Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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Serving House Journal:

Founding/Fiction Editor:

Duff Brenna

Nonfiction Editor:

R. A. Rycraft

Poetry Editor, in Memoriam:

Steve Kowit (SHJ:2-12)

Guest Poetry Editors:

SHJ:1: Laura McCullough
SHJ:13-15: Ron Salisbury
SHJ:16: Jack Cooper
SHJ:17: Alexis Rhone Fancher


Clare MacQueen

Associate Editors:

Clare MacQueen
R. A. Rycraft

Contributing Editors:

Walter Cummins
Steve Davenport
Skip Eisiminger
Thomas E. Kennedy

In Memoriam:

Derek Alger
[Jeffrey] Okla Elliott

Derek Alger (18 November 1953–29 October 2014):
Former Contributing Editor

Derek Alger was a graduate of the MFA fiction-writing program at Columbia University and a former editor-at-large at Pif Magazine, where more than a hundred of his interviews with writers have been published over a period of 14 years.

Seven of those interviews appear in Serving House Journal, with four reprinted from Pif and three published here for the first time (Terese Svoboda, SHJ:2; Lauren B. Davis, SHJ:5; and Bruce Holbert, SHJ:7). The complete list appears in our index.

Alger’s fiction and essays appear in Confrontation, Del Sol Review,, The Literary Review, and Writers Notes, among others.

“One on One” Archive of the interviews at Pif Magazine

Honoring Derek Alger

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Duff Brenna:
Founding/Fiction Editor

is professor emeritus at California State University, San Marcos, and the author of nine books, including The Book of Mamie, which won the AWP Award for Best Novel; The Holy Book of the Beard, named “an underground classic” by The New York Times; Too Cool, a New York Times Noteworthy Book; The Altar of the Body, given the Editors Prize Favorite Book of the Year Award (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) and also a San Diego Writers Association Award for Best Novel 2002.

Photo of Duff Brenna on Book Tour in Bend, OR
Book tour in Bend, OR
(Click to enlarge)

He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award, Milwaukee Magazine’s Best Short Story of the Year Award, and a Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention. His book Minnesota Memoirs was awarded Best Short Story Collection at the 2013 Next Generation Indie Awards in New York City. His memoir, Murdering the Mom, was a Finalist for Best Non-Fiction at the same Independent Publishers Awards.

Duff’s work has been translated into six languages.

servinghousejournal [at] gmail [dot] com

Interview with Writer Duff Brenna, by Marissa Bell Toffoli in Words With Writers (13 September 2013)

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Walter Cummins:
Contributing Editor

Photo of Walter Cummins, by Minna Proctor
Photograph by
Minna Proctor

Is co-publisher (with Thomas E. Kennedy) of Serving House Books and a faculty member in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. His seventh short-story collection, Telling Stories: Old & New, was published in 2015; and his sixth collection, Habitat: Stories of Bent Realism, was published in 2013.

Cummins has published more than 100 stories in such magazines as Kansas Quarterly, Other Voices, Crosscurrents, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Virginia Quarterly Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Arabesques, and Confrontation, and on the Internet. He also has published memoirs, essays, articles, and reviews.

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Steve Davenport:
Contributing Editor

Photo of Steve Davenport

Is the author of the poetry collections, Overpass and Uncontainable Noise; and two chapbooks, Murder on Gasoline Lake (originally published in Black Warrior Review and listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2007), and Nine Poems and Three Fictions (available in The Literary Review’s Summer 2008 chapbook issue).

A story in The Southern Review earned him a Special Mention in Pushcart Prizes 2011. In June 2012, Massachusetts Review published three installments from his “Black Guy Bald Guy” series of fictions.

[Davenport is Featured Author in SHJ:6.]

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Skip Eisiminger:
Contributing Editor

Born December 12, 1941 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, Skip Eisiminger is the son of Dorothy and Sterling Eisiminger. In 1959, he graduated from Mt. Vernon High School (his tenth school in twelve years). In 1963 while serving three and a half years in the Army Security Agency, he married Ingrid Barmwater of Helmstedt, West Germany. With her committed assistance, he graduated from Auburn University in 1967 (BS) and 1968 (MA). The same year, he settled his family in Clemson, South Carolina after taking a job teaching English and interdisciplinary humanities at Clemson University. After his son Shane was born in 1964 and his daughter Anja in 1969, he returned to graduate school in 1970. In 1974, he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a PhD in English after which he returned to Clemson. His only move after his return was across town.

Cover of Felix Academicus Photo of Skip Eisiminger Cover of Letters to the Grandchildren
Click on book covers for more information...

Over forty-two years in academe, he published a book of verse, a book of word games, a children’s book, and two collections of essays [for details, click on book covers above]. In forty-two years as a teacher at Clemson, he taught over nine thousand students in twenty-nine different courses.

A recovering Presbyterian, Skip’s firmest belief is in the illusion of free will. As a poet, he’s aware rime does not pay; as an essayist, he knows it’s not the eloquence but the evidence; as a critic, he assumes the best until he knows otherwise; as a linguist, he prides himself on being an ento-etymologist (a debugger of words); as a teacher, he has discovered if he makes the material seductive, the students will teach themselves; as an employee, he usually completed the worst first; as a husband, he comes to the table with something to share; and as a father and grandfather, he is a carpet bonder. Gradually, he has come to understand the virtue of giving more and expecting less, and that while curiosity did kill the cat, he has several more.

