On cover letters

I’ve just read this article by Michael Nye, the editor of The Missouri Review, about writing cover letters to literary magazines. While we here at the Sequoya Review don’t read cover letters (since we are such a small staff and know all of you anyway, we do it blind), if you want to submit to almost any other magazine a cover letter is nigh-required.

Nye’s best advice is this: “Short and sweet is really the way to go here.” I tend to agree, whether you’re talking about your past publications, figuring out a subject line, mentioning a previous meeting with the staff, or whatever. Don’t talk about the submission—it’ll speak for itself, good or bad. It’s really pretty simple but apparently a lot of people overthink it, so don’t sweat! If your writing is good, it’ll get published. Simple as that.


Review of M.T. Anderson’s “Feed”

It had been a while since I’d read any good science fiction. When I was a kid I read almost everything Asimov or Clark wrote; Dune and Hitch-hiker’s Guide changed my life. Anything I read past that (not that I picked up too much, to be honest) didn’t quite pass the bar of what I’d read before. Then this summer I read M.T. Anderson’s Feed.

Feed is a book about a future where everyone is constantly connected to a global communications (and perhaps more importantly, shopping) network via chips implanted in their brains at birth that hook into every major brain center. The feednet is the logical extension of current Internet technologies: it is the ultimate level of social connectivity while at the same time being the main factor in an increasing social isolationism. Users of the feed can chat with friends or loved ones across the globe instantly, will lights to turn on, and enter virtual worlds completely; however their dreams feature advertisements by the corporations that have bought out the government, instead of taking chemicals to get high they malfunction their implanted computer, and they live in climate-controlled bubbles of homes because the actual air is too polluted to support life. In short, Anderson has created a very real and very disturbing vision of what the mid-distant future could be.

The users of the feed are largely unaware of the global issues surrounding them, being lost in a cloud of games, chatting, and pleasure-seeking. The narrator, a boy named Titus, is forced to come to terms with some of the issues after going to the moon and being hacked, temporarily disabling his feed. He is forced to view the world on its terms, and falls for a girl who didn’t always have the feed because her family couldn’t afford it until she was seven. She is the main actor in the book, being generally against the feed culture of constant consumerism, and even telling Titus her plan to resist the feed and its micromarketing by expressing interest in all kinds of things that are unrelated. Titus spends most of the book being annoyed or angry that he can’t process the emotions Violet causes him, and in fact most of the characters are incredibly immature.

The book ends on a dark note that I’m not sure can be called hopeful, but overall the book is a scathing satire of corporate greed, the Internet, and the dumbing-down of our educations systems and neglect of the social welfare. I’d recommend it for anyone.

Submissions OPEN for the 2013 issue!

What’s that you say? You have some awesome poem/story/essay/portrait/sculpture/still-life/landscape/interview/photograph/video/ANYTHING that you’ve made and you want it published? Well SUBMIT to Sequoya Review for the 2013 issue, due next year! You just have to be a UTC student in good standing and have something cool to submit. Here are the details:

Submit your piece to srsubmit@gmail.com. Submissions are due by October 5, 2012. We welcome multiple submissions, but please, follow the 12-page maximum for prose and 3-page maximum for poetry guidelines. Include your full name, grade year, student ID and email address in the body of the email, but remove all that personal stuff from the submission document itself, so we can stay honest.

Speaking of that document: name it as Genre_Title_Date (i.e., CNF_How Not to Break Your Mama’s Heart_8-28-12.doc). The format should be something universal and copyable, like .rtf, .doc, .docx, .odt, or .txt (sorry no .pdf). They should be in a normal font, 12pt or so, double-spaced, with one-inch margins.

To be considered, you must be a student in good standing by the time submissions are due (October 5, 2012) at UTC. We’ll check!

Good luck and good writing – we look forward to reading your submissions!

We’re headed to AWP!

Howdy friends,

The Sequoya Review is headed to the Associated Writing Programs Conference on Writing and Literature in Chicago tomorrow! If you don’t know what AWP is, it’s kind of like Bonnaroo for writers, with everything that entails. There’s gonna be a book fair, a lot of crazy panels, and even Margaret Atwood!

We’ll be updating from AWP on this blog and Facebook, giving you a (nearly) play-by-play of the whole conference. So stay tuned!

This just in: NPR is the best.

So I was going to write a blog post about something I heard on NPR today – about the importance of factual vs. emotional truth in writing – but I realized I they already did that, and that I could link to it like this. I was not disheartened for very long, though, because as I was searching for that article (which was on On the Media, on WUTC at 10 weekdays), I found this article, the second installment of All Things Considered‘s “NewsPoet” segment, where a poet hangs out with news people and writes a poem about it (this one’s a villanelle). While thinking, “Oh, that’s cool, but I need to find that first story,” I found <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/02/24/146817285/what-science-fiction-books-does-a-futurist-read">this one about a futurist's (yes, that is his job) favorite science fiction books.

Finally, I did find the first article (it’s about a book, by the way, Lifespan of a Fact). But by that point I realized two things. I didn’t need to rewrite all those articles that I came across, in fact I couldn’t; they’re already great pieces written by good journalists, and besides I’m not a journalist anyway. And I remembered that I don’t listen to NPR (or APM or PRI or whatever else – you know, public media) nearly as much as I should. I mean, it’s free, it’s incredibly informative, funny, and sometimes just weird enough to appeal to everyone, and it goes on all the time. I don’t know how many of you guys read, listen to, or watch public media (let us know in the comments if you do!), but it’s something we all should do, daily. Wouldn’t it be nice to tear away from Facebook, from Twitter, Memebase, and all the other “alternative news” (which really, are by now totally mainstream) and flat-out time-wasters that we usually spend our internet time on, and actually learn something informative and interesting for once? Something that takes more than thirty seconds to read. Something made for the pure joy of learning, not for ad revenue or political pandering. So yeah, NPR rocks. Just in case you didn’t know.

News Poet
Wouldn't you love this guy to sit in your office and write a poem about you? NPR gets people like him to. Every month.

News for yous : record submissions, readership, and more!

Hi friends,

It’s been a pretty exciting month for all of us at Sequoya Review. The 2012 issue of Sequoya Review will be released March 2012. We had a record number of submissions – 207 to be exact – to the 2012 issue, and a record readership of our 2011 issue. Thanks for reading us, and submitting! We have just sorted through all of them to let everyone who submitted know where they stand. If you did submit, thanks for playing! If you made it, congratulations; if not, there’s always next year.

Speaking of next year, we’re doing something crazy at the Sequoya Review this time around: submissions are open February 6! Check out the Submit section of the page for details and the link. (Please do read the guidelines though. We can’t accept it if it’s not in keeping with those, especially since we have so many now.

We also have a new thing going on in our ‘offices’ : we need volunteers to help us out! We’ve grown so much we don’t know what to do with ourselves, and you guys can help out! We need people to do the following:

  • write blog posts and press releases
  • archive old issues of the Sequoya Review and its other incarnations
  • market and advertise the magazine around UTC and Chattanooga

In return, we’re prepared to give you a credit in the Sequoya Review (which you can mention on your resume!), a better position to be an editor in the fall, and more! If you want to apply, please email us at srvolunteers@yahoo.com and tell us! We take all kinds, and can probably find something for you to do, so don’t hesitate! Please include your full name, academic grade year, cell number, email, and what positions interest you most. And be sure to check out our new Volunteer section for more updates!

Well that’s about it for now. Hope your year is getting to as good of a start as ours!

Aesthetic & form

Friends, the Sequoya Review is coming together again, earlier this year than any other. Usually, we are so busy in the spring, scrambling to get everything together–the pieces, the look and feel of the magazine, the website–that we have hardly any time to think about aesthetic as a concept. We have been forced, in the past, to sort of blindly grope around the subject of “good” work, using our intuition alone to guide us.

However, by moving the process to the fall we open up for ourselves a large swath of time. We are able to consider this concept of artfulness, and incorporate that into our selection process in a way never before possible. So, with this in mind, what is art? What are we to publish, as the Sequoya Review? I hope to answer this question, rudimentally and tentatively, now; moreover, I hope to spark some discussion in this matter, so that we can come to a better conclusion of who we are and what we publish. I hope that crowd-sourcing this endeavor may prove more fruitful than just laying down rules myself. My thoughts on the matter follow.

  1. The Sequoya Review is, first and foremost, a student publication. We provide a voice to the student population at UTC, fostering creativity here and giving it an outlet, holding up student work and showing it to the world at large, both academic and layman. This means we publish only work by those who are current students at UTC, however it does not mean that we should demand any less in the quality of the work; on the contrary, the students at this university have truly good work which deserves better than intellectual coddling.
  2. The Sequoya Review publishes good work. This is the crux of the matter: what is “good” work? Surely some definition is needed in order to proceed. Of course, with the different genres we publish it may seem difficult to give an across-the-board definition of aesthetic; but I believe that there are some qualities necessary to any work that we publish, and those are completeness and emotional truth. Of course, the work in question must be complete, which generally means some sort of tension and resolution. These are easier to delineate in what I will call the “timely” works, such as poetry, prose, and music, in which the piece unfolds before us through time as we read or listen to it; in visual art this is harder to do. However, if we look at a complete piece of art, it should have some element of tension within it (perhaps the creative process of the artist?) as well as a resolution (which, in the parenthetical case, would be the piece itself). In regards to what I’ve called emotional truth, I mean that quality of a complete piece that resonates with the viewer–that part of the author’s self that comes through in the recitation, reading or viewing of the piece itself. It is the connection that the producer makes through his art, the reaching-out into the world that causes others to recognize it as art. I feel that these two qualities cause a creative work, whether it be verbal, visual or aural in nature, to be what we call “good work.”

That’s a preliminary sketch of where we might be going as a magazine, but of course I can’t pilot this thing myself. We are a collective of students, and as we publish students we are also interested in what those we may publish have to say. So what do you think? What is “art”? What is “good”? Tell us in the comments.

“Spittle” by Case Duckworth

My body is attached to your body by a thin spittle of thought.
When you turn away from me, my thought is broken
and forms anew with something else. Ideas are drool.
Beauty has been slobbered over far too long. God
is a tidal wave of bodily fluid. Even the flea has some
vestigial wetness. We live in a world fleshy and dark,
and moist as a nostril. Is conciousness only a watery-eyed
romantic, crying softly into his shirt-sleeve? Is not reason
a square-jawed businessman with a briefcase full of memory?
I want to kiss the world to make it mine. I want to become
a Judas to reality, betray it with the wetness of emotion.
The coin that holds the two sides of experience will become
a mobius strip trailing snail slime to infinity.