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The Umamist

by Marc Sheehan

First of all, what is Umami? It is the fifth taste beyond sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Like the sixth sense, there are people who don’t believe it exists. Like intuition, it is more subtle, less quantifiable. My step-father, an electrician, said that once, during the Depression, his boss was hiring a new crew and treated the candidates to lunch at Walgreens. He hired the men who did not salt their food before tasting it. Those men would make sure the current was turned off before touching a wire. That’s Umami. Umami is not your first kiss, but your second. It’s a character’s motivation, the back story. Umami is less tastebud than Rosebud. As a young man my grandfather, who spent his life working in a lumberyard, was recruited by the Chicago Cubs, but his family wouldn’t let him go to the big city. He could have been bitter, but he was Umami. It is the computer program running in the background, creating a trail of cookies. It’s the bass player in a rock band, or perhaps the band’s last original member, or both. Umami is the revelation you have at 2 a.m., but can’t remember. Umami is singing karaoke when you’re sober. It is badly translated assembly instructions and the left-over parts. Umami is taking this class to meet someone, or because you need an excuse to get out of the house. I see you’re nodding. Very good, we are ready to cook now.

News

Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.” Congrats to Christopher Allen for being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes June 15, 2019; submit here.

Upcoming

05/20 • Clint Margrave
05/22 • Leah Griesmann
05/23 • Nance Van Winckel (1 of 8)
05/27 • Natasha Sajé
05/29 • Carolyn Oliver
05/30 • Nance Van Winckel (2 of 8)
06/03 • Ankita Banerjee
06/05 • Rachel Rodman
06/06 • Nance Van Winckel (3 of 8)
06/10 • Erica Soon Olsen
06/12 • Beverly Jackson
06/13 • Nance Van Winckel (4 of 8)
06/17 • Avra Margariti
06/19 • Tommy Dean
06/20 • Nance Van Winckel (5 of 8)
06/24 • Stephen Reaugh
06/26 • Hege Lepri
06/27 • Nance Van Winckel (6 of 8)
07/01 • Danielle Hark
07/03 • Shirley Harshenin
07/04 • Nance Van Winckel (7 of 8)
07/08 • Matthew Barrett
07/10 • Andrew Stevens
07/11 • Nance Van Winckel (8 of 8)
07/15 • Peter Cherches
07/17 • Christopher Ryan
07/22 • Jessica Kehinde Ngo
07/24 • TBA
07/29 • TBA
07/31 • TBA