Contents 10.1

Book Review




Black Women and Survival in the Modern World: Camille Dungy’s Guidebook to Relative Strangers

Reviewed by Artress Bethany White

I, like many Americans, recently read that Erica Garner, the daughter of slain African American police suspect, Eric Garner, died shortly after giving birth. She named her son Eric, after her father who was killed in a street bust for selling loose cigarettes. In the aftermath of her father’s death, Erica became an outspoken activist. In turn, her sudden death at the age of twenty-seven, after becoming a new mother, foregrounds the price many people of color pay for striving to survive in America.

African American women are not a monolith, and the stories of black female survival are varied and complex. Camille Dungy’s Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History (W. W. Norton and Company, 2017) joins the current roster of black women’s memoir on an enthusiastic upbeat. In it, she chronicles a broad swath through the demands of motherhood, the writing life, and travel as lived life and survival tale. (More …)

Detroit Crown

by Benjamin Alfaro

The years before my grandmother’s ascent,
each week a trip, my father’s hand would steer.
Her small apartment wedged inside the steel
tenth-floor suburban tenement, intent
to be a box for those we loved to die.
I asked my father why, rebuked silence.
A plan to die, her brave gift, defiant.(More …)

In this America

by Kathryn Smith

I wake at 3 a.m. in this America,
head split with migraine, pain
like a spear. I swallow
prescriptions, sleep until noon.
I’m sweat-soaked and dreaming
strange dreams of America. (More …)


by Laura Read

Erin is sitting on the floor
of our dorm room.
Erin with the thick red braid
and the freckles the sun had tossed
across her face. Erin who is pretty (More …)

“In the same way we misunderstand the child ballerinas of Degas”

by Laura Read

“In every alley of the theatre loom the silhouettes of portly gentlemen in top hats who have come to take their pleasure with these skinny half-naked adolescents. They too will have learned to mime desire.”
–Germaine Greer

But what if they have come instead to make pleasure
by force? Sometimes the body flushes
when it shouldn’t. Someone says,
I am going to teach you something.(More …)

The Whole History of Femininity

by Laura Read

At your wedding, you lifted up your dress
so I could attach your garter belt to your stockings.
My hand was shaking even though we still had
the strange intimacy of girls,
so you had to reach around and clip the belt yourself.
I failed you and the whole history of femininity.
But we lived in a time of elastic. (More …)

Near Belmont

by Jory Mickelson

Past dark fields of winter
wheat, each hill swells and troughs
the talk between my grandmother and me. The further we travel,
the less the landscape changes, just vague
waves in the blooming dark, the pollen
of yellow farmhouse lights. (More …)

Nothing Held

by Jory Mickelson

What it is to run without
restraint away from
anything: the wind, a car horn,

an aspen leaf that flashes
me to flight, to bound past
the boundless field leaving (More …)

Songs of Parting

by Robert Maynor

The other morning I picked up a hitchhiker and it turned out to be Walt Whitman. The beard should’ve been a dead giveaway, but I didn’t put it together at first. Most tramps wear beards like that, honestly: long, scraggly things all yellowed around the mouth with nicotine. You’d think it’d be easy to tell a poet from a bum, but it ain’t.

I was at a standstill on the Limehouse Bridge, the Stono River shimmering below. A few other vehicles were waiting to cross, but most folks had already evacuated. Walt Whitman was walking all lazy down the median, his grimy thumb stuck up in the air, looking pitifully into car windows as he passed. He had a battered guitar tied to his back with a piece of rope. When he got to my truck, he mashed his face against my window and just stayed there, leering at me until I finally surrendered and said, “Alright, come on then.”(More …)

Gary, Still

by Peg Daniels

Friday, 2 p.m.

“His spinal cord’s severed,” the voice on the phone says. “They helicoptered him to Emergency in Birmingham.”

