• Kitchen SInk by Aaron Dargis

    Kitchen Sink

    on Nov 13, 17 with No Comments

    Aaron Dargis https://youtu.be/m-m4yX3rv8U 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...

  • Daughter4254-Leigh-Statham

    Starting a Creative Revolution: Leigh Statham and Daughter4254

    on Oct 27, 17 with No Comments

    Mel Sherrer Leigh Statham, a writer who has served on South 85 Journal‘s staff, is currently touring with her new YA book, Daughter4254, which will officially be released by Owl Hollow Press on November 7.  We caught up with her for a few minutes for a sneak preview of...

  • Letter from an Undocumented

    Live a Quiet Life or Do the Work:...

    on Oct 20, 17 with No Comments

    Katie Piccirillo Sherman During this past Converse MFA summer residency, nonfiction mentor Jim Minick asked students to write a letter revealing a secret they’d never told anyone. Minick provided a number of samples, one of which was written by all-star nonfiction student...

  • Mel Sherrer and Liz Valvano

    Meditations on Togetherness

    on Oct 9, 17 with 1 Comment

    Mel Sherrer https://youtu.be/aw2WvKWNoq4I RitualMy expectation is to rise every morning with a Texas dawn ripping my eyes open like a sweaty Sunday shirt. I expect the complaints of abused bones creaking in marriage with cartilage I expect the ache of every hour ago. Expect...

  • Debby DeRosa making an announcement

    South 85 Journal Launches a YouTube Channel

    on Sep 25, 17 with No Comments

    Debby DeRosa South 85 Journal is launching a YouTube Channel to help us promote contemporary literature.  Starting October 9, we will release one video poetry reading a month.  To get everyone excited (and to test some features), I created this video announcement:...

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  • Frivolous Reading

    on Nov 11, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    As a third-semester student in an MFA program, I have spent the last few months in the local library poring over books and rifling through periodicals.  The librarians there have grown accustomed to seeing me untidily sprawled in the aisles or else haunting the study carrels for hours on end.  In addition to writing a paper, I’ve devoured numerous books on the matter of craft and diligently read the work of poets that I’ve found useful to my paper topic.  In a funny way, I’ve had a good time.  I was genuinely interested in the topic of my paper, and I enjoyed the poets I was reading.  Overall, it was nice to feel that I was making some headway on something useful.    

    The day after I turned in my paper I went to the library once again.  After plucking my scribbled sticky notes from the pages of several books and dropping the heavy volumes in the return box, I turned my attention to a matter I had anticipated for weeks: the gathering of as many frivolous, unwholesome books as possible.  I got together a pile of about fifteen books that I had been burning to read during all the weeks I was pegging away at my paper.  Some of these were books that I had read and loved in childhood, but others were by authors and poets that I had discovered in recent years.  A couple were random impulses chosen either for their beautiful cover art or an interesting description decorating the book jacket.  But all were books that I would have classified firmly as “pleasure” reading.  These, I was sure, would never become source material for any great academic papers.  I took the books home with me and I have been reading happily for about a week. 

    As I read, however, I became aware of a curious phenomenon.  All at once, book-related habits from childhood were reappearing.  They accompanied me to the supermarket in my purse, snoozed under my pillow at night, and beckoned to me appealingly from the dinner table.  When I read the books I had loved as a child, I found myself perking up at passages I had always loved, finishing sentences in my mind before the pages had even turned.  Reading through the old books and the new, I was reminded of why I had wanted to devote my life to writing to begin with and the power of a book to sweep you off of your feet with the beauty of its language and the charm of its characters.  Although it was a completely unintended result, I found myself scribbling down more and more ideas for poems or stories as my pile of books dwindled. 

    Although my studies have been important to me, and I have read many fine pieces of literature over the past eight or nine years, I can no longer feel that there is any type of reading that is entirely frivolous or unwholesome.  The most unassuming little book might speak volumes to you as a writer, and might influence some great change in your work.  As writers, we must always be open to the work of others, and must constantly reevaluate what influences are helping us most in our writing lives. 

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  • Reps, Sets, and Prose: Writing Exercises

    on Nov 2, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Exercise is good for you. It keeps your heart healthy, helps you lose weight, and may one day enable you to outrun a hungry tiger. Writing exercises have similar benefits for your writing life. They can help illuminate aspects of character, breathe life into a dull setting, or plant the seed of a future story.

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  • One Magician Watching Another Magician Doing Magic

    on Oct 27, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Some time after I started seriously writing and studying the craft, I noticed I was having trouble really enjoying movies or getting caught up in the mystery and marvel of a book or a story. Throughout the entire experience, I realized that I had successfully plotted every event, character interaction, and motivation into a graph-like form in my head. It felt a bit like blasphemy, turning an artistic experience into a quasi-math. Yet, for better or worse, my head was full of quantifiable plot lines and character-arcs and dialogue patterns and motifs and symbols. Even watching plot based commercials was becoming exhausting.

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  • The R.O.I. of Writing

    on Oct 14, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    Imagine for a moment that an executive approached you with a job offer: there will be long hours staring over a computer, countless hours of research and reading, loads of letter-writing, mailing, emailing, editing, revising documents to conform to the recipient’s idiosyncratic wishes, networking with peers, professional development demands, travel, public speaking, conferences, teaching, and, of course, producing work. Successful candidates will be confident, inspiring, innovative, relentless, engaged with the world around them, emotionally and intellectually available, curious, inquisitive, and possess a strong backbone as well as the ability to refute or defend a position at a moment’s notice. By the way, there is little to no compensation for this position.

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  • Letting Your Voice Be Heard

    on Oct 11, 11 in Blog by with No Comments

    In the sixth grade, I became friends with a wonderful person—we’ll call her “Alice.”  Alice is gifted with a phenomenal singing voice.  Her mother was part of the music program at our church, and I often heard the personnel there speak with admiration about how lovely Alice’s voice was.  I sat beside Alice in choir for several years, attended the same middle school, high school, and college, even rooming with her for two semesters.  And looking back on all that time we spent together, I can honestly say that I have never heard Alice sing alone.  In the choir room, with fifty other voices, yes.  But by herself?  Not once!  I have no doubt that she can do so, and do so magnificently.  Alice is not a prideful person, and those that have heard her sing are surely not all lying.  But the truth is that Alice refuses to sing solo for just about anyone.  I’ve always thought it was a shame. 

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