Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Darien Gee. She has two books out this year. The first is called Other Small Histories, a poetry collection available from Poetry Society of America. And the second is a collection of micro-essays called Allegiance, available from Legacy Isle Publishing.

 

Gee is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into eleven languages. She won the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship award for Other Small Histories. She lives with her family on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

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Following the shocking death of a teenage boy, Barrett and Amelia are moved to revisit the passing of their own daughter, Edi, which occurred in the same small town nearly a decade earlier. Amelia finds herself caring for the recently deceased boy’s “sort of” girlfriend, who faces constant harassment and accusations from the townsfolk, while Barrett combs through Edi’s self-published fantasy novels in an effort to connect with her. As he reads, an increasingly bizarre wave of incidents crashes down upon the town involving a talking goat, Bigfoot, and a G-Man with alien thought patterns, to name but a few. As the Missouri River slowly floods, and the thin line between fact and fiction is washed away, Barrett and Amelia struggle against the great unknown and search desperately for inner peace. Blending whimsy and wonder with a mix of mayhem and malevolence, Water, Wasted takes readers on a tour of loss, redemption, and the great unknown.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Kasey Thornton. Her debut novel-in-stories, Lord the One You Love is Sick, is available now from Ig Publishing. It is the official November pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Thornton attended both the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and North Carolina State University for her MFA in Fiction. She lives with fellow author Kevin Kauffmann in Durham County, North Carolina, where members of her family have resided for over two hundred years. Her creative work has been featured in the Masters Review, TJ Eckleberg Review, tinyjournal, Colonnades Literary & Art Journal, and Apeiron Review.

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Because poets tend to live as outsiders, poetry communities can be a vital part of our lives and an essential part of American poetics. My questions relate to poetry communities I have known.

How did you get introduced to the world of poetry?

When I was young, a friend introduced me to the poets that gathered around St. Mark’s Church in New York City during the 60’s and 70’s – Anne Waldman, Ted Berrigan, Ed Sanders, etc. Nothing in my sheltered life prepared me for the life of the poets on the Lower East Side. America loves its outlaws and the poets of the Lower East Side were poetry outlaws. They did not have regular jobs. They chose not to be plugged into the mainstream American life. They were not university professors or even teachers. They lived in 4th or 5th floor walkup apartments with bathtubs in the kitchen. They had almost no furniture, slept on mattresses on the floor. They lived outside of any American life that I knew anything about. When I read poems and books with such titles as “Bean Spasms”, “Things to do in Providence,” or “Great Balls of Fire.” I thought What is this and who would name a magazine “Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts”? What are they doing?

Poet’s Work

By Phoebe MacAdams

Poem

For Lewis MacAdams

This morning the birds
ate most of the black sunflower seeds.
I fill up the feeder,
watch squirrels on the grass
look at asparagus fern in the garden
and read old poems.
I move from room to room,
think about my mother, my sister.
I sit quietly for a long time
then mail letters and observe the hummingbird.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Andrew Weatherhead. His latest book, $50,000, is available from Publishing Genius.

 

Weatherhead is a writer and artist from Chicago, Illinois. His other books include the poetry collections TODD and Cats and Dogs — and a chapbook, The Kids I Teach, with Mallory Whitten. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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About Ocean

By Eleanore Lee

Poem

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…
—I Corinthians 12:13

I’ll try to explain.
First you immerse.
Okay, go ahead.
There’s water all around.
You’re suddenly submerged
In meaning.
Next, let go. Start slow.
Float.
Simply stretch straight out, face down.
Flippers if you have them help.
Occasional gentle foot movements
And you shoot forward.
You can peer up, lift your mask and see
The green rim of distant coast.
(But we’re not doing that now.)

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Sebastian Castillo. His new book, Not I, is available from Word West Press.

 

Castillo is the author of 49 Venezuelan Novels (Bottlecap Press). You can find his writing in Hobart, Peach Mag, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. He lives in New York, where he teaches writing.

Paragraph

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The opening sentence I first wanted to run with was: “I may have inadvertently endorsed an actual cult.” Then, I thought: “I would like to take this opportunity to close the curtain,” would be more fitting. Although both true, I don’t wish to bring further attention to my potential cult endorsement, and I forfeited my right to privacy when I decided to write this book. But more importantly, neither sentence does the work of kicking off a month in which—for the second time in my life—I thought, “God is happening.” Disclaimer: I don’t believe in God, neither do I disbelieve in God—it’s not a question I’ve ever found vital enough to answer. The thought popped up only because there aren’t words to describe what occurred to me at night, October 7th. Things got set in motion, a smidge more than a week before, when I woke to a text from Pola: Hi Steven, happy birthday! Hope it’s a really nice day for ya. It was the first time, I think, she’d initiated contact since February, aside from the time I sobbed so hard I puked blueberries and unfollowed and removed her as a follower on Instagram because a photo she posted of herself and Bella forced me into the moment I felt closest to her—we’re on our stomachs, trying to lure the skittish and wide-eyed cat from beneath a bed, when Pola says, “It’s okay Bella, we’re your parents now.” Days after the birthday text, I pinned down why it disquieted me. Blind to everything but the short story I was working on, Sarah J. texted she was close by and wanted to do schoolwork on my couch while I wrote at my desk, something we’ve been doing weekly, and I said sure, just gotta shower first. A drop of lavender Dr. Bronner’s cupped in my palm, collecting water to dilute it, and no longer thinking of the divorced dad narrator and his weekend with Audrey, his daughter—something gave: the whole of the relationship, the breakup, the bereavement, caved in on itself and buried me in its rubble. I didn’t cry until I dried and sat naked in my desk chair, but it wouldn’t stop once it started, regardless of the Klonopins and the mindfulness exercises—I texted Sarah J. over-apologetically asking to postpone.

This piece was originally published on December 5, 2018. It is now accompanied by a dramatic reading performed by the author.

◊ ◊ ◊

My notes for a potential story about Brad’s face on the evening of November 8, 2016

Start with some general thoughts about Brad, maybe just the grass in Brad’s backyard and his cool studio/garage area. Focus on the small stuff that I like about Brad. How nice it was for him to invite us over for the election suicide party. How the night is blurry, and how I don’t really remember my children being there, but instinctively feel that my children were there to witness to Brad’s face. Relate that there, at Brad’s house, Brad’s face happened. Share that to this day Brad’s face on the evening of November 8, 2016 haunts me as a vacant, soul-baring portrait of American loss. Write something clever, call it “a piercing reflection of a deeply fucked moment.” Talk about the not-Brad things of the evening? Maybe throw in the junk food we stress ate in the car on the way to Brad’s, or how beautiful Jenny was in white. Potentially allude to the future we’re living and the one that might occur. Transition through the hope then, the fear then, and end with the reality now. It’s hard to talk in a controlled manner about a hell we’re all in, but like try to do that for a few sentences. For sure talk about Brad’s face once more, right here at the end.

Okay, poet, what’s your favorite word in English. And why.

Cusp.
It’s a meeting place. It’s undefined, flexible, mysterious.
I like the variety of sounds. The hard kah. How the sexy  s  kisses the  p.

Daddy

By Michael Montlack

Poem

They say it unabashedly.

Sometimes a twenty-something,
half my size, will lean across the bar
to touch my leg. Hey, Daddy,
he says, can I buy you a beer?

Others in their late thirties
or mid-forties, some even
older than me. And still they
say it. In hushed baby talk.
Or a taunting whisper.
Part plea, part demand.
A bratty whine. Usually
punctuated with a hungry sigh
when I take off my belt.