a publication of Rowan Universityâ€™s Master of Arts in Writing
featuring the buoyancy of plums a first funeral the revival of perception and an interview with Paul Lisicky
Cover art: “Corn Reflections” by Jill Galloway Sherman
EDITOR IN CHIEF Katie Budris
The staff of Glassworks magazine would like to thank Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Program, Rowan University’s Writing Arts Department, and The Glassworks Advisory Board: Ron Block, Martin Itzkowitz, Lisa Jahn-Clough, Andrew Kopp, Jeffrey Maxson
MANAGING EDITOR Andrew Davison
Cover Design & Layout: Katie Budris Glassworks is available both digitally and in print. See our website for details: RowanGlassworks.org
Glassworks accepts literary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, craft essays, art, photography, short video/film & audio. See submission guidelines: RowanGlassworks.org
Glassworks is a publication of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Graduate Program Correspondence can be sent to: Glassworks c/o Katie Budris Rowan University 117 Bozorth Hall Glassboro, NJ 08028 E-mail: GlassworksMagazine@rowan.edu Copyright © 2017 Glassworks Glassworks maintains First North American Serial Rights for publication in our journal and First Electronic Rights for reproduction of works in Glassworks and/or Glassworks-affiliated materials. All other rights remain with the artist.
SENIOR EDITORS Keri Mikulski Steve Royek ASSOCIATE EDITORS Nicolina Givin Sarah Knapp Amanda Rennie POETRY EDITORS Rachel Carly Myriah Stubee Alexis Zimmerman FICTION EDITORS Eric Avedissian Jordan Moslowski Emily Strauser NONFICTION EDITOR Jacqueline Session Ausby MEDIA EDITORS John Gross Christina Thomas Rachel Saltzman
glassworks Spring 2017
MASTER OF ARTS IN WRITING GRADUATE PROGRAM ROWAN UNIVERSITY
Issue 14 | Table of Contents Poetry
Brian Fanelli, I Go Back to January 2015 | 39
Marilyn Hilton, Doorways | 4
Fig | 3
Emma Koch, Six Feet of Garden Soil | 18
David Starkey, Black Backed Gull | 42
Rose-breasted Grosbeak | 43 Virginia Thomas, To Ribbons | 30
Sarah Brown Weitzman, Molly Bloom’s Aunt | 46
Helen Wickes, In Homage to My Old Pal, Her Last Year | 5
Sense of Smell | 6
John Sibley Williams, Dear Doctor Frankenstein | 31
Clare Melissa Belber Bercot Zwerling, Sink Musing | 33
Fiction Casey McConahay, At That White Funeral | 9
Briana McDonald, That’s Not Your Toothpaste | 34
Nonfiction Nicolina Givin, Jacqueline Session-Ausby, & Amanda Rennie,
Defying Boundaries Through the Lens of Constraint:
An Interview with Paul Lisicky | 22
Jill Galloway Sherman, Corn Reflections | cover
Mustard Palm with Vines | 40
Raindrops and Succulents | 20
Frank Styburski, Belmont/Pulaski Dress Shop | 44
Bucktown Mannequins | 32
Emerging | 17
Jean Wolff, Apex | 29
Blue House | 8
The History of Glassworks
The tradition of glassworking and the history of Rowan University are deeply intertwined. South Jersey was a natural location for glass production—the sandy soil provided the perfect medium, while plentiful oak trees fueled the fires. Glassboro, home of Rowan University, was founded as “Glass Works in the Woods” in 1779. The primacy of artistry, a deep pride in individual craftsmanship, and the willingness to explore and test conventional boundaries to create exciting new work is part of the continuing spirit inspiring Glassworks magazine.
When did all this leaving begin? I wonder, as I wash my hands with the sliver of soap my daughter says is made of figs. It smells like warm sugar and stings like salt. Then we hug good-bye until her arms twitch to push me away. I drive away and take the coastal road that stretches the long blue cord of ocean, and think of the composition of a fig— which is a flower tucked into itself— as the residue of tiny fists pull at my insides still, and draw out a new wail. I can’t do this, I had said to my husband, Can’t, to the face of my doctor filling my vision with his Push! Will not, to that room of blinding light and silhouettes, before I heaved and turned us inside out—Oh, that was her alone slipping away in the saline moment when it all began. And now, as the horizon vanishes behind me and fog creeps in like the night nurse, I wonder Why? She is still young and doesn’t know figs are consumed whole— the skin, the flesh, the seeds all together; only the stem remains. My hands will hold that scent forever. And when I reach home, I will call her and teach her everything I know about figs.
Doorways Marilyn Hilton
Last night I fell asleep to a glimpse of my mother: All dark hair and deep eyes, and her lipstick a bloom in snow. Her dress cinch-waisted, red-and-burgundy plaid, smart as a Sears catalog. I’d forgotten that dress, as I’d forgotten my mother was so beautiful. I have a memory of her waving good-bye behind the screen door of the house that grew me up as, once again, I was leaving her. She smiled as she called my name. It’s what mothers do when they want to cry. Before she died, we talked coast-to-coast in urgent words that spanned the continent between living and dying. She said, A door is open in front of me, I’m not afraid; I can walk through it anytime I want. I said, You were the best mother. Last night she called me by my baby name, the sound fresh and savory— Maloryn, Maloryn— from her side of the door.
In Homage to My Old Pal, Her Last Year Helen Wickes
Your long nails gleam and flare, fire engine bright, have another chocolate, don’t mind if I do, glass of white, light a smoke while you’re at it, that dog’s a good dog, only had good dogs; I remember each and every dog, every breath he took, the same with my men, in general, I chose gentlemen, they were splendid. I have pictures. You were a good child, you shouldn’t have left. Yes, you are brilliant, the best, you were also kind, a rarity then. Also good at keeping your hair a perfect platinum aura. There’s that damn oxygen tank in the corner, so I’m putting your cigs away; we won’t be taking our little smoke today, let’s watch your favorite— Humphrey B—stoned little sister in his lap, smart-assed big sister playing only a little hard to get, that’s you, right, that’s all of us, what you pointed us toward, now we’ve gotten, been gotten, been too long gone. Let’s have a chocolate, sip of wine, pat the corgi, I’ll be back tomorrow. Please don’t light up with that oxygen tank there, promise me, please.
