2018 NEWS & GUIDELINES FOR POSTING ON THE DISCUSSION PAGE: We’re especially interested in filling a gap by collecting info on practical initiatives – ideas for taking action – from anywhere in the world, “best practices” so to speak that foster peace, sustainability and social justice, especially those that might be picked up and implemented elsewhere. Examples from the past include the churches that open their parking lots at night to the homeless, the barber who uses his days off to give homeless people haircuts, or the group that put out clothing for people to take if needed.
FOR WRITE-UPS ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE for Beguine Again beguineagain.com Facebook message Terri Stewart. We also have a FB page – The Bardo Group Beguines -where we provide Zine info, inspiration, notice of spiritual events of interest to seekers and links to work posted on beguineagain.com founded and managed by Terri.
PLEASE DO NOT POST POETRY ON THE DISCUSSION PAGE. There are plenty of poetry groups on FB. We’re unique, doing something different but we do offer other opportunities to share your poetry and creative work:
SUBMISSIONS of poetry, essays, short stories, creative nonfiction, music videos, and artwork for The BeZine – journal or blog – are considered via email only: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BeZine is on a quarterly schedule in 2018 and for the foreseeable future. Here are the schedule, themes, submission deadlines and publication dates for the remainder of this year:
June 2018 issue, Deadline May 20th. (The deadline is extended this month and would normally be on the 10th of the month prior to the publication month.) Theme: Sustainability
September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES: Email me – email@example.com – if you have poetry news or essays on poetry to be considered for The Poet by Day jamiededes.com For submissions (poetry and short fiction or creative nonfiction) for consideration by Michael Dickel for Meta/Phor(e)/Play Facebook message Michael or connect with him HERE.
The Bardo Group Begines is a twelve-member core team of poets and writers, artists and musicians, philosophers and clerics providing comfort, inspiration and information via thebezine.com and beguineagain.com. The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees. Instead of charging you, if you enjoy and benefit from The BeZine and Beguine Again, we encourage you to make a donation to one of your local charities and, especially if you are in the Seattle area, to Terri Stewart’s Youth Chaplaincy and Peacemaking Coordinating Team.
BOULEVARD MAGAZINE publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry and will begin its reading period on October 1st. $3 submission fee. Payment. Details HERE.
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY, CENTER FOR LITERARY PUBLISHING considers fiction, nonfiction and poetry from May 1 – July 31. Paying market. Details HERE.
CONFRONTATION MAGAZINE publishes stories, nonfiction and poetry. The next reading period begins on August 15th. Payment. Details HERE.
CONNOTATION PRESS“accepts submissions in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, play writing, screenplay, interview, book review, music review, video (for spoken word or music or…), etc. Basically, we′re looking at virtually every genre or crossover genre you can create.” No submission fee. No payment. Details HERE.
FIELD: CONTEMPORARY POETRY AND POETICS is published by Oberlin College Press twice a year, spring and fall issues since 1969. Reading will begin in August. Modest payment. Details HERE.
FOUR TIES LIT REVIEW is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art, graphic storytelling and book reviews through June 1st. This is for the seventh volume. Tip jar. Critique option. Details HERE.
HERSTORIES PROJECT is interested in opinion pieces, informational articles and first-person essays from Gen-X women in midlife. Payment: $80. Details HERE. This publisher also seeks theme-based stories for its newsletter and hosts The HerStory Personal Essay Challenge.
HUNGRY HILL WRITING publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Details HERE.
LITMAG publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry and is open for submissions: fiction through July 31st; poetry through June 30th, Nonfiction through July 31st; LitMag Online through July 31st. $3 submission fee. Free submissions for fiction, nonfiction and poetry from June 1-15. Paying market. Details HERE.
TERRAIN.ORG, a Journal of the Built + Natural Environments is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews, reviews, art and videos through May 31st. Details HERE.
TIN HOUSE will begin accepting submission of fiction, nonfiction and poetry in September for its summer 2019 issue. No submission fee. No payment. Details HERE.
