2018 Amuse-Bouche Archive

Writers Read: Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions is indeed an essay responding to the absurdity of 40 certain inquiries. Yet, it is much more than that. The “tell me how it ends” refrain quotes a plaintive request from Luiselli’s daughter, who was five years old when Luiselli served as a […]

Writers Read: Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions is indeed an essay responding to the absurdity of 40 certain inquiries. Yet, it is much more than that. The “tell me how it ends” refrain quotes a plaintive request from Luiselli’s daughter, who was five years old when Luiselli served as a […]

À La Carte: bifurcatin’ blues

Ma Rainey on my parade, anyday. Wear suits to that rodeo and yield it your birthing hips. Sway ‘em on stage and own the gaze of them who owned you. Heaven can’t be white when you are nutmeg ground for God. Speak easy to me and rest real hard, tomorrow will be another long one. […]

Litdish: Jody Chan, Poet

Jody Chan is a writer and organizer based in Tkaronto/Toronto. They are the poetry editor for Hematopoeisis, a 2017 VONA alum, and the 2018 winner of the Third Coast Poetry Contest, selected by Sarah Kay. Their first chapbook is forthcoming in 2018 with Damaged Goods Press, and their poetry is published in BOAAT, Looseleaf Magazine, […]

À La Carte: Olam haBa

I’ve been awake so long that my computer illuminates the wet of its reservoir with a whisper: The last time I was out on a Friday night I was taking transit on shabbos. It’s against halacha to kill yourself so I’m waiting for Masada, praying for a neighbour to pick my name– To bleed out […]

Writers Read: Wilder by Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm’s debut poetry collection Wilder at times feels like a bedtime story, full of ghostlike beings, ash-blanketed landscapes, corpse-flowers, and Cassandran prophecies echoing through it all. That might sound enchanting and more than a little spooky, but quickly things feel uncomfortably familiar. Isn’t this our world? Are those our voices? Or worse, those of […]

Writers Read: Wilder by Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm’s debut poetry collection Wilder at times feels like a bedtime story, full of ghostlike beings, ash-blanketed landscapes, corpse-flowers, and Cassandran prophecies echoing through it all. That might sound enchanting and more than a little spooky, but quickly things feel uncomfortably familiar. Isn’t this our world? Are those our voices? Or worse, those of […]

Spotlight: Pranam

[fiction] It smells the same, even after all these years—the smell of tens of thousands of prayers exhaled above palms pressed to the heart, thousands of bare feet padding into the prayer room, thousands upon thousands of incense sticks lit in front of the same statues, day in and day out. How could this building […]

Writers Read: Surge by Michelle Whittaker

In Michelle Whittaker’s debut collection, Surge, we begin in the after. After what is not as important as the life lived after trauma—an afterlife. Though we arrive having already crossed this border safe and sound, an epigraph from Susan Sontag reminds us that we’re still dual citizens: passport carriers from “the kingdom of the well” […]

Writers Read: Surge by Michelle Whittaker

In Michelle Whittaker’s debut collection, Surge, we begin in the after. After what is not as important as the life lived after trauma—an afterlife. Though we arrive having already crossed this border safe and sound, an epigraph from Susan Sontag reminds us that we’re still dual citizens: passport carriers from “the kingdom of the well” […]

Spotlight: Immigrant

you have to learn to live with emptiness my mother told me           I drank water when I was hungry           I drank water the way people hustle onto trains rushing to another city the rain begins in one window but always finds its way to all the others your dog scratches at the white couch I […]

Litdish: Dorothy Chan, Poet

Dorothy Chan is the author of Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, Forthcoming March 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She is the Editor of The Southeast Review. Visit her website at dorothypoetry.com. 10 Questions for Dorothy Chan: 1. What’s the most recent thing you’ve written? I’m currently working on my […]

Ana Jovanovska, Experiment with A Fictional Alphabet, 2013, engraving on zinc printed like relief and 2 color silk screen, 76x57cm

Spotlight: From Text to Abstraction

À La Carte: IDIOPATHY

[creative nonfiction] This is the year I got old. The orthopedist says there is little I can do. Not about growing older—I already know that—but about my left shoulder. It’s not the athletic injury I thought it was, and there’s no definitive cure. It simply has to run its course, he says, dismissively. The only […]

Spotlight: my sister-wife

chews on the strange stillness of his quiet unravel. she knows the undoing—like thread—will be slow & always. same as when he first moved inside of me—i remember. the both of us wide open, one exhale after the other scrawled between my legs. the ground sweats against my foot, familiar with the work. all things […]

Shari Epstein, Shark, 2007, Mixed Media, 24” x 48”