Sense of Smell Helen Wickes
What you pull toward you from near or afar, wafting they call it, summoning the air laden with aroma to build another world for the moment, for what moments we have left There’s a hunger for scent that starts high up, behind the nose, where you first take in, and then sort of behind the eyes where the top notes of a good perfume burst wide open with the bright urgency of citrus and…a cry of immediate delight later opening out to that space between the ears where the heart notes first inscribe their beauty. Rose and jasmine, boronia and wild orange, spreading lush beauty to the back of the throat, all the way through the chest, filling you with exotic fragrance. As you absorb that warmth, the base notes stake their claim—frankincense, ambergris and musk, the chords sound and resound down as they bloom through the body, castoreum, choya, and myrrh flowering the moments between the spaces, binding the melody, hushing the chorus, softening the harmonics resounding, flowing up with warmth— all these voices,
Helen Wickes | Sense of Smell
and the gift of smell, which is to take all this in, pull together in the body, in the spirit, as a conductor, this multitude of voices, invite them to linger and flourish for their brief, eternal moment.
Blue House Jean Wolff
At That White Funeral Casey McConahay
From the dry space beneath the building’s overhang, the child in his suit watched the dark steel-wool clouds. —Is it raining? asked his father. His father knelt before the child and attempted to even his son’s tie. It was a man’s tie. No amount of knotting would shorten it, and after finishing a careful Full-Windsor that nearly reached the child’s knees, the father gave a groan of frustration. A drop of rain struck the sidewalk. —It’s raining, the boy said. His mother smoked a cigarette beside one of the building’s columns. The columns were wider than his mother was, and when she went behind a pillar, she disappeared. No part of the woman was visible except the smoke from her cigarette, but she was there, the child knew— where the smoke was. —Thomas, the woman said. Hurry. The father, Thomas, inspected the boy’s tie. It was hopeless, he saw, and his wife was losing patience. He thought for a moment and said: —Just tuck it in. The boy looked at his father. His father’s tie was not tucked in. His father’s tie ended at his waist and seemed to point to his belt buckle. —But yours, said the boy.
Yours is pointing. The father wasn’t listening. He was with the boy’s mother then, behind the pillar. The boy could see his father. He could hear his mother’s voice. No one else was near them. The boy unbuttoned his pants and stuffed the tie down his trousers. The tie was silk, and it tickled his thigh. His father called to him. —Come, said his father, but the boy hesitated. He looked at his father’s station wagon across the smooth blacktop parking lot. In the back seat of the station wagon was a book that his teacher had given him. He’d won the spelling bee last Wednesday, and because he could spell precision and antelope, he’d earned the thin little hardback. —I don’t want to go, he said. His mother stepped from the pillar. Her cigarette was smaller than a broken bit of crayon, and she stubbed it against the pillar as his father called the boy again. —Come, Andrew. Please. Are you ready? The boy shook his head. Firmly, his eyes closed, his head went left to right and back again. —Please, said the boy. Can we leave? His parents looked at one another with drawn faces, and the father
approached his son. He buttoned the child’s jacket and tried to smile to him to show him that not everything was as grave as it seemed. It was an occasion for ties, yes. It was an occasion for suits and for solemnity. But a smile from his father meant that the child shouldn’t cower at the doorway. His father’s smile meant he shouldn’t be frightened.
“There are things in this
world that even adults cannot understand—not even wise men with gentle sons who wear suits and
The father leaned forward and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder. —Are you afraid? The boy looked down. —I just don’t want to go. The boy’s mother was watching them. She was thinking about her husband—about how patient he was with their son. —I understand, his father told him. I do. But it’s important that we’re here, Andrew. You know that, don’t you? The boy gave no reply. —It’s the right thing to do. This is something we do for those we care
about. I know that it’s difficult, but if we love them, we do this. The child raised his eyes to his father. He could not understand this, the father knew, for he was a boy. He was eight. There are things in this world that even adults cannot understand—not even wise men with gentle sons who wear suits and too-long ties. —Okay, the boy decided. —Okay? The boy nodded. His father looked to his wife and told her: —We’re ready, Sarah. They walked together through the door. A man with a face like a snapping turtle held the door for them, and: —Welcome, said the man as he pointed at a stairway. Right this way. The parents walked toward the stairway, the boy between them. One hand held his mother’s soft palm, and the other clasped a few of his father’s fingers. They climbed the stairs that way, the parents watching their child’s steps so he’d not falter or stumble. —One more, said his mother. And they were to the top of the stairway. They were to the open rooms from which the boy heard murmurs and sniveling, but he did not look inside the rooms. Not then. He looked ahead of himself, where a line had assembled. Those who gathered stood in loose rows like first-graders. They stood like people not accustomed to line-forming, and
the teachers, but perhaps he’d be scolded if he went to speak with them. Perhaps others who waited would think that he was cutting, and if they glared at him or sent him to the end of the line, he would blush with embarrassment. And maybe the teachers wouldn’t like it. If it were Miss Buckley, he’d have gone to her. Miss Buckley would have wanted to see him. She’d have said hello to him. She’d have told him how nice he looked in his suit and his grown man’s tie. But he would stay where he was. Maybe he would find the teachers afterward. Maybe they would see him and would talk to him. Maybe they would compliment his suit. The longer he waited, the more restive the boy grew. He tried to see the front of the line, where Mr. Etzler was. He leaned to his left, tilting so dramatically that his mother put her hands on his shoulders to steady him. —What are you doing? she asked. He didn’t answer her. At the front was a gray-haired woman and a man who wore spectacles. They shook hands with the visitors, and the woman daubed crumpled tissues against her eyes. She was crying, the boy saw, and he understood why. He wished that he could cry. Miss Buckley would have let him cry.
Casey McConahay | At That White Funeral
he imagined what Miss Buckley, his teacher, would have said about it. —Straight, please, she would have said because Miss Buckley said please about everything. She said please when she walked them to music, to art. She said please when she asked them to open their arithmetic books to page forty-seven, and she said please when she asked them to read. She was nice that way. —Are you okay? asked his father. —Mm-hmm. The child could feel his mother smiling at him. He knew the kind of smile she smiled. It was not the smile Miss Buckley smiled when he spelled the word evocative but was the kind of smile Miss Buckley smiled when Tommy who was skinny started crying again. Women could smile those smiles. They were tight smiles that didn’t mean that they were happy: smiles that didn’t reassure him the way his father’s smiles did. They were smiles that made him sad somehow, and he felt sad as he looked at the straggly line before him and felt his mother turn her smile toward his father. His father put a hand on his son’s head, though the son was turned away from his father and was searching the line. Among the faces of those waiting was Mrs. Mefferd, who taught kindergarten. Mrs. Jones was there also, and farther ahead, near the front of the line, was Mr. Etzler, the principal. The boy contemplated leaving his spot to greet
But what would Mr. Etzler say if he saw the boy crying? What would his mother think? He was allowed to cry, of course. His mother had told him so. But: —Do your best not to cry, she’d said. Do your best to be strong. He pulled the sleeve of his father’s jacket. —Dad, he said quietly. His father couldn’t hear him. —Dad, he said again. His father responded now. He leaned toward his son, and in a mannered whisper, the son pointed and asked: —What do we do there? —Where? asked the father, who lowered his son’s arm. —At the front. Where the people are. The father looked where his son looked. —The crying woman? he asked the boy. The man with the spectacles? —Mm-hmm. The mother heard this conversation. She held her child a little tighter. —Give them your hand, the father said. Tell them, I’m sorry for your loss. That’s all you need to say. Can you remember that? —I think so. —Try it, said the father. —I’m sorry for your loss. —Good, said the father. And what else? —Give them my hand.
