These are four writers who have, at one point or another, kicked my teeth in (with their writing). It’s my literary fantasy football league, if you will. And what a fucking line up: Chelsea Martin, author of Everything was Fine Until Whatever, The Really Funny Thing About Apathy, and most recently, Even Though I Don’t Miss You; Laura Warman, Founder of GLASS PRESS, and author of How Much Does It Cost? and DRONE LOVE; P. E. Garcia, Phd candidate at Temple University; and Normandy Sherwood, co-director of two theater companies: The Drunkard's Wife and the OBIE-award-winning National Theater of the United States of America, and author of Animals vs Furniture.
Chelsea Martin’s collection, The Really Funny Thing About Apathy is the reason for couches. It is the reason to lie on your face all day and think about your inglorious flaws and those of the ones you love. Sometimes I try to show her books to friends but can’t because I’ve already loaned them out and no one will give them back. Chelsea’s work is the most satisfying combination of funny and heartbreaking and too, too true.
In her work, Laura Warman takes on the body like a fight to the death, and her writing demands full attention. Not because you won’t “get it” otherwise, but because it’s got you by the throat and mid-chokehold is no time to get distracted. There is something violent but calculated in her essays, which lures me in and slays me every time. The essay Laura Warman Writes About Sex, originally published on Queen Mob’s Teahouse, is the sort of essay I revisit for days, chanting lines to myself while feeling my brain pulse.
Once, in Little Rock, Arkansas, I sat on P. E. Garcia’s couch while he read aloud a new story he’d written. I thought, That is the future of words. His writing is magical and tragic, full of a precise whimsy that cuts—cuts deep and cuts away and cuts free. He’s a sort of MacGyver of story, using tools none of us would have known to look for to make something new and fantastic. A court case between The United States of America and 64,695 pounds of shark fins—why not? Hydra at the dentist—why not? The deep bruise of humanity—why not.
Normandy Sherwood has the benefit of writing in 3D, which is to say she makes plays and seems totally comfortable in building alternate realities. Her brain is a woodland creature on psychedelics, constantly playing on reality and possibility. Whether you have the opportunity to see her work manifest or not, there is so much mysticism built in to her scripts that it’s hard not to have a full-body experience. She doesn’t just suggest that fables may have mislead us, she misleads us in fresh and mind-bending ways.
All I’m saying is, like, if we were at recess, no one would pick any of these folks last. They are each so talented, and so smart, and their writing is so damn good, that it’s impossible to imagine they aren’t also gods of Kickball and Four Square. I look forward to seeing more work from these writers. Work that unapologetically shows us what it is to be human, and much more.
Tatiana Ryckman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the chapbook Twenty-Something, and Assistant Editor at sunnyoutside press. Her novella, The Ancestry of Objects, is forthcoming from Artistically Declined Press. Tatiana has taught Creative Writing through the University of Texas at Austin's Informal Classes and her local library since 2012.