Caren Beilin’s fiction has appeared or will appear in McSweeney’s, LIT Magazine, Zembla Magazine, Quarterly West, 3:AM Magazine, and other places. An essay on how she writes (which involves her apartment’s water heater) is included in a new book from Rizzoli, How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors. She lives in Philadelphia(and Montana).
All my self induced delusions have to do with my enormous ego, which, if I were in a particularly deluded mood, I’d call robust.
Adam Cushman has been published in The Mississippi Review, Carve, Pindeldyboz, The Portland Review, Konundrum, Word Riot and Storyglossia. He lives in Los Angeles.
It’s a bit personal, but my daughter, she was born with a penis and testicles. The first 3-4 years were hard, you know, asking yourself "Why me?" and all that. But you adjust. My wife and I obviously try to compensate for our daughter’s shortcomings by discouraging athletics and taking those extra steps to ensure the highest levels of femininity. Flowered sundresses are a big help, as well as constant viewings of Care Bears, My Little Pony, etc. We’re coping. Day by day. We are coping.
Gabriel DeCrease is a graduate of the Creative Writing/Poetry Program at Allegheny College and is currently a member of the MFA Creative Writing/Poetry Program at The University of Pittsburgh. He received The 2005 Mulfinger Award for Poetry and first-prize in the 2007 Edwin Ochester/Academy of American Poets competition for his poem “Iteration of a Funeral.” His poems and reviews have appeared in The French Creek Journal, The Rain Farm Press’s Paradigm-3, and Mudlark. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he works as a boxing trainer.
Some years ago, as an undergraduate, I attended a reading by Richard Howard, one of the few living poets who can claim to be widely-read outside the inaccessible isles of academia. It was my first physical encounter with this figure whose name I never spoke unceremoniously, always half-whisperingly as though I might otherwise be struck on the head by a wrist-thick bolt of Apollo’s lightning. I went, I think, seeking proof that poetry could be relevant and large and significant in contemporary Western society. If that affirmation occurred, I could make such stature my goal. How absurd? I thought I would see a man who could know, in some absolute sense; he was a master poet (and therefore a colossus of modern literature). Howard read with all the precision and poise I expected, and some generous and humble vulnerability I might not have had the gall to expect. Then, at the reception that followed, Howard said to me (or, I should say, to a crowd I was part of) something like: telling people you are a professional poet is like telling them you are a professional mushroom. I am now so utterly grateful to Richard Howard for that shattering of my delusion because it mandated a test of loyalty to the work of making poems that led to the understanding that I would continue indefinitely—even if anonymously and unknown.
Ken Head lives in Cambridge, England. His work has appeared in iota, Pulsar, SAW, Purple Patch, Scifaikuest, Poetry Monthly and will be appearing in Obsessed With Pipework 41 later this year. He’s also been published online, at Autographs Magazine and The Indite Circle, for example, Palabras Press, Sam Smith’s Select Six, Snakeskin, Static Movement, The Hiss Quarterly, Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Non-Euclidean Café.
Delusional? As a young man, when someone told me something I thought I understood, I used to nod sagely and store it securely away: another nugget of comprehension. Now, I spend time wondering how it’s possible that each of the people I love is 72.8% water. Zen Buddhism teaches that to the Zen master all life is one long, continuous mistake.
Michael J. Lee
Michael J. Lee lives in Alabama in a country home.
Once an important lady asked me to babysit her children over the summer. But the summer passed me by and still I had no job and dwindling monies. As the summer came to a close, I found myself hating both her and myself with equal vehemence.
Christina Lloyd lives in San Francisco where she teaches Spanish. Previously she has lived in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Japan and Ireland. She holds a master’s degree in Hispanic languages and literatures from U.C. Berkeley and is currently working on a master’s in creative writing through Lancaster University, U.K. She has also been published in Monday Night, a Bay Area literary journal.
Eight years ago when I lived in Costa Rica, I decided to visit the Caribbean side for a weekend. I went snorkeling one day and, just as I was getting the hang of it, I felt something sharp and hard hit my leg as I swam around looking at the fish. I convinced myself that I had been attacked by a shark and flailed in the sea like a maniac until I managed to get to the little boat where the guide waited for all of us tourists. He was laughing hysterically because he figured out pretty quickly what had happened. Since there have been so many earthquakes in that area of the world, the coral colonies grow in jagged, uneven formations. It turns out that I banged my leg against one of them, which caused the shock and the sting of it. No Jaws in sight.
Jon Michaud is on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. His fiction has appeared in Denver Quarterly, North American Review, and South Dakota Review.
For reasons too complicated to go into here, I spent my early teenage years in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The school I attended, the Methodist College, excelled at both academics and sports. In winter, I played rugby and in summer I did track and field. Because I had grown up in the U.S., throwing footballs and baseballs, I had, without realizing it, developed the ideal arm motion for throwing the javelin. My classmates, who’d grown up playing soccer and cricket, could only look on in dismay as my throws exceeded theirs by dozens of feet. Soon I was known as “Spear-Chucker,” after the character in M*A*S*H. My newfound ability took me all the way to the Irish schoolboy championships in Dublin, where I was crowned All-Ireland Junior Javelin Champion and given a medal about the size of a silver dollar. A week after this triumph, my coach informed me that I was actually three weeks too old for the “Junior” age category. No one else ever found me out and I was never asked to return my medal, but ever since then, the victory has felt hollow.
David Shields’s two forthcoming books are The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (Knopf, February 2008) and Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, September 2009). He is the chairman of this year’s National Book Award nonfiction panel and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA Fellowships.
In college I wanted to be a "New Journalist" until I got in trouble for making stuff up. I started spending long hours in the Marxist bookstore just off campus, reading and eating my lunch bought at McDonald’s; I loved slurping coffee milkshakes while reading and rereading Sartre’s The Words. I closed the library every night for four years; at the end of one particularly productive night, I actually scratched into the concrete wall above my carrel, "I shall dethrone Shakespeare."
Dinh Vong is currently receiving her MFA in fiction at Arizona State University, where she also serves as an international editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her fiction was recently published in Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.
In the fifth grade, I was positive that other kids could read my mind, and even I concocted a test to prove it, which consisted of mentally screaming “jerk face!” at someone’s back, then waiting for an uncomfortable response—a twitch, a sneeze, any movement was enough to confirm my suspicions. I found out later that my thoughts weren’t being read, but instead I was being spied on. One day my brother cruelly bellowed, “Dinh loves Nadeem Aktar!” while we were eating dinner, and I heard a chorus of muffled laughter coming from the neighbor’s house. I ran to the window to see slivers of clothes and eyeballs (belonging to boys in my fifth grade class) through the slats of the fence.
Martin Willitts, Jr.
Martin Willitts Jr is a Senior Librarian in New York. Recent publications in Pebble Lake Review, Hurricane Blues (anthology), Hotmetalpress.net, Haigaonline, Bent Pin, 5th Gear, and others. He has a fifth chapbook Falling In and Out of Love (Pudding House Publications, 2005), an online chapbook Farewell--the journey now begins (Language And Culture in 2006), a full length book of poems with his art The Secret Language of the Universe (March Street Press, 2006), and he has another chapbook Lowering the Nets of Light (Pudding House Publications, 2007). He has edited a poetry anthology about cancer Alternatives to Surrender with funds from an Individual Artist grant and it will be printed at the end of 2007.
The only time I am self-delusional is when I am not thinking I look like Brad Pitt.