My latest flash, “Kidding, Kidding” and “Plucking Away” up at the lovely Jellyfish Review are my first (self-acknowledged) creative nonfiction-ish pubs. All my recent work is mined from my life and I used to spend a lot of time negotiating the boundaries between fiction, non-fiction, and poetry before submitting, but life and art feel too variable to worry about this anymore. I’ll say these two pieces are close to my real biography, and it is simultaneously easy and uncomfortable to see this work published. I’ve pushed myself to be more explicit in my recent pieces, and I can’t tell if the discomfort stems from “the mortifying ordeal of being known,” or if my implicit writing really is more porous, holds more space for many truths.
Maybe it’s only needless self-deprecation to say the truths of these pieces don’t feel as truthy because they are so fixed. (I know I’m really selling these publications.) Continue reading →
It’s a strange feeling to publish out of step with yourself. “All Surfaces Lose Their Tension” over at Marias At Sampaguitas is my second published flash-ish piece. I drafted it years ago, before I knew what flash was. The piece was my response to a writing group prompt to “describe a kiss.” When I thought of a kiss, all I could see in my mind was an image of a meniscus — the curve of water on the surface of a cup.
Like my first published prose poem “We Know the World with Our Bodies,” it is about a raceless, faceless couple passing each other by. In the past two years of learning to write flash, I’ve edited the piece on-and-off with the generous help of readers and other writers. I learned a lot about language and my obsessions in the process, but really, the piece was as done as it was ever going to be years ago.
This is a stream-of-consciousness sketch I wrote about an “off-stage” character in my short story Kirkenes, Norway (p. 95, Ginosko Literary Journal). In that great way it happens sometimes, this character, Marit, swam to the forefront of the original story and became the most interesting figure in it for me. I imagine she is in her 30s, living in post-war Norway in the 1950s. I don’t think we could be friends, but I like her.
Grease spots were profoundly irritating to her, and her clothes were full of them. She remembered scrubbing and scrubbing; lemon juice, baking soda, hot water, cold water–still the spots. There was no way to fry without sustaining these little oily insults, and she loved to fry. Vegetables, meat, anything. Her mother thought she was helpful–cold and quiet but helpful. It’s true she did other chores, but she fried because she wanted to. There was that side to her. The part that liked to see a piece of soft meat covered in egg and flour, all white and malleable, plunged in sparking oil. It always shocked her how quickly a thing could brown. Continue reading →