We’ve all faced it: the heart-sinking rejection letter informing us that our work is “not a good fit.” How, though, might we turn this dispiriting moment of the writing process into an opportunity? Join local writers for an evening of back-to-back events on the subject.
6PM: If At First You Don’t Succeed: A Conversation on Persevering Beyond Rejection
How might we best cope with literary rejection? And how do we find the path forward? Join writers and editors Eric Rasmussen, Elizabeth de Cleyre and Katie Venit for a candid conversation on strategies and best practices for transforming “literary lemons” into lemonade. Moderated by B.J. Hollars.
7PM: Befriending Failure: Lessons from the Whitman School of Condemnation, Defamation, Denunciation, and Vilification, or So You Think You’ve Been Rejected?
In 1855, only one person on earth considered Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass worthy of publication. That person was Whitman, who printed the book himself. Early reviewers compared the writer to a pig, a goat, a lunatic, and those were the polite reviews. Two hundred years after Whitman’s birth, the book is widely regarded as one of the great works of American literature. Given that failure is a writer’s constant companion, maybe Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and others can teach us something about not necessarily accepting, but at least befriending failure. Presented by former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland.
Special thanks to our co-sponsor, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
Max Garland is the author of The Word We Used for It, winner of the 2017-18 Brittingham Poetry Prize. Other books include The Postal Confessions, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; Hunger Wide as Heaven, which won the Cleveland State Poetry Center Open Competition, and a chapbook, Apparition, from the University of Wisconsin Press. His poems, essays, stories, and interviews have appeared in journals such as Poetry, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, and many other journals, anthologies, and newspapers. His poetry has been regularly featured on Wisconsin Public Radio. Garland is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and is a former Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
Eric Rasmussen didn’t used to get rejected so often, with a nearly perfect record on a lifetime’s worth of job, school, and scholarship applications. But then he started writing. He earned his MFA in fiction from Augsburg University, founded the regional literary journal Barstow & Grand, and was recently hired as the fiction editor for the online journal Sundog Lit. His work has been featured in various publications, including Fugue, Gulf Stream, Pithead Chapel, South Carolina Review, and frequently appears in Volume One. These endeavors, along with his attempts to publish a novel, have earned him somewhere north of 1,300 rejections.
Elizabeth de Cleyre is a writer, editor, creative consultant, clothing designer, personal stylist, bookstore co-founder, and somewhat hard to keep up with.
Katie Venit is a writer in Eau Claire. Her work has been published in Volume One, Wisconsin Life, and many other venues.