The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: She by Theadora Siranian


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from She by Theadora Siranian, released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2021.

Origin Myth, Pt. 3

From the beginning the world said: learn to love loneliness.
At any cost discover how to tell a proper lie.

It’s too late to deny I’ve created this fiction.

Here, a heart clenched tight as a fist.
The bedroom window left open and the snow

drifting in. How an open palm in the darkness

can have indeterminate intentions. A tongue, arching.

A hot mouth pressed to the place where thigh meets body.
An entire world, replete with desires and losses.

Others will always find a way to teach you about love.

Young and already filled with fear of death I built
houses in my mind, wandered weightless beneath stories

so complex I forgot to breathe, sitting in the rain dumb
with concentration until someone came and found me.

In a different version I sat for thirty years, alone and still
as stone until time and weather cracked me in half,

my broken face pressed with rapture toward the sky.

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Review, Rust + Moth, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize, and in 2014 was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. She currently lives and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where she is also a poetry editor for Angime, the first trilingual literary journal in the country.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: She by Theadora Siranian


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from She by Theadora Siranian, released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2021.

Albedo

She was imminent, she was a blown-glass battleship, she pulled
the space of the room in through her fingertips, pushing back
magic, cataclysms, destruction—she spoke of the chosen
and the called-upon she told lies and the hope seared
a white hole in my skin even from the beginning
I smelled the possibilities burning away, heavy as low tide,
birds circling in the heat, spotting the light: dark, hungry hammers
to my anvil—everything was acrid like after a fire, an explosion
of nuclear breath, a snowstorm of heat: in the morning
the summertime every day season moment she brought the fire
to her lips and she consumed the sun and all of its light—
she radiated was split open in rays and it burned a hole in me,
every moment was a hole in my body—holy, holy body:
she, the spirit, and the ghost again and again
the heat an eternity, my navigator, my first lost keeper—
indescribable: the sensation of flame you suck in your lungs
for a loved one, beautiful little blond girl turned dark
                      lovely, to be feared always

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Review, Rust + Moth, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize, and in 2014 was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. She currently lives and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where she is also a poetry editor for Angime, the first trilingual literary journal in the country.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: She by Theadora Siranian


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from She by Theadora Siranian, released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2021.

My Unconscious Contemplates My Mother’s Disease

Tonight it’s the laundry orderly in love with her,
his fingers folding over her forearm

when I find them. The doctors float down
endlessly windowed corridors like waterborne

swans, murmuring radiation like a prayer. Beneath
his hands her skin peels away as if eggshell, thin

encasement of some small, trembling bird.
And the light, it’s everywhere—the world

of death and decay is bathed in white, bright warmth,
just as they promised. In the ceaseless light

I know this is a dream, but in knowing, I still can’t get
what I want. God forbid she should have a disease

with a goddamn name. When I kill the orderly, split
his head down the middle, skull separating easily

as soft cheese sliced by wire, nothing changes.
Everything is lovely and horrible. The doctors drift by

singsonging radiation, radiation, radiation.

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Review, Rust + Moth, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize, and in 2014 was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. She currently lives and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where she is also a poetry editor for Angime, the first trilingual literary journal in the country.

Meet Our New Intern: Z Eihausen

For the longest time, I was always so sure of myself and what I wanted to do in life. At age seven I declared that I would be a veterinarian. That is, until I realized the whole animal doctor thing applied to more than just cats. My next aspiration was to become a rapper after learning the lyrics to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” (my rapper name was Z-Money). I quickly realized that I did not possess the speed nor the vocal cords to emit such a sound though I did begin to write song lines and pick up a few instruments. As you might’ve guessed, my dream to become a musician did not last long. I do still play a mean saxophone however. This pattern went on for many years, spanning from forensic pathologist, FBI agent, president of the United States, and everything in between. 

At the end of freshman year of high school, I settled on becoming a physician. I pushed relentlessly to fulfill that goal and graduated at sixteen. My thought was that starting higher education sooner and being in the “real world” would allow me to pursue what I thought was my dream career. Not even a semester into my first year of university, I found I had no desire to learn about science or practice medicine at all. I now had an identity crisis on my hands because I didn’t know what I actually liked or wanted to do. Would I be a mathematician? A social worker? I contemplated dropping out of school to open a flower shop but I’m a serial plant killer. I somehow manage to murder fake plants. It wasn’t until late last summer that I had my big epiphany of what to do with my life: write.

