OUT Magazine, Indiana Review, Electric Literature, & Columbia University Publishing: Big Changes!

I’m glad to have my essay, “How My Severe Acne Helped Me Love My Queerness,” appear in OUT Magazine. Big thanks to Jesse Steinbach, who is an incisive editor. My struggle with cystic nodule acne is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while.

Leaving the Indiana Review offices for the last time was difficult. I’m excited to see the first Blue Light Book prize winner Andrea Lewis‘s WHAT MY LAST MAN DID (a smart, curmudgeonly, deeply empathic linked story collection) made into an object as beautiful as its disarming prose.

And so it is nice to be back at Electric Literature as a senior reader for Recommended Reading. Editor Halimah Marcus is a genius, and I’m glad I get to learn a bit more, hearing her talk about narrative and story.

And I have my story “Rorschach,” to do with performed modern-day crucifixion, coming in Day One–thanks to the totally brilliant Morgan Parker!

Also: I’m living in New York now. Upper West Side. I love the city. What else is there to say?

I was honored to have been admitted to the Columbia University Publishing Course and am enjoying it. Soon I’ll be applying for positions, and despite what seems a commonly prevailing pessimism about the industry I remain very optimistic.



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News, My Gay Voice, & Finishing Up at Indiana Review

My essay “Hey, I’m Peter: On Living with a Gay Voice” is now up at Salon. Many thanks to the brilliant Kim Brooks for helping me achieve the essay’s final structure. I’m so proud of the support for this discussion, and grateful to Towleroad and the documentary “Do I Sound Gay?” for recommending the piece, as well as the many folks who read, commented, emailed, and shared. I’m very interested in “passing privilege,” and how this privilege can manifest in problematic logic, social cache, advantage that can come at great personal cost.

I have two new short stories out, in the most recent issues of The Carolina Quarterly and South Dakota Review! Both are beautiful issues full of work and company I’m honored to be around.

It’s hard to believe my tenure as editor-in-chief of Indiana Review is up in two months. The thought enters my mind occasionally and I swat it away. That’s becoming harder to do. I have so loved (I so love!) the job, the staff, the reading, the making.


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Indiana University Profile, Publication, & Ploughshares News

I’m honored to have stories in the coming issues of South Dakota Review and The Carolina Quarterly. Big thanks to the editors at these journals (especially Lee Ann Roripaugh and Rae Yan) for believing in these stories. Fingers crossed for more good news soon–very kind and encouraging rejections from American Short Fiction, The Kenyon Review, and West Branch have me feeling hopeful!

I was profiled by Indiana University for their Arts at IU feature, which was very cool. Thanks to all at the Newsroom for letting me talk about Indiana Review‘s exciting new book prize partnership with Indiana University Press. Thanks to Tori Lawhorn and Sarah Jacobi in particular.

I’m writing a lot and more seriously recently, by which I guess I mean that I’ve been sleeping poorly in order to get this writing done.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about the recent opening of Amazon Books in Seattle, Vintage Books’s promising new Hogarth series, Amazon’s action against fraudulent product reviews, McDonald’s Happy Reader initiative, the life-saving genius of the Drinkable Book, Adam Johnson’s $9K short story, the University of Akron Press’s (now, and thankfully, former) shuttering, why Go Set a Watchman may have been better unpublished, Stephen King’s exclusive audio short story, why the gay fable King & King matters, and the awesome new literary venture Catapult.

In somewhat writing-related news, I have a new author headshot, which I’ve importantly included in this post. PeterKispertHeadshot

I graduate in May and so am starting the job hunt. I’m also applying to a publishing program. In any case, I’m keeping my mind and options open, and my fingers crossed!

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Indiana Review, Sara Novic Interview, Ploughshares News

I’m now the Editor-in-Chief of The Indiana Review! We’re up to some very exciting stuff. More on that soon. Our new issue is out. IR 37.1 is stunning and full of big-hearted work by such favorite talents as Vincent Scarpa, Halimah Marcus, Corey Van Landingham, Sarah Crossland, Janelle DolRayne, sam sax, Richard Siken, and a cast of great others. Get yours here.

I have an interview with the brilliant Sara Novic in which we talk about her truly stunning debut novel GIRL AT WAR (Penguin Random House) in Slice Magazine.

Over at Ploughshares, I wrote about the recent protest of the Chinese Delegation at BookExpo America, Author Solutions’ author problems in what may become a class-action lawsuit, the book bans North Carolina and Idaho recently faced, Penguin Random House’s stunning new website–and more to come soon!

Also, The Paris Review followed me on Twitter (!), and I’m going to get this tweet tattooed on my forehead:


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AWP, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, & Day One!

In just a few hours I’ll be headed to AWP Minneapolis, where I’ll be tabling for The Indiana Review (table 332!), buying more literary journals than I responsibly should, seeing many writer friends and colleagues, and attending some cool events. Looking forward to my annual affliction, AWP totebag handburn.

I’m excited to have my story, “Puncture,” appear in Ninth Letter! You can read it here. And no, it’s not at all based on something that happened to me last April; I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I’m also thrilled to have my story, “This Will Only Hurt a Little Bit,” forthcoming in Day One. Carmen Johnson, an editor at Day One, is just phenomenal. What an honor to work with her again.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about the cost of higher minimum wage for bookstores, the Smithsonian’s new artist’s books initiative, the controversial Clean Reader app., & Barnes & Noble’s new shopping bags. And more to come shortly!

In just a month I’ll be stepping up as the next Editor-in-Chief of The Indiana Review. I’m so excited, though the amazing Britt Ashley has left me big shoes to fill. I’ve got some exciting things in the works, and I’m really looking forward. Check out how great IR is right here.

Some potentially very cool things in the works–more soon!

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Indiana Review, Blogging, & Story Collection

Over at The Indiana Review, I interviewed the incredible Elizabeth Eslami. Liz is just a marvel, and her responses are engaging and illuminating. What a treat to have her spend some time answering questions about her process, her forthcoming novel, and, of course, how she believes in magic.

At Ploughshares, I wrote about Melville House‘s decision to reprint the Senate Torture Report as a book and the Man Booker Prize’s recent rule changes.

I had some very close calls with the collection after having only queried a few amazing editors and agents, but I think I’m heading back to work on it instead of casting out more lines, for now. I’m confident in the pieces but want to be absolutely sure it’s as strong as I can make it. So, I will be sending out I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM again in a few months after a pretty intense inspection and polishing of it. I’m looking forward and have my fingers crossed!

Two stories out in the world right now, awaiting response from some of my favorite journals. Radio silence so far–here’s hoping no news is (tentatively) good news.

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Ploughshares, NPR, & Other News!

I’m thrilled to announce I’m now a regular blogger for Ploughshares. Huge thanks to superhuman Ellen Duffer for the honor. My first post was about recently established or soon forthcoming literary journals doing genuinely new and exciting work. Here’s the link to it.

And then NPR recommended it, and that was amazing. What an honor–thanks, Colin Dwyer!

Things have been tough. But there’s so much for me to be grateful for (see the risibly incomplete list below). Looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings!

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2014 End-of-Year List & Thanks

I’m doing it again, but this time I’m doing it differently. Last year I compiled stories I read and loved, pieces that had found me, that seemed to understand me, into a list. And then I started to do that again, for this year, and got overwhelmed. So instead, I’m posting a list of literary folks and experiences I am grateful for–and though that’s by no means a shorter list (and certainly incomplete), it’s important to me all the same to acknowledge the good and great I’m honored to have seen, heard, befriended, and–of course–read in 2014.

–Being in fiction workshop with the enormously talented, generous, and incisive Liz Eslami, who is a real gift to IU’s MFA program. If you haven’t yet read her Hibernate: maybe you definitely should.

–Getting the call letting me know I would be editor-in-training (next year editor-in-chief!) of The Indiana Review. This news came during a difficult time, and I was in the University bookstore of all places. I remember the day being very hot, that searing heat, and I was so excited my hand was shaking. I was spilling iced coffee all over the bookstore carpet. One of the cashiers, bored, eyed me warily–thinking, I’m sure, that I might be on the verge of some medical emergency. But it was that kind of rushing excitement. And I have the downright brilliant Britt Ashley (remember this name) to thank.

–Publishing three writers in The Indiana Review who are around my age and who are worlds more talented than I will ever be, and whose writing will–less praise and more promise–touch you as only the best, most careful and attentive fiction can. Elise Burke. Vincent Scarpa. Catherine Carberry. Click on each of those names. You are welcome.

–Being around Megan Giddings, whose great Tumblr I am now exposing, and who has been as much a support and great friend as a true inspiration. I once spent way too long introducing her at a reading. Her work is excellent and oh, just have a look yourself. Thank you, Megan. And, of course, check out my great friend Doug Paul Case, who is similarly wonderful and talented. (National Poetry Series finalist, anyone?) Also: Katrin Tschirgi. Who is the best. Who is light.

–Hearing Megan Mayhew Bergman read from her incredible forthcoming Almost Famous Women at The Hotel Vermont in early summer. The night confirmed suspicions Megan might actually be perfect, and as I drove home late I recall there was a detour, and I ended up driving deep in the Vermont woods, willing myself to get lost, and it started to rain. It was warm, peepers flipping like coins on the dirt roads, fog lifting like breath over the mountains. I don’t know a lot of people in my hometown anymore–I’m a very different person now than I was as a kid–but that night was such a point of connection, and I’m grateful to have been in the company of Megan’s big-hearted words.

–Talking and catching up with the incredibly smart and cool Tim Horvath. You should have already read his bold and just fantastic Understories, but in case you haven’t.

–Spending AWP Seattle with some talented and kind folks, and staffing the Indiana Review and Electric Literature booths. It was a treat meeting many excellent writers and editors while talking about these cool literary playing cards you need to buy right now. And being around two of the smartest lit folks I know, Halimah Marcus and Jake Zucker, was just an honor. I’m looking forward to Minneapolis this April, where I will spend too much money on lit mags and endure my annual affliction: AWP totebag handburn.

–Getting to work with editors who know how to polish a rock into a gem: Beth Blachman, Carmen Johnson, Chris Monks, Ellen Duffer, Masie Cochran, Brett Beach, Emily XR Pan, & Matthew Miniccucci in particular: Thank you!

–Working with the amazing Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management for a second summer. Erin is so smart and helpful, and the experience was such a great one. Thank you, Erin.

–Writing some stories that matter to me, that I feel are starting to uncomfortably reveal too much of myself, and having the title story of my debut collection, I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM, appear in the gorgeous The Journal.

–Reading novels and collections (overdue reading, in some instances) by Celeste Ng, Alexander Chee, Rebecca Makkai, Kathleen Founds, Jennifer Egan, Roxane Gay, Anthony Doerr, Lorrie Moore, Ben Marcus, Junot Diaz, Kyle Minor, Bret Anthony Johnston, NoViolet Bulawayo, & others. Each of these stunned me. What brilliance is being written right now. What an honor to have these marvels in the world.

–Working on the novel in short bursts, on the hammock and in a Logan terminal, keeping a notebook of details and ideas for scenes, bits of dialogue, and reminding myself I will make this. It’s weird and probably unhealthy, but I keep a stack on blank index cards near my bed, and I regularly wake up, or am unable to sleep, and force myself to write whatever on them. I have a stack on fun nonsense to mine later.

–Having someone like you, who in all likelihood does not know me well or maybe at all, take the time to read this.

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Ninth Letter & Other News

Matt Minicucci over at Ninth Letter recently accepted my story, “Puncture,” for a forthcoming issue. What an honor! Many thanks to Matt and the whole crew over at the journal, based at what I’m told is an Indiana U. rival school, U. of Illinois. In any case, it’s really one of the most beautiful literary magazines I’ve ever seen, so I’m grateful my piece has found a home there.

I’m writing a lot and revising a lot. I just started sending out a few stories that have been in revision since last April. I’m also nearing completion on my collection, I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM, so that’s exciting. Oh, and I’m reading some amazing novels and collections. Kyle Minor’s PRAYING DRUNK is worth shouting-out here, and a shouting-at–as in, if you haven’t yet read the book, I am shouting at you to do so. Like, right now.

Rejection is happening, though not in any great amount or frequency, which is mostly a result of my sending out a lot less and a lot less frequently. And, I suspect, taking care before sending out. I’m only sending out what I love, though, so the rejection comes with some sad sting. So it goes.

How do I cope? I juice. Vegetables, mostly. I juice kale and mint and celery and ginger and beet and cucumber and apple. I juice carrot and parsley. Am I out of control? I’m not. I’ve decided I’m not. I feel a lot better. So that’s good. (Take that, rejection?)

There’s lots of exciting stuff happening over at The Indiana Review. Important to note we close for fiction prize and general submissions on October 31, so send before it’s too late! Check it all out here.

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News on News on News

I learned several days ago I’ll be writing for one of my all-time favorite literary magazines. I’m keeping the details on the DL for the time being, but: excited, honored, and looking forward.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency ran my piece, “Grammar Gossip,” and Urban Outfitters recommended it. Thanks to Chris Monks for giving it a home!

The Indiana Review has a fancy new website, and our fiction prize is open to submissions until October 31. Here’s an interview with our prize judge, the fancy and fantastic Roxane Gay. General submissions are open too, so polish up and send your best!

I finished my second summer interning with/assisting the amazing Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management. She’s truly the best. I read a ton and learned a ton. I’m just so grateful. Thanks for the opportunity, Erin!

I’d also be remiss not to mention I have the pleasure of teaching a fiction workshop full of smart and talented writers this semester. A reminder to be grateful for the opportunity, even as much else in my life gets pretty this song.

Submission season is again upon us, and I again am sending out: two stories, one longer and one shorter, both sad and gay and a little messed up. Fingers crossed they find homes soon!

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