2020 has been the pits, y’all. It’s just been so hard to keep up with it all, that I, your humble Peauxdunque website custodian, have let things slide. And almost unforgivably, because this has actually been a fairly remarkable year for Peauxdunquians, with publications, nominations, book releases, all manner of writing goodness. Know that, in this, I wallow, but I’ll do that behind the scenes once more, and get right to the meat of the matter: another upcoming book release, and an attempt to catch up on all the things that have flown through our Facebook feed but been absent here.
First, in the spirit of this, the first year of our collective COVID, on this coming Tuesday, December 8, a virtual book launch for The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 12: True Stories from Around the World, with series editor and Peauxdunquian Lavinia Spalding. Joining Lavinia for the Volume 12 book launch are contributors: Eva Holland, whose essay is about survival in the Canadian arctic; Sivani Babu who wrote about returning to her grandparents’ home, a book publishing print house in Rajahmundry, India; Alia Volz who traveled to Cuba to settle a debt; and Naomi Melati Bishop, born in Indonesia, whose story is about travel on stolen tickets. Introduction by Travelers’ Tales Executive Editor, Larry Habegger. Lavinia has edited five previous editions of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. She is the author of Writing Away and the co-author of With a Measure of Grace and This Immeasurable Place, and she introduced the e-book edition of Edith Wharton’s classic travelogue, A Motor-Flight Through France. Lavinia’s work appears in such publications as Tin House, Longreads, Yoga Journal, Sunset, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian, and has been widely anthologized.
Now, to catch up:
- Lavinia‘s piece, “‘Follow Along,’ or How to Learn Flamenco Guitar with a Tocaora,” originally published in AFAR in 2019, was reprinted by Longreads in March. Also in March, Off Assignment published her “To the Shopkeeper in Fez.”
- Lana Austin‘s debut novel, Like Light, Like Music, was released by West Virginia University Press in August. It continues to rack up impressive praise, from such luminaries as Lee Smith, Robert Morgan, and Don Noble. You can order it here. Lana also had a book review of Emily Wortman-Wunder’s Not a Thing to Comfort You in Colorado Review.
- Emily Choate, long-time Peauxdunquian, and also the Fiction Editor and Music Editor over at Peauxdunque Review, has had a brilliant 2020. In November, her book critic work with Chapter16.org gained positive notice at the New Yorker. Emily’s beautiful short story, “The Falling Down Side,” was published by Peatsmoke in September. In May, Atticus Review published Emily’s creative nonfiction piece, “The Mouths of Our Caves,” for which they then nominated Emily for a Pushcart Prize.
- Maurice Carlos Ruffin‘s debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, released in January 2019, came out in paperback in February 2020, was named a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Prize in January, was named a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner prize in May, and was named a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in October.
- Anne Babson has had a multi-media extravaganza of a 2020. In the early Spring, her short story “Dispatch from New Orleans,” was published in Fifth Estate. In March, she learned that South Korea-based journal Foreign Journal, had accepted three of her poems, “April Bunker,” “May Bunker,” and “June Bunker.” In April, she was interviewed in Ecotheo Review. Also in April, she released a song co-written with composer Su Lian Tan, “Welcome to Vineland.” In June, one of her poems was projected onto the side of a building as part of conceptual artist Bellet Manon’s installation, Voir une Voie. She also had two poems published by Willow Litmag in June, “To Sylvia Plath” and “Premonition on Ellis Island.” In August, Anne learned that her fourth poetry collection, The Bunker Book, had been accepted for publication by Unsolicited Press. Also in August, she was a co-lyricist with Cornelius Brutal Imagination Eady on the song “A Black Cowboy and a Yellow Rose.” And in November, she learned that Katha Pollitt selected Anne’s poem, “Poem in which I am a Reliquary, a Vierge Ouvrante,” for an upcoming issue of Women’s Review of Books.
