#02: Fry Me Some Pork Chops and Forgive My Sins

I’ve been covering myself in butter. Taking sticks of dairy and smearing them like sunscreen. Those hungry flies will come after me. Sooner or later. I’ve never learned how to say I love you.

— Catie Wiley, “SINGLEHANDEDLY KEEPING THE BUTTER INDUSTRY ALIVE WITH MY LOVESICKNESS,” HAD.

I’m still thinking of an interview Chris Gibson gave to ABC’s Conversations regarding his book The Guitar: Tracing the Grain Back To The Tree, which chronicles the attempt to link every guitar in the world with their tree of origin. I’m thinking of how tangible something like a guitar is — not only as an object, but as a sound — and how making a guitar out of something other than a tree feels as communities in the Global North begin to emerge from a pandemic that required a whole-of-society response — and what something like that means as we enter into the Climate Era. If a guitar partly sounds the way it sounds because the noise it makes resonates through the entirety of the wood of the object, what happens when the material components change?

It put me in mind of what John Cage wrote in ‘The Future of Music: Credo’ — namely, that …

what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour. Static between the stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments. 

I want to hold something that contains the kind of sounds described by Cage. I want to hear the sound of a tree that has grown above capital’s reach, if only — if only — to keep Joe Weistenthal from tweeting about lumber futures once again. I want to take courage from the fact that guitars in Portugal were made with the same wood used to rebuild Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake and that the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains were chopped down to rebuild San Francisco twice before Richard Powers visited them and began thinking about his novel The Overstory.

But I don’t want hope, an acceptance of the transience of things, or a wide lens to be conflated with action.

what I wouldn’t give                  to be baroque

to swim good                to sink
my teeth in something less       like brine and more

like candied ginger. (“MORNING SEX BUT I’M THINKING ABOUT NIGHTS BY FRANK OCEAN,” McCaela Prentice, HAD.)

ON BUFFALO BUFFALO BUFFALO THIS WEEK: a poem from Tatiana Johnson-Boria. A story from Gabrielle Griffis. A craft lecture from Melissa Goodrich. A podcast featuring Lily MacHugh and a chat with Jared McCormack of MFA Writers Podcast. (There’s also a lot more, too, including a reading from Nikki Giovanni that lands like a benediction, a group conversation regarding writing in Latin America today, and more.)

The second time I found Jesus my whole world had shrunk to the size of a porta potty—and I’m not talking about the shitty kind, the ones on the side of the road—I’m talking about the kind you find at the Boston Marathon, the kind that has several toilet holes lining the walls with washing stations nearby, and no, there wasn’t anyone else in there with me …” (Jace Einfeldt, “Reggie Miller, Lord of Lords,” Words & Sports Quarterly)

ELSEWHERE: the first issue of Words & Sports is live!!!! It’s really good!!!! Don’t just read the excerpt above!!!! Go take a look at the whole thing!!!! (And, don’t worry: we’ll be sure to talk to some of the writers featured in the coming weeks.)

OPPORTUNITIES/OF NOTE:

  1. From June 29th to July 20th, Soft Skull Press is accepting unagented submissions of complete manuscripts.”

  2. The Boston Public Library is seeking a Writer-in-Residence! Applications are due tomorrow, July 6th.

  3. Announcing the Second Annual Boston in 100 Words Flash Fiction Writing Contest! Submit your original stories of 100 words or fewer between May 19-July 14, 2021. Winners will be announced in October.”

  4. To celebrate two decades of publishing books for changing the world, we're offering 40% Off ALL Haymarket Books.”

  5. The International Writers’ Workshop (IWW) 國際作家工作坊 at Hong Kong Baptist University 香港浸會大學 is inviting writers from all over the world to apply for its 4-week residency.

A SECOND JOHN PRINE SONG: