FLARE by Mike Nees As she clocks in, Jillian looks up from the computer to find a wrinkled envelope dangling in her face. Her chest tightens. “Thank god you’re here,” Sonya says, waiting for her to take it. “Everyone’s calling out.” Jillian grabs the letter, slips it in her apron pocket. “Not me,” she says, out of breath. She and her dad are nowhere near the estimate the mold people gave them, and the latest bloom inflames her airways. “What are my tables?” While Sonya checks the floor plan, Jillian answers the phone ringing at the counter. The man on the other end starts placing an order for pick-up, but his kids can’t make up their minds. You want Denny’s before the apocalypse or not? he shouts. She hears rumblings about getting Chili’s instead. As the debate drags on, Sonya glares at her. “Can I help you?” Jillian asks the … chop! chop! read more!
BEING WHOLE AFTER A DIAGNOSIS by Anthony Aguero I. Diagnosis Someone likens your body to soured-meat, Flies swarming the thighs, a hint of cinnamon Brushes just underneath your nose. ELISA, has confirmed the inevitable. O you enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. II. Treatment Plan Someone says take this ad infinitum. One by one, Opal, green pills sitting at the bottom of a valley. Nothing violet or green ever growing. Stribild was approved by the US FDA in August 2012 For human bodies. A cocktail of Vitekta, Tybost, Viread, and Emtriva. III. Non-Adherence Someone mentioned they smelled a thing dying In the apartment you lived in. You checked each And every corner – he put a flashlight in your throat. Says It’s you. You prepare an ofrenda with only cinnamon sticks. Immunocompromised. Death in the white- Blood of my body. IV. Reminder Death likes to tap at the sole of your foot. It … chop! chop! read more!
SOMETHING’S GOTTA CHANGE a Visual Narrative by Michael Green Michael Green is a physician and artist who lives and rides his bicycle throughout Central Pennsylvania. He is a founding Board Member of the Graphic Medicine International Collective, an organization devoted to the intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of health care, and is co-author of the Graphic Medicine Manifesto from Penn State University Press. He is a Professor of Humanities and Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine, where he teaches a course on comics and medicine for medical students, and has published several landmark articles on the use of comics in medical education. Text: Page 1 Something’s Gotta Change… When I awoke this morning, my iPhone was dead and all my favorite apps crashed. No email, no text, no nothing. Half asleep, my mind started to race. Was this a massive Russian hack … chop! chop! read more!
THE SECOND STEP by Meggie Royer That night, the door so waterlogged with rain it stuck for hours, hinges flush with the frame, a mouth against spine. In the woods that year, several syringes we could never place, some long-ago nectar unraveling like thread. It was body memory, the feeling of pushing the plunger, neurons pulsing into every bell tone. We filled them with marigolds instead, gold punched into sharpness; that night, they clattered against the door like hail. Knowing we couldn’t let them in was easier than knowing we could. Meggie Royer is a Midwestern writer, domestic violence advocate, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Persephone’s Daughters, a literary and arts journal for abuse survivors. She has won numerous awards for her work and has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She thinks there is nothing better in this world than a finished poem. … chop! chop! read more!
AS TRANSPARENT AS IT GETS by Heikki Huotari Just because you’re parasailing doesn’t mean this call’s not coming from inside your house. As mirror neurons turn, I’m casting demons and fly fishing with them. In each multi-facet is a hidden hook. It’s possible that Satan is deceiving me. With Gertrude Stein I beg to differ then along with Gertrude Stein I beg to differ. What is not yet yellow is a yellow cat. What will they think of next? A palace for each personage and vice versa. Veni, vici, vidi, says restroom graffiti and, The joke is in your hand why are you looking here? Nor filler nor refrain, this content will not stop but is it pheasant under glass? In a past century, Heikki Huotari attended a one-room school and spent summers on a forest fire lookout tower. He’s a retired math professor and has published poems in … chop! chop! read more!
DISSECTION by Amy Beth Sisson After school my teacher helped me pull the pink downy breast feathers to clear the skin and make an incision She put the scalpel into my hand smaller than the body pinned to the black wax tray I cut to reveal porous bones, tiny intestines, spongy lungs. This would never happen now A teacher today would lose her job Though plenty of robins are still found dead on sidewalks Night before last I didn’t hear the screech owl whose cry had kept me awake all week When I awoke you came to mind out in the smoke-choked west Where birds are falling from the skies of the migratory flyways I texted but you still haven’t replied But today in the early hours I again lay listening for the descending whine and long trill Amy Beth Sisson is sheltering in a small town outside of Philly. … chop! chop! read more!
