You are the heat wave that stormed the city. You are absurdly important. You are a field lit up with glow sticks on the fourth of July. You are where you belong right now. You are an email I forgot to open. You are a brand new Beatles lunch box. You are the way the sea looks at low tide. You are a book I read so hard I could never return it to the library. You are smaller than a pebble. You are an urgent call for Life Alert. You are Tylenol and Band-aids on skinned knees. You are the wire fence that caused the skinned knees. You are an angel with acne and weed in your pockets. You are the mist around the river. You are an oral report I have to give but my mouth’s all dry. Continue reading


In case you missed it amongst the holiday/New Year’s/list obsession hoopla, we are excited to announce the official release of I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND from Myfanwy Collins. A mixture and collection of both short stories and flash fiction, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND brings tender, stark, and lost souls all of which are “in search of that which eludes them: an acknowledgment of a shared past, the fulfillment of a secret desire, a tenuous connection made whole.” Start your 2013 reading off right, order your copy here.

An official book signing of I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND will take place on Saturday, March 9th at 1 pm, during AWP Boston. Stay tuned for further announcements, reviews, and events.

Let Us Assist With Your Stress-less Holiday Shopping

Feeling a little fuzzy on what to buy your angsty cousin/high school bestie in need of some hip-ening/secret lover/any neat-but-difficult-to-buy-for-person in your life this holiday season? Quit googling top ten holiday gift lists and scoot on over to the [PANK] holiday sale. The [PANK] holiday bundle includes a print copy of Issues 5 & 6 & 7, an advance copy of Myfanwy Collins’ I Am Holding Your Hand, a t-shirt, a sticker, and a pin. Complete holiday gifting for only $40.

Bonus! If you’re not sure you can commit to the entire Holiday Bundle (it is a bundle, after all) we’ve got at least 25% off on all individual merchandise as well, check it at the Paraphernalia Shop.

PANK's 2012 Pushcart Nominations

Each year it gets harder and harder to choose only six PANK writers to nominate for the Pushcart and this year was no exception.

Our nominees for this year are:

Homosexuals Threaten the Sanctity of Norman’s Marriage by John Warner (PANK 6)
Illuminated by Karrie Waarala (PANK 6)
The Sins of My Father by Ashley Ford (PANK 6)
Bayeux, Normandy by Caitlin Horrocks (PANK 7)
Lorenzo in His Cups by Mark Neely (PANK 7)
What We Bury by Jacob Victorine (August 2012)

Digital Americana

Digital Americana, a new-ish, interactive magazine to emerge, embraces the digital aspects of publishing while valuing print literature all the same, making it a comprehensive attraction, rather than a partisan digital vs. anti digital platform.

In all aspects of our mission: of the art, literary content, culture, design, and journalism featured within our pages- our hope for Digital Americana is that it will been seen as the sum of its parts- a uniquely modern and American experience.

Bonus, all their online content and apps are currently free. While the app is free forever and ever, you can also download issues for free for a limited time, they are otherwise just $.99. Their online issues are incredibly well interfaced and easy to read on the iPhone, and their new Redact issue for the iPad is a nothing short of lovely combination of historic and modern. In addition, check out their very aesthetically pleasing blog.


Call for Submissions: Arriba Baseball!

VAO Publishin invites submissions to the forthcoming print anthology Arriba Baseball!: A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction

We are seeking submissions for a collection of the best Latino/a fiction that both celebrates and complicates the American pastime tentatively entitled Arriba Baseball!: A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction.

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America,” wrote historian Jacques Barzun, “had better learn baseball.” The first of its kind, Arriba Baseball!: A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fictionseeks to challenge established paradigms within literary baseball fiction, a genre traditionally sustained by works from predominantly white, male authors (such as Bernard Malamud, Lamar Herrin, Eric Rolfe Greenberg, and W.P. Kinsella), and one which has historically excluded the Latino/a voice and other writers of color.

We invite such fiction (up to 5,000 words) concerning the game of baseball which challenges any and all exclusionary ideologies that have historically delimited the sport, and that meditates on the Latino/a contributions and experiences both on and off the field of play. While climactic home runs and strikeouts are okay, we prefer scoreboards but upside down. We also invite works that confront any of the issues surrounding baseball today, such as (but not limited to) the use of performance-enhancing drugs, queer and female performativity in baseball, the globalization of the sport, and baseball’s legacies of white privilege, racism, and male exclusivity in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other countries throughout Latin America where the game continues to flourish.

All fiction must be previously unpublished and of literary quality. Translations and works in Spanish will also be considered. We particularly encourage fiction from Latina and LGBT authors.

Contributors will be paid $25 upon acceptance and a percentage of the net sales over the first two years.

Questions/comments may be directed to baseball@vaopublishing.com.

Please send fiction submissions to vao.submittable.com/submit
About the Editor

Robert P. Moreira received his MFA from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2010. Currently, he is an English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas-San Antonio researching alterity and constructed identities in sports fiction, films, and performance. His fiction, interviews, criticism, and scholarship have been published in a variety of venues, including BluestemAethlon: Journal of Sports LiteratureStoryglossiaBreakwater ReviewEmprise ReviewMetazen, and the anthologies SOL: Vol. I (SOL, 2012) and New Border Writing (Texas A&M Press, 2013). He is the recipient of two graduate fiction awards from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers in 2009 and 2010, as well as the Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award in 2011. He serves as a Contributing Editor for Dark Sky Books and head intern for American Letters and Commentary.

Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger (A Review By Helen McClory)


Coach House Books


176 pgs/ $18.95 CAD


I struggled for a long time with this review. Maidenhead has been well-received in reviews across the internet, but my personal response was murky, confused. My copy is dog-eared and when I touch it seems to trigger flashbacks of puzzlement and revulsion and interest and anger. It’s that sort of book, not one that will sit calmly on the shelf, glowing with read-ness.


The story is of the sexual awakening of a teenage girl, Myra, of her obsession with a Tanzanian musician Elijah who she encountered on holiday in Key West and who follows her up to Canada in the company of Gayl, his sick, voyeuristic lover. The details of the first, twisted days trigger Myra’s plunge into sexual frustration and ferocity, of her awareness of her virginity like a dam that needs demolishing with Elijah-dynamite.


“‘Tomorrow. Saturday. Day of action.’ Elijah smiled. His jaw was like a sculpture. His white turban stood. ‘You come and I’ll fuck your tight pussy all night.’

Blood pounded so hard through my body, pumping and crooked like wires of light. I was going to scream his name when I was coming. I wanted my hands tied behind my back. Just like those sucked and slapped girls in my video clips. They always had to look the men in the eyes when they were coming. The guys wanted to see how much they were destroying them with their big hard cocks like hammers and pipes. It was amazing, that look in the girls’ eyes, rabid eyes, glossy, pleasding, unnameable eyes, like the loved being tortured and pounded and kept.

‘You’ll be there, yeah?’


I was breathless. Elijah walked away. I held my virginity up in my fist.

Continue reading

Interview with Louise Phillips, author of crime novel, Red Ribbons


Why crime, Louise? Why for you as a writer and why for us as readers and moviegoers etc? What is it about crime, horror, violence, murder, and in particular serial killers, that we find so captivating and compelling?

I think writers and readers are intrigued by crime fiction for similar reasons- an attempt to understand those who live by a different set of rules to our own. However, crime writing done well doesn’t only look into the dark; it also inhabits both the light and dark within all of us, asking big questions. I didn’t specifically set out to write crime fiction, but very early on I recognised that my writing tended to inhabit darker places. I felt compelled to explore areas which as a writer and as a reader, I and others, might find uncomfortable. I think one of the more interesting aspects of crime fiction is that it often attempts an understanding of not just who we are, but also many of the difficult questions in this world we inhabit, reflecting social norms, and contradictions.

