Feb/Mar 2015 Staff Picks


Read carefully each word in Backchannel, for you are warned: “Every word in this poem is a dead body.” Doughnuts and young vegetables, couches and tables, heavy artillery, cobblestones, vibrators, swans, semiotics, cash registers, vegan vitamins, male desire, cosmic tulle. Read them, conscientious of their placement next to one another, noting nods of your head, mutterings and sighs.

The poems in Backchannel create both call and response through quotidian excess and novelty.

—Meagan Wilson,

Backchannel by Emily Skillings. Poor Claudia, http://poorclaudia.org.

Hall of Small Mammals

There are few things I love more than a slightly off-kilter short story collection in the vein of Karen Russell, Lucy Wood, and Margaret Atwood. The 12 stories in this collection verge on the surreal in the most delightfully profound ways. Thomas Pierce deftly weaves together the strange and the subtle, telling stories that are both slightly whimsical and deeply meaningful. I highly recommend this collection, and I can’t wait to see what Pierce does next. 

—Leah Mosher,

Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce, Riverbed Books, http://riverheadbooks.com.

The Observable Characteristics of Organisms

Ryan MacDonald’s somewhat loosely interconnected stories (hello, Havershamp?) capture deceivingly small slices of life that leave rather large impressions on us. Not unlike quick little slaps to the face, the sting of his language is unexpected and his words linger behind like ghosts, filling up the spaces between what we read and what we feel in the hours that follow. 

—Lori Hettler,

The Observable Characteristics of Organisms by Ryan MacDonald, FC2, http://fc2.org

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