HAVANA, ILLINOIS, AUGUST 2020 by Peter Wear White clouds, so many white clouds pause above August’s green cornfields– an armada of triremes, sails cast in marble, cross empty skies armies dreamed held destinies that might outlive them, mortal sons clad in fathers’ bronze, the taste of blood and glory drying in their mouths, all to die for a face whose singular beauty was fictitious. But the clouds pass. I never cared much for histories of war. Honor and bravery I cajoled, things best left to veteran halls and empty cinemas, dive bars nursing the pings of automatic gunfire locked behind a whisky cabinet. Two miles east bone-white barns crease under bronze rot, husks abandoned by molting cicadas whose cries fill the air hissing lost prayers: please don’t leave me alone, not here. The Cubs are playing on the radio tonight. Announcers remember their green years, the injuries, the trivia, take … chop! chop! read more!
WHERE I WAIT FOR YOU by travis tate The river before anything else, the glazed sun emerging gently from evening. You, brightly looking towards what I hope is me or, some future tense self where I’m dangling slightly less from crisp edges. I’m all in-tuned, harmonic. Your beaded breath on my neck in the morning, not like beautiful but your stale mouth close to my ear. Quick horizon made from our bodies lying close & the damned buildings spiked up from the concrete. I see us in our dizzy haze, walking close, shaking our bodies in each others’ directions, seeing my parents, eating food from a plate we share on the veranda, our bungalow. I want a river to run through me, make a beard of your bramble, something to put my hairs through in the wet evening. Are you constant in your shaking? The riverbed is small, something growing … chop! chop! read more!
CLEAVER WORKSHOP GIFT CERTIFICATES Gift the writer in your life with a writing workshop. Cleaver Magazine offers affordable online workshops in flash, fiction, creative nonfiction, visual narrative, poetry, and mixed genres. Our workshops are taught by Cleaver editors, university creative writing professors, and professional writers and editors. We host both synchronous and asynchronous courses using Zoom and on Canvas, an easily accessible, private online platform. You don’t need any special accounts, equipment, or textbooks to join––just a computer or tablet and an internet connection. All reading materials are included in the class fee. Gift certificates can be applied to any Cleaver course. Here’s how to purchase: Enter the amount you wish to purchase Tell us the name and email address of the recipient and the gift message. Let us know what date to send the certificate. If you have any additional internal notes for us, include them in the notes … chop! chop! read more!
One-on-one feedback and guidance for creative nonfiction writerschop! chop! read more!
THE BOOK OF ATLANTIS BLACK: THE SEARCH FOR A SISTER GONE MISSING by Betsy Bonner Tin House, 272 pages reviewed by Laura Smith “Remove toxic people from your life” is one of today’s modern mantras. It’s easy advice to give, but it can be impossible to follow. Author Betsy Bonner can vouch for this. Her personal history is steeped in family toxicity: an environment of abuse, uncertainty, and guilt from which she just can’t shake free. Bonner knows this. She also considers herself the lucky one. In her memoir, The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing, Bonner writes, “My own life has been shaped by what I inherited; most of all, my sister’s story.” Her sister, Atlantis Black, the self-named alias of a volatile rock musician from Pennsylvania, was found dead in a hotel room in Tijuana on June 25, 2008. The cause of death … chop! chop! read more!
MORE MIRACLE THAN BIRD
by Alice Miller
Tin House Books, 352 pages
reviewed by Jozie Konczal
I approached More Miracle than Bird, Alice Miller’s debut novel about W.B. Yeats and his erstwhile muse, Georgie Hyde-White, as a poet interested in learning about Yeats and the woman who influenced his work. Although we get insights about the poet and his work, the novel is more about the journey of his muse, a naïve but determined rebel attempting to thwart the traditional roles that have been carved out for her. We see her youthful struggles and missteps, but by the novel’s close, we see a woman who has learned that holding onto the philandering Yeats means reshaping herself into someone who can contribute to his work.chop! chop! read more!
Six Days in November by Emily Steinberg Emily Steinberg is an artist, writer, and educator whose work has been shown across the United States and Europe. She has been named the first Artist in Residence at Drexel College of Medicine in Philadelphia, where she works with medical students to translate their medical school experiences into words and images. Her visual narratives have been regularly published in Cleaver Magazine where she has recently taken on the role of Visual Narrative Editor. Her memoir, Graphic Therapy, was published serially in Smith Magazine and her short comic “Blogging Towards Oblivion,” was included in The Moment (HarperCollins). She is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Penn State University. Steinberg earned her MFA. and BFA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. To submit graphic narratives for consideration in Cleaver, contact Emily at [email protected]chop! chop! read more!
by Seyda Mannion
“Excuse me, Miss, is this yours?”
I turn and see the large, inquisitive eyes of a woman behind me. I’ve been startled from my thoughts, and I am briefly confused as my eyes follow her outstretched arm, down her red sleeve, to the pointed tip of her manicured finger. My neck scarf has fallen to the floor. I bend awkwardly over my carry-on to stuff it back into my bag, deeper this time.
I smile at her, looking past her eyes at the gray-streaked red hair that hangs limply at the sides of her temple. “Thank you.”chop! chop! read more!
SPEAKING OF SUNFLOWERS by Evan Anders the world is bare bones an orphan after rage relinquishes her arrow. magnolias ago, sunflowers stormed my mouth every night an attempt to take ownership of the sun every tide stumbling into decimation a collied exists as a reminder we were born a flicker of elegance. autumn evolved with our refusal to compromise, a sea turned to snow, the sea’s last poem another battle with the sheets every destroyer has a price to pay for petals strewn upon the floor. who am i to question this state of decay? stripped bare the world is stone soured on the promise of gold speaking of sunflowers each petal a faceless instinct a glimpse at where the dust gathers i’ve glorified my share of silk. where once i was a storm i am afraid where once i cherished chaos, chaos became my craft. where do i go … chop! chop! read more!
my lover starts seeing by Lis Chi Siegel after a.b. yehoshua’s “facing the forests” my lover starts seeing our house as a forest. my lover begins counting by the tree its singing throbs with more than words, whisperings of warm & summer & night. sacredness bringing a lump in his throat. this green, this sea does not rustle, it’s small, like tombstones, something constant with its leaves. my lover would welcome conflagration. my lover would leap into its arms. ………………………this is to say: ………………………it hasn’t always ………………………been this silent here. the crimson glory of sunlight, the distant oil spill sea behind that of the trees, sap leaking like spit from his ridged & cracking ………………………tongue. ………………………now kindled, ………………………now his eyes glow. ………………………how assertively the forest ………………………leaves its mark. now fire burns, like a prayer, a mad moon … chop! chop! read more!
ELEVEN MICRO-MEMOIRS FROM THE PANDEMIC by Freesia McKee 1. To mix the kimchi, I used two precious latex gloves, so that later, I could take out my contact lenses. 2. Took a long walk by myself. At the crosswalk on Biscayne, someone in a white work van held an N95 mask out the driver’s window in the hope that sunlight would kill the virus. I finished crossing the street, then burst into tears behind my own face covering. Such a safety measure is so inadequate, and yet, this seems to be about all we can do. 3. First COVID death here in Miami-Dade County yesterday. Early this morning, I saw Dmitri walking his dog. He said that the guy who died was his workout buddy at the muscle gym they both belonged to. “He was in his 40s, completely healthy, didn’t have HIV or nothing.” I wonder what it means … chop! chop! read more!
REPARATIONS WINE LABEL Text by J’nai Gaither Illustrated by Phoebe Funderburg-Moore Click on images for full-size. Full Text of Label: Blacks in Wine Matter Reparations Red Wine United Colors of America Nappy Valley 2020 401mL 16.19% by volume To be acknowledged and included in this White wine industry is all people of color have ever wanted. Though wine is as global as industries come, it has never been welcoming to people of color. Even in South Africa, on the Mother Continent, most wineries are owned by White South Africans, though there has been a push to put the economic opportunities of winemaking into the hands of Black people. After 401 years, time is up. Drink and protest responsibly. Reparations is made from Petite Sirah and Tannat, two thick-skinned black grapes that offer a hearty and savory liquid meal to the adventurous imbiber. With hints … chop! chop! read more!
FIVE WAYS THE WORLD ENDS by K.S. Lokensgard By Drought The year the rains never came, the ground dried up and cracked wide open. Dust settled on laundry hung in the yards and you appeared on my porch, hands clasped. In the fields, only the grasses survived, growing tall around our knees. There was a sense that it was all ending, but no one talked about it. When even the grass started to turn yellow, we knew. You stood there, folding a blade of grass in half and half again, squeezing each crease. From the stoop, we watched garbage drift through the empty streets, waiting for the earth to swallow us up. By Flood The price of boats skyrocketed. We carved one out of a tree trunk, the way the natives used to. Our blisters sang out, but our panic kept us moving. On TV, we watched aerial footage of … chop! chop! read more!
THE PRICE OF HANDS
by Brian Ellis
You can try the gloves,
but the gloves will work
two hours tops. The grape juice
has crept inside of them.
Your hands are being braised now.
Your fingernails have become
the consistency of cake frosting.
The tips of your fingers are translucent.
TERRA IN FLUX An Ekphrastic Collaboration by Mark Danowsky and John Singletary The word ekphrasis comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise, often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic. It is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined. In ancient times, it referred to a description of any thing, person, or experience. The word comes from the Greek ἐκ ek and φράσις phrásis, ‘out’ and ‘speak’ respectively, and the verb ἐκφράζειν ekphrázein, “to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name”. [tap on any image to enlarge] Terra in Flux The bathroom mirror breaks my face no, my face breaks the mirror nose, a Picasso— all comes down to energy * In Tai Chi, you create an imaginary ball then pass, smooth smooth, smooth sculptor at the wheel passing it, passing … chop! chop! read more!
PETS FOR PENITENTS
by Christopher David Rosales
It started off with cats, which was what my cellmate Rudy had, til his cat shrunk down to the size of a kitten, then a mouse, then disappeared altogether. Every once in a while, at night, besides the usual squeaks of the roaming guard’s boots, I’d hear squeaks of a different kind. Through the slight light at Rudy’s bunk, I could see where he lay with his head propped on one hand, the other hand cupped in front of a squinted eye. An eye he’d wink at me before putting his finger in front of his mouth and saying, “Shhhh.”chop! chop! read more!
THE ESPERANZA PROJECT Music by Richard Casimir “Antumbra” (poem) by Herman Beavers In classical music, a fermata is a pause of unspecified length printed above a note or rest. It is represented by an eyebrow above a dot, nicknamed a “birdseye” or “cyclops eye.” How long that pause should last is left to the discretion of the performer or the conductor. In March 2020, the music world paused, subito—suddenly—leaving concert halls dark for the foreseeable future, and an entire industry stunned and unemployed. For how long, we can only guess. And yet, by comparison, this Great Silence seems trivial: a global pandemic is killing millions. The rest struggle against police brutality, racial injustice, the rise of fascism, the precarious state of democracy. In late June, as our American cities broke open in protests over the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I received a WhatsApp message from my longtime … chop! chop! read more!
A SACK OF POTATOES, THE TIRED FARMER, & THE MIGHTY WORLD A Visual Narrative by Steph Jones Steph Jones is the Assistant Farm Manager at Pennypack Farm & Education Center, a thirteen-acre non-profit organically growing vegetable farm in Horsham, PA. She majored in Studio Art at Bates College and has been working at Pennypack since 2015. Since her first summer at the farm, she has been fascinated with the natural world around her and its wonder has greatly influenced her artwork. Steph loves how her art shows her what she knows about this world and what is important to her within it. She is a farmer, she is an artist, and she believes they are the same.chop! chop! read more!
FIELD NOTES FOR THE MAGICIAN: SLEIGHT OF HAND by Rosemary Kitchen I. Mother teaches me to read the ages of bald women hooked to IV stands in cracked knuckles, the prominence of veins in fingers and wrists. We whisper, like the palmists of the Memorial Oncology Ward II. Mother’s gurney vanishes between swinging doors, and Father practices the trick of folding down ring and middle fingers, of straightening pinky, extending thumb, cupping the symbol for love in a trembling hand. The Magician might call this the Palm Proper—letting two fingers press into root of thumb to form a bridge at the hollow of the hand where anything small enough can hide III. After the diagnosis, we listen to the tick of a wristwatch covering its face with both hands. On a sundial, the titanic body of our nearest star can be transfigured into a hand made of shadows. IV. In … chop! chop! read more!
by Shanna Merceron
She spread her legs and the neon blue lights shifted like we were underwater. She was wearing underwear, but they were crotch-less, white elastic stretching around her hips to hold her tips. Her hair was brown. I don’t like brunettes, especially not with how short she kept it, just barely brushing her shoulders, yet I watched her with interest. She stood up and moved to a pole languidly, her steps not in sync with the beats of the music. She was in her own world, she spun around the pole, her head hung like it was out a window, letting the breeze blow through it. She shimmied down the pole and then she was seated again, in front of me, her legs splayed out, she lifted her butt once, twice, maybe she thought that it counted as dancing, and then she went back to the pole.chop! chop! read more!
by Ben Austin
My freshman year of college I lifted weights and kickboxed five days a week. The kickboxing gym was four miles down Riverside and I biked there every weeknight. There wasn’t a bike lane on Riverside and cars honked. My brakes screeched.
On my way home I stopped for Taco Shack. I tried doing the drive thru once but they said I needed a car to use the speaker box so I ate inside. I was drenched and sometimes bruised from the workouts and the staff looked at me while I ate the burritos.chop! chop! read more!
TO MAKE AND EAT TIME:
Pork Rillettes in a Pandemic
by Greg Emilio
And one day, just like that, you will make time.
You will make time to dust off the cookbooks you’ve never used. You will pick up the fat French tome and crack it open and it will smell like your grandparents’ kitchen. The papery redolence of oil, roasted chicken. The splattered windows of grease stains as holy as stained glass. Time to finger the recipes their pencils annotated. Time to make, and make do, to use what you have: time trapped in a half-forgotten bottle of Muscadet.
You will make time, because suddenly, you, and the rest of the world, will have time.
Lured by economy and the blind contingency of time and place, you will come to a recipe for rillettes. Pâté-tender pork preserved under a layer of lard. Peasant’s butter back in the day, the fat cap keeping the meat for months. (Time to seek out foods that will stand the test of time.)
After a perilous excursion to the grocery store and a trip to the butcher (by comparison heaven on earth), you will be ready to set the cure on your inch by inch chunks of pork shoulder: salt, garlic, ginger, coriander, black pepper, and white wine. Plus the unexpected warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
And this is how you will set the cure. And this is how the beginning of time is made. And now, you must wait three days.chop! chop! read more!
SOME OTHER CONTINENT by Melissa Benton Barker The drink was called Spring Breeze. Elin had three of them at brunch, but Lucy never drank in the morning, so she’d missed it. It was the third night of a weekend cruise Elin had purchased on sale months ago, and they sat outside on an ill-lit and almost empty deck as the ship charged somewhere between Miami and the Bahamas. There was a stiff wind and no moon. Instead of the desired Spring Breeze, Elin bought two bottles of Amstel Light back to the table. “The bartender won’t make it,” she said. “What do you mean he won’t make it?” said Lucy. “Apparently it’s a daytime drink.” There was a pinching sensation at the crown of Elin’s head, as if she were a plush toy in a claw machine, drawn upward by those spindly metal fingers. She didn’t enjoy Amstel anymore, but … chop! chop! read more!
INTERVAL by Sue Mell Nine seconds to warm the applesauce for my mother’s morning medication. To wrestle my fury, replace it with a light-hearted care. Even as a kid I shied away from her clinging hand; now her need for me is bottomless. Nine seconds to watch the red-bellied woodpecker hunch his body around the feeder, the sparrows scattering with bitter complaint. To mentally revise my steps for the most efficient diaper change—wipes here, Desitin there, the wastebasket cradled in the bars of the rolling table just so. Nine seconds to remember a time I had not taken this on. To ignore the man jogging freely past, his face mask dangling below his chin. To see the sunlight flicker as wind bends back the trailing spirea branches, setting tiny white petals adrift like snow. Then the beep of the microwave and on with the day. Sue Mell is a graduate … chop! chop! read more!
THE YEARS GO BY IN SINGLE FILE by Roberta Beary Maybe behind your house was a rock garden where you ran when your mother shooed you away where you loved the rosebush but hated the thorns and always the bees buzzing a secret you didn’t know but still it made you cry in the cubbyhole under the stairs where you could hear in the kitchen your mother tell her mother she was done having sex she didn’t care if he was her husband and what was he going to do about it anyway and maybe the years go by in single file like the poet says and maybe at night you read her poem over and over in a book of poems the pages edged in gold and hold onto it like the rabbit’s foot you’ve outgrown hidden in a shoebox and every night he’s in your room the sweet … chop! chop! read more!
