Literary Magazine in the Works

My friend Amanda (CalArts MFA Graphic Design student) and I are creating our own literary magazine! We haven’t decided on a title yet though. Titling is rather difficult for me, so it’ll be a challenge to come up with something catchy. She has already worked on a lit mag before and has done some beautiful design work so I am really excited to get started. Already emailed a bunch of writers in hopes that they will send us some work for our first issue. Will update with news re: title, etc. soon.

Ta ta for now!


Advice From a Literary Idol

Wanted to share an email I received from poet Matthew Dickman. I emailed him asking for advice about sending work out to literary magazines and this is his response:

Dear Zoe, It’s great you are beginning the long road of rejection! I say that with a smile! I had poems rejected just two days ago. But we have to be good secretaries and get it out there…it’s the secular branch of this spiritual thing we do! There are many, many, magazines that publish emerging poets including Tin House, Missouri Review, etc. A great place to explore is the website NewPages. It will link you to a ton of lit reviews. I got started sending my work out just like you…print up a letter and poems and post them. For me, it took about six years before anyone took anything. So it’s also an exercise in patience. Write poems, don’t be bored, and have fun!

My best wishes,


Frozen Yogurt and other ramblings…

Max and I just went to Yogurtland, which is, in my opinion, and the opinion of others, the best self-serve frozen yogurt chain in LA. There are many imitations throughout LA, very few coming anywhere close to the quality of Yogurtland. This evening I tried a new flavor, new to me as I usually get cake batter flavor, Cinnamon Graham Cracker. It was so good that I wish I hadn’t put it alongside Passion Fruit (which was good but not as good). CGC reminded me of the cinnamon milkshakes I used to get back in Memphis at Java Cabana, a coffee shop that used to be owned by a friend’s dad. Java was actually a really great place for me as a teenager. I had a great group of friends who I’d meet up with on Thursday nights there for Open Mic Night. Writers, musicians, quiet artists just there to listen, and some of the weirdest and most interesting people Midtown Memphis had to offer would gather there to share. Although looking back the work we shared was, on the whole, pretty bad (it was high school!), at the time I was so enthused and impressed with my fellow writers and musicians. It was truly a wonderful experience for the budding talent that attended. Once I was in college, still in Memphis for a semester, I stopped going to Java, sitting on its mismatched furniture, writing in its many journals left around the shop. A new group of young artists took over and the cycle continued and I hope still does. It felt good to have a supportive rather than competitive literary environment. As an older, but still young writer, I find micro-communities like this to be less and less. We certainly have our own at CalArts but there is a good deal of competition there, I have found.

I’d really like to start a writing group after I graduate.

Yawn. I’m tired. Going to watch Max play LA Noire for a while.


Submissions Out the Ying-Yang


Working on snail mail submissions today!

Here’s the list:

Poet Lore

The Sow’s Ear

The Rattling Wall



Southern Poetry Review


Lyric Poetry Review

Asheville Poetry Review

Michigan Quarterly Review

Cincinnati Review

American Poetry Review

BOMB Magazine

Chamber Four Magazine (C4)


Black Warrior Review

More Submissions

Consulted with a former poetry professor, Dana Levin, and she recommended a few places for me to send work. So today I am working on sending more work out via online submissions, as well as cultivating a list of places to send work via snail mail. Snail mail is more of a project because it requires such antiquated items as a printer/photo copier, envelopes, stamps and a mail box! What a chore! But well worth it, as those magazines tend to be of a higher quality. Some big literary magazines are using online submission managers like Submishmash, but some still prefer the old fashioned way. Going to get my list together, take a shower and then head to CalArts to use the Creative Writing computer lab. (Free printing!)

Good News

Just received an email from the director of the CalArts MFA Writing Program saying that I will be one of the Teaching Assistants for Writing Arts next fall. I will have somewhere around 12 students and I’ll be teaching them critical writing for two hours a week. So excited!

Beutner Award

I mentioned earlier that I received a Beutner Award, for which I am very grateful. I wanted to post links to two mentions/articles about the award. One on the CalArts site, another on my undergrad school’s site.

Hyper links don’t appear to be working. I apologize. Copy and paste these url’s if you’re interested in reading the write-ups.

Community Arts Partnership–Write Out Loud

This year I co-taught a writing workshop through CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership (CAP) at the LAUSD Public High School for the Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles. Evan, Ebony, Rachel and I, all CalArts MFA writers, collectively created a curriculum for this class. I was generally deemed the poetry person–so I got a chance to share some of my favorite contemporary poetry with these students and teach it to them! It was a great experience, regardless of its ups and downs. Our students were sweet kids and on the whole they cared a lot about their work. For the culminating event of the year, we held a reading at their school. CAP administrators attended, as well as friends and family. It was a nice event. We were pleased to also be able to give the students a perfect bound collection of their work–put together by the CAP office.

Hand-made Books

I wanted to post a few pictures of some books I made.

Pictured above are the 20 chapbooks I made for a class I took at CalArts called Tiny Press Practices. In the class we made our own books. My chapbook, titled, Sand in the Machine: A Lyric Translation, is a collection of ten poems that I wrote using a pamphlet written in 1943, “How to Make a Man Love You,” by J. Howard Crum, M.D. I made “cut up” poems from this source text. I wanted the books themselves to reflect the cut up-ness of the project so I repurposed old book covers, photographs and metal scraps to create an aged feel. The books are hand-sewn together using a coptic-style stitch. Each book is unique and I really enjoy that about the project. I definitely wanted them to be both art objects and book objects. Each book was gifted to the students in the class, the professor and the CalArts library, as well as some family members.

Here is the copy I gave to the library and that was displayed at school for the gallery show we did. This one uses Ogden Nash’s book, Good Intentions, as its cover.

Here is a tiny little book I’ve made for my mother. It includes a few poems from my thesis. Uses Japanese stab stitch as its binding.

Here are two books I made at workshops put on by the awesome Ink & Spine Collective, a wonderful CalArts club started by two fellow MFA writers. Our Critical Studies librarian, Brena, is the sponsor/instructor of the group and she shows us how to make these amazing books! The red one is a pamphlet style binding, and the other is what is called “cased in.” For the cased in, although you can’t see in this picture, 8 sections of paper had to be first sewn together before they were attached to the book board. Lots of work but it turned out really nicely. These are blank books–great for journaling/doodling.

More hand-made books to come! I am hoping to work on a project with my dad this summer where we make little artist books that include his poetry and his drawings/paintings. Just a fun project to work on. Maybe we’ll even try to sell them at his art gallery. My dad, Jay Etkin, has a wonderful art gallery in Santa Fe, and one in Memphis. Check him out at Jay Etkin Gallery .

Summer Reading List

Dickman, Michael. Flies. Copper Canyon: Port Townsend, 2011.

Flynn, Nick. Some Ether. Graywolf Press: Minneapolis, 2000.

Levin, Dana. Sky Burial. Copper Canyon: Port Townsend, 2011.

Niedecker, Lorine. Collected Works. University of California Press: Berkley, 2002.

Stine, Alison. Wait. University of Wisconsin Press: Milwaukee, 2011.

Szporluk, Larissa. Dark Sky Question. Beacon Press: Boston, 1998.

Weissman, Benjamin. Headless. Akashic Books: New York, 2004.

Plus about a zillion more. I’m open to suggestions as well!!