As for the concept of the serial killer- I think it pushes the boundaries of our understanding to the extreme. A crime of passion, an unplanned murder, a fictional killer driven by greed or ambition, or whatever, takes on a different level when you enter serial killer territory. In the fictional sense, it means creating someone who is capable of committing multiple murders, often without guilt, sometimes randomly, someone for whom the emotional and social norms no longer apply- someone beyond understanding. Perhaps part of our humanity is seeking out the things we fail to understand.


You use multiple viewpoints in this novel. How difficult was it for you to delve so deeply into each character’s voice and point of view? It had to be particularly difficult, disturbing, to go into the murderer’s point of view? How did you accomplish that? Did spending so much time inside a fictional serial killer take a toll on you?

There are three principle viewpoints in RED RIBBONS. One is Kate Pearson, the criminal psychologist, the second voice, and probably the hardest one for me to crack, is the voice of the killer, and the third and rather interesting voice is that of Ellie Brady, who was institutionalised for killing her own daughter, 15 years before the current investigation. I describe Ellie as the woman who stopped talking because everybody stopped listening.

It was difficult and challenging to work the three voices, alternating between chapters, but that was part of the excitement, as it was something very new and different. Other than nailing each of the individual points of views, they had to be woven together in a seamless experience for the reader, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked.

As for the killer, whose voice is extremely dark and disturbing at times – I needed to do a lot of work with him before I even started the novel, writing him into smaller pieces, until I was sure I knew everything about him. I tried to avoid creating a stereotypical psychopath, but rather a character who like many, is made up of different layers. I had to get inside a bad man’s head, and yes it was uncomfortable at times, but also intriguing.

In the first draft, I couldn’t write two characters in the same day, but in the editing process, it was far easier to switch, as they became as familiar to me as real people.

Continue reading

A Forsley Feuilleton: If Richard Yates Wrote A Novel Called Tao Lin. . . – Act Two

Lil B is Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, and Dr. Phil. But he’s also ‘Alt- Lit’. . . at least that’s what I’ve been told. But I’ve been told a lot of things. Andrew Marantz, in a New Yorker essay on Lil B, told me that “His songs about celebrities are, like Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints, a comment on the mechanization of celebrity.”  And Kittie Tourniquet, in reaction to Act One of this Forsley Feuilleton, told me this: “Don’t you dare put my sweet baby’s name in your dirty dirty cunt-whore blog ever again.”  Her “sweet baby,” I assume, is Marie Calloway, who I unfairly used to dismiss all the writers of ‘Alt-Lit.’ But most of the writers involved in this new literary movement, if asked to name their ‘sweet baby,’ would name Lil B, who I- unfairly?- used to renew my interest in their work.

I don’t know why Lil B is their sweet baby. But, because of all the research I so thoroughly conducted on ‘Alt- Lit,’ I can use, by way of the scientific method, my findings- which includes the discovery of a temperamental feline internet persona that isn’t a writer- to make a blogfessional calculation: Lil B is their sweet baby because of his skinny pants, his exploitation of social media, his manic productivity, his refreshing positivity, his cultural consciousness, his ironic playfulness, his unashamed self-promotion, and his. . . dumb writing.

If you don’t believe me that Lil B’s writing is dumb, just read these lyrics to “I’m Miley Cyrus,” one of his biggest hits: “I’m Miley Cyrus / Cyrus / Cyrus / I’m Miley Cyrus.”  If those lyrics aren’t dumb, than Bob Dylan is Robert Zimmerman. But Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, and dumb isn’t dumb. Here in the Bay Area, where Hip-Hop culture has a history so long and storied that it has evolved into Hyphy culture, dumb is dope. . . and dope, at least in my 90s molded mind, is praise reserved for only the most respected and relevant rapping writers. Continue reading