online magazine for short, good writing

Month: June, 2012

This Week in Words – Jun 30

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

It’s summer! All around the lit community, submission doors are closing (presumably because this is the one chance writers/editors have all year to climb out of our dark holes and see the sun). But, fear not! Like actual treehouses, our doors are staying open all summer long! In addition to all genres, Treehouse wants to see what you think we should read. Our ongoing “5 Things” series is now open to the public. Same general submission guidelines apply.

Nora Ephron
From the time I was old enough to understand that relationships between men and women were capable of being hilarious and complicated, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle have easily been counted among my favorite movies. In addition to her screen credits, Nora Ephron has been an incomparable author and essayist. A few years ago, one night when I couldn’t sleep, I plucked I Feel Bad about My Neck from my mother’s bookshelf, and I never gave it back. It’s a candid, laugh-out-loud account of the downsides of getting older, processes I’m only marginally able to comprehend. The experiences she details are out of my reach, but Nora’s writing is impossible not to find intimate and personable. Gail Collins wrote this week in The New York Times that Nora Ephron was the target of a “Normandy Invasion of friendship,” undoubtedly because her writing invites people to feel as if they knew her personally. The New York Times has made available a selection of Op-Eds Nora wrote for the newspaper throughout her career as a writer (accessible from the sidebar of the article linked above). Nora Ephron took her leave this week at the age of 71, after suffering complications from leukemia. I am not the only one who didn’t know her personally, but certainly still feels a bit like they lost a friend.

Interview of the Week
A writer friend of mine shared with me the link to an article in The Guardian this week. The article consists of an interview with 20-year-old German author Helene Hegemann. Hegemann achieved critical acclaim with her first novel Axolotl Roadkill at the age of 17. Shortly after she reached the pinnacle of literary celebrity, a blogger discovered that parts of the novel (according to Hegemann, 14 sentences of it) were stolen from a previously published, lesser known book called Strobo. Before her novel was published, Hegemann was a playwright and prize-winning filmmaker; her talent is clearly not easily discredited. But in the face of the drama surrounding this novel and the accusations of plagiarism – which Hegemann did not attempt to deny, even if she could have – Hegemann has remained unperturbed. Kate Connelly, the article’s author, calls Hegemann “apologetic but only to a point.” She admits to taking the sentences and modifying them, but passively argues that such behavior doesn’t nullify the entire book. Furthermore, she explains that the part she stole was not original to that author, and she traces the chain of information. Impressively, Hegemann’s defense is and always has been: “There’s no such thing as originality, just authenticity.”

Reading Raining from the Sky
This week, London was the site of Casagrande’s “Rain of Poems” event. In bookmark form, 100,000 poems by some 300 poets (including one from each of the 204 Olympic nations) were dropped over Jubilee Gardens on Tuesday as part of Poetry Parnassus, one of the UK’s largest poetry festivals. No poem was left behind, and Casagrande explains that people pick them up and exchange them, keeping them from becoming litter in the gardens. London is the sixth city to host Rain of Poems, which Casagrande calls “one of the most visually stunning displays of aeronautical poetry ever seen.” My question is: What other displays of aeronautical poetry are there and where can I find them?


by a contributor

Brandi Wells

All the skinless cats go to live in the house across the street
          So much sticky pus is left behind that I use it to form a new cat. A permanent cat that cannot leave me even if it wishes to do so. I place this cat on the center of the kitchen table and we have conversations while I’m eating meals or while I’m sitting at the table and not eating meals.

The cat I formed of sticky pus leaves me too
          He goes across the street to live in the house where she and he live. I watch them sitting in the living room together. They hold the sticky pus cat in their lap and stroke him. He curls into a ball and falls asleep. All the other cats, still skinless, gather around their feet and sleep.
          It is domestic. It is a thing that has not existed for decades. Domesticity is dangerous. Like the science. Like religion. Domesticity has long been eradicated. It is punishable several ways. One: the couple is dragged into the street. They are dragged into the street for hours. It is not a quick dragging. It is not at a thing that quickly comes to pass. It is a true event and it is done perfectly. Two: the couple is made to remove the other’s heart, simultaneously. If the couple refuses, their intestines are pulled out and wound together. Then they are still made to remove each other’s hearts. Three: Nothing happens and they are allowed to continue their existence as is. This third punishment is considered to be the worst of all the punishments.

