Best Worst Year: Episode 95 (Or, Toi)

Rosary pendulums from your rearview mirror with unwavering doubt. The Virgin Mary is velcroed to your dashboard, blessed by your grandmother’s wineglass, and present at her deathbed. There is a cross bent from palm leaves, 2011. They are supposed to be burned on Good Friday, between noon and three–ashes accompanying the footsteps to Golgotha. You were never good with fully committing to the letter of ritual. This crucifix has seen two different cars, half a countryside, and several former future ex-girlfriends. You are picking up your mentor from a single-gate airport in central Illinois. You have learned to keep only what you carry and always revise yourself up to the neck of a stanza. She studies you for a moment before breaking into sunlight and jazz. She comments on the BVM statue which has held vigil over your actual miles for years. Heartland skies and grace thread a needle through years of fabric. Another stitch in the seams of stories and miles. Conversation like no time has passed at all.

interstate coils
around the valley
fog passes for ghosts Continue reading

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Dear Candidates: Stop Being Bad at Talking About Tragedy

South Carolina

A twenty-one year old white dude walked into a church and killed nine people because they were black. In a state that still flies the confederate flag on their capital. Another white dude, another mass shooting. It’s a scenario that’s getting old—no older though than the reporting on it. Let me guess, every reporter. He was mentally ill? He was troubled? Yeah, no shit. He was also inspired by 2.1 decades of systematic racism in a state that STILL FLIES THE FUCKING CONFEDERATE FLAG.

And you know the worst goddamn part? Seeing all of the half-hearted bullshit statements from politicians that say literally nothing. It’s annoying, it’s insulting, it’s stupid. The goal is to show that they are a caring human being/politician who you can trust with an office while not saying anything that offends the white folks who still think that racism is dead. So instead of condemning acts of violence and bigotry and hatred and calling them what they are—goddamn terrorist attacks—you get a bunch of platitudes from goddamn cowards. Continue reading

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The Reader as Collaborator: A Conversation Between Kristina Marie Darling & Rochelle Hurt

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014 (BlazeVOX Books, 2014). Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation Archive Center. She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

Rochelle Hurt is the author of The Rusted City, published in the Marie Alexander Poetry Series from White Pine Press (2014). Her work has been included in Best New Poets 2013, and she has been awarded literary prizes from Crab Orchard ReviewArts & LettersHunger Mountain, and Poetry International. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in journals like CrazyhorseMid-American ReviewThe Southeast ReviewThe Kenyon Review Online, and Image. She is a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.

Kristina Marie Darling:  I truly enjoyed reading your novella-in-verse, The Rusted City, and was intrigued by your re-envisioning of conventional narrative structures.  As the book unfolds, we see some elements of a traditional narrative, particularly as we learn about several recurring characters (for example: The Quiet Mother, the Favorite Father, and the Smallest Sister) and their relationships with one another.  But the reader is presented with a story in fragments, a beautifully fractured arc that leads us to further questions and to our own imaginative work.  With that in mind, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the relationship between poetry and techniques that are more often associated with prose.  Did you initially envision the book as having a plot, setting, and recurring characters, or did the narrative arise from the music and imagery that you were working with?  What does poetry make possible for writers who are interested in the creation of narrative? Continue reading

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