Howling Bird Press on NewPages.com

NEW PAGES has selected Howling Bird Press book “Self, Divided” for their New & Noteworthy list for the month of May. We’re thrilled John Medeiros and his memoir are getting the recognition we know both deserve.

Check it out! https://www.newpages.com/books/new-book-arrivals

Q and A with Howling Bird Press Author John Medeiros

John Medeiros

What is it about writing that energizes you?
The intimacy of that space is what energizes me. Writing centers me. It reminds me of my place in the larger scheme of things, and it forces me to pause and reflect on those portions of my life that need reflection. It’s easy to avoid something when there is always something else that needs our attention. Writing allows me the space and intimacy I need with that something that would otherwise be avoided.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It is common for writers to focus on the product of writing, with so little regard to the process that leads to that product. This is why we often self-edit while we write which, if you think about it, is a type of censorship – a form of self-doubt. If we could have a deeper reverence for the process we would grow as writers, and here’s why: becoming intimate with the process builds in us a trust that the product will eventually happen. We don’t need to know what the end result will look like before that process has begun; what we need to know is that the process will get us there. Knowing and trusting the process builds in us a sense that we are writers and removes the self-doubt that tells us we aren’t.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
I tend to think about my audience too much and too early on in the process. This, too, leads to self-censorship. I am often reminding myself that no one but me needs to know what I’m writing about and the process will eventually reveal what audience, if any, I need to share my writing with.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
For 12 years I co-curated an LGBTQI reading series called Queer Voices with Intermedia Arts. Through that series so many queer-identified writers have shared their voices and their stories. I am still in contact with many of them as I’ve watched them develop as strong literary voices in our community. It’s funny, but a few years ago I deactivated my Facebook account; I felt it was not meeting my needs at the time and was more of a negative influence than a positive influence in my life. My account was deactivated for almost a year, and in that year several colleagues published books, performed readings, and announced awards for their writing. I missed all of them, which saddened me. So I reactivated my Facebook account so I would stay in the loop as much as possible (social media really is the primary means of communication with respect to these things). Since then I’ve attended readings (both in-person and virtual) and read books I would not otherwise have heard about. Why do I say this? For two reasons:

First, to show the power of social media and to remind others that social media is something that we can actually control (while recognizing that, if not used wisely, can also control us). For me, I had to find the right purpose, and that purpose is to reconnect with other writers, including those who are LGBTQI-identified.

Second, in response to your question of how other authors help me become a better writer, to illustrate how important it is to acknowledge other writers and read/listen to their work. Seeing other perspectives and other points of view betters me as a writer. Hearing not just the stories of others but how those stories are told humbles me and reminds me there is always room and time to learn new things.

Do you want each of your stories to stand on their own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between them?
My writing is definitely about connections between stories. My memoir, for example, contains poems – or some versions of poems – that were previously included in my book of poetry. This is because the stories of our lives are interconnected to a larger whole, and the connections between those stories is what adds texture and complexity to our lives.

Self, Divided book cover

What have you done since you won the Howling Bird Press prize?
Since winning the award I revised the manuscript several times – that kept me busy! I’m also an immigration lawyer, let’s just say that kept me busy, too!

What did you do with your first writing advance?
First? Will there be another? LOL. Actually, I donated it to a few non-profits, including those that foster queer-identified writers.

How many unpublished and half-finished books/stories do you have?
Dozens, including unfinished poems. I literally have folder called “first lines to work from” and another called “drafts.” Literally dozens.

Countdown to John Medeiros reading on April 16

Last week, we proudly announced the availability of Self, Divided, HBP’s 2020 prize winner for nonfiction. After an unavoidable production delay in the midst of the pandemic, John Medeiros’ touching, compelling, thought -provoking memoir is here for all to experience. On April 16, Medeiros reads the amazing story of the trials and triumphs of two identical twins, one of whom is gay and HIV-positive. This online event, presented by Quatrefoil Library, is free to the public. Registration is required.. Additional information is available on Quatrefoil’s website:https://qlibrary.org.

