“I see you standing on the porch of a burning cabin. You can go back in and rescue everyone. Or you can save yourself. You’ll be lucky to escape with your car keys.” Pam wore a silly purple beret and jaunty scarf. She didn’t care what other people thought about her. “Have you read the Old Testament? You must cleave unto your lover.” That shut me up. Pam quoting the Old Testament. Sucked as I was into the tarpit of my family, it seemed logical I should jettison Matthew. If I increased my losses to the highest possible level, I wouldn’t have to feel anything at all. It was like pressing on a bruise on my wrist to ease the throbbing in my skull. Read the full story Sex For Groceries by Kirie Pedersen in r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal.
T.L. Sherwood interviews Kirie about her story Sex For Grocercies that appeared in r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal. Kirie talks about her creative process and personal experiences that compel her writing. Excerpt:
TLS: What–or who–inspires you to write?
KP: I love the physical feeling of writing. I love writing with freshly-sharpened Palamino Blackwing pencils. I love writing with fountain pens. I sort of love to type, though I can’t quite associate that with story. Sometimes, although I’m pretty shy socially, I like telling stories aloud in some formal venue, every eye and face in a group gazing back into my eyes, faces and bodies open and expressive. Even before I could write, I drew what I called picture stories, endless frames of girls with horses, usually. And before I could draw, I told dream stories. “That little voice talks to me, Mother, and gives me the dream.” Or so it says in my baby book. Read the full interview with Kirie Pedersen in r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal.
Read the new story by Kirie - Accommodations in Bluestem. A taste:
Heather, innocent in most regards despite her degree in social work—or perhaps because of it—had no idea how crafty Texans could be. Now the visit loomed—Heather’s first vacation since completing graduate school. The new house still seemed unreal, cluttered with furniture the previous owners left behind and with the combined debris from Danny and Heather’s rentals as college students. The antique rocker Heather had spent months refinishing was piled with Danny’s books. She laughed and Danny held her face in his hands.
“What are you feeling?” he asked.
“It’s all happening so quickly. I mean, I’ve been on my own all these years, and now we’re moving in together. I’m meeting your parents.”
Bluestem, formerly KARAMU, has been published since 1966 and is produced by the English Department at Eastern Illinois University. KARAMU has won several awards from the Illinois Arts Council. Bluestem is generously funded by grants from the Illinois Arts Council.
“Sometimes we're abused; we have to talk about that.” –Linda Bubon, bookstore owner
To tell or not to tell. By writing about molestation and assault, Margaux Fragoso ventures onto a tremendous limb that could crack and break, plunging her to the ground with shattered limbs. Don’t tell the family secrets. Never spill the beans.
Fragoso breaks the rule. She tells. She tells in detail.
In “Forced Silence: A Neglected Dimension of Trauma,” Eric D. Lister, M.D. says that when children are assaulted in their formative years, character structure is still nebulous. This creates psychic fusion with the perpetrator. The children absorb the hurt without being able to understand it.
How did I survive the sudden death of my father, the year-long dying of my mother?
I stuck close to friends, in New York and on the West Coast, and everywhere in between. I joined a support group for the grieving. I had little to say but how sad I was, and I said it repeatedly.
My concentration vanished, and driving became difficult. The car occasionally veered off the road, and I realized I was in some kind of altered state. I howled while driving, and I howled in the forest. I drove the back roads, the way my mother did before the physician said Take Away the Keys.
I started to meditate again. At first, meditation meant I read texts that were supposed to be inspirational. That was good, that was fine, but it reached only what some call the left brain. The left brain, or the logical rational part of my brain was impaired.
I wrote attributes I wished for on slips of paper, and stuck them all over the house: I wanted to be loving, patient, tolerant, and kind.
The people in the support group taught me I could not be loving, patient, tolerant, and kind unless I was first loving, patient, tolerant and kind with myself. When the facilitator, Michael, suggested I list what I liked about myself, I cried.
The neighbors who bought the empty house beside Paul’s were Mormons. Melissa had known Mormons, but before she moved in with Paul, she had never known a Chinese Buddhist monk. She wondered if she should tell the Mormons that a five-year old was assaulted by a gang of boys in their newly-purchased house. The Mormon man was short and compact. He worked for a chemical company. The woman was mildly pretty and seemed to spend all her time tending to the three children, all under the age of five.
Read the rest of Kirie Pedersen's 'Liberating Life' in Glossolalia.
I was at the lowest ebb, ever. My parents died. My family fractured along fault lines based on ancient grudges and current gripes. I had just arrived back in Manhattan and could barely drag myself along the street. I would never again (I was sure of it) have confidence, energy, hope, or even the ability to get out of bed in the morning.
On a mysterious and dusty bit of Broadway sidewalk, on one of those ubiquitous tables of books that sprout even in snowstorms, my eye was caught by a bright red cover. The title was Self Hypnosis, the Complete Manual for Health and Self-Change, and the authors are Brian M. Alman and Peter Lambrou, both PhDs.
“I’ll give it to you for five,” the bookseller said.
“Do you really need that?” my husband asked, the obligatory husband question.
“Yes,” I said, and the man placed the book into my hands.
In the year since, I’ve read and re-read the book daily, trying out every exercise, and then starting over. I learned to shut out the sirens and cabs of Broadway, the cell phone conversations of neighbors, and even, just slightly, to relax on a dentist’s chair. Eventually, as the authors suggest, I wrote goals and dreams.
The authors never tell you what to do. They claim the subconscious or inner self doesn’t like being bossed around.
A foot away, a hummingbird sucks nectar from a bright-orange blossom. From above, a Chickaree drops bits of Douglas fir cone onto the page of my book. A whirring sound tells me the adult female bald eagle is passing overhead. Along with her lifelong mate, she raises one or two chicks a year in a massive nest within sight of my home.
Instead of a yard, I’ve maintained my property as habitat.
The norm for what a yard should look like comes from European sweeps of lawn and cultivated clusters of plants. Pioneers homesick for the old country and fearful of forests cut down trees and native shrubs, and planted lawns of non-native grasses to be endlessly and noisily mowed, often sprayed with noxious chemicals, the American Dream in motion.
According to Louise deSalvo, writing in her excellent Writingalife's Blog:
“Fear of failure? Failure of nerves? I don’t think it’s either, and I think it’s easy for people who haven’t faced a situation like this to pathologize something that’s simply a normal part of the process.
Maybe this agency won’t take this work. That’s possible. That’s life. That doesn’t mean that the work isn’t ready; it means that that agency didn’t take the work. To rewrite at this stage would mean that this writer is using rewriting to deal with her anxiety. What needs to happen here is that this writer has to deal with her anxiety, and not use her work to deal with her anxiety. Many of us do that: judge a work is ready, then retreat, then rewrite. All to deal with the anxiety of letting it go, passing it on to judgment.
In this publishing climate, it might be a long and bumpy ride before this particular work finds a publisher. That this writer recommends it might not assure that this agent will take it on, that a press will take it on. Still, that doesn’t mean that the answer is to hold it close, rewrite it, hoping that the next rewrite will be the one about which you won’t have anxiety.
Avatar Review is an online review that seeks to display the highest quality writing and visual art. Its purpose is to provide exposure to authors and artists and give temporary shelter to their work. Avatar Review provides a forum for writers and visual artists to share in this electronic medium.
Jared and the Llamas
By Kirie Pedersen
From the moment she met Jared, she knew their entire future. It swirled before her eyes: sex, betrayal, longing, and hurt.
In the beginning, he was simply a student in her class.
Later, Jared said he, too, saw their future before him. “What did you see?” Elisa asked.
“This certain place in the middle of your chest,” Jared said. He touched her breast. “Right there.”
“You mean you were a horny kid.”