Tag Archives: How They Were Found

Two events this weekend starring our very own BSU professors!

Looking for a way to round out your first week? Well, we’ve got a couple of events that should help.

This Friday, January 14th, Professor Cathy Day will read from her memoir Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love. The event will be held at the E.B. & Bertha C. Ball Center at 10:00 a.m. Day will discuss the different ways sports have informed her writing, her teaching, and her life (her memoir pairs the Indianapolis Colts comeback season with her experience as a 30-something professional looking for love).

Here’s a breakdown of the event information:

Date: Friday, January 14, 2011
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: E.B.& Bertha C. Ball Center, 400 Minnetrista Blvd, Muncie, IN 47303
Cost: No charge, but reservations are required.

*Please call 285-8975 for more information and to make your reservation.

The second event this weekend is Vouched Presents: Matt Bell, Sean Lovelace, Aaron Burch, and Andy Devine. This reading will take place at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday, January 15th, at 7:00 p.m. Matt Bell was part of last year’s In Print Festival, representing the editorial portion of the Q&A panel. He has recently released a book of short stories titled How They Were Found, and is the creator and editor of The Collagist, an online literary magazine. Our very own Professor Sean Lovelace will be reading as well, so this is a great chance to hear his work and pick up a copy of his chapbook How Some People Like Their Eggs. The Vouched Presents reading series is put on by Ball State alumnus Christopher Newgent, who gave us a great interview on his project Vouched Books and how he balances his passion for writing with his working life, which you can read here.

Here’s a breakdown of this event’s info:

Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, 1043 Virginia Avenue, Suite 5, Indianapolis, IN 46203
Cost: FREE

Attending events like these can really bolster the college experience, so take advantage while you can!

Interview with Christopher Newgent on the independent publishing world, the web’s effect on literature, and balancing work with passion

Christopher Newgent

Christopher Newgent graduated from Ball State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing in 2006. Newgent puts his degree to use trying to improve his city environment of Indianapolis by bringing independent literature to the public at art and music events. He generously agreed to share those experiences with us here at the English Department blog, as well as his experience balancing a working life with creative passions.

Can you share a little about what your job is and what sorts of duties it entails?

I work as a technical writer for Aprimo, Inc., a marketing software company in Indianapolis. My job is primarily writing the online Help—how to perform specific functions in the product. I’m about to start taking over localization efforts, which is business-speak for getting the product translated into other languages.

How did your English major at Ball State prepare you for such a position?

The fact that it had “writing” in the title helped, but it actually took a bit of salesmanship to convince the hiring manager that I could take a creative writing major and succeed as a technical writer. There’s a hefty difference between creative and technical writing, but the overlap exists in consideration of audience and precise language. BSU has professors who really excel at teaching these two aspects—Mark Neely, Sean Lovelace, and Andrew Scott particularly come to mind.

Can you explain a little about Vouched Books—how it came about and what your aims and ambitions are for the project?

Vouched is a project to promote independent literature in Indianapolis. It started with the idea of setting up a flea-market-style book table at literary and art events, and shilling small press books that I’d read personally and wanted to champion. It grew from there to include the Vouched Presents reading series and Vouched Online, where I and a handful of contributors link to work published in online journals that we like—curating our little corner of the literary internet, essentially.

As for ambitions, I should probably sit down sometime and really make a list of them. It’s all sort of grown organically so far, to be honest. I don’t have any dream of opening a brick & mortar bookstore, or making it a financially viable endeavor. I just want to promote some work that I really believe in by people who don’t have much of a budget to promote beyond the internet. And the way I’ve found to do that is to go where people are who appreciate art and words, but likely don’t know independent literature exists. If a legit opportunity arises to make Vouched my full-time career, you can bet I’ll own it, but right now, it’s just a hobby; an exercise in literary citizenship.

How do you balance your working life with your literary pursuits/passions?

Honestly, the only way to find a balance is the classic cliché—show up to the page every day. Make time for it. Ideas will never be the problem. A story can come to you when you’re driving to your aunt’s for Christmas. The problem will be sustaining the drive to sit down when you get home from your aunt’s and punch out a draft without having the deadlines you have in school, the drive to write for yourself instead of a grade. It’s easy to be an idealist in college, to think you’re writing for yourself then, but you’re not, and that’s okay. And you’ll find that out a year or so after graduation. Your life will get busy, you’ll have a new roof to afford, a spouse to adore, maybe kids, college loans, a car that breaks down. And unless you say, “No matter how busy life gets, I will write 750 words a day,” you’ll eventually be reduced to jotting an occasional line on a napkin until one day you wake up and remember you wanted to be a writer once. With all faith, you’ll pull those napkins out from the drawer you were keeping them, and start writing.

Are there any other projects, on the web, personal, or otherwise, that you’re involved in?

For the past almost two years, I’ve been working on founding INDYCOG, a blog that grew into a nonprofit organization that works with Indianapolis to promote cycling. But I’ve recently taken a lesser role in that as I focus more on Vouched and other endeavors.

You seem to be very active on the web, as well as knowledgeable about web-based material. What are your thoughts on the web’s effect on literature and how people are adapting to it?

I’m actually working on an essay/guest post for HTMLGiant discussing the explosion of independent music in the late 90’s due to the internet, and how I see the current independent literary community doing the same thing now, albeit a decade late. I think literature is behind the curve in adapting to the web, likely because of the taboo online publishing has had until recently. But, I think as online journals build their legitimacy, as more and more writers and publishers learn to use the internet to promote and build community, the more opportunities will present themselves to literary authors, especially emerging authors. But let’s face it—romance and celebrity memoirs will always outsell literary works, just like even though you hear all sorts of independent music on commercials and TV shows now, Nickelback still outsells Sufjan.

What are some books you’re reading right now, and what are some titles to look for that may be somewhat under the radar?

I’ve just started writing a novel, so I’ve turned my attention to those a bit, reading Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. There’s kind of a lack of novels in the small press world. I just started Matt Bell’s How They Were Found, and I recently finished Mark Neely’s Four of a Kind, both of which deserve to be read. If you’ve not read Sasha Fletcher’s When All Our Days Are Numbered yet, then you’re without. And, if you want to learn how to craft a sentence, Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler.

Top five literary blogs…GO!

In no particular order: HTMLGiant, Bark, We Who Are About to Die, PANK Blog, Big Other.

Any parting advice/wisdom you would like to offer to the students of BSU?

You are not alone.

Guest Post: Tyler Gobble on chapbooks, a DIY medium allowing a variety of options concerning publishing and creativity

You might be asking yourself two things: how in the world did they let you back on here, Tyler Gobble? And what in the world is a chapbook? I can’t really answer the first one, but the second one I’m gonna try.

Avoiding the long history of the chapbook, the way it developed, its historical purposes, etc., I’m going to focus on how the chapbook is used by indie writers, small presses, and even students, focusing on Ball State University.

First, a chapbook is a small print book with a low number of pages, often stapled-bound. Nowadays, the chapbook serves a wide range of purposes, from being a teaser for a forthcoming book to acting as a DIY thing for writers to use (often similar to how local bands use demos to make money and spread their name). With the popularization of ebooks, electronic chapbooks have also become popular in the form of pdfs and webpages. Essentially, chapbooks are a viable medium, I think, for writers as they are relatively inexpensive to produce, less difficult than full length books to create, and easily distributable.

Ball State University has its own realm of professors and students with chapbooks. Creative Writing faculty Sean Lovelace and Mark Neely have recently won chapbook contests for print chapbooks. Former students Shaun Gannon and Daniel Bailey each have their own echapbooks from independent publishers. As students, Gannon and Bailey also self-released their own print chapbooks. Current students Jeremy Bauer and Ryan Rader have also went the DIY route by seeing to their own chapbooks being published. Whether through a contest, a publisher, or self-published, I think it is pretty sweet to see these Ball State affiliated writers have their work published via the chapbook medium.

Now, I want to take a minute to talk to one of these cool dudes, Ryan Rader, about his chapbook.

Interview With Ryan

1.     Can you tell readers about your chapbook (how it came out, when it was released, the process, etc.)?

I wrote a group of poems for a class with Mark Neely, and once I had seen Dan Bailey’s amazing chapbook look at me deeply with great meaning I knew I wanted to do something just like it: simple, small, memorable. A co-worker of mine, Johanna Ofner, was a design major and offered to put together a print version of these poems. I edited them to add a pseudo-narrative and we printed off about seventy copies. I believe this was in 2007, but my memory is fuzzy.

2.     What kind of response did you receive about your chapbook and the poems in it?

Exceptionally positive, especially at such a young age (all of the poems were written when I was eighteen-twenty years old). A couple of the poems had been published in online journals before it was in print; this gave me the confidence to publish other poems myself. It is still the best personal project I have ever done, and I am proud of the results.

3.     What is your opinion on chapbooks as a medium for literary endeavors?

You know how all the cool kids buy their music on vinyl because they love the feel of it? How holding something antiquated and beautiful in their hands and actively moving through the print and the music all at once brings them closer to a pure form of expression? Chapbooks, and really any small press publication, are to publishing what vinyl is to the modern record industry. Definitely a niche market, but a devout one that appreciates a DIY approach combined with professional quality.

4.     What are some chapbooks that you have enjoyed (either print or online)?

Daniel Bailey’s chapbook was my original inspiration; I love every poem in it (“Underwater God” is a favorite). Shaun Gannon’s Casual Glory; or Macaulay Culkin does nothing is, simply, a hoot. Never has vomiting seemed so cool and poetic.

5.     Do you see a difference in productivity/quality/readership between online vs. print chapbooks? Press published vs. self-published?

Since the readership for poetry is criminally small, it seems like fighting over who’s getting more readers is like getting in a bidding war over acres in Antarctica. Quality? Always subjective, especially in the hyper-specialized world of poetry. I want personal exploration and juxtaposed, absurd imagery—others want their poetry tight as a snare drum and loaded with natural beauty. But we are, ultimately, on the same side: trying to get more readers. I think it takes conventional and unconventional means to reach that goal. It’s the same world to me; while I prefer to stick with print, because humanity is obsessed with the tangible, I know that both mediums working in tandem is crucial to the proliferation of new, good, exciting poems.

End.

Two members of last year’s In Print Festival, Matt Bell and Mary Miller, have had chapbooks released by presses. Bell’s first chapbook, How The Broken Lead The Blind, was published by Willow Wept Press in April of 2009, and his second, The Collectors, was published in May of 2009 by Caketrain after being a runner-up in their 2008 Chapbook Contest. Since both of these chapbooks have sold out, they are available as ebooks now. Matt also wrote Wolf Parts, a chapbook released by Keyhole Press last spring in anticipation of his first collection, How They Were Found, in which Wolf Parts and The Collectors appear. Mary Miller’s Less Shiny was released from Magic Helicopter Press in 2009 as a teaser for her first collection, Big World. These examples illustrate how up-and-coming authors can use contests and chapbooks to further push themselves towards full length collections and literary success.

Through websites, like Chapbook Review, small press competitions, and the continuing popularization of DIY art, chapbooks are a respectable medium in the literary world. I pick up a chapbook, and I am like, “HEY I CAN MAKE THAT.” Then, I open it up and there are these words like beautiful hellos and I shake my head at how wonderful all these words are. For me, chapbooks are accessible, awesome, fun, interesting, and useful because they are nice simple bundles of literary booyeah.