MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

PERIPHERY: A magical realist zine
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27 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
Miscellaneous News

Fans of Margin contributor Jan Steckel will want to tune in today to the program, "Woman-Stirred Radio," on WGDR-Radio 91.1 FM in Vermont, or on the Internet at (1:30p West Coast time, 4:30p on the East Coast). Steckel adds: "Got something you want asked in the interview, like 'What about that five bucks you owe me?' You can call (radio show hostess) Merry in the studio before or after the show at 802-454-7762."

If you can't tune in, why not read two new online published poems by Steckel appearing in New Works Review and The Potomac? Another option: read Merry Gangemi's review of Steckel's recently released book of poems, The Underwater Hospital.

More Margin poets out in the world: Erin Fristad reads tonight at the Seattle Town Hall Political Cabaret and at the In Other Words Bookstore in Portland OR, May 5th. She's a terrific poet and reader; go to her events, if you can.

Also, once again, this spring Hermine Meinhard will teach a poetry workshop at Il Chiostro, a country farmhouse in Tuscany where wine and olive oil have been produced for hundreds years. She reports that last year the writing and the experience were transforming, as if the landscape had drawn the writers into an intimacy with it and themselves.

Practically speaking, the workshop is a chance to immerse yourself in writing in a place of deep roots and sensuousness. The group will be small (no more than 10); that, and the uniqueness of the setting, make it possible for her to give much individual attention to participants and their poems.

The 2006 dates are May 13 – 20. The week includes daily workshops of improvisational writing workshops which will draw on (among other elements) the mysterious beauty of the landscape, memory, and language; individual conferences, excursions to the walled medieval town of Siena and other hilltowns, and meals of traditional Tuscan recipes. For information, visit the website for Il Chiostro or contact Hermine at her website.

Peter Keough for Boston's The Phoenix discusses some of the treasures of this year's African Art Festival held last February. Would it be surprising to learn that many of the films shared at least a tangential relationship to magical realism?

Check for these titles in your local video store (or make a DVR wishlist!) and see for yourself:

Guinean filmmaker Cheik Doukoure's Le ballon d’or/The Golden Ball (1992)—"Charming and spirited, Doukoure’s fable evokes the disarming innocence and sinister darkness of a folk tale."

Danish filmmaker Jeppe R?nde's The Swenkas (2004)—a "whimsical documentary" which "R?nde tries to transform… into a magical-realist tall tale complete with an old storyteller, arty symbolism, and an eclectic soundtrack…"

Rwandan filmmaker Raso Ganemtore's short film, Safi, la petite mere (2004)—"After her mother dies in childbirth, little Safi acts resourcefully when the locals decide to kill the newborn in order to escape the 'evil eye.' "

Internationally acclaimed magical realist author Salman Rushdie appeared a couple of weeks ago at the Schwab Auditorium in University Park, PA. I wish I could have been there. Writer Adam Smeltz for reports that "Life, according to Salman Rushdie, is inherently weird. … Ordinary life does not exist, the British author told an almost-full Schwab Auditorium on Tuesday night. … But day-to-day habits do dull human perceptions of the world, Rushdie said. So it's an author's job to shake them up."

Quoting Rushdie via Smeltz: "To renew that sense of extraordinary-ness, the artist needs to make things strange. … One of the great lies ... that we present to the world is that we lead ordinary lives … No, we don't."

The audience took care of the standing ovation for me.

"In Pen, psychosomatic paraplegia meets magic realism. But there could be worse marriages," says Michael Feingold in a panned review of the play for the Village Voice. Please note, his is not a panned review of magical realism, per se, though he does refer to it as a kind of "flamflam," which leaves this fan of MR a bit unsettled…

Fans of Jose Saramago's Blindness might also equally appreciate his latest novel, Seeing, which was recently reviewed by Art Winslow for the Los Angeles Times. Writes Winslow, "Saramago, Portugal's only Nobel laureate in literature, commonly employs magical realist techniques, and a seemingly inexplicable event does drive the action in Seeing. But whether it is questionable seizure, holding people indeterminately without charge, conducting high-tech surveillance, utilizing techniques such as data mining, refusing to accept electoral results or conducting PR wars against public opinion, all the political tactics on display in this novel are to be found operating today in the globe's democratic regimes, including our own, without resort to supernatural literary effects. That may be the eeriest aspect of Seeing."

