Tag Archives: South 85 Journal

Vic Damone by Suzanne Cleary

Vic Damone – IMDb

Spring 2012

I said Vic Damone. He was a singer, like Mike Douglas
or Jerry Vale or Steve Lawrence, narrow tie
and pastel shirt, a pleasant enough face, pleasant enough voice

singing the standards, the love songs of his parents’ courtship.
Think singing new songs so that they sound old, wrong,
nothing to fall in love by, but Vic Damone a star

in my family’s firmament, because of the famous elevator ride.
At the Jersey shore for our summer vacation,
in a hotel with an outdoor pool, it was the afternoon

my sister and I were allowed to sunbathe by ourselves
as we waited for my mother to come down,
as my father took a nap in the room.

Could it have been that my mother and father
both took a nap, together? This question did not occur to us.
Anyway, we dangled our feet in the water, made sloppy,

slappy footprints to the plastic lawn chairs, and we waited.
When my mother stepped into the elevator, there he was,
Vic Damone, like any man wearing a polo shirt and plaid shorts.

My mother, bright white towels
pressed to her pink seersucker bathing suit with boy-cut legs,
my mother smelled of suntail oil, and did not speak a word

to Vic Damone, did not even look at him, although
she could not help but see his reflection
in the elevator’s steel doors, until the doors slid open onto sunlight.

She walked over to us and sat, began combing my sister’s hair
into a pony tail, while Vic Damone paused beside the elevator.
He put on his sunglasses, lit a cigarette,

maybe preparing to meet his agent or sign a contract,
to be driven to rehearsal for a show. Then he turned,
headed into the lobby, and my mother, still combing, whispered, 

That’s Vic Damone, as if she spoke not a man’s name, but,
rather, a verb or noun, and she was enriching our vocabulary,
vicdamone meaning “to prepare for departure” or “to pause,

to reconsider,” vicdamone meaning “privacy in a public space,”
vicdamone the discretion that keeps strangers from saying
what could divert them from other, more important, things.

Suzanne Cleary‘s poetry books are Keeping Time and Trick Pear, both published by Carnegie Mellon. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in several anthologies, including Poetry 180 and Best American Poetry.

Am I a Real Writer?

By Christine Schott

I have a confession to make. I don’t write every day. I don’t even write every other day. Despite the advice of every writing instructor and every craft book I’ve encountered, I have never managed to write more than once a week, and never more than two or three hours at that. And I’ve spent a long time asking myself if that means I’m not a Real Writer.

In my day job, I’m an academic, so I have plenty of experience with imposter syndrome, and it’s plagued my confidence as a writer for years. I know that most of us have full-time jobs in other fields, so I’m not alone in finding it hard to carve out time to write. But so many other people seem better at accomplishing it. I can’t get up at four a.m. to write before dawn; I object to four a.m. on principle. I can’t squeeze in fifteen minutes of writing during my lunch break; I just get settled in when it’s time to go back to work. What I’m left with is a jealously guarded window of time on Sunday afternoons when I hunch over my laptop or notebook and descend into a caffeinated frenzy of creation.

Astonishingly, writing once a week actually seems to work for me. In the past year, I’ve drafted one full novel and published several short pieces. And in that year, I’ve realized that the physical act of writing is only one part of the writing process. I’ve discovered that, while I’m only at my desk typing away for two ours on a Sunday, I’m actually preparing for those two hours every other day of the week. While I work out, I’m mapping my plot, imagining my beat sheet superimposed over the screen of the elliptical. I recently had a terrific revelation about a troublesome character while I was flossing my teeth. In the shower, I’m trying out lines of dialogue: yes, out loud. This habit must be particularly entertaining to my downstairs neighbor when my characters start arguing.

Some writers can compose in snatches, a sentence on the subway, a paragraph at lunch. The fact that I can’t do that has often made me feel unprofessional by comparison, as though, if I was a Real Writer, I would be able to wrestle my brain into submission and force it to produce art on a schedule. But the truth is I will never be that kind of writer. I need a large, uninterrupted swath of time to sit down and write: time to stare at the wall, gaze vacantly out the window, type and erase, type and erase. What I know now, though, is that I might not be able to write in short intervals, but I can think in them. My brain is at work even if my hands aren’t. So when I do sit down on Sunday with my coffee and my two hours of writing ahead of me, I have a head full of material waiting to be drawn out on the page. And whether that makes me as a Real Writer or not is beside the point: I’m writing, and that’s all I care about.

