• Death of Recluse

    Death of the Hermit: Leaving Reclusive Writing in...

    on May 19, 17 with No Comments

    Mel Sherrer As romantic as it may be to envision Emily Dickinson, Harper Lee and other notable hermits secluded away from the world as they wrote their masterpieces, the ease of the internet demands that modern writers — at least those who care to have a career in writing —...

  • New York City

    The Business is Frighteningly Subjective: Advice from NY...

    on May 8, 17 with No Comments

    Katie Sherman Last January, Converse College’s low residency MFA program welcomed Victoria Cappello. Cappello is a New York agent with The Bent Agency. Founded in 2009, The Bent Agency has represented over 25 New York Times bestsellers. It was started by Jenny Bent, the...

  • Converse College MFA

    Converse Low Residency MFA’s Administrative Alterations

    on May 5, 17 with No Comments

    Katie Sherman Converse Low Residency MFA Founder, Rick Mulkey, is taking a well-deserved sabbatical this fall semester. While Mulkey had intended to step down, the college negotiated an agreement that ensured he would maintain his position for a few years longer with the...

  • Last Call! Submit Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Visual...

    on Apr 21, 17 with No Comments

    South 85 Journal‘s reading period is almost over!  Don’t miss out!  Submit poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art for our Spring / Summer 2017 issue by April 30, 2017.   No fee for submissions. For more information, check out our submission guidelines....

  • Dead Don't Go

    Dead Don’t Go

    on Mar 31, 17 with No Comments

    Jessica (Tyner) Mehta The dead don’t go, they burrow into our bones, worm hungry to the marrow. I still feel my father blinking through my solar plexus, asking what went wrong. The girl I left behind to hang herself, her burst of freckles spreads malignant across my caving...

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  • 2017 South 85 Journal Converse College

    South 85 Journal Staff Update

    on Feb 6, 17 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Every semester the Converse College Low-Residency MFA program brings staff changes to our journal.  We’d like to announce the staff who will be working on the Spring / Summer 2017 issue, which will be released June 15, 2017.

    Returning to Staff

    We would like to thank the following staff members for continuing their involvement with South 85 Journal:

    ● Melissa Sherrer (Managing Poetry Editor)
    ● Anthony Reese (Managing Prose Editor)
    ● Russell Jackson, Reed McFarlin, Chris Menezes, and Monica Torres (Poetry Editors)
    ● Gwen Holt, Joshua Springs, and Shianna Whitner (Fiction Editors)
    ● Aaron Dargis (continuing as a Poetry Editor and joining the Fiction Editors)
    ● Courtney McQueen (Artistic Director and Fiction Editor)
    ● Jonathan Burgess (Non-Fiction Editor)
    ● John Newlin (moving from the Fiction Editor position to serve as the Review Editor)
    ● Rick Mulkey (Contributing Editor)
    ● Stephen Gray (Webmaster)

    Joining Our Staff

    We are always excited to welcome new staff to the journal because this means new ideas and fresh perspectives.  We would like to welcome:

    ● Susanne Parker (Fiction Editor)
    ● Samantha Moe (Non-Fiction Editor)
    ● Katie Sherman (Blog Editor)

    Leaving Staff

    We’d like to wish those staff members who aren’t returning the best in their future endeavors. I am sure they will be successful in whatever they do.

    ● Angela Raper (Review Editor since January 2016)
    ● Annette Sanders and Kay Stewart (Non-Fiction Editors since January 2016)
    ● Kristi Hébert (Blog Editor since January 2014)

    I would like to specially thank Kristi Hebert for her time as our Blog Editor. We started this journey together, and while South 85 Journal has changed quite a bit over the past three years, she’s been a loyal and consistent part of our advancement.

    To the readers, I’d like to thank you for continuing to support our journal – by reading, submitting, and telling others about it.  We look forward to bringing you the next issue.  In the meantime, write like mad, and if it’s good, we want to see it!

    Debby DeRosa
    Managing Editor
    South 85 Journal

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  • Monika Malewska Tree of Life with Chickens

    Fall / Winter 2016 Issue

    on Dec 15, 16 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    The Fall / Winter 2016 issue of South 85 Journal is now available online.

    Creative Work

    We are pleased to present work by the following contributors:

    Artwork – Adorable Monique, Daniel de Culla, Monika Malewska,  Fabrice Poussin, Katerina Pravdivaia, Jean Marc Richel, and Gilmore Tammy
    Fiction – Jody Gerbig and J.T. Townley
    Non-Fiction – Micah McCrary, Matt Paczkowski, and Heather Gemmen Wilson
    Poetry – Clifford Browder, Ingrid Bruck, Merrill Oliver Douglas, Kym Cunningham, Allison Goldston, Brit Graham, Lynn Marie Houston, Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, and Carl Wade Thompson


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

    • My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
    • M Train by Patti Smith (Non-Fiction)
    The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat by Amelia Martens (Poetry)

    Interested in Submitting?

    Our reading period is still open!  We are currently accepting submissions for the Spring / Summer 2017 issue, which we will release June 15, 2017.  We hope to hear from you!  Submit now.

    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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  • 2016 Write Well Award

    South 85 Journal Stories Receive Award

    on Nov 11, 16 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    2016 Write Well AnthologySouth 85 Journal is pleased to announce recognition for two of its stories published in 2015.  “Symbiosis” by Janet Schneider and “Fish Hook” by Justin Eisenstadt, both published in our Fall / Winter 2015 issue, have been selected to receive the 2016 Write Well Award sponsored by the Silver Pen Writers Association.

    According to the Write Well Award website, “This award seeks to recognize outstanding short stories and flash fiction from both print and online journals and to give readers a way to experience stories that they might not otherwise be exposed to.”  Twenty-five different fiction pieces were chosen for the award this year.

    “I’m excited my story will appear along with twenty-four other winning stories in the 2016 Write Well Anthology. Thanks to South 85 Journal, my story will enjoy a second life and receive even wider circulation,” says Janet Schneider, author of the winning story, “Symbiosis.”

    Janet writes during the winter in Berkeley, CA and in Charlevoix, Michigan in the summer. Her work has appeared in Harpur Palate, Pooled InkBear River Review, Traverse Magazine, Yourlifeisatrip.com, and Fishfoodmagazine.comShe received her MFA in fiction writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. When she’s not writing, she’s riding her bike. You can see more of her work at www.janetschneider.com.

    Justin Einsenstadt, who wrote “Fish Hook,” says, “I’m incredibly grateful to South 85 Journal for originally publishing my story and to the Silver Pen Writers Association for choosing to share it with a wider audience. ‘Fish Hook’ is a story that went through many changes before it found itself, often drastically so, and this recognition is a validation for me of the importance of revision. The process between the first draft of a story and the final draft can be a long and tedious one, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I can’t wait to read all the other wonderful stories in the 2016 Write Well Anthology.”

    Originally from Baltimore, Justin currently lives in Spokane, Washington where he is attending the MFA program at Eastern Washington University. His fiction has appeared in Gulf Stream, Jet Fuel Review, The Ilanot Review, Swarm, and Connotation Press, among others. He has one wife, two guitars, and three cats.

    Check out all 25 winning stories in the 2016 Write Well Anthology, which is now available on the Kindle and in paperback format through Amazon.com.

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  • The Sixth Sense

    on Nov 4, 16 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Emilee Struss

    My eyelids are heavy. Natural daylight diminishes from my room with the sunset, so I turn on the one lamp in my apartment. It was a long day.  However, I need to write. I must write.

    Sometimes I feel like I have a sixth sense.

    I am sure other people have this, too. And, no, I do not see dead people. If you see dead people, you should seek help immediately. My sixth sense is the feeling of time. Even more so, the sense that time is slipping away. It’s moving too fast, and I can’t stop it. I can’t accomplish all the desires that lay undiscovered before me. One of those things I desire is to inspire others through writing. Passion ignites passion. Just by following my passion to write, I can inspire others to pursue their passions.

    Some evenings I sit in my cheap apartment, with thin walls, aware of it all. Aware of the students around me. All of them searching for their passion and purpose in life. Various styles of music entertain them through headphones while working on essays and projects. Outside, I hear screechy breaks from a Budweiser truck pulling up beside the liquor store. A tow truck drives by and removes a vehicle from its all too convenient parking spot. Someone knocks on my front door. Time passes in this way for each of us, unnoticed. It slips by while we deal with the oddities of life. For so many, passion gets lost in the business and busyness of life. In my apartment, a young man comes through to check the vents, and smiles at me sweetly. He is probably a student himself. Back in my room, a microwave hum tells me that one of my roommates is home. I think about unfinished homework, the fact that I have work early tomorrow morning and my heavy eyelids. I wrestle with the idea of staying up later to write.

