Issue 13 EXTRAS

Because you cannot get enough of Sliver of Stone, here comes a special release: the “Issue 13 EXTRAS,” which includes interviews with crime fiction and comic books writer Alex Segura and poet Parker Phillips, an opinion piece by Jaquira Diaz, and a poem by Miami-based author M.J. Arlett.

While we continue “to provide for a web-based environment for literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from around the globe,” in Issue 13 EXTRAS we are putting a special accent on authors with Caribbean ties, in order to celebrate the launch of the #ReadCaribbean program during the 33rd edition of the Miami Book Fair.

With the support of the Green Family Foundation, the FIU Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, and the John S. and James. L Knight Foundation and in partnership with Sosyete Koukouy, Bocas Literary Festival, and ReadJamaica, the Miami Book Fair —the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering at Miami Dade College (MDC)—presents ReadCaribbean, a series of extensive readings and panel discussions highlighting the vibrant and diverse literary culture of the Caribbean.

Happy reading!

INTERVIEWS & OPINION:
Crime & Comics: 5 Questions for Alex Segura (Interview by Thomas Logan)
Parker Phillips: Survival and Creation Outside Academia (Interview by Yaddyra Peralta)
Jaquira Diaz: #NOTMYPRESIDENT

POETRY & ART
For Laura (Who Now Works Sixty-Five Hour Weeks), by M.J. Arlett
Jacqueline Bishop: 3 Poems and Madras Women (#ReadCaribbean)
Ketsia Theodore-Pharel: 3 Poems (#ReadCaribbean)
Geoffrey Philp: 3 Poems (#ReadCaribbean)
Ode to Your Wife, by Anjanette Delgado (#ReadCaribbean)

PROSE
Bounce Theory, by Jacqueline Couti (#ReadCaribbean)
Purge/Porsche, by Danielle Legros Georges (#ReadCaribbean)
A Taste of Eternity, an excerpt, by Gisèle Pineau (#ReadCaribbean)
Bell Mouth Guns, by Sharon Millar (#ReadCaribbean)
That’s Not My Name, by Katia D. Ulysse (#ReadCaribbean)

SHOUT OUT
November 2016: New Publications

*The ReadCaribbean authors listed here will be among dozens of authors from the Caribbean (and the Caribbean diaspora) who will participate in readings and other events at the Miami Book Fair this year.

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Issue 13 Interviews

Ed Kurtz is the author of The Rib From Which I Remake the World and other novels. His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Needle, and numerous anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories 2014 and Best Gay Stories 2014. Kurtz lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ed was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

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Julie Marie Wade was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Western Washington University, a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from the University of Louisville. She is the author of four poetry collections: Without, Postage Due, When I was Straight, and SIX. Her nonfiction titles include Small Fires, Tremolo, and Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published widely in journals and literary magazines.

Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for The Rumpus and Lambda Literary Review.  She is married to Angie Griffin and lives in south Florida.

Catechism: A Love Story was published by Noctuary Press in 2016.

Julie was interviewed by Betty Jo Buro for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

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Sliver of Stone: Issue 13

Interviews with Ed Kurtz, Parker Philips, and Julie Marie Wade. Visual Art by Carlos Franco-Ruiz and Jayne Marek. Fiction by Gordon Adler, Charles Brooks, Timothy Caldwell, Susan Chehak, Mitchell Grabois, Mike Koenig, Ellen Birkett Morris, Rajeev Prasad, and John Thompson. Nonfiction by Jacqueline Heinze and Ellene Glenn Moore. Poetry by Marie-Andree Auclair, Emma BoldenDouglas Cole, Darren DemareeChloe Firetto-Toomey, W.F. Lantry, Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, Laura Merleau, Bryan Narendorf, Scott Slisbe, and Kelly Weber.

New Publications by Paul David Adkins and Geoffrey Philp. Meet Jubi, our new intern.

INTERVIEWS / FEATURES

VISUAL ART

NONFICTION

POETRY

 FICTION

NEW PUBLICATIONS

Because you cannot get enough of Sliver of Stone, here comes a special release: the “Issue 13 EXTRAS,” which includes interviews with crime fiction and comic books writer Alex Segura and poet Parker Phillips, an opinion piece by Jaquira Diaz, and a poem by Miami-based author M.J. Arlett.

While we continue “to provide for a web-based environment for literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from around the globe,” in Issue 13 EXTRAS we are putting a special accent on authors with Caribbean ties, in order to celebrate the launch of the #ReadCaribbean program during the 33rd edition of the Miami Book Fair.

With the support of the Green Family Foundation, the FIU Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, and the John S. and James. L Knight Foundation and in partnership with Sosyete Koukouy, Bocas Literary Festival, and ReadJamaica, the Miami Book Fair —the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering at Miami Dade College (MDC)—presents ReadCaribbean, a series of extensive readings and panel discussions highlighting the vibrant and diverse literary culture of the Caribbean.

Happy reading!

INTERVIEWS & OPINION:
Crime & Comics: 5 Questions for Alex Segura (Interview by Thomas Logan)
Parker Phillips: Survival and Creation Outside Academia (Interview by Yaddyra Peralta)
Jaquira Diaz: #NOTMYPRESIDENT

POETRY & ART
For Laura (Who Now Works Sixty-Five Hour Weeks), by M.J. Arlett
Jacqueline Bishop: 3 Poems and Madras Women (#ReadCaribbean)
Ketsia Theodore-Pharel: 3 Poems (#ReadCaribbean)
Geoffrey Philp: 3 Poems (#ReadCaribbean)
Ode to Your Wife, by Anjanette Delgado (#ReadCaribbean)

PROSE
Bounce Theory, by Jacqueline Couti (#ReadCaribbean)
Purge/Porsche, by Danielle Legros Georges (#ReadCaribbean)
A Taste of Eternity, an excerpt, by Gisèle Pineau (#ReadCaribbean)
Bell Mouth Guns, by Sharon Millar (#ReadCaribbean)
That’s Not My Name, by Katia D. Ulysse (#ReadCaribbean)

SHOUT OUT
November 2016: New Publications

*The ReadCaribbean authors listed here will be among dozens of authors from the Caribbean (and the Caribbean diaspora) who will participate in readings and other events at the Miami Book Fair this year.

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Julie Marie Wade: Catechism: A Love Story

Julie Marie Wade was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Western Washington University, a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from the University of Louisville. She is the author of four poetry collections: Without, Postage Due, When I was Straight, and SIX. Her nonfiction titles include Small Fires, Tremolo, and Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published widely in journals and literary magazines.

Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for The Rumpus and Lambda Literary Review.  She is married to Angie Griffin and lives in south Florida.

Catechism: A Love Story was published by Noctuary Press in 2016.

Julie was interviewed by Betty Jo Buro for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

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Betty Jo Buro: Your third collection of essays, Catechism: A Love Story, is arranged in seven sections, each named after one of the seven Catholic sacraments. The actual size and shape of the book, and the pages numbered in Roman numerals, mimics The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Did you write these essays into this form, or did the form find you somewhere in the writing of the book?

Julie Marie Wade: Catechism: A Love Story is the first of my book-length undertakings in which I began with the form in mind and allowed it to lead me all the way through the project. More typically, I putter around on the page and write my way toward a form that seems to serve the material at hand. Often, that form is a pastiche or hybrid of other recognizable forms, e.g. encyclopedia entries, recipes, advertisements, etc., though just as often, that form is my own idiosyncratic design. But the thing about lyric essays, at least for me, is that they require a firm and often intricate structure in order to support their sometimes erratic and far-flung movements. I’m always trying to think of a suitable metaphor, and today I’m thinking of the clothesline we had in our backyard when I was a child. When my mother sent me out to hang up the clothes and sheets and towels, I enjoyed arranging them into different patterns on the line—sometimes by color or texture or shape—but without the anchoring structure of the line itself, everything would have blown away. With Catechism, the difference isn’t that I used a form, but rather that the chosen form led me toward what should actually hang on the line. I had an idea that I wanted to explore the first seven years of my adulthood (2001-2008), which I defined as beginning with the first time I lived alone and was financially independent—the year I graduated from college and started graduate school. This period in my life also coincided with end of one romantic relationship and the beginning of the relationship that would become the great love story of my life—hence, the subtitle of the book. Though I love love stories, I recognize how hard they are to render without falling into clichés. So in this case, I used the seven Catholic sacraments as a clothesline onto which I could hang various memories and meditations on romantic love. The Catholic tradition at large, with which I have had a long and fraught history, provided a valuable skeleton for this project because it gave me the opportunity to incorporate a rich, spiritual lexicon and to repurpose some of that lexicon toward secular and even subversive ends. When I finished the book, I realized Catechism wasn’t only an exploration of the love story with my life-partner Angie; it had evolved to become an exploration of my love story with language, with inquiry, with ritual, and maybe most of all, with mystery—something romantic love and religion have in common after all. Along with love stories, mysteries are my other favorite subject genre. This book turned out to be both at once!

BJB: Jenny Boully calls this collection, “poetic essays.” I suspect you would call them lyric essays. Some might consider this a collection of prose poems. Does it matter what we call them?

JMW: No, it doesn’t matter what you call them, what anyone calls them—not really—but I would definitely call the contents of Catechism “lyric essays” or even a “book-length lyric essay,” singular. “Poetic essays” seems fairly synonymous to me with “lyric essays,” and I will always take “poetic” as a compliment! But “essay” is important to me as a marker of a particular kind of “trial” or “attempt.” I do write prose poems as well as lineated poems, and for me the experience of writing a prose poem or even a series of prose poems is very different from writing a lyric essay or series of linked lyric essays. The intention and the process of making prose poems versus lyric essays feels notably disparate to me, though I concede that what results from these intentions and processes may not reflect any recognizable difference when a reader comes upon a given piece of my writing in its final form. I’m about to deploy a binary here, and I’m suspicious of binaries, but sometimes they are useful just the same: When I write a lyric essay, my intention is to expand something, to stretch, to see how far I can follow a memory or a concept toward that distant horizon of meaning. I won’t ever get there, of course, but I’ll reach and reach and squint and squint and cast my net as far as possible into the abyss. This is why my lyric essays tend to be long and gangly with a fair amount of white space. There’s a porosity to the process. Nets are porous after all. Now when I’m writing a prose poem, even more than a lineated poem, my intention is to compress something, to distill it to its essence, boil it down to its core. This is why my prose poems tend to be short and compact, a tight block of text with very little breathing room. I want a reader to be able to swallow the prose poem whole—like a capsule that contains tiny granules inside it. The capsule dissolves in the mouth, and then all the pieces come loose. But the prose poem is ingested in one gulp. By contrast, the lyric essay is like courses of a meal. It’s a buffet table that expands our notion of what a meal can be, what it can include, what entrees can be placed side by side (oh, the juxtapositions!), and of course, there is that distinct intermingling of the various tastes and textures and smells, by which I really mean the distinct intermingling of various discourses, themes, and subjunctives.

BJB: The first section, Baptism, is written in the 3rd person. The narrator has lived her life according to expectations, a specific mathematical equation that should equal happiness. And yet there is this sense that she is waiting for her life to begin. Later, starting in the Eucharist section, we get a first person point of view, and lots of POV switching as the book progresses. Can you speak to your choices in point of view while crafting the essays in this collection?

JMW: I think fluidity of points of view is part of my larger lyric essay endeavor of “casting the nets wide” or creating the smorgasbord, depending which metaphor you prefer. I like telescoping and microscoping various memories, moving around not just within time but within perspectives on time. Memory isn’t static, consciousness isn’t static, so why should point of view be static, I reason? And personally, I’m very intrigued by the idea of ekstasis, standing outside oneself looking in, which is what third-person point of view invites me to do. Part of our human condition is to be aware, even hyper-aware, of how the world looks through our own eyes (first person, the self looking out of the self, that most intimate and subjective perspective), but also to be aware of ourselves as subject to the world’s gaze, not to mention the gaze of others. Third person, which is admittedly underused in autobiographical writing, opens a portal to the self looking in on the self as if the self were not in fact the self! This perspective creates some distance, which is another kind of porosity in the text, and distance can also highlight self-alienation, as it does for me in this project when I try to illustrate gaps in the happiness equation. The “she” at the beginning of Catechism is indeed the “me” who is working the formula for happiness, trying to embody the formula, but that “she” remains thwarted, unable to get outside the box of social/familial/religious conventions, which means nothing she does can “add up” to happiness in any authentic or lasting way. Then, of course, there is the second person point of view, which I use later on and which I find implicates the reader intimately by drawing that reader closer and closer to the heart of the work and the heart of the person writing it. I think so often of the Roman philosopher Terrence, who wrote that “Nothing human can be alien to me.” When I use second person, it’s a way of putting the reader under my skin, inside my head, a way of showing how, different as we are from one another, we can inhabit each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in them, too. As a reader, I want to be immersed in another person’s journey (whether persona, speaker, or character) as deeply as possible, and second person often helps deepen and complete that immersion.

BJB: There is a lovely and compelling math metaphor that threads through the essays in this book. In the last section, Confirmation, you write, “Calculus, like love, is a study of contradictions. Calculus, like love, is also a method of inquiry. Among its many questions, calculus asks, what are the limits? Among its many answers, love replies, the heart carries such conspicuous cargo.” Can you talk a little bit about the role math serves in these essays? A way to make sense of things? Put things in order?

JMW: Thank you for noticing! Math appeared in the collection without my conscious intention, and yet its presence doesn’t surprise me either. Math, like religion and love, is one of my great mysteries. I’ve always had strong, emotional relationships with numbers, but I didn’t necessarily want to do with them what the math textbooks told me I should. I also, as it happens, have aural-optical synesthesia, something I didn’t discover was a “thing” until college—I just assumed everyone saw the world this way—but in essence, it means that sounds, including words and numbers that are spoken aloud, appear to me vividly, visually, and in very particular colors. The language of the alphabet and the language of numbers resonate deeply for me. They engage my senses palpably. When Carole Maso writes about longing to touch the fire between the letters of the alphabet, I feel like I’ve touched that fire, or at least that I’ve seen its flames, and the same is true with numbers. They are stunning art-objects in the way that letters are. I’m told that at higher levels, math becomes more exploratory and less rigid than the chronology of counting and the rote memorization of multiplication tables where we all first begin. There are imaginary numbers, for goodness sake! How exciting is that! But because I showed a natural aptitude for what was called “language arts,” and less of a natural aptitude for what was called “mathematical science,” I channeled all my early energies into plumbing the malleability of language and never advanced far enough in math to explore the malleability of numbers and their relationships to one another. So the math I do now, the math that creeps into my writing life, is this strange kind of ghost-math. I’m not a mathematician, and yet I don’t want to give up my attachment to numbers either, let alone the lexicon of the mathematical world. Of course math is indeed a way to make sense of things, to put the world in order, as you say, and I like knowing it’s out there as a sense-making, world-ordering tool. For me, math mostly serves that role as metaphor. I can share that I worked as a personal assistant and amanuensis to a beloved “mad scientist” (I don’t think he would object to this description) at Carnegie Mellon years ago while I was a graduate student in Pittsburgh. Robyn insisted math was the “universal language,” because mathematicians who spoke a variety of languages could gather together and work on the same equation with a shared fluency. This insight has always stayed with me, but since I’m not fluent in math, merely functional, I find math often appears in my work as another nod to the Mysterious—big-M mysterious—and to the many ways there are of knowing, examining, and parsing truth. I suppose it’s fair to say that mathematics is another way to essay.

BJB: This book examines identity and gender. At one point in Matrimony, on a road trip with A., when you two were somewhat off the radar, you ask the questions, “Was it possible? Had I transcended gender?” But back home, you realize even if you had, the rest of world hadn’t quite caught up. It would have been a simple procedure to marry a man you didn’t love, and now you’ve found love but may not be allowed to experience marriage. Can you talk a little bit about how you were able to not only explore and question the push/pull of your traditional upbringing and the simplicity/complexity of love, but to render it so honestly on the page?

JMW: Well, I’m glad the writing comes across as honest. That’s what I strive for, but the biggest gap of all is between the heart and the page, and I think every writer knows there is no way to fill it perfectly or completely. If there were, we wouldn’t need to keep writing the next book and the next and the next.

I suspect I will always be writing about gender and reckoning with gender in my work. It is, after all, an essential kind of form. We can’t escape gender. Perhaps we also need it to ground us in the world, to keep us from blowing away. When I have tried to resist gender in my life, what I think I’ve really been resisting are narrow definitions of gender—binary oppositions and such. I’ve also been resisting stereotypes about how I must necessarily enact my gender because I identify as a lesbian instead of a heterosexual or because I am married to a woman instead of a man. I love and admire authentic expressions of humanity and human embodiment, which necessarily include expressions of gender, and what I recognize as authentic expressions of gender are beautifully idiosyncratic and complex and organic, not cookie-cutter templates of some singular “feminine” or “masculine” ideal.  As writers, we hear how form should reflect content, and formal innovation seems to me about exploring the most idiosyncratic and complex and organic ways to express the self on the page. What is gender but the analog of this expression of self in the world?

My conservative Christian upbringing didn’t allow for much exploration of anything beyond the status quo, which included certain strict gender formulas. Jamaica Kincaid’s essay, “Girl,” which I didn’t encounter until graduate school but now frequently bring into my own undergraduate and graduate classrooms, was published right around the time I was born. I’m certain my parents didn’t read it when it first appeared in The New Yorker (very liberal publication!) in the late 1970s, but if they had, I don’t think they would have understood the girl’s complaint. These instructions for how a girl should look and act under almost every imaginable circumstance in the Antiguan culture of the 1950s and 1960s echo much of what I was taught growing up in the American suburbs in the 1980s and 1990s. It was just “how things were,” the givens of being a girl.

Reading, particularly poetry and other experimental and hybrid genres, has consistently validated my impulse to question everything and has encouraged me to investigate what quickens my heart as well as what turns my stomach, to follow the compass of both desire and aversion. Granted so many essential permissions by writers like Jamaica Kincaid, Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, and the incomparable poets of my own generation, Stacey Waite and Dawn Lundy Martin, I started to consider gender as a field of limitless possibilities rather than one of two fixed doors on a game show stage.

BJB: You’ve published some collaborative essays with the poet Denise Duhamel. In this summer’s issue of Creative Nonfiction, you have a collaborative essay with Brenda Miller. What is the advantage of collaboration, besides being fun, and how does that process work?

JMW: Writing has always been an intensely personal, private kind of process for me. I rarely show my work to anyone until it is polished, and I like and actively cultivate the solitary practice of growing an image or an idea into a full-fledged piece of writing ready to be shared with an audience. This is a long way of saying, while I’ve admired the poetry collaborations of Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton for years, I never imagined collaborating with anyone myself. It seems very unlike me!

What is like me is to take aesthetic risks, however, and usually there comes a point where I recognize that there’s something I haven’t done in my writing, and I get an itch to try it. This happened when I realized I never wrote about teaching and yet have been teaching for fifteen years, so suddenly I started inviting my pedagogical life into my work. When I realized I never wrote about dreams, I began to invite them into my work as well. And so, when I invited Denise Duhamel, now my friend and colleague, to write what I thought would be a separate poem in response to a prompt provided by Amy Krouse Rosenthal in her brilliant and rollicking Encyclopedia of Ordinary Life, Denise wrote back with a first line for a poem, followed by the enticement, “Your turn.” It took me a minute to realize that we weren’t each going to write a poem in response to the prompt and then share them with each other. Denise intended for us to write one poem together, sentence by sentence. We did this, and lightning struck! After “Why the Moon Matters,” we went on to write more than twenty collaborative essays, and I feel certain there are many more to come.

Brenda Miller was my first, and as it happens, my only professor of the lyric essay. She introduced me to this sub-genre of creative nonfiction, she immersed me in writers I read and teach to this day (Bernard Cooper and Mark Doty standout among them), and so when Brenda invited me to collaborate on an essay with her last summer, how could I say no? This was, after all, the person who had passed me the lyric essay torch in the first place, back in 2002, and here was a chance to build an even brighter lyric bonfire together!

With both collaborators, we tend to set guidelines and parameters at the outset. Sometimes Denise and I will determine the exact number of words each section will contain. Brenda and I tend to work with slightly more malleable forms. But in general, we pass the essay back and forth like a hot potato. The writing tends to go quickly because receiving the other person’s entry invariably sparks a new idea or image and the desire to write immediately in response. “Toys,” the essay of Brenda’s and mine that appears in Creative Nonfiction, was Brenda’s brainchild. She had been reading about the National Toy Hall of Fame, and she had also seen the call for submissions for a childhood-themed issue of Creative Nonfiction. She sent me the link to the National Toy Hall of Fame and asked if I thought I might want to build an essay around memories of significant childhood toys which had been inducted, or conversely, excluded from it. We went from there, with her entry opening the essay and my entry closing it. I can’t remember if we decided in advance how many sections there would be, which is something Denise and I usually do. In this case, I think we wrote until the essay felt complete. Brenda is usually the one to say, “Is this an ending?” She is also usually right when she thinks it is!

BJB: By the time this issue goes live, your poetry collection SIX, winner of the 2014 AROHO/To the Lighthouse Poetry Prize, will be published by Red Hen Press. Tell us about the poems in this collection.

JMW: Well, SIX is my oldest extant project for which I pursued publication. I have manuscripts that are older—my Master’s thesis, The Lunar Plexus, for instance, which dates back to 2003, and another volume I wrote later that year called Tessellations—but while I have published individual poems from these collections, I have only sought to publish books completed in 2006 and beyond. SIX was the last of those books in circulation at the time that C.D. Wright picked it for the AROHO/ To the Lighthouse Prize in 2014, which was itself such a phenomenal honor. Wright’s own experimental poetics were hugely influential in my approach to writing SIX. The fact is that I wrote SIX as a “shadow-thesis” to my actual thesis in the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh. I decided to make Postage Due: Poems & Prose Poems my official thesis project because I thought, of the two manuscripts I was writing at the time, that Postage Due was the least “weird” and therefore the most likely to “pass” and earn me my degree. When Postage Due was published in 2013, I re-read the book and thought, “This is still pretty weird!”

It’s hard to say now which project is more eclectic, more hybrid, more unusual, but I can say that SIX feels more complex and more complete than its counter volume. Since I finished the book ten years ago and never went back into the text to change anything—I never even re-read it during the eight years I sent it out to contests—re-reading SIX after the book won the prize was like opening a time capsule I had buried a decade before. The speaker in those six, long poems doesn’t know yet that she’s going to publish a book one day, that she’s going to have a steady job that pays the bills, let alone provides meaningful challenge and a true sense of purpose. That speaker doesn’t know she’s going to end up back on a coast (though not the same coast where she first began!), no longer landlocked, and she definitely doesn’t know that she’s going to get to marry the woman she loves and have their marriage recognized ultimately by every state in the union. SIX is a true zeitgeist project. It captures the questions and obsessions of my middle-twenties and the self I was then, a perpetual graduate student who had already found the love of her life, who had already lost touch with so many people from her past who could not accept that love, who was beginning to see that she would have to chart a new path for herself because the stories she had been told about adulthood, about womanhood, about love and marriage, did not reflect her experience of the world. And yet, the weirdest thing about SIX is that now, in my middle-thirties, my circumstances have changed, but the questions and obsessions of this book endure! They have turned out to be perennial, timeless.

There are many metaphors I’ve used to describe SIX, but today what I’m thinking of is the pie in the Trivial Pursuit game and the six slices each person needs to collect to win. The categories of Trivial Pursuit don’t quite align with the contents of SIX, but there is a similar sense of scope, of wanting to master, at the very least, the range of inquiries (if not answers) that have shaped my life—and that continue to shape it, as it turns out. What’s new in SIX is the formal innovation. The poems range in length from 10-20 manuscript pages. I think in this book, which is about love and gender and sexuality and vocation and religion and posterity—all my usual suspects!—I’ve pushed these poems to the outer limits of poetry. They sit like boulders on a cliff jutting out over a lyric essay sea. In a sense, then, because of the pushing of genre limits, SIX is my version of poetry-calculus!

***

For more on Julie Marie Wade’s schedule and her writing, go to: www.juliemariewade.net/

La Doña, La Llorona, and Garvey’s Ghost

In Issue 9, Sliver of Stone published a poem titled “La Llorona’s Life as a Cautionary Tale” by Paul David Adkins.

We’re happy to learn that Lit Riot Press has published the author’s debut full-length collection La Doña, La Llorona, which includes this poem.

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Her’s a link to the book on Amazon.

Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor. Aside from La Doña, La Llorona, he has three chapbooks (Stick Up, The Great Crochet Question, and The Upside Down House). He served in the US Army for 21 years, three months, and 18 days, deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan for 1,277 days. Lit Riot Press will publish two books concerning his military experiences in Fall ’16, entitled Operational Terms and Graphics and Flying Over Baghdad with Sylvia Plath.

We wish you great success, Paul David!

Our congratulations also go to Issue 3 contributor Geoffrey Philp who recently released Garvey’s Ghost.

