The New Guard - Literary Review


“Hey, buddy boy, there’s going to be some changes around here…”

THE NEW GUARD is an independent literary review. We proudly publish in print, with the exception of our online feature, BANG!, a page on this site that publishes three short works by a single writer for a full month at a time.

The New Guard is here to showcase newcomers alongside established writers, and to juxtapose tradition with experiment to create a new dialogue. The Writer's Hotel is the editorial arm of The New Guard literary review. Via The Writer's Hotel, we host a conference in NYC each June, The Writer's Hotel Master Class in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry, and we also work with writers to develop their writing via our online component, Private Study. We are writers for writers' sake.

Here at TNG and The Writer's Hotel, we work diligently to support writers. We will stand up and put on the gloves for those good stories and poems. We do all we can to help our fellow writers.

Give us your ire, your lore, your guarded passage.

Patrick Rioux, video/Shanna McNair, music

"The New Guard presents a curious mixture of the traditional narrative with the experimental, whether it is intimate fan letters to long-deceased authors, short stories showcasing mythical transformations, or free-verse poems." --NewPages

"The New Guard is a must-read for anyone seeking to hone his or her craft." --The Portland Phoenix

More on TNG:

TWH on The Portland Phoenix Checking in: The New Guard and The Writer's Hotel

The New Guard on Poets & Writers

The New Guard and Shanna McNair in The Portland Phoenix

TNG on

TNG on

TNG live on ABC radio Australia

TNG in Lily Magazine

TNG Columbia College video interview at AWP 2011

TNG on

Interested in supporting our cause? Donations may be mailed to our postal address, payable to The New Guard, or you can donate via the PayPal donation button below. Every dollar counts for writers! We serve writers in print and in person.

Thank you for your support!

Order The New Guard

Cover art by Matt Welch


Thank you to all who entered The New Guard Volume IV Machigonne Fiction Contest and Knightville Poetry Contest!

Big congratulations to our winners, finalists and semi-finalists! And thanks again to all of the participants of this contest. We are grateful to have read such inspired work in each genre. We read thousands of poems and near as many stories. Our entrants raised the proverbial bar very, very high. We saw talent, skill, passion, dedication. The overall quality of work was jaw-dropping. We are proud to say--grateful to say--that we had to mull entries quite a bit longer this year.

Thank you for caring to send your good work our way. The entrants made the contest what is was--and this book is outstanding. Thank you, writers. You are definitely doing your job, and doing it well. Please keep at it.

A huge thank you to our incredible, dynamic and generous judges, Tim Seibles and Joe Wenderoth. Writers like you inspire the rest of us. Thank you for your commitment to writing and writers, and thank you for your work on TNG Volume IV.




Knightville Poetry Contest Winner: Jose Padua

Poem, Seven and Seven Is

Poem selected by our Vol IV Poetry Judge, National Book Award Finalist and author of Fast Animal, Tim Seibles

Jose Padua’s poetry and fiction has appeared in Bomb,, Exquisite Corpse, The New Guard, Vox Populi, Gargoyle, Another Chicago Magazine, Crimes of the Beats and many other journals and anthologies. His features and reviews have appeared in such publications as Salon, The Weeklings, The Good Men Project, NYPress, Washington City Paper, The Brooklyn Rail and The New York Times. He was a featured reader at the 2012 Split This Rock poetry festival and has read at many venues, including the Lollapalooza Festival, CBGBs, the Knitting Factory, Public Theater, Living Theater, Nuyorican Poets' Café, St. Mark's Poetry Project, Black Cat Club and the Washington Project for the Arts. He lives in Front Royal, Virginia with his wife, the poet Heather Davis, and their son and daughter. He and his wife write the blog, Shenandoah Breakdown.


Machigonne Fiction Contest Winner: Micah Perks

Short story, Ghost Deer

Story selected by our Vol IV Fiction Judge, Joe Wenderoth

Micah Perks is the author of a novel, We Are Gathered Here, and a memoir, Pagan Time. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Epoch, Zyzzyva, Tin House, The Toast and The Rumpus, among many journals and anthologies. Her short memoir, Alone In The Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter and Me, was released by Shebooks in December, 2013. Some of the material in “Ghost Deer” was taken from a current novel-in-progress. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz and co-directs the creative writing program at UCSC.



Joshua Bennett, Palimpsestina

Benjamin Busch, Qui Vive

Sarah Decker, Sin

Margot Douaihy, My Money

George Drew, Just One Lousy Apple

Wulf Losee, A Butterfly Manifesto

Matthew Miller, About the Deck an Idiot

Jeffrey Schneider, Your Wife Is a Bird

Hannah Silverstein, Land Record

Jeanie Tomasko, Ironing, A Litany

Sarah Van Arsdale, Taken

Artress White, Mississippi in June

Renia White, 36C


Mariana Lin, Mama

Abby Murray, Ode to Norteño

Marcia Popp, visiting the dead, the almost-lived, and the never-lived

Don Schofield, Drilling

Melissa J. Varnavas, The Sound of a Plastic Fork Scraping Against the Bark of a Tree

Anne Witty, Forbidden Rice


Natasha Arnold, Toynbee Idea

Kay Merkel Boruff, The Funeral

Joseph Colonna, The Floating World

Lyn Di Iorio, The Girl with Translucent Skin

Kevin Fortuna, Weddings and Burials

Bruce Graham, Hot Pepe

Clark Knowles, The Trojan Experience

Steven LaFond, Lone Coyote

Robert McGuill, Requiem for a Bantamweight

Eamon Murphy, A Drihid Lullaby


Lana Austin, Scrambled Eggs

Grace Bondy, Crimp

Mark Brownlow, Breaking into a Broken Home

William Burleson, Smelt

Anna Goodkind, Sevilla

Terrance Manning, Jr. Pig’s Heart

Zoë Meager, How to Select for Animal Testing

Matthew Sirois, Follow the Doe


All TNG Volume IV finalists and semi-finalists will be published alongside our contest winners and contributors in the forthcoming print publication.

Order The New Guard

Cover art by Matt Welch


All four issues of The New Guard can be ordered directly from TNG headquarters below via PayPal. To put together an international shipment, please contact us at to order.


TNG VOL.IV includes a section called "Letters to the Future." Volume IV also showcases our Machigonne Fiction and Knightville Poetry contest winners, finalists and semi-finalists.

**TNG Volume III is sold out.** TNG VOL.III features work by winners, finalists and semi-finalists and includes previously unpublished work by contributors Sharon Olds, Marge Piercy, Madeleine Blais, Erin Belieu, Stephen Dunn, Barbara Hurd,Edie Clark and Judith Podell, among others, and interviews with Maine writers Patrick Quinlan, Elizabeth Miles, and Lewis Robinson.Our Volume III letters section is called "Love Letters." Cover art by Maine artist Matt Welch.

TNG VOL. II features A Storm of Blizzard Proportions (1944) by Ralph Ellison, a complete finished story which has never before been in print, and has only been read by a handful of people! Alongside A Storm of Blizzard Proportions, we've published a reproduction the original typewritten pages, straight from The Library of Congress.

Also included in this special section is an interview of John Callahan, Mr. Ellison's literary executor and author of A Man You Could Love. We are excited by this tremendous opportunity to share Mr. Ellison's work with our readers and writers.

TNG VOL II is a deluxe trade paperback with French flaps of 334 pages. Cover art is by Maine artist Jeff McCreight.

The Vol. II Letters Section: "Writers to Superheroes and Supervillains." Letter contributors: Joe Wenderoth, Tim Seibles, Tod Goldberg, Fred Marchant, Michael Kimball, Ed Skoog, Carolina De Robertis, Aaron Hamburger, Sarah Braunstein, James Zimmerman, Alexandra Oliver & Mike Heppner. A special illustration by local artist dave naybor (Dave Peabody) precedes the letters and kicks off this volume's group.

TNG VOL. II includes a section called "Twenty Questions," TNG's ode to writers who have lived and worked in Maine. Writers playing 20Q in VOL. II are Tess Gerritsen, Liz Hand & former Maine Poet Laureate Baron Wormser.

We are also be featuring two established writers in this volume: Theodore Deppe & Cortright McMeel.

TNG is grateful to our incredible Vol. II judges: former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic & novelist and author of The Pure Lover, DAVID PLANTE.


TNG VOL. I features previously unpublished essays by two phenomenal Maine writers, Jaed Coffin & Bill Roorbach.

VOL. I Knightville Poetry Contest winner: William Derge; VOL. I Machigonne Fiction Contest winner: Payne Ratner.

Our most gracious VOL. I judges: former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall & Good for the Jews author Debra Spark.

VOL. I letters: "Writers to Writers: Fan Letters to the Dead," a collection of fan letters to dead writers. Fan Letter contributors include: Sven Birkirts, Tom Grimes, Maxine Kumin, Thomas Lynch & Josip Novakovich.

TNG is also available at these fine bookstores:

Longfellow Books, Sherman's, McNally Jackson Books (Manhattan),Book Culture (Manhattan), Devaney, Doak & Garrett,Nonesuch Books,USM Bookstore,Colby Bookstore & Skylight Books.

