“I had no idea. I didn’t realize there were other working writers in Lancaster,” says Jeremy Hauck, leader of a flash fiction workshop series taking place this spring at the Lancaster Literary Guild. “It’s really grown on me,” he says. Hauck and his wife Sonja are both 2012 graduates of Temple University’s new MFA program. They moved to the city of Lancaster last January, and then had their daughter, Edel, in June. “She just started crawling and standing up on stuff…all of the sudden you can’t take your eyes off of her,” says Hauck. As a writer and a family man, Hauck has faced the age-old dilemma of how to adequately support oneself and one’s family with a job that also supports a writing routine. “People who want to support themselves as writers usually do one of two things: journalism or teaching. I’ve kind of flipped back and forth between those two,” says Hauck. Originally from Wilmington, OH, Hauck says he started writing during his undergraduate studies at Miami University of Ohio. Shortly after, he worked as a journalist for three years, before teaching English abroad for one. Then, before he started his MFA, Hauck was back to working as a journalist again. Although he never planned to go to grad school, Jeremy’s writing brought him to Temple in 2010 to begin studying fiction. This is where he and Sonja met. It is also where they both now teach as adjunct professors, a job that Hauck enjoys. He cites the freedom as a major benefit, adding “We’ve even co-designed our own course.”
The two have developed a work schedule that includes teaching heavy course loads in the fall and taking it a bit easier in the spring. This has allowed Hauck the opportunity and energy to take on the eight-week workshop he’s now teaching at the Lancaster Literary Guild. His workshop brings together sixteen short fiction writers from the area, giving him his first look into the depth and variety of the local literary community. The workshop is midway through its course, and focuses on flash-fiction, a genre of short-story that limits writers to a thousand-word count. Hauck talks about the advantages of flash for both publication and live reading.”My experiences with readings, is that if you come with a story story, something you need to savor, it isn’t going to go over well. Flash works because people want to laugh; they want something weird, and quick. Punchier.” This seems to be a growing attraction for readers and publishers alike. Flash is now published widely, with many literary journals accepting only this sort of brief, driving fiction. The reward of an effective flash story is the surprise, impression, or image it leaves the reader, often sticking around for much longer than it took to actually read. Hauck describes the effect of one such story (“The Sewers of Salt Lake City” by François Camoin) as, “coloring the next few hours of my life.”
Fiction pieces that clock in under a thousand words are not entirely new, but their popularity and prevalence are growing. Many readers unfamiliar with the “flash” terminology may think of Hemingway’s single-incident shorts. Since the 80s, flash seems to have stepped up, taken more seriously as a genre by both writers and critics—consider Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis, and the publication of the anthology Sudden Fiction, which collects over 70 American works of “short-short” fiction. The momentum behind flash continues to grow, as readers can find it all over the internet, in magazines as long-standing as The New Yorker, and in new anthologies and publications. In fact, last year Persea Books published an anthology of short-short fiction called Short, which chronicles the form over the last five centuries.
However, flash is still new to many. The term wasn’t even coined until 1992, with the publishing of an anthology called, Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories. As much as it is about actually writing flash fiction, Hauck’s workshop is also a venue to discuss, analyze, and weigh in on the nature and boundaries of the genre. Individuals in the workshop vary greatly in familiarity with the genre, age, and occupation, creating a layer of diversity in the classroom. Although it seems that teaching and journalism are the types of jobs that lend themselves to the writing life, these writers, along with many we read in the workshop, work in very different settings. A construction executive writes and reads next to a server, who sits next to an employee at the Department of Public Welfare. In this workshop, there are highschool students writing beside professors and retired writers. One author we’ve studied, Ian Woolen, works as a psychotherapist and still finds the time to not only write, but publish and work on literary magazines.
Regardless of day-job, writers everywhere will tell you that there is no better way to get yourself writing than to take a class or join a workshop. Hauck actually decided to do the flash workshop for two reasons, saying, “I wanted to study some quicker routes to publication, and I really just missed workshopping.” The discussion, community, and feedback that comes from a workshop class have generative and, dare I say, inspirational effects on its participants.
