Washington Signature
[ Search and Navigation ]   [ View Full Site ]

The Rose O'Neill

Literary House

LH Blog

  • March 26

    Cherry Tree and the Literary House Press are counting down to the 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair, which this year will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from April 8-11. We will be at the Rose O’Neill Literary House table in the Bookfair: table 1724.

    Last year at this time, we were still in the planning stages for our brand-new national literary journal Cherry Tree. We brought flyers with us to the 2014 Conference in Seattle that we handed out at the Rose O’Neill Literary House table in the Bookfair, detailing our mission statement and when we would open for our first round of general submissions. Cherry Tree was just an idea then, with no tangible presence.

    But this year will be a big one for us at the AWP Conference. This year Cherry Tree is a real thing. This year we have shelves full of gorgeous copies of our Inaugural Issue. This year we have a pretty and practical Cherry Tree tote bag for accessorizing swag. And this is a hefty tote bag. Planning to buy 100 pounds of books during the Bookfair? You can fit 38 copies of Cherry Tree’s inaugural issue in this beautiful canvas tote (seriously, I just checked). 

    At table 1724 in the AWP Bookfair in the Minneapolis Convention Center, we will have the following special Conference-only offers:

    • Special AWP Offer: $10 ea. for copies of the inaugural issue (normally $14 one-year subscription price)
    • Buy a two-year subscription, get a free tote bag! Two-year subscriptions are only $25, and include the inaugural issue & our upcoming 2016 issue. Tote bags will also be sold individually at $12 ea.

    We will also have all of our other Literary House Press book and broadside publications, including the new perfume-inspired poetry anthology The Book of Scented Things

    But the cherry on top of this year’s Conference will be the official Cherry Tree Launch Party we are hosting on Thursday, April 9 at 7:00PM at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, 1300 Nicollet Mall. We will be celebrating the release of the inaugural issue of our brand-new literary journal in style with readings by contributors Juliana Gray, Dore Kiesselbach, Bruce Snider, and Laura Madeline Wiseman! There will also be a generous spread of tasty refreshments (including an open bar), a sale & signing of the issue, and good literary conversation. We would like to invite all of you to join us for this very special event, if you can make it! If you can, please RSVP to me at llusby2@washcoll.edu.

    We are gearing up for an incredible AWP Conference in Minneapolis. Please come out to see us and say hello!




  • March 17

    He reads from his work and talks about his translations of Polish poetry when he visits the Literary House on March 17.

    CHESTERTOWN, MD— The poet and translator Benjamin Paloff will give a reading and talk at Washington College on Tuesday, March 17, as part of the series, “What’s Found in Translation.” The event begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, 407 Washington Avenue, and is free and open to the public. 

    Paloff’s forthcoming collection of original poems, And His Orchestra, will be published soon by Carnegie Mellon University Press. He published his first collection, The Politics: Poems, in 2011. His most recent translations include Lodgings by Andrzej Sosnowski (2011) and Transparent by Marek Bienczyk (2012).

    In an interview for the California Journal of Poetics, he said with characteristic humor, “I have to admit that I do sometimes find myself delighting in a particular verbal gesture that will pose a special problem to someone translating it into another language … Perhaps this is how translators stick it to their friends.” 

    Paloff earned a Ph.D. in Slavic Language and Literature from Harvard University and a M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where he now teaches. He also serves as poetry editor of Boston Review and writes about the craft of poetry for The Nation Magazine.  He has received fellowships from Poland’s Book Institute (2010), the National Endowment for the Arts (2009-2010), and the Michigan Society of Fellows (2007-2010). 

    The Literary House Press will publish a commemorative broadside to celebrate Paloff’s visit. Copies of the broadside and his work will be available for sale and signing after the reading.


  • March 16

    2015 Literary House Press Intern Nick Anstett writes about the intersection of creative writing and business in the world of literary editing and publishing.

    If you drew up a classic grade-school-style Venn diagram of qualities possessed by both Washington College’s English and Business departments the one aspect you would find resting in the center of the overlap is applicability. While you may be reading Faulkner or a case study on the international business efforts of Heineken, what both programs are truly seeking to instill in students is real world applicability of critical thinking and skill.

    As an English Major with a double minor in Creative Writing and Business, I’ve been on a collision course with the world of publishing for much of my academic career. The world of literary publications draws upon numerous skills that I’ve learned through business courses such as marketing, but also allows for a ground-level view of the evolution of a new era of literature.

    Through the Literary Editing and Publishing special topics class taught by Jehanne Dubrow, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and founding editor of Cherry Tree, I was first able to dabble in the merging of both fields. Literary Editing and Publishing brought the contemporary market into perspective in a way that was both comprehensive and intriguing.

    Now through my position as the Literary House Press Intern, I have taken my first plunge in. I could not have picked a better time to do so. Fresh off the release of their first trade paperback, The Book of Scented Things, and just a week away from releasing the inaugural issue of the national literary magazine Cherry Tree, Literary House Press was a bustle of excitement and activity. It wasn’t long before I found myself in direct correspondence with Best American selected poets and writers and found myself working through the trials and tribulations of a small independent press.

    After the fervor and excitement of Cherry Tree’s launch, I found myself working more and more in attempts to help market the magazine to be the most successful that it can be. Many of these projects involved extensive research and forced me to explore creative new outlets to create notice for what I believe is a truly exceptional grouping of literature. (Which I also had the pleasure of critiquing in an original critical essay for the Literary House blog.)

    The Literary House Press has given me an invaluable experience that has allowed me to use the skills and talents that I have honed through my education at Washington College in a professional setting. Whether it’s through organization of new marketing projects for the press’s books, running different aspects of social media, corresponding with established writers, or simply carrying boxes filled with journals hot off the presses, I am getting my hands dirty in a way that is both entertaining and informative. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my semester brings. 

  • March 2

    First to fill the semester long residency will be fiction writer Roy Kesey, a 1991 alumnus of Washington College.

    imageCHESTERTOWN, MD—Fiction writer Roy Kesey ’91 will spend the fall semester on the Washington College campus as the first Sophie Kerr/Rose O’Neill Literary House Writer-in-Residence. He will teach a class in creative writing, hold office hours at the Literary House to mentor students, and offer a public reading and a public talk about the writer’s art and craft.

    In announcing the new Writer-in-Residence program, Literary House Director Jehanne Dubrow explained that it will host a writer once every three years, always in the fall semester. “This new residency will offer students more opportunities to engage with an established creative writer in a sustained and meaningful way,” she said. “It will add diversity to the creative writing offerings and bring additional points of view to the literary conversation taking place on our campus” 

    When Kesey launches the Sophie Kerr/Rose O’Neill Literary House Writer-in-Residence program this fall, he will teach a special topics course titled “Creative Writing Workshop: Non/Fiction.”  English Department Chair Kathryn Moncrief says the course will use both classic and contemporary texts to study “the borderlands between fiction and nonfiction, an area inhabited by writers as varied as Thucydides, Cervantes, Virginia Woolf and Mary Karr,” and that students will explore the ways in which “fiction can steal tricks from nonfiction, and vice-versa.”   

    The residency is funded by the Sophie Kerr endowment, the Rose O’Neill Literary House and the office of the Provost. There is no application process; writers will be selected by the Department of English and the director of the Literary House. 

    Roy Kesey is author, most recently, of the short story collection Any Deadly Thing (Dzanc Books 2013) and the novel Pacazo (Dzanc Books 2011/Jonathan Cape 2012). His other books include the short story collection All Over, the novella Nothing in the World, and a historical guidebook to the city of Nanjing. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship, the Paula Anderson Book Award, and the Bullfight Media Little Book Award. His short stories, essays, translations and poems have appeared in more than a hundred magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and New Sudden Fiction. Kesey earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Washington College in 1991.

  • February 23

    RESCHEDULED for Monday, February 23. The Rose O’Neill Literary House hosts Danielle Corsetto to talk about the art and business of web comics.

    CHESTERTOWN, MD—The creator of the online comic series Girls with Slingshots visits the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College Monday, February 23, to talk about the art and business of web comics. Danielle Corsetto, who has entertained hundreds of thousands of readers online since 2004, will speak at 4:30 p.m. at the Lit House, 407 Washington Avenue.  The event, originally scheduled for February 17 but rescheduled because of weather, is free and open to the public. 

    Danielle Corsetto’s love of cartoon strips was nurtured early on when her grandfather read “Garfield” and “Peanuts” to her.  She started writing her own strips at age 8. After graduating from Shepherd College with a BFA in photography and digital imaging, she started Girls with Slingshots as a black-and-white comic published twice a week. A decade later, the strip appears in color five times a week and is compiled in books published by TopatoCo. 

    Girls With Slingshots revolves around two twenty-something women, Hazel and Jamie, and their adventures with friends, including a cactus named McPedro. The web-comic series focuses on ideas of romance, career struggles, friendships, and sexuality. Corsetto says the style of Girls with Slingshots is “more realistic and less stereotypical. All the characters have these unusual relationships, both romantic and platonic … that are not what you would find in, say, a sitcom, but it’s written like a sitcom. I’m trying to normalize these things that are taboo.” 

    imageMore than 100,000 people visit www.girlswithslingshots.com on a daily basis to read the latest installment. Corsetto has also written several books and original graphic novels (OGNs). Her fifth OGN for Adventure Time will be published this March.  

