Posts Tagged: creative nonfiction

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.

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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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Nonfiction Feature: “Common Tongue,” by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

CommonTongue

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This graphic memoire appeared in Indiana Review 37.1, Summer 2015.

Anna Cabe (Nonfiction Editor): One of my favorite forms in CNF is the graphic memoir, and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s “The Common Tongue” is a prime example of why. By telling the story of how Buchanan acquired different languages through whimsical, colorful imagery, the scope of what is ultimately a gift — the gift of opened doors— is rendered familiar and magical.

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Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of the novel Harmless Like You which was a New York Times Editors’ Pick and an NPR 2017 Great Read. She has received a Betty Trask Award and The Authors’ Club First Novel Award. Her short work has appeared in Granta, The Atlantic, and The Guardian.

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Online Feature: “Metamorphosis: Six Studies” by Eleanor Stanford

 

after Maria Sibylla Merian

 

What’s your urgent charge, if not transformation?

1. Ornate lory on branch of peach tree

 

After my second son was born, I slipped into a severe postpartum depression. I remember nursing the baby, staring blankly out the window at a cold gray April that refused to warm.

My best friend, who was living on another continent and whose first baby had been due the same day as my son, had lost her child suddenly—a full-term stillbirth—without explanation. I felt both lucky and ungrateful, unable to appreciate what I had and unable to console my friend.

There was a peach tree outside our bedroom window that, despite the cold, spread its fragile petals over the narrow city street.

One day, I watched a small green parrot land on a branch. It must have been an escaped pet; as far as I know, there are no wild parrots in Philadelphia. But in my melancholy state, I just stared, barely registering the strangeness. I saw it as a sign. A sign of what? I can’t remember now. Surely something dark. Dislocation? Alienation? The embattled natural world and its inevitable destruction? Something like that.

Later, I saw a reproduction of a painting by the seventeenth-century naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian: Ornate lory on branch of peach tree. I felt an uncanny flash of recognition when I looked at it, this precise rendering of the beauty I had been unable to see when it sat in front of me.

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

 

Indiana Review Online seeks submissions of poetry, short prose (fiction and non-fiction), and art from undergraduate writers.* Indiana Review, in collaboration with Indiana University-Bloomington’s Literary Editing & Publishing class, will curate an online space for emerging writers and artists from across the country and around the world. We are open to a variety of styles–everything from realism and satire to the supernatural and experimental forms. We feel strongly about representing diverse voices and identities, including young writers of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and women. Give us your carefully strange writing: your nature poems and political poems, your dark humor fiction, your personal essays about pop culture, family, fairy tales, etc. We especially encourage previously unpublished authors to submit.

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