Friday, March 23, 2012

Sunday April 1st @ 7pm

Dear Cousins,

Please join us
Sunday, April 1
@ 7:00
186 Carpenter Street arts space on the West Side of Providence

Come hear Hilary Kaplan, Nick Potter, Yael Shinar and
Adrian Shirk!

There will be snacks and wine- feel free to bring your own as well!

Hope to see you there!

John and Amish

Hilary Kaplan's poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Litro, PEN America,, Rattapallax, TWO LINES, World Literature Today, and the Brazilian journals Atratores Estranhos, Celuzlose, and Modo de Usar & Co. She writes Commentaries on Brazilian poetry and poetics for Jacket2, and received a 2011 PEN Translation Fund award for Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and is completing a PhD in comparative literature at Brown University. She is just back from Rio de Janeiro.

Nick Francis Potter is a multimedia artist and writer from Salt Lake City, Utah. His writing has been published in Caketrain, >kill author, HTML Giant and Untoward Magazine. He founded Paper Noise, a small press specializing in screen-printed chapbooks and zines. He also works on visual art collaboratively with his wife, Erin. Their artwork has been featured in galleries across the country, most recently in the "Curioser" exhibition at the Rhode Island Museum of Natural History and the Black Cloud gallery in Chicago. He is currently pursuing an MFA writing fiction in the Literary Arts program at Brown University.

Yael Shinar was born in California and now resides in Cambridge, MA. Her poems have appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Meridian, The Mid-American Review, Third Coast, BOMBlog, The Carolina Quarterly, The Drunken Boat and other publications, have been featured on Poetry Daily and have been nominated for Best New Poets 2011. Her first manuscript, If God Does Not Sit in the Nostrils of the Starling’s Beak, was a semifinalist for the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award (Alice James Books) and a semifinalist for the 2012 Perugia Press Prize. In addition, she has blogged for Harriet: A Blog from the Poetry Foundation. In 2010, she earned the degree of Master of Divinity at Harvard University, where she studied Buddhism and spiritual care and counseling. She is currently completing pre-medical requirements at Harvard Extension School, while sometimes working as a yoga teacher and hospital chaplain. She reads and writes in English and in Hebrew and has studied Akkadian, Arabic, Sanskrit and French.

Adrian Shirk is a founding member of, and fiction editor for, The Corresponding Society. In the past her prose has appeared in Broad, Slouch, Look-Look, and Spork Magazine, as well as previous volumes of Correspondence. Her work is also available as an audiobook, Stories w/Snacks, which she recorded with a Portland, Oregon musician in 2008. She maintains a literary food blog, at What I Ate Where, and is currently enrolled in the Writing Program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 13th!

Dear Cousins of Cousins, 

Please join us
Sunday, November 13th 
@ 6:30 
186 Carpenter Street arts space on the West Side of Providence 

for... a lovely night of poetry by Kate Schapira, Peter Richards, and Krystal Languell, and prose by Jonas Moody. 
We will bring some food and wine, and you could bring some wine too, if you'd like, and we could all sit and sip and listen.

Krystal Languell was a semi-finalist for the 2010 University of Akron Press Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2011 National Poetry Series. Her first book, Call the Catastrophists, has just been published by BlazeVox Books.

Jonas Moody returned to the US in 2009 after an eight-year stint in Iceland as a journalist and translator. His journalistic work has appeared in Time, New York MagazineIceland Review and USA Today. His fiction has appeared in BLIP magazine and Credenza and is forthcoming in a Danish anthology of prose and poetry about Nordic masculinity. He recently finished his MFA and is completing his first story collection. 

Peter Richards was born in 1967 in Urbana, Illinois. He is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the John Logan Award. His poems have appeared in Agni, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, The Yale Review, and other journals. He is the author of Oubliette (Verse Press/Wave Books, 2001), which won the Massachusetts Center for the Book Honors Award; Nude Siren (Verse Press/Wave Books, 2003); and Helsinki (Action Books, 2011). The University of Montana-Missoula’s visiting Hugo Poet Spring Semester 2011, Richards has taught at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston.

