Author: Sherisa de Groot

Meet Julia Mallory, Senior Poetry Editor

Meet our Senior Poetry  Editor, Julia Mallory (she/her). We asked her to share a bit more about herself in a new series we’re running for our editors. Here are Julia’s 10 questions. What are your writing rituals? Generally, I start writing only under the influence of inspiration which means that I have to get started as soon as possible to capture the wave of words while they are still fresh. This could also mean that if I interrupt the flow with any additives, I might miss some of the message as it’s coming to me or even dull the feeling that it’s traveling through.  But, when it’s time to build the writing beyond the initial inspiration or revise the writing, particularly if it feels stuck or slow to come, I might light a candle and/or incense to clear my space and invite clarity or insight. I might also create a soundtrack from existing music to support the world I am building with my words. And if I am really, really stuck? I do something else. I …

Meet DW McKinney, Columns Senior Editor

Meet our Senior Columns Editor, DW McKinney (she/her). DW is a Black American essayist and interviewer living in Nevada. We asked her to share a bit more about herself in a new series we’re running for our editors. Here are DW’s 10 questions. What are your writing rituals? I have routines more than rituals. I alternate between editorial work and my personal writing in certain genres by day of the week. Wednesdays and weekends are for rest. I don’t listen to music while writing unless I need intense focus (heartbeat recordings) or high energy flows (hip-hop and [t]rap). Who is a writer who inspires you and why? NK Jemisin is amazing at worldbuilding and character development. Her characters are memorable and tangible to who we are in real life. I also love how she weaves cultural and social criticism in her work. She inspires me to dig deeper in my storytelling and to pull up a richness that I cannot yet fathom. What book has a significant influence on you/your writing? I talk about Maya Angelou’s …

Mother Tongue | Cristina Marie Mendoza

My father drives from Des Moines to Chicago amidst a pandemic. It’s been roughly five months since I last saw him and, to be honest, I’ve been terrible at keeping in touch. He arrives on a Friday and if there’s anything you should know about the paternal side of my family it is this: they are terrible at making plans. On more than one occasion my father has woken me up on a Saturday morning to tell me that he got into town late last night and is standing in front of my tiny city apartment. This time I find my father just down the block sitting outside of his childhood home with my grandfather as if it were the most natural thing in the world. We catch up about work, about the new normal, whatever that means. And then he turns to me and asks “¿Como esta el barrio?” checking in on his former home and a community hit hard by the virus.  It’s a seemingly simple gesture, one that any Mexican-American kid would …

Pink and Blue | Al Valentín

On countless Sunday nights at home in Woodhaven, Queens, my Titi Sonia’s fingers moved gracefully. Lifetime movies blared in the background as she and my cousin Lisette sat on their white leather couch. File in hand, swaying back and forth like hips, Titi Sonia shaped her long nails, squared at the tip. Sometimes orange. Mostly pink. I never saw Titi paint her nails firsthand, but they were more than memorable—symbols of beauty and strength. Her talons declared she was no nonsense, and they didn’t lie. At work, Titi was known for getting shit done and making sure you knew not to try her. Men fell in love with her wherever she went. She couldn’t care less. She was unabashedly herself, unashamed and unbothered. She was a rare thing, a beautiful thing.  The pink inspired by her nails and her favorite lipstick emblazons my shoulder, etched with ink to form hydrangea—flowers that grew in front of the old brick house she bought for herself and Lisette in Richmond Hill. Years later, my tia found herself in …

The Protagonist was a Black Girl | Tzynya Pinchback

I stopped on the second-floor landing. Housekeys, three plastic grocery bags, and my seven-year-old’s fingernails boring into my right hand. There was a yellow envelope tacked to my apartment door. “Do we get to use the hurricane lamps again, Mom?” “Maybe, sweetheart.” I stuffed the envelope in my pocket, unlocked the door, and was surprised to see the green power button on my computer glowing under my desk in the living room. We had electricity, at least for the night.  “You put away the low-shelf stuff and I’ll put away the tall-shelf stuff, okay?”  “I can put away the middle-shelf stuff, too,” she said. “If I’m allowed to wear my snow boots in the kitchen?” “Deal, but what’s the rule?” “Nobody but Mommy touches anything on the tall shelf.”  I called the utility company and was directed to the financial department. “And what is your reason for requesting an extension?” I explained the child support was months late, and half the earnings from my $12 an hour administrative day job and freelance writing side hustle …