Posts By: Meredith Irvin

Nonfiction Feature: “When Milk Is a Memory” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil reads “When Milk Is a Memory”

 

WHEN MILK IS A MEMORY

When the milk first comes it is gold. When the milk first comes it feels like a tug. When the milk first sprays across the bed, we laugh but you are scared. When the milk is too much and the baby bites you want to cry and dig your hands into your husband’s palm. When the milk spills out and soaks your shirt, the bed—you wake sour to the baby’s cry. When the milk slows because you put cold cabbage leaves in your bra, you cry. When the milk tries to flow and the baby still sniffs around your chest, you cry. When the milk goes back to the body, back to your chest and vitamins back into blood—you feel stronger than ever. The baby gets fat and smiles and all the crying stops.

 

When the milk is a memory you see a glass full of it and only think: bottle. When milk is a memory and your chest softens, grows smaller—you can press against your love without pausing and the baby will coo next to you in his bassinet. When the milk is a memory, every tongue and hot breath to slow near your neck just becomes a cloud of rain-precipitate and your hand an umbrella to cup all the hours of wishing for milk missing the milk teasing the milk fooling the milk and you’ve been friends and frenemies with milk and when the time comes, milk never says good-bye. And when milk gets to where he is going—he never even sends a thank you note so don’t even bother to check your mailbox for his licked flap, his cancelled stamp.

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Nonfiction Feature: “Cousin Mike: A Memoir” by Daniel Nester

 

Nester_Cousin Mike_Final Irvin edits

 

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Anna Cabe (Fiction Editor): I was sucked into the essay as soon as I saw the form. A portrait of Daniel Nester’s father, Cousin Mike, and his fraught relationship with his family told through lists, text messages and emails, and a timeline of Cousin Mike’s get-rich-quick schemes, the narrative unfolds hilariously—and heartbreakingly. I’m awed by the richness of its detail, its smart structure, and its confidence. I’ve rarely seen an essay that takes such risks and succeeds so wildly.

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These pieces appeared in Indiana Review 31.1, Summer 2009 

Daniel Nester is the author of Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects. His other books include How to Be Inappropriate, and God Save My Queen I and II, The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which he edited. His writing has appeared in American Poetry Review, Electric Literature, New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Atlantic online, and anthologized in  The Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction. He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.

 

 

Poetry Feature: “Patrón” by Oliver Bendorf

 

Patrón

Patrón skips
chemistry
to teach his mother
how to dance.

They tumble
along balance bars
while her pearled
dreams drip
to the floor.

They dance
underwater
in a room
of salty tears.

All the better
to dip you with
he says.

Patrón
she says
how you give.

Some floors
are better made
for grief.

+

Mother he says
I’d prefer
to grow up
diagonal.

She sets a bowl
of tomato soup
in front of him
while he
polishes his shoes.

+

I am waiting
patiently
Patrón informed
a snowdrift.

December
and he’s learned
to dip cookies
one by one
in a cauldron
of chocolate.

Between his
fingers he lets
sprinkles fall
in the shape
of how his
voice used to
sound when
he laughed.

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Out of Easy Reach Exhibit & Ekphrastic Reading

 

OOER booklet_IR Irvin Edits

 

ABEGUNDE is a healer and ancestral priest in the Yoruba Orisa (O-REE-SHAH) tradition. Excerpts from her current work, Learning to Eat the Dead​, about visiting Juba, South Sudan, were selected as a COG poetry finalist by US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. She is a Cave Canem, Ragdale, Sacatar, and NEH fellow. She is the founding director of The Graduate Mentoring Center and a visiting lecturer in African American and African Diaspora Studies.

L. RENÉE is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. She is a first-year MFA candidate at Indiana University. Her poetry often explores how trauma – its physical, historical and emotional wounds – shapes the way we see and speak to ourselves and others. She also writes about Black family narratives, including what is passed down, what is lost to history and how imagination acts as a stand-in for what we’ll never know. She has previously worked as a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and Newsday, covering breaking news, crime, local government, arts and entertainment.

A. BOWDEN is a conceptual artist living in Bloomington, IN. They believe in small towns, liminal states, and intention as form.

JOANN QUIÑONES both a writer and a visual artist who juxtaposes objects for the home with the archival, in order to ask the viewer to think about how narratives of the domestic, family, and womanhood are complicated by a history of slavery, stolen labor, and racism in the U.S. She focuses on those moments of conflict and intimacy that bring us joy and pain, and those circumstances we inadvertently find ourselves in, due to our histories. My work is an invitation to remember, examine, and engage in meaningful dialogue.

 

Nonfiction Feature: “How to Tell Your Rape Story” by A.A. Balaskovits

 

If you decide to disclose your rape, you must give careful consideration to your words, then, what manner or tone will give you the most control. Such anxiety is necessary. You worry that your audience will shift interest, as always, to the rapist, the do-er, the one who acted, the one they are told to take an interest in from the very moment they learned how to appreciate stories. The active is always more interesting than the passive. That is what they tell you when you start to write: always avoid the passive, be it voice or man.

♦  ♦  ♦

Without knowing it, you had begun researching rape from a very young age. As a child, you devoured old stories without fully digesting them. Your favorite was the one about Persephone, depicted anywhere between nine and hundreds of years old, but always youthful, always skipping in a white dress amongst cardamoms and daffodils and daisies. When she was spied by shadowed Hades and stolen from her mother and all those familiar things, when she was forced to grow up with a stranger, you clutched your heart and thought, how romantic. He loved her without knowing her, and he was willing to do something heinous to prove it. It is not the first time you will encounter these stories, and it will be a very long time before you realize that the “Rape” of Persephone was not only a body-rape, but a shift in the culture played out across a womanly form. At the moment of Persephone’s judgment for having done nothing wrong, she is forced to live half the year with her rapist and half the year free of him. No wonder the world dies when she descends below ground; at least some unconscious thing acknowledges injustice. Remember the Sabine Women who were stolen in the middle of a festival, whose arms are depicted raised towards the heavens, frozen in a moment when heathen celebration ended and when the whole of Western history began its march towards conception and conceiving? Philomela, who was raped by her sister’s husband and was so beloved by him he cut off her tongue so that she might never speak of it, and only regained her voice when the Gods took pity on her and turned her into a bird, so that no man would ever understand her again? Medusa, raped by Zeus, and then made a monster, which in itself can be read as a kindness, to have that inner turmoil reflected on the outside? Too often, without using the word, we tell how rape shaped the Western world, and we Do. Not. Blink.

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