As a reader, who might be characterized as frequenting “the off-roads and byways of literature,” I love reading DIAGRAM, a magazine edited and published by Ander Monson at the University of Arizona. Thank you to Ander and to fiction editors Sarah Blackman and Katie Jean Shinkle for selecting these. I cannot wait to read the issue entire.
To jump to the stories, follow this link.
I also want to thank Randall Brown and Kathy Fish. Randall helped me whittle away at “Pix” editorially. What a pleasure it is to work with a sure critic. “Orphan” was born by a prompt Kathy had offered. It was, simply, “write one breathless paragraph.” I’ve read “Orphan” a number of times at literary readings, and for some reason “that story about Blank” is a monologue that audiences relate to, and respond to. It’s sad-fun.
You’ll see at DIAGRAM that I left notes on the two stories. In lieu of my usual blog post about the hows and whys things came to be, I’ll suggest you read them over at the magazine, instead. Update 11/6/18 notes added for posterity:
on PIX: Four things: 1) For a short time, I helped a Creek Indian named Jack Rushing operate Ghost Tours in Morristown, NJ. It was glorious. People pasted our palms with ten-dollar bills. We were giddy with it. 2) The first time I wrote the sentence, “She will never finish sweeping. There is always a vase tottering at the edge of a shelf” was in a poem I wrote when I was fourteen. It means the same thing now as it did then. The poem was called “Noli Me Tangere,” which means the same thing now as when Titian used it. 3) I recommend Russell Banks’s biography of John Brown, Cloudsplitter. Cloudsplitter was a working title for this piece. 4) I like how saying “pics” these days implies “…or it didn’t happen.”
on ORPHAN: I used to hope that this corporate speak, this jingo lingo, might somehow confine itself to business realms. No, no. Thanks to leadership institutes, TEDx, and commuter MBAs, it’s everywhere. But sometimes, when I listen hard at a mandatory pep-talk, I hear desolate people aching in these word systems. Maybe they would call this sort of speechmaking “scaffolding.” That’s a good one. I don’t know how that word didn’t make it into the story. Scaffolds, which are temporary structures that construct walls, also derive from a Vulgar Latin word that means “platform for hanging.” And then I start thinking about 1984 and Brave New World, and, oh. I get a little sappy, in a Proto-Indo-European way. I know two ambassadors, two very old friends: heart and break.
It looks like this year for my birthday I’ll be celebrating DIAGRAM, a true goal publication for me. While you’re there, take a look at the whole tamale. I feel like DIAGRAM and Poor Claudia are publishing some of the best prose-poem and hybrid work today.
Read, and if you like, please share them.