Good Writing Break: Stuff that Astounds Me, and Stuff I Don’t Get But I’m Still Loving

I gotta say, despite the fact that I’m an old coot and often put my foot in my mouth in the worst way possible, this Twitter thing has been pointing me toward a lot of good writing.  For example: poet and prose author Sofia Samatar tweeted some links to a journal she edits called Interfictions Online , which publishes genre-breaching work that, according to their indiegogo page, “confuses the critics because they love it but don’t know what to call it.”

And wouldn’t you know it?  That’s exactly what I felt like when I read this piece by Anil Menon, called “The Jaguar’s Wife.”  I have no idea what happens in this story.  As far as I can tell, the piece reimagines zombies as a sub-species of humans, and explores the boundaries between human and “beast” and how we treat those we see as less than human.  Still, I think I’d have to spend a month or so teasing out all the brilliant details and allusions in the text to get a clear picture of what the story is about.  (Although maybe the point isn’t to get a clear picture in the first place.)  Anyway, bottom line is: I would give my left pinkie toe to be able to write like Menon.  Excellent, excellent stuff.

Another piece I found in Interfictions and absolutely adored is Isabel Yap’s “Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga.”  This is an all-round beautiful essay I just wanted to curl up in and enjoy.  I should say, though, the one thing I was not crazy about was the final paragraph–or, really, the final word.  But, the rest of the piece was so elegant and insightful, so in tune with the dictates of genre and how they interweave with real life, I’m willing to overlook a single word that I don’t care for, or concede that it could just be my pet peeve about this certain type of ending getting in the way (no spoilers; you’ll have to see for yourself what I’m talking about), or understand it could be an in joke about manga, which I know very little about, or…

Well, just read it.  It’s excellent.

(And, if you can, support Interfictions Online.)

Third on the list is a poem, TJ Jarrett’s “At the Repast.”  Now I have to confess a certain oversized dislike of the magazine Poetry, where Jarrett’s piece was published.  In my experience, the journal’s editors tend to focus on Big Names and other forms of hype. Many of the poems I’ve chanced upon in the pages of Poetry have been dull or dry or overly academic or stuff that I’ve seen a million times before.  (Do we really need yet another poem about a heterosexual couple having sex, from the man’s point of view, even if this time they’re doing it against a tree?)  Also–and this probably colors my opinion of Poetry more than anything else–despite the fact that Poetry and their new project, the Poetry Foundation, have an enormous endowment, they still write letters begging for money from unknown poets (me, for instance) even though they wouldn’t touch their work with a ten-foot pole.  (Ironically, they wouldn’t publish Ruth Lilly, either, who gave them their fortune, so maybe they think this is a viable business model.)

Anyway, I found Jarrett’s poem through a link on Twitter, and I gotta say, this is the stuff Poetry should have been publishing 20 years ago.  Jarrett’s piece is the real deal: powerful, profound, and gorgeous.  So Poetry gets a Redemption Point from me.  More important, I found Jarrett’s work, and it is amazing.



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