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Month: January 2020

Pyre, Derivative (5 of 12)

by Maureen Alsop

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the image below to view it at full size.]  


 

Author’s Note

These drawings evolved from a meditative process in response to my most recent body of poems, Pyre. I began to write (in faded blue, lined notebook) the words and lines from poems in the collection. On several of the pages I re-wrote one or two lines repeatedly, or overlapped poems as writing. On several occasions I wrote from ‘stream of conscious’. As I wrote the words, I would return the pages over time and ‘doodle’ or cross-out or write more words over the first words I’d written. There was no formalised structure to the process other than the consistency of materials (pen, notebook, poems). Later I photographed the poems and created close-ups of the images with the intention of creating a limited edition chapbook of the visual images to accompany the poetry collection at some juncture in the future.

 

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of Later, Knives & Trees; Mirror Inside Coffin; Mantic; Apparition Wren. She is the winner of several poetry prizes including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award through the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. She teaches online with the Poetry Barn.

 

Mirror

by Lynn Finger

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the triptych below to view it at full size.]

 

Lynn Finger holds a B.A. in Humanities. One of her poems won second place this year in the award-winning publication Sandscript. She spends her time writing, teaching, and working with trauma survivors. Currently she works with a group that mentors writers in prison. She grew up in Southern California and lives in Arizona.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Mirror”?

I began writing this work as a humorous piece about getting seasick on a whale watch. As I continued to develop this piece, it changed in tone, and became a description of transformation. Creating a connection with something as elemental and powerful as whales in their habitat can elevate and expand our human experience. That’s why I called it “Mirror” because we are mirrored in the whales and vice versa.

Starting Pitches

by Abby Manzella

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the triptych below to view it at full size.]  

 

Abby Manzella is a writer and critic who sings whenever she can. She has published with sites such as Lit Hub, Brevity, The Rumpus, The Millions, Bust, and Kenyon Review. Her book Migrating Fictions: Gender, Race, and Citizenship in U.S. Internal Displacements was named a Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Title. Follow her on Twitter @AbbyManzella or on Facebook @AbbyManzellaAuthor.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Starting Pitches”?

Not too long ago I was looking through some digitized videos of performances from when I sang a cappella in college. It was amazing how well those moments were already concretized in my mind, but beyond that it was the feeling of joy that most touched me. I wrote a flash piece about it, and then I moved on to other things.

When I saw your call for triptychs, I immediately thought about that put-away piece. It seemed like the perfect way to complete that original work that was about sound and space. There was the organization of the women on the stage as well as the structuring of the song through the starting pitches of three or four notes that reminded me of the columns of the triptych. It was about bringing disparate parts, notes, and people together so you could see the distinct beauty of each while also seeing how they could work together.

Singing and growing with those women gave me great happiness but also deep despair when there was pain and loss offstage. In those columns that present public definitions and private thoughts I wanted to capture the honesty of the performance but also what is behind those public presentations for good and bad. It was a remarkable time!

Sunday Focus: Synchronicity

Photo by Meg Boscov

[Editor’s Note: This ongoing Sunday feature pairs photographs from Meg Boscov with a thought (or two) from the managing editor about focusing on tiny things to find something significant. Click on the picture itself to view at full size.]

 

 

“The term synchronicity is coined by Jung to express a concept that belongs to him: the acausal connection of two or more psychic and physical phenomena.” — Carl-Jung.Net What is that light in the photograph? The sun? The moon? A well-placed flashlight? Or is it that at that exact moment, a car drove at the exact angle to shine, into the shot, a lone headlight?

 

“Synchronicity / A connecting principle, / Linked to the invisible / Almost imperceptible / Something inexpressible.” — The Police The question of synchronicity, for Jung, was “What archetype lurks behind the connection?” Is it light?—the archetype of illumination? Or is it the darkness of the unknown? This Sunday, the photograph speaks of connections between seemingly unconnected chance events. Imagine the world brought these things together for a purpose. Imagine the purpose is you.

Meg Boscov is a photographer who lives and works outside of Philadelphia where she continues to pursue her careers in animal-assisted education and dog training. She can be reached on instagram at megboscov.

Pyre, Derivative (4 of 12)

by Maureen Alsop

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the image below to view it at full size.]  

