Carissa and Randolph interviewed in The Writer magazine


Halston and Pfaff: fearless leaders. (Photo credit: Megan Smith)

We’re humbled and excited to be featured in The Writer‘s round-up of Literary Power Couples, a.k.a. couples who run literary magazines and presses. We’re in the esteemed company of Leesa-Cross Smith and Loran Smith of WhiskeyPaper Press and Donna Talarico and Kevin Beerman of Hippocampus Magazine and Books.

Many thanks to Melissa Hart for asking us to take part in the article—be sure to read up on Hippocampus and WhiskeyPaper, and if you’re looking to start a literary journal, or even a press or a conference, etc., definitely look through the article. Working in publishing takes commitment from everyone involved, and longevity in publishing takes work—just like any solid relationship.

Boston Cultural Council grant for 2018

Logo from the City of Boston's Arts and Culture department
We’re thrilled to announce that Aforementioned has received a grant from Boston Cultural Council for 2018—and in the BCC’s official press release, Mayor Marty Walsh confirmed we’re in fine company: “This is an exciting time for the City of Boston because we are investing in organizations and projects that have the potential to enhance Boston’s arts and culture community.”

Boston has been home to so many of our authors and we’ve hosted dozens of events in the Greater Boston area since our inception in 2005. We’re so proud to continue serving literary communities throughout the city, and we hope to have more readings and books for you all year long.

If you’re in the area, be sure to drop by Porter Square Books tonight at 7pm to help us celebrate the eighth print annual of apt, with readings by local authors John Bonanni, Gillian Devereux, and Krysten Hill. And if you’re not local, you can still pick up a copy of our latest issue from the apt site.

Release party for apt’s Eighth Print Issue

We’re so proud to continue supporting long-form writing through apt–and we’re especially proud of our latest issue, featuring fiction by Michael Keefe and Anna Carolyn McCormally, and poetry by John Bonanni, Aaron Brown, and Danielle Mitchell!

Copies are now available, and if you’re in Boston, you can pick one up on Monday, February 5 at Porter Square Books, when we’ll have John Bonanni, Gillian Devereux, and Krysten Hill reading from issues 6-8!

The reading is free and open to the public, so bring a friend, get a warm drink, and help us celebrate these writers and their dedication to nuanced, in-depth writing.

Don’t forget to RSVP, and we’ll see you in February!




 John Bonanni lives on Cape Cod, MA, where he serves as editor for the Cape Cod Poetry Review. He is the recipient of a scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a residency from AS220 in Providence, RI. His work has appeared in CutBank, Assaracus, Verse Daily, The Seattle Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Prairie Schooner.

Gillian Devereux received her MFA in Poetry from Old Dominion University and directs the writing center at Wheelock College, where she also teaches creative writing. She is the author of Focus on Grammar (dancing girl press, 2012) and They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights (Aforementioned Productions, 2011), and her poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently The Midwest Quarterly; The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society; Sundog Lit; Boog City; and Printer’s Devil Review. Gillian likes robots, knitting, small woodland creatures, film noir, gin, and the library.

Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Blacksmith House, Cantab Lounge, Merrimack College, U35 Reading Series, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in apt, Word Riot, The Baltimore Review, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, Take Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award and her chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out (Aforementioned Productions), received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.


Presented as part of the Roundtable Reading Series at Porter Square Books, sponsored by Journal of the Month.

Joyce Peseroff reviews HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT

hhsgo_blue_Joyce Peseroff, author of five books of poetry, most recently Know Thyself (Carnegie Mellon, 2016), wrote a knockout review of How Her Spirit Got Out. Here’s a peek at the beginning, and then a bit from the end:

Krysten Hill’s chapbook is as fresh as today’s headlines. It calls out a culture where women continually risk abuse, invisibility, and soul-killing erasures, and where black women are particularly threatened….

Hill’s poems include allusions to foremothers like Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath, and Zora Neale Hurston. Like Lorde, she responds to sexism, racism, and injustice with passion and perception. From Plath, she’s learned to figure the details of her life in images that are fierce and arresting. Hill understands the power of narrative and savor of vernacular speech, both loved by Hurston. The result is a voice that is beautiful and raw, intimate yet public, both confident and vulnerable.

We couldn’t agree more, and there’s no time like the present to head over to the Aforementioned shop and pick up your copy of How Her Spirit Got Out.