    This event was organized by Rose O’Neill Literary House 2014 summer interns Julie Armstrong ’15 and Ryan Manning ’17. Already fans of Corsetto’s webcomic, they were eager to bring her to campus to share her quick wit and humor.  For more information about this lecture and other Rose O’Neill Literary House events and programs, call (410) 778-7899 or email llusby2@washcoll.edu.

    – Kaitlyn Fowler ’17


  • February 13

    Literary House Press Intern, Nicolas Anstett, takes an analytical look at the inaugural issue of Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College. The issue will be released on February 15, 2015.

    George Washington stares blankly back at you through the cover of the inaugural issue of Cherry Tree. Trapped within the confines of a crinkled one-dollar bill, Washington sits captured in American iconography. It is hard to think of a more fitting cover for Cherry Tree’s first foray into the national literary landscape. It simultaneously captures the many elements that make this magazine and inaugural issue so unique: a commitment to history, creation and evolution of the American myth, the mundane and personal, but also the lyrically beautiful. Through the works of an eclectic grouping of writers Cherry Tree has created something personal, but also carries with it the weight of truth and myth.

    Cherry Tree’s inaugural issue almost reads like a three act play, separating itself into interconnected but thematically different acts. It begins with a celebration of past and text. Leslie Harrison, Christine Stewart-Nuñez, and Moira Egan structure lyric ekphrastic poems engaged with the writings of Emily Dickinson and a watercolor painting by Madeline Ritz, illuminated manuscripts, and the paintings of Suzanne Valadon. Similarly, Anna Journey constructs her lyric nonfiction essay “On the Back of a Flying Fish, Dear Sister” as an examination of found text, in this case a postcard shared between two women. Like the dollar it adorns on its cover, Cherry Tree begins with an exchange of artifacts that allow for a human examination of the past and the emotions hidden in words and image.

    From here, Cherry Tree transitions into its second act: a formation of the American myth through pop culture and contemporary pathos. It slices its way into the proceedings with Gabrielle Hovendon’s unnerving piece of magical realist fiction, “When We Were Dissected.” Here Phoebe Reeves, Laura Madeline Wiseman, Matthew Lippman, and Bruce Snider intersect ruminations on gender, cultural protest, workplace boredom, and parenthood with images of fast food chains, digitally-rendered monsters, Nicholas Sparks, and sperm banks. John Vanderslice’s work of fiction “Something for Dinner” surrounds race, religion, class, and post-colonialism in a disarming local tourist trap that helps further Cherry Tree’s regional identity. It’s a creation of the contemporary American myth that adds the smudged fingerprints and torn edges to the green paper cover.

    Through Betty Jo Buro’s nonfiction essay concerning pregnancy and the tribulations of motherhood “The Road from Emmaus,” the texts transition into the issue’s final act. Here the lyricism of the early works combines with the grit and immediacy of its second act to create a blend of personal but stylistically musical works of nonfiction and poetry. Julie Marie Wade examines the relationship between her mother and her visual impairment in “Lazy Eye.” Jericho Brown’s “Atlantis” views his experience with gender politics through the lens of New Orleans. In the end, Charlie Clark’s “Dead American Christmas Ghazal” closes us out, proclaiming, “It is difficult to picture the dead as nothing / Even this long after they are gone.”

    Cherry Tree is a socially and lyrically aware furthering of the American myth and follows suit on its mission statement of finding truth. Like currency, it passes its baton through dozens of writers of varying sex, gender, race, class, and literary schooling. The result is something that impresses through craft, emotion, and humanity. 


    Want to read the issue for yourself? Subscribe here!

    Nicolas Anstett is the 2015 Literary House Press Intern at the Rose O’Neill Literary House. He will be joining the Cherry Tree staff as a student screener for its second issue, beginning in August 2015.




  • September 18

    On October 7, 2014, the Literary House Press will launch its first trade paperback, an anthology of brand-new work called The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume, co-edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby.

    Poets from across the country signed on to participate in this unusual writing experiment. Once each poet agreed, Jehanne, the resident perfumista, chose a specific scent from a designer perfume house, picking a fragrance which seemed compatible with what she knew of that particular writer: personality, writing style, recurring subjects, themes, or motifs. Each contributor was instructed to compose a poem in response to his/her individually selected vial of perfume: “The poem can be an interpretation of the scent, a memory, a series of associations, or some entirely different kind of interaction with the fragrance. You can wear the perfume or sprinkle it on your pillow or just sniff the scent in its glass vial—whatever works best for your process.”

    In the coming months, the poems that Jehanne and Lindsay received explored the spectrum of human experience and poetic subject matter: ars poeticas, poems about place and childhood, poems about scent and philosophy, poems about love and longing and grief. Instead of collecting poems primarily about perfume, the editors found themselves gathering together a diverse assortment of pieces that used scent as a way into various subjects, narratives waiting to be written, waiting to be triggered by the memory-laden sense of smell.

    During the winter and spring months of 2014, Literary House Press Intern Samantha Gross joined the team—working many hours with Jehanne and Lindsay in the designing, proofing, and finalizing of the completed book. This was a labor-intensive and extremely detail-oriented process that, after many drafts, ended with the lush printed book. No, it is not scratch and sniff. Sorry about that. But it has a strikingly stark and beautiful cover designed by Carla Echevarria, a preface essay by Coming to My Senses author Alyssa Harad in which she draws together the various inherent connections between perfume and poetry, and, of course, 100 brand-new poems from accomplished contemporary American poets. In the back of the book is a section of “Contributors’ & Matchmaking Notes” in which, following a brief biographical note, each poet’s perfume-pairing is listed.

    The first critical review of The Book of Scented Things came from poet Claire Trévien at Sabotage Reviews, who herself headed a very similar pair of UK-based perfume-poetry micro-anthologies, Penning Perfumes. Trévien says, “[T]here is no need to convince me on the logic of pairing perfume and poetry, but for anyone in doubt, both the introduction by Dubrow, and the preface by Alyssa Harad tease out the benefits of pairing two art forms some might qualify as niche or irrelevant.” Reviews have also begun coming in from some popular perfume blogs, including Bois de Jasmin and independent perfumer Ayala Moriel’s Smelly Blog.

    Finally, after months of intense anticipation and loving preparation, The Book of Scented Things will be presented to the reading and sniffing world at its home launch party. On October 7 at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, the Press will release this new poetry anthology with a celebratory reading featuring five regional contributors—Sandra Beasley, Meredith Davies Hadaway, James Allen Hall, Leslie Harrison, and Shara Lessley—and both co-editors, the unveiling of a commemorative letterpress broadside, a raffle for a bottle of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, and an assortment of black-and-white treats from JoJo’s Cupcakes and Cream and bubbly drinks. It should be a dazzling evening for all of your senses. The Press will follow up this special event with an encore presentation in Washington, DC—a second book launch event to be held at the Arts Club of Washington on October 29 at 7:00 p.m.

    The Book of Scented Things will be available for purchase in select independent bookstores and online at Small Press Distribution

  • July 1

    Arisa White was the first Cave Canem Fellow at the Rose O’Neill Literary House back in 2011.

    As the Rose O’Neill Literary House says goodbye to the fourth Cave Canem Fellow, Jamaal May, we caught up with our first Cave Canem Fellow Arisa White, who spent a month on campus in the summer of 2011, and has been very busy since.

    1) How is life?

    Life is crazy busy right now but all in good ways. I got married in January to Samantha Florio and we are planning a honeymoon to Costa Rica—we so very much need it. (This horse year has been a true horse year for me.) In the fall I started working at Goddard in their lo-res BFA Creative Writing Program and I’m happy with the position. I just came back from the Juniper Writing Institute, where I was the poet in residence. I gave a reading with Paul Lisicky and Sabina Murray and facilitated a craft workshop, using mindfulness and somatic-awareness exercises to generate writing—it all went well and felt personally successful. And I just finished curating an essay series for Zora Magazine, called Anger Portraits: A Digital Salon, which I think is going to help move the conversation about black women and anger into a deeper direction.


    image2) I saw on Facebook that you just last week reached your goal on Kickstarter to fund Post Pardon: The Opera. Congratulations! Please tell me a little bit about this project. 

    Thank you! We reached and exceeded our goal by $1300! It was my first time running a Kickstarter campaign, so I’m glad we did so well. This project is an adaptation of the poetry collection, Post Pardon, which was inspired by the death of poet Reetika Vazirani. I used the poems to contemplate why a mother would kill her child, then herself. I received a grant from the City of Oakland to write the libretto and create the musical score. For this project I am collaborating with tenor-saxophonist and pianist Jessica Jones, who’s based in Brooklyn, NY. We’ve created something that is experimental, jazzy, and a sound of it’s own. As a part of the grant, we will present our first public concert of songs on July 13. We have six vocalists and three musicians on board who have been so very much dedicated to the project—it’s truly amazing to see an idea become live before you.


    image3) So Post Pardon opens on July 13th, but what else are you working on?

