Hey friends of Blood Lotus! It’s been a while, and the first thing I want to say to you all is a great big THANK YOU for hanging out with us for the last nine years. Stacia and I are still chugging away on different projects, both together and on our own, and as we transition over to a literary blog, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what I’ve been up to.
One of the things that absolutely fascinates me is how we continue to identify with place, actual locations on a map, in an increasingly virtual world. I have lived in the Midwest most of my life and proudly identify as a Midwesterner. However, a lot of other areas overlap in the Midwest: Rustbelt, Appalachia/Affrilachia, The Great Plains, The Ohio River Valley, and each of these areas contribute to the rich diversity of the Midwest. My Ohio Valley Midwest is different from someone else’s St. Louis Rustbelt Midwest, is different from someone else’s Iowa City Midwest.
To speak to this, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for my upcoming blog posts titled: Reply All. For the first round of Reply All, I’ve asked some Midwest writers of different locations and backgrounds to comment on their Midwest Identity. I’ll post excerpts from our Reply All email discussions in the coming weeks.
And because I’m on a Midwestern kick, please check out my current chapbook contest over at Argus House Press. The contest is open to writers from the Rustbelt, Appalachia/Affrilachia and/or Midwest regions of the US. I’m accepting submissions of 14-28 pages of poetry until March 15 for an entry fee of only $5. Visit the site for full guidelines and details.
This contest is inspired my mentor and friend, Dr. Rane Arroyo, who passed away five years ago this May. Rane Arroyo was an Affrilachian Poet and a self-described "gay, Puerto Rican, Midwestern" writer. Rane said, “Who knows more about place than the displaced?”
One of the judges of the contest, Mitchell L.H. Douglas, is another member of the Affrilachian poets, and a featured BL author. In October 2012, I conducted an interview series with four other Affrilachian poets—Ellen Hagan, Keith Wilson, Parneshia Jones, and Ricardo Nazario y Colon—in honor of Appalachian Heritage Month.
For those of you in the rest of the world, Argus House will be announcing a reading period for full-length poetry and fiction manuscripts later this spring.
Finally, there will be a formal announcement soon, but check this out.