• Reading in Translation

    on Oct 11, 18 with No Comments

    Russell Carr I have a confession. I majored in Russian Literature without finishing War and Peace.I read small sections of it in Russian, but was expected to read all of it in English. In the past 25-years since college, I hesitate to mention my major, because most people ask...

  • 5 am writers club

    The 5 a.m. Writer’s Club

    on Sep 20, 18 with No Comments

    Penny Zang Wilcox 5 a.m. Morning shocks itself into focus, the sky coffee-dark and thick with silence. The hopeful kind.  I am a 5 a.m. writer. Judging from others’ faces when I tell them how early I wake up each morning, on purpose, I must be a masochist. The question of...

  • Dallas Woodburn

    The Short Way Home: An Interview with Dallas...

    on Jul 19, 18 with No Comments

    Mel Sherrer This month, South 85 Journal sat down with Dallas Woodburn, author of the newly released Woman, Running Late, in a Dress, to discuss the nature of short stories, character relatability, the role of irony, and much more. S85: Firstly, why short stories for this...

  • That Ticking Clock: The Handling of Time in...

    on Jun 28, 18 with No Comments

    Cary Holladay As an element of craft, time is generally regarded as a tool of setting, akin to place. Yet it is multidimensional, a voyage through past and future. Equally mysterious is the present, deemed by T.S. Eliot “the still point of the turning world.” First, a true...

  • Summer Flash Fiction Contest $500 prize

    Summer Flash Fiction Contest

    on Jun 25, 18 with No Comments

    South 85 Journal is relaunching Converse College MFA program’s Julia Peterkin awards, starting with an all-new summer flash fiction contest. Like past awards, the contest will honor Julia Peterkin, an 1896 graduate of Converse College. In 1929, she won the Pulitzer Prize...

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  • Photograph by William Crawford

    The Spring / Summer 2018 Issue Is Here!

    on Jun 15, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    The Spring / Summer 2018 Issue of South 85 Journal is now available online.

    Creative Work

    We are pleased to present work by the following contributors:

    Artwork – Roger Camp, Richard Corso, William C. Crawford, Ann Schlotzhauer, Louis Staeble, Mauricio Paz Viola, and Bill Wolak
    Fiction – Lawrence Cady, Matthew Fairchild, Sara Grace Salley, and John Vanderslice
    Non-Fiction – Brandon Daily, Mariam S. Pal, Christine Taylor, and Mary Jane White
    Poetry – Nina Bennett, Micki Blenkush, Katarina Boudreaux, MéShelle Fae, Erin Jamieson, Sean McQuinney, Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, John Nizalowski, and Charles Rafferty


    For some great summer reads, check out our Reviews section, featuring reviews of:

    The Truth About Me: Stories by Louise Marburg (Fiction)
    The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam by Max Boot (Non-Fiction)
    Milk and Vine and Milk and Vine II by Adam Gasiewski and Emily Beck (Poetry)

    Upcoming Submission Opportunities

    Coming soon, we will open submissions for an all-new summer flash fiction contest!  In addition, our next official reading period begins August 1.  Stay tuned for more information.  In the meantime, keep reading our blog about writing!  You can even submit an article for our blog.  We’d love to hear from you.

    About Us

    South 85 Journal is published by the Converse College Low-Residency MFA program.  Thank you to our staff of volunteers who put countless hours into making this issue happen.

    We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

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  • Mindful Writing

    5 Prompts for Mindful Writing

    on May 17, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Diana Raab

    Mindfulness is about living in a very conscious way so that we can devote full attention to whatever we are doing. Mindful writing is a good way to escape from the chaos of our daily lives, and can also help us uncover our authentic voices and inspire the writer within.

    Most of us write mindfully, in that we’re writing what we’re feeling at the time we’re writing. Certain practices, such as meditation prior to the writing process, can increase our sense of mindfulness. When we write from a mindful place, we are transporting ourselves into a deeper place in our psyche. Writing mindfully means that we are also self-aware. Being mindful means intentionally being present in any given moment. Rather than thinking of your past or future, being mindful is about focusing on what is happening right now. In other words, as the spiritual teacher Ram Dass says, “Be here now.”

    For many people, writing is a spiritual practice that opens up a connection with the divine. It’s also a way of letting go and making sense of yourself, your loved ones, and the world in which you live. Through journaling, you can cultivate self-awareness. There are two types of journaling. The first type is stream-of-consciousness journaling where you write for 15-20 minutes non-stop about whatever comes into your mind. There’s no beginning, middle, or ending to your writing. The second type of writing is prompt-directed writing. Both these ways of journaling can elicit the flow of creative juices. Here are some prompts to get you started. Use each prompt to write for at least 15 minutes.

