Last week we received proofs of the poetry broadsides we’ve ordered from May Day Studios—all of them were gorgeous, as anyone who’s seen May Day Studio’s work would expect. Fitting for the poetry of Tyler Orion, whose “Selections from Inferior Normal” left me gasping on a park bench the first time I read it, totally submerged. I sent the acceptance letter that very night.
Only weeks later, after also offering to publish “Selections from Inferior Normal” as a letterpress broadside, did we learn that this exceptional poem will be the first publication of Tyler Orion’s career.
We couldn’t be more pleased and honored to share their work with you, and we believe this excerpt will show you why:
An Excerpt of “Selections from Inferior Normal”
1. I can’t stop wanting to be fire. I am stalking
myself through my ashen mind. I am waiting for
stillness. I’ve picked a thread loose and am pulling
apart the weave of my cocoon. Of course we are
birthed from salty water. Before creation there
was ocean. The border of ocean and body is a
scream that sounds like a crab ticking through sand.
I can’t stop flying, my shoes are falling off into the
sea. I didn’t know I existed until I did. For a moment
even the waves stop. I count down from ten, bite into
my finger until it is blue. My mind is so blue. I hum a
low drone in the back of my throat: there’s an earthquake
in the Atlantic that sends whales into space. I fear for
all their space. There’s too much room in the universe.
2. I feel his zipper against the back of my thighs. When I
can’t sleep he is lying there behind me. Rubbing my
back, hot breath in my ear. He thinks he is calming
me to sleep. I never fall asleep when he is there.
Only after he leaves. I learn to make my breath sound
like I am sleeping. He still talks about how he helped
me to fall asleep. I let him think he did no harm. I forgot
these things until now. I wonder if my memory is faulty.
I wonder why I question my memory. Maybe this is why
I am scared of the dark. The door just over my shoulder,
a cheap plywood door. It opens then closes and someone
has entered. The bed depresses behind me. I am facing
the wall. I can still see the texture of the off-white paint.
I am curating my body for survival.
Tyler Orion is a queer and trans writer from a small town in rural northern Vermont. They are an MFA Candidate at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and hold an MA from Goddard College in gender studies and creative writing. They also work at an independent bookstore, Bear Pond Books.
“Selections from Inferior Normal” will be published in the fall 2019 issue of Mount Island, and in limited edition broadsides from May Day Studio in Montpelier, Vermont. To read the poem in full, purchase a digital issue this October or subscribe today, or attend our October 19th launch party at the Brattleboro Literary Festival to purchase a broadside.
We are also offering signed broadsides of “Selections from Inferior Normal” as donor gifts in our first fundraising campaign. The first 20 people to donate $100 will receive a copy signed by Tyler.
Donate today to help us share our contributors’ incredible work with the world. Any amount will help, and all donations are tax-deductible.
Wow! For a while there, I just stopped breathing. Tyler’s zipper-rubbed sleep-miming possum-playing breath took mine away and I was terrified. Curating for survival indeed, in this amazing off-white too-small universe. Thank you, Tyler, and thank you, Desmond Peeples and Mount Island. You’ve got another country boy subscriber. (Though somehow I have been living in city exile far too long.). And thanks to Vermont Edition for introducing us all.