Survival Diaries

When was the apocalypse actually here? Was it the 2nd of April, where the whole world had more than a million people with the virus? Was it the 26th of March, when the United States had the highest amount of confirmed cases?

Or was it the 21st of January, when the novel coronavirus was found in the United States?

In late 2019, the atmosphere in this nation was already incredibly sombre. Despite the pleas from teenage climate activists to take immediate action to restrict the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius, their cries were disregarded.

Wildfires were becoming an annual occurrence in the West. Additionally, far-right nationalist groups were proliferating rapidly. President Trump was running for reelection, and the expected Democratic nominee was a futile effort to go back to a past that never really existed.

When the virus arrived in the US, the issues that were once on the sidelines became more widespread. Governmental representatives spread falsehoods in their press conferences, and many people who heard them paid for it with their lives.

One-fourth of employed individuals in the country experienced job losses or partial unemployment, while Jeff Bezos added to his immense wealth.

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade and other people of colour were killed, and the police used force to quell the protests that followed. Conversations about climate change all but ceased.

The world was on the brink of a new order. For some of us, however, the end of the world had already arrived; whether it was in 1619 or 1492, life had continued.

Realising the risks associated with inhabiting the same space as other people, the pandemic was a reminder of how our bodies and those of others are intertwined and how harm to one can easily spill over onto another.

We were made to understand how our lives were connected to our families, acquaintances, and unfamiliar people who were also exposed to the same danger. However, for those who held fast to the American ethos of self-reliance, the pandemic was an obstacle: how to protect the boundaries of the individual.

After all, it is a competition to survive, which is depicted in movies as a solitary endeavour. To make it through 2020, all one needs is a Zoom account, a workout plan, access to consumer goods, and a gun.

That would be nice if it were that easy! As the authors express, survival is a group effort that necessitates continual upkeep. It’s a process of healing and daily prayer. There’s no guarantee of success, but neither is failure an inevitable result.

Out of a bleak landscape, fresh approaches to life can emerge. To reach this, we need to use the same tactics we’ve been relying on to get through the never-ending volatility of life.

Camille Bromley is the name that comes to mind when discussing excellence in the field.

A GIF depicting Tommy Pico can be seen, the image measuring at 1536×366 in size.

I mentioned to Max on Houseparty that I had initiated a new project, showing him the enormous container of protein powder that I had bought in case there was a meat shortage.

On YouTube, I would do various exercises, like Tracy Anderson’s or BodyFit by Amy, or HASfit, MadFit, or the one with the two-pound weights. During Zoom therapy, I asked Dr. John why I felt anxious when I was still, in bed, or trying to read.

He replied that it was because of the pandemic, and that the instinct to flee is strong when we feel endangered. On FaceTime, Jenny said she had been using Pedialyte bottles as weights, and Tazbah informed us in the Houseparty Dolls group that she had been using an app called Workout for Women.

Marcos jokingly said his double chin was getting a double chin even though he didn’t have one. The label on the protein powder said to mix it into a drink, but I assumed they didn’t mean Black Cherry White Claw.

Dr. John told me that my two brains weren’t working together, and so I decided to try the Bowflex Six-Minute Standing Ab Workout. I shared this with Niqui and Cat during our FaceTime art accountability call, and I asked my “Food 4 Thot ” group chat if the girls were mixing protein powder with Diet Coke.

Dr. John reminded me that fifteen years ago, I was a gay rez kid in a racist and homophobic high school far from home, and in six months I had gone from 230 pounds to 140.

Cat said she was doing CrossFit through Plush Fitness, and I went to the “Team Mashallah Poetry Eid” Zoom reading with my friends where we all got emotional.

I suspected I had the virus when I felt an ache in my shoulder, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it was from working out. I attempted to use the CBD muscle rub Morgan had given me for my “sex injuries”, and Morgan texted me that quarantine might be best.

I saw Chantal strength training, and Joe had a funny term for going for a run. I made a standing desk and Sarah declared me her new queen. Max had been running in the middle of the street because there were no cars, and I met with Fati, SA, and Morgan in Morgan’s yard, which was our pod.

I no longer wanted to vanish, and I comprehended that I had learned to nourish my body instead of depriving it. It took me three listens of “Control” by Janet Jackson to walk to Morgan’s house.

