The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Marriage Of The Moon and The Field by Sunni Brown Wilkinson

At Last the Light in the Trees Wavers

and moves on like an old woman
turning away

from the mirror. Everything dims.
Now the lamp

is master. November,
and the rake face–

down in a pile of leaves
is like a kid playing dead,

the stick of his back staying
perfectly still.

And at night in our bed
the bird of me returns

to the tree of you.
All we’ve shed: leaves

and feathers on the floor.
The dark and your limbs

draw me in.
I’ll sing now

in my little house of bones.


This selection comes from the book, The Marriage of the Moon and the Field, available from Black Lawrence Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Danielle Hanson.

My poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Adirondack Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, BODY and other journals and anthologies. I am the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019), and winner of New Ohio Review’s inaugural NORward Poetry Prize. I teach at Weber State University and live in northern Utah with my husband and three young sons.

Danielle Hanson received her MFA from Arizona State University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books and a Senior Reader at Atlanta Review, and was formerly Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review, and associate editor for Loose Change Magazine and Carriage House Review.  Her work has appeared in over 70 journals and anthologies, including Poets & Writers, Iodine Poetry Journal, Rosebud, The Cortland Review, Willow Springs, Roanoke Review, Poet Lore, Asheville Poetry Review, and Blackbird.  She has been on staff at the Meacham Writers’ Conference and the Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Conference, and completed residencies at The Hambidge Center.  She has received several Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations.  She is the 2017 recipient of the Codhill Press Poetry Prize, Finalist for the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Poetry, and 2016 recipient of the Vi Gale Award from Hubbub.

Her second collection Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press, 2018) won the 2017 Codhill Press Poetry Prize, and was previously a Finalist in the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry in 2017, the Wick Poetry Prize in 2017, the Codhill Poetry Award in 2017, the Antivenom Poetry Award in 2016 and 2017, and the Richard Snyder Prize in 2016 and 2017; and was Semifinalist in the National Poetry Series in 2017, the Crab Orchard Series in 2017, the Elixir Press Prize in 2016, and The Washington Prize in 2016. 

Her debut collection Ambushing Water (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017) previously was Runner Up for the 2012 Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize; Finalist for the 2015 and 2016 Robert Dana Prizes for Poetry; the 2015 and 2016 Blue Lynx Prizes; and the 2014 Codhill Poetry Award; and Semifinalist for the 2015 Miller Williams Poetry Prize; the 2012, 2014 and 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series; the 2013 and 2014 42 Miles Press Poetry Awards; the 2013 Elixir Press Antivenom Award; the 2015 and 2016 Codhill Poetry Award; the 2015 Washington Prize; and the 2015 Richard Snyder Publication Prize.  

 

2020 Chapbook Contest Winner Announced

Sundress Publications is thrilled to announce that Sunni Wilkinson’s chapbook, The Ache & The Wing, was selected by Esteban Rodriguez as the winner of our ninth annual chapbook competition. Wilkinson will receive $200 and publication. Sundress plans to release the chapbook in late 2020.

Esteban Rodriguez, contest judge and author of the forthcoming collection The Valley (Sundress 2021), had this to say about the chapbook:

“Lyrical and elegiac, this collection boldly explores a range of personal tragedies and uncertainties—the unexpected death of a son, the memory of a mother leaving, the realization that life had different plans than were originally conceived. As the speaker so succinctly states, “I don’t want another love story. / I want immortality,” but if immortality is off the table, then let us sit with a collection that page after page does everything it can to provide an authentic space to heal.”

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Adirondack Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sou’wester and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019), and winner of New Ohio Review’s inaugural NORward Poetry Prize. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three young sons.

Ugochukwu Damian Okpara’s I know the Origin of my Tremor and Allyson Whipple’s This Must be the Place were also selected as runners-up.

We are also excited to announce that Ugochukwu Damian Okpara’s chapbook, I Know the Origin of My Tremor, was also selected for publication and will receive the $100 Editor’s Award. A Nigerian writer and poet, Ugochukwu’s work appears or is forthcoming in African Writer, Barren Magazine, The Penn Review, and elsewhere.

The entire Sundress team would like to thank everyone who sent in their work. Finalists and semi-finalists include:

Finalists
OF TUNEFUL ROT, Prince Bush
Literary Self-Portraits of an Americanized Migrant, Natalie Cortez-Klossner
BREAKING WATER, Karen Llagas
Field Notes Recovered from the Expedition to Devil’s Peak, Laura A. Ring
Blur, Katherine Vanderme

Semifinalists
wash between your toes, Teni Ayo-Ariyo
Parent. Worshipper. Carrion, Stella Hervey Birrell
TACKY LITTLE NOTHING, Chelsea Margaret Bodnar
Small Girl: Micromemoirs, Lisa Fay Coutley
Feralandia, Nicole Arocho Hernández
As Things Developed, She Was to Have All Manner of Revelation, Elizabeth Devlin
Silencio, No Mas, Adrian Ernesto
Measurable Terms, Arlyn LaBelle
Massive and Newly Dead, Rebecca Martin
Object Permanence, Jeni De La O
Kaitumjaure, Laurence O’Dwyer
What Shot Did You Ever Take, Brian Oliu & Jason McCall
Harridan, Melissa Tyndall
between virus & police, ar young

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Marriage Of The Moon and The Field by Sunni Brown Wilkinson

Nesting Dolls

The biggest one carries all that weight
inside her it’s a wonder

she doesn’t fall over.
Pull apart her two halves and out

comes another, rouged and ready
to open again. Quiet, and you can hear them

breathe, a tiny ocean
sound in each. Just now a thump

under my ribs says No more room
in this borrowed house. Like cells slowly dividing,

we make our peace by letting go.
It’s almost time. We’re verses

with space in between
for our own small hallelujah. Selah,

the Hebrew word that marks a rest
after each Psalm. I want to say Selah in between

each house on my block, all the sleepers
in soft places. When the wind tore

at our house and I was afraid
the big pine would fall,

we all slept in the front room,
nothing but our breath, covers rising

and falling, a stone–light
through the blinds,

two children and their parents
dreaming. Deeper inside, the unborn

tapped, and the train whistle cried out—
my son says, like someone calling your name.


This selection comes from the book, The Marriage of the Moon and the Field, available from Black Lawrence Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Danielle Hanson.

My poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Adirondack Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, BODY and other journals and anthologies. I am the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019), and winner of New Ohio Review’s inaugural NORward Poetry Prize. I teach at Weber State University and live in northern Utah with my husband and three young sons.

Danielle Hanson received her MFA from Arizona State University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books and a Senior Reader at Atlanta Review, and was formerly Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review, and associate editor for Loose Change Magazine and Carriage House Review.  Her work has appeared in over 70 journals and anthologies, including Poets & Writers, Iodine Poetry Journal, Rosebud, The Cortland Review, Willow Springs, Roanoke Review, Poet Lore, Asheville Poetry Review, and Blackbird.  She has been on staff at the Meacham Writers’ Conference and the Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Conference, and completed residencies at The Hambidge Center.  She has received several Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations.  She is the 2017 recipient of the Codhill Press Poetry Prize, Finalist for the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Poetry, and 2016 recipient of the Vi Gale Award from Hubbub.

Her second collection Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press, 2018) won the 2017 Codhill Press Poetry Prize, and was previously a Finalist in the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry in 2017, the Wick Poetry Prize in 2017, the Codhill Poetry Award in 2017, the Antivenom Poetry Award in 2016 and 2017, and the Richard Snyder Prize in 2016 and 2017; and was Semifinalist in the National Poetry Series in 2017, the Crab Orchard Series in 2017, the Elixir Press Prize in 2016, and The Washington Prize in 2016. 

Her debut collection Ambushing Water (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017) previously was Runner Up for the 2012 Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize; Finalist for the 2015 and 2016 Robert Dana Prizes for Poetry; the 2015 and 2016 Blue Lynx Prizes; and the 2014 Codhill Poetry Award; and Semifinalist for the 2015 Miller Williams Poetry Prize; the 2012, 2014 and 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series; the 2013 and 2014 42 Miles Press Poetry Awards; the 2013 Elixir Press Antivenom Award; the 2015 and 2016 Codhill Poetry Award; the 2015 Washington Prize; and the 2015 Richard Snyder Publication Prize.  

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Alice in Ruby Slippers by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

Since You’ve been Gone

Since you died, I’ve dreamt of being lost—
amid the unfamiliar; somewhere Frost
might call a traveler’s puzzlement, a quest
determining which pathway suits me best
as though I’ve heard an inner voice or song
yet overwhelmed which choice is right or wrong—
bewildered by the thought, I’ll cry for you
as if your death’s a thing I could undo.
A dream can be a devastating place
though more alarming still to wake and face
the truth of what is real. There’s no way
to signal you for help. Sometimes I play
old messages to hear your voice again—
as if you’re home, then ask you where you’ve been.


This selection comes from the book, Alice in Ruby Slippers, available from Kelsay Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker Award in Poetry, and her poem A Mall in California took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her work is widely published in magazines and online including, The Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, Mezzo Cammin, and Verse Daily. She is a former  Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and The Orchards Poetry Journal and member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors. According to family lore, she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Alice in Ruby Slippers by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

Alice in Ruby Slippers

Oh, girl who sips her beautiful soup,
and walks a winding yellow-brick road—
who dreams of tweedles that loop-de-loop,
where munchkins sing in turtle code.

The griffin calls to Neverland
she’s now confused, could this be Oz?
As if a Wizard brings good news
or gives the Queen sufficient cause.

Off with your head, you wicked thing!
Oh, girl who sips her beautiful soup,
now paint the roses red and sing
“où est ma chatte,” the Dormouse snoop

just might be snoozing during tea—
the Emerald City awaits you there,
with soldiers dressed, and whiskers green
find Glinda with her golden hair.

Oh, girl who sips her beautiful soup—
White Rabbit reads and strokes his fur;
she clicks her heels three times for guilt—
they told me you had been to her.


This selection comes from the book, Alice in Ruby Slippers, available from Kelsay Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker Award in Poetry, and her poem A Mall in California took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her work is widely published in magazines and online including, The Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, Mezzo Cammin, and Verse Daily. She is a former  Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and The Orchards Poetry Journal and member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors. According to family lore, she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.

 

Now Accepting Applications for Editorial Board Members

Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit publishing collective founded in 2000 that hosts a variety of online journals and publishes chapbooks, full-length collections, and literary anthologies in both print and digital formats. Sundress also publishes the annual Best of the Net Anthology, celebrating the best work published online, and the Gone Dark Archives, preserving online journals that have reached the end of their run.

Our editorial board members’ responsibilities primarily include reading manuscripts for contests, open reading periods, and solicited submissions, but they can also include soliciting manuscripts, reviewing residency applications, serving as a contest reader or judge, writing/curating features for our blog, and more.

Required qualifications include:

  • Knowledge of contemporary literature
  • Strong written communication skills 
  • Exemplary literary citizenship

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Experience with Adobe Creative Suite
  • An interest in book design

Applicants are welcome to telecommunicate and therefore are not restricted to living in any particular location. We are particularly interested in applications from writers of color, transgender and nonbinary writers, and writers with disabilities.

Sundress Publications is staffed entirely by passionate volunteers, so this postion, as with all positions at the press, is unpaid. We are beginning fundraising efforts and hope to pay our editors a small stipend beginning in 2021.

To apply, please send a CV and a cover letter detailing your interest in the position to our Managing Editor, Erin Elizabeth Smith at erin@sundresspublications.com. Applications are due by August 20, 2020.

For more information, visit our website at www.sundresspublications.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Alice in Ruby Slippers by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

Autopsy

My mother told me not to fib
or I’d go straight to hell,
and never ever twist the truth
from all that was to tell—

and I believed this golden rule
was one I shouldn’t break,
because she had no tolerance
for stories that were fake.

I guess I never questioned her
assuming she was right,
that everything she said to me
was honest and forthright.

Now looking back, I’ve come to find
a day she told a whopper—
one falsehood that I’ve later learned
was totally improper.

At least if one’s accountable
to ‘practice what you preach,’
and shouldn’t mothers say and do
exactly as they teach?

And I was just a child then
the morning I recall—
I went to wake my father up,
who slept across the hall.

I opened up their bedroom door
then turned the knob just so,
the morning light came spilling through
and cast a shadowed glow.

I tiptoed gently to the bed,
my everyday routine
then leaned in close to kiss his cheek
to stir him from a dream.

But he just slept and never moved—
his hands felt limp and dead,
and when I tried to waken him,
he didn’t move his head.

My mother made me leave the room
until the stretcher came.
Away he went with blinking lights,
a siren’s flashing flame.

She said he’d had a heart attack,
and offered nothing more
yet when she died, I found his note—
long hidden in her drawer.

With all her fiery threats of hell…
one truth had been denied.
The records read Took Overdose.
Apparent Suicide.


This selection comes from the book, Alice in Ruby Slippers, available from Kelsay Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker Award in Poetry, and her poem A Mall in California took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her work is widely published in magazines and online including, The Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, Mezzo Cammin, and Verse Daily. She is a former  Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and The Orchards Poetry Journal and member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors. According to family lore, she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.

 

Sundress Reads: A Review of Don’t You Know I Love You

In her powerful debut out via Dzanc, Don’t You Know I Love You, Laura Bogart sheds light on some of the deeply challenging relationships many of us face with our parents. 

Bogart is a regular at Salon, where her essays on body image, dating, politics, and violence have gone viral. A recipient of the Grace Paley Fellowship from the Juniper Institute at UMass Amherst, Bogart has also written for The Atlantic, The Guardian, SPIN, The Rumpus, Vulture, Roger Ebert, The AV Club, and Refinery 29 in the past. She is currently a contributing Editor at DAME and a featured author at The Week.

