Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

"Transformation, however limited that transformation may be": An Interview with Monica Youn

by Eric Farwell

Monica Youn is a poet interested in the intersection between the beauty we want in life, and the darkness that often serves as an invisible barrier for it. Youn’s background in law allows her to probe and navigate these gray areas gently, using an economy of language that both cuts to the heart of the matter and reveals nuanced layers of caution, lust, and desperation. Her latest collection, Blackacre, is a masterful effort that examines the similarities between land and the body, estates and flesh, public and personal. In many ways, the collection reads like an act of magic or acrobatics, as Youn shapes lines and establishes unique connections to delicately scrutinize her own struggle with having a child, and how that struggle connects to larger symptoms of life. Extremely self-aware and generous, Youn spoke with me by phone to walk through some of the decisions that went into crafting such a stunning work. - Eric Farwell

"Don't Be Afraid to Kick Teeth In": An interview with Brynne Rebele-Henry

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st. To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process. This week, poet Brynne Rebele-Henry discusses inventing a new language for women's bodies, and her first collection, Fleshgraphsout from Nightboat Books just this week.

1.    How many books have you published, and where?

Fleshgraphs is my first! It’s coming out with Nightboat Books.

3:33 Sports Short #63 // Calvinist Football by Zachary Allard

My father suffers from a rare neurological disorder, and he's in pain every moment of the day. For most of his life, he was a proud working man, collar blue to the skin. He bought used pickups and changed the brakes himself. There were times he worked as many as four jobs. Today, he's on disability, and there's little else he can do than sit in his chair, feeling trapped.

And every Sunday, he watches football. He reads about The Dallas Cowboys during the week. He knows the names of the players and we talk about them when I call home.

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3:33 Sports Short #62 // American Football: The Modern Day Spartan Agōgē by Prewitt Scott-Jackson

Dating back to the 6th century BCE Sparta mandated military training for all males ages 7 and up. Renowned throughout history as the ultimate rite of passage for male youth, the agōgē’s pulse can be found today in the form of American Football.

I know because I lived it, and in Texas no less.

Why can’t we move on from this ancient rite?

The simple answer?

All the powerful countries in the world are dictated by ancient faith(s) and ancient rites; why would this be any different? Evolution has plateaued and the “Me vs. You” instinct has never been more prevalent.

3:33 Sports Short #61 // At Home by Daiva Markelis

I prefer watching baseball on television rather than in the ballpark. I like seeing pitchers talking to themselves (Did he just use the f-word?) and batters high-fiving each other in the dugout. I enjoy observing the distorted faces of managers as they argue with the umps. Most of all I love viewing the players up close: the big-assed batters who look like short-order cooks, the wiry pitchers with Gumby-like arms, the players too short and skinny to succeed in most other sports. They’re clearly athletes, but they look like younger versions of my dad.  Their faces reveal a roiling sea of emotion I don’t often see in men in real life, at least not in the space of two and a half hours: anger, disgust, worry, hope, relief, vulnerability, gratitude, and elation.

3:33 Sports Short #60 // We Ain't Supposed To Play by Lorraine Caputo

I rubbed oil into my new Dave Winfield mitt. Being the youngest of the older four kids in a family that could only afford one worn glove, I finally had my own. For several months, a friend taught me to catch – a skill I never really learned as a kid in our backyard games. Oh, I can smack that ball okay (how many windows we broke!) and I’ve still got a mean pitching arm. But no, I never learned how to catch.

In 1988, I was ready to hit the road for my first trip to Central America, come what will – even a pick-up game with kids. I packed that glove and a new ball into the bottom of my old canvas pack and headed to the bus station. They would provide much fun over the next few months – even playing catch with three Honduran soldiers on the border with Nicaragua.

3:33 Sports Short #59 // Not Supposed to by Micah Ling

You searched “boxing gym with nice showers.” You wanted to learn how to box, but only if you could do it early in the morning and shower before work. You wanted to learn how to box because you’re a woman and you’re not supposed to. You wanted to learn how to box because it’s like dancing but with fire.

This is New York City, so you found your gym. Chelsea. It’s an intimidating room: 40 hanging bags, low light, and loud music.  You signed up for a class, and it’s been your religion ever since.

First you jog a mile, to warm up: you need to run. Your father taught you that.

The class is 45-minutes of sweat. Old-school calisthenics, shadowboxing with hand-wraps, and 7 rounds on the heavy-bags with gloves. You learn the difference between speed and strength. And the exact length of a single minute.

"Imagining a more just and peaceful world": the poetry of Irène Mathieu

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st! To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process.

3:33 Sports Short #58 // Learning to Fall by Jennifer McGuiggan

We started my very first practice with a falling drill. Knowing how to fall correctly is a key part of roller derby. It's not that you want to fall, but you have to accept that it's going to happen, and you need to know how to do it as safely and painlessly as possible. Plus—and this is the real kicker—you need to not fear it. This mental aspect is much harder to master than the physical aspects of falling safely.

Strap eight wheels onto your feet, and everything in your body and mind screams at you: No! For the love of your beautiful bones, don't fall! You must overcome this. You have to trust that all of this gear you're wearing will protect if you just follow the instructions of how to move your body.

3:33 Sports Short #57 // Translations by Gabrielle Bellot

When I rode a skateboard, hope seemed to live all around me, seemed to twinkle in my hair like fireflies. I was younger back then, and I had not as yet released the woman inside me, the girl I had long known I was but had felt I must deny to live, but I still existed in a world of pure hope, sometimes, when I got on my board. I would find a deserted place on my college campus in the United States, a sea from my home in the Caribbean where I had grown up hearing that skateboards were ‘for white boys,’ and I would try to become a ballerina of the pavement. I could hardly even ollie, the most basic trick in street skating, but what I wanted more than anything was to be able to freestyle on the board like Rodney Mullen. It seemed beautiful, the lyrical-made-physical, to do the strange tricks my friends who skated did not think to attempt, the primos, truckstands, walk-the-dogs, manuals.

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