All Posts, Featured Readers

Chelsey Johnson

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Chelsey Johnson was the Featured Reader for our event on Tuesday, March 11th. Chelsey Johnson received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in One
StoryPloughshares, NPR‘sSelected Shorts, The Rumpus, OUT Magazine, and others. She teaches fiction and nonfiction writing at the College of William & Mary and is at work on a collection of stories and a novel. We got a lovely preview of her novel-in-progress and can’t wait to get a copy when it comes out!

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Drawings by Julia Taylor

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All Posts, Student Readers

Connor Crawford

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Connor Crawford is a senior at Tulane University and is a Spanish major.

He read fiction at our February 4th event. Below is an excerpt from his piece “St. Nick’s Bar & Grill”
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Drawings by Julia Taylor

Dale cherished the moments at the end of the night when he could just lie in bed and focus all the energy he had left on using one foot to scratch the athlete’s foot on his other foot and vice versa. It felt so good, toenails rubbing the flaky skin away until they reached the tender itchy part. He had bought a nine-dollar can of ointment spray about a week ago but hadn’t used it yet. He didn’t want to.

It was about six-thirty in the morning by the time Dale finally fell asleep. His girlfriend Daisy had left for work at her bakery an hour or so earlier.

He slept until it was five o’clock the following afternoon. His head throbbed and immediately he leaned over and got a cigarette out of his blue jeans on the floor next to the bed. He lit it and lay there smoking in bed for a while. Then he got up, and walked naked to the kitchen to make coffee and toast.

Dale lived alone in a gutted-out building. Daisy slept over a lot because it was closer to her bakery than her bungalow across town. Rent was cheap and he had tons of space. He sequestered his bedroom by hanging canvas drop cloths between old work ladders, left-behind items from a painting business that used to occupy the building. Besides this, the rest of the place was wide open. The side that faced the street was completely glass, and since it faced west, when Dale woke up in the late afternoons like this — as he almost always did — the entire space would fill with a warm dusty natural light. Right along the exposed brick wall perpendicular to this glass was where he had jimmied together a makeshift kitchen, which consisted of a deep work sink, an old stovetop and a series of mini fridges. He kept his microwave and coffee pot on the floor.

Dale had one table in the whole place. It was a white door stacked on top of piles of cinder blocks. In the holes of the cinderblocks he had stuffed magazines and newspapers and all around the desk were stacked books and CD’s, and lines of records leaned against the nearby wall. His old turntable and an ashtray and some notes here and there were the only items on the desk.

Dale reached into one of his refrigerators and fished a pickle out of a jar with his thumb and forefinger. He ate it quickly, then grabbed another one and went and watched the street go by while he waited for his coffee to brew. It was the beginning of rush hour and traffic was sluggish. The power lines that hung above the cars appeared wavy through the building’s old glass. There were plenty of bikers and pedestrians about, as well. All of these commuters were ending their long days at the office, ready to go home and watch TV, eat dinner and maybe try to get laid. Lots of them would also likely end up at a bar.

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All Posts, Student Readers

Catherine Ann Taylor

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Catherine Ann Taylor is a sophomore at Tulane majoring in English and Theatre with a focus in directing. She read fiction at our February 4th event. Below is an excerpt from her piece,“With Oaks out Front, and Window Seats.”

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 Drawings by Julia Taylor

From “With Oaks out Front, and Window Seats” :

           I stood with Rosalie in her bare bedroom the day before she moved away, surrounded by magazine clippings and mountains of wrinkled, line-dried clothes that she shared with her older sisters. The faded alphabet and animal stencils on the walls from a previous young owner (Rosalie’s family had been too busy to concern themselves with decorative details during their two-year stay) had just been painted a fresh coat of pale blue, a shade renters couldn’t argue with. The nubby oatmeal colored carpet was to be torn out and replaced the next day. The new wood floors downstairs had echoed with my deliberate footsteps earlier, the rooms begging for the family’s comfy sofas and shelves of her Rabbi father’s gold-embossed Hebrew books to absorb the hollowness.

I had loved the merry disarray of her family’s home and the busy chaos of our friendship as we burned through our last few months together in the same town. It makes strange, sad sense that a home is at its best right before its owners leave. New refrigerator, fresh screens in the windows, cobwebs in corners whisked away, doorknobs replaced. The little, nagging tasks on neglected to-do lists finally get done, only for the benefit of strangers.

Rosalie sat cross-legged on the floor now with a towel around her dark gold hair, applying makeup. There was a pile of dirty earth-toned towels cast over the closet door. “Rosie, how many towels is this? Seven, eight?” I chided, hauling them down one by one and dropping them into a pile. “You know towels get mildew-y if you leave them in a big wet pile!” She rolled her eyes and swiped mascara onto her lashes. Half her mind floated elsewhere, as it often did. I waited a few moments for my words to process, for her to surface from her reverie. As she spun from the mirror to face me, her expression told me it was ridiculous to go on about things like dirty towels, and especially now. I knew this. The dynamic of our conversation, though, and the music playing and our cups of tea were the only things that tethered me to normalcy.

She examined a crumbly eye shadow palette, blew away the extra glitter dust, peeled back my fingers and thrust it into my hand. “Mary, I want you to have this. It doesn’t look quite right with my complexion.” She found an old shopping bag among the tumult, the remainder of her belongings, and began stuffing unwanted things inside to give to me. As she moved about the room, I thought of how much time two people must spend, the delicate process they must go through, for the hyper-awareness of space and touch between them to melt away. There is an unmatched sense of calm in feeling free to grasp someone’s hand in yours, or in being so comfortable that you don’t even register the head resting on your shoulder. There is a lush satisfaction in familiarity.

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All Posts, Featured Readers

Shelly Taylor

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Shelly Taylor, 1718’s own faculty advisor, read for us on February 4th. She read from her newest poetry collection, Lions, Remonstrance, which is available for pre-order at Coconut Books. We were lucky to have this  preview of her new book. Look below for one of her poems from the collection.

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Drawing by Julia Taylor

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Since Lions, Remonstrance is not yet available, Maple Street Books  sold copies of Shelly’s first collection, Black-Eyed Heifer, (Tarpaulin Sky Press, May 2010). Keep a look out for Hick Poetics, an anthology of contemporary American rural poetries that Shelly co-edited with Abraham Smith; it will be released this year from Lost Roads Press.

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