We talked to Molly Beer, winner of the 2013 Pinch Literary Awards in creative nonfiction.
What are you reading right now?
I am at work on a historical character piece, so I am re-reading (but not really reading-reading) JCO’s Blonde, Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, and Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. (Yes, I am a nonfiction writer who uses fiction for models.)
What is the most "pinchy" (kinda weird and cool) thing to happen to you recently?
The other day, on my way to work (think Michigan, pre-dawn winter morning), I passed a panhandler hollering “Go Blue or go home!” outside the Espresso Royale. I went inside and bought him a coffee (he wanted a mocha with whip, naturally). When I left campus (think mid-afternoon dusk), he was still out hollering. I fell in behind him as he wandered, hoping we wouldn’t intersect again, and I was in luck: just as I was about to have to pass him if I was going to make my bus, we passed another panhandler, this one standing in the gray snow, holding one of those white seeing sticks. Mocha-with-Whip veered over to the blind man and dropped a loud fistful of change in his cup.
I don’t know what it meant, but it was clarifying anyway. Anything you're working on now that you want to hype?
My prize-winning piece in The Pinch was about carrying a newborn into the mountains of Mexico to see some butterflies and then thinking about migration. I’ve had another baby since, this one in Canada, where I expected to feel all safe but ended up witnessing more tragedy than I had during Mexico’s worst year of war. So I am still writing about birth and place, politics and place, displacement, and so forth, but it’s not yet hype-ready.
Why should people enter The Pinch's contest?
Journals select (and reject) work for reasons that usually remain opaque to the writers who submit to them. Contests are more neutral. Author celebrity doesn’t play in. Nor do the needs of the overall volume (but we already have two Mexico stories!). If you want your work to be appraised all on its own, independent of what you have or have not accomplished previously, submitting to journal contests such as The Pinch’s is a good way to go.
Thanks for the chat, Molly!
Readers, don't forget to submit to our contest! The deadline is March 15th! Enter in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry!