Monday, June 29, 2020

Bacopa Literary Review 2020 Prize Winners

2020 FICTION PRIZES (Editor James Singer III)

First Prize ($300): James D'Angelo, "Proxy" 
Second Prize ($100): Siamak Vossoughi, "Junk"

2020 SHORT-SHORT PRIZES (Editor Kaye Linden)

First Prize ($300): Sarina Bosco, "An interval of time just before the onset"
Second Prize ($100): Joshua Jones, "Remember the Mayflies"

2020 CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZES (Editor Mary Bast)  

First Prize ($300): Virginia Boudreau, "Grass"
Second Prize ($100): Rachel Amegatcher, "What Nightmare is This?"

2020 POETRY PRIZES (Editor J.N. Fishhawk)

First Prize ($300): Caitlin Cacciatore, "Sacrament"
Second Prize ($100): Patrick Cabello Hansel, "First Snowfall on 18th Avenue"

2020 HUMOR PRIZES (Editor Stephanie Seguin)

First Prize ($300): Jon Shorr, "Jesus's Bar Mitzvah Speech"
Second Prize ($100): Cadence Mandybura, "Notes from the Editors on Orange is the Darkest Color"

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Contagion of Rhythm and Pacing

by former Bacopa Literary Review Fiction Editor U.R. Bowie

On Creative Writing and Creative Writers 
Writing shows its influences by the contagion of rhythm and pacing more often than by exact imitation of ideas. We know that Updike read Nabokov in the nineteen sixties by the sudden license Updike claims to unsubdue his prose, to make his sentences self-consciously exclamatory, rather than by an onset of chess playing or butterfly collecting." (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, Jan. 16, 2017, p. 84)
Writers imitate other writers: their themes, their literary form, their tone, everything. Much of what is published amounts to bad imitations of bad stories. How does a writer avoid such a misfortune? Read the greatest writers who have ever lived. Read Leo Tolstoy, Flannery O'Connor, Gustave Flaubert, Nikolai Gogol, Rebecca West, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf, many, many others in the grand pantheon of world literature.

About imitation. One thing that's ever so hard to be is original. Good writers present something novel in tone or style; a good writer has his/her own voice. When you find your voice you have begun.

Here's the layman's image of a writer who teaches creative writing in a university:
". . . a dramatic figure striking in appearance, wearing boots and jodhpurs, perhaps, with long white hair like a prophet and bearing a kind of literary ichor, the fluid in the veins of the gods" (James Salter, The Art of Fiction, p. 57).
Can that white-haired prophet teach you to write? No, you have to learn yourself, through years and years of intensive practice, while reading only the best creative writers and learning from them. 

On Envy of the Creative Writer
One day a writer of creative literary fiction sits down and writes a masterpiece. Other writers are plunged into sorrowful depression, thinking, "Dang, there are only a limited number of masterpieces to be written, and now this guy has filched another one and run off with it" (paraphrase of Salter, The Art of Fiction, p. 50).
I just read the brilliant novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer. Didn't feel envious of him, just thought, Wonderful, how great to have a young writer writing at that level of creativity.

What do good creative writers do? They "make the shape and rhythm of sentences intensely felt" (Salter, p. 56). Yes!