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Introducing MASTERWORKS by Simon Jacobs

Simon Jacobs had an idea for a recurring series: flash fiction pieces in which the characters reenact famous works of art. Being a home for art and lit to meet and clash and mix, Paper Darts couldn't say no.

Welcome to MASTERWORKS. This serialized content will be delivered exclusively to Paper Darts e-news subscribers each month. Since we're feeling generous, we're publishing this first entry on the blog too. If you don't want to miss out on the next one, sign up for the Paper Darts e-news.

Reading time: 3 minutes
Recommended for: Revolutionaries 

The next time you find me, I'm lying in a claw-foot bathtub and reenacting a famous French Revolution painting of a radical journalist who’s just been stabbed to death by an Enemy of the Cause.

This isn't the first time you've walked in on me doing something embarrassingly private in the tub. You say as much, standing over me: "Well. I can't say that this is exactly new."

I splash around trying to cover my bobbing genitals, because this isn't that kind of portrait—in the original, you only see his top half (dead) and, of course, he's all classically-rendered muscle where I am a bit more generous and altogether much too hairy—and in the scramble I drop my Booklet of Revolutionary Ideas into the tepid water.

"Shit!" I fish it out from between my legs, but the ink is already bleeding down the pages like a liberal's heart, and I can't remember a single poetic thought I've had since I started sitting in here. I throw the soggy thing across the bathroom.

You stare judgmentally down at me: "Are you listening to Oasis?"

I am. It's the only incongruous part of my recreation. I maintain scrupulous eye contact, mostly because I'm praying that you don't notice the kitchen knife on the floor. It's just a prop—I haven't done anything untoward with a knife in years—but it's the one you use to chop vegetables (the biggest), and I can't imagine you'd be happy that I've taken it. In the history, after she'd stabbed him, the murderess Charlotte Corday didn't even try to escape her victim's house, but waited right in the room to be found (in the painting, you can sense her lurking just outside the frame).

You make an unpleasant face and sniff the fragrant bathroom air—the David-esque chiaroscuro created by the candlelight is out of control. "Whatever it is you're doing in here," you say, "keep your fucking paws off my scented candles. For God's sake, you never mix more than three flavors at once."

You turn tail and stomp out, letting a beam of hall light harsh my ambience as the door closes. I have to stand and step out to reclaim my waterlogged Booklet of Revolutionary Ideas and adjust the mood music, but soon enough I'm back in the tub. I listen to you thumping down the hallway, back to your own solitary projects: lately, it's been reclining tropical nudes, your excuse to invest in expensive furniture and exotic fauna; mine is as good a reason as any to take a very long bath.

I slump down in the tub, adjust the towel wrapped around my head, drape my arm dramatically over the edge, and resume playing the martyr. In my Booklet I write, I don't really want to now how her garden grows, knowing full well that everything is just a sloppy imitation of something else.


Simon Jacobs is the author of SATURN, a collection of David Bowie stories, out now from Spork PressHe may be found at simonajacobs.blogspot.com.


The Fauna of Mark-Making: An Interview with Linnéa Gad

Maria Anderson

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Linnea Gad works primarily with painting, drawing and printmaking. She graduated from Parsons The New School for Design in 2013 and currently lives and works in New York. 

MA: Can you talk about the Necro Interior series? Rita Bullwinkel, whom I recently interviewed, says that each of your paintings is "a window into some whole, other complete world." She believes that the ability to create "the allusion of a complete, original other is the most valuable thing any artist, writer or painter, can posses." What are your thoughts on this? How do you ensure that the world you're alluding to is a world entire?

LG: The worlds I explore are within this world. One could say I'm a nonfiction artist. There is so much to infinitely explore that I don't want to make things up or create an illusion. I want to bring forth what is in the background, what might be lost or overlooked.

But allusion is a good word to describe the Necro Interior series. This is a series of paintings of images that presents obsolete interiors as if they were still alive and fully functioning. Each interior is to some extent a window to another world, one that is now primarily of pictorial existence. For example, the Theatre Smoking Room is a painting of the gentlemen's smoking room at the grand San Francisco Fox Theatre. The theatre was demolished in 1963. While the furniture and the organ were sold, the extensive walls of gilded moulding were slowly torn apart by an iron ball. The yearning for what was lost yielded funds for elaborate computer renderings reconstructing its interior spaces. An actual space challenges its fate and continues to live pictorially past its original function. If the image is the window to another world and time, then my painting reveals the disconnect between image, time and space. I want to convey not only that other world, but also the conflicted dialogue between image and the current state of the space. But it is also a reflection of our relationship with history, preservation and modern age relics. As well as our dependence on images and how they will shape our notion of history.