Best American Essays 2017 + Best of the Net 2016

bestamericanessays2017-1508446780-4657Earlier, we heard from our contributor Michael Nagel via Twitter, who asked if we’d heard that his essay “Beached Whales,” which we’d published last summer, was included among the notable essays in this year’s Best American Essays?

We hadn’t heard! And it was featured on LongReads! It was an exciting hour or two.

Then I checked our site stats and saw we’d also had referring traffic from the fine crew at Sundress Publications, who publish the Best of the Net anthology each year. Lindsey Harding and her short story “List Lard Label” was a finalist for fiction this year!

So I ran off to email Lindsey with the good news.

Then I wanted to see the table of contents and the rest of the notable essays for this year’s Best American Essays, so I looked it up on GoogleBooks, and found that apt appeared more than once. Philip Arnold’s essay “Stereoscopic Paris” was also among the notable essays published last year.

All of which goes to say it’s been an astoundingly busy day for apt news.

If you haven’t read Michael’s and Philip’s essays or Lindsey’s story, head over to apt and catch up on what you’ve been missing.

HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT wins 2017 New England Poetry Club award!

hhsgo_blue_We’re thrilled to announce that Krysten Hill’s chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, is the winner of the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from New England Poetry Club!

From Sara Backer, this year’s judge:

What struck me most were poems from Krysten Hill’s How Her Spirit Got Out: whether she’s recording a sister’s reaction to the shooting of her 12-year-old brother or the wreckage of a sweet potato pie, her words are fierce and fearless. Hill confronts us with the dangerous reality of the lives of black women, who may “go missing” because “they knew if they didn’t leave, they’d kill/ what they couldn’t afford to nurture” or go missing in another way when they hear a writing workshop leader ask “Is there any way/ you can write this poem/ from his perspective?” Hill’s words are precise and potent, and each time you read them, her poems mean more.

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of How Her Spirit Got Out, there’s no time like the present!

And if you’re in the Boston area, you can hear Krysten read tonight at 7 at Porter Square Books for the release party of Simone John’s debut collection, Testify!

Aforementioned in AIDS Walk Boston 2017

AP_AW2017We mentioned this a few months ago, but now we’re just one month away from this year’s AIDS Walk in Boston. We’ve assembled an Aforementioned team to raise money and awareness for those living in Boston and Massachusetts with HIV and AIDS.

As we said before, we feel this cause is particularly important now, with the Affordable Care Act at risk of being eliminated. People with pre-existing conditions will be particularly vulnerable to losing their access to health care. And even more so, now that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed a $4.8 million cut to the state’s funding for HIV patients. The House budget committee got it down to a $3.8 million cut, but that’s still quite a gap. So we’re working to do our part to offset the deficit.

Even if you’re not in Boston, you can still help us by donating via the Aforementioned team page. And even if you don’t have the means to make a donation, we hope you’ll spread the word and help us reach as many donors as possible.

Recap of ICHH marathon reading

image1It snowed. It sleeted. There were 40 mph winds. If I didn’t believe in climate change, I’d say it was as if someone wanted to stop our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here. But we started with a crowd of 50 people, many of whom stayed for the first several chapters.

People came and went throughout the event. Friends showed up. Strangers showed up. Most stayed for 50-60 pages. A handful of people came at the beginning, left, and came back for the end. A couple said they went home and read some there, then came back for the finale.

One audience member named Alex stayed from start to finish.

Around chapter 29, I’d been awake for 24 hours.

We discovered the best way to stay alert was to move around. So people paced. Slow laps, circling in the back. We all wanted to hang in for as long as we could.

Shortly after the middle of the novel, Shuchi started streaming the reading via Facebook Live.

Toward the end of chapter 30, I was falling asleep. I took a 20-minute nap, and woke up not knowing where I was. Then, I heard Ann Leamon reading chapter 31. I remembered what was happening. I rejoined the reading and stayed awake through the rest of the event. After I read the final chapter, I reminded everyone of how we began.

The night started with a presentation, an overview of Lewis’s career, covering who he was and who he wasn’t (a writer who refused a Pulitzer Prize, and later was awarded the Nobel, Lewis never said “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”), also covering what the novel was and wasn’t. It wasn’t hindsight after World War II. It was a warning of the potential danger on its way. Lewis wrote ICHH before concentration camps were synonymous with extermination camps. He wrote it before Hitler’s capacity for malice was fully realized. Lewis wrote during a period of self-assured apathy—people were so sure that America had seen the worst there was of humanity (during the first World War). Of course, it could and did get worse. But that didn’t keep Lewis from rendering his warning.

