4.4: a love song to chaos | Sylvia Van Nooten—asemic art (multimedia collage)

Text Tango ink and watercolors on paper asemic collage 18 by 24 inches ©2020

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4.4: a love song to chaos | Sylvia Van Nooten—asemic art (multimedia collage)

Text Tango
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

introduction—Krysia Jopek

The moment I saw Sylvia Van Nooten’s “Tango Dance” in a Facebook group, I knew I wanted to feature a virtual show of her asemic art in diaphanous micro. Her multimedia collages utilize ink and watercolors on the two-dimensional surface of paper to contrast and play with indelibility and fluidity, permanence and timelessness, sculpture and dance, product and process. Her titles contrast the linguistic with the purely-aesthetic language of asemic writing. The reader/viewer is actively involved in the human construction of a multiplicity of subjective meanings against the backdrop of potential existential meaninglessness. Her abstract compositions, like that of Kandinsky, create shape and flow while invoking color as “a power which directly influences the soul” (Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Über das Geistige in der Kunst, 1912. Translated from the German by M.T.H. Sadler, 1977). Please enjoy this sequence of Sylvia Van Nooten’s beautiful visual art in A Love Song to Chaos.

Experimental Angel
ink and watercolors on paper
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Anatomy of a Flightless Bird
dip pen and ink on paper
8 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Arbitrary Protocols
ink on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Imagination Discarding Filaments
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Internal Map of a Bird
dip pen and ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Love Letter to Chaos
ink on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Mermaid Language 1
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Mermaid Language 2
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Orbital Whale
ink on paper
asemic collage
15 by 22 inches
©2020

 

Poem Denying the Banality of Sunsets
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Saint Goddess Bears the Burden of Red
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Saturnalia
ink, watercolors, and silk on paper
asemic collage
15 by 22 inches
©2020

 

Speaking Ship Sales
(Collaboration with Dixie Denmam Junius)
ink on paper
asemic collage
11 by 15 inches
©2020

 

Text Ballet
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Text Dance
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Text Gavotte
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Text Tango
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
18 by 24 inches
©2020

 

Voicing Nebulae
ink and watercolors on paper
asemic collage
11 by 18 inches
©2020

 

Writing Outside Of Time
ink and watercolors on paper
11 by 15 inches

artist statement

My work has little to do with consciously deciding to create a specific thing. Rather, I will find a shape or a color and see where it takes me. I love ink and watercolor because or the way they blend and create interesting drips down the paper. One small drip of blue might turn into a goddess with silver writing. Collage gives me another point from which to start. By suspending my need to “control” what I am doing, I’m able to create organic forms that often speak to people of different elements of their own thought processes. Asemic writing is what, to me, pulls the pieces together into coherency. Although the writing has no specific meaning, it still has the authority of the written word. Thus, I can be obtuse and concrete at the same time.

biographical note

Sylvia Van Nooten is an asemic artist living in western Colorado.  Asemic art, with its pastiche of “language” and images, allows her to merge texts and painting, creating a hybrid form of communication, which is open to viewer interpretation. Her multimedia collages have appeared in The South Florida Poetry JournalExperiment-O Issue 13, Raw Art Review. The cover of the Summer 2020 edition of RAR features her visual art.

more on Sylvia’s art

She can be contacted by email: sylviavannooten@gmail.com

If interested in purchasing any of Sylvia Van Nooten’s visual art, please contact her by email.

You can also find her on instagram:

 

photographer, Sylvia van Nooten
©2019

118
4.3: annulets | Gerard Sarnat—new poetry & poetics

published in Inlandia: A Literary Journal The Official Literary Journal of the Inlandia Initute Jul 1, 2020 ©2020

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4.3: annulets | Gerard Sarnat—new poetry & poetics

published in Inlandia: A Literary Journal
The Official Literary Journal of the Inlandia Initute
Jul 1, 2020
©2020

introduction by krysia jopek, Founding Editor of diaphanous micro

It’s a pleasure and priviledge to feature new poetry by the nationally-acclaimed Gerard Sarnat. The first section “from WIPING 2020 SLATE CLEAN  [5+],” a section “from KAFKACETERA  [3], the second section of “Irregular People: M-W-F,”  from his book HOMELESS CHRONICLES: from Abraham to Burning Man (Pessoa Press, 2010), a brief statement of poetics, and previews to four of Sarnat’s published collections of books, all available for purchase on Amazon.

Sarnat’s post-postmodernist, experimentalist poetics builds off and beyond L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. The short lines “from WIPING 2020 SLATE CLEAN  [5+]” scroll vertically but cannot be read quickly because of the surprising jumps within lines and from line to line, the composition’s superimposition of original imagery (abstract and representational words) and contemporary political references. Sarnat critiques the highly-complex, disturbing political reality—skewed by former, twice-impeached president, Donald Trump, his refusal to concede to president-elect Joe Biden, and his dissemination of fake news to his equally-delusional followers. The first line with its apropos reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth parallels the doomed Macbeth and Trump, especially now as the Senate Impeachment Trial is due to begin in just a few days.

In “Transformation,” the second section “from KAFKACETERA  [3],” the poet utilizes longer lines to create a creative, poetic narrative for the reader to experience as the event of the poem unfolds horizontally versus vertically as in the first selection of Sarnat’s poem featured in annulets. This section of Sarnat’s longer sequence juxtaposes Ashberian everyday American idiom (rooted in the important modernist poetics of William Carlos Williams) with provocative, philosophical inquiry. Sarnat incorporates references to our shared American TV and film tradition with references film heroes: “this latest loopy as if I metamorphed / from Tarzan to Charlie Chaplin.” The second stanza begins with “Daddy, I loved you as the sea horned moon” and speaks to the poet’s close relationship to his children and grandchildren.

Please enjoy annulets! We eagerly welcome comments, shares, and new followers of our diaphanous micro Facebook page. Thank you for reading / spending your valuable time here!

new poetry:

from WIPING 2020 SLATE CLEAN  [5+]

      1. Out Damn Spotify

Mac music faced

ending a weird year

 

perhaps Pence,

acting as President

 

not of USA

(unless Trump quits,

 

is pardoned)

but rather of Senate

 

rules in favor

of motion to throw

 

out Electoral

College results…

 

but no entity

has standing to sue

 

so then Flynn’s

martial law ensues.

 

Today you ‘n

I maintain minimal

 

expectations

beyond making real

 

sure garbage

trucks still come here

 

plus filling up

the bronze birdbath so

 

at least robins

can feel clean: males

 

(they’re much

bigger and redder)

 

one-by-one dip

in while their ladies

 

hang back

waiting to use what

 

could be

maybe considered

 

this Jewish

family’s mikveh*.

 

* ritual purification

from KAFKACETERA  [3]

     2. Transformation

Doors just opened. But this latest is loopy as if I metamorphed

from Tarzan to Charlie Chaplin. Obsessed with onomatopoeia and

assonance boxed sets?  Give me a break: no Hemingway Left Bank

celeb seductee, if muses stalk moi, a Cheeto-eater in underpants

they might stalk anyone. Exceptionally dedicated never to publish

medically (Pops’ published over 400 so far), here I am at 64.

 

Daddy, I love you as the sea the horned moon.

The sun unconcerned continues its arc.

A she-wolf calls me home.

Martini glass near bare

one last golden egg, the germ I must grow and share

releases.

©2021

from HOMELESS CHRONICLES: from Abraham to Burning Man (Pessoa Press, 2010)

1. Irregular People: M-W-F, 

i. Monday 

Head of the queue, once proud pro QB, traded his rifle 
for a gun, bizarro ex-con Gerardo charms my inner Howdy Doody,  
     “Hey, Doc Gerard, my brothas don’t buy we’z cousins!”

A hooligan calls hisself Morphyne on the clipboard, 
just in from the tulies, bullshits a med school bud from Willets, 
name can’t recall, wrote him Vicodan, dog ate ‘em – orders more.

“Sorry, Sir, we don’t do pain scripts here. I’m no shopkeeper. 
      Community clinics work better that way 
              for most everyone in the long run.”

     “Screw you, dude, I was told you was different, 
           but you’re a prick like the rest.  
Better be careful – or …”

Covering my back, big black cuz puts an end to that, 
      taunts the outsider, “You’re on the nod, tomato can, 
      – it’s time to move on, and make it quick.”

       Injecting her weekly STD cocktail 
through vermilion slattern Capris, I remind flaming Maria Diana 
      this ain’t the place to transact charnel house commerce.

My Chi-town chum Sam unhooks his bike from the train’s eco-rack. 
       Boom box atop paraphernalia balanced on handlebars, 
                     crossing the ties, he rides over his latest paranoia. 

         “Ger, I’ve definite proof your smirks fibbed all along 
about us both attending O’Keefe Grammar School – why screw  
  my head up the butt of your cryptic uncathartic clinical shit?

 If you closed your eyes, maybe you could finally see something. 
I’m gonna sic Legal Aid on your fucking friendship lip service ass 
                   should you refuse to cease and desist.”

Alma Rose, all kindhearted lard and grins, heartache and breakdowns, 
fiddles brilliant water color beach primitives of now foster twins: 
 I’ll buy one for rent money, try to get some into Stanford’s Fair. 

 My fave Mona Lisa sashays in, mustache trimmed, cig hung. 
      “Doc, is you collecting gutter art or buyin’ runty people? 
In any case, them free sample shemale hormones sure work great!

Ain’t it time you start ooching them Christians 
to raise that long green, get me on the tits and cunt fast track? 
          By the way, what color is they, Poles or Italian?”

A charming diabetic OCDer, Jill’s sexy ex-librarian fingers 
   finger Braille while sipping Styrofoam tea and sugar 

– no NutraSweet ‘til we reopen day after tomorrow.

2. 67% Hopperized Bathos, from Melting The Ice King, 2016

Freshboy eye candy larva, after Latin class in the Harvard Yard, this puerile grub 
put out 2/3’s the hard yards required to acquire Life Magazine’s worn mustachioed 

thrift-shop-Brooks Brothers-tweed-jacket-torn-leather-elbow-patches + pipe persona

An apostate commonly caught up in the wash of a sunny big square state, 

I got taught nodding Yessir to Pops and Gramps about pumping gas, slopping 
the hogs then squeegeeing their crap off the pickup, in the end is what really counts.

Absconding self-conscious introvert, I bathed in Waldorf Cafeteria shadows 
of cigar circles whose prodigies fueled my piggybacking doom: Disregard pale fools
who raised you, kiddo
. That’s what this damaged rube from the other side of the Rockies 

did while the splintered men’s room mirror futilely attempted to dispense PEZ. 
50 years later Nordstrom redoers impart, Crayon remaining hair. Bleach teeth. Switch
out bifocals for contacts
 — which preps this moldering fart for a less than gala college reunion.

a brief statement of poetics:

“Real” life  suffuses my work. High-stress medical career, leisure around family in a forest, confronting climate change. Humor and poetry interact with each other to keep this mid-septuagenarian feeling energetic, happy, and useful. Brave poetry is important to me because such gyrations elevate life, both by reading others’ work (think Rumi, Sylvia Plath, Frederick Seidel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen)  and creating my own which expresses Sarnat’s voice, makes me happy, perhaps keeps me young(er) Gerry.

more poetry collections by Gerard Sarnat:

 

Gerard Sarnat’s website

more information on Gerard Sarnat

biographical note:

Gerard Sarnat won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize and has been nominated for handfuls of 2021 and previous Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published including in Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Northampton Review, New Haven Poetry Institute, Texas Review, Vonnegut Journal, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, Monterey Poetry Review, The Los Angeles Review, New York Times, London Reader and Review Berlin as well as by Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Chicago, and Columbia presses. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician whose built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/resources to deal with climate justice and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons and is looking forward to future granddaughters.


at 70th birthday party
©2015

76
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4.2: ink-antation | Tina Barry — new hybrid writing

“Family”
Tina Barry
mixed media on paper
©2021

new hybrid writing by Tina Barry

The pieces below are part of a series in-progress. I envision this work of fiction eventually appearing in two parts: one-part interview and one-part hybrid writing. The interview, which is set in August 2020, is conducted by James Linette, the editor at Skin Deep: The Magazine of Tattoo Arts. Linette’s guest is Sasha Daniels, the daughter of Rachel Daniels, a famous Russian Jewish tattoo artist, shortly after Rachel’s death from Covid-19. Rachel’s book Tattoos and Other Tortures, considered a seminal work in tattoo literaturewas published in the 1960s and re-released in 2019.

Some of Linette and Daniels’ conversation relates to writing of Rachel’s that appeared in Tattoos and Other Tortures. A lot of the conversation, though, is Sasha describing growing up with Rachel, and the aftermath of the book’s publication. Rachel’s writing begins with awkward English and evolves as she ages.

Some excerpts from the interview:

James Linette: Can we talk about the fallout your family experienced after the book’s publication?

Sasha Daniels: I think about that time now as a tsunami. A wave that appeared suddenly, this great, darkened shadow blocking the sunshine. Then the deluge of destruction that happened immediately after the book’s release, and kept happening, one seismic tremor after another. When Rachel was outed as a tattoo artist, she stopped being seen as a wife and mother, and became this subversive thing. She had kept the tattooing a secret from everyone. Even me. I felt betrayed. Her friends felt betrayed. What little family we had were aghast. More than aghast. Sickened. Wounded. They felt like the book was a mockery of everything they were. And the letters. The antisemitism. It was utterly blatant.

There had been tension between my parents for weeks. Rachel had been agitated. She could barely sleep. She’d go to bed with my father around 11, and by 11:30 I could hear her footsteps in the hall, and then down the stairs. The tea kettle whistled. Sometimes a short blast; other times she’d let it shriek and shriek, until either I’d stand on the stair landing, and I’d scream “Mom!” or my father would run down the stairs and turn it off. Night after night. A couple of times, I’d stand on the landing and look down on her in the living room, pacing back and forth, back and forth. Once I called to her, and she jumped, as if I’d woken her from a trance. She came back up the steps; I have never seen her face like that. Any face like that, really. Huge, dark circles around her eyes — and the eyes. I still shiver. Just empty. Nothing there at all. “Mom,” I’d say, and she’d walk right past me. Never looked at me. Never said anything. I’d go back to bed utterly shaken.

You look skeptical.

JL: Well, I have to wonder if anything is ever really a secret. Especially something as visual as a tattoo.

SD: I didn’t know. Really. You have to understand. At first, Rachel didn’t make tattoos because she liked them, they weren’t an art form for her at all. They were a compulsion she couldn’t control. Something she had to do. She talked about it in Tattoos. Rachel was so conflicted. She was an atheist but the lessons her family taught were ingrained. “You shall not make gashes in your flesh…or incise marks on yourselves: I am the LORD,” which comes from Leviticus, I think.  And here was mom: a cutter and a tattooist. She carried a lot of shame. A lot of secrets.

I think what drove Rachel was much like a cutter’s need to slash open a space and let the anguish out. She tattooed her body for the same reason she cut it: if she didn’t, she’d have gone mad. People see the later photos of her, when she was out as a tattoo artist, and covered from the neck down with her weird drawing-like tattoos. But before I found out, Rachel had kept the tattoos confined to places no one, well, maybe my father, but that’s a whole different conversation, could see. Under her breasts, behind her ears so they’d be covered by her hair, near her crotch, and while I don’t know, and certainly never saw, possibly on or even in her vagina.

Rachel’s writing:

I am in memory  no  not memory

not to remember

we like that in this place

call rooming house   in this room in house

we make forest around skin   keep wolves

out   sometime birds and light

stories same   different

no one say do not talk about before

but we do not     just make little

talk  dog and cat

boy dance with crazy bent arms

like chicken   we laugh

dream of food we miss

sturgeon   herring    cabbage borscht   blini

how our skin now color of sauerkraut

Want cold rain

to numb

—-

Sharp rain

on skin

here   is first time

I feel sting

no    on train too

but not know

not know what sting is

it badness gathered

like black swarm over pond

I want to cut out    not want   need

to cut    must

open little hole in skin

free bad stories from prison

bring file    also poison

 

——-

One bad story itch

if I get up from bed someone

will lay down on warm spot

warm spot gift    I turn on side    push feet

against sleeping person    press against

me    I tear off long piece of nail

with teeth   it sharp

like small knife

reach hand under shirt

feel for poison spot   push nail deep

blood on fingers   scare me

story leap out and hang there

it scream bad things   then drift

away like poor little boat

 

JL: Did you ever ask Rachel why she stopped cutting and started tattooing?

