Tag Archives: Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Everybody Brag Now

This bragging on post might be my most overdue yet! Many folks have had multiple successes since I last bragged, so as always, this is always just a tiny sampling. I can’t keep up with these exciting movers and shakers. Still, I try…

As 2014 started and the Oscar nominations were announced, many films shot in New Orleans were included. Robin Mathews (makeup) and Adruitha Lee (hair) won for their work on Dallas Buyers Club. Not only did Twelve Years a Slave win best picture (!), but the amazing production design/set decoration teams and stellar costume department were recognized with nominations. It was so exciting to see the effect Lupita Nyong’o had even before she won the best supporting actress category. It was a great start to the year.

Lavender Ink and Nancy Dixon published N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature, which includes work by folks like Moira Crone, Andrei Codrescu and John Biguenet, alongside Faulkner, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.

After a year of amazing interviews for Hothouse, Karin C. Davidson has compiled an Anniversary Album, putting together more questions and answers from her interview subjects, as well as a playlist of music they’ve each picked. Karin’s “Something for Nothing” was a finalist in Bayou Magazine‘s fiction contest, judged by Lucy Bledsoe.

Studio delle Sorelle’s first art opening at Bev Coates’ Guest House featured a painting by Judy Kahn.

Judy Kahn's painting

Suparno Banerjee has published a paper, “Melodrama, mimicry and menace: Revinenting Hollywood in Indian science fiction films” in Volume 12, issue 1 of South Asian Popular Culture.

Near Valentine’s Day, Danielle Gilyot wrote a love letter to her younger self.

Jeff Roedel has directed the music video for England in 1819’s song “Sirens.”

jewel bush, Justin Torres and Mat Johnson all have stories in Dismantle, the VONA Anthology (with an introduction by Junot Diaz).

Contemplative Man by Brock Guthrie was published in March. Here’s a great review.

Joseph Boyden‘s The Orenda is the 2014 winner of Canada Reads. The Orenda will be published in the U.S. in May.

Jamie Amos has been busy, with new stories at Cold Mountain Review (“Defensive Wounds”) and at storySouth (“Spit”).

M.O. Walsh‘s book My Sunshine Away (due out next January) was announced as one of five Buzz Books and will be showcased at the BEA Conference in May.

Kaledioscope, a magazine for LSU’s Humanities and Social Sciences Departments, features quite a bit of great news in its Fall 2013 issue, including a feature on service learning courses on page 11, a feature on filmmaker Zack Godshall on page 13, a story about Associate Dean Malcolm Richardson on page 16, and a feature on the Creative Writing Department (plus two books I mention later in this brag) on page 18.

Montana Miller reports “After three marathon days of training in Eloy with the USPA Chief Judges, my brain is leaking out my ears and my eyes falling from their sockets, but my heart is leaping with joy and gratitude: I am a newly-rated National Judge for formation skydiving!”

Tad Bartlett‘s story “Hung Over” was published by Rappahannock Review.

Judge Claire Messud selected Summer Wood‘s story “Boomerang” for the 2013 Indiana Review Fiction Prize. Mary McMyne‘s story “Camille” was also a finalist.

Speaking of Mary McMyne, her story “Reading His Own Obituary” was published by Narrative Northeast in January. Faerie Magazine will publish Mary’s poem “Rapunzel Tucks the Twins into Bed,” in the next issue. Her poem “Irene Joliot-Curie” published in Painted Bride Quarterly No. 86 was nominated for a Rhysling.

Penelope Dane reviewed This Assignment Is So Gay, an anthology edited by Megan Volpert, in the March issue of Bitch Magazine.

Cara Jones has written an essay called “Taking the Woman Out of Women’s Health,” published at Nursing Clio.

First, the cover and title page of the Long Hidden anthology were revealed. Then, there was a wonderful review that specifically mentions Jamey Hatley‘s story:

“…“Collected Likenesses” is thought-provoking, with fascinating magic and heart-rendingly real characters.”

And most recently, Jamey’s interview with Roxane Gay was published at Press Street’s Room 220. Roxane has just announced she’ll be joining the MFA Program at Purdue University in the fall, as an associate professor.

Here’s a great review of James Claffey‘s Blood a Cold Blue. James is also editing the Ireland and the Irish themed issue of Literary Orphans, due out at Easter.

Literary Orphans

Maurice Ruffin has been very busy, as always. “Catch What You Can” will be published in Redivider Journal‘s issue 11.2 in May. “Heathen” will appear in issue 2 of  The Knicknackery. “Motion Picture Making” will appear in issue 2 of Writing Tomorrow in June.  “Heroes and Villains,” will be published in an upcoming issue of 94 Creations. To top it all off, he’s been accepted to Tin House’s Writers Workshop.

Cara Blue Adams interviewed David James Poissant for Tin House.

Melinda Palacio‘s book of poetry How Fire Is a Story, Waiting was a finalist in the 2013 Paterson Poetry Prize. She just traveled to New York for the awards reading.

June Pulliam‘s Encyclopedia of the Zombie will be available in June.

Andrew Lam‘s Birds of Paradise Lost is a finalist for the California Book Awards. The results will be announced in June.

Rachel Hebert performed “Just What I Need” for the Birmingham Sessions.

Helen Krieger has also had a busy couple of months. She was accepted to study at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Least Favorite Love Songs, the webseries she made with her husband and band of Nola cohorts, is nominated for a Webby. To celebrate the nomination, a special episode from the series will premiere this Sunday at 10 p.m. at the new theater Indywood.

The second book in Ronlyn Domingue‘s Keeper of the Tales trilogy, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, will be published next month. Here’s an interview with her.

Charlotte Hemrick is interviewing local female poets at NolaFemmes for Poetry Month. First up was Kelly Harris and most recently is Cassie Pruyn. There will be a new interview posted on Friday.

Also happening on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cafe Istanbul is the second installment of Yeah, You Write, which will feature Cassie and myself. Kelly read at the first installment of Yeah, You Write. This year’s lineup is simply incredible John BarryJoseph Boyden, jewel bush, Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Benjamin Percy, Cassie and myself, with DJ Sep, images by L. Kasimu Harris and the whole shebang will be MC’d by Nick Fox. All for a $5 cover – you can’t beat that. Here’s the poster for the details:

Yeah, You Write 2014

I hope you enjoyed this attempt of mine to keep up with this phenoms. Moreso, I hope that you check out the links and come by Yeah, You Write on Friday. I can’t promise that I’ll be better at keeping up with these folks, but I can guarantee that they’ll be doing amazing things in the coming months.

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The Re-Reading Project Guest Post: Lolita

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.

During my twenties (1997-2007 R.I.P., my twenties), I was looking for the greatest books ever written and found a few that I would come to cherish.

In 2004, I came to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita with some trepidation. A Russian who wrote a poetic exploration of the soul through the vessel of a story about a pedophile? Hurray! Sign me up. I expected the book to be icky, filled with choppy English and twenty-page long scenes wherein the author described waves crashing upon craggy seashores all while ignoring the dark issue at the center of the book.

Of course, I was wrong.

I bought the annotated edition because I heard that Nabokov wrote allusively like James Joyce or the writers of The Simpsons TV show. In other words, Nabokov had no problem quoting (and remixing!) obscure 17th Century poems while ripping the pop singers and movie idols who were popular with teenagers at the time. This sounded like fun to me because it’s the way my mind works. You mention Nelly the rapper and I might quickly think of Nellee Hooper, the movie Starship Troopers, WWII fascists, and the Greek warriors who died at Thermopylae (those guys in the movie 300) …but I digress.

The annotated edition was a good call because the scholar who added the notes had been a student of Nabokov’s in the 1950s and had complete access to the author. So much access that the annotations and scholarly essays take up about 200 pages. For a geek like me, this is better than free king cake.

Maurice and LolitaBut the centerpiece of Lolita for me during that first read was Nabokov’s skill as a writer. The topic was sensational and gut-wrenching, but I was more impressed by Nabokov’s way with words, his ability to create effects that are usually the province of master painters and opera composers. I was so stunned that I finished the book and let out a sigh of relief. The writing was so unquantifiably wicked that I could relax; I had no reason to even hope I could ever write half that well myself.

Also, I was taken by Humbert Humbert. He’s one of the most villainous characters in all of fiction, but by imbuing him with a (usually) honest eye and quick wit Nabokov reminds us that even monsters are human. Humbert’s evolution over the course of the novel is the reason I read fiction in the first place.

My second read certainly felt different. I found myself squirming during the first sections of the book. When Humbert abuses Lolita the way that he does, I was sick to my stomach. I wondered why. The book isn’t graphic. The words haven’t changed. However, I’m nine years older and wiser. I stumbled into the middle section of the book worried that my favorite novel of all time was no longer that. I was angry at Humbert, wanted to take him outside and pummel him. But then something strange happened. I realized that I was more angry at myself because on the first read I had been sucked into Humbert’s way of seeing the world. As such, Lolita was little more than a prop for me back then. But now that I could focus more of my attention on Lolita I saw the full horror of what she was going through. And then another odd thing happened. I forgave myself. With the new ability to see Lolita and Humbert in all their humanity, the novel took on a new dimension of pathos and complexity. And, can I tell you, it was good. In fact, it was better than the first read.

By the time I reached the last page, I was on the edge of tears. I felt a personal loss. I felt Humbert’s loss. Mostly, I felt Lolita’s loss. But even moreso, I felt more human than ever before.

***

Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a writer living in New Orleans. He most recently published an essay in Unfathomable City, A New Orleans Atlas. Maurice is writing a novel.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 4 and 5

Yesterday was a good day – but I completely forgot to update. I finished a new chapter that I’ve been realizing is necessary but which had been a rough sketch previously, only a page or so. It all came together yesterday and I wove together a lot of new words with some I’d written at various times. The whole chapter is 1,868, most of them new. Enough that I’m counting all of them. It was about three hours of writing/editing.

Today was a busy day with work. Then, I went over to Octavia Books to see Maurice, Rebecca Snedeker, Eve Abrams and Billy Sothern read from their parts of Unfathomable City. It’s a really cool book. I guess this counts as a brag, in the middle of NaNoWriMo, no less.

I did get write 423 words tonight. It’s about all I can manage at the moment.

Total so far: 2,851 words.

 

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 1-3

I know you’ve all been asking yourselves, “Will Emilie do NaNoWriMo this year?” And the answer is yes. But she’s… um I’m, breaking all of the rules. Which, in the past, has meant that I won’t “win” by achieving 50,000 words, but I’ll win in other ways. I think of it as continuing a game of pool after you’ve lost the game by sinking the eight too early.

I’m working on The Winter Circus again, dusting it off from a bit of a sojourn on the top, hard-to-reach shelves. That doesn’t mean I’m not working on Tango Face, oh no. It just means that I had to give myself permission to write whatever I feel like. Which means I had to accept that I might not achieve 50,000 words, that whatever I do achieve this month is more important.

So, on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, I drove up to Baton Rouge and hung out with a friend who’s doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, as RedStickRedHead. Then, I met up with Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Libriarian, and we went to the Louisiana Book Festival‘s author party. Where we met Lou Gossett, Jr. Check it out:

Josh, Lou and Emilie

Josh, Lou and Emilie at the author party

I squeezed in 189 words that evening before midnight, just so that I could get some words in on the first day.

Day 2 opened with me catching a bit of Ronlyn Domingue‘s panel before hustling over to the State Capitol to interview Josh. It was my first live interview, but it was so much fun that I forgot to be nervous and just enjoyed myself. Here’s a picture Maurice took:

Josh and Emilie in conversation

Josh and Emilie in conversation

Later in the day, I popped in on Mary Manhein and Susan Larson‘s panels before heading over to Peauxdunque‘s Panel on writing groups. Then we headed over to Barb Johnson, Summer Wood and T. Geronimo Johnson‘s panel together. We wrapped up our festival experience by taking this photo:

Peauxdunque at the Louisiana Book Festival

Peauxdunque (Tad Bartlett, Terri Shrum Stoor, me, Maurice Carlos Ruffin and Susan Kagan) at the Louisiana Book Festival

It was a long, enormously fun day, so I was exhausted by the time I got home from Baton Rouge. I wrote just to add to my words, but I only managed 280 words before passing out.

Today, Day 3, has been a recovery day for the most part. Though, I word warred with RedStickRedHead and eked out another 461 words. My friend, cupcake on the NaNoWriMo site, is also working on an ongoing book, so we met up at our NaNo headquarters and we talked about how we may have to count our NaNo in hours, as well as words, since we’re doing some editing as well as writing. We’ll see how it will all come together. We’ll be further along than we are now, even if we don’t “win.”

Total words so far: 930. Hours: maybe 1

 

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Bragging on the river

Rolling on the River was one of my favorite songs growing up. They played it every Friday on the radio station that Mamma Mia! and I listened to when she drove me to school. So, I couldn’t resist the pun. Please forgive me! 🙂

This bragging on post is packed with events everybody can attend, so get out your calendars.

First, as I hinted at in my last bragging post, Peauxdunque is hosting a huge, spectacular event. Yeah, You Write is a series of biannual literary concerts that the PWA will host. The first event takes place at Tipitina’s Thursday, October 13th. That’s a week from tomorrow. Our lineup is incredible: Amanda Boyden, Bill Loehfelm, Gian Smith, Kelly Harris-Deberry, Mat Johnson and Terri Stoor. Check out the flyer for the event:

In related news, Peauxdunque member Maurice Carlos Ruffin‘s essay “Cheating the Muse,” will be published in Apalachee Review next year.

Kelly Kathleen Ferguson‘s memoir/travelogue/social commentary My Life as Laura has been published by Press 53. The subtitle says it all: “How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself.”

Engine Books will be publishing Echolocation by Myfanwy Collins, Consulting Editor for Narrative Magazine, in March 2012.

Charlotte Hamrick of NOLAFemmes and Traveling Mermaid has had her poem “Milk for Free” published in Mad Swirl.  Three of her poems will be published in the Feb. issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Don’t forget to nab tickets for the New Orleans premiere of Flood Streets at the New Orleans Film Festival and featuring Harry Shearer, who will be at the premiere to answer questions afterwards with Helen Krieger and Joseph Meissner. I’ve had a chance to see an earlier incarnation of the film, so I know you’ll enjoy it.

I have two stories in the October issue of 225 Magazine. One of them is about the return of the Louisiana Book Festival, which is itself an enormously brag-worthy event. Not only is it back, it’s bigger and better than ever this year, featuring many of the writers I’ve bragged on and reviewed for 225. The Festival takes place on October 29th and it’s a free event where you can hear many of your favorite authors read, buy their books and get them signed. It’s one of the highlights of my year every year and I am so glad it’s just in a few weeks. Check out the site for information about the WordShops and the Author Party, which take place the day before the Festival. It’s basically the best weekend to be in Baton Rouge all year long. Guaranteed. I’ll see you all there.

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