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“It’s not often that a writer describes a ‘criminal’ as their hero, but the outlaw in question isn’t just anyone — it’s Jamaican-born civil rights leader Marcus Garvey. After 20 years of writing, Jamaican author Geoffrey Philp, whose children went to the same high school as Trayvon Martin (the African American teenager who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012), has finally published his first novel, Garvey’s Ghost.”
(Atiba Rogers, Global Voices)

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Born in Jamaica, Geoffrey Philp has published two novels, five volumes of poetry, two short-story collections, and three children’s books. His work is represented in nearly every anthology of Caribbean literature, and he is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. He is currently working on a collection of poems, Letter from Marcus Garvey. A graduate of the University of Miami, where he earned an MA in English, Philp teaches English at the InterAmerican Campus of Miami Dade College.

Way to go, Geoffrey!

Ed Kurtz: Pushing the Boundaries

Ed Kurtz is the author of The Rib From Which I Remake the World and other novels. His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Needle, and numerous anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories 2014 and Best Gay Stories 2014. Kurtz lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ed was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

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Hector Duarte Jr.: When was the moment you knew you wanted to write? Do you remember your first creative piece? What was it?

Ed Kurtz: I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t actively attempting to tell stories. The first one I can recall writing was in the first grade, on that enormous newsprint with space at the top for drawing a picture. I’d written a Transformers story and the teacher scolded me for the sentence, “It started to rain.” She said one doesn’t begin a sentence with “it,” and I needed to identify what “it” was. “The sky started to rain?” I asked her, incredulously. She nodded. “That’s stupid,” I said. Thus began my twelve-year battle with public schools and, I suppose, my stubborn endeavor to write in spite of acerbic criticism. I expect that teacher is probably dead by now, but I can’t remember her name anyway, so I think I win.

You seem to have a big affinity for grindhouse and pulp culture? Where does that stem from and how does it influence your writing? How do you try and incorporate it in your own work?

I’ve been a cinema fanatic since I was a young kid, and I started to get cold on mainstream Hollywood stuff pretty early on just from having being exposed to much of it. Back home in Arkansas we had a few of these great, dusty old Mom and Pop video shops that never threw anything out, so I’d scour the darker corners of these joints looking for weirder and more obscure stuff until at last I was a confirmed exploitation fiend. My love of both horror and crime fiction stems largely from these seeds, from which I branched off to everything from Ed McBain and Mickey Spillane to T.E.D. Klein and Bentley Little. With regard to my own work, I’ve written straight-up exploitation/pulp like Dead Trash, but I’m more inclined to incorporate my experiential adoration of the material like I did with The Forty-Two, a murder mystery set on the infamous Deuce in late 1970s Times Square with a protagonist who is addicted to the slime and sheer weirdness of it all. My new novel, The Rib From Which I Remake the World, began when I decided I wanted to write something about the sleazy “hygiene” roadshow pictures that traveled around in the 1940s like Kroger Babb’s Mom and Pop. I got a lot of great help from the late honcho of Something Weird Video, Mike Vraney, who probably knew more about this corner of trash cinema history than anyone.

I asked Will Viharo and I’m curious about your response: Is there anything to learn from watching the most grindhouse of movies or reading the pulpiest novels? If so, what?

Absolutely—much to learn. One of my favorite things about Italian horror and crime films of the 1970s, for example, is how little they dawdle or fuck around with the narrative. Those pictures just started and when the conflict was resolved they stopped. In a lot of the horror pictures—I’m thinking Lucio Fulci’s in particular—there really isn’t so much of a resolution as time simply runs out for our luckless heroes. These guys toyed so much with traditional narrative structure because there wasn’t much to lose. The films were sold on the American market on the strength of their poster art and ad campaigns, and nobody much cared if they were any good! Accordingly, they could get away with almost anything, whether that meant pushing the boundaries of good taste or just outright rejecting accepted storytelling norms. Both things I love in a story, whether on celluloid or paper.

Name two writers, musicians, and filmmakers, (each), that influence you do this day.

Jim Thompson and Haruki Murakami are writers I always return to. As for musicians, Tom Waits for his storytelling and David Byrne for his wonderfully reckless experimentation. Filmmakers that continue to influence me are Samuel Fuller and Sergio Corbucci, to name only two of dozens.

Who should people be reading that they might not know about?

So many to name! Rob Hart’s Ash McKenna novels, starting with New Yorked, are fantastic. The third one, South Village, is just out from Polis Books. I’m a huge fan of the British crime writer Alex Marwood, who also has a new one, The Darkest Secret. I thought Patrick Shawn Bagley’s rural Maine crime novel Bitter Water Blues was terrific, and I’m also really into the horror stories and novels of another New England author, Kristin Dearborn.

Name some classic books that got you where you are today.

Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me and Barker’s Books of Blood were huge. I wrote my first novel after reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror and thinking, “Shit, I can do something like this.” I have an academic background in literature, so Shakespeare, Melville, and Ralph Ellison loom large over me.

Your part-time jobs are sources of much chatter on social media. What do you glean from them?

It can be a truly noir experience, working overnights in hotels, which I’ve done off and on for about three years. A friend of mine in Germany recommended it to me as a way to earn some money and have quiet time to write, but along the way I’ve had junkies OD in front of me, corpses get hauled out of rooms by paramedics, and a fairly constant parade of sad or mean drunks, itinerant wanderers, and world-weary sex workers. The truly interesting people really do come out at night, and more than a few of them have made their way into my work in some way. Plus I get all the coffee I can drink.

Describe a typical writing day for you. Morning or night? Totally silent room or do you have music playing in the background? Are you writing at home, bars, or coffee houses?

I’m mostly only awake when the sun is down, so it’s a late night activity for me. I’ll write at the night gig, at home, and also at my neighborhood bar (though I largely edit there, inverting Hemingway’s advice because, hey, why the fuck not?). I’m constantly emailing notes to myself because I never have a pen.

What’s one thing you wish you could change about the publishing game as it is today?

I can’t help but feel that a lot of the more visible publishing entities out there still shy away from material that prominently features LGBT or minority characters based on the obsolete presupposition that the preponderance of paying readers don’t want that in their books. It’s bullshit, it’s been bullshit for some time, and as much as I respect and am grateful for the queer press (for example), I honestly don’t think it’s wholly necessary anymore. Straight people will read about gay people. White folks will read about black folks. Men will read about women. It’s 2016, for fuck’s sake.

What’s something we’re blessed about having the publishing industry be the way it is today?

