Peauxdunque is proud to boast two Pushcart Prize nominees among its members this year! Founding Peauxdunquian Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been nominated by The Knicknackery, which published his story, “Heathen,” in its Issue Two. And Caroline Goetze, the newest denizen of Peauxdunque, has been nominated by Quaint Magazine for her story, “The Night Baker,” published in that magazine’s inaugural issue.
Congratulations, Maurice and Caroline!
On Thursday this week, November 20, the annual Words & Music Conference kicks off at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, featuring a number of award-winning writers, as well as a strong cast of editors and agents. Also, at the 3:45 session on Thursday, several Peauxdunque writers have been selected to join in a reading of new works.
Amy Conner, author of the new novel, The Right Thing, will be mistress of ceremonies for the event. Among those invited to read are Maurice Carlos Ruffin, winner of the Faulkner Society’s 2014 gold medal for Novel-in-Progress for All of the Lights, Kay Sloan, the 2014 winner of the Novella gold medal for Give Me You, and the winner of the Short Story gold medal, N. West Moss, for Omeer’s Mangoes, who was also a runner-up in the Novel-in-Progress category, who will be reading excerpts from their winning work. Others invited to read are Terri Stoor, a previous short story gold medal winner, and Andy Young, a previous gold medal winner for poetry, who has a spectacular new collection out, All Day It Is Morning. Competition finalists Tad Bartlett, J. Ed Marston, and Emily Choate, will also be reading, along with Mary Helen Lagasse, prizewinning author of The Fifth Sun, who will read from her new book, Navel of the Moon, scheduled for 2015 release. Event is included in writers and sponsors packages. There will be a cash bar.
In publication news from Peauxdunque, we’re happy to announce that Maurice Carlos Ruffin‘s story, “The Boy Who Would Be Oloye,” has been accepted for publication by Massachusetts Review; and that AGNI Online has accepted for publication Cassie Pruyn‘s poems, “Love Lost Lounge” and “Maine Morning, Age 5.”
“The Boy Who Would Be Oloye” was recently named a finalist in the short story category of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom writing competition (Maurice was named the winner of the novel-in-progress category of that competition and the first runner-up in the essay category). “Love Lost Lounge” was a finalist in the poetry category of that competition this year.
And now for Tad Bartlett‘s stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour’s four questions:
What am I working on right now?
I’m working on a linked collection of novella and stories tentatively called Joe Stories. What Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is to the movie and to Texas, Joe Stories aims to be to the novel and to Alabama. Joe Stories chronicles the maturation of Joe Alsobrook, from an 11-year-old malcontent fantasizing about escape above and out of his small, racially troubled Alabama town in the story “Tree Houses,” through a 25-year-old young man, not long married, calming into a love that overcomes a turbulent past. Each of the short stories picks up events as Joe grows up, snapshots in time and relationships. The short stories use Joe as the POV character, whether in first person, faux second person, or close third, while the novella (Marchers’ Season) tells the turning point event in Joe’s life–a series of protests during his senior year of high school–through the close third-person POV of Gray Alsobrook, Joe’s dad. I’ve been working on some of the stories in the collection since 2006, and hope to finish the novella and the collection by the end of 2014. (And I damn well better, because it’s my MFA thesis, as well, which I’m due to turn in by the beginning of January 2015).
How does the work differ from others in its genre?
Hard to say, because it definitely comes from a tradition, though maybe it differs in that it comes out of several traditions. I try to honor the lyricism and controlled abandon of the Beats, while paying close attention to the societal and intergenerational debt themes of the work of folks like Lewis Nordan and Barry Hannah and the other “grit lit” writers. At the same time, I hope the stories’ calling up of place is reminiscent of Tom Franklin’s work, among others. But really, how it’s different or distinguishes itself is a judgment to be made by readers, not me. I can only write what I write.
Why do I write what I do?
Because these are the rhythms and pictures that come to me. Because I hope through translating those rhythms and pictures into words, maybe I can understand myself better and how I fit in with the people around me, and maybe the same can happen for others who come in contact with the work. Also, because it’s fun.
