “explained” to the viewer, considering the content can be found in the physical world that the viewer lives in.


Art movements are vital in defining periods of human history; they give the framework to the cultural realities of the time and allow us to outline social shifts.  The long-lasting relevance of Hyperrealism allows us to presume—as it contains some of our societal values—that in our technologically-centered existence we value precision and, also, that more individuals within our society are impressed by and interested in that precision than by opposing nonconcrete, intellectual art pieces.

Contemporary Hyperrealist Artists:

Lee Price

Hyperrealism Bath

Grilled Cheese II. Oil on Linen, 38″ x 72″

Hyperrealism food

Refuge. Oil on Linen, 44” x 64”









Hyperrealism Shower 1Hyperrealism Shower 2








Diego Fazio – Charcoal pencil


Hyperrealism flower 1Hyperrealism Flower 2






Ben Weiner – Paintings of Paint

“How did you come up with that?”

By Katie Holland and Elizabeth Houde

Are you a creative individual? If you are, it’s likely that you’ve heard this question every… single… time you’ve shared your work with anyone.

Are you not a creative individual? Have you asked that question to your creative friends?

Are you a creator or a not-creator who would like to hear how some people get inspired to do creative things? Yes!? Great! Sharing time!

We talked to people–creative people–and they talked back. They were happy to share with us those things that inspire them to write, to sing, to create, and now we will share this great mystery with you based on what we noticed from the replies and what we ourselves tend to draw from, in the hopes that these tips will help you in your future endeavors, or just bring a smile to your face.


1) Images

Many people draw inspiration from images. These images can be anything from a National Geographic photograph to some random graphic floating past on your Facebook feed.

If you’re interested in finding more inspiring images, we recommend browsing sites like DeviantArt, Wikimedia, Tumblr, and TheInspirationGrid. A beautiful image–or even one so hideous it defies explanation–can trigger something in you: a memory, an alternate reality, a feeling, an emotion or sensory, anything to get you going.

Passage 22

Passage 22” by MASYON of


2) Life

Now for the real world. So some people find inspiration in *dramatic pause* *whispers* the real world. We were just talking about images, so here’s a good website to look at that has images–of real people, places, animals, etc.–and the stories of the people, places, animals, etc. It’s called Humans of New York, and we’ve found some really inspiring things there.

Amanda Libby told us that when she sits in a coffee shop watching all of the people around her, “story ideas come flooding in by what [she sees] others doing.”

Amanda Eberhardt also had something to say about drawing inspiration from life’s moments, and how she likes to think that everything can be inspiration for writing. She said that “a brilliant story could be found in the face of a man doing card tricks on the New York subway.”

“Having written a story about an old woman who I saw smoking outside Dunkin’ Donuts on a snowy day in my hometown, I can honestly say that anything you see in real life can inspire you to write.” -Elizabeth Houde


In the Playwriting Workshop taught by David Hammond here at Guilford, he encouraged his students to look at the news headlines (both domestic and abroad) for inspiration for their scenes. The idea is that your play (or in your case whatever creative task you are undertaking) is always in your head, just sitting there, waiting to relate to reality. Draw from life, draw from experience, and if you haven’t experienced it yourself read about someone who has.

Fireworks stock

Fireworks Stock 02/07/12-48” by spirit-fire-stock of

3) Music

So a lot of people really like music as a source of inspiration, which makes sense, because hey, music, right? People love music. Writers, artists, and musicians, oh my! All of them have found inspiration from the music in their lives.

Basically, a lot of people cited music as their inspiration, a lyric or a theme, the way those words or sounds next to one another just resonate with you on a deeper level. Music is a powerful thing, and letting it take you on a journey can really pay off.


“Songs inspire stories. Usually a lyric and a tone will evoke an image, and then that image turns into a story – sometimes it will stray from what the song is actually about, but I try to keep it the same.”