I have a list of highlights from the marathon reading, but I need to be clear: it’s hard to say that any single amazing moment outweighs my amazement at the event overall. The book is rough. It’s filled with hateful, scared people carrying out orders and making decisions motivated by hate and fear. There’s personal violence and political violence. And, as the novel goes on, more people die by grisly methods.

And beyond that, of course, there are the parallel threats we face now:

The authoritarian in the White House. The constant distraction (Mexico, a dangerous religion, regular allusions to his election rival, etc.). The potential that the president has conflicts of interest (in the novel, he’s embezzling millions). The silencing of journalists, potentially by force. The hunting and killing of people who know more than the government feels they should. We’ve only seen it in Russia thus far, but it’s tied to our election.

ICHH is a difficult book to read just on its own. It’s harder still to handle with the current political climate. I was worried going in that people wouldn’t spot Lewis’s message, and the indomitable spirit of those who would resist attempts at silence. But I was grateful to be wrong.

One woman came up to me after the reading and said her book club had read the novel right after the election, but it hadn’t struck her as funny until she heard us read it aloud.

I laugh at all sorts of inappropriate subjects and times, so I blurted out, “Really?” She said it had been too soon.

More than one person in the audience said the relevance was hard to take. And I understand—I agree—but that’s hardship I think we need right now. This book is not easy, but neither is the situation we’re facing.

In the novel, the authoritarian government sabotages itself due to in-fighting. That could potentially happen to the current administration, but even before that, we’re still facing suppressed speech. Last week, the administration banned the words “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” and “Paris Agreement” in memos, briefings, and other written communication. What can we do in response? Lewis rendered a skeptical journalist who had to be faced with murder of someone he knew before he would speak out against an authoritarian regime. Let’s not wait that long.

If you’re a teacher, a writer, a parent, you can reach a community (even a community of two) who trust you. You can insist on remaining committed to facts. You can write about climate change. You can describe it, define it, make an easy-to-read overview of the Paris Agreement. You can write about how the lives of people of color are more adversely affected by climate change. You can explain to anyone—anyone, your neighbors, your kids, your family members who might be supportive of this administration—the dangers inherent in censorship.

This reading was fun, but it was also more than that—it’s a simple blueprint of what we need to do. Resist, despite the threats. Remain committed to facts, despite the dishonesty we’re fed on a daily basis. And remember that this doesn’t have to be a dour fight. We can fight and still experience joy. And just because we’re tired—and I’m speaking from experience here—we can still rally and make a difference.

And now, as promised, here are the highlights from the reading:

Aaron Devine’s decision to channel Drumpf through Buzz Windrip for the election chapter.

Simeon Berry’s rousing impression of Bishop Paul Peter Prang.

Nathan Gray’s quiet fury in reading the chapter when Lorinda decides to leave.

Tim Hoover doing justice for the Jessup daughters in two different chapters several hours apart—Sissy, still funny and lighthearted at that point, and then the sober fearlessness of Mary’s death

Ann Leamon’s astounding (and consistent) commitment to lending literal voice to every man at Trianon Concentration Camp.

Shuchi Saraswat’s dual dead-of-night chapters (the near escape to Canada, and the formation of the resistance publication the Vermont Vigilance), both read with the tension required by both the late hour and the content.

And every reader who pounded the podium with exasperation when the chapter seemed to call for it (Rob Arnold, Josh Cook, Randolph Pfaff and many others that I’m likely forgetting.

I feel so indebted to all the readers—Molly Howes, Kurt Klopmeier, Simeon Berry, Danielle Jones-Pruett, Maria Hugger, Ric Amante, Julia Kennedy, Rob Arnold, Aaron Devine, Josh Cook, Tim Hoover, William Pierce (who bravely took on another chapter!), Lindsay Guth, Joell Beagle, Travis Cohen, Currie McKinley, Shuchi Saraswat, Randolph Pfaff, Nathan Gray, Sam Cha, Catherine Parnell, JoeAnn Hart, Ann Leamon, Nicole Keller, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and Molly Mary McLaughlin. A hundred thousand thank yous especially to the staff of Brookline Booksmith, and doubly (triply) Shuchi Saraswat and Lydia McOscar for helping me in innumerable ways to plan and shape this event. And so much gratitude to Randolph, who kept running to get coffee through the night. And to every single person who came, despite the atrocious weather, I thank you.

