Creative Writing

Them Ribbons Were Gold

Lucas Thompson

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

“Them Ribbons Were Gold” is a short story from a larger work that draws its inspiration from across the Americas. In it, I hope to tackle dilemmas of reliability of speaker, self interest, and–with nods to Flannery O’Connor and the story of Icarus–ambition. I wrote this story while keeping in mind the lack of non-European influence in the fantasy genre, as well as with the desire to create a speaker who presents readers with the opportunity to judge his actions for themselves, and develop their own conclusions on the nature of his character.

My Mother's Golem

Amanda VanNierop

Saint Louis University

This piece was composed for the 2020 Inspired By Showcase, where it received first place for undergraduate written work. The competition asked students to create a piece of art reflective of the themes in Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Over time, the Golem has taken on varying symbolism both in and out of Jewish culture. To titular character Joe Kavalier, the Golem represents escape. Freedom. And, of course, protection. I wanted to express these central themes of the Golem in this piece, from the perspective of a daughter who is being told two things: literally, that she suffers from generational depression, and metaphorically, that she is her own mother’s Golem. In this piece, I also wanted to express the idea of escape being limited. The mother can escape her feelings by bringing a companion to life, but this escape is finite—the daughter grows up to feel what the mother did. In a way, the cycle begins again.

Two Poems—"Fried Egg" and "Two (2) Slices of Baloney"

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland

The Evergreen State College

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man from Seattle with Borderline Personality Disorder. He currently attends the Evergreen State College and works for Headline Poetry & Press. He’s been published by UC Riverside’s Santa Ana River Review, UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum Literary Journal, and The New School’s The Inquisitive Eater. His lifelong dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He’s @Romangodmercury on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Maiden of the Lost

Jeneva Grace Midgett

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Within this poetic narrative, I attempt to challenge what makes someone important or worth remembering. While a nameless woman in history may seem unimportant or useless in society, ones’ name is not what is important. People hold power in themselves, and depending on how they use their actions and voices to interact with others, they determine their lasting effect in the world. I hope this narrative challenges others to consider how they affect those around them and where their power is.


Jake Gentry

Tennessee Technological University

Jake H. Gentry is a college senior at Tennessee Technological University, where he studies creative writing and literature. He is an LGBTQ+ author and poet. Other than writing, his hobbies include playing with his beloved cat Poe and pondering the nature of the multiverse.

What Isn't There

Petra Ellerby

Western Washington University

This essay is a meditation on an idea, an exploration of absence as it is expressed in the writings of four poets from four places and four ages. While the work does not fit easily into any one disciplinary category, its approach is traditionally humanistic: it addresses the many routes by which a concept intersects with the compositions of various authors—and with the humanity of their readers. Its theoretical concerns run the gamut from grief to syntax to logic and back again, incorporating a wide collection of possible points of view. The essay is structured like a crystal; each section centers a different facet of its core unifying idea. All of these ‘chapters’ also incorporate a collection of sub-explorations, each focused on absence’s manifold forms.

Highlights from previous editions


Cassandra Zimmerman

Young Harris College

Playing with the neighbor’s boy Sam wasn’t always Eliza’s favorite pastime. Each Saturday they’d sit in front of his house, searching for caterpillars between the slick, green blades and dried husks of weeds. The sun watched them as intently as they did the grass, or perhaps it was looking for caterpillars too. The real fun, however, didn’t start until Sam brought out the toys: a combat jeep, as small and shiny as a beetle; a plastic shooter that was always slick with bubble soap; fistfuls of dinosaurs, some forever frozen in a hungry roar, others in a panicked stare; and, finally, the Green Camper. It was like holding a green, sub sandwich with wheels and windows. With a click, the roof swung open like a treasure chest. Bed, bathroom, sink, dinner table—everything a house had but with a driver’s seat. Unlike the blue squares on the sides, the inside windows had stickers: at the table, the sun peeked over black mountains in an orange sky, but it was also bright and yellow above the sink, while the moon hung by the bed.

Northern Spy

Anne Livingston

Grand Valley State University

“Northern Spy”

Quite susceptible to many of the usual range of diseases, particularly mildew and fireblight. Northern Spy also takes its time to come into bearing.

Lyrics for Magnolia, too

Sreyash Sarkar


As the beats of summer

Went down

Went down in Sorbonne

We were together

We were together

In the shades

Of perplexity

And magnolia too.

Talking of death

What would

What would indeed

Happen after that

Tears of a Jester

Anjali Chacko

The University of Illinois at Chicago

As I stared at my former doctor in her casket, I felt my throat tighten and the stomach acid climb up. Mary looked so different from the pictures her family had placed near her body. Her skin seemed thicker in death. She appeared much paler, almost sallow, and her body sagged in all the wrong ways. I joined the procession of mourners and thought about how poorly the makeup artist had done their job. I mean, it was bad—it looked as if someone had just slapped some lipstick all over her face and called it a day. I almost laughed at the thought, but I stopped myself. It’s impolite to laugh at wakes.