table of contents 4
14 ANDREA GIBSON 16 CLEMENTINE
VON RADICS 26 A Q&A WITH AMANDA OAKS OF WORDS DANCE PUBLISHING 32 MEGGIE ROYER 36 RACHEL WILEY 40 AMANDA WATERS 44 dealing with stress 48 KICK-ASS VENUES TO VISIT IN 2014 52 ART AS AN ESCAPE 56 SPILLED INK 66 OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE WRITERS 68 A THANK YOU FROM THE EDITOR
SPRING CLEANING ISSUE
OUR TEAM MORGAN MARTINEZ EDITOR IN CHIEF: MANAGING EDITOR: BECKY YEKER COPY EDITOR: BECCA BIGGS ART DIRECTION: ROWAN MISCH
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AND POETS: EMILY WHITE, CHRIS YAFCHAK, CHASE HOFFMAN, BLAKE HOLLAND, TOMMY WEIDIG, Yena Sharma Purmasir, LYDIA HAVENS, DREW HAIRGROVE
CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: MICHAEL SWEARINGEN, Augusta Sagnelli
being a writer..
is staring into nothing and seeing a story. It is speaking to someone in the form of a song, and hearing melodies in return. Being a poet is finding beauty in every word, sound, and image. The art of spoken word poetry is so powerful because it takes poems with metaphors and adjectives and words that complement each other and forms it into verbalized emotions. We had the honor of interviewing some of the most talented spoken word artists in America. We had the privilege of interviewing Jeanann Verlee, Andrea Gibson, Clementine von Radics, Meggie C. Royer, Rachel Wiley, and Amanda Waters. Each artist radiates with their own individualistic style that all of us at Hooligan truly admire.
managing editor - becky yeker JEANANN VERLEE To describe Jeanann Verlee’s style would be like describing sentences you didn’t know could ever exist, and words you would’ve never imagined stitched together. The way she performs makes you feel chills gradually, and with each wordthe way each story grows, the more your hairs rise and refuse to succumb. Her poetry is one of the most powerful pieces of art that we will ever come across, and we hope to one day stitch words together as beautifully as she does.
ANDREA GIBSON Andrea Gibson is one of the most profound and talented spoken word artists of our time. Her voice carries through a room and delves straight into every person’s soul. She has power in her voice that sets her apart from other spoken word artists. Her voice has rhythm, and it is a melody that glides through your ears and settles into your mind. She is the master of words, of how to use words, of how to say words. She knows exactly what to say and how to properly say it. Andrea takes topics that define us as a society and destroys every gender role, every social norm, and every ignorance that we are so blindly used to. When she speaks, it is impossible to not feel it with your entire body and mind.
CLEMENTINE VON RADICS Clementine von Radics has a way of writing poetry so it is raw, real, and powerful. With her words, she paints images in the reader’s head. She carefully and delicately uses each adjective and metaphor to form a short film in your mind. Each time we read her poetry, we feel so close to the poem that we forget that it’s not our life, or it may not even be real. Clementine is the kid of poet that makes you feel like you’ve been in love, even if you haven’t. She is the founder of Where Are You Press and has two collections of poetry published: Home and As Often As Miracles.
Meggie C. Royer has been one of our favorite modern poets for the past year or so. She has the ability of taking an extremely serious topic and providing a point of view that the reader never even dreamt of having. She is able to manipulate words so it is made sure that they puncture into your mind as you read them. She has this wonderful way of hitting the nail on the head right in the end, leaving you shocked and craving more. We are always looking forward to reading her poetry, because it is more than just pretty words and fluff; It is stories and opinions and words that evoke emotion, even when you don’t expect them to.
RACHEL WILEY Rachel Wiley is an artist full of confidence, power, and strength. Her voice glides through a room touching every person it sees and traveling so strongly around. She has made women across the nation run their fingers through their body and express enthusiasm for every single curve they encountered, she has taken away the negative connotation of “fat”. She is a woman with love in her heart and soul ready to transfer it all over to a room full of strangers who want it. Rachel is a spoken word artist with a voice that travels, and it travels far.
When we think of honesty, passion, and beauty, we think of Amanda Waters and the way she makes us feel like we are walking in her footsteps when she speaks. The way we can suddenly see things the way she sees them so vividly just by her diction. Amanda is going to be taking up the poetry world by storm with her soft voice that somehow gets incredibly powerful messages across. She is real, intriguing, and isn’t afraid of exposing naked truths.
When it comes to poetry, and in which case it can stem from any emotion- love, loss, happiness- which would you say your work stems from the most? Tell us a little about that.
Poetry develops from so many different emotional places, I’d be uncomfortable allowing a single emotion to claim “most” of my work. It’s also ever-changing, isn’t it? More recently much of my work has come from a space of grief, terror, anxiety, rage, despair, and disillusionment. Years before that, the poems experienced a place of resilience, confidence, absurdity, and sensuality. And in all times before and between, myriad emotions have been birthing and stretching my work. While many consider my poetry largely ‘dark’, there remains humor, whimsy, and celebration, so I am hesitant to give the work over to a primary emotion.
When was the first time you picked up a pencil and your writing process was able to flow well?
I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I recall the earliest poems were showing up around age 7 and I’d been making up and acting out stories well before then. By the age of 10, I was fully devoted to the idea of becoming a writer (and an archaeologist, though clearly that didn’t pan out) and won my first writing contest for a short story at the age of 11. I’ve pursued a variety of genres over the years, but have sustained poetry throughout.
Tell us about your most intimate poem, and the first time you read it in front of an audience.
My work tends to be starkly intimate, so narrowing it to one is a distinct challenge. The pieces that currently feel the most intimate are “The Session”, “The Voices”, “Tracing Wrist Scars”, “Bridge Song”, and “His Version”. All but the latter address mental illness, specifically various phases of manic depression. I examine this material extensively in my work, but these specific pieces are revealing and leave me incredibly vulnerable when I share them. The latter, “His Version”, is a persona piece in the voice of a man who sexually assaulted me. It was terrifying to write and more so to read. So (and I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re asking), while I’ve read all of these for audiences and am often left feeling utterly exposed, it is reading “His Version” that really undoes me. The first time I read it was for an event featuring several poets, many of whom knew the man the poem references, so it was hugely intimidating to reveal the story live. Further, persona work sometimes calls for an attempt to occupy that other mind, and doing so- even in partwas extremely challenging and frightening. The room was left in a tremendous, somewhat stunned silence. In hindsight, while I believe in the work the poem is doing, I don’t think it was wise to have attempted it first in that space. I’ve read it perhaps three times ever.
"POET - PERFORMER - FORMER PUNK ROCKER” Interview by Morgan Martinez PHOTOS BY PETER DRESSEL
Tell us about your association with Union Station Magazine and the Poets Portrait Project Anthology, and organizations and outlets you have been involved with in past years that you held close to your heart.