Kate Schapira is the author of TOWN (Heretical Texts, Factory School, 2010), The Bounty: Four Addresses (Noemi Press, 2011), How We Saved the City (Stockport Flats, forthcoming 2012) and The Soft Place (Horseless Press, forthcoming 2012) as well as chapbooks from Flying GuillotineCy Gist, Horseless and Rope-A-Dope Presses, Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, and forthcoming from dancing girl press. She lives in Providence, RI, where she co-curates the Publicly Complex Reading Series and teaches writing to adults and kids.

Hope to see you all for some or all of the evening,
Darcie, Amish, John, and, in spirit, Bill

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reading on September 25th!

Hi all- four readers on the 25th!

Sarah Goldstein was born in Toronto and lives in western Massachusetts. Her artwork has been exhibited in the US and Canada, and her first book, Fables, is out from Tarpaulin Sky Press.

Joshua Harmon is the author of three books—Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie (winner of the 2010 Akron Poetry Prize), Scape (a collection of poems, 2009), and Quinnehtukqut (a novel, 2007). His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared widely in journals, and he has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. He was educated at Cornell University and Marlboro College.

Karen Lepri holds an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University. Her poems, translations, & reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Best New Poets, Horse Less Review, Konundrum Engine, Lana Turner, Mandorla, Memorious, Vanitas, &Word For/Word,among others, & online at Verse Daily. Lepri was the recipient of the American Academy of Poets, Weston, & Frances Mason Harris Prizes for poetry. She lives in Wellfleet, Cape Cod.

Andrew Zawacki is the author of the poetry books Petals of Zero Petals of One (Talisman House), Anabranch (Wesleyan), and By Reason of Breakings (Georgia). Coeditor of Verse, The Verse Book of Interviews (Verse), and Gustaf Sobin’s Collected Poems (Talisman), he also edited Afterwards: Slovenian Writing 1945-1995 (White Pine). He edited and co-translated Aleš Debeljak’s Without Anesthesia: New and Selected Poems (Persea), and his translation of Sébastien Smirou, My Lorenzo, is due from Burning Deck. Errormirror is forthcoming from Mindmade Books, and Arrow’s Shadow from Equipage.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cousins! BYOB Poetry on Sunday Sept 25th!

Dear Cousins of Cousins,

We have a new location:
186 Carpenter Street, on the West Side of Providence

It's a lovely space for mingling and listening to readings. It's BYOB... We'll be bringing some wine, and we hope you'll bring some stuff too. Amish might even bake a cake.

But even if he overflours the cakepan, never fear because look who'll be reading for you...

Josh Harmon!
Sarah Goldstein!
Andrew Zawacki!
Karen Lepri!

All in one night, you ask, how can that be? And it all happens in an hour or so? Yes, people of Providence & beyond, we're just that lucky.

p.s. This is the "before" picture of the space (credit: Forgotten Providence)... Come see the "after" in person.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ben Tanzer from You Can Make Him Like You

What should I wear tomorrow, jeans, fine, t-shirt, sure, what color, does it matter, not sure, did we pay the mortgage, yes, maybe, okay, what about the electric bill, not sure, phone bill, yes, definitely, but why is the texting portion so high, is there an unlimited plan, and why do I need to text anyone, couldn’t I call, or e-mail, yes, I could even Twitter, though what is that really, and why would someone do it, does anyone besides Liz care what I’m up to all the time, every second of the day, why is that fun, maybe I am too old to get it, Monica, man she’s smoking, and the locks on the door, did we lock the door, last night, yes, tonight, maybe, but both locks, can’t say, should I check, no, yes, no, no, probably, maybe, is that moaning, yes it is, weird, and shit, is the alarm set, yes, yes, check, checked, check again, cool, and the door, just ignore it, nothing is going to happen anyway.

