From The Archives: A Poem About A Peep-Show On Noah's Ark

Writer Jason Stumpf took on the unexpected in his short prose poem published in Spring/Summer 2007, Issue 13.2. Here it is in its entirety:

Noah's Ark Peep-Show

First suppose a raven and a dove. The heart heard in the ears.
He took her by two shoulders as if to wake her. This is how,
he said, hard truths are told. She stood in a waxy way as he
ran a hand across the velvet of her dress. Out the window:
water, and inside, too, the moon held sway. The parlor was
the pallor of a veil. She sighed, So here we are. We are, he
echoes, almost asking. A wide-shot over water: two birds
with nothing in their claws.

Thanks for letting us take a moment to share a favorite from the archives. If you have any pieces you remember fondly from past issues, or if you're a former contributor who'd like to be featured in this space, please let us know.

We'd also like to apologize for not updating much lately; we're very busy. Several updates are in the works, however, including a profile about great bookstores where you can find Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review, bios of the fabulous readers appearing at our release party on May 21, and details about the raffle prizes you could win. More updates! More frequently! That's our (new) mantra.

More soon,
Leanne Milway Chabalko, Fourteen Hills assistant poetry editor


Save The Date: Fourteen Hills Spring Release Party Friday May 21

Hello fellow writers and readers. Thanks to everyone who came out to hear Adam Johnson read from his novel-in-progress on Thursday night. You can read the full story about the event on SFGate's Culture Blog (thanks, Alex!).

Now it's time to gear up for one of Fourteen Hills' favorite events: the release party for the issue we've been working on all semester. Behold the beautiful cover with artwork by Alec Laughlin, and come out to the San Francisco Motorcycle Club on Friday May 21 at 7 p.m. to hear from featured writers Jeannine Hall Gailey, Lauren Hamlin, Zara Raab, Michael Schmeltzer, Shanthi Sekaran, and Joseph Voth.

There will be mouth-watering treats, fabulous raffle prizes, DJs and dancing. RSVP on Facebook and stay tuned right here and on Twitter for updates.


Who Is Adam Johnson? (Find Out On April 15)

Reading Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Poetry Center is writer Adam Johnson, recipient of the 2010 Gina Berriault Award. Johnson won several big money awards in the last couple of years, not least of which was the Whiting Writers Award in 2009.

Caroline Chen of The Stanford Daily writes: "The Whiting Award, currently in its 25th year, praises Johnson as 'fearless' and 'dazzling.' Johnson joins the ranks of other famous award-winners such as authors David Foster Wallace (1987), Michael Cunningham (1995) and one of his heroes, English Prof. Tobias Wolff (1989)."

Johnson is in very good company. If David Foster Wallace and Tobias Wolff are your cup of tea, then Adam Johnson is likely to impress you, and there’s no excuse for you to miss this event. Fiction writers are encouraged to take advantage of Johnson’s campus visit, because how often does the Poetry Center feature notable fiction writers who give you a privileged sneak preview of their work (Johnson is currently working on a new novel about North Korea that he describes as "a North Korean Casablanca")?

Johnson is a senior lecturer at Stanford, but he is not just your average English teacher. His short story collection Emporium was described by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times as "funny-sad-bizarre," which is fitting, because his work takes us places that may seem like our own backyards, but are actually chunks of familiar terrain situated on another plane of reality.

Need another reason to attend? Where else, outside of Matthew Davison’s classes, can you get this kind of anecdote:

"As an undergraduate, I liked writing short stories and was happy to be in the air conditioning, rather than out banging nails in the Arizona heat. It was cool to hang out with other people who loved books and go to smarty-pants parties. But it was a teacher who took me aside, a mentor who made me strive, a writer who showed me that all my perceived faults — lying, exaggerating, daydreaming, rubbernecking — combined to make something good called a story." ­­­

That's Adam Johnson, sharing stories on Jewcy.com. Join us April 15, Humanities Room 512 at San Francisco State University, to hear from this rising star in person.

-Amy Glasenapp, Fourteen Hills fiction editor


April 15: The Michael Rubin Book Award Deadline Plus The Adam Johnson Reading

Attention San Francisco State University writers: sharpen your pencils and charge your laptops because it’s that time of year. It’s time to submit your original manuscript for the Michael Rubin Book Award (prose this year!). Don’t act like you’ve never heard of it—we already told you about previous winners, like Fourteen Hills’ very own D.W. Lichtenberg, and previous Fourteen Hills contributors like Jenny Pritchett. We’ve broken down the submission guidelines oh-so-carefully so you know just how long your manuscript can be (45-175 pages), which genre to submit (prose), and how many of the winner’s books Fourteen Hills Press will publish (500).  But when and where do you submit your hard-earned words?

Manuscripts must be submitted to the Fourteen Hills mailbox in SFSU’s Creative Writing Department office: HUM 380. You may also submit via snail mail:

Fourteen Hills Press
Department of Creative Writing
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-1722

And, even better, come to our event April 15 and submit your manuscripts to us in person! If you come to the reading with a manuscript, we will give you a free back issue of our magazine.

April 15—easy to remember not just because it’s tax day, but also because Fourteen Hills is hosting a reading by Adam Johnson, winner of the Second Annual Gina Berriault Award, at the Poetry Center that very same night.

So what are you waiting for? Polish off your best work, send it to the printer, and bring it with you to the second of our Fourteen Hills events this semester. Feel free to RSVP on Facebook.

--Julia Halprin Jackson, Fourteen Hills staff


Wander Into Uncharted Amazements With Gina Berriault (Or, Why The Award Is Named After Her)

Join us on April 15 as Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review and the Creative Writing Department honor former faculty member and author, Gina Berriault, at the 2nd Annual Gina Berriault Award Reading. This year’s award recipient is Adam Johnson. Peter Orner will host the event.

In 1997, when Gina Berriault was selected by Andre Dubus, Cynthia Ozick, and Tobias Wolff to receive the Rea Award for the Short Story, the judges wrote:

"Her stories astonish -- not only in their range of character and incident, but in their worldliness, their swift and surprising turns, their penetration into palpable love and grief and hope.…To discover Berriault is to voyage into uncharted amazements."

Later, in a New York Times Magazine article, Ozick would lament the relative obscurity that Berriault (and Dubus) faced throughout their careers, praising their passion and purity. She called them “writer’s writers,” because they were critically hailed but otherwise unknown.

Berriault’s work has a way of setting you down and kneading into you. Her words echo within sentences to form planks for which thoughts often lead to one’s own abyss. Peter Orner talks about this in his column about her story “Around the Dear Ruin” from Women In Their Beds (1996). He calls it one of the “saddest and cruelest” stories about San Francisco, a city where Berriault made her home.

We dare you to roam the city digesting her words. San Francisco, the world, has a way of opening up, as if pulling away a flank of flesh to say: Look, this too is here. Know that Berriault’s work offers these wonderful discoveries, but be prepared, for she will wrestle your heart, and wrench it ever so tenderly.

Of course, none have put it as fittingly as Leonard Gardner in his forward to The Tea Ceremony (2003), a posthumous book of uncollected and previously unpublished writing. This book offers a rare glimpse into Berriault’s process. Mr. Gardner, who will be in attendance at the Berriault Award reading, said in his heartfelt and candid forward that her work, like that of the greatest writers, deepens.

Berriault rejected the notion that there was a “correct” interpretation to a piece of fiction. “Each reader’s interpretation originates in his or her life’s experiences,” she said, “in feelings and emotions of intensely personal history.” This attitude is reflective of a writer who found it necessary to look into others; a writer that with every story embodied a certain selflessness and unflinching compassion.

The Berriault Award is given annually to a writer whom we believe will make similar contributions to fiction. Who will look unflinchingly into their characters, and who will deepen their readers, treating them always as equals. This year, we are proud to have our recipient, Adam Johnson, reading from his work. Join us:

April 15, 7pm
The Poetry Center
Humanities Building, Room 512
San Francisco State University (View map)
Cost: Free!

Please RSVP here. And stay tuned for an in-depth look at Adam Johnson, this year’s recipient of the Gina Berriault Award. We’ll see you there.

-Fernando Pujals, Fourteen Hills fiction editor