I was invited to submit to Union Station Magazine by editors Syreeta McFadden and Lynne Procope early in the journal’s history and was blessed to have a poem placed there. A long while later, after working with both McFadden and Procope in various other organizational ways, they asked me to join the editing team. I was eager and excited, and wildly intimidated. I remain so- The work can be overwhelming at times and while I have a clear idea of which poems speak to me, I am never comfortable with doling out rejection notices. Still, the process is rewarding and we’re continually reworking the model to improve the journal. Exciting work. The Poets Portrait Project Anthology (ultimately titled, “For Some Time Now: Performance Poets of New York City”) is a portrait anthology containing astonishing, intimate photographs of a vast number of NYC performance poets interwoven with poems and essays from selected artists. Years ago, photographer Jonathan Weiskopf, after years of photographing poets privately and during performance, imagined this project. He knew of my editing work through peers and colleagues in the NYC community and asked me to serve as editor for the selection and placement of poems and essays. The book took a long time to come to fruition, but we both remain proud of the outcome and hope to continue the work on a broader scale at some point in the future. I’ve been lucky to participate in the number of events and projects throughout NYC and have built alliances with some incredible individuals and organizations over the years: The Spoken Word Almanac Project conceived by Darian Dauchan, countless projects and events through the former Bowery Poetry Club under the eye of Bob Holman, events with The Nuyorican Poets Café through Mahogany L. Browne, teams and readings with The LouderARTS Project directed by Lynne Procope, Kiss Punch Poem through Meaghann Plunkett and Jared Singer, among many others. Many of these programs and organizations are run by devoted, tireless individuals who are also incredible artists. I urge you to seek them out. Overwhelmingly, however, closest to my heart is Urbana Poetry Slam. I served as curator and evetually directer of Urbana Poetry Slam from 2006 to 2013. It was the organization where I first competed in poetry slam (thanks to the boundless encouragement of Urbana’s founder, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz). I became enamored with the intimacy of both the sharing community and listening audience. I also enjoyed the dynamism of the game of slam.
Once I earned a spot on their National Poetry Slam team, I was invited to join the curating committee. Eventually I was working with teams as coach and leading the organization as director. I also continued slamming and have been on three of Urbana’s NPS teams and twice been their iWPS qualifier champion. I stepped down as director in the summer of 2013 to allow room to focus on other projects and in hopes of encouraging other into leadership roles. I still attend whenever possible and continue my relationships within the community.
We understand that you’re on a bit of a hiatus right now, but of course have not stopped writing. With your interest in returning to children’s literature, how different is the process of writing between the two? What can we know about what you’re working on currently, and when drew your attention to children’s literature? Yes, I’m on hiatus from organizing readings for the time being, but not from writing. (Though the poems are coming more sparsely than I’d like.) My process for fiction is not unlike that of poetry. I’m a voracious editor, so that remains constant- continually working and reworking a sentence or paragraph is not unlike reworking a line for a stanza. It takes the same energy and focus. I suppose the distance is the difference in the genres for me. Meaning, when I’m working through detailing the adventures of, say, a little lamb, the exposition has a journey- a distance into my imagination. It’s got farther to go, and I have to have some kind of mental map. Poem writing is not like that for me; I don’t typically plot anything out when generating poems. There isn’t usually a point where I am strategizing when a given event should occur or where to take the character next. Writing poems is a much more organic experience in the initial phases. I don’t have the children’s stories to a point yet where they’re ready review, so I have’t tested them with anyone, much less investigated the submission process. There are currently two in process; one a more mythical piece I started writing decades ago and the other an adventure tale of two friends. I studied children’s literature in college and took a few writing courses devoted to the craft, though am by no means practiced. I had long fancied myself a short fiction writer, but admittedly really enjoy all the genres I’ve studied over the years. Children’s literature is definitely among them.
Tell us about the poems you’ve included to share with our readers in this issue.
I was a little daunted by the selection process. I wasn’t sure if I should include something from Racing Hummingbirds or unknown work from the current manuscript or even something new. I finally decided to transcribe two lesser-known pieces from the pending manuscript. “Daydream” (originally published at The Legendary) is a tiny poem about longing.
I wrote it one afternoon at work when I saw a bundle of lost balloons float upward past he window. “Good Girl” (originally published at THRUSH) is a(nother) poem about living with mental illness. I, like many, have an ongoing internal struggle with taking medication. At varying points throughout my life I’ve had to return to medication for balance or stillness or mere survival.
For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing, what is your advice to them?
Read. Learn what’s out there, the plethora of ways it is being done. Find where you differ and how your voice offers to further the ever changing landscape. And of course, write. Just go for it. The work can come out clunky and unready, but keep working. Practice. Do it over. Rework. Edit. Save the lines that aren’t right just yet and make them right the next time, or the next. Revisit old work and see what can be salvaged or brought to new light. Also be willing to scrap what isn’t working, even if the line is the fanciest. For those looking to cleanse, don’t be shy. There are no rules. No one has to read what you’re writing. Ever. Not unless and until you’re ready to share it. That affords you every safety, so write. Be bold. Take the risk you are most afraid of taking. Get the stories out. Then work and rework, hone it, polish it. You may find you’ve invented something that can help someone else. You may find you yourself have written the answer you needed all along.
Jeanann currently has an award-winning book out called Racing Hummingbirds available here: http://jeanannverlee.com/store For more information and her work, check out her website here: http://jeanannverlee.com/
ANDREA GIBSON "IS NOT GENTLE WITH HER TRUTHS
IT IS THIS RAW FEARLESS NESS THAT HAS LED HER TO THE FOREFRONT OF THE SPOKEN WORD MOVEMENT” INTERVIEW BY EMILY WHITE
You’re at the beginning of a pretty huge tour around the country right now; Congratulations! How do you prepare for being away from home for months at a time?
I’m a home body. I’m naturally inclined to spend a lot of time alone, in quiet places. My two biggest fears are public speaking and crowds, so every time I leave for tour I have a bit of a meltdown.But then I get to where I’m going, and the first show starts, and I start reading a poem, and there’s a room full of open hearted people, and I always always think, “This is exactly where I want to be. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here.” Originally you hail from the East Coast. What drew you to your home now in Colorado?
I moved from Maine to New Orleans and from New Orleans to Colorado when I was trying to find a way to stop drinking beer at 10 AM. :) As soon as I got here, it felt right, and not in a small part because of the poetry scene that was buzzing through Denver.
Many of your pieces allude to your conservative background, and even God and religion. Identifying as a queer feminist, how have these more traditional factors helped and/or hindered you as an artist?
I think they’ve fueled my hollar for sure. I’m fairly certain my voice would be a lot softer had I not had the church to bust out of. I don’t think the things I’ve broken free from have hindered me as an artist, but I’m still uncovering the places I’m still held down, and I’m curious about the poems that live on the other side of that. You put a lot of your personal life and emotions out there for the public through your poems; Does it ever feel strange to you sharing your most private thoughts with complete strangers?
