As our editorial team prepares for our first contest (The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction), we thought it would be valuable to share thoughts about some essays that “stick.” I love all of our essays, or they wouldn’t be here. But I went over every one thinking about which ones were memorable in that early phase of a first read. I’ve asked our editorial team to do the same, and in the ramp up to our contest submission period we will share our reader experiences with some of our favorite essays.

Today we welcome Suzanne Farrell Smith, one of our amazing writer/editors here at Longridge Review. Please enjoy her commentary on why she loves David McVey’s essay, “On the Wonder of the World.”

Photo via HistoryScotland.com

David McVey’s “On the Wonder of the World” drew me in immediately and made me forget I was reading a submission to Longridge Review. The opening line:

“We teased gravity, suspended above 100 feet of space on the Wonder of the World.”

I needed to know. Who are we? Suspended how? What is the Wonder of the World? Given my proximity to Coney Island and its 150-foot Wonder Wheel and even higher-flying rides, that first line takes on a carnival quality, inviting me to buy a ticket and go just about anywhere.

McVey gives us some answers right away, like the fact that the Wonder of the World is a soaring canal aqueduct, nicknamed as such by locals in his U.K. hometown. “We” are McVey and two childhood buddies, just “normal 9- or 10-year-olds engaged on business I can’t recall now.” The boys are out and about, as children are in the summer when school is off and the whole world—the whole wonder of the world—is waiting.

What follows is a story, relatively brief, shaped the same way the actual event was shaped, as a single thread across a chasm, with some breath-holding along the way. It’s that shape that gets me, the way the essay itself is like a bridge, and with the first line I’ve stepped onto it and know, for certain, I will cross to the other side. This particular shape appeals to me as a writer long attached to the idea that writing essays is a way to get to the other side of a question or a problem. Whether they offer a solution or insight or just another question, essays propel us forward. Even as we sit to read and write, we progress.

McVey’s story is detailed only with what’s most salient, and he playfully alludes to what’s been forgotten:

“I can’t remember who, but someone—possibly even I—said, ‘Why don’t we cross the Wonder outside the railing?’”

Who dared is less important than the fact that all went along with the dare. (I’m reminded of the often-charming way Mary McCarthy admits to things she can and can’t remember in her collection Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.) As such, the essay is restrained rather than plodding, and the story seems simple. Young boys wander, young boys grab at an idea, young boys attempt something dangerous without, in the moment, recognizing the danger. Nothing of consequence happens during the attempt. No one slips. No one is hurt. There is no trauma or tragedy around which to shape a wholly different essay.

But in time, the gravity of what could have happened seeps into McVey’s mind. He writes, “The experience has left its mark.” McVey considers the what-ifs in the same way that I do and the same way I know many others do. He questions, so he has to get to the other side.

My mother-in-law lives on the twenty-fourth floor of an apartment building on Florida’s east coast. While visiting with my own three boys for spring break, I sat with my husband, my mother-in-law, and other relatives on her balcony, sipping wine and munching on crackers and cheese and loving how social the boys were being, how interested they were in talking with us grownups about the evening lights, the drawbridge, the Atlantic horizon. One of my sons was wearing vivid orange pajamas. That night, I had a recurring nightmare that he flipped forward over the balcony railing, his tiny orange figure streaking toward the pavement below.

McVey ends his piece asking himself about a thing that didn’t happen that day on the Wonder. And he answers,

“I don’t know, but right now, I’m off to lie down in a dimly lit room.”

I know that feeling well. In Florida, at three in the morning, I lay in our dimly lit room, staring over the edge of the bed at my orange-clad son, whose air mattress was set up a few feet below. McVey’s essay came back to me then, as it has many times since. My son is lying on air, not concrete. He’s just a few feet below, not 100. He’s ok, I’m ok, McVey and his friends are ok. None of us fell. We’re all here, writing and reading and wondering, but none of us fell, except back to sleep.

