Poetry Northwest: Summer & Fall 2022
Winner of the PNW
Chosen by Xavier Cavazos
mundane objects: the evening walk
"mundane objects: the evening walk” is, in short, a cacophony. This poem explores the fissures in the mind when the stress of living a mentally different life during a pandemic wears the narrator thin. Juggling the potential future of a parent with cognitive issues and her own mental pathway complications, the narrator leads the reader through something that seems as simple as an evening walk is anything but. The space of this poem is interrupted constantly by gray matter, as the brain of someone with cognitive issues – whether from aging or mental illness – is similarly marred. This poem is about the grief of continual [and unavoidable] loss, and the strange texture of reality when backed up against the fluid expanse of our minds.
Forthcoming - July 2022
The Food Store Diaries: Hunger
On The Run Fiction
“The Food Diaries: Hunger” performs as the memory of a fracture. In this piece, the two main characters, a young man and woman, share a moment while picking out semi-prepared food in a grocery store. While they both are there at the counter together, the two could not be further apart, a fissure that builds through the text chronicling both desire and defeat. Through this short piece, the main female character is hungering, but not for just the simplicity of skin, but something deeper, to fit into something/someone, to belong while retaining the independence which makes her feel important. With her final words, the piece just ends, dropping off into the oblivion of so many quiet, unseen lives.
decomp journal - The in-house Journal for the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia
Issue 5 E-zine: (en)visionary futures
“ECHO” traces a capture, a polaroid snap of time as it moves through and away from itself. In this piece, the primary thread of the essay is that of the female narrator processing in real time the invasive experience of receiving an echocardiogram from a male technician. Her mental spiraling and shame ebbs and flows, as the fascination with the procedure is in direct contrast with her desire to have the whole thing end. This causes her to move through two other threads of memory instead of staying present in the experience. The first strand the reader encounters is a running route the narrator enjoys, in which she moves through a tunnel painted into an extensive mural. This braid of the story (while a kind of running away from the procedure) ends up being a contemplation of a sonic echo, which in turn brings her back into her body (as all runs also bring you back). The second thread is a rumination on the “echo” command in computing, which allows the narrator to think of herself halved – the part of her lying on the table and her ghost self which keeps trying to escape the body. While it is easy to assume this piece is about one thing, the braided pieces invite the reader into the deeper question of the trajectory of one’s life and how we approach living within the self. The word "echo" throughout this piece is more than just test being performed, more than a delay of sound, more than a command; it is also a call inside for the narrator (and out to the reader) to investigate the embodiment of fear mashed up with a kind of hope, which is in a way, a love note to survival.
*Please note that decomp was unable to match the intended formatting of this piece on their website. If you are curious about the original and intended formatting, please reach out to me to discuss.
Landing Zone Magazine: 2021 Novel Excerpt Contest
1st Place Winner
Chapter from The Living Room, The Dying Room
This excerpt from my in-progress novel, The Living Room, The Dying Room, blends prose-fiction, poetry, and snippets of my photography to showcase the slow degradation of a body, a mind, and a household that is centered around a young girl and a golden elk. This chapter meshes, and in some cases mashes, imagery and words together creating little deaths within the main character that slowly bubble to the surface of her being. It chases across the topography of mysticism and harsh realities, ethereal connection and tremendous violence, until coming home to roost in an unexpected space.
Heavy Feather Review: Haunted Passages Series
mundane objects: the therapist's office
“mundane objects: the therapist’s office” is a detailed description of the mundane object of falling into a kind of ruin and the questions surrounding salvation. The narrator paints the room of her therapist’s office, and the building in which the therapy center is housed, for the reader. But it isn’t as simple as just a room, just a building, just a space in decay. The poem itself calls into question the value of oneself as a mentally different/mentally ill person, the subtle fears lurking around every wall bend, and the ultimate question of what is worth being saved both inside and outside of the self.
Anti-Heroin Chic: Issue 25
the landscape of a dream
“the landscape of a dream” uses the space of the page and line breaks to funnel the reader into a specific spiral of thoughts. It channels the wild, strange texture of our nightmare/dream life while speaking to the cyclical and swift –building nature of mental illness and survival within the thin bones of the poem. The reader is left wondering if the title word “dream” is an utterance of hope or the depths which our minds go when we close our eyes, and maybe if they are one and the same. The 35mm photograph coupled with this poem speaks to the undercurrent of desires and only being able to see that which is in front of you, while so much else lives in the wash.
Summer 2021 Issue
the landscape of the alpine - voyages two and three
“the landscape of the alpine – voyage two and three” are two hybrid poems that blend 35mm film photography with text to evoke that sensation that the wilderness holds something deeper. Something each person must seek and find on their own. Each 'voyage' traverses areas in the alpine, all above 10,000ft, where beauty is ample, even teeming, but simultaneously deep danger and defeat lay in wait. Through each trip the narrator is navigating her own internal dangers, her mental illness brewing in the subtext, while recognizing that these wild spaces are also where she feels the most safe inside her skin.
Ghost Heart Literary Journal: Issue 1
"rumination three" is a look at the complications of communication at dusk. The photograph of a house dilapidated by time speaks to how we related to others over years of disintegrating emotion, while in the poem, a narrator is telling you how to behave while simultaneously offering themselves up for the feast. Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
Polemical Zine: Issue 12 - Love
[we have our most important conversations on the way home]
This hybrid photograph-poem is about when the love part of a relationship begins you find yourself torn, how to show your new partner what you want to, what you need to, while also remembering that you are your past experiences. The life we have led, the loves we have felt guide us forward toward and through the new ones. Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
Polemical Zine: Issue 12 - Love
This hybrid photograph-poem is an intimate look inside the nighttime mind as it navigates, learns to trust, and grows through the experience of loving another.
Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
"Counter" is about the emotional undertow created when things go unsaid during tense times between lovers. Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
The Champagne Room: Issue 01
"Point-and-Shoot" is a hybrid piece done as a sequence of Polaroid-poems about the evolution of an abusive relationship. Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
The Pitkin Review:
Dear Arizona & Echoes
"Dear Arizona" is about falling in love with more than just a person, but their lineage and spacial history."Echoes" is about mental illness and making the same emotional choices over and over in relation to a failing/dangerous relationship. Published under the name: Emma Arlington M.
landscape of the interior
In life, most of us are seeking and searching for “home.” Home, of course, means a great deal of things to a great many people at different periods in their life. For some, it means our birthplace, our origin story. For others, it is the landscape that we find ourselves absorbed in through our middle to later years. And for others still, home is something more elusive, more ethereal; it is something like being content in the shell of our bodies, in the husk of our mind. landscape of the interior uses the landscape of hybrid writing to blend free-form poetry, photography, and art into a space that traverses and explores a series of landscapes: expectations, cities and buildings, people, and the untended wilds of nature, searching for something that resembles that fluctuating idea of home within the mind of someone living with a complicated list of mental disorders. This work plays with the space of the page, the maneuvering of personal pronouns, and conventional story-telling mechanisms to relay to the reader the mental illness/mental health journey of the narrator as she works toward finding a cyclical kind of self-acceptance in the nest of her mind.
Through the five parts of this work, the narrator builds on some lessons, while having to learn others again and again. Her interactions with the mental-medical community leave her constantly trying to find something to fix her fissures till ultimately she recognizes that finding peace is not the same as being considered “sane.” By creating a space where imagery and words can come together, this work creates a landscape itself where the reader is able to walk alongside the narrator through the hills and hollers of mental difference that this manuscript navigates. Each of us are never just one thing, but a conglomeration of our history, the expectations of others and ourselves, the places we lived and our dreams; landscape of the interior echoes that same experience, holding so many components of a life on its thin pages.
This manuscript is complete and available for publication.
Note: landscape of the interior was longlisted for the Dzanc Books 2021 Nonfiction Prize.
The Burial Plot : The Garden Plot
This hybrid poetry-photography-art collection is a curation of items that span the deep arc of a body as it experiences the [often] gutting nature of connection, and the fruitful space of learning the cyclical natures of the self. As the narrator grows through the space of the work, so do the pieces becoming more and more reflective on ideas of identity and holding a tender space for all the elements of who you were, are, and will become. This work performs as poetry, while being imbued with the tactile textures of 35mm film photography and acrylic paint; this combination, the hybridization of poetics, film, and art, invites the reader deeper into the catacombs of a life. The use of these multiple mediums hopes to articulate a way that anyone can enter the space of the work, and come through the reading of it a little fuller than when they started. For all things, even a body of literature, are more than just one thing, echoing the burial and bloom cycle we all must pass through.
This manuscript is complete and available for publication.
The House of M:M
The House of M:M efforts to capture the full breadth of a relationship; the tumultuous but breath-taking beginning, the process of discovery, the narrator's challenges navigating living with her mental illness and sharing that and her needs with her partner, the cyclical working through of issues, and ultimately what goes into the decision to stay with another. The pages of this work are burnt because when writing about the coming together of two humans there is a flame from ember component that we cannot ignore, even when it sometimes sears our flesh. The journey the texts takes the reader on was inspired by conversations between lovers and the evolution of a relationship that survives. The things said / left out / texted / answered / fulfilled / worn away / held dear burnt into what we know of our history.
This chapbook manuscript is complete and available for publication.
My hybrid fiction novel, the flood, pools around a literal flood that engulfs a small college campus in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The unnamed main character the reader encounters in the first chapter provides a space for the reader to smoothly slip into her skin, providing an easy entrance into the body of this work. Before long, the reader will find that which made this story comforting quickly washes out into the belly of a constricting undercurrent. Throughout the novel, the water [which we rarely see in literary fiction as a character – let along an antagonist] erodes within every character a chasm, until each of them are drowning in the unstable basin of the mind. This work blends the soft edges of poetics with the filling textures of prose, creating a body of literature that performs as if it is a photograph-capture of a river.
This project is in progress.
On The Steep
On The Steep is a collection of poems focused in the alpine and outside spaces where I have spent the last 9 years running and climbing, mostly above 10,000 ft. Each of these pieces ruminate on what it means to be alive and stay alive as a mentally different body in such, often, inhospitable spaces [which is speaking as much to the internal as the external]. The poems in this work request the reader sit still with the barren isolation of the self, and be present with that which is wild - even when it threatens our lives.
This project is in progress.
The Living Room, The Dying Room
The Living Room, The Dying Room, blends prose-fiction, poetry, and snippets of 35mm photography to showcase the slow degradation of a body, a mind, and a household. As the main character grows up, she also grows into a quickly fractured mental state that is forever tied to the golden elk who haunted her childhood. This narrative chases the idea of one's sense of self across the topography of mysticism and harsh realities, ethereal connection and tremendous violence, until finally coming home to roost in an unexpected space.
This project is in progress, however, you can read a chapter from this work in Issue 1 of Landing Zone Magazine.
I Always Say I Love You Before I Go
I am currently working on a project that blends two lives, that of a father and a daughter, to tell the story of family and friendship through a unique lens. It covers the complexities of parenting, growing up through divorced households, the experience of going from parent to friend, shared traumas, and growing old while also growing closer. This work blurs the lines of genre by using interviews and narrative story-scape to give the reader a comprehensive look at two people while they navigate the world together.
This project is in progress.