And Obama, could he really win, he should win, it should be easy, the war, McCain’s age, the economy, the president, the maverick bullshit, but the Democrats can still allow this to get fucked-up, he can get swift-boated, or Rezko’d, or maybe people will start listening to John Kass, and Monica, could I fuck her, maybe, no, maybe, the alarm, check, check, it’s cool, and the locks, fuck them, more moaning, where is that coming from, Liz, sleeping, yes, sex, no sex, not now, no way, should I just get up, maybe, and drink less coffee before bed, yes, yes, for sure, no more Intelligentsia after 10:00pm, so wired, so fucking wired, go running.

I could definitely go running, out to the lake, yeah, that would be cool, refreshing, breezy, or jerk-off, could jerk-off, Monica, no Liz, could stroke Liz’s ass, lightly, yeah, no she’s moving, later, the moaning, what’s up with the moaning, music, maybe listen to the new Terrodactyls joint, maybe EL-P, The Hold Steady, yeah The fucking Hold Steady, or I could watch High School Musical, it must be on, fucking Vanessa Hudgens, and those internet photos, Christ, sweet, obsessing, did we TiVo Mad Men, what did we do before TiVo, should I jerk off, where did Liz go.

“Keith, what’s going on, can’t sleep?” Liz asks me groggily.

“No, I’m totally obsessing.”

“About what?”

“Do you really want to know?”


“Uh, TiVo, Rezko, Mad Men, EL-P, The Hold Steady, Vanessa Hudgens, and…”

“Vanessa Hudgins? C’mon that’s just embarrassing, for you, me and her. You’re old enough to be her dad.”

“Thanks, I feel so much better, but I can’t help it. I’m spinning.”

“We could have sex. Would that help?”


I pause. I’ve never paused, but things are different now.

“Did you just pause?”


“You? What’s up?”


“Oh my God,” Liz says, this odd look of recognition crossing her face, “is this because of the baby? Please don’t tell me this about the baby.”

“Okay, I won’t.”

“You’re on your own buddy.”

I pause again. Not wanting to have sex with your pregnant wife is ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean I plan to.

I hear more moaning. And for a moment we both pause, lost in whatever is going on next door.

“Hey, do you hear…moaning?” I ask.

“Yeah, it’s the new neighbor. He actually seemed pretty quiet when I met him the other day.”

“Maybe he is when he’s not having sex.”

“Right, well, maybe you can talk to him. This went on for like an hour before dinner. I think he would want to know how loud she is and how thin the walls are.”

“I just want to be clear about something. You want me to talk to a dude about having loud sex. You’re joking right?”

“I don’t know, are you joking about not having sex?”


“Payback is a bitch.”



I walk out to the kitchen and get a beer. I sit down on the couch. I put on The Hold Steady and “Stuck Between Stations” starts up.

My head is still spinning, my thoughts and compulsions on the kind of endless loop that even The Hold Steady can’t derail. This baby thing is not good and there will be no sleep tonight. I finish my beer. I look for my running shoes. I lace them up. I head out the door.

reads with Cousins Laura Cherry, Susan Scarlata, and Michael Stewart on June 5th at Abe's Bar, Wickenden Street, Providence.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More on Our June 5th Cousins...

We wanted to learn a little more about our June 5th Cousins. And we want you to know what we learned. Here's what we learned about Laura Cherry, Susan Scarlata, Michael Stewart, and Ben Tanzer:

> Tell us about your new book...

Laura Cherry: HAUNTS is a journey from California to New England with some back-country stops along the way. It's about the places we haunt and the people who haunt us, the strangeness of the suburbs, and the appalling call of the hometown. Like me, it relies heavily on coffee, flowering trees, unrequited desires, public transportation, and the word "vermillion."

Susan Scarlata (It Might Turn Out We Are Real): These poems show their cracks, accept their ruin, and get on with it. They are strung, one to the other, linked with no intent of presenting any sum total. They are the interplay and intercourse of ancient principals and contemporary technologies. Old like the lyre and new like the iPad. Old like fire and language thought of as technology, and new like the ever-quickening development of gadg today. Old like form and newer like the field’s beyonds.