    I’ve been working on a series of epistolary poems, addressed to my estranged father. I started this two years ago when my mother asked me if I wanted to write my father, who I haven’t seen since I was three years old. I wrote poems instead. He lives in Guyana now, and with a grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, I will take a trip to Guyana to give him a copy of the poems. Prior to my trip to South America in early 2015, I will self-publish the epistolary poems, 100 in total, and give away 95 copies in exchange for letters written to one’s estranged father. Later this summer, I will put out a call for letters on my website.

    For the month of August I will be in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and there I will work on imagining A Penny Saved as a dance-theater performance in collaboration with choreographer Sonia Dawkins and director Charlotte Tiencken. I’m looking forward to that time to allow my mind to create. Also, this is the first time that I am collaborating in this manner. I haven’t worked with Sonia before and I’m looking forward to learning her movement language, how she approaches emotional nuances with her body. I was an intern at Jacob’s Pillow when I met Charlotte. We held my interview for the internship while I was studying abroad in Ghana. It was an effort to coordinate the time we would speak … I enjoyed Charlotte’s energy and demeanor, and her creative visions were on point. So Charlotte, Sonia, and I are coming together to imagine what can come of a selected batch of poems from A Penny Saved, and I find that this project presents a wonderful tension: bringing movement to a story about a woman held captive in her home.


    image4) Have you read any good poets lately?

    Yes. You Good Thing, by Dara Wier, Proxy by R. Erica Doyle, Jamaal May’s Hum, and Allegiance by Francine J. Harris, and Ayiti by Roxane Gay. I have a tower of books in my office that I need more time to sit and read … one day soon.

  • June 17

    Helen by Claire Spaulding

    Here’s how good it is: I envy you for not having read it yet, because it means you get to read it for the first time.

    ~ Patrick Ryan Editor-in-Chief

    I agree.

    After more than 300 submissions to the One Teen Story contest, guest judge Matt de la Peña selected this year’s winner: Helen by Claire Spaulding. This is a beautiful story that explores the many different forms and shapes of love, and does so in a way that you won’t realize until it hits you like leaving an air conditioned home on a hot humid day. As the second winner of the competition, this is a great follow up from last year’s winner, Night Swimming by Nicole Acton.

    As Patrick Ryan stated, this is a great story to read for the first time and I want to respect that idea and not write any thoughts that would require spoiler alerts. Instead, I’ll leave you with my favorite line from the story and a link, here, to the interview with Claire.

    Favorite piece of prose:

    the moths swirled about the porch light and danced their own dance, desperate to escape the darkness.

    Happy Reading,


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.

  • June 17

    The Rose O’Neill Literary House’s summertime Red Mug Sale …

    From now until the end of August 2014, with a purchase of any broadside or any Literary House Press book, you can get one of our classic red mugs for free.

    Copies of LHP books and broadsides are available for purchase and may be ordered by contacting :

    Domestic shipping for Media Mail is $5 for the first item plus $1 for each additional item. Overnight is $15 for the first item plus $2 for each additional item. 2-day air is $12 for the first item plus $1 for each additional item. International shipping by special request.



    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.

  • May 21

    One Small Step By: Holly Hilliard

    I’m cleaning the chicken coop in my mother’s five-inch stilettos when I hear a car pull into the driveway.

    So many questions from this opening line and I don’t know where to start. Like all good opening lines, it makes you want to read more - to find out why someone would be cleaning the chicken coop in their mother’s five-inch stilettos -  then find out who is pulling into their driveway. To add confusion to the final story before the winner of the One Teen Story contest, here is a video by Editor-in-Chief of OTS, Patrick Ryan.


    * Spoilers *

    So this story is about a girl, Sam – short for Samantha, who cleans a chicken coop in her mother’s stilettos. Easy. Until you read that she is a 17-year-old girl who is freaking out that her younger 14-year-old sister is going to the senior prom with a douchebag, Sam’s words – not mine, named Ken. Less easy. Sam has a date, but is only planning on attending so as to keep an eye on her sister, but her date never shows up and so he could also be called a douchebag, again – Sam’s words, but he has an excuse that I won’t spoil, and you should really read the story. Tricky.

    As Holly Hilliard writes in the interview with Patrick Ryan:

    I’m from a small town in southern Ohio, so a lot of my friends and classmates had farm animals. We actually used to get a week off from school every September for the county fair, since so many students had livestock. I lived in the middle of town, so I didn’t have farm animals, but I have some good memories of hanging out at my friends’ farms.

    I grew up in a similar setting in Kent County and went to school with a few kids who had to get up in the morning and milk the cows or feed the chickens before going to work or school. This idea might seem foreign in today’s world as more people move to cities and suburbs and have nothing to do with farms and where our food comes from. With the fact that this setting and situation might seem foreign, or at the very least different, adds to Sam’s isolation and the reader’s sympathy for her.

    She has to care for animals on a farm no matter the weather, the time of day, her mood, or what else is going on in her life. The animals depend on her as if she were their parent. And it feels real. This story felt as real as the holes in the mud made by those stilettos.

    As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this is the 8th and final story before the winner of OTS Volume II is announced. Actually, I am late reading and writing this, and the winner has already been announced. So, if you want to know you can click here to see. If you want to wait, I’ll be publishing that article soon.


    Happy Reading,


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.

  • May 7

    With the 2013-2014 academic year in the books, the staff at the Rose O’Neill Literary House turns their attention towards the three upcoming Summer Poetry Salons set to take place on May 27, June 24 and July 22. But before we do, we’d like to revisit some of the highlights of this past year and we begin, naturally, with our Literary Events …


    Fall Semester

    In the fall, the Rose O’Neill Literary House hosted the “Chicano/a and Latino/a Voices” Series, which featured writers Justin Torres and Joy Castro, poet Eduardo C. Corral, and Washington College Professor Crystal Kurzen.

    imageJustin Torres was the opening act of the semester, reading from his book We the Animals, printed in 2011 by Mariner Books. Torres shared with us his writing technique—a language crisp, clean, and lean; and in this style we are able see the beauty in moments when beauty is hard to imagine. In anticipation of his visit, a broadside was made with the opening words to his book, which you can see here.

    imageJoy Castro’s reading was powerful. She read from several of her nonfiction works, including Island of Bones and The Truth Book. We saw Joy a few months later at the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle, where she led a panel of writers, all of whom contributed to Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family. Castro is the editor of this great collection, which was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2013.

    At our fall Tea & Talk lecture, Professor Crystal Kurzen presented her work on how contemporary Chicana/o writers revise and expand the genre conventions of autobiography in order to represent themselves and their communities on their own terms. At Washington College, Professor Kurzen teaches courses in literature and composition and in American, Chicana/o, and Latina/o literatures.

    imageTo round out the series, the Literary House welcomed poet Eduardo C. Corral. Corral read poems from his collection Slow Lightning, from which one of the poems— “Immigration and Naturalization Service Report #46” —was made into a broadside, which you can see here. We also ran into Corral at AWP, and since then it seems he has been very busy, traveling and giving readings. So keep your eye out—he might be in your area soon.

    Spring Semester

    Cindy and Winnie in her backyard on 27th StreetIn the spring, we moved to our “Writing for (and about) Young Adults” Series and opened with fiction writer Cynthia Hand. Hand is the author of Unearthly Series and at her event, she read from the first book in the series as well as a section from her upcoming book, The Last Time We Say Goodbye. Judging from her website, I would say she is fairly happy with the progress. Her new book is to be out in winter 2015.

    On March 4th, we welcomed a duo of Washington College professors with Melissa Deckman and Joseph Prud’Homme, whose spring Tea & Talk looked at the debate of teaching religion in schools, in an event titled “Curriculum and the Culture Wars: Debating the Bible’s Place in Public Schools.” This was a lively debate with more questions than there was time to answer them. Their book of the same title is published by Peter Lang International Academic Publishers. Deckman and Prud’Homme are both faculty members of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College.

    Winter at the Lit HouseWinter at the Lit HouseThe next event was scheduled to be Emily Danforth, but Mother Nature and the bitter snows of this past winter had a different plan, and we were forced to move Emily’s reading to the end of April, making Meg Kearney our next guest.


    Poet Meg Kearney read from The Secret of Me: A Novel in Verse for Young Adults and the sequel, The Girl in the Mirror: A Novel in Poems & Journal Entries, and revealed there was a third book coming down the line. Stay tuned. Her poem, “First Poem Since the World Changed,” was printed as a broadside at the Lit House letterpress studio, which can be viewed here.

    Then we welcomed Emily Danforth who arrived to town in the pleasant spring weather we missed all month. While at the Lit House, Danforth became intrigued by the curious tradition of turning the posters of poor readings upside down. She asked how she could get her poster upside down, but after a great evening it was clear hers would remain upright.

    Tallulah BankheadDuring her reading, she quoted Tallulah Bankhead, famous actress of the 1940’s and 50’s, and was thrilled to learn that Bankhead is buried at St. Paul’s Church, less than 15 miles from Washington College. We took a trip out to see her grave before Danforth had to catch her train.


