Issue 38 Launch Party by Washington Square

We had a blast at the launch party for #38 on Friday! Here's a glimpse of our night in pictures:

Fiction Editor Bruna Dantas Lobato and Assistant Poetry Editor Maggie Millner with issue 38 and lots of other new Washington Square goodies.

Fiction Editor Bruna Dantas Lobato and Assistant Poetry Editor Maggie Millner with issue 38 and lots of other new Washington Square goodies.

Former Poetry Editor, Linda H. Dolan, introducing Emily Brandt.

Former Poetry Editor, Linda H. Dolan, introducing Emily Brandt.

"I declare myself and the hour turns violet." -Emily Brandt.

"I declare myself and the hour turns violet." -Emily Brandt.

Former Fiction Editor, Mike Sarinsky, introducing Matthew Baker. 

Former Fiction Editor, Mike Sarinsky, introducing Matthew Baker. 

Matthew Baker reads his story "Meanwhile" from issue 38.

Matthew Baker reads his story "Meanwhile" from issue 38.

Former Poetry Editor, Chase Berggrun, introducing Jay Desphande.

Former Poetry Editor, Chase Berggrun, introducing Jay Desphande.

"Wanting nothing, you became the want." -Jay Desphande.

"Wanting nothing, you became the want." -Jay Desphande.

Managing Editor, Lindsey Skillen.

Managing Editor, Lindsey Skillen.

Editor-in-Chief Joanna Yas.

Editor-in-Chief Joanna Yas.

Selfie time.

Selfie time.

Poetry Editor, Jessica Modi with Former Poetry Editors, Chase Berggrun and Linda H. Dolan. 

Poetry Editor, Jessica Modi with Former Poetry Editors, Chase Berggrun and Linda H. Dolan. 

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and thanks to our readers, Matthew Baker, Emily Brandt, and Jay Desphande. 

Issue 38 Launch Party by Washington Square

Please join us this Friday for a celebration of our latest issue, featuring readings by Matthew Baker, Emily Brandt, and Jay Deshpande. There will be beer, wine, hors d'oeuvres, and, of course, copies of #38 for sale.  

Matthew Baker is the author of If You Find This. He lives in Michigan, where he was born. Read his story "Meanwhile" over here.

Emily Brandt is the author of three poetry chapbooks, a cofounding editor of No, Dear, and a web editor for VIDA. Check out her poem "Taking Up Space."

Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (2015) and teaches at Columbia University. He has three poems in Issue 38.

RSVP here!

Spotlight on Issue 38: George Michelsen Foy by Washington Square

Fiction Editor Emeritus Michael Sarinsky Discusses "Strandings" by George Michelsen Foy

Some silences long to be filled. Others speak for themselves. Jonathan Safran Foer has hanging on his office door a long and calming quote that's escaped me since graduation this past May. Thick white stock paper, an inoffensive font. It's something about silence and it doesn't exist online. Though the internet's ignorance here is no worse than my own: I took three semesters to recognize that the words aren't printed on the paper, but rather hollowed out from it. Little deconstructions forged of emptiness rather than ink. Without realizing it, I was reading the door. George Michelsen Foy's "Strandings," one of his seven contributions to Washington Square Review #38, does something similar. It renders the emptiness and avoids the convenience of having answers.

"Into one such silence," Foy writes, "the phone rang. Putting down the receiver he said, There's been a stranding." So goes our second introduction to the whales, who have been beaching onto Cape Cod at an unusual rate and begin occupying the uncomfortable quiet between Foy's protagonists. We printed a fair number of stories about anonymity in this issue, about losing oneself in a city, in a crowd, in another person. Foy's focus on the canvas rather than the painting, his transferring of the characters' relationship woes onto the beached whales, nicely captures where this issue landed.

Matt Rohrer had a good laughline at our commencement. He said that our diplomas are less valuable than the blank paper on which they were printed. (It's true! Try convincing an employer that an MFA qualifies you for the position.) At least a blank page you can write on. And if you believe him, rest assured that there's exactly one blank page in this issue of the journal. It's on page 6, though even the page number doesn't appear there, and it comes immediately before all the content begins - stories from Lydia Davis and Yuri Herrera, poetry from Thomas Dooley and Carmen Gimenez Smith, discussions with Rachel Zucker, David Trinidad, and Lorrie Moore. And in some way, every piece that follows is trying to replicate the power of that emptiness.

🍂 Tragic Autumn Reading List 🍂 by Washington Square

I agree with Anne of Green Gables who said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” We’re putting on layers of clothing and we’ve put down (or hidden) our summer beach reads, settling into material that’s perhaps a little weightier. Which makes sense; our Managing Editor, Lindsey Skillen, informed me that according to Northrop Frye’s Theory of Archetypes, winter is Irony and Satire, spring is Comedy, summer is Romance, and autumn is Tragedy. So bring on the suffering and destruction.

