Call for Submissions Silk Road Review will be producing a special issue entitled ASIA.  We are interested in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction presenting an Asian or Asian-American perspective or work that explores an aspect of locations within Asia.  Writers of all backgrounds are welcome to contribute as long as the submission fits under the umbrella of ASIA.

Deadline to submit for the special issue: August 15, 2014

Prose can be no longer than 20 double-spaced pages in length.  No more than five poems per submission. Please write the word Asia in the comments box.

Submit here:

More about Silk Road Review here:

by Kelly Chastain

AWP 2014 Silk Road Review

Our Co-Editors in Chief ready to take on AWP.

We sat around our big conference table and debated on how we would tell you about our amazing experiences at AWP, and we decided the only way to do it justice was to give it to you by the numbers. If you’ve not gone to an AWP Annual Conference and Bookfair, put it on the bucket list. Next year’s event will be held in Minneapolis, April 8-11. It’s not too early to start planning. Really. We mean it. The sheer number of attendees, vendors, panels, and readings will knock your socks off. Here’s what we did over the course of four days in Seattle.


The staggering number of panels to choose from.

We loaded 1 van
with 2 Co-Editors in Chief
and 6 staffers
and drove 198.8 miles to AWP.
Boxes of books: 12
Booth Props: 22
Number of Panels attended: 70
Number of Panels given:3
Autographs procured: 8
Autographs given: 3
Hours of sleep we missed: 80 (8 people x 2.5 hours x 4 days. Phew! Michele Ford, our super cool managing editor, is a math minor.)

Postcard Project

Participants in the postcard project

Postcard Project cards mailed: 185
Book launch parties attended: 1
Author readings: 9
Vendors: 500+ (really.)
Number of cocktails we wished we had consumed: 39
Authors we met: 7
And because we’re shameless name droppers who love to promote writers: Ursula Le Guin, Danika Dinsmore, Molly Gloss, Marianna Wiggins, Rolf Potts, Christina Baker Kline, and Abi Curtis.


Our Super Staffers. They’re so awesome they should have capes!

Number of books purchased: 23
Subway sandwiches ingested: 19
Contributors who popped by the booth: 4
Drawings entered: 17
Drawings won: 1
Inspiring people met: countless

One of the biggest take-aways from AWP was how much the event motivated us to do our best work every day. We left with a reminder of how powerful literature is, why it’s important to keep creating art, and that even though writing can feel like a solitary endeavor that we are not alone. We heard words written by the brave women who risk their lives to participate in the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. To read their stories to a rapt audience and to participate in their writing journey was humbling and inspiring.

Keya, weighing in on her panel.

Keya, weighing in on her panel.

The highlights were numerous. One of our staffers, Rebecca Allen, presented the first page of a paper she wrote to Urusla LeGuin for an autograph. Once she explained that the paper was on the craft conventions used by LeGuin and Tolkien to create their fantastical worlds, and that it was accepted at a conference, Ursula asked Rebecca to send her a copy. Then she signed it. We managed to make it out of the booth before falling over, giddy with glee.

We listened to panel discussions by authors we love on how to infuse research into historical fiction without making your novel sound like a Wikipedia entry. With Hedgebrook we shared how and why we support under represented writers. We wrote pieces of flash fiction, learned how to teach travel writing, and how to apply for an NEA grant. And, of course, the readings. Oh, that long list of powerfully beautiful readings.

AWP 2014 Ursula LeGuin

Rebecca and Ursula LeGuin chatting about literature.

At AWP, we connected with hundreds of writers from all over the world, and shared with them what we love most about Silk Road: the collision of cultures, where place is a defining influence, and where stories are prized more than gold. We encouraged them to submit their work and to send an anonymous note of encouragement to a fellow writer via the Postcard Project. At booth 622, Silk Road Review, we watched complete strangers create a community. We wished it would never end.

By Kayla Cardeiro

We’re so excited it’s February. Why, you ask? Because in Seattle from February 26 to March 1, we will be attending the AWP conference for the first time. We are psyched! For those who haven’t heard, AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, is the largest literary conference in North America with over 12,000 writers and readers attending its conference in 2013, according to AWP’s website. AWP is also famous for its book fair, which attracted more than 650 exhibitors last year, and which we are absolutely stoked to be a part of.

