The Vita.mn Summer Fiction Contest reading event at the Brave New Workshop in Uptown on July 29 was a great experience. I met Christian, the host along with other local figures in the local lit scene. The cafe area was teeming with small cliques, darting eyes taking mental notes. I half expected to see Capote in a corner holding a group of fans hostage with his effortless tales of the scene.
The top ten finalists read their pieces throughout the evening, and they were all enjoyable in their diversity: from dour and earnest to laugh-out-loud funny. I was in extremely good company.
Yesterday the new issue of Vita.mn was published. I was the 2nd runner up, and my story was published along with four others. You can read them here.
The whole experience, a rare one for me, has been heartening. I feel I have the confidence to put my work out there the way I should have been doing all along.
What's next? Walrus Magazine's "Guilty Pleasures" writing contest. Participants are encouraged to write a gripping/titillating/action-packed first paragraph of a novel in one of a list of genres. I submitted something last night. The genre? Western! More here.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
On the side street to my left, Locust Avenue, I see passing thoughts gather in corners to be swept away by street cleaners and the violent storms Autumn has coming.
A group of teenagers approach with the scowl typical to those who know how much life hates them. They look cirrus, stopping when they reach me, and their communal angst recedes into comical interest. A small victory is needed and making a stranger uncomfortable is as good a win as any. I do not fault them for this. It is a trait I can almost remember.
"What's your deal, dude?"
"You. All of you. The street you're walking down."
A look of confusion crosses them, except the speaker - the apparent alpha - who tries another tack.
"Reading books, huh? Let's see one."
I can see it in his eyes. Rumors that smell of arson. Dogs kicked in face of defiance.
"I can't." I reply ruefully. "It is not the way."
He pauses, silently finding his way between my clear refusal and the notion it might be for good reason.
"These are the words you may read, but this is not how you are to encounter them. This is the short cut in the woods best left untaken. You are the future, the whole future, and you have to come upon these things at the right time or not at all. We can't fast forward the natural progression. Us meeting, right now, is the clue you have to make due with. It may be three, seve, or even ten years before you discover the connection. But if there is any hope for us at all, you have to be the ones to figure them out. It is a slow riddle told over the course of time and only as a result of your own actions. I just figured out one meant for me, just now, before you walked up. I discovered the last part here on page 73. Let me show you..."
With that I read them the passage aloud, ensuring they understood all the words and the meaning of the word 'coda' before closing the book.
"I first discovered this notion when I was 8, while on the playground. It stood, as it were, on the other side of the street, and I could barely make out the colors of its clothes. It wasn't my time to understand, just start the process. Only today, today, do I make the connection meant for me. You look at me now the same way. You see my suspenders, my linen pants. I look like I'm from another time. It bothers you, ever so lightly. But now the connection has been made. Now your fuse has been lit. Now you are to walk to the end of the street, take a left or a right and continue to countless more years before the circuit completes itself. Only then will the light catch and shine for what you have been waiting to see. Thank you, and good luck."
With my monologue finally over, the lanky leader laughed a single breath before ushering his platoon further down the strip. With bravado and headshaking I watch as they catch themselves in each storefront window they pass, checking for biceps warped in the hope of glass, a carriage rooted in backbone, wondering perhaps if in the next or the next they might grow older or at least a find themselves little closer to becoming.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Motorcycles blast by an older
Norwegian couple, who squint
their eyes at 2009
their eyes at 2009
Red clay and stone
a husband can manage, he is built
of hard things, but here
How can a man gather the harvest
in the face of madness?
He trots across the street at the sight
of another bad dream on its way
The Ducati growls as it passes
hoping to see the past show its fear~
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
IF YOU CATCH IT AT THE RIGHT TIME IT'S LIKE A DREAM,
not necessarily a pleasant one. An entire town made up of Laura Ashley
virgins and their more fortunate counterparts.
Heat waves rise from the roofs
of parked cars turning them
and passing bored faces
into active mirage
The whole place is hungry
like the summer that stifles it.
The heat and bodies and faces
suffer it with a pleasure rooted in
the pain of old men.
Motorcycles roar past small children
growing accustomed to the sounds
to which they will contribute as fully
licensed voters, fists and all.
Their faces contain the mix of innocence
and toughened flesh needed for their future here.
Somewhere secret plans are already being made
to join its ranks.
What must be purchased and paraded aloud
begins to take up the space left vacant by lilacs
and fading wishes. It is too much.
As it has always been.
Blood itself is maturing here.
The asphalt sees to that -
its reason for being.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I BELIEVE MY FAVORITE SIGHTS are those which take place around The Tree of Life store- "gifts for those who are about something." It pulls on the women here. In groups they each tug on the arms of their friends to go in, explore, care about something. The look on their faces are a mix of excitement -- there is scarce else to do in this town they haven't done a thousand times here or in their own private Hudson's -- and self-righteous action right with the Lord. And in the most enjoyable way. A small breeze stops and a group bursts forth from the Tree with bags and trinkets and proof they have parted with their copper for a bit of fashionable social responsibility. Off to drinks to celebrate their proven piety their husbands allow out of good judgement. Should their husbands have the great fortune to be in tow, the advantage is often theirs. An eye roll and a tog of the arm, at once, acknowledges the wife's desire to save the planet and enforces their position of perceived power in the relationship. Unless they have apologies to make, submitting time and patience here is not likely. The wife, in response, is disappointed but comforted too, down deep, at the simple hierarchy a forceful husband provides with a selfishness she understands. It is a curious dynamic, with more layers than I mention here, and one better left to sociologists with better funding than mine.