Ephemera Newsletter Iss August.3
(Creativity and Motivation Weekly)
Welcome to the Ephemera Newsletter, Amichi! (Corsican for “friends”).
Too soon. Too soon. Hot by midday, yes, but that early morning briskness, a cousin to fall, has us doubling down on the final hump of summer. We hope you are too, those of you not back in academia and school. Too soon, that breakneck semester-based speed. Too fast, our days mired in commitments, schedules, and work. A final taste of adventure and the creative side of malaise that summer allows looms next week. Next week nearly here, always nearly on top of us. Always the next thing is advancing before we’ve really accustomed ourselves to its approach. Too, too, fast! Our next thought, so soon, or next expectation, so so imminent. Decide, react, deliver…you must have planned! Remember, it’s never too soon to take two hours of slow time—listening to Julianna Barwick, maybe! (see below)—and rehearse future you, outline your creative practice for the week or several coming up not-so-soon, soon enough. Practice in the early mornings, or routinely steel yourself from duty (We’re away right now, away!) and steal an hour or two during starry lighttime, or, kids and demands and bosses in bed, cut out distraction and find your isolation just before REM-time. We will it for you. It’s not too late.
“The constant examination in paint of the physically present human subject over a lengthy period of time seems to open up a temporally stretched zone for the viewer in the complete work. A zone where something of the ‘poignancy of fact’, to quote Francis Bacon, is allowed to coagulate and congeal into something more than the sum of its parts.”
—Craig Wylie, in NinaFowlerprint.com
Think about looping. A useful concept. Loop yourself into the rivers of your subconscious. Keep on loop your aforementioned blocks of time. Listen to our music choice and wonder about refrains in your work. Think about your week and month and how patterns emerge by your design, despite your intentions, in ways you may not have noticed. It’s not too soon to examine. Our artist this week blows up photographs using his computer to spy the minutia in his subjects’ being. Turn the camera selfward, inward, and then outward to your subjects. Enhance your zoom too much. We bid you take lessons in your experiments thusly. It’s too beautiful to think about so many of you welling in response to so many unknown just-discovered sagacities, flecks of light, truths worthy of lines, stanzas, and whole reams of pages patterned by your, maybe hyperreal, maybe looping, insights. Don’t interrupt a great flow. Keep us in your back pocket to stave off a bout of boredom. There’s a limit to new things tried. Be too discerning, too wise. Or be too impatient. Use everything too soon. What works, works.
~We’re so happy you’re here!~
More great work from August’s poet @ Ephemera, Sydney Lea (Link takes you to his dedicated page within Ephemera). We present a third 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. (NOTE: Free subscribers who submit will receive the full paid version of the newsletter for that month).
**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. Now accepting submissions for the October issue. Deadline Sept 1.
In Brief…this week’s features:
Our thoughts on Music from Julianna Barwick, electronic ambient artist who uses looping technology, her voice, and dreamy instrumentation.
More thoughts on hyperrealism and another prominent painter practitioner, Craig Wylie.
August’s poet Sydney Lea and his first of four poems “Let Him Remember.”
Our weekly lists:
3 magazines with open calls
3 recent job listings for editors and writers.
Check out an Interesante on negative emotions and their creative utility;
Book recs and in-house bonus content
Our mini-essays to start! (See above)
Support us on Bookshop - See our past book recs and others. A highly curated list.
#Friend of Ephemera - Plottr
Dear Readers, this month we’re sponsored by Plottr! We appreciate them for their support. From the folks at Plottr:
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Poetry by Sydney Lea
Let Him Remember
But if a man live many years and rejoice in them
all; yet let him remember the days of darkness;
for they shall be many.
Out alone in a quarrelsome wind,
he watches two clouds that accept it,
two noisy ravens that struggle against it,
gathering five feet, losing three.
All could blow away in an eyeblink.
The ravens are trading one call
from among their many: gawp, gawp.
To his left, he imagines a dusky form.
He doesn’t look there. He looks at the sky.
One bird dives into a pine
and disappears. The other fights on.
The man has arrived at a point in his life
when some inklings, however vague,
rekindle vivid scenes,
in his case mostly from boyhood.
He has no idea what seizes him here,
what summons his uncle’s farm,
not yet besieged
by tanning parlor, deli, chain store.
It may be a scent on the wind,
though its burden back then was all straw and mire.
Beef steers stood rump-to in a field,
tails blown between hind legs,
steaming nostrils ringed by ice.
He recalls the cattle’s occasional moans.
