Enter the Guild Complex Writing Contest

Calling all writers! The Guild Literary Complex is accepting submissions for their Annual Prose Awards. Both emerging and established writers are encouraged to submit their fiction or non-fiction pieces for consideration. There are no restrictions on subject or theme, but submissions should be typed, limited to 1,000 words or less, and writers must be Illinois residents 18-years of age or older.

prose-contest-2013-digital-final-2The 2013 judges include Cristina Henríquez (Fiction) and DePaul’s own Prof. Miles Harvey (Non-Fiction).

Winners of the Annual Prose Awards will be announced live October 23 at the Guild Literary Complex Prose Awards event, which will take place at Chicago’s historic Chopin Theatre. A $250 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of each category.

To submit, send a single piece of short fiction or non-fiction to contest@guildcomplex.org. There is a $5 submission fee–which includes admission to the Prose Awards event–payable using the PayPal donation button on the contest page. All submissions must be sent by 5 p.m. on October 1, 2013.

Applications available for the Cork Writers’ School Summer Program 2014

Do you love writing? If you’re an avid reader of The Underground, well then of course you do. But wouldn’t that next work of written genius come a whole lot easier if you could immerse yourself in a beautiful and faraway locale steeped in rich literary history?

If so, then the new Cork Writers’ School Summer Program sounds like your cup of Irish Breakfast Tea.

Nestled in lovely Mitchelstown, Ireland in the idyllic County of Cork, the Cork Writers’ School offers budding writers the unique opportunity to dive into the timeless work of Cork’s many great poets, novelists, painters, and musicians while crafting works of their very own. Learn about paragons like Frank O’Connor, Gerald Griffin, Elizabeth Bowen and others from preeminent scholars before immersing yourself in creative writing workshops on the memoir, novels, poetry, and the short story. Write the work you’ve always wanted to under the guidance of distinguished facilitators, such as the award-winning playwright and memoirist John MacKenna; Leanne O’Sullivan, poet and winner of the 2010 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature; Nuala Ní Chonchúir, a writer of four renowned short story collections and the 2010 highly-praised novel, Youand James Joyce Award recipient Mary O’Donnell, an author, translator, and university instructor.

The Cork Writers’ School 2014 Summer Program will be held from July 21 to August 1, 2014. Don’t let this amazing opportunity pass you by! For more information, a full program agenda, and an application, visit the Cork Writers’ School website today at CorkWritersSchool.com.

New student fiction piece, “Daisy”

by Kevin Sterne

Lift. Swing. Chop.

The oak logs would crack with the first strike of the axe, and break with the second- so long as my form was tight. Wood tumbled off the stump and lay scattered about the black, rooted dirt until I collected it with my calloused hands, which were cut-up and bloody because we could not afford gloves.

I stacked the cut wood in neat rows, flush with the brick of our small three-room house. Flush so no strays found shelter, tight because if it were shit Pop would make me tear it all down and start again. He stood there, mouth full of tobacco, watching as I set log after log on the stump.

Lift. Swing. Chop.

“I learned at a young age, probably younger than you, the importance of doing a job right the first time. Every job. Even something small. Know why?”

I wiped my flannel sleeve over my forehead and looked up at him. His shoulders sagged and his back curved like a beaten rug.

“If it’s a small job and you do it like shit it will turn into a big one. Understand?”

Pop and I were chicken farmers with twenty hens whose eggs we sold up at the Sunday market to men with families. Pop’s eggs were quite popular, which, naturally, made Pop quite popular. Men were dressed in slacks and women in church dresses. All were alive with the word of the Lord except Pop and me. I’d watch as they filed out of church and walked past each of the small tables filled with the hard work of the local growers: cabbage, tomatoes, and various legumes. The butcher came on the first and third of the month, but Pop said he preferred the hunting of venison to chops or beef cuts.

We had our regular customers: Mr. Corvallis, the Pratts, and the Smithes. Pop greeted each and every passer-by with a “good morning” and a tight-lipped smile. These were the only days he bothered with the razor. Lack of practice often left his face scraped or cut but his demeanor never changed, even when stretches of folks were not interested in the eggs. He smiled and thanked everyone for his or her time.

A boy my age kissed his father on the cheek. The man had just bought him a wooden train from the table down the way. I figured if I became good with a knife I could carve one like it. Pop rustled my hair with his leathery hand and gave me a nickel. This was the first time I had ever been given money. I felt its weight in my hand and rubbed it gently with my fingers. The possibilities: hard licorice, gumdrops, flavored ice? No, I needed something more useful, maybe a new knife or a good handkerchief. Both were great options, but I never decided on one. Pop took back the nickel right before we packed up.

