PHOTOTAXIS by Olivia Tapiero translated by Kit Schluter Nightboat Books, 128 pages reviewed by Dylan Cook There’s something refreshingly laid-back about Olivia Tapiero’s take on apocalyptic fiction. Most novels in the genre come off a bit preachy, warning us page after page that X, Y, and Z will be our downfall. Perhaps even more grating, they go through the trouble of explaining exactly how it will end, as if we can be certain of that from our pre-apocalyptic world. Tapiero looks at these conventions and casually walks past them. In Phototaxis, the end of the world makes very little sense. The streets are drowned in rotten meat, suicides spread like they’re contagious, and the only thing that might hold everyone together is a one-man piano performance. She embraces the one idea about the apocalypse we can reasonably be sure of: when it happens, we won’t have any idea how to … chop! chop! read more!
SHE Theadora Siranian Seven Kitchen Press, 35 pages reviewed by Juniper Jordan Cruz Theadora’s Siranian’s chapbook, She, is violently intoxicating and sobering at the same time. In investigating loss and trauma, she chooses to present the messy over the meditative. Siranian invites her readers into proximity and distance simultaneously: showcasing the immediate and visceral in the body of her poems, but nesting them under titles that take a step back. She begins with pseudo-abstract poem titles such as “Origin Myth,” “Her,” and “Erytheia,” and when the poem nears its end, she twists our necks to a visceral image: a man’s forearm sliced open by a trapped rabbit, a family attempting to watch tv after their child burned alive, her mother’s skin peeling off her body. The book is separated into three sections, each beginning with a poem titled, “Origin Myth.” It is important to note that this isn’t the only … chop! chop! read more!
Capitalized “Scrabble” on second reference (themed Scrabble).
There was an extra space between the July and August paragraphs, inconsistent with how other changes in date were treated, so I deleted the extra space.
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Weird, Weird West Collages by Chris Vaughan All of these works are part of an ongoing series of paper collages, collectively called Weird, Weird West. The Weird West series of collages began with a ménage à trois that I found immediately menacing and whimsical: Cowboys, Seashore and Life Patterns and a King Penguin 1947 history of the greeting card called “Compliments of the Season.” The host book on cowboys was hungry for a more disparate diet: WW2 pilot manuals, Albers, Düsseldorf skylines and British executions. It was this menace and whimsy of out-of-season dolls in the desert, crustaceous-faced hangmen, Hyde Park pigeon feeders launching Spitfires over wagon trails, runaway girls remembering cities from an East German future and Folkstone’s seaside disturbing frozen Wyoming that kept me cutting and discovering new, skewed tales of the Weird West. It’s important to me that materials are, as near as possible, found images, uninfluenced … chop! chop! read more!
STINGRAY by John Cullen My sister and I recall that old Stingray while we sit a vigil in the critical care unit. She melts into the vinyl cushions and I lean sideways, balanced like a circus acrobat one moment before falling. My bike rolled sweet, balanced on training wheels I begged my father to remove. He wouldn’t lift a wrench without my mother’s consent. Even Steve Reeves could not have popped a wheelie! Then, one day he disengaged the pair, and I rode to the park, where on a dare from Nancy Haver I jackknifed a set of concrete steps, snapped off my front tooth and broke my right arm. My sister dragged me home while I cried over my broken bike. She laughs at the memory, which reminds her, she says, of another story. Just then our mother shakes the bedside railing, angry at being jailed, and calls again … chop! chop! read more!
OUR FATHERS by Sarah Freligh Our fathers rise at five and whistle out the door carrying thermoses of black coffee and lunches our mothers have packed for them—bags of corn chips that fat up the blood and sandwiches made of meat and cheese. Our mothers tuck notes into the wrap of waxed paper promising what they’ll do to our fathers later in the dark. ◊ Weekends our fathers box-step us around the living room or somersault us from their shoulders into the deep end of a swimming pool. Sometimes our fathers will lock themselves away and listen to the Tigers on the radio or slide under cars until they’re called to wash up for dinner. ◊ Our fathers are men. What our mothers say when we ask why our fathers never cook or change diapers. Restless men, they say. Later they’ll say it with rolled eyes, but only in the … chop! chop! read more!
LEFTOVERS by Regan Puckett I almost had a husband once, but we never made it to the wedding. Now, he’s someone else’s husband, with a baby announcement on Facebook and a house two towns over. Our last date, we went to an Italian restaurant that served brown bread in gold baskets and didn’t list prices on the menu. A couple’s restaurant. You can always tell who the married ones are. The quiet ones who sit like crumpled napkins and don’t share dessert, eyeing everyone but their own lovers with unreserved curiosity. Visualizing each new body, craving them the way my almost-husband would’ve craved someone else if we’d ever married, even if I let him swallow me whole. I lost my appetite and packed the rest of my carbonara to go. ◊ My father has always been a sloppy cheater. He’d come home smelling like cherries and smile too obviously at … chop! chop! read more!
MONOCULAR by Tingyu Liu Remembering, still: Sunday egg scrambles, green …………..peppers and sharp cheddar adorning …………..our fingers, coffee pot chuckling. Tilt and: our slip of a room …………..in Havana, stumbling on the party downstairs, sweet …………..cake kiss, warm cola in colored cups. Tilt: our orange kayak flush …………..with the Atlantic, two Coronas propped …………..between us, shared spots of cool. Now: winter and …………..walking into a corner bar …………..in Little Italy, bare …………..golden bulbs and stained counters and I turn 360, lost in this palindrome, …………..wanting not wanting. A bird’s eye view: …………..stranger, stranger, stranger. But, had her beak hovered …………..on you—I think …………..even, I think that, I think even— …………..we’d still be a winter …………..each, a hemisphere apart. Trees can’t be green everywhere. …………..A bird changes direction …………..…………..by beating her left and right wing at different speeds. Tingyu Liu was born in Huaian, China, grew up in Miami, and currently … chop! chop! read more!
SEVEN STARTS TO THE WOMAN WHO WENT OVER THE FALLS IN A BARREL Annie Edson Taylor, 1901 by Frankie McMillan 1 Picture the cold dark inside of the barrel. Annie feeling her way over the padded mattress to a harness hanging from the side. The barrel sways in the water. Picture her fastening herself upright into the harness, pulling the leather strap tight across her chest. Picture Annie flailing about, she can’t find her lucky heart-shaped pillow. Now picture the barrel picking up speed, with the current, heading straight towards the falls. 2 It’s not as if falling was something new. Early on, I fell from my crib, I fell through haystacks, I fell from grace, I fell behind the church to kiss the bridesmaids, I fell between heaven and hell then into marriage and when my good husband was taken off to war I fell into despair. When cholera … chop! chop! read more!
SILVER FALLS by Melody Wilson We have driven east this bright afternoon, the two of us, young parents on a break from entropy. I am drowning in something I can’t define and the day reels out like un-spliced frames of someone else’s life. We park the car and skirt past other people’s happiness, past picnic tables and barbecues. You take my hand and we climb to the falls. The noise of life filters up: laughter, singing. I am relieved when the roar of water engulfs the din. I taste the mist on my anesthetized skin, inhale the green power of the fall, but do not jump. Something slippery creeps up by spine, maybe vertigo, maybe hope. Melody Wilson writes and teaches in Portland, Oregon. Recent work appears in Quartet, Briar Cliff Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, The Shore, and Timerline Review. Upcoming work will be in Tar River Poetry, Whale Road Review, … chop! chop! read more!
