“Slow Burn on a Long Candle”: The Work Writing Can Do. An Interview with Cameron Barnett by Jess Turner for Braddock Avenue Books


Braddock Avenue Books: The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water is your first book. How long did you work on this collection before it won the 2017 Rising Writer Prize at Autumn House Press?

Cameron Barnett: I worked on the poems in the book during the three years of my MFA at the University of Pittsburgh between 2013 and 2016, with a couple of exceptions: the oldest poem in the collection, “Nigger,” is a revision of a piece I first wrote in 2008; the newest three, “Redwoods in the Hood,” “Muriatic,” and “Fresh Prince” were all written after I graduated. The title and concept of the book came well after most of these poems were written too—that is, I didn’t quite realize what I was writing toward for a couple years until some key conversations with peers and mentors. I made some tweaks to it a few months after graduation and began sending it out. That’s how it found a home with Autumn House Press.

Editors and advisory board

The Best Small Fictions Editors 2018

Editors and Advisory Board

Guest Editor: Aimee Bender
Series Editor: Sherrie Flick
Founding Series Editor: Tara Masih
Chauna Craig, Assistant Editor, Domestic
Michelle Elvy, Assistant Editor, International

About The Best Small Fictions anthology

The Best Small Fictions is the first contemporary anthology solely devoted to honoring the best short hybrid fiction published in a calendar year.

The series began in 2015, featuring seasoned and emerging writers. Flash, micro fiction, prose poetry, and haibun stories are just some examples of the hybrid forms honored. Tara L. Masih founded the annual series and serves as series editor; guest editors include Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler (2015), PEN/Malamud Award winner and O. Henry Prize winner Stuart Dybek (2016), and Rea Award and PEN/Malamud Award winner Amy Hempel (2017).


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