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Ephemera Newsletter Iss August.1
(Creativity and Motivation Weekly)
Welcome to the Ephemera Newsletter, Anzanga! (Chichewa for “friends”).
August’s first newsletter means the full letter is available to everyone. And firsts of the month are really fun because we get to introduce a new poet! Please give your attention to August’s poet @ Ephemera, Sydney Lea (Link takes you to his dedicated page within Ephemera). We present a stand-alone poem this issue which made us think and stood out amongst a really good field of submissions. Thanks to all who sent in work.
This month we have a backer who is a #friend of Ephemera. A software for writers that aids in book outlining and managing long form creative writing projects. You can read more about them below.
Check out last week’s letter if you missed it. And here are some reminders:
Call For Submissions: If you are a paid subscriber to Ephemera, you can submit to poetry @ Ephemera for free as a membership perk! Free subscribers and anyone else can submit, too, with the reading fee and can submit up to 10 poems. Paying the reading fee will grant you 1-month paid access to Ephemera’s full letter each week. Now accepting submissions for the September issue.
In Brief…this week’s features:
Our thoughts on Music from The London Symphony Orchestra, one of the oldest orchestral collectives currently and contiguously in practice (who was featured with Floating Points two letters ago).
Our thoughts on the recent art movement dubbed Hyperrealsim, and where we might interface as writers with its practices and tenets.
August’s poet Sydney Lea and his first of four poems “Words Fail Me.”
Our weekly lists:
3 magazines with open calls
3 recent job listings for editors and writers.
More ephemera: check out an Interesante selection on retaining and courting awe in the everyday; Book recs, bonus content, and our mini-essays to start!
Support us on Bookshop - See our past book recs and others. A highly curated list.
Merci. Danke. Kiitos. 고마워 Go-ma-wo. Cảm ơn. Xiè xiè.
Another month for us to chase awe and our passions. August opines, pursue your intrigue. It’s important, one can generally say, to continue to find inspiration, and we as writers and editors recognize we must build into our practice just such pursuits. Alas, there’s a languor commonplace to this time of year. If so affected, maybe take a look at the exotic nearby of your digs, your people, your parks and patterns. Watch a documentary, an art film, anything challenging when you’re feeling slow or dull or as if boredom is closing in. We found a deep vein of astonishment coupled with profound humility watching the Netflix documentary Unknown: Cave of Bones, for instance, which brought us to two types of tears: the literal sort and the deep-time related existential kind. The day after, we saw a bumble bee take up, transport, and trade a clump of pollen with its kin. This morning, we noticed the climbing tendrils of the bush outside our bedroom window, gripped on to the window screen, the brick, and above angling its top newly green shoots to the sun as it arcs across then behind the eaves of our modest house. We were transported despite our humid torpor. Each moment a tunnel to appreciation and a deeper sense of creative purpose. We could weep now in the retelling.
“Imperfections are what constitutes beauty, Hyperrealism thrives on that, it does not erase the blemishes, it does not straighten out faults and optimize the image to become flawless, it incorporates these elements to produce a layer of vision that would otherwise remain unseen.”
—From www.widewall.ch, “Hyperrealism in Art - Ultimately, Is It Art or Skill?” (See below)
When that bee landed, clutched its treasure, and bumbled past, we noticed a small hole in its wing. That existed outside of our awareness, but because we looked deeply, we saw a detail heretofore not real, unseen. We felt beauty via this bug’s struggle and perseverance. Thus, one of our characters invented in a torrid early-morning writing session received a tiny bone spur changing her gait, from page one until and whenever her story ends. Think of the many collaborations it takes for your ideas to incubate, grow, and render. Notice your sources, whether artifact, entertainment, or observation. Don’t let any mood or spirit oppress you, this search for meaning. Watch and listen to an orchestra…so many moving parts, pregnant troughs and piercing highs, all of it washed in a pause, tension resumed in a burst. Let the hyperreal stand in momentarily for and because its contrivance can be revelatory. Swoon and emote and swell with portent. You’re a crucible, a furnace, a womb. Be comfortable with gestation, with deliverance, waves upon waves.
~We’re so happy you’re here!~
#Friend of Ephemera - Plottr
Dear Readers, we’re always looking for useful tools and products to bring to the attention of our community. In that pursuit, we’ve looked into the software offering from Plottr, which is a book outlining and long form writing management software solution that is very intuitive. We’re learning the ropes ourselves and they were kind enough to sponsor our letter this month, so we hope you’ll take a look and evaluate for your practice. From the folks at Plottr:
If you haven’t tried the popular book planning software Plottr, built for outliners AND pantsers, you’re missing out.
Plottr offers everything you need to visually outline and organize your books, including dozens of plot and character templates, drag and drop scene cards, tools for managing characters and places, and even the ability to export your work to Word and Scrivener.
If you’re ready to organize the story ideas rampaging through your head, then sign up today and see why Plottr is the #1 rated book outlining and series bible software used by thousands of writers – and save 15% off!
Poetry by Sydney Lea
Words Fail Me
Though the candle is just about to gutter,
it still illuminates several dear friends
at our dinner table, but its low flame transports me
to Creston MacArthur, mentor, namesake
of one son and one grandson. Our campfires flickered
as we sat together. Those fires seem countless
in retrospect, since we swapped our stories
on so many lakeshores, words and warmth
coinciding, softly. In spite of good fellowship,
just now a pall of bleakness descends
as I remember deft bats’ patrols
or the time we heard barred owls chant in the woods,
like a good pack of hounds, as Creston said, wistful.
I didn’t know why. The locution felt perfect,
but now I think its tone may have signaled
that the season I’m in would come soon enough,
as it had for him, and then, looking back,
I’d be almost undone by ineloquence,
by how little I told that beloved man
at those fires. And here I seem equally balked,
as someone is asking me a question.
It’s now. I’m here. I need to respond,
but I know whatever I say will sound
like formulation. The candlewick bows.
In the lull, it’s as though it whispers something
just beyond articulation.
Music: London Symphony Orchestra
A few weeks ago we wrote about an album called Promises, which was collaboration between Floating Points (who wrote the entire nine-movement piece), sax phenom Pharaoh Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra. Last week we explored Sanders’ fantastic work and, this week, we wanted to look at one of the greatest symphonies in the world, the LSO, as they’re known, founded in 1904 as a collective. The LSO collaborates widely. They play popular music and are well known for movie soundtracks—several of their most listened to tracks are Stars Wars themes. They’re versatile and deftly articulate despite or maybe because of the many risks they take playing such a wide selection. Because of their versatility and a virtuosity that exceeds technical excellence and becomes something else, vision, maybe, or deeply feeling, we hope you’ll take an interest and listen closely.
Collaboration has been on our mind, the music of preeminent colabs in our ears. And an orchestra is nothing if not a fantastic collaboration of moving parts, disparate inclinations, oh so many brains and hearts who must be compelled to synchronize for the purposes of the piece, the greater greatness. And aren’t our poems in conversation and our collections a bit of this? Aren’t our larger works a symphony of characters and plots and sub-plots and themes and emotional ups and downs and so many disparate parts that must be held together by dint of the writer’s will? Or, notice the video, the animated conductor who somehow enlivens and impels. We’re enamored of the performance equal the sound. And we’re taking to heart…, well, the attempt at perfection. Part of what we’re trying to say is that we hope you feel motivated.
We opted for LSO’s performance of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet, Romeo and Juliet, because it is music written about and inspired by writing, because it represents a type of interesting ekphrasis—and it’s one of LSO’s must viewed pieces on Spotify and on YouTube. Music as a skin for writing…we love the idea…how moving it is to read along in the text while listening (sans lyrics, mostly)...and what types of thoughts might this yield? What insight might we gain by engaging our minds and senses in this somewhat unusual way, in a collaboration of discrete wills—one of the reasons ballet can be so compelling? We found inspiration by a passive listening, by watching the conductor, by a read of the corresponding scene(s) in Shakespeare’s text and watching the ballet (see link below). There are many avenues of exploration with regard to how we might learn as writers. Maybe allowing ourselves the simple act of being entertained, the feeling of awe. That might be enough.
Soon: Good Contrivance Residency
Last year, Ephemera co-sponsored a residency program with Good Contrivance Farms where we awarded a travel stipend to two applications who also received a 1 week stay at the farms. We’re bringing back this successful program! Applications will open in Mid September and we will select 2 folks (i.e. 2 separate individuals) to receive the residency sponsorship (5 days at Good Contrivance Farm) and each will receive the travel stipend of $200. Please stay tuned!
Writers Submit: 3 Magazines
In print and online, Interim is reading work in all genres for Poetry and the Moving Image, or what “Maurice Blanchot called the ‘fascination’ of the cinematic.” Work in any genre about film, music videos, television programs are welcome. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 4
The longstanding journal is seeking work in all genres for their next print edition. They’ve published some of the most well-known writers of our time early in their careers, and continue to focus on well-crafted work. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 6
Publishing for over a decade, they are seeking work in all genres on the theme of “Left Unsaid” for their 2024-25 12th edition. DEADLINE OCTOBER 16
Weekly Artist: Hyperrealism in Art
For the last few years, we’ve focused on important and culture-changing individual artists, their particular work and individual style and telos, and only lightly considered larger movements and concepts. This week, we decided to delve into a movement that is widely considered to be a 21st century phenomenon: Hyperrealism. While the term is not new—it’s existed for decades and has a particular meaning in philosophy and intellectual circles (while more complex, essentially, the idea is that things that are a stand in for something real are mistaken as the thing itself or things that are a simulation are indistinguishable from what is real)—hyperrealism in art has brought the concept to the forefront of the contemporary collective conscious. As the philosophical ideas suggest, there’s a negative and, frankly, dystopian essence to the term, yet the art seems to eschew the negative connotations to an extent, focusing instead on the skill of the artist and the inherent beauty in being able to replicate via paint or sculpture what photorealists of the ‘60s attempted to capture via camera.
We want to focus on the art, on the beauty, and what the portrayal of a type of realism can do for the viewer and, ultimately, in our case, the reader. Hyperrealism is the kind of art where it’s nearly impossible at first glance to distinguish the artwork from a perfect photograph or even real life. The movement tends to focus on portraiture and still life, but it can also feature architecture and scenes of nature. Most artists use paint, some clay or graphite. Many artists begin with a hi-def photograph, which has been a cause of conversation, maybe even minor controversy; are these folks artists or merely highly skilled technicians of a sort? Take a look at the piece below. It would be difficult to identify this painting as not a photograph without careful inspection. And so, what does that misunderstanding allow the viewer? What are we seeing that can’t be capture by a photograph? Is there a level of expression beyond the camera that the artists bring to the work?
“[Hyperrealism is] the authentic fake.”
One of the important ideas we’re considering is that hyperreal artists do not intend to create a painted “photocopy” of a photograph or model. Rather, they intend to capture a striking amount of detail in a way that expresses an added-on value or, they might argue, an essence in the subject that couldn’t be explicated without their interpretation and enhancement. With these hyperreal paintings, the viewer tends to see in greater detail than they would simply looking at the physical object or the model in front of them. Hyperreal painters add an additional layering of detail, or highlight, or color that doesn’t actually exist in order to expose a deeper truth or message. Based on the latter, we firmly believe in the artistry of the movement, while also recognizing the technical skill set for what it is.
In a way, poets and writers have been applying a type of hyperreal patina over their work for centuries; we’ve used omniscience to deliver details and perspicacity to characters and poems, feelings and scenes that otherwise wouldn’t exist that yet build upon those moments for the purpose of creating a greater truth. It’s important to be aware of this process and maybe to develop the hyperrealist skill set with our words, much like magical realism and transrealism and modernism can be used to heighten a scene, deliver emotional gravitas, expose a truth that otherwise might not be recoverable. In any case, we love thinking and lighting embers by which our readers might spark personal flames of contemplation. Glow as you see fit.
Is it art or skill? A Rumination, “Hyperrealism in Art - Ultimately, Is It Art or Skill?”
Explore Several Artists:
Interesante: How to Be More Alive
— (6 min read/12 min study)
“…they (universities) take for granted that which they cannot teach — the capacity for experience, the capacity for being moved, the Goethean sense of wonderment.”
The Marginalian’s pieces always seem to manage to be pointed and robust, strike a balance of being intriguing, informative, non-didactic, and fluid. This read, contextualizing and then delivering a quote by Herman Hesse on wonderment and how education is not the path toward inspiration, is hemmed in by useful asides, links, and buttressing quotes. It got us thinking about wonder and breaking from the rigidity of being told we know everything by virtue of our degrees. There’s a ton to ponder and we hope you’ll thoroughly engage. —Read the article.
Prizes/Awards/Stipends Spring ‘23
Grayson Books Poetry Contest awards $1,000 and publication to one full length book of poetry. They’ve published over fifty books and have other publication opportunities. $1k + Pub. $26 Fee. DEADLINE AUGUST 15.
Gemini Flash Fiction Contest awards $1k, $100, & $25x4 to the winner and several runners up as well as publication. 1k word limit. $1k + other amounts + Pub. $7 fee. DEADLINE AUGUST 31.
Radcliffe Institute Fellowship grants $78k and 2 semesters at Harvard w/ other perks to an assortment of candidates in the arts. 50 applicants across disciplines chosen. Lots of rules so read carefully. $78k + Fellowship perks. No Fee but rigorous application. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 14.
#Friend of Ephemera:
Steel Toe Books Prizes awards $500 and Publication to both a poetry and prose full length manuscript. Sister imprint to C&R, STB has blue-collar roots and is interested in the body as it looks out on to the world, particularly the American experience. $500 + Pub. $25 fee. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 1.
Bookstore: Guides, Gifts & Classics
Please consider supporting our letter and literature by buying books. It helps us and others! Bookstore via Bookshop.
Court Wonder and Awe with Hermann Hesse:
NY TIMES and LA TIMES Bestseller: Dopamine Nation
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Thank you for subscribing to Ephemera. We appreciate your support very much! It means a lot to have you as a reader and paid subscriber. We look forward to growing the letter and bringing you new content and conversation along side our staples. At present, we’re considering creating a book volume containing a large part of our content, including artwork and essays. We’re also considering other projects, such as a monthly podcast, mini-videos, and a Q&A with our editors. Let us know if you have any ideas on how we can improve.
**Select Job Postings**
Union Square & Co.: Assc. Ed. of NF. FT. 4 yrs exp in Book Pub. BA. ~$60k. NYC.
Red Wheel/Weiser: Sr. Acq. Ed. FT. 5-7yrs. BA. ~$65k. Newburyport, MA.
Shelburne Museum: Grant Writer. FT. 2+ yrs Exp. BA. ~$65k. Shelburne, VT.
Poetry at Ephemera:
Good Contrivance Residency…coming soon with an early bird discount for paid subscribers: