Museo de la Palabra

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This year’s writing contest, put on by Museo de la Palabra, had over 35,000 entrants from 149 countries. I am honored to have made the long list, and, consequently, the book–yours free to download here.

In a Not-So-Foreign Town

BlogI’m home on summer holiday in The States—in Florida, in Texas, in Wisconsin, in towns all not-so-foreign to me. And then, one day before my thirty-first birthday marked by takeout Chinese food, a favorite piece of fiction gets reprinted online at flashfiction.net. Originally published in 2013 by Structo Magazine (at which I am now—humbly—an editor), In a Foreign Town sets a tone, a rhythm, and a spirit I aim to achieve in all my writing. Read it again herehttp://www.flashfiction.net.

I Like Birds

Red Winged Blackbird- Flickr CC

I don’t mean to do it. It just happens. I spot birds; they spot me. They sit strangely close to me on the bench in my front yard.

And so, some new fiction. It’s short. It’s sweet. It contains a lot of birds. (Which reminds me, doesn’t another favorite magazine of mine foreground a beautiful bird?) Anyway, read it here, or listen to me read it, at Hermeneutic Chaos.

 

*Also a song by The Eels well worth a listen.

 

Photo by Tyler Ingram, cc.

Tethered by Letters Summer Journal

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The Tethered by Letters Summer 2014 edition is now out in print. Purchase a copy to read my short fiction feature, “Accidental Deaths Don’t Count.”

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to Mine.

 

Mom & I in Zeeland, Nederland

Mom & I in Zeeland, Nederland

A few lines I found scratched in a notebook from college:

Vows to my Mother

I promise that by the time you get sick of waking up at 5am to put the twenty-five-pound turkey in the oven, I will find it endearing.

I promise to help my brother and sister in your absence, to be there in case of failed marriages or credit card debt.

I promise to retain a minimum of 27% of what you’ve taught me.

I promise to eat well and be kind to strangers, especially old ones.

 

For the interesting history of Mother’s Day, read this article by National Geographic.

My Girl Canon

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A friend of a friend has a new worthwhile website up and running. Check it out today to read a list of the ten books that have most moved me. Read below for a more detailed description. Or follow them here: http://girlcanon.tumblr.com/.

Girl Canon- About Us

“The power of a personal canon, secret or not, lies in the authority one needs to create it. Women need to trust that they know what’s good, what’s bad, and what serves them intellectually in order to reject or reclaim the books in their lives. […] What “No Regrets” argues for most powerfully is the right of women to reject that line of thinking and to believe that they are qualified to decide what literature should be. It argues for the public claiming of formerly secret canons: the right to create your own vision of what is best in the culture and to have that vision influence what books other people read and value.” – Sady Doyle, “The Perils of Reading While Female,” In These Times, 2014.

We are GIRL CANON, and we want to know what you read.

grrrlcanon [AT] gmail.com

I Have Been a Writer

I have been a writer since sixth grade. A quick response to the common question, What do you want to be? (For the record, my teacher, whose name I fortunately cannot remember, then also quickly said, No, no I mean, what do you really want to be, like for a career? Her response will be addressed in a much later much angstier post.)

Later that same year, I wallpapered my bedroom with my own (mostly terrible) poetry. (Below is a brooch I’d like to buy on Etsy.com.)

For Progress in Writing

So this writing career is  approximately twenty years old. And yet, I have never belonged to a book club. Sure, sure, I’ve debated plenty of books. In living rooms, literature classes, at bus stops. Once I even debated Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead in a public restroom. The arguing went on for so long that three of my friends eventually came in to see if everything was all right. Freshman year of college at Brandeis University, we all were required to read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, but that’s the closest I’ve come to the official tradition.

Truth be told, I’m not much for traditions or clubs, or even large gatherings. I prefer intimacy. I prefer not having things in common. A lot of times, I simply prefer to be left alone.

On Friday, however, all this will (at least temporarily) change. A mix of intelligent women will gather, some of literary backgrounds, some not, and we will eat and drink and discuss Richard Morais’s The Hundred-Foot Journey. I’m skeptical. I’m excited. I’m unsure what to expect. I will be there to listen.

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Monday Metaphor

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First, you buy flowers. You love them so much you can’t seem to part. They sit in your living room, on your dining room table, on that hard-to-reach-but-totally-worth-it shelf in your upstairs bathroom where no one sees them but you and only when you’re in the tub. They sit so long that now a soft cough in the same room strips them of their petals. A politely closed door anywhere in the house. Now is time to carry them outside. And they fall apart, each pink petal adding to the story.

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Issue 10 now online

In a Foreign Town also inside! Read it online.

Structo magazine blog

An early Christmas present: the online version of Structo issue 10!

Click on the preview above, or head on over to Issuu, to read the issue for free and in its entirety. It features 10 short stories, 10 poems, two interviews (author Evie Wyld and poet/translator/author/editor David Constantine) and an essay about hereditary book addiction. It’s a great issue, even if we say it ourselves.

There are also a few print copies around if you would like to read it on paper.

Happy Christmas on behalf of the entire Structo team.

— Euan

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Awards season

A huge thanks to Structo Magazine for their Pushcart Prize nomination of my short story, “In a Foreign Town.”

Structo magazine blog

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Photo (BY-NC-ND): Ana Kelston

Two exciting awards-related things to report today.