- Newest Peauxdunquian Amanda Boyden published her memoir I Got the Dog: A Memoir of Rising, in August of this year. Somehow, between all her writing and traveling, Amanda has been a force of nature both in the encouraging space of our Peauxdunque Writers Alliance meetings and in the gits-and-grease of reading fiction and CNF submissions to Peauxdunque Review.
- Stephanie Knapp‘s essay, “Bravery Lessons,” was published by Infection House in April. In July, her work was included in the anthology Art in the Time of Covid-19, sales of which benefit Doctors Without Borders.
- Annell Lopez‘s story, “The End of the World as We Know It,” was accepted for publication in Michigan Quarterly Review.
- Kayla Andrews’ flash CNF, “Old Kleenex,” was published in Halfway Down the Stairs.
- Kelly Harris DeBerry released her debut collection of poetry, “Freedom Knows My Name,” available here.
- Karisma Price‘s poem, “My Phone Autocorrects ‘Nigga’ to ‘Night,’” came out in the Une issue of Poetry.
- Christopher Romaguera‘s CNF piece, “Jogging Through the French Quarter,” was published by pank. He also has been publishing a stunning series of essays on Ploughshares’ website this year, including January’s “The Power of Oral Stories in The Distant Marvels,” February’s “Language and Fronteras in Signs Preceding the End of the World,” April’s “Reading City Without People: The Katrina Poems in an Isolated New Orleans” and “Breaking the Borders of Memories, Ghosts, and Shadows in The Lost Book of Adana Moreau,” May’s “The Grounding Power of the Past,” June’s “Writing a Home for All My Ghosts,” July’s “Past as Place in Subduction,” August’s “‘I Used to Think that I had to ChooseBetween the Page and the Musical Aspect of it’: An Interview with Kelly Harris-DeBerry,” September’s “The Power of Reading About Your Home,” October’s “Cooking as an Heirloom in Memorial,” and November’s “Revisiting, Revising, Reimagining Home in How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.”
- In April, Massachusetts Review published this interview with April Blevins Pejic, Peauxdunquian and CNF editor of Peauxdunque Review, regarding April’s CNF piece published by MR in Winter 2019.
- Denise Moore‘s book review of N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became is Almost Great was published in June by Antenna’s Room 220.
- In March, Tad Bartlett‘s short story “When the Storm Comes” was published by Massachusetts Review, followed by an interview on MR‘s site in April. In July, MR asked Tad to write in memoriam to John Lewis, resulting in the essay “John Lewis’s America.”
In the meantime, all the members of Peauxdunque have been busy as readers and editors on the second year of production for the Peauxdunque Review, putting out two beautiful issues this year, Issues 3 and 4 of the PR, under the indefatigable leadership of editor-in-chief and publisher Larry Wormington; and with the tireless work of poetry editor Nordette Adams, fiction editor Emily Choate, CNF editor April Blevins Pejic, features editor J.Ed. Marston, editorial review board member Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and managing editor, myself, Tad.
I am certain that so much has happened, I’ve left something out. It is my fault for putting myself in the position of having to dig back through folks’ Facebook entries from the year to construct this. But here’s the point, dear visitor to our fair land of Peauxdunque: I love these people. I love their words. I love their vulnerabilities. I love their strengths. I love their friendship. We have all of us discovered what is the most and of the only importance in this world amongst all of this, and I am lucky to live in this Peauxdunquian space where we are rich in all of it. From the hectic start to a hectic year, to a last dash to San Antonio for AWP, to lockdown, to Zoom meetings, to infection, to loss of employment, to moves, to labor actions, to protest, to speaking out, to marching, to organizing, to reaching out, to writing, to editing, to a quick visit sandwiched by quarantine, to hurricane near-misses and direct-hits, to an end of year coming mercifully, hopefully, and to a new year around the bend, you all have my love and my respect.
All the best, Tad, pocket-finch, founding Peauxdunquian, Peauxdunque Review managing editor.