EDITOR IN CHIEF
Rachel Mindell is an MFA candidate in poetry and an MA candidate in English Literature at the University of Montana. She grew up in Tucson and has also lived in Mayaguez, Boston, and Durango. Her writing has appeared in Horse Less Review, Delirious Hem, interrupture, Caliban, Barn Owl Review, and Pity Milk. Her dog and cat run the household. Some of favorite authors include Anne Carson, CD Wright, Milan Kundera, Hafiz, Julio Cortazar, John Berryman, Alberto Rios, Toni Morrison, Mary Jo Bang and you. She loves Harper’s, The American Poetry Review, Jacket2, and Diagram, among many. She owns velvet paintings of a donkey, a unicorn and several revolutionaries.
CutBank is all she can talk/think/write about – she wants it to rock your allparts. Rachel aims to produce print issues, chapbooks, reading events and web content that reflect diverse and discerning taste, promoted by all the folks listed below. She wants CutBank to enrich every community it rubs against, be it Missoula at the People’s Craft Market, our state at the Montana Festival of the Book, nationally during AWP, or world over via carrier pigeon and the Google box. She could never do this alone – she expresses the most ardent gratitude for the contributions of every person from this masthead and every one of you who support the craft of words. Please know she wishes you the finest of days.
ONLINE CONTENT EDITOR
Brendan Fitzgerald is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at the University of Montana. He wrote the Press Pause column at The Morning News, worked at the Columbia Journalism Review, and spent six years as an editor at C-VILLE, an alternative newsweekly in Charlottesville, Virginia. His reporting has been cited by multiple news sources including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and highlighted by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is married to the writer Sierra Bellows.
Books he’s recently read and enjoyed include: The Braindead Megaphone, by George Saunders; A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit; Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality, by Jonathan Weiner; Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, by Errol Morris; Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow. Ask him about ’80s punk bands, attending magic camp, and your ideas for CutBank online features.
ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR
I’m a literary luddite. I love to hold books and magazines in my hands while I read, and loathe spending more time than necessary processing pixels. Which makes it a little ironic that I have taken on the role of online managing editor. I do, however, recognize the importance of digital communications in the twenty-first century, and have helped develop more than a few websites and online communications plans for non-profit organizations, mostly those trying to prevent the worst impacts of our seemingly insatiable appetite for everything in nature, from rocks to trees and entire oceans. It’s nice to be helping one of the nation’s finest literary journals reimagine itself for the interweb. The new site has already been redesigned into a dynamic and beguiling feast of creative imagery and writing, and plans already are afoot to add new heaps of new content daily.
As for me, I’m originally from Calgary, Alberta, a sprawling megalopolis best known as the world headquarters of the tar sands industry. I emigrated to Missoula, Montana to complete an MSc in 2005 and (more or less) never left, because it’s without question the finest place on the continent to live. I cobble together a living and a livelihood as a university field instructor, propagandist/journalist (depending on the client), hunter-gardener, editor, essayist, book reviewer and all-around curmudgeonly shit-disturber. I’ve lived in the U.S., Canada and Europe, where I was hauled off a train by a Slovak border guard to spend a harrowing day in a dark room with a Bosnian war refugee. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is that I’ve watched more women’s basketball games than perhaps any man who is not a coach.
If reading were a sport, I’d be an Olympian. Much to the chagrin of my wife, my eyes spend as much time as possible reading poetry, fiction and nonfiction. On the floor beside my bed are the following volumes, some half read and others waiting patiently: Dillard’s An American Childhood, Zealot, a new historical biography of Jesus by Reza Aslan, The Tiger by John Vaillant, Wild (unread), Tom’s River (a story of corporate greed, political indifference, and the power of the people), Gravity’s Rainbow (half read), David Shield’s How Literature Saved My Life (what a trip), Mark Twain’s compete essays, D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace (a tragic genius), The Bread of those Early Years by Heinrich Böll, Bill Kittredge’s Southwestern Homelands, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings (one of the most beautiful new books you’ll ever hold in your hands), and a Swedish gardening magazine (unread and unintelligible).