SD: Rachel didn’t start inking her body until years after her book came out. She was a cutter up till then. I did ask her once. “Oh, Sasha,” she said. “I make cuts, then I make pictures to cover cuts up.” When I pressed her, which she didn’t like; she would ball up her hands into little fists; she said, “Sasha, it is better way to remember.”

JL: Can we talk about some of those pictures?

SD: Sure.

JL: The igloo.

SD: Journalists and tattooists called that tatt the “igloo,” but Rachel never did. The theme of ice tunnels and paths appear early in Tattoos. Later she started drawing and writing about ice blocks with that orb-shaped, crawl-through entrance, but she referred to it as the “icehouse” or “ice palace.” One winter when I made an igloo on our yard with a friend, Rachel referred to it as a lednik, which is a really crude, old-fashioned ice box.

As Rachel got older, the igloo appeared in different forms: the crude one I mentioned. But there were other ice houses and ice palaces, that originally looked like what they were, and then morphed into chandeliers, and then a single crystal. Mom had a picture of a woman named Anna, who had this elaborate, lacy looking castle that Rachel inked on her back. I asked her why a castle, and she said, “Anna like tsarina.” Supposedly, in the 1700s, there was a tsarina named Anna, who created an insane wedding, where she had artisans carve ice sculptures of swans and deer and fox, then load them onto giant sleds. She made all the guests climb onto the sculptures, and then they were dragged around the castle grounds. I don’t know if it’s true or some kind of folktale, but whenever I was being a pain in the ass, Rachel would say, “Stop complaining, Anna.”

 

Is ice palace today

with lady of house and daughter

sip tea    two tsarinas

me on knees with wash bucket

scrub floor  little circle  little circle

tsarinas bend together   talk

wedding soon   daughter   want

white dress with long piece behind

to drag down floor   out door        want

snow ball diamond on fat finger          want

violin  flute   piano with many candle     want

opera woman sing   Here is Bride     want

pond full of cherries    want

cake like big white building   touch ceiling

my nails black

in soapy water

 

—-

Daughter like Russian folktale

tsarina Anna   big mink hat

fur coat to floor   this tsarina

have man face  dark moustache

legs thick logs like in fireplace

daughter say Hel-loooo Ray Chel  Ray Chel

name shutka  little joke

tsarina in folktale make man dwarf marry

stranger lady   spend wedding night

in giant ice palace   guests ride

ice swans   wolf    deer   camel

not warm bed for man  wife

couple sleep on ice in ice palace

bride die

wish cold bed

for this daughter tsarina

 

JL: In Tattoos, Rachel seemed obsessed with bees. Can you talk about Tailor Bee?

SD: You picked the tatt with the most weighted history, and the one with the most literal interpretation. Briefly, Tailor Bee symbolizes Rachel’s father, who was a tailor in Russia. Under her breasts and in her arm pits, and high up her thighs near her vagina, and possibly on or in her vagina, were tiny upraised spots. She literally sewed “him” to her skin.

After the book came out, she showed me those spots. You know the expression seeing stars? I did. I had to run and vomit in the bathroom. That she did that to herself! It only took 20 years of therapy, but now I understand why, or I think I do. There were times when Rachel sat quietly on the living room couch, or at the dining room table when she thought she was alone, and she’d be completely lost. She’d make these gentle circles with her fingertips over her shirt and under her breasts, as if she could feel the thread beneath her clothing. It scared me as a child, but as I got older, I realized that this trance-like state was something she needed. A way of self-soothing. I’d see her lost there and just walk away.

(“Tailor Bee” comes later in Rachel’s section)

Tailor Bee

I never think before tonight about Papa sewing needle and my inking needle. Why is that? Maybe Papa needle just instrument to make money. One hem so many kopeks. Two sleeves so many rubles. It just thing for him. That is all. Papa not need to hold needle. Like me in basement when Tailor Bee hums in my head so loud I think Sasha and Marty hear it. I feel Papa hand on mine. I see dark hair like barbed wire on knuckles. “Like this, Rachal.” I hear his words, but voice I am forgetting. To forget voice is to forget. I hold needle. Not tattoo needle, sewing needle like Papa use, with thread. I say “Papa.” I do that with family. Feel for spot next to a Mama Bee. Papa Bees are hives under skin. There are many, under breasts, inside legs up where no one see. I like to feel them and know Mama Bee near too. Mama—dot, dot, dot. Papa—stitch, stitch. It hurt, yes, to push needle into skin. To feel thread pull. The first stick make me cry. I want that. It good pain. To take Papa. Stitch him to me. It only time I hear his voice.

 

published books by Tina Berry:

Beautiful Raft is the fictionalized story of the artist Marc Chagall’s lover Virginia Haggard, and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil, told in the women’s voices. The story is set in the 1940s, when the family lived for two years in the hamlet of High Falls, New York.

excerpt from Beautiful Raft:

Raft

Make my body your raft. A black raft drifting down a slow, bumping river. A happy raft. Your useful raft. Climb on, please. Am I big enough? Are you comfortable? How do I look against the blue water? Should I change color? Should I change the color of the water? I want you to look at me and think, Beautiful raft.

Water

Ida arrives in her city clothes: a hat with a tidy veil, a nipped jacket and tight skirt. I have told her my plans for my afternoon alone: Café. Coffee. Book. Shoo, she tells me. Go! Go! as the children hug her legs. I don’t reveal my real intentions; until I drive to the dirt road and park, I don’t know them myself. I walk along a path that twists and twists deeper into the unknown woods. The stones beneath my sandals guide the way. Trees heavy with emerald fringe a rock-trimmed oval of water. I undress with no shame. No fear of being discovered. Cold circles my knees. Then waist. Then neck. My skin contracts, nipples tighten. I’m a long white eel dividing the dark pond. My laugh, high and keening, a child flung into the air.

Exhausted Opera

The neighbors know me here. “Tall gal.” A toot of the horn. A wave. Eyes on the road, moving on. If they got close, they could probably smell me, as I smell them. The fraught air of chickens. Cigarettes stale or burning on the breath. Always, the fat scent of meat. Can my neighbors smell the man, the children, who feast on me, ticks on a fat hound? Shouldn’t the blue of delphiniums dim in the dark? Shouldn’t the roses’ blousy heads bend beneath the leaves? Crickets hoot a hypnotic opera. Frogs bleat lovelorn laments.

 

a conversation about writing between Tina Barry & Krysia Jopek—JANUARY 2021

When did you first begin writing hybrid and micro? What is it about the genres that attracts and challenges you?

I started writing memoir pieces about 15 years ago but I had a difficult time telling the truth. I always wanted to write in service to the story, not about what actually happened, so I turned to fiction. About a year into that, I decided to participate in a reading. The readers had no longer than eight minutes each, so I had a great deal of editing to do. What emerged was so much better than the original story. After that, I challenged myself to keep writing shorter and tighter, to express what needed to be expressed in as few words as possible. I was curious at that time too, to see if others were writing very short, under 500-word pieces, and discovered the flash and micro community whose work inspired me.

As my writing evolved, it became more lyrical, more poetic, and I just allowed it to be whatever it wanted to be.

What are you striving to do with the type of persona you construct?

For the past few years I’ve felt the need to do a deep-dive into other people’s worlds, so I’ve focused on the persona prose poem, or some form of it. That’s what I did with Beautiful Raft, which is based on Virginia Haggard, the lover of Marc Chagall, and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil, who I discovered after I moved from Brooklyn to the hamlet of High Falls, in upstate New York. Chagall and Haggard had lived in the hamlet for two years during the 1940s, and researching their time here, and all the questions that that raised, inspired the writing.

Ink-antation (working title) is fiction, although I’m drawing on my family’s history as Russian immigrants too. Again, I’m exploring a mother/daughter relationship, but this time the daughter is in her sixties, an adult looking back.

I guess what I’m striving for is what any fiction writer strives for: to invite readers into the characters’ worlds and to make those worlds compelling.

How much time do you typically spend each day writing? Do you have any writing practices, habits, or rituals you’d like to share?

I wish I could say that I was a disciplined writer who adheres to a schedule. I try to write for a couple of hours every day. Sometimes I’m successful but often I’m not. On the flip side, I can sit for hours just lost in the work.

Like most writers, I carry a notebook. Often an idea, something I’ve overheard that I might want to use, or a word that I’ve been searching for pops up when I’m away from my desk, so having a notebook helps me to remember. I keep a notebook near my bed too.

