“A mi­cro-mem­oir com­bines

Poets and Writers - - Trends - –DANA ISOKAWA

the ex­treme ab­bre­vi­a­tion of po­etry with the nar­ra­tive ten­sion of fic­tion and the truth telling of cre­ative non­fic­tion,” says Beth Ann Fen­nelly, whose new book, Heat­ing & Cool­ing: 52 Mi­cro-Mem­oirs (Nor­ton, Oc­to­ber), does just that. Vary­ing in length from a sin­gle sen­tence to sev­eral pages, the es­says in her book are told with wry self-aware­ness and com­pas­sion; each piece il­lu­mi­nates how the man­ners and minu­tiae of ev­ery­day life, from mak­ing small talk on an air­plane to fix­ing an air con­di­tioner, are un­der­pinned by deep-rooted hu­man needs and be­liefs. The au­thor of three po­etry col­lec­tions, a pre­vi­ous book of non­fic­tion, and a novel she coau­thored with her hus­band, Tom Franklin, Fen­nelly has pub­lished mi­cro-mem­oirs from her new book in the jour­nals below, among many oth­ers.

When Fen­nelly be­gan look­ing into pub­lish­ing her mi­cro-mem­oirs, it’s no sur­prise that the first place she sub­mit­ted to was Brevity (brevi­ty­mag .com), the gold stan­dard for short non­fic­tion. The on­line jour­nal, which spe­cial­izes in es­says of 750 words or less (along with a hand­ful of craft es­says and book re­views), pub­lished two pieces from Heat­ing & Cool­ing in its Jan­uary 2016 and 2017 is­sues. Es­tab­lished twenty years ago by the “in­domitable Dinty Moore,” as Fen­nelly says, Brevity is based in Athens, Ohio, and is pub­lished three times a year. “I was in­trigued by what might be pos­si­ble in whit­tling true sto­ries down to such a small size,” says Moore about start­ing the jour­nal. Es­say sub­mis­sions open via Sub­mit­table this month, and queries for craft es­says and book re­views are ac­cepted year-round via e-mail. uu Mean­while, Arkansas

In­ter­na­tional (arkint.org), which fea­tured three of Fen­nelly’s mi­cro-mem­oirs in its in­au­gu­ral is­sue, is just get­ting started; its sec­ond is­sue was re­leased ear­lier this year. Fen­nelly ad­mits a soft spot for the bian­nual print mag­a­zine: It’s run by the MFA pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she got her MFA and met her hus­band. The pro­gram is one of the few in the coun­try to of­fer a trans­la­tion track and has an in­ter­na­tional fo­cus, which is re­flected in the jour­nal. “I love to be at a party where other lan­guages are be­ing spo­ken,” says Fen­nelly. “Very cool to rub shoul­ders with a mas­ter of Ja­panese haikus of the Meiji pe­riod or a French comic book writer.” Sub­mis­sions in po­etry, fic­tion, non­fic­tion, and trans­la­tion open via Sub­mit­table this month; this fall the jour­nal will also launch an an­nual $1,000 prize for a short story. uu “I tend to ap­pre­ci­ate jour­nals that pay,” says Fen­nelly. “I think it shows a kind of re­spect…. I often do­nate it right back to the mag, so I’m ob­vi­ously not in it for the dough—no writ­ers are.” This be­lief

seems to be shared by Grist (gristjour­nal .com), which pub­lished Fen­nelly’s “Nine Months in Madi­son” in its cur­rent is­sue. Es­tab­lished in 2007 and housed in the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee in Knoxville, the an­nual print jour­nal started pay­ing writ­ers two years ago. “Even with a small amount, we think pay­ing our writ­ers is a huge step in rec­og­niz­ing the work they put into their writ­ing,” says edi­tor Jeremy Michael Reed. Grist pub­lishes po­etry, fic­tion, non­fic­tion, and craft es­says, and ac­cepts sub­mis­sions in all gen­res un­til Septem­ber 15 via Sub­mit­table. Fen­nelly pub­lished her first pieces in Black­bird (black­bird.vcu.edu) in 2004 and has been pub­lish­ing work in the bian­nual on­line jour­nal ever since, in­clud­ing “Safety Scis­sors”—a mi­cro-mem­oir about her older sis­ter that swerves from the triv­ial to the heart­break­ing in a few hun­dred words—and “What I Learned in Grad School,” a spot-on snap­shot of jeal­ousy among writ­ers, in the Fall 2016 is­sue. Fen­nelly cites au­dio record­ings of con­tribut­ing writ­ers reading their work and the ed­i­tors’ will­ing­ness to pub­lish longer se­quences as two of the jour­nal’s many draws. Based at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity in Rich­mond, Black­bird pub­lishes po­etry, fic­tion, non­fic­tion, and plays. Postal and on­line sub­mis­sions in all gen­res open on Novem­ber 15. Fen­nelly ad­vises writ­ers who are sub­mit­ting flash non­fic­tion or mi­cro-mem­oir to con­sider pack­ag­ing the pieces in a group to help readers latch on to the form. When she sub­mit­ted five mi­cro-mem­oirs to the Mis­souri Re­view (mis­sourire­view.com), the jour­nal ended up pub­lish­ing an eight-page fea­ture of Fen­nelly’s work, along with notes about the form and orig­i­nal art­work, in its Fall 2016 is­sue. Lo­cated at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri in Columbia, the quar­terly often pub­lishes such port­fo­lios by a sin­gle writer, which, along with “a his­tory of ex­cel­lent edit­ing,” is part of what Fen­nelly says makes the Mis­souri Re­view spe­cial. The ed­i­tors pub­lish po­etry, fic­tion, and non­fic­tion, and re­lease a print and dig­i­tal is­sue that in­cludes an au­dio ver­sion. The jour­nal, which launched a new web­site this fall, is open for sub­mis­sions in all gen­res year-round on­line and via postal mail.

pres­i­dent’s re­cent ban on trav­el­ers from sev­eral Arab-ma­jor­ity coun­tries, Arab Amer­i­cans face in­creased chal­lenges. “More than ever,” Jar­rar says, “I hope that RAWI can be a so­lace and pro­vide its mem­bers and the Arab Amer­i­can lit­er­ary com­mu­nity sup­port and a sense of be­long­ing and con­nec­tion and re­sis­tance.”

For many writ­ers, RAWI has done just that. “It has shown me that we ex­ist,” says Pales­tinian Amer­i­can poet Tariq Luthun. “I think, like any pop­u­la­tion, we are at least vaguely aware of the fact that we aren’t the only ones of our kind. But see­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this com­mu­nity first­hand is so vi­tal to one’s re­solve in con­tin­u­ing to do this work.” Emerg­ing poet Kamelya Omayma Youssef agrees. For her, RAWI pro­vided the foun­da­tion she needed as a writer. “Imag­in­ing that I can even­tu­ally read to a room full of peo­ple and be heard with­out the threat of re­duc­tive think­ing or fetishiza­tion or de­mo­niza­tion should not be as rad­i­cal as it is for me to­day,” she says. “But it is to­tally rad­i­cal. RAWI is that room.”

take place in Hous­ton, Texas, in June 2018. In the mean­time, RAWI has also launched In Solidarity, a se­ries of day­long work­shops and craft talks for peo­ple of color, mem­bers of marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties, and al­lies in var­i­ous cities through­out the United States. The se­ries was spear­headed by fic­tion writer Su­san Muaddi Dar­raj, and the first work­shop, which took place in March in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., gave writ­ers space to talk about iden­tity, pub­lish­ing, and be­ing a writer in the mar­gins. The sec­ond was held in San Fran­cisco in April, and more are in the works around the coun­try. “We hope these work­shops foster com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a feel­ing of solidarity among var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties,” says Dar­raj. “At least one writ­ers cir­cle has been formed as an out­come of these day­long work­shops.”

In the com­ing year RAWI will be do­ing even more. In March the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­gan ad­vo­cat­ing for the first-ever Arab Amer­i­can cau­cus, to be held at the next As­so­ci­a­tion of Writ­ers and Writ­ing Pro­grams con­fer­ence in Tampa, and is cur­rently plan­ning a twenty-fifth-an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion. In Oc­to­ber the Univer­sity of Arkansas Press will pub­lish Jess Rizkallah’s po­etry col­lec­tion the magic my body be­comes, win­ner of the Etel Ad­nan Po­etry Prize, a new award given for a first or sec­ond book of po­etry by a poet of Arab her­itage and cospon­sered by RAWI. “Lead­ing RAWI has al­ways been re­ward­ing and chal­leng­ing, but it is es­pe­cially so this year,” says ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Randa Jar­rar. “I’m daz­zled by our com­mu­nity’s lit­er­ary out­put—we have so many ex­cel­lent books out this year and next, and on and on.”

RAWI’s growth hasn’t been with­out some pains. “The chal­lenge is often fund-rais­ing, and be­long­ing to a na­tion that often doesn’t cel­e­brate our work along­side us, but picks and to­k­enizes, or si­lences,” Jar­rar says. Both be­fore and af­ter 9/11, Arab Amer­i­can writ­ers have had to bal­ance the de­sire to be read and rec­og­nized for the qual­ity of their work with be­ing hy­per-vis­i­ble spokes­peo­ple for their home­lands while strug­gling to live and work amid on­go­ing hos­til­ity to­ward Arab peo­ple. With the

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