Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Looking Inside: Creative Nonfiction in the Fall Issue of Compose

Excuse me for kvelling just a little. (Can an Italian Catholic girl kvell? Nevermind.) I'll just say the Fall 2013 issue of Compose journal is now live and it's lovely. I began as creative nonfiction editor this spring and from the start I knew that founder/managing editor Suzannah Windsor (I interviewed her here), would make sure every aspect of it was excellent, and I've loved being part of a group of editors who are interesting folks.

It's been fun, instructive, challenging, frustrating, and surprising to be involved in my first issue from start to finish – soliciting, reading, selecting (and yes, declining – that's the frustrating part), and editing. I'm proud of the CNF pieces which appear, and working directly with the writers of each piece was one of the most gratifying things I've ever done – and I'm jazzed that I get to do it again for the Spring 2014 issue, and again.

Here's a little tour of the creative nonfiction section.

Because it's likely to make you a little sad in a very good way, depending on the type of person/reader you are, either begin or end with Eliana Ramage's lovely short essay of remembrance, 26 Tea Lights.

Then turn to Lori Horvitz's Little Pink Hatchling, a tale of a college coupling and the messy ways it continues, and doesn't, and does, and ends. Plus, a side of Italian ice.

If you've ever inherited something from a loved one – and then that treasured item was lost from your life  – you will understand the heart of Milena Nigam's Stolen Family Jewelry, and Other Gifts. Actually, I take back the part about inheritance. Anyone who has loved and lost – anything – will find her/himself in Milena's story.

I love a piece of prose that feels like poetry, but is also very clearly creative nonfiction, a piece with brevity and verve, snap and grit, a little mystery and moxie, and that's what Lita Kurth brings to Red on White. Hard to describe, so I won't:  Read it and you'll get it, and be glad you did.

Finally, listen in on Ana Consuelo Matiella as she muses on a certain aunt from her Mexican childhood, an image on a bottle of tequila, and a sudden midlife shift, in La Viuda-The Widow. The turn at the end is delicious.

There's fine fiction and poetry and artwork on offer too, as well as features and craft pieces to feed the writer, from three favorite nonfiction writers/teachers: Marion Roach Smith on Time Management;  Beth Kephart with an excerpt from her new memoir writing book; and Katrina Kenison on the value she found in a reader's nasty email.

Take a look. Read. Maybe submit something to Compose for the next issue. Or submit anywhere.

Many people have said this, and I always wanted to believe though had my doubts, but now I know it's true:  Editors everywhere, at every journal – are waiting, hoping to find something great, something unexpected in the submissions inbox. Surprise one of them.

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