Back in April we posted a brief interview with Siobhan Harvey, who had just had her issue eight poem ‘Considering the Autistic Boy as a Cloud’ selected for the Best New Zealand Poems anthology.

Today we’re delighted to announce that Siobhan has gone one further, as she has been awarded this year’s Kathleen Grattan Award, New Zealand’s largest prize for poetry. The prize is for her collection Nephology for Beginners, about a boy with autistic spectrum, which includes ‘Considering the Autistic Boy as a Cloud’. You can listen to the excellent announcement interview here and read her contribution to issue eight here. Many congratulations Siobhan!

While on the subject of awards, we made our first ever Pushcart Prize nomination this time last year. After lots of re-reading, this year we’ve decided to nominate three poems, one…

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Finishing Someone Else’s Sentences

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I’m working today on finishing fiction that’s not mine. It’s a contest to complete a Shirley Jackson short story–if you think you’re up to task, try your own hand here. What strikes me is that it’s a story about stealing, and though Shirley died in 1965 and her family is sponsoring the contest, something sits strangely. Sitting and reading and knowing someone thought that every word, every comma, every space on this page spoke just right. And she had a plan or she didn’t. And the reader in you might like it or she might not, but the writer in you yields, for a moment, to another.

Post-Halloween Poem Fix

Leuven, Belgium

Leuven, Belgium

You know what’s scary? That after all the goblins and ghosts and Justin Biebers floating around town–okay, not as many Justin Biebers in The Netherlands, though plenty dressed as Pussy Riot– (Anyone who thinks I’m being lewd and lascivious, please reference this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot.) What’s scary is that there are only 13 poems left! Yep, that’s it. Thirteen, and this gig’s over. Well, sold, anyway. The writing goes on. So, for thirteen lucky viewers–or fewer if someone purchases more than one–you get one custom poem for pocket change, twenty-five cents. Topic of your choosing. Poem requests so far include a fluffy dog named Ralphie, a beautiful new baby, the WI Badgers v. Iowa Haweyes rivalry, the importance of math, travel, eternity, bass fishing, and many more. You name it, I’ll write it.

So be one of the next thirteen to click this link and get your poem: https://www.etsy.com/listing/165156186/custom-poem-for-25-cents-free-shipping?ref=shop_home_feat. I promise poems less candy-corny than this post.

It’s a Poem, not a Flu Shot.

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I’d never been to the opera before. This weekend, I saw Armide in downtown Amsterdam. The singing was French and the subtitles, displayed on an overhead digital board, Dutch. In two-and-a-half hours, I managed bonjour and vrouw, the Dutch word for woman.

When three knights in plastic armor swung in circles fighting flower petals falling from the sky, I was mesmerized. When goblins with melting faces appeared writhing next to women in blond wigs and pink skirt suits, less so. There was a lake and a desert and a horse and a witch. Did I understand what was going on? Rarely. Was I enjoying trying to figure it out? Absolutely.

So that’s my challenge to everyone: give it a try. Buy a poem. They’re twenty-five cents. If you can’t afford one, or can’t seem to get the online shop working, email me: christinepsstocke@hotmail.com.  I’ll try not to be intimidating. I’ll try not to be overly-complicated, but if the poem is, if I am, worst case scenario, recycle it. Otherwise, for the twenty seconds it’ll take you to read it, have fun. Take whatever you want from it, and leave everything else behind. Like the first line and hate the rest. I’ll never hold it against you.

For those of you who’ve already purchased poems, it’s understatement to say that you’ve made me feel better about life and literature. Your passion for the topics you’ve chosen has made me want to write and write and write. And for an author, there’s no better feeling.

(https://www.etsy.com/listing/165156186/custom-poem-for-25-cents-free-shipping?ref=shop_home_feat)

Verse Wisconsin publishes Continuing Education

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Read my short story, Continuing Education, published in Verse Wisconsin 112, right here: http://www.versewisconsin.org/Issue112/poems/stroikStocke.html.

I’m busy writing away for my 77 Free Poems until Christmas promotion, but you can still purchase signed pieces at the store as well. And now Continuing Education is one of them!

Only Seventy-Seven Free Poems until Christmas!

Madison, Wisconsin Farmers' Market 2012

Madison, Wisconsin Farmers’ Market 2012

A cold spring morning one year ago, I sat on a wooden folding chair in downtown Madison, Wisconsin with my heart racing. I’d handwritten a sign that read like a curious circus announcement: Words for Curds. Step right up! Poems, Paragraphs, Puns. You think it. I write it…while you wait!

I sat sweating in the near-freezing temperatures until a young girl named Ollie (and her mother) wandered up and asked for a few lines. Ollie had a pair of mischievous cats she thought worthy of an equally clawing poem, and my heart settled in one beat.

Now I’ve moved across The Atlantic. But here it is, an online farmers’ market booth, and I’m so excited to get this going that I’ve decided to write my own advent calendar, 77 poems until Christmas. Etsy won’t let me list for free, so every poem is twenty-five cents. You heard me, a quarter.

You won’t find a cheaper Christmas present or a better way to spend twenty-five pennies on the internet. So, send me your story, or send me nothing at all. Send me the name of your parakeet or your pet rock or your grandmother. Write twenty-five pages about what you want said in one. Something happy. Something sad. Anything you want said. Anything.

Spend your twenty-five cents very wisely right here!

(https://www.etsy.com/listing/165156186/custom-poem-for-25-cents-free-shipping?ref=shop_home_feat)

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