Now this is interesting: Gabo's One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of only four novels that made "top 20" lists in studies researching the differences in reading influences among men and women. The studies, conducted by the organizers of the Orange Prize, are outlined in an article in the online edition of The Independent. Other titles to make the lists which have tendrils in magical realism include "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.

Posted by at 11:35 AM PDT
Updated: 27 April 2006 11:30 AM PDT
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24 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
Women Reading Across Boundaries at Women and Children First Bookstore
[CHICAGO] A multicultural collection of women authors, including Margin contributors Constance Vogel and M. Eliza Hamilton Abegunde, will read work that crosses boundaries of race, class, death, and acceptable conduct in the long-awaited debut for Jane's Stories III: Women Writing Across Boundaries at Women and Children First Bookstore on 5233 North Clark from 4 to 6pm next Sun Apr 30.

The anthology features poems and short stories that have won awards for authors in competitions sponsored by Jane's Stories Press Foundation, the nonprofit publisher, which sponsors programs for emerging and established writers who are underrepresented in the publishing industry, focusing on writing by women over 50 and under 24, and by women of color.

Posted by at 9:11 AM PDT
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19 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
SOUTHERN REVIVAL is almost ready for release! Here's the latest:
APRIL 19, 2006
Announcing a forthcoming anthology release

Deep Magic For Hurricane Relief
Publication release date: April 29, 2006


Stephen Alcorn, Louis E. Bourgeois, Bill Branley, Geraldine Cannon, Susan Deefholts, Rebecca Sete Jacobson, Dorothy Laurence, Michael Lythgoe, Jack A. Neal, Carol D. O'Dell, Susan Roney-O'Brien, Shira Richman, Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld, Larri Ann Rosser, Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler, Tamara Kaye Sellman, Sheree Renee Thomas and Doris Umbers

SOUTHERN REVIVAL: Deep Magic for Hurricane Relief, a small press effort by publisher Tamara Kaye Sellman of Bainbridge Island, WA, aims to help restore hurricane-ravaged libraries in the south as well as to put books back into the hands of evacuees. Sellman has turned this year's edition of her annual anthology, Periphery: A Magical Realist Zine, into a fundraiser.

100% of donations to and sales of the anthology benefit First Book ( First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

Book Relief ( is First Book's massive publishing industry-wide relief initiative to place at least five million new books into the hands, schools and libraries of those affected by the hurricanes. Book Relief is the nation's largest and most comprehensive book distribution relief program.

Slated for release on April 29, this year's 40-page anthology offers diverse poetry and prose which honors and celebrates the cultural magic of the Gulf Coast. This eclectic mix features a creation myth of the Mississippi River, the story of a shape-changing gator woman, a poem discussing revival "works" in a jungle of kudzu, a tale of a flood in New Orleans which "reunites" several generations of women, and other tastes from what can only be described as a jambalaya of Southern voices, vision and invention.

"We like to think of our effort as first aid for the hearts and minds of our Southern neighbors," said Sellman, a self-proclaimed bibliophile who treasures such Southern authors as Connie May Fowler, Carson McCullers and Lee Smith.

She was inspired to help out Southern libraries after previously contributing books from her own library to American military troops around the world. "Food, shelter and clothing are not the only things we need to keep our souls well fed. That's why books, art and music are a necessity, not a luxury. With them, people can thrive, rather than simply survive."

Publisher Sellman aims to generate enough donations from sales of SOUTHERN REVIVAL to assist First Book in re-supplying an entire community library in the hurricane-ravaged South with new books. So far, her efforts have acquired 25% of that goal all through donations and without having sold a single copy of the anthology.

Copies will sell for a minimum purchase donation of $10, "but we expect a lot of people will give more—$20 or $25," said Sellman. She explained, "For every $1 donated to First Book, two new books will be distributed by the charity to a library or an evacuee in need. When someone gives $25, that's the same as providing 50 books. That's a great investment for charity, we think."

She recommends people reserve their copies by contacting her online at "Even if we go into a second or third printing, this is going to be a limited run, so people who are interested should go ahead and preorder."

The anthology will be sold online, through local bookstores and via private events. Readings and promotional events are also being arranged for Seattle, Atlanta, New Orleans, Florida and Oxford.

