All posts by Susan Shafarzek

The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Black and white photo of bare tree
 

Genevra Levinson is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight‘s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It is autumn. I think of Mary Oliver’s river of loss as I watch the trees burn fragrantly and allow themselves to be naked in their distance from the sun. I wonder about this kind of graceful dying, and how we humans grapple with death and the strangeness of our own faces during the fall season—the dying season. The ghoul-masks, monsters, blood, and skeletons no longer thrill me darkly as they did when I was a child, nor fill me with dread as they … Continue reading The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Stripping by Vicky Oliver

Photo of outside of goodwill store
 

Vicky Oliver is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It was an orgy of silk and satin and velvet. Twenty cocktail dresses sprawled on my floor, all temptresses still in their peak, wanting to be touched, craving admiration. They each had their stories and I thumbed through them the way most people listen to golden oldies, remembering with a mixture of awe, sadness, and a lurch of nostalgia that tugs somewhere between the heart and the gut. This was me, I thought. They all were, and not so very long ago. The sleeveless, … Continue reading Stripping by Vicky Oliver

Finding Barbie’s Shoes by J Brooke

Photo of Barbie
 

J Brooke is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest There were many reasons I didn’t play with Barbie dolls. Besides being gender-nonconforming before the term existed, besides not liking girls in my class who did play with Barbie dolls, and besides knowing that for every Barbie I was given for a birthday or holiday, there was some present I would have actually enjoyed that I would now never receive, there was the utter anatomical stupidity of that useless toy. Forget Barbie’s disproportionately tiny waist and large breasts that became famed objects of scrutiny … Continue reading Finding Barbie’s Shoes by J Brooke

Turner and Bobby by Debra King

Photo of child's hands drawing
 

When I was a toddler, I named my hands “Turner” and “Bobby.” Turner was my dominant right hand, the one used to access closed doors and cupboards. My parents say I blamed “Turner” when I spilled a glass of milk. “Bobby” was the diminutive for Robert, my father’s name. He would take my left hand when we walked or crossed the street. It is debatable whether this phase of early childhood can be remembered by a child of two, or if it is imprinted because I have heard more than once the story as told … Continue reading Turner and Bobby by Debra King

A Sign by Carol Jeffers

Photo of blue butterfly
 

Carol Jeffers is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest “Stephanie wanted you to have her eyes,” her sister Susie said. “Please say you’ll take them.” That was in 2018, the second time she died. *** Seven years earlier, the blips on the monitor flat-lined, the alarm went off. The ICU team flew into action. Gloved hands thumped her chest, injected epinephrine, jolted her silent heart. Seconds ticked by. Minutes. Stephanie’s soul was suspended, a chrysalis dormant among the milkweeds. She languished between the light and the dark. That was the first time my … Continue reading A Sign by Carol Jeffers

Turmoil and Languor: Messing Up the Quiet, Nancy Zafris Interviews Karin Cecile Davidson

Photo of glasses sitting on open book
 

The following is a conversation with Karin Cecile Davidson, whose first novel, Sybelia Drive, is being published this fall by Braddock Avenue Books (October 6th). Sybelia Drive is a Vietnam-era novel that tells the coming-of-age story of brother and sister Lulu and Saul, and their friend Rainey, who lives with them as a de facto sister while her absent mother seeks the dubious rewards of a Gypsy Rose Lee-type fame and fortune. In a lush but depressed lake town of Florida, family members and townsfolk take turns filling in their own stories, as well as … Continue reading Turmoil and Languor: Messing Up the Quiet, Nancy Zafris Interviews Karin Cecile Davidson

Another Day by Cheryl Aubin

Photo of wilting rose
 

Toward the evening of the night I thought my mother was dying, the aide, who stayed with mom during the day, told me mom had been asleep for twenty-four hours and would not wake up. She sent me a picture of my mom, smiling and looking peaceful. The aide put the phone up to my mother’s ear so I could talk to her. It felt as if my lungs had closed and no breath would come, a drowning in sorrow and grief, as in the barest choking whisper I told my mother I loved her. … Continue reading Another Day by Cheryl Aubin

Troubling the Fields by Mary Alice Hostetter

Photo of large white tent
 

Mary Alice Hostetter is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight Magazine‘s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest The first thing I noticed was the sign. My mother and I were driving back from getting corn meal at the mill, and we saw it on Leroy’s fence, “Brunk Tent Revival Coming August 15-22.” Leroy’s farm bordered ours. “Well, I guess that’ll take care of the peace and quiet for a while,” my mother said. “Looks like the show is coming.” The next week Leroy mowed his hayfield as close as he could cut it, pulling the hay mower back and … Continue reading Troubling the Fields by Mary Alice Hostetter

More News of Good Writing—Essay Honorable Mentions 2020

Photo of balloons and candle
 

When we held our essay/memoir contest last spring, we had such a wealth of wonderful entries, it was very hard to pick the winners. I think we did a good job—certainly the best we could—but in the process we knew there were entrants, beside those we chose for the prizes, whose work we could not overlook. We therefore asked a number of those whose work we could not pick—since we had only three prizes to award—if they would be willing accept the status of Honorable Mention. Five really excellent memoirists graciously acceded to this request. … Continue reading More News of Good Writing—Essay Honorable Mentions 2020

Stealing Light by Billie Hinton

Closeup photo of broken glass under window
 

Billie Hinton is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight Magazine‘s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest I’m holding the reins of a twelve-hand half-Shetland pony when I get the call. My daughter hops into the saddle, I release my grip, and off she goes to the riding arena for her Pony Club lesson. Hello, I say into the cell phone. My office, a quirky second floor space I rent in a large historic house divided into small offices, has been broken into overnight. The photographer who rents space across the hall from me went in to work and … Continue reading Stealing Light by Billie Hinton