J. Matthew Gottwig's "Tether" wins the Montana Prize in Fiction!

We are thrilled to announce that J. Matthew Gottwig's "Tether" is this year's winner in the Montana Prize in Fiction, chosen by Monica Drake. Congratulations! 

J. Matthew Gottwig is a Montana native now living in Baltimore, MD with his wife and kids. He works for the University of Maryland library system and is pursuing his MFA from the University of Baltimore.

In addition to a $500 prize, Gottwig's's winning work will appear in CutBank 89, our summer 2018 issue.

Find J. Matthew Gottwig on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jgottwig
Insta: https://www.instagram.com/jeremy.m.gottwig/
And at http://www.strangeshuttle.com/

 

Judge Monica Drake selected "Tether":

"...for the way it navigates a space between human connection and disconnection, between the individual and community, between love and terror. A child’s mortality holds a family together, which happens every day, but in this case the author has carried the question into the realm of the inexplicable, the supernatural or spiritual, raising questions of how we understand our world and how we live with ourselves and each other. It reaches a beautiful moment by the ending, without ever overly resolving the intangible qualities. I appreciate this story."

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Meet Monica Drake: "I have an MFA from the University of Arizona and teach at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. My debut Novel, Clown Girl, is published by the amazing indie press, Hawthorne Books, and has won an Eric Hoffer Award as well as an IPPY. It’s been translated into Italian, and recently optioned for film by the brilliant Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids). My most recent novel, The Stud Book, is now out (Hogarth Books, April 2013) and doing great." (From monicadrake.com)

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We also send warm thanks to all the fine writers who entered this year, and a special congratulations to all our finalists:

  • Michael Pearce
  • Susan Lowell
  • Heather Aruffo
  • &
  • Ashish Kaul

More winners!

Tammy Delatorre, Winner of the Montana Prize in Creative Nonfiction

Freesia McKee, Winner of the Patricia Goedicke Prize for Poetry


Tammy Delatorre's "I Am Coming for You" takes this summer's Montana Prize in Creative Nonfiction!

We are thrilled to announce that Tammy Delatorre's "I Am Coming for You" is this year's winner in the Montana Prize in Creative Nonfiction, chosen by Sarah Gerard. Congratulations! 

In addition to a $500 prize, Delatorre's winning work will appear in CutBank 89, our summer 2018 issue.

Tammy Delatorre lives in Los Angeles. Her writing has received numerous literary awards, including the Payton Prize and the Slippery Elm Prose Prize. More of her essays and stories can be found at www.tammydelatorre.com.

Follow Delatorre on Twitter @tammydelatorre,  and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammy.delatorre.1

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Judge Sarah Gerard had this to say about Delatorre's work: 

“I Am Coming for You” is a bloody, vivid, gut-wrenching account of inherited violence, abandonment, and reckoning. It’s the kind of story that demands to be told in spite of, or maybe because of, the courage it takes to write it. Rage and sadness pulse through it like a heartbeat through an umbilical cord.

Judge Sarah Gerard is the author of the essay collection Sunshine State, the novel Binary Star, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times first fiction prize, and two chapbooks, most recently BFF. Her short stories, essays, interviews, and criticism have appeared in The New York TimesGranta, The Baffler, ViceBOMB Magazine, and other journals, as well as anthologies. She’s been supported by fellowships and residencies from Yaddo, Tin House, PlatteForum, Ucross, and Pocoapoco. She writes a monthly column for Hazlitt and teaches writing in New York City.

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We also send warm thanks to all the fine nonfiction authors who entered this year, and a special congratulations to all our finalists:

  • Melissa Connelly
  • Charlotte Gullick
  • Kristin Keane
    &
  • Jacquelyn Connelly

More winners!

J. Matthew Gottwig, Winner of the Montana Prize in Fiction

Freesia McKee, Winner of the Patricia Goedicke Prize for Poetry


We have a winner! Freesia McKee and her poem "What Isn't Dead" take the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry!

We are thrilled to announce that Freesia McKee's "What Isn't Dead" is this year's winner in the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry, chosen by Sarah Vap. Congratulations, Freesia! 

Freesia McKee is author of the chapbook How Distant the City (Headmistress Press, 2017). Her words have appeared in cream city reviewThe Feminist WirePainted Bride QuarterlyGertrude, and the Ms. Magazine Blog. Freesia's poetry is forthcoming in CALYXSinister Wisdom, and Nimrod.

In addition to a $500 prize, McKee's winning work will appear in CutBank 89, our summer 2018 issue.

