High: Making plans with a literary-minded friend to attend a StorySLAM and getting excited about the night’s theme—something like “Doubt” or “Haunted” or “Hot Mess.”
Low: Sneaking your phone out during class or work at exactly 3 pm the week before the event, refreshing the page every few seconds, in order to snag tickets before they sell out.
Low: Joining one of two massive lines outside of the Housing Works Bookstore Café nearly an hour before doors open, then flooding inside when they do, desperate to score a seat (or a stair).
High: Hearing the storytellers’ intriguing and hilarious first lines.
Low: Uncomfortably laughing when storytellers tell inappropriate or overtly graphic sexual stories.
High: Hearing the storytellers nail their last lines.
Low: Uncomfortably laughing when the storytellers’ jokes don’t quite hit.
High: Seeing a storyteller take the mic for the first time and deliver one of the best stories of the night.
High: Cracking up at the host’s on-the-spot reactions to the audience’s write-in stories.
High: Noticing the diversity and friendliness of the crowd (though, admittedly, a high percentage of audience members are carrying publishers’ tote bags).
High: Laughing collectively for two hours at the woes of living in New York, at the quirks of being a literature lover, and at the woes and quirks of being a literature lover living in New York.
–Alyssa Matesic, Editor-in-Chief
Attention all NYU undergrads: Our first workshop of the year is coming up! On Wednesday, October 19th at 7:30pm, join West 10th for a poetry workshop in Seminar Room A at Palladium Hall.
Bring up to two works of poetry (two pages maximum) to receive some feedback from your West 10th Editors. See you there!
Just a reminder that we are still accepting submissions until December 15th!
Applications are now open for the 2016-2017 Editorial Board!
We are seeking to fill positions on the poetry, prose, art, web, and copyediting boards.
Please direct all questions and completed applications to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due by 5pm, May 27.
Please download and complete the application below:
*Note: please do not apply to the board if you are graduating in December 2016. This is a full-year commitment.
We are pleased to announce that the 2015-2016 issue of West 10th is complete. To celebrate, we are holding a launch party at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House featuring readings by our contributors and a reading by our interviewee, Mira Jacob (acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing). This event is open to the public and refreshments will be served. Come grab a copy of West 10th!
West 10th Launch Party
April 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
58 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10011
Also RSVP to our Facebook event
Audrey Deng is the Copy Editor at West 10th and the Arts Editor at Washington Square News. She is a sophomore studying Comparative Literature and English. Talk to her about Frank Stella’s retrospective at the Whitney, because she’s excited about that.
In my mind, Paris exists in textbook images from high school, a series of impressions divided by semester. In the fall, French class was a sanctuary; we would sip hot chocolate while thinking about what we should/could/would do in the languid conditionnel tense, snow piling outside of the window. We would read about (and later eat) delectable French holiday pastries like Bouche de Noël and fondant cake. In the spring, we flung open the windows and projected images of tulip-lined streets to “La Vie en Rose.” Paris, just saying the word Paris, implied panache. I felt that simply by being in French class, we students sat straighter, spines strengthened by speaking the language of a country heralded for its elegance.
Last Friday, on November 13, I went to my French class where we learned about the subjunctive (il est important que nous brossons nos dents!). I cooked oatmeal, wrote birthday cards, and Paris erupted into frightened chaos. Guns had fired in the Bataclan concert hall of an Eagles of Death Metal concert, along with bombings throughout the city, killing at least 130 people.
The hateful act of terrorism scorches a sad chapter in the world’s history, but humans have been sad before. The sickening feeling comes from the fact that it is becoming frighteningly easy to measure the passing of time not by how light illuminates the earth, but by how shadows shroud the globe in darkness.
I went to a peaceful gathering in Washington Square Park to pay tribute to France, eavesdropping on the sad conversations held through clouds of sad cigarette smoke. Everything seemed sad. People stood sadly, conversed sadly, smoked sadly. Never, in my life, have I heard a sad French conversation take place in real life until that Friday. “Do you know anyone injured or dead?” one would ask another. “No, all safe, thank God. You?” So it went–and it was jarring.
Understanding sadness in another language permanently changes the way one listens and reads and thinks, vous comprenez? It sharpens the vision, tightens the eardrums. Once you have heard those words of death and injury, the language and your history with it, changes. Tenses take on different meanings: the conditionnel is a call to action, the subjonctif is what we want to do, and the imparfait is the way we used to be. And French will never be the same to me.
Il est necessaire que nous soyons gentils. It is necessary that we are kind.
Maurice – E.M. Forster (1913)
Written in 1913 but only published posthumously in 1971, Maurice was well ahead of its time in its nuanced depiction of a young man discovering and coming to terms with his sexuality. While Forster carefully examines the difficulties of identity and love, Maurice is ultimately founded on the belief that same-sex relationships have the capacity to be profound, beautiful and happy—a radical thesis for a novel written when men were still routinely arrested and imprisoned for having sex with other men.
Orlando – Virginia Woolf (1928)
Subtitled “A Biography,” Orlando was written as a paean to Woolf’s friend and erstwhile lover, the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West. With typical élan, Woolf transforms Sackville-West into the novel’s eponymous protagonist, a sex-changing immortal who begins as an Elizabethan nobleman and ends as a successful female author in ‘the present day’ (that is to say, 1928). Traversing three hundred years of Orlando’s life, Woolf relentlessly questions conventional notions of history, authorship, gender and sexuality.