I feel silly knowing it took me this long to find my passion, especially when I’ve done it my entire life. Throughout my adolescence I was extremely timid and wouldn’t dare speak without being spoken to first. From this, writing became an outlet and my muse. Compromises with my mother were made through business letters outlining each party’s terms. Disputes with my brother were (still are) settled with written apologies and signed negotiations. I wrote fairytale-like short stories. My bedroom was covered in black chalkboard paint for me to write on, and where there wasn’t chalkboard, notebook papers were taped to walls instead. Various journals were filled with lists and rantings. I found great joy in writing papers, in addition to proofreading my peers’ work. My favorite thing was to write secret letters, pen and paper only. Despite my many changes in career interests, writing has always been a constant. 

I made the switch to the English team this past school year and I could not be happier. While I wish I would have figured myself out sooner, I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible. Even more, I love what I study and write more each day. I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the Sundress team and look forward to what the future holds!


Z Eihausen is an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she studies English and Philosophy. Her extracurriculars include dancing (poorly), hanging out with bees, playing saxophone, and attempting to make peace with her beloved cat.

Interview with Kathy Fagan, Author of Bad Hobby

I was recently asked if I would like to interview poet, Kathy Fagan. I responded as any fan of poetry would respond, with a resounding “YES!”

Fagan is, by any standards, an extremely talented and renowned poet, known for weaving rich imagery throughout her poems. Her biography is extensive – she is Director of Creative Writing and the MFA program at Ohio State University, Poetry Editor for OSU Press, a former NEA fellow, and author of several award-winning collections. When I sat down to talk with Kathy, I was curious to hear her thoughts on poetry, in general, as well as to discuss her newest collection, Bad Hobby (Milkweed Editions), which was released this month.

Amanda Rabaduex: This is a question I like to learn about both new and experienced poets –
why poetry?

Kathy Fagan: What else? As a child, I loved spelling and rhyming. I loved small structures of all
kinds, and learned, for better or worse, to find metaphors for my experiences rather than speak of them directly—I perceived it wasn’t safe for me to do otherwise. I love long form literature and read a whole lot of it, but I’m drawn in my own work to the moment. Even in this new book,
which is first and foremost a narrative memoir, the story is told in fragments and images across
lines that I hope complicate and enhance the telling. Line is primary for me; linearity, on the
other hand, is not something I’m comfortable with.

I began my education as a journalism major, thinking I would make a living that way—which was desperately important to me as a poor kid. When I took my first poetry workshop I realized I never wanted to leave, and I haven’t. There is nothing I’ve ever done that has influenced my life more, and I mean that as both a teacher and the student I continue to be.

AR: I love that poetry had such a profound impact on you. That workshop was serendipitous!
Your newest collection, Bad Hobby, will be published in September by Milkweed Editions. Can
you discuss the experience of writing this collection. What was your writing process? How did
the book shape itself?

KF: I cared for my dependent dad in my home for five years before moving him into a memory
care facility. We hadn’t lived together since I was a child. His conservative faith and politics had
always been a challenge for me—a queer, agnostic, liberal feminist—and though I’d long been
aware of his physical disability (he’s functionally deaf) I was not aware of the extent of his
cognitive disabilities, likely lifelong, which during his time with me evolved into dementia.
Caregiving and writing poems moved hand in hand during those years, and I felt like I was
failing at both.

Revisiting childhood in that unexpected and intimate way was also affecting the
content of my poems overall. As my father’s memories disintegrated, mine integrated as they
never had before. My father was known for his malapropisms. His dementia, sadly but
sometimes uncannily, too, created a whole other level of language mashups for him, which
appear often throughout the book; one of them gave the book its title: bad hobby for bad habit. In the middle of these years, across the country, my mother died unexpectedly, and writing the
poems gave me an opportunity to visit both my parents, gone from me now in their separate
ways, in a past I’d mostly tried to forget. Crucially these visits helped me to sort out notions of family, memory, intergenerational trauma, sexism, and social class informed by my experiences
with them.

