AWP is finally coming to The Conium Review‘s home-city of Portland, and we’re excited. We’ll be doing several on-site and off-site activities. Over the coming weeks, expect to hear about more upcoming gatherings, readings, and author signings.
To kick off AWP, we’re hosting a reading on Thursday, March 28th at the 1905 Jazz Club (830 N. Shaver St., Portland, OR). The readings begin at 6:00 and feature Theodora Bishop, TJ Fuller, Rachel Lyon, Simone Person, Caitlin Scarano, Rebecca Schiff, and Eliza Tudor. The featured live band is the Michael Raynor Quartet.
The readings are completely free, but if you stay for the music at 8:00, there is a $5 cover for that portion of the evening.
Throughout the event, we’ll have free swag available from Conium Press, and authors will have their books for sale. Find this event on Facebook for more information.
About the Readers
Theodora Bishop is the author of the novella, On the Rocks (Texas Review Press), winner of a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award, and the short story chapbook Mother Tongues, winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest. Theodora Bishop’s poetry and short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, and Short Fiction (England), among other journals, anthologies, and exhibits. A Best New Poets and four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Theodora Bishop holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is pursuing her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, Fiction Editor for Big Fiction, and occasionally subs as a life care specialist at a memory care center in Houston.
TJ Fuller writes and teaches in Portland, Oregon. His fiction has appeared in Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Jellyfish Review, and elsewhere. He won the 2017 Flash Fiction Contest at The Conium Review.
Rachel Lyon is the author of the debut novel Self-Portrait With Boy (Scribner 2018), which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her shorter work has appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, McSweeney’s, and other publications. A cofounder of the reading series Ditmas Lit in her native Brooklyn NY, Rachel has taught creative writing for the Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, the Fine Arts Work Center, Slice Literary, and elsewhere. Subscribe to Rachel’s Writing/Thinking Prompts newsletter at tinyletter.com/rachellyon, and visit her at www.rachellyon.work.
Simone Person is the author of Dislocate, the winner of the 2017 Honeysuckle Press Chapbook Contest in Prose, and Smoke Girl, the winner of the 2018 Diode Editions Chapbook Contest in Poetry. She grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio and is a dual MFA/MA student at Indiana University in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies. In 2018, Simone became the Prose Editor for Honeysuckle Press. She sporadically, and to varying degrees of success, uses Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.
Caitlin Scarano is a writer based in Washington state. She holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was selected as a participant in the NSF’s Antarctic Artists & Writers Program and spent November 2018 in McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Her debut collection of poems, Do Not Bring Him Water, was released in Fall 2017 by Write Bloody Publishing. She has two poetry chapbooks: The White Dog Year (dancing girl press, 2015) and The Salt and Shadow Coiled (Zoo Cake Press, 2015).
Eliza Tudor grew up in Indiana and holds an MA in English and an MFA in Writing from Butler University. Her stories have appeared in The Conium Review, PANK, TLR, Hobart, Annalemma, and Paper Darts, among others, as well as in the anthologies, Mythic Indy, and Dark Ink Press’s Fall. Her novella,Wish You Were Here, won the 2017 Minerva Rising Press Novella Prize and was published by that press. After spending the last few years living in places as varied as Silicon Valley, the south coast of England, and Austin, Texas, she is currently in the process of moving to the Pacific Northwest.
Julie called me at work to say Kurt Cobain’s sweater was up at auction.
“The famous one?” I asked, picturing dewy midtone green with golden contrast at the hem. So collegiate. My phone’s face blinked red: angry reminder of an unattended inbound call.
“They’re all famous,” said Julie, “right? But look at the listing. I just sent it.”
Sources verified that Julien’s was a respected dealer of rock and pop-culture memorabilia, everything from Cher’s Reebok sweatband (aerobics purposes only) to Clinton’s roach clip. Fifty grand would put you in the running for the mohair sweater of Unplugged fame.
Fifty grand: Where would I get it? I wouldn’t, I knew in the pit of my gut, the locus of my rational mind. I’d just surpassed the thousand-bucks-in-savings mark. I imagined phoning exes, all of them better off now than back then, asking for smallish, interest-free loans; presenting the circumstances — straightforwardly framed — and embellishing with the florid, sexless detail of my ten-year-old-self’s dream. My parents might be good for a few thou, though the nearer retirement came, the less likely they were to indulge romantic nostalgia. Aunt Oona had never had a lover, but even she couldn’t be immune to the memory of a first rock crush, piquant as the night breeze to ocean-damp skin.
Decades back — two, in fact — I papered my walls with full-bleed spreads torn from Rolling Stone. Kurt, halo-haired, anchored the collage. Kurt in stripes, in outsized plastic shades, in tatty tees draping lushly from his slender frame. Always the same unfocused gaze to middle distance, dangled cigarette, occasional sneer to the camera and imagined watcher. Oh, how I wanted to leave my hair to snarl! To set my mouth as a pensive line, maintain an animal silence, fuck the police — anyone who wouldn’t listen or believe I knew the best next steps toward becoming myself. Instead, I brooded. Snapped my flavor-sapped Juicyfruit, the boombox’s volume hovering at 6: loud enough for clarity, quiet such that my mom wouldn’t rap on the hollow-core door and demand that I turn it down, already. Oh, who I would have maimed to see a live show, feel the reverb shuddering through my chest! To stay up past bedtime and beyond. I longed, as we all did, for any tiny modicum of freedom. There at my desk, miniblinds parceling the unctuous noontime light, I could almost feel the unvacuumed shag against my cheek as I lay on my bedroom floor, Unplugged on repeat on the Sony.