Michael Stewart: My latest book, The Hieroglyphics, is a mess. It is made up of seventy fragments which build into something larger—a creation myth? a re-imagined history? These fragments are all based on chapters from The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, a 14th century symbolic reading of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. I tried to play with Horapollo's lines and mix them with mine, see how far away from the original intention I could take them while still keeping the sound and movement. The result? One fragment is about birds in the south who do not eat, but live off the heat of the sun. At night these birds are so still they appear dead, but the heat from even a small fire is enough to make them stir and to blink their eyes, a it is not enough to allow them to fly. The other fragments are like that too.

Ben Tanzer: Many have described You Can Make Him Like You as a cross between Twilight and The Hunger Games, with a touch of Harry Potter. Which I really appreciate, but I see it as more of an homage to the characters who populate the songs of The Hold Steady, if those characters were a little older, heavier and less likely to end up in medical tents at concerts all tweaky and freaked out. That said, If you are a producer looking to option the book, it is also helpful to think of it as the story of a guy trying not to sleep with his intern, kill his neighbors or be freaked out by becoming a dad.

> Can you name one person—living or dead, famous or unknown—who is unassailable? If so, who and why?

Laura Cherry: I don't think anyone is unassailable, really, but nonetheless I'll pick Leonard Cohen for his humility and passion and kickass lyrics.

Susan Scarlata: My Italian grandfather, my father’s father, comes to mind. He largely raised himself on the streets of Pittsburgh, where I am from, and worked many odd, liminally-legal “jobs,” which I am sure were as often about being scammed as doing the scamming himself. But in my own memory of him, when he was in his late seventies and eighties, when approached with anything he would rather not engage with he feigned bad hearing. His ability to hear lessened when he was attacked or even questioned, but this was clearly not due to infirmity or a weakened mind. Instead, he was sternly refusing to hear –looking up at the ceiling as if nothing had been said. Watching my grandfather as a ten-year old it was not that he, like a politician, would give you the answer he thought you wanted to hear, if he did not like it he just didn’t entertain that a question or comment had appeared at all. Re-reading this, I realize that on a macro level I could be describing China’s Communist party, which living in Hong Kong, I have had glimpses of so far, but seems to be also, largely unassailable.

Michael Stewart: The only unassailable people, I imagine, are the imagined ones. Holmes' deductive magic in Doyle's clockwork London; Daisy dressed in Fitzgerald's svelte, flattering sentences, money in her voice; Colette's Claudine; etc.

Ben Tanzer: I am very tempted to say William Walsh, though not entirely because of the potential brownie points and book sales, okay, mostly because of that, and I feel fairly obligated to say Nelson Mandela, because I suppose there isn't a better candidate, anywhere, but the first name that came to mind when I read this was Luke Skywalker, who didn't cross over to the dark side despite every opportunity to do so, which is pretty cool I think, and then maybe Johnny Cash, who sort of did cross over, but arguably made it work for him, which was also pretty cool.

> Who are some of your literary cousins?

Laura Cherry: Sylvia Plath. Dorothy Parker. Cynthia Macdonald. Marie Howe. And granddaddies Stevens, Keats, and Eliot.

Susan Scarlata: Writers attune to the sound-sense of words. Harryette Mullen is a cousin in generations above me (I have twenty-nine first cousins, so I understand how this can work); she is one of the inspired practioners of sound-sense type poetics. Writers who like a mouth full of language. In years closer to me, Arda Collins for her depth down to the deepest downs and because she recently talked of poem-land. Sandra Doller for her idiosyncratic break-up and re-positioning of language. Eric Baus for his tuned ear and solemnity; and Andrea Rexilius for her fabric and continuousness. And so so many more –too many to name.

Michael Stewart: At my literary family reunion Joanna Ruocco and Brian Conn would be talking with Lily Hoang over potato salad. Molly Gaudry and Joanna Howard would be playing horseshoes against J. A. Taylor and Matt Bell. The nieces and nephews would be gathered around Brian Evenson, who would be trying not to look bored. Rikki Ducornet would be looking beautiful. Shya Scallion and Caroline Whitbeck, the cool cousins, would be smoking by the car, a little whiskey secreted into their drinks. And off somewhere would be Gary Lutz and Peter Marcus dong something creepy.