—That’s right. That’s all you need to do. The boy thought about it for a moment. —What if they say something to me? —What do you mean? —What if they ask me a question? Can I answer it? His father nodded. —Of course. Of course you can answer. The boy was relieved to hear this. —But what if I make a mistake? he asked. What if I say the wrong thing? —That’s okay, said his father. I can help you. I can help you if you can’t remember. But you can remember, can’t you? What was it I told you to say? —I’m sorry for your loss. —That’s it, said his father. That’s all of it. And if you forget it, I’ll help you. The boy calmed somewhat, and his mother released him from her grip. The child took a single step away from her, advancing with the other members of the line. They were close now—close enough that they could hear the muffled grief sounds where the line concluded. The child felt his hands become sweaty, and his mouth was like chalk. He could see the black oblong shape behind the man with the spectacles. He tried to see inside it, but his father touched his son on his shoulder, and shaking his head:
pointed forward. The woman with the checkered skirt embraced the man with the spectacles, and the gray-haired woman raised a tissue to her face. She sobbed behind the tissue, and the boy listened closely to the sobbing sounds, which sounded no different than Tommy’s sobs or his own sobs or the sobs of his mother when his grandfather was sick. The boy rubbed his nose. Why should everyone’s sobs sound the same? He wanted to ask someone. Maybe his father would know. Maybe Miss Buckley would know. He would ask someone sometime, but not now. Now his father’s hand was on his back, and the hand urged him forward. The woman with the checkered skirt was gone. Before him stood a balding man with spectacles and a weeping gray-haired woman. —Go on, said his father. Mildly, hesitantly, the child approached the woman with the tissue. She looked at him with tears in her eyes, and he advanced with the spread hand of his father between his shoulder blades and with his mother regarding him—his mother who blushed when she was nervous and who blushed at this moment. Every long second’s silence made her turn a deeper shade of crimson, and when her cheeks felt so warm that she feared she was
Casey McConahay | At That White Funeral
—Don’t, mouthed the father. The boy looked away from the object. Directly before him was a woman in a black skirt with tiny checkers on it. It was a strange skirt. His mother wore a sensible gray skirt that was like the skirts that Miss Buckley wore. His mother and Miss Buckley knew that skirts shouldn’t look like checkerboards. He wondered if the woman in front of him ever played checkers on her skirt. He played checkers with his mother, but they always used checkerboards. Miss Buckley let them play checkers sometimes when they were finished with grammar. He never played checkers, though, because Donnie Thomas was fantastic at checkers and never lost. Instead he played Clue, which was another game Miss Buckley let them play even though they never finished their games. Miss Buckley would guard the envelope with the Clue answers in it, and when game time was over, she’d tell them what the answer cards were. Sometimes she would give them Dum Dum Pops if they guessed a card correctly. He looked up at his mother and wondered if she had Dum Dum Pops in her purse. At the bank, they’d hand her two or three Dum Dum Pops, but she’d only give him one. She’d save the others for later. Surely there were Dum Dum Pops in her purse yet, and he wanted to ask for one. But there wasn’t time. —Andrew, said his mother, who
feverish, she began to articulate a syllable of something that she didn’t finish because her son held his hand out and spoke. —I’m sorry for your loss, he said. He shook the woman’s hand firmly, formally. The gray-haired woman shook his hand without speaking, for she didn’t know what to make of this. Who was this boy with his tie and black jacket? Who was this boy who shook hands? But the child provided no answer. He released the woman’s hand and approached the husband, the man with spectacles. The boy extended his hand to the gentleman, and with another solemn handshake: —I’m sorry for your loss, he said. The child’s parents watched without interfering. They read the perplexed expressions of the man and woman but knew that it was right to merely observe this: that it was right to let this unfold without intercession because it may not have been as practiced as the other condolences, but it was honest and earnest and most importantly, true. It was so indelibly authentic that the child’s mother dried her tears with the back of her hand, though the boy failed to notice this. The boy noticed nothing. It was finished, he thought. He had done what he was told to do.The older man released the boy’s hand, and the boy proceeded forward to where the black wooden something lay as great as a monolith. The grieving couple watched the
child advance toward the object, and the child’s father—deciding that the moment he’d respected had now arrived at its conclusion—introduced himself to the bereaved. —Pleased to meet you, he said. My name is— The boy heard his father’s voice behind him, but it was as though he were somewhere else then: as though he were in a faraway place where his parents couldn’t reach him. It was a foreign place where there were voices but not hands or guidance or comfort. And he was alone there—alone with a black wooden box and with an ache of alarm and with a breath that was stuck in his throat. —and this is our son, he heard his father say. Andrew. Years later, when he was a grown man, he remembered the gasp that he swallowed then. He remembered the stippled pattern of the tie beneath his jacket, and he remembered the shoes on his feet, which were pointed and pinched. He remembered the candle smell of the room and remembered the courteous whispers of the crowd of black-clad mourners: whispers punctured by his father’s firm tenor explaining: —We heard so much about your daughter. Our son thought the world of her. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful we are for her time with our child. The boy could hear his father’s voice in the background, but he
boy, in Spanish. This was the woman who took them on a field trip to the science museum and who gave them greeting cards on their birthdays, and now she lay before him, her hands crossed at her chest and a string of beads between her fingers. She lay wearing the simple gold necklace that she sometimes wore— the necklace that shimmered in the sunlight that shone through the afternoon windows because Miss Buckley always kept the classroom’s windows open so her students could see the birds and the snowflakes and the children at recess. Here was her hair and her fingernails and her nose
Casey McConahay | At That White Funeral
could think of nothing except the casket atop the catafalque, its black lid open to reveal the face of the body inside. The boy’s tiny heart hammered tribal rhythms, for it was Miss Buckley in the casket. It was Miss Buckley but with pale, waxen skin and in a white, fancy dress. He could see the white garment on her thin woman’s shoulders, the dress so different than the clothes she wore when she stood before her class of seventeen students and read to them or taught them multiplication tables or walked them to the cafeteria. Here she was, not Miss Buckley as he knew her but an imitation Miss Buckley, a woman strange as a child’s crayon drawing.
could see the white garment on her thin
woman’s shoulders, the dress so different than the clothes she wore when she stood before her class of seventeen students and read to them or taught them
multiplication tables or walked them to the cafeteria. He took a single step closer but resolved to go no farther. A step was enough to see that the woman in the casket was indeed the woman who gave him the book about the USS Arizona that was in the back of his father’s car. This was the woman who taught them constellations and how to talk to Ernesto, the new
and neck, but her smile and her breath were gone, and her eyes were closed, and her casket was covered with flowers. The boy shuddered. That was all that he needed to see. He turned toward his parents, and when they saw their son standing before his teacher’s silent
body, they went to him. It was over. They sidled away from the casket, and when they exited the viewing room, the boy saw the long line still waiting—the line of men and women whose lives had somehow been touched by this twenty-eight-yearold elementary school teacher who went home from work on Friday and wouldn’t ever come back, for she was dead and wore white in her casket. —Can we go? asked the boy. —We can go. They walked down the stairs and past the tall man with the snapping turtle face who held the door for them again. They walked to the parking lot, where the boy felt the lazy spitting of the slate-colored clouds. And they reached his father’s car before his heart urged him, Cry. And then he did cry. He resisted as best he could, but in the farthest row of the parking lot beneath the scraggly branch of a walnut tree, he lowered his head and felt the warm, sudden tears on his cheeks. His father noticed, of course. His father knelt to console him. —Andrew, his father said. Son. The boy hid his eyes with his hands. —I don’t mean to. —I know, Andrew. I know. —I’m sorry. —There isn’t anything to be sorry about. You don’t need to be sorry. His mother behind him put her arms around her son. She pulled him
close and looked at her husband, who spoke. —It was difficult, I know. It was very difficult. But it was also brave. Your mother and I are proud of you. You did a good thing, Andrew. Do you understand that? The boy was listening. He nodded through sobs, and when his mother released him and opened the car door, he let her lift him inside. She buckled his seatbelt and smiled at him, and on the car ride home, she smoked a cigarette with the window cracked while his father played the radio. He was too young to understand any of this. The coming years would bring him pieces of a narrative that explained how a twenty-eight-yearold elementary school teacher came to lie in a casket. As one might expect, it was a tragic story, and he came to understand as best one could the unknowable tragedy that is the death of someone young, though there were other things that he came to understand more thoroughly. When he encountered his teacher’s grayhaired mother in the library, at the supermarket, at the post office, she would hug him and sob, and at last he understood why his parents had taken him to the funeral home. This, he decided as the woman embraced him. This, he was certain, is why.
Six Feet of Garden Soil Emma Koch
i. Flowers, originally were not brought out of sympathy. They were plucked in disgust, petals strewn generously across the body like smelling salts for angels. ii. When my father buried his parents he came home smelling of tobacco, dog hair, and the lights of rest stops. He did not bring flowers to set on our table and forget about until they drooped, petals brushing against dinner plates and burying the evening mail. Eventually they were cremated. At the funeral we did not hold our breath. iii. My grandmother keeps a garden full of arthritic tomato plants, rosemary, sadfaced pansies; her favorites though they are scentless. She can no longer bend fully, a tulip bulb break in her back that does not blossom, though she isn’t too old to avoid getting her hands dirty. When she dies I will turn her name into a drinking song of seeds. I will water her pansies with champagne. I will kneel down to her flowers in knowing worship and whisper happy stories to them.
to be flooded, uncaring about what will rise to the surface.
Emma Koch | Six Feet of Garden Soil
iv. When I bring you flowers, they explode from my hand like heat lightning: dry. When you inhale their scent it is in damp sighs, your lungs rainclouds, your pulse a rise in temperature. My hands become parched soil, pleading
When I bring you flowers, they explode from my hands like a child’s laugh. That night I dream of storms and six feet of damp earth and things that grow, only grow.
Raindrops and Succulents Jill Galloway Sherman
Defying Boundaries Through the Lens of Constraint: An Interview with Paul Lisicky Nicolina Givin, Jacqueline Session-Ausby, & Amanda Rennie “Making—whether it’s designing cities or composing music or writing— is a way toward freedom, individuality, expressiveness, connecting to others. A way to feel less alone.” Engulfing us in his tug of war of emotions and bringing to life the burning and rebuilding of his relationships, Paul Lisicky has enticed his audience with his latest novel, The Narrow Door, which follows his other works like The Burning House and Unbuilt Projects. Now a Rutgers University creative writing professor, the South Jersey native has taught in multiple creative writing programs around the country, like Cornell University, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and more. Besides his novels, his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, and many more print and online publications. Limitations and boundaries pave a path that leads to The Narrow Door telling “just one version of the story” seen through a spectrum of possibility. Lisicky, a Guggenheim Fellow and award winner from the National Endowment for the Arts, gives life to the feeling of what could be utter disparity and desolation, creating glimmers of hope. Approached by Glassworks magazine, Lisicky offers a candid and selfaware interview focused on his most recent memoir. Topics include “making,” his thoughts on successful relationships, how creative nonfiction has evolved as a genre, his writing process, and how it has transposed over his work in various genres. Glassworks magazine (GM): You’ve written texts in a variety of genres, including fiction and nonfiction. Creative nonfiction has recently experienced a spark in popularity. What do you think about the sudden popularity of the genre? Does this becoming mainstream negatively affect the genre or the ability for seasoned nonfiction writers like yourself to maneuver it? Paul Lisicky (PL): When I went to get my MFA, you pretty much had two options: poetry and fiction. Nonfiction wasn’t even a part of the conversation, and I just assumed it was the department of facts, not art. It
for Claudia Rankine’s Citizen or Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams. Sarah Manguso, Ander Monson, Nick Flynn—so many interesting writers. GM: Would you say that writing nonfiction comes with certain limitations? While The Narrow Door is a memoir based on truth, you and Denise are still characters in a story. While writing, did you find yourself drawing lines where the story became too personal and you had to steer away from a certain subject or avoid it altogether?