    And that was how the series ended. But we had one more visitor this year.

    imageShara Lessley was the 2014 Mary Wood Fellow and first poet to be awarded the Fellowship. Shara spent five days on campus meeting with students, and participating in two events: a craft talk titled “Oh, The Places You’ll Go: Writing from Experience,” and gave a wonderful poetry reading two days later that told the story of her experiences of living in Jordan for two years. The Mary Wood Fellowship at The Rose O’Neill Literary House is awarded biennially to an emerging female writer—in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction—who has published a first book. The Fellowship enables female creative writing students at Washington College to work with and learn from successful female writers such as past Fellows Laura van den Berg, Hannah Tinti, and Irina Reyn, who all spent five days on campus. Eastern Shore author Mary Wood, whose support makes the fellowship possible, is a 1968 graduate of the College and a former member of its Board of Visitors and Governors. 


    The past eight months the Literary House Press produced four new broadsides thanks to the work of Master Printer Mike Kaylor and the design work of Director Jehanne Dubrow and Assistant Director Lindsay Lusby. As mentioned above, the broadsides include an excerpt from Justin Torres’ book We the Animals, the poem “Immigration and Naturalization Service Report #46” by Eduardo C. Corral, a poem by Meg Kearney titled “First Poem Since the World Changed,” but also the second AWP Commemorative Broadside. This year the Literary House selected poet Nance Van Winckel’s piece from Willow Springs, “Because B.” All broadsides can be viewed and are for purchase at the Literary House Press website, while supplies last.

    imageAssociation of Writers and Writing Programs Conference

    Moving on to our students, and speaking of AWP, this year’s annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference was in the wonderful city of Seattle, where in late February, the Lit House staff and four students (Harris Allgeier ’14, Grace Arenas ’14, Todd Cooley ’15, and Maddie Zins ’15) found more sunshine than the typical Seattle weather, and certainly more than we had back on the Eastern Shore. As our bus driver told us, “Don’t tell anyone it’s sunny in Seattle. We keep it a secret.” (Sorry for giving it away!) The weather held and we were able to enjoy the many hundreds of readings, panel discussions, authors’ signings and the famous Pike Place Market, about six blocks from the Convention Center.

    imageAlso at the Conference, the Lit House staff presented our beautiful commemorative broadside to poet Nance Van Winckel, who stopped by the Literary House Bookfair table to sign all 75 copies. You can see the making of her broadside, “Because B,” in a short film shot and edited by Washington College videographer, Shane Brill ’03. In the video you get to see the entire designing process and printing process compressed into 90 fun seconds.

    Our Pegasus Interns

    For the third year in a row, students were interviewed and selected to be the Pegasus Media Interns and hired to create an entire online yearbook. This huge task, headed by project manager Jeremy Quintin ’14, and interns Ariel Jicha ’15 and Eric Siegel ’16, began back in September. The 2013- 2014 Pegasus Yearbook will go live in the week before the 2014 Commencement.

    Our Literary House Press Intern

    imageThis year’s Literary House Press Intern was Samantha Gross ’14. During the spring semester, Sam worked primarily on the Literary House Press’s newest book project, The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume—our first trade paperback. Over the past year, the Literary House staff solicited the work of 100 contemporary poets, asking them to write brand-new poems for us inspired by the perfumes selected and sent out by Director Jehanne Dubrow. The book was recently completed and will go on sale at our official Book Launch event on October 7at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House. For more on the making of this book you can read this article and this article by Sam Gross.


    Summer Interns

    For the second summer in a row, the Literary House will have on staff a Summer Intern, and this year there’ll be two to help us tackle the growing workload. Julie Armstrong ’15 and Ryan Manning ’17 will work over the summer to help the Lit House prepare for next year’s event schedule, aid in the launch of our new literary journal Cherry Tree, and assist in creating the next Sophie Kerr Prize Anthology.

    Aileen Gray was the 2013 Summer Intern and helped organize the Summer Poetry Salons, the completion of Lost Originals, and planned from start to finish an event titled “Literary Publishing from the Inside Out: Advice for Publishing Your Own Work, and the Work of Others,” with poet Mary Biddinger, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Barn Owl Review and co-editor of The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (University of Akron Press, 2011). She is Assistant Chair of the English Department at the University of Akron, where she teaches literature, poetry writing, and literary publishing.

    For more information about the Literary House Interns Program, visit this page.

    Our Prize Winners

    Valerie Dunn ’15 became the second student to be awarded The Literary House Genre Fiction Prize, with her short story, “The Shoe That Fit.” The Prize is awarded to a Washington College undergraduate for the best work of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or horror. The winning entry receives a cash prize of $500.

    Sarah Roy ’14, with her piece, “All Saints,” took home this year’s William W. Warner Prize for Creative Writing on Nature and the Environment. And with such high quality submissions, this year we also awarded an Honorable Mention for the Warner Prize to Reilly Cox ’16 for his piece, “The Geladas, the Gazelle, and the Bovine.” The Prize is awarded to the Washington College undergraduate who shows the greatest aptitude for writing about nature and the environment. The winning entry receives a cash prize of $1,000.

    Alex Stinton ’14, one of five 2014 Sophie Kerr Finalists, won The Jude & Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize for his poem “A Mother Remembers.” And like the Warner Prize, this year we awarded an Honorable Mention for the Pfister Prize to Valerie Dunn ’15 for her poem “Shearing.” The Prize is awarded to the Washington College undergraduate for a single poem.  The winning entry receives a cash prize of $100 and a certificate from the Academy of American Poets.

    Literary House Press

    The Literary House Press saw another busy year with the completion of our first trade paperback, a poetry anthology called The Book of Scented Things; as well as the early planning stages for our next book project: a chapbook containing an original short story by fiction writer, playwright, and translator James Magruder, set to be released in fall of 2015. Last year was focused on the chapbook, Lost Originals, a collection of poems by poet Mary Jo Salter, who will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Sophie Kerr Prize Event at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s main branch in downtown Baltimore.

    Introducing Cherry Tree

    imageAnd then there is Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College. In the spring semester, Director of the Lit House, Professor Jehanne Dubrow, taught a class on “Literary Editing & Publishing.” In the class, students received hands-on training in the process of editing and publishing a top-tier literary journal. They analyzed literary markets as they learned the challenging process of stewarding work from the nation’s most prestigious emerging and established writers into print. Students who have completed this class, which will be taught again each fall semester, are then qualified to become screeners for Cherry Tree, helping us to sort through the delicious pile of slush.

    The editorial staff for Cherry Tree will include:founder & editor, Jehanne Dubrow (Literary House Director and Associate Professor of English);managing editor, Lindsay Lusby (Literary House Assistant Director);fiction editor, Kate Kostelnik (Assistant Director of the Writing Center and Lecturer in English);poetry & creative nonfiction editor, James Allen Hall (Associate Professor of English); senior poetry reader, Michele Santamaria (Instructional Coordinator at Washington College’s Miller Library); and, senior fiction reader, Owen Bailey (Literary House Administrative Assistant).

    Cherry Tree’s debut issue is scheduled for release on February 15, 2015. We welcome submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. We read manuscripts between August 15 and October 15, submitted electronically via Submittable.

    To keep up with all the happenings at the Literary House, check in with our Lit House Blog and our all new Cherry Tree Blog: Blossom. Over the summer, we will be producing, in collaboration with the Department of English, C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience, and the Center for Environment & Society, the 2014- 2015 Literary Events Brochure.

    Until then, come visit us this summer as we host our third annual Summer Poetry Salon Series, beginning Tuesday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m. with poets Carrie Jerrell and Will Schutt, as well as The Pam Ortiz Band. On Tuesday, June 24 at 4:30 p.m. we will have 2014 Cave Canem Fellow Jamaal May, poet Tarfia Faizullah, and musical group Harp & Soul, led by our 2013-2014 Literary House Writer-in-Residence Meredith Davies Hadaway on the Celtic harp. Finally on Tuesday, July 22 at 4:30 p.m., we finish off the season with the Salon of American Jewish poets, featuring Director Jehanne Dubrow, Julie Enszer, Erika Meitner, Mira Rosenthal, Jason Schneiderman, and Yerra Sugarman.


    Thanks everyone for such a great year!


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • December 4

    The following books will be on sale from now until the end of December …

    For the Holiday season we are offering these books at a 40% discount until the end of the year.

    To order one of these books, or any of our other merchandise please visit our website and contact Owen Bailey at obailey2@washcoll.edu or (410) 810-5768.


    Happy Holidays!

  • May 1

    2014 Literary House Press Intern, senior Samantha Gross, takes us behind the curtain of the soon-to-be-released poetry anthology, The Book of Scented Things—showing us the work that follows the printing of a new book.

    So, you have the freshly published book sitting on the table in front of you and about 500 copies sitting in cardboard boxes that you, your boss, and the unfortunate Pegasus intern have lugged up to said boss’s office. All the work is done, and it’s time to sit and admire and marvel read and high-five. 


    Oh, no. I would say publishing the book is maybe the midway point between being “done.” The printed book represents the first half of your efforts—those of brainstorming, soliciting, hoping, planning, editing, proofreading, communicating, and creating. However, it also represents cataloging, marketing, publicity, and advertising. And yes, those words spring to mind a certain phrase we often forget about in writing: business. Time to shift from the art of creating a book to the business of making sure those 500 copies don’t sit in your boss’s office from here unto eternity. A book can be the next best thing in the literary world, but no one is going to hear about it until someone gets the word out there. 

    So firstly, you’ve got to handle the little details you wouldn’t normally consider. Those little numbers by the barcode on the back? Or the ISBN sign you see on every single book you’ll ever read in your life? Those are important. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and every book has its own unique one consisting of 13 digits. Unless you want to keep your book super private, you need an ISBN code. This process involves quite a bit, particularly when there are a little over 100 contributors like we had with The Book of Scented Things. Aforementioned boss had to enter in every single one of those contributors manually.

    After you’ve established that your book is a real book with real intention of distribution, you need to get it copyrighted with the Library of Congress. This will, thankfully, be a little easier than the ISBN documenting, and will take significantly less time. It is, however, still very much necessary in the process of getting your book to market!

    After the tricky details, comes the fun part (or at least fun to me since I am a business minor): marketing and advertising! Our first level of marketing is to send out copies of the book to potential reviewers (we won’t say who!) in the literary world. The idea is that they will review the book in a formal matter and, in essence, continue spreading the word. We also sent out copies to perfume bloggers and perfume boutiques to add a unique twist to our classic marketing. After all, there are 100 perfumes mentioned and analyzed in this little anthology, plus the cover is both chic and simple. Can’t you picture a small selection sitting in a perfume boutique? 

    Next we brainstormed even more ideas to get more attention to the book. After all, and not to sound too biased, it’s a fantastic anthology that has the potential to do incredibly well. Perfume and cologne are reminiscent of everything elegant and chic and classic, and who doesn’t love feeling that way? I began listing ways we could publicize online some more. I came up with a list of more perfume and literary blogs while also looking into general beauty blogs. 

    However, my biggest thing is social media (call it a symptom of my generation!). I love the idea of using Instagram and Facebook to start a hashtag to generate conversation about different topics. I also am a great lover of blogging, so you might just be seeing some upcoming posts to complement the anthology. Maybe more information about a certain perfume that inspired your favorite poem? I know I’m checking out Atelier Cologne and Jo Malone after this… I may or may not have saved a lot of perfume pictures just in case our next intern develops a bit of a perfume interest as I have these past few months.

    With that said, this is my ultimate post on my last day as a Literary House Press Intern! It was an amazing experience working with Lindsay and Professor Dubrow (and Lola) and getting to make a little home in the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and I will be eternally grateful for all they’ve taught me! Any of you English majors near graduating and still here, make sure you stop by and pick up your free copy of The Book of Scented Things!

  • April 30

    The Feather Trick by: Angelica Baker

    “I listened for the other details of her afternoon that she wasn’t telling me -”

    Sometimes, in life, you behave in a way you know you shouldn’t, and later, when you remember the moment, you think about how you should have behaved, but in that moment you can’t stop yourself. You act your age and with the emotions of said moment.

    As I read this story I kept thinking of the word premonition. Indeed, the story is set up to give the reader evidence that something bad has happened or is about to happen – right from the opening line.

    “On a spring afternoon during my freshman year of college, my mother called me, said my brother’s name once, and began to cry.”

    In reading this line my mind immediately thought her brother was dead. Wonder what that says about me. Probably that I read a lot of depressing literature, but most good literature is depressing. Just ask Tess of the D’urbervilles. Poor Tess. But it turns out, (spoiler alert) the brother is not dead, just a weird teenager behaving in ways that many teenagers grow up hoping to forget or in today’s world hoping those behaviors aren’t recorded and placed on some social media platform.

    Back to the story, the older sister, thinking she knows what is best for her brother, yet acting in her own interest, is a failure: just kidding. She behaves the way many older siblings behave: as a slightly older child who may have more answers (certainly more opinions), but definitely not all the answers. As the Angelica Baker writes in an interview:

    I found myself lingering on the idea of what it means to be an older sibling, to feel so fiercely protective of your younger siblings. And yet as a teenager you’re trying to navigate the adult world, and it’s hard enough to protect yourself. Let alone someone else. So you naturally end up feeling like a failure, as the eldest.

    For siblings two years apart, there is a time span when their adolescence over laps and that seems, at least in this story, to come right before the sister (our narrator) grows out of it, leaving her brother behind as she finds popularity, friends, and a boyfriend. So what of the brother’s response? He could have either gone one of two ways: clinging to his big sister hoping their relationship will go back to the way it was, or getting the memo and not clinging. I won’t say what happens, but I’ll add that I’m hard pressed to decide which is sadder.

    Again I refer to the author’s words:

    I think those are painful moments—when you realize that there was a time when someone needed you, and that you couldn’t do it. Often that window closes. You can try to do better in the future, but by then you’ll be playing catch up. You’ve lost the chance to get it right on your first try. And I think it’s painful when it happens with family, with friends, with significant others. She hasn’t betrayed him, or willfully harmed him, but she was afraid and she withdrew, and now it’s too late to reach him in the same way.

    Being a younger brother myself, I liked this story. It demonstrates the true behavior and social patterns of siblings while blurring the lines of blame in thick ambiguity, explaining that sometimes what happens is not any one person’s fault. Yes, someone might feel hurt more than another, but there is still a future.

    For more on this story, read this interview with OTS editor Patrick Ryan and watch the video below. And read it!


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • April 24

    Gorilla at Large by Robert Voedisch

    As you can see from the title and video below, this story is about a gorilla - kind of. It’s also about making mistakes as a teenager and why teenagers make stupid mistakes and try to run away from them, but I’ll stick to talking about the gorilla and let you read the story to find out about the rest.

    This is the first story I’ve read by Robert Voedisch and I love the way he begins: 

    “The commercials started in June.”

    Makes me think of A Christmas Carol, “Marley was dead: to begin with.” Later in the first paragraph he writes:

    “I assumed it was just another ad but there was only silence. It was strange.”

    From it’s description, it is a strange commercial, a gorilla riding a bicycle with no other information other than the phrase, ‘He is Coming.’ This beginning hooked my attention as if did the stories main character. This beginning also starts the story off on an unsettled undertone that is echoed by the characters.


    Now, in the internet age and digital television, if we see a commercial like the one below, which gives no information other than three words that appear in rapid succession, we can pause, rewind, and freeze each frame, see the words read, ‘He is Here.’ Still stumped, as I was when I saw this commercial for the first time this spring, we can look it up and learn it is nothing more than a cleaver add for a new show based on “The Strain” series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

    But Gorilla at Largetakes place in the age of VCRs, and with no way of searching for the answers, the characters leave to go down to the corner and ask the other kids in the neighborhood if they knew what it was about, leading us to the rest of the story, which circles the idea that nothing is as it appears. People can guess and speculate but only living through life do you get the answers. I believe this is a reminder of what it is like to conjecture and speculate when we have no means of truly learning or understanding.


    As the Editor-in-Chrief of One Teen Story writes:

    In this story, nothing is exactly how it seems. The gorilla isn’t a real gorilla. The gorilla commercials are both homegrown and strange. The quiet, unnoticed girl from long ago comes back as a model. She’s selling Halloween makeup, posing for pictures with bruises painted on her face. And the movie starring the gorilla is…kind of a dud.

    Like all short stories, there is a lot can can’t see that happens on the story’s periphery, creating an effective tool that adds to the already mysterious atmosphere of the commercial and the ignorance of the characters.

    To learn more, you can read the story by either subscribing to One Teen Story or find it at the Lit House library. You can also check out Robert Voedisch’s webpage and read his interview with Kerry Cullen.


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • April 24

    At the 2014 Senior Reading, the Rose O’Neill Literary House announced this year’s winners of three annual student creative writing prizes: The Literary House Genre Fiction Prize, The William W. Warner Prize for Creative Writing on Nature and the Environment, and The Jude & Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize.

    The Literary House Genre Fiction Prize is a brand-new prize awarded to a Washington College undergraduate for the best work of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or horror. The winner receives a cash prize of $500.

    This year’s prize was awarded to junior Val Dunn for her short story, “The Shoe That Fit.” 


    The William W. Warner Prize is awarded to the Washington College undergraduate who shows the greatest aptitude for writing about nature and the environment. This prize is named for, and was endowed in the honor of, William W. Warner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay, based on his experiences living and working among crab fishermen on the Chesapeake. According to Mr. Warner’s wishes, the judges will give preference to—but will in no way limit their consideration to—students who write about the natural history of our Atlantic Littoral, from the Canadian Arctic to the Gulf of Florida. The winner receives a cash prize of $1,000.

    This year’s Warner Prize was awarded to senior Sarah Roy for her piece, “All Saints.” Because of the high quality of submissions this year, we also awarded a $500 Honorable Mention for the Warner Prize to sophomore Reilly Cox for his piece, “The Geladas, the Gazelle, and the Bovine.”


    The Jude & Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize is also brand-new this year. It was created through the Academy of American Poets, one of the nation’s most influential poetry organizations, and is administered through the Washington College Department of English and the Rose O’Neill Literary House. The prize is awarded to a Washington College undergraduate for a single poem and the winner receives a cash prize of $100 and a certificate from the Academy of American Poets.

    This year’s Pfister Poetry Prize was awarded to senior Alex Stinton for his poem “A Mother Remembers.” Honorable Mention for the Pfister Prize was awarded to Val Dunn for her poem “Shearing.”


    We offer our most sincere congratulations to this year’s prize winners for their fine writing!


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • April 21

    The Rose O’Neill Literary House has awarded this year’s Cave Canem Residency to Detroit poet, Jamaal May.

    In June 2014, the Rose O’Neill Literary House will welcome Jamaal May to Chestertown for a month-long writer’s retreat. Jamaal was selected from this year’s pool of applicants as the winner of the Literary House’s 2014 Cave Canem Summer Residency

    While most of his time will be spent working on his own writing projects and quietly exploring the town, Jamaal will also be a part of our second Summer Poetry Salon on Tuesday, June 24 at 4:30PM, sharing the stage with poet Tarfia Faizullah.

    Jamaal May is from Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer. His first book, Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), received the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Other honors include the Indiana Review Prize, the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Stadler Fellowship, a Cave Canem Fellowship, and the 2014-2016 Kenyon Review Fellowship. Jamaal’s poems appear in such publications as The New Republic, The Believer, Poetry, Ploughshares, NYTimes.com, and Best American Poetry 2014. He co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series with Tarfia Faizullah.

    The Cave Canem Summer Residency at The Rose O’Neill Literary House is a partnership with Cave Canem, the nation’s preeminent organization for young African American poets. Cave Canem’s mission is to serve as “a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.” Our Cave Canem Summer Residency is a month-long Chestertown retreat offered annually to one outstanding former Cave Canem Fellow. Previous Summer Residents include poets Yona Harvey in 2013, Kevin Vaughn in 2012, and Arisa White in 2011. 


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • April 7

    2014 Literary House Press Intern, senior Samantha Gross, takes us behind the curtain of the soon-to-be-released The Book of Scented Things—talking us through the long, tedious process of editing a poetry anthology before final publication.

    2014 Literary House Press Intern, senior Samantha Gross.2014 Literary House Press Intern, senior Samantha Gross.Much like the process of selecting perfumes for The Book of Scented Things, there is a sort of art form to good writing. Anyone can be taught to write, but not everyone, particularly in this day and age of character counts and texting shortcuts, understands the beauty of the written word in its correct form. If I had a penny for the each time I have had friends say, “Oh, I thought it was spelled rediculous,” I would have already paid off my student loans. The biggest letdown was when the Associated Press changed e - mail to email because it, essentially bowed down to popularity over the former usage or in press release terminology, “it evolved.” If you can guess, I refuse to comply.

    I know, not everything you write needs a meticulous grammar check. I, for one, am guilty of being a terrible texter who often forgets important articles or punctuation marks. However, when it comes to essays or creative writing, it’s important to employ this art of proofreading. How can I take a job offer seriously when it makes so egregious an error as misspelling an institution’s name? The world is not spinning so fast that you can’t take extra time to scan documents for proper spellings and word placements. When Lindsay and Professor Dubrow talked with me about the job of the Literary House Press Intern for the spring semester, I jumped at the thought of being able to assist in proofreading the anthology. I think I even gushed, saying, “Even if you don’t want me as an intern, I can totally help proofread on the side.” Hey, if my science friends can get excited over agonists and antagonists in cell terminology, I can get excited when people remember to use the oxford comma.

    Anyhow, proofreading as an art does not necessarily take talent so much as it takes consciousness and practice. No one can give you the right sense of smell to differentiate good perfumes or the sense of taste to select the best wine, but everyone can master the art of proofreading. It’s a process, really. And since I like lists, I’m going to describe it as so, using The Book of Scented Things as a guide.

    Phase 1: The Initial Reading

    So, you get the manuscript in front of you. It’s printed  in all its 200 page glory, and  it sort of feels like a secret Christmas present because, sitting in front of you is a book that is yet unpublished. Imagine how the editors of the Harry Potter series felt! You, as the intern proofreader, are one of the few sets of eyes that are able to read this anthology in its entirety, and you’re going to get to do it long before its fall release date. (I’m not going to lie to you when I say this initial phase might just be the reason why I want to go into editing and publishing in the long run. Constant Christmas mornings? Yes, please!)

    Let this initial reading be you reading this book for the first time, like a regular reader. Get into the plot of the poems, marvel at that incredible use of an adjective, and do not worry about any proper proofreading just yet. Even if you try to look at this new manuscript with editor glasses you’re going to slip into your reader glasses anyway, so enjoy it! Get lost in the descriptions, imagine the scents, and picture the imagery.

    Phase 2: The Style Sheet Reading

    Okay, so now that you’ve gotten the reading-for-pleasure out of your system, it’s time to force those proofreading glasses back on. One of the processes that the LHP does, which I absolutely love, is to put together a comprehensive style sheet of all the words or phrases that require a second look. Now, these sheets are not necessarily misspells or misuses of words. They are simply uncommon words or phrases that you will want to double check. For example, we listed every contributor’s name and the perfumes on the list simply because they weren’t common language. Sometimes this leads to a change in the word (and this is where the hyphen debates arise), other times it simply means nothing but that we took time to look at it twice.

    Once you’ve completed the style sheet, you’ll want to send each contributor a list pertaining to their piece and a PDF file of what their poem will ultimately look like. If you found anything in your style sheet reading that would require an explanation, then it is called a “query,” and the contributor will reply with their answer or preference. These queries can be the spelling of a word, confusion over a foreign word or name, or the decision to hyphenate or not hyphenate something.

    Phase 3: The Proofread Reading

    Now is when you get to go crazy with the red pen, marking up any instance that might be questionable. Fix cliche to cliché or add that forgotten comma in its rightful place. I think I’ve waxed on about the beauty of grammar checking enough, so I’ll save you from the additional paragraph.

    Phase 4: The Read, Read, Read Reading

    You’re going to want to read this piece so many times that that initial Christmas morning read will seem a distant dream. You’re going to read it enough that when you finally say something to Professor Hall, it’s going to be, “Oh you wrote ‘Not Her Body’ for the anthology” without even needing to double check it. This way when you send it to print (in our case, 48 Hour Books in Akron, Ohio, which is a fantastic service that everyone should use because their customer service is so good), you are 100% confident in its perfection. 

    Phase 5: The Marvel Reading

    This reading, which may never repeat itself or which may repeat itself constantly, is the reading you do of the hard copy. The book is printed, it’s beautiful, it looks like a work of art, and it is yours now, meant to be placed on your bookshelf. Your job is done, and now you simply can return to the initial reading phase and read it for pleasure when you like, knowing that you contributed the small, but refined art of proofreading and the continuance of literature.

    Oh, and you’ll get to see your name in print on the inside pages as physical proof. Instagram that page as you like. 

    <u>The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume</u>, the Literary House Press's first trade paperback, will be released October 2014.<u>The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume</u>, the Literary House Press's first trade paperback, will be released October 2014.


  • January 30

    Proper Girls by Lisa Ko

    This is perhaps my favorite story so far in the second volume of OTS.

    Before, I’d never heard of Lisa Ko. Now I can’t wait to read the rest of the stories in this forthcoming collection. “Proper Girls” is about a Chinese-American family that moves from their neighborhood in Queens, New York to an all-white suburb of New Jersey. Cyn, short for Cynthia, is the narrator of the story, a 16-17 year-old student struggling with identity personally, culturally and with in her own family.

    As the Patrick Ryan, editor-in-chief of OTS, writes, “I was first drawn to Lisa Ko’s “Proper Girls” because of its voice. The narrator in this story is someone you want to spend time with, someone you find both funny and endearing. Someone you want to listen to.” Indeed, the narrator takes you in the first two sentences:

    At the beginning of my junior year of high school, Lyn lit a garbage can on fire in the science wing bathroom. Things had gotten weird after she shaved her head.

    Yes, that is the opening of the story titled “Proper Girls.”

    (Spoiler Alert!)

    It takes place in the 1980’s,  complete with all the archaic technology we have forgotten about, like payphones. How did high school students communicate before social media and cell phones? They didn’t, at least not as often. And in this world with a lack of communication, Cyn misses the most important people in her life - the people whom with she most identified.

    After setting fire to the garbage can, her sister Lyn is sent to live with their aunt in Chicago and Cyn misses her for months with only a few phone conversations and one letter that doesn’t make it. When Cyn is grounded and can’t use the phone, she thinks about how much she misses her boyfriend Kai who lives 45 minutes away in the city, and through out the story is the longing to see her old friends from her old neighborhood and her old high school.

    What is so good about this story is how it shapes personal identity or how people shape their identity. Cyn once identified herself with the mostly Chinese neighborhood in Queens, then it was taken away; she identified herself with her sister, going as far to say that some people mistook them for twins, until Lyn shaved her head, set fire to the garbage can and went to live in Chicago for the rest of the school year. After all this she puts her heart out in the world to try and see what happens and gets hurt in the process.

    Ryan also writes:

    “Cultural identity plays a big part in “Proper Girls.” So does sibling affection/rivalry. But perhaps what’s most at stake here is identity on a much more personal level. For most of us, there’s always something of a disparity between what we see when we look inward and how other people regard us, just as there’s a difference between how we picture ourselves and what we see when we look in the mirror.”

    To end, here is some advise from her interview with Patrick Ryan on writing.

    I keep returning to something one of my writing teachers, David Mura, said to another one of my teachers, Junot Diaz: that in order to write the book you want to write, you have to become the person you need to be in order to write that book. This reminds me that writing isn’t just about working hard and wanting to finish a book or even about being a good writer—it’s also about the work you gotta do within yourself.

