Tag Archives: Roxane Gay

Indie Lit Classics: Roxane Gay

15 Nov


We had a lot of fun with the Scott McClanahan roundup, and thought another tribute of a similar nature was of order.


Well, cause Roxane Gay has been a hero of ours for quite some time (it’s true, even when she was contributing here. She’s a total rockstar).  And we’ve had the pleasure of saying a lot of good things about her, her work and the work that she publishes over the years.

So here they all are in a list for ya!

The Widow Takes Her Coffee Black at Wigleaf

A single-sentence review of Ayiti

A longer than one sentence review of Ayiti

How much of a winner she is

A collaborative work by her and xTx

Some thoughts about an essay of hers at the Rumpus


She read for us at a Dogzplot party in Indianapolis

Oh, and did we mention? She’ll be kicking ass at the Letters Festival all weekend. Make sure to check her out!

New Love: The Letters Festival

5 Nov

The Letters Festival

Something grand is about to descend upon Atlanta. Something. Damn. Grand.

It’s the Letters Festival.

Focusing on supporting and spreading the [good] word about small press literature (*swoon*), on November 14th-16th the Letters Festival will be hosting series of readings, workshops, author talks and other dreamy things in Atlanta. Their line-up will make you salivate: Jericho Brown, Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Blake Butler, & Matt DeBenedictis, to name a few

Obviously we, the people of Vouched, are über pumped about this and want you to be too! So over the next few weeks we will be doing everything in our power to drum up the excitement and anticipation in your little hearts.



Learn more about the organizers of the Letters Festival here. Checkout their indiegogo campaign and then donate to them here. Then follow them on every social media platform. Do it!

“Headless” by Casey Hannan

19 Jul

Roxane Gay called Casey Hannan “a master of flash fiction” in an interview on Late Night Library. His most recent piece on matchbook is an example of his literary endowment. Each sentence is a story in and of itself.

The stranger whistles again. I start for the porch with Jim who’s almost empty. The stranger whistles more. He’s a songbird with a gun to his head.  

You Are What You Have Not: A Review of AYITI

18 Apr

Roxane Gay
Fiction | 126 pgs
Artistically Declined Press

A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.

The best fiction, I think, works hard to teach you something about the world or the human predicament without sounding like a raging shithead. Didacticism in writing tends to ruffle when it means to instruct. Perhaps this statement is a first step toward my theory of good writing. I don’t know. What I do know is—holy shit: I’m woefully ignorant about Haiti. (Add it to the list of other countries I know squat about. This is not a point of pride.) I start with my lack of knowledge because I want to show how Roxane Gay’s Ayiti owns a set of perspicacious eyes that aren’t so much knowing as they are accountable. (In the spirit of disclosure, I’ve met Roxane once, and she was lovely. She also writes for Vouched sometimes.)

First, I have to say again I’m ashamed (esp. after reading this book) of not knowing a lot about Haiti—and further, I don’t think my reading was ruined one way or another by my ignorance. Gay does a thorough job of delineating the most important aspects of life on the island and off. I imagine the whole book as a catalogue of possible ways to answer a Protean question, something like: “What is Haiti?” or “Who’s Haitian?” or “What does Haiti mean?” There’s no doubt that the answer isn’t gentle. In the book—which is truly a love letter, of sorts—Haiti doesn’t catch many breaks. People are constantly trying to flee the country or are reluctant to go back when they escape. And even when they find sanctuary in another country—generally the U.S.—they’re confronted with prejudice, ignorance, or fear, as if they’re aliens in a godawful terrarium.

For example, the third story in the collection, “Voodoo Child.” An unnamed female narrator takes advantage of her college roommate’s stereotyping after she finds out the narrator is Haitian. The roommate automatically assumes she’s into voodoo.

I do nothing to dissuade her fears even though I was raised Catholic and have gained my inadequate understanding of the religion from the Lisa Bonet movie that made Bill Cosby mad at her.

The narrator has no problem manipulating the roommate for better accommodations.

I leave a doll on my desk. It looks just like my roommate. The doll is covered with placed strategically pins. I like fucking with her. She gives me the bigger room with the better dresser.

A pattern within the collection is alive here: first, second, or third generation Haitians turning a person’s ignorance back around on the perpetrator, using a sideways version of their culture as a way to show a fool the foolishness. But follow “Voodoo Child” to the end, and you find that the narrator fulfills her own prank, when the women come out of a train station and meet an old woman, speaking Creole. The narrator asks what she wants, a bit worried, and when the old woman states the narrator is a famous mambo, or voodoo priestess, the old woman kisses her hands. The story ends: “I was still imagining all the dirty New York boys my roommate and I would later find.”

Does the narrator believe she’s a mambo or not? Will she take her new self-knowledge and ply witless men with it? Does it matter?

Continue reading

Vouched Contributors Win *All* the Awards

15 Mar

This has been a huge few weeks for the Vouched contributors. You cannot contest us. In every bout my contributors have entered, they’ve taken it home.


First, Roxane Gay dropped knowledge at the AWP Literary Death Match where she took on Pulitzer Prize-winner Jane Smiley, National Book Critics Circle finalist Major Jackson, and National Book Award winner Darin Strauss. Roxane spelled Dostoyevsky in some classic way that was all like, “Oh shit!” and came out the winner of all. Roxane gives a full recap of the event at her blog.

Her intensity will break you.

Then, at a following Literary Death Match in DC, Amber Sparks brought it out against Huffington Posteur Arin Greenwood, PEN nominee Molly Gaudry, and the ultimate Scott McClanahan. She got the boys to the yard, beating McClanahan in a 19-18 finale.