Despite the lack of poetry in the pile, I consider it the richest and most rarefied form of literary art. While I write a little verse from time to time for pleasure, prose is my form of choice in the public sphere. Mostly nonfiction, and mostly essays, but I’ve begun to explore the realm of fiction from the writerly (rather than the readerly) perspective.
When I’m not reading or writing, I spend time with my family (wife and daughter) and friends, often in the wilderness or on the river. One of my favourite pastimes is an evening of good wine, good food, good friends and good conversation. I like a good romp through the woods, preferably in the fall, quietly and alone, with a rifle in my hands. While the killing is distasteful to say the least, there’s nothing as satisfying as snubbing the industrial food industry by filling your freezer with wild food. If I could go anywhere, it would be to Italy, to search out the last of the brown bears there, catch a few of a recently identified subspecies of Esox Lucius on a fly rod, and eat pasta and drink wine.
I’m thrilled to be finishing up an MFA that I was not allowed to finish at the University of Oregon more than 15 years ago. It’s a long story.
Colin Post grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, lived in Pittsburgh, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. After putting in three years of working with CutBank, he still can’t get away. Formerly the online editor, he now just makes sure the website doesn’t blow up.
SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITORS
Sarah is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Montana. She taught horse riding lessons before she taught summer classes in grammar, composition, and reading comprehension to high-school students (surprisingly similar endeavors). She love-hates grammar, loves horses, never wants to be responsible for a horse-kid combination again, loves San Francisco (born and raised), once wrote a book about mermaids for a publishing house (best internship ever), and gets mildly ill when anyone describes anything as “meta.”
She loves reviews that make her feel the reviewer has been so intimate with the poem that she can render the feeling of being with it. Her favorite two lines of review at the moment are Kunitz’s description of Hass’s work: “Reading a poem by Robert Hass is like stepping into the ocean when the temperature of the water is not much different from that of the air. You scarcely know, until you feel the undertow tug at you, that you have entered into another element.” As for interviews, the more candid the better. People usually tell the most interesting truths by accident.
Allison Linville is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Montana. She moved to Whitefish, Montana about six years ago after spending her childhood traipsing through the Sawtooth Mountains in her home state of Idaho. She graduated from Boise State University in 2008 with degrees in English Writing and Spanish. Allison has spent the last few years working for the Forest Service in the Bob Marshall Wilderness managing a backcountry workstation, clearing trails, fighting fire, and posting up at the most remote fire lookout in the US. After an entire season at the lookout, she is sure she left her heart on top of that mountain forever.
Allison enjoys reading and reviewing writing that touches the deepest core of human emotion without trying too hard, and she likes to interview anyone who can really let their guard down. She occasionally reads Gary Snyder, Thalia Field, and John Ashbery, but likes to stumble upon poems that astound her. Her favorite poetry selections are usually those that Garrison Keillor reads on Writer’s Almanac.
Diana Xin was born in Hebei, China, and has lived in Minneapolis, Chicago, Beijing, and now, Missoula. In second grade, she made a rocking imitation of Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night,” which was exhibited to great acclaim at the local shopping mall. She failed art class in fourth grade. There was turmoil. Seventh grade saw the zenith of her career, when she created “Dino Berry,” a pencil and charcoal relief of a dinosaur with a belly full of berries. Her teacher said, “[Dino Berry] is a proto-postmodern excavation of the enantiodromia latent to the carnivorous condition — paradoxically arresting yet inescapably mobilizing. But…this is calligraphy class.” She was misunderstood.
Having since given up art for fiction, Diana still enjoys wandering around galleries and exhibitions. She appreciates a dash of absurdity and surreality in both writing and visual arts, and feels most drawn to images that suggest a narrative. It’s also cool when an image is characterized not only by what is present, but also what is absent — leaving a mystery inhabitable by the viewer. She looks forward to receiving your work and admiring your talent.
I was bred and born in Podunk northern Utah, spent the last few years in Salt Lake before moving to Missoula for the hippies, cowboys, and tight-knit writing community. As an undergraduate at the University of Utah I studied anthropology, human biology, and eventually English. Prior to pursuing fiction as an MFA student, I worked as a web developer, landscaper, internet marketer, snow plow man, home repo man and custom motorcycle builder. I write about Mormons, drugs, and Mormon families on drugs. My characters spend too much time in vehicles.
