Archive for July, 2010

July 27, 2010

“The Blizzard” by Rita Buckley

Joan Robinson ran her 35-year-old eyes over Mike, the 21-year-old nephew of her best friend Ennis, and liked what she saw. Very tasty, she thought.  It was an ideal situation, everyone caught in a blizzard, here for the night, in a beautifully restored farmhouse in Vermont, with a crackling fire in the hearth, and plenty of booze and weed to go around.


Roger Robinson ran his eyes over Missy, Mike’s 18-year-old girlfriend, and liked what he saw. The thought that she was too young for a chubby middle-aged sales manager briefly crossed his mind, but he dismissed it out of hand. You’re as old as you feel, he told himself. His dick snickered.”That’s what you think,” it said.


Will and Babette, the ghosts who shared the farmhouse with its new owners, Ennis and Bob Walcott, sat on top of the flat panel TV watching the guests. The restoration had not only saved their drafty old home from a wrecking ball, it kept their long-dead asses off the street and revived their urges for intimate acts with sleeping people. As they watched the group eat, drink, and smoke, Babette took a liking to Mike, while Will, who had a yen for older women, set his one eye on Joan.  

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July 20, 2010

“Spring at the Norwegian Farm” by Kaite Hillenbrand

Kirsti says she’s sick of eggs,
paid in dozens at the farm,
omelets every day and no money
for much else. She returns to Edinburgh
loving goats, sweet little things,
and smart. She delivered litter
after litter, picked one for a pet.

She smiles and scratches her arm.
Her sweater belonged to John Cleese,
she reminds us in rising pitch.
It hangs on her to mid-thigh,
sleeves rolled to her knuckles,
fingers peeking from woolen caves.
She borrowed it when she dated his stepson,
kept it when they broke up.
That’s her story, anyway.
She stuffs a slice of raw bacon in her mouth.

The dams snubbed an orphan
until the farm vets taught Kirsti
to cut the skin from a stillborn runt
and hang it, uncleaned,
from the shoulders and face
of the hungry kid. Saddled
with the small pelt slimy
with birth, the survivor
smelled enough like the runt
for his adopted dam to nurse him.

Kirsti’s cheeks flush.
The farmer slaughtered her pet
along with the rest.
This will be her job:
keep alive the knock-kneed babies,
agile does and billies,
nurse them meaty and milky.
Accept eggs and cheese as payment.
Be practical, stoic, in an age
when we pretend it’s not death
we crave consuming.

Kaite Hillenbrand is the Poetry Editor of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, and she teaches English at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, PA. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of California, Riverside, and she earned her MA in Literature from WVU. She feels rooted in West Virginia’s landscape, and her poetry often reflects that. Her poetry was most recently published in Kestrel and is forthcoming in Writers’ Bloc, and a recent interview with her appears online at The Bees Knees.

July 13, 2010

“In Which Her Dad Stops” by Justin Edwards

              Joel didn’t feel like driving anymore, so he stopped the car in the middle of the lane.
             “What are you doing?” his daughter, Cynthia, asked.
             She was a middle-aged woman, and he often thought that her passing years were the very things forcing him into old age.
             “You weigh on me,” he would sometimes say to her.
             “I don’t feeling like driving anymore,” he said to her. Since the stopping of the car, she had yet to look at him, but was, instead, looking around for a physical reason.
             “But Dad, you can’t…”

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July 3, 2010

Welcome to Buzzard Picnic on WordPress

Because literature cannot and does not exist in a vacuum–rather, it is a reactionary and constantly expanding realm of the human experience–Buzzard Picnic aims to test the boundaries of publishing by experimenting with the myriad platforms that the internet has to offer. The opinion of the editors is that a quarterly, issue-based format can feel stagnant, as it anchors itself to the limitations of traditional print media. Therefore, in our quest to present you with quality writing in a variety of interesting and satisfying ways, we here at BP will henceforth be trying out different formats and visions. As always, we exist to serve you, an evermore sophisticated reading audience. Please let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. Comments, thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.