-Carson Risser


Here are some song suggestions that were offered:

Nellie Vinograd:

1.) Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin

2.) der hölle rache kocht in meinem herzen (The Queen of the Night’s 2nd aria) by Mozart

3.) Rock Creek Park by The Blackbyrds


Elizabeth Houde:

1.) Gravedigger by the Dave Matthews Band

2.) Sharpest Lives by My Chemical Romance

3.) Build God, Then We’ll Talk by Panic! At the Disco


If you don’t trust those suggestions, or they just don’t do it for you, you can try Pandora or iTunes radio stations, you might find some new favorites, and maybe a story waiting to be found.


Stormy Sky horizontal

Stormy Sky horizontal” by Lindalees of


4) Other Suggestions

Now for the odds and ends of inspiration… not to say that you’re odd. Just… well let’s just say that inspiration comes at different people in different ways. Yeah, that’s what we’ll say. You’re normal. All of you. (THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MEURSAULT) Here we go:


“Sometimes the best way to get something is just to wing it and tap into your subconscious.”

-Tyler Midkiff


“I take a walk in the woods surfing different weather. Sun, cloud, rain, sometimes snow in the winter. Wind is always good.”

-Jadelyn Leroux

Words themselves can sometimes generate entire works, try taking a few (maybe three silly words and one serious–Pineapple, Madonna, Window, and Addiction, for instance) and set out to use all four in a paragraph. See what happens.

Here’s a list of ten words we found beautiful on their own:

  1. Absolute
  2. Pantomime
  3. Tension
  4. Cellophane
  5. Flabbergasted
  6. Distorted
  7. Bauble
  8. Arcane
  9. Slaughter
  10. Absence


Some people find inspiration from other things like…Tumblr. Nellie said that she likes “to see what makes other people laugh even if it doesn’t make [her] laugh,” and she uses it to inspire her to write.


And, hey, sometimes writers use prompts. There’s no shame in it, everybody who takes on a prompt sees it through their own lens, drawing from their own experiences and observations to create something beautiful and only theirs. Greenleaf Review member Chassidy Crump has written an article of Prompts for writers, you should check it out!


Hopefully you now feel like you understand inspiration. If you don’t, we’re sorry. We’ve done our best. You can try our methods. You can try other writers’ methods. You can come up with your own methods. You do you. We’re sure it’s brilliant whether you write or don’t write. (This is life. Go. Enjoy it. Be inspired. Or don’t. The choice is yours. Make the right one.)


Then What?

After you get past finding inspiration and you have a completed piece of writing, artwork, song lyrics, etc. you should think about submitting it to The Greenleaf Review, Guilford College’s Literary Magazine for the opportunity to be published in next year’s issue.


Good luck and happy hunting!

Elizabeth Houde and Katie Holland


Poet Laureates of the U.S. and North Carolina

The poet laureate has not always been an official government position. In the U.S. from 1937 to 1986 there was a position called “Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.” Some very famous people served in this role from Robert Frost to Elizabeth Bishop. In 1986 the title and position was changed to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” Only those who served after 1986 are considered “Poet Laureate.” There was some controversy over changing the title and official job description as many writers do not want to write on cue and be part of a political position. One writer said he thought being a poet laureate would be the worst job ever.

Here is a list of all those who served as the official for the U.S.:

 Poets LaureateRobert Penn Warren1986-1987Richard Wilbur 1987-1988Howard Nemerov  1988-1990

Mark Strand 1990-1991

Joseph Brodsky  1991-1992

Mona Van Duyn 1992-1993

Rita Dove 1993-1995

Robert Hass 1995-1997

Robert Pinsky 1997-2000

Stanley Kunitz 2000-2001


 Billy Collins 2001-2003Louise Gluck 2003-2004Ted Kooser  2004-2006

Donald Hall 2006-2007

Charles Simic 2007-2008

Kay Ryan 2008-2010

W. S. Merwin 2010-2011

Philip Levine  2011-2012

Natasha Trethewey 2012-



The current poet laureate of the United States was appointed in 2012 by the U.S. Library of Congress at age 46. Trethewey was inspired to write poetry by her father who she visited often in Mississippi. She grew up with her mother in Decatur, Georgia and graduated from University of Georgia in 1989. Her works include Domestic Work, Bellocq’s Ophelia, and Native Guard, about Black Union soldiers. Trethewey won a Pulitzer Prize for her work Native Guard in 2007. Trethewey is the first southern poet to be nominated since 1986, the first African-American poet to be appointed since 1993 and is the only U.S. Poet Laureate to elect to stay in Washington DC and serve her term in the Poets Room at the Library of Congress.