An Interview with Paul Lisicky
wasn’t meant to last. Never mind the work of John McPhee or Joan Didion or Annie Dillard or the essays of Virginia Woolf… The MFA paradigm didn’t even make a place for it. And if it did, it was just tacitly assumed it was a lesser form than poetry and fiction. All that is changing of course, or has been changing for many years now, but it’s strange how many writing programs and esteemed writing programs, are still grouped around that old poetry/fiction dualism. The program I teach for, the MFA at Rutgers-Camden, wants to challenge that, and everyone takes at least one workshop out of her primary genre. So in any given fiction class you’re likely to sit next to poets and nonfiction writers. Those three lenses are brought to bear on the stories in the room, and that keeps everyone awake, asking questions about how they see, what they value. The good news is that creative nonfiction is being taken in by larger audiences. Think of The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson’s book. The idiosyncratic form of that — the space breaks (some close, some wide), the multiple braids, the folding of outside passages into the primary text, not to mention Harry Dodge’s account of his mother’s death… is there even a primary text? The form itself challenges that notion, and it’s broadened the scope of what’s possible in terms of structure and thought. It can’t help but encourage permission, innovation. Same goes
PL: Any form has limitations — all art, even experimental art, makes use of constraints. Otherwise, it’s just chaos, narcissism— it’s not aware of the possibility of a reader, listener, viewer. For instance, I don’t think of The Narrow Door as being the biography of Denise Gess. If anything, the book takes pain to say this is just one version of the story. Very close to the end, the speaker talks about many Denises, a different Denise for every friend, family member, or student. To put it another way, I didn’t want to write a book that would eat her up, or own her. The material here is written through the lens of a fresh loss. It’s also written through the lens of Denise as a writer.
It’s interested in thinking about attachment, saying goodbye, boundaries, artistic rivalry, platonic love: the interrelationship of all these things. It’s primarily the story of my year in the aftermath of her death. I don’t think I’d have been able to write the book if I hadn’t had that constraint. For instance, it would have been a different book if I’d felt the urge to write about Denise as a mother—or, say, Denise as the sister of a performing musician.
a reader, I’m not
really stirred up by a writer’s ideas unless I’m able to inhabit them in on the sensory level, so it’s also important to me that sentences have a life on the page, but also a life off.
GM: As for your title (The Narrow Door), one could see this in a variety of contexts to draw conclusions about your story. Does this contain more of a psychological or metaphorical meaning, or is the ambiguity of the title an attempt to leave it up to your audience to
decide? Also, many describe your writing as “poetic prose.” Is this a technique you set out to do, or is this the unintentional result of your style? PL: I’d like the title to resound on many levels—psychological, poetic, spiritual—all at once. If I restricted it to one window it would feel overdetermined, too one-to-one. I appreciate the word “poetic”—I know it’s a compliment— but it’s also unnerving, as it implies the style’s pretty and elite rather than messy and down in the dirt. All I can say is that I want to write from the body, as I try to write to the body. Bodies breathe. Bodies perceive—i.e., see, hear, taste, etc. Senses are in foreground. Doesn’t Flannery O’Connor say, “The beginning of human knowledge is through the senses?” As a reader, I’m not really stirred up by a writer’s ideas unless I’m able to inhabit them in on the sensory level, so it’s also important to me that sentences have a life on the page, but also a life off. In other words, they should be able to make a shape in air, like a song, when read aloud. I read everything I write aloud— definitely as I edit, but sometimes even as it’s coming to me—and my voice box is my primary editing tool. If it sounds wrong or fake or corny, then the word in question goes. If I stutter or mispronounce a word, it goes too, and I try to find the word my mouth wants to speak.
PL: The book was pushed along by joy as much as loss. I had so few specifics around the first years of our friendship: no snapshots, no letters, nothing physical to hold on to. How the hell do you write what you don’t know? But the deeper fear was this: All that life might have vanished if I’d waited too long and tried to write from that Wordsworthian distance: emotion recollected in tranquility. There was something grounding about trying to capture certain memories, as if I was meeting her for the first time, falling into the friendship all over again. Grief and ache and sweetness and fury— all those threads so wound together, it’s impossible to unravel. If anything, writing the book made me feel very alive at a time when I might have felt exactly the opposite. Pain is certainly a part of aliveness, and I’d chose aliveness over numbness and depression any day. GM: The natural disaster imagery you mention is much like the relationships throughout the memoir. For example, in the “Volcano” excerpt, you describe how the vol-
cano slowly builds and eventually erupts as news of Denise’s cancer finally hits you. You also describe the multiple volcano eruptions around the world along with people’s reactions and current events of the time. The correlation between the imagery and emotion is very profound. Did you use this technique intentionally to give the reader a different emotional approach? Do you find a certain significance between the correlation of the characters and natural disasters?
An Interview with Paul Lisicky
GM: When referencing certain memories, you quote them as being ‘patchy,’ reflecting back and forth in time with frustration. Was there a moment when you felt that resurfacing those memories was also inviting back the pain and suffering you endured during those relationships?
PL: We think of disasters as extraordinary when they’re happening around us, at every moment, on the other side of the world or in the drinking water coming through our taps. I think I became more attuned to them in that hard year. I didn’t choose to fold them into the book as literary devices; they just happened to be on the TV, or on the web, and they didn’t feel so far away. Something seismic had cracked through my optimism, my sense of the future. But I hope, too, that that material leads you to make a connection between a damaged environment and our domestic lives. How do we have sane and loving relationships when we continue to spoil the earth? Maybe volcanoes aren’t exactly the result of manmade actions, but what
about earthquakes (think: fracking), hurricanes, oil spills? GM: Relationships that mirror natural disasters seem like perfect metaphors for how we’re feeling. However, most people would say that when friendships fall apart, they’re not worth saving. You take that approach very differently, saying the diffuse of your friendship with Denise was as much of a breakup as yours with M. Do you think people sometimes deny that friendships deserve the same amount of work as an intimate relationship? PL: Oh sure. I think we pretend friendships don’t take work, but honestly they take as much work as romantic relationships, only it’s a different kind of work, much less obvious. There’s more space and flexibility in a friendship. Sometimes two close friends can go on without being in contact for months at a time, and all of a sudden they pick up where they left off, without any harm. But friends can get under each other’s skin in a way that romantic relationships often don’t— maybe because sex isn’t part of the picture, so intimacy has to be gotten some other way. Friendships don’t come with rules the way marriages come with rules, and thus, we have to make it up day by day, week after week. Maybe that keeps us on our feet; it keeps our animal senses alert.
There are consequences to casual meanness, whereas married people get away with curt remarks and long silences all the time. Longterm friendships can explode overnight, over an argument at a bar, or after a movie. There’s always the possibility of a fallout beneath the ease and good times on the surface. Maybe there’s even something appealing about the often unconscious tension in a friendship. GM: While there are fights, resolutions may or may not follow. Some critics have claimed The Narrow Door as a eulogy for a friend, do you agree with that categorization? If so, was it originally intended for that outcome? Is it a declaration to yourself and others experiencing the same emotional turmoil? PL: No question, and no problem with the category. The list of Denise’s qualities in the “Volcano” chapter is taken directly from the eulogy I gave at her funeral— the book makes that clear in one of the final chapters. I definitely wanted to write a book that honored her, but that’s only part of the project. You might be reading about me, but you’re also reading about you, your losses, and the loved ones you’re already preparing to lose someday. The book just presented you with some nouns and verbs to do that.