    1) At the top of the page, write: “I remember.” Begin by writing down the first memory that emerges. Keep writing without lifting your pen off the page. See where your subconscious mind brings you.

    2) Write about the part of you that feels most alive and joyous right now. Does your mind or your body feel most alive and why? Consider writing about an event that lead to or caused this joy. Explain in detail what you’re feeling. Use all your senses.

    3) Write about something in your body that you carry from one of your ancestors. It can be a physical, emotional or mental characteristic. Describe this in detail and tell how it binds you to them. How does this connection reveal your emotional and spiritual connection?

    4) Bring someone into your consciousness who has been on your mind. Perhaps it’s a loved one who has passed away or someone who needs healing. Write this person a letter. You don’t have to send it, but it’s fine if you choose to do so.

    5) Write down how you feel about the past year. Imagine you have a ledger book and you need to write down all the significant things that happened. What would you write? Think about what you received from others. What did you give to others? If you’re so inclined, write down your goals for the next 12 months.

    Remember that writing is a process. It’s important that you enjoy the journey and not always think about the destination. Using mindfulness during the writing process means that you’re giving full attention to your writing without self-judgement. Enjoy your mindful journey!


    Diana Raab, PhD, MFA, is an award-winner writer, speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of nine books including, her latest, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life. She facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Visit her at dianaraab.com

    Featured Image Credit: Photo by Natalia Figueredo on Unsplash

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  • From Short Story to Novel

    on Apr 19, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Gwen Holt

    Short stories are the bread and butter of the writing industry. They are easy to pick up and read in one sitting, easy to teach in one semester, easy to edit and comment on in a reasonable amount of time. That’s doesn’t mean they’re easy to write. A lot of blood sweat and tears go into the best short stories. But, when considering word count, they are more digestible than novels. Still, the novel hangs over writers like a mountain that’s got to be conquered. If you feel like you have a good hold on short stories, the jump to a novel shouldn’t be intimidating. Many of the same elements apply.


    In a novel, just as in a short story, character development is key. You need well rounded, well planned, realistic characters that entice your reader to follow them down the rabbit hole. The cool thing about a novel is that you have the space to develop more of them. You can explore the strange aunt who lives around the corner, the neighbor with the creepy house, the best friend who might not be “the best” after all. Many novels even contain more than one main character. But, for a first novel, it’s probably best to focus on one main character and use strong supporting characters to help move the story along.


    Along with all those new players, you have the opportunity to expand your plot and explore subplots. Short stories can sometimes weave in one subplot. A novel can take the time to indulge in multiple subplots. Maybe the main character’s aunt is interested in going back to school while the focus of the story is actually on the main character finding love again. The best plots weave together and add to one another. The aunt could meet someone at school that she introduces to her nephew inspiring true love. But just like adding characters, you need to be careful about adding too many sub plots. Make sure your main plot is solid and your main character, fully-formed. Only add subplots that deepen and add to the original story. If another plot is calling out to you for more attention, maybe you have another novel on your hands.


    Not everyone enjoys reading or writing pages and pages of scenery or exposition but a novel definitely gives you more space to explore physical descriptions and setting. Your reader is settled in for the long haul. Hopefully they are already in love with your characters, so you can lead them through the rooms and sights of your world at a slightly slower pace than you would in a short story. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in that freedom. We only need to know so much about what everyone is wearing and if you’re going to mention Chekhov’s gun, then you better shoot someone.

    In short, all you have to do is think long. Spill more time, more imagination, more blood sweat and tears, and definitely a lot more words onto your pages. Eventually you’ll have it. Plan accordingly as you write. Find others who are writing novels and are willing to swap beta drafts with you. Asking someone to read an entire novel, especially a first novel or a rough draft, is a major request. Be respectful of other people’s time and be ready to give back when they need similar support. Explore different methods of plotting. The internet is full of different ways to organize all the information needed to create and maintain a coherent novel. Find one that works for you or try out several until the magic falls into place. Give yourself reasonable deadlines. Yes, it’s a lot of work, yes it’s hard, yes, it could take years, but if you write every day, and don’t let yourself get lost in an outlining maze, you’ll have a novel before you know it. After all, nothing that feels better than writing “The End” on 60,000+ words.


    Leigh StathamGwen Holt was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho but found her heart in New York City. She worked at many interesting jobs before settling in as a mother and writer.  She now resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, eight chickens, a fluffy dog, and two suspected serial killer cats. She has an MFA in Young Adult literature with Converse College and has served South 85 Journal as a Fiction Editor. She is the winner of the Southeast Review 2016 Narrative nonfiction prize for her short story, “The Ditch Bank and the Fence Line,” and will publish her fourth novel for young adults, Imani Unraveled, this fall with Owl Hollow Press.