The reason we’re so excited to attend is that this conference is big. AWP has been around since its foundation in 1967, when it was created in order to advocate for new creative writing programs in higher education and to provide more publishing opportunities for young writers. As its influence and prestige grew, AWP began hosting national conferences, the first of which took place in 1974 at the Library of Congress. Since then, AWP has held its conferences in a different city each year and has developed its own writing contest, the AWP Award Series, with cash prizes up to $5,500.

Since AWP is coming to our very own West Coast this year, Silk Road Review has the amazing opportunity to get to know our local readership in our own backyard. And did we mention the guest list? In attendance will be such award-winning authors and poets as Ursula K. Leguin, Sherman Alexie, Robert Hauss, Chang-rae Lee, Sharon Olds, and many, many others. If that wasn’t great already the celebrated Annie Proulx, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, is the keynote speaker. We can hardly imagine so much talent in one place!

Silk Road is also delighted to announce that it will be bringing the Postcard Project to AWP after its spectacular success at Wordstock 2013. Thousands of writers and readers from across the nation will be in attendance so we’re setting the bar high. Five-hundred postcards, perhaps? A thousand?

We can’t wait to see you there!

Interview by Kathleen Rohde


Read “All You Really Need is a Light Jacket”

The Interview

KR: How does the animal kingdom inspire you and your writing?

MT: I’ve always been drawn to the animal kingdom. I love learning about different animals, and I stockpile the information that I find most compelling, knowing I might use it in the future. I’ve been known to drag my husband to festivals for pollination. The brochures available at these types of events are a great way to gather lingo. Knowledge like that, so focused, can make a piece of writing informed and poetic. I just read about opossums, commonly misunderstood animals, and learned they cannot carry rabies since their body temperature is too low to support the virus. I like a piece of information such as that, at once boring yet (to me) important, especially since many people don’t think very highly of opossums. I guess you could say I’m most drawn to the animal that have never been favored, though all facts are interesting to me, whether it concerns a kitten or a muskrat. I also find factual information very musical: Squids have three hearts, horseshoe crabs have blue blood. I love that kind of stuff, and am always looking for ways to incorporate it into my writing. It can provide you with a bright image or a really solid metaphor. Even the names of animals are enticing: Nurse shark, pistol shrimp, Weimaraner.

KR: What is your goal with this piece?

MT: In one of the classes I took in college, we had a discussion about recycling. Someone said he didn’t recycle because he didn’t feel like it. He didn’t want to have to think about it. While I admired his honesty, I also kind of wanted to punch him. I don’t expect anyone to finish reading my piece and then sign up for a class on making your own rain barrel, but I would like for people to examine the outside world closely, if they don’t already. We share a lot of similarities with marine iguanas and naked mole rats, amongst others, and I think that is something we can take comfort in.

KR: What did you learn about yourself by writing this piece?

MT: I learned how easily impacted I am by place. I didn’t know anyone when I moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, the city that inspired this piece, so I would just go on mindless walks or drives, paying attention to the details that make a city unique. I liked living in Missouri because it was in the middle of the country; I felt like I could drive anywhere. Some days I would wake up and drive to Omaha, just because I could. It is important for me that I am able to explore. I know that now.

KR: How does organization and style affect your story? A story?

MT: I am so organized I annoy myself. I like to print out my piece and place each page on the floor then stare at if for awhile. This helps me organize it better, since I can see things more clearly this way. I can pick out rhythms and errors. In the beginning stages, though, I have no sense of organization. I write blindly, shirking responsibility, making my job much harder in the end. The writing is stronger this way. It takes a long time, but eventually a piece emerges from the muck of rambling documents I have stored (neatly) away. In school, when we had to write outlines for essays, I wrote the essay first and then the outline, but that’s because I don’t know how to pay attention to structure when an idea first forms in my mind. I am easily distracted, which is a strength and a weakness. While I am always planning my next project, I also have to keep the doors to every room in my apartment closed when I pace around, thinking, or else I wander into them and start doing something else, like organizing my closet.

