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Month: August 2019

Visual Poem Series: The D Axed from the Dream (8 of 8)

by Nance Van Winckel

 

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

 

 

Nance Van Winckel’s fifth book of fiction is Ever Yrs., a novel in the form of a scrapbook (2014, Twisted Road Publications); her eighth book of poems is Our Foreigner (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series). A book of visual poetry entitled Book of No Ledge appeared in 2016 with Pleiades Press. The recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, she has new poems in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Field, Poetry Northwest, and Gettysburg Review. She is on the MFA faculties of Vermont College of Fine Arts and E. Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

What always surprises me when I (digitally) enhance my photographs of walls is the way the words themselves arrive. My conscious mind works on the images and the wall, tweaking and torquing. Then suddenly some words arrive and want to belong on the wall too.

CNF: Mind Over Matter

by Amelia Clare Wright

 

When I am twenty-one, I grow out my pubic hair. I have never before seen what it looks like; I don’t know the color or the length or the way it curls. I began shaving as soon as my first hair grew in. It was blonde. And that was the last I saw of any hair somewhere other than my head for six years.

When I was nineteen, my boyfriend told me he wanted to see me “with hair down there,” so I tried to grow it out for the first time.

It was itchy.

I made it two weeks before shaving it all off again, didn’t know hair growing in would itch so much. Prickles like cactuses poking through my thin underwear and I couldn’t take it.

But I am twenty-one now, and I am determined to learn what it is to feel natural.

To my surprise, I love the way it looks. The thick bush of hair, not blonde this time, is a reminder of my humanity. I feel real in my body. I feel like a woman, like someone who belongs to herself. Like someone growing and shedding and making room.

It still itches.

This time I last for months before I can’t take it and shave it all off again, meticulously, painstakingly, centimeter by centimeter, clearing the growth. When I am finished, my first thought is that I feel like a naked mole rat.

I feel bare and fake—plastic. I am Barbie-doll clean again, and I am itch-free.

 

I don’t know — as I sit here writing this, trying to decide if I should grow it out again — which is more important. What does it mean to “feel good”? Psychologically, long pubic hair grounds me in a way my body never has before, like I can look at myself as something more than a tool for others, like I have accepted my womanhood and chosen to honor it instead of clear it away. Physically, I would tear them out one by one to relieve the itching.

The question is one of priority. I am always telling myself to do things because of the way they make me feel, not because of the way they make me look. But this has always been easy, clear-cut—body helps mind; mind helps body. I remind myself in the gym that I am there to build a comfortable home in my body, not for the way it tones and slims and makes me desirable to others. The visceral improves the cerebral. I fill my acrylics every month because it is a part of the persona I am creating for myself. There is no negative bodily consequence. I haven’t had to negotiate between the comfortable psychological and the practical physical before.

 

Here I am, the physical challenging the psychological, the psychological disagreeing with the physical.

Here I am, flourishing mentality, and a landscape that makes me feel powerful, a desire to scratch.

Here I am on shaky ground, a smoothness that makes me uneasy, physical relief.

Where do I want to be?

 

I am inclined to follow my mind. I am inclined to put my mental well-being over corporeal comfort. But that means I have to unwind my taut perception that a body at ease is a mind at ease. It means admitting that the way I look (or the way I feel about the way I look) is more important than the comfort of my skin.

When I am twenty-one, I grow out my pubic hair.

I shave it off.

I grow it back.

 

Amelia is a recent graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Communications Studies and the intention to pursue an MFA in nonfiction creative writing. She grew up in Baltimore City and now lives in Boston, Massachusetts where she is currently working on a memoir about her body. This is her first publication. 

 

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

This essay began as a piece of a larger memoir about my body. As I’ve been living with this concept in my head, I’ve noticed all of the noteworthy things about my body— places of discomfort, of ease, of contradiction. I knew as soon as I shaved off my pubic hair again that it was something I needed to write about, both as a tool of reconciliation within myself and as a place to join a larger body of people who feel these innate contradictions between body and mind. 

The Gift

by Suzanne Verrall

 

my grandmother gave us
a set of knucklebones
to play with

she said they were
from last night’s
mutton stew

but I’ve seen
the way
she wrings her hands

 

Suzanne Verrall lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her flash fiction, essays and poetry appear in Atlas and Alice, Flash Frontier, Archer Magazine, Lip
Magazine, Poetry NZ Yearbook, Australian Poetry Journal, and others. www.suzanneverrall.com

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

I was thinking about family and generations and sacrifices when I wrote this poem. I almost wish Charles Simic had written it just so I could see
what he would have called it. I envy the way he uses an unexpected title to add an extra dimension to a poem. I’d ask him, but I don’t have his email.

Sunday Focus: Float Like Ali

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.]

 


 

In the signed postcard I have from Muhammad Ali, he drew a picture of a boxing ring, then wrote The Greatest of All Times. With a smiley face.

 

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.

 

This image asks you to be inspired by the man who floats like butterflies, stings like bees. Braggin’ is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say. Take on an impossible battle. Brag a little. Create a rhyme about yourself. Take back your name. Give away your titles for something larger.

 

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.

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.

Visual Poem Series: The Sloth Dotes on Don’ts (7 of 8)

by Nance Van Winckel

 

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

 

 

Nance Van Winckel’s fifth book of fiction is Ever Yrs., a novel in the form of a scrapbook (2014, Twisted Road Publications); her eighth book of poems is Our Foreigner (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series). A book of visual poetry entitled Book of No Ledge appeared in 2016 with Pleiades Press. The recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, she has new poems in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Field, Poetry Northwest, and Gettysburg Review. She is on the MFA faculties of Vermont College of Fine Arts and E. Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

What always surprises me when I (digitally) enhance my photographs of walls is the way the words themselves arrive. My conscious mind works on the images and the wall, tweaking and torquing. Then suddenly some words arrive and want to belong on the wall too.

Even We

by Tyler Friend

 

            after H.D.’s “Evening”

We pass light
back & forth, from ridge

to ridge & flower to
flower. We ourselves

flower, become. We grow
faint, reach inward, blue

& lost, our hearts—
blue. Our buds are still

& shadowed. We
root, leaving leaves

& turning away from
the glass, at last.

 

Tyler Friend is a non-binary poet & designer from Tennessee, and they received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Tyler edits the online magazine Francis House and designs for Eulalia Books.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

This piece comes from a series of rewritten H.D. poems. I’ve long felt very attached to H.D. and found much of my own self in her work, so this practice feels a little bit like collaborating with myself, or a past-self. Some poems retain more of their original language or meaning than others; often there is a we; they all seem to end up in couplets.

CNF: Stories I Don’t Know How to Tell

by Nick Ackerson

 

  • I did not like Christian, but it still made me sad when he did not come home from Afghanistan.
  • When I was transitioning back into the civilian world, a retired green beret with salt and pepper in his beard gave me a piece of advice, “you were asked to be willing to die for your friends, family, and country. Now you’re going to have to live for them. That’s going to be much harder.”
  • Twice in my life I have walked so far—for so long—with so much weight on my back, that when I took off my boots, all the skin on the soles of my feet separated from my body and remained in the bottom of my footwear.
  • One time I jumped out of an airplane into a lightning storm.
  • One time I jumped out of an airplane wearing an experimental parachute.
  • One time I jumped out of an airplane wearing an experimental parachute, and some one in my chalk fell to their death.
  • I scoff when I hear people use the word “warrior” as if it’s supposed to be empowering. Warriors are so tired they know if they die, at least it’s over.
  • Mike took too many pills.
  • When Jon was in Iraq, his fiancé broke off their engagement in the same week his platoon lost two soldiers.
  • One time I lent someone forty dollars, and the next morning it was announced he had killed himself later that night.
  • I have tinnitus.
  • Every one in the army keeps an unofficial list in their head called, “Of Course It Would Be a Tragedy if Any One in Our Platoon Died — But it Would be Less of a Tragedy if it was this Person.”
  • I have been on a plane to go to war four times, and every time they turned the plane around.
  • I have sleep apnea.
  • Technically the plane only turned around twice. Two times it never left the ground at all. I don’t tell this version of the story because the look on a civilian’s face when they hear the nuanced version of an Army story is infuriating.
  • One time a girl at my college told me, “I asked around about you, and your friends say you’ve never killed any one. Now that I know you’re one of the good vets I’m willing to talk to you.” So I lied and said that I had.
  • In the six and a half years I was in the Army, thirteen men in my unit killed themselves.
  • When I was transitioning back into the civilian world, a retired green beret with salt and pepper in his beard gave me a piece of advice, “you were asked to be willing to die for your friends, family, and country. Now you’re going to have to live for them. That’s going to be much harder.” He was right.

 

Nick Ackerson is writer and comedian based in Chicago. He served in the Army from 2009 to 2015. He sent the first four years of his career jumping out of airplanes as a paratrooper. His final two years in the military were spend doing other, less impressive things.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Stories I Don’t Know How to Tell”?

The original “Stories I Don’t Know How to Tell” list was exactly that—a list of events from my time in the Army that didn’t feel like full stories to me. I wrote this list as part of a brainstorming session for a storytelling class I took in my final semester at college. These were all things that were on my mind — but I didn’t know how to present them as stories with a beginning, middle, and end. They were just occurrences — the only thing they had in common was that I didn’t know how to talk about them. This turned out to be the unifying theme.

I’ve read this piece aloud to a few audiences. Eventually the point of the list stopped being “can I make these stories make sense to the audience?” And became, “can this piece help the audience understand why it’s confusing for me to tell these stories?” There are two moments that stick out to me from these readings. Every time I read the line, “I have tinnitus,” the audience laughed. It’s a quick succinct sentence, and it is also has considerably lower stakes than the items on the list in the front of it. When I would read the line, “Every one in the army keeps an unofficial list in their head called, “Of Course It Would Be a Tragedy if Any One in Our Platoon Died — But it Would be Less of a Tragedy if it was this Person.” There would be chuckling and elbow nudging. You can’t escape it. Every group of people has some one who is a pain in the neck—even groups of people who are in life or death situations.

Sunday Focus: Dance

em>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.]

 

 

“Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.” — Maya Angelou Dance! Dance carelessly. According to Sweet Dreams, “You are going to achieve success in life, if you dream of yourself dancing alone!” So dance alone: freely, crazily, without constraint.

 

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” – Anne Lamott This Sunday, take your eyes off your feet and follow the lesson of the pitcher plant. Just dance.

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.

Visual Poem Series: No Telling (6 of 8)

by Nance Van Winckel

 

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

 

 

Nance Van Winckel’s fifth book of fiction is Ever Yrs., a novel in the form of a scrapbook (2014, Twisted Road Publications); her eighth book of poems is Our Foreigner (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series). A book of visual poetry entitled Book of No Ledge appeared in 2016 with Pleiades Press. The recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, she has new poems in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Field, Poetry Northwest, and Gettysburg Review. She is on the MFA faculties of Vermont College of Fine Arts and E. Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

What always surprises me when I (digitally) enhance my photographs of walls is the way the words themselves arrive. My conscious mind works on the images and the wall, tweaking and torquing. Then suddenly some words arrive and want to belong on the wall too.

Word Made Flesh

by Karie Luidens

 

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

 

 

Karie Luidens is a writer of criticism, commentary, current events, and semi-connected musings. The word-made-flesh λόγος is her first tattoo but surely won’t be her last. Follow her ever-evolving body of work at karieluidens.com.

 

See what happens when you click below.

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

I often find that I have grand creative visions but am too much of a perfectionist to follow through—I know the final version of any endeavor will never be as polished as the version in my mind’s eye. Tattoos pose a particular challenge to someone with that tendency. You can’t rework the draft endlessly in cycles of idea and doubt; either you have the tattoo, or you don’t. I figured if I could take the leap and commit ink to a permanent form in my own skin, that could help me commit ink to permanent forms in publication, too…even forms as imperfect as my own penmanship.

News

Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

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

New titles available from Robert McBrearty and Tori Bond.

Submissions

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

Upcoming

10/07 • Socorro Venegas
10/10 • Lilian McCarthy
10/14 • Marlin Jenkins
10/21 • Mary Grimm
10/28 • David Galef
11/04 • Douglas Milliken
11/11 • Janiru Liyanage
12/02 • Tara Campbell