As the perfect novel to transition out of Halloween and into the holiday season, 'Wuthering Heights' will be under the spotlight for this week's TBT...
Using authors you know to find books you'll love: why reading beyond an author's most famous work can help you find a hidden gem.
Interning at a literary agency was like being paid to eat candy all day. Except that I wasn’t paid and the books I read usually weren’t sweet. The internship entailed reading and reviewing manuscript submissions, working the front desk (aka awkwardly offering visitors coffee/tea and then just getting them water), and sending out mail.
Over the course of those four months, I read tons of books and it’s likely only one or two of them will ever make it to publication. It was a time of ‘business casual’ clothing and free Nespresso coffees that taught me a lot about how the publishing industry works.
1. No, the literary agency doesn’t publish books
The different facets of the publishing industry can be confusing because there are so many of them. There’s the publishing company, the editors, the lawyers, the agents, and more. The job of the agent is to get a book to publishers. Usually, agents have relationships with companies and they will take a client and their work to the company to get published. Jericho Writers reported that the odds of sale with an agent are around 67%. Chances are much lower if an author just cold submits their manuscript to a publishing company.
2. there’s a method to all the career madness
If you were wondering how someone manages to make it in the industry, there’s actually a system in place that allows you to rise up. After getting hired as an agent’s assistant, you can work under them learning for about two years, before starting to take on clients of your own. Another year or two after that, once you’ve established yourself with a couple of works, you can break away and become an agent. Generally, the agency that you’ve been working for will hire you, but you can take your clients elsewhere or start up your own agency as well. Over the years you will work your way up by gaining more clients and (hopefully) representing some bestsellers.
3. There really are a ton of white women
In my agency alone there were 9 that I was aware of. Granted, there were a bunch of male agents, but no male assistants and no males of color. But yes, the stereotype is alive and thriving.
4. it’s worth submitting a proposal before writing your manuscript
There’s nothing quite as disappointing as pouring hours into your work only to have it rejected. Agents will only accept clients that they can sell, otherwise they won’t make any money. They get paid only when their client does, and do not run on a set salary. So, before sitting down and throwing your whole life into an idea, send some proposals around to agencies first to see if someone will represent it. This will also force you into a deadline for your writing (which some of us NEED) and will allow for better feedback throughout the process.
5. submit your work with normal formatting
Times New Roman. 12pt. font. Double spaced. It’s so easy to do. No agent is going to be impressed if you decide to write in Courier Neue because you think it looks nicer. In fact, most won’t even read the manuscript if it isn’t formatted correctly. It’s worth just sticking to the standard so there will be nothing distracting your reader from the actual work.
feature image via masterclass.com
During these crazy times of quarantine, those of us still in school are having a pretty rough experience trying to complete our assignments. However, we can’t give up hope just yet! Here are some amazing fictional teachers we wish we had to help get us through this.
1. Mr. Keating from ‘Dead Poet’s Society’
Image Via The Guardian
If there’s anyone who can inspire us and keep our heads up during this time, it’s Mr. Keating. His invigorating lessons are enough to keep our minds off of things and to look forward to the future. He’d probably have us all stand on our chairs and recite poems from our bedrooms. Too bad the students started their Dead Poet’s Society club before Zoom was invented!
2. Ms. Frizzle from ‘The Magic School Bus’
Image Via Bustle
Although we’re not supposed to travel (unless it’s essential), the innovative and wacky Ms. Frizzle probably has a few tricks up her sleeve to keep online learning refreshing and exciting! No videos or Powerpoints… instead, lessons with her exotic pets and jam sessions with her various musical instruments. No field trips necessary! Just imagine how chaotic her house must look during sessions.
3. Miss Honey from ‘Matilda’
Image Via The Sun
In these desperate and confusing times, who doesn’t need a calm, nurturing presence? Imagine her reading to you in her soothing speaking voice, knowing that everything is going to be okay, and this will all be over soon. I wish she’d adopt me!
4. Ms. Norbury from ‘Mean Girls’
Image Via CinemaBlend
We all need a little extra “push” and motivation right now, and who else besides Ms. Norbury could keep us from slipping too far into the black hole that is senioritis? Although she can be a little disorganized, she’s trying her best like the rest of us. Her wisecracks and “real talk” life advice will keep you present and entertained (even if you hate math).
5. Professor McGonagall from ‘Harry Potter’
Image Via Looper
Although she’s a little more old-school, she’d sure keep us entertained with her informative material and spells to master. Prepare for a heavy workload, as she is to be less forgiving during these hectic times. However, transfiguring and shapeshifting are sure-fire ways to keep us entertained (just don’t go too crazy)!
featured image via national wildlife federation blog
During this difficult time we could use your support more than ever! If we’ve brought some joy to you or brightened your day or even distracted you for a few minutes, please donate whatever you can – any little bit counts. If you tried before we had some technical difficulties, so please give what you can now. Thank you so much!!
