Friday, 12 December 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Carousel" by Deborah G. Sloan

The Carousel

‘That is not her child,’ my mother says and nods towards a woman walking up the beach holding a young girl’s hand.  I watch the pair walk towards the carousel.  The attendant bends to take coins from the child then lifts her onto her horse.  The woman hitches her skirt and neatly slides on behind the child.  As the carousel starts to turn, the woman leans forward and whispers something to the child. Laughing, they both grasp imaginary reins and, as they gallop towards the pier, I turn to my mother and begin the question I have never dared ask.

Deborah G. Sloan

"The Carousel" first appeared in Mslexia

An expat Scot living and working in Brighton, Deborah is a counsellor and creative writing facilitator, running creative writing workshops for children and adults in a range of settings including Nymans Gardens, schools and an addiction rehabilitation centre.  Recently she was awarded second place for a war poem in the SaveAs Writers ‘Bigger Picture’ international poetry competition and won Mslexia’s October 2014 Flash Fiction prize.  You can lern more about Deborah at or on Facebook at Createplaywrite.


Friday, 8 August 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Expert" by Arielle Greenberg

The Expert

    I eat salt when I am thirsty.  Until my nose runs salt and then I cry.  Until my lips go numb and then I drink a grain of something which dehydrates straight from the heart, the lung, an array of bluish organs.
    I know thirst very well because I once belonged to that organization.  It was a long time ago — I was in college and it was part-time, mostly mornings.  Thirst loved me and recently, in fact, sent me a $250 check out of nowhere.  Just for completing the census.  Just for existing in a time of great pain.  It's difficult to accept such a generous gift, but thirst is an affluent and guilty employer.
    Thirst looks like a pool, an indoor swimming pool you install in the bathroom, a pool with a strong current.  A lap-swimmer's pool for city dwellers.  Thirst comes in the back of The New York Times Magazine.
    In a crowd of women poets, eating, as often not eating, I am lonely.  I eat from the bottom of the mines up, as if I can devour my way out, as if my throat is an open shaft, as if the white does not burn, as if the language has that fine sting, and I am working, a salaried Girl Friday to the salt.

"The Expert" appears in Arielle Greenberg's first collection, Given (Wave Books, 2002). You can learn more about Greenberg and her work here on her website.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Soft Touch" by Arielle Greenberg

Soft Touch

He once got hit by a playground and it was all over for him with pockets.  He couldn’t eat breakfast for all the empty spaces.  Holes distracted him.  It was “as a child.”  But he wandered like a blank, sputtered, lost it. 
The mind is a soft substance, a kind of pudding.  Two million people have it, and it’s caused by things we think are fun.  By entertainment.  Everyone has been touched by it in some way.  Soft touch. 
When we married and I sat with him in a park or office, he would want to call me at home.  “I want to call Cathy.”  And I would say, “But I am Cathy.  I’m here.  I’m your wife.”  And he’d say, swingset, “I know you are, but I want to call the other Cathy.”  And so later at home there’d be a recording of his voice on the machine: “I just wondered what you were doing right now.”  A machine.  A recording.
Was the other Cathy living in our house like a sock, like a closet, a shadow, a snake?  Was I another Cathy?  She became a palatable oatmeal on my tongue, on his.  Me.  The other Cathy.  The other wife.  The one he’d call when I was right by him. 
“Is the other Cathy like me?” I asked him.  “Oh, no,” he said.  “You’re a lot easier to talk to.”  And I felt a little bad for Cathy then.   The other me.  But I had been the one feeding him out of my enormous pockets.  My big white blouse.  The other Cathy was just the hole in his morning meal, a fruit you open.
People get impacted by a game or a junglegym or some other form of violence and when they wander away I see them.  I guess they could be more angry, suddenly very sweet, or afraid of bridges.  In love with a thing they never knew before.  A slight shift in soup chemistry is all it takes.  And with the damage, two million alternate brothers and lovers turn, straight-mouthed, towards the dishes in the kitchen sink, waiting for the call.  

"Soft Touch" originally appeared in Arielle Greenberg's first collection, Given (Wave Books, 2002), which you can learn more about on her website here

Friday, 25 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of the World's Largest Multilevel Parking Garage" by Cathy Park Hong

Here is the last selection from "Adventures in Shangdu," the eleventh of 17 pieces.

Of the World's Largest Multilevel Parking Garage

When Officials ignored their strike, the crane operators decided to be more aggressive. They worked all night. The next morning, train carriages, buses, limousines, bicycles, boats, and even helicopters swung lazily in the wind, magnetized by cranes. Negotiate, they cried, and we will free all your vehicles. Finally, Officials promised to bargain but when meeting day approached, the army rushed into the bargaining room and all the operators conveniently disappeared. Until Shangdu finds a new generation of qualified crane operators, no one knows how to work the cranes and release the vehicles. The magnetized vehicles sway in the breeze, rust in the rain. One driver was drunkenly passed out when they lifted his taxi up into the night. He has lost his voice, calling out to the shuddering city.

You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of the Old Ukrainian Embassy That Will Be Torn Down for the Hanger Factory" by Cathy Park Hong

Here is the second prose poem from Cathy Park Hong's "Adventures in Shangdu," the ninth of 17 pieces.