Call for submission for the June issue.
THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be.Submissions for the June issue – themed Sustainability –close on May 10 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.
New rules: Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment. Send photographs or illustrations as attachments. No google docs or Dropbox or other such. No rich text. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication is June 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.
No demographic restrictions.
Please read at least one issue and the Intro/Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples.
June 2018 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit
Deadline for the June issue is extend to May 20th.
The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.
Previously published work may be submitted IF you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions of short stores, feature articles, music videos and art for consideration.
MAGMA POETRY will announce the details for its pamphlet competition soon. Watch the site for information.
TARTS FICTION AWARD of Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama yearly deadline is December 31st. The entry fee is $20. Standard royality contract. Details HERE.
TERRAIN.ORG, 9th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction and Fiction is accepting submissions through September 3. $15 submission fee. Cash award: $500 to first place. Publication for first place winner and finalists. Jane Hirschfeld is the poetry judge. Details HERE.
WRITERS DIGEST 87TH ANNUAL COMPETITIONS closes on May 4th.The categories are: Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious); Memoirs/Personal Essay; Magazine Feature Article; Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.; Mainstream/Literary Short Story; Rhyming Poetry; Non-rhyming Poetry; Script (Stage Play or Television/Movie Scrip; Children’s/Young Adult Fiction. Submission fees. Cash awards. Details HERE.
HUNGRY HILL WRITING Poetry Fridays (Ireland) are open to all, on the last Friday of each month at whiteRoom in Castletownbere from 8pm for informal readings ( your own poems or poems by other people ), discussion, or just listening. Details HERE.
Accessible anytime from anywhere in the world:
The Poet by Day always available online with poems, poets and writers, news and information.
The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, online every week (except for vacation) and all are invited to take part no matter the stage of career or status. Poems related to the challenge of the week (always theme based not form based) will be published here on the following Tuesday.
The Poet by Day, Sunday Announcements. Every week (except for vacation) opportunity knocks for poets and writers. Due to other Sunday commitments, this post will often go up late in the day.
THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be – always online HERE.
Beguine Again, daily inspiration and spiritual practice – always online HERE. Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine.
If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:
send PDF to email@example.com (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything.Thank you!)
nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
nothing violent or encouraging of violence
English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
your book or other product should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.
TO CONTACT ME WITH ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION FOR THE POET BY DAY: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO CONTACT ME REGARDING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE BeZINE: email@example.com
PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two.
Often information is just that–information– and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.
James R. Cowles is a member of the diverse Bardo Group Beguines, which publishes The BeZine, which I manage and edit. James also regularly contributes to The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again. James isn’t shy of controversy and while you may not always be in agreement with him, you will always be encouraged to revisit and rethink … and, the man is endlessly entertaining. / J.D.
This “Skeptic’s Collection” column is dedicated to the life, work, and memory of Prof. Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of theoretical physics and cosmology, Cambridge University, United Kingdom. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” — Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses” / J.R.C.
If you have not seen the movie Interstellar, with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, and John Lithgow, you should run – not walk – to the nearest theater or streaming service and watch it. Interstellar is a not just a science-fiction (SF) movie, it is a science-fiction movie, i.e., it does not cut any corners in terms of depicting the actual consequences of near-light travel, e.g., time dilation, black-hole physics, etc. (In that respect, Interstellar is a cinematic fraternal twin to Dan Simmons’s excellent science-fiction novels Hyperionand The Fall of Hyperion.) Many of our most admired science fiction sagas – Star Trek, Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, etc. – skate over the sociological and psychological consequences of near-light travel by the simple expedient of ignoring relativity, leaving entire universes of potential reflection and exploration unattended. We concentrate on the science and forget the people.
Prof. Kip Thorne, a Cal Tech Nobel Prize winner, has recently written a virtuoso book, The Science of “Interstellar,” that tackles explaining the science of the movie to an educated lay audience. But, presumptuous as it sounds, I want to supplement Prof. Thorne’s book by similarly tackling what I call “The Sociology of ‘Interstellar’”. To that end, I propose a radical thesis: the most formidable problems standing in the way of interstellar exploration will eventually prove to be, not technological, but sociological. The most formidable obstacles lie not in the stars or in our machines, but in ourselves.
In the world of Interstellar, the resources of near-future Earth are on the brink of exhaustion because of humans’ irresponsible and short-sighted exploitation of their home planet. Water is scarce. Crops fail. (The only way humans can eke out a bare subsistence from our ravaged world is by developing increasingly hardy varieties of genetically engineered corn.) There is a planet-wide Dust Bowl. The New York Yankees are reduced to playing sand-lot, pick-up games of baseball with local teams for food and lodging. McConaughey’s character, Cooper, a farmer, is a member of the penultimate generation for whom the planet will be marginally habitable. The next generation, that of his daughter, Murphy (“Murph” … Mackenzie Foy as Murph at age 10, Ellen Burstyn as grown-up), is the generation that, in order for humanity to survive, must leave our exhausted earth and colonize other worlds.
At this point of crisis, a wormhole is discovered in orbit around Saturn. Because wormholes are inherently unstable, persisting only perhaps a fraction of a second, the permanence of the wormhole decisively indicates that it is an artifact of high intelligence. (Disclosing the builders of the wormhole would spoil the movie.) A project is undertaken by the sparse remnants of NASA to launch a spacecraft, the Endurance, to fly to Saturn, enter the wormhole, presumably emerge in some distant part of our, or another, galaxy, and begin prospecting for habitable worlds. There is real reason to hope: automated probes, sent through the wormhole in advance of human explorers, transmit back information about four potential candidate worlds, all orbiting a supermassive black hole the human astronauts, who will follow them in the Endurance, appropriately christen “Gargantua”.
To travel to the vicinity of the wormhole, the four-person Endurance crew – plus what I think is the coolest humanly intelligent robot ever to appear in an SF movie – undertake a 3-year journey to Saturn. No surprises here. They are traveling fast but far less than the speed of light over great but far less than cosmologically significant distances. It is when they traverse the wormhole and begin to orbit the worlds around the black hole Gargantua that relationships, as well as spacetime itself, begin to warp. It is then that questions arise about the limits and capabilities of human individuals and human societies.
The first such question, in fact, one of the milder questions — by now actually rather cliché among the scientifically literate — is the way the intense gravitational fields encountered near Gargantua, combined with the immense distances traversed by communication signals to Earth, result in the rapid aging, relative to the Endurance, of the loved ones Cooper, et al., left behind vs. the essentially non-aging, relative to Earth, of people on board the Endurance, who are subject to the time dilation resulting from Gargantua’s immense gravitational potential. Video-conferencing with Murph and her brother Tom (Timothee Chalamet) reveals that, during the astronauts’ brief time of the Endurance reference frame, decades have passed on Earth: Tom now has grey hair, has gotten married, and is a father; Cooper’s father has passed; Murph, now a young woman, has matured into a scientific prodigy; etc., etc. This begs questions of tectonic significance: when traveling near the speed of light and experiencing radically different times in different relativistic reference frames, how are humans to maintain vital relationships … and even can those relationships, so constitutive of the human condition, be maintained at all? And what, anyway, does “maintain” even mean in such a context? Relativistically significant gravitational potentials will tear matter apart. Will the associated time dilation, relative to remote observers, do as much damage to human relationships, and therefore to the human spirit?
But the consequences of actually landing on the surface of one of the four candidate worlds orbiting Gargantua are, if anything, even more wrenching. The more intense a gravitational potential, the slower time passes as observed from a reference frame arbitrarily remote from that potential. In the case of that one candidate world, the difference is significant. (The dialogue among the Endurance astronauts at this point, if transcribed and read with care, would constitute the framework for an excellent first course in general relativity.) In the specific case of this one candidate world, the strength of Gargantua’s gravitational field at that point — dictated by the mass of Gargantua and the distance of the candidate world from Gargantua’s event horizon — means that, for each hour the astronauts spend on the candidate world’s surface, seven years pass on Earth. Go to bed and get a good eight hours of sleep on the candidate world, and when you wake up, it will be 7 years / hour x 8 hours = 56 years later on Earth than when you went to bed.
Given that the entirety of planet Earth is living on borrowed time, the counsel of Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway), an Endurance astronaut and the daughter of Cooper’s professor and mentor on Earth (Michael Caine), is especially urgent: time must be considered a scarce resource. Every hour spent on the planet’s surface is seven years subtracted, not only from the physical life of our planet, but from the viability of its sociopolitical structures and the very psychology of its inhabitants. As the environment breaks down, so do the bonds holding together societies, political systems, and human relationships.
(In fact, the equations describing time near a black hole indicate that, as one approaches the event horizon, time passes more and more slowly [at least for a non-rotating black hole … an important qualification … but let’s not get lost in the weeds], and in fact, precisely at the event horizon, time simply stops. An observer outside the event horizon would therefore see an in-falling object “get stuck” on the event horizon, like a fly on flypaper. What happens with respect to time inside the event horizon? No one knows. Attempting to calculate that means attempting to calculate the square root of a negative number [i.e., rs > r in the above linked article]: general relativity breaks down.)
There are multitudes of other aspects of the sociology of Interstellar we could explore. One of the more enticing, in fact, is the potential relationship between humanly intelligent robots, like the robot on the Endurance, who is de facto the fifth member of the Endurance crew, and human beings. Could such robots serve as, essentially, human surrogates as the possibility of human-to-human relationships undergoes gradual attrition because of relativistic time dilation? Such robots could be programmed to provide emotional comfort to humans without, for all that, being subject to feelings of bereavement through humans’ absence. “Comfort robots” could support without needing to be supported by their human companions. (This is, of course, just a form of the classic “Turing problem”: if the responses of a robot are indistinguishable from those of a human being, then is there really a difference at all? Are phenotypic differences really all that decisive? This would probably be an even sharper question during a future age when technology enabled light-speed travel. Robots would incorporate cybernetic human parts — basically, benevolent cyborgs as in the later Terminator movies — and vice versa.) They might serve the same purpose as “comfort animals” for emotionally fragile humans. I find that possibility at once horrifying and intriguing. But I think a more compelling issue is what Interstellar implicitly says about the implications of human mortality for the exploration of “cosmological” space.
The human species evolved in an environment that neither rewarded nor encouraged long-term thinking. We needed fire to cook our food, warm our caves, and keep predators away tonight and maybe tomorrow night. Large-scale use of wood certainly would lead to gradual deforestation, along with the associated ecological and social dislocations. But the key word is “gradually”. Only with millennia of time did it become obvious that humans needed to develop long-term planning to deal with the consequences of advancing technology and its impact on the environment. Quite candidly, we are still not very good at this. We still habitually choose fossil fuels for the next five years over renewable, non-polluting alternatives for the next five hundred, with the result that, sometime during the next century, e.g., San Diego itself will become Sea World. And the root of that problem, in turn, is dual.
First of all, humans are a very short-lived species. Consequently, we find long-term planning difficult because our very lives are not long-term. A 7-year delay occasioned by an hour on the candidate planet’s surface is roughly 10 percent of a typical human lifetime in the First World of the 21st century. Perhaps somewhere in the Universe there are intelligent species with typical lifetimes measured in say 10,000-year increments and perhaps billion-year histories as civilizations (as distinct from homo sapiens sapiens, which has been around about 150,000 years). Think of the ent-trees in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or the Vorlon of Babylon 5. Either that, or there are species that, though as short-lived as humans, have developed sociopolitical structures and practices, unimaginably more advanced and enlightened than their human counterparts, that permit planning cycles measured in multiple millennia, short individual lives notwithstanding … whichever.
The second reason humans are not good at long-term planning is because we are, perhaps all species at some point are, incorrigibly tribal. We care more about “people like us over here” than about “people like them over there“. I have written about human tribalism within the comparatively parochial context of interplanetary exploration. I strongly suspect that there is a causal relationship between limited lifetimes and limited spheres of care for others, though I will not speculate on which way the cause-effect arrow points. Regardless of which is cause and which is effect, however, it should be clear that serious exploration over cosmologically significant distances, as in Interstellar, will require planning and coordination over scales we can scarcely imagine now, especially if the exploration is to be accomplished by beings within very limited life-spans. I hardly need say that such planning and cooperation will require correspondingly profound social and political — even religious … perhaps especially religious — changes. We will have to learn to think of ourselves as human beings first and as Americans, Russians, gay, straight, Caucasian, black, etc., second, just as American colonists in the early Republic had to learn to think of themselves as Americans first and Virginians, Georgians, Pennsylvanians, etc.,, second — except on a stupendously larger scale. We have to learn to think cosmologically — politically and socially, not just astronomically.
I hope I am wrong, but I am not optimistic. (But then, as a “para-professional skeptic,” I am never optimistic about much of anything!) Observing the current xenophobia and the lengths to which nations and their people are willing to go, and the distortions to their political values and systems they are willing to tolerate, to preserve their latent “Other-phobia” virginally intact, together with the self-inflicted myopia of the “There is no Planet B” (of course there isn’t if we refuse to even look for it … duh!) ideology, at the very least, we are not likely to apply for membership in any United Federation of Planets anytime soon. The Caretakers in Carl Sagan’s Contact would laugh us out of the Galaxy! But then, I have to remember … the Caretakers of Contact did not laugh us out of the Galaxy, and on the contrary treated the human species with meticulous respect. Furthermore, after the impact of the Chixulub meteor 65 million years ago, and after the great end-Permian extinction 180 million years before that, the prospects for life-as-such, life-per-se, life-tout-court on Earth would hardly have been a draw on the smart money. Even if nothing else, we are an adaptable species, socio-politically as well as evolutionarily. So when I reflect too long on human folly and its potentially fatal consequences, I like to recur to William Faulkner’s great Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
So, though it may be in spite of ourselves, there is reason to be optimistic that the starship Endurance may well carry a more prophetic name than we perhaps dare believe.
Photo credits: Interstellar film illustrations courtesy of the production company and here under Fair Use; wormhole travel illustrations as envisioned by Les Bossinas for Nasa, public domain; Albert Einstein during a lecture in Viana in 1921, courtesy of Ferdinand Schmutzer, public domain; Stephen Hawking at the Bibliothèque nationale de France to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris, and the French release of his work God Created the Integers: The Mathmatical Breakthroughs that Changed History, 5 May 2006, public domain; World With Tripple Sunset is from an artist’s animation shows the view from a hypothetical moon in orbit around the first known planet to reside in a tight-knit triple-star system. The gas giant planet, discovered using the Keck I telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, zips around a single star that is orbited by a nearby pair of pirouetting stars, NASA, public domain; Colonization of the Moon, artist rendering, courtesy of NASA/Dennis M. Davidson; public domain.
We left before any glimpse of a daffodil sunrise,
meandering off to the bay on the wisp of a dare
The vessel reeked of years at sea, but we boarded,
kept company with philistines and fishing rods,
sights set on a sun-sparked lime-green ocean where
the contents of our untrained stomachs made chum
The boat splashed its way, cold christening us with
salt water spray; feckless, we spun our reels, chance
landing four fat salmon, legal limit, beginner’s luck
Beginner’s luck may be a rare thing but it does happen and it is often worth memorializing in poetry, sometimes if only for the humor of the occasion. Tell us about your own experience of beginner’s luck. Leave your poem/s or a link to it/them in the comments section below. All poems shared on theme will be published here next Tuesday. You are encourage to join in not matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro. You have until Monday evening, April 30 at 8:00 pm PDT to respond.
If this is your first time participating in Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a short bio (NOT your poetry) and a photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org. These are always published for new contributors by way of introduction.