THE OREGON TRAIL by Mike Itaya 1884 Today I am eleven years born! We McClelland Family, Pa, Ma, Sis, and me (plus Joseph, our Mormon frontier scout), strike out from Independence, Missouri. The Oregon Trail is bright before us, our ox-pulled Conestoga laden with sundries (except for the calico dress Ma wanted). Ma grumbles that she should have married the Banker from Boston, while Pa pretends not to hear, but it is an otherwise perfect day. 1888 At Fort Laramie, Ma runs off with a cowpoke. Sis, who is laid low beneath a blankie (she caught dysentery from a vegan hot dog in Columbus), says “I think we’ve been here before.” And Joseph, forever gloomy, mumbles, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Ma appears again (with her hair mussed), so Pa stalks off to hunt, and I no longer feel in charge of my life. 1902 Pa, who has something … chop! chop! read more!
BIOLUMINESCENCE by Sara Mae The pregnancy scare skulks through bay grasses. It tips us over like cows & drains our peach liqueur. Flashlights under the bleachers illuminating grope & teen & tooth & wick, a stick rattling the jellyfish to yield shine. I was 15, sneaking out to the 7-11 where I had perfected straddling someone on a skateboard, coming home a root system of bug bites. My first pregnancy test all because a boy had fingered me. I think I knew that I wasn’t pregnant, that I was just practicing, reverent for the monsters we only face in daylight. Years later, today & beast bright & the cashier asks if I want a bag for that & I nod, afraid for others to see what I carry. She says, I’ve got you, the lighthouse, the moorless vessel, premonition in high waters, voice for miles over a body of water … chop! chop! read more!
SURVIVOR GUILT by Melody Wilson My sister slept in the laundry room, the door fastened by a cinch strap and a nail. She painted the cinderblock walls purple. Some nights tires would slide into the gravel drive and it was my job to cover. I feigned sleep, confusion, while our parents banged on the impenetrable door. She taught me to hitchhike, shoplifted my first bra, considered me a coward. Freeze, she said, if the cops come. Cry when you’re cornered by a man. She was the artist, the ringleader, my wildest thing, my alternate universe, a phone call and some chemistry away. Always trying to be something you’re not, she said, when I told her I was clean. I should have chugged malt liquor with her that November day. We could have smoked grass as she put me in my place, all afternoon. Melody Wilson writes and teaches in Portland, … chop! chop! read more!
A FEW NECESSARY HOUSEHOLD RULES FOR SYBIL by Gay Degani Don’t talk. Don’t say a word. Keep your mouth shut. Unless he talks first. And if he talks first, listen carefully. Listen for his tone of voice, look up to see if he is looking down at you. Don’t smile if he isn’t smiling, and bow your head. Wait to hear what he has to say. Depending on what he says, adjust your face accordingly before you catch his eye. When you catch his eye, you have to instantly assess what’s on his mind and respond accordingly. If you misread this man and answer him with something he doesn’t want to hear, look down immediately and apologize in a gentle tone. If your softest, sweetest voice doesn’t work, don’t grovel because that’s what he wants to see: you, with that frightened look on your face and the quiver in your … chop! chop! read more!
JUMPING OFF THE END OF THE WORLD by Kimm Brockett Stammen Five years ago my niece and I stood at The End of the World, an infamous diving cliff near Kualanui Point just outside Kona, Hawaii. Far below us the ravenous Pacific roiled and crashed against jutting tumbles of boulder. Charcoal clouds cast shadows over the sky. Salt wind whipped hair in our faces. “Auntie, I want to jump!” Kaley yelled. Of course she did. When she was small, my sister’s youngest girl was the one whose pink tennies inched closest to balcony edges, who leaned farthest over the aardvark enclosure at the zoo, who skipped with the most outrageous obliviousness over the slick stones of a mountain stream. Throughout her childhood she was continually recovering from some accident or another; she could and had gone, without thought or warning, in any direction whatsoever. When our two families went on … chop! chop! read more!
FLOUNDER by Tom Laichas i The fingertips know things. Their ridged whorls …. confess… the … whole.. body’s whereabouts. The fingernails know things too, and knew them even before the teeth. ii The left hand arrives like a visitant, held one arm’s length from the body. The left is a myth of repudiated power. The left hand’s five fingers sense a world different from the right’s. The left hand is grafted from another gender, another species, from that one who knapped the cleverest edges from flint. The left hand’s arts are other. iii We are not born to symmetry. The mouth turns up one way or another. One eye is wayward. The other is clouded. The heart bleeds left. The liver slumps right. Joints ache one at a time, sometimes in pain on the right, sometimes on the left. We dodder into age and our toes skew. They’re like a child’s … chop! chop! read more!
TELL ME HOW TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE WHILE YOU MOVE YOUR ARMS AND LEGS LIKE SERPENTS & SCARVES IN THE DARK OF A CATTLE RANCH by Kelly Gray When I was a kid, I wanted to be famous. I don’t know what I thought that meant other than I wanted to be seen, remembered. In thinking of being famous, I would often imagine my tombstone. I could see it with lichen blossoming across the slate. In my child mind this meant I was deserving of afterlife visitation because I had accomplished my way into worthiness and had a name carved in rock. I can be self-conscious if someone forgets my name. I can be self-conscious if someone remembers it, too. I know I am sensitive. I won’t ever be famous. Once, at a party, a girl I went to high school with called me by a name that wasn’t mine. … chop! chop! read more!
flats by Danny Cooper hot sand and grainy glass yours is packed like clay me i grab some seashells and scrape to the bone doe deer’s ribs on hard cement honey fur still clean and pristine same wet pink thread of mine in coiled cervine braid rigid skull, a cratered moon flakes like chocolate croissant under silver steak knife gray matter oozes out grimy fingers prod the grooves looking for the right shape a celtic knot or bunny-eared loops force the image clear mold and wet blur my grassy eyes can’t glare i send your vision in the mail watch me bend in the grid bug bites on my legs lunulas swelling their bed overgrown green marrow or a neck i think you’ll bite grind me into ash amaranth slivers of meat sieve through the desert skin in the wind Danny Cooper is a recent graduate from the University of … chop! chop! read more!
PACKING FOR AN OVERNIGHT AT THE STATE CAPITOL by E. A. Farro Minnesota State Capitol May 2018 the last weekend of the legislative session No one likes conflict, but with the smack of a fist I am a million particles of brilliant light. However, tonight, I’m taking the punches. The letter is a direct threat, a blunt whack to the nose. I haven’t been home for dinner in days, and I can’t remember what it feels like to help my boys into their pajamas. I’m tired and mad and for a moment frozen in place. It’s Friday, well past the mid-May sunset. As the Governor’s advisor, my life has been reduced to a countdown to the end of the legislative session Sunday at midnight. I jump up and look into the hallway of quarter-sawn oak doors. Realizing I’m barefoot, I grab heels from my bottom desk drawer. The door cracks … chop! chop! read more!
MODERNA by Nikolaj Volgushev My shoulder hurt a lot after the second dose and the following morning I found a thorny vine had sprouted from beneath the Band-Aid. It clambered down my upper arm in an emerald coil. I drove back to the CVS in a hurry but the pharmacist insisted that this was less a medical issue and more a botanical one, so I stopped by the flower store across the street. “Water once daily and give it plenty of sun,” I was advised and indeed the vine flourished under this regimen. A few weeks later it blossomed into a hundred tiny flowers, each one a pale and haunted red just like the year had been. Nikolaj Volgushev’s fiction has appeared in journals such as the Cafe Irreal, Cleaver Magazine, and Cease, Cows. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany where he writes, programs, and does other things along those … chop! chop! read more!
NIGHTS WHEN I’M TIRED by Peter Amos Mom fell asleep around Labor Day that year and the slumber was deep. Dad bagged the recycling, drove to school on weekdays, spread his papers across the living room floor in the afternoons, and asked me often if I needed anything. I always told him no, but each Sunday when I’d finished my chores, I’d wait at the kitchen table for the chunk-chunk-putputput-whirrrrrr of the lawnmower in the backyard, then venture upstairs to see if Mom had stirred. One Sunday evening in October, Dad was changing the mower blade out by the shed and I figured he’d be occupied until the stars came out. “Mom?” I called gently from the foyer. “Mom?” She didn’t answer and I quietly mounted the stairs. “Mom, are you awake?” The bedroom door was open and I crossed the threshold. Twilight sounds stirred in the yard, beyond the … chop! chop! read more!
Men O Pause by Emily Steinberg For over a thousand years, menopause has been treated as an illness, something to be feared and fixed. Emily Steinberg’s Men O Pause visualizes the grim history of the treatment and attitudes towards menopausal women throughout history, from the Salem Witch Trials to 19th-century institutionalization for hysteria, to menopause medicalization in the early 20th century. The story ends with her own positive experience of empowerment and self-actualization. In 2021, not only do we no longer need to be ‘fixed,’ but we are quite happy to be living outside the realm of women’s historical natural function. —Caroline Harris, from M-Boldened: Menopause Conversations We All Need to Have, Flint Books, UK “Men O Pause” was previously published in M-Boldened: Menopause Conversations We All Need to Have, Ed. Caroline Harris, Flint Books, UK 2020 Emily Steinberg is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on painting and visual narrative. … chop! chop! read more!
THOUSAND-WATT SMILE by Kathryn Silver-Hajo Sara nearly dropped the peeling tin box of Grandpa Teddy’s things when she pulled out the yellowed, cracked black and white of Grandma Bea sitting on the wheel hub of their ‘38 Chevy, chubby ankles crossed. Sara was only sure the picture was her grandmother because of the distinctive contour that had been carved around where her head and upper body should have been. She didn’t remember Bea, who’d died when Sara was barely two years old, so as a girl, whenever she’d visit Teddy, she’d ask to see the heart-shaped picture, the one with Bea wearing a beret over dark, wavy hair. The photograph was tucked into the corner of the mirror of the bureau Teddy shared with Bea for thirty years—the top two drawers hers, the bottom two his. Bea’s smiling face shone out from behind Teddy’s Old Spice aftershave, hair trimmer, and … chop! chop! read more!
In the first sentence, “Jay, his stepfather—who was nice enough, if not a little too subservient”–does it seem like the ‘not’ isn’t needed? In other words, the meaning is that Jay IS a little too subservient, so it should say “nice enough, if a little too subservient.” Should we query the author on this?chop! chop! read more!
THE DISTANCE FROM HERE TO THERE by Tricia Park The other evening, on my way home from a violin recital in Gangnam, I missed a step and fell in the Seoul subway station. I caught myself on my hand, twisting my wrist. I fell hard on my foot, sprained my ankle, and skinned my knee. And because I was walking downstairs instead of up, there was a moment of full-fledged, disorienting fear; a moment when the earth underneath me vanished. In the aftermath, the only sound was the echo of footsteps slowing down on the platform. People stopped to stare but no one offered to help or asked if I was okay. On a torrentially rainy day a few weeks prior, I’d slipped on some water in a different subway station, near an escalator. The same reaction: people stared at me as if I were mad, as if I were … chop! chop! read more!
TWO STUDENTS WALK INTO A BAR by Sara Davis I can’t believe you haven’t heard this story. I feel like we tell it all the time! Maybe not in class, no, but grad school isn’t all lectures and bad coffee. We do have fun sometimes. Anyway, Lee and I used to come here all the time in our first year, because on Thursdays they had pierogies for fifty cents apiece and we’d have money left over for nasty beer, except I think this happened on her birthday so maybe it was nasty rum instead. I’m sorry, I don’t know if I should try to tell this story without Lee, I’m not going to remember it right. Well, anyway, we were sitting up at the bar over there having some kind of intense conversation. I think it was when we were planning on co-teaching a class about rape culture—I told you, … chop! chop! read more!