Find Freesia McKee on Twitter: @freesiamckee
At Instagram: @freesiamckee
And at https://freesiamckee.wordpress.com/

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Judge Sarah Vap had this to say about McKee's work: 

In "What Isn't Dead," Freesia McKee layers the speaker's memory of a beloved (and themself at the time of that loving) as it is both hijacked and buoyed by the old and new systems of kindness and cruelty—chivalry, family, a 4th of July party that hurts, the strip club next door to their gay bar—until at the end my heart aches for them, confused (as they are?) by their final moment together—the moment's victory/failure at kindness, for everyone involved."

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Sarah Vap, our Fall 2017 Distinguished Hugo Writer, is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Viability (Penguin 2016), which was selected for the National Poetry Series. Her book of hybrid poetics, End of the Sentimental Journey, inaugurated the Infidel Poetics Series with Noemi Press (2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship for poetry and has taught at Arizona State University, University of Southern California, and Drew University.

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We also send warm thanks to all the fine poets who entered this year, and a special congratulations to all our finalists:

  • John Blair
  • Isabel Estrada
  • Partridge Boswell
    &
  • Brittney Scott

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More winners coming soon for the Montana prizes in fiction and nonfiction!


LONG WAY FROM, LONG TIME SINCE: George Kalamaras says “Hey” to poet Ray Gonzalez

FROM POETRY MAGAZINE:

The Unsung Passion of Ray Gonzalez
by Roy G. Guzmàn

“Through Gonzalez’s poetry I’ve discovered the various syntaxes that run through my own linguistic DNA. Through him I’ve discovered how to deploy my metaphors and when to reveal my silences (“Beware the silence stronger than the voice,” he writes in “Beware the Silence,” included in Human Crying Daisies (2003)). Like his personality—measured, as if ticking like a clock, and with an appetite for tactful wit—Gonzalez’s poem-tellers can be shy but, when allowed to speak, can verbalize truths with the swiftness of a lizard. In “What Lesson?” for instance, the speaker asks, “What were the questions our mothers asked? Who did they make love to before our fathers arrived with newspapers and torn wills and deeds?”  … Gonzalez has the associative skill and patience of James Wright, and that gift of surprise you find in Russell Edson’s best work. He knows when to walk into a poem and when to walk away, leaving everything around haunted.”


Letter to Ray from Livermore

by George Kalamaras


Hey Ray. There are likely only two Surrealists left
who still read Hugo with any depth. Got a guess?
We know Breton and Desnos are dead,
though not in our poems. I was thinking today
how we love the West. The real West where railroads speak.
Everything now is air. Rush here, fast there.
Our molecules jiggle enough as it is
when we microwave our food. That baked potato
I ate last night still striving inside me to survive.
Of course you’ll visit in July and sleep
with your head to the north, aligning yourself
with the pines. You remember growing up
on the border with scorpions, the desert
and its sting. I recall Indiana fire ants
in the pump-house ivy. My boyhood
bites. John says they’re in my wrist.
And I believe him, standing some nights as I do
like the guy in Un Chien Andalou, staring
at my hand. I know. The wrist is not my hand,
but like those railroad tracks, our veins keep wending West.
Each year for me from Fort Wayne to Livermore.
I don’t know, sometimes, how we’ve survived this long
with a moth wing for a mouth. Something is beating me
back, and I’m sure it’s me. Part fly, part sky. You named it
Luna, and started a magazine. You got the night
just right. I’ve gone inside, my eye open to the spiritual
fly. Buzz here. Land there. Let the breath
and with it the jittery monkey-mind release.
It’s surprising we still have wives, the way our parents left
one another with pain. We’re not unique. Someone
is always throwing someone out, even with a word
or curve of earth. Someone is always throwing
a bone to the dog. In your case, cats. Remember
when Punk and Whitey loved to eat cantaloupe,
as far back as Arvada? God, we’ve known each other
a long time, even before them, in Denver,
knowing what makes our secret strain
exact. When Desnos sleep-talked, he threw a thread
of speak that wound from the cosmic now into the lives
of human dread. That’s why they were scared
and barred him from the group. So there are strains
of purpose and strains of pain. Which brings me
to how you and I do. Which brings me back
to those two rails running West
and all the courage of the plains. Of course, Hugo
could be a sap. And he knew it. But he stands naked,
letting the wind. Like blood into a cup,
it pours out his mouth. And the trees
speak. Not only booze, dark bars, and shame,
but the hope of how to survive in Red Lodge,
Missoula, or Butte. Desnos knew this
too, stumbling back from the camp, typhus
so tight in his spine, the Second World War
pouring out through his teeth. As did Breton, by the time
he got to his third wife. I love them most
for their blurring and slurring of word. The how and why
my life. As we love Hugo too, perhaps most
for his shame in how the West was won
and keeps losing itself in the lost. Because living here
is pine-dead hard. The how and why we cry.


