Issue Deux Contributors

Cassandra de Alba lives in Massachusetts with two other writers and a cat who won’t stop hitting her. She has published several chapbooks and competed in several National Poetry Slams. Her work has appeared in Skydeer Helpking, Drunken Boat, and ILK, among others. She still doesn’t know how to ride a bike.

Amber Atiya is the author of the chapbook the fierce bums of doo-wop (Argos Books, 2014). Her work has appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, Boston Review, the PEN Poetry Series, Nepantla: A Journal for Queer Poets of Color, and been featured on Poetry Foundation’s radio and podcast series PoetryNow. Her poems have been selected for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and nominated for Best New Poets. A proud native Brooklynite, She is a member of a women’s writing group celebrating 13 years and counting.

Tammy Bendetti lives, works, and drinks too much coffee on Colorado’s Western Slope with her husband and two small daughters. She completed a poetry workshop with Wyatt Prunty at Sewanee: The University of the South, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Colorado Mesa University. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Calliope and Grand Valley Magazine, and is forthcoming from Right Hand Pointing. She is currently building a secret room under her stairs but does not plan to keep any wizards in it.

Jamie Lyn Bruce  received an MFA in poetry from City College of New York. Her work has appeared previously in Day One, Thin Air Magazine, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She currently lives in Rochester, NY, where she is working toward certification in secondary special education.

Natalie N. Caro is a Bronx-born poet and the 2013 recipient of the Bronx Recognizes Its Own Award in Poetry. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Lehman College/CUNY and an MFA in Poetry from City College/CUNY where she was selected as one of the first recipients of the Creative Writing Fellowship. Sometimes, she swears that school saved her, but then she thinks about colonization of the mind and feels some type of way. Natalie likes to tweet at bars about teeth and trauma. Follow her and her scattered thoughts on twitter @scatteredstanza.

Rosemary Hayward is a British transplant to the Santa Cruz mountains, California. She works as a CPA , preparing tax returns, has taught tax classes at the local community college and volunteers with The Homeless Garden Project, a wonderful organization that achieves great things in small doses. Her short story, Aunt Mary, was published in Pif Magazine and The Schrodinger Cat was recently accepted by Stickman Review. She is currently working on two novels: the last edit of Margaret and the first draft of Crocus Fields.

Merie Kirby lives in Grand Forks, ND and teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of The Dog Runs On (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and The Thumbelina Poems (Red Bird Chapbooks, forthcoming 2015).  Her poems have been published in Willow Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Avocet, and other journals; she also writes operas and art songs in collaboration with composers.

Grace Shuyi Liew’s first chapbook, Prop, recently won Ahsahta Press’s chapbook competition and will be published in 2016. Her poetry has been published in West Branch, cream city review, Twelfth House, TYPO, Winter Tangerine Review, PANK, and others. She is from Malaysia. Find her irregularly at

Sarah Lilius currently lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. She is a poet and an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, BlazeVOX, Bluestem, and The Lake. Lilius is also the author of the chapbook What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications 2014). Her website is

Ellie Slaughter won the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award in Poetry (2011) and has been published in Anthropoid and The Miscellany. She is an MFA student at Lesley University and currently works as the prose editor for Sling Magazine while interning at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Currently she lives in Salem, MA with her daughter.

Samantha Pious  is studying for a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her specialties are medieval French and English [courtly poetry and women’s writing]. Some of her pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in Mezzo Cammin, Lavender Reviewbroad!, Lunch Ticket, PMS (PoemMemoirStory) and other publications. Others are available on her blog at

Meg Sefton’s work has appeared in Best New Writing, The Dos Passos Review, Atticus Review, Ginosko Literary Review, Danse Macabre, Connotation Press, and other journals. She received her MFA in fiction from Seattle Pacific University and lives in central Florida with her son and their little dog Annie, a Coton de Toulear. She is also happy to report she is in good health thanks to her doctors and the support of loved ones.

Alexandra Smyth lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and their black cat, Bandini. Her work has previously appeared in Poets and Artists, Sixfold, and Word Riot, among others. She is a graduate of the City College of New York MFA Creative Writing program. She is a 2014 recipient of the Poets and Writers Amy Award, and the 2013 recipient of the Jerome Lowell Dejur Award in poetry.

Jen Stein is a writer, advocate, mother and finder of lost things.  She lives in Fairfax, Virginia where she works in family homeless services. Her work has recently appeared in Rogue Agent Journal, Menacing Hedge, Luna Luna Magazine, Nonbinary Review and Stirring. Upcoming work will be featured in Cider Press Review. Jen is currently serving as assistant editor for Rogue Agent Journal. You can find her on the web at   

Alyssa Yankwitt is a poet, photographer, teacher, bartender, documenter, and earth walker. Her poems and photographs have previously appeared in Fruita Pulp, Gingerbread House, Penwheel.lit, Metaphor Magazine, Red Paint Hill’s “Mother Is a Verb” anthology, The Lake, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Spry Literary Journal. Alyssa has incurable wanderlust, enjoys drinking whiskey, hates writing about herself in third person, and loves a good disaster. You can visit her artist page here:


Disaster : Taylor Sykes

taylor pic

Taylor Sykes attended Purdue University and currently works as a creative writing instructor at Writopia Lab in New York City. Her flash fiction has been read on NPR’s All Things Considered and her fiction and poetry has appeared in journals such as Quail Bell Magazine and Pieces of Cake Magazine.


