Judges Spotlight

Our Annual Carrie McCray Literary Memorial Contest opens March 1 through May 1 2016. This year we are adding a new category, Poetry.  Submissions for The Petigru Review will also open during this time, and a new category has been added, Flash. For more information go to (link to Carrie McCray contests) and (link to TPR submissions). Here’s a preview of SOME of our illustrious judges for both Carrie McCray and TPR. Read their Bios below, along with their personal statements on what captures their interest. Keep checking our websites for the full listings, they will be up soon. We hope everyone will submit to both Carrie McCray and The Petigru Review!

Jeff Kleinman  – First Chapter of a Novel

Kleinman photoJeff Kleinman is a literary agent, intellectual property attorney, and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC, a New York literary agency which works with all of the major U.S. publishers (and, through subagents, with most international publishers).  He’s a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (J.D.), the University of Chicago (M.A., Italian), and the University of Virginia (B.A. with High Distinction in English).  As an agent, Jeff feels privileged to have the chance to learn an incredibly variety of new subjects, meet an extraordinary range of people, and feel, at the end of the day, that he’s helped to build something – a wonderful book, perhaps, or an author’s career.  His authors include the New York Times bestsellers The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Snow Child (a Pulitzer finalist; Eowyn Ivey), Widow of the South (Robert Hicks), and Mockingbird (Charles Shields), among other books. For more information about Jeff (including interviews, books sold, and so forth) as well as what kind of manuscripts he is interested in, please go to www.foliolit.com/jeffkleinman/.

Two elements really make me sit up and take notice: premise and voice.  Think about it – you hear about a book, and it sounds like a bunch of other books you’ve read.  Hard to get really excited, isn’t it?  Now imagine you have to repeat that same familiar premise to all your friends and acquaintances – pretty soon you’re inwardly cringing, waiting for the eyeroll and the “haha, I’ve heard that before!”  Now imagine it’s something that you and your friend haven’t thought about – something that really does sound fresh and original (but not too fresh and original – it can’t sound crazy).  Your listeners sit up, say, “Wow, that sounds great!”, and you’re eager to share the project with them.  That’s one of the things that a great premise can do.

The same goes for voice.   I hear a lot of writers say that they don’t know what “voice” is – but the same writers can easily distinguish Virginia Woolf from, say, JD Salinger, just by the rhythm, word choice, and sentence structures.  Your voice, too, should be distinctive: it should sound wholly like you.  This is more critical for upmarket, bookclub, and literary fiction than for genre/commercial fiction, but voice plays a role in all types of writing.  So really strive to develop it.

Heather Marshall – Fiction

Heather MarshallHeather is an author and teacher who lives in Greenville, South Carolina with a pair of Labrador-mix dogs, a set of Great Highland Bagpipes and a Royal Enfield motorbike. Heather’s fiction has won The Baker Prize in Scotland, the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open and the Sue Lile Inman Award for Excellence in the Art of the Short Story; her magazine articles and series have won several Women in Communications Matrix awards. Her fiction and creative nonfiction are published in literary journals and anthologies in the US and the UK and have been read on the radio in both countries. Heather’s novel, The Thorn Tree (MP Publishing) released in July, 2014. Most recently, her work has been anthologized in Scotland, in Words from and Island, Vol II., and in the US in Quarried: Three Decades of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel.

Heather recently finished a collection of short stories and is currently working on a novel that explores the disintegration and reconstruction of identity for individuals and cultures. Her Tedx talk can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meka3_pUVqcso

I like characters and setting that are carefully crafted and fully developed (who doesn’t?). I am looking for craft on every level-sentence, paragraph, whole. Each element of the narrative connects and has a reason for being there. I am drawn to stories that use language in interesting ways, far more than to plot. For me, a story is not so much about what happens, but how the story unfolds, and in that unfolding, how the characters relate to each other and to their setting, and how they develop. 

Susan Laughter Meyers – Poetry

Susan MeyerslSusan Laughter Meyers of Givhans, SC, is the author of three poetry collections: My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass (2013), winner of the Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize; Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006), winner of the SC Poetry Book Prize; and the chapbook Lessons in Leaving (1998), winner of the Persephone Press Poetry Book Award. Other honors include the 2013 NCLR James Applewhite Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the SC Academy of Authors and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A long time writing instructor, she has an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. For further info: http://susanmeyers.blogspot.com

When I read a poem, I am particularly pulled in by its music and the attention to language. Which is to say that it’s not just the “meaning” of a poem that engages me—but also the just-right word, syntax, the play of sound and silence: in other words, all the mysterious, intricate parts that make up the whole.