(for Ray Gonzalez)

 

(“Letter to Ray from Livermore” appeared previously in The Drunken Boat, Fall 2012/Winter 2013, Vol. 11, Issues I and II.)


Poet Ray Gonzalez, Pima Auditorium - Memorial Union (Room 230) - ASU Tempe campus

George, Barney Beagle, and Ray from 1997 (Ray visiting George in Fort Wayne to hang out for an informal poetry and rock and roll weekend). Photo by Mary Ann Cain.

 

4 Poems at the Superstition [review]:

  • “A Bird Inside the Building” 
  • “Three Snow Storms” 
  • “Photo of Pablo Picasso with His Shirt Off ” 
  • “If by Chance, The Child Prodigy” 

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Ray Gonzalez in Minneapolis, Con Tinta NaPoMo 2015 y más, coverage by Xánath Caraza of the La Pachanga Award Ceremony in 2015.


About George Kalamaras:

 Photo by Jim Whitcraft

Photo by Jim Whitcraft

George Kalamaras is a former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016) and has published fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including The Mining Camps of the Mouth (2012), winner of the New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM Chapbook Award, Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck (2011), winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Contest, and The Theory and Function of Mangoes (2000), winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series. He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.

Meet George (and his beagle Bootsie, among other animal presences) in an audio interview at Radio Free Albion. The interview celebrates, in part, issue 13 of Court Green, including George's poem “Dream in Which Kenneth Rexroth Counts to Eight.” Follow George on YouTube, the Indiana Poet Laureate page on Facebook, and at the Wabash Watershed.

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Read George Kalamaras's previous letters to:

Thanks, George, for bringing these voices to us through your own

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Long Way From, Long Time Since features letters written from writers, to writers, living or dead. Send us your queries and inquiries, your best wishes and arguments, and help us explore correspondence as a creative form. For letter submission guidelines, visit our submissions page or email cutbankonline@gmail.com for more information.


CUTBANK REVIEWS: Jackie Brennan & The Dogs of Callan Wink

The Top 5 Dogs of Callan Wink’s Stories

by Jacqueline Brennan

     “I’ve always liked dogs. That’s why I asked. I remember watching that one walk across the field in the snow. A beautiful animal.”
     “The day you get a dog is the day you sign up to bury it. It’s a package deal. No sense in getting too attached.”
     “You could say that about anything. Everything in your life—either you bury it or it buries you. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get attached.

                                         “In Hindsight”

Behold the Dalmatian in all its magnificent idiocy.
Photo from https://valentina-86.deviantart.com/art/crazy-255658657

Poet Chris Dombrowski described Callan Wink’s debut short story collection as “mongrel stories of the new West.” Asked to react to the description in a late 2017 interview, Wink said, “I think the stories are, you know, set in the new West, as it is. And I’m not sure I know what it is to be a mongrel as it applies to a fiction piece…but I like it.”

That’s the most that has been made of Dombrowski’s use of mongrel in reviewing Wink’s work. And I find that weird. Poets are notoriously choosy with their words, so when Dombrowski says mongrel, he means mongrel, dammit. Denotatively, a mongrel is “a dog of no definable type or breed.” Dombrowski uses the tag as a nod to Wink’s versatility, and as an implicit appeal to prospective readers to resist the urge to shelve his prose reductively. That is, it’s tempting to cast Wink as the newest white male writer of stories about other white males, set predominantly in the West. But, in addition to Dombrowski’s nod, he’s throwing us a wink—and it’s specifically directed at the many memorable dogs of the Michigander-gone-Montanan’s imagination.

I remember dogs in stories—much as I do in life—with inordinate clarity, and a lot of fine dogs have graced stories set in my home state of Montana. Two come to mind immediately. First, Bill Bell’s dog from Maclean’s USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky, and Steinbeck’s tall poodle, whose manners and quirks figure prominently into the texture of Travels With Charly. Though Steinbeck’s travelogue is not about Montana specifically, he devotes an entire chapter to describing his passage through the state in elevated, affectionate terms.

