Gruss vom Krampus or Greetings from Krampus…

To get you in the mood for the Christmas holiday and to remind some of my naughty readers, it’s not all about Santa Claus, ribbons and bows, and good cheer, my friend, Professor Maria Klouda, assigned an extra credit project to her Reinhardt University Composition 100 students. Using this image of Krampus (a half-man, half-goat creature with a penchant for whipping bad children with birch branches and carrying them away to hell) as inspiration, the students wrote 100-word and under flash fiction pieces. If you know any children (or adults) on the naughty list, you may want to share these stories to them.

Shackled

by Peyton Williams

“Why are you crying?” the little girl asks the horned black creature with hooves for feet.

Shackled in a corner, the creature turns his head around to reveal his long prickly beard, sharp teeth, and pointed tongue.

“Why I’m just so hungry,” he says to her.

The girl is surprised, but doesn’t hesitate to say, “Well, I just went apple picking, would you like one?”

“Oh I can’t enjoy a meal being chained up like this,” he replies.

“I can help,” she says before releasing him from the shackles.

“I suddenly lost my appetite for the apples,” he grins.

The Krampus Before Christmas

by Alexandro Jean

“Be good,” warned the little girl while her brother continued to steal apples.

“Or what?”

“The Krampus will come.”

“I dare him to.”

The night before Christmas a shadow emerges from the hall.

“What a naughty little boy.”

“Please don’t hurt him.”

“Then how shall I punish this wretched creature you call brother?”

“Don’t. Take me instead.”

“No, don’t take her. She’s good.”

The Krampus enjoyed their fear, but couldn’t decide what to do ’till finally…an idea.

“NOOOOO.”

“Yes, in fact he was quite delicious.”

Christmas morning there were no kids…just one red apple.

Interested in submitting your flash fiction stories? Here are a few publishers now accepting submissions:

101 Words is accepting, you guessed it, flash stories that are exactly 101 words. While the word count doesn’t include the title, it does include em dashes and hyphenated words, so do count manually. There’s no fee and if you’re published in their anthology, Flash Fiction Magazine Anthology, they pay $10.00. Also, if you’re into editing, they’re seeking Editors/Volunteers who are able to commit to at least 5 hours per week. Gain experience and add something new to your CV!

50-Words Stories is accepting 50-word stories, not 49-word, not 51-word, but exactly 50-word stories. The best story of the month receives a $10 prize. Also, no fees! If you’re looking for guidance on how to write flash fiction, 50-Word Stories provides a link to the article, The Anatomy of Micro-fiction by Bob Thurber. It’s a wonderful analysis of how to break down shorter fiction. I found it beneficial. Maybe you will too.

Brevity is seeking 750-word and under non-fiction pieces with “vivid detail, strong voice, and no wasted words.” They’re charging a nominal fee of $3.00 per submission. Authors will be paid a $45 honorarium for work selected.

ALWAYS READ SUBMISSION GUIDELINES and good luck out there!

Thanks to the Professor Maria Klouda and her student writers, Peyton Williams and Alexandro Jean, for contributing their work.

Happy Holidays!

Toast Lillian Smith’s 123rd Birthday Friday, December 11th at 7 PM with Revival: Lost Southern Voices: A Festival for Readers, Georgia Center for the Book and Georgia Humanities.

“The human heart dares not stay away too long from that which hurt it most.” Lillian Smith

Raise a cocktail to celebrate Lillian Smith’s 123rd birthday this Friday, December 11th from 7 PM- 9 PM, sponsored by Revival: Lost Southern Voices–A Festival for Readers, Georgia Center for the Book and Georgia Humanities. Due to the pandemic, The Lost Southern Voices Festival was postponed and then eventually canceled for 2020, but all is not lost for 2020. They have reorganized to celebrate Lillian Smith’s 123rd birthday with a showing of Hal and Henry Jacobs’ award-wining documentary, Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence. If you have already viewed the documentary, and want to discover more about Lillian Smith’s legacy, join the conversation at 8PM ET with Rosemary Gladney, Sue Ellen Lovejoy, Matt Teutsch, Keri Leigh Merritt, and Anna Weinstein. Want to make the event even more festive? Toast with a specialty cocktail called “The Lillian.” Visit Farm2Cocktail for the recipe beforehand and have you ingredients ready to shake it up.

Lillian Smith, author of Strange Fruit and Killers of the Dream, was an activist and educator, and one of the first white Southern authors to publicly speak out against segregation and white supremacy. To view the trailer, click here and scroll down to video. Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence received the “Best Full-length Documentary” Award at the 2020 Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival and was also the 2020 Winner of Georgia Made Macon Film Festival.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 7-9 PM ET via Zoom webinar. This is a free event! To register and for more information, visit the following link: A Lillian Smith Birthday Celebration. NOTE: You will need to register through Eventbrite first to receive a Zoom link.

Hope to see you there!

The Six Days of Creation With Philosopher/Author, Anthony Blake (and others): December 5-6 and Dec. 20


The DuVersity was founded in 1998 by Anthony Blake and Karen Stefano to further the principle of integration without rejection. DuVersity is member-based non-profit whose mission is concerned with the importance of diversity for the development of human intelligence. It seeks to improve communication in groups, encourage multiple viewpoints on the same reality, understand how thoughts arise, and have insight into the way cultures arise and are shaped by their encounters with each other. DuVersity is a universal phenomenon, beyond questions of race and gender. For more on DuVeristy, membership, seminars and lectures, and publications visit: DuVersity.org.

