In the Spotlight

Artwalk, Corkscrew, Armchair

by Rey Armenteros in Creative Nonfiction 0

You’re at a friend’s art exhibition. The art walk at full swing, paintings are spilling out of doorways. But you are looking around questioning the festivity, wrestling with the value of all this work, and wondering about your own elusive art career, the course artists take, the meaning of it all. […]

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Columns

Words from Elsewhere

To keep with the spirit of Otra Parte, I’d like to share my list of readings from elsewhere. These are readings that tackle what it means to be the Other, expose us to extraordinary worlds, and/or disclose interesting, at times iconoclastic, perspectives that end up feeling (or at one time felt) foreign when compared to mainstream and conventional thoughts, behaviors, and codes of conduct. […]

Photograph by Pedro Gonzalez on Unsplash.
Poetry

hotel outside richmond

outside of richmond, virginia–full day’s / drive north of tampa. bulky old tv’s / and a lobby sharp with chlorine, the pool / absolutely alive with the ignorant / joy of children who know not cheap hotels, / only that there is water deep enough / to drown in, […]

"Rubbing of Apsarases (Dancers)," Cambodia, ink on paper, 20th century, gift of Mr. Jean Laur, Curator of Angkor, 1959, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

About Chains

In a letter to her daughter she put up for adoption, Holly Pelesky muddles through the emotional distance from her own mother who tried to leave her father once. An exploration of the tension between mothers and daughters; a reflection on how the choices we make wedge space between us. […]

Photograph by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Empathy in the Desert

Getting caught in a sandstorm in Death Valley makes for gritty contemplation. The aptly named National Park puzzles the author with its past secrets and possible previews of the future. Did a professional dancer really perform without an audience for decades in this desert? Will tougher conditions for all homo sapiens force more empathy from us? Join Tom Molanphy in this memorable tour of Death Valley National Park. […]

Joanna Staniszewski, “Watson,” oil painting.
Columns

The Nasiona’s Origin Story

In this keynote speech, I, as founder, speak about The Nasiona’s origin story, the role of creative nonfiction in today’s conflict-ridden world, why I deem The Nasiona an unconventional journalism organization more so than a literary project, why I embrace the subjectivity of human experience to get a better vantage point of our condition as humans, how The Nasiona digs deeper into the who and the why than traditional news sources, and how the voices and stories The Nasiona shares and promotes helps build bridges between strangers. […]

Photograph of Heidi Harris, by Jendog Lonewolf.
Columns

The Tall, Tall Tales of Heidi Harris

Heidi Harris is a self-taught musician and vocalist whose creative practice is based on an exploration and intermingling of traditional and non-traditional sound sources. A child of New Weird America, New Hampshire-based Harris is known for coloring outside the margins. Let’s put our feet on the ground with them red heels on and let’s go and row … row into dreams, comforting haunts, and sensations of being young or of some psychedelic foreign place with Harris as our tour guide in this two-part series of interviews. […]

Photograph by Cristian Newman on Unsplash.
Columns

Authenticity in Memoir

What keeps us from being authentic in our writing? Fear, shame, and ego, to name a few reasons, but authenticity can create connection and help readers recognize themselves in even the strangest of stories. To elevate your memoir beyond reminiscing you must bring your most authentic self to the page. […]

Stéphan Valentin photograph on Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Swallow

Framed by the four phases of swallowing, “Swallow” is a personal essay about my first drinking experience and its aftermath. It investigates adolescent friendship, explores mother-daughter relationships, and blurs the line between teenage rebellion and addiction. […]

Bruce Christianson, "Underwater Fashion shoot testing with Sophie in a brightly colored flowing dress swirling with reflections on the under-surface of the pool," photograph, Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Miscarriages of Social Justice

Kelly A. Dorgan recounts her two miscarriages, including one that lasts eight months. Gazing at these experiences through the lens of intersectional feminism, however, she gains improved sight. Born out of her failed pregnancies are her new eyes, eyes that better see the twisting shadows of privilege, inequalities, and oppression across the female body. […]

An auto-da-fé of the Spanish Inquisition: the burning of heretics in a market place. Wood engraving by H.D. Linton after Bocourt after T. Robert-Fleury. Wellcome Collection.
Book Excerpts

‘Shver tsu Zayn a Yid’

“Shver tsu Zayn a Yid” follows a young anthropologist discovering his own ethnic identity as a Jew. The process was made difficult—potentially dangerous at times—by ‘background’ anti-Semitism exacerbated by Israeli government abuse of Palestinians, and […]

Albert Ernest Markes, "Ship at Sea," watercolor, late 19th century, bequest of Susan Dwight Bliss, 1966, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Book Excerpts

Poems from the First Voyage

A poetic language emerges out of the experience of radically unfamiliar things. These poems capture the first voyage to a new world and reflect aspects of the traveler’s personality, his obsessiveness, and his devoutness and […]

@wild_away photograph of Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden, Kaneohe, O'ahu, Hawai'i, United States, on Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Return to Kaimuki

Julia Wright chases a man to another island in the hopes of getting married, but she leaves her two young sons behind. Her mother has cared for Julia’s illegitimate boys for a year when Julia […]

Pierre-Louis Pierson, "Scherzo di Follia," gelatin silver print from glass negative, 1863-66, gift of George Davis, 1948, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Picture Days

The worn blue robe, the unfriendly room. I’m just holding it together as I wait for the mammogram to expose parts of me I’d rather keep hidden. I’m wrapped in a blue and white gown, […]

Auguste Rodin, "The Embrace," graphite, watercolor, and gouache, 1900-1910, John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

Intimacy

Is it a crime that I liked you for the collapsing breadth of your lips? I keep wondering if my life would have been different had I arrived at the party ten minutes later or […]

Henry P. Bosse, "No. 201. U.S. Government Bridge at Rock Island, Illinois (High Water)," cyanotype, 1888, gift of Charles Wehrenberg and Sally Larsen, 2014, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

Inside the Engine

I’ve drank in hangers built to maintain the airplanes my grandfather operated on, under the eye of a traffic control tower that’s quiet now in the after-effects of all those solvents. Of course the suds […]

Francis William Edmonds, "Preparing for Christmas (Plucking Turkeys)," oil on canvas, 1851, Bequest of Mrs. Screven Lorillard (Alice Whitney), from the collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, 2016, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

A Thanksgiving Burial

Her father used to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving, but every year it came out of the oven dry and overdone. As a self-proclaimed foodie and frequent cook, she smugly took over the ritual one […]

Vincent van Gogh, "Corridor in the Asylum," oil color and essence over black chalk on pink laid ("Ingres") paper, September 1889, Bequest of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1948, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

I Saw It All

Beware of the spiritual journey. You may end up in a place that’s not so comforting. I discovered this hard truth at a meditation retreat in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Vipassana Meditation, the time-honored method […]

Francisco Gonzalez photograph on Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Softball

Robin Gow reflects on his relationship with his father when they used to play softball together. He recalls the only time he saw his father cry was watching Field of Dreams and explores how the themes of that movie apply to both of their lives. […]

Mireya S. Vela, "With Snake."
Creative Nonfiction

Doctores

When people are marginalized, their doctors are, too. A woman remembers her childhood and the decisions she and her family made. Grandmother didn’t like secrets. She said to me, “Secrets come from Satan.” I don’t […]

Edward Lear, "Agia Paraskevi, Epirus, Greece," graphite, pen and brown ink and watercolor, 1857, purchase, Brooke Russell Astor Bequest, 2013, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Passages

Each time I go back to Tirana, I see big changes, but I seek out the old parts of town, the narrow streets, talk to people who live there and people who are visiting, and […]

Odilon Redon, "It Was a Hand, Seemingly as Much of Flesh and Blood as My Own, plate 4 of 6," lithograph in black on ivory China paper laid down on white wove paper, 1896, The Stickney Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.
Columns

The Power of Story

Stories are the foundation of our civilizations and our societies. Our legends and myths, our scientific discoveries and our explorations, can inform and influence us both individually and collectively. But what separates us also holds […]

Photograph by Chris Liverani in Unsplash.
Creative Nonfiction

Blood Wine on a Full Moon

A reflection of Catholicism and Tarot/light occult beliefs; how they intertwine and connect despite being taught they were opposites, and how those teachings affected the writer as an adult. The moon had broken through, just […]

Gustave Courbet, "The Calm Sea," oil on canvas, 1869, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O Havemeyer, 1929, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Just One More Thing

Think about the hardest loss you’ve been through, perhaps a beloved parent, or even harder, a precious child. What if every horrible thing imaginable happened? What if you lost everything and nearly everyone? How would […]

Edgar Degas, "The Artist's Cousin, Probably Mrs. William Bell (Mathilde Musson, 1841-1878)," pastel on green woven paper, now darkened to brown, 1873, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Freed Women of a Certain Age

This piece narrates my journey as an older woman who attempts to resolve the financial, lifestyle, and professional realities of choosing to start an online freelance business. This is a deeply personal narrative that questions […]

Mansur, "Study of a Nilgai (Blue Bull)," Folio from the Shah Jahan Album, album leaf, ca. 1550, Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Book Excerpts

Revel With Ghosts

Two months after losing our infant son, we were just starting to learn the language of signs. In Barcelona, a city whose ghosts seem to rise from the walls, our loss found a welcoming home. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Things That Save You

The personal essay is an exposé on loss and absence. Tolu Daniel explores how the most random events influence each other. It should rain. But for some reason the rain is shy and from my […]

George S. Harris & Sons, "Olive, from the Fruits series (N12) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands," commercial color lithograph, 1891, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

The Girl from Patitiri

Slicing tuna skins pickling eyes in ouzo– comb of Kalamata olives; cubes of feta resembled plastic dice without any spots. The girl from Patitiri carried buckets of water on the back of a mule through […]

John Quincy Adams Ward, "Study for Treaty with Native Americans (from Sketchbook)," graphite on paper, ca. 1860, Gift of Edward R. Groves, 1985, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

Indigenous People’s Day

In a red state like Missouri, their hero columbised this land but for us, indigenous emigrants of burnt sage and blown prayers, a shivering flame in the stomach and Dr. Silver Wolf’s drums outside the […]

William Michael Harnett, "The Artist's Letter Rack," oil on canvas, 1879, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1966, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Columns

Embracing the Subjective

As memoir writers, we must enter the dark waters of memory where facts are few and remembered events are often unstable. But the subjective experience offers its own reality and can reveal the truths that […]

Hans Christian Andersen, "Two Pierrots Balancing on Swans and Two Dancers," cutout in blue paper mounted on an album sheet, 1820-75, Mary Martin Fund, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Men Teach Me to Shoot

A little girl yearns for Papa’s attention, yet feels regret the moment the pellet gun weighs in her hand. Some men are not to be trusted. She wants to be brave and to be seen […]

Paul Klee, "Baum und Architektur—Rhythmen (Tree and Architecture—Rhythms)," oil on paper, 1920, Gift of Benjamin and Lillian Hertzberg, National Gallery of Art.
Book Excerpts

Jujubes Represent Sugar

Jae Langton is just like the rest of his family, especially in his love of musicals. The biggest difference is that Jae is South Korean, while everyone else is white. Jae’s parents, Shelley and David, […]

Egypt, "Fragment of a Queen's Face," yellow jasper, Dynasty 18, New Kingdom, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 B.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Open Season

Blending styles including personal memoir, creative nonfiction, and photography, “Open Season” lyrically explores what it means to be a woman in America. The vignettes present flashes of microaggressions that women suffer and internalize every day, […]

Winslow Homer, "Camp Fire," oil on canvas, 1880, Gift of Josephine Pomery Hendrick, in the name of Henry Keney Pomeroy, 1927, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

The Fire Extinguisher

When the motor on his boat catches fire eighty miles up a remote Alaska river, the speaker in “The Fire Extinguisher” is forced to see the experience through the eyes of an accompanying Swedish doctor. […]

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, "Peasant and Girl," color etching printed in black, red, and blue, 1921, Gift of Ruth Cole Kalnen, National Gallery of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

About Time

My father, born in Hungary in 1906, was often mistaken for my grandfather. Nowhere was the cultural divide between us more pronounced than on a trip to Budapest in 1969. We both let each other […]

Paul Klee, "Alter Dampfer (Old Steamboat)," oil transfer drawing and watercolor on laid paper, on Klee's original mount, 1922, Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art.
Poetry

Detroit Gold

First came the scrappers, Slicing the drywall muscle for Detroit gold. Dissection of the vein, red conductors. They gutted the city, Broke her teeth, Boarded up her eyes. Then came the scavengers, looking to make […]

Frederick H. Evans, "In the Attics," Kelmscott Manor Photographs, 1896, Purchase, David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1968, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

Broadway Avenue

East Canton, Ohio My grandmother’s house remains gray, remains past what might be recalled of it. A boy and a girl play Yahtzee! in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, and from the car I […]

South Netherlandish (?), "Glass Fragment," colorless glass, 16th century, Gift of George D. Pratt, 1930, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Poetry

A Memoir

and we were dying a little every day fleshy leftovers on tilted sidewalks failing to leave an imprint even the sun seemed to weep and the shadows never quite faded even as day broke even […]

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