Tag Archives: The Rumpus

A MELTING: Vouched Presents (+ The Rumpus + Omni Commons!)

19 Mar


 Our favorite literary angels, Mike Young and Luke Bloomfield are in town for their Western Snowmelt Tour!

In a related story: TONIGHT Vouched,  The Rumpus, and Omni Commons are throwing them a party! Featuring readings from people we love, a Vouched table full of new goodies, and a Very Serious Contest, wherein you stand to win a book-prize from the Rumpus! As usual, there will be donuts.



This is a FREE event with readings by:

Mike Young

Jayinee Basu

Na’amen Tilahun

Leora Fridman

Luke Bloomfield

We can’t wait to see your faces at 7pm! Confetti!

The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same. What we have in common is a passion for fantastic writing that’s brave, passionate and true (and sometimes very, very funny).

The Omni Commons is comprised of several Bay Area collectives with a shared political vision—one that privileges a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interests or corporate profit. We invite you to join us in establishing a safe, productive place to pool resources for the collective use and stewardship of the greater community. A space that fosters an ethic of radical collaboration across disciplines and between individual collectives, creating a living model for future radical spaces.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558927211044106/

Strange Things Have Happened Here: Vouched Presents ( + The Rumpus + Fiction Advocate!)

3 Jan

We’re so excited to team up with The Rumpus, 826 Valencia, and Fiction Advocate TOMORROW for a night of fun readings from our favorite writers! It’s all your literary dreams come true, packed into San Francisco’s foremost Independent Pirate Supply Store.

Plus: a Vouched table full of new goodies (including freebies!) and a GUARANTEED ACCEPTANCE table. What does that mean? Come find out! It’s like the exact opposite of going home for the holidays!

Strange Things Flier image

Readings by:

Vladimir Kozlov

Maisha Z. Johnson

Siamak Vossoughi

Joshua Merchant

The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same. What we have in common is a passion for fantastic writing that’s brave, passionate and true (and sometimes very, very funny). http://therumpus.net/

Fiction Advocate is a litblog and micropress founded in 2009. http://fictionadvocate.com/

826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. http://826valencia.org/

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/682658425184925/

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!

“Ghosts Keep Us Moving, Stella Said, Think About a Field At Night, How You’re Always” by Christian Anton Gerard

5 May

Camping last weekend was the first time I’d ever seen a Chinese lantern.  Men whose vehicles I’d earlier half-jokingly called “douche-SUVs dragging douche-boats” invited us – me, Ashley, Tyler, and Chris – to watch them launch it.  Someone drove by and joked about how the lantern was a large condom.  When it finally hovered from the men’s hands we watched for as long as possible, going back to our own earthbound fires while the one we celebrated burned itself out in the dark.

After we came back Sunday, Ashley posted on Facebook about the trip and our friend Joel commented asking what it’s like to go camping with writers.  We’d already murmured about it around the fire, how glowing we’d felt away from words.

*   *   *

April was National Poetry Month and of poems I saw posted online in commemoration, this one The Rumpus showcased on April 8 was my favorite, called “Ghosts Keep Us Moving, Stella Said, Think About a Field at Night, How You’re Always.”  From the title I was gone, hopeless; this wants you where it is, breathing its air from the first moment.  Here’s a part:

I love this because it doesn’t feel like reading so much as ingesting straight experience.  That this is how I most simply/honestly know how talk about why this moves me feels weird because 1) I really value and enjoy words in and of themselves, it’s not like I always want to forget they’re there 2) I make an assumption with that statement/sentiment that reading itself can’t be unfiltered experience, which I don’t actually believe, and 3) a poem getting me past its words seems benevolently deceitful.  It couldn’t get me past its words were it not for the quality of and attention paid to its words.

But sometimes I do want to forget they’re there.

*   *  *

Ashley and I perch on beached ends of dead trees criss-crossing the lake.  We trade “I remembers,” digging exes, family fall-outs, direct quotes from people who love(d) us from shallow graves ‘til we go quiet.  When we don’t talk it still feels like a confession, some knotty, delicate mess presented in absolute safety.