PL: Well, once you turn personal experience into something made, it isn’t just about you anymore— your ego dissolves; at least that’s what you hope. You’ve transformed your own stuff—ideally. You’ve made it into a story everyone can connect to, regardless of identity, race, gender, age, etc. Everyone knows what it’s like to be, say, the object of projection while you experience yourself, from inside, as something else. For the writer, there’s a kind of safety in that transformation, so it could be both you and the writing. GM: Did Denise’s acceptance give you more confidence to be true to yourself ? PL: I wish I had a simpler story to tell, but my coming out seemed to precede a time of distance between us—that goes completely against the whole ethos of coming out, I know. Come out to your loved ones and you will be whole! I don’t think there was actually oneto-one correspondence between that and the falling out— I mean, it had
to happen, but my announcement did shake up something between us. The terms of the friendship had to be redrawn. And maybe it made Denise think about her own secrets from me. I mean, change is very hard on most relationships, and it rarely happens smoothly, even if it’s all right in a while. GM: In your novel The Burning House, published in 2011, Isidore Mirsky loves both his wife, Laura, and her sister, Joan. Despite his flaws, he still comes across as a sympathetic character and readers feel a connection to him. What parts of yourself do you see represented in Isidore? Did his characterization and response from readers influence the way you represented yourself in The Narrow Door?
An Interview with Paul Lisicky
GM: In the chapter entitled “Artist Colony” in The Narrow Door, you speak of the time you were reading a new story to Denise, when she asked you the question: “Is that you?”, you say reading at the artist colony helped you to take a step ‘further,’ from yourself. What do you mean by that?
PL: I’m so glad to hear you describe Isidore as sympathetic. All of my work, up to that point, had been involved in this notion of human inscrutability—how do you love someone whose emotional logic is unreadable to you? And it was always written from the perspective of a character (or speaker) whose motivations were clear to himself. With The Burning House I thought, what would happen if I gave this inscrutable other center stage? What if I allowed him
his blind spots? What if I showed him making mistakes, aware of hurting the others he loved, not able to stop. All of us have blind spots, and mine wouldn’t be blind spots if I were able to convey them to you. But as for my connection to Isidore? He does have a great love for people and things, an enthusiasm in his voice that sort of sounds like me. He’s not afraid of laying out his darkness and shame— and maybe I brought some of that spirit to The Narrow Door. Someone else is probably better qualified to name the connections between myself and my character. I don’t want to sound like a jerk here. GM: Human inscrutability is a really interesting topic, and I don’t think writers can help but write about it. When we write, whether it’s fictionalized or work based on a true story, pieces of us live on within our writing, but it’s also a way to work through something, to move on. When you’re reflecting on the past, do you ever regret how you handled things or desire a different execution in your writing? PL: Honestly, I don’t spend very much time regretting writing decisions. That’s not to say I’m in love with everything—far from it. Sometimes I’m okay with certain pieces, sometimes I’m … [shakes head]. But I think of each book as the artifact of a certain point in
time. You have to sit with that, live with it. The work isn’t exactly yours anymore once people are reading it, making their own way with it. And if you don’t like something, you do it better the next time around.
To Ribbons Virginia Thomas
All those eggshells turned to mud. Every sheet of dignity a paper doll. Everywhere you went – little cyclones in your wake smelling of whiskey and ink. She a moth trapped against glass, frantic; you a simmer, you an electric fence, beetle chewing through her bark, you a clinging vine, a goshawk cry. You a puff of smoke. She a river, dammed. And it all broke – cascades of I’m done, I am done blurring everything but the pattern of the carpet. Which of your thistle words, which glance shook free the last roots of those decades? You, chest-deep in mud. You, to ribbons. You a frost, creeping through a house of windows turned mirrors. You wandered through dreams in which your red-haired grandmother handed you a teaspoon and said, “Dig that splinter out.” You who shaded my newborn eyes with your hands, who witnessed the first knots in my laces, who whistled robin love songs – you stood curve-shouldered, wet-eyed, listening at the threshold of my room one night, and I breathed a sleep-sigh to comfort you.
Dear Doctor Frankenstein John Sibley Williams
It’s never taken lightning to cobble a life together from scraps or waken a town to its most primal fires. Don’t you remember? How we sealed the well when that boy who’d fallen wouldn’t stop wailing mother. Or the carnival we chased out once the oddities turned from monsters to mirrors. How we come to know animals by breaking them, our bodies only after the liver has failed. It’s a mistake to think everything is an invention of man. The world does not turn but is born to winter. In some versions I am victim while in others I cannot help but add my torch to the burning house. It’s a mistake when I say this is not my house.
Bucktown Mannequins Frank Styburski
Clare Melissa Belber Bercot Zwerling
Plums donâ€™t float we sink to the bottom low and sluggish neath the surface light obscured by buoyant brethren jealous in our slicky skins oh to be a bobbing fruit. Destined to be dense and darkish not for everyone unlike our summer colored cousins crowding for attention in pies and jams and roadside stands oh to be a popular fruit. Our lot is the smallish bin await caressing hands discerning one the taste acquired oh to be consumed with love.
That’s Not Your Toothpaste Briana McDonald
This is your first date since your fiancé left you. The restaurant foyer is stuffed with families of four and scattered elderly couples, clutching pagers and waiting for them to buzz with red light. The man looks exactly like his photo, and you are able to approach him with confidence. You wonder, passingly, if you look like your profile, or if the skin around your jaw appears looser now than it did when you snapped a photo with your arms stretched a few inches above your head. You greet him with a quick hug rather than a handshake, and he leads you to the bar rather than a table. This is my life now, you think. This is now who I am. ~ Falling in love at the beach wasn’t tanned silhouettes and sun-kissed flesh, or the salty solution of glistening water drops with the silky glisten of sweat. Instead, it was your friends toasting on scratchy beach towels, and your future fiancé (you’d only seen him in passing at gatherings like these, and while you found him quite attractive you never considered that he’d accompany you on every step of the next five years of your life) running his pointer finger along the stretch of your pale arm. He smiled, revealing deliciously
uneven lips and said, “You look like the type who would burn.” His fingers found the Bermuda triangle of moles on your upper arm, and his other hand reached for a tube of SPF 50. The waves thrashed like a heartbeat against the shore, grooving veins into the sand. When he rubbed sunscreen on your back, he was saying I love you. ~ The man pays for the drinks, which you like, and he unfolds his palm against the base of your spine as he guides you to his car. It sends a warm tingle through your midsection, sinking to the pit of your stomach but no further. You hope it will awaken by the time you reach his bed. In the car, he plays some country jig and taps his fingers on the wheel. Your fingers twitch, ready to flick the station. You used to fight with your fiancé over the settings; it was a game you played, changing them each time you borrowed his Jeep. Now you press your hands beneath your thighs, your arms plastered to your sides. His fingers continue to drum the wheel. You pass a hundred tiny, rural houses. Their windows gleam like yellow eyes. The dark camouflages narrow basement windows and you
was good at waking up early to make lunch, after all. ~ When you first moved in with your fiancé, you used to let your dinner go cold. Neither of you
“You pass a hundred tiny, rural houses.Their windows gleam like yellow eyes. The dark camouflages narrow
basement windows and you hope that no ex-lovers or adolescent girls are trapped between the moldy walls
of the cellar.