Don’t You Know I Love You, released in March 2020, focuses on Angelina Moltisanti, a queer artist who is forced to move into her abusive father’s house because of an accident that renders her broke and facing life with one remaining arm. Angelia has to re-negotiate her relationship with her father as he tries to get her an accident settlement. She becomes friends with Janet, another queer artist, as she attempts to deal with this re-negotiation, alongside her mother’s wish to give her broken family a second chance. All of this while trying to make art one-handed. Don’t You Know I Love You zooms in on the life of this struggling artist, giving us occasional peeks into the lives of Jack Moltisanti, her father, and Marie, her mother, stringing together the politics of a complex family matrix that encompasses bonds beyond bloodlines. 

Bogart’s powerful and lyrical prose is a prominent feature of this novel, something that aptly captures the complex matrix of emotions it weaves. Her prose beautifully balances the paradoxes of trauma.

Elizabeth Outka, associate professor of English at the University of Richmond, talks about this kind of trauma in the essay, “Trauma and Temporal Hybridity” which appeared in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. “First,” Outka writes, “traumatic events may, strangely, be both erased from memory and yet return repeatedly as flashbacks […]. A second and related paradox involves the freezing of time at one instant, locking the subject in the past moment of trauma; yet alongside the freezing, there is a false sense of movement or unfreezing, as the memory returns again and again to haunt the present.”


Angelina, similar to the characters of The God of Small Things, experiences these paradoxes as she goes back to her father’s house after the accident. She experiences flashbacks as she tries to occupy the space again and puts up with her father’s overwhelming presence even as she attempts to move on for her mother’s sake.

The art piece she tries to create is also perhaps an embodiment of the paradoxes of her trauma and her attempts to deal with it. The prose forces the reader to step into her shoes—we are drawn into Angelina’s space and experience things as they happen to her. This makes it relatable because the reader can draw these into their own complexities and step closer to Angelina. This is a great step toward normalcy and pushing away toxic relationships, even if the person being pushed away is a parent. 

Equally beautiful is how the novel deals with sexuality without making it explicit or the centerpiece of the story, something a lot of queer fiction is constantly criticized for. Angelina never really comes out in the novel: all we see is her sexual relationship with Janet, but we are never told what exactly her sexual identity is.

Janet becomes her safe space in the novel, and we see her, Bildungsroman style, being inspired and constantly pushed to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Janet also plays a pivotal role in Angelina taking the first steps toward pressing charges against her father, even if it means becoming a “memory too painful to be named.” Angelina and Janet’s relationship perhaps also represents a union that was necessary in order to maintain a balance of two extremely opposite emotions—emotions that were broken once they cooled down and emerged as actions.

What is also surprising, at least for me, is that we get to hear from Jack and Marie, Angelina’s parents. This was definitely a tiny break for the reader occupying Angelina’s space, perhaps so as not to overwhelm the reader. One thing that this definitely does is validate the irrationality of “thinking from the other person’s shoes.” That is, how do we make space for ourselves when we are burdened with the other person’s perspective, whatever it might be? These add to the complexities of the novel without disrupting the flow, and Bogart cleverly uses these to give us more context. 

Don’t You Know I Love You, therfore, becomes an amalgamation of these ideas and comes together to form a powerful, bold and empowering story that one should definitely read!

Don’t You Know I Love You can be found at Dzanc Books.


Gokul Prabhu is a graduate of Ashoka University, India, with a Postgraduate Diploma in English and creative writing. He works as an administrator and teaching assistant for the Writing and Communication facility at 9dot9 Education, and assists in academic planning for communication, writing and critical thinking courses across several higher education institutions in India. Prabhu’s creative and academic work fluctuates between themes of sexuality and silence, and he hopes to be a healthy mix of writer, educator and journalist in the future. He occasionally scribbles book reviews and interviews authors for Scroll.in, an award-winning Indian digital news publication.

Meet the Intern: Nora Walsh-Battle

In the spring of 2018, while I studied abroad in Tokyo, I only brought one book with me: a bound volume of poems by G.M. Hopkins, a Victorian poet and priest I had studied in a class the previous fall. Hopkins had been the subject of my major paper in that class, his poem “The Windhover” in particular, but I was by no means a fan of his, or of poetry at all, when I departed Newark Airport for Narita. No, my paper had been an examination of time as two forms–kairos and chronos–co-existing in the poem and their relation to Hopkins’s vocation as a Jesuit, the same order under which I’d received my high school education. It was a topic I’d chosen for simplicity: I had neglected to read the prose pieces assigned for the class, my usual focus, and thought I’d be able to rest on the laurels of my kilt-clad religious education when making an argument. 

When we read the poem aloud, I had dominated the ensuing discussion, condemning Hopkins as artless, slack-jawed, and hopelessly bent by the Jesuit credo of ‘for others’ to where his verses were nothing but crowd-pleasing missives instead of art. My classmates nodded along, smirking, already accustomed to this crass vernacular from my campus stand-up routines. My professor, I think shocked by my sudden passion, said nothing at the time to rebuff me but when the paper was returned, she commented she found it hard to believe I truly held Hopkins in contempt when I wrote about him with such fondness. And, upon giving my essay the second look I hadn’t before turning it in, I realized she had a point. 

So, when I happened upon the Hopkins volume in a donation bin a week before my departure, I felt like I had no choice but to pocket it. If anything, having it would help me construct further criticisms of the material and so it found its way into my carry-on. Eventually, after hours spent slogging through the bland prose of a well-regarded Japanese author who will remain nameless in my sole literature class for the term, I found myself looking up “The Windhover,” reading it aloud once, then twice, eventually affording this same treatment to the rest of the collection. The lines stuck in my head and I had already spent a fair amount of time analyzing them before it occurred to me that I truly had come to love G.M. Hopkins in spite of myself. 

What I took away from this moment is that sometimes things can seem easy, can seem good, because they are. No trick, no trapdoor. Glitters can be gold, it would seem. Another takeaway was that I need to be more open to broadening my horizons, which is something I hope to accomplish through this internship. Though I now fully identify as a fan of poetry, I have a lot to learn about what makes a poem more than just a string of words on a page. With its commitment to varied, thoughtfully circulated content, Sundress seems like the perfect overseer to this next phase of my education, and I’m thrilled to join the team. 

*

Nora Walsh-Battle is a recovering stand-up comedian currently living and working on an organic farm outside of Asheville while she plans her next move. She is endlessly enraptured by the poetry of Richard Siken, considers Wikipedia to be a primary source, and is a certified Excel pro.

Meet our New Intern: Ashley Hajimirsadeghi

I wrote my first story when I was three years old. It was a classic feminist tale, one inspired by the frustration I felt while playing a Mario game on my older sister’s Gameboy. Why did I have to save Princess Peach every time? Why couldn’t Mario be the one who was kidnapped for once? So I wrote my own story, reversing the narrative. There were no damsel-in-distresses in my world: only women who beat up the antagonists with an umbrella.

I’d lock up the little rainbow Care Bear journal those stories were written in It was an artifact of a distant childhood, lost in history until high school, lost until I decided to become an archeologist and really dig deep into my personal lineage.

I went to a little arts school in Baltimore County, Maryland, where I majored in literary arts. Auditioning for the school, I thought writing was “kinda cool,” and when I got in, it only seemed natural to pick it over the two law magnet schools I’d gotten into. And, indeed, it was “kinda cool.” Our classrooms had couches, we had workshops with teenage angst poetry, there were literary feuds—it was the kind of surreal writing dream I never knew I wanted.       

So I began my descent into the rabbit hole at this school. I swore off poetry until my junior and senior year, proclaiming it for hipsters and nerds, but when I actually sat down and wrote a poem, I found that I kind of liked it. It turned out I was pretty decent at it, so I continued with it. I thought of my life as a black and white film, shot with a grainy 15mm lens, before I began to take writing more seriously.

Once, I used to briefly live and study in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. I went to Ewha Womans University in Seoul and had to commute over two hours to actually get to my classes. On the crowded 900-bus from Anyang to the outskirts of Seoul, I used to translate Emily Dickinson poems from English to Korean, and I found myself memorizing these lines, writing them in Korean on the foggy windows. It was here I learned the power of writing, as I made new bus buddies who wanted to talk about poetry to the foreign girl. Literature truly connects in a unique way, transcending international borders and linguistic barriers.

Now I go to the Fashion Institute of Technology. I study International Trade, but I never really forgot how writing made the narrative of my life bleed from black and white into color. Yeah, sure I’m a business major, but I still discover pockets of poetry in my mundane everyday routine. I read for three different literary magazines, I’ve taken workshops with Brooklyn Poets, and now I’m interning at the Sundress Academy for the Arts! As I grow older, I’m finding that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.   

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an undergraduate at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in Into the Void, Corvid Queen, and cahoodaloodaling, among others. She attended the International Writing Program’s Summer Institute and was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow. Currently, she is trying to figure out a happy intersection between her writing, film, and photography endeavors.