Click the link below for THE NEW GUARD store! Get your TNG merchandise and be the coolest kid on the block:




P.O. Box 5101
Hanover, NH 03755


Shanna McNair, Founding Editor & Publisher
Scott Wolven, Consulting Editor & Special Sections


New Guard Review on Facebook! Like THE NEW GUARD on Facebook

Follow The_NewGuard on Twitter Follow THE NEW GUARD on Twitter

FOR THE LOVE OF THE SHORT STORY: An Interview with Heather Slomski

By TNG Online Contributor Kelsey Smith

Heather A. Slomski’s short story collection, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons (University of Iowa Press) chronicles the inventive and structural literary spectrum of hope, loss and magic in her debut collection of fifteen short stories. Her collection ebbs and flows invariably from vignettes to novelettes, beginning with the eponymous story, “The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons,” wherein two couples convene for dinner at a restaurant to acknowledge an affair. The collection comes to a close with “Before the Story Ends,” a fairy tale of sorts muted with the profoundness of loss. Slomski’s title story first appeared in the inaugural edition of The New Guard (Vol I) see below.

Last month, Slomski and I sat down at our respective computers and deliberated via e-interview on her new collection, her writing process, the book she wished she had written and, of course, her recent achievement. Slomski won the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and "The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons" was published by University of Iowa Press this year.

Slomski’s writing is startling in its ability to provide so much characterization with so little background. Slomski picks a point in time and moves forward from there, her characters rarely looking in the review mirror. As she writes in our interview below, “I don’t tend to include much backstory in my short fiction. Even though the present is always informed by the past and though some of the past seeps into the story, I’m much more interested in what is happening now…I think a short story can do anything.”

At the end of each of these stories we are left with a seemingly purposeful absence of closure, leaving ample room for reader interpretation. As the last page has been turned and final sentence read, perhaps we are justified in imagining that Iris’ fiancé does return as a chirping critic at her front door (“Iris and the Inevitable Sorrow” or “The Knock at the Door”), that Finn finally masters the art of forgiveness (“Neighbors”), and that the old man eventually finds a new chair (“The Chair”). I felt attached to her vivid portraits, inspired by her ability to create a lingering mood in her open-ended finishes. When I closed the book after her final story, her characters stayed with me, their longing and striving giving way to a uniquely Slomski mood. And as I sat and dreamed a moment more, I found myself hoping that everyone in the universe of “Lovers” lives happily ever after.

Slomski’s interior characters, matched with lyrical style and elements of experiment, allow for an exploration of human complexity from new angles. “When I write a sentence, line of dialogue, or create an image that is perfectly clear, I feel a sense of magic,” says Slomski. And the magic continues as Slomski continues working on her next novel with the help of two grants, a Minnesota State Artist Initiative Grant and a Minnesota State Emerging Writers’ Grant, to spend six weeks in Krakow, where this next novel takes place.

Heather A. Slomski. Photo by Vincent Reusch.

Kelsey Smith: How and why did you want to become a writer?

Heather Slomski: I always knew that I wanted to write. I discovered early on an aesthetic pleasure and a certain perceptiveness that I have access to only when writing. There’s also a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I feel only after having finished a story or book. I don’t think I can explain why I wanted to become a writer or why I write now beyond expressing that it’s something that I need to do and that if I’m not doing it regularly, I feel terrible and unproductive.

KS: Your title story, “The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons,” reads like an play, and is resonant with fluid prose and dialogue. Please tell us something of your craft practice.

HS: Typically I start writing a piece soon after I get the idea for it. Inherent in my story ideas are always a general sense of conflict between characters and a clear setting. Character names are not part of the raw material of my story ideas, but I always name my characters before I begin writing. I never begin writing without

knowing the names of any character of whom I am aware at that point. (Not all of my characters are named, of course. It’s an intuitive decision not to name a character.) Finding the right name for a character helps me to draw out his or her personality. Also, it’s usually fun to pick out names.

Naming a character is like naming a child. Sometimes the name comes right away, and sometimes it takes a long time to find the right name, and the fun wears off. The naming process can also be frustrating because the longer it takes to name my characters the more time I have to wait to begin writing, and with regard to short stories especially, I need to begin writing while the idea is new and my excitement is high.