Journals and authors:
As far as lit mags go, I keep it pretty basic – Western Humanities Review, New Yorker, Paris Review, and the Best American series. And CutBank. When I sit down with an author, I tend to favor the gritty stuff—Larry Brown, Ray Carver, Carson McCullers, Gabriel García Marquez, Hemmingway, Richard Ford, Denis Johnson, Eula Biss, Junot Díaz, Nabokov and lately, Bonnie Jo Campbell. She’s absolutely wonderful. When I’m drunk, a Spanish translation of anything makes me happy, especially classic science fiction.
I look for in a short story:
What I look for in a short story is honesty and a tight structure, but mostly honesty. It’s easy to tell when a writer doesn’t own her/his subject matter and I think it’s more detrimental than say, using too many adverbs, enthusiastically. I’ve also a wicked pet peeve of past perfect gerund constructions. Gross.
Candie Sanderson spent most of her life walking on her tiptoes in the French countryside. She recently moved to the United States — first to California, then to Montana — where she is now writing, speaking, and teaching English. She mostly writes lyric essays and flash fiction. You can find her writing here and here
Her cowboy boots have found a home in Missoula where they can dance fake two-step at the Union Hall.
Her favorite authors include: Lidia Yuknavitch, Marguerite Duras, Milan Kundera, and William Faulkner.
To get a good idea of contemporary stuff she likes, you should go check out her two favorite literary magazines: Nano for fiction and Brevity for nonfiction.
For Candie, good writing is writing that takes risks and breaks out of the mold. Often, this kind of work pays specific attention to language, not just as a tool to move forward a plot, but as an organic material to play with. She favors the short form and believes that longer pieces should accomplish more than just telling a good story. She is looking for prose that asks for a second read and shakes the reader to the core, quietly.
Asta So is a MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Montana. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area and came to Missoula after a two-year stint in Japan, where she stuffed her face with sushi and hung out with the local deer. She has taken up birding and cross-country skiing in outdoorsy Missoula. Her favorite authors include Alice Munro and Junot Diaz and her favorite lit mags include Narrative and The New Yorker. In stories, she looks for surprises that feel inevitable.
Maud Streep is an MFA candidate at the University of Montana. Born in New York, she has lived in Boston, Brooklyn, and Missoula. She loves Rock Creek and the drive down the Bitterroot.
When reading stories, she looks for good characters, clean language, and a sense of humor. Some favorite authors are Amy Hempel, Lorrie Moore, and Jim Shepard.
Exhausted of drafting legal briefs in Boston for six years, John left his job as a paralegal and returned to writing verse. He is an MFA poetry student at the University of Montana. During the day he pens inspiring, long-winded speeches for the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs. He has worked for Ploughshares and was the Fall 2011 writer-in-residence at the Inn At The Oaks in Eastham, MA. Guitar player, political organizer, and dog enthusiast are some other titles he happily accommodates. If he’s not home, he’s probably over near Kelly Island watching the two rivers battle it out.
John’s recently dog-eared books: What Narcissism Means to Me (Tony Hoagland), Late Wife (Claudia Emerson),Callings (Carl Dennis), Life on Mars (Tracy K. Smith), Here and Now (Stephen Dunn), Bender (Dean Young), and Barter (Ira Sadoff).
Journals he likes: Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal.
John’s idea of good writing changes weekly, but holds steady some truths…submit poems with the same care you’d show a friend cell phone pictures of your dog: a few at a time and only when they’re doing something spectacular. John appreciates a strong narrative voice, humo(u)r, a unique play with language and/or sound, and (most importantly) courage. When submitting, he advises asking one simple question: If I fanned the pages of CutBank and came across this poem, would I continue reading the issue or close it?
Hello, I’m poetry editor Kate Di Nitto, known to my kin as a giant and a reader. Missoula suits me for its walkability and good strong beer, though I miss the ocean, and longer growing seasons. Naturally oriented toward human presences/oddities/relationships and also outdoor landscapes, I’m interested in poems of a wide aesthetic range so long as they glimpse the human verve of their speaker. Favorites include Dan Beachy-Quick, Robert Creeley, Anna Akhmatova. Missoula’s own superstar Patricia Goedicke has also become important to me in recent years. I enjoy magazines Mudlark, [PANK], DIAGRAM, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, although I would also stress my flexibility in taste, my changeling nature, and the possibility that I’ll have a new favorite next week. Hence my fear of getting tattooed.