The DuVersity is offering an online seminar called Six Days of Creation which includes six sessions, three per day, with each session lasting 90 minutes, plus a final two hour session a fortnight later. All sessions will be on Zoom. Anthony Blake will use 30 minutes of each session to explain the theme and one hour will be devoted to an experiential presentation by different contributors specializing in the various arts.

The suggested donation is $100.00. Members of the DuVersity will receive a 10% discount.

SESSIONS:

Sat Dec 5
Session 1: Universality and Wholeness; Inner Exercises; Anthony Blake/Andrew Moyer
Session 2: Separation and Complementarity; Dance; Anthony Blake/Travis Jarrell
Session 3: Relatedness and Dynamism; Music; Ruben Yessayan/Anthony Blake

Sun. Dec. 6
Session 4: Blending and Formation; Poetry; Anthony Blake/Michael White
Session 5: Individuality and Essence; Art; Leslie Schwing/Anthony Blake
Session 6: Manifestation and Drama; Theater; Anthony Blake/Jesai Jayhmes

Sun. Dec 20
Session 7: The Sevenfold Unity Higher Intelligence Anthony Blake et al. The framework of the seminar relates to Gurdjieff’s fundamental principles of the law of three and the law of seven seen in the frame of the Six Days of Creation. It also invokes Bennett’s book on Making a New World and the origin of musical scales in the first six numbers. The six days lead us to the seventh – the ‘day of rest’ – or the contemplation in which our ‘inner bodies’ can form.

We will start with an introduction to inner exercises and in the next sessions move into the making and assimilation of works of art in the various modes of dance, music, poetry, art and theatre. This is to illustrate the sensuality and pleasure of what is sometimes grimly described as ‘work on oneself.’

CONTRIBUTORS

Andrew Moyer: Studied Anthropology, specifically Sufism and pilgrimage to Sufi sacred sites. Was Chairman of the Claymont Society. Taught Cultural Anthropology and worked as management consultant, sometimes with Richard Knowles. Student of Pierre Elliot, Hasan Ṣuṣud and Suleyman Hayat Dede.

Travis Jarrell: Teacher of dance – Uzbek, Middle Eastern, and creative. He has performed in DuVersity events for many years. Watch TravisInvocation on YouTube.

Ruben Yessavan: Spanish pianist and composer with roots in Armenia. Has produced CDs of Debussy and other modern composers. Performs music of Thomas de Hartmann and Gurdjieff. More about Ruben Yessavan.

Michael White: Author and traveler. Has books on Tibetan Buddhism, the Beat Generation, the pueblos in the American South West and Paleolithic art in the caves of France plus several volumes of poetry. He is the editor of the posthumous works by William Gay.

Leslie Schwing: Professional artist who has been exploring Systematics with Anthony since 1990. Links to her current work are on Instagram at fletcher_schwing and past work at Fletcher/Schwing Studio.

Jesai Jayhmes: AKA Jeff Burnett, actor, playwright, director and voice coach. See Jeff Burnett on Broadway.

Anthony Blake: Author of books on Time, Intelligence, Dialogue and Systematics. Student of John Bennett. Director of Research of The DuVersity.

TIME SESSIONS

Session 1 & 4: 10 AM – 11:30 (EST); 7 AM – 8:30 (PST); 3 PM – 4:30 (GMT); & 4 PM –5:30 (CET)
Session 2 & 5: 12:30 PM – 2 (EST); 9:30 AM – 11 AM (PST); 5:30 PM – 7 PM (GMT) & 6:30 PM –8 PM (CET)
Session 3 & 6: 3 PM – 4:30 (EST); 12 PM – 1:30 (PST); 8 PM – 9:30 (GMT) & 9 PM –10:30 (CET)
Session 7: 2 PM – 4 PM (EST); 11 AM – 1 PM( PST); 7 PM – 9 PM (GMT) & 8 PM – 10 PM (CET)

REGISTRATION

To register, please send an email to: duversity@gmail.com. For payment, please then go to DuVersity.org and click on the Donate button on the homepage to pay with either credit card or PayPal. You may also send a check made out to DuVersity to: Jeremy Belk 1079 Rocky Lane Monterey, TN 38574. If you are not able to attend the entire event and/or do not have funds to attend the entire event, please make a donation you can afford, or otherwise prorate the costs of the courses.

Hope to see you there. If you know anyone who may be interested, please feel free to share this post on your social media!

An Interview with George Singleton, Author of You Want More: The Selected Stories…

George at his now defunct liquor bottle wall at home in Spartanburg, SC

I had the pleasure of attending one of your lectures where you said, “All beginnings must kiss the end.” I revisited my entire collection of short stories based on that advice. I asked you then if you needed to kiss the middle and you said you’d get back to me.  Time’s up.  What do you think?

Ha. That’s another thing—kissing about each page. It’s not a bad idea to have an echo. Let’s say I write a story about a character who takes one of those Here’s Your Career tests in high school, and it came out, say, ornithologist. The character’s now 50, telling the story. On every page it might be wise to throw a bird reference in there. (Gee, guess what I’m in the middle of writing right now? A tenth-grade teacher decides to offer up every student—in her American history class—their career destination. My guy—now 50 and working for a non-profit—gets “ornithologist,” which the teacher, and fellow classmates, thinks is “orthodontist.”)

There are short stories I reread annually: “Cat in the Rain” by Hemingway for its brevity and what remains unsaid, “How Far She Went” by Mary Hood for tension-building, “The Witch” by Shirley Jackson, because it’s simply wicked. I’ve officially placed your short story, “Four-Way Stop,” in my annual rereads.  What are some of your go-to stories?  And Why? 

Another great question. When I can’t go from Point A to Point C, oddly enough, I go reread some John Cheever. I have exactly zero connection to Cheever’s world—northeastern, lower upper-class people—but boy oh boy can that guy write a story. So, there’s something like “The Country Husband.” If I’m dead in the water for language, I go to just about anything in Barry Hannah’s Airships. If I’m looking at how to write a funny/sad story, it might be Allan Gurganus’s “The Wish for a Good Country Doctor,” which is about to come out in his Uncollected Stories.

As you can tell, I’m a little fixated on your short story, “Four-Way Stop.” I mentioned in my review I felt this story was the perfect balance of comedy and tragedy. Tough question, but how in the hell did you accomplish this?

There’s nothing more fun than to do a reading, and have audience members laughing like all get-out, then the story takes a turn, then seeing people’s faces go, “Uh-oh, should I have been laughing?” It all goes back to Samuel Beckett saying something like, “There’s nothing funnier than human misery.” Right? We might be all “Man, my life sucks,” and then read a story about a character who’s worse off. My life sucks, but it ain’t as bad as this guy’s life…” “Four-Way Stop” starts off with ridiculous trick-or-treaters, but then ends up with two characters’ child getting killed at an intersection. Maybe the saddest story I’ve ever written.

Back in the day, fiction writers would never consider writing novels without first mastering the shorter form.  Now, everyone starts with the novel.  What’s the future of the modern short story?  What has changed since you began your career?

I do everything backwards. I wrote three execrable “novels” before I ever wrote a short story. Godawful. 450 pages, 250 pages, 300 pages. I’d had great professors say, “You’re ready after 1000 pages.” I guess they were correct. I started writing short stories then—after peckering around with novels from 1979-1987 or thereabouts. I don’t get why short stories aren’t more popular, or why publishers and agents pretty much demand a novel. Idiots, I think. Right? With the attention spans of people these days, you’d think that there would be a demand for poetry.

I love linked narratives and Drowning in Gruel spoke to me. Has anyone advised you to “convert” those stories into a novel?  Have you ever felt you had to defend this form against the more traditional longer form of the novel?

So, I was writing a bunch of stories for Drowning in Gruel. I got some pressure from my agent and publisher/editor to write a novel. As a joke, I started a short story called “Novel,” about a guy named Novel. It got kind of long. At the time I was with Algonquin, but my paperback dude was Andre Bernard at Harcourt. He called one day and said, “What’re you working on?” Maybe I had been drinking. I said, “I’m writing a novel, called Novel….” And then I made up some stuff. He made an offer. I finished the novel, then went back to those stories in Drowning in Gruel. What the heck. There’s a story in the collection that mentions a tombstone with a guy named Novel Akers, who dies at sea.

I once took a Business of Writing (not at my MFA program) course and when I introduced myself as a short story writer, the instructor said two things: No one publishes short stories and why don’t you just make your stories longer…meaning into a novel. I literally had a panic attack, and I didn’t take the advice.  What’s your advice for short story writers attempting to break into the industry?

Write what you want. If you’re an electrician, don’t listen to people who tell you to be a plumber. My father—who had a tenth-grade education—asked me in my junior year of college, “What are you going to do?” I said, “I guess I’m going to law school.” He said, “Do you want to be a lawyer?” I said, “Not really. And I hate everyone I’m in classes with who’re going to law school.” He said, “Why would you want to go do something for 40 years that you hate?” I said—and I was a philosophy major, but not smart or committed enough to do a PhD in philosophy—“I want to be a writer.” He said, “Well, go write.” I should mention that my father called me often, like at 5 A.M., and said, “I’m looking at the Want Ads and don’t see ‘Philosopher for Hire’ ha ha ha.” He died when I was 24. Maybe that’s where the funny/sad stuff comes from.

What’s on the agenda of George Singleton?

Who knows? I’m writing a bunch of stories about characters involved in the non-profit sector. Kind of linked stories. My working title is The Curious Lives of Non-Profit Martyrs.

What are you currently reading?

The End of Vandalism, by Tom Drury. It was published about 30 years ago, and I’m just getting to it. Funny and sad.

I saved the most important question for last. Is it possible to write a story about a dog or even a story that includes a dog as a minor character where the dog doesn’t die?

Ha. Well. I got that one story….

TO PURCHASE You Want More: Selected Stories by George Singleton at Hub City Bookshop or via Amazon.

More about George…

George Singleton has published nine collections of stories, two novels, and a book of writing advice that includes illustrations by Daniel Wallace. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, One Story, the Georgia Review, the Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He’s received a Pushcart Prize, and has ten stories in the New Stories from the South anthologies. Singleton received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009, and he’s a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Please share on your social media and feel free to leave comments!

You Want More: The Selected Stories of George Singleton, a Review

I’m fairly certain George Singleton was a ten-month baby.  This isn’t meant to be derogatory.  God, I hope not—I was a ten-month baby myself.  In the introduction to The October Country by Ray Bradbury, Bradbury says he was a ten-monther, and while in the womb for that extended amount of time, his senses were sharpened; he felt everything, completely aware of everything from the moment he was born. This gave Bradbury an advantage when he later started writing. I’m not going to delve into the science or truth of Bradbury’s statement. My takeaway here is this: to be a good writer you must be an eyewitness, a spectator, pay attention, and you must, must use all your senses.  Clearly, Singleton is paying attention with his latest collection of short stories, You Want More, which captures small Southern towns and characters in all their glory. His characters are what us literary types call round, not rotund, by fully fleshed out. They’re beer and bourbon drinking philosophers, grumpy old men with heads in the gutter, scam artists, miscreants, underdogs, and if employed, have odd occupations like prebouncers which I didn’t even know was a career path.  They may seem deeply flawed, but there’s always one Shakespearean fool in the story spouting truth, and for all their bad behavior his characters are loveable. His stories guarantee to entertain, but underneath the hilarity there’s satire, there’s irony, and symbolism. Singleton uses every tool from the tool shed, and to do that, you must be paying attention.

I met George at my MFA residency a couple of summers ago.  I was driving back from the Dollar General near the campus with a bottle of bleach the salesgirl suggested I use on my poison ivy (another story).  It was Georgia, June, and boiling and from my car I saw a man hitting the asphalt with a determined gait clad in a ball cap that should have been put out of its misery years ago.  I thought, “That’s George Singleton.” I had a copy of Drowning in Gruel and Staff Picks sitting in my passenger’s seat.  I looked on the back of the cover for his headshot and sure enough–George.  It looked like he knew where he was going.  Thirty minutes later when my roomie and I headed out for the nightly reading, George was still navigating the parking lot, but now appeared pissed.  I rolled down the window and said/asked, “You’re George Singleton.” A bunch of expletives about not being able to find the expletive library emerged from his mouth and he jumped in the back of our car.  Rather than telling him how much I admired his work or that I am a short story writer myself and because I was nervous, I launched into questions about another author, William Gay, who I knew was friends with George. I said, “I got to pick your brain for some William Gay stories.” I wrote about William Gay for my critical thesis; he was still haunting me, but I wanted to pick George’s brain about his writing, too. It was kind of rude, seeing George was the keynote speaker and looked like he just exited a Temazcal and Mother Earth or the Shaman kicked his ass, but he took it graciously and later that night walked into our dorm room (where the rest of the residents had gathered) with a case of PBR and those stories. I still have one of those PBRs.

If I’m reading a book I plan to write about, I fill the pages with micro-post-it-notes tagging lines I enjoy and larger sticky notes with comments.  Later, I’ll read through my notes and it all comes together from there.  Pretty common procedure. My notes for You Want More went something like this: A travelling aquarium salesman, forced to attend a motivational conference, hooks up with the speaker’s scar-faced, ex-gangster daughter; A former child-star of a statewide lice documentary returns to his hometown and high school reunion and has an epiphany; Pam, a dog-healer (not a veterinarian, but literally a dog who heals), licks away diseases, illnesses, and infection with her tongue; A Halloween miracle occurs when Jesus Christ and his two thieving companions go trick-or-treating; “The Novels of Raymond Carver” (???? If you don’t get it now, you’ll get the joke when you read the story); Richard Petty, who has written the great American novel, delivers his acceptance speech for the National Book Award, and manages to squeeze in every sponsor. According to Aristotle, “No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.” You see where I’m heading here.  Anyone unfamiliar with George’s type of genius–who perchance read my sticky notes–may recommend inpatient therapy.  Yet, there’s something grander going on with these quirky stories. “Four-Way Stop” is a masterpiece of balancing comedy and tragedy.  In “Richard Petty Accepts National Book Award,” Singleton compares pit-road with the writing industry, which turns out isn’t much of a stretch. And every time I end up in the town of Gruel, like his characters who cannot seem to escape or otherwise get sucked back into Gruel, it’s as if I’m reunited with my own dysfunctional family.  There’s Victor Dees, the proprietor of the Army-Navy store. There’s Jeff, the owner/bartender from Roughhouse Billiards. If you are a short story writer, reader, or maybe just want to read literature that won’t induce you to pen a suicide letter, then get a copy of You Want More.  Hell, get a copy of all of Singleton’s books.  His stories are like the loyal dogs he frequently writes about. They will be waiting for you by the door. If you’re really good, they may fetch you a beer.

Singleton is a first-person point-of-view wonder boy.  His third-person point-of-view feels like first-person narration, because it’s just so dang close. There’s even a second-person point-of-view story in You Want More (“What Could’ve Been?”), and that isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. It’s both funny and not so funny when you put it in perspective.  Even though his narration is super tight, occasionally the narrator sort of stops and chats about writing.  For any other writer this would come off as an intrusion, but it works and for us writerly folks who ponder the same issues it’s a nod to the craft.

Then there are the classic Singletonian lines that every writer wishes they came up with first: “You’ll have twenty lies, all of which you will recycle the rest of your life.” Or, “My team members stared at me as if I piped up about how Jesus was a gay man and couldn’t decide which of the twelve disciples to date.” I’m not giving away anymore Singleton lines for free. Buy your own copy!  Buy them all!  For what my opinion is worth, Singleton epitomizes what is best in the modern American short story and should be on every syllabus starting in high school. If you’re concerned with language and/or content, I have a friend who teaches “Trombones, Not Magic” from Staff Picks to his AP English high school class. Generally, these are feel-good stories with a moral to the story and it’s never force-fed.

I read an article about how Tennessee photographer, William Eggleston, depicted suburban American life like a John Cheever story.  I see both these masters in Singleton’s works. If John Cheever was the “the Chekhov of the suburbs,” then George Singleton is the John Cheever of the small Southern town.  But if I had to compare Singleton’s stories to another photographer, it would be Chris Verene, who at a young age started documenting his friends and family from his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois.  Like Verene, Singleton articulates honest stories about the everyday person anyone can understand. His stories remind me of flipping through the family photo album. It feels like home, and yes, we want more.

TO PURCHASE You Want More: Selected Stories of George Singleton, visit Hub City Bookshop or Amazon.

More about George…

George Singleton has published nine collections of stories, two novels, and a book of writing advice that includes illustrations by Daniel Wallace. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, One Story, the Georgia Review, the Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He’s received a Pushcart Prize, and has ten stories in the New Stories from the South anthologies. Singleton received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009, and he’s a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Write the story you want to live!

Exploring the Beat Generation: A Conversation with Poet/Philosopher, Michael White and Poet/Writer/Teacher, Andrew Smith

If you’re like me and fascinated with the Beat Generation, a counterculture movement of Poets, Authors, Musicians, Philosophers, Visual Artists, Actors a/k/a post war Bohemians originating in the 1950s, who rejected materialism, examined Asian philosophy and religions, experimented with psychedelic drugs and sexuality, and spontaneous creativity, you will want to watch this video interview–Tennessee Beats in Colorado–between Poet/Philosopher, Michael White, and Poet/Writer/ Teacher, Andrew Smith. This interview was done as a lecture for Smith’s English class. What a cool professor and also a treat for the students, huh?! Andrew Smith is an instructor of English and Religious Studies at Tennessee Tech. You may access Smith’s podcast, playlists, reviews and much more at: http://www.teacherontheradio.com/.

MORE about Michael White…

J.M. (Michael) WHITE did graduate study in Phenomenology at Duquesne University and holds an M.A. in philosophy from Vanderbilt.  His short stories, poems, interviews, essays and book reviews have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Sewanee Review, Janus Head, Parabola and The Mirror as well as in magazines and journals in Canada, England, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and India. Michael White founded Anomolaic Press and publishes his own work along with the novels and short stories of William Gay.

Publications include

Future Nothingness Already, 2005 – A novel set in the hills of rural Tennessee.

The Beyond Within, 2008 – A wide ranging collection of poetry.

The Latch, 2012 – A poetry collection written in the non-linear style of “ring composition” where the conclusion comes in the middle  and the ending latches back to the beginning, it includes three chapters of prose providing background on the technique of writing in circles.

Naropa Journals: William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Revolution, 2015 – A memoir of my years studying with Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso and the whole Beat contingent.

The Birth of Death: A Guidebook to Paleolithic Art in the Caves of France, 2016 – A guidebook to the caves and an exploration of why the artwork in the caves was created.

Ports of Entry: Tibet, Peru, Mexico: Journals 1999-2011, 2017 – Journal accounts of a literary pilgrimage to visit the monasteries of Tibet and the ancient sites in Peru and Mexico.

Pulling Down the Sun: The Pueblos, the Great Houses and the Cliff Dwelling, 2018 – Includes accounts from the festivals at Zuni, Hopi and Taos and visits to the ruins at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon offering a glimpse into the indigenous past still alive in the deserts of Southwestern United States. 

Confidential Advice for the Unconventional, 2017 – A bi-lingual collection of poetry with English/Romanian translations published in Romania.

Shoot Out at the Poetry Factory, J. M. White and John Tischer, 2018 – A bi-lingual poetry collaboration published in English/Romania with poems by Tischer and White, matched thematically, on facing pages.

Works by William Gay:

Wittgenstein’s Lolita and The Iceman: Short Stories by William Gay, 2006

Time Done Been Won’t Be No More: Collected Prose, 2010

Stoneburner: A Novel, 2018

Works compiled and edited by J. M. White

The Buddhist Path by Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Snow Lion Press, 2006

Safe in Heaven Dead: Interviews with Jack Kerouac, Hanuman Press, 1994

Live the Story you want to Write!

The Poet Philosopher, Michael White, on the Subject of Death, Religion and the Future of Poetry

I met poet and philosopher, Michael White, when I was conducting research for my critical thesis on the author, William Gay. I discovered the archive’s website and was put into contact with Michael. He’s the lead archivist and is a fount of information on all matters William Gay. I consider Michael to be a friend now. He’s been supportive of my writing and pulled me into the editorial process with William’s work which is a great honor, but aside from his connection to William I discovered that underneath this soft-spoken, mild-mannered, philosophizing, hippie poet type there’s a wild child whose waters run deep. This a man who has documented his exploration of ancient sites and festivals of indigenous peoples around the world and was friends with the Beat poets. He’s just really a cool cat. I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael and reading three poems he wrote and contributed on his behalf for this week’s Deathproof show on melodically challenged–a poetry themed radio show, produced by K.B. Kincer, on WRAS-Album 88.5, Georgia State University College’s Radio Station-Atlanta. Deathproof pays homage to death, funerals, animal slaughter, the dead and undead. It’s heavy, but hell, 2020 has been pretty heavy. AND, it’s Halloween so the music is super creepy. Michael’s poems are both contemplative and humorous and you’ll get to hear me put on the poet hat because I got to read them.

Tune in Sunday, October 25th at 7 PM EST. For local listeners turn your radio dial to WRAS88.5 FM. To Tune in Online visit link: WRAS-Album 88

Why are poets fascinated with death?

Ah yes, the unknown country, the final destination, the border land, our ultimate destiny for which there is no escape. I had the opportunity to get to know William Burroughs back in the 80s and if he was in a group of people and the conversation began to falter he would start talking about death, everyone is fascinated by it, that is, if you have the courage to face it. I thought very highly of Burroughs, he was the genius of geniuses in the Beat cadre and once I asked him, “Everyone recognizes the relationship between birth and death, all things that are born must die, but what about the other way, what is the relationship between death and birth?” He replied that death was just the mechanism for getting the old people out of the way, if we continued hanging around the place would fill up, we had to die so the rest of the people could carry on with life. 

You contributed three poems to the melodically challenged poetry radio show on the subject of death. Is death different for a Buddhist compared to other religions? Is is easier? Harder? 

All religions are con games, there was a time in human evolution when, like the animals, we didn’t know we were going to die, then as consciousness evolved and we gained greater cognitive abilities and were able to hold memories in store it dawned on humanity that all things that are born must die. That was the birth of death, as a reflex it was also the birth of religion as a scam to avoid death. They have been devising immortality schemes ever since, heaven and hell, life with the ancestors in the stars, rebirth and reincarnation, all bullshit. Each different religion has come up with a slightly different take on the old immortality scam, Buddhism came up with the Bardos and the six realms, all built around the idea of a karmic accounting system where good deeds get you a better rebirth and bad deeds do the opposite and there are 3 higher realms and 3 lower realms and you definitely want to stay out of the lower realms. This is opposed the Christian/Muslim idea of faith in God where true believers get to spend eternity in heaven and those who are non-believers are condemned to hell fire. How crazy can you get? And people actually believe this?

Did your poetry lead you to Buddhism or did Buddhism lead you to poetry?

In ancient times all literature was poetry, whatever you wanted to write was done in verse and could be sung. We live in a degenerative age, first we devolved to prose and now we are down to tweets. Buddhism has a great history of poetry and even now if the Buddhist want to write something important it is done in verse with a syllable count for each line and an internal rhyme structure. For me, it was just destiny, writing, prose or poetry is a calling, it has to be your destiny, it calls you, you don’t call it. The relationship between Buddhism and poetry for me, is that Buddhist meditation is a technique for moving the center of gravity of awareness out of your individuality into a deeper more common stratum of our humanity, to hit into our basic human nature, and poetry, all art, is the expression of this common ground in humanity, if what you are saying is not speaking to humanity as a whole it is just journalism, just a passing fancy.

What is the future for the modern poet?

It’s bleak, to say the least! Try to make a living as a poet, impossible. You have to teach or have a day job of some sort. But it will continue as a counter-culture, as an underground movement, and will be sustained by people like Emily Dickinson, sitting at her desk, cutting language to the bone, getting to the essence, and expressing it with no expectation of readership or fame or reward, it is its own reward and poets are the legislators of reality, the arbiters of taste and the expression of what is most noble in our human nature.

MORE ABOUT MICHAEL WHITE:

 J.M. White did graduate study in Phenomenology at Duquesne University and holds an M.A. in philosophy from Vanderbilt.  His short stories, poems, interviews, essays and book reviews have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Sewanee Review, Janus Head, Parabola and The Mirror as well as in magazines and journals in Canada, England, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and India.  

He founded Anomolaic Press and publishes his own work along with the novels and short stories of William Gay.

Publications:

Future Nothingness Already, 2005 – A novel set in the hills of rural Tennessee.

The Beyond Within, 2008 – A wide ranging collection of poetry.

The Latch, 2012 – A poetry collection written in the non-linear style of “ring composition” where the conclusion comes in the middle  and the ending latches back to the beginning, it includes three chapters of prose providing background on the technique of writing in circles.

Naropa Journals: William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Revolution, 2015 – A memoir of my years studying with Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso and the whole Beat contingent.

The Birth of Death: A Guidebook to Paleolithic Art in the Caves of France, 2016 – A guidebook to the caves and an exploration of why the artwork in the caves was created.

Ports of Entry: Tibet, Peru, Mexico: Journals 1999-2011, 2017 – Journal accounts of a literary pilgrimage to visit the monasteries of Tibet and the ancient sites in Peru and Mexico.

Pulling Down the Sun: The Pueblos, the Great Houses and the Cliff Dwelling, 2018 – Includes accounts from the festivals at Zuni, Hopi and Taos and visits to the ruins at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon offering a glimpse into the indigenous past still alive in the deserts of Southwestern United States. 

Confidential Advice for the Unconventional, 2017 – A bi-lingual collection of poetry with English/Romanian translations published in Romania.

Shoot Out at the Poetry Factory, J. M. White and John Tischer, 2018 – A bi-lingual poetry collaboration published in English/Romania with poems by Tischer and White, matched thematically, on facing pages.

Works by William Gay:

Wittgenstein’s Lolita and The Iceman: Short Stories by William Gay, 2006

Time Done Been Won’t Be No More: Collected Prose, 2010

Stoneburner: A Novel, 2018

Works compiled and edited by J. M. White

The Buddhist Path by Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Snow Lion Press, 2006

Safe in Heaven Dead: Interviews with Jack Kerouac, Hanuman Press, 1994

TO CONTACT:

J. M. (Michael) White

91 Vantrease Road Brush Creek, TN 38547 USA

Cellphone (615) 684-2711

Email michaelwhite@dtccom.net

Live the story you want to write!

Ghost Story Writer, Ann Hite, on her Ghosts

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

I do without a doubt. It’s one of the reasons I related to author Ann Hite’s stories. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Ann Hite’s memoir, Roll The Stone Away: A Family’s Legacy of Racism and Abuse this summer along with her novels, Lowcountry Spirit and The Storycatcher. Ann’s stories are peppered with ghosts and she graciously offered to contribute a personal experience for my October blog. Hope you enjoy it!

1: In the spring of 1969, a young couple placed their one-year-old little girl in their Volkswagen Bug and left their apartment for what one would imagine was an errand. As the driver of the car— I’m not sure if it was the husband or wife—pulled out onto the busy two-lane highway, I always assumed they never saw the eighteen-wheeler barreling over the hill at them. Did they have any premonition of what would happen in the days before? The truck driver did apply his brakes, but the truck didn’t stop. The massive tractor-trailer crushed the Volkswagen, killing the one- year-old girl, who couldn’t even walk on her own yet. The mother and father were transported to the hospital. One died and the other was placed in ICU. The family of the mother came to clear out the second floor two-bedroom apartment not far from the scene of the accident.

2. In the same spring, my mother came home one afternoon and told my brother, Jeff, and I that she had rented a one-bedroom apartment less than a mile from where we lived with my grandmother in her tiny eight-hundred-square-foot house. “We will have to share the one bedroom like here until a two bedroom comes open.” This news was the best ever. The apartment complex had a pool, playgrounds, and kids of all ages. “And we will still be close enough for you two to walk to school. You have to be careful of the highway. It is dangerous. A lot of accidents happen there.” One week before we moved in, mother had brilliant news. A two-bedroom apartment had come available. The items the former tenants left behind in the large room Jeff and I would share were not strange. The light switch cover was a little lamb with a rainbow behind it. “That’s for babies.” Jeff fussed. “It will be fine.” I looked in the closet. Two plastic baby bottles sat on the shelf. “I guess a baby lived in this room.” When I gave the bottles to Mother, a frown formed on her face. She took the bottles and tossed them in the trash can. “Is there anything else?” “No. Just the light switch plate. It is for a baby nursery.” Mother shook her head. “So sad.” “What’s sad?” ​

“The people that lived here were in a terrible accident. The little girl was killed instantly and one of the parents died at the hospital. I’m not sure which. The other parent wasn’t doing well the last I heard.” The thought of a baby dying made my stomach hurt. The thought that we had gained a bedroom because of this accident washed over me with guilt. But just like any twelve-year-old, I soon put the thoughts aside. For the longest time, when I turned on the light, I thought of the dead little girl, but slowly that attention drifted away too.

3. In the spring of 1971, we had been living in the apartment for two years. I was fourteen and at odds with my mother like most teenagers. I didn’t bring many friends home because I never knew what Mother might do. She was a self-medicating bi-polar, but it would be years before we would get this diagnosis. To me she was just crazy, and I didn’t want my friends to know too much about her. I spent all my free time at other people’s houses. Most weekends, I left on Friday night and didn’t come home until late Sunday evening. Our apartment was located at the very back of the apartment complex. The front of the building faced a large lawn with sidewalks that circled the area. To get to our upstairs apartment, one had to enter an enclosed stairwell through a screen door that slapped shut, warning us someone had entered. Sometime during those spring months, Mother began to complain that “my friends” were trying to scare her. “They run up the stairs and turn the doorknob. When I tell them I’m going to call the police, they go back down.” This happened only on the weekends when I wasn’t home. I racked my brain trying to think of who would do this. One Saturday night—the first I had been home in months—I sat with Mother watching television. The days were getting longer, and it was still daylight at eight. The screen door to the stairwell slapped, and the most horrible stomping moved up the stairs. In my memory, the walls vibrated. Mother and I looked at each other. Someone pushed on the cheap hollow front door. The doorknob turned back and forth as if someone was frantic to come inside. The stomping began again, and the noise moved down the stairs. I jumped to my feet and looked out the big picture window at the front stoop below, convinced I would finally catch whoever was stirring up my mother. The screen door swung open. I pressed my forehead against the glass, straining to see someone, to make sure I got every angle. The door slammed shut. “See. You thought your mother was cray. Who did you see?” “There was no one there.” ​

“You’re lying. You heard all that. Someone had to be there.” Of course Mother thought I was covering for my friends, and I wished I had been. There was no explanation for what I had heard. How could there have been no one in the stairwell? In the spring of 1973, we moved to a ground floor apartment. Our old apartment had a succession of people move in and out in a span of a year.

4. In the spring of 1979, I was twenty-two and had left my Mother’s home long before. It was a late summer evening when I ran into a friend who had lived in the apartment below us. We talked and the conversation swung around to what happened after we moved from the apartment complex. A single woman who lived in our old upstairs apartment came down to my friend’s door. In her hand she held a small revolver. She told my old neighbor that someone was stomping up the stairs and turning her doorknob, pushing against her door. She was terrified and had called the police. My friend hadn’t heard anything. This conversation convinced me of what I suspected from the night I saw the screen door open and no one emerged. A ghost? But who? Was it the parent that died? Was he or she angry because we were in the apartment? Why did the ghost take two years to begin haunting the place? Many questions with no answers.

5. Around this time of year, I always think of my very real experience. Off and on I’ve researched in the local newspaper archives trying to find something about the small family. Wouldn’t the death of a one-year-old girl in a horrific car accident make the news? If I ever knew the names of these people, they have been lost in my memory. Yet, their story and the haunting have remained with me for thirty-eight years. This is one of the stories that helped me to become a ghost story writer. What’s your story? I’d love to hear it. I think we all have one even if we don’t tell.

Want to read more ghost stories? TO PURCHASE Ann Hite Books via Amazon.

To learn more about Ann Hite and her literature, please visit her author website: Ann Hite- A Southern Novelist, Storyteller From Birth.

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Live the story you want to write!

Flash Fiction Horror Stories

Aliens, demons, buried alive, compulsive urges, sounds in the night…Enter if you dare!

Thanks to all my writerly friends who contributed these tasty little morsels of fiction to celebrate Halloween. Flash fiction is a wonderful way to get younger folks writing. It’s not easy, however, the brevity aspect makes it more approachable. To prove my point, two stories here were written by Emma, who is 12-years-old! We start them young down the path of evil. Bahahahaha!

ONE & TWO SENTENCE STORIES:

If I had known I’d end up in this coffin, I’d never have gotten my nails done.

D. Major is an author of flash horror stories, enjoys volunteering at cemeteries, and was last seen cleaning headstones at the Oakland Cemetery.

I was so happy the day my son was born. Then he started to feed

Justin Jones is a writer and educator who spends his time dealing with the most frightening creatures this planet has to offer: teenagers.

I knew those things didn’t make noise. So after the thump in the closet, I only felt it sliding across the dark room toward my bed.

–J. M. Williams scribbles in a chair in LaGrange, GA, glancing up occasionally to watch the reality show outside his window.

As the killer clown threw me in the back of the van, bound and gagged, I suddenly remember I left my iron on.

–Tia King is a lover of cats, salty food, and hot sauce.

From the first moment I saw your face, I knew I wanted to wear it. I thought, it will go so well with mother’s pearls.

Amy Puckett McGee is a writer and librarian based in the Appalachian foothills of north Georgia. She can be often found haunting the halls of Reinhardt University with a dusty tome in hand.

“The noises have stopped,” he said. “I’ll take a quick look around outside and be right back. Stop worrying.” 

–Jennie Mayes supports her writing and eating habits by working round the clock and the graveyard shift at the Cobb County Board of Elections.

100 WordS or Less Horror Stories:

True Evil

“Boo!”

“Are you shitting me?”

“Aaahhh!”

“It’s like you’re not even trying.” The little girl twirled her hair and ignored the closet door when it creaked open. “You used to be so terrifying. Now you’re just…ugh.”

The dejected demon-lord stepped out of the closet. He reared back a hoof and kicked an American Girl doll across the room. “Maybe I’m just losing my touch.”

“No, don’t say that Mr. Goatie.” Evie hopped out of her bed and held the deity’s hand. “I’ll give you some ideas.” She raised the demon’s floppy ear and began to whisper.

Baphomet smiled.

The Happy Wife

James tried stuffing his spilled intestines back inside the gaping stomach wound. The deep gash made by the butcher knife didn’t really hurt that much. No, what really stung was Charlotte’s piercing laugh. But, then again, he’d always wanted to make her happy.

Jon Sokol lives in Northeast Georgia where he collects double live albums and literary rejection letters. He is a member of the Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society, the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, and is a two-time inductee in the Century Club (accomplished during Spring Semester, 1994).

In my room half awake, I jolt up to a soft whisper. Paranoia? I tell myself it’s silly to be afraid of the dark. This is the third time I’ve woken up. Hiss… I get up to investigate. “Kitty?” I hope. In the corner I see two glowing eyes. I walk closer. “Kitty?”  Out of the shadows a figure tall and slim emerges and then crouches. Through fangs sharper than blades it hisses, “It’s wise to be afraid of the dark.”

A nightmare. It’s only a nightmare. The space ship, the two scrawny, green, slimy-skinned figures with black eyes dark as the night sky standing over me. A nightmare. I open my eyes. Its finger wipes away the cold sweat dripping down my face. Through a small portal I see…earth. 

-Emma is a 7th grader at the School of Ghouls and a member of the Crawlyball Team.

URGE

Many people feel the ever-pressing urge to complete certain actions, and, for most, these actions are one and done, a fond memory: stepping on an extra crunchy leaf during fall, walking in circles during a good phone call, or forcing your arms into the pretty stones in a gift shop. Then why do I find myself repeating these actions long after the initial rush of serotonin, after my legs ache and the cashier has started to watch me with my arms buried elbow-deep? Why can’t I stop?

Krista Shaw is an English teacher at a community college in Kentucky. Her favorite pastime is reading on the couch, curled up with her cat.

Wandering off in the mix of Halloween crowds, lost, I reach for the open hand of a woman who wears the same Drugstore mask my mother put on before we left for the evening, but when she removed it, wickedly smiling, I understood I’d gone trick-or-treating with a complete stranger.

–by D. Major

PUBLISHERS OF FLASH FICTION (& more) SEEKING YOUR WORK:

Apparition Literary Magazine is accepting succinct speculative stories 1,000 words or less between October 1st & 15th and is a paying market.

Apex Magazine is looking for 250 words or less focusing on holiday horrors in the month of December. It’s time to break out your favorite Krampus story folks. This is a paying market open now until November 15th

For those interested in flash fiction not of the creepy variety (depends on who you approach theme), Press 53 publishes 53 word stories (no less than and no more) and their theme for October is “brewing.” They read between the 1st & 15th of the month.

Welter is celebrating 55 years by sponsoring a 55-word contest which is open to poets and non-fiction and fiction writers. This is 55 words EXCACTLY! The winning prize, you guessed it, is $55 and social media accolades. This closes October 19th.

Please share to your social media and feel free to leave comments!