Category Archives: Memoir

Spring Has Sprung

Hi Friends!

We published our new Bending Genres issue two a few days ago: www.bendinggenres.com. We’ve had so many nice compliments but truly without our writers, we would not have anything to showcase. Also thanks editors Meg Tuite, David O’Connor, Samuel Fox, Jessica Mehta, and Jonathan Cardew. Thanks Adam Robinson for your IT wizardry, and KJ for your uploading and editorial skills. We are currently open for submissions, so send us your weird and best!

Jonathan Cardew also taught our second Bending Genres online weekend workshop, “Flash: Wondrous & Weird.” It was well- attended and participants wrote some incredibly unusual (for them) pieces! We currently have two spots left for our May 18-20 weekend workshop; “Deep Leap/ Deep Sleep” and I will be teaching this! More information here: https://bendinggenres.com/online-workshops/.

Also, Meg Tuite and I are preparing daily for our upcoming Bending Genres Synergia Ranch retreat!!! The new header image I selected is from New Mexico, and I’ll add more photos at the end of this post from September 2017, when we had our first experience at the Ranch. It’s phenomenal, spiritual, strange, clear, a gift to honor your own hard work if that appeals to you. We like writers of all levels, and varieties. In fact, we asked writer Lynn Mundell six questions about her experience at Synergia Ranch last September: https://bendinggenres.com/2018/04/08/bending-genres-q-a-with-author-lynn-mundell/

The upcoming dates are April 27- May 3, 2018. We currently have 12 registered writers and can take a few more. Here is our website to look further: http://retreat.bendinggenres.com.

New Online workshops

Hi friends,

What a year it has been. To say the least.

In November, I stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief at (b)OINK. Prior to that, for the entire year I was the Fiction Editor. Our magazine has had an outstanding year, including the new, December issue we published two days ago: http://boinkzine.com.

Just a quick recap will help you to understand how busy our editorial staff has been:

  • Published ten solid issues of fiction, poetry, CNF, art, and VOICES
  • Our first Flash Fiction Contest with guest judge Kathy Fish; vetters Len Kuntz, Dianca Potts, and Nicholas Cook (winner was Quinn Madison)
  • Held three other postcard contests, (winners were Kara Vernor, Meghan Phillips, and Becky Robison)
  • Three readings at different venues in Milwaukee (with hosts Dora Diamond, Jonathan Cardew). Many of our magazine contributors read at these events.
  • Opened our new offices in Walkers Point, added our exceptional intern, Corey Holzman. Thanks, Ricco!
  • And to our amazing staff, some who remain, some who’ve moved on, I am eternally grateful: Meg Tuite, Chelsea Laine Wells, Jamal Parker, Caitlin Scarano, Samuel Fox, David O’Connor, Jessica Mehta, and Corey Holzman. Your hard work and editorial skills have made it the magazine for so many writers and diverse voices: over 30 different countries, a multitude of cultures represented, outstanding risk-taking writers.

In 2018, we will be launching our all new Bending Genres ONLINE WORKSHOPS!!! Beginning January 19-21, with Meg Tuite teaching Fast Flash Fiction: Close to the Edge. More information is here: http://boinkzine.com/january-fast-flash-fiction/. You can take this workshop from anyplace in the entire world! Don’t wait too long to nab your post, we are already filling up!

Also we are adding to our current magazine staff: Fiction Editors Meg Tuite and David O’Connor; Poetry Editor Samuel Fox and our new Poetry editor Jessica Mehta; all new column curated by Jonathan Cardew called Microviews (might include reviews, interviews and more), and our inimitable intern, who does so much more than any intern, Corey Holzman.

All this, and these are just a tip of the entire journey.

I’m indebted, and so grateful to you all. Thanks for the amazing year.

Sincerely,

Robert Vaughan, Editor-in-Chief, Bending Genres

Omega Institute: Nick Flynn

Hi friends!

