What’s the Buzz:
I’m humbled and honored to say that guest judge Robert Olen Butler selected my story, “Before She Was a Memory I Remember,” for inclusion in Queen Ferry Press‘s The Best Small Fictions of 2015. The story originally appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and if you’d like to visit it before it moves house to the anthology, you can find it here. I’m sending my gratitude to Butler, and to Tara Masih, the series editor, and to Randall Brown, who gave the story a place to stay.
My essay, “Counting the Lovelies,” is now accepting visitors over at Tupelo Quarterly. I’m proud to announce that it was a finalist for the TQ6 Prose Open Contest. I often talk to my students about “break-through essays” (and poems and stories and everything that stands between the lines of genres), pieces in which their writing breaks through to another level and becomes new. “Counting the Lovelies” is definitely my break-through essay: with it, I finally found the courage to write all of the things I’d been terrified to write — and all of the things that terrify me. I’m grateful to the good people at Tupelo Quarterly for giving this essay a home.
10 February 2015
I’m thrilled-beyond-thrilled, humbled-beyond-humbled, and still in a state of disbelief-beyond-disbelief to say that Sherman Alexie chose my poem, “House Is An Enigma,” originally published in Conduit magazine, for Best American Poetry 2015. You can read more about this on my blog, and you can order the issue of Conduit in which my poem appears here.
22 December 2014
The newest issue of Segue is out, and there are some things from me waiting there for you. There’s the title poem from my currently-manuscripting-collection-in-progress, “Because of the House We Have Built for Our Language.” There’s a recording of me reading said poem with a head cold, between cough drops. There’s also a little bit of thinking about poetry and language and OuLiPo and Spanish moss and the time I got in a lot of trouble for telling my mother that “god” spelled backwards is “dog.” And there are all of the other poems and short stories and essays who are excellent company for my words. You can find the issue here, and my page here, and I thank you in advance for the visit.
1 December 2014
This morning marked the beginning of the Delirious Hem Advent Calendar, co-curated by the incredible Jessica Smith and the incredible Susana Gardner, who are as magical as a duo of poetry-powered pegasi (pegasuses? I’m going with pegasi). This year, the poems are in response to a call for poems about the rape culture so terrifyingly prevalent on college campuses. I’m proud to say that my poem appeared today because I am proud beyond proud to be part of this important — as in, vitally important and necessary — project. Before I offer the link, I want to offer some reading material to show just how and why this is important, vital, and necessary. Smith and Gardner conceived this year’s project after this Rolling Stone article about rape at UVA shattered the structures of silence that institutions and the people who build them have raised around the subject of rape and sexual assault. But it’s also part of an extended conversation about how rape culture extends into and continues under a terrifying silence in other communities, most notably in alt lit — it terrifies me to think that so many communities centered around language, around giving voice to our lives, are also centered around silence and threats against language that speaks openly about rape and sexual assault. On Delirious Hem, you’ll find a series of links to articles about rape culture in alt lit, which are terrifying and chilling. You can find my poem here, and I hope you’ll return to Delirious Hem for all twenty-five voices speaking out against violence.
25 November 2014:
I’ve got a short-short story, “Before She Was A Memory I Remember,” up at Matter Press’ Journal of Compressed Creative Arts about a mother’s grief and the ways that life can, so quickly, disappear — and the way our narratives change after our deaths. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find the word “DECOMPRESS” and my artist’s statement, which I’m also posting here as a preview:
What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Before She Was A Memory I Remember”?
I confess: my memory about the genesis of “Before She Was A Memory, I Remember” fails me. I want to say that it is based on a true story, but I’m not entirely sure if that, in itself, is a true story. I want to say that when I was a senior in high school, the local news anchors told the citizens of Birmingham, Alabama a story about another high school senior. I want to say she was a pretty cheerleader with a high G.P.A. and high prospects for a scholarship at Auburn University. I want to say she was in a school bus along with her classmates, traveling to a senior trip, perhaps at Oak Mountain State Park. I want to say that she and her classmates felt happy and free and hung their heads out of the window to prove it. I want to say there were trees. I want to say no one expected it. I want to say that we as a city mourned the pretty cheerleader, and learned that we should never trust joy or freedom that much. This story haunted me for years, so much so that I tried – and failed – to find evidence of it online. I asked my parents if they remembered, and neither were sure. I sat down to write a few days later and found my mind circling around the story again: this time, from the direction of memory and how it, too, is untrustworthy because of all of the ways it can fail us.
