While we don't believe in best of lists, we went through our content over the past year and saw what resonated most with you, our readers, across our different genres and sections. Here's what you loved:
Photography: Christine Stoddard - Mortem et Virginiana
“Mortem et Virginiana” is a small set of still photos from the pre-production stage of the documentary, “Richmond’s Dead and Buried.” Virginia is a land of vampires, a land of ghosts, and a land of the myths that shaped America. It, like the rest of the Western world, is also changing its attitudes towards death and dying as it attempts to reconcile its past with its present and future. While some tombstones stand resplendent, many more crumble or become enveloped in vegetation, dirt, and other coverings. What will the cemeteries of Richmond, Charlottesville, and Arlington look like in years to come?
Fiction: Leah Johnson - What Surrounds
I cried once and it was 49. No bestseller, same shadows, and a story in the business section of the paper that said he sold the firm to a tech company. And rumor had it he made enough money to retire early. That his Starbucks wife and three kids: two boys and a girl, the oldest, with a name after a constellation, would never have to want for anything. I heard the two boys, twins, as it turned out, were headed to Harvard that fall.
It’s 52 and I’m drowning. I Googled the best ways to go and no search result tells you that underwater is a different type of darkness, but darkness all the same. And the impact when you hit is different, but impact just as well. They don’t tell you. They don’t tell you. They don’t tell you. They don’t-
#NotTrump Series: Angie Sijun Lou
a swimming pool filled with spit,
a pile of puke on the nativity scene,
a limp dick on Snapchat,
an artificial plant dying under
a depression lamp & I
have been instructed to build
a synthetic ontology in all
the holy spaces left behind.
#MeToo Series: Catherine Chambers
What I remember: Orion
the hunter, (it was winter) the joint
in my hand (I was high), the name
of his son (whose mother was being
cheated on), the fact that at least
this way the dying thing in him
wouldn’t get inside me, looking up
at the rain gutter (help me), wondering
which one of us would cry first. (Me again.)
Chapbook: Time Doesn't Exist: Poems for 2017
Essay: Claire Rudy Foster - Mother Said, Nobody Becomes an Artist Unless They Have To
He didn’t answer. He hauled me on top of him and continued, although I pushed him back and turned my face away from his kisses. He put his mouth on my breasts. He smelled like leather that has been soaked in speed and salt, dried in the sun. I knew he was injecting - I tried to think about HIV transmission, Hep C, how the barriers of my body had been breached without my knowledge. I could be dying, right now. This could be the thing that killed me.
My voice shrank in my throat. This is my friend, Scott, I said to myself. What had I done to deserve this?
When he was finished, he said, “Be grateful I didn’t cum.”
Poetry: katixa espinoza - detached
all that would be left are abandoned thumbs / to remind to keep sucking
a relic from trauma / oral to phallic obsessions / use teeth
chew on thumbs rather suck / inflict the pain ridden in body
thumbs remind me of your body / i chew on them until they bleed
a defense mechanism
Interview: Karolina Manko
I think the internet is definitely the New Age art capital. This is great, because it enables anyone to participate. This can also make finding that specific aesthetic niche even harder. Regardless, I think it’s still important for artists to participate in a physical way: to go to galleries and poetry readings and the opera. I think it’s important to retain a physical space as well as a virtual one.
Writing Prompts: Focus on Structure, Not Just Content
Review: Joanna C. Valente - What Lady Bird Got Wrong - And What It Got Right
The film is still portraying ideas of privilege and whiteness, with room for little else. While Lady Bird is definitely not rich, and often mentions how she’s the “poor one” who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, she is still much more privileged than most: She’s white, in a middle class family who is sending her to a private Catholic high school. Beyond that, she’s also conventionally attractive, talented, and smart. While she is struggling like any teenager struggles with sex and identity, her struggle is also not unique. The American Dream (one of whiteness, wealth, desire) is there, but the film is not exactly a commentary on its toxicity either.
And really, the film, in a lot of ways, can be boiled down to this: She’s an attractive middle class white person who gets into college. And whose parents refinance their home to make that happen in a private New York City school, nonetheless. Going to college at all is a privilege, but an expensive one even more so.
And that’s where I felt disappointed. What about kids like Miguel or Julie or even Danny? What about the kids who aren’t privileged in the same way Lady Bird is?