I recently attended a week long writer’s retreat at Omega Institute called Memoir as Bewilderment. I think what attracted me, aside from stellar writer and teacher Nick Flynn, was the bewilderment factor. I feel as if life presents itself in this manner often, and my writing most certainly contains an element of the unknown, or the mysterious.

I arrived after car, plane, cab, train, and shuttle. I met my first writer taking the same course at the Rhinecliff train station, Anne. We immediately bonded over books, family similarities, New York and there was an immediacy that writers tend to have.

Prior to the workshop we were asked to bring with us: 10-20 pages of our own writing (and to choose one page to make copies for everyone), one page from a published book),  a science article (copies for everyone). All of these were to hopefully contain elements of what we define as bewilderment. I’d just completed Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, his new memoir about his mother. Plenty of bewilderment!

The workshop was held in the Creekside cottage, which was a tight space for 25 writers! After selecting a word from the white board (I chose “to Lose”) we were given a postcard image. We meditated for seven minutes (a welcome recurring theme before our writing prompts) and then wrote “descriptive writing”- trying to stick with details. We repeated this exercise with slight suggested revisions, so that eventually we had written four or five different prompts. We also read Larry Levis’s lyric poem, “Sensationalism.” My small group was Laura, Kathryn and Carrie. I also partnered with Sean on a couple of exercises.

Teacher Nick Flynn, author of several books, including his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which I read during our Omega workshop. (http://www.nickflynn.org)

One evening, we saw Aja Monet read from her stellar poetry collection, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter at the Omega Library. She was amazing.

In class we also drew maps of a specific location, and a map of our body (placing both trauma and joys on the body). These were used for prompts. We did a movement exercise with Omega staff and writer JoJo that helped us to identify a place in which we might go deeper into a writing piece. Then we wrote a piece toward a direction on our maps. We also visualized our ‘home direction,’ and figured out a gift to give to our “person,” (used from our original postcards) and wrote a fairy tale prompted piece to a younger self in a deep woods.

Stanley Kunitz, a mentor of Nick’s said: “You have to become the person that can write the poem.” (of compassion, of anger, of solace, etc.)

On Wednesday, Nick’s friend and music collaborator, Guy Barash visited the Omega campus. We did an afternoon workshop with Guy, directing us with non-musical instruments, graphed and designed on paper. We did a silent meditation just listening to local ambient sounds (heater, planes, crickets, etc.) and “recorded” them, then attempted to translate them to the class (from our papers). Then, in groups, we performed our pieces. Then Guy directed the entire class as an aural orchestra. We dubbed ourselves the Unstable Atomic Pigs! Nick was so kind, he invited us to open for Nick and Guy’s performance in the Lake Theater that evening. Also Jared Handelsman, another collaborator, provided video footage. Their show was beyond inspiring!

On Thursday our class occupied the Lake Theater at Omega. This was an entire day devoted to our “working project.” We went through our various collected pages, new writing and brought pieces, and various favorites from the group. We marked the “resonant parts,” and Nick coached us to be generous- not one or two words, mark “whole passages.” From there, we literally cut out those parts, and placed them onto 30 blank sheets of white paper. I sort of figured out that I had three or four threads for my project. And I had organized them all in these groupings. Then Nick came over, listened as I described my chaos, and said, “okay, now you can switch them all up- move them around, etc.” I literally felt nauseous! But so did everyone else. Chaos… opposite of organized.

The last morning, Nick fielded a quick question and answer. Because I had to leave early on Friday, I was the first in order for the final reading. I read “Tributaries,” and “When He Left it all to Me.” I was only able to stay for the first four or five other readers. I felt so badly when I slipped out, but I had to catch the train, to the cab, to the plane, to the car ride home. My dear friend David Carter (who incidentally was the first friend I workshopped with at Omega in 1994), came and spent an overnight on Thursday, and transported me to the Rhinecliff train station. Bless his heart.

What a week. So grateful to Nick Flynn, teacher extra-ordinaire, my co-writers and creators, to Omega for hosting this amazing workshop. To friends, new and old. And always to my honey, who makes life seem more technicolor than ever.