  • January 29

    The power of writing …

    One of the first articles I read (and listened to) this new year was Editing Your Life’s Stories Can Create Happier Endings, by NPR reporter Lulu Miller. It dicusses the power of writing and how writing can help people cope with the struggles in their lives by focusing on a specific event and making sense of a negative outcome by putting their memory into words.

    Why do I mention this when I’m suppose to be talking about Beneath a Meth Moon?

    First, this type of therapy has been proven to help. Just ask professors Tim Wilson at the University of Virginia and James Pennebaker at the University of Texas at Austin. In the process of opening yourself up and by free writing on a particular troubling subject or event, you can begin to see how you remember that event and can begin to make new sense of it or to see it in a way you couldn’t before.

    Another way to think about it is dreaming. Over the years, scientists have discovered that dreaming is a way for the brain to make sense of the new information it received during the day, and to sort through what is important, what knowledge will be helpful later, and what we don’t need to remember, thereby also discovering the importance of forgetting. This writing exercise does the same, helping people better understand why something happened, how it happened, and how it either was or was not their fault.

    Again, why do I mention this?

    Second, without any spoilers, the main character of Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath a Meth Moon, Laurel Daneau, does just this and perhaps without realizing what she is doing. She writes, a lot - through the good times and through the bad. The story is written through her point of view, and through her words we discover what happened to her at the same time she begins to understand and make sense of the series of events that brought her to the current time in the story. But more importantly, she learns how to put the past behind her and move on, all of which makes her a stronger person.

    This story is about so much more than what I just wrote, but like I said - no spoilers. If you want to learn more it is a great read. Below is an interview with Jacqueline Woodson talking about how she came to write this story.

    Come out and hear her read at the Rose O’Neill Literary House at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, February 4th. This event is free and open to the public.

    Co-sponsored by: Black Studies Program, the Department of Education, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and the Sophie Kerr Committee.

  • January 28

    H. G. Wells and Edward Gorey …

    I’m not going to lie: I love books and not just because I love reading them. Some are beautifully made: just look at the work we do here at the Literary House Press. Books can be a great place to combine two different forms of art: the written word and the illustrated story, which is was I have you for you today.

    But first, classics that are classic for good reason and I try to mix them in when every I can. Many times that comes with a modern book that clearly draws inspiration from a classic. When I come across one of those books, I try to read the inspiration first. It’s a lot like reading a book before seeing the movie.

    Over the past year I have been catching up on my classical science fiction literature, and more specifically the works of H. G. Wells. This came from my experience in reading The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma, translated by Nick Caistor (website here). As I was reading, the book made many references to The Time Machine, and I knew I had to read it. Before then, the only Wells book I’d read was The First Men in the Moon, and oh the rules of physics that book breaks. A great read outside of the science class room. Anyway, it was a different narration from what I’m used to, but I liked it. It’s how Wells writes.

    imageThen I found a beautiful edition of The War of the Worlds when I came across this article by Maria Popova, who is awesome, of Brain Pickings, which is her awesome creation. I had to have book and only $10 dollars later, I did.

    The War of the Worlds was published in 1898, one year before Dracula, which Gorey also illustrated. (Click here for that piece of beauty).

    I love Edward Gorey (as well as Gustave Doré for the work he did one The Raven and Dante’s Inferno) and I love most everything that he did and he did a lot. Here is another article from Brain Pickings that shows the a collection of the classics he illustrated, which include the works of Bernard Shaw, Herman Melville, Marcel Proust, Henry James and Franz Kafka. I was tickled when I saw he illustrated The War of the Worlds, understanding that his signature would work very well with Well’s writing.

    imageHis illustrations add a pleasant visual element that is not overpowering. They are a delicate piece of art a the beginning of each chapter that lends a hint as to what will happen or what is happening without taking your imagination away from the text. Unlike films that often times pollute your our imagination, replacing the narrator in this book with Tom Cruise (trust Roger Ebert and don’t see the film), these 30 illustrations are subtle and thus float on the surface and dissolve in the words, adding to the reading experience.

    So read it, see it and enjoy it.

    ~ Owen Bailey

    P.S. Just because this is fun.


  • January 27

    The second in an annual letterpress broadside series from Literary House Press features Nance Van Winckel’s poem, “Because B.”

    imageFor this year’s AWP Conference in Seattle, we contacted Willow Springs Editor-in-Chief Sam Ligon to collaborate in the creation of the Literary House Press’s second annual commemorative broadside.  After careful consideration of a few dozen poems published in the Washington-based literary journal over the last several issues, we decided together upon Nance Van Winckel’s piece “Because B,” first published in issue 68 of Willow Springs in fall 2011. The brevity and subject matter of the poem were perfectly suited to the medium; and, of course, we loved it!

    Over this past year of letterpress broadside design, we’ve had the fun of experimenting with different paper dimensions. This poem gave us the perfect opportunity to explore the possibilities of a shape we had been secretly wanting to try: a square broadside. The title gave us the main image we would use: a large letter B would keep it simple and typography-based. After this realization, finalizing the design was just a matter of determining how to incorporate this image into the layout of the poem itself in order to create a cohesive and intentional arrangement. Serendipitously, the original poem broke into two clean stanzas of nearly even length. This allowed the text to fit snugly within the loops of our large B, with the title tucked into the pronounced, angular serifs of the Bookman Old Style typeface we chose. And once this puzzle was all pieced together, it formed our desired square. We chose Palatino Linotype for the poem text: a traditional letterpress typeface.

    We looked to the poem’s subject matter when picking out paper and ink colors. The setting of this piece is icy and gray, but there’s a bit of melt and mud in there too. We decided on a very heavy weight paper called Murillo in Light Gray—a shade that is both gray and slightly green, the color of muddy clay.  For the large letter B framing the poem: a darker, shinier gray color of ink, almost silver. And finally, for the poem text, title, and colophon: a classic black.

    After our custom photopolymer plates arrived from Boxcar Press, Master Printer Mike Kaylor went to work prepping and printing the broadsides with assistance from two of his most dedicated workshop students (and past Literary House interns), Aileen Gray ’14 and Ariel Jicha ’15. Aileen helped Mike with the first shift: measuring and cutting the paper with the large guillotine blade, planning out which color to print first (printing two colors requires printing twice), and precisely lining up the photopolymer plate(s) on the type-high base that has been locked in the press bed. On the second shift, Ariel assisted Mike with the ink mixing (getting just the right shade of shimmery gray) and printing the broadsides on our Vandercook 4 proof press. It is tedious but rewarding work.


    Now that the entire edition of 75 broadsides has been printed and numbered, we have packed them up tight for the flight to Seattle. At the Conference, Nance will sign all 75 broadsides and then we will have them for sale at our Rose O’Neill Literary House table in the AWP Bookfair. After we return from the west coast on March 1, the remaining broadsides will be available for purchase on the Literary House Press web page for $20 each.

    We have loved having this opportunity to work with Willow Springs and Nance Van Winckel on this year’s AWP commemorative broadside. For the 2015 Conference in Minneapolis, Literary House Press will be teaming up with a Minnesotan literary journal of national reputation. Stay tuned for more details!

    —Jehanne Dubrow & Lindsay Lusby


    As another project for this year’s AWP Conference, the Literary House filmed this entire process of designing and printing Nance Van Winckel’s “Because B.” We will be playing it on loop as part of our table display, but you can have a look at it here:

  • May 1

    The Rose O’Neill Literary House has awarded next year’s Douglass Wallop Fellowship to New York playwright, Sheri Wilner.

    In April 2015, we will host playwright Sheri Wilner for a week-long residency as our 2015 Douglass Wallop Fellow. This is the first year we opened up the Douglass Wallop Fellowship as a nationwide competition and Sheri was selected from a pool of more than 40 outstanding applicants. As part of her duties while in-residence, Sheri will hold one-on-one meetings with a select group of student playwrights.  She will also participate in two public events, giving a craft talk and a reading of her work.

    Sheri Wilner has twice been a co-winner of the prestigious Heideman Award granted by the Actors Theatre of Louisville: in 1998 for Labor Day, which premiered at the 1999 Humana Festival, and in 2001 for Bake Off, which premiered at the 2002 Humana Festival. Bake Off was heralded by The New York Times for being a “barbed, witty, thoughtful, giggle and snort inducing satire on gender roles” that was “the clear apex” of the festival. Her work has been published in over a dozen anthologies, and Playscripts.com has published twelve of her one-acts, which have received over two hundred productions all over the United States as well as in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, United Kingdom and India. Her playwriting awards include a Howard Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting, a Bush Artist Fellowship and two Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowships. She attended Cornell University and received her MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. At Columbia, she was named Assistant to Andrei Serban, who she assisted for two subsequent years, serving as a dramaturg on his productions of Cymbeline in Central Park, Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Merchant of Venice at American Repertory Theatre, among others.

    The Douglass Wallop Fellowship at The Rose O’Neill Literary House is awarded biennially to a playwright. The Fellowship enables drama students at Washington College to work with and learn from successful playwrights like J.T. Rogers and KJ Sanchez, who spend several days on campus. The Fellowship is named for the American novelist and playwright Douglass Wallop (1920-1985). He was the author of 13 works, the most famous being The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant (1954), which went on to be adapted by Wallop and co-writer George Abbott into the Tony Award-winning musical “Damn Yankees.” Wallop himself graduated from the University of Maryland and for many years lived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.


