Poetry. Writerly Advice. Memoir. Literary Analysis. Book Reviews. Serious Journalism.
I could say that I write because I have no other options, but that would be a lie. I could easily find myself in a nutritional research lab or studying maternal-fetal medicine. Or, law school…since that is what most English degree folks tend to step into because of the lack of jobs available to "English majors". I survive to write. I write poetry because there is no other way to explain my perception of the world. I write short stories about psychological disorders because there is no other way to cope with my own disorders. I write journalism for newspapers because I refuse to sit down when everybody else has given in to social and cultural follies. In every instance of my crooked life, I have avoided claiming my writerly ways, until several years ago when I decided that not writing was a far worse fate than investing in a career that made money…and made me miserable. I write because that is how I express and contribute to society. I don't write to awe people; rather, I write to connect with others. To demonstrate that we are living, breathing folks with something to share…and everybody's perception of the world is valuable to our progression as a people. Recently, I came across the idea that my writing doesn't make me happy. Most people claim their careers, or hobbies make them happy, but writing doesn't make me happy. It sets me straight. My mind is full of neuroticisms, compulsions, addictions, repressed memories, and I write to bleed my body of the toxins created from negotiating those facets. In my life, I have experienced suicides, infant deaths, sexual assaults, injustices, infertility, cancer, drug addictions, and the impact of single parenting concerning myself and those around me. Writing is my therapist. I can talk to it – see the flaws. I use my writing to heal and to address issues in my life and on a universal stage.
Considered the most powerful Spanish poet of our time, Federico García Lorca was an accomplished musician, poet, and playwright. He published very young and was a member of Generacion del 27. I didn't come across Lorca until my later years in school, but he quickly became an important man in my life...and was included in my MFA thesis reading list. Read on for his bio and poetry.
Song of Andoumboulou: 40
Asked his name, he said,
"Stra, short for Stranger."
Sang it. Semisaid, semisung.
"Stronjer?" I asked, semisang,
half in jest. "Stronger,"
whatsaid back. Knotted
highness, loquat highness,
rope turned inward, tugged.
Told he'd someday ascend,
he ascended, weather known as
Whatsaid Rung... Climb was
all anyone was, he went
want rode our limbs like
soul, he insisted, Nut's
rock's millenarian pillow...
Ideas on Mackey's Work:
"Mackey writing of a ‘we’ who floated ‘boatlike, / birdlike’ (p.21), and on the third line the words ‘Semisaid, semisung’ give thematic prominence to this idea of a hybrid art."
Notes on the poem:
-paratactic lines (lines that are shorter without subordination)
- alliteration is important
-his work is in liminal space between music and poetry
- sonic enjambment
-manipulates lines by using homonyms…
-many words seem to function as musical notes….
-motivated rhythms…Mackey chooses words and sounds to propel the poetry without necessarily considering the word itself…you could scan the work, but the prosody of his poetry is reliant on sonics—on musical beats— the words continue to trace back to other words within the poem.
"Instrumental play, poetic play; consider the noun ‘Andoumboulou’, which are spirits invoked at funerals within Dogon cosmogony…"
A lyrical short story revolves around a recurring image or symbol with minimal focus on the plot. The image recurs in order to give readers an understanding of the plot; the image itself is usually static throughout the story. A plot line does exist, but in conjunction with the development of the symbol throughout the narrative, and it is not the central focus of the story.
Lyrical short stories are open-ended with no definite resolution. The loose ending allows for malleable readings of the central image. Reader can reinterpret the image's meaning during and beyond the reading of the story.
An example of a lyrical short story is Katherine Mansfield’s ‘‘The Fly,’’ a story about a man who tortures a fly after being reminded of his dead son. The fly is the central image of the story and the development of the narrative revolves around it. The torturing of the fly and the man’s feelings after he throws it away have multiple, open-ended readings. The image could symbolize the man’s inability to accept death, his previous relationship with his son, or his repression of grief. No one reading is correct and many interpretations lend to the complexity of the lyrical short story.
Flash fiction is a short story that has less than 2,000 words (and sometimes less according to certain editors). Flash fiction is a radical distillation of plot, character, setting, and exposition. Brevity requires writers to attend to every word.
Flash fiction starts in the middle of the conflict, as there is no time to set up action. During the story, a focus on one or two main images, such as a deserted building, a broken watch functions synergistically with the plot. As fast as the story begins, flash fiction stories end with a bang. Many flash fiction stories leave the reader at an emotional pivot or an open-ended resolution.
Examples of flash fiction can be read in Robert Olen Butler’s collection ‘‘Severance,’’ a collection of 62 flash fiction pieces. Each piece spans the 90 seconds after a person has been decapitated. The stories come from the perspectives of famous people such as Yukio Mishima, John the Baptist, and Jayne Mansfield. The stories are an effort to examine historical and cultural atmospheres through the imagined subjectivity of each character during his or her time.
Another well-known flash fiction writer is Lydia Davis. Her short story ‘‘The Mice’’ comes in around 275 words and contains all of the elements of short story. The story begins with ‘Mice live in our walls but do not trouble our kitchen’ and focuses on the image of a messy kitchen and mice that do not eat in it.
Unlike a flash fiction that has plot, character, setting, conflict, and some form of resolution, a vignette is an illustration detailing a specific moment or the mood surrounding a character, object, setting, or idea. A vignette does not have a full plot, nor does it develop a complete narrative. It may be part of a series of vignettes or stand on its own.
Ernest Hemingway’s ‘‘In Our Time’’ is an example of a vignette. The vignette describes the character Maera, a bullfighter who dies after a bullfight. The vignette relies on rich sensory imagery and motion to convey the mood surrounding the death of the character.
Doha, sort of sounds like a doughnut or something, but it’s actually a form. Let’s look at it. I dare you to write one!
What’s it all about?
On your last human day, you walked to the diner on the corner of 5th and Mulberry. It smells of fried catfish and moldy gravy, but they bake the best blueberry pie. The server prances to the booth, requesting your order. She comes back, winks, and claims, “I cut you the biggest slice,” walking away with a swing. It turns you on. You consider whacking it right here in the booth, but the smell of pie lures you away.
“How sweet,” you mutter. People in the service industry make your skin crawl. You shovel the pie down. The server returns and you beckon her for another slice. She obliges with glee. It goes down quicker than the first slice. When the server goes to the back, you walk out without paying. On the walk back, you witness two squirrels humping on a bench. “Why can’t we have sex outdoors?” you question, looking into the sky.
Forty-five minutes later, you are sitting upon a smutty mattress at The Winking Lantern. The whore breathes on your neck; she caresses your thigh. She hands you a warm whiskey. “Don’t worry baby, I’ma professional,” she asserts.
Happier than ever and two hundred dollars shorter, you stroll down to the park with a smirk. Children are frolicking, women are chattering, and you, you are staring at a crusty map questioning if this is the correct rendezvous point. “Take a left and the oak tree?” you mutter. “Well, shit, there are dozens of oak trees.” The sun blisters above, but you trek onward in hopes that your senses will guide you.
“This Way” written on an oak tree leads you to your location across an old bridge. You are proud of your great sense of direction. The sun still blisters down. Your scalp is beginning to resemble that of a sun-dried tomato. The clock that they gave you begins to tick. “Tick”… “Tock”… “Tick”… “Tock”…You bite your lip. Blood runs through your veins as lava. The clock grows louder. ZAP!