"About the Work" with Denise Duhamel In our "About the Work" series, Savannah Trent asks recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Duhamel's poem, "I Am Not an Astronaut ," in SER vol. 39.1 I wrote this poem after reading about SpaceX and NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program. Though nothing I read explicitly stated that rich humans planned to flee earth once it became uninhabitable, I felt a creeping sense of paranoia
The True Jazz of Wesley Brown's 'Tragic Magic' Aram Mrjoian The first book republished as part of McSweeney’s Of The Diaspora series, Wesley Brown’s 1978 novel Tragic Magic is as relevant today as when first brought to print more than forty years ago. To be clear, that first sentence is a cop out for its predictability, a statement both convenient and readymade, but one that holds true given the statistical reality that during that period Black literature has not only been sy
"About the Work" with Brandon Taylor In our "About the Work" series, Savannah Trent asks recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Taylor's fiction, "Otto" ,in SER vol. 39.1 I remember the origins of “Otto” quite well. I was talking to the owner of the Prairie Lights bookstore here in Iowa City, and she was telling me about the exhibit that was currently running in the upstairs café. It was photos of various writers who had
Norris Lake Metal signage. Where we can only
eat three catches per year. Mercury sneaks
in through the soil. Dig a hole & another hole
& another until we’ve got ourselves a trench.
Our black dog named Tucker I found
there. Sometimes my father is impatient
clipping Tucker’s nails, he quicks him with the cutters
& Tucker limps away to whimper in the yard.
I’m big enough & steady, fingers easy
on the spring, & I beg my father to let me clip them gentle,
but he is angry about the
Mercury in Retrograde And there was that time I came home to find him washing the sheets, and there was that night he went to his buddy’s but he trimmed his ruddy beard first, and at that gallery opening, when he rushed me
through the sculptures, eying a girl who’d just walked in, and there were those times I had to remind myself to trust and now it seems like a cigarette lit onstage, the firecracker smell and the smoke. Such are the effects and such are the scenes:
Eclogue with Grappling Hook I can feel myself slipping again, as always
when I’m given too much room for thinking. Better to be thoroughly exhausted than at full capacity. I need to be worked like a horse, I need someone
to own me and trot me around on a leash. I am full this way. Little Queen, mouth brimming with oil. Bluebell. Born gentle. Limbs, basin, breasts. Still God ate at the soft body, God made ready for use. I have had terrible dreams and treated them as reality,
✧ Finalist for the 2020 Ned Stuckey-French Nonfiction Contest ✧ Selected by Gilbert King Hallowed “Well, this is the shittiest outcome I can imagine,” I say, deadpanning as I push my way into the hospital room. I drop my backpack, containing my laptop and a USB microphone for recording, and catch my mom’s eye, giving her two exhausted eyebrows up.
My dad, in the bed closer to the window, turns his head in my direction and snorts. Jackpot. It’s my job to break ice, distract,
Hyu :: In-Between At all sides, the trains slip away from us.
My sister and I play red light, green light but with eyes closed and singing instead:
the-hi-bis-cus-sy-ria-cus-has-bloomed-a-gain! Our mother glances at the platform clock
and us, as we now practice the art of climbing stairs slowly, anoint each step with the shadows of scissors, wolves, shapeshifters we call hands. It’s a quiet and passionate affair— to dwell
in the meanwhile, with a waiting so bright red li
I Am Not an Astronaut even though I ate Space Food Sticks, a butterscotch snack popular in the 1970s wrapped in silver foil and advertised
as out of this world. I ate “flying saucers,” beads of candy rattling inside a domed wafer that tasted like St. Joseph’s host. I watched Lost in Space and The Jetsons, sure everyone
would be driving flying cars by the time I grew up.
Barbie’s clear astronaut helmet left room for her hair
as she contemplated space in a dreamy, non-scientif
2020 Contest Winners & Finalists GEARHART POETRY CONTEST
Judged by Kaveh Akbar ——— contest winner ———
Hajjar Baban, Words I First Used in Poetry ——— finalists ———
Kemi Alabi and Tarik Dobbs THE WORLD’S BEST SHORT-SHORT STORY
Judged by Robert Olen Butler ——— contest winner ———
Lauren Green, Instructions for Lovers ——— finalist ———
Amina Gautier, Mean to Me THE NED STUCKEY-FRENCH NONFICTION CONTEST
Judged by Gilbert King ——— contest winner ———
N.R. Robinson, Junior Vill