Alabama Funeral

by Kristen Iskandrian

ZYZZYVA Volume 36, #1, Spring 2020 (No. 118)

The sitter arrived with a Ziploc bag of brightly colored string. “For friendship bracelets,” she said, one eye veering off. “Yes,” Bette said. The sitter’s eye was particularly lazy today; Bette had never gotten used to it, although she herself, when extra tired, had an eye prone to drifting. Bette was aware that she could be, in a multitude of ways, a perfect hypocrite. She was named after Bette Midler, which had always embarrassed her, so she told people she was named after Bette Davis. “So it’s ‘Betty’?” people would ask, and then she’d have to correct them, and they’d […]

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Taming the Dog

by Kristen Tracy

We hope it’s a safe and restful holiday for you and your loved ones. In that spirit, we’re sharing Kristen Tracy’s poem from Issue 112, “Taming the Dog”: Your dog arrives at my open window filled with advice. He sees how I trim the beans and complains. He believes the way I tenderize my lamb is an abomination. The neck may be tough, but in my house we use everything. We hang our laundry. We beat our rugs and there is joy. Last night, he caught me pruning the magnolia tree, appeared beneath my ladder, fur holding the light of […]

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The L.A. Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA Volume 36, #2, Fall–Winter 2020 (No. 119) - Night Version

The following is Laura Cogan’s Letter from the Editor in our new L.A. Issue. You can purchase a copy of Issue 119 from our Shop page: Dear Reader, Though Los Angeles occupies an outsized space in America’s (and even the world’s) cultural imagination because of the film and television industries, its literary culture is comparatively overlooked or minimized. Here on the West Coast we are busy enough going about our work that it is easy to forget for long stretches at a time the still significant East Coast bias in publishing. And then every so often someone in New York sends […]

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Photisms

by Juan Pablo Villalobos

It might not feel much like Halloween this year, but it is Halloween, so we’re celebrating with a spooky tale you can find in Issue 99. We promise it’s more treat than trick, so read on: The chubby little boy remains impassive. Mamá and Papá have left the consulting room now, leaving him on his own, but even so he’s not fazed by the situation, he’s over there, just quietly sitting like it’s no big deal, in total control of the moment. Suddenly, before the psychiatrist can say anything, he raises his right arm with the index finger outstretched, as […]

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Passion Tempered with Patience: An Interview with Paul Yamazaki

by Stephen Sparks

ZYZZYVA Volume 33, #2, Fall 2017

Paul Yamazaki made me want to be a bookseller. When I met Paul, I’d been working in bookstores for fifteen years, but it wasn’t until getting to know him and seeing just how established and comfortable he was with his place in the publishing ecosystem that I began to find a similar comfort myself. At the time, I was working as a manager and book buyer at Green Apple Books on Clement Street, and have since, at the beginning of 2017, become with my wife the owner of Point Reyes Books.  Paul has been at City Lights Bookstore for nearly […]

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Cathedrals of Hope

by Lauren Markham

In 2004, when I was first old enough to cast a ballot in a presidential election, I lived in a small Vermont town, population 1,136. It was home to farmland, a cemetery, a snowmobile shop, a church, an elementary school, and a town hall that most days sat empty and unused. The leaky clapboard house my three roommates and I rented was shared with mice that ate through our cupboards and a badger who lodged in an unfinished back room. My roommate Margaret used to sunbathe on our lawn to the occasional honk of a passing car; we all enjoyed […]

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Cathedral: Some Marginalia on Reading

by Paisley Rekdal

“It’s okay to be white,” reads the sign posted in November by the Social Work building on the University of Utah campus where I teach. White poster, fine black letters in Arial font. The sign disappears in a day, though photos are taken, passed via social media. Two posters with the slogan “Stop the Rapes, Stop the Crime, Stop the Murder, Stop the Blacks” are then taped up, each with a web address for the manifesto “Blood and Soil” written by Vanguard America. These, too, are torn down. Someone spray-paints racist epithets on a campus construction site. This is not […]

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The Great Danger: A Conversation with Arundhati Roy – Part II

by John Freeman

When Arundhati Roy’s long-awaited second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, appeared last year, some reviewers wondered what the writer from Kerala had been up to for two decades. She certainly wasn’t blocked. If you care about climate change, protested the war in Iraq, or have followed resistance to dams anywhere, she has been hard to miss. In fact, since 1995, the year The God of Small Things was published and won the Man Booker, catapulting the then-35-year-old novelist to worldwide fame, Roy has released more than a dozen works of reportage. Nuclear power, the state killing of Muslims in […]

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The Great Danger: A Conversation with Arundhati Roy – Part I

by John Freeman

The following is Part I of an Interview with author Arundhati Roy you can read in its entirety in Issue 113, available on our Shop page. When Arundhati Roy’s long-awaited second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, appeared last year, some reviewers wondered what the writer from Kerala had been up to for two decades. She certainly wasn’t blocked. If you care about climate change, protested the war in Iraq, or have followed resistance to dams anywhere, she has been hard to miss. In fact, since 1995, the year The God of Small Things was published and won the Man […]

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National Poetry Month: ‘Peaceful Waters’

by Paul Wilner

Run deep. The people we know, or think we know, or wish we were, if only we could find a way outside the prison of selfishness. Unlikely. One hundred years—or more— of solitude can’t break these walls. But, you know, there we have it. Other people. Maybe they can save us, maybe they can ruin us, maybe we can find a way into a twangy heaven, where people weep, and weep, and say how much they love us. What is love? Who is he, and what is he to you? Black, brown, beige and battered, like an old suitcase draped […]

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National Poetry Month: ‘Northern California’

by Rage Hezekiah

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “Northern California” by Rage Hezekiah, is from Issue 116. You can read more poetry by Rage Hezekiah in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store. You stood at the edge of the stone fruit orchard while I scaled the ladder, a picking basket against my belly, brimming with shiny-ripe plums. Father, you came to California willing to farm at my side, practiced shattered Spanish with the men I’d befriended. When I left after lunch to get high, you never said […]

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National Poetry Month: “Object Permanence”

by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “Object Permanence” by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, is from our recent Bay Area Issue. You can read more great work from local poets in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store. Yes, the red-tail who swooped across our windshield didn’t actually vanish in the gulley, circles still. And when the alarm wakes you, I trust that soft nest of curls will be safely conveyed  to hover at a chalkboard, fall in your eyes. But the calls keep getting closer. So straighten your tie, […]

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