It’s finals season, so I’ve been nutty for the past week: papers were rolling in, grade sheets were being updated hourly, and the flurry of emails from panicked and pleading students reached fever pitch. Today, I’m happy to pause and take a breath: the papers are read, the grades are filed, and my gradebook is turned into the Registrar. (Yes, MCC asks that adjuncts turn gradebooks into the Registrar—I suppose that’s to save time for grade questions or disputes in cases where the adjunct skips town, goes on vacation, gets a job that provides health insurance and sick leave, or takes a post teaching ESL in China—or all the above.)
In other final-related news, I’ve been informed that my short story collection The Necessaries is still in the running for the Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman hosted by Carolina Wren Press. I believe it need not be said that this is an enormous hug from the universe. That collection has received flattering rejections from a handful of contests, and a very kindly rejection from a local publisher as well, so it’s nice to know that it caught someone’s eye and stuck. I know the competition is fierce and beautiful for this particular award, so I can truly say it’s an honor to have made it this far, to be in such exalted company. I would like to see that book take on life in the world, so it can stop dwelling so largely in my mind and go dwell in the mind of readers.
If you’re not familiar with Carolina Wren Press, one of those brilliant but small independent presses bringing exquisite literary words into the world, let me direct you first to two books of poetry by other Cornell alum and fabulously talented women: Punish Honey by Karen Leona Anderson and Binary Stars by Dana Koster, this year’s poetry release. But really, you can’t go wrong if you browse anywhere among this booklist, including the previous Bakwin Award winner, Hola and Goodbye by Donna Miscolta.
Incidentally, if you read the reviews for Hola and Goodbye, let me just say that Lysley Tenorio was teaching at UW-Madison when I took a fiction writing night class there as a special student, taking a break from being a management consultant in my daily life, and he said to me, “You really ought to consider an MFA program.” I have followed his career with great interest ever since. And Luis Urrea is headlining the David R. Collins Writing Conference coming up in the Quad Cities June 22-24. Proof again that the literary world is small, but full of bite. I am still wandering through it like a starry-eyed pilgrim, wondering how I ventured into this marvelous magical place, and hoping I will be lucky enough that they let me stay.