Poetry is always around but never really fore frontal in the literary community. Poetry seems to be deemed as sort of the bastard child of the writing world, and you may be thinking.. well yeh, why should folks be paying attention to poetry anyway? Here’s why: poetry is everything we do in life, the beauty, the heartbreak, the frustration, the anxiety, the ugly.. all of it, literally all of it. Poetry captures and encapsulates the human experience in whimsy and word play, in language and love. If you are adverse to poetry, ask yourself why? What turns you off to it? What makes it difficult to enter and linger and savor? Pinpoint that and push through it because the reward will be sweet stanzas of rhythm, abstraction and a retelling of the world around us in the most beautiful and complexly minimal way. Here are some dope poets to be on the lookout for as you challenge yourself to fall in love with this genre all over again or for the first time if elementary school acrostics never landed for you. These 5 contemporary poets should find their way to your hearts and minds. Spread their gospel like wildfire to hopefully begin to turn the tide to the mainstream because poetry isn’t only for poets.
- Morgan Parker
Morgan Parker is as beautiful and kind as she is brilliant. I was put on to Morgan when she dropped There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and since have been steadily collecting all of her works. Why? Because she looks critically at popular culture and how it affects our identities and relationships. Every word she writes screams of intersectionality, relevance and finding beauty in awkwardness. I think if Insecure wasn’t a popular Netflix show and was a poem instead, it would be a Morgan Parker poem. She gives me chills when I read her poems and when I see her read in person I am comforted and warmed by her spirit. From the bio page on her website:
Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the poetry collections Magical Negro (Tin House 2019), There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House 2017), and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015). Her debut young adult novel Who Put This Song On? will be released by Delacorte Press on September 24, 2019. A debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.”
- Hanif Abdurraqib
I was introduced to Hanif Abdurraqib by the statement ‘he is probably your favorite authors favorite author.’ And well I’ll be damned, he certainly is. A sneaker and ice cream enthusiast, Hanif doesn’t need to command a room, or a stage, a mic or a page- but he does so organically with his quiet, thoughtful, rhythmic musicality. His writing is musically charged and often from a place of being an observer at venues and in love. But he is far from just a fly on the wall. He is the guy you would dream could write your biopic. He is intentional in his wall flowering. His writing skills pull the reader in and creates any scene viscerally to follow along and add your own subtext as you move through his words. What other author could write just as purposefully about Carly Rae Jepsen as he does Wu Tang? Well that dichotomy is where Hanif thrives. He is just as fluid and real about pop culture in all forms and his brilliance spills across every page he graces. From the about page on his website:
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook, Vintage Sadness, in summer 2017 (you cannot get it anymore and he is very sorry.) His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, and was met with critical acclaim. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, is being released by Tin House Books in September 2019.
sam sax’s writing is gritty, unforgiving, explorative and the slap in the face the 21st century needs in regards to couch surfing homosexuality and pill popping tendencies. His themes hit hard for most millennials and captures so much of the pain, happiness, misery, and loneliness that stems from medicine, love and relationships. sam uses poignant language to explore the depths of homosexuality in ways we often stray away or cringe from. He makes us look in the mirror and examine what we see. You can usually catch him with pretty sparkling nail polish and a hat that reads simply, homo. He is poetry in the human form. From sam’s website:
sam sax is a queer, jewish, poet, & educator. He’s the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, author of four chapbooks & winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, The Iowa Review Award, & American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Nation, Poetry Magazine + other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press & will be a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University this Fall.
- Ross Gay
Ross Gay literally make you feel happiness even when life is throwing a poop storm your way. His beautifully intricate, complex writing finds ways to highlight the positive by using nature, small moments and connections to emerge as our purpose and silver lining. I came across Ross in a writing workshop in college where he shared two versions of Bring Down the Shovel- one where the boy killed the dog with a shovel and the other where the boy fed the dog with the shovel. Both were chilling and complex and visceral. Ross is the poet that can take a horrible moment and remind us why life is still worth living and ultimately beautiful. He works tirelessly to find beauty in anything and that’s honestly what poetry (and life) is all about. Ross makes you want to be a better person without the guilt or heavy handedness that typically comes with that sort of ask. Cause to be real, he isn’t asking you, he just is. From Ross Gay’s about page:
Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His collection of essays,The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019.
Ross is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, “River.” He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.
- Danez Smith
Danez Smith was hands down one of my favorite poets when their first and second book dropped but has slowly been losing my fandom as they skyrocket in fame. Some authors maintain that humble, mousy space that many writers embody. While other poets have more of a stage/ performance presence and in this case Danez can sometimes eclipse themselves. Danez’s poems are undeniable and the readings are also chilling, vibrant, poignant and necessary. Tackling content around friendships, AIDs, sex, masculinity, homoesxuality and stages of love their first two books were really groundbreaking in the layout, artwork and content and while the fire has died down a bit for me, I am still holding on and extremely engaged with their moves. It’s like when your favorite underground band makes its way to the top 10 list and becomes a household name and you yearn for those days the world and the band weren’t aware of themselves. From Danez’s website bio page:
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Don’t Call Us Dead” (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy” (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, will be published by Graywolf in Spring 2020.
Check these poets out, share their poems, hear their readings. Help bring poetry back into the mainstream and remind us all that we are all poetry. I promise they will never bore you or lose you. This list will help break down the stigma of stodgy old white dudes writing in metered rhyme about misogynistic, unrequited love.
Courtney Lamar Charleston
All In-text Images Via Google.
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