by Frances Ogamba
Special Guest Judge, Nikki Darling
A beautiful consideration of maternal ache and obligation, place, inheritance, memory and loss and forging on despite the potential of great loss. “Here’s to the Breed of Flying Hens!” weaves a simple narrative of a mother’s choice between her own ambitions, one her mother modeled and forged a path for her to have access to, and the very real love and desire she has to remain with her two toddler sons, who must stay behind if she is to accept this opportunity. In this interior space Ogamba attempts to compartmentalize time, anticipate the potential consequences of leaving her children at such a young age, while telling the story of her own mother who left to attend graduate school, and her fleeting memories of her mother during that time and her mother’s, insistence on valuing her self worth in world that forces women into having to make such terrible choices. “But I come from a breed of flying hens.We deserve not the tiny puffs of air stealing in through the nostrils, but a whole ocean of it. Look at us nudging into galaxies. Look at the trajectories we pencil into the skies, underlining passable routes.” Exquisitely, written and emotionally tangible, the reader is left with a feeling of floating through the ether, trying to tether to something that won’t stay put, but moves further into the distance, the horizon at bay, uncertain at what has been left behind in its wake.
Nikki Darling holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from USC. Her debut novel, Fade Into You, was published by Feminist Press in 2018. She is completing her second book, The Call Is Coming From Inside the House. She lives in L.A. with her cat and small dog.
by Siobhan Ring
by Maxwell Suzuki