My legs crumple, and I land on my butt. I’m in Panera Bread, behind the order counter, on their phone. Moments ago, I joined my writing group for our weekly meeting, and Jamie handed me a phone number. The hospital called the restaurant, seeking me. Gary’s been in a car accident, Jamie said. She and the two other members of my group sit in a booth ten feet away, oblivious to the words I’m hearing. (More …)

Excerpt from Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History

by Camille Dungy

In Anchorage, the director of 49 Writers lent me a hat she’d gotten in Nome. It would keep me warm as I traveled farther north. Sealskin on the outside plus a beaver-pelt lining meant hardly any cold got in. Ropes of stiff yarn ending in fur pom-poms brought the earflaps nearly to my chin. When we finally do get to the AC, an Iñupiaq woman selling colorful handmade parkas (at six hundred dollars, I won’t buy one, though I will be sorely tempted) will ask to look at the hat. Upon inspecting its craftsmanship, she will compliment the maker. I won’t admit it is just mine on loan. I like the idea of someone thinking such a fine, warm hat belongs to me. Wearing the right hat for Barrow helps me feel less out of place. (More …)

Channeling Scarlett O’Hara

by Lucille Sutton

I follow my fifth-grade classmates, single file, down several flights of narrow, wooden stairs into a dimly lit room, yellowed with age. As we crowd together, waiting for our eyes to adjust, no one speaks, but everyone is searching. And then we see it: On a small table, beneath thick protective glass, lies Jefferson Davis’ death mask.

Our teacher, Mrs. Griswold, tells us in hurried whispers to, “Line up. Pay your respects.” We take our time, merging together, until we are single file, our eyes focused on the mask. The weighted heaviness of his features is horrifying and fascinating: The large peanut-shaped nostrils and high bridge of his nose, the hollow cheeks, and long thin lips turned down at the corners. Pennies cover the eyeholes. I stare and stare at this mask until the features blur. And then right before my eyes, the beloved Confederate President transforms into the Union President. It is an optical illusion, created by the pennies. The mask now belongs to Abraham Lincoln: same nose, same cheeks, same mouth. Completely different person. It is Lincoln’s final victory over Davis. Now you see him, now you don’t.(More …)


by Laurie Stone

I was walking in woods with a friend. She said, “I hope you can get us back.” I didn’t know if I could get us back. We were looking for something to burn. We were going to take magic mushrooms and offer ourselves up to the irrational. We came to a stream and crossed it. On the other side was a house with a man and a dog. The man was exceedingly handsome and wearing a cowboy hat. I asked my friend if he was the type she would fall for. She said, “I think men like that won’t be attracted to me.” I thought everyone was attracted to her. We passed a clump of dried pods on sticks. They were ugly and beautiful and looked like the thing we should burn. On the way back, she spoke about her ex-boyfriend and said, “I was very turned on by him, but when I saw his films, I thought, ‘You are a man I want to strangle’.” After sex, they would look at each other and say, “Attraction is all we have.” I thought it sounded romantic. (More …)


by Laurie Stone

A stranger visited my mother’s apartment and said, “I live across the street. I have been watching you and your husband for twenty years, and I notice he’s gone. I can’t believe anything but death has separated you.” She pointed through my mother’s curtains to her building. She was small and wearing a navy pants suit and patent leather flats. My mother offered her tea and cried in the kitchen. Tiny leaves were budding on the bony branches of the bougainvillea on her terrace.

I was living in Columbus, Ohio on the top floor of the nondescript house where famous woman-hater James Thurber had lived. The house sat on a forlorn street, near two highways and a thinly-populated business zone. I worked in a circus, riding a unicycle and juggling clubs. I dreamed of lions and did not pay attention to safety instructions. (More …)

Contributors 10.1

Benjamin Alfaro

Featured Work

Benjamin Alfaro is a writer and educator from Michigan. He is a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow and the co-author of Home Court (Red Beard, 2014). His work was anthologized in The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, and has appeared or is forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Duende, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He has also appeared on the HBO Original Series Brave New Voices, Yahoo!’s Cities Rising: Rebuilding America, and Michigan Public Radio. His chapbook, Fantasma, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Dana Alsamsam

Featured Work

Dana Alsamsam is a queer, Syrian-American poet from Chicago and an MFA candidate at Emerson College. She is assistant poetry editor at Redivider and editorial assistant at Ploughshares. Dana’s chapbook (in)habit is forthcoming from tenderness, yea press and her poems are published or forthcoming in Poetry East, Hobart, DIALOGIST, The Collapsar, Bad Pony Mag, Tinderbox Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, BOOTH and others. @DanaAlsamsam.

Adrian Blevins

Featured Work

Adrian Blevins is the author of the full-length poetry collections Appalachians Run Amok, winner of the Wilder Prize, Live from the Homesick Jamboree, and The Brass Girl Brouhaha; the chapbooks Bloodline and The Man Who Went Out for Cigarettes; and the co-edited Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia. She is the recipient of many awards including a Kate Tufts Discovery Award for The Brass Girl Brouhaha and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, among others. She teaches at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Peg Daniels

Featured Work

Peg Daniels’s creative nonfiction and fiction has appeared in Kaleidoscope Magazine, New Mobility, Rosebud, The Dos Passos Review, Little (Flash) Fiction, moonShine review, and Southern Women’s Review. One short story reached the finals of Black Warrior Review’s 2015 Fiction Contest. She holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, and she lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and two cats.

Camille Dungy

Featured Work

Camille T. Dungy is an award-winning poet and editor and professor of creative writing at Colorado State University. She lives with her husband and child in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Robert Maynor

Featured Work

Robert Maynor is from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He has worked as a commercial plumber, dishwasher, meter-reader, sprinkler-man, etc. His work has previously appeared in The Carolina Quarterly Online, Bartleby Snopes, and bioStories.

Jory Mickelson

Featured Work

Jory Mickelson is a queer writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Ninth Letter, Vinyl Poetry, The Florida Review, Superstition Review, The Collagist, The Los Angeles Review, and other journals in the United States and the UK. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poet’s Prize and a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. His most recent chapbook Slow Depth was published by Argus House Press.

Corey Oglesby

Featured Work

Corey Oglesby is a poet, musician, and illustrator from the Washington, D.C., area. His poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, DIAGRAM, Beloit Poetry Journal, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. Learn more at

Laura Read

Featured Work

Laura Read’s chapbook, The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You, was the 2010 winner of the Floating Bridge Chapbook Award, and her collection, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was the 2011 winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and was published in 2012 by University of Pittsburgh Press. Her second collection, Dresses from the Old Country, will be published by BOA Editions in fall 2018. She teaches English at Spokane Falls Community College and currently serves as the poet laureate of Spokane.

Kathryn Smith

Featured Work

Kathryn Smith is the author of the poetry collection Book of Exodus (Scablands Books, 2017). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Mid-American Review, Redivider, The Collagist, The Boiler, and elsewhere. Her work has received a grant from the Spokane Arts Fund, and she was writer-in-residence at Whitworth University for fall 2017.

Laurie Stone

Featured Work

Laurie Stone is author most recently of My Life as an Animal: Stories. She was a longtime writer for the Village Voice, theater critic for The Nation, and critic-at-large on Fresh Air. She won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle and has published numerous stories in such publications as Tin House, Evergreen Review, Fence, Open City, Anderbo, The Collagist, New Letters, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, and Creative Nonfiction. In 2005, she participated in “Novel: An Installation,” writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in the Flux Factory’s gallery space. She has frequently collaborated with composer Gordon Beeferman in text/music works. The world premier of their piece “You, the Weather, a Wolf” was presented in the 2016 season of the St. Urbans concerts. She is at work on The Love of Strangers, a collage of hybrid narratives.

Lucille Sutton

Featured Work

Lucille Sutton was born in Saigon, Vietnam and raised in Louisiana, Mississippi, and California. She earned her BA in English and her MFA in fiction from Fresno State. Her work has appeared in SN Review, In the Grove, Prick of the Spindle, JMWW, and Bamboo Ridge Press. She was acknowledged in the Indiana Review: Writers of Color edition and as a top-ten finalist for the Dana Awards Short Fiction Contest. Her novel excerpts were finalists for the SLS/ St. Petersburg Writing Contest and SLS/ Kenya Writing Contest. Current nonfiction projects include experiences in the roller skating culture, both as a rink rat and flat track roller derby skater. She teaches writing at Fresno State and lives in Clovis, California with her husband, two dogs, and one very fancy cat.

Artress Bethany White

Featured Work

Artress Bethany White is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. She is the author of the collection of poems Fast Fat Girls in Pink Hot Pants (2012) about her experiences in the urban North and rural South. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as the Harvard Review, Poet Lore, Ecotone, The Account, Pleiades, and Solstice.  New essays, “Sonny Boy” and “A Lynching in North Carolina,” appear in The Hopkins Review and Tupelo Quarterly. Her most recent literary/cultural criticism, “Appalachian Literature and Race Relations in the Newer South: Homogeneity and History in Ron Rash’s Burning Bright and Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard,” appears in Seeking Home: Marginalization and Representation in Appalachian Literature and Song (University of Tennessee Press, 2017). She has received The Mona Van Duyn Scholarship in poetry from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Mary Hambidge Distinguished Fellowship from the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts for her nonfiction. She is visiting assistant professor of American cultural studies at Albright College in Pennsylvania.