I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Belén Fernández is the guest. Her new book, ExileRejecting America and Finding the World, is available from OR Books. It is the official September pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

After growing up in Washington, D.C. and Texas, and then attending Columbia University in New York, Fernández ended up in a state of self-imposed exile from the United States. From trekking—through Europe, the Middle East, Morocco, and Latin America—to packing avocados in southern Spain, to close encounters with a variety of unpredictable men, to witnessing the violent aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, the international travel allowed her by an American passport has, ironically, given her a direct view of the devastating consequences of U.S. machinations worldwide. For some years Fernández survived thanks to the generosity of strangers who picked her up hitchhiking, fed her, and offered accommodations; then she discovered people would pay her for her powerful, unfiltered journalism, enabling—as of the present moment—continued survival.

In just a few short years of publishing her observations on world politics and writing from places as varied as Lebanon, Italy, Uzbekistan, Syria, Mexico, Turkey, Honduras, and Iran, Belén Fernández has established herself as a one of the most trenchant observers of America’s interventions around the world, following in the footsteps of great foreign correspondents such as Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag.

Fernández is a contributing editor at Jacobin and graduated from Columbia with a BA in political science. She frequently writes for Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye, and Jacobin, and is also the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work.

The poem featured here in TNB, “Catch,” like much of your work, involves childhood and parent-child relationship. You’re on in years, but still preoccupied with childhood it seems.

Yes, and it’s fair to use the word preoccupied—not only with my own childhood, but with this basic layer of our humanness that I feel we never outgrow. I work as a psychiatrist with a therapy practice, so, as you might imagine, I’ve seen what children we really still are beneath our apparent adulthood. And that’s not bad! Without our child-selves alive inside, we wouldn’t have any music or poetry, I’m sure!

Part of my preoccupation is the search for safe space for feeling sad or lost or helpless—space, creative or therapeutic, for feeling and expressing how it is without a dad there, or without a mom freed-up enough to be engaged. Whether we’re six or sixty, finding true holding for our distress can be as elusive as it is necessary. Many of us, young and old, trudge on without this, and it is, I believe, of great consequence. Much destruction comes of such secret lonely torment.

Catch

By Jed Myers

Poem

All the fathers are gone, under
the grass, above us in the earth’s
greenhouse haze, in stream silts
where the burial hills are awash
in the unprecedented monsoons,

some never found, swamped shot
in the rice marshes and ultimately
part of the crop, some taken in bits
as they sank into the mouths of fish
and bottom scavengers, some chopped

into manageable chunks and wrapped
to be kept from the air and stashed
behind Sheetrock while the cops passed
for unbroadcast reasons—all
the fathers, it sometimes seems, are gone,

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Sarah M. Broom. Her debut memoir, The Yellow House, is available from Grove Press.

 

Broom began her writing career as a newspaper journalist working in Rhode Island, Dallas, New Orleans and Hong Kong (for TIMEAsia). She also worked as an editor at O, The Oprah Magazinefor several years. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times MagazineO, The Oprah Magazineand elsewhere. In 2016, she received the prestigious Whiting Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Broom has an undergraduate degree in anthropology and mass communications from the University of North Texas and a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

A native New Orleanian, she is the youngest of twelve children, and now makes her home in New York City.

for ruth weiss

1
where’s a pebble birthed?
the river delivered you
an ancient infant

2
rare egg of rock
rest upon my frail heartline
nearly translucent

3
clouds at your back
floating you down the river
innocence erodes

noom

By Aram Saroyan

Opinion

Recently, going about daily errands, I came across an ad, on social media and on the radio, for a diet program improbably called noom.

Half a century ago in the sixties, in my minimalist phase as a poet, I came up with a one-word poem: noom.  It was published that year, alone on a page in outsize type, in John Perreault’s little magazine, Elephant. It also appears in my poetry collection The Rest (1971).  When Complete Minimal Poems (which includes noom) was published in 2007, followed by a rave in the New York Times Book Review, it went through four printings and was honored with the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams award.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Dora Malech. Her most recent poetry collection, Stet, is available from Princeton University Press.

 

Malech’s other collections include Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her fourth collection, Flourish, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2020.

Malech has been the recipient of an Amy Clampitt Residency Award from the Amy Clampitt Fund, a Mary Sawyers Baker Prize from the Baker Artist Awards, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a Writing Residency Fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and she has served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a co-founder and former director of the arts engagement organization the Iowa Youth Writing Projects, and she is currently an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

Blank

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Five

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Kimberly King Parsons. Her debut story collection, Black Light, is available from Vintage.

 

Born in Lubbock, Texas, Parsons earned a BA in English and an MA in Literary Studies (emphasis on the works of William Faulkner) from the University of Texas at Dallas. She later moved to New York City, where she earned an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and served as the editor-in-chief of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.

A recipient of fellowships from Columbia University and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, her fiction has been published in The Paris ReviewBest Small Fictions 2017Black Warrior ReviewNo TokensKenyon Review, and elsewhere.

She lives with her partner and sons in Portland, OR, where she is completing a novel about Texas, motherhood, and LSD.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

Photo credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher

 

Hello Rick. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.

Oh, it’s my pleasure Rick, though, full disclosure I’m just answering your questions by typing. We’re not speaking out loud. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

On the Plane Home

By Rick Lupert

Poem

I
I would like to visit Budapest
I tell the airplane magazine
in response to its article titled
“Visit Budapest”. Send me a
paprika sample and we’ll
seal the deal! I’m not as
interested in the shirts
designed to be worn untucked.
Sorry, airplane magazine,
you can’t win them all.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Death

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Four

 

Why do people write stories? Because they’ll die soon, that’s why. Why do people read stories? Because they’re alive, for now, that’s why.

The editor was overwhelmed. Submissions poured in. Another 2000 words about someone’s grandma dying, $20 deposited into the account. By the end of the first week, a hundred stories a day.

The editor called me on the phone, “I don’t know what to do, man. I can’t keep up.” It was the middle of the day, I was in bed. The sun shined through the Venetian blinds.

“How many stories do we have now?”

“Over a thousand.”

“Well, it’ll get worse, just before we close.”

“I need help.”

“I’d love to help you pick a winner, Joey, but I’m on night shift. I’m in no condition.”

“Yeah. Okay. No worries.”

“Just batch select and reject them all. Send that form letter I sent you.”

The form letter said this:

 

Yo, thanks for sending your story about your grandma dying to the Good Luck novel. We got a lot of stories about a lot of people’s grandmas dying, and regret that there is no place in the larger work for the death of your specific grandma. Much Respect, The Editor.