Sometimes. But we all create our own safety in different ways and it’s rare for me to find safety in silence. I notice the more I am willing to say, the more I am willing to uncover, the more solid feel in my own shoes. I think I’d feel far more strange if I were holding it all in. Your poems are so impassioned and moving, they easily elicit strong emotional responses from your fans. What’s the strangest or funniest encounter that you’ve ever had with a fan?
One exceptionally sweet thing that happened: A woman came up to me after a show and gave me a ring that was broken into two pieces. She said it broke in half during the show because she was clapping so loudly. I bring it with me everywhere. In your poems, you address complex issues that plague many marginalized people in today’s world, such as gender, sexuality, love and even suicide. What cause is closest to your heart right now?
I’m currently thinking a whole lot about white privilege and the ways I can live my life and create art that encourages self reflection, action, and change.
If you could go back in time and speak to yourself at 18 years old, what would you tell your younger self?
Commit to loving yourself completely. It’s the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime. For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing; What is your advice to them?
Write the thing you are terrified to write.
Andrea is currently on tour, has 5 full-length albums, and has 2 books out. For more information on Andrea Gibson, check out her website here:
CLEMENTINE THE FOUNDER OF WHERE ARE YOU PRESS AND THE AUTHOR
E VON RADICS OF TWO COLLECTIONS OF POETRYINTERVIEW - HOMEBYAND AS OFTEN AS MIRACLES MORGAN MARTINEZ AND ROWAN MISCH PHOTOS BY KYLEE TWAROWSKI
We know you’re currently located in Portland, Oregon. Tell us what it’s like to live there and how it influences your work.
The major influence the city has on my work is like Portland Poetry Slam. It happens every Sunday like church. I feel such a sense of community in that room, with those writers, and I’ve grown as a writer because of that competition and the people I’ve met through it. The city probably influences me, too. It certainly informs who I am. I never planned to live in Portland, but I moved here four years ago and here I am. With Portlandia and all that we’re kind of mid-zeitgeist right now, but ultimately it’s just this small town pretend it’s a big city. Tell us about some adolescent adventures you had that really inspired you to write or moments that stand out to you in particular. Do they still inspire you?
My adolescence was boring and awkward and painful and as a rule I don’t dwell in it. I don’t think anything I enjoy about myself or my life started before I was nineteen or twenty. Are there certain memories that you’ve carried on throughout your life that you use as symbolism in your writing?
I’m finding this a really difficult question to answer. The short answer is yes, of course there are. The only place my poems come from is my mind, so they’re informed by my memories, the music I listen to, my hobbies, things I research or hear about and find interesting, and my peers. But my poems are not an autobiography. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to to write the thing as best I can.
Do you listen to music while writing or do you have to compose in silence? Are there any musicians who inspire you to write? For example, I know I listen to a lot of Dustin O’Halloran’s work when I write.
I always write in silence, but I listen to Beyonce’s “Flawless” before literally every show.
There are writers that use different kinds of techniques when they have their pen or pencil in hand. Whether you notice them or not, are there any that you’ve seen that stand out in your poems?
These days I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go in case something hits me or I have an idea I need to remember. Other than that, I prefer to type it out. I make way too many edits to write by hand. Tell us about Where Are You Press and how it was formed. What made you decide to make your own publishing company?
Where Are You Press was formed just under a year ago. I started it because I wanted to do more than write; I wanted my hand in something else. Currently W.A.Y. Press is being run by myself and Alex Dang. We have five authors, and we will be publishing another five books in 2014. We are committed to publishing raw, beautiful poetry by young authors. We do everything ourselves, every single book we send out has a thank-you note and a hand-addressed envelope. The other day at a show this guy introduced me as “DIY as fuck”. I thought that was so cool.
What’s the process you go through to decide who to publish? Do you scout for writers as well as have people come to you directly?
We are less than a year old, so our process is still evolving. So far, though, we have worked with friends and writers whom we’ve reached out to directly. The exception to that rule being the very, very talented Yena Sharma Purmasir, who won our first annual Where Are You Poet contest last year. Where Are You Poet is our annual submission contest. We select 1-2 poets in the summer to be published by our press the following year. If anyone is interested in being published by Where Are You Press, I would encourage them to submit that way. You can find more information about that process here: whereareyoupress.tumblr.com Is there anything about yourself that you pour into your writing that people may not know about you, and is there anything you feel is important that they do know for a better understanding of your poems?
My personal life and my poems are already conflated so often, I don’t want to encourage that any more than it already is. My poems are my poems. My life is my life. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” How true is this to you? Do you feel that, in a sense, you are bleeding out those emotions and cleansing yourself of those things that are weighing you down, or even lifting you up?
Hemingway’s other coffee mug-quote is, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Hemingway was the major influence of Joan Didion, who I consider one of the major influences on my style. What Hemingway and Didion both do so well is write about the most painful experiences with focus and simplicity. It’s counter-intuitive but the effect is gut-wrenching. Have you read The Year of Magical Thinking? It’s fucking devastating. And it’s that sense of detachment, that use of writing to turn your turmoil into something clean and useful, free of self-pity, that’s what makes work like that so good. You can write about your pain, but don’t just spill a bunch of blood on the page and leave it there. Fucking work harder than that. Turn it into something. For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing; what is your advice?
Write drunk. Edit sober. Just kidding. My advice would be to just start writing and keep at it. In my limited experience, if you want to be competent, you can never stop trying to get better.
You can buy her books here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WhereAreYouPress Read more of her poetry here: http://clementinevonradics.tumblr.com/tagged/clementine-von-radics
Interview by Morgan Martinez Tell us a little bit about Words Dance Publishing! How and when did you decide to start your own press? Firstly, thank you so much for inviting me! I absolutely love what you gals are up to...and hey there, you lovely badass reading this. Be still my heart. Thank you.
Words Dance is an independent press out of Pennsylvania with one aim: To spread mind-blowing, heart-opening poetry and art. We do that through our free, bimonthly online magazine, the books we publish and our blog. The backbone of our press is community. We strive to remain all-inclusive and approachable. Besides taking poetry submissions for the magazine, we take an array of submissions for our blog and are always on the lookout for regular contributors. We leave the windows in our home unlocked so you, the poets and enthusiasts, can crawl in and throw one fuck of a house party. I started Words Dance almost 11 years ago, in May 2003. At the time, I was plugged into a now defunct online poetry forum, very much like Tumblr in a way, where we would share our writing regularly, connect, critique and inspire one another. I wanted to build a platform to share the writing there to a wider audience. My dad bought me my first dotcom for my 23rd birthday. Heâ€™s a techie, knew a bit about coding, as did my live-in boyfriend at the time, so I taught myself by reading and asking questions. I built a very basic website from scratch and just opened submissions! The press, site and magazine have been through quite a few transformations since birth. Right now, I feel like itâ€™s a rowdy and lawless young adult blossoming after tight-lipped teenager.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WORDS DANCE PUBLISHING VISIT: http://wordsdance.com
Tell us about the DIY side of creating handmade chapbooks to full-length perfect bound books.
After putting out a handful or so of online issues, I wanted to make print zines! I had been published in quite a few by then and I loved that you could just shove them in your bang and read them on the bus, in the park or wherever! (This was before smartphones!) I wanted that for Words Dance and creatively, when I want to do something, the want gets under my skin. It throws seed bombs of need that take root and thrive on action. The only way to alleviate that sense of urgency is to continue to take action until the trees shoot up, flower and scatter themselves into hearts and hands that are not my own. I asked for a laser printer for Christmas in 2004 and Issue 7 dropped in Spring of 2005. Like most awesome zines, chapbooks and small press projects, they were handmade using text and card stock paper and stapled together. Fun side story: I started out by taking snail mail submissions for the first print issue. That was a trip; to come home every day from work, open your mailbox and find letters from all over the world. That’s when I started to branch out and connect with kindred spirits in the small press. That’s when I realized that people like myself were publishing handmade chapbooks and I was completely. Fast forward a year and I was publishing my first chapbook by someone else! I fell in love with bookmaking, the whole process of it. Taking something intangible to something someone can hold. The process was and still is cathartic for me, even down to preparing the packages for mailing. The chapbooks I published for people were limited runs of 50 or 100 copies. They were pieces of art, really, some of the materials and tools I used for the covers included: fabric, paper punches, ink stamps, paper doilies, lace, ribbon, buttons, thread, etc. Now, mostly because I am a mama of two sweet boys under 6, everything is done digitally and uploaded to the printer. I am still designing the covers, though. It works out. Each time I teach myself something new, like anything, it takes a good lot of time, trial and error. It doesn’t feel like work at all, though, it’s play. That doesn’t mean it’s always cupcakes, unicorns and rainbows. There has been and there will continue to be frustration, disappointment and failure, but you learn best by mistake, right? When you start a small press, especially at the beginning, you put out way more than you receive back, so if you can get through that period, the little successes start make up for all that. The relationships that from along the way cancel all those negative things out. Like any artistic venture, you grow it while it grows you. Being able to look back at it all and say, “I did this... With a little help from my friends and family, I did this,” feels really good.
Is there a specific kind of poetry Words Dance looks to publish? Describe to us the process of being an author signed onto your press. We like to artfully and carefully wrangle in words that were born to dance wildly in the heartmind matrix. Rich, edgy, raw, emotionally-charged energy balled up and waiting to whip your eyes wild; We rally together words that were written to make the heart go boom right before they slay the mind.
This is the first that I signed a group of poets to the press with the intention of releasing their books within the year. In the past, I worked on a project at a time with no set plan. I would ask them and we would just begin. Working with me is very much a healthy and collaborative process. The author sends over their manuscript, we discuss our visions, our visions dance together (read: there are hundreds and hundreds of emails and/or Facebook messages between us!) and eventually, we bring a book into the world together. It’s kind of beautiful.
What inspires Words Dance?
Guerrilla Art. Brilliant Music. Roaring Courage. The Mimeo Revolution. Intentional Kindness. Naked Expression. Liquid Language. Radical Rhythym. Raw Connection. Radiant Splintering. Daring Depth. Raging Truth. Raving Revolution. Poems that make out with you. Poems that sneak up on you. Poems that bloody your mouth just to kiss it clean. Poems that bite your cheek so you spend all day tonguing the wound. Poems that vandalize your heart. Poems that act like a tin can phone connecting you to your childhood. Fire Alarm Poems. Glitterbomb Poems. Jailbreak Poems. Poems that could marry the land or the sea; that are both the hero and the villain. Poems that are the matches when there is a city-wide power outage. Poems that throw you overboard just to dive in and save your ass. Poems that push you down on the stoop in front of history’s door, screaming at you to knock. Poems that are soft enough to fall asleep on. Poems that will still be clinging to the walls inside of your bones on your 90th birthday. Poems.
Where do you hope to see your press in the next 5-10 years?
I’d love to have the means to employ people. I’d love to be involved in more philanthropy. I want both poets and presses to value their work more, I want them to know and embrace their worth. I’d love to hold more out-of-the-box, in-person events. I want to continue to help move poetry into the mainstream. I want to team up and make noise with more small presses; there’s strength in numbers, sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. I’d love to find more people that want to hop on that train with me. Let’s ride, baby.
MEGGIE C ROYER
. "IS A WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER IN SMALL TOWN
WEATHER AMES, IOWA WHERE CORN AND UNEXPECTED ARE ABUNDANT” INTERVIEW BY BECKY YEKER
First and foremost, how are you able to write poetry and make everything sound as if it’s happening or has happened in your life? Where does your inspiration come from? My inspiration comes from films, books, my grandparents, PostSecret, Humans of New York, survival, healing, and other poets. I think I’m able to write poetry about subjects I haven’t directly, personally experienced because I have a pretty solid sense of empathy, which I think is absolutely necessary for being a poet. If I don’t fee any empathy toward the subject I’m planning to write about, then I cancel the poem right then and there. I also make sure to have plenty of knowledge about each subject, especially if it’s one I haven’t experienced myself. I will never write about a topic that I feel completely unprepared to take on.
When did you first begin writing?
I started writing about two and a half to three years ago. I used to write a lot of short stories and newsletters when I was younger, but I only started writing poetry seriously fairly recently.
Who are your favorite writers?
Richard Siken, Sharon Olds, Andrea Gibson, Shinji Moon, Bob Hicok, Carrie Rudzinski, Warsan Shire, Gregory Sherl, and Sierra DeMulder.
I have been following your journey as a writer for quite some time now. What was it like to fall in love for the first time, from a writer’s perspective? Falling in love for the first time felt like the pen touching the page after years without contact.
When your first book, Survival Songs, came out, people were so enthralled. What was your reaction to that?
I was honestly pretty surprised. I never expected such a positive reaction. I’ve had so many readers tell me that Survival Songs made them cry or changed their life, maybe even saved it. It’s wonderful to know that all the pieces in that book have helped at least one person in some way another, and that their themes are so easy to connect to. I was very nervous about putting a first book out, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better reaction. Even now, several months later, I’m still shocked when readers message me about how much my book affected them. All the support and encouragement and positive reviews I’ve received as a result of Survival Songs have made me even more confident as a writer, and even more excited to continue my writing journey.
Did you ever expect to have a career in writing?
No, not at all. In fact, when I first started writing poetry it was just a hobby. I always saw myself as having a career in psychology or poetry, but never writing.
Are you in school? If so, what are you studying? What do you plan on pursuing?
I’m currently a freshman in college and I’m studying psychology. I absolutely love it. I think that my passion for psychology has allowed me to have a much better sense of empathy and tolerance toward the topics I write about. It’s helped me grow so much as a writer and approach a variety of subjects with fresh angles.
As a writer myself, I have been inspired by your poetry ever since I discovered it. You are able to take elaborate stories and make them feel personal. I feel things when you write. What are some of your favorite poems that made you feel the same? Some of my favorite poems are “Elegy Owed” by Bob Hicok, “Home Wrecker” by Ocean Vuong, “For Desire” by Kim Addonizio, “When You Are Old” by W.B. Yeats, “Intercourse” by Tom C. Hunley, “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden, and “Idyll” by Richie Hoffman.
How does it feel to have two published books out?! (Healing New Wounds With Old Stitches and Survival Songs)
It feels so surreal. I still can’t believe it’s actually happened. It makes me feel so much better about myself, and so honored to be published and to have come this far. But it honestly just feels like a dream sometimes.
For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing; what is your advice? Never settle for mediocrity. If you want your writing to blow people away, to shake them to the core, to make them feel something they’ve never felt before, then go out on a limb and take risks in your writing. Write about subjects that frighten you and confuse you, that make you ache. to purchase meggie’s books, THEY’RE AVAILABLE THROUGH BARNES & NOBLE AND Etsy.
TO SEE MORE OF MEGGIE’S WORK: http://writingsforwinter.tumblr.com/
Your voice and words are so powerful. Where do you find your inspiration? How do you convey your passion into words so elegantly? Thanks! A good portion of my work is inspired by social anxiety, strangely enough. I get completely overwhelmed with certain interactions the point of not being able to speak. I tend to deal with the initial feelings in the standard drinking in the dark, crying in the bathroom Midwestern way and later, I think of what I wish I had said or could say. Writing poems lets me go back and say it. The passion in performance is part intuition and part training. I was a theatre major in college. I use some method acting techniques to sort of pull an experience or emotion linked to the poem to front of my brain. The intuition comes in knowing when to pull back on that memory or feeling so you don’t spiral too deeply back into it.
Your most popular poem and performance is “10 Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy”. That poem has inspired many women to not put a negative connotation with the word “fat”. How do you feel about impacting women to view their bodies in a different light?
That’s really got to be one of the most rewarding things that I ever thought I would be party to. When I first started writing and performing, I was obsessed with NOT writing fat girl poems. I have struggled and still struggle with my own body image and undoing a lot of the painful habits. As much feedback as I get from people saying that this poem made them feel less alone, I am getting the exact same thing back. I wrote that poem alone on a bus in an attempt to deal with my own insecurities for it to connect with other people has been an incredible blessing.
Who are some of your biggest influences in writing?
I have been extremely fortunate to cut my teeth as a poet in this rich and diverse poetry scene in Columbus, Ohio. It is a scene that sort of never lets you rest on your laurels as a writer. The demand to keep writing and evolving is always present. Also, I would regret it if I didn’t mention Rachel McKibbens as a huge influence because she showed up at this perfect time. When I first considered taking the whole poetry thing more seriously, I was terrified of the raw honesty I knew I would want to bring to my work. The first time I saw her feature in my city it kind of busted me open in the way I needed and gave me this permission that I was waiting for.
RACHEL WILEY "PROUD POETFAT- PERFORMER GIRL - FORCE OF FUCKING NATURE” BY BECKY YEKER
How would you describe spoken word poetry to those that don’t know much about it?
I am still working on that. My grandma keeps asking me why my poems don’t rhyme and if I really have to use so much profanity. I tend to think of spoken word as sort of the one-manband version of theater where you are the writer, the director, and the actor and every poem is a short play.
How did you get into spoken word?
I was living in this house with multiple roommates and it was kind of a toxic situation so I started looking for activities outside of the house and ended up at a poetry show and I started basically hiding out there. I have always written by my poetry was all secret and stashed in journals under my bed. After about a year of attending, I got brave enough to share some work on an open mic. It took another year before I started slamming. In slam, I started marrying my theatre training to my writing and it just sort of went from there.
You seem to love yourself and it is absolutely incredible. We all battle with learning how to love ourselves. What are some ways you got to that point?
To be 100% real; some of that love is the theatre background in action. I still struggle with my body image at times. I used to think that if I didn’t talk about my size that no one would notice but with that thinking came this constant fear of someone using this thing I wasn’t talking about against me. The first poem I wrote about being fat is called “Gorgon” and it started as a response to some comments Karl Lagerfeld made about fat women, but it morphed into a sort of fat girl way cry to be seen and respected and the way it felt to defend myself made me never want to fear what anyone else could possibly say and I decided to start owning my insecurities so no one else could and so that I could start living more honestly.
For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing; What is your advice to them?
READ. A LOT. Find your favorite writers and study them and what you like about them. Find writers you hate and ask yourself why. Allow yourself to SUCK. The best way to block yourself up as a writer is to think everything has to be perfect. There are more poems that I have written that will never see the light of day than good poems I have written. There are poems I wish had never seen the light of day. This writing has to happen for the good writing to happen. This is how you get to the honest places.
Rachel currently has a few published chapbooks and has 2 CD’s out right now where you can purchase them here: http://wileypoetry.weebly.com/store/ for more info on rachel, visit her site: http://wileypoetry.weebly.com/
IS A 21 YEAR OLD GIRL BORN AND RAISED IN ARIZONA WHO HAS RECENTLY RELOCATED TO OREGON SHE HAS RELEASED TWOASALBUMS TITLED “WHAT I CANNOT TELL A GHOST”AS WELL “WE DONT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS” VIA BANDCAMP INTERVIEW BY ROWAN MISCH ART BY BUNNY MIELE When did you start writing spoken word and how did you get into it?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was 11 and the first time I dabbled in spoken word was either junior or senior year of high school. The first time I recorded a poem and put it online was less than a year ago. I wrote a poem after an argument with a boyfriend and I felt like it would have been stronger if it were presented as spoken word.
What made you decide to create your first album?
After I had written and recorded my first spoken word piece, I was on a roll and kept on writing, recording, and publishing on my blog. One day a friend told me, “You should really make a Bandcamp and put an album together.” I had enough material to do it, so I released my album about a week later.
How did you come up with the title for it?
The title of my first album is called What I Cannot Tell A Ghost and it’s also the title of one of the poems on that album. The poem is about a friend of mine who was feeling suicidal and in it is all the things that I wanted to tell them, but I couldn’t tell them these things if they had gone through with it.
What inspires you to write the most?
To simplify it, most of my poetry is inspired by heartbreak. My first album was mostly about one of my exes, because I wrote most of those poems after our break up. But with my most recent album, I’ve taken inspiration from having to let someone go, my friend who committed suicide many years ago, leaving my hometown in Tuscon to live in Portland, and my boyfriend who I am very much in love with. It’s very difficult to write about love in such a positive light.
