Ephemera Newsletter Iss Nov.1
(Creativity and Motivation Weekly)
Welcome to the Ephemera Newsletter, Ystävät! (Finnish for “friends”)
Thank you to all who submitted to poetry in November and especially to our finalist, Freya Rohn, who will be the poet for the month! You can review her poems altogether once they publish as well as her artist statement and bio on this dedicated post on our substack page. We thank you for checking out her work.
On to our standard content matters: Won’t you please check out last week’s issue if you missed it.
And here are some reminders:
Our letter can be cut off by emails! Please remember to click around any cut-off point and or try reading us on Substack.com or through the app.
Good Contrivance Farm Residency: Final Deadline Extended: Nov 30.
Call For Submissions: Reading for the January issues closes Dec (Extended and final deadline). $200 honorarium + appear in 4 issues! 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. Learn more or:
In Brief…this week’s features:
Thoughts on Frankie Valli, and his solo hit song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Thoughts on Jasper Johns pre-pop, pop and surreal art.
September’s poet, Freya Rohn and her first of four poems, “After A Death”
New Feature: Literary Films where we select an interesting movie we’ve seen that dramatizes the life of a writer or writers or artists, particularly we’re interested in biopics, and apropos genre selections.
This month: Patterson
Our weekly lists:
3 magazines with open calls
3 recent job listings for editors and writers.
**No sponsor this issue: Sponsor our letter! Reach out to info@Litbreaker.com to advertise with us.**
More ephemera: check out an Interesante selection, a brief clip of Ray Bradbury discussing being creative in the now and more; 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.
Dimming, oh, certainly dimming these early evening skies, too soon to darken, too little shine on our skin. Moods blue and plum in concert (supplement Vitamin D, folks!) These times they be trying, particularly when the holidays lurk like so many emotional tax collectors. Gloom! Unless glum motivates you—which has its benefits, particularly the access to our interiorities—we offer an embrace and call to look to each of our goals, large and small, the things we love and adore, to take stock in what we do have in abundance. We have community. We have the well of our creative spirit. We have our creator friends. And the goodness of our families. There are so many people working to create literary products, from the creative side, from the editorial and publishing side. We have a strong community; let’s participate. Let’s scrounge and forge rather than squirrel away. Perseverance is everything in the creative arts. That is our plight, what we choose. Remember to take stock of what you enjoy, what inspires you, the art and letters off which you can’t take your eyes, that make you croon—wherever crooning be had: shower, a cappella car rides, dueted with too-loud music, or maybe over piano at thanksgiving because you just got it like that. Persevere, friends. Take that for everything contained therein and spice it with your own learned wisdom. But do so gloriously.
“We belong only by doing. And we own only by doing.”
—Ray Bradbury, Recorded Interview (see: Intersante below)
Songs? You speak of singing, these cold, melancholy morns? Why, yes, in fact, each person has a song, and very few as strong as the creative, even fewer the writer and poet. Our plight is that singing, the production of something worthy of being heard and persevering until we’ve made it just so, so-so bright. As Bradbury indicates, belongingness occurs by our endeavor. Not acknowledgement, which is a gift and a grace. Simply that we toil provides for our self. What better time to get to our tasks than the colding season and what better way to warm ourselves than by our song. I suppose we’re hoping to acknowledge our field as being one that can be thankless at times, and yet our reasons for being, for being writers must and can only come from our own core motivations. And, that those motivations, the simple act of doing our art, is and must be a reward. Yes, the economies of writing are strange and precarious, and we’re all seeking some sort of trade outside of self. As you know, long-standing institutions close every year while new sprouts spring forth from passionate hearts. Contribute as you can. Your eyes are a warming. Your graphite scratches are a sparked log. Go and go, and go some more. We are too. Going, hunched and swaddled yet bracing at the behest of our calling.
Poetry by Freya Rohn
After a death
“...they cut silhouettes and burned them to call back our frightened spirits.” — Tu Fu
I pour hot water
measure tea for the cup.
I leave the lights off
to test how strong
how much more
we can work by.
In the corner window
a robin lands
stands on the railing—
a silhouette cut
of still-growing nasturtium
the red chest unseen
as if to not take away
the bright honey, red fork
of the last frost-lipped bloom
instead, he burns there
under ash wing and flies—
a streak of heart caught fire
once the feet find air
before I turn back
still waiting for
the tea to darken
in my cup.