I closed my eyes in the shade and enjoyed the breeze, and I realised that in the absence of control, I was taking control of the one thing I had authority over.

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is the author of IRL, Nature Poem, Junk, Feed and a variety of witty tweets, like “sitting on the cock of the gay.” Initially from the Kumeyaay Nation’s Viejas Indian reservation, he now divides his time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

He is one of the co-curators of the Poets with Attitude reading series, a co-host of both Food 4 Thot and Scream, Queen! podcasts, and a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

When I attempted to remember the difficult predicaments I had to struggle through alone, with no assistance from community or solidarity, my mind was blank. However, this blankness could be seen as evidence of my perseverance – I had moved forward.

I often attempt to use thought as a way to separate myself from the pain or the feeling of powerlessness that would otherwise immobilise me, so I can look at the issue from another perspective. Before the hurt consumes all my energy, I try to transform it into meaningful contemplation.

Although this is a sort of poetics, it occurs automatically, and I don’t always maintain control over it, which sometimes causes me to become disassociated. This alone is not enough; it is merely the beginning of a way out.

It is essential to get rid of the outdated idea of thought and feeling being separate, and instead find emotion through thought or thought through emotion, based on which one is more immediate. Only then can action be taken.

When I was about to turn thirteen, my family discovered I had severe scoliosis. This was a result of a car accident we had years prior where I suffered fractures of my left femur. My spine had been forced to curve into a sideways S to compensate for the difference in leg length.

To avoid surgery, I had to wear a back brace for a few years during middle and high school. I had to wear bulky clothing to cover up the contraption and made me look like David Byrne in Stop Making Sense, which was a fashion trend at the time.

Other people were trying to fit into Jordache jeans, while I was trying to fit a wedge into my left shoe to make up for the difference in leg length. This experience has become central to my self-conception and it has become a survival mechanism.

My neck was held in place by a visible stainless steel collar, and while I felt awkward wearing it, I soon discovered that being a nonconformist could be incredibly freeing. Prior to this, I had been a “good girl” – doing what I was told, being obedient and responsible.

However, after the 1985 earthquake, I began to see the artificiality of the Mexican middle-class, and the corruption of its political and economic elites. This made it increasingly important for me to align myself with those who were seen as lesser by the dominant culture.

I began to admire the rebellious and independent women, the activists, and the anti-imperialist singers, artists, and poets that gathered in Plaza de Coyoacan.

The brace acted as a reminder of my identity as the daughter of a white, Connecticut-born mother and a Mexican father, and that I would never be able to fit in with the normalcy of the majority.

At seventeen, I was told that my crooked back had been corrected and I wouldn’t need a brace any longer. Unfortunately, it only took six months for my spine to return to its prior condition. I ended up having the surgery anyway.

It was then that I developed a fondness for the bizarre, both in real life and literature. There are some sorrowful events that even humour cannot alleviate, and this was one of them.

However, I was ultimately free of the brace! If it hadn’t been for the knowledge I gained while wearing it, the brace would have been an utter waste; I discovered that the mind is not like bone, and rigidity can be lethal.

Monica de la Torre is a creator who deals with and between languages. Her latest book is Repetition Nineteen from Nightboat Books, and The Happy End/All Welcome from Ugly Duckling Presse. She is an instructor of poetry at Brooklyn College.

A recent photo-essay of hers is featured in Granta 151: Membranes.

I don’t have a fondness for competitive games, as they bring out the worst in me.

As a fiction writer, I contemplate and imagine ‘what if there was a game called “Emotional Blackmail?”‘ and the cards would have archetypes like “Mother,” “Father,” and “Teacher,” as well as “place” cards like “Alley” or “Public Transportation.” The objective is to tell a story of your related trauma and the other player has to outdo you with their own life story.

Is it alright to lie? Is it possible for a lie to tell the truth? Your group must decide what kind of Americans you are by deciphering this.

Julie was my companion during my first year of college. She had a flair for the theatrical and we shared stories that would surprise and bring us even closer.

On one evening, she suggested that we stay in, drink the special bottle of gin her father had given her, and sit on the pink carpet in her dorm room. While she spoke, I was to draw and erase things in the pile with my finger.

She told of her anguish, linking it to her breakup, her family, and her high school. As I heard her talk of her pain, I remembered how she had been trying on her clothes in the mirror before we began drinking, and how she had been running her hands over each top, not just putting them on.

