Reading tonight with Julie Carr at KU

Tonight I will be reading with Julie Carr at 7 pm in the University of Kansas Union, Centennial Room. More details can be found here.



One week left to submit to the 2017 Beecher’s Magazine contest!

There is only a week left to submit your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to the 2017 Beecher’s Magazine contest. Winners will receive $200 and publication in Beecher’s 7, and all entrants will get a copy of the issue when it comes out. See the Beecher’s Submittable page for more details.

Here are this year’s incredible judges:

Joy Castro, nonfiction


Born in Miami, raised in England and West Virginia, and educated in Texas, Joy Castro is the award-winning author of two literary thrillers set in post-Katrina New Orleans, two memoirs, and a collection of short fiction. Editor of the anthology Family Trouble, she lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska.

C. S. Giscombe, poetry

csg on xenia ave 2016

(Photo by Jane Blakelock)

C. S. Giscombe’s poetry books are Prairie StyleGiscome RoadHere, etc.; his book of linked essays (concerning Canada, race, and family) is Into and Out of Dislocation.  His recognitions include the 2010 Stephen Henderson Award, an American Book Award (for Prairie Style) and the Carl Sandburg Prize (for Giscome Road).  Ohio Railroads (a poem in essay form) was published in 2014 and Border Towns (essays on poetry, color, nature, television, etc.) appeared in September 2016.  He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is a long-distance cyclist.

Carmen Maria Machado, fiction


Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2017. She is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Granta, Guernica, Electric Literature, The Paris Review, AGNI, NPR, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books, VICE, and elsewhere. Her stories have been reprinted in Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Best Women’s Erotica.She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her partner.

Twenty Years After the Lights: Aliens, Puberty, Trauma

phoenix lights

On the evening of March 13th, 1997, people all across Arizona reported seeing unusual lights in the sky, an event that would come to be known as the Phoenix Lights. Many witnesses described seeing five lights attached to a giant, V-shaped mass, silently moving over the state. At the time of the Lights, I was an awkward, paranormal-obsessed eleven-year-old girl living in Tucson and trying to come to terms with a quickly maturing body. I was raised in a strict, Catholic household, and my father was obsessive and volatile. It was a period of family trauma, shame, puberty, and UFO mass-hysteria.


My recently completed manuscript, Arizona Lights, tries to put together the pieces of this bizarre and turbulent time by combining poetry, prose, witness testimony, images, and other found and fabricated materials. It is a a sort of conspiracy dossier, its details made even more incomprehensible due to the passage of time. It is about women’s bodies and alien bodies, abduction and dissection, and the things that make us feel otherworldly.

Carl Jung wrote extensively about UFOs, but he was most concerned with the flying saucer. The disc shape, he suggested, is important, in that its mandala-like shape contributes to its connection with religious experience, and the roundness and wholeness of it is symbolic of unity. My manuscript asks what, then, are we to make of the “V”? What is the significance of this severe and angular shape? How does it fit in with my Catholic coming-of-age narrative? Where do women and girls fit into religion and UFO mythology? Where do women and girls fit into our understanding of history and the mysteries of the universe?

Arizona Lights never arrives at any definitive understanding of what happened in 1997–indeed, it questions the existence of an objective reality altogether–but it gestures toward ways of understanding. These explorations in fact and fiction, logic and conspiracy, science and myth, evidence and faith, and the connection of these things to misunderstanding and otherness, feel even more important given our nation’s current political climate and the growing phenomenon of alternative facts. What conditions existed in 1997 that got us to where we are today? Can the Lights help us to understand? What do the Lights, and the controversy they ignited, reveal about us?

My manuscript is currently looking for a home, and I will post an update here should it find one. In the meantime, you can hear me talk more about the project in this radio interview from last year, when the project was still in its early stages.