“Unless you want to buy some eggs,” he asked.

He knew I hated the taste of eggs and did not say anything else after that. Dusk was falling and we were the only ones left. We were always the last ones to leave.

I read once that you can count the seconds between lightening and thunder to figure out how far away a storm is. That night both happened at the same time. The whole house shook. Pop flung my door open and threw my boots on the floor.

“Barn’s on fire.”

Rain was falling in buckets, and I was soaked to the bone before I had even reached the barn, which was a blaze like a big burning log. I just stood there for a few moments and watched the fire spread over the cupola. The rain was doing little to stifle it, and the wind made it move faster. Pop was trying to drag the wagon out, but I quickly determined that it was pointless for him to keep struggling. Part of the loft had collapsed onto the wagon and trapped Muriel, our mule, inside. I knew she would not be saved. I think Pop knew too because after a while he stopped trying. By then, though, I had already gone inside to watch the barn burn from my bed.

The next morning we buried Muriel at the edge of the woods and took a walk to see what trees the storm had knocked down. After we rebuilt the barn, I figured Pop would have me chop these trees into usable logs. Firewood was a precious commodity in the winters and always seemed to be just enough to help us get by when the eggs ran low. Pop would need to buy another mule to replace Muriel, and I knew he was thinking about this as we walked through the mud. Light rain was still falling when we reached the clearing where the land sloped down into the valley. This was where Pop’s property line was. I stood at the edge and looked out at the new mills that were going up. I had come her many times to watch the slow rise of the metal walls but this was the first time Pop had been here since it all started.

I knew that he hated the mills. He had talked about the railroads before and how they cut through folks’ land. How the trains were too big and noisy. How they would bring out people from the big cities in the east. This is what scared Pop the most. I thought of a story a man at the market had told us a few weeks earlier. He said a black man out east had raced against this machine to dig a tunnel through the side of some mountain. Said a lot of folks came to watch and exchanged bets. The Black won, but died right after.

“Damn boy worked himself to death,” the man said.

“At least he won,” Pop replied. I wondered what he would have said if the nigger had lost.

We stared out at the valley for a long time. I could almost hear the hammers rattling down below.

Lift. Swing. Chop. Lift. Swing. Chop. It did not rain for several months after that.

At the beginning of summer, about early June, we had two callers to our property: a man who looked a little younger than Pop and a girl about my age. He wore pressed slacks and a white cotton shirt. I could tell his boots had not seen much wear from the way he walked in them. He introduced himself to Pop and me as Thomas E. Cressman. The girl had bright red hair that fell down the small of her back and deep blue eyes that were too pretty to look at. She had sun-kissed skin and freckles on her face. Her fingers played with the lace on her dress. She was nervous and I noticed. Her name was Daisy.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Cressman?”

“Please, call me Tom. I understand that this is a chicken farm. You and your son farm chickens?



“We’re hen layers. We take the eggs when they been laid.”

“I see. Well I wonder if you would be interested in selling some of your hens. Excuse my frankness.”

“For what?” Pop eyed him up and down. “We ain’t interested in competition, Mr. Cressman.”

“No, I’m sorry. I should have explained. I fancy chickens would make great pets.”

Neither of us knew what to make of this statement.

“I reckon a dog would make a better pet. More useful.”

“My little girl’s allergies act up to most breeds.”

“I ain’t parting with my hens. Not for anyone.”

“Then perhaps you would consider selling this farm.”

I could only imagine what Pop and Mr. Cressman discussed after I left. Mr. Cressman suggested that I show Daisy the hens.

“Could I feel them?”

Her voice was as sweet and gentle as the way she mothered Grace in her arms. Pop thought it stupid to apply names to the New Hampshire Reds.

“Don’t turn soft on me. Everything dies.”

Maybe he was right.

She told me her mother had died the year before. She told me they had just bought the property down the road, how her father thought a quiet life was best, and how all she really wanted was a friend.

I had never felt happier than I had been earlier that day. I had looked into her eyes and she into mine and, for a second, everything was perfect. I no longer hated chopping wood. I did not love books or the rain. The taste of eggs did not bother me. None of it mattered. I was there in the back yard, and she was with me and I was relaxed. I was strangely at ease by the hen house even though I hated everything about that back yard. The sun wasn’t as hot. Daisy seemed to suck all the heat, and I felt cool. I had stopped sweating even. I decided that I needed to feel like that again. I needed to see her again.

