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:

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

The Minor is Major: Talking about the Creative Writing Minor
(John HoppenthalerSharan StrangeAmber Flora ThomasWayne ThomasErin Murphy)
Creative writing remains a tested avenue to attract and benefit students in a well-designed English department. The minor can preserve CW as an area of study, attract new majors, and, most importantly, act as a springboard for student success in a variety of ways. This panel, with teachers and administrators from an HBC, a state university, and a private university, offers ideas and answers questions about the creation, value, population, assessment, and fine-tuning of a quality CW minor.

D136, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Dear Lit Mag Editors: Now What?
(, Phillip B. Williams, Luther Hughes)

When writers send their work to magazines, they know it will be just one in thousands. What makes one submission stand out from all the others? At this panel, five lit mag editors talk about what they want from a submission—and what they don’t want. They cover the practical as well as the more elusive questions, giving writers a chance to get beyond the guidelines and ask questions of their own. Journals represented include EcotoneEpiphanyIowa ReviewNew England Review, and Poetry.

Portland Ballroom 255, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, March 28, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Come Celebrate With Me: Women of Color Writers and Literary Lineage
(Catina BacoteJane WongYsabel Y. Gonzalez Anastacia -Renee)

Poet Lucille Clifton writes: “come celebrate / with me that everyday / something has tried to kill me / and has failed.” Five women of color trace their literary lineages and celebrate narratives of survival and resilience. Reading their writing and the work of women of color who have shaped their lives, this event draws constellations of inspiration and connection—  across time, genre, and resonant histories. This reading seeks to use language as a space for intervention, activism, and visibility.

B113, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Un-Workshop: Towards an Expansive Critical Response For Writers 
(Carson BekerNancy AuArisa WhiteMiah JeffraPloi Pirapokin)
In “MFA vs POC,” Junot Díaz writes: “When I think on it now what’s most clear to me is how easily ours could have been a dope workshop.” Given that the workshop almost always magnifies negative power structures, how do we get to this dope workshop? What do we do instead? Is there a way to recreate the transcendent moments of workshop without the tears? Five writer/educators share their Un-Workshop methods, what has worked, what hasn’t, what possibilities they’ve glimpsed along the way.

E143-144, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm 

Editing Patriarchy: Women Editors Respond to Historic & Restorative Publishing

In the 106 years since Poetrymagazine’s founding, women editors have followed Harriet Monroe’s trailblazing example, yet women editors at literary magazines and presses remain the exception rather than the norm. Editors consider how inheriting a historical space of masculine privilege both constrains and creates opportunities for women. Through the lens of intersectional feminism, this panel looks at challenges against tradition and culture that women editors and writers face in publishing.

B115, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Friday, March 29

Ahsahta Press 45th Anniversary Reading
(Stephanie StricklandCody-Rose ClevidenceHeidi-Lynn StaplesC. Violet EatonSusan Tichy)
Current Ahsahta Press authors celebrate the 45th year of the press with readings from their new books. Ahsahta started out as a (re-)publisher of historically significant poetry of the West, expanded to contemporary Western poetry, and in 2000 became a publisher of surprising and artful experimental work. A small press with a significant voice, Ahsahta remains committed to making relevant, boundary-pushing work accessible to the average poetry reader.

D135, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

Tell Me a Story: Getting a Debut Collection Published

It’s well known that short story collections can be difficult to publish, yet several avenues exist, as do strategies for making collections stand out. Authors of debut collections discuss the pros and cons of publication through contests, independent publishers, and big five publishers, as well as how to approach each one. The panelists examine ways to make a collection as strong as it can be through, among other things, story selection, sequencing, and themes.

C124, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
10:30 am to 11:35 am

On the Road Again: What Touring Writers Need to Know
(Maggie SmithMarcus WickerAnya BacklundRon Mitchell, Keetje Kuipers)
Three poets known for dynamic performance, a Blue Flower Arts agent, and a university reading series coordinator will share best practices for successful reading tours. Topics include the decision to sign with a speaking agency or remain independent, booking reading tours, publicity and promotion, maximizing social media platforms, community engagement, contracts, taxes, and particular realities such as traveling on a budget, with disability, or away from kids.

B117-119, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

On the 20th Anniversary of Tupelo Press, a Celebration of Native poets
(CMarie FuhrmanDeborah MirandaMichael Wasson LeAnne Howe, Bojan Louis)
This panel features craft talks by poets whose work appears in Tupelo Press’s Native Voices anthology. This book, the first of its kind, embodies the dynamic conversations that take place in Indigenous poetry through writerly craft across generational, geographic, and stylistic divides. By foregrounding craft, we hope to initiate a conversation about Indigenous writing that moves beyond theme and narrative, considering instead the ways that form and technique can be politically charged.

