New review for Doritt Carroll’s GLTTL STP

Featured on Washington Independent Review Of Books, Grace Cavalieri reviewed Doritt Carroll’s GLTTL STP while showcasing Carroll’s poems.

Check out Cavalieri’s review below:

GLTTL STPThe title stands for glottal stop, a choking sound produced in the throat; and the words’ conversion to a book title without vowels is just one  sample of a woman who is a risk taker and a safety net all it once. Dorrit Carroll is sublime. What does she do and how does she do it? First, we start with the quality of her mind – the poem cannot be any better than the person who presses it into being. Her mind is like a giant constellation from which tiny zodiacs occur perfectly formed.

From the poem father:

… I say that I can’t miss you/because you are inside me/is it your lips/or mine/that press together/as if they are sealing off/an envelope of disappointment//your or my finicky way/of straightening a desk/pinching each paperclip/between thumb and forefinger/as if it’s a dead fly//and whose measuring eyes/appraise me/from the mirror//composed/perhaps/to a fault

Or look at this poem titled p.m.:

the night you/ gurgled yourself dead/your breaths sounded like/bubbles blown through a stroll//as if the milk of you were being drunk /by a greedy child somewhere/with no manners// and then at last the straw hit/the bottom of the glass/because the bubble stopped//and you/glass that you were/looked no different/empty/than you had/full

Sometimes she just snapshots a scene:

the Christmas trees

lie on their sides

on the curb

as if they’d been shot

just steps from their

front doors

as if they’d almost

made it

to safety

Doritt Carroll’s poetry is concrete and allegorical at once. Poetry never repeats itself and yet   poems are made of the same old words we all use. Caroll’s impulses are her ideas. She hones each thought diligently until it acts precisely the way she chooses. Anyone can have a flash/an inspiration, but the implementation tells all. These are carefully made poems from templates that have antecedents in our craft, but that are particularly targeted on a page that could belong to no one else. Who knows what Carroll is made of and she, herself, wonders here:

valentine

the heart

is a complicated instrument
 

four adjoining chambers

in which
 

God knows what

goes on

To check out more of Cavalieri’s reviews, go here.

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Three Instant Publishing Apps That Will Make You Feel Like a Published Author

By: Shelby Hillers, Online Editor

I’ve lost count the number of times I’m standing in line at the grocery store and I’m suddenly struck with an idea for an article or a short poem that I think is fantastic (even though it may not be). The struggle is where do you keep these random gems and better yet, where can you publish them instantly?

 There are plenty of articles discussing the pros and cons of self-publishing and instant publishing. But in an age where publishing everything is the norm, it’s hard not to want to post your haiku or rough draft of a first chapter somewhere. Posting it means hearing feedback (both positive and negative) and feedback means knowing whether to continue or not.

 So where do you publish these beautiful lines of poetry or intriguing chapters of your novel? Most people have their own blogs where they can post but that’s not always convenient nor does it guarantee people will see it. Instead people are posting their written creativity on apps like Wattpad, WhatsApp or through the social media website Twitter. And in the land of digital publishing, clicking the post button is easy, simple, and convenient. And it helps that you can always delete it later too.

 wattpad-reviewRecently Wattpad has gained plenty of attention from The New York Times, Gigoam.com, Mashable.com and other websites. Founded in 2006, Wattpad was first a mobile app for users to download eBooks and to view them easily. When the app was struggling, the creators Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen changed the app to a more interactive community where writers could post their works along with following other writers and commenting on stories. The community also features a “What’s Hot List” that changes daily and a “Featured Story” list that promotes content reviewed and approved by staff and an editorial review board. That’s not to mention the community that comes along with the app. The more well-known authors will often receive fan-made art including graphics, playlists, comics, and cover-art (basically anything creative, fans will make). It even helps newbie writers become published authors and kick-start their writing careers.

