Pushcart Prize Nominees Are Out

So it’s that time again, everyone: time to make a futile effort to get the great writers featured in Bop Dead City recognized for their achievements by the Pushcart Press. I chose some of my favorite poems and stories from the past year, and here they are:
Issue 17
“(Ah)” by Gregory Sherl
“Skin” by Preeti Talwai
Issue 16
“El Barril (The Barrel)” by Sarah Frances Moran
Issue 15
“Freighthopping” by Alison Liu
“The Vest” by Lauren Spinabelli
Issue 14
“Ascending Descent” by Richard Manly Heiman
A big thank you and congratulations to these six writers. If you’d like to read their work, please get you a copy on our buy page. If I hear anything about a winner, you all will be the first to know. In the meantime, at least they’ll be able to add “Pushcart nominee” to their bios.
Come back tomorrow when we’ll be interviewing another contributor to Issue 17.

Interview with Issue 17’s Nancy Iannucci

Hey y’all, hope you had a fine Thanksgiving. Back to business now as the hectic season begins. Know what makes a great Christmas gift? Issue 17 of Bop Dead City, featuring the imitable Nancy Iannucci. Here’s a lil’ interview with her:


Describe your writing in 25 words or less.

I like to take real world situations and things, open them up at the seams, peer inside, and expose the mysticism residing within.

Tell me about your poem “Traffic.”
Traffic was like a possession.  I had to write the story and it came out of me in an hour.  I was at my cousin’s baptism. As we walked into the church bright-eyed and cheery, a funeral mass was walking out at the same time. You can imagine their emotions were quite the opposite.

Who or what inspires you to write?

A. Music—I listen to all kinds of music. Music has been my fascination since birth- the melodies – the lyrics.  As a little girl, I obsessively read lyrics on album covers before I gravitated to books. I’m pretty sure I will be a musician in my next life.

B. The magic of the natural world & the world of fable and magic.

C. Reading— other poets, known and unknown. If I could possess the magic of two writers it would be Emily Dickinson and Jack Kerouac.

 What are you working on now?

In between the moments of welcomed disruptive inspiration that forces a poet to STOP EVERYTHING, sit-down, and write, I am working on my first chapbook. I love the theme, which I will keep to myself for now.

 Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?

No, not sure if I actually want to start one up.

 Any advice for your fellow writers?

Don’t let creative writing courses, harsh critique, and rejections take away your voice, your unique writing style.  Keep reading and keep writing.  Write down your thought fits.  I have a large collection of three-liner thought fits.  I just created a full-length poem out of a few of them.  You never know…

Interview with Issue 17’s Daniel Tobin

Hey everyone! Hope you’re doing well where you are, and not drying out like a corn husk down here in the South like I am. This morning I had to figure out whether the poor visibility on the road was because of Silent Hill-level fog or just another brush fire started by an idiot with a cigarette butt. Fun!
In better news, here’s Daniel Tobin, who let us publish two poems in Issue 17. If you’d like to read them or subscribe, head here.
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
Short and punchy, I try to convey a lot with little space. Thematically, I tend to deal with coming of age or maturation.
Tell me about your poems “Tutorial” and “Atlanta Strikeout.”
Atlanta Strikeout attempts to capture what it’s like to truly be enamored with someone but without any rhyme or reason, more on an inherent gut level. We’ve all had encounters that have had a profound effect on us without a clear cause. This poem is an exploration of one of those meetings.

Tutorial is about finding parallels between three distinctive relationships that span the course of ten years. It is a retrospective thru line. The idea here was for the reader to grow with speaker, bringing elements of each section into the next. I tried to do so with repetitive phrasing that I could vary contextually, as well as the use of second person.

Who or what inspires you to write?

I use writing, particularly poetry, as a way of bringing closure to events that have effected me. It’s a way of giving my own life a sense of perspective, even if it’s only thematically. I have a full time job that has nothing to do with writing and so in some ways I’m lucky enough to use my work as purely an outlet.

As cliche as it sounds, I’m also constantly inspired by other writers. There’s nothing quite like finding a piece that you really connect to, something that makes you want to sprint back to your computer and come up with something half as good. Writing is a special medium in the sense that it allows for constant exploration. There’s always room to give something new a try.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a novel as well as compiling my first chapbook.
Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
I do not have a website now but am working on one for the near future. In the meantime, I post everything I have published on my Twitter feed, @dtobin123.
Any advice for your fellow writers?
Consistency is everything! Sometimes we’re so in awe of other authors/poets that we almost get discouraged. We assume they just woke up one day as masterful writers. I think the process is as much about writing something at all as it is about writing something good. I have over 200 poems I would never want anyone in their right mind to read, but they’ve helped me find my own voice. Build writing into a routine and the good stuff will naturally start to come.

On a separate note, writing is an observation but your experiences are what bring it value. Always make sure you’re living a life worth commenting on, whether that be via personal exploration or learning to take an additional perspective on aspects of your day to day.

Interview with Issue 17’s Jennifer Woodworth

Chugging along as we are with the submission period, I still found time to interview the amazing poet/proseist Jennifer Woodworth, who pulled double duty in Issue 17 by giving us both a poem and a story. Want to read them? Buy a copy of Issue 17!

Here she is, in all her glory:




Describe your writing in 25 words or less:

I’m pretty superstitious about the writing since it feels a little bit magic to me sometimes.  Like there are a bunch of children in my head who make the writing happen. But I’m not going to say that to anyone but you.

Tell me about your poem “Three Fortunes.”

I think the first fortune is a love story, the second one is a warning, and the third is the hard truth that some things cannot be fixed


There are so many ways blood bonds mother to daughter that do not depend on the quality of the relationship.

Your flash fiction “The Orange Tattoo” could be considered a prose poem. What do you think makes the difference between the two forms?  

Thank you very much.  I think a prose poem is sometimes a story, and sometimes just a poem, though mostly they all just want to be called when it’s time to be read, so to say.  But I do think there’s a difference–a story needs a sort of plot, a climax, a denouement; character, and something about the character that changes, or (significantly) doesn’t change. Also, I really like a story with a narrator-character, but that’s just me.  Poems don’t have to have any of those things in particular; I think poems have to have different things that are also good for stories, like intensity of language and leanness and strangeness.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Lots of people answer this question with a list of authors or books they love.*  But I am also very much inspired by people I write to by email just doing the business of the day, even if I hardly know them. Little details about things we do or don’t have in common can inspire me for hours and I feel very lucky that the writing comes to me at all. I am also sure that showing up every day inspires me to write. I can take a few months off, but am miserable until I can get the children to come back and start up again with the chattering and the clattering of the keys, but I’m not saying that to anyone else, either.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on writing some new stories for a book that will contain my very short stories as well as some of my longer short fiction.

 Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?

I have a tiny little blog called Fish Clamor where I post links to wonderful writing things I find online, as well as Every Scrap of Big News in my tiny little writing world.  It’s at FishClamor.com.

Any advice for your fellow writers? 

I would not have any idea what to say to another writer, but sometimes I need to be reminded that for me, the writing only happens when I show up every day. And I need to remember that it’s fine to take a break when I get tired. And sometimes I forget it’s OK to just read one little story if I don’t have time for the whole book. The children have to be fed.

*Of course I have a list of favorite stories, poems, books, writers!  If it weren’t for reading Wanda Coleman’s Heavy Daughter Blues, I might not have become a writer at all. I can’t say what it was about the book, but it turned something over in me that I thought was already right side up.  Some of the many stories, poems, and books I love are Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End; Morton Marcus’s Moments Without Names; the amazing poem on the front page of Booth right this minute called “The Problem with Burning Down Your Own House”  by Amorak Huey; and “Snow,” by Ann Beattie is amazing. I have some eternal favorites—this year I’ve been on a big Moby Dick craze,  the exception to the rule that I only read short stories.  I love the stories in Genesis as works of fiction. And Amy Hempel’s book, Reasons to Live, is the best short fiction book I know. I love most anything by Raymond Carver, and I love Donald Barthelme for the delight he takes in writing the bizarre as if it were not so bizarre.  I love Louise Erdrich’s short stories and her novel (another exception) Love Medicine. Roger Ebert was a brilliant writer, not a movie critic. Any of his Great Movie essays will bring you the news. I love and hate Henry James for his brilliant and complicated sentences.  e.e. Cummings is very much a favorite, what with all the love poems and those gorgeous sonnets and unforgettable moments like as is the sea marvelous–and another great lover, Pablo Neruda, whose Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair will never stop feeling fresh to me.  There are not enough women here.  I love the book Smoke by Dorianne Laux, especially her poem, “Prayer.” My mother, M.K. Woodworth is a beautiful writer and I hope she’s not done. One day I happened upon a very strange and beautiful book of stories called Silk by Grace Mazure.  Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet is to die for. Kimoko Hahn’s book, The Narrow Road to the Interior may well be my favorite book of poetry of all time, and I could go on and on, in fact, I already have. My apologies.

Issue 18 is open to submissions!

Today, as I put the stamps on most of the very popular Issue 17s fixing to be mailed, we’re open to submissions again. The details, which can be found on our submissions page , are basically this: paste up to five of your best poems and/or the best story you’ve got under 3,000 words into the body of an email, along with a short third person bio, and click send. We’d also love to receive submissions of cover art, if you’re a talented photographer who works in black and white.