There’s that old workshop chestnut: Write what you know. In this case I both knew what I was writing about and wrote to find out what I didn’t know I knew. I wrote into the questions, in other words. I felt my way through the poems, to paraphrase Audre Lorde, on a path of lines and stanzas that surprised me at every step.

AR: I think that is one of the incredible things about poems, taking profound and often painful
experiences and turning them into something you can look at, polish, revisit. Like you discuss,
the poems in Bad Hobby dissect complex relationships – with parents, with aging, with nature,
with womanhood. Where do you find inspiration? Were any poems particularly difficult to
write?

KF: All the poems were difficult to write. But difficulty writing—and reading—poems is not
unwelcomed. Or rather, I expect it, and do it in part because it is difficult. For entertainment, I do something else. For inspiration, I do yet another thing. The poems are built from pieces of
language—phrases, images, and sounds—that form and re-form over time into a patterned
collage of suggested meanings. I never know ahead of time where a poem will go, or even what
all its elements might be. Because I also worked on many of the book’s “themes” in
therapy—my parents, their parents, immigrant experiences, working class lives, the American
healthcare system, my own choice not to have a child—it felt inevitable for these to also spill
into the poems. My temperamental approach to all things is oblique—another way I was meant
to be a poet, I think. The challenge of this book was to push more directly into the wounds and
make poetry out of it.

AR: In “Ohio Spring” you write, “the poet-/Teacher in me understands/The Marine-cop in him.”
I am an Air Force veteran, myself, so I am interested to know how your father’s connection to the military shaped you and your writing.

KF: My father is a Korean Conflict-era veteran. He served stateside only, but like a lot of older
vets he never talked much about his service. He’d gone to a vocational high school in Brooklyn,
the youngest of five living children, and joined the Marines at the same time his (slightly) older
brother did. A lot of those guys came out and used the GI bill to go to college; my dad, however, had what we call now learning disabilities. He was a devout Catholic all his life even though he’d been kicked out of Catholic school for being “slow.” As a cop he failed the detective’s test. But discipline he had; patriotism he had. For reasons I’ve never fully understood, my father wanted a daughter after he and my mother were married. Maybe because, in his book, daughters were meant to care for their parents—and his bet on that was a good one, maybe the best bet he ever made. As a parent, what he gave me in return was a strong sense from childhood that even though I was born a girl, I could do and be anything. I may not have gotten to college without his faith in me; no one else in my family had been to college. I may not have succeeded in avoiding any number of the usual pitfalls of adolescence and young adulthood without his faith—and his expectation that I would do well. He was the guy who asked why I wasn’t bringing home an A+ when I brought home an A. I don’t think this entirely answers your question except to say, despite his disadvantages, disabilities, and the economic obstacles in his way, he was almost always curious about what would come next in life, and curious to see what I would do next. Not pleased all the time with me, for sure, but curious.

AR: You did answer my question! It sounds like the determination instilled in military members
was integral in the way he raised you and guided you.

Speaking of being curious – I love the varied forms your poems take on throughout Bad Hobby, particularly in poems like “Birds Are Public Animals of Capitalism.” I’m curious, how do you develop the form of your poems? Do you have a favorite form or style to work with?

KF: “Birds…” is a uniquely visual form for me that was entirely prompted by the circular paths
in multi-floor parking garages and circling patterns found in nature, bird murmurations, for
instance. I wanted to explore the similarities and differences of those shapes in the poem, natural and human-made, just as much as I wanted to question how we cope with the quotidian—or if we can.

As I say, I love line and all the ways lineation, stanza breaking, and other shaping elements can create meaning for us in poetry. I like to think that I give the poems the space they each need to thrive. Bad Hobby turned out to be, like my previous book, Sycamore, something of a project book, but the poems don’t all look alike, and that’s mostly intentional. Perhaps if I were a poet who wrote quickly they would resemble one another more, but I work slowly and deliberately and think of each poem as a stand-alone entity. I want to help it find its most effective delivery system, and that takes a lot of composing, recomposing, and revising.

AR: I like that you let the poem form as its own entity, even if it is in conversation with other
poems in other ways. Thinking back on your experiences as a poet, what do you wish someone had told you about becoming a poet? What advice would you give to people interested in writing poetry?

