Our 2014 Pushcart Nominees (and why!)

TIR staff

Anne Babson, "Ariadne Explains Why She's Mixed Up with a Boy like Theseus" (poem, Fall 2012)

What I love about this is the giving of voice and agency to the supposed victim of Theseus's unfaithfulness, at least according to the usual myth, and what a strong, sexy voice! Also, the fact that she becomes the (bull) rider at the end. I read this aloud to my undergraduate class when we were talking about adaptations, and I could see them all sit up in their seats, their eyes opening wide. —R. Valentino, TIR Editor

Ayşe Papatya Bucak, "Iconography" (fiction, Fall 2012)

This story follows the enigmatic hunger strike of a female Turkish student at an American university. The student, known only as the Starving Girl, feels "strangely happy" to be fasting, despite constant media attention and efforts by her parents, her university, and even Bono, to feed her. The narrator is similarly anonymous, occupying different roles as the plot shifts. Bucak's prose is spare and haunting: “Soon the world is split between those who want to feed her, those who want to join her, and those who are afraid.” This piece asks us to contemplate the nature of hunger and of protest, and to question our tendency to interrogate and impose narrative on what we don't understand—publicly, incessantly, until "the Starving Girl...cannot anymore remember if she is a person."  —J. Hammerich, Asst. Managing Ed.

Sabine Heinlein, “A Portrait of the Writer as a Rabbit” (essay, Spring 2012)

In this essay, Heinlein tells the story of her relocation from Germany to the United States through the lens of her kinship with rabbits, which she's kept as pets all her life: "We rabbits," she writes, "are masters of escaping enclosures." Newly arrived in New York City, she adopts a rabbit for companionship but soon learns that pet rabbits are considered "exotic species" in the U.S. Feeling a bit exotic herself, she seeks out fellow rabbit owners, enthusiasts, and "lagomorph lobbyists," ultimately discovering America—and her own perserverence—through her floppy-eared playmate, Sunshine. This piece is funny, heartbreaking, and unexpectedly educational. (Who knew a rabbit could smell a banana 200 feet away?) —J. Hammerich, Asst. Managing Ed. 

Nathan Hill, "SuperAngel" (fiction, Spring 2012)

“Superangel” impresses by its imaginative range and also its rich language (heddle?), which is always apt, never excessive. The invented correspondence between E (Manet) and Victorine (Meurent) made me laugh out loud. There is also a very strong scenic sense throughout, which accords with the subject matter, set up from the start by the reference to film making, which provides efficient little canvases all the way through, like Arachne's father "furious, waving his discolored indigo arms, calling her worthless and unmarriable...." because she's just sitting in front of the empty loom eating olives. —R. Valentino, Editor

Geoffrey Nutter, "Rapprochement" (poem, Winter 2012/13)

"Rapprochement" is a narrative poem of an imagined visit with the younger selves of one's parents. The narrator starts out intending to complete "the day's necessary tasks," which include such items as "a visit to the aluminum mills" and "a meeting with one Solomon Mighty," but soon finds himself taking a different path. He cuts through the forest and discovers a clearing where he finds his parents as young newlyweds and himself as a child. He is invited to join their picnic, and he observes "they were not unkind to me, only / so very involved with one another, / fascinated by and in love with the child." The poem is haunting and nostalgic, a wish-fulfillment fantasy of turning back time, as well as a melancholy realization of how much time changes things. Throughout, Nutter sets the scene the way a short experiential movie would: the narrator notes "a rusted weathervane standing in the grass / tied with red strips of fluttering ribbon, / and scraps of red cloth fluttering in the trees." —L. Nugent, Managing Ed.

             [Note: On January 30, "Rapprochement" will be featured on Poetry Daily!]

Molly Patterson, "Don't Let Them Catch You" (fiction, Winter 2012/13)

"Don't Let Them Catch You" is a first-person story narrated by a seven-year-old girl, Kaitlyn, who matter-of-factly recounts her days as a latchkey kid with a distracted single mother, an loving but absent uncle who is deployed in Afghanistan, and an older sister who considers her a nuisance. The voice is convincingly that of a young child who is trying to navigate a world in which the TV news sensationalizes stories about young girls getting abducted and killed. These stories become the focus of her inner monologue as she navigates the dangers both real and imagined of her suburban neighborhood. Simultaneously charming, terrifying, and sad, the story also subtly comments on the effect of parental overwork, dispersed families, war, and economic strain on children in our society. —L. Nugent, Managing Ed.