Who is your favorite female identifying written character and why?

I’m going to go with Villanelle from Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. Villanelle is unpredictable, contradictory in nature, and feisty as hell. She embraces passion, chaos, and is open to love in all its forms, despite the “sweet and precise” torture it causes. Villanelle is definitely one of the most badass female-identify characters I’ve ever encountered.

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

There’s too many to say! I can’t, I can’t. Okay, I will, I will. The short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. This is the short story that made me want to write short stories. There’s so much build-up in such a small space and the ending left me shaken. The subject matter, involving a strong-willed girl in a vulnerable moment, resonated with me. I read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” at such an early age, probably only 16, that it really impacted the style and subject matter of my future stories. And it’s still one of my favorite stories to re-read and to teach.

How did your story Worse Things come about?

As is the case with most of my fiction, the story started with the character’s very specific voice and a general idea of the setting. I had Prudence yammering away in my head, so much so that voice was overpowering the plot. So I wrote this character into a car and let her describe the small, claustrophobic town. I knew certain things about her backstory, so I wrote the interaction with her cousin next. It felt important to explore the varying experiences of sexual trauma as well as the entirely subjective perspectives on this trauma. So that conversation between the two characters and Prudence’s moment of panic were prominent in my head early on. I wanted Prudence to flee the scene at the very end, that felt authentic to her character, and went in with that goal in mind when I started writing. The first draft was written in three furious days and revised, revised, revised for several weeks before workshopping it at the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, which was immensely helpful, and after that, I knew what final revisions needed to happen before I could send it out.

What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?

During undergrad, I had the honor of working with Sharon Solwitz. Over three classes and two years’ time, she became my mentor and fiction mother at Purdue. Working with her changed my writing life as well as my, I guess I’ll call it regular life, so I’d say that my first day in her class was my moment.

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

Both poems by Nazia Jannat. One, I’m a sucker for strong villanelles (“A Palestinian Elegy”). Two, “Self Portrait for Whiskey Kisses” is just so damn smart.

What are you currently working on ?

“Worse Things” is one in a series of linked short stories that I’m working on.

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?

Oh, this is such a great last question. Alice Ayres, from the play/film Closer.

Arctic Wolf : Meg Matich



Meg Matich  is an NYC-based poet and translator. A two-time Iowa Review finalist, her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Iowa Review, The Winter Anthology (for which she received the Winter Anthology poetry prize), alice blue review, Drunken Boat, OVS Magazine, Contrary, Archirave Press, and others. Her Icelandic translations have appeared on Catch & Release, and are forthcoming from Words Without Borders, Absinthe, Asymptote, and Exchanges. She is currently completing her theses in Columbia’s MFA program, while working with the Emerging Literary Translators Network of America. Her alter ego, Yngvildr Fagrkinn, skulks around the NYC Poetry Brothel luring patrons to untimely – but also sexy – deaths as an act of protest against her unfair treatment in the “Svarfdæla’s Saga”.

Who is your favorite female identifying written character and why?

Nastasya Filippovna – hands down. She’s the principle heroine in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (Идиот). I think the reason I’m so attached to her is because she suffered greatly, and we see the consequences of traumatic events in her life. She’s adaptable, she’s physical, she’s empowered and sexual, but she’s also concealing a great deal of pain beneath her self-destructive impulses. She fights against herself as much as she gives into her pain. I see myself in this person, and I care for her without question, even though she ultimately ends up destroying herself and everyone who loves her.

She believes she’s not capable of giving and receiving love; but on another level, she struggles against that belief, rebels against it as much as she rebels against love. She is lovable. Prince Muishkin — her great love — shows us that love is in everything, but that it chooses to remain present in and to fight for its object. It’s an action. Nastasya is, in some sense, the embodiment of that love as action, love as doing truth.

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

There are so many! I think Anne Carson has had a great deal to do with my development as a writer and as a person. First of all, she embraces the power of the sentence, she breaks it, and demonstrates boundary. At the same time, she writes lines that are devastatingly true: Pain rested. Beauty does not rest. And even, more comically, he lied when it wasn’t even convenient.

On a more personal level, Lucie Brock-Broido cuts down to my bones. Her poetry destroys me. Not only are her poems decadent and feral, but they are smarting with pain, with an acceptance and a resilience that I would live.

How did your work/works in Alyss come about?

I was actually reading an article about transcription in monasteries when I wrote Cellar Violin. I read that it takes 225 sheep to make a Bible. Then I started thinking about my own experience attending a Catholic college, and that led to a ghost story that I remembered from my freshman year. They used to slaughter cows in the basement of the monastery, and before they did so, the monks would play violin for the animals, to calm them. Apparently, you can still hear the violin being played at night sometimes in the slaughter room, which looks like a low-ceilinged tunnel. In theology class, we used to talk about dignity- what dignity meant- and at one point, we were told that animals couldn’t have dignity because dignity existed as a result of the existence of a soul (and animals don’t have souls, I guess). They are only bodies. I started to think about my body — how mental illness takes me over and doesn’t let me go, and how I have been ‘sick’ since I was five or six years old. I wanted to blame my body. My body took me into the slaughter room, where a water clock dripped away my last seconds, like a cruel metronome. I was very sick at that time – hallucinating and all other kinds of awful things – and I felt the clepsydra, the pull of the violin strings. I felt that pain [would not rest]. 

The poem: does it ever end? I felt an ending. It was a visitation – a rare burst of energy. And the energy ended. I have a visitation once a year, if I’m lucky.

Two Kids was actually a sort of coming-out about a difficult time when I was a child. I don’t have a brother, for the record, and I didn’t kill a pigeon. But I was dispelling guilt by telling my secret, albeit slant. That poem was triggered by the word “dovecote” and it ended like a trig identity. I sat and worked at it like a math problem – not calculating lines, but calculating line placements, rearranging, and the rearrangement led to cutting a lot of fat. It’s the longest poem I have, actually. I’m not sure if it’s finished, even now, or if it will ever be. The ending reminds me again of Dostoevsky: “There is no pain in the stone, only pain the fear of the stone.”

What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?

This was a translation moment for me. I work with a miraculous Icelandic poet, and I felt a connection to his work that I will never be able to explain. Then I met him, and it set my blood on fire. He was the incarnation of his poems. And it was a celebration to see poetry walking around Reykjavik on a Wednesday night, enlivened by the midnight sun.

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

Definitely Five by Mandy Rose. I like this because it takes a less-popular form, the prose poem, and its lyrically rich, but still colloquial. It reveals. It confesses. I think that it shows the ambivalence of a victim. It’s last line is heartbreakingly beautiful — To paraphrase Yeats, “it comes to a close like a well-made box clicking shut”.  I can’t forgive any of us when I remember my daughter was five.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been working on a book of poems that use the arctic as metaphor. I’m deeply interested in Inuit culture, in ice, in survival and dissolution and resolution. In the toming solicitude of high latitudes. Loneliness, simplicity, isolation. I’ve been spending days in the rare books library going over letters and images and ephemera from 19th century expeditions to Greenland and the Northwest Passage. The book is called Cold. I’m hoping I can also speak to protecting the environment and having reverence for cultures that we (U.S. Americans) aren’t broadly exposed to. Getting beyond stereotypes and tropes of cold and Inuit and Greenland and confronting what is at the heart of those cultures and locations. I’m obsessed.

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?

I’m something of a linguaphile—
so the word itself! (My middle name is Alyssa, so I’ve looked into this). Take a look:

— from Latin alysson, from Greek alysson, which is perhaps the neuter of adjective alyssos “curing madness,”

from privative prefix a- + lyssa “madness, martial rage, fury, rabies,”

literally “wolf-ness,” related to lykos “wolf” 

But I’m a wolf.


Issue One Contributors

Chrislande Dorcilus is a retired sailor senshi enjoying her last days out in Brooklyn. She needs to move.

Rebecca Golden has written for Salon, The Times of London, The Ottawa Citizen and The Atlantic. Her book, Butterbabe, was published by Random House in 2009. A graduate of the University of Wyoming’s MFA program in creative writing, Rebecca lives in Hamtramck, Michigan, and is working on her second book, a collection of essays about the city of Detroit.

Lynn Marie Houston’s essays and poems have appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, Prick of the Spindle, Poydras Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Uppagus, 3Elements Review, Extract(s), Postmodern Culture, and Proteus, among others. She lives in an Airstream camper in her hometown of Newburgh, New York. When she isn’t teaching English at Orange County Community College, she tends her honeybees and kayaks the Delaware River.

Nazia Jannat is a native New Yorker and an upcoming MFA poetry candidate at Columbia University. She is currently completing her BA in English and Creative Writing at Barnard College.

Meg Matich is an MFA candidate in poetry at Columbia University. Her work has previously appeared in OVS, Drunken Boat, and an Architrave Press edition. She is also the founding editor of Typografika, a German-English bilingual literary magazine based in Munich.

Mandy L. Rose studied creative writing at Colorado State University. Her work has recently appeared in Pithead Chapel and in the anthology, A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Leslie Rzeznik is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She is a Web and Instructional Systems Designer by day, and at night can be found poring over poems or wildcrafting herbs in the shade of a full moon. Her poems have appeared in Bear River Review and Shades of Memory Loss anthology.

Taylor Sykes attended Purdue University and currently works as a creative writing instructor at Writopia Lab in New York City. Her flash fiction has been read on NPR’s All Things Considered and her fiction and poetry has appeared in journals such as Quail Bell Magazine and Pieces of Cake Magazine.