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Shipping of Unsaid 7 is now underway, and copies are available via PayPal or by contacting David McLendon at unsaidmag@gmail.com. 

Unsaid 7 is 300+ pages of innovative fiction and poetry by Masha Tupitsyn, Russell Persson, Ottessa Moshfegh, Stephen Dixon, Mairead Small Staid, Peter Markus, David Hollander, Kate Wyer, Matt Bell, Brian Evenson, Phillip Grayson, Katherine Manderfield, Kayla Blatchey, Paul Maliszewski & James Wagner, Joseph Scapellato, Michael Copperman, Elizabeth Gramm, Catherine Foulkrod, Beth Imes, Robin Richardson, Pamela Ryder, Michele Forster, Brian Kubarycz, Jason Schwartz, Richard St. Germain, Naomi Stekelenburg, David Ryan, Robert Lopez, Joseph R. Wojtowicz, Mahreen Sohail, Danielle Blau, Gary Kertis, K.E. Allen, Jordan Gannon, Robin Martin, Dana Inez, Ryan Ries, M Sarki, Tom McCartan, Russell Brakefield, Josh Milberg & Elise DeChard, and Luke B. Goebel.

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A Disaster from The Start – An Interview with Russell Persson

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Russell Persson’s “The Way of Florida” appears in Unsaid 7. Persson is the 2014 recipient of Unsaid’s Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Award for Fiction in the Face of Adversity.

UNSAID: What role does research play in your treatment of what appear to be historical events? In what ways is research either a help or a hindrance?

RP: Research has provided the factual armature that my narrative is built on. Throwing clay on that armature and pushing it around and forming the contours that I find engaging or musical or surprising or terrifying is the real joy. I do end up at times going back to the facts to give a rough form to where the story is going, but I try not to get too deep into the research because if I feel like I am guiding or anticipating the story too strictly then I’ll lose that sense of play and abandon which is required for me to get at least that first draft down.

UNSAID: Your treatment of mapping and chronology, combined with your description of jungle landscape, create a strong sense of anxiety, the feeling that a creeping reality will invade and engulf all, unless the world is constantly rationalized. Is this feeling merely an effect within your story, or is it expressive of your own understanding of human experience?

RP: In the Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca, it’s a disaster from the start. The ships are blown by a storm, the navigator doesn’t know where they are, the competency of the commander Narvaez is questioned. After they reach land and decide to explore inland, they are walking through a place unknown, unmapped, populated by an unknown, possibly hostile people. When I was reading the Narrative, it made me anxious to imagine what it must have been like in those circumstances. I wanted to try to convey some of that anxiety, and to bring some of that anxiety to the idiom.

The sense of anxiety and that creeping reality you mention might also have to do with the process of writing. When I am writing well, I feel like I’m an actor playing the role of some overwhelmed scribe trying to keep up with the story. It’s a fugue state that is wonderful to be in and it produces its own kind of anxiety, but like any ideal state it’s not always easy to access. That creeping reality is daily life, just outside the gates, constantly reminding me that I need to go back to my job, pay the bills, mow the lawn. So that anxiety might have more to do with not so much my understanding of the human experience but instead my understanding of the experience of writing.

UNSAID: It was hard for me to read The Way of Florida without thinking of Orlando, the title of two literary landmarks, and also the home of one of the world’s great theme parks. For me, your story connotes a wide variety of texts, historical and contemporary, aesthetic and vulgar, heroic and absurd – all of which add to the richness of the experience of reading. To what extent did writing proceed and work with an awareness of your production arising within an intertextual field?

RP: I wonder sometimes if it’s possible to start over with a word. In the original Narrative, “the way of Florida” simply refers to a direction of travel. But a contemporary reader can find so many different meanings for the word Florida. We all seem to have an emotion or an opinion about Florida. When I decided on the title “The Way of Florida,” I loved how ambiguous and loaded it was, how it could be filled up and decorated before you read a line of the text. And at the same time, I loved how it might be possible to rebuild the word itself.

Maybe it’s not possible to start over with a word, but I like the idea of trying. Jack Gilbert resurrected the word heart for me, which I believed had been lost for good. So I think there is still the possibility to take words to which we have assigned almost inseparable meaning and to present them for reevaluation.

UNSAID: The sudden appearance of complex run-on sentences in your story catches the reader off guard, demanding great feats of cognition or respiration if the movement of the story is not to be interrupted. To what extent do you find writing and reading to be not pleasures so much as mental and physical ordeals?