For purchasing information, visit

40 pages
$10+ donation
Quality cover stock
Vellum endsheets
Saddle-stitch binding

Block relief artwork from award-winning printmaker Stephen Alcorn (
Photography from Mississippian photojournalist Jack A. Neal (

For more information: Tamara Kaye Sellman
321 High School Road NE, #204
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Regular news will return to the MR Newsblog within a few days.—The Editors

Posted by at 3:18 PM PDT
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3 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
We'll be forwarding over $1000 in donations today for First Book's Book Relief campaign as part of our fundraising effort, Southern Revival, a humble little journal we're producing with the not-so-humble goal of making at least $2500 to help restore Southern libraries and put books in the hands of evacuees who've been displaced across the country. We're almost halfway there, thanks to so many wonderful people who've donated to the cause. What does $2500 cover? Enough books to completely stock a small community library. Why not pitch in with your own donation? We're asking for a minimum donation of $10, a small price to pay to help bring first aid to the hearts and minds of our Southern neighbors. Learn more here

Currently, the staff for Southern Revival (full title: Periphery IV: SOUTHERN REVIVAL: Deep Magic for Hurricane Relief) is making content and artwork selections. Those waiting to hear from us will know very soon. Thanks for your patience! We received terrific material representing so many facets of the South; it will be hard to make our final decisions!

I'd like, at this time, to thank our volunteer staff (Susan Deefholts, Carol D. O'Dell and Shira Richman) for their dedication, brilliance and amazing heart.

Copper Canyon Press has just released Alberto Rios' latest book of poems, The Theater of Night. In a review by Joy Lanzendorfer for San Francisco Chronicle, his poetry in this book was described as "often surreal, sometimes bordering on magic realism, such as in 'The Drive-In of the Small Animals,' where insects, lizards and other creatures watch humans as if watching a movie at the drive-in." I met Rios briefly at the Port Townsend Writers Conference last July and found him to be a gentle, personable man with a huge fan club. I highly recommend you take a look at his work. He's one of America's finest magical realist poets, in my humble opinion.

The lucky folks in Brattleboro, VT will enjoy the first-ever public screening of Jay Craven's newest feature film, Disappearances, this Thursday, April 6 at the Latchis Theatre. The film, starring Kris Kristofferson, is described in the Brattleboro Reformer as having, "in the midst of a fun, action story…a heady dose of what Craven calls magical realism, which incorporates inexplicable occurrences and fantasy, or, in the case of the film, mysterious legend or folklore, which characters accept at face value and which influences the story. It's a device used in popular films as Being John Malkovich and Like Water for Chocolate." Sounds like a keeper; I can't wait for it to make it to my corner of the country.

Robert Coover, who is perhaps best known among magical realism's fans for his 1977 novel, The Public Burning, led the workshop, "A Walk Through the Future: Technology Taking Literature Into a New Era," last Friday as part of the Our Lady of the Lake University's literary festival. In an interview with San Antonio Express-News book editor, Steve Bennett, Coover discusses what it means to be an unconventional writer and why, in part, he believes it is important for him to reintroduce myth into contemporary electronic writing.

Ah, scandal. It's been reported in Hindustan Times that "Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami accused his former editor of illicitly selling his handwritten manuscripts, saying many texts were now being traded on Internet auction sites and at second-hand bookshops for exorbitant prices. … Writing in Bungeishunju, a literary magazine released [March 10], the writer said a handwritten translation into Japanese of The Ice Palace by F. Scott Fitzgerald was put for sale at a bookshop for more than… $8,490 [USD]."

"The Birth House is a sweet little piece of fiction. Set in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, it's a strong first outing for writer Ami McKay and features an element of magic realism—call it a hybrid of fabulist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and prairie realist Sinclair Ross."—Patricia Robertson for the Toronto Star. Okay, who could not be interested in reading this?

Please Don't Come Back From The Moon,a first novel by Dean Bakopoulos, "deftly melds magic realism with social satire," according to The New York Times. The story centers around the mass walkout of a Rust Belt working man's town in the summer of 1991 and the consequences thrust upon the grown sons of the protesters.

The author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris, delves into her obsession with the unexplained, the dark, and the superstitious in an interesting interview conducted by Uma Girish for California Literary Review.

Posted by at 7:59 AM PDT
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