Brandi Wells is Managing Editor of The Black Warrior Review and Web Editor at Hobart. She is the author of Please Don’t Be upset (Tiny Hardcore Press) and Poisonhorse (Nephew, an imprint of Mud Luscious Press). Her fiction can be found in Salamander, Mid-American Review, 14 Hills and many other journals.

This Week in Words – Jun 23

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

Happy Saturday, everybody! I don’t have any news today, so instead I want to bring to your attention a very cool online class being offered by The Loft Literary Center out of Minneapolis. It’s entitled “In a Flash: Short-Shorts, Micro Memoir, and Prose Poetry,” and as I’m sure you can guess, offers instruction in writing pieces fewer than 1,000 words. Instruction is through reading published work and writing and sharing your own work with others. The class is taught by Chapel Hill, North Carolina resident Rochelle Hurt, whose poetry and fiction works have been published in a variety of journals, including Kenyon Review, Hunger Mountain, and The Southeast Review. The class lasts six weeks beginning October 1, is open to writers of all levels, and costs $255. (P.S. The Loft offers a myriad of online classes, most of which are open to all levels, from beginning writing to lessons for writing books.)

“Be Well, Do Good Work, Keep in Touch”
The Writer’s Almanac is by no means new, but I only learned about it this week so here we are. It’s a free podcast brought to you by Public Radio, the Poetry Foundation and, as always, users (listeners?) like you. The daily podcast offers literary news in a “This Day in History” fashion, and ends with a different poem each day. For example, today is Dan Brown’s birthday and on this day in 1633, the Vatican ruled that Galileo was guilty of heresy (I’m not sure how that last bit is literary, but it is interesting, nonetheless), and the poem is “A Pasture Poem” by Richard Wilbur. The content is available online, and archives date back to 1993, in case you want to catch up. Also, the podcast is narrated by the one-and-only Garrison Keillor (of A Prairie Home Companion fame), and frankly, that man could read anything and make it sound intriguing and intellectual.

Lit Mags that Aren’t Us
The Paris Review are a quirky bunch. First of all, we have a blog post featuring “Drunk Texts from Famous Authors.” It’s a collection of sketches (sadly, not real texts) illustrating cell phones with text messages from authors like Gertrude Stein, Emily Dickinson, John Cheever and Dan Brown (two Dan Brown references!). The texts are hilarious and it makes me hope as I’ve scarcely dared to hope before that this is really what texts from these authors would look like.

Second, we have a questionnaire about the use of symbolism created in 1964 by Bruce McAllister, currently an English professor, when he was 16 years old. McAllister typed up a set of questions and sent them to 150 well-known authors. Those among the 75 respondents include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, and Ayn Rand. Some of the authors try to answer the questions honestly and seriously (Bradbury), others seem to take offense (Kerouac), and at least one (MacKinlay Kantor) reprimanded McAllister, saying “Nonsense, young man, write your own research paper.” You can see the original pages at the link above, or read a slightly more user-friendly version here.

Here Comes the Sun

by Treehouse Editors

Summer is here! And Treehouse is not only staying open for regular submissions, but for the first time, we’re accepting non-solicited 5 Things. As per our general aesthetic, we’re particularly partial to things that are pleasingly unusual, funny, unexpected—you know, not boring. And if you have a cool micro-essay, send it our way. We don’t get nearly enough of those.

The first installment of our summer issue is live and we’ll continue adding new stuff at the beginning of each week. We’re kicking it off with knockout debut poetry from Yve Miller (lobsters & cocaine a great poem makes), and in the coming weeks, we have some smoking stories lined up from Gabriel Blackwell, Ravi Mangla, and Brandi Wells.

As always, thanks for reading.

