Authors Bios & Q/A
In addition to providing a biography, our contributors answered the following:
1. What’s the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?
2. If you could rewrite the ending to any movie, what would it be and how would you change it?
3. If you were forced into exile, where would you go?
4. If you were trapped in a storybook, which one would it be?
5. Who’s your favorite tyrant/dictator?
6. What’s the one piece of literature every writer should own?
7. What’s the best thing you can buy for a dollar?
We hope that you enjoy their answers as much as we did.
Bert Barry is the International Outreach Coordinator at Saint Louis University. He earned a B.A. degree in German and a M.A. degree in English from Washington
University. He also earned a Ph.D. in English from Saint Louis University. He is devoted to the lyric poem, in all its countless variations.
1. Guide me to where I was going in Tokyo, Japan.
3. I would enjoy exile in France since that is the country from which my ancestors come.
4. I definitely would want to be in The Hobbit, though I would not consider that being, “trapped.”
5. I hate tyrants of every sort, but Alexander the Great has a certain charm.
6. No doubt about it—the Bible. It is essential to Western culture.
7. A strong cup of coffee—not everywhere, but still true in some hallowed places.
Laurel Bastian is the founder and coordinator of the Writers in Prisons Project, is the current Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and was a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. Her work can be read in Drunken Boat, Puerto del Sol, Anderbo, Margie, Bellevue Literary Review and other publications.
1. Gave birth to me.
2. This one is difficult (mostly because I don’t watch many films). If there’s an ending I’ve wanted to rewrite, it’s because I also want to rewrite the whole dang movie.
4. Tistou of the Green Thumbs.
5. The weather.
6. Martin Buber’s I and Thou.
7. A mango.
John Buckley was born in Flint, MI and raised in the Detroit area. He has been ripening in California since the fall of 1992. Buckley lives and works in Orange County with his wife and teaches at local colleges and chases the poetic dragon. His work has been published in a few places.
1. While on public transport, several nice strangers have been trusting enough to share with me the stories of their lives. I wonder where those people are today.
2. I would include the final chapter from the book version of A Clockwork Orange. I don’t think it would improve the movie. I’m just curious.
3. I would go to the Philippines. My wife is from Manila and I like my in-laws. Many of the people speak English. I think I could find employment.
4. Pet the Bunny. Bunny soft!
5. Hitler. Hitler is the gold standard.
6. Raymond Carver’s Cathedral, alternating every couple of semesters with Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. At least, that’s what I tell my students.
7. A hundred books for a penny a piece on eBay. You guys are covering the shipping and handling, right?
Kurt Caswell is the author or two books of nonfiction: In the Sun’s House: My Year Teaching on the Navajo Reservation, and An Inside Passage, for which he won the 2008 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. He teaches creative writing and literature in the Honors College at Texas Tech University.
1. Waiting for food we had ordered, the waitress came by with a huge plate of various fried hors d’oeuvres. “We didn’t order this,” we said. “Right,” she said. “They sent it over.” She pointed to a group of local swillers at the bar. We raised our glasses to them.
2. I want to rewrite the ending of the Coen Brothers’ new film True Grit. Withholding spoilers, the flash forward did nothing for me. I would cut that final few minutes.
3. Lord no. I really do love living in the real world.
5. Sarah Palin. I really hope we don’t keep feeding and watering her into a position of power. Even people speaking out against her are making a case for her, because they help keep her name and madness alive. That’s why I’ll name someone else: Genghis Khan. He’s almost as cool as Toshiro Mifune (who is an actor, not a dictator).
5. May I name two? A History of Religious Ideas by Mircea Eliade (all three volumes); and The Riverside Shakespeare, predictable, but essential.
6. A stamp.
Richard Chiem (b. 1987) was the winner of the UCSD Stewart Prize in Poetry in 2009 and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. His work has been published in Monkeybicycle,
Metazen, and is forthcoming in Pop Serial and Pangur Ban Party. He is currently working on his new novel, Blowing Up Los Angeles.
1. When I asked her for a cigarette, the stranger gave me her entire pack and she walked home with me and stayed the night.
2. At the end of Black Swan, I would add the entire film, The Red Shoes.
3. McMurdo Station in Antarctica located on the southern tip of Ross Island.
4. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984).
5. Kim Jong-il. His favorite basketball player is Michael Jordan and he loves movies.
6. The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka.
7. A double cheeseburger after a long workday and the meal would last as long as you want it to last.
John Cravens is an architect, licensed to practice in Hawaii where “Breathing In” takes place. He has had design responsibilities for international projects, and is now writing fiction full-time. His first novel, Swimmers in the Sea, was published in 2009. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and lives with his wife in Tulsa.
1. The kindness shown me by a family in Annecy, France when I was hitching south to Italy is one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.
2. If Kantor’s book-length narrative, Glory for Me, had been made into the film adaptation, The Best Years of Our Lives as it was written, giving the film a much different ending, a more realistic understanding of the trauma to an individual that is caused by war, it might have become better established through the years.
3. To be in the worlds contained in the pages of the Disney Storybook Collection is delightful freedom, no matter the age of the reader.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most productive creators to come close to that description for me.
6. Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 (edited by Carlos Baker.)
7. Much of the best writing of the world is available for $.99 from Alibris online, some qualifying for free shipping. Or you can download most of the work by hundreds of writers for free from Project Gutenberg, and then send them a dollar.
Sally Lipton Derringer’s book manuscript was a finalist for Fordham University’s
Poets Out Loud Prize and the New Issues Poetry Prize. Her publications include The Prose-Poem Project, Poet Lore, Memoir (and), The New York Quarterly, and Tampa Review. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University and teaches at Rockland Center for the Arts in Nyack, New York.
1. I said my babies were beautiful.
2. I’d make it more ambiguous.
3. My apartment.
4. Little Women.
6. A blank spiral notebook.
7. One eighth of a literary journal.
G. F. Edwards was born in New York City; lived in ten states; attended eleven schools; graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Columbia University, Literature-Writing, 1999; traveled forty-six states and eleven foreign countries (mostly by thumb); worked a lot of jobs (dishwasher to rock musician); currently stuck in Vegas.
1. A burly black gentleman in an all night Mexican restaurant barked at the counter workers who were feigning ignorance of English: “Give me that phone! Can’t you see this man is bleeding to death?” They gave him the phone and the ambulance came for me.
2. King Kong would climb down from the Empire State Building before the airplanes came, kiss Fay Wray goodbye, and hijack a ship back to Kong Island, where he’d be restored to his rightful throne.
3. I’m in exile: I live in Las Vegas. But if I were to be deported, I’d prefer to be on an Aegean Island. Paros, perhaps.
4. Maybe Winnie the Pooh. Never owned the books but it looks like a nice place to live.
5. King Kong.
6. A Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
7. A taco bought with a dollar found on the sidewalk in L.A. when I had no money and nothing to eat.
Brett Gallagher is a quasar of lowercase sounds and constellations. He blogs at <asyourecognizeyourtransience.blogspot.com>.
1. Smiled at me in passing, even though they did not know me. Small acts go a long way.
2. I would snip the last five minutes of Synecdoche, New York and have that loop perpetually for the rest of my life to give me perspective.
3. Siberia, Patagonia.
4. Lyn Hejinian’s My Life.
5. Sam Pink.
6. The Brothers Karamazov.
7. A shot of espresso.
Sara Hancharik is a graduate of Slippery Rock University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Professional and Creative Writing. She used to hate poetry. An accomplished actress, Sara has put her love for the stage on hold to pursue her writing. She has finally found her place and is currently living her life the best way she knows how. An avid Pittsburgh Penguins supporter, Sara currently resides near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is working as a photographer. This is her first publication.
1. I was trying to get to Long Island from inside of New York City and my GPS was failing miserably. I had tickets to go see the Penguins play the Islanders, so time was of the essence. My GPS kept telling me to turn down one-way streets, so I pulled into a little bakery and went in shouting,
“I need a New Yorker!” A man giggled (he was the only one in the place who was a real New Yorker), pulled me aside and told me where I needed to go. He easily could have brushed me off as another tourist, but he didn’t. He made my heart smile.