Straub's gonna knock you out.

And most recently, Vouched ATL Vicereine Laura Straub rumbled at the Write Club Atlanta Chapter Ten brawl, where she represented the idea of LAST and squared off against Myke Johns who represented FIRST. In the end, there was only one, and that one was Laura, winning for her charity of choice: WINK.

There will be a podcast of Laura’s reading on Write Club Atlanta’s site and when it posts, I will update this post with a link to it, but suffice it to say, the WCA podcasts are amazing and you should be listening to them anyway.

Congrats to all my kick ass contributors out there kicking ass!

Whenever Wherever Whatever

3 Feb

I’ve not been vouching much lately. I’m sorry. I’ve been feeling…I don’t know. I’ve been not feeling, maybe is the better way to put it. Words. I don’t know.

But anyway. This one makes me feel.

All February at Everyday Genius, each contributor was asked to choose a love song and respond to it, then choose a Valentine to respond to his or her response.

This is an excerpt of a collaborative piece between Roxane Gay and xTx, and it is just so damn yes.

One day we’re gonna drive and drive until we reach some wherever place, and we’re going to be so damn good and free and we’re going to call each other different names like maybe I’ll be Remy and you’ll be Portia and we’ll have these real names we’re hiding beneath our real skin, the real ugly beautiful skin we only show each other, and we’ll sleep behind what’s left of some abandoned building but we’ll be in some wherever warm place so there will be hot pavement against our backs while we’re staring up at the night sky, our bodies always touching, always

Read the rest. Please.

Tonight at Big Car Gallery!

4 Nov

It’s the first Friday of November so you guys know where I’ll be tonight! I’ll have the table set up at the same bat time, same bat spot: right outside the Big Car Gallery. I’ll be joined again tonight by Vouched contributor-extraordinaire Tyler Gobble. Also, new to the table tonight is If I Falter at the Gallows by Edward Mullany (Publishing Genius Press), and with all do luck, Ayiti by Roxane Gay (Artistically Declined Press) will be sitting on my doorstep when I get home, ready to be sold to the world.

But I’m not the only thing happening at Big Car tonight. No, no!

Big Car Gallery: Bodies of Water

Bodies of Waters, part of Spirit & Place, will bring pieces based on John Waters’s films that some of the nation’s top pop surrealist artists and illustrators as well a few local favorites created specially for the exhibit.

iMOCA in partnership with Big Car Gallery put the exhibit together to celebrate the appearance of filmmaker John Waters on November 12 at the Madame Walker. Artists participating are: Glenn Barr, Yumiko Kayukawa, Amy Casey, Paul Chatem, Shaunna Peterson, Lola, Danielle de Picciotto, Lisa Petrucci, Elizabeth McGrath, Kristen Ferrell, Angie Mason, Aunia Kahn, Ken Garduno, Mab Graves, Jacqueline Pichardo, Philip Campbell, Kenneth Rehm, Casey Roberts, and Floyd Jaquay.

So come out and see some awesome, Waters-inspired art. Check out the book table. Meander through the Murphy maze of other galleries, shops, and beer rooms.

It’s going to be a good night. Hope to see you there!

SSR: Ayiti by Roxane Gay

3 Nov

Roxane Gay
Artistically Declined Press, 126pgs, $9

Her land of high mountains, Ayiti, these stories are stockpiled with characters who are themselves halves of broken islands clutching to whatever it is that might make them whole again.

Available from:
Artistically Declined Press | Powell’s | Amazon

I admire most the writing that makes me want to be a better person.

26 Jul

Roxane Gay has an essay up at The Rumpus about compassion in response to the 2 recent major news events: 1) the bombing in Norway, and 2) the death of Amy Winehouse. It is unmoving in its capacity to move. I hate it so much because of why I love it. I hate it because it calls me on my shit.

It calls me on the fact that when I first heard about the bombing in Norway, I immediately assumed it was likely Al Quaeda or some other Arab/Muslim terrorist group.

It calls me on the fact that Saturday night, I was at a wedding dancing with friends when someone mentioned the death of Amy Winehouse, and I and my friends all commented terribly on how expected it was. I even made a joke referencing High Fidelity when Barry finds out about the death of Laura’s mother: “Oh, drag,” to which my friend followed up by mimicking biting into a burrito. And we laughed. How we laughed at the untimely death of another human being. I feel sick of myself.

So, thank you, Roxane, for how large your heart, and how great your words.

Every day, terrible things happen in the world. Every damn day too many people die or suffer for reasons that defy comprehension. A bomb goes off in a market and thirty men, women, and children are killed. A man walks into a birthday party and kills his ex-wife and all her siblings in front of their child before he kills himself. The water in an African country disappears leaving people starving and thirsty. An epidemic of a disease long-cured by modern medicine sweeps, relentlessly, through an island nation already ravaged by natural disasters. A woman is raped by police officers and those officers are acquitted and she now has to live with the knowledge that she is not safe, not even from law enforcement. A large retailer goes bankrupt putting 10,000 people out of work. Two wars continue to rage unceasingly. And. And. And. And. Every day, terrible things happen in the world. It is overwhelming to try and make sense of any of it, to know how to feel about any of it, to be able to articulate those feelings, to express compassion when there is such a gaping, desperate need for it.

Read the rest at The Rumpus.


6 Jul

I just pre-ordered Roxane Gay’s forthcoming book, Ayiti, a collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, about Haiti.

I think you should, too.