RP: I feel those longer sentences are a natural product of the story, told at pace and rhythm and length at which certain passages should be told to reflect the subject. Writing those sentences is a pleasure and I hope that pleasure is felt by the reader as well. But I do understand that those wandering sentences require a form of attention that we’re not used to working with. So in that way I can understand that it might take some persuasion or some kind of instruction to get the reader to that place where that form of attention lives. These lines might serve to, indirectly, instruct the reader on what might be an appropriate form of attention to bring to the pages.

UNSAID: I’m fascinated by what I might call infixes or intrusions in the course of your narrative. I see these principally in the form of sudden expletives, conjectures, and proclamations. Each of these seems to figure as a moment of shock, a repetition of an unsaid trauma driving the underpinning of the narrative. Can you say anything about the origin or function of exclamation in your work?

RP: The first expletive came about as a way to speak to the muted nature of the original Narrative, in which almost all emotion is removed to make room for place names, directions, distances traveled, measurements of time, descriptions of the native people. In my retelling of the narrative, I wanted to inhabit more of the reactionary and the felt. But once I started using these expletives I realized they were assigning themselves a different role, like a crash that breaks into an expected rhythm of sounds. I often listen to music that has elements of dissonance, and I realized these expletives were like those notes you don’t expect to hear, notes whose function is to intentionally bend away from the expected note to give you something odd and unexpected. This can be unsettling, or shocking, but you’ll see that bend in the path and by following the path you might get to see or hear something differently than if the path was straight.

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I Wanted Something Sharp – An Interview With Kate Wyer

Kate Wyer’s Pushcart-nominated story, “Radio Ferry, Tern Mouth,” appears in Unsaid 7.

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UNSAID: Your story has the sense of expectancy I associate with Beckett, yet you don’t seem to share his utter bleakness of vision. In place of Beckett’s terminal culture, you seem to substitute an interminable drive in nature. Have you passed through Beckett to something new or have you arrived at this place through other means?

KW: I have passed through Beckett. In one of my art classes, the teacher showed a video of Billie Whitelaw’s performance of Not I. The mouth and driving repetition stayed with me. Of all of his work, that play is the one I can point to as most influencing my writing. My story isn’t quite as bleak, but it is still bleak. The terns leave the two people for good, and that signals to the people no ferry will come, ever. The people are left to whatever there is after the waiting. Without the waiting, what will they do?

UNSAID: The radio is such a powerful imagine in modern literature, and your phrase “Our tuneless radio” seems to condense so much experience and sentiment, perhaps even nostalgia, into one discrete unit. Could you unpack that phrase for us a bit?

KW: I believe the phrase does have some nostalgia. For about five years I couldn’t listen to music on the radio. I could barely listen to music. I don’t know if that was entirely my frame of mind, or if it signaled something larger was happening—a general tunelessness. Even now I can take only so much music. Strangely, I started to make it a year and a half ago, well, make isn’t quite right. I started to learn how to make music and that means I have to listen to it first. I don’t participate in really hearing music though. I deconstruct it into patterns I can repeat. I think that at the core of this is a tunelessness I haven’t escaped. So, yes, I am nostalgic about how I once participated in listening.

UNSAID: I’m struck by your foregrounding of phonetics more than in previous work of yours, and by the image of the knife gate, a device for regulating flow. Do you find you have used this image to say something about the mechanics of the vocal apparatus?

KW: Knife gate was originally just the word sluice, but that word wasn’t entirely working. I went looking for another. I like that knife gate is jarring. It causes a moment of confusion, of slowing down. Sometimes I use sluice, sometimes I use knife gate. I was able to interchange the words and follow the sounds. When writing this story I knew that it was an unfamiliar word combination, and because it was unfamiliar it could seem like I made it up. Sluice, to my ear, creates more of a gradual, sliding closure. I wanted something sharp, I wanted knife. I wanting slamming a gate. I liked that I could interplay these phonetically and still keep the meaning the same. Spenser and the narrator want sound, but they don’t get it. Their words are restrained by waiting. The anticipation of sound is what moves this story forward. In this way, yes, the knife gate is silent and stagnant.

UNSAID: I’m also struck by the brevity of this piece, and the way it moves forward by way of repetition? To what extent does the simplicity of the visible text mask a complex writing process? Is the piece more the product of additive or subtractive composition? sedimentation, intrusion, or erosion? Or are you up to something different?

KW: I wrote this piece as an assignment in one of Peter Markus’s online workshops. The assignment was to analyze the poetry form sestina, and then write a story after choosing six words that will appear over and over in the piece. The sestina form was familiar to me, so instead of just analyzing the way it works (there are six words that repeat at the ends of very rigid stanza constructions), I went ahead and wrote a sestina first and then broke it apart. After I broke the story from stanzas, I added more story and more repetition. I’ve used the sestina as a way to generate new word combinations before, because the constraints force you to make things work and bring unexpected words together. If you read the story again, you will most likely be able to pick out my six root words. Ultimately, the constraints allowed me to build the waiting and the tension, because the story goes forward and then is forced back onto itself. To answer your question, it is built by addition and intrusion. And honestly, I was mostly up to having fun. I enjoy the challenge of constraints.

UNSAID: I know political engagement to be a central concern in your life, and yet this piece seems to be a detached subjective revery. Does such writing serve as a salutary and necessary respite from politics, or are there ways in which revery, lyricism or expression might relate more directly to outward action?

KW: This question took me by surprise! It gave me some insight into how I can be perceived—thank you for that. I wish that marching for climate justice didn’t have to be seen as a political action. I don’t see myself as involved in politics. The state of the planet causes me so much distress, so much anxiety, that to manage my anxiety, I control what I can control. To me, that means making deliberate choices and it means showing up at rallies to have fellowship with other people. I hope to be buoyed.

I don’t want to hit anyone over the head with a message. Even in Land Beast, where the narrator is a female rhino, I don’t ever come out and say poaching is wrong. That story happened after I woke up in the middle of the night with the image of the rhino’s chainsawed face. I didn’t set out to write an anti-poaching story. It wasn’t something that would have occurred to me to write.

I wanted her interior experience of external violence to be something with which people connected. However, I knew the story would not change a poacher’s mind. The most I could hope for would be to change a consumer’s mind, but that wasn’t on my mind at all when I was writing. There is that Kafka quote, I may not have it correctly, but I remember it as “I write so I can close my eyes.” I wrote that story to close my eyes to the horror. I know that if someone else wrote the story, it would upset me too much to read it. I would turn away. So, to answer your question, I do not actively analyze my process as being engaged in politics, or as a respite from political action. I write whatever comes. In a sense, all my writing is closing my eyes—be it to loss, or to violence, or to wanting.

UNSAID: Finally, I’m interested in your interest in life outside the economy of the human. Is there something in the thought or feel of action unencumbered by self-consciousness which informs or directs your writing?

KW: I put consciousness everywhere. In the rhino, in the terns, in sand crabs, and cows. For me, everything is encumbered with self. I throw my net of compassion wide and let it all in. I am driven to connect and process, and I try to do so without becoming overwhelmed.

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1929: Summit as Hiatus – “The Unthinkable, The Unsaid, and The Unsayable”

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“In Rosenzweig and Heidegger, Gordon concludes with a reading of the 1929 debate between Heidegger (whose existentialist philosophy greatly influenced modern interpretations of Gnosticism as Anti-Humanism) and Cassirer (whose philosophical reading of historical texts might be viewed as the last spark of Renaissance Humanism) at a philosophical conference at Davos, Switzerland … Gordon here returns to this primal scene and reconstructs the event with extraordinarily thoughtful and scrupulous precision. This debate has achieved legendary status in the history of contemporary thought and is regarded as opening an abyss between those who base philosophy on scientific reason, and the human power of reflection, and those who are haunted by the unthinkable, the unsaid, and the unsayable … By judiciously reconstructing Cassirer’s and Heidegger’s arguments, Gordon definitively unveils the subtle refinement of Heidegger’s positions and shows with new clarity that this struggle over Kant’s legacy has relentlessly unfolded over the 20th century. A work of exceptional significance.”

—N. Lukacher, Choice

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Unsaid Got Its Beer On

Unsaid is not a licensed photographer.

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Pagan Void


Gnostic Sky

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Ecclesia Super Cloacam – The Text Is Always Structured Around A Lacuna

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Drains 1990 by Robert Gober born 1954

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ॐ – And Ezekiel Saw The Wheel

12 AMIENS EZEKIEL'S DREAM-VISION OF A WHEEL

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