Terra Incognita

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Melina Draper is a poet living in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her most recent book is Lugar de Origen–Place of Origin (Oyster River Press), a bilingual book of poetry co-written with Elena Lafert.

“Terra Incognita” is one of her two poems published in ZYZZYVA’s Winter ’11 issue. Both poems take Charles Darwin’s travels through Argentina in the 19th century as their theme. In “Terra,” as Darwin uncovers fossils in a place that “quaffed blood, ingested gristle, guts, and bone,” it’s hard not to think of Los Desaparecidos, the thousands upon thousands of people who “disappeared” during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

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The Bull

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Josh DuBose, who lives in North Hollywood, is an actor and and a writer, as well as the owner/operator of a small transcription firm catering to entertainment journalists. His story “The Bull,” published in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter ’11 issue, is his first work to appear in print.

A riff on the Ugly American, “The Bull” details a honeymoon destined to go wrong. Bawdy but thoughtful, the story ultimately goes to a surprising place, playing the narrator’s laugh-out-loud misadventures against a yearning he can’t quite define. The following is an excerpt.

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The Winning Crowd

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The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Medal, and PEN Center West Best Book Award, Gary Soto is the author of thirty-five books. His most recent are the e-novel When Dad Came Back (University Press of New England) and the YA story collection Hey 13! (Holiday House).

“The Winning Crowd,” his nonfiction piece in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter 2011 issue, is Soto’s account of attending a 49ers game (pre-Harbaugh era) with a friend, arriving at the stadium dressed “to the nines.” Funny and sinister, the piece could be read as a straight-ahead story of civility and elegance stirring the wrath of slovenly, crude sports fans. (As anybody who attended games at Candlestick Park last season could tell you, there was plenty of uncivil behavior at Niners games.) But it also works as a broader tale of how signs of culture and style can upset the very community you consider yourself part of.  The following is an excerpt.

Soto reads with Faith Gardner and Blossom Plum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley.

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The Three Sisters

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Christopher Warden’s story, which ran in the Fall 1989 issue of ZYZZYVA, is perceived in a childlike imagination, where the violent reality of adulthood is rejected in favor of dream, where physical boundaries are first explored and adult consequences (mortality, discipline) seem like the afterlife. “The Three Sisters” is about a nine-year-old boy, a sort of Peter Pan figure, visiting in the night three young sisters who take form with specific folk-like characteristics (enchanted hair, teeth that talk — not to mention the jealously among them). The storytelling here, brief and openhearted, conceives the real world as if in a dream: every object carries the possibility of intensity and drama: “He walked out into the water. There were sandbars going out a long way. The boy pretended they were islands, and he walked from island to island looking for the three sisters.”

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A New Ocean

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In its Winter 1985 issue, ZYZZYVA published this essay by Blair Fuller. Fuller, who lives in Tomales, California, is the author of the novels A Far Place and Zebina’s Mountain, is an editor emeritus at the Paris Review, and with the late Oakley Hall, co-founded the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

“A New Ocean” is the story of how, in 1963, Fuller submitted to an experimental LSD treatment in the Bay Area. The descriptions of his altered mental state on the drug are poetic, and could even be called moving. And the coincidence of his treatment happening the day before John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas lends a sadness to the piece — a sadness extending beyond the violent death of the president. As one of the female doctors from that early treatment tells him many years later, it seemed as if a great many things changed with that day, including the “feeling of the possible”

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