Ben Tanzer: I suppose if we understand this to mean that like my real life cousins, my literary cousins have every right to reject any association with me, and probably would if given the choice, I would say Barry Graham, Mel Bosworth, Mary Miller, Tom Williams, Caleb J. Ross, Lindsay Hunter, Spencer Dew, Victor David Giron, Ken Wohlrob, Lauryn Allison, Ryan Bradley, Jason Fisk, Mark Brand, Pete Anderson, Brandon Teitz, Lavinia Ludlow, Michael FitzGerald, Scott McClanahan, Dave Housley, Brandon Will, Nik Korpon, Tim Hall and David Masciotra. And yes, I believe in big families. Just not nuclear families. Mine anyway.

Join us on June 5th at Abe's Bar for the next Cousins Reading Event!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


An excerpt from Michael Stewart’s upcoming novel, THE ASSOCIATIVE METHOD:

At University I roomed with Andrew Lowdosky and while our peers were making names for themselves in sports or the classroom, Andrew had found a different niche. He had it turns out a certain magnetism that the local girls could not ignore. This coupled with his generous nature—he would no more turn out an older woman with a threadbare dress than he would a young actress with perfectly painted lips—made him a bit of a legend. Half of my nights I was sent from the dorm room by a tie looped over the doorknob.

After a successful conquest Andrew would, like a perfect gentleman, let her lounge in the bed while he went about, stubble and oily hair, and collected her things. Once he had them in a bundle, he would, with a subtle but quick jerk, remove one of the buttons from her blouse or jacket. He kept these trophies in a cigar box beneath his bed. Once he took them out for us; we sat like children over pirate's treasure, they were more beautiful than gold doubloons for what they represented: a little brown button, from a serving girl's skirt, a horn button from a wealthy girl's Barbour jacket, a navy button from some girl with a man in the service. We tried not to count them.

One day, when he was out, I took a button from my sports jacket and traded it for one of those in his cigar box. I threaded it quickly and a little imperfectly, it was always a little loose when I buttoned up. Nonetheless, it was my prized possession, like a schoolboy's rabbit foot. And although it was not my trophy—I had no trophies from school: I was an unremarkable student and not much of an athlete; I did not have Andrew's way with woman and my family did not make enough money to give me any pedigree—it was a trophy, a physical sign of a great achievement, an object that had meaning. By wearing the button I became like one of those American Indians who eats the heart of his opponent to gain his power. The button gave me a small part of Andrew's prowess: it made it easier for me to talk with girls, to talk back to my professors, to assume an adult air at the bar. I still have it somewhere—in my cufflinks box, I think—a black, plastic button with a thick lip, shiny despite years of use.


Michael Stewart is currently the Rhode Island Council for the Arts Fellow in both fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Conjunctions, DENVER QUARTERLY, and American Letters & Commentary. He is the author of A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic (The Cupboard), Almost Perfect Forms (Ugly Duckling Presse), THE HIEROGLYPHICS (Mud Luscious Press), and Sebastian, an illustrated book for adults (Hello Martha Press). He lectures at Brown University. And he will be reading with Cousins on June 5th at ABE's BAR, Wickenden Street, Providence.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

June 5th Cousins

Cousins returns on June 5th with two poets and two guys.

Show starts around 6:30 at Abe's Bar. It's the last Cousins Reading until September. So please come and bring a few of your cousins.

Laura Cherry's first full-length collection of poetry, Haunts, is now available from Cooper Dillon Books. Her chapbook, What We Planted, was awarded the 2002 Philbrick Poetry Award by the Providence Athenaeum. She is co-editor of the anthology Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press). Her work has been published in journals, including Forklift: Ohio, H_NGM_N, The Vocabula Review, Newport Review, LA Review, and Naugatuck River Review. It has also appeared in the anthologies Present Tense (Calyx Press) and Vocabula Bound (Vocabula Books). She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives near Boston, where she works as a technical writer.

Susan Scarlata's essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in Conduit, DENVER QUARTERLY, FENCE, The Horse Less Review, Typo, and are forthcoming in 1913. Scarlata is the author of It Might Turn Out We Are Real (Horseless Press) and Lit Instant (Parcel Press). She has designed and taught courses at universities, held residencies, and led writing workshops for students of all ages as well as teachers. Scarlata received her PhD from the University of Denver, where she also taught and developed writing courses that integrated service into the writing curriculum. She taught at and holds an MFA from Brown University. She is the Executive Editor of Lost Roads Publishers, an independent literary press, and is currently an Associate Professor of English at the Savannah College of Art and Design's newest campus in Hong Kong.

Michael Stewart is currently the Rhode Island Council for the Arts Fellow in both fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Conjunctions, DENVER QUARTERLY, and American Letters & Commentary. He is the author of A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic (The Cupboard), Almost Perfect Forms (Ugly Duckling Presse, THE HIEROGLYPHICS (Mud Luscious Press), and Sebastian, an illustrated book for adults (Hello Martha Press). He lectures at Brown University.

Ben Tanzer is the author of You Can Make Him Like You (Artistically Declined), Lucky Man (Manx Media), Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press), Repetition Patterns, and 99 Problems (both from CCLaP). He also oversees day-to-day operations of This Zine Will Change Your Life and blogs at This Blog Will Change Your Life the centerpiece of hisvast, albeit faux media empire. He is currently watching Sports Center, but upon his deathbed, he will receive total consciousness, so, he has that going for him, which is nice.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Steve Himmer and The Bee-Loud Glade

STEVE HIMMER’S stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. He edits the web journal
Necessary Fiction, and teaches at Emerson College in Boston. His novel The Bee-Loud Glade is just out from Atticus Books.

Q: You're getting some good early reviews on the novel, The Bee-Loud Glade, and you're appearing as a featured reader, it seems, everywhere. What has the promotional life of the novel been like for you? Any surprises on the road?

A: It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I’ve been surprised and moved by how supportive people have been. Not in terms of positive reviews (though those have been nice), but because folks have been so willing to think about the book and to share it with their readers and friends. My biggest worry was that no one would notice one way or the other. So the surprises have all been good ones. Well, except that I was on event lineup with Chris Bohjalian recently and he gave me a whole new list of reasons to be nervous about flying at a time when I’ve got lots of travel ahead.

Q: The narrator of The Bee-Loud Glade is Finch (a passerine) and his billionaire benefactor is Crane (a gruiform). And birds figure throughout the novel. What's up with that, and are there other codes embedded in Bee-Loud that readers should mark?

A: I tried not to overtax the suggestive qualities of the characters’ names or to reduce the presence of birds and animals in the story to shallow metaphors, but yes, they are often deliberate. I can’t think of finches without thinking of Darwin and his research in the Galapagos Islands, and his discovery that finches adapted to all the environmental niches available to be filled — they fit themselves into their landscape instead of dominating it, just as their nests are tucked into crooks between branches or between rocks or in other small spaces seemingly ready-made for the purpose. And cranes have always struck me as elegant but awkward birds, impressive for the vast, unlikely distances they’re able to travel in their restless migration. Not to mention the double-meaning of “crane,” an equally elegant but awkward machine that dominates a skyline as it both builds and destroys the landscape around it. And Crane is also a suggestion of a particular family history through which the character’s wealth may have accrued, but I think I’ll leave that for someone else to work out along with some of the other references I worked into the story mostly to amuse myself.

Q: As the editor of Necessary Fiction, you're presenting a ton of great fiction every month. How does this editorial work inform your writing? Also, how does your work as a writing teacher at Emerson College impact your creative writing?