Read Susan’s blog on SCWW about her personal relationship with Carrie McCray on Sunday, Feb 14th!

Jessica Handler –Nonfiction

Jessica Handlercomcast_netJessica Handler is the author of Invisible Sisters: A Memoir (The University of Georgia Press, 2015, Public Affairs Books, 2009) named by the Georgia Center for the Book one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” Atlanta Magazine called it the “Best Memoir of 2009.”  Her second book, Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss (St. Martins Press, December 2013) was praised by Vanity Fair magazine as “a wise and encouraging guide.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Brevity.com, Newsweek, The Washington Post, More Magazine, and elsewhere. Honors include a residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a 2010 Emerging Writer Fellowship from The Writers Center, the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. www.jessicahandler.com.

One key piece of advice I have for creative nonfiction writers is to know that there are two selves (or more) you’re putting on the page when writing in the “I” point of view. There’s the “I” of you, now, the writer-person looking back on the event or events s/he’s writing about. That “I” person has the ability and the freedom to ruminate on his or her past, as well as the ability to research an event and to understand emotions and events that s/he may not have when that event took place. The self who’s IN the scene is the “eye,” the person the writer was at the time. The individual on the ground, so to speak. It’s the interplay between those two selves, the “I” and the “eye,” that helps create the tension and forward motion in a well-made piece of creative nonfiction.

Jim Clark – Poetry

JimClarkguitarBorn between Music City and the Smoky Mountains in Byrdstown, Tennessee, Jim Clark grew up on a farm surrounded by music – from the unadorned, a capella harmonies of the Church of Christ, to the old-time country of his father’s guitar and mandolin playing.  As an English major at Vanderbilt University, he was influenced by the legacy of Fugitives and Agrarians as well as by poets Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, and Allen Tate, noted for their connection between literature and land, and criticism of the modern industrial mindset.  Jim received an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a PhD in modern literature and creative writing from the University of Denver.  Clark has published two books of poems, Dancing on Canaan’s Ruins and Handiwork; written a play, The Girl with the Faraway Eye, edited Fable in the Blood: The Selected Poems of Byron Herbert Reece; and served as an editor of The Denver Quarterly, The Greensboro Review, and The Vanderbilt Poetry Review.  His most recent book is Notions: A Jim Clark Miscellany.

In 1995, he combined his talents as a singer and musician with roots in Appalachia, resulting in Buried Land, a CD which combines music and poetry.  He has since recorded three folk-rock CDs with his band The Near Myths:  Wilson (2005), Words to Burn (2008), and . . . and into the flow (2013).  The Service of Song (2010) is his most recent solo CD, and his music/poetry can be found at http://www.jimclarkpoet.com/ and http://www.thenearmyths.com/

Clark recently completed a year of service as President of SAMLA (South Atlantic Modern Language Association) and is Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Writers Conference.  He is currently the Elizabeth H. Jordan Professor of Southern Literature and Dean of the School of Humanities at Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina, where he is Director of The Barton College Creative Writing Symposium and editor of the literary journal Crucible.

I appreciate vivid, evocative imagery.  I also like poems in which it seems to me the poet has a unique and/or distinctive “voice.”  Maybe above all I admire craftsmanship, so I look at formal elements like rhythm and rhyme (if it’s a formal poem), structure, the shape of the poem on the page, line breaks, stanza/strophe breaks.  I value competence.  A sense that the poet know what s/he is doing.  Having a powerful message is a good thing, but the way the message is transcribed and articulated and crafted is equally important.  A little humor never hurts.

Lee Zacharias –Nonfiction

©2013, Traci Arney Photography. www.traciarneyphotography.comAuthor of a collection of short stories, Helping Muriel Make It Through the Night, and two novels, Lessons and At Random. Her most recent book is The Only Sounds We Make, a collection of personal essays, which won a silver medal in creative nonfiction in the 2014 Independent Publisher Awards. Her nonfiction has been anthologized in The Best American Essays, and her work has appeared in numerous journals, including, among others, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, and Pleiades. She was won North Carolina’s Sir Walter Raleigh Award for the best book of fiction by a North Carolina writer, the Theodore Christian Heopfner Award from Southern Humanities Review, a Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner, and several honors for excellence in teaching. Emerita Professor of English at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, she has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council and for a decade served as editor of The Greensboro Review.

What I am always looking for in creative nonfiction is not simply narration but discovery. What does the story (or exploration of the mind) mean? The more metaphorical the answer to that question the better. Creative nonfiction needs not just to be true (which it absolutely must be) but also creative. What two things do you want to bring together? Which one illuminates the other? Tell me something about the world (or about yourself, because you are a world) in a way I never thought of it before.