Creative Work: ‘Foundational Crack’ by Ste MackIntosh

This week we are featuring a short story by Ste MackIntosh entitled “Foundational Crack”.Creative Works The story, slightly bizarre and wholly entertaining, walks the line between the real and the imagined in a charming and funny way.

Foundational Crack

The snow had gone, more or less. A homeowner I passed on my way home had blown up an inflatable Charlie Brown, larger-than-life-sized, and set him up in a dark bedroom window. His rubber head cinched round in a pattern like a perfect cauliflower. He held a red LED candle to his face, that glowed unearthly orange on his features. What vigil could he have been on? Who was he waiting for?

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Creative Work: ‘who we are’ by Jessica Robinson

Creative WorksThis week we have a poem from Canadian poet Jessica Robinson, entitled “who we are.” For her, love embodies various forms of being, but never human. Each section focuses on a different element, concluding with a powerful last stanza. 

who we are

1.
I once had a boy made of water. He lived
in a glass jar, would swim around and ask me to
take him to the pool. He loved dolphins and
he never looked at me. He called me Jonah
and swallowed me whole.
I called myself Geppetto, took to fishing inside
of him. I had a boy made of water and he would melt me
like sugar and I would hate it. He would pull my insides out
and leave them strewn across the yard. He would whisper his
secrets into conch shells but not my ear. I had a boy made
of water and he didn’t love me and I didn’t want him to.
He thought I left him for fire and I didn’t but I
wanted to. Continue reading

Creative Work: “The Dark Girl Going Places” and “Honor” by Tanushree Ghosh Dhall

This week we are featuring another poet, Tanushree Ghosh Dhall, and two of her poems: “The Dark Girl Going Places” and “Honor”. “Dark Girl” tells a story of a girl moving across the world, and how her standard of beauty is drastically altered. Creative Works“Honor” is a heartbreaking remembrance of trauma and abuse that ends on a moment of hope – the hope of finding true happiness in another despite years of striving to be accepted.

The Dark Girl Going Places
 
How does it feel to be a dark girl changing countries?
To be attractive in one but not in another?
To have a secret stash of fairness creams
Useless and embarrassing now – but just in case

To be able to wear bright colors all of a sudden?
Knowing no one here will object

How does it feel to see what they see?
To dare and feel beautiful ..
After being admonished so many times?

To browse newsfeeds about outrage in the twitter sphere
against discrimination real and perceived
blackface, Oscars, lip shapes..
While staring at the newspaper the parcels from home came wrapped in
asking for fair brides only
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Creative Work: ‘Mad Love Goes to the Beach’ by Lisa Samloglou

Creative WorksIn her short piece, ‘Mad Love Goes to the Beach,’ Lisa Samloglou engages all five of her reader’s senses as she chronicles her internal struggle between her childhood love of the countryside with her rebellious teenaged preference for the city. She allows us to see the lush green of the landscape outside of Athens, smell the sea salt as she walks along the beach and picks up shells, hear the cicadas hum late at night, feel the fresh dirt of a self-planted garden beneath our fingertips, and taste the sweetness of figs and watermelon.

Mad Love Goes to the Beach

I grew up in the city. Longer stays in the countryside were scheduled for school holidays. Sunday excursions to the outskirts of Athens informed my school compositions with the title ‘ A Sunday with my family’, a topic that throughout elementary school our teachers felt compelled to ask us to write about. The best among them were to be read out in class. So, some of my excursions were verbalized for children who did not share my good fortune. Back in the 60s, my parents could afford even a car to take us, my brother and myself, for privileged breaks from the urban monotony. They were also anxious to initiate us to another landscape, my mother’s natal environment, the one she was deprived of early in her life, as her parents had moved from a mountain village to the city to chase jobs and educational opportunities for their children.

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Creative Work: ‘The Poet’s Resistance’ by Jason Walker

Creative WorksOur first post of 2016 comes from a composition professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jason Walker’s flash fiction offers a humorous and surreal vision of a poet racking his brain to come up with the “Next Great American Poem,” all while searching for the hidden meaning of a devil cake. Walker plays with the agonizing inner monologue of a struggling writer and personifies the demons that hinder the creative process.

