Seven (+1) Questions for Cameron Dezen Hammon

Today in Seven Questions, we talk to Cameron Dezen Hammon, whose debut memoir This Is My Body: A Memoir of Romantic and Religious Obsession was recently released by Lookout Books. Kirkus calls it “a generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom,” and the Millions adds, “Hammon explores motherhood, her relationship with her husband, her infidelity, and her growing sense of her own feminism. Her strikingly contemporary reflections about her treatment in conservative churches . . . make her story a salient one for this particular moment, in the wake of the #MeToo Movement.” 

Hammon’s writing appears in The Kiss anthology from W. W. Norton, Catapult, Ecotone, the Houston Chronicle, the Literary Review, NYLON, and elsewhere; and her essay “Infirmary Music” was noted in The Best American Essays 2017. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University and is currently a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools in Houston.

Why was it important to publish this book now? How do you hope This Is My Body will enrich the conversation, especially around #metoo and #churchtoo?

I think women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment in a church context are hungry for stories that speak directly to their experience. There’s something particularly egregious about someone using spiritual authority to harm, and we need to talk about this.

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The Future of Publishing: Nicola DeRobertis-Theye

In our newest series, The Future of Publishing, we’re reintroducing alumni of UNCW’s publishing program, including former Ecotone and Lookout staffers, who have gone on to careers in the industry. We continue our series with a profile of W.W. Norton’s Nicola DeRobertis-Theye.



Fiction editor of Ecotone while in the MFA program at UNCW, Nicola DeRobertis-Theye currently serves as the subsidiary rights manager for W.W. Norton and formerly worked as a foreign rights agent for Trident Media Group.

“On the foreign side, which is most of what I handle at Norton, we’re trying to place the translation rights to our books with foreign publishers,” she says. “It is a match-making process, knowing editors’ and houses’ tastes, and who can do well with what kind of book.”

“I’ve had really gleeful meetings at the book fairs in Frankfurt and London, where you get to celebrate in person this thing that has crossed borders and found readers,” she says. “It’s a similar process with the other rights, but knowing the book, knowing the ecosystem, that’s what it comes down to, and I do find that it takes both imagination and knowledge.”

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The Future of Publishing: Meg Reid of Hub City Press

In our newest series, The Future of Publishing, we’re excited to reintroduce alumni of UNCW’s publishing program, including former Ecotone and Lookout staffers, who have gone on to careers in the industry. To help celebrate the launch of Lookout’s redesigned website, we begin with a profile of Hub City’s Meg Reid.


Reid designed the cover to Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism

Lookout Books is more than a haven for books that matter; it’s a teaching press under the auspices of the Publishing Laboratory at UNCW, making it also a haven for apprentice editors and publishers. The imprint and its sister magazine, Ecotone, offer students hands-on opportunities to gain experience in editing, marketing, publicity, design, and everything in between. Meg Reid, Director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was among the first class of students to support the work of the newly founded imprint.

The Lookout publishing practicum, taught by publisher Emily Smith, “completely prepared her for working for a small press,” Reid says, “which involves balancing a lot of plates and wearing a lot of hats.” While working for the press, she drafted grants, planned author readings and book tours, and wrote design briefs for artists.

“I always liked that we were called on to talk about the books in public often. I learned how to summarize a book, while communicating its important themes and resonances—a skill I use often now, pitching reps and booksellers,” Reid notes.

As part of her graduate work in writing and publishing, Reid enrolled in the Lookout practicum class multiple semesters and helped publish three titles: Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, Steve Almond’s God Bless America, and John Rybicki’s When All the World Is Old. She found it exhilarating to help build the imprint. “Edith’s book was a strike of lightning—we were brand new and suddenly in a national spotlight. I still regularly gift people Binocular Vision—to my mind, it’s the gold standard of short story collections.”

As director of Hub City Press, where she has worked since 2013, Reid now publishes between five to seven books a year in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She oversees the publishing program and helps realize Hub City’s mission to find and advocate for extraordinary voices from the American south.

“I always liked that we were called on to talk about the books in public often. I learned how to summarize a book, while communicating its important themes and resonances—a skill I use often now, pitching reps and booksellers,” Reid notes.

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Roundup: AWP Hot Panels Edition

Packing for AWP in Portland next week and inundated by invitations to panels and parties? So are we! But we’re excited, too: AWP is always a big Ecotone–Lookout Books family reunion, and we can’t wait to see you. We’ve gathered below a selection of events featuring recent Ecotone contributors, each of whom is sure to give a brilliant reading or panel.

Join us Saturday from 6–7:30 pm in the print studio at Pacific Northwest College of the Arts, for the launch of Ecotone‘s Jason Bradford–Shirley Niedermann Broadside Series, featuring readings by Cortney Lamar Charleston and Molly Tenenbaum, and the chance to try out letterpress printing! Come out and wind down (or wind up for the last night of the conference!) for poems, light refreshments, and door prizes galore, including broadsides and copies of our issues. Details here: facebook.com/events/310891649624280/

We hope you’ll also make time to visit us at Tables T4055 and T4057, where we’ll be giving out pencils embossed on site with lines from Ecotone and Trespass contributors!

Remember: leave lots of room in your bags for litmag acquisitions, bring your loveliest literary-chic scarves, and hydrate! See you in Portland.

Thursday, March 28

We’re Here and We’re Queer: LGBTQ Women Tell Their Stories
(Imogen BinnieChelsey JohnsonNicole Dennis-BennSJ SinduPatricia Smith)
Queer people—and queer women especially—have long been marginalized in literature. What are the stories being told about queer women? And who is doing the telling? Four authors with very different backgrounds discuss their books and characters, the stereotypes they fight against, and the truths and lives they reveal. What are the various identities queer women navigate in real life and on the page? What untold stories remain hidden?

D139-140, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
9:00 am to 10:15 am

Poets Claim American History
(Dolores HaydenMarilyn NelsonFrank X WalkerMartha CollinsMartín Espada)
In recent years, many poets have turned to history as the inspiration for book-length projects. How does the poet’s craft encompass the historian’s? Panelists explore strategies for choosing a resonant subject and interpreting another era using documents, maps, landscapes, and photographs. Do historical characters and events broaden the audience for poetry? Are there different readers for poetry, historical fiction, documentary films, and narrative history or do they overlap?

Portland Ballroom 252, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, March 28, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

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Launch party and broadside printing demo at AWP!

Here’s something we’ve been scheming about for a while: in honor of Ecotone poetry editor Jason Bradford, and his mother, Shirley Niedermann, we’re printing a series of broadsides of work from the magazine. Rory Sparks, who designed and printed our Craft Issue cover and those sweet bookmarks that came with the issue, is the printer for the first two broadsides in the series, which will feature Cortney Lamar Charleston’s “Doppelgangbanger” and Molly Tenenbaum’s “This Poem Contains No Natural Fibers.”

We’re having a party to celebrate these as well as Ecotone‘s latest issue and the new anthology from Lookout Books, Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism! Join us on Saturday, March 30, from 6:00–7:30, at the PNCA Print Studio.

Cortney and Molly will read, and Rory will host a letterpress printing demo for anyone who wants to try out printing the last run on a broadside.

Door prizes will include broadsides and copies of our publications. Light refreshments will be served.

Find us at the Print Studio, Pacific Northwest College of the Arts, 511 NW Broadway, Room 257 (second floor). It’s a six-minute drive or a 10-minute MAX ride from the Oregon Convention Center.

Come celebrate with Ecotone and Lookout staff and authors!

Fourteen lines for fourteen years

A card with instructions for writing sonnets, from A Pocket Book of Forms, on a table next to an ink pen

For Ecotone’s fall 2019 Love Issue, on our fourteenth anniversary, we’re looking for fine poems in fourteen-line forms: sonnets of all kinds, rondels prime (aka rondels supreme), and brefs double. We’ll be open to poetry submissions all day on Valentine’s Day, on which date we will consider poems in these fourteen-line forms only.

We’d like to see meter well used—which is to say, legible and smart and messed with, sometimes—and not just iambs, for we see a paucity of trochees and triple meters and accentual work around here. The full call for work for the Love Issue is here: ecotonemagazine.org/submissions/upcoming-issues/ —and our complete guidelines are here: ecotonemagazine.org/submissions/

Please send us your best of these, and help us spread the word!

Rondel prime (or supreme)

The rondel prime is a plain old rondel (though what rondel is plain old?) with an added final line. It goes like this—

ABba abAB abbaAB

—where initial-capped letters are refrain lines and lower-case letters are rhymes. Most meters work well for a rondel, we reckon.

Bref double

The bref double consists of three quatrains and a final couplet, much like a Shakespearean sonnet. There are three rhymes, noted a, b, and c. The a and b rhymes each appear twice in each of the first three stanzas—not necessarily, per Lewis Turco’s A Book of Forms, at the end of a line—and once each in the final couplet. The last line of each quatrain ends with a c rhyme. Lines should be of (roughly) equal length, but there’s no set meter for the bref double.

Sonnet

The card shown above gives the basics for Petrarchan—often abba abba cdecde—and Shakespearean—abab cdcd efef gg—sonnets. There are so many resources for sonnet-writing that we won’t say more here, except that two sonnets we’ve loved recently are this one, from Anna Maria Hong, and this one, from Cortney Lamar Charleston; we are interested in terza rima sonnets, Sicilian sonnets, etc., along with the more usual varieties; and we’d love to read sonnets in any meter. Also, we sure would like to see a crown or two.

A note

As always, we read submitted work with all upcoming issues in mind—so if you submit work with this theme issue in mind, if we love it but can’t fit it in Love, we’ll be in touch about publishing it in another of our upcoming issues.

Quatorzains forever!

Honey from the Lion: A Companion Soundscape

As the holidays approach, so does the time to curl up with beautiful and necessary books like Honey from the Lion, Matthew Neil Null’s debut novel from Lookout Books. The book, about a rebellion at a logging company in the West Virginia Alleghenies, is both lyrical and suspenseful, an elegy to the ecological devastation and human tragedy behind the Gilded Age.

Our solstice gift to you is an annotated soundscape for the book, expertly produced by folklorist, writer, media producer, and Ecotone contributor Emily Hilliard. Listen to the sounds of crows, trains, and fiddles and imagine yourself right into the world of Honey from the Lion.

0:00 Environmental sounds: Crows, great blue herons, steam trains, crosscut saw, axes.

An overture to situate us in place aurally.

1:22 “On Johnny Mitchell’s Train” by Jerry Byrne, recorded by George Gershon Korson at Buck Run, Pennsylvania, 1946. Song from the 1902 Anthracite miner strike. Via the Library of Congress.

The 1902 strike by the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania was supported by nearly 80 percent of miners in the area, and it would have been fresh in the minds of the timber companies and loggers represented in Honey from the Lion. The character Judge Randolph is said to have studied the strike, fearing the power of unions: “There’s always a copperhead in the woodpile.”

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After the Storms

Water flowing out of the Cape Fear River on Sept. 17, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. This photo was taken from a North Carolina National Guard helicopter, as part of a daily search for people in distress. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

Hurricane season for the Atlantic officially ended on Friday, November 30th, but the effects of Hurricanes Florence and Michael—and Matthew in 2016—on Wilmington and nearby communities are still ongoing.

Over the weekend of September 14, Hurricane Florence dumped nearly three feet of rain on our town. Our home institution, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, was closed for a month, the longest it has ever been closed for a weather event.

We were lucky: the extent of the damage for Ecotone and Lookout’s offices was a few leaky ceiling tiles, and many lost hours of reading, editing, and production. We’re grateful to the subscribers and submitters and contributors who supported us during that time, and who have been so patient as we’ve gotten back on our feet. We’re thrilled about the release of Trespass, the new Lookout Books anthology of essays from Ecotone, this month—and thrilled, too, about publishing our newest issue, the Body Issue.

So many in North Carolina and elsewhere suffered far more serious losses—of homes and livelihoods, of access to safe drinking water and mold-free living spaces. Thirty-seven people in North Carolina lost their lives to Florence. Rivers flooded to record-setting heights, and as the waters, polluted with hog waste and coal ash, receded, they left dead fish along I-40, millions of dollars of damage in their wake, and uncertainties about the health of the river and surrounding ecosystems.

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Join Ecotone Contributors at Split This Rock Poetry Festival this weekend!

Ecotone heads to DC this weekend for the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival! Check out our contributors presenting and reading! Will we see you there? Find us at the Social Change Book Fair on Saturday.

Thursday, April 19

Ghost Fishing Book Launch (Reading & Discussion)
Presenters: Melissa A. Tuckey and readers Hayes Davis, Camille T. Dungy, Everett Hoagland, Tiffany Higgins, Elizabeth Jacobson, Nancy K. Pearson, Gretchen Primack, Katy Richey, Purvi Shah, Danez Smith, Javier Zamora
1:30 – 3 p.m. | National Housing Center Auditorium

Many good things come out of Split This Rock Festival interactions and panel discussions—we’re proud to celebrate the birth of one! Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology was conceived as a result of a panel Split This Rock Co-Founder Melissa Tuckey hosted on June Jordan and environmental justice poetry back in 2012. Many, many months later, this groundbreaking book is at last in print! Pushing back against colonizing ideas of nature as unpeopled wilderness, Ghost Fishing presents a rich terrain of culturally diverse perspectives on issues of environmental crisis and resistance. Grounded in social justice and the belief that all beings have the right to a healthy, safe environment and home, this culturally diverse collection engages with many of the most pressing issues of our time, while also offering hope around our shared future. Come celebrate this necessary and inspiring book and help us think about how to get it out in communities. Bring a copy and get it signed by poets and the editor!

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Behind the Scenes: “What We Fed to the Manticore”

At Ecotone, we carefully consider interior layout, text treatment, and design because we want the held object to be a pleasing vehicle for the written content. The Ecotone design team works to create an individualized design for each opening page of fiction and nonfiction. They are charged with creating a visual feel, considering images and type, to accompany and amplify the impact of the piece. In this blog department, staff designers highlight past Ecotone spread designs that inspire them, and discuss design principles they incorporate in their work.

Ecotone staffer Alexis Olson considers Talia Lakshmi Kolluri’s “What We Fed to the Manticore” spread from Issue 21, designed by Morgan Davis.

The blend of hand-lettering and photography really draws me to this design. “What We Fed to the Manticore” is grounded in place, much like the spread is grounded by the mangrove roots. I love how the shape of the letterforms mimic the flow of water or silt while acknowledging the playfulness of the story’s animal first-person point of view. The mangrove roots were designed by taking the original image via Flickr and using the magnetic lasso in Photoshop to eliminate the background. This isolates the creeping roots of the tree while leaving plenty of white space for the text to live in. The image, title, attribution, and text work together to communicate a fantastical tone, perfectly complementing the story.