Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

February 2016

'You will lose yourself': the rituals of grief in the poetry of Ashaki M. Jackson

The Prairie Schooner Book Prize is now open! In honor of the 2016 Book Prize season, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson will interview authors about the process of constructing a manuscript and bringing it to publication. This week, Katie interviews brilliant poet and Prairie Schooner contributor Ashaki M. Jackson about grief rituals, submission rituals, and her two forthcoming chapbooks.

I Write Sad Things

3:33 Sports Short #12 // Young & Scrappy

by Judy Sobeloff

I accidentally joined the cross country team on my first day of high school, having never run a mile. My new art teacher was the coach, and I happened to be in his office when he was passing out permission slips, which I thought were for art.

My father had died on the last day of school two and a half months before, and I would cry during practice when we did fartlek, or any drills with a funny name. I came in last in one of our first big meets when the other girls I was running with toward the back all cheated by cutting across a field, and I kept going on the course. About half the people who came out for the team quit, a point of pride for those of us who stayed.

My friends and I made t-shirts that said “young and scrappy,” a phrase used to describe our team in the local paper. I got faster and stronger and stopped crying. “See how her body has changed!” my art teacher announced to the class.

3:33 Sports Short #11 // Safe

by Jessica Roeder

The stillness of right field. Bees in the clover, your mitt giving off its companionable calf scent. Talk it up out there. It’s a known fact that you don’t have to talk it up from right field. If you talk it up, no one will hear, or you will seem ambitious, and you would rather do your time in right field than become embroiled anywhere more active. Your knees lock. Your elbows knock. Left-handed batter, and Mr. Gleason gleams an eye, talks it up to you, Look lively, Rowder. One, two, three, she’s out. Mr. Gleason’s daughter is on the mound. You knew you didn’t have to look lively, but you looked it, anyhow.

So much stillness in girls’ little league, socially mandatory in your suburb, so much eye-on-the-ball, so much shouting, so little time learning to do anything. Four years will pass before you walk into the storefront Academy of Movement and Music for your first ballet class and jeté yourself out of right field forever.

3:33 Sports Short #10 // Explain: Fois Gras

by Julia Shipley

Our final 3:33 Sports Short this week is the second part of a Julia Shipley two-peat and the first post to explore the strange barbarism of the eating contest. Thanks for reading, and, I've said it before and I'll say it again, for more great sports writing purchase our Winter Sports Issue for just $9.

It's like le monsieur on Coney Island, scarfing down sixty-two hot dogs in ten minutes, that’s one tube-steak on a bun abducted every six seconds; his body is sobbing them, coughing them down; his fist—a sentry at his lips, keeping the thing he’s shoved in, in; his eyes are squeezed closed as he crams; he nods, almost dancing; his cheeks bulge, he's hunched; he convulses like he's vomiting them, but inwardly; there's no pause, just dog after dog—this is what its like for the goose, who has the benefit of a feeding tube, but who does not choose to feast, and who can not refuse.

3:33 Sports Short #9 // Hustle

by Julia Shipley

Don't be a shrinking violet, her field hockey coach still yelps from the sidelines of her memory. Don’t be… that shout, still chiding her inclination to contract when the world ongoingly asks, insists, demands: expand!

Then, too, she remembers coach’s warm reward for aggression, or, was it only assertion?

Insertion: when she wasn’t shrinking, oh, how she whacked that solid ball—heavy as a lead egg—at the pad-covered goalie, how she rushed toward that shut door of a girl, (Go! Don't be....), how she took her stick and flicked and tucked that stone bolus behind the goalie's squeezed knees. 

Every game, it seemed, was about forcing a protective female to accept something she didn't want, again and again.

3:33 Sports Short #8 // Tribal Bands

by Justin Brouckaert

This Christmas, my parents bought me a watch that tracks steps and monitors heart rate, syncs the data to an app. I trek around my city trying to take pride in stairs climbed, calories burned, badges earned, but usually the numbers feel empty. I feel like I’m posing in a world I don’t belong to—or worse, like I’m pretending to be someone I left behind long ago.

*     *     *

One night during my first winter running seventy miles per week, I found myself at a party in a smoky basement with one good friend and a swarm of strangers.

“This guy,” my friend introduced me, “he loves running. Running is his life.

One man asked why I wore my running watch upside down, the face on my wrist’s underside. I told him it was easier to hit the lap button, a quicker flick to check my pace.

'The strange spinning that is...grief': An interview with Lisa Fay Coutley

The Prairie Schooner Book Prize is now open! In honor of the 2016 Book Prize season, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson will interview authors about the process of constructing a manuscript and bringing it to publication. This week, Katie interviews poet and Prairie Schooner contributor Lisa Fay Coutley about confessional poetry, the public, collective joy of hearing you've won a book prize in an airport, and about her book Errata, which won the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition in 2014.

How many books have you published, and where?

3:33 Sports Short #7 // Drone Dads: Killing It on the Youth Soccer Field

by Jen Karetnick

Forget the clueless but cheerful soccer mom with her SUV hatchback spilling uniforms and her ponytail threaded through her sequined ball cap. We’ve got a more recent phenomenon out on the youth soccer field: the “Drone Dad” (DD).

What’s a DD? He’s the guy who pilots up and down the sidelines, conferencing with his kid at every opportunity. He may or may not know what he’s talking about. He may or may not have played or coached before. But he’s usually countermanding everything the real coach wants the player to do.

Alberta Clipper: 2/16/16: “It’s late, Miss China” by Emmanuel Moses

White Rose Memorial

Winter: Though it is cold and snowy and arguably the worst season of the year (admit it, the elation of sweater weather can only carry you for so long), winter paves the way for new beginnings. In Nebraska, this can be easy to forget. Especially in February, when the winds blister your skin and the slush in the streets is a brownish-black as dark as your soul at 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning when it’s two degrees outside and the doors to your car are frozen shut. On February 16, 1943, the average temperature in Lincoln, Nebraska was 41 degrees. In Munich, Germany the average temperature was slightly less, dipping down into the thirties. But despite these bleak temperatures, the paths for new beginnings were being paved in Germany.

3:33 Sports Short #6 // On Dave Mirra's Death

by Nathan Sindelar

This week's first 3:33 Sports Short is a meditation on the death of BMX superstar Dave Mirra at the age of 41. It comes courtesy of Nathan Sindelar, a current graduate student at Creighton University, and a former Prairie Schooner intern. The internship program is a big part of the work we do here at Prairie Schooner. We're lucky to get a new crop of talented young people to help out every semester, and we're excited to see what interesting directions their lives will take them. Very happy to be publishing Nathan today. If you want to read more great sports writing, become a subscriber, and we'll mail you our Winter Sports Issue. We're running a belated Valentine's Day special this week. Four issues for $25, and each subscription includes a handwritten Valentine from someone on our staff. Click here to subscribe.