(previously published: Bellingham Review, Issue 69, Fall 2015)
Music: Frankie Valli
Frankie Valli’s solo classic, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (hereby referenced as ‘Eyes’) still provides feels for us, even with its old timey arrangement and lounge-singer-with-band elements, some of that being Motown influenced. Mostly known for his work with the Four Seasons with whom he produced nearly two dozen top 40 hits, Valli also had a vibrant solo career in which he dropped his trademark falsetto, and which was capped by this song, “Eyes,” which we, admittedly, came to first via the cover version by Lauryn Hill (one of the more fantastic covers in the arena of covers). This original version, to our surprise, still managed to produce that welling and exhilaration of being connected to a type of emotional truth, of being closer to something that’s true outside of self and yet allows you an internal eternality. We might contend that’s one of the benefits of any good song, the act of connecting outside the self while deeply learning something about your core. Which, in a way, is what we try to do with our writing in no small part. Some of the best writing does that, manages the space—a here and not-here sensation—of something globally true that also applies at the level of the individual.
Valli’s life, along with the other members of the Four Seasons, was dramatized in the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, a fact which speaks to the cultural impact of his music career. Before the Four Seasons burst on to the scene in the early 60s, Valli and Co. played under a different name in the 50s, a band called Four Lovers. From Newark, and of Italian descent, Valli and Co. began gigging in New Jersey before moving on to national tours, an origin alluded to by the title of the aforementioned musical—a fact we like because of the humble origins story component (poets, writers…we can too!). Valli’s music is considered pop, pop-rock, doo-wop, with lounge and rhythm & blues elements, and frequently features lush harmonies. A bit of a mix of things and very consistently highlighted by clear, sometimes simple but catchy and impactful lyrics (see also: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Oh What A Night,” and others). Often, we’ll get a bar from one of these songs popping into mind that we must listen to or attempt to cover in our own not-nearly-as-rich fake falsetto. Emulation as flattery and such.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was in the can for a year and a half or two years. The record company didn’t believe in it, right? So, who is really right or wrong? You need to follow your instincts.”
—Frankie Valli, Interview with Variety
A mix of styles, a lot of homage, a unique skill set (Valli could sing in 3 octaves), these ingredients, let’s say, encourage us. Whenever we read more thoroughly into music and musicians we enjoy, the inevitable influences question comes up and, nearly without fail, music creators attribute their styles and success to a very common and accepted form of exquisite borrowing (we defined this term we made up in earlier issues in 2022 and reference it regularly). Borrow, but we’ve gotta make it our own. There’s maybe a science to borrowing and an art to borrowing well while infusing the synthesis with enough self to make it individual. Such is one of our major tasks, a plight, if you will. Valli did it gorgeously. Clear, heartfelt, crisp and meaningful, listen to Valli and dive deeper into influences. We’ll continue to distill this important creative technique, an element shared across music and art and writing. Doo-wop and ardently do you.
Interview with Variety
Soon: Good Contrivance Residency
Applications will open in Mid September and we will select 2 folks (i.e. 2 separate individuals) to receive a residency sponsorship (5 days at Good Contrivance Farm) and travel stipend of $200. Selectees schedule with the farm their preferred dates subject to availability. ~$1100 value. Click to learn more. (Paid subscribers will receive an early-bird submission portal at half price).
Writers Submit: 3 Magazines
The long standing magazine is looking for work by Neuro-divergent Voices for its 14th edition. The magazine is published by Eastern Kentucky University. They are reading all genres. DEADLINE NOVEMBER 30
Big Wing is a brand new magazine looking for work in all genres for its 1st print and digital edition. They’re looking for “work that explores nature and our relationship with it." They pay $25 for each accepted piece. DEADLINE DECEMBER 1
Superpresent is a quarterly online and print magazine. They're reading poetry, short essays, and other genres of writing. The magazine began publishing in 2020 and has published some great work in a short amount of time. DEADLINE DECEMBER 1
Weekly Artist: Jasper Johns
One of the co-creators of what we now know as pop art, Jasper Johns, began his career with the flag painting above, having recently moved to New York after a 3-year stint in college and 2 years in the military. He was born in Georgia in 1930, and grew up in South Carolina where he also attended college. In New York, it’s said just before he became known, he destroyed all of his previously made art and began work on the projects for which he is now well-known: targets, flags, letters, and numbers. Quickly, his work found its way into the collection at MoMA with his first solo exhibition selling out. While he disliked abstract expressionism, he was influenced by the subconscious, yet aimed to merge common objects with fine art, pioneering, before Warhol even, with fellow artist Rauschenberg, the pop-art movement. You can find his work in many of the world’s major art museums including the Whitney, the Louvre, and the Met. Johns coined the term “neo-dada,” which morphed into “proto-pop” and simply pop art later as that became the prevailing term by which we came to know the movement that sought to challenge fine art with images from popular and mass-produced culture. A sculptor and printmaker as well, Johns has produced art for nearly 70 years.
