Chicken Scratch: The Red Hen Press Blog
Poetry in Performance!
We are thrilled to partner up with About Productions as they revive their innovative production of ‘Properties of Silence’ (Feb.28th- March 29) at the The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse.
On March 12th: Nicelle Davis, Amy Uyematsu and Laurel Ann Bogen.
On March 20th: Gail Wronsky and Alicia Partnoy.
Red Hen Press 2014 Award Winners
Red Hen Press is pleased to announce the winners of its 2014 awards series. The Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, the RHP Short Story Award, and the RHP Poetry Award are given each year for, respectively, an unpublished original poetry collection, short story, and individual poem. Red Hen Press also publishes the winner of the To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize, awarded by the A Room of Her Own Foundation to a female author of an unpublished original poetry collection, as well as the Wild Light Poetry Contest for an original poem. All winners receive publication and an honorarium.
Winner of the 2014 Benjamin Saltman Award
Primary Source by Jason Schneiderman
There were over 500 entries for the Benjamin Saltman Award.
Publication is set for Spring 2016.
Winners of the 2014 Red Hen Press Short Story Award
“The Mercy of Others” by Kent Nelson
“The Mercy of Others” was selected from over 300 entries, and will be published in a future of The Los Angeles Review.
Winner of the 2014 Red Hen Press Poetry Award
“In the Bathroom Mirror this Morning” by Jeff Walt
“In the Bathroom Mirror this Morning” was selected from over 650 entries, and will be published in a future issue of The Los Angeles Review.
Winner of the 2014 The Los Angeles Review’s Wild Light Poetry Contest
“kaddish” by Sam Sax
“kaddish” was selected from over 200 entries and will be published in a future issue of The Los Angeles Review.
Vote for Andrea Scarpino for Poet Laureate of Upper Peninsula of Michigan!
#ThrowbackThursday: Gobble, Gobble
We hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with quality family time and tons of food! This week, we’re throwing back to last Thursday with some of our authors sharing what they looked forward to eating on Thanksgiving.
I crave the leftovers of a Thanksgiving meal more than the actual meal. The meal is great, but it’s so much preparation, and you have all those family members negotiating how to be sane around each other–the main meal is work. But Thanksgiving leftovers are all play: I love the moment later that night or the next afternoon, when I pull the mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, and corn from the fridge, and I plop it all into a big bowl—mix it up, add a little cheese, and toss it in the microwave. Then I eat till I’m thankful.
Pecan pie. No contest.
Sweet potatoes/vegetables/turkey breast/and wine. Lots of it.
20th Anniversary Event Photos!
Check out all the great photos from the recent anniversary event on November 16th on our Facebook! We had such a good time, and we’re thankful to everyone who could make it and was able to help support Red Hen!
#FeelGoodFriday is back up and running!
We missed last week’s #FeelGoodFriday because were so busy prepping for our exciting 20th Anniversary event, so we’ve got double the fun this week to make up for it!
Hope you all enjoy the weekend!
Throwback Thursday: Films!
Happy Thursday, Everyone! This week, Red Hen authors are sharing films they loved the most in their youth.
[Franco] Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet
Forbidden Planet/The Day The Earth Stood Still
Rebel Without a Cause, of course.
Well, this is more than embarrassing. They’re all terrible! The People Under the Stairs? What was I thinking? Toy Soldiers? I had such a crush on Sean Astin. My girlfriends and I watched that movie at practically every sleepover. My brother and I also went through a phase where we watched Batman every day after school—I still have the dialogue to many scenes memorized from that film. And of course, Dirty Dancing. I was traveling in France when Jerry Orbach died, and I’m pretty sure I traumatized my partner and his brother acting out entire scenes from that movie as memorial.
That’s a wrap! What were some of your favorite films?
Throwback Thursday: Influential Childhood Books
Happy #tbt, everyone! For this week, we are asking our authors what their favorite childhood book was, or a book that was influential in their decision to become a writer. Read on to get inspired!
The Tom Swift books
I read every volume of fairy tales in the library—the big red book, green book, violet book, etc. They gave me a firm understanding of the dangers of messing with fairy tale laws (digits would be severed!) And a deep love for the magically, tragically gruesome.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It scared me into poetry.
I still have my childhood copy of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which my step-dad first read out loud to me, and then I read obsessively for years afterwards. A made-for-TV-movie version was released when I was in elementary school that I also watched obsessively for years. Now that I’m thinking about it, loving that book probably says way too much about my psyche than should be shared. I’ll bring this up with my therapist.
I still have the book. Its brown cover is lost now, and with it the initial and last name—R. Tatham—of the man who gave it to my grandfather who later gave it to me. The man, who lived next-door to my grandparents, was quiet, compact, dressed in sportcoats and slacks, wore glasses, and married the wrong woman. His name was Richard. Hers was Lois. They had no children. She was brassy and big, loved animals, loved to fish, and she and my grandparents went to bingo together and played cards at least once a week. She would regale them—and us when we visited—with stories about the animal hospital where she worked. When I picture her in my mind, though, she is wearing a plaid flannel shirt, jeans, and rubber wading boots, as she did when she took my brothers and me fishing, which she did many times. We thought she was wonderful. Richard traveled, took night school courses towards a college degree, and eventually, quietly, went away and did not come back. I assume there was a proper divorce, but it was never spoken of. Once, during one of the summer weeks we boys would spend with my grandmother and grandfather, some months or years after Richard had gone, we ran into him while waiting in line at a movie theater one or two towns over. I remember being surprised at how cordial they were to him, and I remember that, awkward as the moment was, he seemed less sad than before. I never saw him again.
The book was a textbook from one of his night classes, an anthology of short stories, and it must have hit me at the right time, because I devoured it. Most of the stories were classics of the genre, though a few have since passed into obscurity. One, however, I can credit with influencing my life to this day: “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad. That story, with its powerful visual images and its adept evocation of ships and the sea, lit two distinct and powerful fires within me and, perhaps more than any other single work, influenced the life I have lived ever since. Captivated from the first paragraph, I wanted to be Conrad. Or I wanted to be Marlow, through whose eyes we see the story unfold, as he sets out on his first voyage to the orient, his first voyage as second mate. And, before I even reached the magnificent last act, with its unforgettable scene of the burning ship silhouetted against the night sky, I knew that I wanted to learn to write like Conrad, to paint pictures with words the way he did. Years went by, of course, and during some of those years I probably didn’t think about Conrad at all, though I thought a great deal about becoming a writer, and in time I studied literature with an intensity and fury that excluded nearly everything else. I studied literature to see how it was made. To see if I could learn to make it. And then, realizing I couldn’t do it by study alone, couldn’t portray a world I hadn’t seen, I set out to become a man who could. I joined the navy, spent nine years in uniform, a fair amount of that time at sea. When my ship dropped anchor in Mombasa, I went ashore with a collection of Conrad stories in my pocket. I read Nostromo while on a two year tour as an exchange officer in Venezuela. Later, a civilian again, I crewed on a sailboat, touring the southern coast of France, Corsica, Italy, the Greek Islands, and the coastal waters of Turkey. I even got the chance to cross the Atlantic on a 38 foot cutter. I traveled around the U.S. as well, rarely passing up an invitation to visit a friend or acquaintance that might offer me a look at someplace I hadn’t seen yet. I took notes on all of it, not writing every day, but keeping at least a desultory record of places and people. Along the way I managed to publish a few small pieces, picked up a teaching degree, and then a steady job, settling down, not unlike Conrad himself, to a more quiet, writerly life.
As I write this, I am surrounded by piles of notebooks and journals, at work on the sea novel I have spent my whole life preparing to write. Can all of that be attributed to a single story read by an impressionable boy at perhaps just the right age? Maybe not all of it. Certainly there have been other powerful influences on my life and my writing. But I can still remember the first time I read that story, the pride of the young Marlow in his first billet as “a really responsible officer,” the ominous mystery of the rats leaving the wooden vessel the night before it sets sail from Falmouth for Bankok, the discovery weeks later that its cargo of wet coal has begun smoldering in the hold, the blazing ship on the night sea, the dawn arrival in a ship’s boat at an exotic Asian port-of-call, and the idea that such sights and feelings were out there in the world to be experienced by those who sought them out, and they might be written down in language that would bring them alive to others.
I don’t know what ever became of Richard. It occurs to me now that I would like to have thanked him.
Enjoy the rest of your day, and look out for tomorrow’s Feel Good Friday!
The first #FeelGoodFriday of November!
We made it through the first week of November. Halloween decorations are coming down and Holiday ones are going up. We couldn’t be more excited. Here are some other things that captured our attention this week!
And our wonderful intern Rachel’s favorite news this week…
Have a good weekend everyone!
We are back for another Throwback Thursday to find out if our authors remember the first thing they ever wrote. Here are their answers!
I wrote a poem in first grade that amazingly (uber-talented child that I was) rhymed “cat” with “hat.” I went home and showed my father and he said, “You are a poet, Mel!” As if I really were. I also wrote a lot of romantic tragedies (protagonists always dying in plane crashes, but holding hands!) That I learned later my elementary school teachers used to bring into the break room at lunch to read. Apparently, it made their work day a lot more fun.
No, it was in elementary school but it had to do with a magnificent city being reclaimed by nature.
I don’t remember the first thing I ever wrote, but my first publication was at age 12. It was an essay titled “I am a square dance orphan” published in the national square dance magazine, Sets in Order. I wish I still had a copy, but memory tells me that it was funny at the expense of my parents, who were recent converts to square dancing. I wasn’t pleased, left at home to watch my younger sister. I was a big fan of Art Buchwald’s irreverent column in the Washington Post at that time, and my essay was – I think – in that style, describing my antics with my sister and our intense dislike of TV dinners.
Ironically, I decided many years later to try square dancing. It was fun, but I just couldn’t handle the petticoats.
I don’t know if it was the first thing I ever wrote, but I still have a poem I spoke to my mother who typed it on her typewriter when I was five or six. I then added illustrations and signed my name in big block letters. The poem is called, “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” and begins,“I skip and hop and I skip and hop and I skip and hop and skip and hop! I love to sing songs today—I like to skip and hop and play!”
I’m still a fan of the dash in poetry—although I like to think that I’m now much more careful with exclamation points.
No, thank goodness.
Also, our authors had more to say about Halloween!
Each year, my family—three daughters and Liz and I—dress up in coordinated costumes. Liz makes the costumes, a month-long ordeal that reaches its marital boiling point twenty minutes before we trek the neighborhood for candy.
One year we were all different colors of the rainbow; a few years back, we were fairies, complete with wings and glitter—I was a very proud Fairy Gary. In 2013 we were chipmunks, but in the insanity of “What does the Fox Say?” we were mistaken as foxes, which we found slightly offensive.
This year, we were a bouquet, each of us picking a flower to add to the arrangement. I went with Gerbera daisy because they’re lovely, and who doesn’t want to feel lovely on Halloween? I’m tickled by the musical joy of the moniker Gary “Gerbera Daisy” Dop.
Imagine you are an anthropologist from another culture visiting my neighborhood during the last days of October, a sharp observer who knows nothing about the religious and cultural institutions of the U.S. You will see houses—and some public buildings—decorated with huge spider webs, sheaves of corn, black cats with their backs arched and ready to spring, glowing jack-o-lanterns, witches, skeletons, and ghosts. What might you conclude about us? That, regardless of what religious beliefs we profess, we are in fact animists? That we worship—or fear—the dead, elderly women, cats, and spiders? That we appear to be a deeply superstitious culture, mired in beliefs that go back to the middle-ages and before, and this must be some kind of harvest festival? And what do you make of Trick-or-Treat? An evening, designated by the town elders, when the less fortunate are allowed to visit the neighborhoods of the more well-to-do and beg for handouts. Watch the adults hang back, and send their costumed children, sacks in hand, to the well-lit doors of the bourgeoisie. See how those who are most pleasing to their benefactors—the cutest, the most inventive, the most entertaining—are rewarded with an extra piece of candy. Tell me this doesn’t reveal more about who we really are than the beliefs we profess in our authorized places of worship or the culture we are taught in our schools.