For an online literary, Drunken Boat has a huge amount of content to read, from the regular fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to translations, art, a Greek poets folio, and a special section of funny flash. While there is way too much here to touch on even every genre, I simply offer you some of my favorites:
“On Monasteries” is a piece of nonfiction that weaves together stories of clients Allison Vrbova had as a social worker with her desire to visit and her experience with Taize, “a magical place where pilgrims join the life of the monastery, eating, praying, singing and working in a community.” It’s a wonderfully crafted piece that gives insight into the homeless (“Too often, the glare of glossy paint on four white walls only magnifies all that is already lost.”) and into how it can affect those trying to help them, as one cannot always truly help. Vrbova’s honest piece reaches to find that “small, quiet center.”
In the fiction section, I was particularly taken with the very first offering, A. Nicole Kelly’s “How to Hear Music.” Written as an instructional piece, it at first seems to call out to the everyman, the “you” seemingly anyone growing up with music, whose parents just don’t understand your music selections. But it slowly turns into much, much more as we learn more about the main character and her struggle to remain herself when the world tries to fit her into a category of who she should be. The structure selected works perfectly here, made more powerful than a straight narrative, and the theme of music throughout helps carry the weight of expression that is being stifled in the main character.
The “Flash Funny” section, edited by Tom Hazuka, showcases nearly forty different writers contributing any type of genre, as long as the words come in at under 750, and, of course, it’s funny. There’s quite a variety here including Colin McEnroe’s tongue-in-cheek responses to spam emails (including one for diet pills, one for Viagra, and one for porn); Craig Fishbane’s humorous Q&A section for Bread Loaf Writer’s Workshop with questions such as “How much liquor should I bring with me to the conference?” and “What kind of treatment should I expect if I sleep with my instructor?”; Nina Sharma’s “When Mom and Kanye West Go Jewelry Shopping”; and Susan White’s poem “Salvation Drive-Thru” which starts, “Confess to the Babylon speaker before ordering / . . . / Receive your communion bag at / the Second Coming window.”
This issue of Drunken Boat is filled not only with quantity but also with quality. The next issue may not come out until winter, but if you read through this entire issue, I have a hunch you may have plenty to tide you over until then.