I received word this week that “The Deer,” a short (1720 words) essay that I wrote during my MFA program, has been accepted for publication by Eleven Eleven, the literary journal based at the California College of the Arts. Poet Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the Faculty Editor of the journal, which is described this way on its website:
“Eleven Eleven is a biannual journal of literature and art based at California College of the Arts. The aim of the publication is to provide a forum for risk and experimentation and to serve as an exchange between writers and artists.”
It is a beautiful journal — I picked up two copies at the last AWP conference in Denver, and right now Issue #7 from 2009 is sitting on my desk. It is packed with unusual poetry, prose, and artwork. I am honored that one of my pieces will soon appear in its pages.
“The Deer” is a piece that means a great deal to me. It is one of the few essays I’ve written that references my father’s past as a Holocaust survivor and expresses, to a certain extent, how his past affected me. It is a lyric, metaphorical piece and has a bit of an interesting history because it is one of the first pieces I wrote during my MFA experience. I had known for a long time that the incident described in the essay was something I had to write about. It was a memory I could not shake, even though the incident happened more than thirty years ago.
“The Deer” is one of the few pieces I’ve written that I pretty much wrote in its final state from the start. I did make some revisions, of course, with the help of my teacher at the time, Joy Castro, who has an extremely keen editor’s eye. But after that I largely left the piece alone, even after receiving widely different opinions. One faculty member thought it was the strongest piece in my creative thesis, while another believed it was just the beginning of something. For some reason, I held steady with this one. I let it be what it was. This is not often the case — usually when I look at work after a week or a few weeks have passed, I find many things to revise.
So it is gratifying to know that the editors of a journal as creative as Eleven Eleven chose “The Deer” for publication. It’s hard sometimes to know when you should listen to the feedback of readers (especially when that feedback comes from readers you respect and varies so widely) and when you should just stick with what feels right to you. Maybe because this particular piece was so close to home, I stuck to what felt right.
Eleven Eleven is a print journal that also publishes work online, so when “The Deer” is online, I’ll post the link here. But I encourage you to check out the print journal, too. Subscription information is available here. $40 for five print issues is a great deal.