I came into the game in the age of ebooks and micropress publishers, so I haven’t any direct experience with the “good old days,” but I’m loath to fall into a Golden Age claptrap that things were somehow better before now. There’s so much more now, and competition for readership is spread much more broadly, but there are also far more readers than ever before. I recently sold a reprint for an app I don’t understand at all, and my first adaptation is about to start filming for a web platform I also can’t really wrap my head around. I’m pretty old school (I still edit with a red pen), but I find these kinds of new opportunities pretty damn exciting. Maybe if I live long enough they’ll be beaming my novels directly into people’s brains. But Christ, I hope not.

The quintessential closer-question: What advice do you give to aspiring writers and to those sitting behind their desks wondering why the fuck they’re still clacking away at the keys?

The biggest thing for me in this era of instant gratification, (and technology that allows the “anyone can do it” approach to nearly everything), is to slow the hell down, pay your dues, and take the time to get good at this. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s going to be a bad idea to self-publish the first thing you manage to crack out without ever having gotten it vetted, which is really just a lack of patience. I’d written five novels by the time I got one published by a very small press, and though that is certainly not the only way to go about it, the only mistake I made was throwing something out there myself first—because I got too frustrated too early in the game and wanted to see my name on a book cover. Stupid! The first novel I ever wrote is about a decade old now, been through numerous rewrites and revisions, and three publishers that never quite got it into print. I’m still going back to it every so often, tweaking it and talking to folks about its potential future. Maybe it’ll never see the light of day, but that’s all right too. It’s all an education, and a good education is never really free, is it?

Issue 12 Interviews

Richard Godwin is the critically acclaimed author of Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations, Confessions Of A Hit Man, Paranoia And The Destiny Programme, Wrong Crowd, Savage Highway, Double Lives, The Pure And The Hated, Disembodied,Buffalo And Sour Mash and Locked In Cages. His stories have been published in numerous paying magazines and over 34 anthologies, among them an anthology of his stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man, and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Mystery, alongside Lee Child. He was born in London and lectured in English and American literature at the University of London. He also teaches creative writing at University and workshops.

Godwin was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone.

Richard Godwin

Richard Godwin

For any artist wondering if, how, and when they might get published, much less win a Pulitzer Prize, Gilbert King’s career is an inspiration. With dreams of becoming a major-league baseball player, King went to college at University of South Florida. It didn’t take him long to realize that, when it came to baseball players, the talent pool was wide as it was deep. Just two math credits shy of graduating college, King moved to New York City, where he landed freelance writing and editing assignments for small newspapers and magazines. A self-taught photographer, King’s fashion and beauty work made it to national magazines such as Glamour, Jane, and Modern Bride, as well as international editions of magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Madame Figaro, and Marie Claire.  King went on to research and write various illustrated coffee-table books, as well as ghostwrite for celebrities and noted experts in their fields. A fan of true-crime, King’s first book, The Execution of Willie Francis: Race Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South, recounted the brutal crime, community vengeance, and legal heroism surrounding the unsuccessful execution by electric chair of a seventeen year-old black boy in Louisiana in 1946.

The book was well received, but had only modest sales. It was while doing research on the Willie Francis case that King became fascinated by another investigation, this one involving the alleged rape of a white girl by four black men in Lake County, Florida in 1951. The case would pit a young attorney, Thurgood Marshall, the most acclaimed civil rights attorney of his age—destined to serve on the United States Supreme Court—against the Klan, a brutal sheriff’s department, and the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover. At the time, the case drew national attention but had largely been forgotten. Using the Freedom of Information Act, King plunged himself into the research, which included Marshall’s personal papers, and other long-buried documents including FBI reports that revealed the innocence of the “Groveland Boys,” as the four accused came to be named. Against the advice of his previous publisher, who feared that the story wouldn’t have a broad enough audience, King wrote Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America(Harper). The book received smashing reviews, including its designation as “Must-read, cannot-put-down history” by Thomas Friedman, writing for the New York Times. In spite of the praise, King’s expectations for the success of the book were modest. Until one day, out on the golf course, King received a text message from a friend: “Dude, Pulitzer!”

The cryptic text was followed by a torrent of congratulatory texts, calls, and emails informing him that Devil in the Grove had received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. The book also became nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction, and was named a “Book of the Year” by The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and Amazon. Recently, filming has begun on the film adaptation.

Nicholas Garnett asked Gilbert King to talk a little about his career, his interests, and his future.

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Gilbert King

Conor McCreery is the co-creator of Kill Shakespeare, the swashbuckling tail of Bardicide published by IDW. The series has been adapted for the stage, as a board game, and is currently being developed for television. He’s also assassinated the character(s) of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini in Holmes vs Houdini for Dynamite Comics and is currently killing more things in Titan Comic’s Assassin’s Creed title (all with the awesome Anthony Del Col).  Conor has contributed stories to numerous anthologies including the latest edition of the New York Times best-selling Anthology FUBAR: Age of the Sword. He started his writing career as a journalist in Canada where he became the head-writer for Business News Network, as well as a producer and occasional on-air personality. He later plied his trade in Ghana at The Statesman the country’s oldest independent paper, where he managed to collect several death threats (and annoy the ruling party of Zimbabwe) while working on features covering, among other things, Ghana’s orphanage system, student riots, and the country’s first major off-shore oil discovery – as well as writing a weekly NBA column in an attempt to convert an entire nation into fans of his beloved Raptors. His work has been featured in The Globe and Mail, The Grid, WIRED.com andGlobeinvestor.com and in Living with Shakespeare, published by Yale University Press.

Conor was interviewed by Thomas Logan for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

September 11, 2012.

Conor McCreery

Poet Laura McDermott’s first book, Visions on Alligator Alley (Lominy Books), is an uncommon book. First it’s a “story in verse,” or a verse novel—a bastard genre that while not often seen, has a long tradition that includes works such as Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and Anne Carson’sAutobiography of Red. Add to that a layer of ekphrasis, a literary work that either describes or is inspired by a work of art and you have a bastard of a bastard that is a narrative interwoven with dramatic images.

The project was the unintended culmination of McDermott’s 2014-2015 stint as writer-in-residence at Girls Club, a private foundation and alternative art space in Fort Lauderdale, FL that is the only private collection open to the public that features works by contemporary visual artists. During her residency, McDermott began writing new poems and revising extant ones as a response to the exhibition in place at the time, The Moment. The Backdrop. The Persona. which focused on single works or series of works that evoked narrative. The product of that flurry of writing takes us on a journey where we see a tomboy struggling with impending womanhood in the shadow of her difficult gearhead father. The speaker in Visions on Alligator Alley eventually claims her conflicted self near the end of the book with the poem,” The Pact,” where she asserts:

I made a pact with you, mechanic men—
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown woman with a gearhead father;
. . .
Now is the time for racing.

As Girls Club Executive Director Michelle Weinberg declares in her introduction, “Visions on Alligator Alley is a modest epic of sorts.”

Yaddyra Peralta of Sliver of Stone recently got together with McDermott for a brief chat on the process of creating this book together.

Laura McDermott

Will “the Thrill” Viharo is a freelance writer, pulp fiction author, B movie impresario and lounge lizard at large. His published bibliography includes the retrospective anthology series The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection featuring all of his standalone novels, as well as the definitive omnibus The Vic Valentine Classic Case Files (both available from Thrillville Press). Gutter Books offers the first and final Vic Valentine novels, respectively, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me and Hard-boiled Heart. Additionally, Will has written two sci-fi collaborations with Scott Fulks, It Came From Hangar 18 and The Space Needler’s Intergalactic Bar Guide.

Viharo was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone.

Viharo email signature (1)

Brit Grit: Richard Godwin with a Nail in the Bag

Richard Godwin is the critically acclaimed author of Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations, Confessions Of A Hit Man, Paranoia And The Destiny Programme, Wrong Crowd, Savage Highway, Double Lives, The Pure And The Hated, Disembodied, Buffalo And Sour Mash and Locked In Cages. His stories have been published in numerous paying magazines and over 34 anthologies, among them an anthology of his stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man, and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Mystery, alongside Lee Child. He was born in London and lectured in English and American literature at the University of London. He also teaches creative writing at University and workshops.

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Richard Godwin

Godwin was interviewed by Hector Duarte Jr. for Sliver of Stone.

Sliver of Stone: What are your creative influences? Give me a mix of writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists. Briefly describe how they influence your work.

Richard Godwin: Influences are hard to determine. But I’ll tell you who I like. Shakespeare, Jonson, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, TS Eliot, Jonson, Graham Greene, Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke.  The Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese. The Black Crowes, Frank Zappa, JJ Cale, Captain Beefheart, Nickelback, David Bowie, of course, Miles Davis, Jo Satriani. Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Dali and the entire Italian Renaissance, among others.

S.O.S: What is Brit grit? Who are some pioneers of the genre? Name some contemporary Brit grit writers we should look out for.

R.G: It is hardboiled and utterly Brit, with a nail in the bag. Paul Brazill.

S.O.S: What makes the grit specifically Brit?

R.G: Our knowledge of the vernacular. And how to use it drunk and wearing knuckledusters.

S.O.S: Some might cite your stories as pervasively sexual or violent. What do you say to that? Are you careful when writing sex/violence?

R.G: I say first of all we need to make a distinction between perverted, which none of my writing is, it describes everyday sexual desires, and many people confuse the two words, and perverse, which means ‘willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.’

On the latter it is, for reasons of Artistic verisimilitude. I am always careful when writing. But there is no more violence in my writing than in a day’s worth of newspapers.

S.O.S: What are you reading right now?

R.G: James Lee Burke’s latest novel, The House of The Rising Sun.

S.O.S: Describe your typical writing routine. Is there music playing in the background? Do you rise with the sun or are you a night owl?

R.G: I get up I write.

S.O.S: How do grit, noir, and pulp point a finger at the faults rife in society?

R.G: They expose the underbelly of society. They are the ultimate subtext.

S.O.S: When you start a new project, do you typically have a central message or theme in mind you’re  trying to highlight? Or do you just go?

R.G: Sometimes but usually, no. I start with the characters and dialogue.

S.O.S: How does something pique your interest enough for you to say: “I’ll write a story about this.”?

R.G: It just stays with me long enough.

S.OS: The noir/pulp genre in general seems to be looked down on, or snubbed all together, amongst academics. Why do you think this is? Do you see a day when these stories will be widely accepted and taught in academia? Does it matter whether it is?

R.G: The academic and entrenched literary establishment are frightened and unaware, as if they are part of Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author. They look for cultural cross referencing of a kind only Saul Bellow did well. They are scared to be seen in certain company. They mirror the lower ends of pulp. The uncertain. It is all about identity. That means they are unaware that they have lost their focus. Some of the best writing is coming out of crime fiction. Some of the worst out of the literary world. It is all about the narrative. I may be taught more widely. I do not think it matters what they teach in academia, they are victims of propaganda. It is about storytelling. George Orwell talked about the test of time.

You can find out more about Richard Gowdin at his website www.richardgodwin.net , where you can read a full list of his works, and where you can also read his Chin Wags at The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.

Issue 12

Interviews with Richard Godwin, Gilbert King, Conor McCreery, Laura McDermott, and Will Viharo. Visual Art by Andrés Pruna and Terry Wright. Fiction by William Auten, M.H. Burkett, Paul Colby,  T.C. Jones, Gary Porter, K.J. Hannah Greenberg, and Tony Press. Nonfiction by Anna Laird Barto, Sarah Pearsall, and Jeffrey Weinstock. Poetry by Chris Abbate, Sean Ball, Jonathan Duckworth, Roberta Feins, Ariel Francisco, Peter Grieco, Allison Joseph, Joseph Mills, Barbra Nightingale, and Pad Wadsworth. Welcome Betty-Jo Buro and Thomas Logan.

The Anaconda and the Toucan (Acrylic on Canvas, 60" x 48")

Andres Pruna: The Anaconda and the Toucan (Acrylic on Canvas, 60″ x 48″)

INTERVIEWS / FEATURES

VISUAL ART


NONFICTION

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POETRY

 

FICTION

Laura McDermott: Now is the Time for Racing

Poet Laura McDermott’s first book, Visions on Alligator Alley (Lominy Books), is an uncommon book. First it’s a “story in verse,” or a verse novel—a bastard genre that while not often seen, has a long tradition that includes works such as Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red. Add to that a layer of ekphrasis, a literary work that either describes or is inspired by a work of art and you have a bastard of a bastard that is a narrative interwoven with dramatic images.

