Ephemera Newsletter Iss August.2
(Creativity and Motivation Weekly)
Welcome to the Ephemera Newsletter, Péngyǒumen! (Chinese for “friends”).
Please give your attention to August’s poet @ Ephemera, Sydney Lea (Link takes you to his dedicated page within Ephemera). We present a second poem in a series of four that we’ll publish this month. Thanks for all of your comments and private notes! We appreciate your interest in Ephemera’s poetry program.
Please check out #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 at 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 October issue.
In Brief…this week’s features:
Our thoughts on Music from Khruangbin, a band with a wide, wide range of influences from myriad Western genres to obscure world music influences.
Our thoughts on hyperrealism and one of the early painter practitioners in the movement, Denis Peterson.
August’s poet Sydney Lea and his first of four poems “Wreckage.”
Our weekly lists:
3 magazines with open calls
3 recent job listings for editors and writers.
check out an Interesante brief on the techniques of hyperrealistic painting;
Book recs and in-house bonus content,
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.
Sometimes during summer heat waves and humid nights you can feel the interaction between your skin and the air as if Fahrenheit measured the propensity of humans to merge with their surroundings, become a new element. That’s when a cooling and uplifting song such as “People Everywhere,” by Khruangbin might begin to connect with you. That’s when the tenets of hyperrealistic painting might begin to make sense. We need art in this way, to addend our understanding of experience; sometimes to explain it outright, and other times as means of relief or transcendence of a sort. That’s where we are at the moment, thinking about how artists and musicians do their thing—of course great writers, too—and how we might participate at the same level, to the same visceral effect. This might sound weird, but what if we thought of the craft of word-smithing as a means to spell cast? Not for evil. But in good conscience to affect the spirit, provide experience, and elucidate something terribly important, or maybe even simply for the sake of fun? Casting a spell might lead us toward word and sound combinations beyond that which we might have customarily reached. Think of this to heighten a moment that needs something beyond what a realistic description or accounting might allow. Break your habits in the right places, maybe, for the right reasons and at the right time.
“As a hyperrealist painter, I had already been creating images that appeared real through contemplative reasoning, but which in fact were simulations (simulacra) of altered realities. I intended to appeal to the unconscious thinking of the viewer whereby manipulated simulatory images would be perceived as reality. Depending on the aesthetics and particularly the motif, they were intentionally targeted as compelling illusions of an altered (hyper)reality.”
—Denis Peterson, in an interview from his website.
Spell cast and try rhythms and combinations that maybe don’t make the most grammatical sense. Apply your ingenuity outside of sentence structure, for the purpose of sound, for the purpose of effect. Sure, we might go too far. Maybe we fail. Maybe we fail ten times before the eleventh permutation accomplishes a feat we thought we might never complete. Such is the nature of artistry and chance-taking. We bid you take calculable risks. We bid you take blind, flagrantly wild risks! What if it ends up making sense? What if our intuition pieces together the pastiche of sound luckily and, lo, we have a monkey-made symphony? We’re smarter than the chance of random human-related beings typewriting a masterpiece. Let’s access those animal intuitions sometimes for the sake of a real that’s greater than the real we might have been able to craft head on. Or, let’s go beyond the realism methods and overdose. Too much realism to the point of knowing beyond the knowable…when it suits us. Maybe this isn’t a mantra for a whole text, but an option to highlight when it’s called for. Try for that magical multi state of being where you’re heightened senses, yourself beyond yourself where suddenly you know more than you normally would. Maybe that’s hyperreal. Maybe that’s the flow state. Maybe we’re communing with Gaia, an eternal ether-muse. It’s real if it works, if you believe. Now, if only your readers would too.
~We’re so happy you’re here!~
#Friend of Ephemera - Plottr
Dear Readers, this month we’re sponsored by Plottr, who has been a long time supporter of writing and the literary world in this way. 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
Driving a wire-thin road
on my way back home from a local trout stream,
I braked, no traffic behind me,
in fact not a car in sight.
Backlit by lamplight, her shadow
showed on her cabin’s window blind.
O Lord, how stooped.
O Lord, how ungainly.
A miracle some twenty years since,
it was as if she’d dropped from a cloud
to her place in these backwoods,
well after few remembered
–if they ever knew, that is–
what a legend she’d been. I remembered.
I instantly summoned her face
from my red-lacquer LP’s jacket.
Through the winds of December
And the magic of May
Through a million tomorrows
I'll remember today.
I played that one song again and again
so often that one winter morning
my mother, hoarse and hung-over,
threw the record down and smashed it.
I’ve long forgiven her
for that and for other random explosions
as I strive to pardon my own.
My rage, to be sure, matched the moment.
And so did hers.
But that silhouette on the blind,
no matter how quickly gone,
sent me back to those scattered red shards.
O Lord, what a trail of ruin.
There’s something uplifting about this track, “People Everywhere (Still Alive),” that sticks in our craw, maybe more so the back of brain, a place of positivity and elation, maybe an ancient site reserved for ceremonial ecstasy and blessing. We don’t mean to write hyperbole, but there are some true moments of a type of enjoyment hard to come by, not well explored, at least within ourselves in terms of the potential effects of music. Well, thanks, Khruangbin. The trio hailing from Houston, Texas, makes groovy music with minimal vocals, at times dreamy, many times with slick, technically marvelous guitar solos, often dipping into a cornucopia of influences: rock, psychedelic, funk, jam, electronic, jazz, soul, surf, and world music (and this could mean Thai genres, Turkish Psych from the 70’s, Iranian Traditional, and Spanish music). Their band name is a Thai word that translates to “airplane,” which has become a sort of symbol that encompasses the worldliness of the music. Its origin is pretty simple; their bassist, Laura Lee, came up with the name because it was her favorite Thai word as she was learning to speak the language. As good a reason as any—we can relate to loving random words for their sound.
Khruangbin might be one of those music acts that we discuss in the first issue of the month. They’ve become huge, a sensation. We tend to aim at larger bands in those issues and dig into more obscure stuff as the month progresses, in case you’ve not been tracking, dear reader. We found a recent groove with them, listening while writing, while editing (two different states of mind!), driving, cooking, cleaning, hanging, and at all times really. There’s sort of a song or vibe for all occasions, and we think this owes to their world influence. Initially, we took an interest because we’d read about their interest in Thai rock and funk—Thai rock is pretty huge over there and we were doing some music googling for foreign rock exploration. In any case, take a look at the pull quote below. A band that draws influences from such a broad medley of spheres yet seeks to deliver within a box, purposely exploring formula to the fullest extent of the space, strikes us as interesting if not paradoxical.
“When we first started the band, we wanted to have a formula. It’s like, ‘This is what we do, and we’re not gonna try and go outside the box... We’re gonna explore the box we’re in.’”
—Mark Speer, Lead Guitarist in an interview w/ Relix.com
One of the lessons we might learn from Khruangbin is the idea of influences. They don’t particularly ape the sounds and styles of all of their influences as much as draw them in—each individual band member as a unique creative vortex—process, and then play and emote with an ear towards the cooperative. We like this idea for writers. Learn as many styles and read widely from folks in different languages (even if in translation) and live your life, be your self, explore becoming more you such that all of the influences and your own unique beingness meld into something familiar and foreign, borrowed and brand new, you and you+. Pay attention, though, to making everything feel whole. For Khruangbin, at least at times, that has meant making use of formulas and breaking them where sonically expedient. We can do the same. There’s room within the boxes of genre still. There’s great ways to break through. Let’s be boxed and unboxed, balanced and artfully weighted, still and alive.
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
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Ephemera to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.