Spotlight: Rising

Spotlight: Note from a Loving Friend / Love and Loss in Ludhiana

Note from a Loving Friend I. For weeks, high school girls giggled, slipped folded notes to each other, their noses pruned, leaving me on the outskirts, alien that I was. True I had my green card, always in my wallet, but still I did not know why I felt alone in their company. I read […]

Spotlight: Note from a Loving Friend & Love and Loss in Ludhiana

Note from a Loving Friend I. For weeks, high school girls giggled, slipped folded notes to each other, their noses pruned, leaving me on the outskirts, alien that I was. True I had my green card, always in my wallet, but still I did not know why I felt alone in their company. I read […]

Litdish: Sherri Cornett, Artist, Art Curator, Activist

Sherri Cornett’s German immigrant and pioneer roots are set deep into the homesteads around the small south Texas town of Cuero, where both of her parents grew up, met, and married. By the time she settled in Billings, Montana, in 1993, she had lived in eleven cities and, in some of those, several homes. Out of […]

Jerrell Gibbs, The bird whisperer, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 40" x 30"

Spotlight: Hiding in Plain Sight

À La Carte: Damage [trigger warning]

[fiction] 4 My babysitter is an old bat. Old and mean. She makes me drink water standing by the kitchen table. She won’t let me sit down. After I drink, she pushes me back outside to play. She won’t let me in until lunch at eleven. I play with the other kids in the yard. […]

Spotlight: ache / therapy session 1

ache when you came here, you were a shadow on the wall of the episcopalian church on the water, fourteen hours away. you had your mother’s face and father’s eyes. limbs that bent into edges and straw, skinny red lines frowning across your left wrist. a hunger you couldn’t name yet rustled beneath your ribs. […]

Spotlight: ache & therapy session 1

ache when you came here, you were a shadow on the wall of the episcopalian church on the water, fourteen hours away. you had your mother’s face and father’s eyes. limbs that bent into edges and straw, skinny red lines frowning across your left wrist. a hunger you couldn’t name yet rustled beneath your ribs. […]

Litdish: Tami Haaland, Poet

Tami Haaland is the author of three poetry collections, What Does Not Return (2018), When We Wake in the Night (2012), and Breath in Every Room (2001), winner of the Nicholas Roerich First Book Award. She earned a BA and MA in English literature from the University of Montana and a MFA in creative writing and literature from Bennington College. Her work […]

À La Carte: IN THIS BODY, EVERYTHING ALREADY LOOKS LIKE DEATH

[creative nonfiction] Where did it begin, the pain, the images that haunt me? — La Prieta, Gloria E. Anzaldúa Tyler Clementi was eighteen in 2010. Before he ever became eighteen, he was a toddler. He was a kid with exceptional abilities, and he was known to have taught himself how to play the violin, accompanying […]

Spotlight: LEMONADE

Googling flowers that sound country enough to create my own lemon on a step because it is smart to discuss a field of goldenrods rather than the hood flying up on the old eighty-four ford ranger while we were doing seventy on seventy-five because the truck was a lemon held together by bungee cords, electrical […]

Writers Read: feeld by Jos Charles

The poet Vijay Seshadri said that “the purpose of poetry is to deal with unprecedented experience.” Poets will use unprecedented language, but few have made poems mostly made up of entirely unprecedented words. Jos Charles’s feeld accomplishes just that, living in an invented and unnamed dialect that is as new as it is familiar. Her […]

Writers Read: feeld by Jos Charles

The poet Vijay Seshadri said that “the purpose of poetry is to deal with unprecedented experience.” Poets will use unprecedented language, but few have made poems mostly made up of entirely unprecedented words. Jos Charles’s feeld accomplishes just that, living in an invented and unnamed dialect that is as new as it is familiar. Her […]

À La Carte: another Black Body takes on the role of narrator

i dream about time i dream, that it loves me that time will give Black Bodies more of itself this poem is about a universe where time runs the world this poem is about a universe where time aint got no time for Black Bodies a universe in which time plays chess with Black Bodies check mate. the speaker of […]

Litdish: LeVan D. Hawkins, Writer, Poet, Performance Artist

LeVan D. Hawkins is a writer, poet, and performance artist formerly of Los Angeles and based in Chicago. In Chicago, he has appeared at the You’re Being Ridiculous storytelling series at Steppenwolf Theatre, Links Hall, the Homolatte Reading Series, This Much Is True Chicago, OUTspoken!, Fillet-of-Solo-Storytelling Festival, and Center on Halsted. Hawkins’s prose has appeared in […]

À La Carte: Safe House

[creative nonfiction] “Every year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless, including more than 1.6 million children. Even a seemingly minor event can trigger a catastrophic outcome and catapult a family onto the streets.” The National Center on Family Homelessness   December in Philadelphia had closed in fast, with a sudden shift from the […]

