A Conversation with Elizabeth Mosier Author of EXCAVATING MEMORY: ARCHAEOLOGY AND HOME from New Rivers Press, 96 Pages Interview by Nathaniel Popkin Elizabeth Mosier logged one thousand volunteer hours processing colonial-era artifacts at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park Archeology Laboratory to write EXCAVATING MEMORY: ARCHAEOLOGY AND HOME, which uses archaeology as a framework to explore personal material, including her mother’s memory loss, the layering of shared experience in creating family or community narratives, and the role that artifacts play in historical memory. The essay titled “Believers”, a 2015 Best American Essays Notable pick, first appeared in Cleaver. Novelist and essayist Elizabeth Mosier has twice been named a discipline winner/fellowship finalist by the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, and has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her nonfiction has been selected as notable in Best American Essays, … chop! chop! read more!
Stephan Salisbury has been a cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than three decades. Britt & Jimmy Strike Out, his first novel, is a dystopian, satirical quest story about branding, live streaming, social media, and commercialization of lived experience. Britt and her friend Jimmy set out into a blighted urban landscape to find answers when Britt’s online brand starts to fail, friends start disappearing, and mysterious men show up at her home to intimidate and threaten her for not getting in line with the President’s brand. Ken Kalfus describes it as the “first great novel of the Trump Era.” Stephan Salisbury is also the author of a non-fiction book Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland about the anti-Arab hysteria after 9/11 and its devastating effect on people’s lives.chop! chop! read more!
Ada Limón is the author of several poetry books, including the National Book Award finalist Bright Dead Things, which was named one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by the New York Times. This year Limón released her fifth book, The Carrying, to wide acclaim, including being named a Best Book of Fall 2018 by Buzzfeed. Since the release of The Carrying, Limón has been traveling extensively for poetry events but was able to take some time out for Cleaver to discuss the new book and aspects of craft in her poetry. She lives in Lexington Kentucky.chop! chop! read more!
Nathaniel Popkin, Cleaver Magazine’s fiction reviews editor, published a new novel this year, Everything Is Borrowed (New Door Books). It draws deeply from his love of Philadelphia history and his passion for research, but is also a compelling story about one person’s obsessions and regrets. In addition to the new novel, he’s the editor of a new anthology, Who Will Speak for America, author of the novel Lion and Leopard, and two books of non-fiction, Song of the City and The Possible City. We recently asked Popkin to talk to us about Everything is Borrowed.chop! chop! read more!
A Conversation with Melissa Sarno author of JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS published by Knopf Books for Young Readers Interview by Kathryn Kulpa Melissa Sarno reviews children’s and young adult books for Cleaver and has just published her debut middle-grade novel, Just Under the Clouds (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018). It tells the story of Cora, a middle-school girl trying to find a place to belong. Cora’s father always made her feel safe, but now that he has died, she and her mom and her sister Adare have been moving from place to place, trying to find a stable and secure home they can afford. Cora is also dealing with bullying at school and is sometimes challenged by looking after her sister, who has learning differences. But her life holds some good things, too, like a free-spirited new friend and her father’s tree journal, where he kept notes about the … chop! chop! read more!
Janet Benton’s debut novel, Lilli de Jong, has received praise from critics and readers alike. Kirkus Reviews called the book a “monumental accomplishment.” Both National Public Radio (NPR) and Library Journal recognized it as a Best Book of 2017. Lilli de Jong was also a 2017 Goodreads semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction, sharing space on the list with works by Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Chabon and Jennifer Egan.chop! chop! read more!
“The only thing that matters is the work you do. It’s nice to have a narrative of beshert. It’s useful to have as a model in a long marriage. That kind of can float you through difficult times. Times when you could give in. It is irrelevant to the strengths of your marriage. The only thing that matters is how much you’re willing to prioritize your partner. That is what marriage—all the wonderful ties. Even when you don’t feel like it. The only thing that matters is the work.” —Ayelet Waldmanchop! chop! read more!
If you’re a fan of short fiction, it’s likely you’ve come across Kim Magowan’s witty and layered stories in one of the many venues her work has appeared in. I met Kim a few years ago, and since then she’s become a go-to writer for feedback on my own work. Additionally, Kim’s innovative flash stories, particularly those that experiment with form and structure, have been an invaluable resource in the flash workshops that I teach. Last month, Kim’s collection, Undoing, winner of the Moon City Short Fiction Award, was published by Moon City Press, and next spring her novel, The Light Source, will be published by 7:13 Books. Magowan’s female characters, who often engage in what many might consider taboo behavior, are complex, intelligent, difficult, and compelling women.chop! chop! read more!
In 1974, Peter France visited Russia to do research for a new translation of Boris Pasternak. He was invited to meet Gennady Aygi, a Chuvash poet who, as a student in Moscow, had been friends with the much-older Pasternak. France describes that meeting with Aygi as having altered the trajectory of his life, both professionally and personally. For the next forty years, France would translate Aygi’s work, bringing him to a Western audience, a task that has been criticized by those who argue that Aygi’s poetics do not conform to Russian tradition.chop! chop! read more!
If you love fantasy and science fiction films and television programs, chances are you’re familiar with the work of David J. Peterson, the masterful conlanger, inventor of languages. While best known for inventing the Dothraki and Vayyrian languages for HBO’s massively popular Game of Thrones, the University of California San Diego graduate has created more than forty languages in his film and television career.You can find Peterson’s original languages in such Marvel Studios films as Thor: The Dark World and Doctor Strange, as well as over half-a-dozen television shows, including the critically acclaimed Penny Dreadful.chop! chop! read more!
Ros Schwartz has been a literary translator for 36 years and has been an active participant in the evolution of the profession. She has translated over 70 books from French to English by writers as diverse as Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun and French crime writer Dominique Manotti, as well as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. She has presided as vice-chair of the Translators Association, as chair of the European Council of Literary Translators Association and as chair of English PEN’s Writers in Translation program. Most recently Schwartz translated Translation as Transhumance, which was reviewed by Cleaver.
In this interview, Ros Schwartz discusses the process of translating a book about translation, including her work with Gansel, her theory of translation, and translation as activism.chop! chop! read more!
the first day I met my editor,chop! chop! read more!
I would like people to feel their own strength and resilience. I hope that people can tap into the possibility of facing suffering and pain honestly, not pushing it away or denying its existence or impact or effect. But also, that each and every one of us is strong and gifted with a right to fight back and say NO to malevolence, wherever it comes from. This is a delicate message I’m trying so hard to communicate. The hurt is real, the pain is real, suffering is right here all around us and don’t turn away from it. Your trauma is important and real. So is your power. You may not win or overcome, but just in standing firm you have done an incredibly powerful thing. I think I want them to feel that power of resistance.chop! chop! read more!
Jericho Brown, author of the prize-winning poetry collections Please and The New Testament, visited Bucks County Community College in September to give a reading. This interview was conducted at a picnic table outside the school’s auditorium building prior to the reading.chop! chop! read more!
Benjamin Percy has a fascinating and wide-ranging career as a writer. His short story “Refresh, Refresh” was selected as one of the Best American Short Stories 2006 and was further anthologized as one of only 40 stories included in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. He has written four novels, a book of craft essays on writing, and has contributed works to such publications as Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Journal. In addition, Percy currently writes for DC Comics’ Green Arrow and Teen Titans, and for Dynamite Entertainment’s James Bond. He newest novel, The Dark Net, released in August 2017, explores many of the dangers of our current digital age.chop! chop! read more!
Haunted by her father’s absence and riveted by her single mother’s cautionary tales, Cleaver contributor Andrea Jarrell longed for the “stuff of ordinary families,” even as she was drawn to the drama of her parents’ larger-than-life relationship. In her forthcoming memoir, I’m the One Who Got Away (She Writes Press, September, 2017), Jarrell revisits family stories starring wolves in cowboy clothing and lambs led astray by charming savior-saboteurs, to recount how she escaped a narrative she’d learned by heart.chop! chop! read more!
I was first introduced to Sonya Huber’s writing through her prescient 2010 book, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, about the elusive hunt for affordable care, which I was assigned to review. This writer stayed on my radar, and her newest nonfiction book is a satisfying reward. In Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System (University of Nebraska Press 2017), Huber takes her readers inside for a multifaceted view of her experiences with chronic pain, and how that changes a 30-something woman.chop! chop! read more!
Everyone kept telling me that I was writing and painting in a way that inhabited the same space and when my publisher decided to link these two worlds, at first, I was ambivalent. It was not something I thought possible. I was always working in both realms, often reimagining stories as portraits, and vice versa. I knew I was tapping into the same world, though there was a different sort of energy depending upon my point of entry. No matter how tired I was or how much my head ached, painting always made me feel better. I walked away energized, enthused, even daresay, upbeat. But writing was much more morbid. After writing, I felt drained and would often collapse into bed. It took something from me whereas painting gave me something back. I think by performing both behaviors I achieved stasis.chop! chop! read more!
Claire Rudy Foster’s short story collection I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE made its official debut just this week from KLĒN+SŌBR Interventions. It’s a tight collection with six stories’ worth of addiction, struggle, pain, and grit. Foster’s critically acclaimed short fiction has been nominated for an AWP award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Best of the Web award. Foster will be giving her first public reading from the collection at The Alano Club of Portland this upcoming October 22nd.chop! chop! read more!
I wanted to at least shift my purpose and practice. Since I was living in Japan and studying Asian art, I started by painting images of kimonos, of figures wearing kimonos; I took photos of models in kimonos, wearing geisha or kabuki makeup. These exercises soon seemed appropriated and hollow and I realized I needed to be making objects themselves, that I was no longer interested in the pictorial representations of things. At the same time, I wanted to create things that were abstractions, that is, non-objective. Does that make sense? I wanted to be creating things where the process and materials were more important and evident than their subjective objectness or narratives. I wanted, ultimately, to create something not representing something, but actually being something, as physically as possible.chop! chop! read more!
I had the chance to catch up with fellow Cleaver editor Kathryn Kulpa about her chapbook, Girls on Film. It is just out from Paper Nautilus and was a winner of the press’s Vella Chapbook Contest. An intriguing part of the prize is that the writer receives a hundred copies of the beautifully designed chapbook to distribute as she likes. Kathryn will be selling signed copies through her Etsy shop, BookishGirlGoods, and she’ll also have them available at readings, writing workshops, and other events. Paper Nautilus will also have the book on sale. For more about the Vella Chapbook contest and Paper Nautilus Press, have a look at the press’s website.—M.F.chop! chop! read more!
For many years, my husband, William Sulit, and I have collaborated on projects for corporate America—annual reports, commemorative books, employee magazines. When corporate America changed—when the cultures shifted, the ideals, the relationships—we began to explore a new idea, a company we could create and manage as our own, a company through which we could define the quality of the product and the nature of the conversation. We have called that company Juncture Workshops. Through it we offer memoir retreats, a monthly newsletter, and video essays that showcase the work of memoir masters and offer ideas and prompts.
As with most things, of course, it all sounds easier than it has been. Here we provide a behind-the-scenes look at our memoir-steeped lives, post video production.chop! chop! read more!
NP: You’ve traveled to El Salvador, the subject of Revulsion. Did you know about the author Castellanos Moya?
LK: In 1995 I traveled by land from Austin, Texas (where I lived at the time) to Costa Rica and spent about a week in El Salvador en route south. I visited the beach at La Libertad described in the book and experienced San Salvador but I don’t remember seeing any book other than the one I was somewhat inappropriately reading at the time (Cheever’s big red collection of short stories). I hadn’t read Bernhard at that point. I hadn’t even heard of him. But six years later I became exposed to the Bernhard virus and started reading him like mad, hunting down copies (Vintage hadn’t re-issued new editions yet and the University of Chicago editions weren’t so easy to find, not even in NYC; in Iowa City, circa 2002 or ‘03, I found a first-edition hard cover of Gathering Evidence but not a single other Bernhard book in any of the town’s many bookstores, which, at the time, may have excessively disheartened me about humanity, as though I needed Bernhard to raise my spirits during the first G.W. Bush administration).chop! chop! read more!
Ranen: I love all the epigraphs you begin your new book with but especially the one by Grace Paley, which is such a great way to think about the art of her narrative: “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.” Perhaps it is also a kind of prophecy of the radical forms of becoming that so many female Jewish artists seem to be so passionately exploring in our time in visual art, from Jill Solloway’s Transparent all the way through the seven wonderful figures you explore in How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses. In discovering the complicated ways these women explore the relation between self and ethnicity or collective identity, have you learned something about yourself? Does invention figure in your own life as an academic or otherwise?
Tahneer: Oh, absolutely! I was a creative writing major in college, and for a long time I thought that the only way to pursue my dream of becoming a writer was to write novels. It took some time for me to realize that there’s creativity involved in all different kinds of writing and also that you don’t need to write novels to be a “real” writer.chop! chop! read more!