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Introducing our new fiction editors

We’re pleased to formally announce our four newest staff members: Holly Lopez, Meredith Maltby, Marina Petrova, and William VanDenBerg! They’ve already begun reading submissions and have proven themselves valuable members of The Conium Review team.

Holly Lopez is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. Her work has appeared in Plots With Guns, Charlotte Viewpoint, and Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Marjorie Blankenship Melton Award in Fiction. As an editor, she appreciates when writers subvert expectations and produce stories that are fresh and unconventional. She’s most interested in strange stories that also have dimension, red-blooded characters, and effectively tap into the human condition. Some of her favorite authors include George Saunders, Donald Barthelme, Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell.

Meredith Maltby is the poetry editor for the Tulane Review and was a featured poet at Design Cloud Chicago’s HERE / NOW event. Meredith has previously published her work in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Chicago Tribune, ROAR: a literary journal for women of the arts, and Gravel Journal, among others. She appreciates interesting and strange writing from underrepresented voices. She admires and is influenced by Amelia Gray’s Gutshot, Lincoln Michel’s Upright Beasts, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, Bonnie Campell’s Mothers Tell Your Daughters, and anything by Ariana Reines or Melissa Broder.

Marina Petrova was published in The Conium Review: Vol. 4, and when we posted our call for editors, she was eager to get more involved with our small press. She graduated from the MFA program at The New School in May 2014, where she had previously served as a reader for LIT. Her work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Underwater New York, and Calliope Anthology. She’s currently working on a collection of short stories. In her non-writing life, she also works as a Business Analyst for a Media Tech company. Marina is a native Russian speaker, and growing up she was influenced by Chekhov, Nabokov, and Bulgakov. More recently, she’s become a huge fan of Donald Barthelme, Italo Calvino, Ben Marcus, Junot Díaz, and George Saunders.

William VanDenBerg is a first year MFA student at Brown University. He is the author of two chapbooks: Lake of Earth from Caketrain Press and Apostle Islands from Solar Luxuriance—he’ll be signing copies of these chapbooks at our AWP Conference table in Los Angeles (table #1238). He loves the work of Donald Barthelme, Ann Quin, Lindsay Hunter, Amelia Gray, and Steven Millhauser.

Visit masthead page to learn more about these editors and the rest of our staff.

Rita Bullwinkel’s Top Ten AWP 2016 Panels

The annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference is less than a month away, and we’re getting amped up for the obligatory tote bags. Our staff and contributors will be sharing their favorite AWP happenings on our blog over the coming weeks, and we hope to see you at the conference (stop by table #1238 and say “hello” to The Conium Review staff).

First up, Rita Bullwinkel (Vol. 4 contributor) shares her top ten panels.


“The Violence of the Page”

Thursday, March 31, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Room 403 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Lucy Corin, Maggie Nelson , Brian Evenson, Ben Weissman, Fred D’Aguiar)

This panel explores the various tones, reasons, genealogies, and methodologies writers might choose to employ when representing violence, cruelty, and bodies on the page. The writers on this panel have explored these issues in a variety of genres (fiction, scholarship, and poetry) and in a variety of registers (comedic, elegiac, outrageous, conceptual, documentary, and more), and are uniquely capable of discussing the aesthetic, political, and metabolic effects of such writing.

“It Ain’t What They Call You, It’s What You Answer To: Peeling Off Genre Labels”

Thursday, March 31, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Room 502 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Daniel Orozco, Doug Dorst, Maureen McHugh, Kelly Luce, Manuel Gonzales)

How does fantasy fiction (or sci-fi, or detective or horror fiction) become literary fiction? Who decides how/when the genre label gets affixed, or peeled off? Why is the move from genre to literary always somehow a narrative of progress, implying a lesser realm left behind? Hear firsthand as writers with varying affinities to genre fiction reflect on how they negotiate with (wrestle, embrace, sidestep) genre conventions in the creation of their work.

“Translation as Animation: New Poetry from Japan”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Kyoko Yoshida , Forrest Gander , Sawako Nakayasu, Goro Takano, James Shea)

Beginning with a short reading, this panel of translators and writers explores the formal problems, aesthetic choices, and political implications of translating contemporary Japanese poetry. Panelists discuss the diversity of Japanese poetry and consider how the pleasures and challenges of translation animate their own writing. Poets under discussion include Takashi Hiraide, Sayumi Kamakura, Shirō Murano, Kiwao Nomura, and Gozo Yoshimasu.

“Korean Feminist Poetics and Translation”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Gold Salon 3, JW Marriott LA, 1st Floor

(Eunsong Kim, Johannes Goransson, Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, Joyelle McSweeney)

South Korea’s contemporary history has been deeply impacted by US imperial policies. Yet its history remains relatively unknown: its war, dictatorships, and 47 Free Trade Agreements. We poets and translators discuss feminist Korean poets and propose poetry-as-activism and translation-as-resistance to colonizing power.

“What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Scott James Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(James R. Gapinski, Ashley Farmer, Manuel Gonzales, Matt Bell, Carmiel Banasky) Innovative fiction is fast becoming a literary buzzword. It’s often a placeholder term for experimental or avant-garde, but what does it really mean? It’s time for a down-to-earth chat that eschews all the labels and jargon. In this panel, presented by The Conium Review, several authors cut through the marketing ploys and hype for a candid talk on the strange, weird, and new in contemporary fiction.

“Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Emily St. John Mandel, Ruth Ozeki, Kelly Link)

This event brings together three brilliant contemporary female writers—Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki—to read and discuss their craft and experiences as genre-bending authors. Kelly Link is the recipient of an NEA grant and is the author of Get in Trouble. Emily St. John Mandel is the author of Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. Ruth Ozeki is the author of A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

“In the Realms of the Real and the Unreal”

Saturday, April 2, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

AWP Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Katharine Beutner, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Machado, Alice Sola Kim, Kelly Link)

This panel explores genres of fiction that juxtapose the real and the unreal in experimental ways: historical fiction, literary fantasy/science fiction, weird fiction, and satire. Where do we draw the line between a secondary world and a distorted reflection of our own world’s beauty, violence, and diversity? Can we discern a poetics of the unreal in contemporary fiction? How have the continual debates over generic boundaries—and/or their irrelevance—affected the ways contemporary writers work?

“In Whose Image: Trans and Genderqueer Writers on Magic, Spirituality, and (the Bodies of) G-d”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(CA Conrad, Joy Ladin, Ryka Aoki, Ian Ellasante, TC Tolbert)

Spirituality, like writing, hinges on transformation. Similarly, trans and genderqueer writers have unique experiences with transformation on and off the page. This dynamic panel explored the intersections between ritual, myth, magic, magical realism, and even end-rhyme as they shape our various embodiments and faiths. We don’t want to save you, but we hope you are ready to be changed.

“New Directions in Contemporary War Fiction”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Room 510, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Peter Molin, Matt Gallagher, Andria Williams, Jesse Goolsby, Elliot Ackerman)

This panel features short readings and commentary by four first-time novelists in the burgeoning field of contemporary war literature. The authors’ novels, each published in either 2015 or 2016, highlight new possibilities for representing combat, war, and military culture in fiction. Building on recent critically acclaimed fiction depicting conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the panel authors refine our understanding of the human dimensions of war overseas and on the home front.

“Fables, Fibs, and Flat-Out Lies: The Material of Making, Sponsored by Copper Canyon Press”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Michael Wiegers, Richard Siken, Laura Kasischke, Roger Reeves)

Whatever the chosen form, making is a dominant force in any artist’s life. For writers, the creative material—language—is simultaneously precise and slippery, irreducible and expansive; metaphor is a lie that tells the truth, and image a construct made from the sound and meaning of language. This reading features three writers who practice various literary and artistic forms—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and painting—and will be followed by a conversation moderated by their editor.