Wink’s collection takes its name from the first story, “Dog Run Moon.” By virtue of the title alone, I came in banking on some strong dog performances, and wasn’t disappointed. I am surprised, however, that no previous concerted discussion of Wink’s fiction has explicitly remarked on the dogs. That changes now, with this list of the five most memorable canines from Callan Wink’s fiction, ranked primarily on the basis of memorability, but also employing some personal taste and references for those that were too close to call without a second criterion. I’ll also emphasize that Callan Wink’s fictional animal kingdom is vast, and well worth a discerning reader’s independent exploration. But I’m just appraising the dogs. So here they are.

 

5. Charlie

He didn’t think his life lacked for much of anything, At least there were no holes that couldn’t be filled by getting a dog. Last spring, his old lab Charlie had gone to chase the big tennis ball in the sky. He thought enough time had passed now and maybe he’d go look at the shelter sometime soon.

“Sun Dance”

I admire few things more from a craft standpoint than when a writer incites emotion with something that’s absent from the space and time of a story. For dog people, the notion of an old lab going on to chase the big tennis ball in the sky rings true. It’s a small, sympathetic detail that readers can transpose onto their own experience as dog owners. The move is emotionally load-bearing. As evidence, although this dog only gets a passing mention, he stayed with me well past finishing Wink’s book.

 

4. Elton John

Her dogs sat and watched her work, two small brown mutts of indeterminate breed. They’d shown up together a few years back and decided they would stay. They were two neutered males and they seemed to be good friends, old traveling companions. She’d named them as a unit, not separately, because they were never apart. Elton John. That was their name.

“In Hindsight”

If Wink’s readers were asked to make their own version of this list, I’d bet most would give Elton John top honors. They were in contention for mine. Yes, they. Because Elton John are two dogs, indivisible, named in aggregate by Lauren, the main character of “In Hindsight.” To their credit, the unassuming Elton John do a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean that they make us laugh, as many of Wink’s animals do. To boot, shortly after finishing Wink’s book, part of the reason I couldn’t shut up about it is because I spent a few days with a real-life Elton John—two German Shorthaired Pointers who also move through the world as a unit. Only difference is that they in fact have unique names, Odin and Freya—which I assume are taken from Norse deities. As of Memorial Day weekend 2018, I’m technically extended kin to those dogs owing to my cousin’s marriage to their owner, a well-tattooed Bay Area construction worker originally from Southern Utah.

Part of the joy of reading about Elton John was that they immediately reminded me of the dogs David Foster Wallace had in real life, Jeeves and Drone. The ease with which Elton John enter Lauren’s life recalled the way Wallace described Drone entering his: “He just showed up once while [Jeeves and I] were jogging.”

That I don’t give Elton John the top spot can be chalked up to taste and timing, but it’s also worth mentioning that “In Hindsight” was many readers’ intro to Wink’s work. A few years before Wink’s debut book was published, The New Yorker launched their online novella series with the long story. My first exposure to Wink was actually not the novella, and that’s why I’m going to break form for the third slot.

 

3. Brothel ghost cats

“There was a cat,” she said. “Right in the living room. It jumped up on the couch. It looked at me and I went to go pet it but it jumped down and ran into the kitchen. I thought the front door must have blown open so I went to go close it but it wasn’t open at all. Then I went back into the kitchen to find the cat, but it wasn’t there. I’ve torn the damn place apart and there isn’t a cat anywhere.”

“Upside Down”

ghost cat 1-vignette.jpg

Speaking in this passage is Julie, the romantic interest of the main character in “Upside Down,” which appeared in the 2016-17 issue of The Idaho Review. We eventually learn that, far from hallucinating, Julie (who is a little bananas, otherwise) is indeed seeing ghost cats. They haunt a structure that was a brothel in its salad days, which is about as Montana as it gets for story material.

I’m breaking at least two of my own rules to include these cats in the lineup. Besides being the only animals on this list not in Dog Run Moon, I’m decidedly not a cat person. I often choose to ignore cats for the same reasons a lot of folks refuse to refer to our sitting president by name, as if I might successfully ignore a popular domesticated animal out of reality. It hasn’t worked. But Wink’s cats are ghosts, so maybe all this time, I’ve only had an aversion to living cats and haven’t known it. In any case, “Upside Down” was my intro to Wink, and I was so signed on with the sheer imaginative merit of brothel ghost cats that I sought out more of his stuff. And now, as if in a Miltonic twist of felix culpa, the dead cats started a chain of events creating an occasion to remark on many great dogs. So perhaps there’s a benign purpose for cats after all.

 

2. Montana Bob’s dog

Sid unhooked the chain from the dog’s collar, and when he turned to leave, the dog followed him to his truck, jumped in, and sat on the bench seat, leaning forward with his nose smudging the windshield.

“Dog Run Moon”

The dog in the title story of Wink’s debut collection, like the whole story itself, is a solid opener. And as somebody who has a deviant affection for silent era cinema, there’s a particular delight and humor to this story that comes from one character in particular. The human characters and this dog have a way reinforcing the tone and conventions of silent cinema that give this story, and its chase scenes in particular, a register somewhere in between slapstick and earnest desperation. Though Montana Bob’s dog has less personality than some of the animals recognized deeper in this list, I made a deliberate choice to rank these creatures in terms of memorability. Montana Bob’s dog has that going as a consequence of being, in a sense, a title character. But he’s also the rare dog in Wink’s collection that actually has a bearing on the central conflict between human characters in the story.

 

1. Rocks

Since retiring, she’d volunteered at the animal shelter three days a week. She’d adopted dogs, of course, one or two a year, and she currently had nine, mostly mutts except one purebred Dalmatian that showcased all of the magnificent idiocy inherent in its pedigree.

“In Hindsight”

animal-dalmatian-dog-36436.jpg

The she in this passage is our old friend Lauren, also the owner of the previously mentioned doggie duo Elton John. I can tell Rocks is a misunderstood star. However, it’s unclear whether the burden of misunderstanding resides with the character, the author, or both. Rocks might be the only technically non-mongrel dog in a story collection otherwise teeming with them. In addition to the emphasis on his “magnificent idiocy,” we’re later told that the dog was named “after the contents of its head.”

Rocks, I have to admit, was not my initial favorite for the top spot, but he did stick with me. He has the advantage of being the last named animal in order of appearance in Dog Run Moon. But if I’m being completely honest, Rocks really appeals to my fatal and time-honored attraction to idiots and antiheroes (in essence, people like me). The writing on the wall that sealed Rocks’ supremacy was something I saw while still appraising Wink’s dogs: A shop in Lone Pine, California that made much fanfare of the fact that they sold ROCKS with a neon light.  Lone Pine is a small town in the Owens Valley known best for its proximity to the Eastern Sierra Range and Mt. Whitney in particular. Having grown up in a Yellowstone gateway community myself, I sympathized with Lone Pine’s need to assert itself against a society that tends to relegate the town to means-to-an-end status: A mere base camp for folks climbing to the highest point in the contiguous United States the next day. I understood why Lone Pine would force an issue like ROCKS. In contrast, Wink’s Rocks has no insecurities about his magnificent idiocy. He’s an idiot with integrity, and I realized how much I admired that when I saw such desperation from a separate iteration of his name.

Critics have received Wink’s prose warmly, and judging by the folks who blurbed his first edition hardcover of Dog Run Moon, the guy is here to stay (maybe even heel). Wink suggested in this October 2017 interview that his forthcoming novel will reprise the character August from “Breatharians,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker in 2012 and is the fourth story in Dog Run Moon. The short story basis for the novel has no shortage of dogs and barn cats, so it’s likely we’ll have yet more animals from Wink’s mind palace to meet in short order. In the interim, I’ll miss meeting his dogs on the page. But perhaps it's enough for now that I can’t see a Dalmatian without thinking of Rocks, my cousin’s Pointers without thinking of Elton John, or even any useless cats now without knowing they may have a redeeming quality yet when they die.


 

About Jacqueline Brennan

Jackie is a Southwest Montana native. She's currently based in Washington, DC, where she runs the digital media traps for a national nonprofit and is an MFA Creative Writing candidate at American University. She's an avid shooter of the proverbial breeze, and has suffered chronic peak withdrawals for as long as she's lived in the Mid-Atlantic.

Follow Jackie's tweets at @j_quellin_b


In

ALL ACCOUNTS & MIXTURE: Submissions open June 1, and wow—a print anthology is on the way!

All Accounts & Mixture:
A Celebration of LGBTQ Writers and Artists

Since the summer of 2014, CutBank's All Accounts and Mixture has showcased poetry, prose, visual art, reviews, and interviews in a forum for LGBTQ writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. 

This summer, CutBank will expand on this tradition by not only publishing our contributors' work online but also by collecting this year's work with all previous All Accounts pieces in a five-year print anthology! 

Submit your best, and become a part of this new collection!

Submissions open June 1st through July 1st via our Submittable page. You'll find full guidelines there, and, as always, there will be no submission fee.

Revisit all of last summer's amazing writers here!