A lot of flash fiction comes not from inspiration centered on plot and characterization, but more on image. This visual impetus for the story seems to be what lies behind the stories, novels, and poetry of one of Hauck’s favorite authors, Ron Rash, who too claims that images, rather than plot, are what prompt him to begin writing. Hauck explains his attraction to the genre in similar terms, saying, “It’s easier to be brave in a flash piece…You don’t have to fashion it so much, and layer it with so much artifice, and make things work over a long stretch of time. You just try to get as close to a feeling or an image as you can. There’s a different kind of energy to it.”
To read one of Hauck’s own flash pieces, check out his story “Where the Pop Machine Rattles” over at the Molotov Cocktail. He’s also been published in Penduline Press and The Rusty Nail. His nonfiction can be found online at Ploughshares, TINGE Magazine, and The Review Review.
For more on the Literary Guild’s workshops and other events, check out their calendar.
We have added some new team members to The Triangle!
Rose has always been a reader and a writer. She will be getting her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated from Millersville University with a degree in English and currently works at a public library. She has been involved with The George Street Carnival Literary Journal, the Creative Writer’s Guild at Millersville University, and numerous other organizations. Rose will be writing book reviews for us and contributing literary commentary.
Ashley-Luisa is currently an English and Spanish double major at Millersville University. She has been published in high school literary magazines as well as the 2014 issue of The George Street Carnival. She is a member of the Creative Writer’s Guild and looks forward to where her poetry and writing will lead her. Ashley-Luisa will be joining the team as The Triangle intern during the summer of 2014, helping us to host and promote literary events in southcentral PA.
Aj is known as Aj, except at work (The Eden Resort) where he is known as Allen. His passion lies in his hometown community of Lancaster, where he lives with his dogs, Bailey and Dusty. He loves satire and sci-fi, themes which figure prominently into his self-published collection of writing, “The Loss of Despair and Other Fleeting Feelings.” AJ will be helping us to promote Triangle activities in and around Lancaster. Here’s what he had to say about one of our most recent events, Poetry Aloud 2014:
“By all official accounts I was at Poetry Aloud 2014… By unofficial accounts, however, I was in a sort of tunnel-vision, taking everything in. I was encompassed by everyone’s creativity and confidence. Flattery aside, if you could not make it, you missed a good time. These events confirm that I am part of a fantastic community of beautiful minds. It was hard not to jump out of my seat, go home, sit at my laptop, and start writing what was on the tip of my tongue. Moment by moment my thoughts changed like the speakers at the podium. The readings made me come to a new conclusion: having your voice heard (at any age) by random people in a dimly-lit room is a religious experience. The shaky moments afterwards, when the reader sits down next to one of their friends or mothers, are ones of absolute refreshment. Even now, as I’m sitting in this local establishment drinking my lager and writing this, I want to—no I need to—read some of my own poetry aloud to another patron. And why should I feel embarrassed to do so? It is my passion! If you are like me and have the occasional writers block, I challenge you to go and read one of your poems or short stories to a person who is new to you. Take back what is yours and revel in satisfaction as you finish your last words. I will not be missing the sign-ups for the next Triangle event. I only hope that you will share that experience with me and read by my side.”
Please join us in welcoming these new team members to The Triangle!
This article marks the first in a new series here at The Triangle. We’ll be collecting local ephemera, writing a brief list of our thoughts, and putting forth the age-old question: “BUT IS IT LIT?” Parameters for what we review are any of the following (if something meets all three points, ding ding ding you win): 1) we love it because it’s funny, weird, and awesome; 2) it’s a local thing; and/or 3) it’s something we want to promote and support but it’s not traditional literature (or is it?).
First up: The record insert/zine/booklet that comes with each copy of the new local compilation album, Seems Like There’s A Show Every Night, released by Greg Knowles and Chumpire records. Many of the bands featured on the album are associated with DIT Lancaster (DIT stands for do-it-together), a collective which aims to tighten the local independent music community. This record is a sampling of Lancaster area punk music. There’s everything from crooning emo revival, to chaotic metal, to simple low-fi ukulele.
Seems Like There’s A Show Every Night
Chumpire Records, 2014
16 pages, saddle-stitch staple-bound, softcover, full-color
$10.99 at Mr. Suit Records
- Inside the front cover is a heartfelt note from Mike (Mr. Suit himself) that’ll make any local (associated with the DIY/Do-It-Yourself music culture or not) proud to call him or herself a Lancastrian. It’s a concise chronicle of his moving to Lancaster, discovering the music scene, and watching it grow. He writes, “Best of all, this isn’t entirely the work of a single mover-and-shaker, but of an entire community…” I feel the echoes of that sentiment here in the literary community as well. This opening is a perfect primer for the album to come, honest enough to feel real, and not so sentimental that you feel like puking.
- The booklet is filled with pages of lyrics. Each band designed their own page and sent it to local graphic designer and DIY-affiliate, Shannon Yordy. The result is an interesting chapbook of sorts, with lyrics, drawings, and designs unique to each band’s disposition and genre. Notables are:
- the repetition in the lyrics to “Boxing with a Ghost” by Chalmers: “Nothing solid/nothing landed….Something solid/something landed.” The use of “landed” as an ambiguous part of speech is really cool, leaving it up to the listener to take it as a past-tense verb or an adjective.
- the Internet Poetry inspired (or so it seems) image macro used for A Band Named Craig‘s page. Their post-ironic, absurdist approach to the lyrics page comes across as humorous, self-aware, and contemporary.
- the simple emo-confessionalism lyricality of Placeholder‘s “I Feel”. Vocalist Brandon Gepfer writes, “Walked out my bedroom/there’s no one home/Walked down to the liquor store/found my friends.” This is pop-punk all grown up: still relate-able, but a little less than positive (one might argue, much more real.)
- first the title (“I am the meteor that killed the venusaurs”), and then the alliterative, other-worldly word salad scrawled on Row‘s lyrics page. Here’s an excerpt: “It’s all bloodied/the ketamine/it aint pretty/how’d I seem at 1:30/a liquored corpse kissing kerosene”
- I also dug the closing afterword by Greg Knowles, the man behind the local fanzine, Chumpire. Knowles also recorded many of the tracks on this album. He’s tirelessly and selflessly worked to record local bands forever, for free, for really nothing but some gas money. Greg’s summation on the last page of the booklet is again a genuine tale of his experience with DIT Lancaster and the underground music scene in our community.
- Overall, the booklet takes about 10 minutes to read. It’s beautiful and well thought-out. It’s a surprisingly treasure-filled addition to the fine compilation record it comes with. Kudus to all who were involved in it’s inception and execution.
Pick up a copy and tell us what you think in the comments: IS IT LIT??
Scranton, PA bookmakers, Swandive Publshing Company will be debuting their new (and first!) literary offering this Friday, April 11th, at the AFA Gallery in Scranton, PA. The book is called Everyday Escape Poems, and it’s an anthology comprised of work by nine regional and local writers, including Barbara DeCesare, Jim Warner, and Dawn Leas. The book is officially released this Friday, at 7pm. The event is free, and there is more information here, as well as on our calendar.
Swandive Publishing Company is run by Eric and Amy Wilson. They founded the project last fall with the intention of publishing full books of poetry. Everyday Escape Poems is their first release, and we’ve got a copy. We’re very excited about this new endeavor for our friends up in Scranton, so we’ll be making the trek up north to help them celebrate.
Eric Wilson and Barbara DeCesare, who are both published in the anthology, will be here in Lancaster on June 11th for a reading.
For more information about the book, and the publishers themselves, check out their website. Also. look for a review of Everyday Escape Poems here at the Triangle in the near future.
Visual Interviews are where we send a writer a disposable camera and a list of ideas to photograph along with a few short questions. Once the camera is mailed back, we develop the photos and arrange them collage style to give you a unique glimpse into the life of the writer we’ve selected. Check out past Visual Interviews and stay tuned because we have Elisa Gabbert, Jim Goar, and Lindsay Hunter coming up over the next couple of months!
