On Dorthe Nors’s “Karate Chop”

APS Classic Daniel Woodrell October 22, 2014

To read a Dorthe Nors story is to enter a dream and become subject to its logic. Though her voice is subtly modulated, even cool, cerebral, you immediately feel pulled into a consciousness that is somehow off-kilter and quietly, darkly disturbed. Sometimes her characters seem merely odd, but somewhere along the way the merely is lost and the odd quality becomes stunningly human. Her wonderful collection, Karate Chop, is an exemplar of this compact artistry. You pass through her narrative,...

On Robyn Schiff’s “De La Rue’s Envelope Machine”

APS Classic Patricia Lockwood September 15, 2014

I'll read any poem about a machine. I honestly would read a poem about a toaster, or an ATM, or Rosie from The Jetsons. A poem about the first machine that folded envelopes? Why not just put a chocolate bonbon directly into my mouth; it is so completely my weakness. How does Robyn Schiff know me so well?

The first thing I do, of course, is look up what the hell any of this is—and I find the Wikipedia entry to be a stunning verbal innovation. Listen:

The "envelopes" produced by the Hill/De...

The 2015 APS Emerging Writer Fellowships

News September 15, 2014

We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for ​the 2015 Emerging Writer ​F​ellowships. Under this project, three emerging writers will ​be selected for six-month fellowships, which will include:

– A ​mentorship from an established author who has previously contributed to A Public Space;
– Publication in the magazine;
– ​A contributor's payment of $1,000;
– ​Free workspace in our Brooklyn offices​ (optional)​.

Please note that applicants from all...

Deborah S. Pease (1943-2014)

Memo August 18, 2014

Deborah Pease was a dear friend, devoted reader, and founding benefactor of A Public Space. She was the author of the novel Real Life (W. W. Norton), and several books of poems, collected in Another Ghost in the Doorway (Moyer Bell). Her poems also appeared in AGNI, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Parnassus, and other journals; as well as in the chapbook The Crows at Appleton (Monogram Editions) and Opposed to Indifference: Poems of Memory and Conscience (Haybarn Press).

A phone call nine years ago about starting this magazine expanded over time into long conversations about everything from the size of a footnote to a favorite sentence in the magazine. Packages, addressed in her elegant handwriting, arrived often on Dean Street, with a novel by Niccolò Tucci, a catalog from the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, news of the Poets House Showcase—for her one of the truest ways to value art was to share it. With that in mind, and as a way to remember her, here is a small selection of her work:

All the Observable Grace

It is difficult
Amid so much disturbance
To step lightly into the narrow boat,
To let the current carry it
Into the wide, slow-moving river.
Difficult to embark on the indeterminate journey.
Difficult not to find defeat in hostile terrain,
Easy to lose all sense
Of the river’s promise,
Easy to forget how the sun contends with shade
In ever-extending clemencies as day begins.
It is difficult to reach the shore
From arid plains, difficult to imagine
The ease of drifting.
Life begins
On the sloping river bank.
Minnows wheel in the shallows.
Trees on either side blend their reflections.
Light appears to emanate from underneath.
Birds are apprehended by their calls,
By the peace they call into being.
Only otherness
Allows the tentative step
Into the narrow boat, impels a casting off
Of customary gravity.
Coolness washes the face in sun-measured warmth.
A cleanliness is laid upon habitual usage.
Aquatic creatures plow delicate wakes
Criss-crossing all that was known
And is known again.
It is difficult not to wish
To live this way forever
In all the observable grace.
Day changes
In the manner of a face becoming old.
Night nears.
A log juts
Pronged with antlers.
Ahead lie clouds and islands, glazed tributaries,
A wideness, river-lakes, washes of blue,
Pale-hued supplicants.
Waters reclaiming the earth.
[Read more]

Call for Artists

News July 31, 2014

We are absolutely thrilled to be publishing a story from Kelly Link’s forthcoming collection in our fall issue. Part Philip K. Dick, part Pygmalion, “The New Boyfriend” is a twisted send-up of Twilight-era teenage love. APS Readers, we’re giving you the chance to illustrate it for us.

The 2014 Emerging Writer Fellows

News June 20, 2014

We are thrilled to announce our inaugural Emerging Writer Fellows: Vanessa Hutchinson, Mahreen Sohail, and April Wolfe. We would also like to thank all of the writers who submitted manuscripts, and the readers who spent the past eight weeks evaluating, debating and championing applications.

Supporting new writers has been an essential part of A Public Space since the debut issue—Leslie Jamison, Nam Le, and Jesmyn Ward published their first stories in the magazine—and with the Emerging Writer Fellowships we hope to continue this tradition by seeking out writers who have not yet published a book-length work but whose writing shows exceptional talent.

Literature Begets Literature

Portfolio The Work of Kerstin Ekman | Selected and Introduced by Dorthe Nors May 2, 2014

All through my twenties I sat immersed in Kerstin Ekman’s novels. I believe she taught me to write. Now I have traveled to Stockholm to meet her. It feels like going back in time.

We have arranged to meet at Clas på Hörnet on Surbrunnsgatan, one of the city’s oldest restaurants (legend has it that the likes of King Gustav III and Sweden’s great eighteenth-century troubadour Carl Michael Bellman regularly let their hair down here). When I arrive Kerstin Ekman is waiting on a chair in the lobby. Famous people look like they do in pictures: Her hair is white and neat, her deep-set eyes keen and kind, but with an air of authority too. The same authority with which she resigned from the Swedish Academy in 1989 because of what she saw as the laxity of its stance on Salman Rushdie’s fatwa. I sense that walking out like that wouldn’t have bothered her in the slightest. More likely it suited her fine to pull on a pair of walking boots and stride off into the Swedish wilds. Her literature is like that too.

A Question for My Father

Portfolio Kerstin Ekman | Selected and Introduced by Dorthe Nors May 2, 2014

I have a memory of my father. It is suspended in time and space, as memories tend to be. I don’t know where we are, but I can hear his voice clearly. It is teasing and yet very intense. That’s what he was like when he was being serious. Incorrigibly sarcastic. Good Lord, girl, he is saying. Haven’t you noticed, a whole society is being built right around you? Was I sitting at the piano at dusk? He liked that. I must have said something that exposed my dreamy-eyed ignorance of what was going on around me. Sweden was just beginning the social upheaval that would throw us through a giant bell-shaped curve from cheerful optimism to bewilderment and panic. I knew nothing of it. I played Satie’s Gymnopédies.

Witches’ Rings

Portfolio Kerstin Ekman | Selected and Introduced by Dorthe Nors May 2, 2014

The snow melted, exposing the dead body of a man on a hillside just behind Tubby Kalle’s tavern. There was a narrow alley between Tubby Kalle’s long privy and the next building, where a yard hand lived. People called it Old Man's Alley. At the bottom of the alley was a little slope used by the three or four nearest houses as a rubbish dump. That's where he lay. The sockets of his eyes were sticky, his black coat was spotted with snow mold. The frightening thing was that no one knew who he was.

The Knife-Thrower’s Woman

Portfolio Kerstin Ekman | Selected and Introduced by Dorthe Nors May 2, 2014

Lie down. / You must have trust. / Still more trust. / Lie down. / Bare yourself to the knives.

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