Archived entries for

This Friday in Chicago: Food, wine, easy parking…


..and the landscapes of Megan Williamson. All of this and more can be yours, at a show opening this Friday, April 13, from 6 to 9, at Chicago’s Gallery 1837. The particulars:

Gallery 1837
1837 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago 60622

Valeri Larko, master of the urban fringe

We added the “master” part – the bit about the urban fringe comes from the “artist’s statement” page of Valeri’s snazzy new website. If you enjoyed the paintings we featured last spring, the site’s very much worth checking out. As will be, no doubt, the two shows she has coming up, and the work she has up for sale on Folio Leaf. The details, straight from Valeri:

My brand new and totally improved website is up and running and includes recent paintings added to the New York Series Galleries.

New York show

My paintings will be included in a two-person exhibition at the J. Cacciola Gallery in Chelsea this summer. Save the date:

Opening Reception
Thursday June 28 from 6-8 pm

J. Cacciola Gallery
537 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

Milan show

If you’re visiting Italy this summer and are in the Milan area, please stop by the Barbara Frigerio Gallery. My paintings will be included in a summer group exhibition in June.

Barbara Frigerio Gallery
Via Fatebenefratelli 13
20121 Milano

Folio Leaf

Last but not least: Several of my oils on prepared paper can be found on Folio Leaf, a website that features works on paper.

…or are you happy to see us?
2 questions for Etgar Keret


Etgar Keret is the acclaimed author of several wonderful and widely translated short story collections, children’s books, graphic novels, TV scripts, screenplays, and more. He’s also the newest member of the failbetter family, via his short story “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?” And while we’re on the subject:

Rumor has it that you wrote “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?” because your friends were asking you what’s in your pockets. Can you tell us if this is true? Has anyone offered any interesting guesses, as to what you’re carrying around in there?

I do carry a lot in my pockets. I’m a person who loses anything that isn’t a part of him, so either I glue stuff to the back of my neck, or put it in my pockets.

And what is in your pockets?

A huge hope for a better future (that’s why they are bulging) and some other stuff too: lots of keys, though in many cases I’m not sure which doors they open, and a lot of folded pieces of paper. Some of them are ideas for stories, others are phone numbers of people I’ll probably never call, not to mention a lot of taxi receipts that never got to my accountant. If he reads this: Eitan, would it be OK if I just mail you my pants? It would be much easier than going through them myself…

Introducing Tom Batten

On March 27, we’ll be running a brand new story, “What do we have in our pockets?” by the great young Israeli writer Etgar Keret. Some of you might know Etgar and his work from his appearances on This American Life. And you’ll know him even better soon, via not just the aforementioned story, but also a “2 or 3 questions” interview we’ll be running next week.

Whence our good fortune? Etgar comes to us, as it were, courtesy the hard work of Tom Batten, our editorial intern. Tom’s been hard at work for a while now – you’ve read, we hope, his December interview with Chuck Palahniuk. But who is he? you’ve no doubt been asking yourself. Well, aside from being the guy in the photo up top:

“Born in New York, raised in Yorktown, Virginia, I am currently an MFA student in Richmond, VA. I don’t have any pets but I do sometimes stroke my roommate and occassionally, when he’s up for it, he purrs. I enjoy hoarding things and hope to one day have enough money to be considered eccentric instead of weird. I hate goofy bios and I’m crippled with self loathing.”

And that’s that. Of course he speaks mostly through his work. And a good thing, that. Look for more from Tom, soon, here.

“Disaster” and beyond: 1 question
for Donald Illich


Donald Illich is the author of “The Mistake” and “The Talent,” both of which are live today on our site.


It’s been more than five years since we published your poem “Disaster.” What have you been up to since, and how has it affected your work?

In the last five years I’ve been trying to publish a book of poetry, as well as poems in general. I’ve been much less successful on both fronts than I’d like. I’ve gone through several different styles beyond the “surreal” one that “Disaster” represents, though maybe that style is what I’m best at. I keep at it because poetry is incredibly important to me, and I’m not going to give up on it. I’m really happy that failbetter has taken my work, because I see it as a good omen for this year in my publication efforts (though I just got rejected for a book prize).

Stop worrying! Love the web.
And drink to that.

fb martini glass - with shadow
Headed to Chicago for AWP? Join us Thursday, March 1, along with our friends from Blackbird, Drunken Boat, Memorious, and Midway Journal, for a night of worry-free—or at least drink-sodden—poetry and prose. Tipple to the mellifluous tones of readers Michael Martone, Randall Brown, Sean Hill, Margaret Luongo, Nicky Beer, Erica Dawson, Caki Wilkinson, Sibyl Baker, Michelle Chan Brown, Shira Dentz… and, in this corner, repping us and ours in a way only he knows how, none other than the Bogalusa Bomber, Mr. Daniel Nester.