My background in poetry is clear in my love for white space, images, meditations. I have to hold myself back from over-describing. Purposeful description, my first love. I admire it more than anything else when I read. I’ll never forget a striking image, ever.

KR: How does travel affect your works?

MT: Just as I am drawn to the underdogs of the natural world, I am also most likely to visit landscapes that are unpopular, stereotypically ugly, or perhaps a touch desolate. Every forgotten township, rock quarry, and tundra has something to offer, and I like giving them voices when I write. When I was dwelling in a bit of dry spell, writing-wise, I drove through Oklahoma and just like that I was back writing again. Actually, whenever I get stuck writing, I think about Oklahoma. The landscape is so isolating at times, if forces me to think differently. Really this is all a reaction to my growing up in a small town, on a farm, in the type of place that gets dismissed. That said, I love Osaka and Berlin. I lived in Seoul for a year and savored the drama and gleam that comes with city life. There is nothing like dropping in on a culture different from your own and trying to figure it out: how to open a checking account, where to take an old mattress. Everyone should do it, if possible. For the way I write, it’s non-negotiable. I need to feel at odds with myself every once in awhile so I don’t rewrite the same ideas, again and again. I am in the midst of writing a series of essays based on South Korea. My next destination: Mongolia.

KR: What do you practice when you write?

MT: Patience. That’s number one. I used to lack this, but that’s because I didn’t know what I was doing. It takes a long time to develop your own set of rules of writing, rules that make sense and work for you. In order for me to be most successful, I have to keep several dozen projects going. I don’t fret about finishing them, knowing that I will eventually, or I won’t. Whatever. I know now not to rush or force something that isn’t there. That doesn’t mean I don’t push myself, or try to dig down deep for what I might be hiding, because I do, just not every time I sit down to revise. Simply put, I listen to my gut.

All You Really Need is a Light Jacket

Silk Road Review Postcard ProjectThis year, as the special projects team gathered around our big conference table, it became clear that we all wanted to do something fun, inspiring, and new. We wanted to give back, to find a way to involve more writers with our magazine, to create a community of encouragement for our fellow writers, and do something nice all around. With those goals in mind we stared into our supply closet and the bulging boxes of postcards hoping for inspiration. It showed up like a flash and the postcard project was born. We officially launched it at Portland’s Wordstock Festival in October to great success.

Here’s how it works: Attendees chose a postcard, and on the left side they wrote an anonymous love note to a fellow writer. The festival-goers filled that side of the postcard with words of encouragement, praise for work they had never read but hoped to in the near future, and offered poems and insights to keep each other going. Sometimes they wrote the things they most needed to hear themselves. We don’t have a lot of rules for the project, only that you have to address the note to “my favorite author” and you have to sign it from “your biggest fan.”

Participants placed their mailing address on a sticky note on the right side and dropped them into the Silk Road caravan trunk. Wordstock buzzed with enthusiasm over our project. Afterward, we gathered around the table and dumped out the notes, swapped the addresses and mailed them out knowing the right words would reach the person who needed to hear them most. We were excited, and a little teary as we read some of the amazing things writers had to say to each other, and within a few weeks we started getting feedback:

Dear Silk Road,
I just wanted to let the Silk Road staff know that I recently received one of the postcards from your Postcard Project, and it really made my day. I’d been having a tough week, and the inspiring message written by “My Biggest Fan” helped pull me through. Thank you for running this project, I hope I can contribute again in the future!
A Silk Road Fan

And this one.

Dear Silk Road,
Today, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an inspiring postcard in the mail that told me to “drive through the writer’s block and keep my chin up.” I must admit I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with my writing and this little message from a fellow author warmed my heart beyond words.
Thank you so much for doing the Post Card Project! I can’t wait to take part in it at AWP.
With love,
A Portland Writer

You can imagine how thrilled we were! From boxes of beautiful blank postcards to helping our fellow writers through the slump, we’re realizing the goals we set for ourselves in the beginning of the year. It’s been a wonderful community building experience and because we had so much fun, we hosted another event on campus for fellow students to encourage each other through their upcoming finals. Our response was overwhelming.

The Portland Writer is correct, we will be at AWP in Seattle this February, and you can count on seeing the Postcard Project there. Please stop by, drop a note in the trunk, and say hi. We’d love to meet you and send your postcard from the Silk Road.

HiRes_Kretchmer__0435_3The Interview

Interviewed by Kathleen Rohde

KR: How does the theme of nature push you forward as a writer?

GK: The easy answer to that question is this: nature pushes me forward as a person. Since I was a young girl, where I grew up in the flatlands of the Midwest, I have been awestruck by mountains and rivers and oceans, by all sorts of flora and fauna, by everything natural from big skies to tiny seashells. Nature, in all its power and glory, triggers emotion for me, and emotion triggers creative thought and deeper understanding.

In literature, I’m particularly drawn to the way nature influences character. One of my favorite examples is Ivan Doig’s short story, “Winter of ’19.”As the story opens, Angus is portrayed as a sensible (if stubborn) and generally likeable family man who is now facing a brutal snowstorm. His sheep are freezing and starving, and he must embark on a dangerous journey with his brother-in-law, a man with whom he’s shared a conflicted past, to purchase more feed. In the bowels of the storm, with visibility reduced to near-zero and survival seeming unlikely, Angus imagines his brother-in-law vanishing. “The poisoned time that had come between us […] would at last be ended.” It’s the natural landscape that permits, or even forces, Angus to acknowledge his darker, shadow self, which ultimately is what made him such a compelling character.

It took me several drafts of my essay, “Crossing Glaciers,” to achieve that level of self-understanding, wherein I ultimately concluded the glacier evoked, for me, an uncomfortable medley of melancholy, honesty, and vulnerability.

KR: What are the benefits you get from writing nonfiction?

GK: Writing nonfiction forces me to be more mindful. It’s easy to bumble along day-by-day, not paying much attention to the meaning of it all. But the truth is we all have stories cluttering our minds that are just waiting to be dusted off and examined, and when I sit down to write about an experience, that’s exactly what I feel like I’m doing: wiping off all those sticky cobwebs to get to the artifact. And more likely than not this act involves a new discovery for me, the same as when I used to explore the dusty old attic of my childhood home, where I’d find old relics of books and trinkets from the Great Depression. In writing the stories of my life, the discoveries are usually glimmers of something I had glossed over when I was in the heat of the initial moment that now, much later, reveal more about the characters–the real people–in my life than I’d ever anticipated.

KR: How do you prepare to write about the positives and negatives of paradise? What’s your whole writing process?

GK: That’s an interesting combination of questions.

Of course, in my essay, “Crossing Glaciers,” I was writing about a place that’s literally called Paradise, which certainly has positives and negatives. I think true paradise is a place that can only be imagined, and in my mind that place would only have favorable characteristics.

As for writing about paradise–whatever that really means–I think the preparation is the same whether I’m writing about a real or an imagined place.  If I’m writing nonfiction, I start with the memory of an experience and let it unfold however it chooses to, trying to recall not only the characters and the conflict and their actions but also the setting. I let my initial emotions take control of my fingers and let the words fly. If it’s fiction, I usually have an imagined half-scene that gets me started. Either way, I don’t start with a sense of positives or negatives; I just allow my mind–my right brain–the freedom to go whatever direction it needs to, which invariably will be skewed one way or the other.

Then, in revision, I open up the left side of my brain and begin to ask myself questions. Was that how it really happened? Were those the only emotions? Is the description clear to an objective reader, or is there a better way to say it? I look at credibility (because fact and credibility are not necessarily the same). And, perhaps most importantly, I ask myself: what’s the point of it all? It’s during the revision process that the positives and negatives of any character or place or experience become clearer and, if appropriate, more balanced or nuanced. And of course I often rely on my writer friends to help me ferret out what it is I’ve been trying to say all along.

KR: How does a glacier compare to writing?

GK: That’s funny. To quote from my essay, glaciers “surge forward, they retreat…they flow smoothly but crack suddenly….they can be slippery and full of surprises. They can easily throw us off balance.”

I think that pretty much sums it up.

KR: Many say nature is therapeutic, but you also teach a therapeutic writing workshop, how is writing therapeutic to you?

GK: I don’t write for catharsis per se, but writing is therapeutic for me in three key ways. First and foremost–and this is true whether I’m writing nonfiction or fiction–it helps me understand the world I live in, which is what good therapy does as well. Second, when I’m in the writing zone, I can block out all the normal irritants and stresses of life. And, finally, writing allows me to be someone else when I’m inside another character–even if it’s just a former version of me–which means I get a break from my present, everyday perspective and can have good fun imagining, remembering, and pretending. I guess it’s like play therapy for my shadow self.

KR: How does your family influence your writing?

GK: My husband and kids support my efforts immensely. They’ve bought me craft books, written inspiring little notes about my work, and granted me a great deal of time and space to write. And they’re smart: they don’t offer critique or advice unless I request it from them, which is almost never.

They also periodically show up in my fiction with a physical feature, a personality trait, or even a life experience. I’ve even had my characters quote them now and then. And of course they show up in my nonfiction all the time. They just don’t know it yet because much of my nonfiction is still unpublished.

You can read Gail’s piece “Crossing Glaciers” here. Gail has also recently published an article in New York Times about her time on a Heavy Metal cruise with her son.

Cliffs of Moher

Silk Road’s assistant fiction editor, Amber Patton, studied in Ireland for a year. She came back with a mountain of stories and insights for us all. Here’s what she has to share about the history of Irish literature, and some of her favorite Irish Authors.

When I had the chance to study in Ireland for a year, I jumped at the opportunity to immerse myself a whole new world of literature. During my year abroad I took five literature courses at the University of Limerick, including a full semester on William B. Yeats. I had no idea how much I would learn about Ireland’s history in the process.

At the start of the 20th century, during “The Gaelic Revival,” Ireland blossomed with writers, artists and musicians. Irish authors began writing works in their native language and soon Ireland found a new identity through voice and writing.  For the duration of my Contemporary Irish Literature course I read, in-depth, on James Joyce’s narrative technique, the stream of consciousness, in his work Ulysses. I discovered  a common style among some Irish authors, which some might view as insensitive and blunt, but instead it’s quite clever. They like to weave humor into harsh and depressing passages in order to lighten the mood. While I cried at accounts of murder, betrayal, and suicide, I also laughed unconsciously at the back-handed jokes and sly come backs. I found their work heart-breakingly funny.

As more Irish history emerged, I realized  this style developed over the years of struggle in the Irish community and was likely a coping mechanism for horrible situations. No matter how hard or difficult these stories are to digest, they reflect an important part of Irish history and culture. After months of reading creative works, I’d soon discover that writing became an outlet the Irish need for exposing the truth. A truth that was silenced for over 72 years.

After gaining succession from Great Britain in 1922, and just as the Irish people began to thrive in the arts, the Irish Free State Committee established the “Censorship of Publication Act” in 1926. A ban was placed on books that contained too much crime, sexual passages, and indecent scenes. Over five thousand books were banned from Ireland. American author Aldous Huxely’s novel Brave New World and J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were both banned from Ireland  because of this act. The censorship also affected many Irish authors as well. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien was banned for its content. Famous Irish author George Bernard Shaw fought for most of his career to get his books published in Ireland and was only successful with a few. The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God was eventually published in 1934. Even James Joyce’s work was burned in the late 1940’s in Ireland.

The Censorship of Publication Act forced many Irish authors to go abroad to write their stunning masterpieces. If a citizen was found possessing a prohibited publication they were fined €63 or six months imprisonment. Oscar Wilde, born in Dublin, spent most of his years in France, writing and publishing his works. Though he was Irish born, and made regular commentary on the class system impacting Irish citizens, his voice remained silent for his fellow countrymen for years. As the years past, the Committee made changes and revisions to the act, which began to encompass magazines.

In 1939, during World War II, the Irish State enforced The Emergency Powers Act, which censored newspapers and periodicals. It wasn’t until 1998, seventy-two years after the act was first created, that the book ban was partially lifted.  This allowed previously banned books to be published and welcomed in Ireland. When the act was revised, Ireland exploded with contemporary literature. After years of suppression by the government, the Roman Catholic Church, and England, Ireland’s writing community responded by publishing raw memoirs, fiction, and non-fiction.

As a student in Ireland I had the opportunity to study modern authors like Anne Enright, whose memoir-based fiction The Gathering is a creative retelling of the uncontrolled child-abuse happening in Ireland during the 20th century. As I read and analyzed this piece of fiction I was enthralled and heart-broken that this story was based on real accounts of Irish history. I wonder what it would have been like if Enright had tried to publish this book during the high point of Censorship of Publication Act. It would have most definitely have been banned for its implied violence and sexual innuendos. Also, I don’t believe the Irish community would have been ready to hear the horrors happening to children at the time. Today, even with new rules and regulations, there is still censorship in Ireland, mostly pertaining to magazines.

If you haven’t read a lot of Irish Literature, I highly recommend it. While I was there I studied a wide variety of authors including, Joseph O’Connor, Mogue Doyle, and Christopher Nolan. As I read these novels, I realized just how important it is to have a voice and to be able to write. If we had had a book ban in the United States during the 20th century, what would we have done? How many authors would have been silenced? I appreciate that Americans have not had our writing banned, nor faced a decline of great literature.

My time in Ireland also improved my own writing and changed the way I view literature. I have a new outlook on the importance of non-fiction stories and how impactful they can be to an audience. I’ve taken on new techniques like using humor in my own creative non-fiction pieces and I appreciate my heritage and culture. There is still so much Ireland has to offer us, they are a country full of rich history and literature that is worth digging into.

If you are interested in finding more contemporary Irish literature, check out these websites for further reading:
Top 10 Contemporary books and their Reviews

Contemporary Fiction

Top Ten 20th Century Authors

eleanorleonneBennettAn interview by Kelly Chastain in Vol. 11

Eleanor Leonne Bennett’s photography has graced two of Silk Road’s covers (#10 and #11). A 16 year old international award winning photographer, her achievements include first place prizes by National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland Trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art has exhibited in London, Paris, Indonesia, Scotland,Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and the U.S. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.

SR: While looking through your online collection I was struck by how many of your images employ high contrast lighting techniques and how doing so helps you achieve otherworldly atmosphere in your images. I was immediately reminded of Pol Úbeda Hervàs, Eliott Erwitt, and Steve McCurry. Whose work and which styles have influenced you most?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I am a fan of Steve’s wonderful work. It would be a dream to be in the leagues of the artists you have mentioned. I relate to Erwitt’s work, but I have a far way to go to achieve that effect. I’ve really enjoyed browsing his work this past day. He does create an otherworldly sense but found in this dimension. I enjoy it a lot. Pol Úbeda Hervàs I have heard of recently and found his work striking. I have had connections with shadows in my own work before.

SR: How has your age factored in your success thus far? Has it been an obstacle, or something you have been able to use to your advantage?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: It has been an obstacle at times and sometimes something I wish to hide. I think despite my many accolades it can put employers off. These days I often let my awards speak for themselves before saying I am young/emerging artist. It is working a lot better for me and it is nice to surprise people. For my services as a cover artist I’ve had nothing but glowing reviews. My age isn’t something I would try to use to my advantage. It is nice to be the youngest published, exhibited, or featured, but I think what matters above all is the power of my message.

SR: What specific artistic challenges do you set for yourself when starting a photography project?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I normally can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that I desire from an image but I know when I have it. It has to do with composition and something that shouldn’t be changed in post processing. I may change everything to do with color and contrast but at the heart of the image, and whether it works or not is all to do with composition.

SR: Among your photographs, which one is your favorite?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I have private unpublished images which are very heartfelt to me and mean an awful lot. My favourite published images are more intricate and possess more detail. I’m a big fan of creating my own dimension in which the photo is difficult to unravel. I like my ice series of images for that reason.

SR: Color vs. black and white?  Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different for you? Do you handle black and white post production or in camera?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I know how to switch my camera to black and white, to color, to every lighting tint imaginable. As a rule though I always shoot in color. Not to say the unedited image is colored as I do like to get a natural composition which is virtually black and white or sepia in itself. I also like to drain color out of things by decreased saturation. I enjoy having the best of both worlds.

SR: Can you walk us through the process that you use to set up a photograph? How much planning goes into your photos?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: My earlier shoots could take a couple of hours to set up with makeup and clothes, etc. These days I take a more spontaneous approach. That is not to say I won’t revisit portraiture, I’m just in the process of writing down ideas and how to envision them. I have a lot of potential material tying into feminism and modern culture. My biggest obsessions are the society of respect and rights and how people behave when not observed and are free to hurt or help anyone at all. In the future, that is something I can see dedicating whole photography books to. I’m not a saint, but I think too much. It shows in my images. I can take 500 images in a single shoot. If they don’t get to where I want them to be,then they are all useless in my eyes. I do have OCD. It has its downsides, but it has brought me to where I am today. With me things have to be as perfect as possible. It can be a curse, but it becomes a blessing when I consider the good reception my art has received.

SR: How did you get into cover art? Was it something you always wanted to do, or was it something that came your way serendipitously?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: Ever since I was first published there was a stress within me: “Am I good enough to be the first thing people see? Do I deserve the starring role in this magazine/book?” Becoming a cover artist answered that question. I love doing cover art. You have to step up to your game and realise you are selling this book. Nobody will pick it up unless you catch their eye on the other side of the store. I really love it. I see other book cover art and I don’t think there are many artists like me. If you look at many of my covers they are  used for independent publishing, mainly poetry books. then look at the normal fiction, romance and young adult books. My covers look quite strange among them. I keep true to my style, and it is getting me fans. I see the same photographers on those commercial book covers all the time. Very conventionally pretty, very polished.  That can exclude a lot of audiences that want to see themselves represented more widely. I don’t have the opportunity to work with models, and may not do so for a long while yet, but I will say this: I most enjoy letting objects, abstracts and silhouettes speak for the cover and the person’s story. Those covers capture my admiration more.

SR: Who/What inspires you?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I love dynamic art, museums, the latest crazes, vintage items from yesteryear. Pretty much anything can spark the inspiration bug within me. Museums are heaven to me for photography. As I never travel alone, the single most worthy place, in which the most photos can be taken, is a museum. I adore it. For me that is like being a kid in a sweet shoppe. The only problem is when I look back on my photos. This and that angle probably would have looked sweet. When I go to a location with so many memorable potential images to be taken, it is always a case of unfinished business.
SR: Some of your photography awards are from very well established and prestigious organizations such as National Geographic and The World Photography Organization. How does it feel to be recognized by these giants and has it changed the way you view your own work?

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: I feel so blessed. It has taught me one thing: Often, if the very best people regard you of note, it is a wonderful experience. There is always someone in the department who can talk to you, arrange everything, help with directions to whichever location the awards are at. When I see much smaller art magazines with no personal contact information, no staff contact address, no way for feedback to be left, I hate it. They could be excluding some amazing artists that needs a lift or to be discovered. National Geographic has an open submission policy. If you or I had a good idea or a poignant photo story we could just go ahead and submit. Isn’t it wonderful? It makes me happy. I worked with Life Force magazine recently who are fabulous people. They were reviewed by National Geographic to be a modern equivalent of Life Magazine.

In previous eras, if you wanted to hear live poetry in your home, you had to get to know local poets. They would invariably drink too much, or more embarrassingly not at all, and the servants would count the silverware when they left. Welcome to the twenty-first century, where rather than duels and drawing rooms, Google settles our arguments and finishes our sentences. The search giant has also made something else possible: live poetry readings that anyone in the world with a computer can attend.

10coverhomepageTwo such live readings will feature poets from the British poetry special feature in Silk Road Review Issue 10. The poets hail from all across the United Kingdom, and will meet up virtually using Google+ Hangouts on Air. Anyone with an internet connection who can watch YouTube video will be able to tune in to hear poets with a wide range of British accents and dialects reading their own poems. You no longer have to be in the UK to attend great British poetry readings.

Academy of American Poets Chancellor Jane Hirshfield says, “This entirely innovative series builds community among UK and American poets, who do want to know more of each others’ work. Plus it’s good for the planet: no airplanes.” Treat yourself to a virtual journey to the British Isles to hear some of the most exciting poets writing in the UK today. Mark your calendars now:

Sunday, October 13th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Isabel Galleymore, Chris McCabe, Andrew Philip, and Paul Stephenson

Saturday, October 19th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Fiona Benson, Mark Burnhope, Abi Curtis, Helen Ivory, Ira Lightman, Rob A. Mackenzie, and Esther Morgan

Here is where the poets come from.

petefrommephotoBy Kieslana Wing

In 2008, we featured a piece of fiction called “Concentrate” by Montana writer Pete Fromm in issue one of our third volume. “Concentrate” is the tale of a young, poverty-stricken mother who reconnects with her family in the process of trying to invent a product that will bring them prosperity. Directly after publishing this piece, Silk Road conducted an interview with Pete, which focused on his craft and the stories he was working on at the time.
Five years later, he has a total of six published works available, and has won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year award four times. Yes, four. In addition to all of that, two of his novels have been converted into films. “Dry Rain” is a short film adapted from the award winning collection Dry Rain Stories. More recently, the movie “As Cool As I Am” was released in June of 2013, starring Claire Danes, James Marsden, and Sarah Bolger. This book/movie is a coming-of-age story for main character Lucy Diamond. Since he seems to have been busy these last few years, we thought we’d check in with him and talk about what it’s like to have one of his stories converted into film, as well as what he’s working on now.

SR: Your book, As Cool As I Am, was recently converted into a film that was released this past June. How involved were you in the creation of the film based on your book?

Pete: Not at all.  Gin Spragg, the wife of the writer Mark Spragg, both friends of mine, asked if she could write a screenplay and try to sell it.  They’d worked together on previous screenplays of his novels, and I said, Sure.  So, she wrote it, let me read it, and I figured that would be that.  But she managed to sell it to a producer, who managed to sell it to a production company with the money, and they managed to attach the director and the actors, and, after several years, much to my surprise, it actually began filming.

SR: Has the adaptation of your book into film changed the way you approach writing at all? If so, how?

Pete: No, not at all.  Having a movie made out of a book is a lot like getting hit by lightning.  It just happens.  As Cool had been out seven or eight years when Gin asked about it.  Ten by the time filming started.  I’ve got a new novel, If Not For This, coming out next year, have worked on several other projects since as cool, am well into another novel right now.  Truthfully, I haven’t thought much about As Cool, book or movie, in a long time.  It’s always on to the next thing.

SR: What did you enjoy about the process of your book becoming a film? What was surprising about seeing your work on the screen? Would you do it again with future works?

Pete: Well, getting paid is always nice.  Always a surprise.  But the best part was Gin setting things up so my two sons, Nolan and Aidan, could be extras in the high school scenes.  I took them down to Albuquerque, where it was filmed, and we could not have been treated better by everyone on the production.  We spent a couple of days as tourists, watching the whole enterprise, then they spent a sixteen hour day being part of the filming.  It was fab.  There was a lot of separation between the book and the movie, so seeing it on screen was not particularly strange, more like watching someone else’s work, which is really what it was by then, first Gin’s take, then Max’s (Max Mayer, the director).  I would do it again, but I’d be interested in taking a shot at the screenplay, which seems like an interesting and difficult form to take on.  I’d like to try it for the challenge.

SR: What advice can you give greenhorn writers who hope to one day have their book made into a film?

Pete: Forget the film.  Just write the best book you can, then spend a few more years making it better.  If someone somehow takes an interest, all the planets align, and it makes it out of the maze and into an actual film, just take it.  Until then, just work.

SR: What projects are you working on right now? Do you have any book tours coming up?

Pete: As I said above, I’m working on a novel now, have another coming out next fall.  I’m sure I’ll be touring then, for If Not For This.  There are stories, a nonfiction book in there as well.  I write every day, whether anyone is buying or not, so the stuff builds up.

SR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Pete: Just to say again, don’t be a hopeful writer, hoping to make it to the big screen.  Be a writer, working every day, day after day after day, and see what happens.  For any kind of happiness to come from writing, I think the joy’s got to come from the writing, from watching people come alive in your mind and on the page, not whatever happens to it all afterward.

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