December 20, 2018

Walk Three

When I was nineteen, I went to London and, while walking the old and twisting streets, felt the simultaneous thrill and melancholy of solitude, as if for the first time. It was also in London, at a special exhibit I attended for class, that I first saw Edward Hopper’s Automat, a 1927 painting of a woman sitting alone at the café, which was on loan from the Des Moines Art Center. The woma...

December 10, 2018

Last week, Mystery Writers of America announced their grand marshal choices for the prestigious Edgar Awards, awarded annually for the best mystery books published in that year. The grand master award is given to a person to honor their contributions to the genre over the length of their career. The 2018 choice of recipients kicked off a heated debate between the old and new guardians of the genre...

November 23, 2018

Walk Two

Five years ago, I was standing in my house—a large fading Victorian with bad carpet and cracked shingles. I lived in this house with three other graduate students. Two of them were writers, and we were having a party. I remember we had just hosted a reading in our living room where, along with others, I read some poems. I was wearing my favorite black wrap dress, and I was drinking a glass...

November 14, 2018

Nurse Ratched—Mildred, as she has me call her from the start (she is Millie to friends, as she tells me three times)—lives a brisk, fifteen-minute walk from the Oregon State Hospital, where she is employed as a nurse supervising the men’s ward. (“It’s simply practical. Close to home for convenience, but just far enough away for comfort,” she tells me, impatiently.) 

But Mildred owns an expansive Vi...

November 12, 2018

There’s nothing like publishing a novel to knock your ego around. This year I lived the dream of publishing a novel. It was released to solid reviews and quickly picked up by the Book of the Month Club. I’ve been invited to read at some amazing places. I’ve confronted and mostly overcome my fear of public speaking. My friends all believe that since I achieved the dream, I am happy.

Truthfully, it’s...

November 5, 2018

I once believed in the beauty of God.

In the parking lot at St. Mary’s, the Catholic school I attended from kindergarten through the first half of fourth grade, a thick yellow line ran down the middle of the parking lot, dividing us kids at recess. Boys on one side, girls—my friends—on the opposite. Including my best friend Lauren. We stood at the line and talked to each other. We twirled down the...

November 2, 2018

Matthew: Good to speak with you again, Brooke! So what are you reading these days? What sort of ideas, books, poems are you obsessing over lately?

Brooke: I’ve been fixated on this Hélène Cixous essay about Nancy Spero called “Spero’s Dissidences.” It’s about Spero’s panels on war, torture, and cruelty. Cixous does a lot of deep-dives into the belly of the painter to talk about psychic labor behind...

October 31, 2018

I am trying to remember the last time I was angry. Or the first. Maybe I am trying to recall anger. I remember my brother, asleep in my bed, the twinge of mute resentment I felt that he was there at all. How I wanted him to wake and go and leave me to the cool quiet of the basement, where my bedroom was. He wouldn’t stir. My mother, upstairs, called for him. I don’t remember what she wanted him fo...

October 24, 2018

Walk One

The women at the center of my writings are walled off in some way; there is a layer between them and the world. I’ve been told over and over in the writing workshops I’ve attended that my fictional protagonists and the speakers of my poems feel “detached,” that I should remedy this problem. It’s not that I think these are assessments are wrong really, but I do wonder if their corrective in...

October 17, 2018

   There are forty-five miles between where I live now and where I grew up. On a good day of traffic, it takes about fifty minutes to drive from Denton, Texas, to Garland, Texas, where my parents live. I live in Denton because I’m finishing my doctorate in creative writing. During the busy part of the semester, I hardly go home to visit.

     If I walked it would take me half a day. If I took...

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