    The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College serves as one of the cultural centers of campus, bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across the disciplines. Our literary programming provides access to a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry,  creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, playwriting, and hybrid forms; our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants both to old and new technologies. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word and to supporting students through professional, on-the-job training.
  • January 16

    Phenomenon by: Julie Buntin

    This story left a lot unsaid; it worked and I liked it that way.

    For me a short story should not answer every question. Often the subject is better left for the reader to decide the fate of the authors’ characters and that is what I found at the end of Buntin’s story about two newly teenage girls living in Michigan. If done well it is a neat way to make a short story feel like a full life that keeps you guessing, wondering and wanting more but never getting it.

    To the story itself: it’s not so much about what happens when people grow up but what happens as people grow up and how it sometimes sucks. What happens to your family, your friends, your body, your interests, your school, who you are and who you love and how sometimes you feel like you haven’t changed but others have, which in turn changes you or at the very least your world.

    Now about the cover: I think it’s great. When I first opened the envelope I had no idea what the art represented. Only that it reminded me on an old video game that I use to play on the Atari system back when I was I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it. Once I finished the story I closed the booklet and immediately recognized the cover for what it depicted and saw how it worked. Thank you Stefan Lawrence. 

    Anyone interested in reading this can find it in the Lit House Library along with the rest of Volume II and the complete Volume I of One Teen Story (OTS). If you’d like to read about them click here, here, here and for last year here.

    For more about Julie Buntin visit here, read the OTS interview here, and better yet, read her work.


  • December 11

    Does it have to be a story published in 2013?

    When I saw the Book Riot list, Riot Round Best Books of 2013, I realized I have only read one of the books. How very un-literary of me, I know. Oh, well. I’ve read plenty of good books this year and won’t be sorry for that. If I only read books published in the current year I would have nothing to read New Years day when I’m tired and cold and I don’t want to leave the house.

    Fortunately, the best book I read over the past twelve months, happens to be on this list: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. (NPR Book Review Here) For months, before its release on June 18, day before my birthday, I waited,  reading articles online about the book’s anticipation, interviews with Neil, and talked to people who love his work as much as I do. When the day came, I bought a copy and though I was surprised by how small it was, I was even more surprised by how good it was.

    As Kim Ukura, author of the Book Riot Article, writes:

    After I finished this book, I texted my husband to say that I would probably be bursting into tears at the thought of it for the next few days. This actually only happened once. My favorite Gaiman since The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, for me, entirely about the mood it evokes and the feelings it has about childhood and memory. Though my life bears little resemblance to the unnamed narrator’s (except the part about stealing light from hallways and bright windows to read in bed at night), the nostalgia I felt while reading it was painful. Well done, sir.

    That’s about how it was for me. Stunned, wanting to read it again yet knowing that other books were calling my name for attention. The story feels like a secret very few people know about, finely crafted and extremely methodical in how it is told. A short novel, it’s like seeing a beautifully cut diamond and realizing all of the fine edits that make it so wondrous.

    When you first start the book, it’s not obvious what the story is or will be. It’s hard to tell what is coming around the next turn as the plot, in a very Neil Gaiman way, feels real and–when the magic happens–you know it belongs there, that it too can be real.

    Now that I have shared my favorite book, what is yours? What were your favorite books of 2013?

  • November 26

    Soundproof Your Life by: Tara Altebrando

    This is the third issue of the second volume of One Teen Story (Volume One and Volume Two). As usual I don’t like to give the story away and as always you can stop by the Lit House and find this story in our Library.

    A little about Tara Altebrando: She is the author of four young adult novels: The Best Night of Your(Pathetic) Life, Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens of 2011), What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness. She is also coauthor with Sara Zarr of Roomies. Her first middle-grade novel, The Battle of Darcy Lane, is forthcoming in Spring 2014. A graduate of Harvard University, Tara lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and two young daughters.

    In her interview with Patrick Ryan for One Teen Story, full interview here, he asked her “What is the best bit of advice about writing you have ever received?” To which she replied:

    The most influential writing teacher I’ve had was a fanatic about point of view and he definitely passed that on to me. He really stressed the fact that mastering point of view is essential to good writing, and I became a point-of-view fanatic as a result. Until I had the vocabulary for POV, I wasn’t sure why my writing sometimes felt vaguely wonky. Now, one of my greatest joys as a writer is playing around with point of view, manipulating it. Countless students I’ve had over the years have had some point of view problems, and I’ve taken a borderline masochistic pleasure in highlighting those problems, and then in watching their writing come into focus when the POV light bulb goes on.


  • November 20

    Violets by: Laura Ender.

    I won’t say too much about the story itself, only its voice.

    It is not often that we find a story written in the second person. Most of what we read whether it be fiction, nonfiction short stories or novels are written in either the 1st or 3rd person. When the 2nd person is used correctly it can be a wonderfully engaging as the odd tone gives the reader a perspective that is very personal, very close. Laura Ender has done a fine job writing this story and it often feels like the narrator is talking to ‘you.’

    Junot Diaz used this voice his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the National Book Critic Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It appears in one chapter with the mother and sister (Lola) of the novels main character, Oscar. The prize of this voice is the power of the word ‘you,’ since it is the only word in this voice.

    To learn more about the story, you have to read it and then read this interview from the One Teen Story website. 


  • January 18

    I love pairing books. Like wine with a good meal some books go really well together. For me, this October has been the continuation of great tales.

    It was a couple of years ago when a friend of mine suggested that I read Finn by Jon Clinch, a story about Huckleberry Finn’s father. (Quick warning, it’s a rough book and not meant for the faint of heart.) When I looked at the book, it seemed like one that should be moved to the front of my endless book queue. But before that, it gave me a chance to revisit a few books other books. It had been a long time since I read either The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. So, I allowed a few more books to cut in line and took the time to read both of them before I read Finn. It was worth it and I must add that Finn is a fantastic book. 

    Which leads me to this:

    I love the name Grimm. How fitting that two brothers credited with gathering these grim fairy tales shared a last name that is one too many m’s from a word that, according to Webster, means “ghastly, repellent, or sinister in character,” much like many people and creatures that one can meet in the mythical Germanic forests. (I should note that the word came before the name by about 400 years according to the OED.)

    Anyone familiar with these original tales knows that many of the characters are ghastly and sinister. Fathers who banish their sons because they are half hedgehog and half boy; parents who promise their children to strangers in the woods in exchange for guidance on how to get out of said woods; and dozens of repellent witches and evil kings that always seem to want to lock away the princess on top of a mountain, sometimes one made of glass. Just ask Christoph Waltz’s character, Dr. Shultz, in Django Unchained. “It’s a German story. There’s always a mountain.” (He had my vote for the Oscar.) 


    Once upon a time, I worked at a great bookstore, may it rest in peace. (It was also the place where I first heard of Finn.) There were always new wonderful books coming into the story each and every week - too many to keep up with. It seemed like every day when I would straighten the shelves I would find new titles that would excite my curiosity. While there one Sunday, working by myself, straightening the shelves in the children’s section, I came across this title A Tale Dark and Grimm. Yes, it caught my eye as you can tell. 

    I thought to myself that it would be fun to pair this book with some of the original tales between chapters. So far I’ve read about 70 of the 210 tales that fills up the 2 volume set I bought last summer from the also now closed Old Book Company in Chestertown. With one more week before Halloween I think it is time to start. The book received great reviews and though I don’t mind writer’s borrowing ideas from other books and stories, so long as they make their work original, I think it is important to know the reference, to know the origins of how and why this book came to be made.

    And with that, Happy Halloween …


  • October 18

    Last spring the Lit House bought a subscription to the then newly created One Teen Story and we are happy they are back with Volume II.

    With that same great One Story look, One Teen Story’s first Issue of Volume II is here ready for anyone interested. This first story, Purgatory, is by Alexandra Salerno whose work has also appeared in the Harpur Palate, The Gettysburg Review, Sou’wester, Narrative and in other places.

    Here’s how the story begins:

    Alexandra SalernoAlexandra SalernoBrian met Jack Bianchi during the summer of 1989, when he was 16 and working at Paradise Lanes in Yonkers by the Raceway. It was the summer before his senior year, and he had a stack of college applications on his desk at home for engineering programs in the Midwest. The few friends he had were away for the summer at different beaches on the eastern seaboard while he was stuck in a bowling alley that smelled like hot dogs and feet.

    Jack came in at nine o’clock on a weeknight in late July. The alley was empty except for some older guys by the far wall watching two teenaged girls bowl. Brian was behind the snack bar arranging a candy display: Blow-Pops and Bit-O-Honeys and all that. Jack walked by looking like some kind of cowboy; he wore a checkered shirt, tight black jeans, and boots that were all scuffed up—nothing like all the preps Brian went to school with. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and his shoulders stuck up as if he were walking against a cold wind. He had dark hair and olive skin like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid, but he was older. He threw a nod Brian’s way as he headed for the shoe counter.

    I won’t tell you if this story is fun or has a happy ending, that’s for your to read and decide. If you want more it, and the others still to come, will be here at the Lit House in the reading room. Plus, visit the One Teen Story website and read about the awesome work that they do with their awesome writers that contribute to them.