Joe Jiménez is the author of The Possibilities of Mud (Kórima 2014) and Bloodline (Arte Público 2016). Jiménez holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. The short film “El Abuelo,” based on Jiménez’s poem, has been screened in Belgium, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Argentina, Ireland, England, and the US. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, and is a member of the Macondo Workshops. For more, visit joejimenez.net.
Our Prose Selection for 2016
After announcing our poetry selections last month, Augury is happy to reveal its selections for prose today. The editors’ reading period for prose submissions was equally intense, but also equally gratifying. To be sure, selecting one manuscript out of dozens of strong submissions never gets easier. It is with pleasure that we announce Sara Schaff’s short story collection Say Something Nice About Me as our prose selection for 2016. Below are the finalists whose work we will feature in the coming weeks:
Alley Stories—Nona Caspers
Everything Beautiful—Sarah Pape
Girl with a Goat’s Voice—Nate Liederbach
Grieving for Guava—Cecilia Fernandez
Home for Wayward Girls—Melanie Bishop
In Josaphat’s Valley—Joshua Bernstein
Mick Jagger’s Green Eyed Daughter…—Elizabeth Denton
The Heart is a Slow Learner—Mary Larkin Phd
The World is All that Does Befall Us—Thomas Walton—Too Smart for her Own Good—Evelyn Somers
True Love and Other Dreams of…—Micah Perks
Wee Hours—Ellen Winter
Woman, Running Late, in a Dress—Dallas Woodburn
Stay tuned for excerpts from each of our fourteen finalists, as well as from Sara Schaff!
"Ode on Simultaneity" by poetry finalist Elizabeth Whittlesey
Elizabeth Whittlesey was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and lives in New York City, New York. She is a two-time finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review poetry contest and was a featured guest on WKCR’s “Studio A” this past August. She has worked as an Assistant Editor at Parnassus: Poetry in Review and was an official blogger for Bryant Park’s Word-for-Word reading series in 2014. Her poem-film “What Happened” appeared in Panoply 2006 and was shown at “Wednesdays at the Wall” on 55 Broad Street, and her work has appeared in journals including Gulf Coast, jubilat, Boston Review, POOL, Two Serious Ladies, Western Humanities Review, Phantom Books, JERRY, and BETTER. She is passionate about light, yoga, the earth, playing the piano, and dancing to and DJ’ing electronic music.
"someone is collecting the lost" by Poetry Finalist Aimee Herman
Aimee Herman is the author of two full length books of poetry, “meant to wake up feeling” and “to go without blinking” and currently teaches writing in the Bronx. Read more words at aimeeherman.wordpress.com.
"Black Anecdote" by Poetry Finalist Andrew Seguin
Andrew Seguin is a poet and photographer. He is the author of the chapbook Black Anecdote (Poetry Society of America, 2010), and has a new chapbook forthcoming from Tammy. His photographic work explores the intersection of imagery and language. Andrew has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Poets House and the United States Fulbright Program. You can find him on the web at www.andrewseguin.com.
CLMP Firecracker Reading, Featuring Finalist Halina Duraj’s ‘The Family Cannon’
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) is holding a reading this Sunday afternoon, featuring the finalists for their new Firecracker Awards, including Halina Duraj for The Family Cannon (Augury Books, 2014).
The reading will take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., during the 16th Annual Lit Mag Fair at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Other finalists and publishers include, Bonnie Friedman (Etruscan Press), Vikas K. Menon and Dan Goldman (Rattapallax), Jesse Lonergan (NBM Publishing), Hubert & Kerascoet (NBM Publishing), Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon (NBM Publishing).
Winners of the Firecracker Award will be announced on May 27th at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Join Augury Books at Housing Works on Sunday as editor Kate Angus reads from The Family Cannon.
Halina Duraj’s The Family Cannon Nominated for CLMP Firecracker Award
The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) released the nominees for their new Firecracker Awards. Inspired by the Firecracker Alternative Book Awards, CLMP’s awards strive to honor and support literary works from independent publishers and self-published writers.
The finalists are divided into six categories: creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, young adult, graphic novels, and literary magazines. Among them is Augury author Halina Duraj for her book of short stories, The Family Cannon. Other finalists across categories include Jeffery Renard Allen, Martha Baillie, Bonnie Friedman, Allen Crawford, and Ransom Riggs, as well as several literary magazines, including 6 x 6, A Public Space, and Mosaic. Tin House, Graywolf Press, Ahsahta Press, and Tender Buttons Press are all among the publishers that have titles shortlisted. The winners in each group will be announced on May 27th at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO.
To see the complete shortlists for the Firecracker Awards, view CLMP’s press release.
For more about Halina Duraj and The Family Cannon, click here.