Each state has a poet laureate, as well, who serves for two years and is appointed by the Governor. The poet is selected by examining how they represent the state’s racial and literary diversity across the geographic map. In North Carolina the poet laureate receives a $15,000 stipend each year in order to continue working on some project he or she is interested in. The N.C. Arts Council provides support in helping the laureate travel across the state to engage with the literary community. The oldest duty of the laureate is to write poems for historic or culturally important events.

Previous N.C. Laureates:
Arthur Abernethy (appointed 1948)
James Larkin Pearson (1953-1981)
Sam Ragan (1982-April 1996)
Fred Chappell (December 10, 1997-December 2002)
Kathryn Stripling Byer (February 24, 2005-February 2009)
Cathy Smith Bowers (February 10, 2010-June 30, 2012)

The current N.C. Poet Laureate is Joseph Bathanti. Bathanti is a professor at Appalachian State University and is the chair of the N.C. Writers’ Network Prison Project. His most recent poem is called Fayetteville. He has decided to dedicate his time in office to raising awareness and recognition for veterans. North Carolina has eight military installations and one of the largest populations of veterans in the United States.

The Practical Critic: Glass Mountain Magazine, Spring 2013

Poe. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the cover. With its black-red mass taking over blood-spotted white, it screamed tentative hope giving way to immense despair and darkness. Fun way to kick off a multi-faceted lit journal. Admittedly, I had not read enough college lit journals to place an indelible label on the pamphlet based on a first glance, so I naturally decided to give it a fair shake by getting my feet wet with the works inside.

Before I dive into my opinions on the publication first, a little history. First published in 2006, Glass Mountain is a biannually published literature magazine put together by University of Houston undergraduates, who obtain submissions from college students all over the country. The mag also sponsors the Boldface Writing Conference, a symposium for up-and-coming writers that includes talks and workshops in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. With such a huge pool of talent from which to pull exceptional content, my expectations were high as anything. And the magazine didn’t disappoint.

As far as literature was concerned, the magazine started out strong and kept it up to the end. Here’s a list of some favorites (in no particular order):

  1. The Fork by Darlene Campos: As one of my first official forays into queer fiction, the story covers the events surrounding the assault of a Native American gay man named John David on the rez (reservation) from the point of view of his best friend. Although very well-written, engaging, and human, the story might make you less inclined to use your kitchenware for a couple of days. The humor and emotional scenes in this work truly makes one connect on a personal level with the main character.
  2. Thrombosis! by Nick Chan: This poet definitely succeeded in capturing the lack of empathy in our society for those life-jarring events that keep us from participating in the rat race. Case in point: a highway is clogged by an accident, and people are upset they will be late to work.
  3. June 25, 2009 by Jennifer Overfield: One sentence displays the rage this poet feels toward Mother Nature’s coldness. The tone of it seemed distant and unfeeling, almost as if the poet chose to demonstrate how messed up it was for a force so ubiquitous to refuse acknowledgement of an event that created so much sadness. Many music lovers would feel her pain.

Obviously, the literature in this magazine was impressive. The art, however, could have been more varied with respect to the number of pieces and the number of artists. In the journal, the only artist featured was “Robot Ronnie.” Although he or she did seem to have attracted the eye of the journal editors with his/her abstract works and eye-catching modernist techniques, I personally did not enjoy as much as the literature simply because only one person offered their own artistic perspective. It would have been a much improved experience if the art in the journal were as varied and textured as the literary pieces.