The specifics? They would be these:

Thursday, March 1
6:15-8:15 p.m.
After-Words Bookstore
23 E. Illinois Street

Note that After-Words is walking—nay, stumbling—distance from the AWP conference hotel. A straight shot down State, as it were, to the corner of E. Illinois. We’ll see you there!

An actual experience, and then a poem:
1 question for Damian Fallon


Damian Fallon’s poem “Bats” is live now on site.

And about those bats?

This poem was based on an actual experience. I live in Brooklyn, close to Prospect Park, and one summer day friends and I picnicked there until well after the sun set, and there were honest-to-goodness bats whirling around above us. Once we realized what they were, we were surprised, although we shouldn’t have been. It’s easy to forget that the borough, like all urban areas, was once forests and meadows and streams.

I inadvertently write about animals quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say I have a sentimental attachment to them or to bats in particular or to nature in general. But I do have respect for them. It’s common to romanticize nature and animals, to yearn for a kind of back-to-the-land-ness, but I remind myself that nature is brutal, that it would kill us (surely me) if we weren’t careful, and that animals (probably) don’t care about us one way or another.

While thinking about this question, I could only recall that I often saw bats as a kid at my grandparents’ home, on their property that was surrounded by farmland in then rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Naturally, in those days, bats scared me, a sense that was only heightened by the cemetery that was across the street from their house. When bats flitted about in the darkening sky, it signaled to me that it was time to stop playing outside and go inside to eat dinner, surrendering the night to these creatures.

My grandparents are gone, the house is still in the family, but the man who owned the farm sold it off many years ago. Soon after, housing developments and a law school were built, which now completely surround the property. As I write this, I’m getting a kind of evil pleasure in thinking that bats are frightening suburban children and law students returning to their cars after evening classes, making their presence known, reminding them of what the place used to be.

One thing, another, or perhaps both:
1 question for Alissa Fleck


Alissa Fleck’s poem “Honeymoon Period” is live today on our site.

Why, we wonder, is she not a painter?

Well actually I am a painter. I’ve made about three paintings in my lifetime and they form a triptych of sorts. Each of the three paintings is a replica of the same photograph of my boyfriend and me, each lacking in any nuance (any nuance is purely accidental, or borne of a loss of interest in finishing that particular painting.) I presented the triptych to my boyfriend for Christmas, and only afterward realized how intensely creepy it was to present him with the same image of us, peering somewhat terrified out at the camera (I don’t know—that’s what happens with paint), obsessively painted over and over again. So that was sort of the birth and death of my painting career.

Audrey Walls – our new assistant editor

The thing about this place is, we’ve got so d*mn much to do, and so few people to do it. Just look at those cobwebs that need to be cleaned off the window frames! Not to mention that stack of submissions that need to be read…


Fortunately we’ve got another set of hands coming on board, as of now. Even more fortunately, they’re the capable hands of Audrey Walls. She joined us as an intern a while back, and from day 1, she did a such a bang-up job – helping out with interviews, reading submissions, killing the occasional cockroach – that it was a no-brainer to ask her to join us as an editor. As our new assistant editor, to be specific.

Before she grabs a broomstick to have at those spiders, let’s have her come up to the mike for a sec, to tell you all a little bit about herself:

“Originally from the backwoods of southwestern Virginia, I now live in Richmond, Virginia in a rowhouse built in 1880, with my husband and three cats. In my spare time, I enjoy taking photographs of my neighborhood’s quirky happenings, digging through old vinyl records at thrift stores, and baking up a storm in my tiny kitchen. I first came across years ago, as an undergraduate, and I’m thrilled to join the team.”

And see that – she’s a team player to boot. Definitely the quality of work is about to improve hereabouts, and perhaps we’ll even be quicker about responding to submissions. Perhaps. In any case, we’re more than glad to have her, and we hope you’ll join us, in making her feel welcome.

When All the World Is Old:
the new collection from John Rybicki

We’ve published more poems by John Rybicki than by anyone else. He writes with both power and amazing versatility, drawing again and again on his own experience, from the joyous to the terrible, and coming up, each time, with something fresh, new, and raw. Nowhere is this more true than in the poems he wrote for and about Julia Moulds, his late wife, whose struggle with cancer defined their relationship from early on. Now those poems, some of which first appeared right here, have been collected and published by Lookout, in When All the World Is Old:

At the age of twenty-nine, just five years after they met, John Rybicki’s wife, the poet Julie Moulds, was diagnosed with cancer. Here, in poems raw and graceful, authentic and wise, Rybicki pays homage to the brave love they shared during her sixteen-year battle and praises the caregivers—nurses and doctors and friends—who helped them throughout. He invites the reader to bear witness to not only the chemotherapy, the many remissions, and the bone marrow transplants, but also the adoption of the couple’s son, the lifted prayers, borrowed time, and lovers’ last touches.

You can order When All the World Is Old directly from Lookout, or from Amazon.

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