“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence.
It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams
toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into
more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless,
so that it can be thought.”
—from,Poetry Is Not A Luxury, by Audre Lorde
Over the summer, two challenging situations came to head in the publishing world, reminding writers of the importance of working with a professional and approachable agent. You can learn about these situations here and here.
The immediate reaction was hard on the writers affected by either circumstance, as well as those in search of representation. Many worries surfaced, as any writer’s books, or even career, can be impacted by working with an unprofessional agent.
Daniel Mallory Ortberg's The Merry Spinster is a collection of retold fairy tales and children's stories that play with reality, both twisting and shedding new light on it.
First, a little bit about fairy tales—many of them come from an oral tradition, meaning they were originally passed from teller to teller, growing and shrinking and changing as they went. For this reason, they invite retelling and can become a conversation about the strangeness of the world we all share.
In our old home, at Ibn Hawqal street, in Zizinia, Alexandria, less than a mile from the Mediterranean, I could distinguish the scent of each color.
Green smelled of lavender, the perfume Mother used around the house. She insisted on buying me a new bottle whenever I visited each summer, long after I had moved on from the family scent and succumbed to brands advertised for by strangers I would never meet.
One of my favorite things to do is to attend book readings. This includes our agency authors as well as authors who present interesting idea. Sometimes I will attend a reading without any expectations, and walk away with a new book and new author on my recommended reading list.
Eyes deep as the sea and green like grass. Noses black like rain clouds and pink like erasers. Teeth sharp as sticks. Mouths black as ink. Skin slimy like fish and blue as the sky. During my week teaching at the Loft, I was lucky enough to witness the creation of a whole herd of unique monsters.
In Carter Meland's Stories for a Lost Child, a teenage girl reads a packet of stories written by her grandfather, who she has never met. Among other things, the stories are about time-traveling astronauts, Misaabe (Bigfoot), and her Anishinaabe heritage.
While this isn’t the search for a future mate (thank goodness)—the same amount of time, patience, and knowledge of any potential deal-breaker requirements is essential. In the best-case scenario, you’ll be working with that agent for a long time.
Helen Oyeyemi's White is for Witching is about many things (twins, immigration, mental illness, losing a mother, coming of age…). But it's also a haunted house story, and that's what I want to talk about. Scaring a reader is one of the hardest things to do, and I want to figure out how Oyeyemi scared me.
Even when feedback seems misguided, it still has the potential to help you solidify your vision. Regardless of whether you implement it, a seemingly irrelevant piece of advice can force you to articulate why you’ve written something the way you did.