Thanks To Fourteen Hills Archives: Ray Bradbury’s “What I Do Is Me – For That I Came”

We’re here today to give thanks to cranberries, football, and poetry from great prose writers.

In the Fall of 1999, one of our editors commissioned a poem from the legendary science fiction short story writer and author of “Fahrenheit 451.” Proving to everyone that sometimes all you have to do is ask, Mr. Ray Bradbury sent Fourteen Hills a special poem from his collection. (Did you realize The Collected Poems of Ray Bradbury was published in 1982? Neither did we.)

And boy, was it special. “What I Do Is Me – For That I Came” is an ode to Gerard Manley Hopkins (the man who penned Pied Beauty – “Glory be to God for dappled things”).

From the first line to the last, Bradbury’s ode is a very … unusual … celebration of the Victorian poet. He seems to be commemorating the miraculous fusing of genes that created a literary genius 

Here’s the way the poem ends. See for yourself how even a master of words can occasionally fail to wow:

Ten thousand futures share your blood each instant;
Each drop of blood a cloned electric twin of you.
In merest wound on hand read replicas of what I planned and knew
Before your birth, then hid it in your heart.
No part of you that does not snug and hold and hide
The self that you will be if faith abide.
What you do is thee. For that I gave you birth.
Be that. So be the only you that’s truly you on Earth.

Dear Hopkins. Gentle Manley. Rare Gerard. Fine Name.
What we do is
us. Because of you. For that we came.

To read the full poem, and make your own judgments, visit Issue 6.1. And stay tuned as we continue to highlight forgotten gems from our literary magazine’s archives.

Happy thanksgiving, dear readers.

-Leanne M., Fourteen Hills staff


"Ordinary Genius" and "Lucifer at the Starlight" out now from contributor Kim Addonizio

Oakland resident and prolific poet Kim Addonizio, who had her first publication right here in our literary magazine, in issue 4.2, has released two books this year.

One is her fifth collection of poems, titled Lucifer at the Starlite, and the other is a book on craft for struggling and beginning poets, called Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.

Ordinary Genius has received much praise since its release in Spring 2009. Lucifer at the Starlite was released in September, and the San Diego Union-Tribune called it a lyrically intense collection from “one of the nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.” You can read the title poem from the collection here.

Addonizio is also the author of at least nine other books including a novel in verse and The Poet’s Companion. Of writing books on craft, she says in a radio interview for New Letters with Robert Stewart, that her own writing is informed by reading other poets: “I read something that interests me and then I try to figure out how it works and then I try to show somebody else how it works... How do I learn what I learn, and how do I translate that to somebody else?”

If you live in the Bay Area, you can catch Addonizio on December 1 at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park (more info here) and on December 16, 7 pm, at By the Bay Studio in Sausalito (more info here).

If you’re outside the Bay Area, you can hear Kim read January 11, 7:30 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., or January 21, 7:30 p.m. at Seattle Arts and Lectures, Ilsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Seattle, WA. She is a passionate and musical reader and I highly recommend grabbing any opportunity you get to see her in person.

-Leigh Ann, Fourteen Hills staff


Our Own D.W. Lichtenberg: Too Cool to be “Hip”

San Francisco’s Space Gallery was a sea of hipster sunglasses last night at the release party of D.W. Lichtenberg’s first book, The Ancient Book of Hip. The sunglasses are just one of Lichtenberg’s ironic gimmicks, in addition to his signature baseball caps and poems stuffed into tiny envelopes. At one point, he asked his audience to put on their glasses and pose for a photo.

“Does anybody have a digital camera I can use?” he asked. “Man, you guys look so cool.” And, just like that, our very own D.W. had spun hipsterdom on its own sarcastic head. “Just so you know, the book’s name and introduction are bullshit. If you didn’t get that, well then, you didn’t get the book.”

The evening started with an introduction given by Matthew Clark Davison, Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine’s advisor and lecturer at San Francisco State University. Fourteen Hills Editor-in-Chief Christopher Hayter described the Michael Rubin Book Award, which is awarded to one SFSU creative writing student each year, and emphasized how hard Lichtenberg worked to write, edit, and market his own work.

“This guy is a marketing whiz,” Hayter said. “He wrote the book while living in New York, and since then has created his own website, found his own illustrator, designed the book’s layout, and lined up readings both in California and on the East Coast. If you want to learn anything about writing your own book and getting it out there, buy Dan a beer and get his thoughts.”