Leagues from my childhood bedroom and heady with memory, I retreated to the Xerox room — the only workplace door with a lock. Kristi’d left a big job running, and the copier’s light shuttled back and forth beneath the lowered lid, gold spilling out in warm flashes. I cleared the work table of conduct handbooks and memos and lay down to study the ceiling patterns: to recenter.
Plastic laminate against skin feels the same regardless of surroundings. I let the cool of the tabletop rise to meet my downturned palms and move through them, studied the pinprick scatter of the crumbling tiles above. My heartbeat slowed to match the thrum, click, return of the copier. I closed my eyes.
When the sweater arrived, it would be wrapped in royal-blue tissue, wrinkleless, encased in protective plastic. The exterior box would be nothing fancy, its plainness a deterrent to would-be thieves. Its only signifier of prestige would be the embossed gold J of the return address. I would coordinate my opening of the package with the weather, waiting for the ideal stretch of misted fog — conditions to enable maximum contrast between my body and the air. Running a knife along the box’s long edge, I’d mute my inhalation as I smoothed back the tissue.
Of course, skin-to-mohair contact would be the only way to capture whatever essence lived in those fibers: incorporate it, atom by atom, and draw its strength. Bare feet, too, the necessity of cold running from the blank tile up through my willing footsoles, the low evening light dully patching the leaves of the rubber tree, captive in its red slipcast pot. A walk around my apartment in the brittle garment would reveal a newness to the space, each thrift-store lamp and candlestick endowed with a fresh graciousness: inherent splendor made visible by the erasure of familiarity.
Outside, the mist would gather into droplets; streetlamp auras would widen and burn. The sweater would warm to a living heat and carry me from the evening into the day, day into evening, the cycle forming its own routine. I’d mask the original brown pocketside stain with coffee spills of my own, would smoke leaning from the bathroom window for the purpose of accreting cast-off ash, burn holes to circle the cuffs and climb the lengths of the sleeves, rivaling the damage done by the former wearer. I’d tug loose threads to let the weave grow wide, the humid air move in and through.
When the sweater ceased to keep its form and became instead a network of threads — more a memory of the thing than the thing itself — I would unclothe and prepare the garment for unravel. Spritz the threads with chicken stock and blot them dry, interlace the buttonholes with bacon. Lay the garment spread-armed in the courtyard, out of plain view but not hidden, and wait for my departure to signal welcome to the animals who would unthread arm from body, body from itself — a disappearance detached, unwitnessed, and feral.
About the Author:
Kate Garklavs lives and works in Portland, OR. Her work has previously appeared in Ohio Edit, Juked, Matchbook, and Tammy, among other places. She earned her MFA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she’s currently a reader for the Portland Review.
This story won The Conium Review‘s 2016 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Leesa Cross-Smith. It will also be republished as a limited-run micro-chapbook for distribution at the 2017 AWP Conference in Washington, DC.
Image Credit: © pylypchuk25 – stock.adobe.com
Amelia Gray (our recent contest judge, author of Gutshot, and other awesomeness) is coming to Portland! She’ll be performing at the Late Night Library event, “All Fines Forgiven.” The event is a book-themed variety show, with performances and talk segments. What is Amelia’s segment going to be all about? We’ll see, but our managing editor thinks maybe it will involve knife throwing and/or chainsaw juggling (not making any promises, but not ruling it out either). Other performers include musician Whitney Mongé, Natalie Graham, Carola Dibbell, and Dao Strom. Arthur Bradford hosts.
Friday, October 23rd at the Clinton Theater in PDX at 7:00pm. Find more details and purchase tickets through the Late Night Library website.
Amelia Gray (current Innovative Short Fiction Contest Judge and future galactic overlord) will be reading on Friday and Saturday at the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis, MN.
On Friday, April 10th, find Amelia at Lee’s Liquor Lounge (101 Glenwood Ave, Minneapolis, MN) from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. Other readers include Tarfia Faizullah, Janaka Stucky, Adrian Matejka, Monica McClure, Brian Foley, Lisa Ciccarello, Sampson Starkweather, and Sheila Squillante. Co-sponsored by Ninth Letter, Birds, LLC, Black Ocean, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and [PANK]. Find this event on Facebook.
On Saturday, April 11th, she’ll be reading again at Public Functionary (1400 12th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN). The reading celebrates Amelia’s new book, Gutshot (published by FSG Originals). The event is also co-sponsored by Paper Darts. Other readers are Brandi Wells, Dessa, John Brandon, John Jodzio, Lindsay Hunter, Laura van den Berg, Safy-Hallan Farah, and Simon Jacobs. $5 at the door. Find this event on Facebook and RSVP here.
James Gapinski, The Conium Review’s Managing Editor, recently took Conium Press on the road. During a visit to the Midwest, James performed at the release party for Burdock Magazine’s 10th issue, live at the Miramar Theatre in Milwaukee, WI. James also chatted with Keith Gaustad and Cynthia Spencer for upcoming episodes of The Conium Review podcast. Keith Gaustad is the editor of Burdock, and Cynthia Spencer a poet and founder of the Cloudburst Reading Series.
At the Burdock release, James also introduced the first printed materials fromThe Conium Review—a small, saddle-stitched preview edition. The final issue features over 150 pages of poetry and fiction in a perfect bound book with a full color cover. The Conium Review “Spring 2012 Sampler” includes five short pieces forthcoming in Vol. 1, No. 1, with a black and white cover. In the sampler, you’ll find work from Nick Sanford, Jack Granath, Thor Benson, Jeffrey Alfier, and Howie Good. The cover art is courtesy of Dr. Ernest Williamson III.
The Conium Review sampler chapbook will be coming to our store soon, and you can also find copies of Burdock’s 10th issue on our website.