Johns speaking of himself might be an insightful read for fellow artists and thinkers, because he portrays a discrete vulnerability, particularly when examining his identity and how he creates work. Also in how he thinks of himself, thinks of creating art, which involves, to our ears, a type of going inward and visiting the self, then, in a subconscious manner, bringing out essences if not whole cloth ideas, things that are innately true to the person but that my not have appeared that way through direct contemplation. In this way, Johns uses some of the tenets of the surrealists, but he combines the notions with a very steadfast interest in everyday and familiar objects that carry with them a meaning and context that are inescapable; such is the way with pop art images. Sometimes the viewer has had thousands of interactions with elements of the work and all of those instances boil into something new when the artist adds their own tweak or modification.
“To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist. Whatever I do seems artificial and false, to me. The thing is, if you believe in the unconscious - and I do - there's room for all kinds of possibilities that I don't know how you prove one way or another.”
Map, for instance, is both foreign and familiar at the same time. The use of something iconic and known allows for the creation of something illusory over the essential shape of the thing and that causes the viewer to look more closely. We might reword this phenomenon as defamiliarization, the idea of taking what we know and making it slightly weird, or delving into it in a way we’d not thought of before using an uncommon level of analysis or another type of critical or artistic lens. In a recent interview with Time, Johns stated, “All familiar things can open into strange worlds.” We like this. To a degree, we might hold on to a childlike notion of reimagining the familiar, repurposing it, discovering it again. This is good news for creatives who are up against a vast canon, the exposure and re-exposure of experience at breakneck speeds via popular video sharing apps and the ubiquity of TV and movie streaming sites. Writers can bring a unique eye. We can reimagine. We can use the common in service of the novel. For us, that’s an uplifting thought. We just may rise.
An interview with Art Forum.
Interesante: Ray Bradbury Clip
— (3 min watch/8 min study)
“In the instance of getting an idea, I go act it out on paper. I don’t put it away. I don’t delay. I don’t put off to tomorrow doing what I must do right now to find out what my secret self needs, wants, desires with all its heart and then it speaks and I have enough brains to get out of the way and listen.”
Do as much as you can, for in doing, you are in the now and you come to own a little bit of something. That’s a summary of one of the kernels of wisdom from Ray Bradbury gleaned from this vintage video clip from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s archives. We found this salient and informative; and it’s always useful to learn the wisdom of someone speaking clearly and honestly from their reserve of thought and feeling.
Prizes/Awards/Stipends Spring ‘23
William Saroyan International Prize for Writing awards two $5,000 payouts to a book of Fiction & NF. Hosted by Stanford U., newly-published books from 2022/2023 only and authors with 3 or fewer books. $5k Prize. $50 fee. DEADLINE JANUARY 31
Jane Underwood Poetry Prize awards $500 & publication for 1 poem. Hosted by The Writing Salon, and open to all poets. The competition launched in 2016. $500 + Pub., + Reading. $15 fee. DEADLINE DECEMBER 1
Mayday Prizes $500 and other payouts to short work in poetry, short fiction, and nf. Submissions are taken by sister organization New American Press. Runners up prizes awarded. $500, $250, & $100 Prizes. $20 fee. DEADLINE NOVEMBER 15
Bookstore: Guides, Gifts & Classics
Please consider supporting our letter and literature by buying books. It helps us and others! Bookstore via Bookshop.
From Moma, a Jasper Johns Art Book:
Frankenstein. A classic Must Have:
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Writing and Cinema: Paterson
This is a quiet but compelling Jim Jarmusch film that breathes carefully, exhaling and inhaling a type of poetry, literally and metaphysically. The subject of the film drives a bus, writes poetry, never publishes it, experiences the world quietly and in small bits, but beautifully, at least, that’s what we feel watching the precisely rendered mise en scene, listening to bits of conversation our driver-protagonist filches. A poet’s life is vastly different from one to the next, and yet there’s a part of this enigmatic film that would have you believe there’s a core something or other inside each writer, whether they choose to share it, exude it, or live it. A low-key classic, particularly if you’re a writer.
Watch it on Amazon
Poetry at Ephemera:
Good Contrivance Residency…coming soon with an early bird discount for paid subscribers: