UNC Student Spotlight

Mackensie Pless

Mackensie Pless photo

Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica

I fell asleep watching
the work of shadow
puppeteers in the window--

palm trees, their necks
slender as those of dancers
pitching with the wind
until fronds visit each other
in brushes of listed kisses

like friends sending guests
to their beds, swaying
in light from hallway.

“an illustrator’s dream”: An Interview with Noa Snir

Noa_Snir_Portrait_Web

Noa Snir was born in Jerusalem, where she graduated with honors from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. She is currently residing in Berlin, where she works as a freelance illustrator. She has worked with magazines worldwide and exhibited her work in Israel, Germany, the US, and Portugal. Noa’s work is frequently inspired, both thematically and visually, by the old world. She is interested in naive and folk art, religious art and art brut – art created by people who did not perceive of themselves as artists. Pieces from her Scheherazade series appeared in The Carolina Quarterly 64.1. You can find more of her work at www.noasnir.com

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Why Scheherazade? What about this story attracted you to it?
I find the 1001 Nights stories to be an illustrator’s dream. The literary piece is so rich and unconventional. Scheherazade is the female protagonist who provides the framework for this incredible mythology and breathes life into the stories, yet we don’t know much about her. In my work I wanted to put the focus on her—a young, clever girl who finds herself in the midst of an impossible situation and uses her wit, humor and charm to keep herself and her younger sister alive, night after night, for years. The book tells us how her nights are spent (entertaining the king using whatever means necessary), but I was interested what her days looked like.

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How to Mine the Past

LESLIE BAZZETT’S novel Abandon was a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and was nominated for a Pushcart Press Editor’s Choice Award. Her short fiction debuted in The New England Review, where it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received Special Mention. Subsequent work has appeared in West Branch and The Carolina Quarterly (both also nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and NER Digital. Most recently, her work again appeared in The New England Review, and was the online fiction selection for that issue. She has just completed a new novel, Taken. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, poet Michael Bazzett, and their two children.

Stories Do Not Come From Pencils

Titles are tricky. I liked this one for its complete lack of sophistication. Because this is a story about the seven-year-old writer I once was, living in a shitty factory town in Massachusetts, armed with a blue pencil I was certain would carry me back to my father.

You see, my mother had left my father, whom I adored – a musician, a great artist – and taken us from Boston to live with her lover in his crumbling town. I don’t know what the factory originally produced. It had since been repurposed to make sleeping bags. On my walk home from school, I would often stop to peer in through the barred windows that were permanently fogged with steam, clouded as the eyes of a lunatic.

That I associate mental or physical impairment with the place is not an accident. It was infamous for inbreeding. I read somewhere that at one point it had the highest rate of dwarfism and genetic mutations of any town in the country. Many of these unfortunates lived in a dilapidated brick house on the same street as my school. Retards, as they were called in those days. Specials. Coming to or from school I would sometimes get caught behind a crossing. A little school bus – not even yellow, that’s how shitty this town was – would be parked, hazards blinking in the road, all the specials jerkily crossing into the street, hooting indecipherable exclamations I always took to be curses or taunts.

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How to Prepare for the End of the World: A User’s Guide to Saying Goodbye

IAN BASSINGTHWAIGHTE is a writer and photographer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he attends the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Common, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Tin House, and more.

I’m terrified of black holes, but fascinated by the mystery of what’s inside them. I love zombies, but that’s not to say I want to meet one. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I like Armageddon, the Bruce Willis movie about the impending impact of an asteroid the size of Texas. My favorite part: when Steve Buscemi, in an ode to Dr. Strangelove, sits on a nuclear warhead and pretends to ride it like a bull. In real life the bomb would’ve failed to detonate, the asteroid would’ve hit Earth, and humanity would’ve been eradicated. The catastrophe, of course, having gone unnoticed in the cosmos. Nothing truly lost; nothing really changed. After all, in the famous words of Carl Sagan, Earth is just a pale blue dot. Worse still, that pale blue dot appears on a huge black canvas full of other dots. Those dots come in several colors, and are innumerable.

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Introducing a New Series: The CQ How-To!

These posts will be alternately serious, whimsical, applicable, fictional– but always engaging. Check back for updates!

How to Find A Literary Agent

LAUREN SPIELLER is a California girl living in Brooklyn. She spends her time writing young
adult novels and short stories for adults. She also works as a freelance editor, specializing in
query and manuscript critiques. Follow her on twitter @laurenspieller

Lauren is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

So you’ve written a book. Well done!

…Now what?

Assuming you’ve already shared your book with critique partners (by which I mean: writers. Not
your mom, not your high school English teacher, not your best friend…OTHER WRITERS),
revised, taken a break from your project, come back fresh, revised again….you’re now ready to
send your book to publishers. Right?

Wrong! You can’t go sending your book willy-nilly to editors, begging them to read your literary
masterpiece. That’s a literary agent’s job. Your job is to find a literary agent to represent you.

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