— SFS

Thinking about sending us your work? Take a look at this post that outlines some of what we look for in what we publish.

As our editorial team prepares for our first contest (The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction), we thought it would be valuable to share thoughts about some essays that “stick.” I love all of our essays, or they wouldn’t be here. But I went over every one thinking about which ones were memorable in that early phase of a first read. I’ve asked our editorial team to do the same, and in the ramp up to our contest submission period we will share our reader experiences with some of our favorite essays.

Today we welcome Mary Heather Noble, one of our amazing writer/editors here at Longridge Review. Please enjoy her commentary on why she loves Anne Noonan’s essay, “Stink Tree.”

Whenever I lead memoir writing workshops, one of my favorite prompts to give students is a scent prompt. I hand the students numbered mason jars, inside of which contain cotton balls saturated with various materials (things like detergent, cologne or perfume, bathroom cleaner, iodine, Hawaiian Tropics tanning oil). We dim the lights and calm our minds, and then I cue them to open their chosen jar and inhale before free-writing about whatever comes to mind. I keep the identity of the various scents concealed on a key, so that students can have an authentic sensory experience.

Our sense of smell is highly emotive, and therefore closely linked with memory. Indeed, doing the scent prompt is a bit like time travel — I’ve had older students from community writing workshops write about their childhood memories of playing hide-and-seek in the boat yard after smelling the petroleum-tinged scent of mink oil, or writing the secrets of an alcoholic relative after catching a whiff of a cotton ball soaked in rum. Certain smells can take us right back to moments in our past, and can serve as portals to our richest, most emotional material.

I thought of this phenomenon when I read Anne Noonan’s “Stink Tree” — how, in a split second, the scent of a tree could take the narrator from enjoying present-day brunch with friends on the porch all the way back to her childhood neighborhood and all the summertime associations that tree-scent carried with it. She writes, “I loved their smell, even though I couldn’t have described it if asked to…Who would understand, then or now, if I said the tree smelled like sun on skin? Or freedom? Or consolation?” Of course we are all familiar with the representations of certain smells — the summertime scent of freshly cut grass and how it reminds us of pleasant, lazy summer afternoons. But what I love about Anne Noonan’s piece is the specificity of her memory, how she zooms right through all the lovely summertime affiliations with the Tree of Heaven scent and lands on one particular memory filled with emotion:

“The smell of the tree meant that soon the park’s enormous pool would be filled by the huge city hoses. And when the pool first opened for swimmers, the smell of the trees would be barely distinguishable from the smell of chlorine on my skin, or on my wet towel as I lay on the concrete to dry off. The smell helped me keep my crying in check that day in the driveway when my newlywed sister and her husband drove away, moving to another state. I tried to be happy for them. It was the beginning of their Beautiful New Life Together, all their silvery wedding cards said so, but it felt like an end for me. The song When Will I See You Again was playing on their car radio as they hugged us all goodbye. I think I was the only one to notice it.”

Aside from its wonderful sensory details, Noonan’s “Stink Tree” is a true essay — by which I mean the writer makes a close observation about a thing (in this case, a tree) and uses it to explore a larger and more universal theme. “Stink Tree” isn’t just about the narrator’s memory of the Tree of Heaven, and its association with summer in her childhood neighborhood; it is also a journey into the symbolic meaning of this particular tree, its presence in lower-income neighborhoods, how she came to notice socioeconomic differences, and her reflections on class and privilege. Yet despite this author’s ability to “pan out” and reflect upon these broader themes,  the author keeps us grounded in her particular details. The writing, of course, is outstanding — making this journey into the nuance of growing up in a poor neighborhood a most delightful trip.

— MHN

Thinking about sending us your work? Take a look at this post that outlines some of what we look for in what we publish.


As our editorial team prepares for our first contest (The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction), we thought it would be valuable to share thoughts about some essays that “stick.” I love all of our essays, or they wouldn’t be here. But I went over every one thinking about which ones were memorable in that early phase of a first read. I’ve asked our editorial team to do the same, and in the ramp up to our contest submission period we will share our reader experiences with some of our favorite essays.

I’m going first with what I loved on first read about Mariana McDonald’s essay, “The Snake.”

“It wasn’t my snake,” she said. “Not really.”

But that had always been the family lore. Moyra and her sister were out walking and encountered a rattlesnake—three whole feet of it—and went for someone to kill it.

I love the first sentence of this piece. Opening with a line of dialogue tells the reader s/he doesn’t have to wait to be in this narrative. That one short opening sentence sets up an immediate presence for the reader in the events. Someone seems to be addressing us.

McDonald uses a technique of talking about someone named Moyra. There is no first person narrator in this piece, no discernible “I.” It seems at first as if the narrator is recalling memories of knowing Moyra, a distinctly separate person, a childhood friend.

©Mariana McDonald

I was and still am awed by how much McDonald gets done in two short sentences. There is a conflict. There is mystery. There is a death. And we know right away there is a family committed to shaping its own narrative against the will of a principal player.

Initially I wrote it as a first person memoir, but found that unsatisfying. What I did like was juxtaposing my childhood experience with thoughts about social and environmental changes. 

But there was something I was searching for in telling the story that had not yet become clear. 

I rewrote it in the third person, not so much addressing myself, but stepping way back and observing. Doing that allowed me, ultimately, to rewrite the ending, discovering that the story was about accepting responsibility and seeking forgiveness.

The story was about separating myself from the actions and rationales foisted on me as a child, ones that made me a co-conspirator in a cruel and arrogant action.  

Marianna McDonald, interviewed 2019 for this blog post

I also love the structure of this piece. It begins with a rationalization from childhood, then pans out to show us the physical and emotional place where later regret was born. The narrator knows rattlesnakes could kill children, knows that she is supposed to tell about the snake but didn’t have to. She chose to initiate a chain of events that resulted in the snake’s execution.

“Once you found the source of the rattling, if you had a way, you killed it. That way, you were saving your own life, and maybe even someone else’s.”

Beyond the rationalization, though, is a break to describe the natural beauty of the Canadian landscape and the life it supported. That thriving environment is starkly changed years later when Moyra’s (McDonald’s) mother dies. The return to the childhood place is changed; likewise, the reader senses Moyra is in some kind of transition as well.

“Years later, when Moyra and her family went up the peninsula to bury her mother, only a few lady slippers remained. Moyra went to them like a pilgrim to a shrine.”

This is a wonderful line that supports the holy pilgrimage feel to the activity. Yes, a mother has died; yet the sense of homage and mourning extends beyond the parent’s funeral. Something more is pending.

In the final section of this essay, adult Moyra confronts her repressed feelings of guilt. It is not spelled out (the best essays don’t traffic in explicit summary), but it seems implied that grown Moyra is in her childhood home after her mother’s passing. She finds the photograph of herself and the mounted snake, tucked to the side of other pictures in a cabinet.

There’s a sense of Moyra looking at herself and the death of the snake with new eyes. A parent has died, and Moyra seems nudged into a new way of seeing herself and her actions, to be able to get outside of the event and find some compassion for herself.

Perhaps McDonald’s most impressive achievement in “The Snake” is her utter lack of sentimentality, no reliance on shallow, uncomplicated emotions at the expense of reason. Strong feelings permeate this essay, but they never become cliche, simple, or over-wrought. In the hands of a writer with less skill, this same series of events and feelings could become melodramatic and unreflective.

I don’t want to give it away, so I’ll just urge you to read this piece through to the end. Ending an essay can be more difficult than beginning it. The last line of “The Snake” is perfect. It both brings resolution and opens new questions. I think this is one reason I have not forgotten this narrative. Thank you, Mariana McDonald, for placing your essay with us to share with the world.

Thinking about sending us your work? Take a look at this post that outlines some of what we look for in what we publish.


Creative Nonfiction, #13 Winter 2018-19 

John Jacobson, Eight-Millimeter Film

Tracy Line, Traversing Icy Roads

Stephen Lottridge, What’s the Point of Rabbits?

Virginia Petrucci, Who Is Ben?

Dana VanderLugt, The Orchard

And other wonderful things…..come see!

Creative Nonfiction, #12 Fall 2018

Christopher Cascio, Kid
Heidi Davidson-Drexel, Your Boss
Aliza Dube, Loved to Death
Anne Noonan, Stink Tree
Lisa Rizzo, Snowsuit Prisoners

Nikki Sambitsky, Penny Drop

Featured Artist

Peter Tavernise

NEWS:

We will open submissions again from December 14, 2018 – January 15, 2019.

  • Our guest blogger in Issue 12 is essayist Heidi Davidson-Drexel. Read thoughts on how she developed the narrator voice in “Your Boss.”
  • Suzanne Farrell Smith’s essay, “The Helping Man,” is nominated by Pembroke Magazine for Pushcart Prize. Congratulations and good luck! This fall Suzanne also had an essay published in Brevity, “If You Find a Mouse in a Glue Trap.” Finally, her essay “Work and Love” is published in Issue 8 of Adanna. Way to go, SFS!
  • Read our editor Mary Heather Noble’s blog post, On Writer’s Block: Notes from the Kitchen Island. “I’ve tried all kinds of ways to avoid doing this work. I tried moving far away, and when that didn’t help, I wrote and published a few scenes from that childhood path and then suffered the consequences. I’ve tried writing about other things. I’ve tried literally running away.” This is a gorgeous and vulnerable self-examination of, among other things, the mountain climbing we do as children and as adults.
  • Our former guest editor for Peter Tavernise is this issue’s Featured Artist — check out his gorgeous digitally created work!
  • Do you have a question for us? Write to us at Ask the Editor. In December, we will tackle the question, “What qualifies as childhood for your mission?” Read Heidi’s blog post about her authorial choices in her essay, Your Boss.
  • We ask you to follow our blog! We don’t post there often, but when we do it’s focused information you can use about writing and writers, as well as updates about our journal.
  • We are on Twitter and Facebook: Follow/Like us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview and Longridge Editors LLC.

Summer is our quiet time, but we are still planning!

Please share this information with your writing friends and community.

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Our emphasis is on literature that explores the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan. Take a look through some of our online essays to get a feel for what we publish.

We are committed to publishing narratives steeped in reverence for childhood experience and perceptions, but we seek essays that stretch beyond the clichés of childhood as simple, angelic, or easy. We want to feature writing that layers the events of the writer’s early years with a sense of wisdom or learning accumulated in adult life.

We welcome diverse creative nonfiction pieces that demonstrate perceptive and revealing moments about the human condition.

We will not consider trite, light narratives; genre nonfiction; critical analyses; inspirational or motivational advice; erotica or pornography; or any writing that purposefully exploits or demeans.

We will consider one creative nonfiction piece (up to 3,500 words) per submission period. Please do not submit more than once during the reading period. Individual authors will not be published more than once per calendar year. The deadline is midnight EST on the close date. Each submission requires a $3.00 fee, payable electronically via Submittable.

Visit our full submission guidelines here: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

Ask the Editor is a resource for our readers and writers in which we review and respond to popular questions about our journal, essay writing, submissions, and literary potpourri type stuff. Have a question you’d like to see answered here? Send it to edg dot longridgeeditors dot com. Chosen questions will be kept anonymous.

Here is a question that is often on most writers’ minds:  Is there a common reason you reject submissions?

Q:  Like most journals, you probably reject more submissions than you publish. What’s the biggest mistake people make?

A:  It’s true, we take 10% or less of the submissions we receive. I deliberately use the term “decline” vs. “reject” because it’s more accurate. There are two basic categories for our declines. The first is mathematical and straightforward. The second is nuanced and often complicated.

 

Category One is made up of essays that do not conform to what we request. They are over the word count, off-mission, or fiction. Those declines are especially frustrating when the writing is good — and Longridge Review attracts a lot of talented writers.

These particular mistakes happen, I believe, because people often have some writing they’d like to have find a forever home, and these pieces are sent out to various places rather than crafted specifically for us. There is not one thing wrong with that in general, I am sure it’s quite common, but it can lead to wasted time all around because the work just doesn’t fit what we do.

Occasionally, it’s obvious that the writer is penning a longer work about his or her life, something more in the memoir form. It would be great if those of us who write creative nonfiction could just cut and paste the right word counts out of our manuscripts and Ta! Da! have a great essay. But it really doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you can craft something forward, such as a collection of essays into a book, but even that is a creation that is more than the sum of its parts, and difficult to do.

Category Two is harder to explain than the first set of mistakes. It can be an essay of the right word count, optimum punctuation and grammar, even some breathtaking sentences, and still not work. These narratives can be broken down into three general types:

  1. The Recounting Narrative — It’s surprisingly common for us to receive pieces of writing that read as if the writer is scrolling through his or her brain and writing down whatever is recalled. Declining a piece like this is not a judgement on the value of the memory. It is usually because the narrative has no discernible structure. Why are you telling us this? is what goes through the reader’s mind. What does this have to do with me?  Where is this going?
  2. The Not-Taking-It to-The-Pain Narrative — If you know The Princess Bride book or film, you know “to the pain” is a classic phrase the hero uses to intimidate the villain, promising not to kill him but to leave him alive and eternally suffering. Cheerful, right? (It’s actually a very funny scene in total.) You do not have to suffer eternally to write a good essay, but you know what? You do have to suffer a little bit. Often that pain is something the writing itself can exorcise from a troubled past. But a writer does have to get to it, to touch it, to own it. We can tell when an essay is dancing around what really hurts, trust me. Your readers can, too. Often we writers are the last to know. Which leads me to . . .
  3. The It’s-All-About-Me Narrative — Writer Brian Doyle said that bad personal essays are about the writer. Good personal essays are about the rest of us. What does that mean? you ask. How can I write about you if I don’t even know you? You can’t write about me, but you can connect your life with mine, with that of any other human being. That’s why this is art. That’s why this is important. That’s why your writing matters to the world. Not because you necessarily are instructing others, but because you are giving them the gift of the “a-ha” moment. When a reader can see him- or herself in your essay, even if it’s the most foreign thing literally speaking, that’s the win. That’s why we write. That’s why we read. An unexpected example for me in Issue 11 was Cars: An Unrequited Love Story. I’ve never been a teenage boy. Never had feelings for an automobile. I laughed a lot during this essay, and have read it several times. I realized it’s not about cars. It’s not about Scott Peterson; I mean, it is, but it’s about more than that. It’s about young ideals, about hopes and dreams, about sacrificing and working to bring something into your life that you really want, and coping with the aftermath when it doesn’t quite roll out like you hoped it would. It’s about growing up, and we’ve all done that.
Keep those cards and letters — and essays — coming!

“Get to the point,” he answered immediately, when I asked what advice he can offer newer writers. “I usually have a speech I make to my students. “Cut to the chase. Tell a tale. All things are stories; romance, work, education, religion and stories are how we most commonly and easily eat information, eat the world; so the storyteller has enormous power and pop if the story is naked. The best tales are direct and unadorned.”– Brian Doyle

More details are on the way, but right now you can be one of the first to read and share 6 new essays from this talented group of writers:

Creative Nonfiction, #11 Spring/Summer 2018

 

Featured Artist

Jon Tarleton

Enjoy!

 

The holidays are upon us, and we are thankful for all of the readers, writers, and artists who make Longridge Review possible!

We hope you will “follow” our blog posts — which are few and far between — to keep in touch with some innovations for this site in 2018. We would love to have your creativity be part of growing our mission via essays and art. You can also keep an eye on us via social media (see below).

  • Issue #9 is LIVE today!
  • Submissions for our Winter 2017-18 issue will open December 15, 2017
  • We are pleased that Molly Young Maass, District of Columbia, will join our board of readers and contributing editors for our next issue. Welcome, Molly!
  • In our current issue, creative advisor Suzanne Farrell Smith interviews her sister, Deb Farrell. We are truly honored to have Deb as our featured artist this issue. Don’t miss the intimate exchange between sisters that offers an unusually candid insight into Deb’s work.
  • We are on Twitter and Facebook! Follow us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview and Longridge Editors LLC.

NOTE: Our mission results in our publishing uniquely sensitive narratives. Childhood experiences are formative, and tend to land in emotionally — and sometimes psychologically — difficult territory. While the writing is about childhood, these essays are not for children. Some essays contain adult language, explorations of sexuality, and instances of verbal or physical abuse. They also contain moments of light and love and humor. Thank you for reading and sharing responsibly. — EDG

In this issue:

Victims or Others?
Gina Ferrara (New Orleans) remembers a colorful crew of men who play cards at her grandfather’s bar and clubhouse in the French Quarter. “Chicago Mike” always seems to have an assortment of random gifts on him. One day, Gina and her sister are the recipients of some of those gifts, and she finds herself asking herself questions about what it means to be involved in something you’re not even sure you understand.

How to Be on Time
Andy Harper (Illinois) weaves a narrative that goes to an unexpected place. When he finds his young adult self beset by unexpected anxiety, he is determined to follow the bread crumbs to its origin. The conclusion is shocking. This essay broke a couple of hearts at our editorial table, and is an excellent example of why we publish Longridge Review.

Sepia
Anne Muccino (Kansas City) reflects on the first time she repeated a term spoken inside her family and realized it wasn’t something said aloud to others, most importantly not to the people being labeled with that word. This is a poignant snapshot of a child’s dawning awareness that not everything said casually or even said warmly has a casual or warm effect on others.

Shooting Stars
Jonathan Sonnenberg (New York City) deftly tells us something about himself by writing about an influential teacher.  Mr. Bell likes to ask his students prickly questions. Have they ever been drunk? Tried pot? Cocaine? The class is pretty used to his provocations, until one afternoon a question sucks the air out of room. Mr. Bell is after more than discomfort. He has something he needs them to know.

A Bowl Full of Jelly
Victoria Waddle (Claremont) is devastated by her grandmother’s death, but learns how to conjure her presence in dreams. These visits help, some, but become increasingly dissatisfying as her grandmother never comes fully back to who she was in life. Eventually, the dream woman sends a message that makes it plain her visits are over. But will she ever truly not be there, somewhere?

Sentence Enhancers
Teige Weidner (Oregon) has a story about his childhood that will ring familiar to too many readers. He is bullied, a lot, and the abuse is taking a toll. No one seems to appreciate how bad things are for young Teige, but they are about to find out. After all, we all only have so much fuse, and his is about to burn down.

p.s. Want to write for us? See submission guidelines here: Longridge Review SUBMIT

Issue #7 went online in early May. Need some great reading? Catch up here with vibrant mixed media of Toti O’Brien (Pasadena), as well as diverse essays from an array of talented creative nonfiction writers.

Following are previews of the essays via their original Facebook and Twitter posts. Links to each essay are in the tweets.

NOTE: Our mission results in our publishing uniquely sensitive narratives. Childhood experiences are formative, and tend to land in emotionally — and sometimes psychologically — difficult territory. While the writing is about childhood, these essays are not for children. Some essays contain adult language, explorations of sexuality, and instances of verbal or physical abuse. They also contain moments of light and love and humor. Thank you for reading and sharing responsibly. — EDG

Abby Burns (Indiana)

“As a kid, I often found myself yearning to embody others, especially in those moments when people left me alone to my thoughts. Call it escapism, but when I was nine years old, Xena Warrior Princess used to take over my body. She would save a busload of children after a catastrophic car accident, pulling them from windows just as fire hit the gas tank and the vehicle exploded in the background.”

In Uninvited Hauntings reflects on imagined ghosts, then unmasks the real ones.

Michael Chin (New York)

“But perhaps it’s because he couldn’t speak the language that my grandfather was drawn to professional wrestling. Ostensibly a sport (one with so few rules, and such clear lines between good guys to cheer and bad guys to jeer) that he didn’t need the English language to follow what was happening, just eyesight to see the fights and a sense of hearing to follow who the crowd was rallying for and against.

It was my grandfather who drew my father into wrestling, after which my father introduced it to me.”

.‘s epic The Bionic Elbow. Promise, challenge, , , and

Minna Dubin (Berkeley)

“Like those nights in the woods, every shoplifted t-shirt or skimpy pair of underwear was another thing I managed to get over on the adults, over on authority, over on the voices that said, You don’t know anything – you’re just a chubby kid. Walking out of a store without paying was a game, and if I won, then I didn’t just beat the big bad guy at the end of round one. I beat the cameras, the end-of-the-aisle mirrors, the check-out girls, the dressing room helpers, and the detectors at the store exits. Stealing meant beating the whole system. Though I didn’t know exactly what all ‘the system’ entailed, I knew for sure it was the homing ground for the voices I heard.”

. recounts mysteries of female identity, adolescent obsessions, the lure of shoplifting.

Susan Grant (Maine)

“She did not know what to do. She had been playing with a neighbor several doors down, and now, her friend had to leave to go with her mother to the store. The little girl decided that she ought to go home and maybe get a cookie. As she approached the gate into her yard, she reached her tiny hand to open the latch, and he turned on her. The little girl will never forget the sounds that came from his mouth. Her hands shook at the memory.”

Susan Grant writes of something menacing a child from behind a gate. She wants 2 pass. Will she enter?

Amanda Kay (Pittsburgh)

“Living there, we were immersed in smoke. Jack had a cigarette in his hand from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to bed. Smoke was his personal halo. His skin was yellow-gray, his thoughts distracted as though his brain had never quite learned how to be sober after so many years of alcoholism… I didn’t understand for some time what it truly cost my mother to live in the same house with him again.”

Amanda Kay’s mom went 2 juvie 4 pulling a knife on her stepdad. He had it coming. Was it nature or nurture?

Gleah Powers (Santa Monica)

“We’ve been having some talks,” he said. “Your father realizes he made some bad choices. He’s on morphine and pretty much incoherent but he wants to see you. I called your mother and sister. They don’t want anything to do with him.”

. The longing for my father began at 21 & Bcame chronic 3 months B4 I turned 21

Helen, Ruggieri (New York)

“Lefties know the name of their condition, but introverts usually don’t. They have to figure it out later on. They’ll read Hamlet, years after the fact and say, Wow. There’s a man after my own heart. He knows what lies below the surface of life.”

Helen Ruggieri conjures as , remembers chains, life as an

Gretchen Uhrinek (Pennsylvania)

“We met on a playground. I, the ever-tenacious six-year old, was leader, chief, head honcho, and ruling monarch of a little thing I called the Vampire Club. It was a scam, of course. A poor kid in a rich school, I never intended on doing anything with the club. But for just ten smackaroos, any kid on the playground could join. Any kid except for Dan. He didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t have any friends, and I wanted nothing to do with him.”

Gretchen Uhrinek’s “Dan” Edgy, raw, & real. Sex, drugs, enemies, frenemies, then .

Featured Artist

Toti O’Brien (Pasadena)

“I have been a dancer for my whole life. I have often hoped the motion inhabiting my body would spill into my visual work, giving it some of its energy, its lightness, its joy.”

 

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