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[Jeffrey] Okla Elliott (1 May 1977–19 March 2017):
Former Contributing Editor

Photo of Okla Elliott

Okla Elliott was an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania, where he worked in the fields of comparative literature and trauma studies. He held a PhD in comparative and world literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a certificate in legal studies from Purdue University.

His work (nonfiction, poetry, short fiction, and translations) appears in A Public Space, Another Chicago Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, Los Angeles Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, The Hill, and The Literary Review among others, and was included as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2015.

Elliott’s six full-length books include Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (Eyewear Publishing, 1 March 2017), Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (Eyewear Publishing, 2016), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation; Black Lawrence Press, December 2015), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel co-authored with Raul Clement; Dark House Press, April 2015), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry; New York Quarterly Books, 2014), and From the Crooked Timber (short fiction; Press 53, 2011).

He also co-edited, with Kyle Minor, The Other Chekhov (New American Press, 2008), and authored three poetry chapbooks: The Mutable Wheel (2003), Lucid Bodies and Other Poems (Mainstreet Rag Publishing Company [MRPC], 2006), and A Vulgar Geography (MRPC, 2011).

Elliott was a senior editor at New American Press, and the co-founder and managing editor of the culture and politics website As It Ought to Be.

Derek Alger’s interview of Elliott appears in Pif Magazine (January 2013). Here’s a sample:

DA: So, tell the truth, are you now a pathological PhD guy?
OE: Maybe. I have been seriously considering a second PhD or at least a few more MAs in fields as wide-ranging as law, physics, and psychology. I suffer a constant intellectual wanderlust, which is why I love writing so much. With writing, I can research pretty much anything I want to whatever degree I want and have a justification for doing so....

A Farewell to Okla appears in SHJ:16.

Elliott was Featured Author in SHJ:5.

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Thomas E. Kennedy:
Contributing Editor

Photo of Thomas E. Kennedy, by Mark Hillringhouse
Photograph by
Mark Hillringhouse

Is the author of more than 30 books, including novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism, translation, anthologies, and most recently the four novels of the Copenhagen Quartet: In the Company of Angels (2010), Falling Sideways (2011), Kerrigan in Copenhagen, A Love Story (2013), and Beneath the Neon Egg (released the summer of 2014). All four are from Bloomsbury Publishing worldwide.

In 2013, New American Press published his collection, Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories, 1982-2012. His books have been highly praised in the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and other prominent newspapers and magazines; and Kerrigan in Copenhagen was a recent Editors Choice in The New York Times Book Review.

Kennedy’s stories, essays, and translations from the Danish appear regularly in such venues as The New Yorker Blog, The Independent in London, Esquire Weekly, Boston Review, The Southern Review, Epoch, Ecotone, New Letters, Glimmer Train, Broad Street, Writer’s Chronicle, The Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Serving House Journal, Poet Lore, and many others. His work has won the O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, a National Magazine Award, and the Dan Turèll Prize 2016.

Kennedy has also won two Eric Hoffer Awards for novels, multiple grants from the Danish Arts Council, and other prizes and distinctions. He teaches fiction and creative nonfiction in the low-residency MFA program of Fairleigh Dickinson University and lives in Copenhagen.

[Kennedy is Featured Author in SHJ:1 and SHJ:14.]

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Steve Kowit (30 June 1938–2 April 2015):
Former Poetry Editor

A member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, Steve Kowit lived in Potrero, California with his wife Mary and several companion animals. He described himself as “a poet, essayist, teacher, workshop facilitator, and all-around no good troublemaker.” He taught poetry workshops in San Diego, and his handbook for writing poetry, In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, is widely used. Among his collections of poetry: The Gods of Rapture (City Works Press, 2006) and The First Noble Truth (University of Tampa Press, 2007).

His book of new and selected poems, Cherish, was published in October 2015 by the University of Tampa Press.

In Memory of Steve Kowit

[Kowit was Featured Poet in SHJ:12.]

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Clare MacQueen:
Associate Editor/Webmaster

Photo of Clare MacQueen by Gary Gibbons
Photograph by
Gary Gibbons

Has served as copy editor and webmaster for Serving House Journal since its creation in spring 2010, and is co-editor of Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life (Serving House Books, 2015).

Her tanka poems appear in Skylark (Summer 2016) and Ribbons (the Summer issues of 2015 and 2016). Her short fiction and essays are published in Firstdraft, Bricolage, and Serving House Journal, and her essays appear in the anthologies, Best New Writing 2007 and Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging. Her nonfiction won an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award and was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

She is a member of the General Advisory Board of The Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books), consulting on haibun stories and tanka tales. She served as Assistant Editor, Domestic for The Best Small Fictions 2016 and as a roving editor for the 2015 edition (both of which were published by Queen’s Ferry Press). She is also editor-in-chief, publisher, and webmaster of KYSO Flash (Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature), the journal she created and launched in 2014 to celebrate a smorgasbord of short forms, including hybrids.

SHJWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com

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R. A. Rycraft:
Associate/Nonfiction Editor

Has published stories, poems, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Book of Worst Meals: 25 Authors Write about Terrible Culinary Experiences (Serving House Books, 2010), Runnin’ Around: The Serving House Book of Infidelity (Serving House Books, 2014), Pif Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, The MacGuffin, Calyx, Contemporary World Literature, Del Sol Review, and The Absinthe Literary Review.

Her collection of short stories, You Know, is a Web del Sol World Voices chapbook. Winner of the Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008, Finalist for the Poets & Writers East/West Competition for 2010, and a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English department and Coordinator of the Visiting Writers Series at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California. She is also co-editor of the Serving House Books anthology Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging (2012).

servinghousejournal [at] gmail [dot] com

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury