Remember your first? I remember my almost. We met at an English Studies conference panel in Greensboro, NC, where she gave a presentation on “Trauma & Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction.” After that, we met in Chicago where we chaired a panel on “Suicidal Closure in Modernist Fiction.” Even though we lived on opposite coasts, and she was five years older, we began to develop intimacy quickly. At the next conference we rented a room together, and even though it was unstated, I, who was still a virgin, assumed we’d “get together.” We skipped the conference festivities, instead snuggling on the room’s king bed, murmuring about our childhoods, our depressions, our sexual questioning. I began to think, after a long absence, of a word like love. This is the way things ended between Manesa Gilnum, Ph.D., and I at the Modern Language Association conference in Austin, TX, on January 10th 2016, the night David Bowie died.
“There was an artist I worked with for a while who used Polaroids as drawing references. When she was done with them, she just chucked them in a black trash bag under the kitchen sink – where I found them. I urged her to think of them as sketches, to value them…”
A set of beliefs about the future (it’s right now)
Can you afford to eat right now? I need to know if you can afford to eat right now we need to know if we can take anything else away from you.
At the age of thirty, Daniel Lufto lived alone in a single bedroom apartment. In his first thirty years on Earth he had made very few lasting connections, and at this point, his existence had virtually no perceptible impact on anyone else. He was just another recurring face on the bus ride to work, a vaguely remembered customer in the local liquor store.
If god is always watching we should give him a good view / He compressed us into a VHS tape that eats itself every million years or so / We look for our rosaries at the bottom of river Styx / all wrapped up in grocery bags because we want to stay weak / the kids you grew up with in the back of the classroom / with snot on their chins / and white eyes because everything is pure / When you were thirteen you ate the world and puked your guts out across December / Until all the snow melted and flooded the places she could have been born / A 1969 blue Chevy Camaro drives down the beach and chews up the ocean underneath / girls cannot survive on saltwater alone Continue reading “3 Poems by Rachel Thorpe”
Mottled brilliance of chameleon leaves,
a concert audience on the horizon,
120 km/h on the crest of a highway hill.
My son loves fall colors.
Brittle gutter leaves under my feet
are your idiotic face, belly mom. Continue reading “Difficult Colours by Jordan Trethewey”
The Surge, or Remember the Time
after Grey’s Anatomy S09E02
I cut my body into little suns
– Carrie Lorig
patience is canon—something to spit out,
re-engulf, me, that I may be re-shaped
without heaving muscle, the clamps
anchor my scapula, your lighthouse
done ignoble, instead miraculous
The first time you wake up with your chest straining, an aching sternum and something scraping your ribs, you’ve been to an ‘All You Can Eat’ Chinese buffet and cleaned them out of prawn toast. You wonder where you’ve left the antacids, open your eyes and there’s a high cheekboned, thin-lipped woman in armour sitting on your chest. You say loudly to the empty room: Khutulun. The best way to vanish phantoms is to name them. You resolve not to mix history books and salt and pepper squid again, and attempt to turn over.
the lawn / Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return /
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn.
—T.S. Eliot, “To Walter de la Mare”
My father died in our living room.
Continue reading “Ghost Feet, Some Booze, and My Living Room: A Sad Party by Dom Fonce”
Over the course of her extraordinary career, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote dozens of books that explored the essential issues of our time, including gender, race, and the degradation of the environment. David Naimon is the host of the radio show and podcast, Between the Covers, which features exceptional interviews with some of the most important writers of our time. When Naimon and Le Guin met for his show, it’s no surprise that their discussions were insightful and unforgettable, and they’ve now been collected into a new book, Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, published by Tin House Books. I previously interviewed Naimon for Burning House Press, and he was kind enough to speak with me again about his bond with Le Guin, how she impacted his life, and how their new book carries on her radical legacy.
–Caitlin, Nonfiction Editor for Burning House Press
Burning House Press: It’s impossible not to mention the circumstances under which this book is coming out, with Le Guin passing away shortly before its publication. You write a heartfelt and moving “In Memoriam” at the beginning of the book. How are you holding up as you—and the literary world at large—continue to grieve? How has it been to launch this book without her?
David Naimon: This is such a hard question to answer Caitlin. It was just a matter of days after Ursula had handed over her final edits of the manuscript when she passed away. It happened so suddenly that at first I was just stunned, paralyzed. But then, quite quickly, because Tin House pushed up the publication date from July to April I was swept up in the whirlwind of an accelerated publication schedule. I had no idea just how much work there would be between then and now, the In Memoriam that they needed on short notice at a time when I felt like I had no words for what was happening, and then several essays about Ursula that I was asked to write, to be published in concert with the launch of the book. On the upside, I’ve been steeped in a deep engagement with what Ursula meant to me and to the world. But I haven’t had a moment to be with my feelings, to experience them fully. The public memorial for Ursula is not until June. The city and state, which she has influenced in so many ways, has not had the chance to mourn her as a community yet. I could’ve used something like that, something public, communal, back in January. Now, with the book out, there are no launch events planned. It felt strange to do that without her. I didn’t want to be the focal point of a launch party. But, on the other hand, perhaps a launch event could’ve been a first moment of public remembrance.
“More and more I forget what I need, and remember what I’d like to forget. And sometimes I keep talking, keep recalling, as a way of not saying what I feel.”
—Stephen Dunn, “Memory”
My fingers clink like ice as I sit, cliffside, listening to the slow wash of water against rock. Two Canada geese honk a route overhead, and I look out to Victoria, which lies across the narrow stretch of water from San Juan Island. Continue reading “A Necessary Silence by Jenne Knight”
The Things I Called You Were Never Quite Right
But I was preoccupied with
wonder. A cursory ask: is gay-boy
the same as femme, the same as
gender- queer, the same as sharp, then soft,
then wading destitute through
swamps of molasses? I was so
distracted, drowned in the black rush
of mascara in untouched eyelashes.
A flash of light catches my eye, shimmering like an emerald amid the waves. Foam-tipped saltwater crests fall and rise, the tide tugging against earth below. I step into the shallow water and feel sand tickling between my toes, across the pads of my feet and caressing my heels.
Behind me, farther up the stretch of sunbathed sand, Dominic stretches his caramel skin beneath the rays. No one else on the beach for miles. I touch the bulge of my belly and smile. Continue reading “Seaglass by Tianna Grosch”
“Where you from?”
“Got me. We never stay anywhere long enough to be from there.”
“Must suck. Where you been?”
“First I remember was someplace cold. Then palm trees. We go wherever they send my dad.”
“Got any brothers or sisters?
“Of each. On either side. They go, too.”
“Go where?” Continue reading “Genesis of a Writer: A Memoir by Deborah Hansen”
a b c d e f g h i think, therefore i am
a shot of Espresso
a shot of Espresso has an i
the cup has an i
the coffee powder an i
so has every coffee granule &
the sugar powder & every sugar crystal &
the water & every covalent bond of water
& every H atom
& every O atom
The one-eyed elephant trainer wept. The girl lay motionless, without will or strength. He offered her tear-stained slices of white bread from a plastic bag. They did not only look stale they were furry with mould, especially at the crust. She refused by jerking her head away. He had replaced the good quality clothes she had worn with a cheap nylon T-shirt and a sarong. He said that he bought these clothes for her from the Thieves’ Market in west Jakarta.
He was a monster. He had kidnapped her from the fairground. Monster.
In one glance you’re a girl clad in silks,
in another a man in a jumper,
turn my back you’re a farmer,
blink and you’re a hunter,
fetch a pint and you’re a fisherman.
I wake up to a shepherd,
come back from a shift to a carjacker.