Can you speak to your writing process—from the conception of a new piece of writing through its completion.

I sit down with an idea and start writing. Usually, my original idea morphs into something different, and I try to stay out of my way and let the writing go where it wants to go. Then I rewrite until I choke the life out of the piece, go through the earlier drafts, see that the work was most alive at draft 10 or so, and go with that.

How has your experience been with publishing your two books as well as shorter pieces of hybrid and micro in literary journals?

Robin Stratton at Big Table Publishing, who until recently published the Boston Literary Magazine, was the first person to accept my short fiction. When I finished my first manuscript, I sent it to her and was thrilled that she wanted to publish it. That was a great experience, so I wanted her to publish Beautiful Raft too.

A few years ago, I sent a piece to a literary magazine and received a reply from the editor. He said he really liked the work but he wasn’t sure if it was poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction. He published it as fiction, but really, he could have published it as any of those categories. That kind of “What is this?” doesn’t happen much anymore. I see more and more literary journals that ask for hybrid work; the boundaries of what makes a poem a poem, and fiction fiction are blurring.

How do you find which journals to publish your work?

Duotrope is helpful for finding venues to send your work, but there are free sources too. I find Newpages.com and Entropy.org really helpful, as well as Trishhopkinson.com and ErikaDreifus.com. A good way to find information is to join a Facebook group. I’m constantly reading and responding to the posts in the Binders’ groups. The writers there share a lot of information about literary journals, deadlines, concerns about particular publishers; it’s a great resource.

Do you have any advice for writers now navigating the fiction-publishing seas?

My advice is to just keep plugging away, which is easier said than done, especially during those lulls when you’re struggling to get anything down on paper. I try to think of the down times as part of a cycle. The struggle hurts, but it’s the only way to get to better, more fulfilling work. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, find a writer’s group with people whose work inspires you, and who support and challenge you. I have one that meets once a month. I don’t know what I would do without the writers in that group. As for publishing, try not to let rejection derail you. If you believe in a piece, it will find a home.

 

biographical note:

Tina Barry is the author of Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing, 2019) and Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Tina’s poems and fiction have appeared in numerous literary publications such as The Best Small Fictions (Top 13 stories, 2020, and 2016), Inch Magazine, Drunken Boat, Yes, Poetry, Connotation Press, The American Poetry Journal, Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse and A Constellation of Kisses. Tina holds an MFA in creative writing from Long Island University, Brooklyn (2014). She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net nods. Tina is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn, Gemini Ink and Writers.com.

Tina Barry’s website: TinaBarryWriter.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tina.barry.5/

Twitter: Tinabarry188

Email: tbarrywrites@gmail.com

Photographer: Anya Barry
©2020

236
4.1: RE-CONSTRUCTIVISM IN THE ABANDONED FIELD | Kristen Anderson — Architecture

Elevation | North Digital 8.5” x 5” ©2019

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4.1: RE-CONSTRUCTIVISM IN THE ABANDONED FIELD | Kristen Anderson — Architecture

Elevation | North
Digital
8.5” x 5”
©2019

Cutting-edge Architecture and Critical Social Relevance—brief introduction [Krysia Jopek, January 2021]

I’m privileged to feature young architect Kristen Anderson’s vital architectural project in diaphanous micro‘s first issue of 2021. Please enjoy her professional architectural designs that propose a highly complex and artistic way to utilize abandoned buildings to create a place of community for those displaced by poverty. Her innovative designs incorporate contemporary architectural theory and practice to envision a feasible, beautiful structure and site where a displaced community can thrive in the natural environment that is incorporated and honored.

RE-CONSTRUCTIVISM IN THE ABANDONED FIELD: The creation of a new architecture through the process of demolishing and repurposing abandoned structures

ARTIST/ARCHITECT STATEMENT: 

Re-constructivism in the Abandoned Field is a conceptual project that is concerned with the development of a new architecture that demolishes and repurposes abandoned structures left behind by temporary enclaves. Abandoned sites are not always a result of the temporary enclave condition; however, many large fleeting events leave behind architectural and structural ruins. By using the remaining residents of Vila Autodromo as a test community, this project expects a successful method of repurposing a site that will attract other people with the drive for a similar lifestyle. The strategic process utilizing a single crane derived from the grid analysis of the past site—creates a clear organizational strategy for how the other abandoned arenas could be manipulated at a later point in time. With the successful implementation of this strategy on the Cariocas Arenas using the local test community, similar success when applied to the rest of the site would be expected. The design strategy for this new hybrid landscape created from built materials can be applied to other abandoned sites as well. Demolition breaks these buildings down to merge with the site once again, while simultaneously repopulating and bringing a revitalized spirit to a once barren site.

The temporary enclave, an enclave that arises when there is a need for a zoned cluster of structure and infrastructure in response to a fleeting event that exists as both a boundary condition and as a porous entity—inspired the development of this project that simultaneously acts as a barrier and as a means of intersection between communities. The intent is to explore the ways in which intersection space derived from a glitched grid can be used to design hybrid structures of architecture and landscape for communal and recreational use. Specifically, this project impacts the past inhabitants Vila Autodromo, a favela that was largely displaced by the construction of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Barra Olympic Park by Wilkinson Eyre. The concept of the inhabited “wall,” or boundary space, would achieve the porosity necessary to fulfill this unifying task by manipulating the existing site plan until it achieves the properties of a field condition. The hybridization of architecture and landscape into one coherent whole ceases to be a barrier; rather, it becomes something that knits the community together as a self-sustaining entity.

The proposal is designed for communities that need open shared space to grow. Landscape, park, and other agricultural programs will be the catalyst; businesses and homes propagating outward from developed zones is the future goal. The design swerves the principles of landscape urbanism, or urban conditions developed through landscape design, to fit into a new mold: to create an artificial landscape condition within by utilizing elements of architecture that serve as a driving force to repopulate the site.

The 20 families that remain in Vila Autodromo will act as a test community for this architectural catalyst that will eventually attract other past inhabitants back to the site. An analysis of the former site plan of Vila Autodromo led to a strategy for how to manipulate the existing architecture. In this analysis, a seemingly unorganized favela site plan became one of multiple grids overlapping and intersecting each other. The particular moment when multiple paths crossed created a radial language that inspired the placement of a single crane on the site to be used for both dismantling and reassembling the buildings in a systematic process. The successful reuse of the Cariocas Arenas will result in a new architectural system that creates a solution to human displacement and new agricultural space while incorporating the abandoned architecture resulting from the existence of temporary enclaves.

Displacement | Migration of people in Rio de Janeiro
Digital
25.5” x 16.5”
©2019

 

Conceptual Grid | Former site plan of Vila Autodromo
Digital
9” x 6”
©2019

 

Zoning Intersections | Conceptual field condition manipulating the existing plan of the Barra Olympic Park using sequential rotation operations
Digital
17” x 11”
©2019

 

Zoning Intersections | Conceptual field condition focus area
Digital
17” x 11”
©2019

 

Crane Placement | Strategy
Digital
33” x 16.5” 
©2019

 

Design Iteration | Radial Language
Digital
33” x 16.5”
©2019

 

Program Diagram | Agriculture
Digital
18” x 33.5” 
©2019

 

Final Design Proposal | Axonometric
Digital
52” x 34”
©2019

 

Final Design Proposal | 50% Project Completion
Digital
26.6” x 67”
©2019

 

Final Design Proposal | 100% Project Completion
Digital
26.5” x 67”
©2019

 

Detail | Cariocas Arena 3 in the process of demolition
Digital
17” x 11”
©2019

 

Detail | Formal soccer field to remain in Cariocas Arena 2 despite the demolition of its surroundings
Digital
7” x 11”
©2019

 

Elevation | East
Digital
8.5” x 2.5”
©2019

 

Elevation | South
Digital
8.5” x 5”
©2019

 

Elevation | North
Digital
8.5” x 5”
©2019

 

Vignette | Cariocas Arena 3 in the process of demolition
Digital
17” x 11”
©2019

Vignette | Recreational soccer field that remains in the location of Cariocas Arena 2 with agricultural terraces located in the periphery of the field
Digital
33” x 33”
©2019

 

Vignette | Agricultural terraces located in the remains of Cariocas Arena 1
Digital
33” x 33”
©2019

 

Fragment | Perspectival Section Model
Digital
8.5” x 5”
©2019

Kristen designed RE-CONSTRUCTIVISM IN THE ABANDONED FIELD: The creation of a new architecture through the process of demolishing and repurposing abandoned structures in her fifth year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Bachelor of Architecture program.

KRYSIA JOPEK’S INTERVIEW WITH KRISTEN ANDERSON—January 2021   

What aspects of architecture excite you the most?

Architecture has always been a passion of mine. I love how a single building can have distinctive impacts on different people. What excites me the most about architecture is that it is an ever-changing, often experimental, form of artistic expression that builds up our surroundings. Like all forms of art, not all architecture will be loved and praised by everyone, but buildings are fundamentally a part of our daily lives. Architecture can be thought of as beautiful, thought-provoking, controversial, lasting, etc. and what means nothing to one person may catch the eye of another. Personally, I enjoy knowing that I can use my creativity to positively impact the world around me.

When did you know that you wanted to be an architect?

When I was a little girl, my mother worked from home as an electrical engineer. She would “bring me to work with her” in her home office where I had a small table set up next to her desk. I would spend hours at this table drawing elaborate scenes of buildings and houses (or so I am told, as I was too little to remember!). Somewhere along the way, my mother asked if I wanted to be an architect. From then on, I told people that I was going to be an architect when I grew up. This is all before I really knew what being an architect meant. As I got older, learned more about architecture and had the opportunity to take drafting courses during high school, I knew that pursuing architecture as a career was the perfect choice for me. Architecture school was nothing like I expected, yet it only helped solidify my lifelong decision to continue on the path of becoming an architect.

Do you think you were born creative?

Like all skills, my abilities to draw, paint, and build needed time and practice in order to become as strong as they are today.  I do believe, however, that being creative is an intrinsic part of my personality. From as early as I could hold a crayon, I was doodling and drawing pictures, but creativity is far more than artistic talent alone. Being creative also means being imaginative, and from what I’ve heard of myself as a very young child, I have always been quite original and silly. My creativity and my ability to see the world a little differently has definitely shaped me into the unique, sometimes quirky, person I am today.

Did your childhood surroundings influence / cultivate your proclivity for artistic creation?

My childhood surroundings played a major role in cultivating my artistic ability. My parents have always provided me with support and encouragement in my artistic endeavors. They instilled in me an understanding of and appreciation for the creative process and encouraged me to create beautiful things.

How was your university experience at RPI in the Architecture program?

My RPI School of Architecture experience was amazing! The five-year program continuously challenged me and helped me grow both academically and creatively. Now that I am working in the industry professionally, my appreciation for the strength of instruction I received at RPI has only increased. The encouragement I received from my instructors and peers helped me realize the extent of my abilities and the work I am capable of producing. The mix of technical and artistic education provided throughout the program was a great balance for my skill set. Looking back on the five years, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to attend RPI’s rigorous program—and I am very proud of my degree in Architecture.

Did you have certain professors who mentored you?

My professors definitely had a profound impact on my education. Many of the professors who taught my introductory courses and studios were also my professors in later years as the curriculum became more focused. This allowed my professors to see not only my work ethic and my technical skills, but also how my designs transformed and improved as I advanced through the rigorous program. The personal level of which these mentors got to know me helped guide my work to reflect more of myself. They provided much-appreciated guidance and support as I transitioned from being a student to an employee of an architecture firm.

How were your peers? Was the atmosphere and environment supportive and/or competitive?

My peers in the School of Architecture contributed heavily to my happiness at RPI. I was friendly with so many people in my major, both in my class and in the classes above and below me. The environment was supportive. Because of the many collaborative group projects, lasting bonds and friendships were formed. That’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of healthy competition!

How did your semester studying in Italy impact your creative work?

My semester abroad in Italy changed my life. It was the first time I had ever traveled to Europe, and I immediately fell in love with the new world that this opportunity opened up for me. Studying abroad was always a dream of mine, so I took every moment to learn about and appreciate my surroundings. The architecture in Italy is so different from what I was used to in New York. The semester in Italy studying Architecture helped strengthen my love for ancient and classical architecture. One specific example of the impact the experience had on my architectural eye was mastering the act of “looking up.” The ceilings were works of art in all of the spaces I had the opportunity to explore. So often we forget to design certain parts of a building that might seem insignificant, so the architecture in Italy taught me that when I design I must think about every angle, view, and experience that a person can have in a given space. My semester in Italy also strengthened my sketching abilities and the way I look at the descriptive geometries of a building or space.

Can you describe your process from idea to finish product when designing a project?

My design process usually begins with analyzing the surroundings of a site where the project is to be located, including using grids and projection lines to understand existing spatial relationships. My designs are usually products of this initial study, which leads to sketches, study models, iterations after iteration—until I find a form to work with the program and parameters of the particular project. One aspect of designing a project in RPI’s architecture program is that none of those design projects were ever really “finished.” Even after a final critique, we would be asked, “What are the next steps?” or “Where do you see yourself taking this design further?” Although I have “finished products” in my portfolio, a design project is never truly finished; more can always be done to enhance the design and function of the conceptual work.

What media do you prefer to work in?

I typically use digital media for my architectural drawings, including AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. I particularly enjoy building physical models, which allows me to see a project come to life in 3D.

What are your favorite schools of architecture, time periods, and why?

My favorite time periods in architecture are largely influenced by the time periods I was able to study in-depth at RPI. For example, I have always enjoyed the classic elegance of the Renaissance and the opulence of the Baroque periods that I experienced in Italy. In addition to the Italian architecture I studied while abroad, I have a strong appreciation for Gothic architecture with its monolithic forms, gorgeous stained-glass windows, and complexities with technical innovations such as flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings. I am also a very big fan of Victorian houses. The whimsical design elements create a unique character for each Victorian home, which really speaks to me. I have a dream of owning a beautiful Victorian someday with a wraparound porch and elegant tower.

My own love of architecture grew out of my doctoral studies; my primary areas of interest/focus were twentieth-century American poetry, postmodernism, and post-structural theory (deconstruction, specifically). How much theory did you study at RPI and on your own? What theories most influence your work?

We studied a fair amount of theory and history in our courses at RPI. Deconstructivism played a crucial role in my thesis design by inspiring me to deconstruct, reconstruct, and create a fragmented architecture based on the process of reusing parts of existing architecture. RPI professors did a great job leading us to precedent projects that could influence our work. Rem Koolhaas’ thesis Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, PV Aureli’s A Field of Walls, and Peter Eisenman’s Rebstockpark were all precedents that greatly influenced my thesis design and concept.

How are you enjoying your first job as a professional architect?

I have really enjoyed the first year and a half as an employee of Hoffmann Architects. We specialize in the rehabilitation of building exteriors; therefore, I work on restoring existing buildings and get to contribute to a critical niche in the architecture field. I enjoy working on older buildings and learning how to create innovative, effective solutions to existing problems that buildings face. My coworkers are great, and the firm has exactly the environment and culture I was hoping for. The firm as a whole is also very supportive towards my ambition of  becoming a licensed architect.

What is your typical workday like?

My typical workday starts bright and early with an hour-long commute on the train into Grand Central and a 10-minute walk to my office in Midtown. Typically, I work on project representation through drafting and other necessary paperwork for different phases of a project including writing field reports, editing specifications, and reviewing submittals. On a really exciting day, I partake in site visits where I assist in inspecting the roofs, facades, and plazas of old hotels, churches, and university buildings around New York City. I was a bit nervous the first time I had to climb a scaffold (19 stories high!) but the nerves subsided, and I now look forward to the days when I get to be out in the field. My typical day also consists of lunch breaks in Bryant Park with some coworkers or a good book, and most recently, ice skating at Bryant Park’s Winter Village rink.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of architecture?

Outside of architecture I enjoy many other artistic forms of expression, such as drawing, painting (using mostly watercolor and acrylic), crocheting, and anything that can be made crafty. I enjoy reading and being outside, especially in nice, warm weather. I love trying new things, and right now I’m doing my best learning how to ice skate during my lunch breaks. I have become more adventurous and have started to travel more since my semester abroad. I was supposed to take an exciting trip to see the gorgeous castles and churches of Germany and Austria in September 2020, but then COVID happened. I can’t wait to reschedule that trip!

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:

An honors scholar and recent graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Bachelor of Architecture Program, Kristen Anderson is pursuing her lifelong dream of working as architect. She is currently enjoying her first full time position at Hoffmann Architects in New York City, where she works on the rehabilitation of building exteriors. The passion she has for renovating old architecture stems from her interest in classical buildings and her studies in Rome. Throughout her career so far, she has participated in historic preservation work, educational, institutional, and civic architectural projects. Kristen is also an active member in her community with a commitment to service. She dedicates her design and community action experience to many volunteer activities.

LINK TO KRISTEN’S ONLINE PORTFOLIO: https://kristenanderson39.wixsite.com/portfolio

photography by Raina Page
©2018

75
3.16: moments of rest | Ariel N. Banayan — new hybrid/short poetic fiction & interview

n a Lonely Place on Beverly Glen Boulevard Ariel Banayan digital photography 1851 x 1388 pixels ©2019

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3.16: moments of rest | Ariel N. Banayan — new hybrid/short poetic fiction & interview

In a Lonely Place on Beverly Glen Boulevard
Ariel Banayan
digital photography
1851 x 1388 pixels
©2019

new hybrid/short poetic fiction by Ariel N. Banayan—introduction by Krysia Jopek

In the seven short hybrid texts featured in moments of rest, Ariel Banayan skillfully and seamlessly fuses prose poetry and literary fiction, thereby erasing the boundaries of each genre. I find his hybrid writing to be exciting and inspirational. It’s as if he’s taking James Joyce or Virginia Woolf into the 21st-century, adding in dollops of poetry and contemporary cultural references to his long, complex, and beautiful sentences that mirror the complexity of human consciousness and experience. His craft is meticulous.

In the interview with me that follows his new hybrid writing, Ariel discusses his writing process, literary influences, the MFA program in which he is currently enrolled, the contemporary publishing world for fiction, and the challenges that he faces as a writer.

It was a pleasure putting this issue of diaphanous micro together with Ariel. Please enjoy moments of rest!

 

new short fiction [hybrid]

Solitude Sentence

. . . an empty vessel lay in the room’s darkness while beyond the night’s blurred gaze, draping over the world like some dull blanket, waited the iPhone blinking with drowsy glimmers that dimmed, shined, dimmed and shined, again and endlessly again, into the dismal room while thoughts of sleep and time taunted via glowing rose spirals until dusted glasses worn beyond the bed and glared at the red iPhone reflecting by the tint of a moonless sky; an icon, at last, was tapped on, and the night’s darkness brooded over once again into the empty room while the hollow eyes, mocked by those glowing rose spirals, still gazed at the screen dimming in unison with its own soft light, forcing the dismal body to turn away from the device once a blank piece of paper and pencil excavated themselves from the room’s darkness, letting eyes mind go numb by the night’s endless silence still sketching its pencil with paper to write an empty vessel lay in the room’s darkness while beyond the night’s blurred gaze, draping over the world like some dull blanket, waited the iPhone, blinking. . . 

 

An Incident

The wind felt sharp as it swirled through his hand spread wide like a plane’s resting wings, and his fingers impatiently tapped while hanging outside the car window. The other cars, basically parked in the middle of Wilshire, watched an ambulance swallow the poor pedestrian bemoaning his broken rib bones and missing shoes tumbling—practically striding down the street like some restless ghost figure cursed with a howling past—perambulated throughout the streets of Los Angeles thanks to the unsettled Santa Ana winds forcing hot air to swing traffic signals to swing like a haunted metronome. It is such a shame the expensive traffic cameras, looming over every street corner, never caught the victim’s state of mind, an infernal epiphany of pain, when steel struck flesh and an internal bone snapped in two.

 

Sea Glass

A speck of the glass’s luminescence peaked above the beach sand and pierced the gaze of a collector endlessly watching the shore for misshapen objects, hoping they would return joy to the wildflower-picking hands now wrinkled like some old coat. The collector could not fathom any time spent alone without some special someone to hold and share the discovery of that shining sea glass miraculously smoothed over by years of whipping sea torrents into an amulet of dull colors. It was more than a mere kaleidoscope of light beaming onto the sand once that sea glass, held to the sun like some astronomer’s telescope, reflected out onto the overcrowded Santa Monica Pier.

On a brisk Saturday morning, the usual sounds of carnival games chimed over the performers singing their typical melodies. And as the beam traveled over each performer carefully using a hand to block the stray ray piercing their left eye, it roamed towards the boardwalk roller coaster, rife with screaming passengers zooming by to dip near the ocean like a flying beast aching for a playful splash or two. The sea glass then reflected its ray of light onto the very edge of the boardwalk where a young soul sat alone in the silence of the extended Pacific, thinking about its vastness while chanting the sea was not a mask to nobody in particular. In a sudden fit of curiosity, the sea glass’s beam irked the right eye, forcing her concentration, as well as a neglected book held by a loosening grip, to slip into the depths of the ocean and ruminate in murky waters. It may loom for an eternity, thought the reader, or perhaps until the tide bloomed during a full moon, churning the shores stronger than the other nights, bringing all the other misshapen objects to spill onto the beach. They’d spill to shine their bright or dull or even radioactive specks of light towards the lonely beachgoers hoping to find the glory of lost glass pebbles molded by the sea. Some may claim that a mighty artist sculpted it like a piece of marble, thought the reader. Others may forget to use the right words when describing that tidal sensation of surprise.

 

Piano Dust

The thick layer of dust on the piano seemed more like a thin plastic film, Marie thought as she swiped a damp towel across its dark, wooden frame, recalling the moments when her father would sit on its bench, calloused fingers curled over the same keys, playing some notes while her mother, standing in the kitchen with a sponge, scraped a metal tray fused with burnt lasagna. She would sing along to his renditions of that one Errol Garner song, “Misty,” which, at the time, felt like a gushy melody of grown-up love that children such as herself would never understand, her mother would say. Until now, Marie realized, once the dusty air’s scent, lingering the living room, brought tears to her eyes, and she finally understood the beauty of those romantic duets. During those shoddily-crafted dishes, and her parents would eat and do nothing else but give off an awkward orchestra of loud chewing noises and heavy-nostril breathing. That was when she and her siblings, in their blessed innocence, distractedly gazed at the television without having the faintest clue of the dire finances her parents never maintained yet somehow convinced others that all was well. Her father would lie to the teachers, telling them everything was alright. The children were not worrying and bickering their rosy little cheeks over the used toys and inherited clothes. Especially the ripped jeans Marie had once loathed since they did not merely belong to her older sisters, but her mother back in the 1980s. Ripped jeans were now in style, he would claim proudly. Those were the days, thought Marie once she opened the piano cover to find hidden between the piano’s keys an aging photograph of her mother sitting on her father’s lap; both with a rare smile only seen in glossy photos like this one, reminding Marie of the purpose of her visit to the now empty house. She tapped two white keys down, listened to the out-of-tune piano, and let her mind flood with seemingly-forgotten memories of her former home filled with books, now decaying on some dingy bookshelf next to the flowers. The Flowers were still everywhere. They were the ones her mother admired so much, especially the silly daffodils her father secretly loathed. He loathed them all, she remembered, except for the bright pink orchards. He always refused to smile at the flowers, but Marie knew he loved it when her mother brought them home, giving the living room a sense of color; they were all dried now, wilting in the vases placed delicately throughout her empty home now crowded with dust lingering in the air like stray words forgotten by a grieving mind.

 

A Moment of Rest

After sitting in the sun for an hour, Edith felt the skin on her hands stiffen against the park’s summer heat. The muscles in her left arm, despite feeling strained after holding a book near to her face, remained sturdy. She did her best to focus on its sentences despite skipping over a few words now and then. A squirrel, carrying some trash in its mouth, scurried in front of her feet. She felt a new sense of motion irk in her peripheral vision, so she lowered the book and watch the squirrel’s route back and around a distant tree rife with flowers. They were grand floral spirals, she imagined. A mild breeze blew around the large plant, forcing its foliage to tremble. Edith’s left hand, now shaking from holding the book, eased itself closer to the grass as her tired lips murmured the only passage she recalled from her reading.

“But Lot’s wife looked back, and…”

She slouched her spine deeper into the curve of the bench and felt its concrete warmth radiate into the exposed slit between her shirt and trousers. Her eyelids began to droop, and her heartbeat eased, letting the wind overpower her breathing. The skin on her face, veiled by an indescribable peace, continued to stiffen against the sun’s warmth.