The Poet’s Resistance

The man with soggy eyes waited outside my front door as I retyped the first line of what I hoped would be the next great American poem: This is the poem for all unhealthy youths . . . . But once I sensed the man’s presence outside the door again, I went blank. So I brewed tea and ate a devil cake, watching people ridicule each other on television. Then I glanced through the peephole. Another line arrived: hand your handfuls of devil cakes back to the devil. “Here’s our next great American poem,” I said aloud. “Here’s what we have to look forward to.” Continue reading

Creative Work: ‘Withdrawal’ by Francesca Lo Basso

Creative WorksThis week we are bringing you another piece fresh from the Kingston MFA programme. Francesca Lo Basso takes us to the front lines in this poem whose rhythm echoes that of soldiers’ footsteps. ‘Harrowing’ would be the best way to describe this piece, which uses the sonnet form to hammer out a poignant point. 

Withdrawal

The question is: how do you stop a war?
Your body frozen, your mouth metallic—
through what new breach will you attack this chore?
As bullets rain from gun barrels phallic
and blistering bombs burden, burst, and blaze,
do you lay down your rifle, mock defeat?
Turn tanks in their tracks, greyed blur in the haze—
reliance, defiance, chivalrous retreat?
Do you beg? Do you wheedle? Do you con?
Does your voice resound? Does it rattle, roar?
The question still remains as we move on
to the refrain: how do you stop a war?
Empty words for soldiers now departed
because the hallowed truth is you don’t start it.

This poem finds its strength where most pieces might fail, in asking questions. The rhythmic questioning of outdated practices only emphasises the underlying theme – the pointlessness of war. 

Join us again next week for another jaw-dropping piece!

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Courageous
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing
Eyes

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating
Dust

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than
Neglected

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

Presenting: Rhythm & Muse

InterviewsAs writers, we are constantly searching for that creative space where we let all inhibitions go and bask in a moment of artistry and talent.  We search out a certain environment where we can chat with other artists and like-minded individuals, discuss books and the intricacies of being a writer in the modern world or share the work we’ve poured ourselves into.  Well, dear friends, look no further because the monthly Rhythm & Muse events are the perfect place to lay your heads (metaphorically) and happily sip a beer while listening to musicians play their music and writers recite their poetry or short works of prose.

This week, Stephanie and Cais explore the world of performance poetry, encouraging all local writers to check out January’s upcoming Rhythm & Muse (and maybe even jump up for the open mic if they so dare).

By Stephanie Dotto and Cais Jurgens

We find ourselves in a dark, blue room, silhouettes of a city skyline running the length of the walls. People speak in quiet tones around small wooden tables, awaiting the first poet to take the stage.  It is a calm environment, reminiscent of the beat poetry clubs of an older age—the ideal space for an artist to present their work to the bibliophiles that have come to spend a night with other creative beings. The bill for the evening consists of a combination of poets, musicians, and lovers of the arts. Each person is staring eagerly at the stage as the minutes slip past, moving closer and closer to the show at hand.

And then it begins.  Continue reading

Interview: An Interview on Self-Publishing with Alison Baverstock by Caitriona Marron

InterviewsDr. Alison Baverstock is the Course Leader of Kingston University’s MA Publishing programme. She’s contributed enormously to the industry over the last 25 years. She lectures and consults nationwide and has run multiple campaigns for reading and publishing, most notably being one of the founders of the Kingston Readers’ Festival in 2002. Her countless published works include The Naked Author, A guide to Self-Publishing and How To Market Books. Caitríona Marron from Words, Pauses, Noises was lucky enough to sit down with Alison and hear her thoughts on self-publishing, the role of the writer today and her tips for Kingston’s aspiring writers.

An Interview with Alison Baverstock by Caitríona Marron

How does your academic research influence your teaching and writing?

I find my research is hugely important to my teaching – teaching without being involved in research would feel slightly hollow, and it’s invigorating to have this lively bunch of minds available to discuss new ideas and see how they respond. Over the years, probably the most reliable source of new ideas has been my four children. They constantly challenge me, and it’s always stimulating to have your ideas stretched and hence developed. I am a very curious person and so often find new things to think about. For example, when I was expecting our first child, I read information for pregnant women that was rather patronising. It made me think about the best tone of voice to use to parents, and this was stored away years later when I co-wrote three titles on parenting. Nothing gets wasted in my life!

How important is knowledge on the publishing industry for MA creative writers? Continue reading