AWP 2018, some hot reads
One of the abiding pleasures of AWP is finding work you wouldn’t have touched otherwise.
Seriously, no algorithm can replicate the serendipitous clash between you and some small press you didn’t know you’d love. Think of it as a Jane Austen dance where you briefly hold hands with (at least) dozens of strangers. Plus side: we live in 2018, so you get to take each of them home.
With that said, here were my Mr. Darcys.
The Toronto-based magazine is celebrating its 100th issue. Not only does this issue have a beautiful design with incisive thoughts from Louise Erdrich and César Aira, but it also smells good.
So far, my favorite piece is a stunning meditation on translation, fatherhood, and the parallel between by Eduardo Halfon: “Even now, it’s hard for me to imagine myself as a father, imagine you in my arms, looking up, the entire future in your eyes. Maybe because being a father is something unimaginable.”
This delightful online journal has been based in Brooklyn for the past five years. Each issue is meant to be read in a single sitting (most likely a subway ride). Despite the shoutout to New York’s bodegas, they’re hardly local, with writers from Denver, Cleveland, New Delhi–anywhere with WiFi. One of my favorite lines came from poet (and relationship expert?) Tyler Atwood:
I want to do the dishes so you know
you are not alone in this
I feel like N+1 is the Timothee Chalamet of the literary world: brooding, precocious, highly desired.
I’ve never held a physical copy of N+1 and now, with issue 30, I have plucked the apricot.
I was floored by Nicolàs Medina Mora’s “Two Weeks in the Capital” and Dayna Tortorici’s opening essay, “The Intellectual Situation” on the MeToo movement. One highlight: “Prison, unemployment, and social exile are not what I want for men. I’m not here to be the police. I don’t want to be responsible for you.”
Black Ocean has outlets in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and they lean toward poetry. Currently loving “Popular Music” by Kelly Schirmann which blends music criticism with poetry. Excerpt:
How could you be a person, and therefore imperfect, and still bring an idea into your body so carefully and entirely that when you repeat it back out into the world, it rings. How there is a kind of charm and beauty in it, even when it’s done badly. How, in fact, we crowd ourselves into dingy bars and cramped booths just to sing badly to one another. How this endears us to each other further still.
This dashing imprint hails from Florida with a firm respect for humor.
I picked up Tragedy Queens, 23 stories inspired by the likes of Sylvia Plath and Lana Del Rey. Though I must admit I was highly tempted by this one….
Two things surprised me about the Red Hen Press booth at AWP: they’re based in LA, and they publish some really good poets hailing from Alaska.
Along with Peggy Shumaker‘s Cairn, they just published a collection of poems by Erin Coughlin Hollowell. The poems in “Every Atom” search for a way to grieve her mother. One especially gutting poem was “Night of the few, large stars”:
the soft snick decay makes laying
the cards of my dwindling family:
my hand empty and unstrung.
Sleep is a fading constellation.