Laura M Teodora Dakova Photography-9883 (1)

Photo credit: Teodora Dakota

The project was the unintended culmination of McDermott’s 2014-2015 stint as writer-in-residence at Girls Club, a private foundation and alternative art space in Fort Lauderdale, FL that is the only private collection open to the public that features works by contemporary visual artists. During her residency, McDermott began writing new poems and revising extant ones as a response to the exhibition in place at the time, The Moment. The Backdrop. The Persona. which focused on single works or series of works that evoked narrative. The product of that flurry of writing takes us on a journey where we see a tomboy struggling with impending womanhood in the shadow of her difficult gearhead father. The speaker in Visions on Alligator Alley eventually claims her conflicted self near the end of the book with the poem,” The Pact,” where she asserts:

I made a pact with you, mechanic men—
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown woman with a gearhead father;
. . .
Now is the time for racing.

As Girls Club Executive Director Michelle Weinberg declares in her introduction, “Visions on Alligator Alley is a modest epic of sorts.”

Sliver of Stone recently got together with McDermott for a brief chat on the process of creating this book together.

Yaddyra Peralta: Talk to me about the book’s structure. And what was the process for making this an “ekphrastic story in verse”?

Laura McDermott: When I got the [Girls Club] residency, and I was in the gallery, there were a few pieces that evoked a feeling that reminded me of the work that I was producing in grad school. Once piece that jumped out at me was “The Brief Return of the Megalodon” which reminded me of the poem “Sometimes I Wish My Vagina Had Teeth,” and there were others that spoke to me.

Initially the thought was that I should write a few poems in response to pieces, but then I said, let me go above and beyond. I loved that that exhibit was about narrative: The Moment. The Persona. The Backdrop which was essentially about narrative and storytelling. I knew I wanted to tell a story, but I am not a sentence, paragraph and plot type of gal, so I dealt with what I knew which was poetry. I knew about stories in verse and ekphrastic [poetry], so I mashed the two together.

There were days when I would walk around the gallery or I would ask them to send me pictures. In my head I created this character, and then I began different pieces paying attention to what popped out at me [in the gallery]—certain colors, themes. I would ask myself questions. How did this person get here? What is this scene?  I made a storyboard of the [art] pieces and my poems came out of that. Sometimes a poem came out of the art, but sometimes I’d have a [poem] and then I would go back and look through the art.

As far as the layout, my publisher put me in touch with book designer Charlotte Howard. We worked via email, she suggested a layout and sometimes we found holes and so I had to write new poems again. My strongest collaborator was Charlotte. The publisher was game when we were unsure and needed a third voice. Girls Club gave me free reign and put me in touch with the artists or whoever owned the rights.

Click here to read “Summer Solstice

 

YP: In some of the pairings you can see the relationship immediately, as in the poem you mentioned “Sometimes I Wish My Vagina Had Teeth” and its facing art piece. [Note: “The Brief Return of the Megalodon” features the giant prehistoric shark]. There are also pairings such as that of the poem “Ode to the Wooden Fork that Left a Splinter in Dad’s Index Finger” about eating in the father’s garage and Lori Nix’s “Living Room” which features a cluttered living room.

LM: That piece reminded me of the messiness of my dad’s machine shop.  Like most art it stemmed from the personal which is then bastardized for the sake of the art.

YP: I wanted to ask about the poems written for the Sophie Calle pieces from her series “Exquisite Pain (Day 7)”which already pair photographs with text. The series was inspired by a breakup and the text are collections of other’s people’s griefs. You did erasures of the text. . . [Note: the photos are of an empty bed.]

LM: These pieces, [two] large ones, were displayed with the photos over the embroidered text. I knew immediately I wanted to do erasures, but I didn’t know how that would turn out. I was influenced by a recent workshop with poet Mary Ruefle in Delray [Beach]. But Sophie Calle was the most protected person when it came to the process of asking for [artist’s] permission. There were three agencies I had to deal with. I was nervous because I thought they’d [have issues with] my manipulating the art. I took the high-resolution photograph and then painted over that, with Charlotte then creating a high-resolution version of the blackout. If I hadn’t had permission to erase on [an image of] the piece, I would have typed it out and then erased on that.

YP: You’ve created a new piece in the book. There’s the photograph, her text which comes out of this process of her working through this breakup by collecting narratives and you’ve made a new piece out of the text.

LM: I broke up the two text pieces—one about a father’s death, another about the breakup of an affair, and made so it continues in that vein of hurt and pain in the book.

YP: It continues that thread of the father and romantic entanglements in the book. There’s this great transition in the book that happens at the poem “Chalk Dust” in which a nine-year-old child—the speaker is aware that she is becoming a sexual object or a sexualized being—the father and the other men at the shop are joking about the daughter “c-cups.” Then, boom, right after are a series of poems about romantic encounters. Was that a planned ordering?

LM: The piece embodies a coming-of-age, innocence lost—as much innocence as she had growing up in a machine shop lined with girlie posters. The objectification that exists is now transferred to the daughter. Maybe not in a sexual way, from father to daughter, but there’s a crudeness. . .

Click here to read “Rebirth”

YP: There’s a transition here in the daughter’s identity, whether or not she is aware of it.

LM: Well, there’s a struggle now over who’s going to control or name her sexual identity.  The poems after that are about the struggle of identity, and self and sexuality and relationships.

YP: Then there’s that poem near the end of the book, “The Pact,” that has a confident voice. The speaker is confident about cars, about car parts—there is a confident command of the speaker as the woman that she is.

Tell me about going from graduating with an MFA with a thesis to writing your first book.

LM: Well, I spoke to David Kirby about this. He told me “You’ll have a trunk of unused stuff somewhere in your computer. Take from that. Take lines, take phrases. Poems are not dead; they’re just in hibernation.” So during this process I had to, at times, revert back to old stuff. The first poem I ever wrote was “Sometimes I Wish I Had a Vagina with Teeth” which I wrote in a workshop with David Kirby in 2003.  That was the first match I made [in the gallery]. The first poem I ever wrote ended up in my first book.

YP: I am sure that’s rare.

LM: Very little manipulation—a few changes.

I didn’t completely write this book from the blank page. But nobody does. I had some of the poems already, but as I began to organize it into a possible book, there were blanks and I had the gallery and the pictures to go along with [poems].

YP: And you had a new and specific project that helped to transform whatever you started out with.

LM: And I had a deadline. When I pitched this project to Sara [Michelle Rupert] and Michelle [Weinberg] at Girls’ Club, she said “Sure, go talk to some publishers.” And I said, “How do you find publishers?”  (Laughs) I spoke to Lominy because I knew them and—they’re known for publishing works in French and Creole. I wasn’t looking for them to publish me. I was looking for names to reach out to. But they took it. So I had a book deal before I had a book. I just had to deliver.  I said, “I think I can do this. I think it’s going to be good.”

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