*   *   *
Tyler and I watch open-mouthed as grass shimmers, tree tops sway in and out of shapes like animal faces in the wind.  We laugh about being post-poetry, all I mean, who even needs words anymore.

*   *   *

Near the fire Chris tells me something I know, something about a pretty intense time in my recent past.  Something unsurprising, understandable, sad.  For a little while I thought that time was buried but it keeps coming back in my writing and conversations, refusing to rot.

That it haunts my thoughts is good, I’m learning.  It keeps them hurrying away from complacency.

Here is the end of “Ghosts Keep Us Moving…” which grabs me for a couple reasons:

What we need is often what we’ve tried to bury and will eventually unearth itself with vengeance.  How gorgeously  “Ghosts Keep Us Moving…” sings that here.  Like the title says, what stalks us keeps us living and pushing to be more alive.  That these phantoms exist in dirt doesn’t just make me think “buried” but also “tangible;” they wait in fields at night, flower-scattered woods, the material everything where living happens.

I couldn’t ever be permanently tired of words – I love them, how I lead my measly ghosts by the wrists at all is through them – but having the chance to forget or run out of or lay them aside is sometimes when I appreciate them most.  Like I said earlier, part of what I enjoy about this poem is how it feels more experiential than verbal.  There is graciousness to a medium that lets you forget its existence for the sake of worthy experience.

Here’s the whole poem at The Rumpus. 

The Roles We Play vs. Who We Really Are

3 May

In our culture there are certain life-events that have a tendency to rob us of our depth. For women, two of those moments include the rolls of “Bride” & “Mother-to-be.” After enduring it once already in her engagement, Aubrey Hirsch takes this convention head-on by addressing the effect it has on her own pregnancy and, in consequence, the relationships with those she holds dear.

I can feel it happening again, the disappearing. Already excited friends and family have written over “Aubrey” with “Mother-to-Be.” I’ve got a book coming out this year and no one’s asked about it since I told them I was pregnant. Of course it’s silly for me to think I can dictate the topic of every conversation. And again, these people are nothing but generous and kind. Their priorities are different than mine, and I can respect that. But sometimes it hurts.

But it doesn’t just effect her immediate loved ones, it effects the way she interacts with society as a whole: her government, her doctors, and her career:

In our society, pregnant woman are public property. Non-pregnant women are fast becoming public property, too. I’m not interested in being part of that. It’s making me want to wall myself off completely until I’m not pregnant anymore. Maybe even longer if politics keep moving the direction they are.

I could go on and on about the value of this essay: how it pushed so many of my own questions, fears, and resentments to the surface, or the invaluable conversations it has led to with my sister and my husband. The truth of the matter is, you need to read it for yourself at The Rumpus. Even if you’ve already had children or if your views don’t completely align with Hirsch’s, we can all agree this is a conversation that does not take place as often it should, and we will be better for having done so.

What Burns In the Pit; Ashley Ford at The Rumpus

17 Apr

I don’t often vouch for the work of my contributors outside of the occasional round up, mostly for fear of the “circle jerk” label getting tagged on the reputation of our blog, but when something of one of ours shines this bright, I can’t help but use Vouched Online to get the word out about it.

Rumpus Original Art by Jason Novak

Over at The Rumpus, our own Ashley Ford has an essay up reflecting on growing up with her grandmother, apart from her mother who had a life she needed to pick up before she could manage the kind of kindness necessary to who Ashley needed her to be.

I’ve heard Ashley read this essay a couple times now, but it’s such a different experience seeing it on the page, being able to interact with it instead of just letting it pass through me, being able to sit with the terrible beauty of the images, the exact perfect scenes she culls together from her childhood to make this essay so powerful and necessary a read.

I spent my free time exploring our land, roaming farther than I should. Too dumb to be scared of them, I made a game of sneaking up on and catching snakes by the tail. I caught them fast enough to shock them, and then dropped them before they caught my skin between their fangs. I’d been bitten once. After the garden snake released me, I’d closed my eyes, leaned against a tree. I soothed myself by speaking directly into my punctured hand.

“It don’t hurt, Ashley.”

I cradled the stinging hand with its opposite.

“If it hurt, you’d die. You won’t die.”

Read the full essay, “What Burns In the Pit,” at The Rumpus.

Gone by MariNaomi

10 Apr

Excerpt screen captured from The Rumpus.

I stumbled across this gorgeous literary nonfiction comic over at The Rumpus and had to share. MariNaomi‘s drawings enhance every scene, legitimizing the words and thoughts without over-explaining. We all have some doozy exes we look back on and wonder how the hell we dodged that bullet when we were willing to stand right in the line of of fire for so long. Many of us empathize with the gunman long after they’ve gone. We wonder “what happened to…” even after we stop wondering “what if we…”

MariNaomi captures that feeling here. The embarrassment of what we’ve put ourselves through, coupled with the hope and longing for the ones who put us through it.

Check it out.

Eulogy of a Bookstore by Aaron Burch

28 Mar

Quick vouch today because work is whoa damn kind of busy, but over lunch I read this essay by Aaron Burch about how working at a Barnes & Noble in college basically woke him up to how much he loved literature. In fact, he admits to not even really reading much before getting that job.

I know it’s cool to hate on big box bookstores, but this is a fantastic read about finding yourself someplace you never really expected because of something as simple as needing a summer job.

For the next couple of years, this job was how I paid for rent, for food, for all the cheap beer you drink almost exclusively only when in college. It saved me money on textbooks that we normally wouldn’t carry but that I ordered for myself through the distributor program and then bought with my employee discount. It supplied me with books to read for pleasure; I met my college girlfriend. Her being an English major confused me, both because, what was she going to do with such a degree but also because I was still all kinds of undecided. School was something I was doing so I could finish and be done with and then figure out what I wanted to do, while she had a senior seminar class entirely focused on the work of one contemporary author I’d never heard of, which seemed kind of cool but also not like a real thing.

Read the full essay at The Rumpus.

Different Racisms for Different Races

21 Mar

I’m at Ball State today for the InPrint Festival, an annual event celebrating authors and their first books. The 2nd night of the event is a panel where BSU invites an editor as well to discuss the process of editing, of selection and creation. I’m the editor, of sorts. In about 40 minutes, I’ve to stand in front of a class and talk about Vouched Books and why it’s important. That’s somewhat terrifying.

I have some down time right now, and instead of preparing anything for the presentation, I chose instead to read an essay by Matt Salesses, “DIFFERENT RACISMS: On Jeremy Lin and How the Rules of Racism are Different for Asian Americans,” at The Rumpus, which I saw all over my twitter feed yesterday.

Coincidentally, poet Gleen Shaheen who is also taking part in the InPrint Festival was just speaking to a similar point at lunch, how at times in his writing education he was told not to write about his Arabic heritage, that to do so was “cheating” on some level. Salesses mentions a similar barrier to his own early writing in the essay:

I know many Asian American writers who refuse to write about Asian Americans, out of a fear of being typecast, or a fear of being seen as “using” their ethnicity, or a fear of being an “Asian American writer,” or something. And really, I understand that. I have been one of those writers. This may not come as a surprise, at this point in this essay, but for a long time, I wrote only about white characters. I wrote about them because I grew up with people like them, but also because they were the people in books and because I, too, feared the label, or at least told myself I did. What that fear really is, it seems to me now, is a fear of not being taken as seriously as the White Male Writer, who has so long ruled English literature.

The essay is fantastic and eye-opening and altogether aching. Salesses uses the backdrop of the Jeremy Lin-sanity to highlight how flagrant racism against Asian Americans really is, how even positive racial stereotypes (Asians as hard-working, respectful, kick ass ninjas) are still stereotypes, still a form of racism.

It is hard to call someone who thinks he is complimenting you a racist. But the positive stereotypes people think they can use because of their “positivity” continue (and worsen) the problem. Thinking you can call an entire race “respectful” is thinking you can classify someone by race, is racism.

Read the full essay at The Rumpus.

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.