How That Time Marks One For Death: Cassandra Troyan on Blacken Me Blacken Me, Growled



Cassandra Troyan’s Blacken Me Blacken Me, Growled dropped last week from Tiny Hardcore Press. Here she talks to PANK blog about the impulse behind what have been called “non-stop great, coruscating poems.”



Freshman year homeroom watching Channel One News, the story breaks in, cuts back to the scene as a second tower is hit.

I remember the day George W. Bush stole his second term. It was the only time I ever wanted to vote but I was too young, I missed the date by a month. When the results seeped in, the queers all sat in a corner of the lobby and we cried. We didn’t even care about Kerry or Democrats but we still wore the rainbow election buttons, as it seemed important to believe that not all of America hated us and wanted us dead or silent. Hoping life was possible in the face of irrevocable violence. We wanted to live but we had no choice.        Continue reading

A Passing of the Editorial Torch

Greetings, fine PANK readers! I bring you nightmares news!

Some of you already know me as reviews editor here at PANK, a job I’ve been doing since fall of 2012.

*waves at my awesome reviewers*

To the rest of you, hi there! It’s been positively blissful to bring smart words about so many excellent books to the blog for you this year, and now I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted the editorial torch from the formidable and fabulous Abby Koski (who has new adventures of her own ahead!), and will be stepping into the role of associate editor in charge of All Things Blog at PANK!

As I get settled in, we will be putting the blog on hiatus for July and August. A summer vacation, if you will. We all deserve it, don’t we?


So, while you wait for our Cicada Overlords to crawl out of their subterranean strongholds (Maybe they already have? We’re still waiting for them here in central PA) and land officiously on your watermelon-jicama salad, why not pour yourself a gin & tonic (or, better still, a Red Eye with candied cicada garnish–yum!), bring the laptop to the porch, and peruse our wonderful archives of reviews, interviews, columns and other tasty blog content.

Set your Google Calendar Alarm for September 1 (or, you know, thereabouts), when we’ll be back with all the old, awesome PANK stuff and maybe some new, even awesomer PANK stuff, too.

I’m excited! It’s exciting! Thanks for having me and see you in September!



Sheila Squillante is the author of three chapbooks of poetry and one artists book collaboration with the experimental photographer, Paul Bilger. Her full-length collection will be published by Tiny Hardcore Press in 2014. Her poems and essays have appeared in places like Brevity, The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, Phoebe, TYPO, No Tell Motel, Thrush Poetry Journal, Superstition Review and elsewhere. She joins the faculty of Chatham University in Pittsburgh this summer as the associate director of their low-res MFA program.  Follow along at



In The Bag

Tote. Clutch. Sling a strap
Across my body.

Fill the void with  slick

It’s a supple shame
A fine-grained havoc

I’m unable to contain
When I think

I’ve got a handle

On this skin addiction

I lose my grip

I get carried away.


Mia Sara is an actress and poet living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in PANK, Cultural WeeklyThe Kit Kat Review,ForgeThe Dirty NapkinSt. Ann’s Review, and others. For more please visit:

Reality and the Rhino


For K.K.J. with apologies

I am worried about the fact that yesterday when
I Googled a certain poet and found an image, plain,
white-haired, middle aged, I decided I wouldn’t
like her before I’d read any poem she’d ever written,
and if this is who I’ve become, then my recent obsession
with “The Real Housewives of New York City,”
may not be a sign of the Apocalypse, but a sign that
I am reverting to type, and should stop pretending

at depth and just paddle along the slick shallow end
of the wading pool with ‘The Real Housewives,’ in their
over-stuffed, vanilla, Park Avenue apartments, with their
dinky dogs and drivers, and the occasional drunken brawl
to tangle up our Bergdorf blow-outs. Because, why not?

Except for the charity. All ‘The Housewives’ have it.
Can’t throw a fundraiser in a penthouse, townhouse, or
converted flophouse without it. Then it’s all about charity
parity, who-gave-what-to-whom in the bowl. For the checks.
In the big glass box, ninety stories up and over the island
of Manhattan. And if you like stories,

this is the place to be because in reality, it’s only
got seventy-two. Stories that is. But ninety sounds so
much better when you’re breaking the sound barrier
just to get a drink and a dry canapé. Charity is thirsty
work but coming up short? That’s my kinda party.
Why do I long for the glamourous lie, the chummy
luxury of ignorance, when I know that

today, or tomorrow, someone who calls me their mother
will go out for a walk and bag themselves a wounded rhino,
who will think nothing of charging through the kitchen,
goring bystanders and ‘Real Housewives alike,’ in their royal
blue satin Louboutin pumps, straight through their limited
edition camel crocodile Birkin bags?

And when this day arrives, will I open my mouth to sooth
the savage creature of misspent youth? To find the phrase
to ease the narcotic plague of first-ever love? Or will I choke.
On the charity I refused to swallow, the dreams I let wither
along with my face, and the time after time I have tried and
failed and failed, but still made the coffee, packed the lunches,
drove to the school with claws retracted, made nicey-nice as
the taste of blood filled my mouth?

Because this poet waiting on the other side, with her
barefaced excellent poems, understands about reality. How it
won’t be denied. How the blister you get from a five-inch stiletto
bursts the same as the one you get from crawling on your knees,
praying for deliverance and the strength to accept the charity
for yourself, and for ‘The Real Housewives,’ who really love
their dinky dogs, and fear getting old, and still need the paycheck.
And charity for the rhino, who was shielding her kids when she
was shot in the ass.

And who will sit all night at the foot of the bed, with greying hair,
and unfilled wrinkles, in comfortable shoes, and forgive us the fact
that we’re only young once, and if we get lucky we can have even
this, this plain unglamorous reality, this unvarnished glory that
waits for us all.


Mia Sara is an actress and poet living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in PANK, Cultural Weekly, The Kit Kat Review, Forge, The Dirty Napkin, St. Ann’s Review, and others. For more please visit:

Embrace / Introducing Mia Sara

The rose window, obscured with scaffolding, the sun, more August than April, beaming down on the Church of St.Vincent Ferrer on Lexington and 66th, firing up the stained glass walls, casting those gathered in candy colored halleluiahs. In his bright blue suit, my husband on my right and I am holding his left hand, rubbing the muscle between forefinger and thumb. I am trying not to look at the enlarged photo, resting on an easel, before a stepped wooden platform, of my mother in law, taken this past thanksgiving, grinning through her glasses, soft round shoulders draped in a scarf that was a gift from my daughter,  exotic floral, on white silk, all bordered in black. A sanctuary crowded with Easter lilies beginning to curl at their edges. I am trying not to dwell on the black metal box, the size of a shoebox, holding her remains. Instead I am thinking about my husband’s body. His broad shoulders, the narrow hips, long skinny legs, all upholstered in a satin hide, pale as milk so quick to burn, and his hands, skilled like his mother’s in animating the inanimate, and how I never thanked her for this gift. This gift that lives on my skin, this gift that even now, makes me a sinner. Because I am greedy and lustful, proud he is mine and no “our fathers,” no benedictions, no stale biscuit dunked in strong wine can ease my mind from ashes to ashes, dust to disease, and the stations of the cross winking on the sidelines, and how we seek shelter in walls of glass. I seek the apple that fell from the tree. I seek the coin through a hole in my pocket. I seek revenge on this faulty design, an antidote to the unbent coil. The man in white robes, standing at the alter, raises his arms, and we all stand.

Yes, I say, perfect, wear the blue suit,
When he asks.

She would have approved, I think
His mother.

A suit fitted close to his still taut skin,
And sharp.

Later, I plan to peel it off,
Give death a run for his money.


Mia Sara is an actress and poet living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in PANK, Cultural Weekly, The Kit Kat Review, Forge, The Dirty Napkin, St. Ann’s Review, and others. For more please visit:

Our Friends at Black Warrior Review are Having a Contest.

The Ninth Annual Black Warrior Review Contest has begun! Send us your dearest-beloved (stories/poems/essays)!

Guest Judges for 2013 are

Brian Evenson (Fiction)
Jenny Boully (Nonfiction)
Kate Durbin (Poetry)

To Submit your Work, or for more details and guidelines, please visit: Submissions are open until September 1, 2013.

Winners in each genre will receive $1,000 and publication in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue. Finalists in each category will receive notation in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue and are also considered for publication.

Reading Fee is $15 per short story (up to 7000 words), $15 per nonfiction piece (up to 7000 words), and $15 per group of up to 3 poems. Payment must be made online (the Submission Manager will direct you to do so).

All contestants will also receive a complimentary one-year subscription (That’s $1 less than conventional subscriptions!)

The Lightning Room with Jim Krosschell

Jim Krosschell speaks briefly with J. Bradley about his great piece, How to ___ a ___ Lobster ____, from our June 2012 Issue.

1. What can stop The Claw?

Nothing can stop the Claw but a continuous onslaught of tourist money.

2. Where did this story come from?

I write familiar essays about the so-called icons of Maine, so sooner or later I had to face the lobster. To do it slightly differently was a challenge – also not to steal too much from David Foster Wallace’s great essay in Gourmet Magazine a few years ago, “Consider the Lobster.”

3. What else would you crack open and eat?

Any story by Alice Munro. Continue reading

It’s Almost March and All That Crazy but I Would Like to Introduce You to February

Have you seen our February Issue? Dependent on approach and disposition it may eat you alive or you will eat it alive all the same.

From Nuncio Casanova there are giraffes and illustration and collage and story.

Jenny Sadre discusses the biographies of teenagers and what we should write “before what happens to us.”

Bret Shepard describes parts of humanity in “Place Where Presence Was.”

As long as you’re his enemy, Alexander Lumans does not wish these plagues upon you.

I’ll leave the rest to your exploration.

Sympathy from the Devil by Kyle McCord (A Review by Anne Champion)


Gold Wake Press

80 pages/$12.95

Kyle McCord’s Sympathy from the Devil crosses a myriad of celestial and earthly terrains. In this collection, readers encounter God, Gabriel, and, of course, the Devil; they also ride trains named for endangered birds, get tossed off a rusty mechanical bull, all while colliding with pop culture references such as the TV show Lost, werewolves, and Batman. While weaving through themes of love, spirituality, and philosophical meanderings, these poems take the reader to surprising places and topics: necromancy, rude birds, the ship of fools, astronomy, the zodiac and even law school. Each page is a treasure trove, a roller coaster ride of dips and spins- the reader never knows what to expect, but each turn is both terror and thrill.

Poems about God are a long standing subject matter for poets to interrogate, and some even say that poetry itself is a form of prayer. In the essay “Facing Altars: Poetry as Prayer,” poet and memoirist Mary Karr writes: “People usually (always?) come to church as they do to prayer and poetry- through suffering and terror. Need and fear. In some Edenic past, our ancestors began to evolve hard-wiring that actually requires us (so I believe) to make a noise beautiful enough to lay on the altar of the Creator/Rain God/Fertility Queen. With both prayer and poetry, we use elegance to exalt, but we also beg and grieve and tremble. We suffer with prayer and poetry alike. Boy, do we suffer.”  McCord’s collection reminds me of Mary Karr’s Sinners Welcome, both in its use of God and its unabashed employment of humor and the bizarre to broach the Holy Ghost. In my favorite poem of the collection, “Sympathy from the Devil,”McCord writes:

 “When you laugh at Satan, the Lord laughs also.  But Satan does not laugh

when you laugh at your own apish posture in the mirror.  He has an antelope

look in his eyes.”

Later in the poem, he writes:

“…When you deny

Satan, it’s not like confetti falls or heralding trumpets sound. You go on

relishing your Cobb salad on the promenade.” Continue reading

Introducing the First Online Issue of 2013

Welcome to the New Year we hear it will be life-changing and exciting and inspirational. Welcome to Friday (also often touted as exciting and life manipulating, at least temporarily). Welcome to the January Issue (8.1) of PANK.

Be sure to read: two poems from CJ Evans, Contributing Editor at Tin House.
In Lieu of Questions from Rae Gouirand may have you asking yourself some questions.
A first time published author, Brianna P. Stout wrote this poem and it’s awesome. Welcome.
Do not under any circumstances miss How to Date a Stalker: Declarative Verb Edition from Lisa Nikolidakis.
Two Poems, Tara Boswell.

Also: fiction from Lynne Beckenstein, Amanda Hart Miller, Gregg Murray, and Bridget Menasche and, we’ll admit to being a bit poetry centric this time around, not that we have any shame in that in fact we are quite excited so be sure to read these pieces from Sam Sax, Anis Shivani, Changming Yuan, and Stephen Massimilla: all of that is here.