Of the Old Ukrainian Embassy That Will Be Torn Down for the Hanger Factory

Boomtown is Shangdu's brand name. How do you like Boomtown Shangdu? Everyday, 2,000 more people flood into Shangdu to work in our 2,000 factories. Do you know why? Shangdu is booming! Guides will say that twenty years ago, there was nothing but a gas station and a few scattered pig farms along the river. I was one of the few born in Shangdu and it is true what they say about the farms but the guides do not mention how Officials used to dump all the cripples from the Capital into Shangdu. Now that Shangdu is booming, they have rounded all the cripples and exiled them to a remote outpost up north. That outpost is also beginning to boom.

Cathy Park Hong

You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Of Lucky Highrise Apartment 88" by Cathy Park Hong

"Adventures in Shangdu," from Engine Empire, is comprised of 17 prose poems. Here is the first one.

Of Lucky Highrise Apartment 88

The contractors were in a hurry to catch up with the rest of the world so they rushed off before they finished building Highrise 88. So here is my apartment without its last wall, gaping out to a panoramic view of Shangdu's river. Across the river, all the white-tiled factories hum anxiously. This hum of 2,000 factories can inspire or drive you mad. Yesterday, a drunk man and a suicide used 88's unencumbered views to fall to their deaths and now there are ads for new roommates. I am one of the few women who live alone in this building. My last roommate married as quickly as she moved in with me. I see her in the neighborhood, pregnant and gloating, with men who fetch her footstools.

You can learn more about Hong and her work from her website, and you can--and hopefully will--buy Engine Empire from Foyle's by following this link--it's 25% off at the time of posting!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014

National Flash Fiction Day is here

It's National Flash Fiction Day, and my increased attention to my fiction is manifesting in two ways. My story, "Break," appears in FlashFlood (here's the link), an online flood of flashes just for today, and tonight I'll read at The Lansdown in Bristol with a host of other flash fiction writers, including Tania Hershman and my Bath Spa colleague Lucy English. The reading begins at 7 p.m. and is free, so come along if you're near!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Sudden Prose Student Success!

The 2013-14 Sudden Prose module has had its first publication success! Congratulations go to Collette Lord, whose short-short story from the module, "The New Dog," will appear on the National Flash Fiction Day's FlashFlood website,, between one and two a.m. on National Flash Fiction Day (the 21st).

Friday, 7 March 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: Andrea Scarpino's "With Lines from Nâzım Hikmet"

With Lines from Nâzım Hikmet

The poplar with its silver leaves as if a welcome light: come here, follow me. You did as you were told, took a flower from his casket's face. How long, this Earth? A star among stars / and one of the smallest. How long this silver light? Once there was a girl, a father, basil plants, chickadees, mourning doves. Even opossum. Even deer. Then there was a grave, sunflower cut, pressed hard to metal, mahogany. Turned from light. This earth will grow cold, Hikmet said. Will roll along / in pitch-black space. Once there was a father, daughter, ground for silver leaves, air for sparrow flight. Flowers opened recklessly. Then there was a grave.

Andrea Scarpino
Once, Then (Red Hen Press, 2014)

In the UK you can purchase Once, Then online at Foyle's, and in the US, directly from Red Hen Press.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: J.R. Fenn's "After the Natatorium"

After the Natatorium

The first time they saw the natatorium they changed into their bathing costumes, pulled their rubber caps over their heads, and rushed into the water without a thought for the ice crystals that floated, cold and perfect, on the surface. As they somersaulted, chicken-fought, and cannonballed from the edges, an Indiana marching band played the young upstart Sousa’s Liberty Bell, conducted by a gesticulating barber from Mishawaka. The pool washed their skin clean of Chicago grime—soot from the chimneys, brick dust from fingernails, mortar packed and matted in their hair—and they crawled out of the natatorium as pink and fat as they had from the baptismal font, before they could rightly remember their own names.

At night the natatorium’s locked doors and windows invited the jimmied entrance of gin-breathers and wounded boys who immersed themselves in the waters, where they bled through their bandages in a hush, leaving the pool’s liquid a clear lapping blue and their wounds salted, closed, and covered over with quick growths of scar tissue that shone whiter against the white bottom of the great basin—a basin so gigantic that none of the night gangs could have imagined it could hold them all together at once as they bobbed and spumed and sighed in the dark, the occasional laugh that bubbled up from their throats swallowed by the cavernous heights above.

As the water warmed over the course of the summer, swimmers arrived from all corners of the city: babies with cauls that clung wet in their mothers’ arms, dancers whose jewels spread from their hips in drifts of color, liberated minnows that darted in bright curtains though the depths, a dromedary with levers inside to propel its dives toward the bottom-most deeps where it dwindled smaller than the terriers that paddled belly down in the light-cracked shallows.

Soon the demand for water outpaced the supply from the spring fed aqueducts sourced in a village northwest of the city. The natatorium dried up into a hollow field of concrete that first housed an electrical exhibit, then a market, and then—before it finally fell into disrepair—a variety show. Hawkers lingered by the entrance to advertise big mamas, one-eyed dogs and penguin men, flippers downed in black and white fuzz. The waterless pool filled with a honeycomb of curtained compartments where hundreds of people disappeared, eyes open in wonder, in hopes that others might chart their futures.

JR Fenn's writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, PANK, Flash, and more. 'After the Natatorium' is reprinted from Versal. She teaches at Birkbeck College, University of London.