    I realize that if I fall asleep, that will be another day wasted. Sure, I attended class, went to work, and accomplished small tasks around the house. But what did I do in regards to pursuing my passion for writing? I think about all the statistics. Those living out their last breaths on earth commonly regret one thing: not pursuing their passion. I look out the window of my apartment and watch the snow drift at an angle. I am aware of it all, raw to the reality that this fire inside me to write could waste away. It could get drown out by time. By life.

    Back in my apartment room, a single lamp lights a circle on my desk. The Budweiser truck has left. The tow truck took his victim and vanished. The guy checking the vents has gone. I hear my roommate’s door shut. The sun has gone down and the snow continues to sway through the air. My eyes are still heavy. The cursor on my computer blinks at me. I realize the importance of seeking out this fire within me to tell of something. To reach out and ignite the flame within others. Even with the sixth sense of time slipping away, and words unwritten, I have to write. It is my passion. It is to be pursued.


    Emilee StrussEmilee Struss recently graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Currently, she lives in Bellevue, Idaho, and follows several passions including rock climbing, trail running and of course… writing.

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  • On Poetry: Say It Like You Mean It

    on Oct 7, 16 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with 1 Comment

    Francis DiClemente

    When I read poetry I eschew formalists who pack their poems with words I need to look up in an online dictionary. I avoid books filled with single poems that run multiple pages and prefer compact works imbued with concrete details and spoken with an honest voice. I like to feel the writer behind the words, and an example of my taste is Samuel Menashe.

    I recently read The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, and while I admire Stevens’ intellect, his use of imagery and technical construction, I struggled to slice through the book and skipped over the last fifty or so pages. I couldn’t wait to reach the end.

    I am not smart enough to interpret much of his symbolism, and I didn’t want to work that hard anyway. I believe reading should be a pleasure, like it was when I was a kid and would snag the evening sports page from my father while he sat at the kitchen table after dinner. At the same time poetry, like classical music, can produce a sublime experience for its audience. It has the power to examine life, making observations that resonate with readers and inspire further thought.

    And three “poets of the street”—my go-to trifecta for verse—deliver in this regard. I admire Langston Hughes, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski for the rich details they offer and a palpable authenticity that leaps across the page; you get the sense they not only wrote these poems but lived them as well.

    For brevity, we turn to “Suicide’s Note,” where Hughes uses just twelve words to tell a dramatic story:

    The calm,

    Cool face of the river

    Asked me for a kiss.

    The story has a satisfying conclusion while also giving readers numerous options for interpretation.

    I prefer short, narrative poems with clean resolutions. That’s because I often find these poems online and read them during my lunch hour. I will peruse the site PoemHunter.com and read through a few poems in between bites of my daily turkey or tuna sandwich.

    One of my favorite poems is “Hell is a Lonely Place” by Charles Bukowski, which I came across on PoemHunter and also read in Bukowski’s book Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems.

    In the poem, Bukowski describes an aging, disease-plagued couple. The man has cancer of the mouth and the woman suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The man faces the humiliation of putting “his wife in rubber diapers like a baby.” The poem concludes with the man shooting and killing his wife in an act of mercy and then turning the gun on himself.

    Bukowski writes:

    the shots didn’t arouse

    the neighbors.


    the burning tv dinners


    The police investigate the scene, go through the couple’s belongings and discover a closed savings account and a checkbook with a balance of $1.14.

    Just like Hughes with “Suicide’s Note,” Bukowski gives us a full story arc. And the poem stands out because of its honesty, clear language and emotional gravity.

    Bukowski drew me in with the details about the man’s decaying jaw, the rubber diapers, the empty bank account and the burning TV dinners. I felt a deep empathy for the man and woman; I sensed the story could have been true and I mourned the couple’s loss.

    And that’s the strength of story-based poems. They have the ability to make us sympathize with others and reflect on our existence. It’s just my opinion, but formalist poetry with reserved language and obscure references cannot measure up. The words do not endure because they fail to reach the heart. These works dance in the realm of intellect and never risk the courage to throw a punch to the gut. And I believe poetry should aim to elevate our consciousness and create an emotional response in the reader.

    Francis-DiClementeFrancis DiClemente is a video producer and freelance writer who lives in Syracuse, New York. He is the author of three poetry chapbooks and his blog can be found at francisdiclemente.wordpress.com.

    Author’s Photo Credit: Susan Kahn


    Bukowski, Charles. Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1990.

    Hughes Langston. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes. New York: Vintage Classics, 1990.

    Stevens, Wallace. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, 1982.

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