Rita Bullwinkel is a Conium Review Vol. 4 contributor. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a fiction MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University and the Fiction Editor of the Nashville Review. Her writing has appeared in several publications including VICENOONSpork anHayden’s Ferry Review. She is a graduate of Brown University, a Vanderbilt Commons Writer in Residence, a Sewanee Writers’ Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship Award winner, and a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation grantee. Her story “In the South the Sand Winds are Our Greatest Enemy” was selected by Joyland Magazine as one of their top five favorite stories published in 2015. The Nashville Review will be exhibiting at AWP at booth #1500.

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and James R. Gapinski share their panel picks

Two of our editors share some panels they’re excited for. Naturally, we’ll be spending a lot of time at The Conium Review table (#2025). But there will be three of us at AWP (Chelsea, James, and Uma), so hopefully we’ll all get to attend our panel/presentation wishlists.

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke’s top five eight panels (because lists of five or ten are just too neat and tidy for a badass like Chelsea):

  • Thursday, 9:00am to 10:15am. History, Speculation, and Invention in Long Form Fiction. (Christopher Robinson, Jan Elizabeth Watson, Jaquira Diaz, Melissa Falcon Field, Sebastian Stockman). Room 200 D&E, Level 2.
  • Thursday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. The Hybrid Book: Publishing Poetry and Art Together. (Allison Campbell, Henry Israeli, Bianca Stone, Ben Fama, Elizabeth Clark Wessel). Room M100 B&C, Mezzanine Level.
  • Friday, 9:00am to 10:15am. The Ethics of Book Reviewing. (Eric Lorberer, Stephen Burt, Carolyn Kellogg, Brian Evenson, Rusty Morrison). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Word Meets Image: The Video Essay. (Ned Stuckey-French, Eula Biss, Kristen Radtke, John Bresland). Room 101 F&G, Level 1.
  • Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm (competing against the previous panel for attention). Music in Prose: Crafting the Lyric Sentence. (Pearl Abraham, Hanna Pylväinen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Stephanie Grant, Will Byrne). Room 200 H&I, Level 2.
  • Friday, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. Where We Begin to Revise the Poem. (Keetje Kuipers, Erica Dawson, James Harms, John Hoppenthaler, Peter Campion). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, 4:30 to 5:45pm. Let Us (Not) Teach You a Lesson: A Pleiades Writers’ Symposium on Moral Fiction.(Phong Nguyen, Bayard Godsave, Christine Sneed, Seth Brady Tucker, Michael Kardos). Room L100 D&E, Lower Level.
  • Saturday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Rock and Prose: Musician/Fiction Writers Reflect at the Crossroads. (Steven Ostrowski, Steve Yarbrough, Lynne Barrett, Joe Clifford). Room 208 A&B, Level 2.

James R. Gapinski’s top five panels:

  • Thursday, April 9th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. How I Taught Then, How I Teach Now. (Joseph Scapellato,  Derek Palacio,  Cathy Day,  Matt Bell,  Jennine Capó Crucet). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, April 10th, 9:00am to 10:15am. Four Writers of Experimental Fiction Disagree. (Jeff Jackson,  Kate Bernheimer,  Susan Steinberg,  Alan Michael Parker). Room 211 C&D, Level 2.
  • Friday, April 10th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. The Uncanny Reader: the Art of Unease in the Short Story Form. (Marjorie Sandor,  Karen Russell,  Kate Bernheimer,  Steve Stern,  Kelly Link). Room 101 H&I, Level 1.
  • Friday, April 10th, 4:30pm to 5:45pm. Fail Better: Successful Writers Talk About Failure. (M. Molly Backes,  Roxane Gay,  Megan Stielstra,  Dean Bakopoulos,  Rebecca Makkai). Auditorium Room 2, Level 1.
  • Saturday, April 11th, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Weird Science: Strategies to Encourage Innovative Writing in the Workshop (Andrew Altschul,  Lucy Corin,  Eric Puchner,  Melanie Rae Thon,  Deb Olin Unferth). Room 200 B&C, Level 2.