I heard the screen door slam as I was pulling on my boots. Pop had shaken me awake and said that he had found a fox in the back yard. We were both used to finding an occasional fox, but there was still urgency in his voice. It was well after midnight and he probably had not fallen asleep yet. I did not bother tying my bootlaces because I figured he would just fire a few shots into the woods to scare them off, and I could go back to bed. A shell or two usually got rid of them. My job was to check on the hens. Some hens had been known to start brooding after a fox scare.

The floorboards creaked as I got my maroon pullover from the dresser. All was calm in the house otherwise. I thought of falling into my bed. I had been having a good dream- a happy dream. I wondered, even, if I had been smiling when Pop came in. It did not make a difference if I was or was not though and I let it go.

The shotgun was resting in the corner by the door. Maybe it was finally my turn to fire shots into the woods. I grabbed it and our lantern and quietly closed the screen door.

All was still in the backyard, and Pop was nowhere to be found. I held the gun up in front of me and made my way to the hen house. It was silent. The eight white Leghorns and twelve Hampshire Reds were sleeping. I closed and latched the door. That was when I found Pop.

He was sweating and his hands were stained with blood. His flannel was also wet but I could not tell if this was from sweat or from the same stuff on his hands. He was smiling. His eyes were glossed with a shade of navy. They were no longer black like his matted hair.

“Come here.”

I followed the tufts of fur to the base of the hen house where dirt and blood had collected in thick clumps. There would be no need for the gun tonight. I felt it slip from my hand.

Pop’s lantern lay a few feet away and allowed just enough light for me to see him tear the hide from the skeleton. Each rip cast shadows onto the side of the hen house. That is how I noticed the small scarlet beads dripping down the boards. Pop had tacked the head up where the two halves of the roof met. The glossy blue eyes stared at me. I had never seen Pop smile that way.

Lift. Swing. Chop.

Logs were stacked four rows deep along the house. It had not rained all summer and folks were concerned for their crops. Some thought it was the worst drought in over a hundred years. Pop figured it was bad for business. He said that as the wells dried so too would folks’ pocket books.

“I’ve never known anyone to profit from a drought,” he said as we watched the men and women walk past.

Daisy and her father came up to our table and invited Pop and me to supper. Pop declined because we had to stay until the market closed.

“Maybe your boy would like to come.”

“My boy has a job to finish, Mr. Cressman.”

Pop sighed and looked down at me.

“If you want to go, you can go.”

I knew it would be foolish to leave, but I wanted to take Pop by his word. I left with Daisy and her father.

Their house was much bigger than ours. There was no barn and the yard looked smaller, but a swing was dangled from the oak branch in the front. I liked this. I had never been on one before, but I thought it looked nice even if it did not need to serve a purpose.

Mr. Cressman sat across from me and smiled as we ate.

“There will be work down at the mill once it’s finished. It might be good for a boy your age. Earn a decent living.”

I stared at my plate: mashed potatoes, beans and bread, a cut of beef with gravy. It was the best supper I had ever had.

I knew Mr. Cressman had something to do with the mills going up in the valley, but I did not know what. Daisy said he was down there most days and that she was often left at home. She told me to visit. She told me to take her on an adventure. I wanted to. I wanted to run away with her. I knew spots in the forest we could go and never be found. There were small winding paths along the trunks of trees that no one except me had seen. There were openings, too, with knee-high grasses where we could lie and I could make animals of the clouds. I could compare her face to flowers while she whispered into my ear. Pop thought it foolish to waste a day this way.

I walked home by myself. Mr. Cressman offered to take me in his wagon, but I insisted on going alone. It was only a mile or two until the bridge and then I could cut through one of my paths in the woods. There was a breeze, and I enjoyed a quiet walk. This also gave me an excuse to see Daisy again since I would have to return the lantern.

The night was very still except for the quiet swaying of the branches. The moon was bright and the road was well lit. There were few bugs these days because of the drought, but I swatted a mosquito as I neared the bridge. I was at least a hundred feet away, but I saw part of it had collapsed. I walked to the edge and held out the lantern. Twenty feet below was shattered pieces of the bridge and our wagon. I shimmied down the ravine to the dried up riverbed.