A: Editing Necessary Fiction has made me a much, much better editor of my own work, and it has also given me a stronger sense of what I’m doing as a writer—or trying to do—in comparison with what other people are doing. It’s rare that I read a story and wish I’d written it, and I love finding incredible stories in our submissions that it would never even occur to me to write. I’ve also become more sensitive to cliché, because there are stories and subjects I read over and over and over without any real variation. Often competent, well-crafted stories but all of a type to the point that once we’ve published one of them there’s no reason to publish another. Which I guess means I have a longer list of things I am unlikely to ever write about myself. Or write about again, if I’m honest, because I must sheepishly admit to having written about most of those clichés at some point. Some of them multiple times. And I think spending so much time reading and editing other people’s short stories has shown me that other people are writing much better stories than I am, and that focusing on novels (which was my intention as a writer all along) is probably a better use of my time and energy.

As for teaching, I teach composition rather than creative writing (though I hope to be teaching both eventually) so it’s not such a direct impact. But both my approaches to teaching writing and to writing fiction are embedded in a liberal arts tradition. I tend to think of writing in any genre as a mode of inquiry about the world, so the questions I might ask my students about their academic writing or advocacy writing (questions like, “What am I asking?” and “What is at stake?” and “Why should my reader care?”) overlap with the questions I ask myself when I’m writing. Actually, I probably ask those questions more often when I’m revising and deciding what’s worth pursuing in a first draft.

Q: Can you name some of your literary cousins?

A: Definitely Amber Sparks, because we share so many proud nerdy interests in exploring folklore and history through fiction. Grant Bailie, because I think we’re equally enthralled by stories of the “offbeat everyman,” and I’d like to think of Jim Krusoe as a distant cousin of ours for the same reason. And maybe Tom McCarthy is the admired, successful, far away cousin you hear the family talk about but don’t really know, like the opera singer in Halldor Laxness’ novel The Fish Can Sing.

Steve Himmer will be featured at the Cousins Reading Series on May 1st.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

National Poetry Month Extended to May 1

While the rest of the country will be suffering a National-Poetry-Month-hangover on May 1, Cousins Reading Series will still be partying like it's April!

Look at this lineup of poets (plus one novelist) who will be reading with Cousins on May 1st:

Mairéad Byrne is an Irish poet whose books include
Nelson & The Huruburu Bird, An Educated Heart, Talk Poetry, and The Best of (What's Left of) Heaven. She is associate professor of poetry and poetics at Rhode Island School of Design.

Ryan Flaherty, author of What’s This, Bombadier? (LSU Press), is the recipient of the 2010 PEN /New England Discovery Award for Poetry. He has published two chapbooks, Novas and Live, from the Delay. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Columbia, and elsewhere. He lives and teaches in New Hampshire.

Steve Himmer stories have appeared in various journals and anthologies. He edits the web journal Necessary Fiction, and teaches at Emerson College in Boston. His novel The Bee-Loud Glade is just out from Atticus Books.

Daniel Tiffany is the author of three books of poetry: Privado (Action Books),The Dandelion Clock (Tinfish Press),and Puppet Wardrobe. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Paris Review, jubilat, and other journals. He is professor of English and comparative literature at University of Southern California.

Cousins Reading Series is held at Abe's Bar, 302 Wickenden Street, Providence. Start time is around 6:30 PM.

Saturday, March 26, 2011



Robert Coover’s most recent books are Noir, The Adventures of Lucky Pierre, Stepmother, and A Child Again. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment of the Arts, Rea Lifetime Short Story, Rhode Island Governor’s Arts, Pell, and Clifton Fadiman Awards, as well as Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Lannan Foundation, and DAAD fellowships.

Janalyn Guo lives in Providence and received her MFA from Brown University. Her writing has appeared in The New Yinzer, and is forthcoming in Tarpaulin Sky. She is currently hard at work on a novel.

William Walsh is the author of Without Wax, Pathologies, and Questionstruck. His work has appeared in Quick Fiction, New York Tyrant, Caketrain, Annalemma, LIT, No Colony, Quarterly West, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other journals.

April 3rd at Abe's Bar (302 Wickenden Street, Providence). Starts around 6:30PM.