that week. But you remain silent and watch his profile, how his jaw seems to vanish in-between the gleam of streetlights. Perhaps his mind is with yours, silently wondering about the basements – which hold musty boxes and old baby clothes, which few will appear in tomorrow’s headlines. Perhaps it is ahead of this ride, settled into his bedroom with you by his side, creamy skin exposed to the moonlight. Or, perhaps, he is even further than that, in a place you can’t see, wondering what he will pack for lunch tomorrow, if mustard or ranch belongs on his turkey club, have the tomatoes spoiled, should he prepare tonight or after I leave tomorrow morning? Or that it’s best if you left tonight, when he’s done, so he can pack lunch now rather than put it off. He never
Briana McDonald | That’s Not Your Toothpaste
hope that no ex-lovers or adolescent girls are trapped between the moldy walls of the cellar. You almost think to mention it, how strange the thought is, yet how relevant, given whatever news article you’d read
could resist the friction stirred in that cramped, muggy kitchen: the way water boiled until its plump, bulbous bubbles popped, how his hip brushed past your ass as he moved to strain the water, the hot sizzle of grease on a pan and how it sprinted in small bursts into the air. These led you to the bedroom, fully prepared meals laid out on the kitchen table like clothing discarded through prolonged foreplay. After you finished you’d return to the kitchen, nuke your dishes one after another, and giggle with strings of spaghetti hanging loosely from your plump-lipped mouth. Eventually you started to eat your food hot and you thought, this isn’t so bad. We’re sitting and
sharing a meal and the story of our day, fresh narratives over fresh food. This is maturity, you thought. This is what it is to grow old with someone. Then the food goes cold again, lying out on the table as you wait for your phone to buzz, for him to call you back. He’s out with friends; can’t he have his own life, he asks? Work ran over; how can he help that, he asks? I thought I’d pop in at my parents; I know you said you were cooking tonight, but they’re my parents, goddammit! Now you eat dinner alone in the in-law apartment above your mom’s house. You heat hot pockets in the microwave. This microwave is new, bought when you moved in. You don’t have to set it to two extra minutes than the box required, not like the old dingy thing you shared with your fiancé. You hate this fucking microwave. ~ You don’t see much of the man’s apartment, partly because it’s unlit. Mostly because he doesn’t show you. He leads you right back to a bedroom with a grey, prickly rug and a crisply made bed. The back wall is lined with golfing trophies and though you try, you cannot imagine the man playing golf – the looseness of his shoulders, the spry swing of his arms. He sits beneath the trophies and unties his shoes while you excuse yourself to the bathroom. While you pee, you study a long, thin crack in the white plaster of the
wall. You leaf through his stack of magazines, are amazed that Archie is still going on after all these years. You flush and listen to the unfamiliar, deep swish of water, watch it twist and gurgle and spin before the pipes swallow it up. You squeeze cucumber soap between your fingers, the sticky liquid squelching through the crevices of your hands. While your hands chap beneath a steady stream of cold water, you notice the man’s toothpaste, a mintflavored brand that promises to prevent cavities. You wonder how many cavities he’s had and if, when you return to his room, you can run your
did not find his
pulse there. Though he continued to breathe, and his heart continued to beat, you could not press against its flutter.You could not grasp the pumping of his blood beneath your
tongue over his white molars until you find the bumpy, pasty remains of a filling.
the perfectly ironed square of his work shirt, between the files on his desk. It beats against the condensation of a chilled beer, over the melodic laughter of the friends you never met. It beats outside your apartment, down the street, buzzing through the roads; it beats up the highway, beyond this town you chose together and across the border of the state where you met; it beats over oceans and countries you can’t begin to pronounce; it beats over horizons your eyes strain to see and into constellations you’ll never quite connect. His pulse beats anywhere in the whole entire fucking world but here, with you. ~ You don’t give the man the chance to kick you out, to say he has work early tomorrow as though he’s the only man who’s ever had work early tomorrow. He sits back against his headboard as you collect your clothes. You crunch over in the search for your pants. You feel more naked than you did beneath him, more naked than the hot nights you’d strip your tank off and sleep bare beside your fiancé. More naked than all the times you shared showers or changed with the bathroom door open, not caring if he passed by in the course of his morning routine.
Briana McDonald | That’s Not Your Toothpaste
You remember your fiancé’s toothpaste, a bright red tube that guaranteed fresher breath. You’d deny him kisses, teasing him by the sink until he breathed a minty fresh blanket over your nose and mouth. Sticky remains of toothpaste hid in the corners of his mouth, dripping onto your taste buds when you kissed his open lips. When he woke up the next morning, the sour breath will have returned. He’d roll over to kiss you, his mouth releasing the musty aroma of a neglected cabinet. You would open your lips and smile. ~ The night before your fiancé leaves, you roll over in the dark and paw for his pulse. Your palm clasps onto his bare expanse of chest, at the spot beneath his collar bone riddled with faintly curled hairs. But you did not find his pulse there. Though he continued to breathe, and his heart continued to beat, you could not press against its flutter. You could not grasp the pumping of his blood beneath your trembling touch. Because (though he continues to breathe, and though his heart continues to beat, and though he is very much so alive) his pulse is elsewhere. It drummed to life and burst from his chest, marched straight from the body that lies beside you and beats – hot and wild and alive – somewhere else. It beats beneath
The radio is off as you drive home and the silence is filled with the noises you made that night, imitations of the videos you watched before you had your fiancé. You could barely remember those videos; you haven’t needed them for so long. You could barely remember the sounds those women’s mouths formed, the way an actress played at climax. You pray the man bought the act. You pray that someday you will, too. Pressing your foot on the accelerator, the highway’s fresh tar blends into the black, starless sky. You imagine that if you push hard enough – fly fast enough – you can split through this dimension, peel back the now and the then so you can return to your life: to the cinnamon scent of your apartment with him, the irritating yet familiar bark of your neighbor’s dog, the coarse tickle of his arm hairs beneath the brush of your fingertips. You squint in search of the tear in the atmosphere, the one you must have slipped through when he left, and sail across the pavement as the highway lights race past.
