Rae Bryant Answers Questions on Steven Tyler’s Lips and William Shatner as Alien Sex Worker at Quiddity International Literary Journal, Benedictine University/NPR

Rae Bryant IIEach Friday, the editors of Quiddity ask hard hitting, probing inquiries to writers and editors generous enough with their time to answer… 5 Questions 4 Quiddity.

Today, we traverse the gridlock of the capital beltway to converse and connect with Rae Bryant.  Rae’s short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, released from Patasola Press, NY, in June 2011. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Paris ReviewStoryQuarterlyMcSweeney’s,Huffington Post, BLIP MagazineGargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications and have been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, and Pushcart awards. She has won awards in fiction from Whidbey Writers and Johns Hopkins as well as fellowships from the VCCA and Hopkins to write, study and teach in Florence, Italy. She earned a Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins where she continues to teach creative writing and is editor in chief of the university-housed literary and arts journal, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.

Rae will also be a part of Barrelhouse Magazine’s Connections and Conversations conference.  The day long event will feature workshops and practical writing advice as well as small presses and journals (including your friendly neighborhood Quiddity) on Saturday April 25th.

  1. In your opinion, was T. J. Hooker named after Dr. Eckleburg?

I have often wondered this myself and I’m so glad you asked the question. I think so. And since you’ve brought this up, may I add that my initial concern with the journal and T. J. Hooker affiliation was the suggestion that T. J. Hooker was in fact, at one time, a real life sex worker who specialized in aliens from a diverse collect of planets and galaxies. Of course, at Eckleburg, we’re all for diversity but we were a little concerned that T. J. Hooker’s former life as alien sex worker might corner The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review as a speculative/SF erotica aesthetic. We like literary spec and SF, Vonnegut is an adored author, but we really weren’t ready for an influx of alien sex. So, there was that to consider. We ended up being okay with it, though, as Shatner did turn his career toward law enforcement and so it gave him a little range. We can work with that. We’ll be doing a feature soon on Shatner and his alien sex worker turned law enforcement career and a rumor that he has been slotted for a role opposite Samuel L. Jackson in an upcoming Quentin Tarantino film, working title, White Men Can’t Act. The rumor is that Shatner has to sign off on an up close and personal prison rape scene and sources say he isn’t sure he will be able to do it. Apparently, he had been bum-rushed by a group of extraterrestrials with squid like suckers, which subsequently finished his career in the alien sex trade industry. Still having flashbacks, though. It’s a very sad story. Thanks for giving this a mention. READ MORE AT QUIDDITY!



Quiddity_logoQuiddity is a multimedia arts venue featuring an international literary journal (print and audio), a public-radio program, and a visiting writer and artist series. Each is produced by Benedictine University in partnership with NPR member/PRI affiliate WUIS, Illinois Public Radio’s hub-station.



abbie leavensPoetry Editor Abbie Leavens describes how she wants poems that bite with absolutely necessary language, how poets can’t be afraid to let their poetry hurt, and how to approach writing with a full head.


Q) How did you learn about/become involved with Eckleburg?

Abbie Leavens: I first met The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review when it was transitioning from Moon Milk Review into its beautiful, present form. I was fortunate enough to have a poem of mine, “Control”, accepted for publication at Eckleburg, and later, when the opportunity arose to work with the brilliant minds in the poetry department I jumped at the chance.


Q) What genre do you edit/what role do you have?

AL: I believe my official title is Poetry Editor, or at a minimum that’s what follows my Eckleburg emails. I have the great fortune to read and review the poetry that comes into Eckleburg, as well as help determine what we keep and, finally, upload accepted work to the review.


Q) What are you looking for in submissions?

AL: I tend to favor language that is uncomplicated, but absolutely necessary. Any poem that evokes a visceral reaction is gold. It has to feel real, it has to bite—don’t be afraid to let it hurt.


Q) What have been one or two of your favorite pieces you have seen in Eckleburg so far?

AL: I am a big fan of Amye Archer’s recent poem “Eating Children on a Fall Day”. I also dig the whole lot of nonfiction that has found a home at Eckleburg because I am totally in love with other peoples’ realities.


Q) What are some publications you have/accomplishments you want to share?

AL: Other than Eckleburg, I’ve had poems in Barnstorm, BlazeVOX, BLOOM, The Boiler Journal, Crusader, fortyouncebachelors, Reed, Wilde, Xenith, short fiction in The Battered Suitcase, and nonfiction in Gargoyle. I have a poem forthcoming in The Squaw Valley Review. I am proud to have been a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry 2012 and a Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fellow in Poetry 2012.


Q) How do you approach writing?

AL: With hot tea, a clicky pen, and a full head.