D133-134, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Counter-Desecration Release Party Reading & Remedying 
Contributors to Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene will read entries and other poetic works. Please join us for an afternoon of collective remedying with: Dan Beachy-Quick, Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Susan Briante, Allison Cobb, Alicia Cohen, Allison Hedge Coke, Matthew Cooperman, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Adam Dickinson, Linda Russo (co-editor), John Pluecker, Tyrone Williams, and a reading in memoriam to co-editor Marthe Reed.

Passages Bookshop, 1223 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232
Friday, March 29, 2019
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Creative Self-Care: Balancing Your Own Writing with Support for Your Students
(Allison DeeganKeren TaylorToni JensenAshaki JacksonChristina Lynch)
Many creative writers also teach in a variety of settings as they pursue their own writing goals. Writer-teachers support a broad range of students, from new to vulnerable to highly accomplished. Working in MFA programs, four-year and community colleges, K-12 settings, or in youth or community programs, the panelists show how to retain focus on their own work as they guide the journeys of students who need instruction, mentoring, and sometimes just a safe, supportive creative space to write.

C124, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Saturday, March 30

Poetry Celebrates
(David KirbyPatricia SmithAdrienne SuIra SukrungruangKai Carlson-Wee)
To many, poetry is angst-ridden (which much of it is) or impenetrable (which it shouldn’t be). Yet there has always been a deep strain of celebration in poetry: indeed, more poetry celebrates than it denigrates, castigates, ruminates. The democratic spirit will hover over this panel as each of its members reads a poem (not his or hers) that celebrates. The panelists will talk about their choices, and then audience members will be asked to read their own favorite poems of celebration.

Oregon Ballroom 201-202, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Saturday, March 30, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

Women of Pacific Northwest Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Reading
(Danika DinsmoreE. Lily YuDominica PhetteplaceBrenda Cooper)
For decades, the Pacific Northwest has been a generative ground for speculative fiction, influenced by esteemed writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler. In their wake, younger generations helped drive a cultural revolution where women have begun to dominate the field of speculative fiction, as illustrated by the 2017 Hugo Awards. Listen as a panel of award-winning writers—Brenda Cooper, Danika Dinsmore, Dominica Phetteplace, Wendy Wagner, and E. Lily Yu—read from recent work.

A103-104, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am

From Which We Spring: A Tribute to Los Angeles Iconoclast Poet Wanda Coleman
(Amber TamblynKevin YoungJeffrey McDanielMahogany BrownePatricia Smith)
“A yearning to avenge the raping of the womb /  from which we spring.” Five poets discuss the art, life and legacy of poet Wanda Coleman, known as the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles. Wanda passed away unexpectedly at the age of sixty-seven, but her ferocious and firey voice charged generations of writers. Hear these five influential authors read some of her most provocative and captivating work while discussing the life of one of America’s most potent yet unknown black feminist writers.

Oregon Ballroom 203, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Saturday, March 30, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

21st Century Innovations in Poetic Form
(Jaimee HillsAmanda JohnstonDora MalechKimberly Ann SouthwickJaimie Gusman)
How do contemporary poets reassemble, reinvent and play with form? Following Oulipo, formalism and free-verse, how does the impulse to use structure as a launch point for creativity thrive in contemporary poetics? A panel of practitioners and scholars of innovative forms will focus on how contemporary poets and particularly historically-marginalized voices bend, blend, break and build off traditions of the past, forging hybridized and newly invented forms from the Golden Shovel to the Genesis.

E146, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Writing the Disaster: The Poetics of Extremity
(Matthew CoopermanNicole CooleyAby KaupangMatt RasmussenBrian Turner)
Being in the world means having things happen to you. Life “chafes its puckered index at us” (Hart Crane), opening the mind, corroding the body. Disability, suicide, murder, natural disaster, and personal experience can be traumatic. How writers write out of that extremity––thrive or perish––is moving instruction in survival. This panel of poets have all shown a profound responsivity to conditions of extremity. They share their stories, showing how they survived with, through, and against writing.

E143-144, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

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.

“Though our mission is more geographically specific, we share Lookout’s commitment to finding and nurturing underrepresented voices—voices that might not otherwise be heard,” Reid says, “and like Lookout, through robust marketing and publicity efforts, enter them into the larger literary dialogue. By offering these voices a national platform, we’re able to transform and expand the national perception of the American South in literature and beyond.”

In 2014, Reid led a campaign to prevent the censorship of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and a Hub City Press book: Out Loud, edited by Ed Madden.

Poet Terrance Hayes supporting the Hub City campaign

“We came up with the idea of the t-shirt campaign and a few weeks later we had authors like Ann Patchett, John Green, Junot Diaz, Terrance Hayes, and other huge names making statements and wearing the shirt. The campaign was covered in Publishers Weekly and the Guardian. It was a really amazing moment.”

