Claudia Serea

Spotlight: I Remember the Smells

[poetry] I remember the smell of rusty handlebars, of rotten onions, smoke, garlic meatballs, stale fried fish, and clogged toilets. The local train smelled of skin of man and animal, of cheap tobacco and unwashed clothes, the smell of poverty and cold. The peasants carried raffia sacks stuffed with bread, food for chickens, and pigs. […]

Writers Read: Happening by Annie Ernaux

Near the end of her abortion memoir Annie Ernaux writes, “…these things happened to me so that I might recount them. Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, …causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people” (92). Not […]

Jayne Marek, Water Jelly Infinity, 2016, Medium, Size

Spotlight: Northwest Coast Structures

These images, taken in 2016 in the Pacific Northwest, demonstrate my interest in using tonalities and arrangements to elicit abstract shapes from natural objects. My art photographs utilize isolation of detail as a tactic to focus attention; I enjoy discovering how realistic contents can be grasped in new ways when guided by the discerning camera lens […]

Writers Read: St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

On the face of it, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is a collection of ten short stories, many of which take place on the same island, many of which contain strong elements of magical realism, and all of which employ precise, evocative language. In “Ava Wrestles the Alligator,” against the backdrop of […]

Gessy Alvarez

Spotlight: The Last Word

[fiction] I’m wearing my banana-yellow pantsuit and my best ash-blonde, bob-styled wig. He’s an hour late. One of my fake lashes falls on my lap. The glue still sticky on my eyelid. He yells from outside my window. You up there? I press the eyelashes back in place and stumble out of the apartment and […]

To Those Who Have Failed

Writers Read: Vivas to Those Who Have Failed by Martín Espada

Martín Espada, where have you been all of my life? I believe that the universe sends artists, writers and poets gifts of inspiration when they truly need it. Espada is a Latino poet, like me, born in America, who has the eloquence of Walt Whitman and the passionate pulsating spirit of Charles Bukowski. Espada’s poetry […]

Spotlight: Shadow

late night fireplace hiss; you bury yourself in rumpled quilts; woolen sanctums for solitude. circling your callused chest is a prison and epiphany— mouths and pectorals make a reckless truce to learn the metaphors of symmetry. we slipped one quarter in love and the rest in snow; our crumbling house is beige-mess of carpet string, […]

Writers Read: Kingdom Animalia by Aracelis Girmay

This collection of poetry opens with epigraphs by Charles Darwin, including one that lists similarities in the “framework of bones” between different animals: fins and hands, vertebrae in giraffes and elephants, “and innumerable other such facts, at once explain themselves on the theory of descent” (11). The poems shift their subjects from animals to humans, […]

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier, Black Hole, 2016, Medium, Size

Spotlight: Ordinary Space by Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

Each piece is made from ordinary items such as balls, light fixtures, outdoor flowers and even a jelly fish. The ordinary does not have to stay as such and this collection is meant to challenge the concept of ordinary and take you to the universe of infinite space, where the impossible is possible.

Writers Read: The Best American Short Stories edited by Junot Diaz

The 2016 edition of The Best American Short Stories, edited by Junot Diaz, plumbs the multiplicity of writing within the English language – and it may be a beacon for the future of the North American canon. The stories contained within this collection represent the vast experience of writing within an “American” life, as opposed […]

Janet Malotky

Spotlight: Ascension / Whale / Post-Apocalyptic Lotus

Ascension When at last it tilted worse to land than leave what happened was this: the birds snipped their gravitational strands. They took two or three or five final wing strokes heavenward and on that momentum traveled, up and out. Kingdom, Phylum, Class: Aves the birds folded splendor, resisted iridescence, overrode any hints of song. […]

Writers Read: Live Girls by Beth Nugent

Live Girls by Beth Nugent is the story of Catherine, twenty-years-old, who abandons her first year of college at a women’s religious university, moves to the nearby city where she takes up residence at a seedy transient hotel, and accepts a job as a ticket seller in a squalid, decaying porn theatre. Catherine is pretty, curiously […]

Spotlight: Eso

When business was slow, the curandero would take his skills to the stable to heal horses. To the ladies at the barn, he speaks English, recommending an ointment, but there is no saying it in English. So, he says it in in Spanish: Cebo de Coyote con Aceite de Víbora. To the horses, he speaks […]

Writers Read: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

“Somebody’s got to bleed if anybody’s going to drink” (164). In his climate-fiction (cli-fi) novel, The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi’s cinematic writing begs to find its way to the big screen where his vast landscapes, dramatic dialogue, and poignant message on water consumption can reach the masses. While his story lands big, juicy punches, Baciglupi’s […]

Donna Steiner, Swimming with My Eyes Open, July 2016, acrylic ink on clayboard, 6”x6”

Spotlight: Swimming with My Eyes Open

In the last year, both my mother and father died. They were gone within 42 days of each other, one to a stroke, one to heart failure. These paintings, part of a much larger collection, were attempts to convey feelings of being submerged, of being unable to put words to experience, being unable to surface […]

Writers Read: Coal Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowak

Coal Mountain Elementary is a noteworthy example of investigative poetry, which incorporates data and reportage—including statistics, historical documents, news media, interviews, and images—into, most commonly, lyrical and prose poems. Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004) is a well-known example of the former type as it lets the reader enter the […]

Savannah Johnston

Spotlight: Shells II by Savannah Johnston

[fiction] Our room is around the back of the motel, away from the highway floodlights. Hiram and Baby are sleeping in the backseat by the time we pull up, and Mama carries Baby while Daddy slings Hiram over his shoulder like a sack of flour. Myself I walk. I’m grown enough to see the motel […]

Writers Read: The John McPhee Reader by John McPhee

John McPhee writes beautifully. About anything. From conservation and aviation to art and citrus. His voice renders topic irrelevant. Relentless specificity of language is the main attraction. Think ­pieces can blur the line between journalism and literature. Between the academic and the personal. McPhee is investigative nonfiction’s spirit animal. Even The John McPhee Reader’s ‘70s […]

Spotlight: Tapetum

[fiction] I hunt in the morning, because the world makes sense when you watch it beginning. The woods, they wake up like my 5-year-old, Emma. Kind of slowly, fluttering, then suddenly it’s all action everywhere all at once and you can’t keep up. The trees and bushes light up from inside, and then the sun […]

Writers Read: Play it As it Lays by Joan Didion

Play it As it Lays is the perfect novel and Maria is a fascinating mix between Lana Del Rey (the old Hollywood glamor, the detached gloom) and Little Edie Beale (the saltine tins, the psychic instability, the domestic disarray), appealing in large part because she is unapologetically herself. As Amy Schumer highlighted through a now-viral sketch, […]