The Golden State Bundle, Now Available

by ZYZZYVA

ZYZZYVA Golden State Bundle: No. 117 & No. 119

Within the realm of literature, there is no need to choose one region over the other. Get the Bay Area Issue and the Los Angeles Issue in our Golden State Bundle and enjoy the work of some of the best poets and writers that California has to offer. Together, the issues in the Golden State Bundle boast many of the West Coast’s finest writers, with fiction by Charlie Jane Anders, Jonathan Escoffery, Rita Bullwinkel, Michelle Latiolais, Chia-Chia Lin, Perry Janes, Ingrid Rojas Contreras; essays by Tom Bissell, Lydia Kiesling, and Wendy C. Ortiz; poetry by sam sax, Victoria Chang, Meg […]

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National Poetry Month: Twenty-Seven Objects of Explicit Wonder

by L.A. Johnson

1. house with lawn gone yellow 2. no matter which direction, the wind 3. swimming pools and dreams of pools 4. coyotes that shriek like children 5. naked intruders 6. scent of honeysuckle through a sunroof 7. dish, broken, never thrown away 8. half-lidded sentences that ramble on 9. swimsuits drying on balconies 10. water even a seahorse would swim in 11. the clear circles a hawk makes in the air 12. reservoir, with a lover’s name 13. confessions heard over the ocean’s waves 14. two eggs cracked, each with two yokes 15. fingerprints on mirrors 16. fire danger warning: […]

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On the Art of Jonathon Keats

by Alla Efimova

Is Jonathon Keats an artist? I have never doubted this over my nearly twenty years of working with him on various projects, even while Keats himself has often resisted and resists such a definition, preferring the title of an experimental philosopher. Keats is represented by an art gallery (Modernism, Inc.) in San Francisco and has had exhibitions and installations in many art museums and galleries internationally. And yet, while his projects are widely covered in the press—both specialized and general-interest—art publications shy away from giving him coverage. Keats purposefully operates on the margins of the art world, seeing it as […]

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Paragraphs on Ice: Episode 2

by ZYZZYVA

Paragraphs on Ice: Andrew Sean Greer & Daniel Handler

How do certain sentences work on us as readers? What can we say about the beauty found in select pieces of prose? Daniel Handler and Andrew Sean Greer—best-selling authors and friends—take you along with them as they delightfully explore their favorite passages of writing in their video series for ZYZZYVA Studio.

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

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‘Why to These Rocks: Fifty Years of Poems from the Community of Writers’: In Touch With the World

by Meryl Natchez

When I applied to the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop in 1987, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, or that this unique summer program would become my poetry home. I had just read The Gold Cell, and saw an ad in Poetry Flash that mentioned Sharon Olds was teaching at the workshop. I blush to say that I’d never heard of Galway Kinnell or Robert Hass at that period of my life; with four children and full-time work, I was out of touch with the world of poetry. When I arrived in Olympic Valley that […]

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‘My Heart’ by Semezdin Mehmedinović: Matters of Life and Death

by CJ Green

People say that when you have a child, it’s like your heart has left your body and begins walking around on its own. This idea came to mind reading Semezdin Mehmedinović’s novel My Heart (225 pages; Catapult; translated by Celia Hawkesworth). It begins with a heart attack that sends the protagonist into an eloquent, existential spiral, after which his priorities become increasingly clear to him. “Since I passed fifty,” he explains, “I know that everyone dies young.” The overall effect is of a camera sharpening: the background noise gives way to a crisp foreground, the local details of love and […]

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National Poetry Month: In Love With a Woman

by Lady Nestor Gomez

I should die in miscommunication breed fantasies unregulated, losses innumerable Mejor hablar español o componerme en nahuat I could speak and not offend I would stop a symphony and find closure erase bus stops and listen to my sister, the violent rain waiting for your seven days This isn’t a poem of love or hate but our days traveling in gray sand black night beaches and post-birthdays to speak to you I could hide and not love die in anonymity vanish in the ’80s with the rest of my ghosts but I can’t stop searching engines for your name our […]

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‘A Swim in a Pond in the Rain’ by George Saunders: An Impassioned Introduction

by Colton Alstatt

George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (432 pages; Random House) is a warm introduction to the Russian masters of literature—warm as a house party: “Reader, meet my friends Tolstoy, Chekov, Gogol, Turgenev. Russian masters, meet my reader.” Using his experience teaching stories by these authors, Saunders is a generous guide inspired by his love of the short story, whether masterful or imperfect. As he scans the seven stories included in his book, Saunders has fun as he works for ways a prospective writer might create similarly enigmatic stories. Neither inefficient nor blocky, these discussions are the […]

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Three Windows Onto Rome

by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Santi Quattro Coronoti On the right wall of the basilica is a fragment of a fresco of San Bartolomeo. He’s a bearded old man, mouth obscured by damage, his eyes suspicious. His own wrinkled pelt is thrown over his shoulder like a traveling cloak. No longer the cheerful dandy, dressed in white with swinging purple tassels. (He took good care of that white tunic; for twenty years, across all those distances, it never showed signs of wear.) No, there on that wall, he lives immortal as he died: flayed bare. The son of the one who holds the waters on

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

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Q&A with Christine Hume: ‘Saturation Project’ and Resisting the Myth

by Lily Nilipour

Christine Hume’s Saturation Project (192 pages; Solid Objects) is a boldly ambitious piece of experimental nonfiction that defies easy categorization. The book is split into three parts, and in each one we witness the story of a life, and hear the sounds that underlie it, whether it’s the “hum” that grants its name to the middle section of the book or the wind that commands much of Hume’s attention in the third section. Whatever this current might be, it rushes beneath her words like subterranean rivers moving undetected until they either emerge gradually from the depths. Hume spoke with ZYZZYVA […]

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‘How Beautiful We Were’ by Imbolo Mbue: A Vast Landscape

by Owen Torrey

In one telling, the story might begin here: the children started getting sick, and nobody knew why. At first, two died within a month. Before long, several more got feverish, then stopped being able to speak, and, soon after, to breathe. Surely, it was said, there must be a common cause. But what was shared between these children? Only the irreducible things: the ground they walked over, the air they breathed, the water they drew from the village well—right where the pipelines ran. When Imbolo Mbue’s second novel How Beautiful We Were (364 pages; Random House) begins, these things have […]

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ZYZZYVA Staff Recommends March 2021: What to Read & Listen To

by ZYZZYVA Staff

Lily Nilipour, Intern: Throughout the sustained isolation of this pandemic, we have learned much about our personal relationships to each other—to those close to us, to our groups and communities, and to society at large. It has been a time of great tragedy, on many fronts, but we have also seen people come together in extraordinary ways. In searching for ways to process the events of the past year, I have found myself turning to Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being for some wisdom. For the Time Being is a profound study of a paradox: the importance we place on […]

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