Would you ever consider performing your poems live? Would you ever consider writing a book of poems? I would absolutely love to perform live if given the opportunity. I would also love to publish poetry, but I am also dabbling with the idea of writing children’s books, too.
What is your favorite poem you’ve written?
My favorite poem that I’ve written is called “Amanda, You Are Like Magic”, which was something that I wrote to myself when I was feeling defeated. It was a reminder to myself that I am stronger than I was feeling at the time.
Tell us about the poem you’ve included to share with our readers in this issue.
The poem I’ve included is “What I Cannot Tell A Ghost”. I remember sobbing and frantically writing it all down. I feel like this poem was not only important for the person I wrote this for, but it’s also important for other people who have thought about taking their lives to hear, too. I, so badly, want to be able to reach out to everyone who is struggling to see themselves in a positive light.
For any aspiring writer and for anyone looking to cleanse themselves through writing; What is your advice to them?
My biggest piece of advice is to write because you feel compelled to, and not because you want to write something good. Also, don’t get discouraged when a piece doesn’t come out exactly the way you want it to! It may take years to produce something you’re 100% enamored with and proud of.
To listen and/or purchase Amanda’s poetry, check out her bandcamp here: http://amandawaters.bandcamp.com/
DEALING WITH STRESS
BY ANONYMOUS PHOTOS BY ROWAN MISCH
Stress levels in today’s teen are at the highest they have ever been, and one doesn’t even need the scientific studies and psychological survey results to figure that out. Simply walking through the hallways of a high school and hearing students’ complaints is enough to figure out that teens are stressed to point where the stress is detrimental to their health and overall success. In theory, stress is actually a great thing. It keeps up alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. However, too much stress can turn ugly extremely fast. For all of us, stress seems like a natural part of life and although it causes anxiety and distress, for the part we feel as if we can handle it. I’m guilty of it as well- overloading myself and then seeing how long I can go without breaking down. But the plain fact is, it is unhealthy. When we choose stress as a lifestyle choice, we give up some very important things: Health and happiness. Maintaining healthy levels of stress is not always easy, but it is definitely doable. Stress is not just an occasional feeling for teens today, it is a lifestyle and so changing it requires lifestyle changes, which take some work. I’ve taken more AP classes than I should have, committed myself to way too many activities, and consistently stayed up until 3 AM, and so I’ve learning quite a few things about stress. Recently, I decided I needed a lifestyle change and ever since, I have followed my golden rules and felt better than ever. I’m still a work in progress, but I have most definitely realized the importance of balance and controlling stress.
Here are some “golden rules” for the eternally stressed: 1. Exercise - Just 20 minutes of exercise a day, whether it be walking on a treadmill or swimming at the pool, can make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
2. Sleep Well - This is probably one of the most difficult rules to follow, but try to get
7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Find a time to cut yourself off (mine is 12 AM) and go to bed. In the long run, if you don’t turn in one assignment on time, will it really be the end of the world? Put your health first, grades second (health is forever, grades are for a semester).
3. Manage Your Time - Make a schedule for yourself if you need to, but schedule your
time so that you have breaks and you sleep at a decent time. If you have so much to do that you don’t have room for breaks or sleep in your schedule, follow rule 4.
4. Cut Back - Okay, I’m not saying drop all your classes and activities and lay at home
in your pajamas, but I am saying that if you’ve overwhelmed by the amount you have to do, try to only commit yourself to your most valued commitments.
5. Eat Healthy - I know how tempting those Doritos are when you’re stressed out, but
studies show that eating unhealthy, processed foods actually makes you feel worse. Ditch the chips, grab some fruit, and you’ll feel (and look) instantly better.
6. Meditate/Do Yoga - Yoga and meditation are not activities exclusively for Buddhist monks and soccer moms, I promise. When I’m getting really overwhelmed, I push all my work aside, close my eyes, and clear my mind- it’s that easy. The great thing about meditation is that you can really do it anywhere. You can also find many great yoga videos on YouTube as a break from working/studying.
7. Make Time For Hobbies/Interests - I have had friends who have dropped sports they
loved because they simply didn’t have the time and as a result, they have become extremely unhappy. Drop a less fulfilling class instead. Don’t give up the things you love.
8. Spend Time With Friends - There’s a saying, “Good friends make all your worries disappear,” and while it may be an exaggeration, spending time with friends can definitely make you feel less worried. Confiding in friends is also a good idea.
We are the Millennials, the generation of indulgence, hope, change, and the most stressed generation to date. In chasing success, we forget to take care of ourselves and our happiness. When was the last time you were stress-free, healthy, and truly happy? Find that moment and look to replicate it in you everyday life, and the results will be truly unbelievable.
KICKASS VENUES Subterranean - Chicago, IL Favorite show(s) attended:
Fall Out Boy (reunion/secret show) Power&Trip - Xibalba - No Zodiac Alpha Omega Balance and Composure
BY CHRIS YAFCHAK
If you have the opportunity to see a show here...take it. A stage with no barrier, an over-pit balcony and a (surprisingly cheap) bar make this venue one of the most intimate environments you could imagine. Located in the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood.
West Side Park- Nanticoke, PA Favorite show(s) attended:
Wisdom In Chains - War Hungry Hounds of Hate - + locals
This is truly one of those “locals only” spots. Located in the middle of a playground in residential Nanticoke, this is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you’re into the “underground” side of punk, hardcore and metal, this is where you want to be. Don’t expect to see Hatebreed there, but if you want to see some kick-ass local talent at a kick-ass local venue, it’s a 10 out of 10.
S TO VISIT IN 2014 The Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA Favorite show(s) attended:
This Is Hardcore festival Imagine a giant room with two thousand people in it. Bane is playing, and you are currently involved in the biggest food fight (specifically pizza) you’ve ever encountered. There’s no barrier separating you from the stage, and the club’s staff is watching from afar, enjoying every second of it just as much as you are. This is how The Electric Factory gets down. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to an intimate local show while maintaining the giant, almost arena-like venue atmosphere. If you’ve ever wanted to see Gwar in your garage, this is as close as you’ll ever get to that experience.
High Noon Saloon- Madison, WI Favorite show(s) attended:
Foxy Shazam Native & Caspian
BY CHASE HOFFMAN
A hidden gem among a city full of dull, boring concert halls, High Noon Saloon is an intimate venue with reasonably-priced craft beers and immaculate sound. The range of performers is incredible, as well. From indie pop to garage rock to post-hardcore, this venue puts on all sorts of shows. The atmosphere is great, too, giving off an old Western vibe, with balcony seating that overlooks the stage. Definitely the best venue in Madison; arguably the best venue is Wisconsin.
KICKASS VENUES MARATHON MUSIC WORKS - NASHVILLE, TN
BY BLAKE HOLLAND
ST VINCENT We ran in just as the opening act, Noveller, was picking up.
The lights were dim, and the chatter was surprisingly low. On the way through the crowd, my friend pointed out a Cara Delevigne look-a-look, and I recognized a guy I don’t know but I’ve seen at every single show I’ve been to in Nashville during the last year. We’re at Marathon Music Works, and in just an hour, we’ll be seeing St. Vincent. The lights dim, the bass rumbles, and I voice passed ten times through a vocoder politely requests we don’t document the show digitally. My friend smiles, because a disposable camera rests in his pocket. She opens with “Rattlesnake”, and her jawline, sharp and perfect, of course, matched with her wide eyes, wild hair and tightly constructed movements make her seem like she’s visiting from another realm. We welcome her. She speaks in between songs, but it’s scripted. It’s a beautiful series of short musings about how she knows us, about how we’ve all spent a summer day starting a fire with a magnifying glass, only to realize once it catches hold that we’re afraid of the flames. When the first riffs of “Crocodile” sound, one of my friends and I rush to the front and toss our way around the crowd. Someone grabs my hand, and for a moment I think it’s a stranger, but it’s her, and we kiss through laughter. She plays “Strange Mercy” in an encore, just her and her guitar, and there’s so much space to the song that I can hear myself breathe. Annie Clark disappears from stage, and the lights come up, and we drink from the water fountain, and we laugh, and we go home, X’s on our young hands, only to find the marker smeared across our faces and my white pillow cases in the morning.
S TO VISIT IN 2014 The Pyramind Scheme- Grand Rapids, MI Favorite show(s) attended: BY TOMMY WEIDIG
The Wonder Years - Fireworks - Hostage Calm They have a great set-up. The stage is low enough to the crowd to get a truly personal experience, but high enough that you’re not TOO close to the musicians. There is a lot of space to fit a good sized crowd in there, but not so that it feels like you have lost that personal feeling.
The House of Pancakes (previously known as the Turtle Den)- Grand Rapids, MI Favorite show(s) attended:
Foxing - Run Forever - Odd Dates - Running Shoes The House of Pancakes is a house venue, and they do SO much for the music scene in Grand Rapids. It’s a welcoming place run by tremendous people. They have a great basement for shows and is donation run! Whenever I go to the House of Pancakes I have a GREAT time. The HoP is one of those places where, if you can justify ANY reason to go, then you know you’ve going to have a night well-spent.
ART AS AN ESCAPE BY BLAKE HOLLAND PHOTOS BY ROWAN MISCH
I’m three years deep at an arts college pursuing a degree in film. I’ve loved film since childhood. There’s a distinct language to the medium, and it possesses an ability to address and flesh out things that exist somewhere beyond our understood language. I grew up in a small, Southern town, where corn and football players were idolized as prophets, and the arts scene was facilitated by a small group of people. I was a part of the school’s theater program, which is where I discovered my musical talent and learned my career as an actor would go nowhere (I was kind of like Marnie on Girls, in that I delivered every line with a sly smile and wide eyes). It was this involvement in a community of shared interest validated something that once seemed so intangible to me. Despite growing up in a town that didn’t nourish an interest in the arts, I took the plunge and moved to the city to pursue an education in the arts. I took an experimental film class my first semester of college that changed the game for me. First night in, we watched Jean-Luc Godard’s Week End, and I understood immediately that I’d underestimated the power and limits of film as a medium. I was young, extremely uncultured, and while I seemed sure-footed going in the doors, I realized I had a lot of learning to do. Art wasn’t as singular or specific as I’d once thought, nor was it as convenient and polite as I imagined, and when I accepted this, when I decided to let go of structure and convention in my writing and in my approach to storytelling, I grew as a person and an artist. Art is often referenced as an escape, for and by both the view and the artist, and while this blanket statement is something that reads as fair, and is something I’m sure I said growing up, it’s dangerously dismissive of art’s larger role and purpose, just as it’s dismissive of the experience and the artist’s intention. Art is incredibly integral to the way we question society, just as it’s integral to the way that we understand it, and to limit art as a form of escapism, or to dismiss and disassociate
the broader intention of art, or the intentions of an artist when creating work (or to even dismiss our own intent when viewing a piece of work), undermines the very way art operates. Growing up I was under the impression that watching a beautiful film was my way of escaping my small town, but it wasn’t an escape at all. I was becoming involved. I was becoming a part of a conversation. Art is here; there’s an immediacy to it that’s undeniable. If you’re reading this and you’re reading this and you’re shaking your head, that’s fine, because I know that art sure as hell feels like an escape. Sometimes art feels so specific and singular, so visceral and otherworldly, so much like an experience completely separate from our lives, that there’s no other way to describe it but as an escape. But there’s no way to ignore the way that art resonates with us, because its visceral qualities are lasting, and the process of art making works just the same. There’s a satisfaction and intention that’s lasting. Washing the dishes is an escape, showering is an escape, jogging is an escape, but art answers to something, or we answer to art, and to ignore that is to dismiss it, or defy it. When I was younger, there’s no doubt I considered my involvement in theater, music and film an escape, but I realize now it was my way of asking for more. I wish I could say it was the film faculty or other film students that taught me this, and that I’m challenged daily by the curriculum, but that’s not the case. I made a film this last semester that challenged genre and archetypes and questioned the human connection. Although I stood my ground, my professor and my classmates spoke endlessly about the ways in which it didn’t work, or the ways that it was too subtle, and yet the greatest middle finger in history rolled around when I walked away from a screening with five awards, including best picture, with the invitation to screen the film at a festival. And yet, inside the classroom, I was told every day that my film was too challenging. I was warned that audiences “wouldn’t connect with it”, or “there are too many ideas”, which was their nice way of saying, “It’s not conventional or easy enough to watch.” I spent four months being misguided because my film was expected to answer to a certain agenda I didn’t agree with, so that an audience wanting a good time could walk away without having to think, and this is why dismissing art as an escape is dangerous. Art feels like an escape. But it’s not one. And that’s cool as hell, if you’re asking me.
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AT TIMES, I WISH I WAS A SNOWFLAKE. by Becky Yeker
Winter solitude that refuses to release the cold like a mother to a child in a time of grief. Empty guidelines across the snowy path, of where to go and who to see. We are aimlessly walking into darkness, but act as if there is a light at the end. We are afraid to know where the snow goes when it melts, whether it seeps into the ground, or lands on something and becomes a part of it. Like a human or an animal, the snow that accidentally hits our bodies, is it a part of us or does it merely just vanish as if it never existed? So many snowflakes, but we would never have the time to count them all. When using the word â€œsnowflakeâ€? we emphasize that snow is composed of individual tiny crystals, but it is much easier to group them all together. It seems so easy to look at the sky, when the snow is falling gently across your nose, and each snowflake sprinkles across your eyelashes, to wish that you could embody a snowflake, just for a day. To be able to fall freely from the sky, unlike any other snowflake around you, fall on someone or something, make the slightest bit of change, and merely vanish as if you had never even existed.
by Yena Sharma Purmasir Someone told me I was a strong girl, so I did the things strong girls do. I never cried in public and I exercised my will power, which was considerable. When a boy told me I was intimidating, I didn’t even smile at the backhanded compliment, didn’t say thank you, which must have proved his point. At night, I would curl into my mother’s arms, or into the farthest side of my bed, sobbing because everything hurt. I’m not strong I’m not strong, I whimpered. I am not a rose with sharp thorns, or a glorious ocean humming with surprising rip currents. Not the bee that stings and later blooms flowers. I am tough the way all math problem sets are tough. By that I mean, they aren’t. Those neat equations, the way we learn to count on our small, soft hands. Containable and infinite, puzzling, gentle enough for your absent-minded thoughts to swim in. Doesn’t it sound wrong if I say I am a delicate girl? Like the easily broken clasp of a rusting bracelet, or a wilting flower. Delicate, like my wrists and kneecaps, how my heavy anger always drops after a home-cooked meal. Girl who loves not bottom-up or top-down, but like slow-seeped tea. Girl who cries like most people sweat, which sounds gross, and love is gross kindness is gross forgiveness is gross. Girl like that inconstant moon, or the constant moon, what the wolves howl to and the ocean grows to: that sliver of magic in the sky winking at everyone nestled in bed like there is a giant secret unfolding. Someone told me I was a strong girl for writing this, which could be true. My soft heart, easy to chew, easy to give. Here you go, darling, have a taste.
ADVICE FOR WHEN YOUR FLIGHT IS ABOUT TO CRASH, WRITTEN BY DEATH by Lydia Havens
Advice for when your flight is about to crash, written by Death: Do not romanticize this. You are falling through 36,000 feet of a gravity you were hoping would hold you up. I am coming for you, and for the 99 other passengers on board, and let me tell you: there is nothing graceful or beautiful about a sudden, unwanted demise. But do think of romance. Think of love. Write your will on the napkin that came with your ginger ale. Write a poem, write a love letter. It may be that only the soot underneath your hands reads it, but you will have written it with a symphony in your chest. Remember your heart now. Your heart is young, your heart is old. Your heart is the oxygen mask you put over your mouth with such shaking fingers. It always felt as though it could inflate just a little bit more, but that was all standard procedure. Your heart is grateful, yet also disappointed that it helped you survive. It apologizes on how you must go down.
Allow your heads to tremble. Be bitter, be angry, because being at peace on this machine, this machine now called â€œFatalityâ€?, it is crap for most people. Look out your window and imagine that the clouds are on fire. Pretend that the sky is a gaping pit that may be able to swallow you. Surely that would be quicker. But whatever you do, do not refer to yourself in the past tense, not even in your last minute, for you will still have a trickle of oxygen left in your airbag lungs. You will know when you are a past tense in Godâ€™s grammar textbook. But I hope you know that you will never be a past tense in the minds of your parents, and your children, and your partner, and all of your friends. They will still save you a seat at Thanksgiving dinner, and still leave presents for you under the tree. Some of them may even pray to you, as though you could help them more than any deity out there. You are still going to be cherished. I hope you know that. *** All there is left for me to do now is ask for your forgiveness for what I must do. Godspeed, my friend.
SOME PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS LANGUAGE by Drew Hairgrove
some people just can’t date writers. there are some people who will be fascinated by the way you can string words together, how you find beauty in the girl who lost her hat to the wind at the park, how you hand write every letter and mark the sad parts with tears how you close the envelope with ink stained wrists. but there are some people who will look at you like you have lost your damn marbles. there are some people who will lose patience in your bedside lamp turning on and off late at night as you scribble words on a receipt. some people will trip over your crumbled papers and chewed pens with a sigh of annoyance. these people will take you by the wrists and say, “God dammit can’t you just drink the coffee without trying to write a love letter with the cream and sugar?” some people just can’t date writers. some people don’t deserve to.
UNTITLED by Rowan Misch
Added weight A paint brush With ink And a lens Your sacred geometric patterns couldn’t stop my broken pieces turning into gold Even when I’m drifting out of sleep the first thoughts on my mind are your words A fire A glacier A million miles away But still The burning sun I would like to blame you For my blood In a dirty motel and a needle right to the heart Pretending to be my mother For my blood Call after call leaving a verbal suicide note a plea for forgiveness For my blood At a loss Because the desert was supposed to be a safe haven But Tucson was always a little dirty I would like to blame you Because I did not flee Or spread my ashes Painted gold Through the mountains, the Sonoran I didn’t peel my eyes blue I would like to blame you I would but it was never you
by Kylee Twarowski wintertime makes my bones ache and feel the burden of so many months un-lived sadness brews in my chest so often that i think the beating of my heart must be a permanent storm warning when i close my eyes, i still feel lightning, i feel unfazed by the thrill of possible danger, bathing in a sea of salty possibilities and relishing it when my skin burns with the wounds of a thousand mistakes, yet i feel so hurt by the chance of new beginnings my emotions coming in so often as scattered storms, my lungs exhaling wind, breathing out any sort of good that longs to stay.
by Gabrielle Fuentes mercury’s in retrograde and i haven’t brushed my hair in three days I often feel brilliant but lazy I am still struggling with the concept of who decides how I should be struggling even though I know my answer is me. when my skin is purple and blue I wonder are these the marks love leaves behind? you are less than an actual flesh and blood creation not even remotely real but I am one of a select few who are enlightened indigo child always awake and awakened but you know, bone weary tired beginning and ending the day because if not us who else will? there aren’t many living people that understand how to do it right, there aren’t that many living breathing people that actually know how to be alive.
CHARLES BUKOWSKI KURT VONNEGUT
Jonathan Safran Foer
Simone de Beauvoir
OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE WRITERS
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
A THANK YOU FROM THE EDITOR
When my team and I came together to brainstorm ideas for this issue, it was decided almost immediately that it would involve a focus around poetry and the incredible talent behind the words; It became apparent that the idea would collaborate with the first day of Spring on March 20th. In December, when I first formed the idea of the zine and gathered an incredible group of individuals who indulged themselves completely in my little dream, Becky (our amazing managing editor) made a point that in future issues, we had to include spoken word and I couldn’t have agreed more. In the past few years I’ve grown to admire the raw truth behind the art and the cleansing process that comes along with getting up on that stage and making yourself completely vulnerable. I’m sure many of us have turned to writing as a form therapy - whether it’d be poetry, short stories, or essays, writing was always something I had kept very close to my heart. I’m so honored to have featured the wonderful writers in this special “Spring Cleaning” issue, and am forever grateful for the patience and contribution of their time. As we evolve in our zine and continue to grow, the respect that writers share for one another will always be something that is permanent. To all the featured brilliant minds: Thank you. Thank you for inspiring me in ways I’ll never be able to put into enough words and thank you for the wonderful work that you’ve created and published, and let spill from your minds and hearts. Thank you.
by Augusta Sagnelli
NED VIZZINI 1981 - 2013