Uncovering All That Glitters
The Florida Book Review | Published on : October 27 2013 | Christine Morando
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There’s been some hemming and hawing in Florida for the past few years that university graduates aren’t sticking around the state in high enough numbers after they’ve collected their degrees. Luckily for Miami’s literary scene, several graduates of Florida International University’s creative writing MFA program have stuck around, and they’ve been busy building on the already bustling Miami literary scene, developing new avenues for publication and support for writers in and outside of South Florida.
On Saturday, October 12, I joined a nearly full house gathered at Books & Books in Coral Gables to hear a collection of Miami writers, some current students and recent graduates of FIU’s creative writing program, read works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
We were there to celebrate the release of All that Glitters, a nonfiction anthology featuring work from Sliver of Stone magazine, an online journal that FIU alum Michele Jessica Fievre, along with several classmates, started in 2010. During her brief speech at the book launch, Fievre explained that they wanted to put together a journal that collected excellent work from new and established writers. As a group, the founding editors’ main goal was to make sure they created an online journal worth reading.
Those original goals were simple, and simplicity has led to impressive results. Sliver of Stone has run seven issues of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and interviews that have included work by or interviews with Susan Orlean, Dean Koontz, Dorianne Laux, Edwidge Danticat, and many others. Some of the local voices published in those seven issues were on hand during the book launch to share their work or simply share their appreciation for Fievre’s brain child. Fiction writer Lynne Barrett, a faculty member in FIU’s creative writing program and editor of The Florida Book Review, was on hand to kick off the evening with a welcome speech that praised the writers in the collection for their literary alchemy, for “crafting what could have gone unsaid, unrecognized, unvalued, into the real thing.”
To make sure that real thing got the exposure it deserved, Fievre took her work on Sliver of Stone a step farther with All That Glitters. Along with her husband, Hector Lominy, Fievre created Lominy Books to provide a platform for anthologies like All That Glitters and short form fiction including novellas, flash fiction collections, and fiction chapbooks.
After a few brief words from Fievre and Nicholas Garnett, who serves as Sliver of Stone’s nonfiction editor as well as one of the editors of All That Glitters, past contributors to Sliver of Stone took the podium one-by-one to share their work. Poet Nick Vagnoni and fiction writer Hector Duarte Jr. started things off, demonstrating the range of work the journal has published. From there, the readings shifted to nonfiction works by writers included in All That Glitters. Jan Becker, a current MFA candidate at FIU, and Garnett, a graduate of the program, both read from pieces that appear in the collection, as did Andrea Askowitz, known around Miami as creator of the nonfiction reading series Lip Service: True Stories Out Loud, and M. Evelina Galang, who directs the creative writing program at the Unviersity of Miami. The pieces included moments of levity and sadness, and covered disparate geographies ranging from the Philippines to Broward County, but they all wrestled with the violence, sexuality, and memory that, when it erupts into our daily lives, tilts our understanding of the world, just a bit.
Once the applause had faded for the final reader, Garnett and Fievre returned to the podium to wrap up the evening. Fievre’s instrumental role in creating not only All That Glitters but also Sliver of Stone earned her the nickname “the quiet storm” from Garnett, who ended the night by praising her role in creating “a really fine literary magazine out of nothing.”
Fievre and Garnett will be taking All That Glitters to Miami Book Fair International for another showcase reading in November.