Saturday, February 19, 2011

Awards for Lincoln Artists and Writers

Hey writers and artists in Lincoln! Here's a great opportunity for you!

The Lincoln Arts Council, in cooperation with the Kimmel Foundation and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, is pleased to offer two special Mayor's Arts Awards to emerging artists and writers working in Lincoln, Nebraska. Begun in 2009, the Lincoln Mayor's Kimmel Foundation Award includes a two-week residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and a $1000 stipend. The awards will go to one emerging visual artist and one emerging writer. Only artists working in Lincoln, Nebraska, through year-end 2011 will be considered for this year's award. Award winners will be choosen by the KHN staff and KHN current artists-in-residence.

Application including an application form and support materials
must be mailed to Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, 801 3rd Corso, Nebraska City, NE, 68410 by March 1, 2011. There is no application fee to apply. Award winners will be notified by the Lincoln Arts Council and recognized at the Lincoln Mayors Arts Awards on June 8, 2011.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cultiva Coffee hosts Great Plains Barista Jam

Speaking from personal experience, I think most writers have considered taking on a part-time job as a barista to stay afloat and support their writing. Coffee and writing have an intimate relationship, and coffee houses are great places to get jazzed up and energized for writing--there's something about that atmosphere that gets the creative juices flowing, in my opinion.

This March, Lincoln's Cultiva Coffee is hosting the Great Plains Barista Jam. This will involve classes on Roasting, Cupping, Basic Barista Skills, Tea and Espresso Equipment Maintenance, a beer tasting with Modern Monks Brewery and a Latte Art Throwdown. This'll be taking place March 11-13th. There are fees to attend classes--but hey, maybe this will get you a job at a hip java joint, and you can make enough tips to move ahead with your first novel!

Now, go grab a cup of joe from your favorite coffee place and get going on next season's PSR submissions!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Place-Identity and the Great Plains

Hello PSR contributors and readers! I am writing to you shortly after our interview with conservationist photographer, Michael Forsberg, who will be featured in this years edition of the magazine. We had a really great talk with him, and I am excited for you all to read what had to say about his work. When I was preparing my questions for Forsberg, I was reminded of a Literature in Nature class I took over the summer a few years ago, and the kind of Great Plains writing I was introduced to.

The book on our reading list dedicated to the Great Plains was John Price's Not Just Any Land, which explores a sense of place on the plains. As a native Nebraskan who has lived here his entire life, I was especially interested in the contents of this book. One of the concepts I hear floating around all the time as an English major at UNL is this abstract idea of "Place," capital P. As a younger student, I had incorporated this turn-of-phrase into my lexicon of English major humor, as a way to laugh at the absurdities of the field. This book, however, helped me seriously consider and actualize what the idea of "place," lower-case p.

The standard questions of "what is place?" and "where is home?" aside, Price's book helps readers understand how an identity centered in the location one makes one's home and the reasons behind the home-making can motivate an individual to learn and conserve the physical realm in which they reside. It sounds abstract and intangible, yes; but rest assured Price writes with an accessible and thoughtful style, patiently and honestly revealing his journey through the plains and his encounters with those who have written about them.

I've been all over the United States during my life time. I've spent a great deal of time on the East Coast, explored the forests in Alaska, wandered the San Antonio River Walk, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and hiked through Colorado. But I've also ridden my bike across the state of Nebraska five times, and I've spent much of my life getting personal with the land. Many of my strongest memories of my childhood are ingrained in the prairie. As I read through Price's considerations of how writers operate and interact with the land, I found a lot that resonated with me. Issues of regional writers, writers who write outside the region they are interested in, and writers who seem to have it tough because the Midwest lacks the big-name publishing companies held up in New York: as a writer who has found identity in classical literature and local, modern poetry (among other writings), I am increasingly interested in place-identities.

If you also feel a draw to a certain place, feel it characterizes the way you live your live, give this book a read. Not Just Any Land delivers a great commentary on these concepts and also speaks to the power and worth of the Great Plains as a place to protect and admire. Michael Forsberg's photography is a fantastic look into the merits Price bring to light in his book.

I will leave you with some questions:
If you are a native to the Great Plains, how is your perception of home shaped by the landscape?
If you are reading us from outside the region, how does writing from the Great Plains shape how you perceive it? How does it inform your own perception of home in your region?

Give Price's book a read if you want to learn more:

And check out Michael Forsberg's work!

Have a safe Holiday season! Look out for more updates as we near submission deadlines!

-Neal Gebhard

Monday, November 29, 2010

MFA vs. NYC. Which side are you on?

There's an interesting piece by Chad Harbach on Slate right now that argues that there are two distinct cultures in American writing right now. The first school is the MFA, the university-sponsored writing culture that is spread across the nation in college towns . The second is the New York culture; people like Philip Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, etc.

The article makes a lot of intriguing points about how each culture produces different writing. The MFA writer focuses on the short story form more than the New York writer. The MFA writer is also better-funded than the New York writer. If you teach writing, you don't have to make money from it. On the other hand, the MFA writer is pressured to publish frequently to beef up job credentials.

What camp do you fall into? And what about the people who aren't in either camp. If I'm neither a New Yorker, nor an MFA, do I even have a chance?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ammo for Fighting Writer's Block has an on-going four-part series filled with useful advice for the writing process from numerous famous authors such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Thomas Pynchon, Vladimir Nabokov, and Toni Morrison. There is much to be gleaned here about crafting poetry, short stories, or fiction. Here are two excerpts:

Sometimes I would sit at the machine for hours without writing a line. Fired by an idea, often an irrelevant one, my thoughts would come too fast to be transcribed. I would be dragged along at a gallop, like a stricken warrior tied to his chariot.
--Henry Miller

My method is one of continuous revision. While writing a long novel, every day I loop back to earlier sections to rewrite, in order to maintain a consistent, fluid voice. When I write the final two or three chapters of a novel, I write them simultaneously with the rewriting of the opening, so that, ideally at least, the novel is like a river uniformly flowing, each passage concurrent with all the others.
-- Joyce Carol Oates

Part One "Why and How To Write"
Part Two "How and Why To Write"
Part Three "Why, How to Write"
Part Four (to be published)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Am A Man

Last week the UNL Bookstore featured a book club discussion in Joe Starita's "I Am A Man", which was chosen as the One Book One Lincoln book of the year. Here's a summary from

"In 1877, Chief Standing Bear's Ponca Indian tribe was forcibly removed from their Nebraska homeland and marched to what was then known as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in what became the tribe's own Trail of Tears." "I Am a Man" chronicles what happened when Standing Bear set off on a six-hundred-mile walk to return the body of his only son to the Ponca's traditional burial ground. Along the way, it examines the complex relationship between the United States government and this small, peaceful tribe. It looks at the legal consequences of land swaps and broken treaties, while never losing sight of the heartbreaking journey the Ponca endured."

The reviews on this page were very interesting: everyone seems to agree on the historical significance of the story, but find it less riveting than other forms of literature. This gets me thinking: how much creative liberty are we allowed to take to make a historical story more interesting to our readership? How faithful should we be to the story? Are there instances where embellishment might actually do justice to the message of the story? Can we even have objectivity when it comes to relating an historical event?

Obviously "I Am A Man" has had a powerful impact upon Lincoln, Nebraska. I think the best way to answer these sorts of questions would be to read the book for yourself!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sheldon Fall on Campus Contest

The Sheldon Art Museum is having a contest where students take pictures on campus that show what fall means to them. The winner is chosen by Sheldon employees, and receives a $25 gift certificate to the museum gift shop, and a Sheldon Photography coffee table book. Details on their website.

This sounds like a great idea! Fall is such a great season in Nebraska, I'm sure there will be a ton of beautiful photos.

(P.S. You know where else you can send photos of fall on campus? Plains Song Review!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

PSR now accepting submissions!

In case you didn't already hear, Plains Song Review is now accepting submissions for our 13th volume! Submissions are due January 19th, and the magazine will come out in April.

We take:

Send us:
A hard copy
A electronic copy
The Permission to Print form

Check out the submission guidelines for more information!
Questions? Email Kaitlin Ek at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Michael Forsberg to Speak at CGPS Sept. 8

On Wednesday, September 8th (tomorrow), the Center for Great Plains Studies is hosting a seminar by Michael Forsberg, the conservation photographer. The seminar is part of the Paul A. Olson Seminars in Great Plains Studies series. It will be from 3:30-5:00 at the Great Plains Art Museum (1155 Q St in Lincoln).

Michael Forsberg is the photographer behind Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild, which PSR blogged about way back last October as part of the Plains Song Review Book Club!

He was a guest speaker in one of my friend's English classes, and my friend said he was really cool, and a great speaker, so this is definitely worth going to!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Art of the Plains at CGPS

Today is the first day of the Great Plains Art Museum's new exhibit: "Art of the Plains 2010." I walked through it earlier this week, and it's an even cooler exhibit than usual! There's a ton of art on the walls, and it's for sale. So if you have some money to spare (as in, a few thousand dollars), or if you just want to look at the art, you should check it out!

The Great Plains Art Museum is located at:
1155 Q Street, P.O. Box 880214
Lincoln, NE 68588-0214

It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 to 5:00, and Sunday from 1:30 to 5:00.
Free and open to the public