 The newest addition to online storytelling is WhatsApp, an app mostly used for cross-platform instant messaging for whatsapp1smartphones. While at first you’d never think the app could be used for online storytelling, recent article from thenextweb.com “Whatsapp is now a medium for storytelling” (a pretty obvious headline) states otherwise. Mostly through screenshots of conversation (perhaps the simplest execution of dialogue), readers are shortly told a story through text messages. The use of the app is still relatively new and awaiting for users to create stories through but if you’d like a test-try of the new storytelling platform, check out this story here.

twitter-logo Twitter has been around for years now and it seems like most people have an account.  Recently, writer fanatics have been using hashtags when publishing their works, something that allows tweets to be easily found. With the limitation of 140 characters, Twitter really does make every word count. The limitation leads most writers to post short lines of poetry, mostly haikus, with hashtags like “amwriting”, “haiku”, or simply tagging the tweet with related searchable words. Tweeting is nothing new but creating beautiful poetry within a tweet is, and who knows-maybe it’ll stick around.

 So whether it’s through Twitter, WhatsApp, or Wattpad, create something. And even better, post it. Allow others to see your work. Let them read your words and be inspired. You never know, it might lead to something a lot bigger down the road.

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Don’t forget about this upcoming reading event!

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by | April 4, 2014 · 2:29 pm

A huge congratulations to Charlie Bondhus!

Charlie Bondhus’ second poetry book All the Heat We Could Carry won Main Street Rag’s Annual Poetry Book Award for 2013. Bondhus has also published How the Boy Might See It which was a finalist for the 2007 Blue Light Press First Book Award. His chapbook What We Have Learned to Love won BrickHouse Books’ 2008-2009 Stonewall Award. Congrats Charlie!

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Proof that science and law can mix with creativity: an interview with Doritt Carroll and Lalita Noronha

By: Shelby Hillers

Doritt Carroll, author of GLTTL STP, and Lalita Noronha, author of Her Skin Phyllo-Thin, don’t have their degrees in English. But that doesn’t stop them from writing and being published.

dorittcarroll Carroll (photographed left), a lawyer, received her undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University. Her works, In Caves and GLTTL STP, were published by BrickHouse Books. The title poem was then nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have appeared in several different magazines and journal reviews.

lalitapic

Noronha (photographed right), a native of India, came to America to earn her Ph.D. in microbiology. She has won the Maryland Literary Short Story Award twice (1997, 2001), a Maryland Individual Artist Award (2002), the National League of American Pen Women, and other awards. Her work consists of Where Monsoons Cry (fiction) and Her Skin Phyllo-thin (poetry). Noronha is also a fiction editor for the Baltimore Review and a retired science teacher at St. Paul’s School for Girls.

Yet based on their professional work experience, you’d never think the two would be successful authors with published works. Both authors will be at the reading event on April 10 at the Mark Cottman Gallery to promote their works.

To get to know the authors a little better, I was able to interview the two by email where the authors talked about their passion for writing, their hopes for the reading event, and advice for any writers out there.

 BrickHouse Books: What motivates you to write and what motivated you to write your works?

Doritt Carroll: Writers write.  It’s what we do. I never believe people who say they’re going to write a novel when they retire.  If you’re going to be a novelist, you’re compelled to write, right now.  You’ll neglect their work and forget to eat to get it on the paper.

GLTTL STP With regard to GLTTL STP in particular – unlike a lot of poets, who select a title after they’ve written a manuscript, I find a title and it tells me what book to write.  A “glottal stop” is a term of art in singing.  It means a moment when you stop the sound without taking a new breath.  So GLTTL STP (with its strangled spelling) is a book about things not said.  Sometimes it’s good that we didn’t say them, and sometimes it isn’t.

lalitasbook

Lalita Noronha: The title of this work [Her Skin Phyllo-Thin] refers to my mother. She first came to America at the age of 59 to take care of her first grandchild so that I could return to work. She was 86 when she died in India. Watching her slowly grow older and weaker was hard. The distance between our countries made frequent visits impossible. So we were always aware that any meeting could well be the last. As Michael Salcman wrote, “These are feminist poems in the strongest, must subtle sense, filled with the knowledge that flows across generations from grandmother and mother to a daughter who is both scientist and poet.”

Included in the book are other poems of separation—immigration, divorce, youth—as well as some science and ekphrastic poems which seemed to fit the theme.

BHB: Doritt, you have your law degree and are well experienced in the field.  What attracts you to creative writing then?

DC: If there’s a lawyer who ever actually wanted to be lawyer, I haven’t met her yet.  Law is something you do to put food on the table.  Nonetheless, it has taught me something useful, namely, that you can work hard and excel at something that you don’t enjoy.  Let’s put to rest forever the notion that there is such a thing as an “artistic temperament.”  Nobody wants to do hard, painstaking work.  but you can.  a phrase you hear in sports is very relevant here – “there’s a world of difference between ‘can’t’ and ‘don’t want to.’”  Law taught me that I could do excellent work in a field that offered me no inspiration whatsoever. The other thing law is good for is embedding the notion that each word has a mathematical value.  In law, “plaintiff” or “contract” has to mean the exact same thing every time it’s used in a document.  It takes discipline to work with mathematical words and put them into correct sentence-equations.  Then, when you write poetry, you get to explode it all and let a word mean a different thing every time it occurs in a stanza.

 

BhB: Lalita, you have your Ph.D in Microbiology, an amazing background in scientific writing, and experience in the scientific field. What attracts you to creative writing then?

LN: Well, back home in India, there wasn’t much of a dichotomy between science and literature. My parents, both educators, pretty much encouraged all learning. My father was a botany professor; my mother was a English and Geography teacher. But we had literary books all over the place juxtaposed with volumes of plant and animal life.

When I was 11 years old, my 5-year-old sister died from colon cancer (unheard of in those days) and I began writing about her because I wanted my siblings, all under the age of 7, to know her. It was the first time I experienced the immeasurable gift of solace that writing brings. The poem, “Mustard Seed” in my poetry book is for her.

Although I chose to major in botany in college all my friends were from the English department. That’s where I spent my free periods. I belonged to the “Shakespeare Society,” and acted in Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell and Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie. And I read as much as I could of whatever my friends read. But I had no formal training in literature. Science was my focus because I needed scholarships and assistantships to come to America, and science was my only ticket– although honestly, I love science just as much as creative writing. I don’t think I’ve ever lived with one without the other.

BhB: Are people usually shocked when you tell them you write poetry and fiction? If so, why do you think that?

DC: I think people are more shocked when I tell them I’m a lawyer.  I usually get some version of “but you’re so  . . . pleasant.”  I think people are less shocked to hear that I write poetry than they are when they read the actual poems.  As my friend says about the contrast between my appearance and my work, “who knew the president of the PTA was thinking THAT?”

LN: Well, actually my very first publication came early in my writing career–a paid creative nonfiction piece in Catholic Digest, so that’s where I thought I should focus. But by then I’d begun writing stories, and later usurped my own lyrical phrases into what would eventually become poems. The simple truth is that I just love writing.

My writer friends aren’t exactly shocked at my waffling between genres. Some believe it dilutes one’s focus, and impedes mastery over any one form, sort of like being a jack of all trades and master of none–and rightly so. But I am done climbing ladders as a scientist. My writing life is mine to plork! (play and work)

BhB: Doritt, does having your law degree help with your writing at all?

DC: See response to question 2, supra.  (hint:  that’s both the answer and a law joke).

 

BhB: Lalita, how do you incorporate Indian culture into your stories? Do you think this helps you stand out from other writers?

 LN: Well, I was born and raised in small towns in India, and only came to the US in my early twenties, so India runs in my blood, and seeps naturally into narratives. It’s easy because I have authentic experiences of the basic elements of fiction–setting, characters, plot, and so on. But I feel the same way now that America is my home. My novel (in the agent-seeking stage) is set in Bombay and Baltimore. My short stories and poems often deal with separation, dislocation and cross-cultural issues. I feel blessed that my readers relate to my work because ultimately these are human issues. After all, home isn’t a physical space and in that sense everyone leaves home.

As an Indian woman, I suppose it helps me stand apart from western writers, but no more so than other groups, because the emotions associated with loss or joy are universal.

BhB: What do you hope to gain from the upcoming reading event?

DC: Ummmm . . . the same thing I hope for every reading – that I entertain people and help them to understand my poems.

LN: First, I hope that people will come to listen since I’m longing to read my work to them. This is my first poetry book and I’d like to get some exposure as a poet. I also hope to reach people who don’t usually read or like poetry because they just might surprise themselves. My work is unpretentious and accessible. I’m also excited to meet and read with Doritt Carroll at a beautiful location, Mark Cottman’s Gallery in Fells Point. I think it will be a lovely evening for everyone.

BhB: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

DC: Write. And then improve what you write.  You improve by reading a lot of poets and figuring out how they solved the problems you find yourself in.  Gerry Connolly, author of Province of Fire, taught me that in the first workshop I ever attended. Take a hard, unsentimental look at the world around you, and then put what you see down on paper.

LN: I don’t honestly feel qualified to give people any advice, per se. I began writing late in life, and “became a writer” only when I discovered “free summers” (teaching science) and turned away from life as a research scientist. So, I’m driven by knowing that time is short. And if I forget, my left knee reminds me. So, if I want to write, I have to just do it. That’s really what it’s about.

It’s not a choice if you’re one of few fortunate writers who make a living by writing. But it is, for many writers. I inspire myself by reading writers whose work I love or just staring out a window. I teach and attend workshops; simple writing exercises, playing with words or phrases also get the juices flowing. And frankly, the act of writing anything at all turns into inspiration for something larger.

For information about their works check out Carroll’s website and Noronha’s website. And don’t forget to attend their upcoming reading event on April 10. For information on the reading event, click here.

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Upcoming events!!

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Calling all WWII enthusiasts…

path-of-valor-a-marines-story

For all our readers interested in World War II novels, check out BrickHouse Books’ Director Clarinda Harriss’ review for Path of Valor: A Marine’s Story by George Derryberry.

To read the review go here.

For more reviews, check out Chamber Four’s blog here.

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And What Exactly Can You Do With an English Degree?

By: Shelby Hillers, Online Editor

Somebody recently asked me, “Hey, isn’t a degree in English like the next General Studies major?”

I was slightly offended and angry at his accusation. To me General Studies meant I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I took random classes. I wanted to snap back “Oh and what exactly are you going to do with a philosophy degree?” but I didn’t want this conversation to turn into battle of the majors. And I’m sure philosophy majors get a bad reputation just like English majors do.

But still I was offended and angry. I asked him, “Why would you say that exactly?”

The person simply stated, “You can probably do a lot with an English degree kind of like General Studies.”

I let out a sigh and a smile. I wanted to hug him and give him a thank you speech. Realizing his statement was intended as a compliment for all the English majors out there, I continued my conversation with the guy but his small, simple comment was like a planted, growing seed in my mind.

The first question English majors are faced when they tell others of their degree is, “Oh so you want to teach?” If you say no, then the second question is, “Then what can you do with an English degree?”

For some English majors this might be when they have an existential crisis and question their life. The question echoes in their minds, “Why are you an English major?”

Somewhere in their late high school/early college career somebody told them “Hey, you can write pretty well.” So they stuck with it because that’s what you do-you stick with something you’re “pretty well” at until you become the best. So the young English majors start taking some writing classes, read some poetry here and there, and maybe take some serious classes like analytical writing and grammar. Before they know it, they’re graduating and people are asking the same question, “What can you do with an English degree?”

And as the guy I mentioned so nicely put, “You can probably do a lot with an English degree.”

Last year The Atlantic posted “The Best Argument for Studying English? The Employment Numbers” that featured a graph representing unemployment rates as of 2010-2011 (the most recent data at the time).

employmentchart

And guess what? Humanities and liberal arts majors had a 9 percent unemployment rate. That’s right about the same as students in computer and math fields with a 9.1 percent, psychology and social work at 8.8 percent, and the social sciences at 10.3 percent. And as the article points out, “It’s just a bit above the average across all majors of 7.9 percent.” So really we’re all pretty unemployable and in the same boat.

But those numbers aren’t to encourage parents or others to say you shouldn’t major in English. Just doing a quick Google search will show all the career-related articles listing what an English major can do.

World Wide Learn lists top five careers for English majors ranging from public relations specialist to marketing manager.

Last year, the Huffington Post posted “What to Do with a B.A. in English?” that provided English majors with hope. The article explains the careers English majors can explore such as writing for publicity and publishing reports to stockholders and clients. A lot of businesses hire English majors. The article provides a variety of job ideas, “Ad agencies, which need clever writers. Politicians and some CEOs need speechwriters. English majors are also hired by major investment banking firms because the firms see potential to grow capable young adults…”

So next time someone asks the dreadful questions that brings on anxiety attacks and makes you question your  existence, show off the data, graphs, and articles proving them wrong. Then go snag that job whether it’s becoming an author, editor, journalist, or anything you dream of because hey, you’re an English major. You can do it.

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BrickHouse Books proudly presents….

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by | February 26, 2014 · 3:09 pm