(Dave Malone hails from the Missouri Ozarks, where several of the images in this film were photographed. He is the author of six books of poetry, most recently O: Love Poems from the Ozarks (TS Poetry Press). His work has also been featured in Thin Air. You can find him on Twitter @dzmalone.)
People called coyotes
will take you across,
highways will have roses
to stray the hell, no
one says animals
veer at name, how
this blurry dust field
the wend fell us moving
white light aside, why
men wear the names of
animals down their
fronts, as cooks,
or pitch their bodies, down
to what, a method of state,
no walking at to where is
away, season seen onto
the eye, then this true
else is our nor, down
rows of shoulders, how border
share us down to none, we, an
act, leak at field, that or as
far as collapsing in directions,
coasts, that include, eyes
in the sun blurred bodies,
gave and met, and ripped
apart, us and out into
them slowing, to suggest
we easily become else to,
speak in these, breaths that
hung from mustache
through chain link
fence, snaking inland,
near here the field,
remains horses, bones
curled on their sides
atop floating pollen,
blind though edgeless, as west,
were stupid to further, the
lice white suns the sky apart so
sky in this ravine makes little
sense, they handfuls in sightless,
search where were there no
You are calling this canyon
choking thousands, no
animal asks you why the
sun speaks a synonym of
us, anywhere earth not
become ours, cars that
press against one
another, no coyote,
the more you look someone
has no eyes
in the eyes
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers and writers, it’s that time again. Your Monday will no longer be that drab, soul-dampening harbinger of yet another tedious workweek that it has been all summer. For the next several months, Monday will mean EXCITEMENT. Monday will mean ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. Monday will mean NARROW CHIMNEY.
We kick things off on August 29th–the first day of school. What could be more fitting. Even your students can come; the event welcomes individuals under 21 years of age.
We are lucky to have local writers Nicole Walker and Natalie Rose performing for us on the 29th. Come as you are. Bring your friends. Bring a book so they can sign it. Bring questions for the artists to ask after the performances. Bring a few bucks so you can get a drink and maybe some of that great Irish food. Bring your verve. Bring your zazz. Bring your dog.
Uptown Pubhouse, August 29th (Monday). Natalie Rose, & Nicole Walker. 7pm to 8pm. Free. Weekly spoken word event, every Monday, with MFA students from NAU as well as local figures.
Be there or be square. I will be there. I will also be square. Both are options.
Signed, your thinairmagazine.com pilot,
(photo credit: Remedios Varo)
By Christine Davis
I remember being seventeen in Ms. Knudsen’s AP Environmental Science class. She was Canadian and had purple streaks in her hair, so everyone wanted to enroll. Each day we learned that the planet was doomed. G.K. Lamb’s dystopian, debut novel is about this inevitable doom as told through the first-person lens of Evelyn, a young girl full of hope and fight. She might have done well in Ms. Knudsen’s course, but in Evelyn’s world free thought is rebellion, family is complicated, and answers come at the ultimate price.
World building is key in young adult fiction, and Filtered delivers in this arena. The novel centers on the premise that air pollution has resulted in toxicity so severe all citizens must wear masks while outside, and rely upon air filtration systems inside. Lamb creates images of tall buildings, tightly locked doors, and a billboard declaring, “Remember, a fresh filter everyday keeps death at bay!” The Great Society is responsible for regulating safety, but their regulations encroach upon almost every human right. Evelyn’s schooling is a perfect example of The Great Society’s stiff expectations. Students aren’t permitted to look authority figures in the eye, move out of synch, or question anything about their world. When Evelyn encounters her first taste of rebellion, she says, “There’s life here,” and her new companion retorts, “Uncomfortable, isn’t it?” Lines like this capture the psychological world-building Lamb accomplishes alongside the physical landscape.
Readers fall even deeper into the familiar landscape of family, but once again they find a filter. The family lives in an upscale apartment with plenty of fresh filters and store bought food. Her father works late. They watch T.V. However, any displays of “normalcy” are interrupted by the ever-present threat of death. In addition to communicating through literal filtration masks designed to protect them against pollution, they also must communicate through the masks of fear and ignorance. Evelyn’s mother falls deeper into isolation as the novel progresses, leaving Evelyn thinking, “I wish she were someone I could trust…one look at her and I know she can’t be any of the things I wish her to be. Her frame is already withering, no doubt from malnourishment and confinement.” She wonders, “How much of our imprisonment is self-inflicted?” but she is alone with this question, unable to include her family in any quest for answers.