Registration link: ://us02web.zoom.us/j/89499076840?pwd=ditReDJ2cTdhd0RBZCsxelZPbE1PZz09&fbclid=IwAR1f9O3WYV1srUdt2iwaZeWeEf1VBBcKMBcs-x1UvIhFc1Ycu6UHvTeTdEc

Running and Writing

Kristine “Kris” Joseph ’20

Kris Joseph is joining a growing list of MFA alumni with published books. She is a 2020 Howling Bird Press and MFA nonfiction graduate from Augsburg University. However, she has been a writer since she was a little kid.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in Communication at UW Milwaukee, Kris started working at United Health Group (Optum). She’s an executive assistant, but her passion for writing has never taken a back seat to her work. When she started looking into a master’s program for writing, she spoke to her boss who encouraged her to go back to school. And with her company’s tuition reimbursement benefit, she was able to do so at Augsburg.

“Augsburg best fit since I was working full time and needed a low-residency program,” says Kris. “I knew I wanted to write about mental health, but decided I needed to polish my work. At Augsburg, my thesis was my memoir.”

Kris incorporated her running into her writing. She hasn’t read about many people using running to help with mental health, despite Kris meeting so many runners over the years who shared stories of their own battles with mental health.

“When you’re running with a team, you have so much time with people and coaches, so there’s always mental health training. Runners talk about their own problems. It was super interesting to me to meet these wonderful people and hear their stories,” says Kris.

Kris’s memoir is about her struggle with mental health from eight years old until the present. She integrates ways she fights depression, which includes her running. And while she always knew what she was going to write about in her memoir, she credits her time in the MFA program – especially her work on Howling Bird Press – as a huge help to her final book.

Kris was part of the editorial team that published Self, Divided by John Medeiros, which will be released April 16.

“Being able to work on the publishing process for Self, Divided was the most helpful class that I took during the MFA program at Augsburg. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without going through this process with Jim Cihlar and team.”

Kris was surprised how much she enjoyed reading the Howling Bird Press contest submissions.

“Reading others’ work and editing helped with the classes I was taking. When I had to send in a draft for my own thesis, it was easier because I’d been editing and thinking creatively already.”

Kris worked with a self-publishing company, Wise Ink, to publish her memoir, Simply Because We Are Human. Wise Ink is a small Minneapolis company started by women, something Kris was particularly interested in.

“I could do a lot myself because of what I’d learned from Howling Bird press. For example, I used a friend from my undergrad program to do the cover art. And I’m doing the audio book with a friend who is an actor. Wise Ink hooks you up with everything you need, kind of an à la carte deal, and they have a project manager that oversees it all.”

Kris loved being able to shape her memoir – the writing and the publishing – herself. And she sees self-publishing as a growing commodity for writers.

“When I’m done I have all the rights, 100% of sales. Self-publishing is something that will be utilized more in the future. There are some people that won’t look at a book if it’s self-published, but they’re missing out on a lot.”

Before her memoir was officially published, Kris was already thinking of her next project. She wrote a screenplay based on her book in partnership with Andy Froemke, the MFA screenwriter professor. The script is called Beyond Blue.

She is also writing through her training for this year’s Grandma’s Marathon.

“I never thought I’d run another marathon, but I wanted something to help deal with the grief of this last year, so I’m writing about that. It might be a book, it might not.”

Kris’s memoir, Simply Because We Are Human, is available for order at her website: https://www.kjjosephwriter.com.

Review from James Cihlar, Howling Bird Press

“In Simply Because We Are Human, running—both competitively and recreationally—is the lifeline that helps KJ Joseph manage clinical depression. A track star from a young age, Joseph finds motivation to keep running in the memory of her late grandmother, a gifted athlete who competed in sports as a member of the first class of WAVES in the 1940s. This swift and dexterous memoir lays bare the challenges and triumphs of effective mental health treatment.

