Shadows, Ghosts, and Throats, Oh My!

Celebrating Halloween with a spooky poem from our archives!

Here in the Bay Area the days are getting shorter, the air is crisper, and zombies are running wild in San Francisco. In celebration of Halloween, we at Fourteen Hills want to highlight a poem from our archives that embodies this seasonal, spooky mood. Few poems make our hair stand on end as much as Andrea Baker's "The Last Hour of Throats," originally published in Fourteen Hills Issue 13.1:


The town that cast the largest shadow

lived in its own dark grace

and elegance there concealed
the great who gathered about the war

though the rivers outside were blank and weary

and the storm doubled as regret

and everywhere the dead were in need
of boxing
even if

they were still alive


Whether Baker is describing a post-war ghost town or questioning what keeps us alive, her poem has a chilling effect. What elegance is there in reliving a complex past? Baker challenges readers to reevaluate who is alive and who is dead, and asks us to examine our own doubts and regrets. Or maybe—maybe these throats are a throwback to something macabre yet kitschy: vampires. Think about it: who else pays such close attention to the last hour of throats?

Baker's poems have been published all over since appearing in Fourteen Hills. You can see her work in Fence, Drunken Boat, Volt, The Denver Quarterly, and many other places. She was awarded the Poetry Society of America's Chapbook Award in 2004 for her first book, Gilda. Slope Books published her first full-length collection, Like Wind Loves a Window, in 2005. She is also a poetry editor of 3rd Bed Magazine.

If this hasn't quenched your thirst for Halloween poetry, let us know. What's your favorite ghost story? How would you describe a ghost town? And if you were a vampire, would you be watching for the last hour of throats?

Happy Haunting.

-Julia, Fourteen Hills Staff


Fourteen Hills: What's in a name?

While the seven hills of early Rome figure prominently in Roman mythology and politics, the city of San Francisco seems to encourage visitors and residents to argue over how many hills fill our small city. There’s certainly a lot more than seven, and many more than fourteen.

The usually reliable Wikipedia lists forty-four hills in SF, from the lowest (Rincon Hill at 100 ft.) to the highest (Mount Davidson at 925 ft.). For pictures and a map to forty-three of those hills, visit MisterSF.

But the most complete and accurate list we’ve found identifies SEVENTY-FOUR HILLS in San Francisco and its surrounding areas (Goat Hill on Yerba Buena Island makes the list). Check it out at the SF Gazetteer.

All of this comes down to: Why is the SFSU review called Fourteen Hills? Which hills does it reference? Send in your ideas, and stay tuned for the rest of our investigation.

-Leanne M.
Fourteen Hills staff


Terese Svoboda, contributor in upcoming Fourteen Hills 16.1, has a book out in December

Fourteen Hills contributor Terese Svoboda never stops working. In an interview she admitted that writing was an addictive habit, something she did every day. Daily writing is a ritual many established authors claim is absolutely necessary but difficult to adhere to, as writing is often associated with existential anguish. Svoboda, who must revel in this anguish, has the hard-earned reputation of being prolific without the usual assembly line connotation. She has a multiple books slated for 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Although she is best-known for her poetry and nonfiction, she has written over one hundred short stories and is working on her sixth novel. The New Yorker, TLS (Times Literary Supplement) and Poetry have recently featured Svoboda’s poetry, and her short stories are forthcoming in One Story, Fairytale Review, Wigleaf, Sleepingfish and Freight Stories. The Movie Business, a short story by Terese Svoboda, will be featured in Fourteen Hills, Issue 16.1.

Squeezed in between the releases of All Aberration (The Contemporary Poetry Series, Sept. 1 2009), and her fifth novel, Pirate Talk or Mermalade (Dzanc Press, 2010), is the paperback release of Trailer Girl and Other Stories (December, 2009).

Trailer Girl is a collection of seventeen short stories, many of which feature nameless women who deal with life in the shadows. Her characters manipulate their own stories within Svoboda’s framework, a playground she sets up for them to tear down. Her stories are vividly imagined and often deemed “inaccessible” because they do not adhere to a familiar logic. She is known for her feverish prose and inimitable style, not for her user-friendliness. In an interview with Ms. Svoboda by David F. Hoenigman, he asks: 

      “What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?”

      “The words.” 

The hardcover edition of Trailer Girl was released by Counterpoint (February 2001), and the paperback will be released in December of this year.

Some selections from reviews: 

“Her poetic language is spare, disjointed, confusing, brilliant, and piercing, but her angst-filled tales are neither pleasant nor pretty. Hers is a dark world of vagrancy, abuse, drug addiction, and alcoholism, containing a litany of life's losers and wounded.”
- Library Journal

“Svoboda, sounding here like a cross between William S. Burroughs and Dorothy Allison, has been lauded in edgier venues like Spin and the Village Voice. While this may not be a mainstream hit, she could find an audience of more adventurous readers.”
–Publishers Weekly

“The kind of satisfaction that one gets from [Svoboda’s] stories is quick and blinding, governed more by instinct than reason.”

—Francie Lin, San Francisco Chronicle

You'll be able to read Svoboda's story, The Movie Business, when issue 16.1 of Fourteen Hills is released on December 16. Save the date for the release party at the San Francisco Motorcycle Club. See you there!

-Amy Glasenapp, Fourteen Hills Fiction Editor


Fourteen Hills Lit Crawl Wrap-up

It was great to see so many new faces at the Fourteen Hills reading at the City Arts Gallery during Saturday’s LitCrawl. We love introducing new people to our magazine. We also love being paired with great magazines like Eleven Eleven.

Contributors Jenny Pritchett, D.W. Lichtenberg, and Jill Tidman rocked the mike to great applause. A few times the content veered into slightly racy territory (Jenny, we have you to thank for that), and one of our young audience members had to be escorted outside to protect her innocence. Contributing to the delinquency of minors, that’s Fourteen Hills in a nutshell. (Just kidding!)

"I'm certainly biased, but the Lit Crawl is the most fun part of Litquake,” Jenny said afterwards. “For one evening out of every year, the Mission [District of San Francisco] comes alive with fans of literature! How strange! How wonderful! Artsy types throng alleys, cafes, galleries, and bars to hear their versions of rock stars read –gasp -- poems and stories. It's a beautiful thing, and I'm honored and pleased to have been involved.” Check out Jenny's reading on Dublit.com: Jenny Pritchett reads at Lit Crawl 2009

D.W. showed off his frenetic reading style at the mike, and we asked him about his unique style. “I can use my nervous energy on stage to my benefit,” he said. “I don't rehearse. My writing aims for purity of voice, and so does my performance. Realness is the most important thing in my work. When people think I'm being brutally honest, the vulnerability of the work can hit a lot harder.” Click to listen on Dublit.com: D.W. Lichtenberg reads at Lit Crawl 2009

Jill Tidman finished the reading off with a story that's set in a bar just a few blocks from the gallery. Her publication in Fourteen Hills 15.2 was her first. "To be given a tremendous stage like Litcrawl is quite an opportunity. It's a brilliant way to bring people together through poems and stories, which have a way connecting us as physical and emotional beings—and these days it can be easy to forget that's what we are." Listen to Jill Tidman's reading on Dublit.com

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and become our fan on Facebook. That way you’ll be one of the first to know about upcoming readings and events.

See you at the next event, which will be the release of The Ancient Book of Hip by D.W. Lichtenberg on November 18, 2009 at the Space Gallery.

- Leanne M.
Fourteen Hills staff


Fourteen Hills contributor Linh Dinh releases new book: “Some Kind of Cheese Orgy”

Prominent Vietnamese poet and past Fourteen Hills contributor Linh Dinh has a new book out Oct. 15 from Chax Press called Some Kind of Cheese Orgy. The title alone makes me want to read it. Dinh is a writer who takes poetry just seriously enough.

 “Imagine a concoction that mixes Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Celine’s Bardum, frank, rollicking humor and hair-raising disgust. After adding fish sauce, a smelly cheese and sexual sweat, shake vigorously. Out of the bottle rises Linh Dinh.” That’s poet and critic John Yau’s description of the new collection on SPD’s website (where you can buy the book for $16). If you want to sample it first, here’s the title poem of the collection.