To watch some of the readings, check out Brookline Booksmith’s Facebook page, as they were kind enough to capture some of the readings via Facebook Live.

And for more photos and videos, head to our FB and Instagram feeds.

Simone John and Krysten Hill in Gramma Poetry

hhsgo_blue_A few months ago, Simone John (author of the forthcoming collection, Testify) spoke to our own Krysten Hill about How Her Spirit Got Out.

As we continue to face so much malice and racism from the current administration in Washington, we’re finding it’s increasingly important to heed these artists’ words:

SJ : You and I have talked about how it feels like there’s something in the air right now for black creatives and makers. Like the atmosphere is charged. What’s your take on the situation? What does that look like, to you, in the poetry world?

KH : We talked about how black creatives and makers have always been doing work to document the time with a hard eye. Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lorde both document their truth and love for their community, while using their voices to shape the future of their community. For me, they’ve also reflected how creativity and imagination are essential to shaping the future. I’ve seen this future-work in poets like Danez Smith and Porsha O that are part of a rich tradition of poets that unabashedly speak to the realities of the black experience. I see this in young poets I teach and other youth poets in the Boston community. In all of their work I see and feel a continuous revolution against the damaging forces of racism, misogyny, and queerphobia. For me, poetry has always been a space for active resistance, testimony, learning, and unlearning.

As I develop my identity as an artist, I find myself seeking artistic spaces that are talking to each other and crying with each other and showing up for each other in a way that makes ferocious art possible. Personally, one way that I survived 2016 was through communities and intimate friend spaces invested in conversations about social justice and witnessing. I made decisions to leave spaces in Boston that were too cliquish or that allowed hate speech and discrimination to happen under the guise of “free speech.” At times, this made for a lonely creative life. Productive creative spaces build people up and welcome in strangers so that they can make brave art together. I’ve seen this life-changing work in spaces like the House Slam at The Haley House Bakery Café and in organizations like The Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective (MassLEAP) and Whole Soul Health in Boston. Even when I can’t make it out to events, I see how these spaces affect and transform my students and community and promote healthy practices for creatives. This atmosphere is what I’m responding to and finding courage in as an artist.

Read the full interview at Gramma Poetry.

And we’re not the only ones taking solace in Krysten’s words.

Janice Worthen at Small Press Distribution praised HHSGO as an SPD staff pick:

Jill McDonough calls this sharp little collection “a middle finger tucked in the hip pocket of your favorite dress.” A middle finger, yes, and a fist held up, black and beautiful… But these poems are also hands held, palms out, hands cuffed behind, flesh that can’t stop the bullet, tears mixing with blood as the calendar turns. They are the voice that rises even as it breaks, radiant with power, “beautiful / and frightening / and free.” Hill writes “we told to be silent / about our magic…our wild I spawning / this flourish without their approval.” But the words, the ghosts, will get out: “Gonna learn how to speak because silence / is father to son to mama to brother to / sister to cousin to friend to rape and / they ain’t gonna tell us what we remember anymore.” This is a collection to be carried along, yes, and spoken aloud.”

We’re heartened to see Krysten’s work finding its audience. Check out the full list at SPD and order your copy of HHSGO today.

DigBoston interviews Carissa Halston for the ICHH marathon reading

ICHH_posterLess than ten days from our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here and we’re so pleased to announce that DigBoston is our media sponsor for the event!

They’ve interviewed our own Carissa Halston about marathon readings, the First Amendment, and the role writers play in defending democracy:

“The tenets of democracy speak directly to freedom, but US laws and legal documents have often been written (or interpreted) according to a privileged bias, so, for every right and civil liberty we’ve got, there have been at least two amendments that had to be introduced later to make it clear that women and people of color are also entitled to that basic human right. To that end, in any country where democracy is touted as the foundation of society, the writers of that country need to chronicle the many ways democracy fails. Who democracy fails and how often and why. It’s deadly important information, especially when democracy fails so many people on a regular basis.”

They also asked their readers to suggest more novels about fascism, so once we’re done at the Booksmith on 4/1, we’ll all have more to read.

(Isn’t that always the way?)

Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook so we’ll know to save you a seat—and some pizza and coffee and maybe some cake—and we’ll see you next week!