Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. Her novel, An Untamed State, will be published by Grove Atlantic and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, will be published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014.

“I know you are reading this poem …”

It is June 1993 and I’m halfway through a roadtrip that will kill a friendship. I’ve fled the campground for the beach, trudging through the sandy tunnel under the highway with a notebook and a copy of An Atlas of the Difficult World. Because I can’t imagine spending fifteen dollars to tour Hearst Castle, my roadtrip companion has gone off to do it herself, in a huff. I take my chair, my notebook, my Adrienne Rich volumes and head out to the beach, free for two or three hours to read and write.

The trip is going very badly, and I can’t quite articulate why, even to myself. I am 29 years old, in the summer between a masters and Phd program.  I’ve started a novel, and been admitted to a PhD program where I hope I’ll have time to finish it. I’m terrified of taking on more debt but stopping now means I’ll have to get a “real” job to pay off the MA I’ve just finished, and if I do that I doubt I’ll finish my novel. I’m betting on myself in a way that seems outrageous. I’m broke, but I’ve always been broke, so I’m used to it, but my friend is not, and although I told her before we started that I didn’t have any money, she seems startled by how little money no money actually is.


Massive People / 4 Comments
April 4th, 2012 / 2:14 pm

Chiasmus Press is Looking For a Managing Editor

chiasmus press is slowly unfurling out of hiatus. we have a big idea about our reincarnation and they want you.


want to run a nationally recognized micro indie press. like head honcho big mamma jamma.

want to work with Lidia Yuknavitch.

want to reinvent online, print publication, and cross genre media projects.

big time digital savvy and skills, including web, blog and podcasting.

large experience with alternative press world–all facets.

impeccable literary and media counter culture taste.

crazy good organization skills.

a relentless desire to correct culture.

alternative forms of marketing do not frighten you. in fact, they turn you on.

you have big ideas everyone else thinks are nutso.

it’s likely you drink and enter altered states on occasion.

compensation negotiable. if you know what “micro indie press” means then you have realistic expectations.

it is not mandatory that you live in Portlandia, though it would be helpful. We have heard of Skype and shit before though, so you know, we are down.

if this is YOU, send a 500 word description detailing your experience and desire and why we should pick YOU to: lidiamiles at by April 15.

yes, really.

Presses / 4 Comments
April 1st, 2012 / 3:54 pm

RIP Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich, a pioneering feminist poet and essayist who challenged what she considered to be the myths of the American dream, has died. She was 82.

Author News / 6 Comments
March 28th, 2012 / 5:34 pm


I am drowning in books. I  want these books to be read. If you are interested in any of these titles, I will send them to you (one per person). If you write a review of the book, I will publish it on the PANK blog. Some of these have been lightly used but the pages aren’t sticky or anything. If you want a book, claim it in the comments AND e-mail me your mailing address (roxane at and I will get it out to you sometime this week. Seriously, though, email me your address. I can’t track you down.  Enjoy! (These books can only be shipped within the United States unless you want to pay for shipping. Sorry!)


Cream of Kohlrabi by Floyd Skloot

Nothing Can Make Me Do This by David Huddle

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

Umberto Umberto Lamberto Lamberto Lamberto by Gianni Rodari

LA Is the Capital of Kansas by Richard Meltzer

Luminarium by Alex Shakar

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other by Stephanie Johnson

Traffic With Macbeth by Larissa Szporluk

Mama’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan

The Best Of (What’s Left of Heaven) by Mairéad Byrne

She’d Waited Millennia by Lizzie Hutton

A Man of Glass & All The Ways We Have Failed by JA Tyler

The Hieroglyphics by Michael Stewart

The Nostalgia Echo by Mickey Hess

The Harbor by Ernest Poole

The Girl With the Crooked Nose by Ted Botha

Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

The Buenos Aires Quintet by Manuel Vazquez Montalban

Pocket Kings by Ted Heller

Dead Man Upright by Derek Raymond

The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead

Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox

Dogma by Lars Iyer (2)

