Before 2014 ends and the new year begins, I wanted to slip in one more edition of Words with Friends (and remind everyone that copyright laws don’t apply to titles). This year has been a productive year for those fellow writers I’ve been fortunate enough to know and admire and I’m proud to introduce you (or if you’re ahead of the curve, reintroduce you) to their remarkably poignant poetry and prose.
Tegan Nia Swanson is winner of the 2013 Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction and an all around awesome human being. Her short story “On Wisconsin” is featured in About Place Journal, a publication “dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society.”
Tegan does just that in a fictional interlude that recalls the 2011 protests in the wake of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s signing of a collective bargaining bill. Narrated by a collective “we,” the story shines a spotlight on agitated, alienated Micah who leads them to a sit in at the Capitol building.
“We who lived in the Lake Cooperative that winter all fancied ourselves wearers of the black flag, more than a little left-of-center and just outside the law, but Micah was the really the only one who meant it, in the end. Queer in a family of conservative evangelicals, quiet and sober in a town of extroverted drunks, Micah had always felt outside until he found us and even then it took him a little while to warm up.”
“On Wisconsin” harnesses that sensation of being swept up in a larger tide, of marching and making your voice heard, and it can be read right here.
Lindsay Tigue is the 2012 winner of the Indiana Review 1/2K prize, a 2013 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and won the 2014 New Issues Book Prize for her poetry manuscript, System of Ghosts. But beyond her numerous recognitions (and she’s clearly on a roll, folks), I’m most impressed with how deeply Lindsay’s poetry mines the melancholy while still inspiring a hard won hopefulness. I always feel like a slightly different person after I’ve read one of her poems, like a minute transformation has taken place.
Her poems “Millions” and “Elevator” have a similar effect and both are available in the Fall 2014 issue of Blackbird, a literary magazine produced by Virginia Commonwealth University that publishes “excellent writing [that] challenges traditions in profound ways.”
To excise and excerpt a segment of either poem here would do an injustice to works that should be experienced as a whole. Instead, I’ll invite you to read “Millions” here and read “Elevator” here.
Brenna Dixon is the 2014 Artist-In-Residence for the Everglades National Park, a regular contributor for Ploughshares, and former Managing Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. Brenna’s non-fiction piece “Full Moon in Chekika” appeared in Burrow Press Review, a publication committed to featuring “one excellent work of fiction or creative non-fiction a week.”
“Full Moon in Chekika” provides a brief glimpse into Brenna’s time down in the Everglades, in particular a moon-lit trek into snake strewn territory in search of invasive Burmese pythons. Brenna’s prose, both elucidating and lush, sheds light on the diverse ecology of the Everglades while also honing in on nature’s ephemeral delights.
“It’s Friday the 13th and a full, honey-hued moon spotlights the Everglades. The last time a honey moon and a full moon coincided was on June 13, 1919. The next time it’ll happen is in 2098…Occasionally something rustles in the glass or flops in the water: a moccasin, maybe, or a rat. Possibly a gator. The huge moon hangs above us like an open mouth.”
For a wide-eyed glimpse of a side of the Everglades the public doesn’t get to see, read “Full Moon in Chekika” here.