Finalists For Lambda Literary Awards Announced
The finalists for the 27th annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced. The Lambda Literary Awards honor the best LBGTQ literature of the year in 24 categories, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Among the nominees for 2015 is Augury friend Shelly Oria. Other noteworthy finalists include Ana Castillo, Tom Spanbauer, Danez Smith, Lenelle Moïse, and La JohnJoseph. The winners will be declared at the awards ceremony on Monday, June 1st in New York City.
For the complete list of finalists and their works, visit the Lambda Literary Awards website.
An Excerpt from Finalist Micah Perks’ "Hygiene Wars"
How good it is to be fat! How good to be a member of the corpulent class, smelling just baked rolls and fried blood sausages wafting from the open windows on Park Avenue, and not one of the whip thin hoards confined to lower Manhattan with the stench of raw sewage always in the nose.
Except, they aren’t confined down there. Who do you think is doubling all those Park Avenue chins? Each brownstone has an alien busy at its center. Sleeves rolled up on meaty foreign arms, foreign palms pressing into the family dough. You see that house there, the one with the gay yellow curtains fluttering at the kitchen window? Little does that gloriously tubby family know that along with the rich smells of breakfast, that’s typhoid smeared all over the curtains, typhoid glazing those yeasty rolls.
Never fear, the porcine peace will be restored. Into this monied hush chugs and wahoogahs a new twentieth century ambulance automobile. Three police officers clatter behind on horseback in their long blue coats and soufflé-shaped helmets. They pull up to the curb in front of the Park Avenue brownstone with the yellow curtains. Out of the ambulance pops Dr. S. Josephine Baker.
Dr. Jo! A new woman! Fashionably plump, dressed in a man-tailored outfit of her own design, fitted jacket, white stiff-collared shirtwaist dress and tie, jaunty boater with a navy ribbon to top it off. She is the first woman doctor in the new hygiene bureau!
The possibly infected Irish cook in question has already refused to be tested for typhus, but this time Dr. Jo is determined to get a hold of a bit of her urine and blood, come hell or high water. The glass jar and the syringe jostle at the ready in her black leather doctor’s bag. The five, white coated, mustachioed interns, all in black pants creased and cuffed, wait by the ambulance, arms crossed, black boots scuffling and stamping, chatting in low voices amongst themselves. Dr. Jo posts one of the police officers at the front door, one at the back. Then, with the burliest officer by her side, she raps smartly, one-two-three, on the servants’ entrance at the side of the house. They wait, Jo tapping her own black-booted foot impatiently. It annoys her that the police officer, who is stippled with small pox scars on his forehead and cheeks, hums cheerfully under his breath, as if this isn’t an errand of grave importance. She goes to knock again.
The door jolts opens with such force it bangs against the side of the house. Dr. Jo jumps back a step. The cook leaps out on the landing, her cheeks aflame, brandishing a long cooking fork. Dr. Jo glances to the officer for help, but he’s lost his chin in his effort to lean away. “Don’t be foolish,” Dr. Jo says to the cook. “We only want—“
The cook stabs at Dr. Jo with the fork.
Dr. Jo and the policeman rear backwards, then topple together in a heavy tangle on the stone walkway below. The cook slams the door shut.
“Sorry, Doc.” The police officer removes his leg from her chest. “But, say, ain’t that a woman!”
Dr. Jo refuses his offer of help, wrestles herself to her feet. She can feel her own face boiling now. “Onward!” she shouts. They rush in after the cook. Breakfast is still on the stove—white fish in furious boil, stewed apricots and cereal and sausages starting to burn. The police officer stops to remove the pots. “That’s all potential poison,” Dr. Jo says. “Knuckle down, now.”
The lady of the house and her two daughters weep in the parlor. One of the girls is already complaining of a headache from hunger. “What shall we eat?” the girl whimpers. The other servants make their faces as featureless as rising dough, claim to have no idea where the cook is. No use to explain germ theory to them here and now. All they can see is the heavy, dark hair piled high on the back of cook’s head, her well-fed form, her food rich with butter and lard. They cannot imagine what stews inside Mary Mallon.
“Let’s get methodical,” Dr. Jo says. They start at the top of the house, the tidy, nearly empty fourth floor attic where Mary sleeps, and move room by room, floor by floor. But it seems she has disappeared.
Back at the kitchen, the police officer says, “Well, that’s that then,” and looks longingly at the food cooling in the kitchen.
Dr. Jo heaves up the pots and upends them one by one into the garbage bin that sits in the back hallway of the kitchen. She says, “This is a matter of life and death. What are we over-looking?”
And just then, at the end of that hallway, behind several piled up ash cans, Dr. Jo spies a small wedge of blue calico wagging from a closet door. Dr. Jo and the officer drag away the ash cans, evidence of class solidarity, and turn the black doorknob.
Micah Perks is the author of a novel, We Are Gathered Here, and a memoir, Pagan Time. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Epoch, Zyzzyva, Tin House, The Toast and The Rumpus, amongst many journals and anthologies. Her short memoir, Alone In The Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter and Me, came out from Shebooks in 2013. She has won an NEA, four Pushcart Prize nominations, and the New Guard Machigonne 2014 Fiction Prize. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz and co-directs the creative writing program at UCSC. More info and work at micahperks.com
An Excerpt from Finalist David Ebenbach’s "Missionaries"
Mostly we walked. There was an uneven layer of snow on all the sidewalks that had never been shoveled loose, and the white was speckled with street gravel so that it all looked like graying chocolate chip ice cream. We wobbled along the surface from le Quartier Latin to le Plateau to Mile End. Somehow we had stopped talking. I think there had been nothing said since breakfast, when over strong coffee you stared out the window at the Dépanneur sign on another corner shop and wondered aloud why in Quebec the French word for repair was tied to convenience stores. And then quiet settling in, the two of us watching the sidewalks moving with people, bright in the sunlight.
After, we went nowhere in particular, stopping at places marked in our guidebook but with no idea of stringing them together in any narrative way; there were cafés, public squares, bagel shops, a headstone carver, a wide plate glass window fronting an oxygen bar. Montreal was not single-minded, not a theme park built just for us. Several places promised danseuses nues—nude dancers. And it reminded me of the idea of dance in stripping—the idea, maybe never realized, of women who were dancers first, the way the French language put it, and unclothed only secondarily. I could imagine a fierce and sure woman leaping and then coming to earth in a tight huddle with herself, her spine a knobbed arc in the low light, unburdened by the religion of covering. Here, in Montreal, these places flashed their lights in the middle of everything, between a bookstore and a Vietnamese restaurant, between a hotel and a shop selling soaps and bath salts.
Eventually we were moving through residential neighborhoods, houses with metal or stone staircases sweeping up in a curve from the street to front doors. It seemed like everything had been lifted, the basements all above ground here, windowed and available. Then we turned and crunched along the sidewalks with increasing confidence toward the main park. Several times we had seen the mountain, in moments when the houses and shops cleared out of the way. Now we went to it, though without talking about it first. We just moved that way.
In the park the snow was even deeper, though we couldn’t tell for sure where the ground really was. Once, my leg plunged through to the hip, and my knee struck something hard. I dug into the snow, and found the rim of a public trashcan down there, buried bottom to top. We stared at each other in surprise and pressed on, along broad thoroughfares shared by cross-country skiers and the springing twang of their poles, and sometimes on newly-forged paths between the thoroughfares. Always we moved upward. At one point we scrambled up a slope that threatened to throw us off with every step on the slick packed snow.
At the top of the mountain there was an old chateau with a lookout that allowed us to see the city from above. We thought of other cities we had seen from above, the phenomenon of seeing such places from above. The buildings here, even the tall ones, were not so tall, and it seemed to both of us we had come from such a place at one time or another. Still neither of us said a word.
What were we learning? When it started to snow, the cold making it a dry bright snow, crystalline, I was a person without footprints, a person moving unknown through a foreign place.
Getting down the mountain was more difficult, because the stairways leading toward the part of town that called out to us next were all closed for the winter, under repair or so packed with snow they had become ramps. We took a winding path that seemed promising at first. Then we found a place where the wooded slope dropped off sharply toward the bottom but where we thought we saw the tracks of people who had climbed this way before us. We looked at one another and that decided it.
I hung off the edge and touched the slope with my toes and tried to start backward, all hands and feet and knees. Then the snow dropped out from under me.
The world became motion, flipping me and sending me flying forward, sliding in a way that was flying.
I skidded to a stop near a tree, facing forward, my legs out like skis, still so full of movement that it took a second to realize I had stopped. I was only partway down, sitting in a bath of snow up to my waist. I could feel the cold in my pants, my gloves, my sleeves. And as I looked back up at you, feeling how fast I had been, I opened my quiet lungs and whooped sharp into the air. I saw you and the brightness of the realization. And I looked back to the falling slope, saw the trees and the rocks, thought about the possibility of all my clothes filling up with snow and that ice covering my skin, and felt how my hands and feet were holding me in place. Then, with the sound of you behind me, flying yourself, and ahead of me the speed and the whole natural length of the city, I let go again.
David Ebenbach is the author of two books of short stories—Into the Wilderness (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) and Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press)—plus a chapbook of poetry called Autogeography (Finishing Line Press), and a non-fiction guide to creativity called The Artist’s Torah (Cascade Books). His first full-length collection of poetry, We Were the People Who Moved, won the Patricia Bibby Award, and will be published by Tebot Bach in 2015. With a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Ebenbach teaches Creative Writing at Georgetown University. Find out more at www.davidebenbach.com.
This story, “Danseuses Nues,” was originally published in The Greensboro Review.