The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: Honeyfish by Lauren K. Alleyne

Elegy for a Fish-as-Weathervane

Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA

You were meant for a different blue,
you cod, mackerel, trout, or just idea
of fish, hoisted up, spiked through
the center to test, of all things, air.

Beached in sky, sun beaten, tarnished,
a shred of cloud caught in your gasping
mouth, your turning an illusion of motion
so close to the one for which you were born.

No schools for you there, in that lonely,
elevated place, only its perpetual piercing—
you alien among birds with your useless gills,
useless fins. Caught, darling. Trophy. Stranded

so close to God, you spin in the place
where prayers rise, where dreams of home
take wind and take hold of you like hooks
yanking you—now this way, now that.

This selection comes from the book, Honeyfish, available from New Issues Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

LAUREN K. ALLEYNE is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, and the Crab Orchard Review. Recent honors for her work include a 2017 Philip Freund Alumni Prize for Excellence in Publishing (Cornell University), the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Prize, and a Picador Guest Professorship in Literature (University of Leipzig, Germany, 2015). She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University. Twitter Handle: @poetLKA

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: Honeyfish by Lauren K. Alleyne

Post-Verdict Renga

For Trayvon

Provincetown, MA


Heat. Bodies gleaming with sweat and sun. Day pressing itself against everything:
unforgiving. I am walking down this street thinking of another walk in another city,
of a boy who never makes it home. I, too, am armed with thirst and a craving for
sweetness; I, too, wear his brown skin and do not belong here, to this city of leisure
and narrow streets. Fear passes through me, a phantom, and is gone. Overhead, flags
flutter in the thick, salty air. Not guilty, they say. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.
Not guilty. Not guilty.

Beginning is red—
a door, a car, the bowed lips,
a nameless flower.
*
I have so few names for things
here, I fall into silence.
Two men, black as God,
their shirts golden as morning.
No words between us.
*
So much passes in the glance
that the throat cannot muster.
Three headless torsos
in a store window. A light
trick makes men of them.
*
In this city of flesh, you
can almost forget the ghosts

Fat daylilies crown
long green stalks, their orange heads
the color of grief.
*
No candlelight vigils here:
only the living, living.
He walks, oak brown, bald,
belly like a commandment—
I am here: make way
*
Nothing I say will save you,
but how can I say nothing?
Thick black curls cut close,
buttoned black shirt. Caramel face
diamonded with sweat.
*
a dark, ageless face
wise and innocent as earth—
how have you survived?

I can’t stop counting
the bodies that look like yours:
five this whole morning.
*
I can’t say if this matters,
just that I saw, I did see

This selection comes from the book, Honeyfish, available from New Issues Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

LAUREN K. ALLEYNE is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, and the Crab Orchard Review. Recent honors for her work include a 2017 Philip Freund Alumni Prize for Excellence in Publishing (Cornell University), the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Prize, and a Picador Guest Professorship in Literature (University of Leipzig, Germany, 2015). She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University. Twitter Handle: @poetLKA

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

AS FAR AS RECORDS GO

I.
The women in this story never had a chance, did they Michael?
It’s sons we tell stories for.
Their skins and grasses and birch
bark rarely survive
the archaeological record.
I found your sister in another record,
in a family archive as it were
of dubious descent—

82 iii. Nikifor (1897–1897)
Occupation: Infant

A grave shaped hole.
Possibly, an empty house.
(a painted box
sealed tight against
the weather: )

II.
Woman are always talking about the weather—
“Our people have made it through lots of storms and disasters
for thousands of years. All the troubles since the [promyshlenniki] . . .
like one long stretch of bad weather . . . like
everything . . . this storm will pass over some day.”
(On the island without trees, with wind no man
could walk against, it rains two hundred and fifty days of the year.)

III.
Across the sea certain women were believed
to have power over the weather:
when weather was inclement, the women were exposed
naked to the elements until weather changed—
or they died.
(But I read this in some academic work or coffee table book
on Aleut or Unangan art, so there might be a connection besides

Church records show—

IV.
Then there was Lillian Zellers—
What kind of woman married an Indian
in those days?

(It was in the papers:) INDIAN MARRIES WHITE GIRL
ALASKAN GRADUATE OF CALISLE MAKES
LEBANON YOUNG WOMAN HIS BRIDE.

I imagine someone in her family was tall—
there’s no accounting for our height if she were not tall.
Or am I mistaking mothers again?

Even this is your story, Michael. There was no bearing daughters.

I suppose there must be somebody alive
somebody would know—

but letters are an accreted loss
like skins and bark and mothers
appeal to me as mystery.

V.
There was no bearing daughters. Turns out
my black-haired grandma was no Indian
after all. Not Aleut.

I never met the men
who gave me their bones.

VI.
My mother was a Mole. (Names have been changed
but records are rare
-ly consistent—
enough blood to trace,
enough bodies in marked graves to remember,
enough, enough.)

And now I’ve gone and changed my name for legal reasons
letting down my sons and daughters.
(My husband would not have let them be salmon-fishers
anyways.)

VII.
No, the women in this story never had a chance, Nikifor.
It’s fathers we make bodies for.

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at salmonfisherpoet.com for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

BEFORE THERE WAS A TRAIN

I built my home
from perfumed skins
and crooked bones
far from the rotting boat
They took
the wrong shape
Sod not ice not body
not Other
Nikiiq
Engluq nikiimek patumauq
The wrong tongue
By the time you read this
I will have forgotten how to say
the house is covered with sod
or home
Part of me wishes it had sunk
it sank
it is sinking
but these sentences have not been written
Only, allrani suu’ut caqainek pukugtaartut
sometimes people salvage some stuff

She coughed and the women came out
violently
She opened her mouth and coughed out
a small bird
She coughed out matted fur
and fish with faces
and the rocks
she had tried to eat
until
there was nothing left inside her
but water and red
She coughed out the water
and the sea rushed to fill
the thirsting places
She took back fire
black fire-rock
and wrapped her many-body
in mountain
still and moving
many and
one
She wrapped her body in mountain
and dug her feet beneath the water
she spilled
where soft
she could feel a hardness moving
outward

She could feel many hearts
hard hearts
each small disturbance
press
the small rooms of her chest
Each sound in her chest
a heart
a rock
dislodging soft in the water
until
She was no body

 

 

 

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at salmonfisherpoet.com for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

QAWANGUQ WITH HOUSE

There was a house I needed
to go
I needed a home
to survive
to wait the fire
the flood where there were others
with other
bodies
There was earth in them
I dug
speaking
the dead with words
I dug my way back
to survive the flood
into the earth
I had to know what I didn’t know You can’t throw the fish
I didn’t know back in the water
what kind of monster was I and expect to swim—
So I dug.
I dug out a rib
and another’s rib
another
I dug deeper
until
I reached the bottom of this

house I reached the cellar
where the center was cold
where I could hide
My body full of bodies

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at salmonfisherpoet.com for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

LESSONS IN ARTICULATION

He didn’t tell us when he learned what it meant,
that they took their words from them.
If he were not an accountant, my father,
he might have been a historian. A fisherman. Or
he might have been nobody. He might have been unsettled.
Father, did you have these questions, when you were young with only
your cousin, your aunt?
Father, did your father know?
Did your father tell you,
how he and his brother were called half-breed,
how he didn’t know his father?
Did you read to your mother?
Did you read to your dog, until you could pronounce the words properly?
Did you eat Hershey’s Chocolate toast sandwiches with your father?
Did your father read aloud from his bible, or
did he keep his words from you?
Father, did you dream then of salt sweeping your lungs, of sand
and volcanic rock beneath
your feet, or snow?
Did you watch the birds as a boy for Company?
Did you try to give them names?
Father, did you play Indians?
Or were you cowboys?
How did you feel, the way your father asked your mother
for a sandwich and a beer,
and a beer,
like a man?
Mother says these things skip a generation.

I don’t remember learning these words—
deprivation, decimation, assimilation,
relocation.
I don’t remember Carlisle in my school books. Was it something
you showed me, Father, that summer
we toured all the battlefields?
If he were not an accountant, my father,
he might have been a historian.
But there was no value in these things,
no way he could convey.
I don’t know when I learned what it meant,
they took our words from us.

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at salmonfisherpoet.com for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

Fox Hunting

Last winter I [had a thought, go out],ii hunt foxes.
iii
, and, having come
to the opening of a little hut , I entered it
and apparently there was a fox there, I didn’t
see , but when it was seen and pointed to me
I could shoot
I ran
, but running after it I
finally lost my breath
under a rock,
pulled from there
, then I walked and walked
, and seemed to
be a fox but didn’t see , but
started to run again, shot , so
I came back two .
After I went to sleep,
the day got up again
to hunt fox [.] I passed
to the other side
one fox
up the hill
thinking how I was
a piece
daylight the hill
the isthmus,
the north side,
a storm

the sea,
the canyon
a fire a little cave
the night
entered
until the morning,
the wind
a pit in the snow
slept in until the morning, daylight
descended
from
foxes
and steam
and went home
.
i Told by Stepan Prokopyev, Attu, August, 1909. Cylinders 25 and 26 ( four minutes and
forty-five seconds). Transcribed and translated into Eastern Aleut by Jochelson and
Yachmenev with the help of Stepan Prokopyev, Umnak, 1910. Of the paired lines, the first is
Attuan, the second Eastern Aleut. The written text differs in several spots from the cylinders.
New York Public Library Manuscript 61.
ii Contamination (or copying mistake).
iii Some words missing

 

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at salmonfisherpoet.com for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 

 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: We Ran Rapturous by Shannon Sankey

HAIR

A tree will catch a snapped twig in the
fork of a healthy branch, god forbid it
reach the earth. The twig will balance
there for seasons. It is the same with
me, in the shower, with—what unit? a
handful?—a violence of curls, several
ounces of dull hair in my fists (horror
of lifting one’s own limb, horror of
autonomous weight). I do a terrible
math: what fraction of the whole? A
strand on the tweed coat of a lover
is romantic. I am not talking about
that, nor the common imposition
of a choked drain. I am telling you
about the tree that collects its ejected
parts, the tree that postures for
passersby a crooked kind of flowering.

This selection comes from the book, We Ran Rapturous, available from The Atlas Review.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Shannon Sankey is the author of We Ran Rapturous (The Atlas Review, forthcoming 2019). Her poems have appeared at Poets.org, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, the minnesota review, Puerto del Sol, Sugar House Review, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2017 Academy of American Poets Prize and a 2019 SAFTA residency. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, where she was the Whitford Fellow. She is the founder of Stranded Oak Press. www.shannonsankey.com / @shansankey

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. Twitter handle is @shansankey

 

Summer 2020 Poetry Writing Retreat

Sundress Academy for the Arts Announces
2020 Summer Poetry Writing Retreat

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is thrilled to announce its Summer Poetry Writing Retreat, which runs from Friday, May 29th to Sunday, May 31st, 2020.  The three-day, two-night camping retreat will be held at SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee. All SAFTA retreats focus on generative poetry writing, and this year’s poetry retreat will also include break-out sessions on: writing about writing the self; kicking writer’s block; publishing; and more.

A weekend pass includes one-on-one and group instruction, writing supplies, food, drinks, transportation to and from the airport, and all on-site amenities for $250.  Tents, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment are available to rent for $25. Payment plans are available if you reserve by March 31, 2020.

The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented, published poets from around the country, including workshop leaders Amorak Huey and Hali F. Sofala-Jones.

Amorak Huey is author of the poetry collections Dad Jokes from Late in the Patriarchy (Sundress, forthcoming in 2021), Boom Box (Sundress, 2019), Seducing the Asparagus Queen (Cloudbank, 2018), and Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015), as well as the chapbooks The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014) and A Map of the Farm Three Miles from the End of Happy Hollow Road (Porkbelly, 2016). A 2017 NEA Fellowship recipient, he is co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of the textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. 

Hali F. Sofala-Jones is a Samoan American writer. Her debut poetry collection, Afakasi | Half-Caste, was published in March 2019 from Sundress Publications. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her poems appear in Nimrod International Journal, The Bitter Oleander, CALYX, Blue Mesa ReviewThe Missouri Review, and her poem “Fractured” was featured in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series in October 2019. She is the recipient of the Vreeland Prize in poetry, two Academy of American Poets prizes, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and several other honors and awards. 

We have one full scholarship available for the retreat as well as limited 20% scholarships for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, send a packet of no more than (8) pages of poetry along with a brief statement on why you would like to attend this workshop to Erin Elizabeth Smith at erin@sundresspublications.com no later than March 15, 2020. Winners will be announced in early April.

Space at this workshop is limited to 14 writers, so reserve your place today. 

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All are guided by experienced, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee. 

The Wardrobe's Best Dressed: We Ran Rapturous by Shannon Sankey

BOWEL REST

At once I am slack-jawed and suckling,
soft-toothed and dumb-tongued, gnawing at nothing.

I draw liquid protein through a plastic straw,
sick of my own sounds in a house with no days.

My mother ransacks the kitchen of still-good boxes and bags,
stacks cans on the countertops, steals away every stale thing,

and I open the refrigerator door just to stand
in the bleached-blue, brilliant, annihilating light.

This selection comes from the book, We Ran Rapturous, available from The Atlas Review.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Shannon Sankey is the author of We Ran Rapturous (The Atlas Review, forthcoming 2019). Her poems have appeared at Poets.org, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, the minnesota review, Puerto del Sol, Sugar House Review, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2017 Academy of American Poets Prize and a 2019 SAFTA residency. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, where she was the Whitford Fellow. She is the founder of Stranded Oak Press. www.shannonsankey.com / @shansankey

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. Twitter handle is @shansankey