Thursday Story: Punching Jackie by Matt Sumell

Last week was one of those weeks where life upended me, and so I had no time to get a blog up. Had no poem to recommend either, even if I had. This week is no better, honestly, as far as everything being entirely, hilariously fucked, but I do have a tiny bit more time and no work tomorrow, so here I am.

I’ve been reading less poetry these past few weeks, a natural reaction to the fact I’ve been writing much more of my own and assembling what I’ve written over the past few months into something that both looks and feels like a collection. A real, honest to fuck collection of poetry that is cohesive and layered. I’ve spent the past two years writing bits and bobs, utterly dismayed at the published collections I read, their seamless thematics, their overarching meaning or narrative threads, consumed by the knowledge none of my poems fit.

If they were jigsaw puzzle pieces, the final picture would look like a mangled Picasso drawn in crayon by an addled child. I finally stopped tormenting myself and just kept writing. Now, seemingly of its own volition, a thematic scaffolding has arisen, a metaphor with which to hold together these parts, and I seem to be hurtling toward the finish line with terrifying speed. I almost feel asleep as I write, as if the threads were being pulled by someone else, and it’s both a wonderful experience and a scary one. In any case, I can only hope it continues and very soon I’ll be done with it – as a first draft, at least.

Which brings me to this story, Punching Jackie by Matt Sumell. I may not be reading much poetry, but I’m still reading everything else I can get my hands on. This one has been sitting in my inbox the past two weeks and I finally read and loved it. Sumell doesn’t hold back, from the first sentence to the last, he comes out swinging, the brash masculine voice of the protagonist oozing out of every line. It’s fast, vicious, and funny as fuck. I don’t care what you’ve been reading lately – this will be a welcome palate cleanser, a reminder of the vitality, the range of colour and flavour a confident writer can bring to a short story.

This is a powerful piece, not to be missed.

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