Q) In 5 words or less, describe what kind of a journal you think Eckleburg is.

AL: Smart, Sleek, Sassy, Bold, Unabashed.


Abbie J. Leavens grew up in Iowa. She lives and writes in Los Angeles, California. She teaches composition at UC-Irvine and Long Beach City College. A proud mother of two spirited boys, Abbie spends her moments of escape at little league baseball games and tries to see the ocean as often as she can. She is the poetry editor of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarketing Ninja and Associate Editor Anna Stusser gives some guidelines for writing good fiction (because, really, your muse may be a knock-out, but her beauty in no way necessitates two pages of writing), explains what writing and a chimpanzee have in common, and divulges where the  brilliant and bold go to find amazing literature.


Q) How did you learn about/become involved with Eckleburg?

Anna Stusser: While ignoring my required reading (by taking 10 minutes to read something of my own choice), I found Eckleburg. The super long title intrigued me and I started reading its fiction and watching videos in the comedy section. The piece “Emily Applies for a Job, made me laugh so hard, I almost rolled off my unstable wooden bed from IKEA. Naturally, I have not stopped reading Eckleburg since.


Q) What genre do you edit/what role do you have?

AS: I read fiction submissions and give my input for acceptance to their (potential) publication. Ever week is story time for me. I love it.


Q) What are you looking for in submissions?

AS: Yes, I know I am not easy to please. Try to use these bullet points as ways to help improve your writing. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules. Also, there are times when there is nothing wrong with the story per se; I just did not love it. Someone else might feel differently. Keep submitting, keep trying.

Here are some points for what I do and do not look for:

  • Clarity of imagery. I would rather read about your Omelet with tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms than a mere “I had eggs for breakfast.” I want see what is happening, not be told. Let the actions of your characters drive your story and let your descriptions paint a clear picture of the surroundings.

  • Write about characters that I cannot get out of my head. People with quirky, well-rounded, realistic and exquisite descriptions.

  • Does the character have a goal and can you convince me to root for him or her?

  • Have you already told me what is going to happen in the first line or paragraph? If so, why should I keep on reading? Lead me though your story, do not give me the resolution right away.

  • Does your use of grammar or paragraph organization enhance or distract from your piece?

  • Have you used the same word or phrase in same paragraph?

  • Like the Literarian’s Dawn Raffle, I am turned off by whining. Unless the complaints of the characters relate to the plot of your story, I would rather not hear it. I prefer stories that are likable, relatable or be disturbed by a snake-bite of poisonous truth. 

  • Are you relying on clichés, stereotypes, or using any bland technique that is about as spicy as a slice of plain white bread?

  • Yes, I know your muse is beautiful, but you do not need to spend 2 full pages telling me that. Not only does it distract from your story line, but it objectifies the person you claim to elevate. Besides, most muses have dreams of their own that have little to do with their physical appearance.


Q) What have been one or two of your favorite pieces you have seen in Eckleburg so far?

AS: Flour Riot” by Jill Birdsall was phenomenal. Every sentence is action packed and has a purpose. Her prose twists and turns and demanded my attention. Her quote “Father, Son–  At the same time, above her head one last barrel heavy with flour rolled over the ledge” was very James Joyce-like. 

Like most sarcastic bastards, I thoroughly enjoy Bukowski time. Every post is a cigarette for my soul, I dare say I look forward to them every week. Click here to read the latest.


Q) What are some publications you have/accomplishments you want to share?


  • My debut publication, “Race, Space and Place” was featured in Brown University’s Bluestockings Magazine

  • Francesca Lia Block once responded to my tweet on Twitter

  • Ich spreche und lese auf Deutsch

  • לייענען אויך אַ ביסל פון ייִדיש

  • Look for an upcoming piece concerning the actions from Dartmouth Lawsuit from me that will be featured in Eckleburg


Q) How do you approach writing?

AS: Most of the time, I try to approach writing with the meticulous concentration of a chimpanzee picking off insects crawling on her baby’s back and with the thunder in a lion’s roar. Additionally, I try to follow my own rules that I look for in the submission guides I listed above.


Q) In 5 words or less, describe what kind of a journal you think Eckleburg is.

AS: For the brilliant and bold


Q) Any other promotion/interesting fact/random tid bit you want to share?

AS: I am reading My Escape by Benoite Groult. For those who are interested in Feminism and French culture, you might enjoy reading while sipping some Merlot in an outdoor café.



Anna Stusser is a music maker and a dreamer of dreams. At her semi-prestigious liberal arts school in New England, it was confirmed that she lied to a cop in order to sneak back stage and bombard Noam Chomsky. Since then, she has moved down south and prepares to sprinkle her zany madness wherever she will go.