I intermittently read and listen to my work aloud (I use a text-to-speech converter on my computer) as I write, smoothing out any wrinkles I hear. I do not wait until the revision or editing stages to do this; I do most of my editing during the drafting process, which is exactly what fiction writers are not “supposed” to do. I do this, though, because I cannot separate language from story. Words do not just tell a story; rather they are the story. When I write a sentence, line of dialogue, or create an image that is perfectly clear, I feel a sense of magic. This is also one of the primary reasons I read—to feel the tactility and the magic of language—and how/why reading inspires my writing. For me, the whole is always created from its parts. And before there can be a whole, there must be many well-crafted parts.

KS: Frank O’Connor has said that for him, short stories and plays go together – you take a point in time and develop it from there; there is no room for development backwards. Would you agree?

HS: In some ways. I don’t tend to include much backstory in my short fiction. Even though the present is always informed by the past and though some of the past seeps into the story, I’m much more interested in what is happening now. Too much backstory, I feel, can drag a story into the mud. However, I can certainly see the possibility of developing a story backward—of looking backward quite a bit or even primarily, if, of course, the energy of the story follows the progression into the past. I think a short story can do anything. What a particular story does shows us much more about its writer than it does about the short story form or genre.

KS: The writing in your collection seems to differ, stylistically, from one story to the next. Why did you choose to arrange the elements of the book this way? Also, which story in “Lovers” do you feel most connected to and why?

HS: When I first decided which stories to include in the collection, I had eight full-length stories and eight short-shorts. I knew early on that I wanted to open with the title story, “The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons,” and I quickly figured out that I wanted to close with “Before the Story Ends.” I realized after I made these two decisions that these stories exhibit the widest range in terms of tone and subject matter, and this realization solidified my decision to open with one and close with the other. There was a brief time when I thought of bookending the collection with four full-length stories at both the beginning and the end and putting all the short shorts together in the middle, almost like a series of photographs, but I decided against this idea and instead to alternate between long and short pieces, looking for small connections and transitions to figure out an order. This decision meant cutting one of the short shorts, and I’m glad I did. It’s too tonally different from the others, and it really doesn’t belong. I feel the most connected to the last story, “Before the Story Ends.” I think it’s a very delicate story. Full of magic, hope, and loss.

KS: Who are your go-to writers, your influences, your mentors and teachers? Is there a book you admire in particular? An author whose book you wish you’d written?

HS: My go-to writers change somewhat depending on what I’m writing. I’ll list the books on my nightstand right now, which are the ones I currently keep close by when working:

Anne Carson’s NOX and Autobiography of Red

B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates

Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass

Italo Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics

Charles Simic’s New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012

A book that influenced my inclination toward the fairy tale genre/form is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. There are two fairy tales in my collection, and one of them especially is influenced by this book.

My primary mentors are my two graduate-school fiction professors, Jaimy Gordon and Stuart Dybek. I remain in regular touch with both of them, seeking writing and writing-profession advice when I need it. I also keep in touch with them personally. They are both exceptional writers and teachers, and they are very generous. I’m tremendously lucky.

The book I wish I’d written is Anne Carson’s NOX. First of all, the book itself is a piece of art. I love that it comes in a beautiful box—that it’s an artifact. Its accordion-style pages are a replica of a very personal project—of a notebook Carson filled in order to come to terms with her brother’s death and also to try to figure out the mystery of his life. Even more than the physical beauty of the book itself, however, I love the book’s form, which derives from the act of translating. The book begins with a poem by the Latin poet Catullus—a poem in which Catullus laments the death of his own brother—and then Carson translates the poem by including altered dictionary definitions, one word per left hand page. Alongside the altered dictionary entries, on the right hand pages, she adds bits of narrative about her brother that by the end of the book accumulate to create not so much the story of her brother, but the story of her trying to understand him. The act of translating, while both decoding the poem and providing Carson with the form for the book, is also a metaphor for the exploration Carson undergoes in the book regarding her brother. And because it’s Anne Carson, the language, of course, is stunning.

I should say that not everything I write is governed by a clear form. I do have stories written in what I sometimes call free-form—where the narrative just goes where it wants without adherence to any formal idea or approach. My preference, though, is to write with a clear form in mind. I get the most satisfaction out of writing these kinds of stories. That said, my goal is to find/create a form for each piece that lays out a clear and relevant structure that gives me a set of rules. Making these rules or constraints purposeful—creating a harmony between form and content—is my ultimate goal, and NOX is a perfect example of this kind of harmony. I don’t think the relationship between form and content can get any more perfect than this.

KS: What are you working on at the moment?

HS: I am grateful for the honor of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, which gives me the encouragement to keep writing what I want to and need to write. This is no small thing. Right now I am working on a novel that takes place in contemporary Krakow. I was fortunate to receive two grants, a Minnesota State Artist Initiative Grant and a Minnesota State Emerging Writers’ Grant, to spend six weeks in Krakow and to have some writing time to begin this project, which is loosely based on my grandparents’ forty year marriage. There are a couple of fantastical elements to the book, as there are in a few of the stories in my collection. This novel tells a story that I’ve known for a long time I was someday going to tell, and that day has come.


Kelsey Smith is a graduate candidate in the Dartmouth College MALS Program, Creative Writing concentration. She serves as Co-Editor in-Chief of The MALS Journal, a biannual of student and alumni work. She presently works as a freelance Public Relations manager for KikiNetwork and lives in East Corinth, Vermont, where she grew up.

Heather A. Slomski is the author of The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons, which won the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award and was published by the University of Iowa Press. Slomski received her MFA from Western Michigan University and held the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville. Her stories have appeared in The New Guard, TriQuarterly, American Letters & Commentary, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, The Normal School and elsewhere. A recipient of a Minnesota State Artist Initiative Grant and a Minnesota Emerging Writers' Grant, she currently lives in Moorhead, Minnesota with her husband and son and teaches writing at Concordia College.

To order a copy of Slomski’s new short story collection The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons published by University of Iowa Press, CLICK HERE. To order a copy of The New Guard Vol. 1 of the fine story, “The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons” as first printed in our literary review, please visit our “Orders” tab or CLICK HERE.

"For the Love of the Short Story: An Interview with Heather A. Slomski" copyright © The New Guard, 2014. All rights reserved. Editor: Shanna McNair.

                                                            COMMUNITY NEWS

The New Guard Reading Series hosts free reading events at Longfellow Books in Maine. TNG Readings also take place as part of The Writer's Hotel Master Class in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry reading events program in NYC in June of each year.

New readings are TBA. Past Readings in Maine have included such readers as Charles Simic , Tess Gerritsen, Bill Roorbach and Sarah Braunstein. NYC Readers have included writers such as Jeanne Marie Beaumont, James K. Zimmerman, Harry Newman and Caron A. Levis. Thanks so much for coming out and giving your support!

:: Check back for more interviews, articles, news and TNG reading events to be posted here on our Community Page. TNG is here to serve the greater literary community. ::


THE NEW GUARD VOLUME IV SUBMISSION PERIOD IS CLOSED FOR TNG VOLUME IV CONTESTS IN FICTION & POETRY. The TNG Volume V submission period will begin in Spring, 2015. Our next judges are TBA. Please note that we are not accepting any manuscripts until our next contest period, except for flash submissions in fiction, poetry and nonfiction to our BANG! page. Please click the BANG! tab below and visit the page for more details.

The New Guard general contest rules:

MACHIGONNE FICTION CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional fiction in any genre. Submit up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. Novel excerpts are welcome if the excerpt functions as a stand-alone story.

KNIGHTVILLE POETRY CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional poem in any form. Three poems per entry. Up to 150 lines per poem. Please submit all three poems in a single document.

Please include your name on the first page of your contest entry; we will remove your name in the final stages of judging. We accept .doc or similar files–no PDFs, please. We do pay strict attention to word and line count. We accept previously unpublished work only. Any size print run or online publication (including blogs and/or social networking) disqualify an entry. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, provided we're notified upon publication elsewhere. Entrants have no submission entry limit. Each submission is carefully considered for publication. Final judging is done blind, by that volume's appointed judges. Please note that we do not publish illustrations.

Finalists and semi-finalists receive one free copy of The New Guard; winners receive two copies. Winners, finalists and semi-finalists will all be published in our print publication. We do not publish TNG online.

TNG retains standard first publication rights; all rights immediately revert to the writer upon publication. We do not presently accept unsolicited submissions.

Please direct all submission questions to


Bang! authors are showcased individually here online. Each author installment is made up of three pieces in any combination: poetry shorts (20 lines) or fiction or nonfiction (500 words each) for thirty days. Bang! pieces are not published in The New Guard. Work is meant to be very short—flash-short—so that the pieces on Bang! serve as a kind of calling card for the author. :: Our March Bang! will be posted March 3rd. ::

Submit your work to be considered for Bang! below.


All work on must be previously unpublished. Entry fee is $20. Submission period runs all year round.

Our February BANG! author is Julio Duggan. He is a BANG! selected contributor.

Julio Duggan was born in Nigera, where he spent his childhood. He moved to England for school and graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in Economics. He since changed career paths and is presently a graduate student attending the Dartmouth College MALS program on the Creative Writing track. He writes short stories and screenplays and also works in the genre of nonfiction. His fiction was recently published by TW Magazine in Nigeria.

Julio Duggan

Prose by Julio Duggan


Two excerpts of Different Day (memoir)

              Excerpt #1

Outside the dining hall, the day was getting blacker; inside, it was getting louder as boys filled their seats. A mixture of smells was on the air. Anyone with a keen sense of smell was better off trying to dull that sense. The odours came first from the floor. They would have been mopped with weeks-old soapy water. And the junior boys who had no sense of cleanliness. Most of them were ten and eleven-year-olds, in their first year away from home. They never washed properly, and that was in the mornings. Since then, they would have accumulated sweat in the thirty-plus degrees heat of Ogun State, and their house wears had more than likely been left unwashed for weeks. Then there’s kitchen staff, not the cleanest of people. They wore yellow dresses, so faded that one had to strain their eyes to see it was chequered. They wore toques, but most of them looked like dirty shower caps. Somewhere behind these odours and scents was the faint aroma of dinner.

              As for the aroma that was dinner, it wasn’t particularly a pleasing smell, after passing through the stench in the air, the relief it brought was bland at best. Monday nights we were to sup on boiled white rice with tomato stew—tomatoes and red peppers blended and boiled in water and then cooked again in water and oil—and fried fish. I found my nose searching for respite somewhere between the bland aroma of the food and the few boys who washed off the day’s sweat with freshly squirted colognes. They were hard to find. Most of the perfumed boys sat amongst themselves on the senior’s tables. I was stuck in the middle of the junior boys.

              The boys had filled their seats. Any who weren’t present were most likely running late or locked in hostel. Monday was not one of those days, and boys never missed dinner. The tables were covered in a faded yellow paint, stuck with rust and dirt. The rust was curious because the tables were made of wood. The red bricks of the dining hall appeared black and burnt in certain corners and clammy in others. The louver blades were the filthiest parts of the hall. The choicest tables were somewhere in the middle rows where the fluorescent light tubes were bright.

              The girls began to file in. That hushed the racket some. The first set of tables to the left of the door was where the boys had their meals. Girls had to walk to the second set of tables, and the walk from the front door to their end of the hall was a runway of sorts. There were three times a day—except sports days and the rare shared class—that boys and girls would see each other, and this was the last time till breakfast on Tuesday. The girls would only just have put on their house wears, and there was a radiance to them. The girls knew it. The boys knew it. Their chequered dresses hung from their shoulders and clung to their bodies in a way the white and yellow day uniforms didn’t. The glow it gave their faces.


              Excerpt #2

Before long, Boys-School would be full and Imran would be here. A few minutes later, I could hear the noise of chatter and footsteps approaching grow louder and louder, until I was enveloped in it. More screeches were heard, arguments were breaking out, debates, discussions about girls.

              “She looked at me,” one lad said.

              “You wish she did,” replied another.

              “You? Talk to a girl? That will be the day,” the first one said. I was in the process of piecing together who the boys were, their voices sounded familiar, but the din coming from everywhere and nowhere made it a task.

              “Duggan!” Bayo shouted as he walked into his class in his regular jovial manner. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

              “Imran said to wait for him,” I replied.


              “I lost his cutlery.”

              “Aaaah! You fucked up. You’re a dead man, I hope you know? Imran is going to fuck you up.”

              “Dugganism,” shouted another as he walked in, Kola. “Dugganism. Don’t you hear me calling you? Hahaha,” he laughed, “Or are you loading?”

              “No,” I said.

              “So you’re just ignoring me, then?” Kola asked.

              “I’m not.”

              “Speak up, you bastard. I can’t hear you,” Kola said.

             I cleared my throat, and began to repeat my answer. Kola cut me off before I could finish.

              “Fuck you, and your father, too. Bastard!” Kola settled at his desk in the front of the row and asked, “What does Dugganism mean?”

              “It means the act of loading,” I said. That made Kola blurt out a half-forced laugh.

              “What the fuck?” asked Bayo.

             Kola’s eyes returned Bayo’s. “Last year, Duggan here was one of the JS1 boys in Haruna’s room. They say when he first came, he used to take forever to answer questions, so Haruna said he was like a Playstation game; always fucking loading, and so he defined the act as Dugganism.” Kola continued his laughing and Bayo couldn't hold his back.

              More of the senior classmates continued to pour in, some gave me cold stares, others completely ignored me. Some asked about my presence and found answers with their classmates. Some made their way to the end of the class to take a few swings at me for the fun of it. None of them hit like fun, they were prepping me for what was to come I decided. Before long, Imran walked in. He spotted me in the corner where I stood, ignored me and went over to his desk-locker. Lifted the top and fiddled with something within and then began to make for the door again. “Imran,” one of his mates called out. Imran stopped and turned. “Handle this boy before teachers start coming around. It’s already time for prep.”


Excerpt of Ghost Stories (short story)

Mr. Adedeji returned to his teaching and John returned his eyes to the desk locker beside him. The sunlight had found company. An insect was fluttering away in between the louver blades, fusing its shadows with those the sun’s rays had created over Dayo's seat. The insect which John had determined was a moth had given life to the previously still-lying shadows. Together, the incumbent shadow and that of the moth began to move. Twisting and bending, creating grotesque shapes John tried to make sense of.

             In all the moth's flutterings, not a single grotesque shape was repeated. Every one was original and new, as if nature improvised a Rorschach test. As the test continued, the deeper John's interest with the shapeless shapes forming, bending and reinventing shadow, moth, louver blades and sun. It all came to an end when John found his attention jerked when the classroom door dragged against the granite polka-dot floor. It was Dayo. The whole class was fixed on him as he came through the door, Mr. Adedeji included.

             "Thirty minutes to use the bathroom?" The teacher tried to subdue his rising fury. "Were you shitting for Africa?" The second question caused laughs to sprout from most corners of the room.

             "I'm sorry, sir," was all Dayo could manage. He kept his head down as he walked past the teacher, clearly hoping the worst was over. He squinted through the steps just in front of Mr. Adedeji and let his breath go when he didn't receive a smack. He glanced up at John and smiled his relief as he took his seat. He didn’t notice he had dropped something.

             Mr. Adedeji was turning to the blackboard when he stopped and crouched, collecting what Dayo had dropped. Mr. Adedeji held the object betwixt his index finger and his thumb. The fury lines of Mr. Adedeji's face began to shift and rearrange. They became worry lines. "Where did you get this?" he asked Dayo.

             "His shit." One of the boys jeered. Mr. Adedeji payed no mind. Dayo was still reveling in the joys of his escape, grinning at John. John motioned to Dayo.

             "Dayo!" Someone finally called out. Dayo, startled, turned, his hands opened out with palms facing upwards. "You dropped something," the same boy said.

              "Where did you get this?” Mr. Adedeji asked, seriously.

             "That's not mine," Dayo said, shaking his head. "I don't know where it came from." The grin that had defined his face was washed away by confusion.

             "Hmmm," Mr. Adedeji said. He pressed his lips tightly together and pushed them upwards; nodding. Mr. Adedeji turned on his heel and started for the blackboard. John noted the moth had not returned and the shadows were uneventful, lifeless.

             "What is it, sir?" Another boy asked. Seun, the boy who sat closest to the door.

             "Does any of you know what a cowry is?" Mr. Adedeji asked. The class remained soundless but for the light screeching of chalk, dragging against the blackboard.


Prose © Julio Duggan, 2015. All rights reserved.

Former BANG! authors: Alexandra Oliver, Mike Heppner, Marc Mewshaw, Timothy Dyke, Marcia Popp, Quenton Baker, Charles Wyatt, Lissa Kiernan, Roger Bonair-Agard and James Kimbrell and E.G. Cunningham.

The Writer's Hotel

"Midtown Manhattan Dawn" by used under CC.

The Writer's Hotel Master Class in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry 2015

Your mini low-residency. Pre and post study. Edit with us now, conference with us in NYC.


Deadline is April 1, 2015. Early acceptance means extra editing time with TWH Editors pre- conference. We expect to fill up before deadline. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

The Writer’s Hotel Master Class is a hybrid. TWH is part residency and part conference with all the important components of low-residency mentorship built in. TWH is the only writing conference with a pre-conference editing service. We edit your target manuscript before the conference, and even work with you afterwards for two weeks. We are writers ourselves, and we carefully designed our program so that our fellow writers would have all the coaching and help they need--not just a quick conference but a full service beginning months before the conference and ending a few weeks afterwards. It truly is a mini low residency program. Our goal is simple: we want you to be the best writer you can be.

Our work with you begins the moment we accept you. From then on, we work hard with you on writing craft and help you cultivate better editing skills, so that you can become your own best editor. We work with you on the manuscript you'll bring to the conference as part of our conference package. Both Scott Wolven and Shanna McNair read your manuscript twice, making extensive comments. We help you polish this target manuscript for the agents and editors we'll introduce you to on site. We also help you to create a great query letter, and help you hone your industry communication skills.