2. Honestly, I’m not a huge movie person, but I hate that they don’t end up together in 500 Days of Summer.
3. A farm in the South of France with a vineyard and some horses. Oh, and this guy named Nathan.
4. Beauty and the Beast, hands down. No questions asked.
5. The Wicked Witch of the West.
6. The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
7. A stamp and a blank fifty-cent Hallmark card.
Meredith Hasemann-Cortes’ writing has appeared in many literary magazines including, most recently, Main Channel Voices and Third Wednesday. Her young adult fiction is represented by Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. She teaches eight grade in East Hampton, where she lives with her husband and two children.
1. The nicest thing a stranger ever did for me was in Berlin in 1989. The hardware stores were all sold out of chisels and hammers and he let me use his to chip off some pieces of the wall.
2. just finished writing a screenplay, and the almost three-year process has been so long that I’d respect any ending of any movie.
3. I’d go to Ripton, Vermont if I were in exile. Actually, I already do go into exile there every summer with no phone or internet and only the bullfrogs and the moose for company!
4. If I were trapped in a storybook, it would have to be something Dr. Seussy. I’d love to talk in made-up words and rhyme, iambicize my visions all the time.
5. I’m not particularly fond of dictators.
6. Every writer should own a dictionary. And read it regularly.
7. The best thing I can buy for a dollar is a song from iTunes.
George Higgins is a public defender in Oakland, CA. His poems have appeared or will soon appear in Best American Poetry, Pleiades, 88, Poetry Flash, and The George Washington Review among others. His manuscript, There, There received an honorable mention in the Steel Toe Books open reading period January 2009.
1. A deli owner let me buy sandwiches on credit for a week while I was in law school.
2. That somehow the Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) and Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) characters in The Maltese Falcon could’ve worked things out.
3. A houseboat in Paris.
4. Middle Earth.
5. Henry VIII. He wrote poetry.
6. Keat’s letters.
7. Dexter Gordon’s “Night in Tunisia” via iTunes.
Richard Holinger lives in Geneva, IL, where he knows salons are held. Boulevard,
Flashquake, Southern Poetry Review and North American Review have published
some of his poetry, fiction, essays and reviews, respectively. His short fiction manuscript, In the Contemporary Mode, is looking for the right small press.
1. Open a door. That’s all I can remember. Sad, huh?
2. In The Deer Hunter—what a relief if DeNiro could save Walken.
3. I really don’t care, as long as it offered a desk with at least 20 lb. (minimum)
bond paper and a Montblanc fountain pen. Maybe Tours, France; I like its library that overlooks the Rhone.
4. Given global warming’s increasing tornado activity, the Third Little Pig’s house. In the present climate of things to come, and those to come, bricks are good.
5. Sarah Palin, because she’s also the best looking.
6. W. Somerset Maugham’s The Summing Up.
7. Any of several varieties of trail mix at the Dollar Tree.
Chin-Sun Lee is a writer, designer, and graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing/Fiction at The New School. Her work has also appeared in Shadowbox. She lives in New York City, where she writes short stories and is currently at work on a novel.
1. I was lost in a foreign city once, and someone escorted me several blocks to my destination.
2. In No Country For Old Men, I’d leave it where the killer walks away with his broken arm. It’s stronger than the last scene, and expresses the same thing: you think there’s justice in this world—until you see there isn’t.
3. Mexico. The coast—not the border.
4. Probably The Wizard of Oz—she has all these amazing adventures but in the end, feels happiest at home.
5. Michael Corleone.
6. Lolita. Not an original answer, but oh so true.
7. It used to be a slice, but now a spin of laundry in the dryer seems like a good deal.
Aaron Bigler Lefebvre writes short stories and essays, and enjoys making handmade artist’s books. Originally from Pittsburgh, he now lives in Philadelphia, currently earning his MFA in creative writing at Rutgers University. He also works for the esteemed literary magazine (housed by Rutgers-Camden), Story Quarterly.
1. Refill the $12 flute of tequila I knocked over for free.
2. I’d completely rewrite M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. If water hurts the aliens, then why doesn’t our rather humid atmosphere kill them immediately
via breathing? And what, they don’t perspire? Must have some amazing anti-perspirants on their home world.