Despite the fact that my must-read list is pages long, and tends to grow much longer come September, I love rereading books, even if it’s only been a few years since I first experienced them. It helps that I have a terrible memory. How Should a Person Be? is a genre-defying novel—a mix of all Frye's archetypes—that I'm currently revisiting each night before bed. The author is Sheila Heti, a writer from Toronto whom I interviewed on the blog a little while back. As the cold weather creeps in, I tend to get (dangerously) introspective, and so I appreciate someone else doing the same; in How Should a Person Be? Heti explores, in her idiosyncratic way, what it means to be an artist, a friend, a lover, a mess, a human being. 

I asked the rest of the staff of Washington Square Review for their favorite fall reads and here is what some of our wonderful editors had to say. 

— Alisha Kaplan, Web Editor


Hannah Gilham
Assistant Web Editor

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is the perfect book for curling up on a crispy, creepy autumn evening with a glass of Russian vodka and a delightfully macabre outlook on life, love, religion and art.


Lindsey Skillen
Managing Editor

I keep thinking of Jane Austen (mostly because I read her recently) but also because this weather is how I imagine the UK feels all the time. I like Dubliners during the time for the same reason. Seems like a cozy coffee shop kind of book. And this weather just makes me want to bake so I’ve been into cookbooks (if that counts). [AK: It most certainly does.]


Ama Codjoe
Poetry Editor

As we turn inward in the season of letting go, Donika Kelly's debut Bestiary, just longlisted for the National Book Award, will pull you in: toward childhood, toward east and west, toward reflection, toward our tender hearts. Chosen by Nikky Finney for the Cave Canem First Book Prize, Kelly's first book explores the trauma and ultimately the song of our human condition. Bestiary is full of introspection, lyric, mythology, and meditation.


Katie Bockino
Assistant Managing Editor

My favorite autumn read (so far) is Heirlooms by Rachel Hall. This new short story collection spans from France 1939 to the American Midwest in 1989, and follows four generations of the same family. The writing is captivating, and so far I haven't been able to put it down!


Alyssa DiPierro
Assistant Fiction Editor

I'd like to suggest The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Autumn is the season of Halloween, coffee, cozy blankets, and, this year, a significant election. What better book to snuggle up with that not only feels terrifying, but also eerily prophetic? Even thirty years after being published, The Handmaid's Tale still is a chillingly fresh prediction of our future world. And never before more so than this current election cycle. (Not to mention it's also important to revisit before the TV series airs on Netflix in 2017 on Hulu!)

Cooking with the Muse by Washington Square

This is our most delicious post yet, combining two of my favorite things—poetry and food. We're going to share with you a few odes and a recipe, courtesy of Stephen Massimilla and Myra Kornfeld, from their new book, Cooking with the Muse.  

Very recently published by Tupelo Press, the cookbook features seasonal recipes and culinary poems, as well as essays, lore, and notes on the poetry of food. Kornfeld is a chef, author, and cooking instructor, and Massimilla is an award-winning poet, artist, and scholar. (Disclaimer: he was also my freshman year Modern Poetry professor, and taught me most of what I know about 20th century poetry. Thanks, Prof. Mass.) 
The recipe we've chosen is a spring onion tart. Mmm. Now is the perfect time to get spring onions, so run to the nearest farmer's market. But first read this delectable excerpt from Cooking with the Muse

                                                                                                —Alisha Kaplan                                                                            


For it is every Cook’s Opinion,
No savory Dish without an Onion

from Martial’s “Xenia 18,”
Jonathan Swift translation

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised all that exists,
onion, but to me, you are
more precious than a bird
with resplendent feathers,
in my watery eyes a celestial globe, 
a platinum chalice, 
the immobile dance
of the snowy anemone

and the earth’s fragrance lives
within your crystalline essence.

Stephen Massimilla,
    after an homage to Pablo Neruda


Spring Onion Tart

This is a dish that the ancient Roman author Apicius—who tells us to mix eggs with honey, milk, and cream and cook them over a slow fire to make a custard—would surely approve of. But there is a new development. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye refers to the onion as “one of nature’s small forgotten miracles” since it has traveled the world from Egypt to Greece to Italy, but in recent history has rarely played a starring role. This savory tart features what are known as “spring onions,” fresh onions that have not yet grown the papery outer sheath. All parts—from the tender red or white bulbs to the long green shoots—are edible, and they are all featured here. Even so, you could make a delicious version with more mature onions mixed with scallions. 
    You sweat the sliced bulb with garlic until juicy, then add the onion greens and cook until everything is caramelized. Mixed with egg yolks and a bit of milk and cream, then topped with a smattering of Parmesan, this custardy concoction is at once smooth, delicate and, yes, oniony. Pearly gold, softer, and lighter than a quiche, a perfect balance of sweet and savory, it dissolves in your mouth so fast that you’ll find yourself reaching for seconds.
    Bake this in a 9-inch pie plate for best results. You’ll have two cups of caramelized onions, so set aside one cup for another tart.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for preparing the pan
6 cups thin sauté-sliced red onions (preferably spring onions; 1 3/4 pounds / 3 medium-large; see page 35 and the Cook’s Note)
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups thinly sliced spring onion greens or scallions
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (2 ounces)


1. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir together and cover. Cook covered, raising the lid to stir from time to time, until the onions have become very juicy, about 10 minutes. 
2. Uncover; add the onion greens and stir to combine. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are completely caramelized. 
3. Stir in the vinegar and honey. Transfer to a measuring cup. You should have 2 cups of the rich onion jam. Set aside 1 cup for another tart.
4. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate.
5. Whisk together the yolks, cream, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in 1 cup of the onions and combine well. Pour into the pie plate. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until set.
6. You can serve the tart right away. Or chill the tart for a couple of hours (or up to 3 days) and reheat in a 350˚F oven to serve.


The Traveling Onion
by Naomi Shihab Nye

“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an
object of worship—why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion
entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” 

—Better Living Cookbook

When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way the knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,



Spotlight on Issue 37: Laura Maylene Walter by Washington Square

Assistant Fiction Editor Kate Doyle discusses "Euthanasia Coaster" by Laura Maylene Walter


"It was an engineering wonder, a spectacle of physics topped with rainbow-colored flags whipping in the wind." The narrator is describing the titular theme park ride of "Euthanasia Coaster", but could easily be talking about this story—a tense, glittery work of very short fiction, precisely coiled, controlled, then released to run its course. 

Walter's first sentence is emblematic of her story's concision and verve: "My girlfriend set her sights on the euthanasia coaster from the beginning, when it was first built to its wobbling height on the seaside cliffs outside of town." We prickle with dark curiosity: What's this relationship? Who's speaking? What does it mean for them, individually and together, that she has her "sights set"? Exactly where on the figurative-literal spectrum does this thrill ride's name fall? How dire is the couple's situation, how on the brink of demise are they? And how entwined are their individual fates—or is their fate shared, even in making their choices apart? 

"What's so hard about that first sentence is that you're stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence," says Joan Didion. This one is an intimate sentence that remembers a moment in a relationship. And a potent sentence that, in a few words, builds a roller coaster, gives it a sinister name, and hangs it over the ocean, precarious on a cliffside where it shivers, full of narrative potential and seeming almost about to drop into the ocean. Story is here, poised to run devastatingly from this one sentence; we know it by the way the narrator says "from the beginning." Beginnings come paired with endings. Something won't make it here, something is falling into the abyss.


You can read Laura Maylene Walter's story here and purchase the issue here.



Spotlight on Issue 37: Chus Pato by Washington Square

Assistant Poetry Editor Jessica Marion Modi discusses three poems by Chus Pato

Issue 37’s publication of Chus Pato’s “Three Poems from Flesh of Leviathantranslated by Erín Moure could not come at a better time. Pato just published her first collection in the US, Flesh of Leviathan, and Moure was recently awarded the 2016-2017 Woodberry Creative Fellowship.

On top of the writers’ accomplishments, the poems and their deft translations are breathtaking. As the title denotes, they take place after, in the Talmud, God serves the flesh of the monster Leviathan to the Just after the final judgement. The poems act as a kind of post-apocalyptic reckoning of the present and what’s to come:


[a] poem/would be a limit

simultaneously exception and paradigm

written not just with names, but with the passions that dictate names


After everything, including nomenclature, has been wiped clean, these lyrics attempt to remake the rules and limits of poetry with the irregular line lengths and abrupt back-slash ceasuras. The language almost cracks and fractures under the pressure of exploring a new sonic and geographic world. In spare images, we bear witness to the speaker (or the entire surviving population) going to extremes and back.


            Whosoever crosses the wilds and returns

            admits to no one

            dreams of the voice

            and attuned to the voice



I certainly felt revitalized while reading. 


You can read Chus Pato's poems here and purchase Issue 37 here.

Spotlight on Issue 37: Catherine Lacey by Washington Square


It's easy to write about the passage of time. Throw a couple em-dashes into a Word document, maybe a double space break, and leave your readers grasping for the years skipped over. Harder is making them feel like their lives are passing, having readers close your story and touch a mirror, like Catherine Lacey's "No One Knows What" often drove me to do while we finalized Washington Square Review #37. This piece moved us, is what I'm saying. "Some years later," it starts, and then dispenses the sort of wisdom that can only be accessed with age.

Time is a procession of moments, and whether they're spent at the grocery store or lying in bed next to your deceased husband they all move at the same speed. We published a lot of short fiction in this issue, not because we got restless or didn't love many of the longer pieces we were sent, but because they reminded us how little it takes to miss the important stuff. Catherine Lacey's unnamed protagonist grows old in about the time it takes to brush your teeth. Rinse. Spit. Lift your head back up to the mirror. Do you look younger now, or older? Are you sure?


You can read Catherine Lacey's story here and purchase Issue 37 here.