SALAAM BY ALISON GRIFA ISMAILI 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 20
The morning light in her friend’s apartment was unreal and heavy like static snow on the television. Mercy watched smoke escape from the bright red rhombus of Waka’s lips, and for the first time, the impossibility of her own love story smacked her in the face. In her mind’s eye, Mercy recognized herself sitting across the greasy matchstick table, telling her story to her fumbling thumbs while dodging the skepticism in Waka’s eyes. She heard her own voice lilting and tumbling as in a little girl’s jump-rope song. She could see from the studious scowl of Waka’s face that her words sounded flimsy and nonsensical. So she talked faster, in hopes that velocity might somehow be mistaken for logic and articulateness.
“Yeah, but Mercy,” Waka interrupted, “he lives on the other side of the ocean.”
1,000 JUDGMENTS BY COLLINS I AKI 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 20
When I was very young, my parents hired an elderly man to paint the tall ceiling in the entryway to our house. At that time in my life, I approached every grownup I met with the same relentless question, “Will you tell me a story?” And every time, this request was met with a pat on the head or some mundane tale of losing their car keys. To my surprise, the old man painting our foyer was the only one who ever got the gist of my request—to make up a story on the spot and transport me somewhere I’d never been before. He climbed down from his ladder and sat with me on the top stair, and began spinning the most exciting tale of a sailor in the Aegean sea—thus launching my lifelong journey as a fiction writer. I am a writer and musician living in Northern California. My most recent novel, The Ghost of Mary Prairie, was published in 2007, and a collection of short mystery fiction, Escape, was published in 2010. lisapolisar.com
I am the author of the novel Shimmer, an IndieNext Pick from Unbridled Books, and my dark story—but not particularly mysterious—Something Pretty, Something Beautiful was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2011. I have had more than twenty short stories published in journals such as The Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Raritan , and North Atlantic Review.
ALISON GRIFA ISMAILI
I am a proud native of New Jersey, which I affectionately call The Dirty Jerz. I have spent most of my life teaching English in faraway places like Managua, Guayaquil, Rabat, the Bronx, and most recently Baton Rouge. I am the winner of the 2012 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition in the short story category. Some of my work has been published in 10,000 Tons of Black Ink and Dos Passos Review.
TIMEA KINGA SZÜCS
My grandfather was the town’s photographer and I inherited his passion for this art form, though, I must add, later than expected. I have these fragments of memories of when he was trying to explain to me—a 10-year-old—about exposure, focusing, and all these strange terms I had no interest in, while he was holding his Zenit camera with pride, or when he was developing the films and making blank paper gradually come to life. To him, an automatic camera was unworthy and a waste of effort and lack of quality and beauty, while to me, it was the quickest and easiest way to capture something, well, actually anything, by pressing a single button. Then at the age of 18 I finally saved enough money for a digital camera and I started to experiment with its manual settings. Since then, I have been constantly in search of new subjects, ideas, and challenges. timeasbits.tk
I graduated with an MFA from American University in 2008. My work has appeared in Printer’s Devil Review, decomP, and Prick of the Spindle, among others. In addition to teaching composition and literature classes at Wor-Wic Community College, I am also the co-faculty editor of Echoes and Visions, our student literary publication. melissareddish.com
COLLINS I AKI
It was in a boring English Lit class when I first encountered Francis Bacon’s words, “I have taken all knowledge to be my province.” At that moment, I was convinced I had found my raison d’etre for taking up pen and pad. My concern wasn’t all of knowledge, like Bacon, but all of humanity and the way it expressed itself culturally. I found all of our cultural gestures and significations interrelated, our differences as only variations (not violations) of one great pot of human creativity, and therefore every location for cultural contribution exceedingly fascinating. I wanted to take all of our cultural gestures as “my province”. boonation.com
To quote Wallace Stevens: “…what makes the poet a potent figure… is that he creates the world to which we turn incessantly without knowing it and that he gives to life the supreme fictions without which we are unable to conceive of it.” Simply put, I write poetry the way it was meant to be written and not tedious journal entries. My dream is to be the next Ernest Hemingway: writing masterpieces, traveling around Europe, attending bull fights, and spending my evenings in a Parisian bar surrounded by beautiful women. I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I’m working on my first novel.
I remember my father’s look when I announced that I was leaving my cushy airline pilot gig to go write country music. He had that “we were just starting to think you were normal” twist to his face. Then I said: Nashville’s the place I need to be. So here we are, in Music City USA. My wife Karen and I like to tell people we’ve been here since the turn of the century. I spent the last decade churning out perfectly crafted 3:30 songs. I was having the time of my life living the artist’s dream. Co-writing is an absolute blast and I managed to get a few minor song cuts along the way but deep down I knew that most of my stuff was completely devoid of anything real. I can’t imagine daVinci co-painting the Mona Lisa. That’s when I discovered poetry. A good poem can pack the same wallop as a great song only you don’t have the advantage of creating mood through music. Cloud10music@bellsouth.net
I am the author of Walter Falls, The Weight of Nothing, Giraffes, Temporary People, and most recently The Law Of Strings, and The Consequence of Skating which won the 2010 Silver Medal for Literary Fiction in the IPPY Awards. I am a member of the Ann Arbor Book Festival Board of Directors, and the founder of 826michigan and publisher and co-founder of Dzanc Books. firstname.lastname@example.org