John Mortara is a poet, writer, designer, and indie publisher. He is the creator of voicemail poems and has a full length poetry collection forthcoming from yesyes books (‘some planet’ February 2015). Series sponsored by Tellus360 and compiled by Erin Dorney and Tyler Barton.
Photographs and text by John Mortara: a) John Mortara biking (dangerously); b) John Mortara’s reading nook; c) a disappointing scenic area; d) a diner in New Jersey where John Mortara used to get grilled cheese with bacon and tomato and it made him feel ok; e) John Mortara reading at Northhampton Poetry after everyone yelled at him to use the flash and then he had to figure out how to use the flash; f) John Mortara on some highway in America; g) John Mortara with an icicle (friggin lunatic?); h) John Mortara biking (again, dangerously).
April is National Poetry Month and there are a TON of literary events happening in Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg. Check out our printable calendar and our online calendar for an idea of what’s going on.
This coming weekend is huge for us at The Triangle. Come hangout!
On Thursday, April 3, Erin and I will be opening for poet and professor at Yale, James Berger at The MakeSpace. The reading is FREE and starts at 7 PM. We’ll be reading some of our collaborative writings (including our Ikea Poems, which you can preview over at the Onthology/audio project, curated by Christophe Cassamassima).
Friday, April 4th is Poetry Aloud, a twice-yearly spoken word series that I’ve been organizing for over the last three years with the help of the Franklin and Marshall College Philadelphia Writer’s House. Jon Sands, an incredible poet from NYC, is our feature, with F&M professor and poet Amanda Kemp as our special guest. There’s a fully booked list of readers for the open-mic reading as well. This event is FREE and it will begin at 6:30 PM at the Ware Center. It’s First Friday in Lancaster, and the kickoff for National Poetry Month.
On Saturday we’ll be hosting a FREE workshop at the Lancaster Public Library. This will be a 90-minute series of writing exercises, prompts, and sharing. The goal is to get you writing. If you need a little push, if you want to break that writer’s block, or simply write with the company, comfort, and inspiration of fifteen other creatively-minded people…this could be the perfect Saturday afternoon activity for you. 1 PM, Lancaster Public Library on Duke Street.
Later this month, on Thursday, April 17th, we’ll be kicking off the Fear No Lit Reading Series at Dogstar Books (an every-other-month reading, featuring one national writer and an open-mic reading) with poet and storyteller Michael Czarnecki. This event, as you may have guessed, is FREE. The next installment of the series will be in June, with Barbara DeCesare and Eric Wilson from Swandive Publishing.
In conclusion, April is a crazy, exciting, and fully-booked month for the literary arts in our area, and we can’t wait to see you.
Looking for a workshop series that’ll sharpen your short-fiction skills? Looking for chance to gain perspective, advice, and feedback on your work? Looking to simply craft some new short pieces? Free Wednesday evenings this Spring?
The Lancaster Literary Guild may have the perfect opportunity.
Flash Fiction (typically considered to be works shorter than a thousand words) is not only increasingly popular and innovative, but widely published and relished by readers everywhere. As communication quickens, stories shorten, and meaning becomes more direct and powerful, flash fiction finds wider and wider audiences. Just check out sites like Monkeybicycle, NANO Fiction, or a majority of the stories published in any literary journal that wants to up its number of fiction pieces, while keeping its page numbers reasonable.
Instructor Jeremy Hauck (Temple professor, fiction writer) is teaching 8 workshops at the lit guild’s building on Lime Street. He’s been published in many of the journals that are hungrily looking for this brief, punchy prose. He’ll share experience and knowledge of the form while using examples, critique circles, and read-alouds to help participants craft and hone three original flash fictions. And, if you’re more inclined towards longer work, writers are welcomed to use the class to develop scenes and characters for more fleshed out stories or novels.
We’ll be there, and we’re truly looking forward to it. Don’t miss out on this unique chance to study fiction-writing with a regional professional here in Lancaster. Classes are 165$ bucks, for 8 sessions. They begin THIS COMING WEDNESDAY, the 26th of March, and go through May 14th. Email jeremyehauck [at] gmail [.com] for more information or to sign up.