Radio Iris by Anne Marie Kinney

Red Weather by Pauls Toutonghi

Livability by Jon Raymond

Walking With the Comrades by Arundhati Roy

God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet

Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw

The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker

A Very Minor Prophet by James Bernard Frost

Random / 72 Comments
March 25th, 2012 / 2:32 pm

Goodbye to All That

When I was a kid, my mother assigned homework to my brothers and I in addition to any homework we may have been assigned in school. My mother’s homework was generally more of a priority. Some of her assignments came from Little Professor workbooks but most of her assignments came from the Encyclopedia Britannica, which she made us read, a lot. I have, in my lifetime, read the entire compendium. I know things.

My mother would give us a page range and we’d read and write little reports on what we learned. Other times we had to do assignments that reflected critical thinking—comparing and contrasting different topics, creating new entries or using existing entries as the starting point for a story or article of some kind. At times, I did not understand why we were being forced to read that stupid thing, but I know now—my mother wanted, in her way, for us to understand that knowledge is important, that knowledge is a tool for better thinking.


Random / 33 Comments
March 14th, 2012 / 1:00 am

Do As Franzen Does. Do What You Like

In some ways, we’ve brought this on ourselves; it is a slippery slope. First you wonder what Angelina Jolie had for breakfast because she was so great in that one movie or whatever and then you’re buying cereal and thinking, “Does Oprah eat Raisin Bran?” Eventually, you even start to give a damn about what famous writers think about the weather or, say, social networking, and someone like Jonathan Franzen revels in his dislike of Twitter and other means of social networking from his Important Writer perch and we respond because if Franzen hates Twitter does he hate us too? The angst is unbearable and yet it’s all sort of inevitable.

Franzen’s A Great American Writer and all but I don’t give a much of a damn about his opinions on anything (see: Edith Wharton obvi). Or I do. Is it really surprising that Franzen doesn’t care for Facebook or Twitter? His overall comportment does not suggest an affinity for the levity of social networking. I can’t really say I love Facebook, myself. It has become increasingly hard to make sense of the interface and I keep getting invited to parties and readings in Bali and Temecula and I don’t live in those places so the experience is, at best, fragmented. At the same time, I don’t need to proselytize my dislike unless I’m on Twitter. Who cares? My opinion doesn’t matter nor does Franzen’s, though he is Very Fancy so in the calculus of mattering, his irrelevant opinion is less irrelevant than mine. Math.

J. Franz talking smack about Twitter, though, thems fighting words.


Random & Web Hype / 67 Comments
March 6th, 2012 / 3:13 pm

Monday Readings And Notes

Barney Rosset has died. He was 89. Alas, Dimitri Nabokov has also passed away.

At The Rumpus, Kathleen Alcott wrote a beautiful essay about the importance of her name, the writer who is using the name Kate Alcott as a pseudonym, and much more. Also at The Rumpus, an essay by Catherine Chung whose Forgotten Country will be released in March.

Quick Fiction is ceasing operations and they will surely be missed. Don’t fret, though. They are having a closeout sale.

Dinty Moore responds to the Lifespan of a Fact situation.

As an aside, the Oscars were tragically bad weren’t they? The boringness of the ceremony has left me completely unsettled today. Also, Billy Crystal in blackface. Here’s something on what it’s like to have your book turned into a movie.

Does Jonathan Franzen have a “female problem“? I’m not sure but he best back up off my girl Edith. We KNOW how I feel about Edith. More on this soon but in the interim, Victoria Patterson at the Los Angeles Review of Books, has written a brief essay, “Not Pretty,” in response to Franzen’s New Yorker essay. This kind of reminds me of a post I saw on Bulk Culture a couple weeks where Barry Graham (I think) said looks don’t really matter in terms of online publishing success.

An illustrated guide to Mad Men Bed Hopping.

Roundup / 6 Comments
February 27th, 2012 / 2:40 pm