Saturday, May 1, 2010

Short Story Month, May 2010

The idea of a Short Story Month has been floating around for several years. In 2003, Larry Dark, director of The Story Prize, urged in an interview that the short story was a very American form and should be celebrated in a National Short Story Month. In 2007, Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network and executive director and publisher of Dzanc Books, took up the banner and declared May to be “Short Story Month,” initiating several online activities to promote that idea and publishing a collection of essays and reviews. On May 1, 2009, I polled my readers about the idea and got a 99% approval vote.

However, the short story does not have a broad based nonprofit organization willing to promote Short Story Month in the way that the Academy of American Poets did when they designated April as National Poetry Month in 1996, encouraging a number of artists, publishers, educational leaders, and arts organizations to sponsor activities across the country. As Larry Dark argued on his blog last year, for a national Short Story Month to become a reality, “It will need to have a strong organization behind it, a real concerted and nationally coordinated effort, and buy-in from bookstores, schools, and libraries, not to mention authors and publishers.”

I queried The Society for the Study of the Short Story last year about their interest in promoting a National Short Story Month but got no reply. The Society will be holding its 11th International Short Story Conference in Toronto June 16-19. I will be participating on a panel at the conference, and at that time, I will once again urge them to help promote a month-long yearly celebration of the short story.

This year Dan Wickett has enlisted the help of a number of short-story bloggers, reviewers, writers, editors, and publishers to participate in a joint discussion of stories from two new collections: Alyson Hagy’s Ghosts of Wyoming (Graywolf Press, Feb. 2010) and Pinckney Benedict’s Miracle Boy and Other Stories (Press 53, May 2010).

I intend to increase my efforts on this Reading the Short Story blog during May 2010, with two or three posts per week, as follows:

1. I will discuss the work appearing in the Fiction 2010 special supplement to The Atlantic, which accompanied the May 2010 issue.

2. I will discuss some of the stories appearing in the 2010 Pen/O. Henry Prize volume which just came out.

3. I will discuss some of the stories appearing in the 2009 The Best American Short Stories, which came out last October.

4. I will post blog entries on Pinckey Benedict’s Miracle Boy and Other Stories and Alyson Hagy’s Ghosts of Wyoming from the joint online discussion organized by Dan Wickett, to which I am contributing.

I hope you will join in discussions and help promote May as Short Story Month.


Charlene said...

I'm going to try. I would've never read the entire Pen/O Henry collection last year if not for your posts. I'm looking forward to reading Pinkney Benedict's collection.

Ann Graham said...

Sounds wonderful! I appreciate all the work you do for short stories.