We invite you to spread a blanket, get comfy and dig in once a week as new content is published for your reading pleasure.

July 3, 2010

Editor’s Note

“It is easy to understand why literary revolutions have always been made in the name of realism. When a form of writing has lost its initial vitality, its force, its violence, when it has become a vulgar recipe, an academic mannerism which its followers respect only out of routine or laziness, without even questioning its necessity then it is indeed a return to the real which constitutes the arraignment of the dead formulas and the search for new forms capable of continuing the effort. The discovery of reality will continue only if we abandon outworn forms. Unless we suppose that the world is henceforth entirely discovered (and, in that case, the wisest thing would be to stop writing altogether), we can only attempt to go farther. It is not a question of ‘doing better,’ but of advancing in ways as yet unknown, in which a new kind of writing becomes necessary.”

            I begin this issue’s editorial with these words, written by Alain Robbe-Grillet in what can be considered his 1963 manifesto For a New Novel, because in the index to his 2010 work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, David Shields cites the former as “the book that in many ways got me thinking about all this stuff.” Indeed, Shields begins his so-called ars poetica by stating: “Every artistic movement from the beginning of time is an attempt to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art.”


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July 3, 2010

Interview with David Shields

David Shields is the author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. He is the author of eight other books, including, most recently, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead, a New York Times bestseller. In addition, his essays and stories have appeared in various journals and magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, and McSweeney’s. Shields lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington, along with being a member of the faculty in Warren Wilson College’s low-residency MFA Program for Writers, in Asheville, North Carolina. The author is currently on tour promoting his new book, crisscrossing the US and even making appearances at the Hay on Wye Festival in England and the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Mr. Shields granted this interview via email.

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July 3, 2010

“Bilbliophilia” by Lauren Avirom

           There’s a brand new book out, and I’m really excited about it.

           Strange and Wonderful: An Informal Visual History of Manuscript Books and Albums showcases truly one-of-a-kind, handmade books.  There are notebooks, scrapbooks, journals, photo albums, and more.  And they’re created by graffiti artists, fetishists, students, experts, hobbyists, enthusiasts, gardeners, travelers, and more.  They come from all over the world.  They span hundreds of years. 

           Such a broad spectrum of interests and individuals are represented that it seems a shame to single out just one, or even a few.[1]  They are united only by form, and they take many forms – there is one made of palm leaves tied between wooden boards, there is a scroll – but all are books.  Strange and Wonderful is a testament to “the power of the book as a forever mutating possibility, a form that gives lasting authority to facts and fancies, discoveries and dreams.”[2]


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July 3, 2010

Review of “From Where You Dream”

Robert Olen Butler

Grove Press (March 2005, 288 pages)

Review by Erin Pennington


Achieving Thrum: An Analysis of Robert Olen Butler’s Method-writing Approach

           In From Where You Dream, Robert Olen Butler delivers on his promise to render a semester-long fiction course in two hundred and sixty nine pages. The book is comprised of lectures to his students at Florida State University. Through accessible and illustrative examples, Butler pushes those writers willing to open themselves to his method to be brave, to look ahead and not to avert their eyes. Instead of shying away from the difficulties of transcendent writing which culminate in writing from one’s “head,” he prods writers to enter their “dreamspace.”  This work furthers the tried-but-true mantra of most fiction writing workshops, “show, don’t tell,” scaffolding a concrete framework upon which budding or established writers can build and integrate fresh meaning. By the finish, the reader is hastened to the conclusion that a piece of writing is nothing less than a work of art, whose structure must grow organically rather than resulting from an end-run process, externally embossed by the unbending stamp of intellect. While From Where You Dream was published in 2005, Butler’s suggestions that writers envision themselves as sensualists rather than intellectuals and conduct the work of writing in keeping with this self-conception remains timely for any writer, budding or practiced.

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