KF: Hmmm. Read a lot of poetry. Read a lot of everything. Have a life. Be interested in stuff,
stay open and curious and engaged. Play. Don’t be afraid of sorrow. There may be more specific “career” advice I might give to a poet beginning to publish books, but in general, poet to poet, it’s mostly just this: be attentive.

AR: Great advice! A wonderful professor I studied under often spoke about the need for writers
to “fill the well.” I think reading and having a life, like you say, are some of the best ways to do
that. Which poets have influenced your writing, and in what ways?

KF: So many poets. My Irish grandfather read Poe out loud to me with a brogue. I loved his
high goth and rhyme. I read Plath later as a teen; returning to her in middle age, I recognized her true and lasting genius. Yeats, Merwin, Walcott. I’d work through crushes: Dylan Thomas, Hart Crane, Franz Wright, Lucille Clifton, Les Murray. My teachers were Levine, Strand, and Levis; when they’d bring a poem in to class, Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” or Bishop’s “The Fish,” I had the sense I was climbing inside it, trying to figure out how it had made itself and why it was affecting me the way it did. I don’t engage with all poems like that, but I do with many of them, including student poems; I’ve been fortunate to have extraordinary students, many of whom make memorable work that I learn so much from. I was also privileged as a very young poet to spend a summer in residence at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s house in Franconia, New Hampshire. It’s a combination museum/educational center now, but when I lived there in the private quarters of the house, recordings of him reading his poems played every weekday in the barn for visitors. I don’t think I realized at the time how influential those cadences were on me, much less his syntax and diction. I’m not a formalist, and of course Frost was all about tennis and its net, but his combination of clarity and music has stayed with me. Likewise, the inventiveness of more recent poets like Terrance Hayes, Harryette Mullen, Mary Ruefle, Brenda Hillman. All of them and so many more have influenced my poems, and frankly, just taught me how to think. One advantage of getting older is witnessing the variety of poetries available to readers now. I love all the different ways a poem gets made, all the different ways a poem can mean. Those discoveries are everything to me.

Order your copy of Bad Hobby.


Kathy Fagan is the author of Bad Hobby and Sycamore, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, as well as four previous collections, including The Charm, the National Poetry Series- winning The Raft, and Vassar Miller Prize-winner MOVING & ST RAGE. Fagan’s work has appeared in venues such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Poetry, The Nation, the New Republic, Best American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and an Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship and served as the Frost Place poet in residence. Fagan is co-founder of the MFA program at The Ohio State University, where she teaches poetry and co-edits the Wheeler Poetry Prize Book Series for The Journal and The Ohio State University Press.

Amanda Rabaduex is a poet, writer, and college lecturer. To learn more, visit her website.

Lyric Essentials: Catherine Rockwood Reads Joshua Burton

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials, where we invite authors to share the work of their favorite poets. This month, Catherine Rockwood has joined us to discuss the work of Joshua Burton and confessional poetry. As always, we hope you enjoy as much as we did.


Ryleigh Wann: When was the first time you read Joshua Burton’s work? Why did it stand out to you then?

Catherine Rockwood: My first encounter with Joshua Burton’s poetry was June/July of this summer, when my copy of Fracture Anthology arrived. What stood out to me at once was both the intimacy and the ambition of the project – to write poems with one’s own mother, about both her life and your own, and achieve so much formal and emotional success in the process? Amazing. Almost uncanny, really. The degree of determination involved, and the ethical precision, and the risk-taking, and the skill.

RW: Why did you choose to read these poems specifically?

CR: I knew I had to include “Nomenclature” in the recordings, because it was the poem that first made me sit down and go “ohhh” when I was reading the chapbook. And I don’t honestly think that reflects in great ways on me as a reader: I think I should have been able to get there much faster, based on what precedes “Nomenclature” in the manuscript. But as it was, I needed an entry-point to an assembled work that was amenable to what I already knew, and for me this poem was that – the moment of naming, of choosing a name that a new life will be known by, has tremendous literary resonance that operated in ways I was familiar with, and then all of a sudden I could sort of retroactively get a wider look at what was so powerful about the entire project. 

