On Monday, March twenty-fourth, a poetry reading was held in the Heritage Room of the University Union. The poet was Saul Lemerond, a graduate of UW-Green Bay and former Editor in Chief for Sheepshead Review. For about an hour he entertained listeners with two poems from his short story collection, Kayfabe and Other Stories, and he answered questions that covered various subjects: getting published, what he’s working on now, and the novel writing process, among other things. Saul is also the Rising Phoenix judge this year for fiction, so it was an added bonus to have him come to UW-Green Bay to share some of his work.
Saul started with his poem, “Bieber.” He captures the voice of a “crazed fan” perfectly, and it even crosses into sounding as if a thirteen year-old girl had written it; which if you think about it, is not too unlikely. I loved how it emphasized the lengths these “super-fans” will go to either show their dedication or defend their chosen celebrity even if the action is highly unethical and irrational.
Saul then read the titular story Keyfabe from Kayfabe and Other Stories his recently published book of short form fiction.
“The list of things in it include but are not limited to: omelet eating crocodiles, whiskey-drinking teddy bears, rainbow factories, maybe incest (it’s up to you the reader…to decide), sexy cue balls, Emerson quoting dinosaurs, and I think there’s other stuff too.” - Saul Lemerond
He took some time to explain what the term keyfabe actually meant. Saul begins by saying , “There was a time in America when wrestling was popular and a legitimate sport. Around the late 18th century and early 19th century people would go and watch wrestling matches. It wasn’t until traveling carnival shows got a hold of it that the fights became fake.” The term, “kayfabe” was considered the “code word” between the two fighters: “the good guy (a.k.a the baby face)” and “the bad guy (a.k.a the heel)”, and they would need to play out this fictional feud in order to make money. The “kayfabe” could possibly include a fake wife, or the “problems” involved with that marriage as well.
Following the reading Saul answered a few questions from the audience that highlighted a bit more of his experience with publishing and rejections. He shared some advice as well as humorous stories about what he went through.
Q: When was the first time you were published, based on when you graduated?
Saul: Um, actually, I was published actually before I started going to UW-GB. I took five or six years off of school between high school and college, and I got started writing in between there. The first piece I got published was actually a story called, “The Itch,” it was in a web-horror journal called Necrotic Tissue. I’d been writing poetry as Rebecca had said, and I’d been also writing short stories … and a buddy of mine turned me on to DuoTrope which at the time was free. It’s not anymore. They just took fifty bucks from me a couple of weeks ago. But I still love it. so that was like the first time, and that sort of gave me the motivation to continue to write and go to school for it. If you’re interested in getting published, it’s never too early to try. I’ve been published approximately eighteen times; I guess nineteen if you count the book. I have easily over 200 rejections sitting in my, my rejection folder. I’ve had some pieces that were rejected twelve times before they got accepted some place. So I mean, if I can address a question you didn’t ask, start submitting now because why not? You never know and it feels good when you get it and you have to learn [about] dealing with rejection because that’s what writing is. It’s a constant lesson in humility.
Q: I remember during [your time at] Sheepshead Review that you shared a particular rejection that you had received. Do you feel comfortable sharing?
Saul: I can. Yeah sure, I wrote a story called “Cattle” Uh, which was a first person, pretty much a persona piece in which a farmer’s, um, cows aren’t giving milk and he sort of gets romantic with them and it ups their milk production. Now there’s no heavy description. What I would say; it was tastefully implied. But it continues to by my most favorite rejection of all because it was from Mort Castle, who’s the president of the American Horror Association. It was a one-line rejection. Actually, it was two. I don’t remember the whole thing but we’ll give you the one line, in which is, “that we don’t publish cow-f***ing people stories.”
Q: Did anybody? Did you ever get that placed?
Q: What are you working on now?
Saul: I am working on a novel now. I had coffee with Rebecca earlier today, and I hate it, every second of it. I don’t hate it.
Q: The coffee? Hey!
Saul: No! No it’s a story about a cemetery planet. You know how people watch Star Wars and Alderaan blows up and you don’t think, hey where are you going to bury all those people? Cemetery planet.
So it’s the first novel I’ve ever tried to write. It’s a very frustrating process but I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. I’ve been working on it for almost a year and it’s probably going to be at least another year before it’s done.
Q: Are you going to do any illustrations like Breakfast of Champions?
Saul: This might be interesting, I had a professor, and they say in a lot of books that if you have a writer that you like, you should sit down and transcribe from their stuff. I had heard that when Hunter S. Thompson was younger he would just sit and type out entire Hemingway novels.
Saul: Yeah and last summer, I transcribed Breakfast of Champions. Two things; one that book is a lot shorter than you think it is. There’s a lot of white space, huge fonts. … If you do that, if you guys want to try it, you do learn at the very least a lot about sentence structure, and some sort of stylistic elements; like repetition, humor for humor’s sake and just sort of how the author structures his sentences; he’s a simple sentence kind of guy. But I also did that with Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts because I love Nathanael West.
If you liked the two poems and are interested in purchasing his short story collection, Kayfabe and Other Stories, you can find and purchase it on Amazon.