27 October 2014:
A few months ago, I was shocked, honored, and humbled to find out that my micro-essay, “About My Tenth Year As A Human Being,” was named the winner of the Flash Nonfiction category of the Prime Number Magazine Awards. It’s a piece about those inexplicable spaces in which adulthood and childhood clash, often violently, with each other. In this essay, that clash is physical: it’s about experiencing puberty early. It’s about having to deal with the Kotex transportation question when you’re the only person in your grade allowed to carry a purse because you’re the only person in your grade who has to deal with Kotex transportation. It’s about learning how the human body changes, how it threatens itself and the life you’ve been living as a child, and how I as a child dealt with the fact that I not only was going through puberty, I was going through puberty with a severe case of endometriosis. You can read the essay online here, and stay tuned for more information about Prime Number Magazine Editors’ Selection Volume 4, which will feature the winners of the Prime Number Magazine awards!
20 October 2014:
It was a very good Monday for me, and that’s largely because my poem, “Of Blue Morning,” appeared in Rhino 2014 Issue 1.2. You can catch a glimpse at my happy Monday here!
16 September 2014:
I’m proud, honored, and thrilled to say that my nonfiction chapbook, Geography V, is now available for pre-order, with a release date of October 15th. Geography V is a series of lyric essays examining not only how the relationships human beings build are fractured and fissured by distance, but how, in love, the self is so often distanced from the self. Here’s what people are saying about the book:
Geography V tells a story of the dissolution of love with exquisite, poetic precision. Heartbreaking and eloquent, Emma Bolden writes beautifully and fearlessly about loss of innocence and trust, as well as love, personal authenticity, and resilience.
— Julianna Baggott, author of the Pure trilogy and Lizzie Borden in Love
Bolden is a cartographer of the heart, and Geography V is a roadmap across the interior–of a broken relationship, a complicated past and a woman you can’t help but fall in love with.
— Chantel Acevedo, author of Love and Ghost Letters and A Falling Star
Geography V is a cartographical record of the heart as it goes up in flames. The lyricism and humor are as exquisite and berserk as love itself. I reached the last page and turned promptly back to the first. The words and distances expanded me on the inside. When I read any of Bolden’s work, I forget to eat, to sleep, to get off the plane. After I read her, there is a part of me that hungers, goes sleepless, and never lands. She is one of the finest writers – in any genre – working in America today. Read this – I defy you to be unmoved.
— Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, author of The Man Who Danced with Dolls and the memoir-in-progress The Following Sea Thank you, thank you, and again more thank yous to Teneice Durrant and the good people at Winged City Press for taking such good care of my words. You can order the book from the Winged City Press website.
12 September 2014:
I’m proud to have two poems up at Sequestrum magazine: “Melancholy Between Bedsheets” and “Instructions (as to Winnowing)”
1 September 2014:
It’s a long Labor Day weekend, which means it’s the perfect time to read some short fiction. Luckily, I have just the thing for you: I’m honored to have my short-short story, “Catechism,” in the premiere issue of the Tahoma Literary Review. You can download the PDF here, and you can also order a Kindle version — or a print version! — here. If you’re driving to a bar-b-que, there’s a way to get the story without driving while reading, which is dangerous — you can check out the Tahoma Literary Review‘s SoundCloud page here, and a recording of my reading here.
25 August 2014:
It’s been a good month, to say the least, and I’m incredibly honored, humbled, and proud to announce that my micro-essay, “About My Tenth Year As A Human Being,” was named the winner of the Flash Nonfiction category of the Prime Number Magazine Awards. Judge Dinty Moore writes: “The author tells a complex, compelling coming of age story with humor and surprise primarily though a listing of intimate details. Clever, original, and emotionally-charged, with a distinctive voice.” I’m also excited to say that my short-short story, “Before She Was A Memory I Remember,” was a finalist in the Flash Fiction category. You can learn more about the contest — and Prime Number Magazine! — here.
21 August 2014:
I am proud-beyond-proud, honored-beyond-honored, and humbled-beyond-humbled to announce that my poem, “It was no more predictable,” was chosen as the winner of the Spoon River Poetry Review‘s 2014 Editor’s Prize Contest. This means that I’ll be heading to Blooming, Illinois to read in the Lucia Getsi Reading Series in April of 2015. As an added bonus, my poem “My little apparition, my little ghost” (the title of which actually came from an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories) was chosen as an Honorable Mention. You can find more information about the Prize and the Reading Series on the Spoon River Poetry Review’s website.
13 August 2014:
TURN DOWN FOR WHAT Update: Read Stephen McClurg’s awesomazing (yeah, I just made that word happen) refusal to turn down here! The marvelously amazing Chantel Acevedo and I kicked off our TURN DOWN FOR WHAT Writers Blog tour today. You can find Chantel’s answers here and my answers here. Next week? Another round of shots, of course! At least, metaphorically — from Rachel Hawkins and Stephen McClurg.