Tag Archives: Gulf Coast

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Brian Teitman

20 Feb

A few weeks ago, the poet Ryan Teitman read some of his poems at The Big Big Mess reading series in Akron, OH. While Teitman has authored a fine collection of poems, Litany for the City (BOA Editions, 2012), he primarily read new material at the event. One of these newer poems was the fabulous “Archipelago,” which originally appeared in issue 26.1 of Gulf Coast. The opening lines of the poem read as follows:

A bird is a kind
of island. In flight,
a flock is called

an archipelago.
At rest, a peninsula.
When two flocks

meet, they are called
a communion.
Used in a sentence:

Two flocks
met and became
a communion.

A bird is an island, and a flock of birds is an archipelago or a peninsula (depending on movement). These transformations continue throughout the entirety of the poem–which can be found at Gulf Coast’s website–and become increasingly more bizarre and beautiful, until we discover that:

Then the body
is a kind of nothing.
A nothing is a kind

of bird

Slipping from image to image and idea to idea, the poem exhibits a protean flux that challenges both ontological and linguistic certainties.

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“Happy Birthday, Clementine”

18 Jun

Visiting us this month at Vouched is Robert Stapleton, founding editor of Booth. His work has appeared with Word Riot, Everyday Genius, and elsewhere. He teaches at Butler University.

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Over the next week or so I’ll highlight some pieces I love from current issues of lit journals.

“Happy Birthday, Clementime” by Lisa Glatt
Gulf Coast. Summer/Fall 2012.

As our culture increasingly prizes hipster irony and the pursuit of more authentic living (see HBO’s Girls, Bored to Death, etc), I find myself drawn to literature driven by character and heart rather than nostalgic self-consciousness. I’m reminded here of William Faulkner’s 1949 Nobel prize acceptance speech–when he advised that “the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.”

Glatt’s narrator, a twenty year-old about to have sex with a married man at a party she helps throw for her recently mothered best friend, wields a corrosive self-awareness, though without the ironic smarm. She’s lost weight—knows it may return at any time—and longs for someone to kiss her “hello and goodbye, again and again and again.” Andre Dubus’ “The Fat Girl” faintly echoes here, though Glatt moves this tale into a larger exploration of sex, abortion, and rebirth without the fated pathos of Dubus’ story and sans the nauseating–aren’t we hip–shock humor of the Girls abortion episode.

This story is a relief map of the body. These characters eat, drink, fuck, smoke, and snort because they’re after something just beyond their reach, something electric and unnamable. Early on the narrator muses, “I was the girl you thought might be athletic under her clothes but when you got me naked, I was all soft with a marshmallow belly. I wondered if the guy I loved who didn’t love me back was disappointed when he touched my belly on the way into my panties and if that had any effect on his decisions.” Imagine Girls written with Richard Ford poignancy (Rock Springs era). Get your hands on this one.

These Are Mysteries

28 Oct

A beautiful story released in Gulf Coast written by Sarah Shun-lien, “These Are Mysteries”

Here’s a snippet:

Nancy says, “That dog was killed.” She sticks her head out the window and narrows her eyes. “Yes. His fur is matted with blood.”
“The dog ran across the road to sniff at the roots of the tree. The tree without the leaves. That’s where he buried his soup bones. Somehow all his soup bones poisoned the tree. Or maybe his digging and scratching around the roots for all these years.”