THE HOUSE STILL STANDS
By the time I tell him, it’s old news and too late, but that’s why I waited to tell. I needed to know. He stalks me through the house to ask all about it. Here? he says, and I say, Yes, and wince as his fist punctuates the hallway plaster. The white dust drifts down. It settles.chop! chop! read more!
by Jared Lemus
My mother became a maid for a rich, white lady a few months after my father bounced. She worked cleaning the lady’s house—vacuuming, sanitizing toilets in a bathroom with heated tiles, dusting—two days a week for over a month, while my brother and I went to school. The bills, however, didn’t seem to be getting any smaller; but as luck would have it, the lady had also invested in other properties, including a one-story office building that housed a local paper company amongst others. It turned out that the contractor the lady hired to do after-hours janitorial work was under investigation and had closed their offices and laid off their employees. Unsure of what to do, the woman had asked my mother if she knew anyone who owned a janitorial service. Needing the money, my mother lied and said that she did, but that it was a very small company that consisted of only three people. What she didn’t mention was that the people were me, her, and my brother.chop! chop! read more!
WELCOME CENTER (Some Notes for Our Visitors) by Susan Frith 1. Greetings. Preachers, poachers, stargazers, we don’t much care who you are. You’re here now, so go on, take a key. See if it fits any of the locks. If so, the place is yours. (We’ll come to terms later.) It might be a three-story house with a turret. It might be the cleaning closet behind this desk. As someone famous once said, every key fits a lock somewhere. On why half the homes in this town are abandoned: We’re not sure. It was either a radon leak or pirates or something else entirely. How many people live here now is another mystery, because some of them like to hide. If you see anyone peering at you from behind a boxwood or telephone pole, don’t gawk. (Nothing shouts tourist more than gawking.) 2. Our Natural History. This town was built … chop! chop! read more!
FOXLEY REDUX by Benjamin Soileau Foxley’s uptight on the glass, watching for the hard silver wink of Daddy’s Bronco. Mama said his ass was grass. He heard her on the phone tattling and when she brought it to him and he put it to his ear, Daddy said to wait in his room and to not be leaving even for the bathroom, that he was gonna get the whipping of his short life when he got home. Daddy told Foxley five o’clock couldn’t come soon enough, and that maybe, if he was lucky, boss man would let him clock out a few minutes early. Every car that crosses the pane knots Foxley’s guts more and he tells himself that he’s making it worse. He might as well relax in the bed and be in the moment, since at the present, Daddy ain’t home yet, and his ass is fine, besides … chop! chop! read more!
GARE DU NORD, 1988 by Kim Magowan The girl escorts her boyfriend to Gare du Nord, where he will take a train to the coast and then a ferry back to England—this is years before the Chunnel will be built. He is her first serious boyfriend, and two nights ago they had sex for the first time. The girl is not religious or old-fashioned, but she had fetishized “going all the way” as a momentous journey, only to take with someone she loved. This is why she is twenty years old and only now, long after nearly all of her friends, has finally had sex. It’s a strange kind of fetishism, at odds with the fact that she has, over the last two and a half years, given blowjobs to seven men, including one whose name she doesn’t remember, though she does clearly recall his cleft chin, which looked like … chop! chop! read more!
EIDOLON by Nicole Greaves She said there are some things you will always be, like Italian, some skills interchangeable: folding underwear and trussing a chicken, some days for darkness. I remind her of her dead daughter. Her true character! Everything is a lie and everything a truth. We always know it. Like how we are loved and unwanted. As a girl I drank water out of shoes. It made sense, all of it. Nicole Greaves teaches at The Crefeld School in Philadelphia. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and an M.Ed. in special education. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary reviews and was awarded prizes by The Academy of American Poets and the Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia. She is a recent 2020 finalist for the Frontier Digital Chapbook Contest and was a 2015 finalist for the Coniston Prize of Radar Poetry, who also nominated her for The … chop! chop! read more!
TRANS (Is Not An Abbreviation) Writing Transgender Characters through the lens of the body taught by Claire Rudy Foster 4 Zoom Sessions January 4, 11, 18, 25, 8-10 pm ET $200 Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] This workshop will discuss how to write about transgender characters through the lens of the body. Transgender bodies are vilified, objectified, fetishized, and punished. How do we write about trans joy, pleasure, and freedom? Writers will generate body-specific pieces of imagined or experienced memoir and learn about how to create transgender characters that avoid cliched, harmful tropes. Cisgender students are asked to read a sensitivity statement before attending.chop! chop! read more!
Open to all levels and genres | Synchronous on Zoom
One-on-one feedback and guidance for fiction writerschop! chop! read more!
THE ART OF FLASH A Workshop in Fiction and Nonfiction Taught by Cleaver Flash Editor Kathryn Kulpa 5 weeks SOLD OUT Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] Flash is a genre defined by brevity: vivid emotions and images compressed into a compact form. We most often see flash fiction, but flash can also encompass prose poetry, micro memoir, lyric essays, and hybrid works. In this class, we will take a close look at different styles and forms of flash fiction, as well as flash nonfiction, hybrid, and experimental works. Each week, we will read and discuss one or more example-works and generate new work from prompts. Students will share their work for peer and instructor feedback, then will choose one story to revise for the final class. This workshop has weekly deadlines and assignments to help motivate you to write, but the work can be done at your own pace and … chop! chop! read more!
AFTERBURN A Workshop on the Art of Flash Revision Taught by Cleaver Flash Editor Kathryn Kulpa 3 weeks November 15 to December 12, 2020 $175 Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] Flash fiction may be born in a lightning flash of inspiration, but crafting works of perfect brevity requires time and patience: sometimes cutting, sometimes adding, and sometimes starting all over again. In very short stories, every word must work, and revision is as much a part of writing flash as it is of writing longer prose. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll practice the art of revision. Flash fiction writer and editor Kathryn Kulpa will share first drafts, revisions, and published versions of her own work and that of other flash and short fiction writers. Students will learn different revision strategies and how to apply them to their own work. We will create new flash together and work on taking it through … chop! chop! read more!
A WORLD BETWEEN
by Emily Hashimoto
Feminist Press, 440 pages
reviewed by Ashira Shirali
Let’s be honest—the chances of walking into a bookstore and finding a literary lesbian romance are low. You’re more likely to find an entire cookbook consisting of sourdough recipes. If you want the book to feature characters of color, your odds sink even lower. Emily Hashimoto’s debut novel promises to fill this lacuna. A World Between (Feminist Press, forthcoming) follows the relationship between two women of color, Leena and Eleanor, through college and adulthood. The novel alternates between Leena’s and Eleanor’s perspectives, revealing the yearnings and anxieties of each as they grow apart and together.
There is much to marvel at in this debut. Hashimoto is adept at plotting. She pulls Leena and Eleanor apart with narrative developments that are both unexpected and believable. The novel heightens tension as we long for the two’s reunion despite circumstances, family expectations and their own struggles. Eleanor and Leena’s conflicts are heartbreakingly realistic. Their fights remind us that in real life there are no villains or heroes, just two people whose earnest feelings clash. Hashimoto deploys details masterfully. She can bring characters to life with just a handful of words. When Leena cries in her mother’s car, she turns away because her mother “couldn’t stomach emotions of this magnitude.” The novel’s dialogue captures the rhythms of young people’s conversations, both the beat and the crescendos.
A World Between’s greatest triumph is capturing the shape, color and texture of attraction between two women.
Despite these strengths, Leena and Eleanor’s honest, multi-stranded story is let down by the novel’s prose. Hashimoto’s similes fall flat as often as they succeed, and she pushes metaphors too hard. After describing how Leena responds to Eleanor’s body as if calculating an equation, Hashimoto writes, “If two trains were headed to Boston at one hundred miles per hour, how fast would Eleanor come?” There are awkward phrases which aspire to the literary (“she took bite of her tongue”), and sometimes the writing elicits pure confusion (“the streets where bars hummed and clothing wore her fellow New Yorkers”). The novel could easily lose a hundred pages. In other places, however, the words delight—“It was quiet for a long time, dust settling on the ellipses of the moment.”chop! chop! read more!
POETIC ANATOMIES: Dissecting Form and Formlessness in Poetry Taught by Cleaver Poetry Editor Claire Oleson 5 weeks January 16 to February 20 SOLD OUT Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] In this course, we will investigate how form is used in poetry to create meaning, house language, and allow the content of a poem to achieve a significance that echoes beyond the bounds of its literal words. Whether participants are wholly new to sonnets and couldn’t tell you whether a villanelle is part of a cake recipe or a manuscript, there will be room for growth, experimentation, and attentive feedback. We will work primarily on generating new work, encouraging participants to push their boundaries and hone their voice to create memorable and authentic pieces. The workshop model will facilitate constructive responses from both peers and the instructor. Particular attention will be placed on the formal life of the poetry we read … chop! chop! read more!