We’ve also got a contest. as always, and the theme is fathers. Do with the theme what you will. Happy, sad, mournful, emo, how much he loves you, how much you hate him. Write a poem about the Founding Fathers. Hell, write a story about my dad (oh, and if you find him, mention that in the email, would you?). Just make it good. $20 to best poem, $20 to best story. The deadline and submission guidelines are the same as for general submissions, but also mention you want your work considered for the contest.

Oh, and while I’ve still got some left, buy Issue 17. Better yet. get a subscription for $12 and save on shipping.

That’s all I got. Good luck to everyone!

Interview with Issue 17’s Joel Coltharp

Below is the first in our series of interviews with the contributors to Issue 17. To read Joel’s poem “Dropped” and more just as awesome, click here and buy a copy of Issue 17. Keep checking back; I’ll be posting the interviews as they roll in.
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
My writing seeks to honestly portray people living along the margins of society, finding patterns among the circumstances and forces that landed them there.
Tell me about your poem “Dropped.”
This is a poem that I worked on for quite some time before it finally took shape, and it is probably the most difficult poem I’ve
ever written. It’s based on an incident many years ago that, upon considerable reflection, came to symbolize my growing
disillusionment with man’s many attempts to create higher powers of varying natures, as dramatic as that sounds.
Who or what inspires you to write?
On one hand, I am inspired to write as a way of communicating with authors whose work I most admire, from Dorothy Allison
to Junot Diaz to Philip Levine. On the other hand, I am driven to continue writing because I have not yet found anyone else
telling the exact stories that I want to tell, and I hope to fill that void.
You’re the fiction editor for Moon City Review. How did you get involved with them? What’s your selection process like?
I started as an assistant editor for Moon City Review as a graduate student at Missouri State University. I loved working on the editing and publishing side, and I invested much time and energy into the journal, so when I graduated I was asked to stay on as Fiction Editor, a position I happily accepted. As an editor, I am most drawn to stories with strong voices, whose keen psychological insight into their own characters’ motivations finds new ways to explore the human condition. Simply put, I look for interesting characters doing interesting things and having interesting things to say about them.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am trying to form a collection out of my longer stories, something in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio or even Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, in that all of the stories are united by place and theme. In the meantime, my newer stories find me delving into shorter forms, exploring flash fiction in all its diversity and experimentation.
Otherwise, I am turning more and more of my attention to poetry and nonfiction, finding them increasingly useful for saying the things that I can’t say through my fiction.
Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
I do not currently maintain a website, but I have recently discovered the value of such a thing, and one is likely to appear in the very near future.
Any advice for your fellow writers?
My main advice, beyond the well-worn suggestions to just write and read as much as possible, is do whatever you can to tap into the amazing community of writers that exists throughout the world. Technology has made it possible for us to share our work in so many ways, and extensive exposure to others’ writing will only broaden and refine your abilities. Get out of your comfort zone, move beyond your immediate influences, and seek new resources and connections that expand your understanding of the writing and publishing worlds.

Issue 17 is on sale today!

Phew! What a couple of weeks. Between getting laid up with some basement dweller’s bacterium finding its way into my lungs and having to pour out my 40oz for my longtime right hand, my Chromebook, it’s been a trying time getting this issue together. BUT it has all been worth it.

First, as always, the cover (click the image to buy one of these handsome issues):


This lil’ treasure, titled “Leica 59,” is courtesy of Jess Golden, a street photographer from Seattle, Washington. To see more of his fantastic and absolutely vast body of work (about twenty of his photos would have been just as perfect), visit jesseboy000.deviantart.com.

Now, onto the amazing writers I found while sifting through two months of submissions. It’s a poetry heavy issue, y’all. I’ve subtly noted the contest winners:

Kaz Sussman — “In Retrospect” ***CONTEST WINNER***

Preeti Talwai — “Skin,” “Someone,” and “Home”

Nancy Iannucci — “Traffic”

Joel Coltharp — “Dropped”

Jennifer Woodworth — “Three Fortunes”

Ava C. Cipri — “The Monstrous Thing”

Daniel Tobin — “Atlanta Strikeout” and “Tutorial”

Gregory Sherl — “(Ah)”

Allyson Whipple — “Bar Joke” and “Hawks Don’t Circle”

Terri Kirby Erikson — “My Cousin, Milton”

And the stories:

Liz Grear — “The Insides of My Elbows” ***CONTEST WINNER***

Jennifer Woodworth — “The Orange Tattoo”


Winners, as always, get $20 ‘Murican dollars, and everyone gets a copy of the issue. Hey, you want a copy of the issue, right? Click here and get yourself the literary magazine that features the 1st – 10th runners up for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature!  I mean, unless Trump gets elected and sends our economy into a death spiral, you can swing the three bucks. Thanks again to everyone who submit their work and to those who make me feel like a big shot by letting my publish their stuff. I WILL be doing author interviews over the next few weeks, so keep checking back here!