3. A log cabin in the Adirondack Mountains.
4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
7. A pack of green army men from the dollar store.
Nathan Leslie’s six books of fiction include Madre, Believers, and Drivers. He is also the author of Night Sweat, a poetry collection (Hamilton Stone Editions, 2009). His short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Boulevard, Shenandoah, North American Review, and Cimarron Review. He was series editor for anthology,
The Best of the Web 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books). His website is <www.nathanleslie.com>.
1. Befriend me.
2. Indiana Jones journeys into the ark (also dispensing of the crappy sequels).
3. House arrest.
4. Tropic of Cancer and/or Capricorn.
5. Napoleon, for originality in headgear and sheer cajones.
6. A dictionary.
7. A composition journal.
Thomas Levy, a native of New Jersey, now resides in Southern California where he works as a web designer and automotive repossession agent. His work can be found in various publications including Pear Noir!, The Los Angeles Review, and Kill Author. For more information please Google Thomas Patrick Levy.
1. Gave me a bungee cord.
2. I’d make sure there couldn’t possibly be an awful sequel.
3. Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
4. A picture version of One Hundred Years of Solitude drawn with crayons by children.
6. Alcoholics Anonymous.
7. Two McDonald’s apple pies.
Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, Eclipse, roger, Cottonwood, and Poetry East. Her most recent collection is the chapbook, Scything (FutureCycle Press, 2010). She lives in Michigan.
I honestly cannot answer any of your questions except the storybook one: Having written a book of poems Jack: A Beanstalk Life, I’d like to live in Jack’s village to observe what kind of adult he grows up to be after his big adventure.
Matthew McBride has work previously published in/ forthcoming from Alice Blue, FENCE, Forklift, Ohio, Ink Node, Little Red Leaves, Meridian, Mississippi Review, RHINO, and Phoebe amongst others. He lives in Cincinnati, where is an assistant editor at the Cincinnati Review and Memorious. He co-curates, with Ruth Williams, the Bon Mot/ley reading series.
1. In 1998, when I was a senior in high school, my dog woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. It was winter break and I didn’t have school, so I had to, quite literally, carry him into the vet’s office. We didn’t have an appointment, and the receptionist told me it would be at least a two-hour wait (this was said to me while I was holding a forty-five pound dog in my arms). Upon hearing this, a woman who’d been waiting stood up and told the receptionist we could have her spot and she would take ours.
2. I’ll never understand why Grand Torino didn’t end with Clint Eastwood
kicking everybody’s asses. Yes, I realize the film is a revision of Eastwood’s on-screen persona, but so was Unforgiven, which ended with Eastwood shooting like thirty people (half of whom are unarmed) in a crowded bar. And, to top it all off, Eastwood sings during the final credits? I just felt mocked as a viewer.
4. Probably Harold and the Purple Crayon. Really, my academic career could be summed up in a twenty-page picture book titled Matt and the Dry Erase Marker.
5. Mark Zuckerberg.
6. Larissa Szporluk once told me every poet should read Piaget’s A Child’s Conception of the World. She was right.
7. A Pilot, V5 Extra Fine, Rolling Ball pen with the clear sides so you can see how much ink you have in it. I don’t think they’re sold individually, but if you buy a five pack, the breakdown for each individual pen is about a dollar. They’re definitely the finest implements in the contemporary
Karla Linn Merrifield, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has published poetry in over one hundred publications. She authored five books, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award. Forthcoming are The Urn (Finishing Line Press) and Athabaskan Fractal (Salmon Poetry). She is reviewer/assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye.
1. A stranger named Roger M. Weir sat down for a one-on-one meeting with me at the college where we both worked. Afterwards, all goosebumpy,
I asked a staffer, “Who was that man?” Neither of us knew he would, in a few years, become my husband.
2. I would have Larissa Antipova find Yuri Zhivago for one last kiss before he dies.
3. I’d spend fall and winter in Everglades National Park and spring and summer in Great Basin National Park
4. Aesop’s Fables. He knew what the animals had to teach us fellow animals.
5. George W. Bush. I survived his reign of stupidity.
6. The complete OED.
7. The last Honeycrisp apple (a small one) of the season.
Adam Moorad’s poetry and fiction have widely appeared in print and online. He is the author of Prayerbook (wtf pwm, 2010), I Went To The Desert (Thunderclap Press, 2010), Oikos (nonpress, 2010), and Book of Revelations (Artistically Declined Press, 2011). He lives in Brooklyn. Visit him here: <adamadamadamadamadam.blogspot.com>.
