Now Read This: March 2023

Highlighting recently released and forthcoming works by marginalized creators

Common Life by Stéphane Bouquet (translated by Lindsay Turner)

In three poems, one play, and three short stories, Stéphane Bouquet’s Common Life offers a lively, searching vision of contemporary life, politics, and sociality. At a moment at which the fabric of everyday social life is increasingly threatened across the globe, this book is a necessary exercise of the literary imagination: what, it asks, does it mean to inhabit the world together today?

Root Rot by Rhienna Renée Guedry

Root Rot as a collection is a reckoning with the environment and histories, internal and external. It explores grief and loss, and that disruption spurs growth. This book closes with land acknowledgment, though these poems work as acknowledgment of the land itself, those interior and exterior spaces. Louisiana, Florida, and Oregon are cataloged as we learn of flood waters rising into houses, and storms blowing past, too. Much has rot, corrosion, mildew, and “what the sun gives / does not match what our bodies need.” What is not lacking is music. “Winter pulls no punches yet I forget / every year how it bleeds.” The voices offer interiority of a type that seeks to include us.

The only name we can call it now is not its only name by Valerie Hsiung

Unspooling from a mysterious and deeply discomforting encounter between the speaker and “K,” The only name we can call it now is not its only name slowly morphs into a long and impossibly personal examination of willfulness and ownership, mother tongue and mother earth, chronic illness (of body and soil), homelessness and exile, violence and place, severance and longing, private parts and public spaces, intimacy and institution, affliction and ardor, performativity, faciality, vernaculars, voice, filth, instinct, and clowning. Written in a suspended moment when Hsiung experienced a profound crisis of silence in her life, what begins as a truly hybrid interrogation of an interrogation between student and teacher contorts into an entangled and incantatory excavation of the origins of a poet’s psyche and relationship with the world itself. A work that was not composed but decomposed by way of worms and flies and a hazardous exposure to the elements of mythology, ecology, and epistemology, The only name we can call it now is not its only name is both a perennial coalescing convalescence between individual and societal specters and the tectonic documentation of a repeated attempt to endure.

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Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.