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Author: Rebecca Arrowsmith

Paul Druecke on Milwaukee

The Lyrical Bottom Line                       Walk you intersect             Do what? —Brenda Cárdenas from Chiral Formation ___ One could say that Woodland Pattern’s Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit, religiously held the last Saturday in January, is the spiritual center of Milwaukee’s literary scene (1). The 14 hour extravaganza features 150 writers with reputations ranging from obscure to venerated and whose eloquence breaks across an impressively broad spectrum. The Marathon affords participating individuals five minutes to plug into an institution, audience, and presumption that their words are part of something larger and sustained. The radically independent book center, which opened its...

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Jim Coppoc on Ames, Iowa

I imagine a lot of Iowans get their literary fix from a tiny basket in their bathroom – crumbling reading material that they’ve read a million times over. They can practically recite it themselves, no need to go to a public reading. In Ames, Iowa, writers had to improvise. Jim Coppoc describes Ames like it’s a spotless bathroom. It seems typical, ordinary, boring… until you open the medicine cabinet. . . . Hi.  My name is Jim.  I’m a single dad and adjunct teacher in Ames, Iowa, a small town in a flyover state, surrounded by cornfields and interstates and people who caucused for...

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Christine Fadden on Port Townsend, WA

In December 2013, I left the mountain town of Story, Wyoming (population 800 and yes, what writer on Earth wouldn’t want to spend part of her life in Story), twenty-four hours before the snow fell twenty-four inches deep, and remained, so I heard, until summer. I white knuckled that rickety-ass U-haul truck across the Snoqualmie Pass before I even knew I was a Twin Peaks fan (hear, hear, to the late bloomer; I Twin Peaks binged in 2014—it was my first time). Crossing the Cascades, ‘twas, “Goodbye, endless sky and fiancé; goodbye, sweet horses and tween bestie Shyanna. Hello,...

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Twine, Games for Writers and Readers

Look. I am not a gamer. In fact, computer games nowadays annoy me. Why form a bond with strangers via Xbox headset that leads to cartoon murder and creepy conversations? Playing Wii Fit to lose weight is like paying for dieting pills from a Dr. Oz impostor. Gaming. It’s just not my thing. But this year someone introduced me to a gaming site called Twine. Twine is an interactive book but, like a game, the reader navigates the ending. I write my own twine games, there’s no programming involved really. I just write and read. That’s it. I wrote Save Your Garden. The reader has to make...

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The Art Teacher, a Parable

Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft. She edits sober. Last week she had Margaritas and wrote about the raids. This week…  _ The art teacher has until 11:30am everyday to prep. She has twenty mini easels, tubs of paint and plastic table jackets on five round tables. She has boxes of markers and colored pencils fancier than Crayola. She wears black pants. Layers and layers of cracked paint skin cover the surface of her apron. Like Rafiki placed it around her neck, holding her up by the armpits for all to behold the art teacher....

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On the Raids

Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft. She edits sober. This week Rebecca said she would drink whiskey. What she really meant was she would drink whiskey unless she wanted a Margarita…  A woman in a suicide vest detonated herself and part of her spine landed on top of a police car. I wonder if she took showers or did she have time for baths. I wonder what she thought about when she washed herself that day. I wonder if she thought about not showing up, if she thought about getting...

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R.I.P. Beautiful, I’m Finding the Zenith

Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft. She edits sober. Last week was cough syrup. This week is all kinds of shit. Out of guilt, I searched Google hoping to see a worthless billion, but there is no tall record player quite like the one I just destroyed. Not a’one. I was alone in the apartment, whining the word time to myself as I often do, “I don’t have any time to write. I don’t have time to go to the bank.” It was gradual. I only pulled apart the turntable...

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A Few Haiku

Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft – she edits sober. Last week was Gin. This week…  I’ve been waking up early to write down what I’m thankful for. I do it the way a 2nd grader might… I’m thankful for my mom. I’m thankful for having a pillow. I’m thankful for my roof. But even with a roof, my immune system is sinking with the weather. So this week I’m writing soft core on cough syrup. Yeah, the alcoholic kind. I don’t cheat. I even took more than the recommended dosage. _...

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We Have a Groovy Thing Going Baby

Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft – she edits sober. Last week was Red Wine. This week is Gin. Oh, I know how obnoxiously hip it is to spend an hour on the floor listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence on vinyl. But I want to get this right. I’ve been dropping the needle on this record for too long, searching for the lyric “Hello darkness my old friend” and ending up in the middle of Kathy’s Song. Gin makes my body feel like a limp, dirty sponge....

