“Detours” named Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016!

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my essay, “Detours,” which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Literal Latte has been included as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen, and released this week.

This series, which has been running for 30 years, features roughly 25 essays that are reprinted in full from the publications in which they appeared in the prior year. Then, in the back of the volume are a few hundred “Notables,” which are listed alphabetically by author name, title, and the journal in which they appeared. That’s where I am, and happy and proud to be there! I’m in good company. Others in the back of the book include Claudia Rankine, Lia Purpura, Dinty Moore, Marilyn Robinson, Chris Offutt, and Phillip Lopate, one of my mentors at Bennington, as well as many other amazing writers and thinkers. As a writer who has not published a literary book yet, every bit of validation, whether through acceptance by a publication or an unexpected honor like this, gives me the courage to press on, exploring themes and issues that bubble up, struggling to get my thoughts down just right, then putting them out into the world, and bracing for the rejections that inevitably follow before, perhaps, an acceptance. Thanks to Literal Latte for giving “Detours” a home in New York City’s literary landscape and to Robert Atwan for its inclusion as a “Notable.”

If you want to check out “Detours,” please click through.

Onward!

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Reading at Cornelia Street Cafe: August 31

I’m totally stoked to be on the program for the debut of the Bennington Writers Series. It’s happening Downstairs at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan on Wednesday, August 31 at 6 pm, hosted by the incomparable V. Hansmann. See details below and come on down… or up… or sideways to hear some good stuff.

6:00PM  BENNINGTON WRITERS SERIES

V. Hansmann, host

A.N. Devers;  Leslie Maslow;  Jeremy Oldfield;  Sue Repko

Featured reader will be A.N. Devers, and she is joined on stage by Leslie Maslow, Jan. ’13; Jeremy Oldfield, Jan. ’12; and Sue Repko, Jan. ’12, three current Bennington students.

This is the first program of what we hope will be an ongoing multi-genre series.

A. N. Devers work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bust magazine, the Brooklyn Rail, The Paris Review Daily, The Southampton Review, The Rumpus, TimeOut NY, Tin House, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Washington Post. She is on the editorial board at Pen America: A Journal for Writers & Readers. She received her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the editor of writershouses.com, a website for literary pilgrims everywhere.

$ 7 includes a drink

Publication news

Feels like I’ve been walking in the desert a long time. Although I’m blogging all the time and churning out writing that at least some people are reading, it felt like I hadn’t snagged a literary credit in quite some time. I’m happy to report some good news!

I’d actually learned of this first tidbit when I was at my first residency at Bennington, when another student & accomplished writer, Jamie-Lee Josselyn, told me she’d seen my six-word memoir in “It All changed In An Instant,” More Six-Word Memoirs. Only I’d never heard from the editors or gotten my free copy! So, I finally ordered a couple copies and am now officially announcing this achievement in the blogosphere. I’ll even tell you what the six words are!

“Pottstown. Princeton. Forever straddling two worlds.”

I submitted this online several years ago, long before I became totally immersed in my hometown’s revitalization, but it still holds true. I think it will hold true until I take my last breath. There you have it. On page 120.

In other news… a flash memoir, “How to wave like a queen,” is now up at Swink Magazine. This piece was inspired by a Dinah Lenney workshop at Bennington this past June, when I evidently had my homecoming queen past on the brain. I had blogged about it, too, in Reminiscences of a Queen. I’m very excited to have my work in Swink, which I have admired for years (and submitted to, unsuccessfully. There’s a lesson there for all of us.)

Finally, an essay submitted a while ago will be appearing in the anthology, TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood. My piece is called “Observations from the Planet SAHM.” (SAHM stands for Stay-At-Home Mother.) I’m not sure about the publication date. The publisher is Coffeetown Press; there doesn’t seem to be info on their website yet. I’ll keep you posted. Again, this is another cool place to be. The line-up of women writers is impressive, and I’m just glad to be in their company.

That’s it for now!

What I’m reading this term

I’m in my second of four terms in The Bennington Writing Seminars (nonfiction track), and below is a list of what I’ve read so far and plan to read through December.

The reading list is devised by the student and the mentor for any given term. I was thrilled when my mentor, Susan Cheever, and I sat down in June in the living room of my dorm at Bennington, and she started reeling off questions, “Have you read this? Have you read that? I can’t force you to read anything, but if you’re getting a master’s degree, you really should know these books.” It was kind of embarrassing, because I was usually answering, “no.” Although I took a bunch of lit classes as an undergraduate, my major was psychology. Then, a few years later, I went on to grad school in urban planning, and for a long time, I only read public policy books. Imagine a life without novels and memoirs 😦 but that’s how it was.

The result of this conversation was an amazing list of classics and some newer books. I can also swap out for something new that comes along at any time, which is how I ended up reading Sophia, the biography of Tolstoy’s wife, which has only been out for a few months. I was going to read a biography of Tolstoy, but then I was like: let’s hear about the wife who nurtured him through his great works and then was totally dissed by his followers and him at the end of his life. Let’s hear her side of the story!

So, here you go!

June/July 2010

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (Pevear & Volokhonsky edition)

Sophia Tolstoy, a biography – Alexandra Popoff

August

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Capote: A Biography – Gerald Clarke

Shot in the Heart – Mikal Gilmore

The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer

[I don’t recommend reading all these in the same month. Really depressing insights into family dysfunction and how NOT to raise your sons.]

September

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte [a romance! shake off those murderers! hooray!]

The Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

Charlotte Bronte biography – Lyndall Gordon

Jean Rhys Interview – Paris Review

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

October [some of these will be re-reads from a long-ago college course]

Emerson Essays

First We Read, Then We Write – Robert Richardson on Emerson

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

The Scarlet Letter & other stories – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hawthorne: A Life – Brenda Wineapple

November

The Invention of Solitude – Paul Auster

Self-Consciousness – John Updike

The Control of Nature – John McPhee

Waterfront – Phillip Lopate

December -?

Middlemarch – George Eliot

The Pine Barrens – John McPhee

Ward 6 and Other Stories – Anton Chekhov

Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey – Janet Malcolm

The Journalist & the Murderer – Janet Malcolm

Tolstoy – Henri Troyat [the bio. I temporarily ditched in favor of Sophia above]

Moving back into the present day… I’d like to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Dave Cullen’s Columbine, the latter of which is sitting on the floor right next to me as I type this…


On returning to “the real world”

I’ve been holding melancholy at bay the past few days.

First, absolutely first, I miss my Bennington people, my “tribe,” as I think Nick Flynn described it. And the rhythm of those days. The morning stretch, the pounding heart and then the racing thoughts, all day long.

Second, a kind of writing challenge was issued to me, and I’m already in the thick of it, alive in it, alive in the sadness of the material, the capturing of it, the putting it down. Nothing to be done about that, I guess, but push through to the end.

So as not to be a complete downer, I’ll admit to also missing the ready-made cafeteria foods, the fruits, vegetables and salads already washed and cut up, and the inventive tofu entrees. I just don’t know why I have to do my own hunting,  gathering and preparing here in the real world. Would love to figure a way around that.

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