Reid continues to innovate through her daily work, which includes coordinating Hub City’s literary outreach—workshops, readings, and an annual conference—in addition to overseeing its acquisitions and three book prizes. Recently, she’s “really enjoying finding writers—especially those whose manuscripts may have been overlooked by larger houses—cultivating relationships with agents by making them more familiar with what we do, and then working with the authors to edit and refine their books.”  

Over the years, Hub City has brought home sixteen Independent Publisher “IPPY” awards, including six gold medals, and published a Kirkus Book of the Year in 2015, an NPR Best Book of 2016, and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Prize in 2017. Carolina Writers at Home, a collection of twenty-five North and South Carolina authors writing about the houses they live in, was edited by Reid.

As if she wasn’t busy enough, Reid also moonlights for Lookout. The cover to Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism was designed by Reid, who as a student editor for Ecotone remembers pulling contributor Jill Sission Quinn’s essay “Sign Here If You Exist” from the slush.

“I championed that piece and it not only ended up in the magazine it also won the John Burroughs Award.” She adds, “Reading for Ecotone gave me a really strong eye for finished work that was ready for publication. I liked coming into an organization with a set mission and then combing through submissions to find pieces that were a good fit.”

One of Reid’s proudest moments, she says, was organizing a reading in April 2012 featuring Edith Pearlman and John Rybicki. Working closely with two different authors across different UNCW departments and deciding on logistics, Reid notes, “was an immense undertaking and one I couldn’t have pulled off without an incredible amount of help from Emily. The resulting evening was lovely and only a day or two after my thesis defense! It was a whirlwind but felt like a beautiful capstone for my time at UNCW and with Lookout.”

Former Lookout publishing assistant Kate McMullen also works at Hub City as assistant director, and Lookout founder Emily Smith was the organization’s first writer in residence. Reid remembers, “When I moved to Spartanburg, everyone knew Emily and Lookout Books and coming here felt like a kind of homecoming.”


Thank you to Lookout staffer Lindsay Lake for her contributions to this profile.

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: —and our complete guidelines are here:

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.


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.

Seven Questions for Rachel Z. Arndt

In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today, we interview Rachel Z. Arndt, whose essay “Wind” is forthcoming in Ecotone 25. She received MFAs in nonfiction and poetry from the University of Iowa, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and nonfiction editor of the Iowa Review. Her writing appears in Popular Mechanics, Quartz, Pank, Fast Company, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago. Her essay collection Beyond Measure, comes out this week from Sarabande.

Your book, Beyond Measure, is an exploration of the rituals, routines, metrics, and expectations through which we attempt to quantify and ascribe value to our lives. Do you practice any rituals when it comes to your writing, and if so, what can you share with us about them? 

I’m militant about the pens I write with: Uni-ball Vision Exact micro (in black). The problem is these pens were discontinued years ago, which I started to realize—and deny—the last year I lived in New York. Toward the tail end of that year, after I decided to move halfway across the country for grad school, I checked my Ziploc-bagged stash, saw I was running low, and went online. I scoured office supply stores, specialty writing utensil stores, and school supply stores. No dice. So I went to eBay and ordered maybe thirty of them. As long as they got me through school, I told myself, I’d be fine. They did.

I’m also pretty militant about my notebooks: blank 5-inch by 8.25-inch Moleskines. Lines distract me. Plus, I pride myself on being able to write in straight lines, a skill I’ve been perfecting since middle school math class. If the writing’s no good, at least it looks good.

These are, I realize, coping mechanisms for dealing with writers’ block and crankiness and off days when everything comes out clunky and abstract. They are coping mechanisms, that is, for the loss of control that’s inherently part of writing—a loss that’s strange, given nonfiction’s adherence to hard and fast facts, but a loss that makes sense when you think of writing less as translating the world to text and more as translating one’s experience of the world to text.

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You’re Invited to the Spring Ecotone Frolic!

If you’re in southeastern North Carolina, join us in Wilmington this Friday night, April 6, to celebrate the launch of Ecotone 24, the Craft Issue.

Featuring Emily Larned of ILSSA and the Making Time project, and:

—A mending station, with quilter and copyeditor Laura Poole, and the Ecotone team. Sew on a missing button! Or sew on a fancy extra button!

—Square dance featuring music from Stray Local and caller/Ecotone editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell.

—Cake, of several kinds!

Festivities begin at 7:30, dance at 8:30.

Burnt Mill Creek, 2010 Market Street, Wilmington, NC

Free and open to the public. All are welcome! Suggested donation of $5, or $10 with a copy of the Craft Issue.

For more details or questions, visit our Facebook Invitation. Hope to see you Friday!