AUTOPSY OR, THE HOUSE OF YOUTH (LIKE A RUSSIAN MOUNTAIN) by J.M. Parker I kept a hand-written note, on creased but still clean typing paper, wedged into the pages of a book Dear Sweetheart― You’ve got the tv program and today’s newspaper― some white wine in the fridge, and the end of a bottle of red one on the table, and another one and pastis in the kitchen― I don’t know what time I’ll be back but until that moment I kiss you― Frédéric Also, if the phone rings let the answering machine answer―see you― I’d kept a photo of the two of us grinning while cutting up a dead rabbit to put in a stew, after which, as I remembered, we’d sat on Fred’s couch, and I told him I had a boyfriend in America. “I love him,” I’d said, “But he isn’t in love with me.” “Without love, … chop! chop! read more!
LAB RAT VENGEANCE by Sarah Schiff In the neuroscience lab where I worked as an undergraduate intern, we were studying what makes mice experience the sensation of fullness. You can just imagine who’d want access to those findings—the know-how to regulate people’s appetites. The primary investigator, Dr. Hillbrawn, suspected a specific subnucleus of being the moderating agent of satiety, so my job was to locate and then lesion it (which is fancy scientific jargon for destroy, and, just so you know, I am pretty fancy). Once I could do the surgeries without supervision, I started coming in late at night so I could work without the distractions of other people’s gossip and smells. One grad student played Nirvana on a loop, so the whole white room consistently felt filled with dismay. On a late September night, I had an adolescent mouse head-fixed into the stereotax, a kind of miniature operating … chop! chop! read more!
In the 1st section, 3rd sentence: “In fact, I would have swung for the gut, stole his air so he had to collapse into me.” –Grammatically, this should be “stolen,” but the author may have chosen the more colloquial “stole.” Query?
Also in the 1st section, 4th paragraph, I fixed the em dash to make it consistent.
In the last section, first paragraph, I’m having second thoughts about this line: “with a first name and last initial like a partial staking. An object, a tool, more stamp than identity.”
Staking or stalking? I think “staking,” as in a claim, but want to make sure.
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FROM THE HEART OF OLD MAGAZINES Collages by Sherry Shahan Feeling shipwrecked in 2020, I began ripping words from the heart of old magazines. My scissors were like me, rusty and dull. The glue, too thick. My collages resembled drawings found in a kindergarten classroom. I like that about them; it frees me from ideas of what art should be. Decades ago I approached photography much the same way. I rarely considered myself a professional even after my photos appeared in national magazines and newspapers. My collages seem to spill into two categories: those that pick at the scabs of humanity and those that reflect promise and possibility. Both styles express my purpose, passion, and personal truths. —Sherry Shahan, September 2021 Sherry Shahan has wandered the globe as a travel journalist, often watching the world and its people from behind: whether in the hub of London, a backstreet in Havana, … chop! chop! read more!
29 REASONS WHY THERE WILL BE NO REPLY by Chelsey Clammer You didn’t visit me for fifteen months. I know, pandemic and whatnot, and we live three states apart, but why isn’t your lover in your “circle”? When we did finally see each other, it was only because I came to see you, but even then You didn’t spend the night with me because You didn’t want to tell your wife I was in town, meaning that You spent the day fucking me, then lied to her by coming home at night and saying work was fine that day, which also means you, yet again, Put your wife’s emotional needs (to continue denying the ongoing affair you finally told her about) before not just my relationship needs, but also your own. Why? Because you are a fucking spineless coward, or it’s possible that You’re lying to me about wanting to … chop! chop! read more!
BUILDING BOATS, WRITING POEMS A Craft Essay by James Diaz When building boats, we try to craft something that will hold us aloft, a durable vessel that can bear and balance the weight, and hold out against the waves. Some boats are perhaps more beautiful than others. Some just do the job. When you’re in a jam and need to cross whatever inner seas need crossing, you work with whatever you have to work with. It’s important to write against the grain, it’s important to fuck up, fall flat, rip your pages apart, regroup, keep dreaming into the agony. Writing is agonizing. Organizing agony, categorizing wounds, sorting old stories, finding new insights buried beneath the familiar ways of seeing our life. How did I become the writer that I am today? Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy. Sitting in a room with another person who holds your story and then … chop! chop! read more!
A Conversation with Amy Koppelman Author of A MOUTHFUL OF AIR Two Dollar Radio Interview by Michael McCarthy I spoke with Amy Koppelman as she was finishing making her first book, A Mouthful of Air, into a feature film. Though she wrote the novel eighteen years ago, it still seemed fresh in Koppelman’s mind. As I spoke with her over Zoom, she searched for the right words to describe her first novel. In this work, Koppelman engaged the experience of postpartum depression when conversation about the topic was rare. The book was first published in 2003 by MacAdam/Cage (a small press that has closed) and is now being reissued by Two Dollar Radio. In this interview, which Koppelman and I have edited for clarity, Koppelman discusses how she began writing, the encouragement she received from Joan Didion, and whether writing is a world in which she feels safe. —MM ◊ … chop! chop! read more!
Dear June, A few weeks ago my wife and I were watching Noah, our two-year-old grandson, at our house. He was playing with some pots and pans on the floor of our pantry room, totally absorbed. I stepped out of the room for half a minute to refill my coffee, and the next thing I knew there was a crash and Noah was screaming. Either from Noah’s pulling at it or from sheer bad luck, a set of shelves had separated from the wall, raining down boxes, bags, jars, and cans. Ginny, my wife, came rushing in, back from the bathroom, zipping her pants as she ran. She scooped Noah up and took him to the sink. At least one of those cans or jars must have hit him because he was bleeding pretty heavily from a cut in his scalp. Ginny cuddled Noah and cleaned him up a bit, … chop! chop! read more!
THE ELEPHANT OF SILENCE by John Wall Barger Je suis maitre du silence —Rimbaud, “Enfance” I. At fifty, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, I drove my 1989 BMW motorcycle from Philadelphia to The Hambidge Center in the mountains of northeast Georgia for a three-week writing residency. They provided me with a cottage in the forest, with floor-to-ceiling windows and enough space for a person to spread out their work. My first feelings, when I’d taken off my jacket and sat down, were—as Wendell Berry describes it in “Stepping Off”—“along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement / a little nagging of dread.” It was so damn quiet. I’ve always felt an aversion to quiet. I was a hyper only child. The kid with the firecrackers and toy soldiers. The teenager with the boombox. As an adult, I am a talker and—I wince to admit it—a loud one. “Silence,” … chop! chop! read more!
YOU ARE A POET (Even When You Aren’t Writing) A Craft Essay by Mark Danowsky In Poetics, Aristotle essentially defines a poet as someone who has “an eye for resemblances.” This is a nice reminder to look up, both literally and metaphorically, look around, look within, simply look. We are all trapped in our physical bodies while also inhabiting external spaces. What are your spaces? What is in these spaces? People say, “Life happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Sometimes, in order to return to your writing, you need to live a little. This is not because you lack content. Flannery O’Connor famously says, “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Writers each have their own metaphor for “waiting for the well to refill” so that their ability to approach the page becomes feasible. When you’re not … chop! chop! read more!
Blended format: Asynchronous elements with four Zoom meetingschop! chop! read more!
Six synchronous meetings on Zoomchop! chop! read more!
