Black Friday? Cyber Monday? CityLit brings you LITuesday!

READ LOCALLY…Start your holiday shopping with great books by Maryland writers.

Farm to table, locavores, locally made…now it’s writers’ turn to remind you that you can read local, too, with COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AUTHORS. Several of CityLit Press’s authors are local writers, the books are designed in Baltimore, and many regional artists and photographers contribute to the books’ design.  “From our typewriters to your eyes!”

So check them out, and support local literature (available at area bookstores and from your favorite online retailer).  Also note that several winners of the Harriss Poetry Prize are local poets.

Have a wonderful, and well read, holiday season!

–– CityLit Project

Shop locally for RIPPLE MEETS THE DEEP with IndieBound!

Shop locally for BATTLE CREEK with IndieBound!

Shop locally for A PEACHY LIFE with IndieBound!

Shop locally for IT CAN BE SOLVED BY WALKING with IndieBound!

Well, how nifty is this? Here at BrickHouse, we’re dedicated to making LITuesday a real thing, but we need your help! Give CityLit a look, and check out the great reading selection they’ve provided. There’s nothing better during the holiday season than snuggling up with hot cocoa and a good book, and maybe one of these gems is the one that you’ve been looking for.

––Kate, BhB Online Editor

Some Shimmer of You – REVIEW

Wow, this collection must be great, because it seems like everyone here at BrickHouse is buzzing about it! Below you’ll find yet another review of Marilyn McVicker’s Some Shimmer of You written by Laura Wallace, author of “The Hour Between Dog & Wolf.”

McVicker’s collection was a finalist for publication here at BrickHouse Books, but ended up being the one that got away. Clearly, that loss was on us. Please enjoy this lovely review, and consider grabbing your own copy of this lovely collection.

––Kate, BhB Online Editor


McVickers lost her daughters in the 1980’s to the remorseless homophobia of the law and a vindictive ex. Forced to submit to the gavel, she pressed her pain into poems about the limitlessness of love and grief. There is no numbness here. Her children are everywhere in their absence, as is the physicality of memory: “In the dark, their scents were how I told them apart.” A child’s voice whispers from a letter: “I promise not to change much before you see me again, I don’t want you to miss anything.”

The law is a cold knife a lawyer wields: “He wants the names of every friend, every lesbian you know…” Terror rises in daytime and in dreams: “I have been digging for days, fingers raw and frozen.” These poems insist, press, erupt in pent-up lists of stillborn gestures, anguished tenderness. Only in “Order of the Court” does cellular keening rise to rage: “SOLE custody? Custody of their SOULS?”

Seasons wear on. Eventually the poet finds healing, if not acceptance, in a garden, tending plants a child would love: “new sunflowers atop their gawky stalks, baby pumpkins clinging to their hairy umbilicals.” No parent who has been unfairly parted from a child, no child who has been so sundered, and no person who feels this bond will be unaffected by this collection.

–Laura Wallace, author of “The Hour Between Dog & Wolf”, New Poets Series

2014 Baltimore Writers’ Conference

On November 15 at the Towson University CLA building people from the literary community will be gathering for the 22nd Annual Baltimore Writers’ Conference! An assortment of authors and publishers will be attending this lovely event, along with a special critique faculty –– so remember to bring your own manuscript. Whether you appreciate poetry or prose, this conference will have something for you, so be sure to register online and claim your spot.

P.S: On the registration page, it asks for special dietary requests, I don’t know about you, but I definitely put “cupcakes and a chocolate fountain.” What’s a writing conference without an abundance of sweets?

––Kate, BhB Online Editor

Thinktank, “Nobel judge fears for the future of western literature”

Hello, dear readers! In an attempt at stirring discussion around these parts, here’s a weekly ThinkTank –– a post about a topic or issue that is intended to generate thought and discussion. Feel free to post your comments below, and get your thinking caps ready.

Nobel judge fears for the future of western literature

Grants cut off writers from society, whereas past greats worked as ‘taxi drivers and waiters’ to feed their imaginations, says Horace Engdahl

Western literature is being impoverished by financial support for writers and by creative writing programmes, according to a series of blistering comments fromSwedish Academy member Horace Engdahl, speaking shortly before the winner of the Nobel prize for literature is awarded.

In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” he told La Croix. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard – but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.”

Engdahl, who together with his fellow members of the 18-strong academy is preparing to select the winner of this year’s Nobel literature award, and announce the choice on Thursday, 9 October, said it was on “our western side that there is a problem, because when reading many writers from Asia and Africa, one finds a certain liberty again”.

“I hope the literary riches which we are seeing arise in Asia and Africa will not be lessened by the assimilation and the westernisation of these authors,” he added later in his interview with Sabine Audrerie.

Engdahl told the French journalist that he “did not know” if it was still possible to find – as Alfred Nobel specified the prize would reward – “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. Today’s winners are usually 60 or more years old, he said, and are thus unaffected by the changes he described in the life of today’s writers. “But I’m concerned about the future of literature because of this ubiquity of the market. It implies the presence of a ‘counter-market’: a protected, profound literature, which knows how to translate emotions and experiences”.

Highlighting 2004 Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek for praise, Engdahl slammed novels which “pretend to be transgressive”, but which are not. “One senses that the transgression is fake, strategic,” he said. “These novelists, who are often educated in European or American universities, don’t transgress anything because the limits which they have determined as being necessary to cross don’t exist.”

Literary criticism, too, came in for a mauling from the Nobel judge, who was concerned about how the lines between literature, and “literature which has arisen as a commodity”, have been erased. “We talk in the same way about everything which is published, and literary criticism is poorer for it,” he said. “This revolution has marginalised proper literature, which has not got worse, but which has seen its status change. Before, there were mountains and lowlands. Today, the outlook is that of an archipelago, where each island represents a genre … with everything coexisting without a hierarchy or centre.”

Observer critic Robert McCrum said: “Engdahl’s bracing remarks reflect quite a lot of informal comment within some senior parts of the literary community, especially those grey cadres that are anti-American. At face value, these comments are an odd mixture of grumpy old man and Nordic romantic. I’m not sure that the author’s garret is the guarantor of excellence.”

In 2008, Engdahl prompted outraged headlines across the Atlantic when he said: “The US is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature … That ignorance is restraining.” An American writer – Toni Morrison – last won the Nobel in 1993.

But Engdahl told the French paper that his comment had been misinterpreted. “Everyone reacted as if I’d said that the major American writers had no chance of winning the Nobel. I said nothing of the sort; I didn’t say that there were no worthy American writers. I said that American literary life, American criticism and teaching were limited today by too narrow an access to world literature, because the number of translations and their reach in the US is feeble. Everything is focused around their [US] writers and their language, like a hall of mirrors which reflects a perpetual, infinite image of America.”

Andrew Kidd, the literary agent who founded the Folio prize to find “the most exciting and outstanding English language books to appear in the last year”, said that it was “certainly the case that some of the strongest new voices in literature are emerging from those places where change is dramatic rather than incremental, from where the news is most urgent to report, and the global outlook of the Folio prize was designed to capture these voices not least”.

Kidd added: “As to whether some of these are ‘manufactured’ in Anglo-American universities, we see it as the role of the writers and critics who constitute the prize’s academy to spot the difference.”

Praising last year’s Nobel winner Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, and 2012’s laureate the Chinese writer Mo Yan for their universality, Engdahl gave nothing away about the identity of this year’s soon-to-be-announced winner – although his admiration of Asian and African literature could support the candidacy of the Kenyan Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, and the Japanese Haruki Murakami, both favourites at Ladbrokes.

“It surely suggests they’re very open to someone like Ngũgĩ, or the likes of Krasznahorkai László and Mikhail Shishkin,” wrote MA Orthofer at literary site the Complete Review.

–Alison Flood

This article originally appeared on TheGuardian website.

Winner of the Stonewall Competition 2014

Stonewall Competition 2014: We’ve got a winner—UPPITY BLIND GIRL!

Kathi Wolfe’s Uppity Blind Girl has emerged from a varied, vigorous field to win the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook Competition.   The chapbook will come out early in 2015.   Here’s a little bit of information about her impressive career thus far—information we had no knowledge of when the book was being judged.

Kathi Wolfe is a writer and poet.  Her chapbook The Green Light was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.  Wolfe was a finalist in the 2007 Pudding House Publications Chapbook competition.  Her chapbook Helen Takes the Stage: The Helen Keller Poems was published by Pudding House in 2008.  She is a contributor to Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, an American Library Association Notable Book for 2011 and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Poetry Anthology-Fall 2011.

Wolfe’s poetry has appeared  in Gargoyle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and other publications.  She has appeared on the radio show “The Poet and the Poem,” received a Puffin Foundation grant, and been awarded poetry residencies by Vermont Studio Center.

In 2008, Wolfe was a Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow and a winner of that year’s (Washington DC Transit Authority/Arlington County, VA) Moving Words Poetry Competition.  She is a regular contributor to the LGBT newspaper “The Washington Blade” and a Senior Writer/Columnist with the arts magazine Scene4 (www.scene4.com).

BhB’s staff congratulates Kathi on her winning submission and offers sincere thanks to the other entrants for making the final decision not an easy one.