Peach Picks: Literary Recommendations for the Week
Last Friday at Peach we featured a couple poems by Matthew Clinton Sekellick, an artist and writer who spent several years living in Buffalo as a graduate student, but who now lives in Troy. The first of the two, “living in a dystopia is a lot less fun than the movies make it out to be,” details the effects of our present political climate and how the speaker is managing to cope with the influx disturbing news he hears everyday. In one line, Sekellick makes a clever use of a footnote; he writes, “I read the news last Sunday and I cried* for a good fifteen minutes,” and later, “although one could more appropriately say sobbed, or more appropriately wept, or more appropriately bawled my god damn eyes out because in those brief moments they are too busy mourning to see more.” The poem is a modern peek into another person’s handling of our current media-saturated culture.
Notes of a Crocodile
By Qui Miaojin
NYRB Classics, 2017
I was thrilled to recently read Bonnie Huie’s new translation of Qui Miaojin’s cult classic coming-of-age novel, Notes of a Crocodile. The Taiwanese writer is considered a genius in China, and created a massive body of work during her lifetime, including novels, short stories, a short film, and volume of diaries, until her untimely death at the age of 26. Written as a series of notebooks, Notes of a Crocodile follows a young woman grappling with the realization that she is a lesbian, all while falling in love with her older female classmate. Miaojin was quite ahead of her time in the way that she rejected words like “lesbian” and “queer,” instead describing her desires in their simplest form. “You were like a realm that exposed me,” she writes. “You tore me open and exposed the man inside.” The novel was one of the first to explore sex, gender, and queerness in such a unique way.
Last Friday was the latest installment of Just Buffalo Writing Center’s Showcase series, a biannual event in which Writing Center coordinator Robin Lee Jordan curates a night in celebration of the wonderful work achieved by the center’s young writers. Friday’s showcase featured 15-year-old Trinity Ridout, a poet, singer-songwriter, and student at City Honors High School, alongside 17-year-old Ikuris Perry, a poet, rapper, and student at Olmsted High School. Trinity performed a variety of poems in her characteristic whimsical and mysterious tone, and finished off with an original song, the chorus of which has been stuck in my head ever since: “Remember my name / but you will only remember a feeling.” Ikuris, a genius wordsmith, performed several rap tracks, and though her stage presence was full of lighthearted wit and humor, some of her raps flirted with darker themes. “The penalty for feeling,” she rapped, “is a chemical imbalance.” The young writers ended the night by performing an original song together, while Trinity’s erasure poem of Trump’s inauguration speech projected onto a nearby wall. Friday evening showcased the diversity of work—both in content and in form—that is currently being encouraged inside the writing center. Witnessing the quality of the teens’ work alongside their warm and welcoming friendships, my only wish is that there was such a place in Buffalo when I was in high school.
“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo. For inquiries, contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.