How do we live with depression without shutting down all of our emotions, even the painful ones? ‘Running is all about letting go,’ Joseph writes. Bracing, sensitive, and savvy, Simply Because We Are Human shares hard-won lessons along with a vigorous dose of inspiration.”

James Cihlar, author of The Shadowgraph

Alumna Kris Joseph talks about new HBP book: ‘Self, Divided’

MFA and HBP alumna, Kristine Joseph, talks about her experience as a student working for Howling Bird Press and the process of picking the 2020 book prize winner, ‘Self, Divided’ by John Medeiros.

Check out her video on our Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/howlingbirdpress/videos/476956990156287

John Medeiros Reads on April 16 From Self, Divided

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 MINNEAPOLIS, March 29, 2021“No one should have to face a pandemic more than once in a lifetime.”

John Medeiros has. Now, everyone can hear his compelling story, and applaud the accounts of his numerous triumphs in the face of devastating adversity. Medeiros reads from his memoir, Self, Divided, in an online event for Quatrefoil Library on April 16 at 7:00 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public; advance registration is required via the library’s Facebook page: https://fb.me/e/2vm5ig0iN. Additional information is available on Quatrefoil’s website:https://qlibrary.org.

It was on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic that Howling Bird Press awarded the 2020 nonfiction prize to Self, Divided, by John Medeiros of Minneapolis. Medeiros’ book debuted in early 2021. Readers can now embrace Self, Divided, participating fully in this incredible journey.

Self, Divided is the amazing story of identical twins, one of whom is gay and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-positive. Author Barrie Jean Borich writes, “[the twins are] each part of a whole that will not divide, even in times of desperate separation.” In his beautifully lyrical style, Medeiros starts at the very beginning, when he and his twin brother Bobby were created from an embryo cleaving into two in their mother’s womb. His frank, honest, brilliantly-written accounts of the twins as young children, throughout the school years and into adulthood, contain both gentle humor and pathos.

Medeiros says, “Writing creative nonfiction—more specifically, memoir . . . is an act of understanding, healing, survival. . . . The story represents the narrator’s struggle to find an identity completely separate from his twin brother—an identity that includes his own homosexuality and subsequent AIDS diagnosis.

An avid writer of poetry as well as creative nonfiction, Medeiros has an impressive list of awards and publications. Most recently, Self, Divided appeared in Lambda Literary’s “Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books” list. Medeiros is the recipient of AWP’s Intro Journals Award, two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants, and Gulf Coasts Nonfiction Award. He co-hosted the long-running Twin Cities reading series Queer Voices as well as co-edited an anthology of the same name published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 2019. His poetry book, couplets for a shrinking world (2012) was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.

Augsburg University’s student-run Howling Bird Press issues a nationwide call for submissions on an annual basis. The press launched in 2014 and is part of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Howling Bird Press publisher Jim Cihlar says, “Self, Divided is a tonic for our times. Lyrical, harrowing, and inventive, it details an experimental gene-therapy study at the National Institute of Health led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, which involved sets of twins, one gay and HIV-positive, the other straight and HIV-negative; it also traces the coming-of- age and self-actualization of the narrator.”

Howling Bird Press publishes one book per year as the winner of an annual contest. The contest alternates genres per year. This spring the press is open for submissions of fiction manuscripts. Our previous titles include Irreversible Things by Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Simples by KateLynn Hibbard, Still Life with Horses by Jean Harper, The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street by Jacob M. Appel, and At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody by Marci Vogel.






Jean Prokott Wins 2021 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 5, 2021

Jean Prokott Wins 2021 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize

MINNEAPOLIS, March 5, 2021—Howling Bird Press has awarded its 2021 poetry prize to Almost Sunset at High Noon by Jean Prokott of Rochester, Minnesota. The press will publish the book in fall 2021, and Prokott receives a $1,000 prize. Prokott’s work was chosen in a national competition from among more than 200 submissions.