    Featured Image Photo Credit: Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

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  • AWP

    The Newbies’ Guide to AWP: aka 5 Things Every Newbie Should Do BEFORE They Get to AWP

    on Feb 28, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Gabrielle Brant Freeman

    I do not belong here! If my thoughts were on a t-shirt, this would have been emblazoned across my chest during my first AWP experience way back in 2008 in New York. I was about a month pregnant with my second child, I did not yet really consider myself to be a writer, and I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. The only thing I remember is hearing Galway Kinnell read his poem “Oatmeal,” which was fantastic. Everything else is a blur.

    In about a week, I’ll be on a plane to Tampa on the way to my fourth AWP Conference. This time around, I’m much more excited than nervous, and I’m confident that I’m going to learn more than I can process and have a great time. If Tampa is your first AWP, let me help you out.

    This conference is HUGE. It’s you went to Disneyworld during peak season huge. It’s you’re at the only Starbucks for 100 miles on a Monday at 9am huge. It’s the bread and milk aisles at the grocery store before a hurricane huge. You must prepare.

    1. Use the AWP18 app to create your schedule.


    You can read through descriptions of all the events going on, and you can sort by “time” or “tracks.” I use the “sort by tracks” feature to look through what’s being offered in pedagogy, readings, panel discussions, author signings, offsite events, etc. I don’t worry about putting multiple sessions in one time slot, and here’s why: You do not have to stay in a session the whole time. This is your time. If the panel you were stoked about isn’t living up to your expectations, go to the next one.

    2. Plan out where you want to go at the Bookfair.


    The Bookfair is a vast sea of amazingness and can be overwhelming. There are over 800 exhibitors. 800! Find out where the journals and presses you have submitted to/ want to submit to/ have work published in are and go meet them. (Bring business cards!) You can search for exhibitors by name or by category on the app and find where their table will be. There is a map of the Bookfair on the app. Use it!

    3. Pack an empty bag for books.


    Make sure you have a plan for getting all the books you’re going to buy at the Bookfair back home. (Bring cash!) Many people bring an extra, empty bag and check it on their return flight.

    And speaking of packing, I have one word for you: layers. And comfortable shoes. Well that’s three words, but there you go.

    4. Research the city.


    Do a little research on the city, plan a short break between sessions, and go see something besides the inside of the convention center. Last year, my AWP buddy and I went to the National Air and Space Museum and saw the studio model of the starship Enterprise, the one they actually used in the original show. Yes, we’re geeks.

    5. Plan to go to an offsite event. Or two!


    Offsite events are terrific opportunities to meet up with interesting groups of writers. In 2015 in Minneapolis, I got to meet up with a bunch of other poets who had done the Found Poetry Review’s 30 day challenge at a repurposed mechanic’s garage full of art called House of Balls. So. Very. Cool.

    While you’re at it, eat some local food! I don’t know about you, but I’m planning on getting some octopus and shrimp ceviche from the Taco Bus (about five blocks away from the hotel) and at least eight Cuban sandwiches. Mmmmmmm…

    6. I lied! Here’s a final, bonus piece of advice: Make room in your schedule for the Dance Party.


    Be there. Stay to the end. The DJ is AMAZING. Plus, you know you’re not going to make it to the hotel gym every morning. Dance Party = Exercise goals complete. Boom.

    See you in Tampa!

    Gabrielle Brant FreemanGabrielle Brant Freeman‘s poetry has been published in many journals, including Grist, One, Scoundrel Time, Shenandoah, and storySouth. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017, and she was a Best of the Net 2014 finalist. Gabrielle won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Competition. Press 53 published her book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Read her poems and more at http://gabriellebrantfreeman.squarespace.com/.


    Featured Image Credit: Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash

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  • Kitchen SInk by Aaron Dargis

    Kitchen Sink

    on Nov 13, 17 in Blog by with No Comments

    Aaron Dargis

    Kitchen Sink by Aaron Dargis

    It’s noon and eggshells are scattered about
    the sink. I haven’t cleaned a pan in days.

    I can’t think of a good reason to sweep the floors.
    I won’t see him until he is drunk and pleased.

    I envy shared glee for gardenias, like finding
    a missing earring in the wash.

    I lie in bed smoking, watching
    a finch go to and fro her nest.

    I want to sleep in. But, I have the afternoon
    to fill the ashtray.


    Aaron DargisAaron Dargis grew up in Michigan and lives in the Piedmont area of South Carolina. He is currently an MFA student at Converse College and Poetry Editor for South 85 Journal. His most recent poem appearing Panoply Magazine, “Grey Partridge,” won editor’s choice. His primary focus is on identity of the self within a geographical location, isolation, and memory.

    “Kitchen Sink” first appeared in Panoply Magazine: https://panoplyzine.com/kitchen-sink-aaron-dargis/.

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