Nightwood – Djuna Barnes (1936)
Contained in a deceptively slim volume, Nightwood is a superbly stylized portrait of a doomed lesbian relationship in the bohemian Paris of the interwar years, explicated through the head-spinning speeches of Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O’Conner (who is just as campy as his name suggests). This modernist masterpiece was lauded by T.S. Eliot as “so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.”
Notre Dame des Fleurs/Our Lady of the Flowers – Jean Genet (1943)
Similarly to Nightwood, this novel renders the Parisian underworld in prose so rich and revelatory it practically creates a new class of literature. The lives and loves of its central characters—sex workers, trans women, and teenage murderers, all bearing charming monikers like Divine and Darling Daintyfoot—are unspooled by a capricious narrator who creates the world of the novel while masturbating in his prison cell (!!!).
The Charioteer – Mary Renault (1953)
Renault, having worked as nurse at a British military hospital during the Second World War and later emigrated to South Africa to live with her female partner, was uniquely equipped to write this novel, which follows a British soldier who falls in love twice over as he recovers from a combat wound. With equal measures of heartfelt psychological insight and cutting social observation, The Charioteer struggles with the tensions between idealism and reality, individualism and community, and innocence and experience.
Another Country – James Baldwin (1962)
An earlier novel of Baldwin’s, Giovanni’s Room, is often hailed as a masterpiece of gay literature, but while Giovanni’s Room is a claustrophobic investigation of one man’s psychology, Another Country seems to encompass an era.
The characters are gay, straight, bisexual, questioning and in denial; white and black; working-class and middle-class and destitute and wildly successful. In a rhythm reminiscent of jazz, the novel traces the cast as they move in and out of each other’s lives, coupling and splitting up and getting back together, rising and falling in fortune—but always circling around the specter of a character who commits suicide at the end of the novel’s first act.
Su Young Lee—this year’s prose editor here. Currently a sophomore who hopefully and finally narrowed it down to studying English Literature, Journalism, and Creative Writing (fun fact, I’m indecisive).
Why (How) I Write
I see a man with his daughter on his lap, brushing her hair away from her small sleeping face as if they weren’t sitting in the middle of a crowded subway train. I like their intimacy and decide that maybe I’ll write about them someday. I never do. I sit in a café and eavesdrop on a job interview as the man becomes increasingly and amusingly anxious, visualizing his half-uttered sentences in the air, full of ellipses. I sit in my room on an especially bad day and decide that the imagined tragedy of how I feel will look good on paper, but all I can manage is jot down a few phrases that all sound like half-finished lines from terrible poetry—my poetry—and I throw the piece of paper away. You see, I like thinking about writing. Sometimes I convince myself I’m really a writer because all I can think about is how something will look on a page.
Then I come to my senses and decide that a writer is probably someone who actually writes. This is discouraging because writing is kind of hard. I plan characters, conversations, odd little phrases but when it comes to writing them down and filling in the gaps I find that I’m not a writer after all. Not a writer I’d like to be, or maybe I think I should be, the clichéd artist tortured by the task of translating their genius onto paper. The only thing I’m tortured by is my fear, laziness, lack of inspiration. While everything I see and hear and feel I think about writing down, it’s rare that I actually do.
This is partly why I sign up to a creative writing class. People say writing comes from the heart, the soul, from whatever other metaphorical body part, but honestly sometimes I just need someone to make me write because otherwise I never will. I have to make it inevitable because when I finally start writing I confirm what I suspected all along—that I hate writing.
This is the process of writing that I loathe: in bed. I don’t like sitting on a desk because it seems like I’m doing work, even though writing is really hard work. I put on some music before I decide that it’s distracting. I stare down at a blank piece of paper—or Word document. I tend to start with paper the first few times because I think writing by hand is romantic but I throw down my pen and hate myself finding I have more scribbles and crossed-out words than useable material. Blankness is encouraging—threatening—and maybe promising. The ugly blacked out words, however, are sad visual reminders of my failure that I’m too conceited to stand.
But if I hate it so much, why do I do it? Despite all the complaining and self-loathing, there’s something addicting about the adrenaline that comes with writing, beyond the effects of all the caffeine I consume. It’s the starting that’s hard, but once something is on the page the next words tumble after each other. I let myself ramble. When I finish the piece (the draft) it’s like finally letting out air after holding my breath. It’s at that moment when I close my laptop and go to sleep, because I conveniently write in bed, that I think I have found the reason I write. The feeling of satisfaction. There are a lot of other and often forgotten reasons too, like how I want to be eloquent but writing is the only way I can achieve it, how I like to hide behind the anonymity of words on paper, but how I also like the intimacy it provides. Sometimes I hate it because having to write something interesting is a reminder that my actual life is unexciting, but maybe I like that I can live through the pages I write. I don’t know if that’s sad. Sometimes I think being a writer means being sad—dragging up things that have happened, bad things, or things that never will.
Ultimately though, being a writer means writing. I may hate the act of writing but I love its effects, a similar relationship I have to cooking and actually eating the food. Hate the labour, if you will; devour the fruit. If I want to be a writer there’s really nothing else for me to do but write. That’s the one thing that all writers of all genres have in common—writing words, instead of just thinking about them. No matter how bad you think you are or how much you dislike the physical act of writing, writers write. So to all you aspiring writers: give yourself deadlines, make others give you deadlines, find some way to force yourself to put words on a page.
This workshop is open to all undergrad students! So bring up to 1500 words of fiction/non-fiction prose to receive some feedback and comments from your West 10th Editors.
Just a reminder that we are still accepting submissions until December 8th!