1. A stranger paid my girlfriend’s cab fare once—$40!
2. Barry Lyndon—I would allow B.L. to keep his leg (which was amputated).
3. The Catskill Mountains.
4. The Cat in the Hat.
5. Julius Caesar.
7. An everything bagel.
Debra Nicholson grew up in northwest Ohio in the 1950s. The journey to this first publication includes living in Boston, Mexico City, and Washington, D.C., four undergraduate schools in eleven years, three graduate schools for two Master’s degrees, a marriage, a divorce, three children, and several unsuccessful attempts at pet ownership. (Don’t ever give up!)
1. There are no strangers in my world.
2. Scarlett and Rhett would get back together—they deserve each other!
3. The Isle of Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland.
4. The book I am currently reading.
5. The refrigerator.
6. Any book that gives them life.
7. Anything chocolate!
Heather Palmer’s works include the forthcoming Complements: of Us (Spork Press), Charlie’s Train (the2ndhand) and the e-chapbook Mere Tragedies (dispatch litareview). She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she worked with Janet Desaulnier, Rosellen Brown, and Jesse Ball. A persistent influence is Jacob Wren’s Unrehearsed Beauty. Find publications at <fictionsandthelike.blogspot.com>.
1. Once Jesse Ball traded me a chocolate bar for The Disastrous Tales of Linus and Vera. He’s not a stranger, but that should count.
2. I wish Anna Karina wouldn’t have died in A Woman is a Woman. I loved the scene before the last scene though—with the philosopher. Everyone says the opening scene is the best in the film, but I swear that conversation with the philosopher is film history.
3. France or Iceland.
4. Roald Dahl’s characters always go through the wringer but end up nicely placed at the end. Specifically, George in George’s Marvelous Medicine.
5. Does Gertrude Stein count as a tyrant?
6. Besides Franny and Zooey and Cane and Personae and anything by Fanny Howe, The Diaries of Franz Kafka.
7. Dark chocolate. Oh, you meant one dollar.
Rebecca Leah Papucaru’s poetry and prose have been shortlisted for a number of awards in Canada, including Arc magazine’s Poem of the Year. Her poetry has been anthologized in the 2010 edition of The Best Canadian Poetry in English (guest editor Lorna Crozier, series editor Molly Peacock), and in the Headlight Anthology of Emerging Writers. In Canada, her poetry has appeared in Prism International, The Antigonish Review, Acta Victoriana, and Existere, while both her poetry and prose have been featured in The Nashwaak Review. In the United States, her poetry has appeared in The Orange Coast Review, The Emerson Review, Kestrel, Ozone Park Journal and Caesura: the Journal of the Poetry Center San Jose. In Ireland, her work has appeared in Crannóg.
1. Atamaca Desert, Chile: travelling from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama, I met a miner who helped me carry my bags, and invited me to his house for afternoon tea.
2. Love and Death—perfect movie, but the last scene should take place at the village idiots’ convention. Maybe a roundtable or workshop?
3. Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Toronto Island, Toronto.
5. Don’t mess with the classics—Idi Amin Dada. My mother’s nickname for my tantrum-prone younger sister was Lil’ Idi.
6. Anything by Jean Rhys. She conveys more in a sentence than most writers can convey in a chapter. Or an entire novel.
7. Currently, one Canadian dollar can be exchanged for 99 cents USD. So I guess I’d buy one of those.
Kasey Perkins is an English M.A. student at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO where she hosts poetry slams. Her poems have been published in Lumina, SLAB, and Monkey Puzzle. She is currently teaching freshman composition at Truman and writing a chapbook based on the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
1. Randomly gave me a coupon.
2. I would rewrite the ending of Titanic so it would be more in line with that one crazy Italian cartoon version. The one with the rapping dog.
3. Somewhere on the coast of France. Good food and nice beaches!
4. Are You My Mother?
5. Hitler. You have to admit, the guy could give a speech.
6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It teaches you that you can put a novel spin on any situation.
7. A hot fudge sundae from McDonald’s . . . or anything else on that menu.
Derek Pollard is the co-author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia
(BlazeVOX, 2010). His work appears in American Book Review, H_NGM_N, Pleiades, and Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, among numerous other anthologies and journals. He is Managing Editor of Barrow Street Press and is on faculty at Brookdale Community College.
1. A woman let me have a used copy of the New Directions edition of Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat which she had for sale at a makeshift sidewalk stall near Washington Square Park in San Francisco while I was living on the streets there.
2. I would restore the proper ending to any film adapted from a novel or other literary text in which the screenwriters, for whatever reason(s), altered that text’s ending.
3. This is an incredibly fraught question.
4. Trapped? I often search out a place in storybook narratives.
5. Tyranny (in any form) is appalling to me.
6. That list is perhaps endless. I myself often look to the various editions of Leaves of Grass for instruction and companionship, for a lasting generosity. The same is true of the Tao te Ching.
7. For a dollar, one can often only buy a fraction of one’s desire, at that moment or otherwise . . .
John Repp’s most recent collections are Big Conneautee (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010) and Heart of Joy (March Street Press, 2009). Individual poems have appeared in recent issues of Poetry, Freshwter, Pinyon, and Court Green.
1. Guided me to the correct bus in Murcia, Spain.
2. I’d restore the original ending of The Magnificent Ambersons.
3. Milan, Italy.
4. Where the Wild Things Are.
5. Rufus T. Firefly.
6. Anna Karenina.
7. Any local newspaper.
Marc Shuster is the author of The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, which is due in May from The Permanent Press. He teaches English at Montgomery
County Community College.
1. My wife and I were looking for la Grande Mosquée de Paris, and an elderly gentleman stopped to give us directions. If not for him, we’d still be wandering the streets of Paris.
2. At the end of Seven Pounds, Woody Harrelson would get Will Smith’s hair instead of his eyes.
4. I was trapped in a storybook for eight years. They ended up calling it Decision Points.
5. Montgomery Burns.
6. The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville.
7. A 24 inch four-prong steel retractable claw. I’ve been eyeing one at my local dollar store for months now.
Paul Siegell is the author of three books of poetry: wild life rifle fire (Otoliths, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths, 2008). Siegell is a senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly, and more of his work may be found at <http://paulsiegell.blogspot.com>.
1. Save my life.
2. I’d make it so I never actually saw it.
3. Capri, Italy.
4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
5. Evel Knievel.
6. The photo albums of their ancestors.
7. Hershey’s with almonds, large size. But only on Tuesdays.
Kelly Talbot has edited hundreds of books. After serving as an in-house editor for Wiley Publishing, Macmillan Publishing, and Pearson Education, he now works as a freelance editor. His writing has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Georgetown Review, Hawaii Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and dozens of literary journals.
1. My wife agreed to go on our first date. It transformed my life.
2. I wouldn’t change the end of a movie. I think corporate executives should refrain from doing so as well.
4. You are asking me to choose where I would want to be trapped? I choose not to be trapped. Seriously.
5. Siddhartha Gautama. He figured out the right thing to do pretty early on.
6. The Elements of Grammar and The Elements of Style.
7. Fresh fruit.
Bill U’Ren served as dramaturg for the play, Pest Control, which debuted in Los Angeles at the NoHo Arts Center. He has published nearly forty short stories in magazines such as Chicago Review, Michigan Quarterly and The Minnesota Review. His fiction has won Barthelme and Cambor Awards and has been anthologized in Killing Spirit (Viking Press). He also has worked in film adaptation since graduating from UCLA, where he wrote Box 100 for Columbia Pictures. He currently teaches writing at Goucher College.
1. Patched my flat tire for free.
2. I would alter the ending of Reality Bites so that the Lainey character goes off alone, instead of choosing the obnoxious, oppressive poet over the soulless, calculating businessman.
4. Go, Dog. Go! I love the open-top cars they get to drive.
5. Enver Hoxha, who else?
6. The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook. If someone ever ties you up with a rope, you should take a deep breath and hold it. That way, when they leave the room, you can exhale and the ropes will be loose enough to escape.
7. Two postage stamps.
James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington. His work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Crab Creek Review, Eclectica, Hanging Loose, Nimrod, Rattle, Slipstream, and is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, H_NGM_N, Los Angeles Review, New York Quarterly, PANK, River Styx, Verdad, and elsewhere. A poetry collection is forthcoming from Aortic Books.