As she ran her hands over her body and examined her reflection in the mirror, she decided that the sweater didn’t do her any favours and offered it to me. I was delighted to receive it, and it quickly became my nicest sweater.

She came from a family of big Democrats from Dallas and had grown up on the ‘poor side’ of Highland Park, which I had never heard of. After I asked around, I learned that it meant she was incredibly wealthy, though she was ashamed of this.

As she reached the climax of her story, tears began to stream from her eyes. As I listened intently, she was able to work through her emotions.

Tears streamed from her face and the pink carpet behind her was the backdrop. That’s the way the game goes.

Using one’s feelings to manipulate someone into a vulnerable situation–that’s emotional blackmail. It’s like holding a gun to someone’s head with your story–you threaten with your feelings and then take them away when the other person reaches out. My mom was an expert at this.

Thanks to the financial problems caused by my mother and the deep effects of mental illness on my relatives, I have a trove of interesting stories to tell.

For over a decade, me and my spouse, who is a lawyer and I am tenured, have been trying to create a game that would bring us either closer together or make us feel awful. We never could figure out how to incorporate blackmail into it.

We are fortunate as we are able to manage our finances without having to lie by omission. Nonetheless, we always keep in the back of our minds that when the day comes for them to come for the queers, Jews, and bougies, we will be prepared.

Our home is a beautiful sight, and we are taking full advantage of it by SIP-ing our drinks like we were made for it.

I wrote this essay as Pier 1 announced its closure. My spouse and I shared a moment of amusement in our king-size bed with our laptops, looking out the window at the picturesque view. We joked about where people would go for wicker.

This happened to be the anniversary of my mother’s passing, one that was particularly difficult. Mary Szybist has a poem that begins, “My dead mother is more beautiful than yours.” Mary, I love you, and you certainly win in beauty. But my dead mother–the stories I could tell–it was a hell of a death.

Staying Alive: Reach out to a friend. Appreciate a flower. Plant something. Take a walk in the woods. Cuddle a dog or cat. Do some exercise. Meditate. Make healthy dietary choices. Get some rest. If you need a pill to be able to sleep, get one and use it.

Volunteer. Be kind to others. Utilise your existing health plan to access excellent mental and physical health care, and don’t be afraid to pay for it. Smoke marijuana or follow the 12-step program. Read the Frog and Toad books from your childhood.

Go around your house and take a look at the things you’ve known for years. Binge watch five seasons of Naked and Afraid. Write an essay about the show. Or don’t, but know that if you did, people would definitely read it.

Keep watching more episodes while doing housework, and simultaneously balancing your laptop on your palm.

Write an essay about using the nonhuman as a mental refuge. Write about coming from a long family line. Write about sages and what knowledge they have. Write about money and the time someone you care about deeply, who has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, decided to stay medicated.

When you asked why, their response was: “Not because of the last hospital, it was because of money.” Talk about seclusion and how writing is a type of aloneness. Write about your mother’s death and the struggles she faced.

Speak to two people you cherish dearly and tell them everything that occurred during her passing, like writing in the sand.

I once wrote a story about an imaginary card game that I never finished imagining. I have a friend named Julie, who is distinct from another Julie, who happens to be my college classmate. Recently, I attended my friend’s virtual class, REL 361: The End of the World: Apocalyptic Arguments from Antiquity to the Present Day.

I noticed the students were amazed by the new facts they were learning about their bodies and the arguments that were being discussed in real and virtual space. I then said that I believed I wrote fiction in the same way they practised their faith.

This faith was something they could turn to for solace, even when they weren’t sure why they believed in it. It brought them joy and was very private, yet also connected them to something greater. They worked hard on their relationship with faith, knowing that others may question its value.

However, it was something they just had and practised, not necessarily something to be solved, but rather something to be. Faith wasn’t something that needed to make sense, it was simply something they had.

Stress is something that is pervasive in our nation, and fiction is no exception. We are appalled and transfixed when we witness the reality of discourse crumbling away, but we must also observe how those in authority are utilising fiction and the effect it has.

They are inventing things that are detrimental to society, resulting in a dictatorial control of the narrative.

No matter how many years I have been writing stories, I cannot comprehend why anyone would be able to stay alive without creating art. I try to make the characters in my stories as real as possible, even though I am not like them, yet I still cannot figure out why people who don’t make art can persist.