Catherine Rockwood reads “A Painting of a Pressed Flower” by Joshua Burton

A Painting of a Pressed Flower” I just find so haunting. I am not sure I fully understand the complex layering of memory/art/trauma in this poem, the way it all works together to create what feels like an entirely unique symbolic vocabulary, but I can feel it working, I think in that direction. And I cannot shake the lines “the residue bleeds through pages/  five through eleven”: so specific, so material, so literal, and yet what those lines are saying is, some events absolutely layer themselves permanently into parts of our lives, and what are you going to do with that? To what extent can you bring yourself to accept unintentional, vivid, personal-historical “residues” while also saying something like “this effect, this fact, is accidental – it evades claims of design  – and yet, I assert its meaning.”?

History” is a tour de force in other ways. It deliberately maintains the strangeness, the unfamiliar-to-the-reader quality, of the protective or negotiative systems the “I”-speaker of the poem (who is the poet’s mother) has developed to help herself deal with a clearly hostile world. And that’s a hard choice to make, as a writer – or, anyway, when I think about it I get nervous, I feel worried – to decide “no, the difficulty is part of the point, I want this to be something readers have to work to try to understand, because otherwise I’m not honoring the individual narrated life in the poem, I’m not doing it justice.” Making that choice, and following through on it formally, takes incredible determination (which is a word I seem to be repeating) and craft.

RW: Burton’s chapbook, Fracture Anthology, began with poems written about the speaker’s mother. What do you think are the challenges (or benefits) of writing poems about living people the writer might be close to?

Catherine Rockwood reads “History” by Joshua Burton

CR: Oh my goodness. This work is so hard. I have only peripherally played around with it in my own writing, and the one time I wrote directly about family members it was a huge, uncomfortable thing to tell them before the poem was published. Because you realize you have to take responsibility for your own “take” on someone else’s life, and they may not agree with your view of it. In the end, when you write and publish about living people who are in your life, you’re either saying “well good so we agree,” or “well okay, we have worked out an agreement that I have the right to relate this part of things in this way,” or “well, you hate that I’ve written about this in this way but too fucking bad.” Fracture Anthology…it’s definitely, DEFINITELY not the last thing. To me, from the outside, it looks actually more like a fourth thing, some kind of consent-driven work of biographical/autobiographical art in which both the poet and his mother really have their own voices but these voices sometimes blend in ways that are almost transcendent. I guess you would say the challenge and the benefit there are pretty contiguous.

RW: What have you been up to lately (life, work, anything!)? Got any news to share?

CR: Hm. I’ve been editing for the first time – Reckoning Magazine, the magazine of creative writing and environmental justice I’m on staff for, is putting out a special issue on bodily autonomy and the environment in October. And I’m lead editor for that. We got really, really angry after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision came down at the Supreme Court in June, and decided to put out a themed submission call, and authors have answered it very thoroughly. I’m excited about the work we’ll be showcasing, and my colleagues at Reckoning have been super supportive and patient (and informative!) as I work through the new-to-me process.

Read more from this interview at our Patreon.


Joshua Burton is a poet and educator from Houston, TX and received his MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. His work can be found in Mississippi Review, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. His debut poetry collection is forthcoming in the spring of 2023 with the University of Wisconsin Press. Find his website here. Purchase his collection, Fracture Anthology here.

Catherine Rockwood reads and edits for Reckoning Magazine, and reviews books for Strange Horizons. Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors to Obtain Perpetual Motion, is available from the Ethel Zine Press. You can find her on Twitter at @martin65, and elsewhere on the internet at www.catherinerockwood.com/about

Ryleigh Wann earned her MFA from UNC Wilmington where she taught poetry and served as the comics editor for Ecotone. Her writing can be found in Longleaf Review, Rejection Letters, Flypaper Lit, and elsewhere. Ryleigh currently lives in Brooklyn. Learn more at ryleighwann.com

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: She by Theadora Siranian


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from She by Theadora Siranian, released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2021.

Gala and the Tigers

All the airplanes are disappearing.

With their thin seats and bright engine lights
they take off into the woodchipper grinding away

outside my window. I lie in bed and listen to them go.