You'll get to workshop with your genre mentor and peers in NYC. There will also be a faculty panel, where you'll receive feedback on your work. Workshops, lectures and literary events are held in midtown Manhattan between three writer's hotels, The Algonquin Hotel, The Library Hotel and The Bryant Park Hotel. Workshops will take place at The Library Hotel Writer's Den, Poetry Garden and Executive Boardroom and workshops, lectures and seminars will be given at The Bryant Park Hotel Terrace Loft and The Loft.

Workshop Leaders are TWH Editor Scott Wolven, and TWH Founder and Director Shanna McNair instructing in Fiction; Richard Hoffman and Elyssa East, instructing in Nonfiction and Stephen Dunn instructing in Poetry. There will be special guests and lecturers in all three genres, including a lecture on the visual narrative by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Zach Zamboni, a short poetry workshop hosted by Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair and writing craft lectures by poet and author Barbara Hurd and poet Kathleen Aguero.

There are four different writing lectures to choose from each afternoon. We help you bring your work to market, right there in NYC where the publishing industry is strong. We bring agents and editors to you on panels and at our speed dating events, so you can make real connections in the industry. We coach you in reading performance, so that you can be a more confident, impactful reader. You will get to read at an incredible venue, and you’ll be named on a TWH event poster. Our venues include KGB Bar Lit's Red Room, The Bowery Poetry Club, The Half King, Book Culture and Kinokuniya.

For a little extra fun, we also host literary walking tours and a game of "Wink, Murder" at The Algonquin Hotel, a parlor game made famous by NYC's so-called "Vicious Circle."

It's free to apply. Just send in 20 pages. The sooner you're accepted, the sooner we can get to work on your manuscript. Tuition is $2,500 and includes all pre-conference editing services, in- town events, workshops, lectures, agent speed-dating and student readings in the city.

Let's get started!

Please note: TWH is a part of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Writers and Writing Conferences community. TWH applicants are eligible for AWP's Scholarship Competition for conference attendees, where three $500 conference stipend grants are awarded each year to emerging writers of Fiction, Nonfiction or Poetry. TWH will also award three stipends, ranging from $200-$500 on site in NYC, to be announced after deadline, post registration. TWH stipend recipients are chosen at our sole discretion. We also are able to point applicants toward credit opportunities via our billing arm, and we can let you know about affordable hotels nearby. TA positions are filled for TWH 2015.

Please inquire at for more details.


The Writer's Hotel Master Class in Fiction & Nonfiction on the web!

TWH on Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)A New Kind of Writing Program? The Writer’s Hotel Master Class

TWH on The Portland Phoenix Checking in: The New Guard and The Writer's Hotel

TWH on Literary Manhattan“Floating” writer’s campus prepares to take over New York City streets

TWH on the Poets & Writers Conferences and Residencies Database

TWH on Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), WC&C Member listing


ADVERTISERS please email us at to pitch an advertisement for The Writer's Hotel Master Class 2015, NYC. We have limited space available for on-site conference advertising and we are considering pitches now. We only place ads and/or goods and materials we feel will benefit our conference attendees.



THE WRITER'S HOTEL is the teaching and editorial arm of THE NEW GUARD. We offer our yearly conference each June in NYC, and we also offer intensive, one-on-one Private Study. Private Study is a writing service that operates much like a graduate-level Creative Writing course. TWH Editors are Shanna McNair and Scott Wolven. We work with writers for a period of one year.

"Shanna McNair has an eagle-eye and a deep understanding of the intricacies of the writing process. As editor of The New Guard, she helped me bring my memoir/essay on Saul Bellow into focus and being. Thank you Shanna!" --Fred Marchant, poet, scholar and author of The Looking House and Tipping Point.

Praise for Scott Wolven's writing: "Wolven has turned raw, unreconciled life into startling, evocative, and very good short stories. He draws on a New England different from Updike’s and even Dubus’, but his fictive lives--no less than theirs--render the world newly, and full of important consequence." --Richard Ford, author of Independence Day and Canada.

Both TWH editors review work, giving extensive line edits and detailed comments. Fiction and Creative Nonfiction students can expect us to study everything on the page, including plot, character development, dialogue, sentence structure and narrative arc. Poetry students will receive responses involving the elements of poetry, such as use of form, line breaks, rhythm, tone and imagery. Poetry students will also get line edits and detailed responses to each piece. Email communication is unlimited, phone communication is as needed.

Please email us at for more information and current rates.

The Writer's Hotel on Facebook! Like THE WRITER'S HOTEL on Facebook

Follow The Writer's Hotel on Twitter Follow THE WRITER'S HOTEL on Twitter