Spotlight: What to Expect When You Become a Bell / Sea Route

What to Expect When You Become a Bell There will be hands. A litany of them. You will be lifted by the saffron cuffs of a temple priest, tuned lip tapped against your sister’s to synchronize every supplicant heart to the beat of rapture. But don’t fear— between blows, something will persist. You will be […]

Litdish: Ruth Madievsky, Poet

Originally from Moldova, Ruth Madievsky is the author of a poetry collection titled Emergency Brake (Tavern Books, 2016). Her poetry and fiction appear in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a second poetry collection and book of linked short stories. When […]

Ray Crest, 2018, Sculpture, Pinewood, Willow, H 55” x W-40” x D- 35”

Spotlight: archiTERRA

Writers Read: Refuge: A Memoir by Ming Holden

Ming Holden’s essay collection is an experiment. Equal parts essay, memoir, and poetry, with a dash of fiction, Refuge: A Memoir bends genre to immerse readers into the lives of the refugees and political exiles Holden has worked with throughout her life. From Syria to Kenya to China, Holden explores the circular, repetitive trauma that refugees […]

Writers Read: Refuge: A Memoir by Ming Holden

Ming Holden’s essay collection is an experiment. Equal parts essay, memoir, and poetry, with a dash of fiction, Refuge: A Memoir bends genre to immerse readers into the lives of the refugees and political exiles Holden has worked with throughout her life. From Syria to Kenya to China, Holden explores the circular, repetitive trauma that refugees […]

Spotlight: Summer of Sola

[fiction]  Your lips taste of dust and salt. Your baby hairs glisten, limp commas and parentheses. In the mirror, you examine your freckles. You avoid looking at your chest. You dip your foot in the water (too hot), force yourself to keep it in, smothering it with one hand. You sink deeper into the bath, […]

À La Carte: Barack & Michelle Obama Gone Ghetto #1 and #2

1. The City on the Hill haunted by all manner of gunshots & protest signs & constricted throats of umbrage. Pundit wolves gnawing at the ballet- slippered sheath of flesh-glazed bones: Poverty is a state of mind. The cloy of fear a cheap perfume-scented cover for panic wafting from corporate person-hoods of deceit & profit […]

À La Carte: Barack & Michelle Obama Gone Ghetto #1 and #2

1. The City on the Hill haunted by all manner of gunshots & protest signs & constricted throats of umbrage. Pundit wolves gnawing at the ballet- slippered sheath of flesh-glazed bones: Poverty is a state of mind. The cloy of fear a cheap perfume-scented cover for panic wafting from corporate person-hoods of deceit & profit […]

Spotlight: The End of Cursive / City With Two Exits / Downstream, My Older Brother Holds My Hand

The End of Cursive One day, fog rolls up from the pond’s dull mouth, skims our face, dissipates. The songbirds appear misplaced, greedy. How quickly the sparrows drop pathside to scratch for winged seeds lying golden among the goose turds. The fog’s unraveling strands are cursive, you say, scrawled in a vanishing ink. I recall […]

À La Carte: Mukti (Freedom)

[fiction] Kamla has been through labor five times before in the past thirteen years, but the pain is still unforgiving, shaking and splitting her body. The village lady-doctor, Doctorni, fans Kamla’s face with a tattered punkah in the tiny two-room hospital in Bihar, India, and asks the tall nurse to boil some water. The nurse […]

Spotlight: That Sweet Son of Mine

[fiction] My father is home. I find his jacket and his cane and his wool hat piled at the door. There is a melted snow path that leads into the house. It’s been a few days since I’ve seen him, but I feel a sense of happiness that he was able to take his morning […]

À La Carte: On Buying My Mother a Mirror

it is three o’clock in the afternoon i am asleep when your principal calls the day has eaten its way through my eyelids you cannot know the little things when you call me i am asleep it is the only thing that stops the crying you cannot know the little things how easily i come […]

Spotlight: Who is Auntie Jill?

