Newtown Literary is looking for an Assistant Blog Editor

Do you enjoy this blog? Do you want to be part of it?

Come join a nonprofit literary organization dedicated to writing and community.

Newtown Literary Alliance is seeking an Assistant Blog Editor to work with our Blog Editor and Executive Director to increase content on the organization’s blog. We publish posts about our journal and events, including interviews with our contributors, spotlights on local writers, and highlights of major events. The Newtown Literary blog is an important element of the work Newtown Literary Alliance does and serves as an important gateway to the work we do. Possible contributors, readers, supporters, and funders read our blog, so we take what is published there seriously and strive to have high-quality content.

Duties of the Assistant Blog Editor include:
–Soliciting, and following up with, Newtown Literary contributors for blog posts.
–Obtaining photographs and links from blog contributors.
–Compiling information on local literary events.
–Providing editorial review of completed posts before posts go live.
–Occasional writing and editorial duties.

This person will report primarily to the Blog Editor, but may also work with the Executive Director, Editor, Social Media Coordinator, Intern, and others. Work can be done at home from personal computer; most communication will be electronic. Blog posts will be completed approximately weekly, with possible increases surrounding major events (e.g., Queens Writes Weekend, Trivia Night, etc.).

Candidates should have proficiency/experience with communicating with others via email, editing using Chicago Manual of Style, proofreading, writing, using blog platforms such as WordPress, photo editing, and posting/scheduling on social media—or at least be willing to learn. The abilities to meet a deadline and communicate well are paramount, though.

This is primarily an unpaid position, but when funding is available (usually around the publication of the journal), the Assistant Blog Editor will receive a small stipend. There are opportunities to get involved in the organization in other ways (e.g., proofread the journal, help out at events, meet up socially).

Please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to blog@newtownliterary.org.

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Queens Young Authors and Poets: 2016 Prose Winners

Newtown Literary Alliance is proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Queens Young Authors and Poets contest, prose division.

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Grades 3-5

First Place: Elisa Y. Chang, Fresh Meadows (Grade 4 at PS 115) – “We’ve Got Together”

Second Place: Deanna Lagos, Bayside (Grade 4 at PS 159) – “Cowboy Billy”

Grades 6-8

First Place: Lyrikah Rodrigues, Bellerose (Grade 8 at MS 172) – “Carvings in the Graveyard”

Second Place: Tasnia Hossain, Floral Park (Grade 8 at MS 172) – “What’s up with Us?”

Third Place: Arjun Chhabra, Queens Village (Grade 6 at MS 172) – “Why It Rains”

Grades 9-12

First Place: Abril Rodriguez, Elmhurst (Grade 11 at William Cullen Bryant High School) – “My Journey with the Wind”

Second Place: Robert Cornal, East Elmhurst (Grade 10 at Civic Leadership Academy) – “Whiskey over Milk”

Third Place: Charlene Frias, Fresh Meadows (Grade 11, Queens Gateway to Health Sciences High School) – “The Galaxies of Them”

Honorable Mention: Leslie Altamirano, Elmhurst (Grade 11, William Cullen Bryant High School) – “The Tale of a Flyaway Leaf”

 

The contest was judged by about two dozen Queens writers, with the final selections made by Newtown Literary Poetry Editor Stephanie Davis.

The first place winners in each of the categories above will be printed in Issue 8 of the journal, due out in June. We are working on securing a time and venue for the awards ceremony, also in June, to which all of the winners will be invited to read their work and celebrate their accomplishment. (They will receive a separate email with the details of the awards ceremony in the weeks ahead.)

Congratulations to all the winners. To those who did not win, we sincerely hope this will not deter you from continuing your writing. The world needs to hear from the youth of Queens!

Readers, mark your calendars:

 

Queens Young Authors and Poets: 2016 Poetry Winners

Newtown Literary Alliance is proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Queens Young Authors and Poets contest, poetry division.

Queens Young Authors and Poets 2016 contest

Grades 3-5

First Place: Jingcheng Qian, Oakland Gardens (Grade 5 at PS 115) – “Essence of Hope”

Second Place: Cindy Cetina, Floral Park (Grade 3 at PS 115) – “Flowers”

Third Place: Qicheng Sun, Fresh Meadows (Grade 5 at PS 115) – “Reading a Book”

Grades 6-8

First Place: Rachel Duze, Hollis Hills (Grade 8 at MS 172) – “Education”

Second Place: Syeda S. Rahman, Jackson Heights (Grade 6 at the Garden School) – “Listen”

Third Place: Sowjanya Sritharasarma, Queens Village (Grade 8 at MS 172) – “Rainy Days”

Grades 9-12

First Place: Hyvil Escayg, Ozone Park (Grade 11 at High School for Construction Trades, Engineering, and Architecture) – “Addicted”

Second Place: Gabrielle Campbell, Laurelton (Grade 11 at Cambria Heights Academy) – “Modern Throne”

 

The contest was judged by about two dozen Queens writers, with the final selections made by Newtown Literary Poetry Editor Stephanie Davis.

The first place winners in each of the categories above will be printed in Issue 8 of the journal, due out in June. We are working on securing a time and venue for the awards ceremony, also in June, to which all of the winners will be invited to read their work and celebrate their accomplishment. (They will receive a separate email with the details of the awards ceremony in the weeks ahead.)

Congratulations to all the winners. To those who did not win, we sincerely hope this will not deter you from continuing your writing. The world needs to hear from the youth of Queens!

 

Watch this space for our Prose winners!

Readers, mark your calendars:

 

Book Trivia Night a Smash Success

Last Monday night at Break Billiards & Bar in Astoria, the Newtown Literary staff pulled off its first trivia night fundraiser. With 60 trivia participants in teams of four to six, it was an even greater turnout than we had imagined possible.

When we began brainstorming how to “Save Newtown” a couple months ago, the journal’s coffers were nearly empty. We needed to come up with a fundraiser that would enable us to print the upcoming Speculative Poetry & Prose issue—or else resign ourselves to publishing Issue #5 as an eBook only. Our hope was to raise at least $500, with the limitation that we could not pay anything up front to book space.

The idea for a trivia night was brought up as an opportunity to allow us to raise much-needed funds and to engage the community with a fun event. Melanie Sooter (now the journal’s official Events Coordinator) offered to take the reigns in organizing, with assistance from nonprofit board members Karyn Slutsky and Aida Zilelian, Blog Editor Laura Grow-Nyberg, Editorial Review Board member Linda Fisher, Prose Editor Jeff Brandt (hey, that’s me!), and of course Tim Fredrick, the journal’s founder and Editor.

We packed Break Billiards & Bar.

Fast-forward to November 10. Trivia participants began filling the room even before the posted 7 p.m. time, and by the 7:30 p.m. start time, with tables packed from front to back, it was clear we had a great night ahead of us. After playing four rounds of trivia on the topics of Classics, Young Adult Fiction, Film Adaptations, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy, we had a four-way tie. It took the fifth round on Banned Books to narrow the field to two teams.

mulligans
“Mulligans” and raffle tickets

After the winner of the raffle prize (two tickets to any show at the Secret Theatre in LIC) was announced, we proceeded to the Lightning Round between the two final teams, with no mulligans (i.e., stickers teams could buy to undo incorrect answers) allowed. The theme was “After Dark,” and host Richard Jeffrey Newman entertained a full house in reading questions with an erotic bent, including one where participants had to guess whether a line of dialogue had come from Christian Grey or Pepe Le Pew.

Host Richard Jeffrey Newman.

When the dust cleared, the Boundless Tales team was the last standing. While splitting up the assorted prizes valued at more than $350, the team graciously offered the $100 AMEX gift card back to the journal.

All said and done, the event was a huge success. With roughly $750 raised, we ended up making 50 percent more than our goal, officially making trivia night Newtown Literary’s top fundraising event in its history. But more than that, it was a chance for dozens of people to get together, drink brews, and talk books on a Monday night.

Don’t be too surprised if we organize more of these in the years to come!

Astoria Bookshop, one of our generous sponsors.

In addition to thanking Break Bar & Billiards for giving us the space, and Richard Jeffrey Newman for being an entertaining host, we’d like to once again thank our sponsors: The Astoria Bookshop, Astoria Coffee, Lockwood, Enigma Bookstore, Wine Stop NYC, Karyn Slutsky, and Queens Paideia School.

Many thanks to Jeff Brandt for writing this excellent recap.

Newtown Literary Contributor: Norman Stock

Poet Norman Stock’s poems “Reruns in Retirement” and “It Had to Be” were featured in Issue #3 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed him about his writing, and his answers are below. For more information on Norman and his writing, check out his profile at poets.nyq.org. (For more information about “It Had to Be,” see below the interview). 

What is your relationship to Queens?
I worked as a librarian in the Central Building of the Queens Borough Public Library in Jamaica from 1968 to 1973. Most of my library career since then was at Montclair State University in New Jersey, but my wife and I have been living in Jackson Heights since 1990.

How would you describe the writing you do?
My poems range from direct expressions of gut-level feelings to surreal fantasies, usually in free verse style, but sometimes in rhyme or in short prose forms. The tone is acerbic, edgy, irreverent, and often humorous. The humor comes naturally; I don’t try to be funny, it just comes out that way. I write against what is usually considered poetry.

How did you come to writing?
My father was a Yiddish poet and I grew up in a kind of literary milieu, although in a different language. I majored in literature in college and started writing poetry in my twenties, mostly in rhyme, until I went into William Packard’s poetry workshop at NYU, where I broke out of the rhymes and began to write in long lines of free verse, with the emotion driving the rhythm and the form.

What inspires you?
Anger, frustration, conflict, and poetry itself.

What does it mean to be a writer in Queens?
I am a city poet, the city is all I know. I ride the subways and buses, walk the streets, eat in diners, live in an apartment, use the public libraries, that’s my life, so that’s what I write about. The city life I live here is very similar to that of Brooklyn, where I grew up, and of Manhattan, where I have also lived, but the image of Queens is different. The poems I have written about Queens tend to be satiric because of its kind of hokey image. For instance, one of my poems is called “Wallace Stevens in Queens.” Another one, “How to Become the Poet Laureate of Queens,” was actually published as an audio in the New York Times online to accompany an article about the First Tuesdays Reading Series in Jackson Heights.

And, finally, my favorite question: What should I be asking you that I didn’t?
“How has work like yours fared in the poetry world?”

Straightforward, offbeat, humorous poetry that engages the reader is not well-recognized in the insular poetry world, where boring complexity and unreadable gibberish are often
more highly prized.

Thanks, Norman! 

[Editors note: Mr. Stock’s poem, “It Had to Be,” was printed incorrectly formatted in our third issue. Here it is, how it was meant to be seen.]

 

Screenshot 2014-07-03 16.22.53

Also, the “Third Fridays, Queens Writers Series (TFQW)” will read at Enigma Bookstore in Astoria on July 18th at 6:30. The format includes both featured readers and an open mike.  All Queens writers are welcome. Mark your calendars!

From the Journal Editor: Reflections on Issue #2

We are pleased to announce that Issue #2 of Newtown Literary is available for purchase.  The journal contains work from more than 25 poets and writers, the large majority of whom are from Queens (either living here now or born-and-raised).

Interest in the journal remains high—we had so many high-quality submissions that, like Issue #1, we had to hold over many pieces for the next issue.  That means we are well on our way to another successful issue: Number 3!  We really feel like the little literary journal that could. Our circulation isn’t large, nor does it reach far geographically, but the love we feel from writers and readers in Queens is great.

The non-profit publisher of the journal, Newtown Literary Alliance Inc., whose mission is to support the work of writers and poets from Queens, held a successful springtime fundraiser in April, called the Queens Writes! Weekend, raising over $500.  This money, along with the sales of Issue #1, helped us to print this current issue as well as begin work on holding a kids’ writing contest for students in Queens schools.  (More information on this will be coming soon.)  The money will also help us pay the $400 fee required by the U.S. government to become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which will allow us to apply for grants and expand our mission.  As you can imagine, $400 is a large fee for such a small, nascent nonprofit.

So, while interest in the journal and our work remains high, if that interest does not turn into sales, we will be unable to continue publishing the journal and begin other work to promote the literary arts in Queens.  We need all of our fans—those who like us on Facebook, those who share our links on their timelines, those who retweet our tweets, those who express support in person and through email—to purchase a copy of the journal.  We still have copies of Issue #1, and Issue #2 is fresh outta the box!  Buy one today!  (Ebook versions of Issue #1 are available on Amazon and B&N.com; Issue #2 ebook versions will be available shortly).

We are opening for submissions for Issue #3 and beyond on June 15th.  We are especially interested in:

  • Poetry from women poets.
  • Poetry and prose that represents the linguistic diversity of Queens.

Watch this space for submissions guidelines when the submissions window opens.

Both Sides of Rejection

As a writer myself, I am no stranger to rejection. I have numerous pieces submitted to numerous publications. Some weeks it seems like I get a rejection every day in my inbox.  I accepted a long time ago that rejection is part of the game.  To be receiving rejections means that I’m submitting, and I’ll never get accepted until I submit.

But, as editor of Newtown Literary, I see the other side of rejection.  Some of it I had already guessed, and my experience as editor only confirmed my expectations.  Other aspects were surprises.

  1. Rejection isn’t always about the quality of the writing.  I’ve been told this and have read it in numerous places, but I didn’t realize it until I was forced to consider other aspects of the submissions I received and the realities of putting out a journal.  Sometimes an editor may like a particular piece but have published a piece just like it in the recent issue and reject it, not because it isn’t a good piece, but because the editor is hoping for variety in the journal.  Editors might also reject a piece for reasons of space or diversity in the writers represented in the journal.  At Newtown Literary, we receive many more poetry submissions than prose and thus reject a higher percentage of poetry.  
  2. Rejection of one piece doesn’t mean there isn’t interest in the writer.  Many pieces rejected for quality reasons actually show promise in the writer’s skill.  One particular piece might be missing something or have an aspect that doesn’t make sense, but the style is interesting and demonstrates the writer is good at her craft.  When journals tell you they want to see more of your work, don’t assume that’s something they say to everyone.
  3. The automated rejection notes are not ideal, but somewhat necessary.  We receive hundreds of submissions for every issue.  No one on the staff gets paid or does this work full-time.  It’s just not possible to send a personalized note to every submitter no matter how much we may want to.
  4. It’s not fun to reject fellow writers.  Sometimes, I think that people sit in their literary journal offices (because they have great offices and don’t work on their couch like me) laughing maniacally every time they hit the rejection button.  It’s not fun to reject fellow writers, especially when you know what it’s like to be on the other end of the rejection.  We know that every rejection we sent can end up in the I-wanna-give-up feeling we get every once in a while as writers.  While we can’t accept everything, rejecting work is not easy.

When people say “rejection is the name of the game,” they are being accurate.  At the same time, though, we shouldn’t be blasé about it. There are times when you get multiple rejections in a row and it makes you want to give up.  Hopefully, those feelings pass.  If they don’t, it’s time to talk to another writer and get a pep talk.

Welcome to the Newtown Literary blog

typewriterWelcome, readers and writers! We’re excited to share the new Newtown Literary blog, which will offer reflections on the writing life, along with practical information on local contests, publications, and literary events throughout Queens. We’re looking for news and information about all the literary goings-on throughout the borough. If you’re a writer or part of a literary organization in Queens and would like to tell us about your work, please email blog [at] newtownliterary.org. Thanks!