Rachel Finkelstein is a conceptual writer from the midwest. Just after filming “The Real Housewives of Missoula, Montana,” Rachel decided to drop the show to pursue her dreams as a genre editor for CutBank Magazine. When Rachel reads CutBank submissions, she looks for poems that take risks, blur boundaries, and eat people. Her favorite writers include Virginia Woolf, Kate Durbin, and Mary Shelley.
Philip’s writing has swelled in Nashville rain, Chicago dumpsters, and Missoula rock gardens. It’s out or forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, RHINO, Toad, The Chariton Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Litconic, and elsewhere. He wants to see a bear more than anyone alive, and is haunted by Montana’s web of waters. His favorite place to drink coffee is on the thinking rock in his backyard, barefoot.
The poets I return to over & over again, living & dead, are Jack Gilbert, Mary Ruefle, Gary Snyder, Bob Hass & anyone whose last name is Wright. Though, to be fair, John Steinbeck has probably influenced my work and understanding of image more than any other.
I’m a big fan of Devil’s Lake, The Sonora Review, Bat City Review, and sometimes Poetry.
I believe in poems that are served by this vast, fragile language; not in a language that is reconstructed for its own sake and label-slapped: poetry. The words aren’t the occasion, rather the overflow – lava spitting quietly from the mouth of a flower. I want to read work that is honest with itself, yet isn’t afraid to leave the grasp of the poet. Give me a sonnet on stilts, a religious rap song, your American scream and bluest west. Give me liberty or give me meth.
Kim Bell is a second year M.F.A in Creative Non Fiction at The University of Montana. She received her B.A. in English from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and when she’s not corrupting young minds as a T.A. out west, she lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. Some of her favorite Non Fiction authors include Mary Karr, Jeannette Walls, Nick Flynn, Judy Blunt, Alexandra Fuller, David Foster Wallace, T.R. Reid, Jim Harrison, and Melanie Thernstrom. While she is always drawn to a good memoir, personal essays that blend research with recollection are high on her list of favorite things, and fall somewhere between craft beer and tragedy rendered as humor. Overt sentiment or essays containing more adverbs than verbs tend to make her itchy, and in her small, New England-bred heart, she has a big soft spot for the unlikeable narrator, being somewhat unlikeable herself. Though she lives part of the year in Missoula, Montana, she has never been hiking, as she owns mostly Chucks and stilettos. (This does not mean that she has no interest in a good nature essay). She is open to reading pieces on any topic, and appreciates writers who take risks with voice and structure.
Kate Nitze is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Montana. Formerly a book editor in San Francisco, she moved with her husband and two sons to Missoula, where they enjoy looking out for freight trains, bears, and snow. She is drawn to personal narratives about family dynamics, survival and adventure, and the mysteries of medicine, but will read anything from the humorous to the tragic as long as the language is captivating. Her favorite nonfiction authors include Alison Bechdel, Joan Didion, and Atul Gawande.
Raised by a single mother, Rosemary learned early on, along with her six siblings, to create structure in a chaotic household and evolved into a talent for coordinating and planning events. After a career in management with United Parcel Service, Rosemary decided to return to college for her MFA in Creative Writing in Nonfiction. You can find this transplanted Californian traipsing through the corridors of the magnificent Bitterroot Valley or indulging in Missoula’s abundant breweries or its riverfront trails.
Micah Fields is an undergraduate in the creative writing program at The University of Montana. He is from Houston, Texas. As an intern, he enjoys scanning large files, alphabetizing shelves, and hustling spontaneous poems on the sidewalk for CutBank. He especially admires the fiction of Lorrie Moore, David Foster Wallace, and Alice Munro, who all seem to capture a kind of sacred humor Micah seeks in writing. Aside from interning, Micah is left-handed, and currently in the market for a good second-hand trumpet.