Christine Schott teaches literature and creative writing at Erskine College.  She is Pushcart-nominated author whose work has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Dappled Things, Casino Literary Magazine, and Wanderlust.  She holds a PhD in medieval literature from the University of Virginia and an MFA in creative writing from Converse College and has been working for South85 for three years.

South 85 Journal at AWP

After much discussion and hand wringing, we have decided to cancel our reading at AWP.
Several contributors have written to say they will not be attending AWP amid concerns related to the coronavirus and while the health risk is difficult to truly gauge, we would really hate to be the cause for quarantine or illness. We plan to organize a reading in Kansas City next year and invite you all to join us then.
If you still plan to attend AWP, stop by the Converse College table (T1932) for some great swag (cell phone pockets) and see our list of scheduled book-signings.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. Hope to see you in 2021.
Converse MFA Students Mic Take-Over

Converse MFA Mic Take-Over

If you’re looking for a day after Valentine’s treat, visit Hub City Tap House for the Converse MFA mic take-over. The event will take place on Wednesday, February 15 at 8 p.m. and is open to everyone. Readers will include a mix of poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers reading original content. Several of South 85 Journal‘s staff members will be featured in the showcase. Readers for this event include third semester poet Russell Jackson, second semester Young Adult fiction writer Josh Springs, third semester fiction student Linda Meredith, graduate poet Kathleen Nalley, third semester fiction author Mackinley Greenlaw, third semester fiction student Katie Sherman, and third semester non-fiction author Jonathan Burgess. The take-over, hosted by Pints & Poets, is one in a series of readings that takes place every third Wednesday during the Spring and Fall months. Continue below for reader bios:

Russell Jackson holds a BA from The Evergreen State College and is a current poetry student in the MFA Creative Writing program at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. He serves as a poetry editor at South 85 Journal and his poetry was recently published in the Summer 2016 issue of The Donut Factory Literary Magazine. His academic interests are concentrated in LGBTQ literary and cultural studies. Literary heroes include Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, Paul Monette, Edmund White, Richard Blanco, and Nickole Brown. He currently writes and resides in Hendersonville, NC.

Josh Springs is a South Carolina native and has worked for multiple literary magazines, including the Mountain Laurel and South 85 Journal. Josh is a second semester, young adult fiction writer in the Converse College Low Residency MFA program. His favorite authors are Adi Alsaid, Patrick Ness, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allen Poe, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Linda Meredith is a current fiction student in the MFA Creative Writing Program. She is also the editorial contractor for Great Jones Street Press. In her fiction, you will often meet a darker, troubled character in a seemingly normal world. Her literary inspirations include David Foster Wallace, Ernest Hemingway, George Saunders, Raymond Carver, and Grace Paley. She currently writes in Spartanburg, SC where she lives with her husband and their English Coonhound, Memphis.

Kathleen Nalley is the author of the poetry chapbooks Nesting Doll and American Sycamore, and the upcoming full-length collection, Gutterflower (Red Paint Hill Press). Recently, her poetry has appeared in concis, Fall Lines, New Flash Fiction Review, and Slipstream, and in the violence against women anthology from Sable Books, Red Sky. She holds an MFA from Converse College, teaches literature and writing at Clemson University, and finds books their forever homes at M. Judson Booksellers.

Mackinley Greenlaw is a rank amateur currently sussing out his cultural value in Greenville, SC. His fiction is appalling, both literally and morally, and is best suited for a captive audience

Katie Sherman is a freelance journalist who covers fine food and parenting in Charlotte, NC. As an undergraduate, she was mentored by Pulitzer prize nominee George Esper at West Virginia University. Katie is currently pursuing an MFA degree at Converse College. She has an affinity for Southern Gothic literature, cider beer, Chicago, and morning snuggles with her family — Ben, Ella and Addie. Katie is the new Blog Editor for South 85 Journal. She’s currently working on a short story collection about social taboos afflicting women.

Jonathan Burgess is a South Carolina native and a Marine combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature and currently studies creative nonfiction writing in Converse College’s MFA program. His work has appeared in O Dark Thirty; Blood & Thunder; The St Austin Review; The Journal of War, Literature, and the Arts; and Catholic Exchange. He lives in upstate South Carolina with his wife and four children.