I agree that rioting is necessary, so why am I not part of it? I have faith in fiction rather than essays, yet what am I doing right now?

Awarded with an American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, Lucy Corin is the author of four books of fiction, including One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (McSweeney’s) and the upcoming novel The Swank Hotel (Graywolf Press, 2021).

Corin resides in Berkeley, California and is also a professor at UC Davis.

We lived in a van during my teenage years, and all I remember is the cold in my socks and the sound of the rain on the roof like heartbeats. I used to sit in the passenger seat and do my maths homework in the light from the streetlamp, because I loved the certainty and clarity of the subject.

Looking through the window, I could see the light from someone’s warm home and felt a closeness with them, even though we were a few feet away.

I was born in a refugee camp, barely weighing two pounds, and my family only wanted the smallest and simplest of things – a place to call home. This want felt radical and big, and made us brave and determined. Even after I had lost a lot of things in my life, I still had that want.

I worked a night-shift job, counting bags of cash, and my coworkers were kind enough to share their lunch with me. Even though I can’t remember the sadness of that time, I know that I have a heart that wants, and it beats against everything.

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the creator of four poetry volumes. Her first compilation of stories is How to Pronounce Knife (Little, Brown and Company, 2020). Her works have been bestowed the O.

Henry Award and have been published in Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, Granta, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and The O. Henry Prize Stories 2019.

A video of a twister from yesterday in Kansas is being played on repeat. As the vehicle draws near, the tornado’s funnel can be seen spiralling up and releasing a dusty cloud. Suddenly, a voice cries out, “We’re too close!” and the right side mirror snaps off.

The tornado then slowly moves and halts across the road. The camera is mesmerised, as the lightning illuminates a crimson hue to the tornado.

Rene Leriche, the author of The Surgery of Pain, likened the overwhelming nature of pain to a storm. He noted that “when pain is present, the patient is consumed by it, unable to reflect upon it, unless they focus all of their attention on their suffering.”

The only solution.

Presently my head aches. It is a persistent sort of soreness. It prickles. My chest moves slowly, the air in it circulating counterclockwise. The feeling is that of an abandoned area, the copper stolen from it. I long to see it.

I desire to keep the feeling in front of me as if I am taking a video of a tornado on a meadow in front of me. I strongly desire to be kind to my body.

My mother, grandmother, and I all share a genetic condition that influences our collagen and joints. Our spines bend and we often feel lightheaded. I feel as if I’m constantly being pierced by a steel barb, extending from the base of my foot to the top of my head.

My eyes seem to be weighed down and I can barely stay awake. Joints are overly flexible, my vertebrae appear to be weak, and my cervical spine is unstable. My neck can’t support my head and even simple movements can lead to a lack of blood flow to my brain.

Kat Stramara, a chronic pain specialist I watched on YouTube, explains that she came into the world suffering. She states, “There were some issues with my bones which I had since birth, and I never realised my condition was not normal until much later in life.”

It took me many years, much like Stramara, before I understood that what I had always assumed to be “body” and “alive” was actually what other people term “pain”. I was completely unaware of this.

There are various stories of pain from people who have gone through life before and after they felt pain. These stories are of lives that have been divided in two. What I am attempting to find is not a story of somebody who learned to live with the pain, but rather a narrative of what it is like to be conscious of it.

My friend is a self-proclaimed hypochondriac who tends to react in a very dramatic way when she hurts herself, like screaming. My response is usually a fatherly one, where I express concern and then suggest something that will make her forget her pain.

My stepdad used to do something similar when we were kids; he’d take one of our fingers and pretend to break it – all the while saying that it was all in good fun until someone lost an eye – and we would all smile in spite of the situation because of his soft delivery.

In his book The Culture of Pain, David B. Morris proposes that it is typically easy to speak at length and in great detail about topics we are passionate about, in contrast to pain, which typically elicits feelings of seclusion and quietude.

According to Morris, pain is “the expression of an otherness so foreign, we lack the verbal and communicative tools to comprehend it.”

I decided to conduct an experiment and see what would happen if I wrote as if I had an affection for the activity.

When I begin to vomit, it’s like a fire that quickly turns into queasiness and I’m immediately mashed up, almost like I’m between someone’s teeth.

This sensation usually arises when I’m standing too long, in the car too late, or haven’t eaten sufficient food. I actually love it, nevertheless, it’s annoying when I’m in the company of others and can’t let go.

I desire to give up. Before I got intimate, I used to fantasise that the person inserting their fingers inside me would be overwhelmed by the sensation that lurks inside me. I fantasised they would abruptly withdraw their hand, draw their finger into their mouth and collapse onto the ground.

I imagined the experience as an electric shock, followed by warmth.

I constantly ponder the thought of having someone inside of me. This is what I desire.

I’m not sure what other way there is to express myself.

Emerson Whitney is the writer of Heaven (McSweeney’s, 2020) and Ghost Box (Timeless Infinite Light, 2014). They serve as an instructor in the BFA creative writing program of Goddard College and is also a postdoctoral fellow in gender studies at the University of Southern California.

When you experience a vaginal tear, you not only learn new words like symphysis pubis dysfunction, but also that your pubic bone is actually two bones held together by a cartilage. During childbirth, it can loosen and separate.

You also learn a harsh lesson – that instead of telling yourself “fuck” during labor and your soon-to-be ex-husband “I love you,” you should have been saying the opposite.

You recall the initial pregnancy and childbirth being a breeze. But now, beginning in the sixth month, you have been feeling pain and your physicians tell you it’s nothing to worry about. They ask, “Don’t you remember what it was like the first time?”

You had a straightforward gestation and delivery three years ago with no issues or lacerations. It seemed at the time like your body was designed for birthing and you wanted to experience it again and again.

They assure you that everything is fine, but you don’t feel that way. It’s like having a set of meat scissors cutting into your private parts. One doctor suggests taking small steps, “like a Japanese person”.

Even though she is of Asian descent, you feel their advice is misguided and associating dainty walking and unstable shoes with Japanese culture is wrong.

Nevertheless, you remain silent and comply with their instructions. You sign up for physical therapy and they apply electromagnetic stickers on your backside to test how hard you can Kegel.

They are pleased with the results, which only serves to increase your shame. You don’t want to be strong, you want somebody to be at your side, providing you with sushi and wine.

At the moment of delivery, it feels as though the universe is ripping apart. As the baby girl is being born, a person can feel like they are dying. Everything seems to be breaking — the body, life, marriage, and mental state.

The room appears to be dark and the lights seem to be flashing in the eyes as if they have been taken away, replaced by a white flame in the head. The pain travels through like a god’s burning hand. There is a sensation of being dead.

Then, amazingly, the baby girl cries out her first shout. The eyes come back to life and the mind is filled with love for the husband. “I love you so much,” are the words that come out.

He inquires, “She’s so white. Are you sure she’s mine?” You understand that he is earnest. Compassion forms in you for him.

You have returned from beyond, and he is once again in his meagre abode, a place you two were in when you initially encountered each other. Before you aided him in his “rescue”, his own choice of words. You reply, “She is ours,” and press your lips to his.

The dividing of the symphysis begins a sorrowful process due to the idea that something that was once thought to be unified, like one’s physical form or marriage, has been fragmented.

All things are always made of many components, but when it comes to a breaking point, it cannot be mended. Similarly to a divorce, it remains forever.

When it comes to dealing with a broken vagina from childbirth, one way to move forward is to get pregnant again. You let your OB know that you don’t want to go through with the pregnancy, but you don’t follow through with any medical procedures.

You worry about how this baby will impact your marriage, and your husband is aware of your concerns. He states that if you do not have the baby, it will signify that your marriage is not strong enough.

He doesn’t consider that you have an injury or that you can only take small steps when walking.

You have decided to go through with an elective caesarean, but your friends who have had the same procedure have shared with you the extra precautions you will have to take – walking up stairs may be difficult, and you must be mindful of the sutures, as they may become infected or pop.

Unfortunately, you don’t have anyone to lend a hand – no parents, no siblings, and even your mother-in-law will most likely attend to the newborn, not you. Furthermore, you cannot afford a nurse. Your husband, too, is of no help.

You rally your strength instead of opting for a caesarean. You lift your legs, do push-ups, and go jogging. Although your abdomen is bulky, you sign up for yoga and practice meditation.

