Literary Orphans – “Ella” Issue – February 18, 2015
“Interpreter,” I announce, entering the examination room. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Oh good, you’re here,” says Dr. Lichter, without looking up from the file in her lap. “We got through most of it, but find out what Mrs. Magaña wants to ask.”
I hang my purse on a hook beside the sharps disposal box. Mother and patient sit on folding chairs against the window, striped in sunlight leaking through the blinds.
“Cuál es su pregunta?” I ask her. Mrs. Magaña answers in Spanish and I transform her words into English, almost without thinking, without analyzing. I assume her voice and mannerisms. We speak in near unison.
Read the complete story on Literary Orphans.
Narratively – Outsiders Week – December 31, 2014
“MAIL CONTAINS DRUG, YOUNG WOMEN SEIZED” reads an August 22, 1969 headline in the Milwaukee Journal. Below, in grainy black and white, floats Meridy Domnitz’s mug shot. At twenty, my mother looks more pathetic than criminal. Her frizzy hair has gone renegade from a sideways ponytail and she wears what appears to be a paisley kurta.
My mother never disguised the fact that, throughout my childhood, she made her living selling marijuana. I grew up listening to her spin vivid yarns while she rolled joints or counted cash, usually sprawled sideways on her king-sized bed. Customers would climb aboard the bed — nicknamed “the barge” — and linger for hours, enveloped in a miasma of smoke and stories.
I’ve heard my mother tell the story behind this article a hundred times, and I never tire of it. This was her first dalliance with the wrong side of the law; by the time she gave birth to me, nearly a decade later, the dealer persona was center stage.
If my mother were a comic book superhero, this would be her origin story.
Read this essay on Narratively.
I’m thrilled to have an essay in the gorgeous “Winter Reading” issue of Tin House, the sharpest journal in the west. This issue includes new work by the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin, Joy Williams, and Josh Weil, among other fine writers. I could not be more pleased.
I encourage you to pick up Tin House at your local (independent) bookstore, but you can also read my essay, “In Any Light, By Any Name,” online.
Read this essay in Tin House.
My essay about children in immigration court is live this morning, featuring original illustrations by artist Chris Koehler.
The courtroom smells of talcum powder. On this afternoon’s docket, we have thirty-four children. Thirty-four out of 35,000 or 57,000 or 90,000 kids who have crossed our borders without permission since last October, depending on which source you trust to make sense of what doesn’t.
Read this essay on The Rumpus.
The Write Stuff: Alia Volz on Not Settling and Being Difficult to Manipulate
Posted By Evan Karp on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 8:00 AM
The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
I used to worry that my writing wasn’t political enough, that by not focusing on current events, I wasn’t doing my job as an artist. But I’ve come to see all art as political. Even a simple artistic act, like drawing a daisy, is a kind of affirmation of individuality. A flexing of perspective. I think art makes us more difficult to manipulate. Especially these days, with the constant barrage of media manipulation, we need strong inner- worlds, muscular minds. It’s more necessary than ever.
Read the full interview on SF Weekly.
This April, I told a story at the legendary Castro Theater – before a crowd of 1,400 people!
Despite Celtic knots in my belly and severe danger of losing my shit completely – I did just fine, thank you.