Hollie Hardy, one of Fourteen Hills Literary Magzine’s poetry editors, introduced Lichtenberg’s illustrator, David Gerbstadt, who had flown out from Philadelphia to wallpaper the Space Gallery in original artwork, all created specifically for that night. Gerbstadt had prepared more than 300 drawings, all of which were sold for $1. Many of the smaller drawings were done on pages from discarded library books. 

Other presenters included fellow poetry editor Tera Ragan, who introduced poet Tess Patalano. Patalano, who is in her second year at SFSU's creative writing program, shared a series of poems, including a pantoum about a renegade bull at an illicit New York rodeo. She was followed by Fourteen Hills contributor Truong Tran, who is a poet, visual artist, and teacher. Lichtenberg worked as a teaching assistant in Tran’s Poetry Workshop last year, and so Tran decided to honor him in two ways: first, with a new baseball cap, and second, with a piece called A Mix Tape For Daniel Lichtenberg.

“I wanted to gather a mix tape that spoke to this new generation of writers,” said Tran after the event. “Dan is a part of that generation.”

When asked how he felt about working with Lichtenberg on the book, Gerbstadt replied that he was “...so honored that he picked me for the cover, and that I got to come all the way out here for his first reading.” Gerbstadt survived a harrowing accident with a semi, which Lichtenberg references in Poem for Dave Gerbstadt.

“Next time I see him, I am gonna give him a high five,” Lichtenberg read from the poem as he walked across the floor to the artist and offered him his hand. 

All in all, The Ancient Book of Hip release party was a rousing success. By the end of the night, the Space Gallery was teeming with Lichtenberg’s supporters in sunglasses, eagerly buying Gerbstadt’s art right off the walls. And this was just the first in a series of reading events Lichtenberg has planned from coast to coast; for more information on future readings, check out his website.

Something tells us that this is just the beginning of something far hipper than even D.W.L. has yet to imagine.

--Julia, Fourteen Hills staff


Three more reasons to attend "The Ancient Book of Hip" Release Party: Poets Truong Tran and Tess Patalano, and Artist David Gerbstadt

Besides hearing D.W. Lichtenberg read from his Michael Rubin Award-winner The Ancient Book of Hip, attending Wednesday’s Fourteen Hills Press-sponsored release party also affords you a chance to hear an up-and-coming Bay Area poet and a respected writer, and to take home a work of art for next to nothing.

First on the evening’s agenda is Tess Patalano. Tess received her BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College in New York and will receive her MA in Creative Writing (poetry) from San Francisco State (a program that has produced many fabulous writers, if I do say so myself). Her poetry emphasizes the beautifully uncomfortable aspects of life. She reads at Wide Open Mic at San Francisco State the first and last Wednesdays of every month and at Brainwash Cafe Open Mic on Monday nights in San Francisco. 

Second to read will be Truong Tran. Truong has five collections of poetry and a children’s book to his name, and was awarded the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Prize in 2002 for dust and conscience. Claire Light, in a review for KQED, said of his most recent work: “’Four letter words’ is the most resoundingly accomplished of all of Tran's books; every piece is a new effort, every page offers a new angle.” Truong is also a visual artist and was featured in Fourteen Hills 15.1. You can check out his art at gnourtnart.com. Truong teaches creative writing at San Francisco State and Mills College.  

On display will be works by Pennsylvania-based artist David Gerbstadt, who created the cover for The Ancient Book of Hip. Gerbstadt sees art in everything around him and uses whatever’s within reach to make his colorful, ecstatic multimedia pieces. Gerbstadt also has an incredible life story (he survived miraculously after being hit by a truck while riding his bike in 2007) and a viral YouTube presence. You can check him out on MySpace and YouTube. Gerbstadt’s art will be for sale and there's no way you can't afford to take some home. He believes in sharing art, and used to leave his creations in public places for the taking. He now rarely charges more than 10 dollars for a piece; his MySpace page advertises everything for a dollar.

Doors open at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Space Gallery, 1141 Polk Street, San Francisco. Cost is $10 (for a good cause) and includes a free book, three amazing performances, killer art, and a DJ set. RSVP now on Facebook. (21 and older, please.)

See you there!

-- Leigh Ann D., Fourteen Hills staff

A response to HTML Giant's blog post: "Fourteen Hills, WTF?"

As editors of a small, mostly-student-run publication produced in the context of a university course, as much as we hate to say it, the staff of Fourteen Hills sometimes makes mistakes. Recently, we were called out on one of our favorite lit blogs, HTML GIANT, in their post "Fourteen Hills, WTF?" for mailing a form rejection letter to an author more than two years after we received the submission.

Here's the story: About a month ago, the current editors of Fourteen Hills were cleaning the office and found a bag of sealed, self-addressed envelopes buried under a pile of back issues. This bag had been misplaced or lost in the shuffle by former editors of the magazine (an editor-in-chief at Fourteen Hills stays EIC for a max of one year). But now it was two years later, and our editors had two options:

1) Throw out the bag and pretend it didn't exist. Letters get lost in the mail all the time.

2) Add a few extra cents of postage to each letter and drop them in the mailbox.

The editors chose the latter. The number of letters was substantial, so writing a personal note to each writer while under the deadlines for our current issue and our single-author book didn't seem feasible. Our managing editor explains: "We often get emails from writers wondering about the status of submissions. Even though we weren't on staff when some of these people submitted, we still do our best to try to track the submissions down and respond. In this case, we think it was better to respond really late than never."

"Perhaps we should've written apologies to each of the writers whose envelopes were in that bag," says Matthew Clark Davison, who has been the Faculty Advisor for the magazine for the past two years. "We've really come a long way in implementing systems to make sure the people who consider us for their creative writing are treated as well, if not better, than the authors published in the bigger publications. The magazine also exists in the context of an MFA course, there are a lot of hands in the process. Fourteen Hills receives hundreds of submissions per month and given the context, we have a great record of responding according to our published turnaround times. Once in a while, however, something slips. We offer this as more of an explanation than an excuse, and we're sorry if the authors who took the time to send us their work were offended by our over/under sight."

The current budget crisis with public education in California has been well-publicized. To offer some perspective, since 1994, Fourteen Hills has been operating with the same university-funded annual budget of $7,000.

Most Universities (like Emerson College, University of Iowa, Georgia, Massachusetts) who produce, distribute, and promote books have full-time staffs. They pay graphic designers. They have office support and up-to-date equipment provided by the university. 90% of our magazine is put together by unpaid students who have an interest in learning the process. Fourteen Hills pays one graduate student to take on all of the above-described responsibilities and run a class.

Additionally, Fourteen Hills Press, out of the same budget and labor force, produces and promotes a book of one of the University's most promising students each year. While university funding for this publication has been cut, the staff and students have kept publishing it because we really do believe that what we do makes a difference in the lives of writers.

For comparison's sake, Fourteen Hills recently interviewed a staff member at Ploughshares, Emerson College's literary magazine that also offers a first-book award to one of their contributors (essentially they do what we at Fourteen Hills do).

* The staff person said they operated on an annual budget of $260,000 (and at the time of the interview were in negotiations for an increase).
* At the time the staff member reported that they had two full-time salaried employees that are able to apply for additional funding grants.

Fourteen Hills is operating a budget $253,000 less than Ploughshares. Yet, because of our efforts, our authors have won many of the same awards as theirs. Because of the quality of our contributors' work, we also receive close to the same number of submissions as our sister publications, and we haven't always been prepared for the ever-increasing demand.

The staff recently implemented a new system to track every submission and follow-up communication. "It's a lot of work," says Managing Editor Dan Lichtenberg, "but we do it so these things won't happen in the future, when we are no longer on staff."

If you were one of the writers to receive a form rejection letter from us two years after the fact, please let us know and we'll send you any back issue we have in stock. Your choice. And please accept our deepest apologies. In the meantime, submit again. We'll get back to you. We promise.

-Fourteen Hills Editors


We Won! Fourteen Hills’ D.W. Lichtenberg Takes Home Title of Literary Death Match SF Champion!

You are a spectacle; a roving, plodding panther on the stage. It takes balls to turn your back on the crowd, said performance judge, cartoonist Michael Capozzola, when discussing D.W. Lichtenberg’s mesmerizingly raw reading at Literary Death Match SF on Friday night.

D.W. Lichtenberg read a short story called Jason Look about an aimless twenty-something who breaks up with his girlfriend, quits his job, and goes on a gum-shoplifting, chain-smoking bender; all in the name of reclaiming his story.

Shoving stick after stick of Juicy Fruit Gum into his mouth while pacing in circles across the stage, Lichtenberg kept judges and audience alike in a constant state of suspense over what would happen next, both in the story and on stage. Several judges later confessed that the performance had kept them in a constant state of anxiety over whether Lichtenberg would finally trip over his microphone cord and tumble off the stage.

Such worries were thankfully unfounded as Lichtenberg did not falter, neither in his footing nor in his performance in the competition.

Lichtenberg beat out Seth Harwood, author of the novel Jack Wakes Up, in a head-to-head reading competition. He then cemented his victory by besting Charlie Haas, Oakland journalist and author of the novel The Enthusiast in a rousing game of musical chairs.

D.W. Lichtenberg, one of the youngest readers ever to perform at Literary Death Match, is now the youngest reader to have won the competition (pending fact-check; 23 at official time of victory).

If you missed Literary Death Match SF, you can view videos from the match posted by Evan Karp over at Examiner.com.

You can also see D.W. Lichtenberg perform this Wednesday at the Space Gallery at 1141 Polk St. in San Francisco at the release party for his new book, The Ancient Book of Hip. DWL will be doing some other bay-area readings, found at: http://www.dwlichtenberg.com/readings

-Keely, Fourteen Hills Staff


Fourteen Hills' D.W. Lichtenberg Battles It Out At Literary Death Match San Francisco

This Friday, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to witness the most anticipated word-to-word match in the history of professional literature, the Literary Death Match Championship of San Francisco.

Are you ready?  Literature fans, are you ready?  For the thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world, from the literary capitol of the world, San Francisco, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble.

Your judges for tonight’s contest will be Porchlight’s Arline Klatte, cartoonist Michael Capozzola, and Opium’s Todd Zuniga.

And now, on your feet, time to greet your home-town poet, D. W. Lichtenberg, from San Francisco State University, representing Fourteen Hills Press, by way of New York and Philadelphia.  He is 23 years old, the author of The Ancient Book of Hip, and the winner of the 2009 Michael Rubin Book Award.

And now ladies and gentlemen, from the Elbo Room, let’s get ready to rumble!

(O.K., fine. So maybe San Francisco's Literary Death Match is an event that's been happening
once a month since 2006. Still, it isn't every month that Fourteen Hills gets to root for one of its own.)

Here's the info. Be there and cheer loud!

DATE: Friday, November 13, 2009

TIME: Doors open at 6:30pm, show at 7:15 p.m.

LOCATION: The Elbo Room, 647 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA

-Robert, Fourteen Hills staff


A Tribute to Virgil Saurez, Leading Cuban American Writer Published In Fourteen Hills Vol. 7.2

I was recently flipping through the pages of a back issue of Fourteen Hills. And what did I find? The work of Virgil Suarez, a poet whose work I have admired for many years. Being a writer of color
myself, I was already blown away at what emerging writers of color were being printed in Fourteen Hills. But seeing the renowned Cuban-American writer had me smiling even more. Virgil Suarez is one of the leading poets in the Cuban American community. He has been nominated for five Pushcart prizes, won the Latino Literature Hall of Fame Poetry Prize, has held a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been published in Best American Poetry.

In Suarez's piece Dona Inez’s Abecedarion Del Amor, he entertains readers with his musical voice.


Absence is her daily companion
by the porch swing, white walls

clandestine doves on the eaves
diurnal in their love making


The music in his verse is something reminiscent of Nicholas Guillen, except Virgil Suarez already comes to us in English. His simple verses and practiced cadence act like musical notes tuned by the strings of his heart and mind. You can read this piece for yourself in the archives on 14hills.net, volume 7.2, and you can purchase the issue for only $5.00 including s&h direct from us. It's also available at Small Press Distribution. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I did when I discovered him in Fourteen Hills.

For more info on Suarez, visit poets.org.

-Robert, Fourteen Hills staff


Book Release Party: The Ancient Book of Hip by D.W. Lichtenberg!

On November 18th, D.W. Lichtenberg will read from The Ancient Book of Hip, recipient of the 2009 Michael Rubin Book Award, judged by poet John Skoyles. Described as an exploration into the phenomenon of hip, the book is a case study, a documentation, a journaling, a bunch of poems about girls, sex, cigarettes, PBR and everything else that is the world of hip. The book will be released by Fourteen Hills Press on Nov. 18, 2009.

WHERE: The Space Gallery SF, 1141 Polk St. (at Sutter St.)
WHEN: November 18, 2009 Doors at 7PM
HOW MUCH: $10.00 · Admission includes free copy of book
WHO: Everyone 21+
WHAT ELSE: Guest readers Truong Tran and Tess Patalano. Artwork by David Gerbstadt. DJ sets by DJ Ty Styx and DJ Snow Crash.

D.W.L. Hails from the Main Line of Philadelphia. He attended NYU where he studied film. His credits include associate editor on feature film Fifth Form, and camera operator on feature documentary Fool in a Bubble. He is the author of the bestselling unwritten novel I Ate Too Much For Dinner But I Always Have Room For Curmudgeon. The Ancient Book of Hip is his debut collection.

The Michael Rubin Book Award is awarded annually in honor of former SFSU professor Michael Rubin. Funded by SFSU's creative writing department, Fourteen Hills Press releases a book of fiction or poetry, alternating each year, judged by an independent writer or editor.

If you didn't make it out to see D.W.L. perform at Lit Crawl this year, we expect to see you next Wednesday for the book release party!

-Stephen Rosenshein, Fourteen Hills staff


Recent contributor is now "Shoplifting from American Apparel"

Prepare yourself for a thirteen-second introduction to the world of Tao Lin:

Fourteen Hills published Lin's short story Cull the Steel Heart, Melt the Ice One, Love the Weak in Volume 12.2. His poetry, short story collections, and novellas reflect an emerging trend in the Fourteen Hills aesthetic: he knows how to spin "hip" on its head.

Lin is a 26-year-old New York writer whose latest novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel , was published by Melville House Publishing in September. To get a taste of his irreverent voice, read this exclusive excerpt he published on the blog Hipster Runoff.

A Florida native, Lin migrated to New York to study and write. In 2007, his first short story collection Bed and novel Eeeee Eee Eeee were published simultaneously. His 2008 poetry collection Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been used in college psychology courses around the country. (You can read the first seven pages on the website. Sample passage: "the secret of life is that i miss you, and this describes life / tonight my heart feels shiny and calm as a soft wet star / i describe it from a distance, then move quickly away")

Although his work has been described as "Camus' The Stranger or sociopath?", moody, funny, and revolutionary, his imperceptible sense of irony is consistent throughout. His word choice is deliberate, a snapshot into the internet chat generation. In a Bookslut interview, Lin admits that he loves the trickery of titles like Eeeee Eee Eeee, or his personal blog, whose url is the mischievious http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/. As with any new media-savvy writer, he can also be found on Twitter and Tumblr.

If you live in New York and want to witness his personal style in action, stop by his next reading at Center for Performance Research in Williamsburg on Wednesday, November 11, at 8 pm.

To read his Fourteen Hills piece, visit our archives. Back issues are available for only $5.

-Julia, Fourteen Hills Staff


Vol. 1.1 contributor, Bay Area Poet Gillian Conoley, Reads From Her Latest Work

It was Fall 1995 when we released Fourteen Hills Volume 1.1. And one of the poets featured in our inaugaural issue was Gillian Conoley, the current poet in residence at Sonoma State University. This week, she's reading all over the Bay Area to promote her seventh book of poetry, The Plot Genie.

The title for The Plot Genie comes from a plot-generating device invented in the 1930s by former silent screenwriter, Wycliffe A. Hill. The plot genie was a cardboard spinning wheel with the numbers one through 180 printed on its rim, and an accompanying list to tell you what character trait or plot twist each number corresponded to. Conoley’s book is written from the perspective of film characters, some familiar (Frankenstein makes an appearance) and some invented, who are waiting to have their personalities and futures dialed up for them. As the narrative progresses, the plot genie itself becomes a character in the narrative, a force that rules the other characters, and is yet, itself a tool of chance and thus not fully culpable for its actions. For more information on The Plot Genie, visit the Omnidawn Press website.

This November, Bay Area residents have four opportunities to hear Conoley read her work:

Date: 11/06/09
Time: Doors open at 7pm; Reading is at 7:30pm
Location: Studio One Art Gallery, 365 45th St., Oakland, CA
Event & Participants: Studio One Reading Series featuring Gillian Conoley & Shannan Tharpe with music by Utrillo Kushner.
Find more event details here.

Date: 11/10/09
Time: 7pm
Location: Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Road, Berkeley
Event & Participants: Onmidawn Book Party featuring Gillian Conoley, Bin Ramke, Donald Revell, Michelle Taransky, & Richard Greenfield
Find more event details here.

Date: 11/13/09
Time:  7pm
Location:  Koret Auditorium of the deYoung Museum of Fine Art, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Event & Participants: The deYoung Poetry Series featuring Gillian Conoley & Rae Armantrout
Find more event details here.

Date: 11/14/09
Time:  7pm
Location: Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera
Event & Participants: Celebration of W.W. Norton Anthology, American Hybrid
featuring Gillian Conoley, Paul Hoover, Stephen Ratcliffe, Martha Ronk, & Carol Snow
Find more event details here.

And don't forget you can always order back issues direct from us for only $5.00. Download the form here and request Volume 1.1.

-Keely, Fourteen Hills Staff