He felt, untimely, that night was falling,
as he does just now, though it’s noon,
and that the cold could blow right through him.
If the boy didn’t think in metaphors yet,
still he sensed something dark in the world–
darker still than those ravens.
Prizes/Awards/Stipends Spring ‘23
One Page Poetry Contest awards $1,000 to a one-page poem, and gives publication to the winner and runners-up in the annual print anthology. They offer other publication opportunities throughout the year. $1k + Pub. $25 Fee. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 30
Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing awards $12,000 to F & NF books published in the same year, & $3000 for poetry. University of Mississippi hosts this all-genre prize. Must be about the south. $12k/$3k. No Fee. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 30
Action, Spectacle Editors’ Poetry and Prose Prize $1,000 and Publication is awarded to one longform story (F/NF) and or 10 pages of poetry. 8500 word limit. $1k + Pub. $20 Fee. DEADLINE OCTOBER 1
#Friend of Ephemera: DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 1.
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 new American experience. $500 + Pub. $25 fee.
Music: Julianna Barwick
This week, we’re listening to what turned out to be a rather surprising and standout track on Julianna Barwick’s EP Florine, a song entitled “Anjos.” Barwick makes ambient electronic music with a flair for the avant-garde, making use of synthesizers, looping stations, and her airy, sometimes-choral, vocals inspired, it would seem and as has been reported, by growing up singing in church choirs in the south. Now, she lives in L.A. after a long stint in N.Y.C., and has released several full length albums. She’s done collaborative work with many musicians, several of which we’ve discussed in this newsletter, and tours to respectably sized audiences. When we listen, we hear influences such as Bjork, Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, as well as others, and although these predecessors come to mind, we find her style and vibes to be wholly distinct, fully realized.
Barwick is a sort of bootstrapper, recording her first EP with a borrowed looping pedal. Her sets and aesthetic have been described as DIY, particularly early on, but that’s not an epithet. We find it to be a boast. Writers are DIY. We scrimp and save to exist; we notate and scrapbook and journal; we find bits and pieces and often sew things together. We’re cobblers. We’re tinkerers. And of course, we are artists who have honed our craft across years, having read and read, emulated, read, experimented and read some more. Throw in some research, too. All of our endeavors yield a bootstrappingness much akin to scrappy sound-loopers such as Barwick. Scrappy in that she pieces together disparate elements and uses tools to create repetition, echoes, tonality, and pitch that feels ethereal and maybe even bottled from the silvery miasma of a gaseous swamp at a gibbous moon. The sounds are elegant and beautiful. Effecting to our ears, and the looping piano of “Anjos” sets the tone as a lamenting refrain, an easing hurt that now can be expressed but that yet girds all that we do, and yet we know of it, this hurt, so proximally due to time spent under its boot that we like it almost, can’t leave it even when a moment of happiness strikes, even when we’d like to forget because, actually, we love it, this hurt, and it’s an ugly scar that defines us and so has become handsome.
“It's just sort of this visceral emotive improvisational process. It starts with complete improvisation…It’s kind of interesting how it just magically appears, and it's all rooted in emotion so it's very immediate. It's just right there in that moment, whatever comes through, whatever I'm feeling, whatever I'm thinking about, and there's really no altering it later; I’m not tinkering with lyrics or anything.”
—Julianna Barwick, regarding her vocal recording process. Clash Magazine.
We’d like our readers to consider how we might effect this ugly-sad transition to handsome-happy. Try creating the feelings of “Anjos” in a poem, in a paragraph, in one page. What about a whole chapter? Could this concept sustain an entire book? Freely associating, and this is by no means an academic position—late night thoughts thought with feeling but without mid-day filters, thought luridly, a bit sleepily, and making use of a gut-originating current of, “ah, hmm, maybe…”—our minds turn to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets as a song to book comp. Layering has to figure in somehow. The equivalent of a looping machine’s effect in writing is…well, not obvious. Maybe consider Rick Moody’s story, “Boys.” Barwick’s sharp-sultry, elegiac vocals bewitch with a ghostly, happy-sadness; they resound, they resound, they resound.
Soon: Good Contrivance Residency
Paid subscribers will receive early-bird pricing for this residency for 2-3 weeks prior to official launch. $15 application fee vs $25 for unpaid subscribers and $30 for non-subscribers. We will email you a hidden portal. Genius Level subscribers can submit for free. Ephemera grants $200 in travel fees in addition to 5 nights at Good Contrivance Farm (valued at $900) for a total value of $1,100. We will select 2 folks to receive the residency.