Linh Dinh, based in Philadelphia, has already embarked on a traveling tour around the states, and our readers outside the Bay Area can catch him here:

- Chicago, October 24, 7 p.m. at Myopic Books.
- San Marcos, Texas (at Texas State University), October 27, 3 p.m. in room 315 of the Academic Services Building South. This is not a poetry reading but a discussion of Linh’s photography project, State of the Union.
- Austin, October 27, 7 p.m. at Possum Casa de Nguyn Smith, 2208 Trailside Dr. #A
- Tuscon, venue and time to be announced
- Orange County, CA, November 3, 4 p.m. at Chapman University
- Kansas City, MO, November 7, 7 p.m. at Kansas City Art Institute
- Glassboro, N.J., November 9, 7 p.m. at the Art Gallery at Westby (Rowan University)

Also, if you happen to be in Boulder, Dinh will be teaching in Naropa University’s 2010 Summer Writing Program, from June 14-20 (the entire program runs through July 11). You can get more information on that program at swpr@naropa.edu.

Next up for Linh Dinh? According to Wikivietlit, of which Dinh is editor, as of May 2009 he was working on a collection titled The Deluge: The New Vietnamese Poetry. We’ll look forward to that.

Check out Linh Dinh's work in issue 13.1 of Fourteen Hills. Buy the issue on Small Press Distribution. Take a sneak peak at one of the poems in the Fourteen Hills archives.

-Leigh Ann D.
Fourteen Hills staff


Fourteen Hills Will Be At San Francisco Litcrawl 2009!

On Saturday, October 17th from 6pm -9:30pm
San Francisco’s 10th annual Litquake will conclude with the most anticipated literary event of the year: Litcrawl.

Fourteen Hills wouldn’t miss it and we hope you feel the same!

During Litcrawl, for three and a half hours only,
San Francisco’s Mission District will be host to dozens of writers represented by almost every major literary organization in the Bay Area. The writers and audience will be stuffed into bars, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores; and the readings and spoken word performances will happen more or less simultaneously. To add to the joy (and general chaos), this year’s Litcrawl will also be attended by over 20 street food vendors so you can get your gastronomical stimulation at the same time as your literary stimulation.

To provide some loose structure to the melee and to keep the crowds moving, Litcrawl has been arranged into three phases:

Fourteen Hills will be given a reading with Eleven Eleven during Phase 2 at the City Art Gallery at 828 Valencia St.

Here is some information on the three writers reading for Fourteen Hills:

Jenny Pritchett is currently teaching classes at the San Francisco Writer’s Salon. She is the former managing editor of Fourteen Hills, and has taught or lectured at SFSU, California College of the Arts, and Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. Her debut story collection, At or Near the Surface (Fourteen Hills Press), won the 2008 Michael Rubin Chapbook Award. She has published work in Southwest Review, Northwest Review, Boulevard, Salt Hill, Fiction Attic, Best of the Web 2008 and elsewhere. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

D.W. Lichtenberg is 23 years old & living in San Francisco. He is the author of The Ancient Book of Hip (Fourteen Hills Press), an exploration into the phenomenon of hip, to be released November 2009. He is a writer, a filmmaker, a caffeine addict, an obsessive cleaner.

Jill Tidman lives in San Francisco with her posse: Wil and Izy. She is Program Director at the Redford Center and a Masters candidate at Bread Loaf School of English. She is a contributor to Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review Issue 15.2

RSVP to the event on Facebook.

We hope to see you there.

Fourteen Hills Staff


Contributor Sherman Alexie Comes to San Francisco: See Him Live

Former Fourteen Hills contributor, and National Book Award winner, Sherman Alexie will be reading from War Dances at two local venues this week. We’re big fans of Alexie, and published four of his poems in Vol. 3.2, Spring 1998. Remember, back issues of our literary magazine are always available for purchase for only $5.00.

Alexie’s pseudo-memoir about growing up poor on an Indian reservation in Washington, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, won the National Book Award for young adult fiction in 2007. It’s a great read, whether you’re a young adult or not. It’s about trying to break free from your family and forging a new path in life. Heartbreaking, inspirational, and highly recommended. 

Now Alexie is touring to promote a collection of short stories called War Dances. There’s lots of great information on his website, but if you really want to find out more, go see him in person tonight or tomorrow. Here’s the info:

Thursday, October 8, 7:30pm 
Sherman Alexie 
Berkeley Arts & Letters at First Congregational Oakland 
2501 Harrison St at 26th, Oakland 
$12 advance ($6 students with ID in advance), $15 at door 
Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets

Friday, October 9, 7pm 
An Evening with Sherman Alexie 
The Women’s Building, 
3543 18th St, San Francisco 
$8 at door 
More info here.


See ya there!

-Leanne, Fourteen Hills staff