It’s November here in Morgantown, West Virginia, and the trees are letting us know it. All manner of rusts and yellows, browns and golds have cascaded into two-foot deep waves of fallen leaves across the grounds of Connotation Press. A relatively short fall season, it seems, as a somewhat brutal cold snap combined with a few days of high winds and rain managed to loosen the leaves from their 50, 60, 70 foot high roosts on the trees that surround us.
However, strangely enough, we here at the main office don’t morn their topple from the treetops as one might expect. Rather, we embrace their passing and celebrate the time we had with them. We pile them high and run right through. Then we gather them up and pile them high again. Their turn at the burn pile will come soon enough, but for now, while we still have them, we are grateful.
And with Halloween just barely behind us, and Thanksgiving coming soon, it is time to break down the November issue. And away we go!
We are fortunate at Connotation Press for more reasons than I have time to express here and now. A little luck and a heck of a lot of hard work has paid off well for us. We get opportunities that rarely come to most online magazines. One such opportunity is once a year we publish an homage, if you will, to one of the outstanding artists of our lifetime. These artists have dedicated their lives to the creation and instruction of the arts. In many cases they’ve spent 50, 60, 70 years of their lives in this pursuit. We call them Emeritus Artists and joining our first Emeritus Artist, Gerald Locklin, this month we have Zen poet and master translator Lucien Stryk.
At a spry 85 years old, Lucien has given us a new poem titled “Issa’s Hamlet”. How much better could it possibly get? Lucien’s son, Poet and Connotation Press contributor Dan Stryk, has compiled a loving tribute to his dad and for this we are thrilled. Included in the feature is an introduction by Dan, a “conversation” between he and Lucien, some revisited poems, the aforementioned new poem, pictures, and two full albums worth of poems written and/or translated and read by Lucien. We are honored to be given this gift and extend our most heartfelt thanks to both Lucien and Dan. Enjoy!
A Poetry Congeries with John Hoppenthaler this month features great new poems and an interview with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, along with new poems by Peter Cooley, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ron Smith, Tim Suermondt, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Julie Kane, Josh Kalscheur, Terri Witek, Valerie Nieman, and Kirk Nesset. We know you’ll enjoy this rather eclectic collection of some of the most interesting contemporary poets around.
From Plate to Palate with Amanda McGuire deviates from her normal blog post this month, as she did last year with Top Chef winner Stephanie Izzard, to focus on another Top Chef contestant: Chef Valerie Bolon. Included in this month’s post is an introductory preface by Amanda, an interview with Chef Valerie, and a disturbingly good recipe for Chef Valerie’s “Creamy Onion Soup with Caramelized Apples, Bacon and Pretzel Croutons”. So good! This is a recipe even I can make. Woohoo!
Drama editor Joshua Fardon brings writer, producer, director, and actor Renato Biribin Jr. to the Drama column this month, with yet another in his series of top-shelf playwrights. Where else are you going to find an interview with a cutting edge, successful contemporary playwright along with their most recent off-the-hook play? That’s right kids, nowhere but right here at Connotation Press. Sweet! Much thanks to Renato & Josh.
Travel editor Nicholas Baker once again gives us reason to daydream this month with his column, Budapest Discovered. From Budapest to Istanbul to Stockholm to Cairo to Dubai to York to Phuket to Bangkok to Scotland, Nick travels the world doing the footwork and charting all the hot spots to make our travels easier. Now, if we could only figure out some way to afford to travel. HA! Until then, please enjoy “Paris on a Budget”: Budapest, Hungary. We sure did! And just between you and me, in the coming months Nick will be taking us to Rio de Janiero, Iguassu Falls, and Amaceo de Buzios on his travels to Brazil. ¡Fantástico!
Writer, producer, director Robin Russin joins our Screenplay column this month with his play, “Colter’s Hell,” based on the true story of the first mountain man. Robin has had a successful career, which has included the box office hit, “On Deadly Ground”, and has worked for “America’s Most Wanted”, and “Vital Signs”. Currently he is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts programs at the University of California, Riverside. And in January, Robin will be joining our staff here at Connotation Press with his own movie review column, tentatively titled “You Gotta See This Movie”. We can’t wait!
Contributor Michael Klein’s new book, “then, we were still living” is the subject of our Book Review column for November. Written by Associate Poetry editor Monica Mankin, the book review, like the book itself, is a must-read this month. And Vincent Eaton joins our Creative Nonfiction column this first post of the month, as does Fiction writer, Michael C. Keith. We encourage you to come back on the 15th when Creative Nonfiction editor Robert Clark Young, Fiction editor Natalie Seabolt Dobson (finishing the last of her duties with grace and love), and Poetry Editor Kaite Hillenbrand bring you a grip of new artists for our mid-month post.
Finally, for one of the first times in our 14 month history, we do not have a new Featured Undergrad for our monthly column. The way the column works is simple, a creative writing teacher nominates his or her outstanding student for our special feature column, and then we publish the student. It is absolutely as simple as that. There is no vetting process whatsoever. We here at Connotation Press know good teachers when we meet them, and we trust those that nominate their students explicitly. Past teachers that have nominated their students include, Dorianne Laux, Alison Joseph, Martin Cockroft, Cynthia Cruz, Emily Mitchell, Maureen Seaton, and Katie Fallon. TEACHERS, please join this outstanding lineup and nominate your undergrad student today! When you see how thrilled they are for this opportunity, I promise you will be glad you did.
Well, that’s about it for the November 1st issue. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did compiling it for your pleasure. And as always, it is 100% free of charge.
This week we’ll probably get out the blower and pile up the leaves one last time before the winter comes. It’s time to ready ourselves for the coming season. Last year in one six-week stretch we managed to get 78 inches of snow, and to be honest it worries us a bit, but for now we’re happy just to pour a hot cup of coffee, grab a laptop, and curl up on the front porch reading Connotation Press: An Online Artifact.
Connotation Press: All The Leaves Are Brown, And The Sky Is Gray
This issue of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact is dedicated to American narrative and documentary filmmaker, George Hickenlooper. As I am about to embark on a career directing “making of” documentaries for feature films, I have had the distinct pleasure of studying Mr. Hickenlooper’s work. What a treat! From Hearts of Darkness to Picture This: The times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas, to Ghost Brigade, Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade, The Man from Elysian Fields, to his first film for producer Roger Corman: Art, Acting, and the Suicide Chair: Dennis Hopper, Mr. Hickenlooper’s work stands out as an inspiration to me personally and to anyone interesting in documenting the work of outstanding actors, directors, and film. Mr. Hickenlooper was only 47 years old when he died, a tragedy by all accounts, and he will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace.