A curated literary guide

Week #30 / 24th – 30th July, 2017

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Meet the Masthead

Today we’d like to take a moment, a brief pause, and do something different. The contributing editors and reviewers at the Wilds take time out of their days to unearth some of the best poetry, fiction, non-fiction, music (and more) that’s out there. Their effort enables us to curate this guide to the literary landscape; to show us what words and works mean to them.

So today we’d like you to meet them, to spend time with their work too:

Journal Editors / Michelle Tudor & Peter Barnfather

Five Things with Lynn Melnick

1. The last thing that made you smile.

My husband or my children, I’m sure.

2. A secret.

I didn’t know the sun is a star until I was 28.

3. The last thing you wrote.

I just finished a poem about street harassment, toxic masculinity, how sexy I feel at 43, and the song Yankee Doodle.

4. Favourite city.

New York City.

5. What you’d place in a time capsule.

Twitter.


Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Landscape with Sex and Violence and If I Should Say I Have Hope, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation. Her poetry has appeared in APR, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere. A 2017-2018 fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

Turbulence

a poem from Maggie Smith

Forgive his mother, the mother
I’ve been on the ground

In frustrating times like these, I’ve come to seek solace in the world of poetry. How I can experience uncertainties and in-betweens, such as those found in Maggie Smith’s newest poem. I believe it’s human nature to find meaning in metaphor and omens, and so does the speaker when compared to “the stone shaken from [the shoe]” after a rough spot of turbulence on a flight. Smith gives us moments and imagined moments, reflections. A soon-to-be reality before we’re actually there. So what if we can’t explain the physics of “what keeps us / in the sky”? Sometimes we’re on the ground, looking up at our not-yet selves.

Visit The Lascaux Review to read the poem.

Contributing Editor / Hannah Cohen

Rat’s Nest

a poem from Monica Rico​

Woman’s bodies are the landscapes we map. There’s an assumed societal privilege to dissect and comment on the way a woman occupies space that is echoed in the microcosm of family space, where sometimes societal preferences are pressed up on a young person by the very people who could have inoculated against those external pressures. Within the constant swirl of the body, measured and weighed by family and society alike, no part of the female body, for me personally, is as fraught as hair. As a mixed-race woman with curly hair, the life-long micro-aggressions against curly hair, the curly-haired-shaped void of representation in media cannot be undone so easily with an “oh, but I love your hair,” whenever the issue comes up in conversation. What is needed, what Monica Rico delivers in ‘Rat’s Nest,’ is art about hair. A woman’s mane that defies everyday convention because it is a conduit to nature, to life, to power. Rico may not have curly hair. But she’s written a poem that I want to share with everybody I know, because hair is not cute, or neat. It’s wild, uncontained; it’s everything. It “something so wondrous your fingers get caught in this hair / that causes the very teeth of combs to break and bow.”

Visit So to Speak to read the poem.

Contributing Editor / Reneé Bibby

My Body Mourns, Limb by Limb, as I Recount Your Final Days

a poem from Michael Schmeltzer

The feet offer
their own confusion.

The left steps
while the right remains,

a mausoleum.

Told in the format of marking time from the day of, time as a distance traveled, today’s poem treads grief as an ever changing terrain. Specifically, the ways in which grief acts upon the body and the mind, how it shifts the world around you and makes unfamiliar the known, and familiar the strange. Schmeltzer paints grief as something dynamic and migratory, a living thing in itself, with its own consciousness and intent. The body becomes foreign under grief, from the stiffness in the muscles of clenched hands, to the mistaken familiarity in everything you see; the wayward ghosts in your head.

I don’t know what hunger is for
or what to hunger for.

You cannot give me
any more anymore.

Visit Crab Creek Rewiew to read the poem.

Contributing Editor / Joyce Chong

Being Non-Binary Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You Are Androgynous

an essay from Joanna C. Valente

There is no easy answer or explanation to what being a man or a woman is”—I want to put that on a post-it note and attach it to every surface I interact with on a daily basis. My work computer, the fridge, the bathroom mirror cabinet, my phone. The quote is from Joanna C. Valente’s short essay in Luna Luna Magazine titled ‘Being Non-Binary Doesn't Necessarily Mean You Are Androgynous.’ Valente is to the point and informative with this piece, and includes some history of pronouns and resonant quotes from other queer writers.

They write, “While a cultural icon like David Bowie aesthetically pushes boundaries, even now, illustrating the fluidity of appearance and gender, the misconception that genderqueer and androgyny are intrinsically linked is far too simple—and reality is much more complicated.”

Yes. We can all do a little (or a lot) more work to interact with our world in more complex and nuanced terms. There’s a beauty in the complex, in the shifting and ever-changing. I try to start each day from a point of inquiry, not assumption. I don’t always succeed, and the work to undo internal bias and assumption is a lifelong work, but I’m grateful an essay like Valente’s exists to help me along the way.

Visit Luna Luna Magazine to read the essay.

Contributing Editor / Andrew Sargus Klein

cutting greens

a poem from Lucille Clifton

Have you ever had a small encounter completely shift your worldview? If you can recall what a strange magic those moments are, this poem will also catch you in its snare. Even from the opening, we can feel that something’s awry: “curling them around / i hold their bodies in obscene embrace / thinking of anything but kinship.” Cooking can bring a community together or nourish a single body enough to go out into the world, but the speaker here instantly presents themself as singular. Save for their presence, the kitchen appears to be empty, yet this distance ironically made me wonder if anyone was waiting for this meal. Who’s causing the speaker to note just how far they've gone into their imagination? It feels almost petty to say “I’m not thinking of them” when they could be in the next room, when they could be listening. But the reluctance/resistance on the speaker’s part to being folded into company and seen as anything but themself is so relatable that it begs us to question how this will be resolved.

The conflict only twists further: “the cutting board is black, / my hand, / and just for a minute / the greens roll black under the knife / and the kitchen twists dark on its spine.” Suddenly everything near them twists toward a darkness, but the void is somehow welcoming. It brings every object into a communion with the speaker that wasn’t entirely possible before. I’m always wowed to feel how each object experiences the cut: the cutting board makes the slice easier, the hand works with precision while applying needed pressure, the greens snap & break apart finally, and the kitchen absorbs this sound & energy. We’re pulled into a symbiosis that I didn’t expect. Yet the cinematic quality of moving across this kitchenscape makes me almost taste these fresh and bitter greens on my tongue. It stuns me how any experience can be spliced into new angles if we remain open to seeing anew.

Visit Poets.org to read the poem.

Contributing Editor / Nix Thérèse