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.

Give to the Max Success!

We would like to extend a special THANK YOU to those who donated to Howling Bird Press for Give to the Max this year. The students and professors are all thrilled by your show of support. We greatly appreciate your gifts and what it means for our continued work, which includes publishing the winner of the 2021 Poetry Contest.

Last week was a historic Give to the Max for Augsburg. We raised the largest amount we’ve ever raised during Give to the Max from the most donors we’ve ever had. Here are the highlights:

  • $465,381 raised across 41 projects – a new record!
  • 1,683 total donors – the most we’ve ever seen!
  • Gifts came from 41 states!
  • 56% of our 41 projects (including Howling Bird Press and the MFA program’s inaugural scholarship) were fully funded and many others were very close to fully funded.
  • One couple gave to 17 different projects.

This day continues to energize our students, faculty, and staff every year and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish next year!

Q and A with Howling Bird Press Author Lisa Van Orman Hadley

Author Lisa Van Orman Hadley

What is it about writing that energizes you?

I often say that I don’t like writing but I like having written. The actual writing is sometimes transcendent, sometimes painfully hard, and most of the time it’s just okay—like life, I suppose. But I just don’t feel right when I haven’t written. I am taken over by a general malaise. When I’ve written, I feel better. It’s the feeling of finally having your ears pop on the way down from the mountain after being at a higher altitude.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Well, I know one trap for me was thinking I had to make everything up. I thought that, in order for my writing to be worthy, everything in it had to be 100 percent invented, 100 percent original. I don’t believe that anymore. We just need to have an original voice. Basically, stop worrying so much about having something to say and figure out a way to say what you already know.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Self-doubt. I can always think of a million reasons why my voice doesn’t matter. Ultimately, I have to do it for me and hope it matters to someone.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Most of my author friends are people I met in my MFA program. Because we all came up in the program together and we’ve been pals for quite some time now, there’s no competition, just camaraderie. They are humans to me first, writers second. We exchange work but mostly we commiserate. The main thing I usually need is emotional support.

Do you want each of your books/stories to stand on their own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between them?

I’m trying to do both. I want each story to have its own legs, but I also want it to be able to get into that line and kick like the Rockettes along with all the other stories in my book. I’ve only written the one book, but I like to think that when I do have a body of work, all the books will echo off of each other.

Did publishing with Howling Bird Press change your process of writing?

I don’t think many writers get into the profession because they are really jazzed about marketing. Turns out writing a book and selling a book are two completely different animals. I am completely inept at the latter. And maybe the former, too, but shhhhhh. What publishing with Howling Bird Press taught me is that, although writing is, by nature, solitary, getting a book out into the world is very much a collaboration. I have depended so much on the expertise and hard work of the press. It’s such a relief to not have to go at it alone. It takes the pressure off and lets me focus on the actual writing.

What have you done since you won the Howling Bird Press prize?

Weathered a pandemic. Seriously, all of the events I had lined up were (rightly!) canceled. But that’s the case for every writer, every artist right now. It’s good, in a way. There’s only one thing to focus on: new work. And my day job. And taking care of two semi-feral kids.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

A house cat. Cats do not care what anyone thinks of them and they do what they want when they want. They start licking themselves in random places out of nowhere. They can be purring and rubbing up against your legs one minute and then clawing and biting your ankles the next. They cough up hairballs and don’t apologize! They find joy in the slightest wiggle of a string. They take lots of naps. And they are deeply weird.

How many unpublished and half-finished books/stories do you have?

Two half-finished books, I guess. But half-finished would be a generous assessment. One is a memoir and the other is a work of fiction. But lately, I’ve been sampling from one to use in the other, so maybe just one. Two disparate halves make a whole, right?

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I mostly research random things that come up, like “What did the little adoption certificates that came with Cabbage Patch dolls say?” or “How would you drive to Graceland in the 1980s and how long would it take to get there?” I did a lot of research for the story “Irreversible Things”—which is based on a real murder that happened on the side of my house when I was seven—but I didn’t end up using much of it. Maybe a partial line from an article in the newspaper. The research was mostly because I wondered whether the way I remembered those events was accurate.

Do you read your book reviews? Why or why not?

I do because I can’t not look. I have to know what people are saying about me! I did have one friend forward me an email his mom wrote in response to my book and I gave it to another friend first so she could make sure there wasn’t anything in it that would break me (there wasn’t). 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh! I like this question. I guess the biggest secret of my book—the thing people are most curious about—is what is truth and what is fiction. Even my family members don’t always know the answer to that question. My lips are sealed.

Q and A with Howling Bird Press Author Jacob M Appel

What is it about writing that energizes you?

Otherwise I might have to actually work for a living. Besides, I get to transform all of my enemies into characters they can’t recognize and then have them kidnapped by pirates or trampled by elephants.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Marriage. Children. Employment. The usual suspects. Alas, they’re generally unavoidable, so the trick is to write as quickly as possible until you find yourself with a mortgage and a golden retriever, and then to rest on your laurels. 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Death. That’s going to be a major distraction. Although my agent often tells me my balance sheet is more likely to reach the black posthumously. Pretty women are also a nice distraction, but as one gets older, death increasingly nudges them out of the picture.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I dare not share their names because being known as a friend of mine might bring their literary careers to a grinding halt. I sometimes have that effect on people.

Do you want each of your books/stories to stand on their own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between them?

I am not nearly organized enough to be building a body of work. I just churn it out and hope some of it sticks. It helps that I have a team of elves and reindeer working alongside me.

What have you done since you won the Howling Bird Press prize?

I have a new short story collection, Winter Honeymoon, coming out with Black Lawrence in 2020. I’ve published nine additional books—four more story collections, three novels, a collection of poetry, and, most recently, Who Says You’re Dead?, an ethics book for laypeople. It’s amazing how much writing one can accomplish when trying to overcome one’s deep-seated childhood fears of inadequacy.

What did you do with your first advance?

I made a down payment on a gumball. The great thing about New York City is you can even buy candy on layaway.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

Debra Winger. Especially if the honor comes along with a date. (Apologies to her husband, who I’m sure is a swell fellow, but this is my moment in the spotlight, not his.)

How many unpublished and half-finished books/stories do you have?

Hundreds of stories. Maybe thousands. And my editor has a brand-new novel on her desk, in case you know of a major publisher interested in making an offer. Okay, it’s not exactly new. But it was written this century, so it’s not that old . . .

What did you edit out of this book, The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street?

The original version contained the location of the Holy Grail and a translation key to the Rongorongo glyphs of Easter Island, but I’ve decided to save them for the sequel.

Do you read your book reviews? Why or why not?

You assume that my books get reviewed. To the limited extent that they do, I pretend that they don’t. But I always make a point of thanking the reviewers, if I can find their addresses. I suppose that means I am occasionally thanking a reviewer who has panned my book, but that probably makes them rethink their vitriol, so it is still energy well-spent.