You economise on food, reaching out to old female friends as well as making new ones. You chat with your elder children about their impending sibling, displaying images so they can recall that they were once infants too. You seek counselling. You reflect on the possibility of divorce.

When the morning arrives, the anguish is almost unbearable. Your husband inquires what to do, but you don’t know. On the journey to the hospital, you keep the windows open at each contraction, in order to let the chill of the March air caress your face.

At the hospital, they tell you that the epidural is not an option; then another doctor says, “She has symphysis dysfunction. She requires the medicine.” They give you the medicine and you cannot tell if it helps.

You look down on the floor in the delivery room, wondering what you would have to do to knock yourself out. The pain is excruciating, like someone near death, but not near enough. Your husband is there, quieter than he was for the previous two births. You cry, plead, and take deep breaths. You feel the split.

It takes months of practice, but eventually you learn to walk again, even in heels. You don these shoes when you go to talk to your divorce lawyers. As you work on regaining your stride, your baby is learning to communicate, move around, and swim.

It is said that the ancient way to learn how to swim was to go so deep into the water that the only choices were to either swim or not. You can do it! I will tell my child that someday. Or someone might have said the same words to me a long time ago.

In any case, we will understand that swimming is a way to say, Do not die. Or it might be without words, just the baby pushing through the water with her arms.

Tiphanie Yanique, hailing from the Virgin Islands, is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University.

She has earned numerous awards, such as the 2016 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for her poetry collection Wife, the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction for her novel Land of Love and Drownin_g, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright scholarship, and an Academy of American Poets Prize.

 Her story collection, _How to Escape from a Leper Colony, even earned her a listing as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.”

Living exclusively in Florida, I have spent the majority of my life in Orlando. The humidity is a tangible presence which permeates the atmosphere and instantly soaks any exposed skin. Even indoors, the dampness is palpable, as evidenced by the musty odours that linger in carpets and the rainwater intruding through the roof.

It’s almost as if the boundary between outdoors and indoors is blurred, so much so that you can’t help but feel as though your body and home are part of the swampland.

This locale is one that forces its existence on you. There’s an abundance of commerce and consumerism. The climate is extreme. The vegetation is perilous. The insects are so pervasive that you can even find them in your beverage. There are simply too many bugs.

Staying has never been a thought of mine. I often voice that if I were to take away the Florida element from my stories, they wouldn’t be the same. I would not want the narrative to look similar, it would turn out to be completely different stories.

In Florida, there is a unique abundance of palm trees. Everywhere you go, from the highways to the yards, you can find tall and squat palms. This type of vegetation thrives in the oppressive heat, and is a strong symbol of the state.

The inside of a palm tree is a bustling ecosystem, full of life and death. Every palm can house thousands of organisms, from insects, birds, reptiles, and fungi to small scurrying creatures. The tree may provide a nesting place for birds, a meal for a snake, and a home for a raccoon.

Even the decaying remains of the tree become a new habitat for different species, like the gopher tortoise and the snake. So, the next time you see a solitary palm, remember the many creatures it shelters within its branches.

As of late, when I drive past the palms on the highway, I have been questioning the aspects of Florida that I no longer get to observe. I am the third generation of a Floridian family.

My grandparents and parents were born in Central Florida and a majority of my relatives still live there. I am not in contact with these people, yet we continue to inhabit the same environment. We drive on the same roads lined with palms. We frequent the same restaurants.

We swat away the same mosquitoes from our arms that are marked with freckles and have the same muscle structure and skin colour. I am starting to comprehend that when I say I cannot detach myself from the state I adore, I mean I am unable to detach myself from the state I was born into.

Florida has a strong hold on me. It is life and death; I am a part of it and so are the other inhabitants. I have learned to accept the good and bad within it and keep it close to my heart, like a bird within the shelter of a palm tree.

The New York Times best-selling author Kristen Arnett is the writer of the debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House) which made the paper’s 2019 Top Books list.

Her short story collection Felt in the Jaw was released through Split/Lip Press and was given the 2017 Coil Book Award. For the spring of 2020, she is a Shearing Fellow at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute of the University of Nevada.

Riverhead Books will be publishing her upcoming two books, a novel called Samson and a short-story collection titled With Foxes. Kristen can be found on Twitter @Kristen_Arnett.

Our writing staff is varied and passionate about arts, literature, film, travel, music, and entertainment.

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