 

Author’s Note

These drawings evolved from a meditative process in response to my most recent body of poems, Pyre. I began to write (in faded blue, lined notebook) the words and lines from poems in the collection. On several of the pages I re-wrote one or two lines repeatedly, or overlapped poems as writing. On several occasions I wrote from ‘stream of conscious’. As I wrote the words, I would return the pages over time and ‘doodle’ or cross-out or write more words over the first words I’d written. There was no formalised structure to the process other than the consistency of materials (pen, notebook, poems). Later I photographed the poems and created close-ups of the images with the intention of creating a limited edition chapbook of the visual images to accompany the poetry collection at some juncture in the future.

 

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of Later, Knives & Trees; Mirror Inside Coffin; Mantic; Apparition Wren. She is the winner of several poetry prizes including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award through the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. She teaches online with the Poetry Barn.

 

September Snow

by Jennifer Delisle

 

When summer ends suddenly
I see you shimmering
as above a sun-baked road.
We have known heat.
We haven’t deflated the kids’ pool,
we haven’t picked the herbs to dry
and your body glimpsed between t-shirt and dark
is brown as the unchanged hares. The robins
look bewildered by the sugar covering their food.
They miss the earth
and if you should ever fall out of love with me
I, too, want to notice.

 

Jennifer Bowering Delisle is the author of The Bosun Chair, a hybrid of poetry and family memoir published with Canada’s NeWest Press in 2017. Her poetry and prose have appeared in magazines and anthologies across North America. She has a PhD in English from the University of British Columbia, and regularly teaches creative writing at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her husband and two children.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “September Snow”?

Children are only indirectly referenced in the line about the kids’ pool, but the impact of parenting on a marriage is really at the root of this poem. The routines, demands, and sleeplessness of caring for young children can cause a disconnection from your partner that can feel more threatening than a dramatic argument or betrayal. This poem is at once a commentary and a kind of talisman against that threat.

Dirt

by Francine Witte

 

The man on the TV is selling soap. Says it will clean anything. The woman looks at her husband, snoring up the evening. Snoring up her life. She puts it on her list.

At the supermarket, she asks the clerk about the TV soap. He looks the woman up and down and motions her to follow him to the back.

The doors swing closed behind them as he points to a purple curtain. “You sure about this?” he says.

“The man on the TV said this will clean anything. My husband’s clothes,” the woman says.

“I understand,” the clerk pulls back the curtain. “I can see you’re quite unhappy” the clerk says, his head tilted to the side. With this, the woman bursts into tears.

Later that night, the woman mixes the cleaner into a bucket of water. “Be careful not to touch it with your bare hands,” the clerk had warned. She looks around. The lemony bubbles stinging her nose. The cleanness that is about to happen.

Next morning, the clerk shows up. Dressed in a Sunday suit, and holding a bouquet of daisies.

The woman lets him in. She looks young and new somehow. “A miracle,” she says, offering the clerk a seat on the couch. “It lifted stains from the carpet that hadn’t budged for years.”

“Yes,” said the clerk. “It’s very effective.” He looks over at the chair where he guesses the husband might have sat. “It vanishes every bit of dirt it touches.” He straightens his tie and pulls the woman next to him on the couch. “That’s why we say to wear gloves.”

 

Francine Witte’s latest publications are a full-length poetry collection, Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books and the Blue Light Press First Prize Winner, Dressed All Wrong for This. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals, anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton) and her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction. She lives in New York City.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Dirt”?

I wrote this in a workshop and when I presented it, someone called me Francine Hitchcock, which I thought was so cool. 

Pyre Derivative, 3 of 12

by Maureen Alsop

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the image below to view it at full size.]  

 

Author’s Note

These drawings evolved from a meditative process in response to my most recent body of poems, Pyre. I began to write (in faded blue, lined notebook) the words and lines from poems in the collection. On several of the pages I re-wrote one or two lines repeatedly, or overlapped poems as writing. On several occasions I wrote from ‘stream of conscious’. As I wrote the words, I would return the pages over time and ‘doodle’ or cross-out or write more words over the first words I’d written. There was no formalised structure to the process other than the consistency of materials (pen, notebook, poems). Later I photographed the poems and created close-ups of the images with the intention of creating a limited edition chapbook of the visual images to accompany the poetry collection at some juncture in the future.

 

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of Later, Knives & Trees; Mirror Inside Coffin; Mantic; Apparition Wren. She is the winner of several poetry prizes including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award through the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. She teaches online with the Poetry Barn.

 

Circus Payday: an ethnography

by Julia Lynn Offen

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the triptych below to view it at full size.]

 

 

Julia Lynn Offen is a writer, anthropologist, and editor living in beautiful coastal California after years spent trotting across North America and Europe. She earned her M.F.A. in English from the University of California at Irvine, an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of California at San Diego. Her creative prose has been published in Green Mountains Review, Ethnography, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rum Punch Press, and Anthropology and Humanism. Now, she is the fiction and creative nonfiction editor for the journal Anthropology and Humanism. She spent two years with her dog living and working with traveling circuses across Europe, which may perhaps explain some things.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Circus Payday: an ethnography”?

Readers can see my experience of surprise at the core of this piece (“Circus Payday” is nonfiction, after all). I knew timing was important when conducting a research visit to speak with circus workers – you especially don’t want to get in the way of work, and there is a lot of it. I followed the rules as I knew them from the European circuses I visited: you show up close to the beginning of a break (too late into it and there may be a bit too much drinking to be comfortable). But, oops, American circuses are not European circuses. Staff is different, the sociability of the local townies is different, and let’s just say that leisure activities seem to differ. In this piece, I try to expand upon the story of this brief incident by drawing some broad strokes of circus basics (my left panel), and offering some bits of personal experience from my time with circuses (my right panel). That is how ethnographic writing works: research and experience backing up stories of the meaningful moments where so much more becomes clear (to both the author and the reader).

CNF: Smelling Money

by Daniel Galef

 

Canadian $100 bills smell like maple syrup. The scent, impregnated into notes made of waterproof plastic, can be detected by anyone with enough money to sniff at, yet the Bank of Canada vehemently denies putting any scent into the bills during the manufacturing process.

*

In the reign of Antoninus (according to Cassius Dio in the Historiae), a knight was condemned for the crime of using a coin bearing the Emperor’s visage to purchase lewd services; there existed a sophisticated system of exchange and a special second money system known as spintriae to use in cases where it would be below the dignity of Roman money to spend it.

*

Yet only a few centuries before, Emperor Vespasian had imposed a tax on the urine scavenged from public toilets by leather-tanners. According to Suetonius in the De Vita Caesarum, when the prince Titus raised objections about the unsavory origins of the tax money, Vespasian dismissed his son’s concerns with the phrase pecunia non olet—“Money does not smell.”

*

Blood money or no, money does smell like blood. As any surgeon knows, blood smells sharp and metallic due to the iron content of hemoglobin. Gold, like all the noble metals, is unreactive and odorless, but base coinage smells like an open wound.

*

The most infamous blood money in history was not re-spent without scruple. The thirty pieces of silver paid to the apostle Judas for the betrayal of his Lord was put to use (by Judas himself, according to the Book of Acts; by the temple elders, according to the Gospel of Matthew) in purchasing Potter’s Field. It was considered too filthy a lucre even to give to the poor as alms.

*

Figuratively dirty money can be traced forensically and so ill-gotten gains are purified through “money laundering.”

*

Unrelated to financial money laundering, last year Dutch police discovered €350,000 in stolen bills hidden, aptly, in a washing machine. Conversely, counterfeiters have been known to run newly-printed fakes through a clothes dryer to give the appearance of age and wear.

*

Money is literally dirty, as well. Decades of studies by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have found that 90% of U.S. dollar bills are tainted with detectable quantities of cocaine, which binds to the green dye used in printing the bills.

*

I’m not sure whether to agree with Antoninus, who believed his coins were totems that carried their history with them, or with Vespasian, who saw his wealth as abstract and divorced from its origins. Guglielmo Marconi may have said that it only takes six handshakes to connect any two people in the world; the number of monetary transactions can’t be much greater.

 

Daniel Galef can be found in Webster’s Dictionary, where since last spring he has been living cozily as the official citation for the word “interfaculty.” His recent stories have appeared in the American Bystander, Juked, Rivet, Barnhouse, and Flash Fiction Magazine, and he also writes poems and plays.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Smelling Money”?

This piece of flash nonfiction owes a lot more to Jorge Luis Borges than I realized until looking back on the circumstances under which I wrote it. A passing reference to Ellus Lampridius in “The Lottery in Babylon” started me down a rabbit-hole of reading Roman historians (when I was supposed to be writing a final paper on medical ethics), and the subject may have been suggested by a passage in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” The final I was writing was on John Harris’s 1975 paper “The Survival Lottery,” and I’d been re-reading “The Lottery in Babylon” looking for an epigraph. Instead, I spent a few days in Dio Chrysostom, Cassius Dio, and Suetonius, who have done me a lot more good than medical ethics ever has—just ask my patients.

News

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

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now OPEN. The submission period closes June 15, 2020; submit here.

Upcoming

10/19 • Lucy Zhang
10/20 • Helen Beer
10/22 • Donald Ranard
10/26 • Diane Gillette
10/29 • Marsha McSpadden