I’m always writing about soil, and water, and trees, and places that revolve around these things. I never intend on the first go round with a first draft of prose or a poem to add those things, but it always seems to happen. One of my favorite poems I’ve written, is in which feminine perspective in regards to the loss of societal control over one’s body is shared. The voice that houses this perspective is encased in lotus flowers, as I offer up another version of the section of Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus comes across the island of the lotus eaters.

Ironically, I’m currently writing a short story in which a man loses his wife to the sea, and now he’s haunted by siren song that drives him to madness. I know both of these pieces seem mystical, and are based off of supernatural creatures and stories, but I suppose that’s because the natural elements that construct them feel supernatural themselves. That’s probably why all the great, old, and dead writers people study probably wrote about running around in the forest, being in awe of everything.

I think I’m always subconsciously adding the natural world into my work because I am subconsciously always trying to explain things bigger than myself. The thing that is bigger than me can be societal expectations and the span of time from which they grew, or it can be racial commentary, or a good old existential/spiritual questioning. This is easy for me to do, combining nature in my pieces, because nature is something that always has been and always will be bigger than people. Even though man manipulates the earth, the rocks, the water, and the trees, the Earth will still be here, regenerating itself long after people are gone. The natural world is like a phoenix. No matter how many times it comes to the brink, no matter what occurs within it and upon it, with time, it will heal itself. Nature is a balanced thing. Humans disrupt that balance. Then there’s chaos. So I think that juxtaposition itself too, draws me to use nature. It’s like the stories we’ve heard of people taking things from the land they aren’t supposed to, facing great consequences.

Humanity has built itself up to think that we are the best thing there is to offer, that we are all there is, when in reality, a hurricane can destroy us so simply, and with such ease. Earthquakes swallow us up like old gods waking up from a nap. It’s insane to think about, how perfectly constructed it all is. If you have nature and people at war with each other, man may seem to win, but there’s always the underlying knowledge that we are so temporary compared to everything else. The land only needs itself, it never ever needed us, and on the occasions it does, it’s only because we have compromised it in a way that makes our own conscious feel heavier.

Nature is all powerful. It is reliable. It is something that cannot be questioned. That is why I feel the need to incorporate it into my words, because I want my words to be like that, even if sometimes I don’t know it. It’s beautiful and unknown and an enigma we can see and cannot see at the same time. I think I crave the balance. That’s why there’s always rolling waves, or petals, or soil birthing new life in my words.

Kiara Ivey, Layout and Design Editor

A Thin Line between Poetry & Fiction

kiara-september-blog-post-pictureÈlan Literary Magazine is celebrating its 30th year Anniversary. In honor of the evolution of our published writing, our editorial staff is appreciating the techniques and stylistic choices of those that have inspired them. 

I am a writer that is constantly battling whether I see myself as a fiction writer or as a poet. I think that I do well in both aspects but there always seems to be the need to categorize myself. Recently I have found that both worlds are attainable through hybrid writing. I am really inspired by writers such as Jamaal May and Lee Ann Roripaugh. These are artists who tell their poetry through a narrative lens. One of my favorite pieces by Jamaal May is, “How to Get Your Gun Safely out of Your Mouth”.

The piece is a prose poem in which the examination of the retaining the will to live, to take a moment and breath. The poem takes you through a series of moments, and lists out the ideas to get the reader to take their time and consider the options to move forward. May uses second person perspective to his advantage in the poem, as he’s talking to the “you”, but he is also speaking of himself in the piece. I recently, tried to do this in my own poetry examining a similar pool of thought, and I wasn’t as successful with my endeavors, but I want to be able to speak to the reader and for myself.

Lee Ann Roripaugh, is able to take on a more personal approach and even creates an almost, folktale, storyteller vibe. The voices in her poem seem wise and the structure of her poems mimic this. The poetic elements tangle with that natural and ethereal voice which makes me feel that her own story is something I can always take to heart.

I believe I am drawn to prose poetry and poems that feel like stories because of their relatability aspect. Story telling is something all people have exposure to, and it makes a poem seem more accessible, and the visual style of a prose poem or hybrid piece always seems to be a journey. I am always interested in how visual structure can change the perspective. A reader can see the piece and dive in, and afterwards, feel in their chest that what they experienced was unique.


How to Get Your Guns Safely Out of Your Mouth by Jamaal May

Go ahead and squeeze, but not before you put on some tea,

clean two cups, lift shades and pin back curtains. Not before the end of this

song, before dawn reaches in, before you turn the page or a woman

apologizes for dialing the wrong man again—not before you learn her

name, how to pronounce it, how to sing it with and without regret

catching in your throat—Are you done? Go ahead and squeeze after

the hinges are reinforced on all doors, the house secure from storm or

intruder, your laces tied, this commercial break over, drywall taped,

spackled, painted—a nail driven, a painting hung and adjusted—

there is still so much to adjust, arrange, there is still time—and you

write your letter, correct every letter,

scrawl the signature so swift and

crooked it becomes the name of another—relax the

jaw that holds the barrel in place,

remove gun, point to heaven, and squeeze until the clip

is empty like the chamber.

-Kiara Ivey, Senior Layout & Design Editor