How does your writing process work?
I think about a piece for a long time, trying to figure out how an initial picture can evolve and justify a full story, who a character in that picture is, where they come from, where they might get to in the story, what unique element or difficulty can pop up in the story. I do that figuring and thinking for many weeks, usually, between the pop of the initial idea and the sitting down to write it, walking around with it in my head, folding into it things I walk past on the street or articles I read or snippets of conversation I hear. But then I steal time from wherever and whatever I can, from job or from sleep, and capture it as quickly as possible, in a couple days at most. Then I let a couple very trusted and reliable readers tear at the draft. Then I straighten things up for a week or so. Then I let it sit. Then I revise it and wonder about completeness. Sometimes that’s it. Sometimes I revisit and revise and tear up and rewrite over the course of multiple years, with new pictures and stories working in the meantime that may or may not influence how I think about the pieces that are still in process.
The final results in all categories of the 2014 William Faulkner-William Wisdom writing competition (run in conjunction with the excellent Words and Music writers’ conference) have been announced, and Peauxdunque is proud to be the home of a new gold medalist: Maurice Carlos Ruffin has won the gold medal in the novel-in-progress category for his work, All of the Lights! (Peauxdunque’s previous gold medalists areTerri Shrum Stoor in the short story category in 2011, and Emilie Staat in the essay category in 2012). Of All of the Lights, category final judge M.O. Walsh observed:
All of the Lights is more than a novel in progress. It is an absolute gift. The story of a black lawyer in an all-white firm, battling personal demons and marital challenges, racism and the complications of ambition, this is a novel with every level of conflict you could ask for: internal, external, familial, racial, social, immediate, and looming. Yet, in spite of this, All of the Lights also manages to be quickly paced and funny. It feels heartfelt and true because the author is the real deal and his characters—BL, Penny, and Nigel—are the benefactors of his skill. So, of course, are we. This is a novel to fly through once for pleasure and then return to savor the little things you may have missed; all the gems scattered about in the author’s clear prose and insight. Ruffin seems to know what makes us human, what makes us interesting, and a book like All of the Lights, the promise of it, is the reason I read. I’ll be shocked if we don’t see this one on bookshelves soon.
Competition coordinator Rosemary James added that, in the novel-in-progress category, “All preliminary round judges selected one entry as the standout, as their first choice. … [A]ll of them sent back words to the effect: ‘All of the Lights is the clear winner.'”
Maurice also won second place in the essay category, with his essay, “A History in Motion.” Final round judge Jane Satterfield wrote, “The vivid and resonant prose of A History in Motion reveals a writer’s fierce ambition to survive and transcend a parent’s suffering, as well as heartfelt tenderness and hope despite the disquieting signs surrounding him.” The essay is already slated for publication in an upcoming Cicada magazine.
In the short story category, Peauxdunquian Emily Choate won third place for her story, “Sky Fire Shrine Machine”! Final round judge Patrick Samway commented:
This story dramatically relates how Nadine comes to terms with the previous amorous relationships of her co-worker Brant, as they sell fireworks whose names provide a wonderful description of their increasingly tense relationship: Incoming!, Napalm Rampage, Exploding Night Arsenal, and Last Chance. Such explosive pyrotechnic devices provide a wonderful comment on the structure of this story.
Other Peauxdunque finalists in the short story category were Tad Bartlett for his story, “Flock Apart,” and Maurice, with his story, “The Boy Who Would Be Oloye.” Emily‘s story, “Eufala,” was on the short list for finalists in the category, along with Tad‘s story, “Superpowerless.”
In the novel category, Peauxdunque’s J.Ed. Marston and Tad Bartlett were finalists with their collaborative novel, The Truth Project.
J.Ed. was also a finalist in the poetry category, for his piece, “Saturday Stops.” Peauxdunque’s Cassie Pruyn, the second-runner-up in the category in 2013, had another finalist poem this year with her piece, “Lost Love Lounge.”
The announcement with full results is here: 2014_Winners