By Jon Riccio
Lo Kwa Mei-en is a poet from Singapore and Ohio. She is the author of two full-length books of poetry, THE BEES MAKE MONEY IN THE LION (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and YEARLING (Alice James Books), and two chapbooks. She has received a fellowship from Kundiman, and her MFA from The Ohio State University. You can find her at www.lokwameien.com.
Jon Riccio: Like an alphabet gemologist, you imbue the abecedarian’s every facet with a leonine gleam – backwards, forwards, end-lettered, and inside out. Why does this poetic form appeal so strongly to you?
Lo Kwa Mei-en: I love that the abecedarian is both formulaic—in the most boring sense of the word—and alchemical, in the most unpredictable sense of the word. The abecedarian takes me to the dictionary—which is on a basic level a mammoth book, a place for a bookworm to lose herself—and the form gets me lost, runs me into dead ends, necessitates that I look beyond the first answer that came to mind. The abecedarian is deceptively permissive and deceptively limiting. I decided to double-end most of the forms that I borrowed for this book so that I would more continually confront the specific way in which that form demanded I reach.
The title says it all. Our poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction submissions are open today, and our readers are excited to see what you’ve been working on all summer!
Check out our updated guidelines and send us your stuff! Our contests will be returning in the spring.
By Abby Dockter
I am on another plane trip. Patchwork farms, webs of highways, wide rivers and furry green mountains, all pierced by the wing of the plane as we glide into a new port. That’s the outside—inside the plane are a middle-aged couple speaking soft Turkish and eating chocolate bars, a young man holding his suit jacket, and a woman next to him sleeping with her brightly-colored scarf wadded up as a pillow. I am taking Piotr Gwiazda’s injunction to “Look at this city—”, “Look at these people” as I go, and it’s remarkable how the traveling experience parallels Gwiazda’s Aspects of Strangers, a book that opens with an observer’s entrance to a new place. Alienation is on the table immediately:
You see their other faces.
You hear their other voices.
You pass them in the airport
or the subway station
or any street and plaza…
Are you a part of them?
Your face gives you away.
Your voice denies you.
I could object to the blunt instrument of dichotomous Yous and Thems, but I’m too busy agreeing with the poet. I am already self-conscious that people abroad know where I come from as soon as I open my mouth, if not sooner. Okay, definitely sooner. But hiking pants that zip off at the knees were still a good American idea, dammit.
By Jon Riccio
Iliana Rocha is originally from Texas. She earned a PhD in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Arizona State University, where she was Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her work was chosen for the Best New Poets 2014 anthology and has previously appeared in Bennington Review, Banango Street, Blackbird, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Her first book, Karankawa, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Jon Riccio: Karankawa opens with the poem “La Llorona as Andrea Yates,” a blend of folklore and modern infamy (“Somewhere in Texas, a crowd/ predicts my death. They say it will sound/ like the scream of a tuba being born.”). Why is today’s gallery of rogues so readily interchangeable with the centuries old?
Iliana Rocha: In a broader sense, I think it is because our mythology concerning women has not evolved much past the dichotomy of monster/angel—either women are destroyers or creators—the nuance and complexity of women’s identities is a deep erasure women writers are still desperately trying to rewrite back into grand narratives. To open the collection with two notorious female figures (one from Mexican folklore and the other from American pop culture) is not only an attempt to bridge hyphenated gaps between identities, but also to illuminate the one-dimensionalized approach we have to writing about women, particularly “bad” women.
Sonora Review is proud to announce the winners of our 2016 Poetry, Essay, and Fiction Contests. Each winner will receive $1000 and publication in SR Issue 70, forthcoming this September. The editors would like to thank all contestants for sharing their work with us as well as the judges for their generosity of time and spirit. We received 356 submissions across three genres. 2017 contests will open in the spring.
Congratulations to winners Renia White, Danielle Zaccagnino, and Sean Gill!