2015 Best of The Net Nominations

We’re super super excited to announce our 2015 Best of the Net Anthology nominations:


Darryl Sleeps Through the best sunrise by Lynne Marie Houston

The fly claims no vertigo sitting on the sill by Leslie Rzeznik

For Life by Chrislande Dorcilus

Cellar Violin by Meg Matich


Five by Mandy Rose

Worse Things by Taylor Sykes

*nominations are taken from works published during the period of July 2014 through June 2015

Cartoon Style: Dressing up to the funnies with Bojack Horseman

suit needs more flasks

By Chrislande Dorcilus

I don’t have cable, so netflix is a constant source of entertainment for me, and combined with the fact that my live-in boyfriend is an aspiring animator, I had no choice but to watch Bojack Horseman when it came out in 2014. I’m the kind of woman-child that watches a whole season of American Dad when I am regenerating from a mild depression just because the characters are paper and their problems are in 2D. So, I instantly fell in love with the talking horse from “Horsin’ Around” and his cohort of eccentric characters from the infamous Hollywoo.

My most favorite thing about the show is the fashion. During her REDDIT AMA Lisa Hanawalt, Bojack Horseman’s character designer, exclaimed,I love drawing crazy animals and weird clothes.” And boy is she great at it! Characters are dressed based on both their personality and geography. There wardrobes are also time and period specific when necessary. You’re probably wondering why that matters. Fashion is important part of rendering a believable imaginary world where women play an active social and political role. As a series that star women comics like Lisa Kudrow and Amy Sedaris (Princess Caroline), Show’s creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wanted to move away from comedy’s focus on masculinity and maleness to showcase female characters being/doing funny things i.e this lady croc in crocs.

croc in crocs

As fashion is an important part of women’s personal and professional lives, it is important for shows, movies, and even animations to portray not only how they bring us together, but how they divide us. What Sextina Aquafina, the pop star dolphin, can wear on stage is very different than what Princess Caroline, the middle aged talent agent, can pull off–in both the context of the show and society at large.


This image is a scene from a funeral. Look at the two female characters. See how their outfit denote their age and personal sensibilities, and notice how that contrast with the drab suits worn by the male characters. It speaks volumes about gender, and self expression. The limits of what constitutes as formality for men are both sobering and sad.


Now, check out Princess Caroline’s funeral appropriate cocktail dress with the wide grid mesh shoulders contrasted with Mr. Peanutbutter’s tuxedo tracksuit. It helps to interrogate the freedoms and power dynamics at play when there exists social situations which some people feel complete comfortable dressing informal and other do not. Can’t you just read their power and place in Hollywoo’s social scene? Look at the detail in Henry Winkler’s tie. I gag and die for Hanawalt’s subtlety.

Herb's Funeral PC MR PB


Though an animated comedy, Bojack’s story does stand on a very serious foundation that grounds us through important questions about sex, gender, self, friendship, love and even substance abuse. We explore the morality of a deranged horse/man who finds himself in the sticky ambivalence of his fame. This life involves costume changes. From high fashion cocktail events to days spent drinking in Boxers, we become intimate with the character by realizing that they too wear themselves.

Go Ahead and Take Care of Yourself

treat yo self

One of my dearest friends, Audre, is on her way to being a wonderful behavioral therapist. She’s getting her Masters degree in the subject and is burning her way through the coursework with her brilliant and empathetic insight . She knows about human behavior, she knows what makes us tick, she’s in the business of pointing out my emotional biases and blind spots.

She, like the rest of us, also has a hard time taking care of her own emotional and physical needs. Her and I often have conversations about our issues with anxiety. Our jobs, partners, educations, and future hang like anvils around our necks.

When it’s your job to make sure people make it through life’s most difficult turmoils like partner violence and sexual abuse, there is a  great responsibility to not fuck it up. Even those of us whose job is  to heal others, and are very good at it, still find it hard to fulfill our needs. We forget what Audre says:  “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” We forget to take her advice.

I am an annoying know-it-all who finds my own brand of cheery emotional austerity the best way to live life, but the truth is that this austerity has made it difficult to connect with my own needs, and time again I fail to to take care of things that are important to me. I sweep a lot under the huge silent rug of depression. I find myself overwhelmed with the fact that both politically and emotionally it appears that I have no power, even over my own body–as we women are living in a society that both ignores us and finds our labor disposable.

I forget to take care of myself.

Self-care–it’s all the rage! But what exactly is it? According to some internet digging, self-care is a term used in reference to when people (usually patients in rehab or in hospitals) take initiative to heal themselves. I am inclined to give Dorothea Orem the credit as the originator of the term as it applies to healing practice. She developed the “Self-Care Theory” to help nurses do a better job at connecting with their needs and the needs of their patients. Some of the major assumptions of her theory according to currentnursing.com boil down to this:

  • People should be self-reliant and responsible for their own care and others in their family needing care
  • People are distinct individuals
  • Nursing [caring for others] is a form of action – interaction between two or more persons
  • Successfully meeting universal and development self-care requisites is an important component of primary care prevention and ill health
  • A person’s knowledge of potential health problems is necessary for promoting self-care behaviors
  • Self care and dependent care are behaviors learned within a socio-cultural context

Orem’s theory is a perfect place to start in recognizing what we need to do in taking care of ourselves. We need to take responsibility for our own well being, which honestly, is a big feat unto itself. I can’t even remember to drink enough water throughout the day, let alone to be self-reliant! But self-care is also self-learning so here are some things to remember:

Be Kind to Yourself

Let’s be real. Taking care of yourself is hard, hard, hard work. So you promised yourself that you would start exercising, or writing every day but you have yet to pick up a dumbbell or a pen. Now, you feel bad and you’re disappointed in yourself.  First of all writing is excruciating and difficult work –the emotional equivalent of ripping off your fingernails— and dumbbells are heavy–for no reason. When you find yourself feeling guilty about not meeting a goal and that guilt starts to develop into a cycle of anxiety, remember that it’s ok to feel bad! It’s ok to fail! It’s ok not to meet our own expectations! Remind yourself as to why you want to do these things in the first place. If they are to take care of yourself and bring you satisfaction, and if those goals are not serving your peace of mind and emotional health–revise and rewrite them.

Find Your People

Though a lot of research on self care practices center around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which states that your basic needs of  food, shelter, and clean water need to be met to feel subjective happiness, research by psychologist Edward Diener has proven that Maslow’s hypothesis is not necessarily true. Every group Diener researched and surveyed across the globe had different ideas of what happiness meant.  Yet everyone agreed that they were happier when they found support among their social groups and communities–even individualistic societies like our own. Part of being human is making and maintaining meaningful relationships, yet a lot of us live and participate in communities where meaningful relationships are hard to maintain. It’s corny, cliche, and a little sad but most people need people.  If you can, try to find your tribe. Find internet forums where you can get support, join meetup groups centered around your interests, join Facebook groups, church groups, stitch-n-bitch knitting groups, whatever hobbies and political goals that you may have, someone out there has them too! Find those people. Connect. Get the support you need to meet your needs.


Science keeps telling us 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day will make you feel better, so I try to do at least five minutes a day! I figure it’ll add up. Seriously, move as much as YOU CAN according your abilities and desires.  Even if, like me, it’s to walk down to the dollar store to buy knickknacks or to twerk to Beyonce. Just a little dancin’ will make your day go a little better.

Honor All of Your Needs

What do YOU need? Think about it. Go ahead and make a list of what you need to feel happy. No matter how silly you think that need might look to other people, if you qualify it as a need: “something that a person must have : something that is needed in order to live or succeed or be happy,” then give yourself permission to at least try to meet those needs. Be gentle with yourself but be persistent. You want to wear pink everyday? Do it. Do you want to only share cat videos on your Facebook because the world is too horrible of a place? Do it. I believe in you!

Writing this post has made me feel like Oprah. You get self-care and YOU GET SELF-CARE!

Seriously, it’s important that we are kind to ourselves even more so as our political, economical, and social environments become more hostile. It’s also important that we find people that will also be kind to us. We all need our humanity reaffirmed to be able to meet our needs. We can do it!


Model to Fashion World: “Stop Making Us Look Ratchet”

putnam flowersphoto from Putnam Flowers



Nykhor Paul, a Congolese model and humanitarian, gave the fashion world a stern talking-to over the weekend. She shamed predominantly white fashion houses and makeup artists for one of the more micro-aggressive racist practices common behind the scenes of fashion: not having makeup or hair styling tools that fit black and brown models.

This isn’t the first time that a black model has spoken out about not being fully equipped or supported to do their job. Supermodel Jourdan Dunn has also tweeted comments about how untrained behind the scene staff at fashion shows seem to be when it comes to black skin and hair.

This incident has me dwelling on the nuanced ways that racism affects black women–specially at work. Let’s take modeling as the ultimate example of gendered and racialized labor: women are more likely to get fame and fortune doing it—one of the  few jobs where women can make more than men at all levels of their career. Modeling is also a predominantly white industry.

Nykhor, Jourdan, and other black models make up a very small portion of those being booked in the industry–about 6.8% according to Naomi Campbell. In 2013 this prompted former supermodel Bethann Hardison to pen three letters calling out designers by name for their lack of diversity. Season after season the number of black models has been dwindling. Many in the fashion industry had a hard time pinpointing the problem. The publicist blamed the designer who blamed the casting director who blamed the magazine editors and even still today the buck gets passed around so much that I can’t help but find Hardison’s letter very much relevant. She called it what it was and always will be, “a racist act.”

This form of racism, like all forms of racism, does not cease to function once integration happens. The models that have managed to make it past the policing reality of what it means to be both beautiful and black according to white supremacy, find themselves dealing with another issue: how to be as beautiful as their peers (essentially as good) without the same scaffolding of support available to them.

Imagine getting an office job where everyone had great assistants except for the black coworkers that got sidelined with the incoming interns every quarter. That would be ridiculous wouldn’t it? There’s the hardship of getting the modeling gig–as Nykhor points out black models are few in the fashion industry and then faced with more obstacles of maintaining a gig once booked.

Just as black women in other professional environments have experienced: whether we were ill equipped for specific tasks by an ignorant supervisor, or racist school system. It’s being told to wait for the group and finding that they’d already left–something that’s happened to be throughout my experiences as a black woman, worker, and scholar. The abandonment of both my needs and support by my non-black peers.  It’s all akin to the same feeling of having to represent a group, company, project that never believed in you in the first place. Nykhor cannot do the job of modeling without the art of makeup.  It’s not  fair to her to compete in an environment that is out to make her look “ratchet.” A model with makeup that doesn’t match her skin tone looks idiotic. The long arm of eurocentric beauty standards are accidentally making you look idiotic on purpose. It’s complicated.

Even to those of us that aren’t models and whom are feminist, makeup holds great currency. There are feminist pockets of the internet where talking about contouring and brow pencils is all the rage. Making the self is liberating. Making the self in images that make us feel confident and human is even more liberating. When your job is to represent what it means to be a woman and what it means to be human, finding out that you can’t because of a system that goes out of it’s way to erase your subjectivity and your human needs must be infinitely demoralizing.

At this point, it’s not the makeup companies per se. The higher end brands know that customers of all colors participate in societies impossibly blemish free beauty standards. Nykhor names them in her post – Mac, Makeup Forever, Iman Cosmetics, Covergirl,  Black Opal –  are all companies that cater to the diversity of black skin, all to varying degrees. Don’t applaud the make up industry yet: there are brands like Neutrogena, Physicians Formula, and Almay which, through their actions say, “Black women need not apply.” Racism is a complicated game of economics. And it’s even more in the world where we are told that those of us who are most successful are the ones that can sell a self. Rants like Nykhors ask us to think about how black women have to compete in the world of work and self composing. The quagmire of fighting beauty standards in a world where we can’t even have any.


The Mysoginoir of Burning Down Black Churches

four young girls
 by chrislande dorcilus

It is no coincidence that seven of the nine victims of Dylan Roof’s violent and racist attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church were black women.  Approximately 62% of black women in America consider themselves part of the Black Christian family. Every Sunday black women (even more so than black men) fill the pews of historically black churches–upholding a tradition as old as the American South itself; older even than the confederate flag.They congregate to worship, socialize, and do the much needed community outreach and political organizing that supports black American families. This group of devoted American congregants includes all three of my sisters, my devout grandmother, my best friend’s mother, and most of the women that make up the colorful patchwork of my life.

When I first moved to Brooklyn I lived with my aunt. Her apartment sat atop the church where she worshiped every Sunday. On Sundays she could be found catering meals for church events, or helping to manage the church’s budget, while taking expert care of the aging founder. My aunt is not a special case, black women around me cover and protect the black church from coast to coast. Though Brooklyn – the most diverse borough in the melting pot of NYC- is considered less likely to breed racial intolerance than a “Dixie State” like South Carolina,  I’ve seen MTA workers flying confederate colors. I’ve heard the whispers of racist ideology in the curt speech of women on the train. I can imagine the grief that has invaded the neighborhoods of the women I love as this wave of church burning engulfs them.

Dylan Roof wrote in his manifesto that the attack on Emmanuel AME was partly about rebuilding the purity of white women. Black women were once again paying for white purity with their lives–and this glaring gendered aspect of the crime washed over our nation. This is not to say that the lives of Rev. Clementa Pinkney and Tywanza Sanders matter less. This is not about pitting black men against black women. We need to admit to the truth of American life: black women’s lives matter less than everyone else’s. Take breast cancer for example, how is it that even though black women are less likely to develop it, we are more likely to die from it?  The simple answer is that the larger American community is not listening to our needs and not tuning in to our pain. As a black woman and a feminist, It’s painful to watch this “less than” rhetoric play out over and over again. I see the lives of the great women murdered at Emmanuel AME as my own. They stand as a mirror of who my friends and sisters could be.

Let’s remember Rev. Sharonda Singleton, a pastor, speech therapist, and high school girls’ track coach, and the woman who raised her teenage son to have compassion for her murderer. Let’s remember Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, the reverend and mother of four, who spent her time as a community director. These women were much more than the congregants of a megachurch. These women carved out niches of power for themselves and the women in their community within a historically misogynist faith, one where black female reverends still receive death threats.

It’s with bitter disdain that black feminists and womanists in America, such as myself, watch as black women are murdered for exercising the same religious liberty afforded to the racist conservative pundits and militarized groups that disseminate hate in American communities. It’s with mind numbing tears that we watch as feminist media channels ignore our deaths at the hands of white people. But what really drives the pain home is how much we are continuously being used. When liberal politicians need the black vote, they know where to find it and rouse the black church. Yet, they are very silent as those same churches are hollowed out with the fire of Bible Belt racism.

The destruction of black churches as overtly racist forms of terrorism and gendered violence has occurred throughout  America’s history. The truth is that any violent assault on the black church is a violent assault on more than half of our country’s black women. Jia Tolentino over at Jezebel points out that besides the 8 that are being whispered about in the news, “29 other black churches have burned within the last 18 months.”  We have yet to completely account for the countless others that were silently burned down in the years when commentary on the tragic state of race relations in America didn’t drive traffic to internet websites, news channels, and blogs. We know of white racists burning down churches and killing little girls, but we categorize those acts as dust left to settle in the past. America thrives on the silence which surrounds violence against black women. This silence is the same one that enables google to tag a young black girl as a gorrilla in an image, allows an Ohio police officer to break the jaw of a 12 year old black girl at a pool party, and perpetuates the most dangerous myth swirling in white America’s imagination: that black people feel less pain.

The truth is this: in 1963 four little girls were killed in the Birmingham church bombings, and 52 years later, in 2015, seven black women were murdered in a bible study group. Cynthia Hurd, the public librarian who was also killed at Emmanuel AME, was two years old in 1963. I can imagine her parents had cradled her in their arms, and thanked god for the blessing of having their own daughter safe in their home while vigilantly watching their television screens. I can see them  bravely breaching the collection plates of their own church to donate to the women that had lost their little girls to senseless white violence. I can only imagine.

In 2015, the death tolls aren’t decreasing. Misogynoir festers underneath the American psyche. Black women are routinely seen as violent by even other marginalized groups in our society. This makes it easy to denounce the mass violence that is enacted against us at both systematic and personal levels. Just as the death of Rekia Boyd, or the assault on Dymond Milborn, a twelve year old black girl who was beaten and kidnapped by police in front of her home, went unnoticed, so has the mass sterilizations, and the church burnings been ignored for what they are: violence against black women.

Sailor Jupiter : Chrislande Dorcilus

bio picture

Chrislande Dorcilus is the Sailor Senshi best known as Sailor Jupiter. She lives through cliche. Wants to get a dog to dress up like a baby and doesn’t get poetry. She loves you, and studies Fashion Theory and History at the CUNY Grad Center. Holla.


Who is your favorite female identifying written character and why?

I love difficult women and Emma Bovary is on top of my list of most difficult woman that I have ever read and thus, my “favorite female identifying character.” I love that she searched for what she wanted so hard that it killed her. I love that she was loved right through her selfish and spoiled journey to personal demise. To have a life worth being written about with a modicum of poetic flourish you need to be difficult.

What literary work by a female identifying writer had the most effect on you as a writer and/or person?

Depending on the point in my life this answer certainly changes. Last summer it was Manga-ka Kyoko Okazaki’s Pink. When I was 16, it was Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda. The summer of my 22nd year, I would have growled Toni Morrison’s Beloved at the answer but that following Fall I was smitten by any poem June Jordan wrote. Right now, I am a devotee of French Christian mystic and philosopher Simone Weil. I read her life altering Gravity and Grace for a class I took this semester taught by poet/professor/awesome person Wayne Koestenbaum, and fell in love. Weil’s story is very similar to Emma’s. A genius of a woman, an empath, a goddess in her own philosophical right, and another woman who died trying to be exactly who she wanted to be. I can also say that The Lover by Duras stands out as a novel that always eventually pops up as favorites no matter the time in my life. Ask me again in a year.

How did your poems in Alyss come about?

I want to lie in answering this question.  I want to say that they came from my own brilliant flourishing young writer’s mind, but they were written in conjunction to a poetry class four years ago at Florida State University.

What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?

The thick-German-chocolate-slice-of-cake feeling of having someone like my poetry. I don’t believe that it will get any better than that.

What is your favorite piece by another writer from Issue One and why?

My favorite is Houston’s “Darryl Sleeps Through the Best Sunrise I’ve Ever Seen.I love when a poem invites me to be intimate with the complexity of grief. It was a soft memorial poem, but I could still feel the known sadness of having lived through a loss percolating in the verse. I too have a similar sadness. I also love that it was narrative and full of color. The first stanza connects to both the way I understand the world and how I long to write poetry:

“Lafitte is socked in by orange fog.
Sunrise surrounds us, a pink I can taste,
a someone-call-9-1-1 red:
the sky has cracked open its head and is bleeding.”

I too have been surrounded by “a pink I can taste.”

What are you currently working?

I’m getting Master’s degree in Fashion Studies so, I’m working on making it translate into gainful employment. That requires a skill familiar to all poets: making dollars out of pennies! I am also in the contemplative process of writing the following books: one on Josei manga and American audiences, and another on black women, fashion and the south.

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?

Alice Walker is my favorite Alice for a trillion of reasons but my two favorites are:

  • Finding Zora Neale Hurston’s grave.
  • And writing “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens

Her career is proof of the way that genre is a BS construct and that as artists we have to find each other across time and space, and as writers we can and should write what makes us happy.

Ladies Only

Eloquence would say:

“Once upon a time there was a girl with a tube
of tomato paste in her stomach and one day she wore
really tight jeans and it squeezed fruit jelly
out her American pie. She gave birth to secret sweetness.”

Eleven, behind the grey couch,
my eyes afraid of my mother’s back,
I couldn’t figure anything out, except
stiffly answering to “You’ve been sleeping all day?”
with “I got my period.”
Nothing more exquisite then brown blood in time, blue jeans
and a bottomless pain; shredding, sharp,
perpetual to the blondness of the English teacher’s
bullshit: Capulet, Romeo, Juliet, etc.
If I stand will they
see? Smell?

It must be the same with mangoes,
robins: their bodies,red tinted, blush at us:
onlookers lusting their ripeness.


Chrislande Dorcilus

For Life

We stand loud in the pubescent
musk of the blue locker rooms
against the pink walls of
Palm Beach Gardens High School.
She hands me the Japanese comic books
their grey pages wafting sticky rice, edible.

The sun smells of
the paprika center in the
yellow tinted sugar marble I call
Vietnamese Candy, accents atop vowels,
the crumpling shout of the wrapper
not helping me pronounce its name right.
She watches me eat it, her small mouth
spreading atop an overgrowth of teeth into a smile
We rode a million miles away, together.

I am a neon marshmallow chick melting,
on the sidewalk
the wind is blowing debris, whirling grasses
through soft flesh, splinters sticking to me

Can you see the ants of memories marching
away from the grainy pickings? Is that you on
their backs? Crumbling out of me. I imagine:

She will wear a red Ao Dai, gold
cloth dripping from collar to musical
fringes brooming the floor.
I hear it, the future.

The offering alter in front of her
her groom in a matching dress coat
offering the oranges,
patchouli incense to
the sepia picture of her

His stern forehead lines
indefinitely disapproving.


Chrislande Dorcilus