Damp & splotchy


The splotchy thing above is a detail from a finger-painting my son did. He has no idea he created it. He just made it and brought it home from school before disappearing beneath a pile of Legos. I pinned the painting up by my desk at work and there it hung for many months until I noticed the intricate webbings inside the mess, and snapped a photo last week. Not sure why, and I’m probably overthinking it a bit, but it feels like I’m supposed to learn something from that somehow. Or not. I just like it.

Meanwhile, I was very happy in May to have two stories in The Brooklyn Rail. They are both very short stories, and appeared in print and online, so if you need a quick read, they’re on the same webpage. One is about death, and the title even says so: “Particles of Death.” The other is about love and is called “The Breath of Life.” I’m grateful to Donald Breckenridge for publishing them.

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Reading in, reading out


With summer behind us and “serious book” season going strong, it feels like a busy time. A couple fantastic books I read in October were VERTIGO, a story collection by Joanna Walsh, and THE WEIGHT OF THINGS, a novella by the late Austrian writer Marianne Fritz, which was translated by my friend and former Asymptote colleague Adrian Nathan West. I shouldn’t link to 27 things here, so I’ll just say there have been a lot of enjoyable reviews and author/translator interviews for both books. They were published by Dorothy Project, who releases a pair of books each fall, and it’s become a sort of a “can’t wait” moment for me each year. Their list already includes Renee Gladman, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Nell Zink, Joanna Ruocco, Barbara Comyns, and more.

In September, poet Paul Siegell invited me to read at Painted Pride Quarterly Presents: a reading series at the Black Sheep Pub in Philly. I got to read with poets Yolanda Wisher, Boston Gordon, and Hannah Litvin.

Back in August I organized and hosted a reading in Philly with five authors, including Scottish author Helen McClory, and local writers Asali Solomon, Ras Mashramani, Phillip Garcia, and poet Jasmine Combs.

Rather than drop 10,000 words here about what it means to me to have met these writers and heard from them in person at these two events, I’ll just say that nothing beats being able to shake hands with other Philly writers and hear how they survive and thrive as artists in this city. It felt like I got a chance to see again part of something vast and beautiful and made me proud to be a writer among them.

One last note, this Saturday at 1 p.m. I’ll be at the 215 Festival in Northern Liberties for a “Fake Histories” walking tour, where writers tell tall tales about real places. It’ll be a short walk but a lot of fun. So if you’re at the festival and need some fresh air and a laugh, come check it out. There are good spots nearby to grab a beer afterwards, too. It starts at 1 p.m. at Trophy Bikes (712 N. 2nd St.), will be hosted by Jaime Fountaine, and features journalist Max Marin and writer Alejandro Morales.

gratitude, 2014

I’d like to say thanks for following the blog this year and reading a few of my posts. I’m looking forward to checking out more of everyone’s work in 2015.

As for the rest of this post, I’ve been incredibly fortunate this year. I got to work with dozens of people who challenged and supported me and, perhaps most importantly, contrary to the past five years or so, no one close to me died. (Raps knuckles to temple.)

To gear up for the work ahead I took a little time to record good things from 2014 in the hope of building on them. And that goes for everything from writing/art projects to more social activism. Here’s a recap in a link-heavy chunk of text. Thanks again for reading truce in 2014!

January: after 30+ subs I sold my first short story,Killing Off Ray Apada,” to gorse (thanks to editor Susan Tomaselli); was featured in The Guardian’s story,Year of Reading Women Declared (thanks to Joanna Walsh and Alison Flood); edited interviews with Anne Carson and Yoshitomo Nara for Asymptote.  February: Continue reading

A focus for 2014: My reading resolution

This is my first post. New year, new things! And to start things off I’m actually going to repeat myself: My reading resolution for 2014 is to read only books by women.

I wrote about this on Dec. 30, 2013, at Asymptote’s blog. A snippet:

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a book at home and my eyes kept being drawn to big books: 2666, The Emperor of Lies, Ulysses, The Satanic Verses, Stone Upon Stone. Thick books with titles and author names in large font—and I noticed all by men. And what about women? I’d studied literature, helped judge the Best Translated Book Award a couple times, and I review books, so I assumed I had lots of big books, a good balance of literary work by everyone from everywhere. In a few minutes’ time though I counted eighteen big, 500-plus-page books by men and just one by a woman: Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.

The post at Asymptote links to similar writing projects and since it was published Joanna Walsh created the #readwomen2014 hashtag. Read her essay about it here.

Welcome to the blog! Curious to see where this goes.