“And she became a pillar of salt.”

Her body, now sweating against the summer heat, felt the tingling of a ladybug crawling on her forehead. Edith smiled while motioning her right hand to flick the insect away from her scalp, but her body refused to obey. A numbing sensation filled her hands while each blood cell, tumbling in a clumsy rush throughout her veins, hardened to the rough texture of sand scraping and colliding in the slowed circulation beneath her skin. Edith’s muscles, once flexible, stiffened into smooth, plastered cement; her skin, no longer warm, continued to harden against the summer heat until she felt her pulse clang, bringing the now ceramic heart to a shattering halt. Her many bones, seeping in a glossy marble, no longer kept a spongy inner consistency. The lungs froze in a crystallized web of quartz and shining stalagmites, becoming the only space left hollow and damp from her last inhale. Her stomach solidified into a well of obsidian, pouring into the intestines to create a catacomb of food, preserving the excrement as fossils stuck in amber. The sweat on her forehead, now converting into small crystals of salt, felt delicate enough to be shoved off her body by a mighty breeze.

She suspected her chalked liver feeling soft if it somehow grazed against her other organs, but a chilling feeling distracted her in this moment of rest. She frantically visualized every microscopic cell and molecule in her body alchemizing itself into sedentary matter until her soft brain disintegrated to sprinkle fine diamond dust in the hollow portions of the skull; her vision of the sun evolved into a blank screen of soft light while the eyes, still half-covered by two immovable concrete eyelids, would harden into two spheres of speckled granite before the sun set.

A gray pigeon flew by the immobile body, landed on the polished head to nuzzle inside a nook behind the left ear as another ladybug, this time wearing a pure red color without spots, crawled up from the book still clenched in the unmoving hands. Despite the sharp incline of the slouching pillar-body, the animal moved at a calm pace, braving a few spiders stitching a sticky web around the knees and ankles. After recalling the existence of its wings, the ladybug flew off, and a squirrel eventually wandered over to the body. It cautiously sniffed the book, climbed onto the still torso, then fled to a spot in the park with less sunlight.

 

The Homeless Fart

It was near a lonely tree when I first let my wind out, out with the sound of the rustling leaves chiming over my own senses, chiming beyond the mere lawn of Rancho Park and further than the gathering places where people picnic and play recreational sports like tennis, golf, basketball, football, soccer, badminton, tag, capture the flag, baseball, flag football, swimming, Frisbee tossing, croquet. It all evokes cheer inducing activities with crowds to collect the vague notion of unity and the senses. I always adored those senses but only truly felt them once the particles of my gut, dispersing in pollinated drafts of fecal trumpet sounds, erupted at the sight of a rainbow appearing in the sky and my heart. It was not just me leaping at the glow of Old God’s promise and the Calamus tribe flag. I floundered in a stupefied yet restless palpitation at the oneness mentioned earlier with the world once words failed. I babble to the world, and nobody hears those words. Words, with their naive smiles, could never possibly grasp that feeling except only in the passing of gas in short, subtle toots to the park’s pine trees still growing quietly across this entire park after so many years of residents toiling over useless affairs such as the conflict regarding who really owned the oil seeped deep into the earth. That damned oil fermenting in the nearby land before the dawn of humanity. The damned oil asking residents where the dividing line should be placed to define where the a golf course begins and a public park ends; now I feel a gust of wind, hidden as some sublime force, sweep up my brown draft of personal air as my hand, still leaning against the pine tree in a fit of gasping exhaustion, stroked along with the shift in the gentle breeze. I am brushing a new touch. I am changing the mood of the world with my farts. What was once my holy scent is now carrying itself out and over the well-trimmed grass fields fenced off for those golfers patiently aiming with a careful eye towards a bulls-eye shot. It was a goal I already gifted them with my homeless wafts curling up their noses. I hope to burn nostrils and seep my chemical affairs into their white clothes. I hope to dirty their scent of fresh laundry detergent and liberated sweat, tinting them all my microscopic brown shade.

For now, the wind is careless and cold. My bones even ache as if it may rain sometime soon. I hope I may find some shelter tonight against the mighty air.

 

The Mirror

It was difficult for Jacob to look in the mirror at any moment of the day, especially when he brushed his teeth and, instead of merely watching himself massage prescription toothpaste over every single tooth in a calm clockwise motion, kept noticing every detail of his face magnified and stretched out beyond everything the dictionary defined as hideous. His pores felt visible and his nostrils, flaring and breathing and untamed like some horse snout, flared as he grazed the opaque scars on his skin and recalled when Big Benjy barged into the silence of the bathroom during their younger years. Jacob was very aware of the dangers from shaving, forcing his hand to tremble, both then and now, in fear at the sound of that foul beast of a brother. He still felt hatred as well whenever naming thinking of that monster. He hated all his tricks, especially when Big Benjy tried to convince the younger Jacob that the reflection in the mirror, that one right there in front of him, was the real Jacob. It even shivered with a hand clenching the very same toothbrush while the other Jacob was the actually reflection of that real boy. The real Jacob was still walking around somewhere in bliss while the fake Jacob just meandered like a stunt double always waiting to look back in the mirror and confront the true Jacob face to face.

While he examined the skin under his eyelids, Jacob recalled another moment when Big Benjy, in a horrible attempt of teenager humor, told little Jacob of the legendary Bloody Mary. Her pallid face always loomed in the mirror’s peripheral spaces like some semi-transparent photograph and haunted all the poor souls staring at themselves in the mirror for more than 16 seconds. The grotesque Countess, who apparently watched everyone with bleeding eyes, had fallen into a similar trap of vanity on the day before her wedding once her own reflection brought shameful tears of shameful to crawl down her face and, at possibly the worst moment, her soon to be husband, Septimus, marched in to witness Mary’s smeared face. Apparently, he tossed himself right off the balcony in the midst of London’s warm summer night and she was forced to wait and wither in shame while horrendously grasping at the mirror with a stained red hand for eternity so all those like the grown Jacob, who just realized he was still staring into that mirror, would hoped the foul woman would come and finally rescue him from that mirrored world at last.

all short fiction ©2019

 

a conversation with Ariel N. Banayan & Krysia Jopek [November, 2019]

When did you start writing fiction seriously?

Well, I’ve been writing both fiction and poetry since the end of high school in 2012, but I only began writing seriously towards the end of my undergrad in 2017. I like to think that was when both reading and writing became a vital and powerful space for me to explore the world around me. There were so many things I wanted to read and explore, especially as a native to certain parts of West Los Angeles, as the son of Iranian Jewish immigrants, and as a person living during an unprecedented technological boom.

What inspires you to write?

Right now, I can honestly say that my biggest motivation to write comes from exploring the limits of other art forms like film/television, photography, and music. I really enjoy the idea that storytelling can convey a different shade of an emotion just based on the presented form and medium. Writing then becomes such a thrill since I get to navigate through my own relationship with what the written word can show and tell to an audience, as well as what it can’t do for them. Sometimes I fail at it all, and I at least hope for a graceful landing. Other times, it becomes such a thrill just trying to see how I bring that sense of novelty to the written word. It’s fun.

When did you first publish and where?

My first published piece appeared in Anastamos, which is Chapman University’s graduate journal. At the time, I had just started in its MFA program, and I didn’t really involve my writing with people in the program. But I was given the opportunity to submit some horror of mine, and it was accepted just in time for Halloween, 2018.

What is your experience of the current publishing world for fiction?

So far, the publishing world seems both open and unforgiving for contemporary writers. I still feel really inexperienced to even consider this question, but I’ve heard stories from people who have been rejected countless times and were on the brink of giving up their hopes and dreams, only to have their work finally accepted. However, I also think that the world of writing is shifting as well. I’ve heard agents and publishers explain the importance behind a writer’s social media presence and how those numbers give the work a better pitch on a marketing perspective, which might push a YouTuber’s ghostwritten memoir over writers. No disrespect to those YouTubers and online personalities with published pieces of work out there, but I still believe that good writing is good writing. Readers will always want writing that moves them and accomplishes everything promised by the writer, even if certain levels of experimentation are pushed aside.

Can you talk about the value of your MFA? What have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned elsewhere?

