After Page One: Persistence
Antioch Writer’s Workshop Fall Retreat
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt
Literary Reflections Editors Share Tips
For the past several months we’ve been trying out a new church, Lutheran this time. Nobody there is mean or rude. They’re nice people, even welcoming. The church is in a suburb of Phoenix that is financially secure and barely integrated. And though both Bob and I come from backgrounds that match that description, the members of this congregation don’t seem to know what to do with us. We do understand their confusion; our family is a hodge-podge of ages, skin tones and (with service dogs in tow) mammalian species, a kind of unscripted performance art.
My eight-year-old son is having a problem with a playground bully. He’s not being physically attacked or anything. But it’s more than teasing. This other kid is always taunting him, rounding up other kids to exclude him, and kicking his soccer ball away, among many other things. My son has been asking him to stop, but it just results in more ridicule.
I know I need to talk to his mom. But I’m so angry, and I know I won’t be able to keep my cool.
In aisle two, your four children run around you in circles, bouncing and jumping between leaning towers of grape-extract-infused conditioner and columns of hair serum that promise to make your frizzy hair miraculously smooth.
Sarah Kessler had her first real encounter with Rick Wolfson when he hit her leg with his gym bag at the West Side Nursery School. She had noticed him before of course, not because he was particularly handsome but because he had dark eyes and reckless hair and the sweaty intensity of an unsatisfied appetite. That Rick was married to a small-busted and well-assembled Wall Street banker who seemed unworthy of her husband’s bohemian charm only increased his value. As Sarah knew from experience, it was easier to fantasize about unhappy men.
This month, our editors (and a columnist!) are ruminating specifically on the theme of Beauty: the physical, human kind, but also the kind of beauty that takes us out of ourselves.
Bless him and his hours of idleness.
Bless him and his empty pockets.
Remember him as an infant
barely filling a corner of his crib,
Jenn Crowell released her first novel, Necessary Madness, to wide critical acclaim at age eighteen. Just five years later, in 2002, she followed it with her second novel, Letting the Body Lead. Her third novel, Etched on Me, was recently released by Washington Square Press. In addition to writing, Jenn also serves as a mental health advocate: she is a survivor of sexual abuse in a psychiatric hospital setting and has advocated with health care agencies for more sensitive and safe treatment of women with mental illness. Jenn lives outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter. Writer Kristen Witucki spoke with Jenn about her choice of writing fiction, mothering while living with a mental illness, the value of teachers, and how motherhood has shaped her as a writer.
Pregnancy and childbirth provide a glimpse of ourselves at our most elemental. There is no room for inauthenticity or the masks of politeness that we wear daily. There is only the experience—a ride that grips, lifts us into a mighty …