ARTIFICE IN THE CALM DAMAGES by Andrew Levy Chax, 176 pages reviewed by Johnny Payne The traditional identification of poet and prophet is acceptable only in the sense that the poet is about as slow in reflecting his epoch as the prophet. If there are prophets and poets who can be said to have been ‘ahead of their time’, it is because they have expressed certain demands of social evolution not quite as slowly as the rest of their kind. Trotsky said it best: “All through history, the mind limps after reality.” The aloof intelligentsia continues to believe in the power of reason alone to move the world. No amount of revolution has yet changed this fact. As a recent electoral outcome pretends to remedy the hyper-capitalistic state of siege in which we all currently exist, neoliberalism, a name which in itself has become insufficient to describe the evolving phenomenon, … chop! chop! read more!
Synchronous on Zoom; for writers & artists with some experience in visual narrative.chop! chop! read more!
SPECULATIVE MEMOIR: MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE A Craft Essay by Laraine Herring I was eight years old when the tree spoke to me. My dad had just gotten out of the hospital after a near-fatal heart attack, and I would ride my bike down to my elementary school to escape the new person who’d replaced the father who told jokes and let me walk across his back. I always brought a book. I’d lean up against the massive oak’s trunk, nestling in among the raised roots, and let the tree hold me. When she spoke, I thought it was the wind. When she spoke again, I thought it was birdsong. The third time, I knew I was both losing my faculties and gaining something magical. Her bark scratched at the place I couldn’t reach on my back. Her voice crept around the edges of my eardrums. I won’t tell you … chop! chop! read more!
All genres and levels, mostly asynchronous with two optional synchronous meetingschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels, synchronouschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels | Synchronous with asynchronous writing assignmentschop! chop! read more!
For poets of all levels | Mostly asynchronouschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels and genres | Synchronouschop! chop! read more!
SWIMMING TO THE TOP OF THE TIDE: Finding Life Where Land and Water Meet by Patricia Hanlon Bellevue Literary Press 224 pages reviewed by Michael McCarthy Six Ways to Look at a Marsh Swimming to the Top of the Tide, Patricia’s Hanlon’s delightful debut book, follows her through New England’s Great Marsh as she swims its creeks and channels every day for an entire year. It is a captivating, adroit climate dispatch from Gloucester, Mass. that views the crisis of global warming through a local lens. In grappling with the potential destruction of her beloved home ecosystem, there emerge six ways of looking at the Great Marsh. 1. As a painter Hanlon puts pen to paper as beautifully as she puts brush to canvas. Before turning to the written word, she painted the Great Marsh in her free time, savoring its nuances of color, play of light, and dance of … chop! chop! read more!
RESEARCH AND WRITING The Warp and Woof of Historical Fiction A Craft Essay by Terry Roberts When I stand before a crowd of curious readers and talk about my novels, which are generally understood to be “historical fiction,” invariably someone asks a version of the following: “How much research do you do before you start writing?” Sometimes that question is followed by more detailed queries about the kind and type of research: “Where did you go to find information?” and “Do you interview the experts?” and “How do you know when enough is enough and it’s time to start writing?” And one of my favorites: “To what extent are you constrained by history?” I understand the motivation behind all those questions, especially when asked by true historians (amateur or professional) or nascent fiction writers. But the truth is that I have never tackled the process of research and writing in … chop! chop! read more!
Blended format suitable for all genres.chop! chop! read more!
SCORPIONFISH by Natalie Bakopoulos Tin House, 256 pages reviewed by Aleksia Mira Silverman Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos begins with a return. Mira, a Greek-born academic in her late thirties, arrives in Athens after her parents’ funeral. She must sort out the remainder of her parents’ affairs—Mira’s childhood home in Athens and another apartment on an island referred to only as N. While Mira is stranded outside her apartment building without a key, she has a chance encounter with her next-door neighbor, a sea captain. Later, the pair spend night after night on their adjoining balconies. While they are unable to see each other clearly, they share cigarettes, beer, and conversation. Both characters are grappling with grief, of sorts: Mira has lost her parents; the Captain has lost his position as a sea captain and is about to divorce his estranged wife. Bakopoulos splits the novel between Mira and the Captain’s perspective, their … chop! chop! read more!