Lamb’s plot and ultimate climax are nicely tied to both the world he creates, and the family Evelyn must break away from in order to come of age in a time of rebellion. Readers will want to engage in her fast-paced adventures, full of villains, broken heroes, and misguided youths. The more Evelyn commits to uncovering the truth, the more she finds herself entrenched in a historical tug-of-war that leaves her fighting for her life in more ways than one.
The result of reading a book like G.K. Lambs’s Filtered is not only to leave entertained, but also educated. At Evelyn’s age I had Ms. Knudsen to tell me about the perils of this world, but did I listen? Filtered provides young readers an intricate look at the results of environmental collapse through a character they will want to follow anywhere.
Saturday, February 27, G.K. Lamb is signing books at Bookmans from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., as part of the Bookmans Flag AZ Author Fair. Lamb joins Mark Bordner and Austin Aslan.
NAU Thin Air Literary Magazine Give Back Event:
Let Chili’s do the cooking while we support NAU Thin Air Literary Magazine at the same time. With each flyer presented on Thursday, Chili’s will donate 15% of the event day sales back to this great organization.
Chili’s Flagstaff/1500 S. Milton Road/Flagstaff AZ 86001/928-774-4546/www.chilis.com
That’s some fine-looking print you got there: Give Back Event flyer required with each check to receive credit for the sale. (You can download it from our Facebook event page!) Sale cannot be included in donation amount with flyer. Offer only valid on the date and location stated above. Donations will not be given on sales made prior to or past this date.
MartAnne’s Burrito Palace is donating 10% of its entire sales on Wednesday, February 17 to Thin Air Magazine’s AWP fundraiser.
AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, is holding its 2016 conference and bookfair at the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 30 – April 2.
According to the AWP web site, “The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature.”
Help represent Thin Air Magazine at the 2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair by eating at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace, voted Best Breakfast Place by Arizona Daily Sun readers. And remember: MartAnne’s now has a dinner and cocktail and beer menu and accepts credit cards. Eat well and support literature all day long!
by Camille Sinaguinan
When I told an officer of the Flagstaff Police Department last December that I was a writer, and that I was always looking for story, he suggested that I go on a ride along. I wasn’t sold on the idea at first–couldn’t you get shot at on ride alongs?–but when I mentioned it to a group of writer friends, they insisted that I do it.
So, when I got back from California, I went to the Flagstaff Police Department and filled out an orchid-colored form. I would not be issued a bullet-proof vest. I would obey all commands given to me by my officer.
The next day, I received a call: my request was approved. When would I like to schedule my ride along? I chose a Thursday night from 5:30pm-9:00pm. Our dispatch handle was “David 20”, and here are some of the things I learned:
- The cops are the good guys. At least in Flagstaff. The officer I shadowed that night pulled over two vehicles for traffic violations. Both drove away with warnings. When I told the cop that I’d never been pulled over in California without getting an actual ticket, he said it’s probably different in larger cities. I was both pleased by his kindness and disappointed in my hometown.
- It is an unspoken rule that the older cops get the better patrol cars when on duty.
- If you are accompanying a cop on a ride along, you are referred to as a CO or Civilian Observer.
- Everyone knows everything that’s going on all the time. It’s called dispatch. There are no secrets in police work. Also, a good dispatcher can save a cop’s life.
- Civilians often use the police to do the dirty work for them. Our first call was made by a woman who sent us to her ex-husband’s house so we could ask why he hadn’t returned her two-year-old daughter. We find out after meeting the man that he always keeps their daughter until Sunday per their custody agreement, and he’s tired of the police coming over all the time to heckle him at his ex-wife’s behest.
- Traffic stops–when a cop pulls a vehicle over–can be more dangerous than actual calls. We did two on my ride along. Both times I was told to stay in the car. The second time he radioed for backup and approached the truck with his hand over his holster.
- Cops wear around 40 lbs of gear when on duty.
- Because of the nature of their work, cops have above average adrenaline levels when they are on duty. When they’re off duty, their levels drop below average to allow the body to recuperate. This constant high to low shift can cause real problems for officers. Some manage the imbalance by working out and taking on hobbies. The less fortunate can become alcoholics.
- A lot of patrolling is driving the same route over and over. This doesn’t mean the job is easy, though, because…
- Cops are crazy multi-taskers. Here was what my officer was doing minute-by-minute while we were in the car together: driving, checking vehicle registrations on his laptop with one hand, talking to me about the necessity of a police force, listening to the dispatch radio, listening to the regular radio, and looking out for traffic violations. There were times when we would be talking and he’d stop abruptly, hearing something only he understood from dispatch. Then the next second he’s making a U-turn to pull over a guy with a busted headlight. After completing his calls or traffic stops, he would continue our conversation as if we’d never been interrupted. It was really impressive, but it made me seriously wonder how adequate I was at life in comparison.
