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Bull Pen: 21 February 2017

Home again! All of us at Bull City Press say “thank you” to all of you who came out at #AWP17 to say hello, to meet our authors, to attend our reading, and to show us the love. Here it is: this week’s BULL PEN where we celebrate our BCP friends and family. Have news to share? Send it my way at  Have a great week! –Noah


“I wake in the middle of the night / to check my pulse, wonder how long after your heart stops / you keep living, or is it sudden gone? Grief / is a volley ball lodged behind my shoulder blades.”  —DéLana R.A. Dameron, INCH 8 contributor, featured at BuzzFeed.

INCH 16 contributor, Ron Riekki’s piece, “Reasons Not to Join” appears at the New Orleans Review.

“Storytelling and memory feel like siblings to me (though it’s nearly impossible to tell who is the firstborn.) Both are fundamentally intertwined and essential to what and how I write, but they are constantly interrupting the other to make a point.” —Michael Schmeltzer, INCH 22 contributor, interviewed at Prairie Schooner.


Host Frank Stasio speaks with Michael McFee–contributor to multiple issues of INCH–about his book, We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon), and about striking the balance between family grief and a poet’s need to write through love and loss at WCQS: Western North Carolina Public Radio.

Emilia Phillips–author of Beneath the Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike–has a blog post, “Earing the Clink of Chisels: An Imperfect Love Letter to Reading Literary Magazines” up at Ploughshares.

“Every day, I look for myself in other women’s bodies. This is what happens when you never see yourself in television shows or catalogues or movies—you get hungry. In passersby, I seek out a faithful replica of my own full chest: my plastic-bag stomach pooched over jeans, my milk-carton hips, and my face with its peach-pit cheekbones set in coffee grounds. In this way, I see myself in pieces, mostly, and have to assemble my body in my mind.” —Carmen Maria Machado, INCH 20 contributor, with her amazing piece, “The Trash Heap has Spoken” featured at Guernica.


Grind Good News: from Muriel Nelson with grind poems appearing at Hummingbird Journal and Smartish Pace.

Michael Martone–author of Memoranda–has established the “Martone Traveling Grant” for students who love to write.

Check out “Whispering Arch” by Anne Valente–author of An Elegy For Mathematics–appearing at Passages North.

Congratulations to Emma Bolden–contributor to multiple issues of INCH–who has been named a runner-up for the Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize from The Journal.

PREORDER: Then Winter for only $10


Softcover, 36 pages.
ISBN: 978-1-4951-5765-3
ships April 3, 2017
$12.00 US

Pre-order your copy now and save– it’s only $10!

by Chloe Honum

Editors’ Selection from the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition

“On the surface, Chloe Honum’s chapbook, Then Winter, is a powerfully quiet meditation on a speaker’s experiences at a psychiatric ward. But the book is really about the power of nature, nature as ‘conqueror’ in all of its beauty—Honum’s unromantic nature is the prism in which the speaker refracts her life, it’s a way for the speaker to parse or re-angle pain. Honum’s poems and voice are steely, unforgettable, and full of treasures. And her gifts are immensely palpable.”

—Victoria Chang, author of The Boss

“A fly dying in a fluorescent light fixture as snow silences the outside world . . . these poems name an extreme moment with eerie delicacy, so that we are inside it.”

—Nick Flynn, author of The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands

“‘Hope is anything/That travels in big leaps,’ writes Chloe Honum.  Her singular chapbook leads us down the fluorescent corridors of mental hospitals, adding grace notes to the world Lowell memorialized.  For quite some time it has felt like mental house poems left us with only Sexton putting on her fur coat in her closed garage with the car turned on.  Yet here, hope lunges at us, as if Dickinson had decided to pole-vault out of her window.  Honum takes a big leap.  What pleasure to witness.”

—Spencer Reece, author of The Clerk’s Tale

Read a sample poem:

On the Stairs Outside the Psychiatric Ward 

I stand with the boy with the twisted body
while the smoke from his cigarette signs its slow signature.
He leans on his cane and the cane shakes.
It is late afternoon, almost dark.

We are day patients and soon will go home.
The boy says, I got into some trouble in Texas,
which is so far away it doesn’t seem to exist,
not with what’s going on now.

All around us autumn is throwing
gold and crimson leaves into the street
while starlings are holding tight on a telephone wire,
heads tucked in the cold. And the boy

and the Vietnam vet, who has just joined us,
and I are looking up with yearning, as though
we could solve that string of bird and sky arithmetic
and know the ages of our souls.


originally published in Harvard Review Online

PREORDER: In Defense of Monsters for only $10


Softcover, 40 pages.
ISBN: 978-1-4951-5766-0

Re-release available April 3, 2017.

$12.00 US
presale price: $10.00 US

by B.J. Hollars

This thoughtful collection of essays explores the facts surrounding three monsters that have plagued and intrigued our modern society with the idea of their mere existence. They contradict everything we know, and yet, we can’t dismiss their stories. Against reason and science, we can’t help but hope they might not not exist. Published in 2011 by Origami Zoo Press, this new edition includes a brand-new design.

“B.J. Hollars, in his essays and fiction, reminds us that the world remains—despite our attempts to name and classify—mysterious and uncharted. Sasquatch, Nessie, monster turtles in Indiana? I’m grateful to B.J. for giving this skeptic some reasons to believe.”

—Susan Neville, author of The Invention of Flight

“The monsters in B.J. Hollars’s fascinating essays include a hairy ape-man slouching in a forest, an enormous turtle peeking out of a backwoods pond, and us. In fact, in our dogged yearning for answers we may be the most monstrous of all, and for that reason, the most sympathetic. Moving, sensitive, and meticulously researched, this book is essentially about hope—the hope for finally arriving at an elusive truth that is somehow simultaneously the hope we never do.”

—Ryan Van Meter, author of If You Knew Then What I Know Now

“Although this book may be at first glance about defending the existence of monsters, B.J. Hollars makes an even grander argument for humankind’s penchant for shortsightedness and our ability to give into one idea without broad reflection. To give up the idea of the monster is to also give up ourselves: because without monsters we lack the imagination for a bigger world. To accept the monster, however, we give into a world which negates reality.  The book, instead, simply asks us to be humble.”

—Daniel Cecil, HTMLGIANT

Read more praise for In Defense of Monsters from around the web:

Daniel Cecil at HTMLGIANT
Amy Monticello at The Nervous Breakdown
Interview with Megan Paonessa at The Lit Pub

REVIEW: What Are We Not For by Tommye Blount

December 19, 2016 from The Best American Poetry blog

Open Reading Period Results: L. A. Johnson and Michael Parker

Bull City Press is pleased to announce that we will be publishing two chapbooks submitted during our summer 2016 Chapbook Open Reading Period: Little Climates by L. A. Johnson, and Everything, Then and Since by Michael Parker.

L. A. Johnson and Michael Parker

L. A. Johnson is from California. She received her MFA from Columbia University and is currently pursuing her PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California, where she is a Provost’s Fellow. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, the Antioch Review, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, and other journals.

Michael Parker is the author of six novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World, and All I Have In This World–and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now.   His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Southwest Review, Epoch, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Shenandoah, The Black Warrior Review, Trail Runner, Runner’s World and Men’s Journal.  He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is the Vacc Distinguished Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and since 2009 has been on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

When we opened submissions under the “pay what you want” format, we committed to publishing one collection.  The support we received from our community of readers and writers allowed us to increase that to two chapbooks.  A hearty thanks to everyone who embraced our vision for this reading period– one of access for all writers, regardless of socioeconomic status.  We will hold another open reading period in summer, 2017.