Something is not one thing but an unwinding
set of lines tracing a perpetual lack of comfort,

the sweater snagged, what people avoid calling the eventual,
the world growing smaller as it grows larger.

The silence of those back bedroom days becoming less
violent, but more threatening. All those notes taped

to the kitchen cupboards no longer encoded—the weather
of broken ribs and genetic discontent now formulas

for sadness and grocery lists, almanacs for snowfall and heat.
A room built of acid and honey, an iron cage

strewn with irises: watching someone lost grow old.

The waves look like wounds from 17,000 feet, sinew
of salt and motion. In the dream it’s morning and I find her.

Ten floors down, naked, a giant stretched out in the parking lot.

The animals are gone, her skin shredded, her body finally
void of complexities. Death aesthetic and austere, the body,

this moment, just another in a long collection of artifacts
missing their middleground, and here, see:

a pomegranate sliced open in the palm of my hand.

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Review, Rust + Moth, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize, and in 2014 was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. She currently lives and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where she is also a poetry editor for Angime, the first trilingual literary journal in the country.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: She by Theadora Siranian


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from She by Theadora Siranian, released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2021.

Origin Myth, Pt. 1

There was a world before all this. A snowglobe, a halo 
of light—the woman trapped within a pulsing bell of fluorescence.

Hot and curved as a tongue, the flame that emerges from her mouth. 

The murmur she emits into an ear alluring 
as a stolen orgasm, the hiss of gas before the explosion. 

This is the world I will make for you, see 
here, beneath the birches, above the fallout shelter 

is a place where the bees don't die and we never regret our actions. 

We drink hemlock in the moonlight and cup our bodies toward 
one another against the cold. 

She tells me it’s not cannibalism, to consume ourselves. 
She turns my face toward the starshattered darkness.
 
Oh, this loveliness, this loneliness, this feverdream. 

And this perpetual version of her: luminous, blinding, 
standing in the center aisle of a convenience store the moment 

before the gallon of milk slips from her hand. 

She whispers and the world shivers, splits, detonates. 

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Review, Rust + Moth, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize, and in 2014 was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. She currently lives and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where she is also a poetry editor for Angime, the first trilingual literary journal in the country.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Daughters by Brittney Corrigan


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Daughters by Brittney Corrigan, released by Airlie Press in 2021.

Surgeon’s Daughter

When my mother tucks
my hair behind my ears,
it is not with absentminded
affection but with precision,
the careful hook of her
finger efficient and swift.

The body is not a neat
array from the inside out.
You have to learn where
everything goes, how each
organ puzzles into the hollows
beneath our breakable bones.

So she doesn’t insist
that I tidy the field of stray
clothing across my floor.
It’s more about a working
order. Can I find what
I need and just go?

Sometimes when she looks
at me, I feel magnified,
as if viewed through her
surgical loupes, every
neuron and synapse
apparent and understood.

But it’s not invasive.
My very blood feels
seen within her gaze.
Each muscle, each node
of flesh, is cradled by
the attention of her eyes.

The body is a cavity
brimming with clockwork
and mistakes. My mother’s
hands, scalpel-less, tip my skull
up by the chin. Every chamber
of my heart allows her in.

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Daughters, Breaking, Navigation, and 40 WeeksSolastalgia, a collection of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene Age, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press in 2023. Brittney was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection.

Sundress Publications Announces the Acquisition of Hannah V Warren’s Slaughterhouse for Old Wive’s Tales

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce the acquisition of Hannah V Warren’s Slaughterhouse for Old Wive’s Tales, which combines natural history and folktale as it wrestles with a Southern Gothic apocalypse through a distinctly feminine lens. Warren’s collection is slated for publication in Winter, 2023.

An author photo of Hannah V. Warren wearing gold-rimmed glasses.

Hannah V Warren is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Georgia and a Fulbright scholar. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Kansas. Her writing and research interests center monstrous aesthetics, post/apocalypse literature, and representations of alterity.

She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Southern Gothic Corpse Machine from Carrion Bloom Books (2022) and [re]construction of the necromancer from Sundress Publications (2020). Her works have appeared in Gulf CoastPassages NorthCrazyhorseTHRUSH, and Fairy Tale Review, among others.