Writer, Poet, Community Builder
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A Barely-Even-January-Anymore Post of Things I Wrote Last Year


Throughout pretty much all of my twenties, I used to keep a public but anonymous online journal on a website where I’d become part of a tightly-knit community of other journalers. Do you remember those days? Did you ever have a place like that, before Facebook and Twitter? Before “brand-building”? I miss those days. God, there’s so much I don’t miss about those days. But I miss that journal, and that community.

For the past two years, I’ve written blog posts each January, and I’ll be damned if I break the trend now. But rather than just continue the running joke of being a very regular once-a-year blogger, going forward you’ll see me writing a bit more frequently. I’ll make an honest attempt at using this space not just to collect and share my writing news, but also to keep track of what I read, of interesting or helpful things other writers say to me, of ongoing projects and experiments and collaborations, and of anything else that might crop up. To keep track of, you know, life.

But for today, as per tradition, let me start the year off with a short list of thing I published last year that I’m especially proud of.

“Two Half Hitches” (Mithila Review, poetry as part of “The Santa Monica Prophecies”, a collaborative triptych with Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and Holly Walrath)

This piece is full of water and longing and secrets, and I hope you enjoy it! I had such a great time working on this collaborative project with Bonnie and Holly. Its origin story leads back to the final days of my first AWP trip a couple of years ago, when we all got our futures forefold by one of those old-timey Zoltar fortunetelling machines. We made a pact (writers love pacts!) to each write a poem based on our fortune, and now the result is published over at Mithila Review. You can even listen to me read my poem—the first time I got to record my own work!

“The Scratch Inside Your Chest” (Strange Horizons Arab League Community Special Issue, poetry)

I was honored when Strange Horizons invited me to submit to this special issue, and thrilled when they took this poem. I’d been sitting on this one a while, but it felt like it was finally ready to go live in the world. Much like the narrators of the poem, it kept growing into something stranger and wilder as I worked on it, and I’m glad Strange Horizon was where it finally got to hatch. And look, now it’s nominated for a Rhysling!

“Lineage” (Bayou Magazine Issue 67, flash fiction)

Late last year I had the sudden realization that not only had I published more poetry than prose, but that the only piece of fiction I’d published in 2017 was not even speculative. “Lineage” was my first publication in a print-only literary journal. Being print-only is simultaneously fun and frustrating, especially after getting used to online publications. But Bayou Magazine appears to have really loved the story, as I received news from them a couple of months ago that they’ve nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. I know the internet is flooded with blog posts and tweets about how Pushcart nominations are not exciting at all, but hell, this was my first Pushcart nomination, and I’m excited. And also: don’t ever let anyone tell you when to be or not to be excited. Squee when you feel like squeeing, and damn those who roll their eyes.


Layla Al-Bedawi