[creative nonfiction] “I ain’t got no food in the refrigerator,” Auntie Jill’s voice barks from my phone. As a kid, she terrified me—and still does, at forty-three. I reduce the volume to one bar. We are planning my stay with her in Detroit over Memorial Day. To friends, I’ve dubbed this sojourn a Guilt Trip, […]

À La Carte: Pinson Valley

Summer of the three-cylindered engine, weeks spent thumping the wheel to tinny songs with a revolver stashed in my trunk. Johnnie on Snake Hill, pouring gas on the armrests of an old recliner, setting it on fire, watching the polyester open like a sore. Off 280, river scum lapping over rocks, their gray faces stained […]

Spotlight: Incantation for the God Gene

Cast away the coins closing your lids. Roll off the stones weighing your limbs. This is what we know: Every Good Book when in doubt is named again. We inherit the sins of our glossolalia, secreting the Divine like sex. The seat of the soul is in the genitals, the road to Mecca, Jerusalem, Damascus […]

Litdish: torrin a. greathouse, Poet

torrin a. greathouse (she/her or they/them pronouns) is a genderqueer trans woman & cripple-punk from Southern California. Her work is published or forthcoming in Bettering American Poetry, Muzzle, Redivider, BOAAT, Waxwing, The Offing, Frontier, and Michigan Quarterly Review. She is the author of two chapbooks, Therǝ is a Case That I Ɐm(Damaged Goods, 2017) and boy/girl/ghost (TAR Chapbook Series, 2018). […]

Eloisa Guanlao, Noli Me Tangere (Stills), 2017-In Production , Digital Documentary Video

Spotlight: Noli Me Tangere

À La Carte: A People’s History

[fiction] An overcast day in early November: wolf-gray sky, scraps of cloud pasted above the ragged skyline of the city. Here, half-reclined on a worn green corduroy couch, furred belly bare beneath a struggling hem and a thick braid of drool making a moat of his shirt collar, is Sam, freshly awakened in the living […]

Spotlight: Education for Bastards / Congregations for Bastards / Auctions for Bastards

Education for Bastards Listen—you could be anyone. Other kids say they know their fathers, but marriage? That’s a knot made for plot twists. What’s better than Imagination? And her pedigree’s as full of holes as yours. She stretches across the unknown, she makes new stories, she flies through the galaxies and back. Her best friend […]

À La Carte: Daddy’s Girl

[creative nonfiction] Her father dies three times. The first time, in ‘69, she’s six, and her mother tells her, “They lost him; he’s missing.” But she knows they’ll find him, and he’ll find her, even after her mother packs a folded-over mattress and her three daughters in the back seat of her white VW bug […]

Spotlight: Inheriting Post-it Notes

[poetry] I June 25, 2013 i’m in Mom’s office helping her pack for her new home the last home where she’s going home to die I want you to have this she says handing me a yellow post-it it’s a quote that she wrote “In the end it’s not the years in your life that […]

Writers Read: The Torturer’s Wife by Thomas Glave

This collection of short stories never shies away from the human potential for life-destroying darkness. Stories such as “Between,” “The Torturer’s Wife,” “Invasion: Evening: Two,” “Woman Impossible Task,” “He Who Would have Become ‘Joshua’ 1791,” and “Out There” confront the evils of war, political torture, slavery, and violence perpetrated against the gay community. Glave insists […]

Nneka Osueke, Speak Softly, But Carry A Big Stick, 2017, acrylic, activated charcoal paint, homemade activated charcoal, genuine 24k gold on canvas, 30x26in / 76.2x66.04 cm

Spotlight: Into the Fifth

Litdish: Gayle Brandeis, Author

Welcome to our new Amuse-Bouche occasional series, Litdish. This is a solicited series of interviews with writers and artists in conversation with our staff about literature, art, social justice, and community activism. Please enjoy. ~The Editors   Gayle Brandeis is a poet, writer, and activist. She is the author of the poetry collections The Selfless Bliss of […]

À La Carte: Colors for the Diaspora

Blue-green watery globe tugging to a red core we are a distant comet, white cloud of unburnished rocks, frisking the heavens for an arc to earth, sea, home. Green-brown Palestine, cactus fruit and wild thyme, olive orchards, cypress trees… we travel on your mountain tops tethered by voices from suitcases and the yaw of blackened […]

Spotlight: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

[translated fiction] It’s my weekend with my daughter. Vilhelmína is standing between us wearing a Batman T-shirt and a wool jacket, a red tulle skirt and new rubber boots. She’s also wearing a backpack that’s much too big for her scrawny back with a decorative little umbrella hanging off it, and I feel a tug […]

Spotlight: Husband Ghazal / Reckoning

[poetry] Husband Ghazal He who cuts the head from the chicken gets the heaping plate; he breaks a wing with a quick snap, slurps marrow, gravy dripping. He falls asleep without swinging. We sing. I am wrist-bound to static eternity—like Daphne, but a plastic houseplant. Don’t put your hair up he says as he slinks […]

Writers Read: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

If the title of his childhood memoir needs clarification, before launching into his story of what it was like to grow up at the end of apartheid in South Africa, Trevor Noah includes conditions of the Immorality Act, 1927: The act of “illicit carnal intercourse” between a [white] European with a [black] native “shall be […]