An In-Between Issue

May 28, 2020

A Public Space No. 28.5 is a collection of free-access pieces from the magazine's archive, a kind of in-between issue for an in-between time. From Antarctica to Berlin; prizewinners and debut publications; letters rescued from a safe-deposit box and stories nearly lost to history; travel diaries from the fourteenth century and a poem of twenty-first century spring. This ancient impulse, in a multitude of incarnations.

When Animals Conspire

May 28, 2020

What would happen if the natural world could strike back? Especially after watching the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, I wonder how animals might retaliate against us for all that we’ve done to them, their habitats, and our planet. Ben Ehrenreich's "When Animals Conspire," from A Public Space No. 03 reminds us that the way we treat those most vulnerable has effects both great and small.

Taylor Michael is an essayist from Mount Vernon, NY. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts and is the inaugural A Public Space Editorial Fellow.

The Rat Ship

May 28, 2020

I’ve always been obsessed with stories about failure — myths, folklore, epics, and tragedies —and how these genres think about the fall of man. Is it our choices, chance, or fate that leads us to our lowest points? Just how does this really happen?

"Rat Ship" by Ernst Weiss feels relevant to me as we live through unparalleled times. This story about a quest to the North Pole appeared in A Public Space No. 05. A portrait of the author, compiled by translator Joel Rotenberg from Weiss's own writing, and recollections by his friends, enemies, and correspondents—including Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Anna Seghers, and others—appeared in A Public Space No. 19.

Taylor Michael is an essayist from Mount Vernon, NY. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts and is the inaugural A Public Space Editorial Fellow.

“The Let-Out” by Jamel Brinkley

May 27, 2020

"It might be true that discomfort is one of my own primary modes of experience. So much of living has been about discomfort for me. Maybe discomfort is related to vulnerability and sensitivity, and maybe for me it’s one of the most effective ways by which a person or character can... have their settled notions of themselves pierced to open up a space (a wound?) for self-reflection. I’m deeply suspicious of the idea that people or characters can suddenly undergo deep and genuine change, or that radical change and true epiphanies are common, but I am completely faithful to the idea that there are moments when we can be profoundly shaken." —Jamel Brinkley, in conversation with Brandon Taylor at Lit Hub.

Jamel Brinkley is the author of the story collection A Lucky Man (A Public Space/Graywolf), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Story Prize, the John Leonard Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize; and the winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He lives in California, where he is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.


May 20, 2020

These days, we not only feel for people but for the places where they live. We feel for our own places in ways that we had perhaps forgotten or set aside. We look at maps of cities and regions and then ponder connections—and perhaps see more clearly the relationships between these places and our lives, correspondences between the health of individual neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Meanwhile, with streets abandoned, the world feels both charged and deadened, like a stage before or after the play.

I’ve been going back through old episodes of The Land, an A Public Space podcast, to listen to recordings made outdoors, which feels presumptuous in some ways, as if we could imagine the world before.

Robert Sullivan's books include My American Revolution (FSG), Cross Country, and Rats (both Bloomsbury). He teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English and is a contributing editor at A Public Space.


May 13, 2020

These days I spend most of my time looking out my window. It is how I remember spending a good deal of my childhood. Whether the comparison is true or not, I don't know; I haven't done the comparative math. I haven't been spending my time writing or learning new skills, which is fine. I have, though, for this feature spent time looking at back issues of A Public Space, where I have been a poetry editor since 2008. (I have done that simple arithmetic: 253 poets, 338 poems.) I'm really proud of this work. I feel like it is okay to be generous enough with myself to occupy that space briefly, because it has been my luck to have received these poems, and to have been a small part of publishing them. The poets and their poems create beauty in each issue of the magazine. Hopefully, this selection of poems from the archive are little windows out into the world.

Brett Fletcher Lauer is the poetry editor of A Public Space and the deputy director of the Poetry Society of America. He is the author of the memoir Fake Missed Connections: Divorce, Online Dating, and Other Failures (Soft Skull) and the collection of poetry A Hotel in Belgium (Four Way).

“The Green Man” by Amy Leach

May 6, 2020

"[She writes] in the contagious kind of way that should renew anyone's love of language," Jon McGregor recommends Amy Leach's essays in the Guardian. Whether she is writing about pea tendrils or the mesquite tree as in "The Green Man" from A Public Space No. 25, she "manages to assert that desire is what makes all living things both alive and in peril." You can find more of her essays in A Public Space No. 02.

Amy Leach is the author of Things That Are (Milkweed). Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, and she has been recognized with a Whiting Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She lives in Montana.

“Journey Along the Sea Road”

April 29, 2020

“Journey Along the Sea Road” was written in the thirteenth century by an unknown Buddhist monk. In these journals, published in A Public Space No. 26, a nameless traveler charts a course along the Tōkiadō—the great road linking Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo)—and launches a new genre along the way: the literary travel journal. An account of nature and movement, “Journey Along the Sea Road” imparts a sense of calm through the traveler's vision of the world: "A glittering frost lay on my sleeves, but when I brushed it off I saw it was moonlight."

Meredith McKinney's translations include Essays in Idleness with Hōjōki by Yoshida Kenkō and Kamo no Chōmei, The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (both Penguin), White-Haired Melody by Furui Yoshikichi (University of Michigan), and Travels With a Writing Brush, a collection of classical Japanese travel writing. She lives in New South Wales.

“Lair and Refuge”

April 22, 2020

Allan Gurganus gives the photographer Frank Hunter a tour of his North Carolina home: "Imagine a happier Miss Havisham.... Some writers keep impersonal offices elsewhere. I work right where I live. Every surface seems my next novel’s table of contents. Being a visual glutton, I want to love everything I see. And this form of happiness is manageable."

“Origin Story” by Kelly Link

April 15, 2020

Kelly Link's "Origin Story" appeared in the first issue of A Public Space, which also included work from Anna Deavere Smith and an early story from 2019 National Book Award finalist Yoko Ogawa.

A story of two friends, Bunnatine and Biscuit, "Origin Story" takes place at an abandoned theme park, the Land of Oz—in a world of parallel universes and superhero origin stories; nemeses and levitating waitresses and tabloid reporters. “I always think it looks a lot more real now,” Biscuit says. “The way it’s falling all to pieces. The way the Yellow Brick Road is disappearing. It makes it feel like Oz was a real place. Being abandoned makes you more real, you know?”

Kelly Link is the author of four books, most recently the story collection Get in Trouble; and a 2019 MacArthur Fellow. With her husband, Gavin Grant, she runs Small Beer Press and the bookstore Book Moon.

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