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Collaborative Poetry: “Night Terrors”

September 16, 2014

Each month, PR displays the efforts of a writer working in digital forms.  To start off the new (school) year, we’re featuring a collaborative work created by Susan Naomi Bernstein and her partner, Steve Cormany. Below the poem, you’ll find their explanation for the genesis of the work, as well as for their process.

Night Terrors

 For this multimedia collaboration, Steve offered Susan several of his poems and Susan took a photo of one of Steve’s drawings, so that Susan could create a multimedia piece. Using Steve’s original words, Susan cut and pasted lines from the poems until she had refashioned a sonnet, a form that Steve often uses for his poetry. To create the background, Susan enlarged the photograph of Steve’s drawing, re-colored the photograph using photo-shopping elements from Word, then super-imposed the reshaped stanzas on the screen.
We have collaborated on a joint effort once before, in May 2000, for a commentary on the 30th anniversary of the Kent State Killings. Steve was a first-year student at Kent State, and on May 4th, 1970, bore witness to the gunfire by Ohio National Guard troops that resulted in the deaths of four students, and injuries to nine others. Susan was a twelve-year old living in Illinois, and she remembers the catastrophe vividly. Steve’s time at Kent inspired him to become a writer—and his writings about Kent inspired Susan to widen her horizons as a writer. We met and fell in love in 1983, and our thoughts have lived together ever since. Our writing has taken different directions over the years, yet we have always taken each other’s thoughts and actions and words and images and ideas very seriously.
Steve Cormany is a retired teacher of college writing, and also worked for several years as a civil servant. He met Susan Naomi Bernstein in San Francisco, and we have lived and worked in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York. We currently live near Phoenix, Arizona, where Susan teaches at Arizona State University, Tempe, and co-coordinates the Stretch Writing Program. She also writes a blog, “Beyond the Basics,” for Bedford/St. Martin’s Bits website.

Fall With Us on Saturday

September 9, 2014

Join Editor-in-Chief Julie Wakeman-Linn and Technology Editor Joanna Howard at George Mason University’s Fall for the Book.

We’ll be manning a table at the Bookfair this Saturday, September 13, from noon until 4.  If you want to purchase our latest edition, find out about getting published, or chat about things literary, find us.  We’d love to see you.

Conversations, Writers and Editors

September 4, 2014

Okay, folks, we’re starting a new season, working on a new issue– but first, come on over to the cyber coffee pot and pour yourself a steaming mug of electrons, pull up a cyber chair, and hear about what we’ve been up to.

Julie Wakeman-Linn, our editor-in-chief, has been to Breadloaf and back, and this smart interview linked above,”We Believe in the Conversations of Writers” by Stanley Trice of  the Review Review , will fill you in on the details.


Associate Editor Hananah Zaheer writes “I have been on an interesting journey this summer. Attended Kenyon and TinHouse, re-discovered the joys of living in dorms, and had a story accepted at the Concho River Review. Now, forward march. Jumped back into my novel.”

In October, Associate Editor Mike Maggio’s novel, The Wizard and the White House,”a sociopolitical satire of uncanny proportions,” will be published by Little Feather Books. He adds, “Over the coming months, I will be arranging radio gigs, books store readings and promotions through this email list as well as through my web site and the new Facebook Page I have set up for the book.”

Editor Robert Giron of Gival Press will be attending the Poets and Writers Live event at the Library of Congress on October 25 for “a day of advice and conversation.”

Associate Editor Sidney March was a panelist for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ Artist Fellowship Literature Grants (FYI 2015). The grants, ranging from 5K-10K, were awarded to a variety of  writers of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and drama.

Associate Editor Sherri Woosley sent us this note:

Hope you had a lovely summer. My family — all 6 of us — piled into a
30-foot RV and headed west for 50 days. It was loud and good and crazy and
amazing. I wrote a blog just for that.

I have a story titled ‘Fusion’ coming out in the next week or so in Apeiron
Review, Issue 7 .


And, finally, Technology Editor J. Howard was selected to lead the A Splendid Wake committee for the year.  A Splendid Wake, created by many of Washington’s leading poets, exists to archive and celebrate the many poets, poetry groups and events that have flourished in the DC area.  The group maintains a wiki at GWU’s Gelman Library, a blog, and, each year, hosts an event on the Vernal Equinox.

Submissions Open!

September 2, 2014

A new year begins today with the opening of the Online Submission Manager for PR. 

“But what do I submit?” you ask.  PR responds with the copy and paste below:

Submission Guidelines:

Poetry: up to three poems/five pages at a time
Prose: up to 5,000 words (fiction/nonfiction)
Art/photographs: inquire first

Reading Period: The reading period is September 1st – May 1st. Only one submission per genre per reading period.

Send your submission electronically via the Potomac Review Online Submission Manager.

Response Time: We will respond within six months.

Simultaneous Submission: Simultaneous submissions are accepted if identified.

Compensation: Two complimentary copies per contributor; 40% discount for extra copies.

Questions? Email:


Intern’s Post: Anna Ball and Politics and Prose

August 26, 2014

Our summer intern, Anna Ball, has headed back to the University of Maryland, where she is currently a junior.  At PR, she did everything from researching magazines and other publications, to assisting with #55’s production, to helping organize our inventory of past issues and swag. Anna  was responsible and more than competent.  

As a parting gift to PR, she wrote the essay below about reading, writing and  working at Politics and Prose, one of the key bookstore/coffee houses in the DC area.


Summer Intern Anna Ball

Summer Intern Anna Ball

As that iconic literary figure, Holden Caulfield, famously says, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” Like many people who relate to this desire, especially those with an interest in writing something of their own, I’ve often put down a book with a million questions in mind. Where did that idea come from? Were the characters from the writer’s life? Did the writer go through something similar? What is the creator of this bound universe like? More than not, the access we have to writers is limited to what they put on the page for us, and while their ability to bear witness to the human condition is usually enough to satisfy our craving for connection, it can leave us wondering about the living person behind the words.

Before I started working in the coffee shop at Politics and Prose, DC’s favorite bookstore and literary hotspot, I didn’t have many opportunities to come face to face with established authors. The image of a successful writer as aloof or unapproachable had been planted in my younger mind and taken root (and I wouldn’t be surprised if the hand behind Holden was himself responsible). Since then, during my year and a half of supplying lattes to this thirsty community of readers, I’ve had my chance to brush shoulders with contemporary scribes (or at least to admire corners of their faces between the heads of all the fawning fans in front of me). And alas, let it be known: published authors are people, too! From the young debut novelist wiping his brow after his first reading, to the seasoned, celebrity columnist chatting softly with a friend over lunch, the writers I’ve observed from behind the counter have all been refreshingly human.

One auburn-haired woman in particular has made it clear to me just what lovely creatures auspicious authors can be. Her third novel, which came out last year, was well received, earning a Notable Book of 2013 title in the Washington Post and an interview on NPR. With her success, this bespectacled crafter of words remains grounded and startlingly normal. And let’s remember, the ultimate test of character can be found in the line at 8 AM for that first jolt of caffeine. Almost every weekday morning, after the initial rush of coffee-guzzlers, she appears calmly at the cash register for her usual drink. (Skim mocha, please!) Probably due to the razor sharp observational skills that she has transformed into a livelihood, she understands how hectic it can get behind the bar. She sets down her reusable mug and glows with patience. There is never a day when she doesn’t exude a positive energy; she always smiles warmly, looks me straight in the eye and asks me how I’m doing.

I have to admit, it took me months to figure out that this beaming regular customer was also the prized local novelist I had heard so much about. I guess it comes as no surprise—I was on the lookout for a grouch instead of an angel. I’m glad to know that one day, if I’m lucky, I can follow her example. So, now that I’ve fulfilled Holden’s dream and met the author, I’d better get to reading that book!

Issue 55 is IN and Ready for Reading!

August 19, 2014

For your end-of-summer reading, featuring the work of Leslie Pietrzyk, That Rutkowski, Mary Collins, Ashley Strosnider, Linda Parsons Marion, William Cordeiro and many others.

Our beautiful cover, "Heron," photographed by Philip Friedman

Our beautiful cover, “Heron,” photographed by Philip Friedman

A New Year and Good News

August 6, 2014

PR docks its rowboat for the season and heads back to the work of producing the literary magazine, beginning with the very good news that Editor-in-Chief  Julie Wakeman-Linn and Fiction Editor J.W. Wang will be going to AWP15. Their proposal, “Slush Pile Standouts,” was among the 500 out of 1300 proposals accepted for the conference to be held in Minneapolis in April. Read the full proposal below, and, if you’re attending the AWP, plan on joining us for this lively and informative session:     

Slush Pile Standouts: Thoughts from the Editor’s Desk. (Julie Wakeman-Linn, Mark Drew, Cara Blue Adams, Erin Hoover, J.W. Wang)

The slush pile acceptance rate at a typical literary journal is less than 1%, and frequently the editors do not read past the first page. What do editors look for, and what can writers do to give their submissions a greater chance of success? How much effect do cover letters have? This panel offers thoughts, comments, and suggestions from the editors’ point of view: what catches our attention, what are some common pitfalls, and what we love to see, and what a “dream submission” may look like.

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