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A Red Drop Widens on an Otherwise Pristine Page

Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft – she edits sober. Last week was Tequila. This week is red wine, Cabernet. A red drop widens on an otherwise pristine page. Take another sip from the third glass because God, your back is screaming. Your knees are loose hinges tick tocking under a table. Your hands meet, making a bridge from one end of the paper to the other. In elementary school you learned to draw trees by connecting “V”s. The art teacher topped parallel lines with a V. Vs into Vs into Vs become branches. You’ve...

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Finding the Zenith

Booze and prose – there’s a lot of reading material on the subject. Most point to a part memoir, part biography called The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing. The question posed, how much alcohol did these writers need to swallow to spit out beautiful work? A harmless volume of drinks, my boyfriend says, makes me enthusiastic and philosophical. But too much red wine sends me into an outburst about my family living in a fish bowl… how no one does anything about anything in there. All they have to worry about is the next millisecond, you know?...

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Tony Mancus on Washington, DC

In early 00s, my brother would stare at the Pipe screen saver on his laptop. Reading Tony Mancus’s scene report has a similar allure… “How neat” just repeats in my head. .          .          .          .          . What comes to mind when you think of Washington DC? Cherry blossoms, politics, punk rock? It’s got monuments, sure. And bros galore with their polos layered three deep, all collars popped in the drunken Georgetown/Admo night. It’s got go-go and house shows and a bunch of free...

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Aaron Cohick on Colorado Springs

After I read this report by Aaron Cohick, I thought of the Colorado Springs literary community as a fine hard boiled egg. It appears so simple, pretty, balanced. And anything can be positioned to look this way… but a fine literary scene has that smooth and solid center. A good yolk. In Colorado Springs, Mountain Fold Books is the yolk. .          .          .          .          . Mountain Fold Books is a non-profit reading room/bookstore/gallery/event space in downtown Colorado Springs. It began a little more...

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Tracy Dimond on Baltimore

Looking for a lit community in Baltimore? Writer Tracy Dimond knows everything about this place. She even found a studio where she can dance on hoops suspended in the air. It’s true. I’ve seen videos. This combined with her passion for the literary scene makes her worthy of your time and trust. .          .          .          .          . Writing a Baltimore scene report was incredibly difficult. Do I stick to DIY reading series? Do I feature the university reading series? Do I feature community organizations like Jubilee Arts and...

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Carolyn DeCarlo on New Zealand

Carolyn DeCarlo is a fearless poet and writer living in Wellington, New Zealand (stalking her twitter page is really worth your time). After reading about her experiences in Wellington’s literary scene, I think creative women will rule the world. .          .          .          .          . My experience of the arts scene in New Zealand is probably still tinted with rose-colored glasses. I moved Wellington in late 2012. Almost everyone – myself included – whinges (that’s Kiwi for ‘complains’) about certain limitations of life in NZ or in the...

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Jaime Fountaine on Philadelphia

Jaime Fountaine describes the literary scene in Philadelphia and it reminds me of people doing amazing projects with rubberbands. In Philly, tons of people work to create a unique and strong literary bond… and then they get to eat giant after-reading pizzas. Toynbee Tile Philadelphia is weird and full of mysteries. Yesterday, I saw a woman walking her cat in a stroller she’d constructed out of a grocery cart. It’s easy to feel comfortable in the sweatpants capital of the United States. Unlike places like New York, which seem sometimes unsurmountable, it’s a big city that feels small. No matter where...

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Sam Slaughter on Orlando: Not just Mice Ears and Tourists

I’ll admit it. Sometimes going to a theme park in a dorky visor and fanny pack can be nice. But Sam Slaughter offers a different side to Orlando (affectionally nicknamed “Litlando”) – a place overflowing with artsiness and originality. So much so that it can drown a mouse. I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way now. Orlando is not just money-hungry radioactive mice and theme parks. When I got down here three years ago, I didn’t know Orlando was nicknamed the City Beautiful or that there was a lively and thriving arts scene. All I knew was...

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Zach Powers on Savannah, GA

During my short stint in Savannah, I met writers. This place is brimming with literary geniuses and every one of them I asked about the literary community told me to talk to Zach Powers. As the president of the literary arts nonprofit Seersucker Live, Zach knows writerly happenings in Savannah. He’s the genius behind the genius! As a native of Savannah, I often have to remind myself to look up. Trees drape over every street downtown, and the buildings merge into a melting pot of architectural styles, from Colonial-era to Victorian. In the historic district, every block features one...

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Betsy Teter on Spartanburg, South Carolina

Recognize Spartanburg from road signs on the I-85 and I-26? It has so much more to offer than gas stations and travel plazas. Hub City Executive Director Betsy Teter tells us how her small press, colleges and local libraries tangle up to make a neat literary knot in the South. .     .     .     .     . Pull into downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina and stop in the shadow of the city’s clock tower. On the ground floor of an historic Masonic Temple is a place the Chicago Tribune has said “is worth going out...

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