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Introducing The Hopper

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I’m pleased to introduce the new environmental literary journal The Hopper, along with a Q&A with the founders.


 

Tell us a bit about The Hopper and how it came to be.

Green Writers Press (our mother organization) produced one issue of a more casual and smaller distribution magazine called Greenzine last April 2015. When Sierra Dickey got involved with GWP as a poetry editor, the previous editors of Greenzine had since left the press. She was interested in the periodical process and decided to revive the publication and bring it up to a place where it could compete with other regional literary magazines.

 

What types of writing are you looking for?

We are interested in writing that examines the intersection of nature and culture, that explores human and more-than-human connections, and that articulates unique human experiences in nature. We are also interested in work that challenges environmental injustice and investigates the impacts of modernity. We publish poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, science narratives, ecocriticism, interviews, and book reviews, in addition to visual art.

 

Any contests?

We are currently running our first annual Hopper Prize for Young Poets poetry contest. The winning chapbook will receive $500 and publication. Please do learn more about it here.

 

Tell us a bit about your editors and backgrounds?

Dede Cummings is our publisher. At Middlebury, she studied poetry and was recently (30 years later) awarded a writer’s grant and a partial fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is a book designer and letterpress aficionado and she loves designing the words of others.

Sierra Dickey is the founding editor who now oversees long term business development and organizes the Room for Craft interviews. An environmental humanities major at Whitman College, Sierra was sold on eco lit when she realized how crucial literature is to one’s understanding of the natural world.

Rose Alexandre-Leach works with our writers of prose and manages The Hopper’s website. She studied biology at Oberlin College and came to publishing by way of science education. She believes in the power of a good story.

Jenna Gersie is our grammar guru. She completed her master’s degree in environmental studies with a concentration in writing and communications at Green Mountain College. She works in environmental education and study abroad and is passionate about place-based literature and meanings of home.

Anna Mullen studied environmental literature at Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. She works in farm education and communications at Retreat Farm. Anna loves to read writing that reminds us that scientific soundings and artistic inquiries are not so different as we might believe.

We also have had great support from Green Writers Press editor John Tiholiz and interns Kaitlyn Plukas, Ron Anahaw, Emily Blohm, and Ferne Johansson, all students at Bennington College.

 

What writers inspire you?

We are all fans of classic “pioneering” nature essayists with our own contributing quirks. Jenna is a Hermann Hesse devotee, Sierra could read Mary McCarthy for weeks, Rose will read anything with a dragon on the cover, Anna loves reading about sea and space voyages, and Dede is a poetry hound—she loved it when her mentor, the Vermont poet Galway Kinnell, was asked if he was a “nature poet,” to which he replied, “What other kind of poet is there?”

 

What advice do you have for writers of environmental poetry and prose?

Please read widely (we’re all big proponents of opening up the nature writing canon) and eschew clichés. The weirder angle you have on an experience or a natural object, the better. Try to enter the mind of George Saunders’ and Annie Dillard’s hypothetical child. Pay attention to and discuss non-natural things to bring your real ideas about nature to light. Stop using the word nature.

The Hopper

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Book Review: The Monkey Wrench Gang

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Whenever I speak to people about the eco-fiction, this book is the most commonly mentioned.

And it should be.

It’s the first book to put a name and face to the movement to protect the planet — or at least “throw a monkey wrench” in developments.

Published in 1975, many aspects of the book are remarkably timely, which is quite sad, of course. As the book is about four people who join forces to throw a monkey wrench into developments that are destroying local environments. This ranges from burning billboards to torching a clear cutting operation, destroying bridges, and, ultimately, trying to destroy the Glen Canyon Dam. The spirit of Ned Ludd looms large over this book.

The spirit of the book is infectious: four revolutionaries traveling across the Southwest desert destroying signs of commercialism and extraction along the way. It’s easy to see how this book has inspired a generation of activism. The firebrand of the group, Hayduke, sums it up nicely when he says:

“My job is to save the fucking wilderness. I don’t know anything else worth saving.”

What I like most about this book is how Abbey captures the “tilting at windmills” mentally of the characters. I empathize with their need to strike out, to say no in whatever fashion they can. But the more they destroy, the closer they get to being caught.

Near-misses multiply. People get sloppy. And the authorities get more persistent.

Abbey portrays a vivid, exciting world of living on the edge of society. And for these people, once they go to the edge and beyond, it’s clear they’re not coming back. Which is how I feel at times, though for different reasons.

There is a major flaw to this book, which is quite obvious to me. A number of characters are upset with developments that kill trees or damage native wildlife, and yet they all eat meat without any remorse. It’s a shame there is a disconnect among the characters regarding the detrimental effects of animal agriculture on the environment. But, then again, it’s the early 1970s. If this book were updated for today, that’s the only thing I would change. The rest of it, sadly, is as timely as it was when it was published.

One final point: I like how two of the characters are older — one is in his sixties. I look around today and sometimes wonder what happened to all that activism that sprouted in the 1970s only to go fallow in the ’80s and ’90s.

The Monkey Wrench Gang (P.S.)

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Announcing the Bear Deluxe Magazine Doug Fir Fiction Award

Calling all fiction writers: Save the date (September 3 deadline) for submissions to the Bear Deluxe Magazine Doug Fir Fiction Award, co-sponsored by the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, Ashland Creek Press, and Hawthorne Books.

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Please see below for complete guidelines, and you can also click here for details and more info.

The Bear Deluxe Magazine welcomes submissions of previously unpublished short stories up to 5,000 words, relating to a sense of place or the natural world, interpreted as broadly or narrowly as the author defines.

Entry Fee: $15

Word limit: 5,000

Deadline: September 3, 2013

Grand Prize: $1,000, writer’s residency at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, national publication, and manuscript review

Finalists: Manuscript review, recognition, publication consideration

Award Judge: Lidia Yuknavitch’s most recent books include Dora: A Headcase, a novel, and The Chronology of Water: A Memoir. She is also the author of three works of short fiction (Her Other Mouths, Liberty’s Excess, and Real to Reel) and as well as a book of literary criticism, Allegories of Violence.

Co-sponsor: Sitka Center for Art & Ecology

Associate sponsors: Ashland Creek Press and Hawthorne Books (Ashland Creek Press and Hawthorne Books will provide manuscript review for one story of the author’s choice from award winner and finalists).

For complete guidelines, visit www.orlo.org or email bear@orlo.org (website is under redesign).