So far, Chapman’s MFA program has taught me the importance of organizing my time to write, how to really engage with the world of writing beyond the workshop, and the overall reality of the writer life. I used to think a person could just write a single piece and throw it at publishers or websites or whatever to accept and share at their liberty. But that’s never been the case. I now know a person needs to be much more open-minded and involved around those types of opportunities. I’m also grateful to be in an MFA program that provides a class about the writing world at large. I never imagined how writers like ourselves are situated in the publishing world until it was openly discussed in that class.

How are your peers? Is there a sense of community in your MFA program?

Community is the most significant value of an MFA program, and I’m so happy for the one at Chapman. I understand how people can hold a particular brand of skepticism towards anyone voluntarily paying more money for more schooling. However, the specific MFA environment at Chapman University forces one to understand how vital a community is for the writing process itself. Pretty much everyone in my program comes from a unique background and identity that gives every interaction so much life and variety. Every workshop becomes an exciting and vital environment where we can all just lean back to see how and why different tastes affect the audience. I’ve realized parts about my style and taste that I would never have imagined without my MFA crew. And the support we lend to each other makes a difference, too. Sometimes writing becomes such vacuum of one’s energy and time that I begin to worry if it I’m just letting waste flush down the toilet. I know those moments of panic are based on my insecurities, not on my actual ability to write. Still, the way we support each other as writers in my MFA (or any community, to be quite honest) becomes the best motivation to keep on writing, no matter how much the words and stories “stink.” And I know I would probably get the work finished anyway, but the community makes me feel less conscious about those flaws while also helping me understand the best way to overcome those insecurities and keep on writing.

What have been some seminal texts that you’ve studied in your MFA classes?

The Completed Works of Wallace Stevens, Guillaume Apollinaire’s Alcools, Forrough Farrakhzad’s Sin—are the some of the most recent books I’ve finished that have given me a unique outlook on my writing and thought. Along those lines, I think working with Carolyn Forche and reading her memoir, What You Have Heard Is True, has shaped how to value my place of a writer and explore what that all means in our weird, contemporary atmosphere.

Will your thesis be a collection of short works or a novel? Do you write novels as well as short fiction?

My thesis is starting to solidify as a kind of hybrid. It’s going to fall as a collection of short stories inside a novel or a novel containing short stories. Either way, it’s going to be a compilation of connecting shorter works placed within a context of an outer narrative structure like One Thousand and One Nights. I definitely have some novels planned that I hope to get to one day, but I guess I need to tackle one task at a time for now.

Outside of your MFA program, do you have a community of peers with which you exchange ideas and/or work?

A good majority of my closest childhood friends are involved with the arts in some way. As consumers and producers of all these different kinds of expression, we bring such a unique perspective to everything delivered in front of us. I’m so grateful for that dynamic and their friendship even when our tastes diverge. It’s such a perfect situation since we also mostly come from the same cultural background and love to celebrate and explore what we have to offer for each other.

What do you typically read on your own?

I’m such a bore when it comes to reading anything other than the plain fiction and poetry books piling up on my never-ending reading list. I’ll always love defining works within genres like Gothic fiction, but I’m not too particular about what I read. Good writing can come from anywhere at any time, and as long as the writing blooms from a valued place/perspective and it’s well written, I’ll want to read it.

Who are the writers that have influenced you the most?

Joyce and Kafka, definitely. Both writers speak to me on a more personal level that enters the realm of the ineffable. I don’t know how to accurately describe the phenomenon of reading their works, but it’s something like an epiphany of recognition, like a piercing spotlight shining onto my body. I’ll never forget the first time I read their works and realized I wasn’t alone. I hope one day I my writing can bring others to that similar moment of recognition.

What is your process from the inception of an idea for a work of fiction to the end product? Do you have any specific writing habits or rituals?

Sometimes I just stare at a wall and mentally explore whatever feelings come to me and how that could be contextualized as a narrative until I feel like I can write it thoroughly. Other times, I force myself to write and shove through whatever cluelessness that’s taunting me not to write, which is a skill I’m learning to develop. Typing with my eyes closed is a habit I’ve recently picked up. My laptop screen sometimes strains my vision, so I just let my fingers take control. That then becomes an excellent excuse to edit the work as well.

What is the goal for each piece of fiction that you create? I realize that each piece is different, but is there a specific goal (or goals) that you have for the reader of your creative writing?

With these specific pieces here in this issue of diaphanous micro, I really wanted to explore how language could enhance or limit the reader’s perception. I wasn’t really insisting on presenting a solid story with the typical moments of storytelling found in most fiction. While those traditional aspects may be present, I was more concerned in situating a perspective based on whatever mental circumstances the pieces themselves allowed. If there isn’t a character there to perceive or enact on those feelings, I still wanted to press my hand against the invisible walls of those constraints and feel them, if that makes sense.

Do you have any hobbies that complement your writing life? That provide thinking time for writing and/or a needed break from linguistic experience?

I can honestly say that playing an instrument and playing video games have such an essential role in my well-being and artistic output. I can’t imagine my life if I never played the piano or picked up The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as a child. I’m so glad I never stopped experiencing those other art forms. They both give me that space away from writing and the linguistic experience while also making me engage with a non-verbal form of storytelling.

Do you think it’s essential for a contemporary writer to be engaged with social media? Why or why not?

While it certainly helps, I don’t think it’s important to have a huge presence or sense of engagement on the various social media platforms. Like I mentioned above, social media presence can really “sell” you well and give you an outreach to a larger audience. However, I do think it’s important to have some sort of involvement with social media, even if you send out a few tweets a month or upload some random stuff onto Instagram every now and then to experience whatever the hell a meme is/can become. The culture that’s emerging on social media platforms and the internet overall are, in my unqualified opinion, going to become a zeitgeist for the next few generations of content creators and audiences. I couldn’t help to think of Fitzgerald when I read this question, and how so much of his writing is just reacting to whatever the 1920s retrospectively meant to him. Even though I don’t believe in cyclical time, I think still that everything going on nowadays, particularly in social media and content platforms like YouTube, falls under the same cultural high you’d find in a Fitzgerald novel.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Read everything you can. Read whatever makes you think, makes you confused, takes you out of your comfort zone, brings you back to that comfort zone, makes you angry over its incompetence, shakes you to your core, makes you feel like you’d never accomplish a great piece of writing, and makes you realize you could do it better. And take the time to watch a little Seinfeld now and then. It’s good for your soul.

Are there any challenges that you personally face or find you need to overcome as a writer?

I really began reading and writing to see how I could break past all the fear and guilt I always felt in my life, even if that meant getting lost in more abstract, outdated language or just giving up. While the discomfort never stops, I know my reaction to that discomfort can change and adapt for the better. I know that challenging oneself in this day and age is probably one of the most energy-consuming things a person could ever do. Still, I guess that’s the only way we grow as artists and people even if it means failing, dusting yourself off, and rising to start again.

How did you learn about diaphanous micro?

I had brought in one of the pieces published here to a fiction workshop, and it was not well-received at all. I took a step back and asked myself where I could submit this type of experimental writing. I began searching for more hybrid and experimental places to publish. Then on one chilly California day, I received a notification on my phone from Google. It was like some digital divine providence.

Is there anything else that you would like readers to know about you as a writer or fellow human?

There’s a quote that really resonates with me, and I feel like it says more than anything I could ever write: In reality, I’m actually very fun – Nathan Fielder.

 

Ariel N. Banayan tours “Tehrangeles”

Los Angeles Review of Books — Ariel N. Banayan

A Burning Itch by Ariel N Banayan — Anastamos

So you’re in an MFA program–now what? by Ariel N. Banayan

Ariel Banayan [Arlel Ban] on Twitter

Airel Banayan [Arlel Ban] on Instagram

 

biographical note:

Ariel N. Banayan is an emerging writer born and raised in West Los Angeles’ thriving Iranian Jewish community. He received a BA in English from UCLA in 2017 and is currently pursuing an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University in Orange County. He also co-hosts the monthly reading series, Write to Read, where emerging and featured authors throughout Southern California are invited to read their work and drink a beer in front of an audience. Previously, his writing has been featured in The Los Angeles Review of Books and Anastamos, Chapman University’s graduate literary journal. Most recently, Brilliant Flash Fiction long-listed his writing in their Fall flash fiction contest.

 

color portrait sketch of Ariel Banayan
Yoni Keynan, artist
5 inches x 7 inches
©2019

 

 

 

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