So, I’m counting how long it takes the thunder to follow the lightning. And thinking about how little I remember of life before that phone conversation with one of my most favorite beings on the planet: Ken Robidoux. The position for the fiction editor of Connotation Press was available at the time and I remember seeing the notice on FB and sending my phone number. Ken called, at some point, and from the first few exchanges I was feeling that sensation of tripping you get when you are with a really great friend driving around talking and the movement from subject to subject is reasonable and hilarious. Everything makes some kind of sense and you are in tune with the voice on the other end. It has been like that since the start and continues to be that way with Ken. What a gift to work with him! I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH! Okay, back to lower case. Anytime I ask Ken if we can do something or I send him a rat’s nest of individual videos and ask if he can put the wreckage into some sort of mosaic he somehow manages to rack the stubble into something seamless. He’s brilliant and truly a master of documentaries. That’s how he makes his living. I assume youze who are still reading this are realizing that there is no profit in rocking an exquisite literary magazine, even if you get tens of thousands of hits a day. Ken is a poet, film-maker, and lover of people and life. He is in it for the beauty and brilliance of the word on the page and never hesitates to send HUGE LOVE to the artists. And there’s nothing more gorgeous than that!
I LOVE YOU, Ken Robidoux, and am forever thankful that you took a chance on me and said YES! My life has been pearl-diving rummage sales of memory protruding out of the mouths of ceramic beasts ever since.
Thank you so much for you and your vision! I LOVE YOU!!!
The Standing Together Video was made in horror after Trump became the 45th president. Holy shit! These are some of the messages from many concerned folk on how to deal with this rascist, misogynist, homophobic asshole and his brood in 2017.
I thought we’d start with this and check out all the messages from these amazing people and question ourselves on whether we are still actively doing something to make change for the ALL of US who are deeply short-changed by this administration:
Thank you: Bethany W. Pope, Jordan Blum, Jack Cooper, Joanne Adams, Indigo Moor, Lidia Yuknavitch, Malacki Rodriguez, Jesse Bradley, Ravyn Stanfield, David Snow, Kari Nguyen, Ramon Lovato, Sam Snoek-Brown, Teisha Twomey, Robert Vaughan & Len Kuntz, Cynthia Lee Ameli, Paul Beckman, Laura Stride, Anne Elizabeth, Leif Miller, Sheldon Lee Compton, April Bradley & Friends, Kevin Ridgeway, Josephine Adams, Joanie Reese, Vivian Faith Prescott, Matt Tuite, Frankie & Emily Stern, and Cass McMain. Produced and Edited by
Meg Tuite & Ken Robidoux
Julia Goldberg: Julia Goldberg is a phenomenon both nationally and locally. I walked the streets of Santa Fe and saw her face on the sides of buses. Every writer I know has taken at least one class with Goldberg. Every politician has been interviewed at least twenty times by Goldberg. (Okay, that was a blustering guess with the politicians. It may be closer to a hundred or a thousand. All I know is that she keeps records of all of her exchanges, even from grade school.) Get a copy of Julia’s “Inside Story: Everyone’s Guide to Reporting and Writing Creative NonFiction”. It’s brilliant and necessary for anyone: especially those who love a great read and also want to learn more about writing creative nonfiction, reporting and for those of you who are teaching nonfiction, this is the guidebook for your curriculum.
Goldberg is a master. Watch her reading an excerpt:
Dominique Christina is a force of nature, a shaman of language whose words take a pilgrimage through the malignancies of oppression: the structure of false histories that claim to own our classrooms, our politics, our sexuality, our bodies, our spirituality, our stories, our blood. Christina brings this tumbling fascist, racist, sexist discourse to its knees through the bloody truth of African American boys killed by police who see only race and their right to shoot; but not the life, the child, the man. Christina writes and rips us open: heart, spleen, lungs, psyche, to reveal a relentless avalanche of grief through the eyes of the Mothers who bore, lived, loved, bled these children out. These poems are thick with flesh and blood. They are deeply anchored in the injustice and how we, as a species, must reclaim our power, our anger, our voice, our fire through unleashing these festering lies and secrets and flushing out the continuous atrocities that hide behind our fears of calling them out for each other and ourselves. Christina is not only writing poems that are fraught with absolute mastery, syncopation, and unforgettable metaphors of a prodigious scholar and mesmerizing genius. Christina offers up something priceless. Her body of work, the aftermath of flames and sweat from her corporeal pen make us believe even more strongly in the intoxicating passion of words and that this world can be changed if we dig up those graves and haunt ourselves with the light of scrutiny.
Some brilliant quotes from the master of language: Kellie Wells
"The sun is a mouth rounded in terror."
"The world is an abbatoir, and we all await the final hook we will hang from."
"You can't ask the night to stop falling once the sun slips from its perch."
"One thing that comes from reducing the world is that you uncover all the smallnesses that skitter about in the dank culverts of the human heart, get to look into the yellow eyes of those gluttonous rats that gnaw on the endless store of human disappointment and loneliness. I was always on the hunt for a soul smaller than my own."
Wells is a master at bringing the cosmos in through the looking glass of her creations. Her collections are not made for the five-star category of ratings on reviews. Wells deserves as many stars as I can see out here in the desert tonight and that's an infinite blaze of light. It’s no surprise that each of her collections have won innumerable prizes. I have to quote some more because her work speaks far better than any synopsis or review possibly could:
"I lived knowing I made myself up. You dreamt I was real. The story ends here where I am a hole you look into to see yourself. Because I am nothing, I can make you believe."
"...a braid of bodies across the continent spelling out, with twisted limbs, a language I hoped my country would not have to speak."
"bodies quaking and rolling like coins in the Sunday plate."
"The summer the bats came, Duncan began wearing blue and my breasts grew a whole cup size as if I were feeding them better."
"My mother says I had the airy beauty of something fleeting, features smeared hastily across a face soon to expire, and I waved my arms about in what seemed to her the hurried delight of a short lifespan."
"It's always the heart, isn't it, even when it's not?"
“I have to cry out here that language is all we have for the delicacy and truth of telling, that words are the sole heroes and heroines of fiction. Their generosity and forgiveness make one weep. They will accept anything and stand by it, and show no sign of suffering. They will accept change, painlessly, the only pain being that experienced by those who use words, scattering them like beans in a field and hoping for morning beanstalks as high as the sky with heavenly commotion there, upstairs where the giants live.”
― Janet Frame, Living in the Maniototo: A Novel
Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? ― Frida Kahlo, painter
“Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.”
― Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993
Another inspirational video for 2017: much needed! Thank you to the thirty women who brought their messages to us and Ken Robidoux who put this scrambled mosaic together and made this happen! BIG LOVE!
Larissa Shmailo’s work takes me to places in my life that I am both afraid and compelled by. There is no escape here. It is about recognition and a fortitude that didn’t exist before. It is about finding oneself again, in amazement and thankfulness, through another writer’s words.
Here are some quotes from Shmailo’s latest novel, Patient Women.
“There was anger in the house, anger in the very walls.”
“Home life acquired a dangerous sameness.”
“Nora had learned to detect the subtlest shifts in the affective atmosphere of her home: she became expert in detecting and defusing the charges, like a teenage bomb squad.”
“Nora kept rattling him like a jammed door she was sure she had the right to enter.”
And a quote from Shmailo’s poem, “The Young Girl Wears Male Underwear,” that was published in the anthology, “Women Write Resistance: poets resist gender violence,” edited by Laura Madeline Wiseman:
“As a young woman, pretty, I knew their hatred,
masked as sex; was attacked and ridiculed for being smart.
I am listening, listening hard. I remember:
I had a neighbor, the young girls knew her
she wore a red dress
he hit her she spit her teeth
she hid the redness
beneath a sheath;
for her pain
there was no redress.”
We made sure to publish some of Jonathan Cardew’s brilliant work before Ken Robidoux hired him as the Fiction Editor of CP! Check out this video of Cardew reading “The Toothpick Funeral”! One of my absolute favorite flash stories out there! What a gift to have Cardew choosing the fiction for each issue! He is a master storyteller and a glorious human being!
Heather Fowler’s latest novel, Beautiful Ape Girl Baby, is one of the wildest rides I’ve taken reading fiction. It’s absolutely inimitable and multi-layered, as is all of Fowler’s work. I was going to pull out some quotes from different parts of the novel, but the first paragraph sets the stage so perfectly for what is to come:
Chapter One: An Initiate-In which, a monkey girl is born, harms others, reaches puberty, kills a man, and begins a journey to meet her mentor-
“Beautiful Ape Girl Baby was born mad, her fetal fury unmatched even by the children in the psych ward above the Ob-Gyn, so her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Enrique Chef, both normal, could not have been more surprised as they watched her emerge from the tight, blonde vagina of her mother. She came out quickly, waving her fists, with a dense thatch of hair starting at her chin and patterning into spirals at her brow. When she first opened her mouth to scream, sound pierced the walls. Dark, wet hair covered her body, fine from nine months seeped in amniotic fluid, but even later when Beautiful Ape Girl Baby, Beautiful or Baby for short, beat the plexi-walls of her pink-ribboned box, looking for all the world like an animal transported from a zoo, her parents decided they would use their wealth to instill in her the confidence the name they picked for her implied.”
Margaret Malone’s debut collection, People Like You, is one of the best collections I’ve read in a while! It’s hilarious, strong, visceral, and brilliant. These nine stories are peopled with authentic, fractured, questioning human packages trying to figure each other out with all our proclamations of what a day should look like and what it is that keeps us moving forward and why.
Here are some of the quotes from this superb collection:
“There is music coming from the bedroom in the back of the small house, and a potato-looking guy in a faded Rush tee-shirt is next to me, talking and talking, the kind of person that talks about whatever is on his mind, no matter who he is talking to. He’s telling me and Bert and whoever squeezes past us for a pig-in-a-blanket about his car, a Grand Am, and what it can do.”
“I also know about kissing french. I did that with Eric Bingham in a closet at a party this summer. It was sort of gross and my tongue felt like a piece of meat that I was holding in my mouth at the same time I was trying to kiss someone and it made the kissing almost impossible. Kissing was on the way to sex and I knew that I wanted to know what sex was but I also knew I wasn’t supposed to have sex because having sex would mean I was a slut and if I was slut everyone would want to have sex with me, and then I’d be stuck having sex with everybody all the time, which sounds exhausting. I don’t know when I’d have time to practice the piano.”
“So now I’m engaged. I am reserved, like a table at a restaurant.”
“Reno is a smudge of tallish buildings and neon-signed casinos, dry desert mountains all around. It’s almost a tiny Vegas but feels unfinished, like someone took a lunch break in the middle of building it and never came back.”
“If I wait long enough time will catch up.”
“Our new neighborhood had bored kids and no sidewalks and stop signs that nobody stopped at.”
“It said a lot about me that Barb could get a goose and I couldn’t even get a man.”
“There was Raul, shaped like a yam with arms and legs. His tiny eyes and clenched lips overtaken like an avalanche by his big mound of a head. His face mostly stubbly flesh with features designed for a much smaller man.”
“Even though the hedges were as wide as a sidewalk, they were just leaves and branches and air after all, and sound traveled through them like nothing was in sound’s way.”
“A mouth of a memory swims to the surface. I cannot see the whole thing.”
“My old body liked sex; this new body preferred to be the basecamp for a brain.”
OH HOW I LOVE ALL OF YOU! Thank you so much for making 2017 a year of inspiration beyond the hell of Trump’s administration! HUGE HUGS, xoox Meg