I Go Back to January 2015 Brian Fanelli
I see you standing in the doorway, one hand on the knob. You turn so I don’t catch redness in your eyes, how your glare softens when you don’t want me to leave. Outside, you start your car. Ice crunches beneath your boots, beneath your tires, while branches, like hands, scratch windows we decorated with holly weeks prior, when you said, Stay. My last boxes linger in the living room, X’d up and Sharpied to separate what’s mine from what’s yours. The books you bought me, unwrapped on Christmas morning, buried so I don’t remember. My trunk pops open, a mouth I feed boxes. I meander on the sidewalk, recall how you held my hips on the ladder, while we strung up lights. All that remains now— strands of tinsel embedded with wet leaves.
Mustard Palm with Vines Jill Galloway Sherman
Black Backed Gull (Larus Marinus) David Starkey
Shot above the left wing, he bleeds onto the mudflat where he has fallen. His right wing stretches toward the sky, as elegant as a dancerâ€™s arm in croise devant. Already, his fellow colonists are circling, clubby and cannibalistic. His screech is the throaty croak of someone laughing himself to death.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Fringilla Ludoviciana) David Starkey
There arenâ€™t enough berries on this hemlock, though it is magnificent with berries. The problem is numerical: too many birds gripping slight and unsure perches, too many trees in these woods along the Mohawk River, too much singing, burnished male to umber female, in the lavish summer, when one rich whistle comes hard upon another, and everything is fight.
Belmont/Pulaski Dress Shop Frank Styburski
Molly Bloom’s Aunt Sarah Brown Weitzman
After the funeral we went to sort out her meager possessions. Her years stretched out in chipped dishes, earrings from the local thrift store, a few dresses without a label we never saw her wear. Apparently she was an intimate of dust rags and had a penchant for collecting paper bags. We closed the box for the rummage sale when our sorting job was done. How had she kept up courage? and why had she saved this: a photo of a stranger, to us, whose smile was like a promise. We could only guess but I’d like to think to some danger or to some dream once she’d said, yes, oh yes.
Jill Galloway Sherman, originally from Pittsford, New York completed her MFA in fine art photography at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has since pursued her niche in the working world of photography and education and sees each creative piece as a way of telling stories that have no beginning middle or end. Jill’s photography has evolved from photographic abstract color fields to digitally manipulated landscapes. She currently lives and works in Philadelphia with her husband and two children. See more her work at: www.jillgallowaysherman.com
Contributors | Issue 14
Frank Styburski lives in Chicago, and works on its streets, where he developed his skills, and honed his eye for pictures. He is a past Board Member of Northwest Arts Connection, an advocacy group dedicated to presenting art with connections to the community, on Chicago’s northwest side. He also established the Shot of Art series of art exhibits at PERKOLATOR, in the Irving-Austin Business District of Chicago, and served as its original curator. His work has recently been on display at the Polish Museum of America, the Illinois State Museum in Lockport, and Harold Washington Library Center. His work may also be seen at his web site: www.frankstyburski.weebly.com Jean Wolff studied fine arts at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and at the University of Michigan. She attended Hunter College, CUNY in New York graduating with an MFA in painting and printmaking. She has had group and solo exhibits in numerous galleries in New York City and internationally. To view more of her work please visit the artist’s website at: www.jeanwolff.com
Fiction Casey McConahay is an MFA candidate at Miami University. He lives in Northwest Ohio.
Briana McDonald’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Marathon Literary Review, The Stonecoast Review, Belletrist Magazine, The Cardiff Review, and Rozlyn: Fiction by Women Writers. She is associate online editor at The Literary Review, where she also reviews fiction.
Poetry Brian Fanelli’s most recent book is Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books). He is also the author of the chapbook Front Man (Big Table Publishing) and the full-length collection of poems All That Remains (Unbound Content). His poetry, essays, and book reviews have been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, The Paterson Literary Review, Verse Daily, Main Street Rag, Louisiana Literature, [PANK], and elsewhere. His poetry was also featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton University. Currently, he teaches at Lackawanna College. Marilyn Hilton’s poems and short stories have appeared in Mid-American Review, Reed, and Japanophile. She is also the author of the novels Full Cicada Moon (Dial, 2015) and Found Things (Atheneum, 2014). A native New Englander, Marilyn now lives with her family in Northern California where she edits software documentation. Her website is: www.marilynhilton.com Emma Koch is a poetry and nonfiction writer currently living in Chicago. Her work has previously appeared in SLAB and The Quail Bell. She enjoys baking cakes, talking about baseball, religion, or some combination thereof, and puns. You can follow her at www.jumpinjulianof norwich.tumblr.com David Starkey served as Santa Barbara’s 2009-2010 Poet Laureate, and is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College and the Editor and Publisher of Gunpowder Press. He has published seven full-length collections of poetry, most recently Like a Soprano (Serving House, 2014), an episode-by-episode re-visioning of The Sopranos TV series. In addition, over the past thirty years David has
Contributors | Issue 14
published more than 500 poems in literary journals such as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Scholar, Antioch Review, Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, Southern Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Southern Poetry Review. Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012) will soon be in its third edition and is currently one of the best-selling creative writing textbooks in the country. Virginia Thomas is an MFA candidate at Eastern Washington University’s Creative Writing program. Her poetry has appeared in Stonecoast Review and is forthcoming in Weber—The Contemporary West. She was born and raised in northwest Wyoming, and now resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband and their two cats. Sarah Brown Weitzman has been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including Rosebud, The New Ohio Review, Poet and Critic, The North American Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, Spillway, and others. Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A departure from poetry, her fourth book, Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag. Helen Wickes grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, currently lives in Oakland, California, and worked as a psychotherapist. Four collections of her poems have been published: In Search of Landscape (2007), Moon over Zabriskie (2014), Dowser’s Apprentice (2014), and World as You Left It (2015). The two poems in Glassworks are from her unpublished manuscript, Transit of Mercury. John Sibley Williams is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Disinheritance. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Recent publications include: Midwest Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, and Nimrod. Clare Melissa Belber Bercot Zwerling is a new poet. She is also an artist and a certified public accountant. Clare resides in South Texas. This is her first publication.
Contributors Poetry Brian Fanelli
Sarah Brown Weitzman
John Sibley Williams
Clare Melissa Belber
Art Jill Galloway Sherman Frank Styburski Jean Wolff
Amanda Rennie Jacqueline Session-Ausby
Issue 14: a publication of Rowan University's Master of Arts in Writing