- Working for the police can be like any other job. Some people actually work, some don’t. Some can be trusted, some can’t. Bonds made doing difficult work are some of the strongest bonds around.
- We let cops into our most private lives, sometimes without even knowing it. One of our calls was a student who thought she heard someone inside her apartment when nobody should have been there. My officer and one other did a sweep of her apartment before deeming it safe. The girl was so grateful, and on the way back down to the patrol cars, the cops talked about how nice her apartment was. When cops check our registrations from their patrol cars–and this happens every free minute they have–pulling up our license plate numbers brings up all our information: name, age, eye color, home address. And we don’t even know our plates were run. I watched my officer run a plate once. I didn’t look long–it felt wrong, seeing that person’s information without them knowing.
- Cops don’t have ticket quotas.
- “10-4” is the most common code I heard over the radio. It means something like, “Got it” or “Understood.” When I asked the cop where the codes came from he laughed and said, “I don’t know. I just work here.”
Not much happened on my ride along in terms of violence or crazy people, but I got as much as I could about the day-to-day. For those of you that are curious, anyone can go on a ride along. You just need to go to the Police Station and fill out that form. Usually you can schedule to shadow the same week.
It’s a good thing to do, if you’re looking for story. Getting to know the people we trust with our lives doesn’t hurt either.
by Elizabeth Hellstern
I volunteered for the NonfictionNOW conference held at NAU at the end of October, in Flagstaff AZ. It was amazing. I attended four panel sessions and two keynote speaker sets per day, browsed the book fair, drank cocktails at a couple parties, read my own work (in Halloween pink hair) and found many interesting people to talk to. Many of my conversations have led to online sharing of writing and ideas. From now on, I am compelled to read work by people I met at this conference, because it provides context for understanding, good material for conversation with my new friends, and ultimately because there are so many good things out there to read that we have to have some way of choosing.
To that end, to I have searched and found four essays from some of the cool people I talked to. Believe me, there were many others, but for brevity’s sake, I will keep it to four. I won’t tell you all about each piece, but rather, I’d like to pull out some of my favorite lines—lines that are so well-written that they stand apart as objects, as individual marbles I’ve been rolling around my mouth, saying them over and over and savoring the way they feel. I love the places they refer to, the people they mention and the ideas they embody.
Barrie Jean Borich is from Chicago, and like every blond woman from that town with sass and a curvy figure, she reminds me of my Aunt Claire. I was really excited to find her essay “Of Wearing My Red Dress” (in the anthology After Montaigne) so I could“talk” about fashion with someone who had similar style panache to Claire. In her favorite red dress, Borich shows off her great cleavage and gets more attention than usual, then examines the situation, saying “I know the woman they see in this dress is made of a design, a bra, a posture, a stance, a mood, an attitude, and more story than body.” I get it! I also completely understand Borich when she says “the clothes werenever just clothes, but also the story of clothes, the longing represented by clothes” but“…clothes have no stories without the body, and without the human lives that clothes both project and protect.” I have always felt that my clothes tell a story, and I try to be conscious of which story I’m telling.
I first met Tarn Wilson when I gave her a ride to town from the Flagstaff airport. I knew I liked her when I found out she was also a vegetarian. Wilson is the author of The Slow Farm, a memoir with “artifacts” that illustrate her unique life growing up off-grid, with alternative-lifestyle parents in Canada. I read The Slow Farm as soon as I got home from the conference. Then I found a fabulous essay Wilson wrote called “The History Of My Teeth” in Inertia Magazine. She says “Several of my high school students with impaired social skills have told me–not as an insult but as a cheerful observation–that I look like a rabbit.” This line is so brave and funny and endearing—in ways that aren’t sexy or sophisticated but purely humble. Wilson has gone for the humor at the expense of her ego; and now I am a loyal reader.Jericho Parms may very well be my writing doppelganger. We both love to write about touch, art and hot springs. Her essay “Lost Wax” in the American Literary Review braids together impressions of classic sculptures of Cupid, Eros and Aphrodite with memories of her ex-lover and her parents’ relationship. She writes “material textures enclose our living impulses.” I’ve started to get itchy thumbs, as I touch these impulses. Parms also says “these sculptures are myth and legend personified, allegories preserved”but although “created to uphold perfection, have inherited the imperfection of life itself.” The references to bronze and marble help me to feel the memories of lost love between my fingers.
There’s that famous question; which of your favorite writers would you want to have coffee with? These four authors are my top choices for coffee dates. If that doesn’twork out, then I’ll read their pieces with a hot cup of joe and be just as satisfied.