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Teaching & Reading for Empathy

by Margaret Bauer, Editor

Editor is busy today “orienting” Spring semester NCLR student staff, so she combined our Teaching NC Lit Tuesday and What We’re Reading Wednesday posts for this busy first week back at ECU.

“Read the literary magazines you want to publish in” is my regular advice to writers when I do submission workshops. And this past weekend, I was so glad I practiced what I preach: I’m reading volume 25, issue 1 of River Teeth. As a person who lives part-time on a river (and that time is often my writing time), and given it is a venue for creative nonfiction, I’ve aspired to publish in River Teeth’s pages. Reading the latest issue, the first of their quarter-century anniversary year (as NCLR editor, I remember that feeling!), I am just knocked out by the creative nonfiction selections. Creative nonfiction was NCLR Founding Editor Alex Albright’s genre (and don’t forget: we’re accepting CNF submissions starting Jan. 15 for the Albright Prize!).

I don’t know how I happened to start with “Weapons at Hand” by Shannon McCarthy, who lives in Rhode Island. She alludes, oh-so-subtly, to the Sandy Hook tragedy occurring while she was pregnant (“154 rounds in five minutes. I watched small bodies walk together, stumbling in long lines, hands on each other’s shoulders…”). I am not a mother, but I remember crumpling to my kitchen floor weeping during the news report of this American tragedy, horrified by what the parents must be going through, not just in having lost their babies but also knowing they died terrified. This is what literature does, right? Isn’t this what we keep explaining to those who wonder about the value of the Humanities? McCarthy’s essay reminded me, who is not a mother, what it must have been like for mothers that day.

Pulling this back around to our Teaching Tuesday and What We’re Reading Wednesday: I teach literature, which teaches empathy, which seems sorely lacking these days, and when I read inspiring writing, I want to share it. NCLR has given me the platform to do that. It can for you, too. If you want to be in our pages, please subscribe today. A subscription allows you to submit your own creative nonfiction in two weeks. There’s no additional submission fee. We just require you to subscribe. Do that now, while you’re thinking about it, and then work on that essay you’ve had in mind to write. Submissions open January 15 and close March 1.