Pop lay pinned under part of the cart. He was still breathing, but his hair was thick with blood. I wrapped my shirt around his head. He was muttering something, but was too weak to form words. The wagon was too heavy to lift off his chest, but I kept lifting until I was drenched with sweat. I tried using one of the broken boards as a lever but soon dropped to the ground panting. My chest heaved. I could not leave Pop like this. He kept muttering. I crawled over and held his head in my hands. His eyes were glossed with a shade of navy.


I willed my way back up to the road and ran to the house. I grabbed the axe from the barn and sprinted back through the woods. I had let the lantern with Pop but the moon was bright and I could see well.

Down the ravine I tumbled, scraping my back and shoulder. Blood was seeping through the shirt and he had stopped muttering.

Lift. Swing. Chop.

The wagon would break and I would pull him out.

Lift. Swing. Chop.

I would carry him up the ravine to the house.

Lift. Swing. Chop.

I told myself he was not that hurt. That it would be fine.


Everything was going to be all right.


I started to cry.


A small fox stood by the lantern and its shadow fell over Pop. It looked young- too young to be on its own.


About the Writer:
My name is Kevin Sterne, and I am a Creative Writing major with a minor in Screenwriting. I enjoy movies, music, and anything outdoors. Writing has always been my passion and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities I have been given that allow me share my work with others.


New Satirical Piece by Nick Scully, Senior

Click the following link to read Nick’s new satiric piece, “How to Deal with Your Favorite Television Show Getting Cancelled“!

About the Writer:
Nick Scully is a senior Creative Writing major from the Southside of Chicago. He loves movies and television, and watches too many shows to keep up with; luckily, reading and writing have always had a huge impact on his life, and both help him to stay well-rounded.

Upcoming February Lit Events and News

Join fellow literary and creative peers at Threshold’s Campus Salon
this Thursday, February 7th, at 7pm in A&L Hall, 101.
Three undergraduate readers will be presenting:
Alec Moran, Richard Rodriguez, and Emma Cushman Wood.
Spread the news and RSVP at Threshold’s Facebook Event page.


Join the Department of English’s Visiting Writers Program on
Wednesday, February 20th, 6:00pm in Richardson Library, Room 115
A Reading by Jen Percy of her new nonfiction novel, Demon Camp.
Check out the event flyer for more details!
Percy’s short story, “The Eskimo and I” excerpt is available online at Pank Magazine.


Interested in discovering new literature in a foreign place? Interested in study abroad?
Consider ENGL 273: Introduction to Fiction– American and British Writers in Italy held at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center from May 21 – June 21, 2013
Registration beginning on Monday, February 11th;
for more info, contact Dr. Pamela Caughie at pcaughi@luc.edu


Threshold Magazine Announcement

Message from the DePaul Editors of Threshold:

To the DePaul Community,
We are excited to announce that Threshold is now open for submissions for the 33rd issue.  DePaul’s award-winning art and literary magazine is seeking writers and artists from any undergraduate and graduate programs who have original writing or visual pieces invested with the human experience.  We are calling for compelling nonfiction essays, fiction pieces, poetry, plays, screenplays, digital work and fine art. Threshold continues to operate by students for students.

Submission requirements are as follows:


Multiple genre submissions are allowed, although we will only accept one piece in each genre, with the exception of poetry, in which we will accept up to three poems. Prose pieces may be excerpts from a larger working collection (novel, screenplay, etc.) but must stand on their own.

Fiction and Non-Fiction pieces should be 5,000 words or less.

One to three poetry submissions should be included in a single file.

Dramatic Literature includes screenplays and plays up to 15 pages.

Please email all submissions to threshold.depaul@gmail.com with the genre of your submission as the subject line. Doc, .docx, or pdf formats only.

Two documents should be attached to your email including the submission itself and a cover page detailing contact information, including your first and last name, the genre of your submission, email, phone number, and the title(s) of your piece(s). There should be no names or other contact information on the submission.

Submissions will close Friday, February 15 at 11:59 PM.


There is no limit to the number of submissions.

Digital Work

All digital files should be saved as an eps or tiff with the following file label: LastName_Title.tiff. All work should be exactly 300 dpi and approximately 8×10 (depending on the format of your work). This should be done without interpolation–do not resample the image when resizing.

Fine Art

All work should be photographed or scanned and submitted only as a digital file with the following file label: LastName_Title.jpg. Please make sure that it is at a high resolution (300 dpi) and if possible, color corrected.

Please include your name, email address, title of the work, media, dimensions, and date completed. Please email all submissions to art.threshold.dpu@gmail.com or hand in submissions to the AMD Office by Friday, February 15.

Those selected for publication will receive a copy of the magazine and DePaul notoriety. Following publication, there will be the limelight of the magazine launch reading event and affair.

Any questions, big and small, should be emailed directly to threshold.depaul@gmail.com. Updates regarding the magazine; submission particulars, FAQs and upcoming readings are regularly posted on our Tumblr page, thresholdepaul.tumblr.com.

Thank you for the interest.


Rachel Harthcock and Borja Cabada, Threshold Co-Editors in Chief
Joe Horton, Threshold Art Director


Publishing Opportunities: November & December Deadlines

Want to have your work published? There are ample opportunities to get your work out there!
Submission deadlines are fast approaching…don’t miss out. 

The Allegheny Review 
Deadline: November 26, 2012
Submissions are only accepted by undergraduate students. A $5 entry fee covers a one-year subscription and eligibility for our prose and poetry awards. Winners receive a $250 prize and publication in our journal. Pieces submitted as regular submissions without the entry fee are eligible for publication, but they will not be considered for our annual awards. If you are submitting work from more than one genre, please send each submission separately with a separate entry fee.
For more information: http://alleghenyreview.wordpress.com/submissions/

Glass Mountain Magazine Contest
Deadline for Fall Issue: November 22, 2012
Deadline for Contest: December 25,
GMM accepts submissions from undergraduate students at any U.S. college or university. There are no limits on page length. Also, GMM accepts a variety of writing: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, art, and more. For more information: http://www.glassmountainmag.com/?page_id=10

University of Saint Francis: Undergraduate Conference on English Language and Literature
Deadline: December 15, 2012
Submit complete papers or abstracts on any topic in literary studies, including comparative literature, literature in translation, and creative writing. Papers and readings are limited to 20 minutes (8-12 pages).
For more information: http://www.stfrancis.edu/academics/english/ell/#.UKKlPm_A9IE

Agora Journal for Undergraduate Scholarly Papers
Deadline: December 15, 2012

The Agora Journal “welcomes papers of provide an original interpretation of texts, and/or challenge conventionally held views, assumptions, biases, or cultural practices. These papers may cross boundaries, juxtapose perspectives, test categories, strike new relationships, or question inherited knowledge(s).”
Paper length can be from 500 to 5,000 words.
For more information: http://www.agorajournal.org/submissionguidelines.html

English Studies at Large
Deadline: December 17, 2012
The third annual English Studies at Large (ESAL) Conference invites undergraduate students to submit proposals for 15-minute presentations in individual or panel form. Individual proposals should include a first page with your name, school affiliation, title of your presentation, technology needs, a brief (100 word) biography, and a contact e-mail address and a second page with a 250-word abstract of your proposed presentation with no identifying information.
For more information: https://depaulunderground.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/english-studies-at-large/

Student Poetry & Short Fiction: October 2012

Each month The Underground will publish various creative writing pieces by The Underground writers–some of our DePaul English majors!

This month we have published pieces featuring poetry by sophomore, Katie-Rose Brunner and short fiction by freshman, Russell Nye; junior, Leigh Martin; and freshman, Gabbie Zeller.

Use our right menu bar located on our homepage to view their work or use the following links to go directly to their individual pages! Leave a comment or “like” their work:

Sancturary & Introduction, Katie-Rose Brunner
Damp and Cold, Russell Nye
Time Management, Leigh Martin
Torrential Downpour, Gabbie Zeller



Threshold Lit Magazine, depaulundergound.wordpress.com


It’s that time again!!

Threshold is accepting submissions for the 2012 issue. The magazine, in its 32nd year, is student-produced and showcases the best original fiction, poetry, dramatic literature and creative non-fiction in the DePaul community. For more information on the submission deadline (February 10) and guidelines, check out Threshold’s page on The Underground

Student Writing

Check out “The Boy’s List” by sophomore Kendall Brown.

P.S. This is just the beginning, look out for more student writing on the Underground. Want to see your piece here? Send your wrtiting to me at awoods8@depaul.edu

The Boy’s List

First things first, put the toilet seat down when you’re finished, there are ladies in the house; No, No, No, loop the shoe string the other way around, come on you’ve got to get this right, can’t just run around with your shoestrings hanging all over the place (desperate for the rest?)