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!

Chumming it Up at AWP

In House Guest, we invite Ecotone contributors and Lookout authors, as well as editors from peer presses and magazines, to tell us what they’re working on or considering. Michael Brooks Cryer’s Channels, Frequencies, and Sequences appears in Ecotone 20, the Sound Issue. His book Selected Proverbs, winner of the 2016 Elixir Press Antivenom Poetry Award, was published by Elixir Press in December.

Whenever I walk through the convention-center doors on my first day at AWP—which is usually Saturday, the last day of the conference—I think of what August Kleinzahler says about the Grand Canyon: “Nothing quite prepares you for it. Terror, that’s what it’s about.”  He also says the only reasonable response to the chasm is to back away slowly.

I wasn’t sure I was going to attend AWP in Tampa this year. I don’t think I’m ever sure I’m going to attend AWP. But, alas, I end up there most years to see old friends who are spread out across the country at various colleges and who converge on some unknowing city to add another tote to their collection.

Of course, I don’t want to sound like a total crank—I’ll leave that to professionals like Kleinzahler—so it’s worth saying I like to catch up with friends at these things. And I also decided to attend this year because I had an opportunity to give a reading to promote my book of poems. Elixir Press released Selected Proverbs in December, so it seemed like AWP was as good a place as any to get the word out.

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Seven Questions for Alexis Pauline Gumbs

In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today, we interview Alexis Pauline Gumbs, whose work, Map of Anguilla, BWI. Handed to Alexis Pauline Gumbs by Jeremiah Gumbs. appears in Ecotone 23. She is the granddaughter of Anguillian revolutionaries Jeremiah and Lydia Gumbs, and the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, the coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines, and the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, based in Durham, North Carolina. Her book M Archive: After the End of the World —the second book in a planned experimental triptych—is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following a worldwide cataclysm. It comes out this week from Duke University Press.

If you could spend a year writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would spend the year in Anguilla. There is something about being able to hear the ocean twenty-four hours a day that helps me write from a deeper place. Anguilla specifically is a place where I can hear the guidance of my ancestors more loudly and clearly than anywhere I’ve been because of my own ancestral and family connection to the island. Once I spent a month writing in Anguilla and it was profound. The whole time, I wrote thank-you poems to Black feminist thinkers who have contributed to my life with their work and their living. That wasn’t the plan, and each of those poems was really for an audience of one person, but it is some of the most necessary writing I have ever done.

What books are open on your desk right now?
Interdependence: Biology and Beyond by Kriti Sharma (a brilliant North Carolina writer, scientist, and beloved friend) an issue of “Artists and Influence” (a serial publication by Camille Billops and James Hatch) “Who Set You Flowin’?”: The African American Migration Narrative by Farah Jasmine Griffin…(My beloved teacher and intellectual mother, I read her books on perpetual rotation.) Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief (edited by Cindy Milstien). The Gift is in the Making by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. And The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemison and A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle are on my bed; my partner and I are reading those two aloud.

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Roundup: AWP Hot Panels Edition

Packing for AWP in Tampa 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 whittled out a small selection of events, featuring recent Ecotone contributors. Visit us at Tables 1302 and 1304, where we’ll be getting “Craft”-y…

Remember: leave lots of room in your boes and bags for bookfair acquisitions, apply and reapply sunscreen, and hydrate! See you in Tampa.

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