1. Gave birth to me.
2. Hamlet lives and goes on to open a deli.
4. An Aesop fable
5. My to-do list
6. Elements of Style.
7. These days? A quarter.
Robert Watson teaches Shakespeare at UCLA. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and other journals, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His latest book is Back to Nature, which received prizes for the year’s best environmentalist study of literature and best book on Renaissance literature.
1. Forgave myself.
2. At the end of Inception, Dorothy Gale wakes up and wonders whether it was all just a dream.
3. The Tinder Box.
4. The Emperor of Ice Cream.
6. Moby Dick.
7. A ripe nectarine—”the best fruit ever made.”
Philip Wexler lives in Bethesda, Maryland, where he also works for the National Library of Medicine. He has had over one hundred poems published in magazines over the years and continues to seek a publisher for a book-length manuscript. He has read his work publicly in the Washington, D.C. area.
Tom Williams is the associate editor of American Book Review. His novella, The Mimic’s Own Voice, is forthcoming in 2011 from Main Street Rag Publishing,Co.
1. Pointed at the money/phone/iPod that had dropped from my pocket.
2. Every John Hughes movie: the teenage protagonist would get lectured and grounded and her or his driving privileges would be taken away.
3. Ireland. Specifically, a pub in Ireland. Any pub.
4. Goodnight, Moon, so my son Finn could see me.
5. Pinochet. Just like saying that name.
6. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.
7. Two Max Bet spins from a quarter slot machine.
Meredith Sue Willis teaches writing at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional
Studies. Her fiction has been published by Scribner, HarperCollins, Ohio University Press, and West Virginia University Press, among other publishers. Her latest books are Out of the Mountains: Short Stories, and Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel.
1. Clapped when I gave a workshop or speech. Strangers are much easier to please than, for example, family members.
2. A whole slew of action movies: I’d make the villains die once and stay dead. It’s so tiresome when they keep coming back and trying one more time to defeat the hero.
3. Home to West Virginia.
4. I didn’t have a lot of storybooks when I was a child, but I had an aunt who had a collection of old cartoons from the first half of the twentieth century. A lot of New Yorker cartoons, and others.
5. I’ve always been fond of Fidel, who, although he has certainly been a dictator in terms of political expression, has also seen to it that poor Cubans have far better health care than the poorer classes in the U.S.
6. If their native language is English, they should have a one-volume Shakespeare, a King James translation of the Protestant Christian Bible, and a one volume anthology of the best poetry—all to enrich and deepen their language, whether they are poets or journalists or novelists.
7. A bottle of water in the train station in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-MingdÉ has two forthcoming chapbooks, Bistre Junction
(Firstfruits Publications) and In Memoriam to a Marionette: Caudate Sonnet of the Year Ad Interim (Silkworms Ink). Based in Singapore, Desmond has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for nonprofit organizations.
1. I received a full blessing from Father Hesburgh after I spent nearly two hours reading him that day’s issue of the newspaper.
2. Wonder Boys. When Grady is putting the finishing touches on his newly-inspired novel, he’s ditched the cruddy-grubby bathrobe and is wearing that Marilyn Monroe jacket. For kicks, for keeps.
3. Bhutan, where I can learn some nifty slate carving. Or hike up to Taktsang
Palphug Monastery for that once-in-a-lifetime visit.
4. Richard Scarry’s Just For Fun, a quaint 1973 children’s book by Golden Press that I took around with me when I was little.
5. Napolean in Animal Farm, because he’s fictional. Or Orwell’s Big Brother, which Mark Crispin Miller made even more haunting and menacing with his essay “Big Brother Is You, Watching.” Reminds me of Bentham’s Panopticon.
6. I should choose something by Dostoevsky or Melville or Goethe. Or a living author like John Banville. Ian McEwan. Junot Diaz. Matt Bell’s How They Were Found has received rave reviews. Or yes, Paul Harding’s fabulous novel Tinkers. But I’m going to settle on Maurice Blanchot’s densely opaque The Space of Literature, translated by Ann Smock.
7. Cotton swabs for my ears. What a wonderful feeling—such a simple but important invention.