All best,

5 Things to Read Long Before You Die

by a contributor

from Yve Miller, author of Molting and When I Was a Train Passenger:

  1. Dear Sugar’s column post, “Tiny, Beautiful Things”:
  2. Kevin Wilson’s “No Joke, This is Going to be Painful” – Tin House, Issue #38, 2008:
  3. Chloe Cooper Jones’ “What Can Be Learned,” Black Warrior Review:
  4. Read this:
  5. Read the ingredients on the back of your oatmeal, your butter substitute, and your snack from the vending machine. Read the label on your shampoo. Imagine that you yourself wrote it, wanting someone to buy a promise of a better life via shinier, stronger hair. Read your own palm. Translate the lines with what you already know but are afraid to say aloud – that your teeth are rotting. That your parents are dying. That you love the person you complain about constantly. That you are afraid of success, not failure. Stop reading between the lines – it only leads to stale unhappiness. Read your friend’s fortune cookie instead of your own. Read Lolita. Read under the covers, and read to experience, don’t read to check things off your list. Read Spoon Fed. Read Alan Ball’s script of American Beauty. Always read the fine print.

When I Was a Train Passenger

by a contributor

Yve Miller

For nine years I flew backwards,
watching seasons pale in the dishwater blur of the train-glass.

In the dining car, I searched hot bowls and cups
for tiny crumbs of my mother’s voice.

I made mistakes, devoured her in handfuls, swore
her off in hungover storms. I purged her from my belly in gulps.

All the while, the earth flew past, blooming and dying
and I could not focus on a single blade of grass, no tree, no stone.

Mother – I shrunk her away and grew her back,
my cells – mud I molded and fired, shattered back.

I devoured her, burned her, and one day I saw her everywhere,
sleeping in baskets covered with white napkins,

steaming from shallow bowls. People were cutting her to pieces,
dipping her in broth. She was blinking at me with that squint,

in grayscale baskets of fruit, in long-stemmed globes of wine.
She rattled along in the dining cart, back and forth,

a sharp cackle of wheels, until I saw our bagel of truth
in the glass – myself, a hole, and my mother spread all around me.

I detrained from this blur at a gallop, this constant motion,
and there were birds – everywhere. Birds who wanted nothing,

palm trees that wiggled freely, not like my mother.
There were coconuts plopping on dirt, my mother nowhere in sight,
and I heard the sweet rain of a new city, drop for drop, for first time.

Yve Miller has worked with horses, boat engines, and barbecue. She is a reviewer of books and teaches students how to form counterarguments and write from their heartbeat. She is going to night school to become somebody. Her first manuscript is in the works.

See also: Yve’s poem Molting, and her 5 Things You Should Read.


by a contributor

Yve Miller

I sat at the dinner table, high
on cocaine, cracking a lobster,

listening to my father through his thick
scotch globe. I used to hate lobster lessons –

you’re missing a ton of meat –
Those how-to-crack-an-egg’s,

But that night I was grateful, saved
by the nutritional aspects of swimmerets,

by tamale-removal, by the glow of copper
in his glass. Saved from the glare of red eyelids

from a boyfriend across the table –
I was seven hours late coming home

that Saturday. I’d mistaken the sun
for a floodlight through the window.

I drove to Little Earthquakes on repeat
for fifty-seven miles, hands swapping

cigarettes and Starbursts stale from the
glove-box. I hadn’t eaten in two days.

It was like a nightmare in heaven,
father with his steel lobster crackers,

collared philosophy boyfriend sneering
through freckled eyelids, his pink face

shining under the chandelier, whistling
the can lid of his seventh Coors Light.

I ground my teeth, barely tasting the lobster,
its iodine meat. I only knew the mechanics

of drinking, the bibbed simulation of claws
crushing claws, big red hands and big red

cheeks, the white wine spill of chandelier
light, I knew the stinging Starburst sores,

array of artificial red tongue-stabs,
I knew the copper of Father’s
glass was winking at me.

Yve Miller has worked with horses, boat engines, and barbecue. She is a reviewer of books and teaches students how to form counterarguments and write from their heartbeat. She is going to night school to become somebody. Her first manuscript is in the works.

See also: Yve’s poem When I Was a Train Passenger.