Almost Sunset at High Noon is a collection of poems spanning four parts and covers topics related to the pandemic, suicide, teaching, bullying, growing up, and survival. Prokott’s poems are grounded in modern everyday life and often use a conversational tone and offer a humorous twist. Prokott’s unique voice blazes through her poems, which vary stylistically from contemporary to hybrid form. 

“I see the book as a reflection of the inner vs. outer selves we experience day by day, hour by hour,” Prokott says. “Each of us goes from trying to understand, existentially, who we are, what our place is, what grief does to us—while at the same time trying to understand the same things from a political perspective. The collection moves between how our personal experience defines us as much as how political culture defines us.”

Jean Prokott has poetry published or forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Angel City Review, Anomaly, and Adirondack Review, among other journals; she is a recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, a recipient of the Joan Ramseyer Poetry Award, a finalist for the RHINO Founder’s Prize, and a finalist for the Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize. She has an MFA from Minnesota State University Mankato and a Master of Science in Education.

Augsburg University’s student-run Howling Bird Press issues a nationwide call for submissions on an annual basis. Prior to awarding the 2021 Howling Bird Prize to Prokott, Howling Bird’s editorial board reviewed over 200 manuscripts submitted by writers at all levels of experience, from beginning to well-established poets. Each manuscript was fully read and carefully considered, and the editorial board engaged in extensive discussion about the submissions with Creative Writing faculty members before selecting the winner. Almost Sunset at High Noon was one of six finalists, and the others are:

  • 寂寞 • 先知 (( lonely prophet )),Michael Chang, of Leonia, New Jersey
  • Equus caballus: When the Rider Halters the Horse, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee, of Princeton Junction, New Jersey
  • LETTING GRAVITY SPEAK, Erika Michael, of Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Weathervanes in the Direction of Why, Eva Skrande, of Houston, Texas
  • tips for masturbating discreetly during the revolution {for women!} &other poems, Zoe Canner, of Los Angeles, California

Howling Bird Press publisher Jim Cihlar said, “We had the most submissions ever in our six years of running our contest; they came from writers all over the country. With so much impressive material, it was challenging to narrow down our selection to our finalists, and then choose a winner. We were honored that so many writers entrusted us with their work, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to read and consider it.”

Read more about Howling Bird press on our website and follow us on social media:

https://engage.augsburg.edu/howlingbird/

Facebook and Instagram: @howlingbirdpress

Twitter: @HowlingBirdPrs

LinkedIn: @ https://www.linkedin.com/company/howling-bird-press/

About Howling Bird Press

Howling Bird Press is a student-run publishing house at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The press launched in 2014 and is part of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Augsburg University: www.augsburg.edu/mfa. For additional information, please contact Jim Cihlar, publisher, at cihlar@augsburg.edu.

Winner Announcement!

(February 2021, Minneapolis) The editors of Howling Bird Press are excited to announce the semifinalists, finalists, and winner of the 2021 Poetry Prize:

Winner

Almost Sunset at High Noon, Jean Prokott

Finalists (in alphabetical order)

tips for masturbating discreetly during the revolution {for women!} &other poems, Zoe Canner

寂寞先知 (( lonely prophet )),Michael Chang

Equus caballus: When the Rider Halters the Horse, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

LETTING GRAVITY SPEAK, Erika Michael

Weathervanes in the Direction of Why, Eva Skrande

Semifinalists (in alphabetical order)

Grim Honey: Poems, Jessica Barksdale

Lighting Out for the Invisible, Danielle Dubrasky

The Bereaved and the Unbereaved, Richard Lyons

Last Known Address, Jane Medved

Take, Eat;, Mason Nunemaker

Everything Gets Louder in the Dark, Jason Olsen

HERSELF, Deborah Phelps

Head of a Gorgon, Raegen M. Pietrucha

PAPA PAPA A New Father’s Journey, Richard Weekley

The press is grateful to the many authors who entered. It was an honor to consider such amazing submissions. The winning book will be published in fall 2021. Please check back here and on our social media for further updates.

“Self, Divided” on Most Anticipated Books List

Howling Bird Press’s 2020 nonfiction prize-winning book, “Self, Divided,” by John Medeiros, made the “Lambda Literary Review” list for most anticipated books of February! Congratulations to our author and, of course, our student editors!

Promoting Diversity Through Poetry

In the spring of 2020, Augsburg alumna Tracy Ross ’19 found out she won the Presidential Graduate Diversity Scholarship from Bowling Green State University. This merit-based award is given to a student who plans to promote diversity within the graduate student population at Bowling Green.

Tracy wanted to go to Bowling Green to earn her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing. She heard it’s one of “the best hidden school in the country” from then MFA nonfiction mentor, Karen Babine. Tracy also has family who have attended Bowling Green. With the Presidential Graduate Diversity Scholarship, Tracy plans to combine her passion for poetry and community service to bring poetry to inner city youth and urban areas.

Tracy’s connection to diversity started as a young child and she believes her diverse background is what has helped her get to where she is today.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Tracy’s father is Black and her mother is European Caucasian. She attended school through her sophomore year of high school, then started her own path to higher education. Her father worked in the automotive industry and when economic hardship forced the automotive plants to close, Tracy’s family moved to Chicago so her parents could find work. Here, Tracy homeschooled herself. On her own, she learned what it would take to pass the equivalency test and she succeeded. With her GED, Tracy got herself into Roosevelt University in Chicago at an age when her peers were still in high school.

“Early on I realized that through my family’s economic hardship and inequalities, you can’t see the potential in yourself unless you see the potential in other people. I felt really blessed I have a diverse background, and that I was exposed not only to hardship, but I was blessed in having the fortitude and the privilege to be a thinking, aware human being,” Tracy says.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in English Literature, she went on to Bemidji State to earn a master’s degree in education. Tracy wanted to teach creative writing, but she realized that in order to teach creative writing at a post-secondary level, she would need a subject-specific degree. Tracy researched many universities and after reading Augsburg’s mission statement about its education to service, and seeing the diverse faculty in the MFA program, she decided the best fit would be Augsburg’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

“Between the residency and the remote technology, that’s a big part of the incentive of going to Augsburg University. Especially in an MFA program, you have to work alone as a writer and [the program] gave me so much time to go back and forth between the mentorship and working alone. Augsburg was very progressive with that style of teaching,” Tracy says.

Tracy’s focus was on poetry and publishing. She considers herself blessed to have had the opportunity to work with four different MFA mentors: Cary Waterman, Heid E. Erdrich, Karen Babine, and James Cihlar. Tracy was also part of Augsburg’s Howling Bird Press the entire time she was in the program, until she graduated in 2019 with an MFA in Publishing.

“Augsburg University was the best experience in my life,” Tracy says. “I’m so grateful to Heid Erdrich for editing my thesis which I was able to publish.”

Tracy’s focus during the Spring 2021 semester will be on publishing her next book, as well as focusing on her research and dissertation for her Ph.D. work.

Tracy Ross is a poet, writer, and humanist. She holds a B.A. in English from Roosevelt University and a Master’s in Education. She is also a graduate of Augsburg University’s MFA Program. Her work is paramount in fusing poetic purist tradition with the modern technological progress and its influence on the mind. Her first collection of poetry, Broken Signals (Trials of Disconnect) is available from Shanti Arts Press. Her novella, Certainty of One–A Tale of Education Automation was released in November of 2018 by Adelaide Press. James Dean and the Beautiful Machine was just released in February 2020. She currently lives and works in Minnesota.