The Story Behind “Streets Of Bakersfield” by Kelly Shire

kshireheadshot17Today’s post is written by Kelly Shire. We published her creative nonfiction “Streets of Bakersfield” in our Fall 2017 issue. 

I wrote the first incarnation of “Streets of Bakersfield,” in the mid-1990s in a creative writing class taught by writer Barry Hannah at the University of Mississippi. (How I, a native of southern California with no family or friends in the region, came to be a twenty-six-year-old undergrad at Ole Miss is a much longer story for another day.) Back then, I exclusively wrote short fiction – it was my preferred genre, even if nearly every story I produced was somehow based on events from my real life.

That first version of “Bakersfield” was a quick slice of flash fiction –  as in my essay, the protagonist is the new girl in town – but that girl barely mentions her parents at all, and the action centers upon a fraught encounter with some bullying kids after the narrator gets lost in the maze of cul-de-sacs in her neighborhood. Written in the second person, probably in an unconscious attempt to further distance myself from the protagonist, it was a good story: it earned an A+ from Mr. Hannah, and was part of the application packet that gained my admittance into an MFA program a few years later.Continue Reading

The Story Behind “Shuang” by Kevin McGeary

Today’s post is written by Kevin McGeary. We published his short story “Shuang” in in our Fall 2017 issue.  To quote Mark Twain, “The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” When searching for ideas for new stories, I decided to take the seven most salacious news articles from my time in the […]

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The Story Behind “Daffodils in January” by M. J. Arlett

Today’s post is written by M. J. Arlett. We published her poem “Daffodils in January”  in our Fall 2017 issue. “Daffodils in January” was a direct response to Sylvia Plath’s “Poppies in July,” the title being an obvious play on hers, as well as the word “little” in the first line. I wanted to explore the image of […]

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The Story Behind “Two Poems” by Laurinda Lind

Today’s post is written by Laurinda Lind. We published two of her poems in our Fall 2017 issue.  It’s hard to say what makes poems coalesce—sometimes words just want to come out to play, and sometimes insights demand means of expression. One of these two poems came from observation, and one came as a response […]

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Pushcart Prize Nominations, 2017

We are pleased to announce our 2017 nominations for the Pushcart Prize: “The Suicide Dogs,” creative nonfiction by Telaina Eriksen “Bypass Instructions,” creative nonfiction by Marion Agnew “narcissus,” poetry by Chris Murray “An Egret in Winter,” poetry by John Grey “Which Finger for the Town?” fiction by Andrew Boden “Siren,” fiction by Chaya Bhuvaneswar Congratulations and […]

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The Story Behind “Siren” by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Today’s post is written by Chaya Bhuvaneswar. We published her short story “Siren” in our Fall 2017 issue. Congratulations, as well, go out to Chaya, the recent recipient of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize. Please follow her on Twitter for updates on the book or if you would like to read your fiction, poetry or […]

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Introducing Our Fall 2017 Contributors

Sending you hearty autumn greetings from the editorial team at Compose! Our Fall 2017 issue is now well underway, and we very much look forward to sharing the work of these writers, poets and artists with you in late October. In the meantime, as we work through edits and lay out the issue, take a […]

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The Story Behind “Bypass Instructions” by Marion Agnew

Today’s post is written by Marion Agnew. We published her essay “Bypass Instructions” in our Spring 2017 issue. “Every illness is a narrative.” –Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby “Bypass Instructions” came about for many reasons, all of which are probably familiar to most writers: I wanted to document and explore a significant experience—in this case, my […]

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The Story Behind “The Suicide Dogs” by Telaina Eriksen

Today’s post is written by Telaina Eriksen. We published her essay “The Suicide Dogs” in our Spring 2017 issue.  “The Suicide Dogs” was one of the most difficult essays I’ve ever written. How do you attempt to sketch a portrait of two beloved people in a minimal number of words, but also talk about the reality […]

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The Story behind “Creatures” by Beth Sherman

Today’s post is written by Beth Sherman. We published a piece of her flash fiction, “Creatures,” in our Spring 2017 issue. I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for story ideas. For me, figuring out what to write about is the hardest part of the writing process. My life is pretty […]

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