THE ART OF THE SCENE A Workshop in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Taught by Lisa Borders 5 weeks January 3 to February 5 introductory Zoom meeting at 2 pm ET on Sun Jan 3 $225 Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] The writer Sandra Scofield describes a “pulse”—that spark that makes the story come alive— as a vital element to all scenes. This pulse is especially crucial for opening scenes, as many agents and editors report that if they are not hooked on a manuscript within the first five pages, they will not read on. But what is a “pulse,” and how can a writer ensure that each scene—not just the opening— has one? How can we write in such a way that our characters come to life, that a scene breathes emotion and urgency, while moving the plot forward and keeping tension taut? In this class we’ll look at opening … chop! chop! read more!
EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY, Part 1 of Two A Workshop to Jumpstart Your Writing open to all levels and genres Parts 1 and 2 may be repeated or taken out of order taught by Cleaver Editor Tricia Park Asynchronous Version 5 weeks January 10 to February 7, 2021 $250 Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] “But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet In this class, we won’t try to fix what isn’t broken. We’ll hold our vulnerability and begin creating from where we are. We’ll give ourselves permission to commence, no matter how fragile the surface under our feet feels. Together, we will enter and engage with the work as it begins to speak to us, and we’ll allow ourselves to follow that … chop! chop! read more!
DUMP TRUMP Illustrated T-Shirts by William Sulit Many artists have the ability to verbalize their thoughts with great clarity and eloquence—sadly, I’m not one of those. This must be a great source of frustration for my wife Beth, who is an extremely accomplished writer and well versed in the art of verbal communication. But she does not complain; she smiles and lets me babble aimlessly until I get distracted by a squirrel or something. Oh well. As I used to say to my mother when she was yelling at me for something I did (or didn’t do): That’s just the way God made me.In any case, I should stop rambling and get to the point which is to write a few words about this image. I decided to make a series of drawings that chronicle the pure and unadulterated stupidity perpetrated by the current occupant of the White House. I … chop! chop! read more!
GARDEN BY THE SEA
by Mercè Rodoreda
translated by Martha Tennent and Maruxa Relaño
Open Letter Books, 203 pages
reviewed by Anthony Cardellini
When I began my part-time job at a botanical garden in the fall of 2017, I had next to zero gardening experience, and I knew little about the different flowers and trees that grow in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. I showed up that first day completely unprepared, without so much as a pair of gloves. But I was lucky enough to be mentored by David, a man in his early thirties from Maine, who’d been gardening for several years. David explained to me the paradoxical nature of caring for gardens: gardens need constant attention, but they bear their beautiful fruits ever so slowly. At the heart of David’s message was that gardeners are transitory, but gardens remain. Our decades are their hours.chop! chop! read more!
TELLING TRUE STORIES A Workshop in Creative Nonfiction Taught by Cleaver Editor Sydney Tammarine 5 weeks December 7, 2020- January 9, 2021 Class limit: 12 Questions: [email protected] SOLD OUT Writer Dinty W. Moore says that creative nonfiction equals curiosity plus truth. CNF comes in a variety of forms: from expansive memoir to intimate personal essay to the lightbulb “eureka!” of flash. But in any form, the CNF writer is a guiding voice in the dark: a storyteller seeking truth, thinking alongside the reader toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. In this class, we’ll practice the essay in its most dynamic form: a verb that means “to test; to practice; to taste; to try to do, accomplish, or make (anything difficult).” Each week, we will read and discuss one or more example essays and generate new work from prompts. Students will share their work for peer and instructor … chop! chop! read more!
LITTLE ENVELOPE OF EARTH CONDITIONS
by Cori A. Winrock
Alice James Books, 85 pages
reviewed by Charlotte Hughes
I read Little Envelope of Earth Conditions in late June, when COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing in the world and the nation—and at home. The May 24th New York Times front page, which listed the names of the 100,000 American coronavirus victims—a very public display of mourning and grief—was at the forefront of my memory, as were the more personal ways that I was mourning the loss of traditions, previous ways of life, time spent with grandparents and my fellow high school students alike.
Throughout her second collection of lyric poems, Little Envelope of Earth Conditions, Cori A. Winrock explores the experience of mourning: specifically, the idea that grief is an ongoing, recurring experience that never truly goes away. It is simultaneously universal and intensely personal. She tells a compelling narrative about the loss of a mother and child, spanning from the vast emptiness of space to an ambulance in a parking lot to a placid meadow on the edge of a lake. Thechop! chop! read more!