From Gad's Necro Interior series

MA: What would you say your ratio of planning to making to revising (or making new iterations of the same piece) is, percentage-wise, in a finished painting? What about in a print?

LG: I rely a lot on research, and each work has some sort of curious history. It begins with a thought or an impression that triggers my curiosity and leads me to a chain of research. The 'research' is varied. It often includes reading, writing, watching, and going through visual archives. Along the way I find a path for how my thoughts and ideas can best be translated. Each material choice should be justified. My work also relies on the principles of poetry to convey beauty and form which is untranslatable. That is the inexplicit conversation between the process and the piece, and the piece and the viewer. 

MA: What are your thoughts on patterning? Where do you look for patterns in everyday life? 

LG: Interesting you ask me about patterns—I've lately come to realize how fascinated I am by patterns. Things that are of different nature but visually similar. Change of scale or resolution can make a container lot look like a motherboard or a motherboard look like an aerial shot of a farm landscape. Visual confusion excites me, when form and marks can repeat themselves in different contexts.

I'm currently working on a series of work that involves drawings of visual content that look like lunar landscapes, including footage reference from lunar missions. The lunar drawings are sitting on top shelves made out of materials like sponges or ceiling tiles that also resemble lunar landscapes.

View from an Island

MA: I love your prints, especially View from an Island. What do you think about when choosing an image for a print? I just started printing on the offset, and I really love it. What's your favorite way to print?

LG: Thank you. I haven't made any prints in a couple of months, and I really miss it. To some degree, it is a bit strange that I've done so much printmaking. I took a lot of printmaking classes at school because I enjoyed the printmaking environment. It is a meditative yet intense practice. You always make the most out of your time in a printshop, while in my studio practice there is more room for madness. The whole idea of printmaking is to make editions, which to me limits space for idiosyncrasies and poetry.

The goal with my prints is to explore the fauna of mark-making that is unique for printmaking, like the embossment of a plate into water-soaked paper. But also to insert movement and painterly elements to such a static practice. View from an Island is a photo etching from a zinc plate. Although the etching into the plate remains the same, I managed to create movement of a wave reaching an island by wiping the plate differently for each print. The most challenging has been to make a painterly screen print. I've been experimenting with making plates by mixing gum arbic with acetate ink, but I haven't yet made a print I'm satisfied with. I would love to try mono printing, where you make one of prints and ghost prints.

As for the images, I've only printed my own photographs. I have my mother's old Yashica camera that I take about four or five rolls of film with every year. I'm drawn to images that are bit abstract, those that do not translate their content immediately. It is perhaps a reaction to the aggressive, high-resolution images that call daily for our attention. View from an Island is a photo I took from a cliff in Hawaii. As the wave hit the island violently, the foam blurs the horizon line and merges with the clouds above. The separation between clouds and sky is similar to the division between the rock and water pools on the ground. It is an exciting moment when the wave hits the cliff, as the photograph has no sense of gravity it can emphasize the sudden loss of navigation.

MA: Who are some of your favorite contemporary writers? Filmmakers?

LG: I have little patience for fiction at the moment, so that guides my appreciation when reading and watching. I feel that the strongest reading experience I've had recently is with W.G Sebald, who blurs the line between fiction and reality. He gives you access to his mind and there is no made up character in between. It was the first time I really felt like I had a conversation with the author while I was reading. I read his books with a pencil to scribble responses back to his thoughts that awakened old ones or sprang new ones in my own mind.

I just started reading Karl Ove Knausgårds' Min Kamp I (My Struggle), the first of six autobiographical books. I already feel a similar bond to him as I did while reading Sebald. I understand my world better as Knausgårds reflects over the trivial and obvious with a sly new clarity. 

Tacita Dean is one of my favorite artists and filmmakers. She shoots with a 35mm film camera, which is very rare today. A film camera can actually capture a moment, the light burns it into the film, while a digital camera uses a mirror to reflect reality. Dean has made a series of short documentaries about old men. I was fortunate to see the one she made of now deceased writer and translator Michael Hamburger. Dean places her camera in Hamburger's apple garden and lets the viewer spend some time there, long enough to notice the details that would present themselves in present time. 

Very recently I watched Play by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, which felt very contemporary. There were no archetypes or even a previous plot to rely on for answers. It depicts the complexity of race and morals, and as a viewer you are constantly challenged by your own thoughts along with the characters in the film. Now I want to watch everything Östlund has done so far, including his new film Tourist.

MA: What music are you listening to now?

LG: To indulge in sadness: Angel Olsen. To feel happy: Juaneco Y Su Combo


Shark Week: Recommended Reading

It's the most wonderful time of the year: Shark Week. We gathered our saltiest beach-going pieces to honor the occasion. Read them during commercial breaks.

Look Out for the Shark // Jeff Tigchelaar

"There are more reported bitings of people by people in New York City each week than shark bites in the world in a year." A case for the shark. 

Reading time: 3 minutes.
Recommended for: Jaws lovers. Also, Jaws haters.

An Unmolested Thought // Christopher Lee Miles

Kneel on the flight deck with salt spray pelleting your forehead.

Reading time: 30 seconds
Recommended for: Particles

Life Here's No Different // Armel Dagorn

How does the art of seduction go post-shipwreck? Poorly, if you're this guy.

Reading time: 10 minutes
Recommended for: Fedora types

Desert Island Records // Ryan Bradford

Stranded on a remote island? Pass the time with a game of Would You Rather.

Reading time: 4 minutes
Recommended for: Denialists

The Sad Siren // Nicelle Davis

She doesn't seem sad so much as she seems hungry. For human flesh.

Reading time: 30 seconds
Recommended for: Obsessives


Snakes Painting in the Forest: An Interview with Poet Kate Greenstreet

Maria Anderson

Kate Greenstreet's latest book, Young Tambling, was published by Ahsahta Press in 2013. Her previous books are The Last 4 Things and case sensitive, also with Ahsahta. Her new work can be found in Waxwing, Denver Quarterly, Everyday Genius, Sugar House Review, and other journals. To read other writing of hers currently online, visit her website.

Maria: Is there a line in particular that stands out to you, something you've recently written and taped to the wall above your desk?

Kate: "Training is a process of development through gradually increasing demand."

This sentence comes from a book I haven't seen in decades. The other day I found an index card I'd written it down on—bent, yellowed, with a tack hole—and I tacked it up again.

Maria: You're also a painter. Can you talk about how the painting feeds into or takes away energy from your writing? Do you feel more loyal to one mode of creating over another?  

Kate: I think I'm more loyal to writing because it's portable. Painting, at least the kind I do, requires space and supplies. Writing, you can do anywhere. 

But writing comes more easily when I'm painting too. There's a better darkness then for making writing happen. I can get into a tunnel and keep moving further in. If the tunnel is good (and doesn't turn out to be a long cave), I come out in a new place.

Maria: If your writing process were an animal, what kind of animal would it be and why? What about your painting/visual art-making process? 

Kate: The way the Satin Bower Bird collects objects for its bower reminds me of how I collect language. I'm attracted to certain phrases and sentences because of their color. 

I had a dream once where a bunch of snakes were painting in the forest. I'm uneasy when it comes to snakes, even harmless ones, but I liked these snakes in my dream because they were so absorbed and skillful. They held the brushes in their little snake mouths. A girl was in charge of them, or taking care of them. Everyone was having a very nice time there in the forest, where some sunlight was coming through the trees at a slant.

Maria: What has been the best place you've worked?

Kate: We recently moved to a former mill town in New Hampshire where I could afford to rent a big room to work in. Right now this room is my all-time favorite.

Maria: Who are you reading at the moment? 

Kate: I'm reading Hilary Plum's novel They Dragged Them Through the Streets and it is amazing.

"monalisa" by Ida ApplebroogMaria: You mentioned you enjoyed Ida Applebroog's work. Can you talk a little bit about why it interests you?

Kate: Years ago I saw a segment of Art 21 about Ida Applebroog. In the past few months I kept thinking about it, remembering scenes of her in her studio. I did a quick search and found the video at her site. Looking at her work is similar in some ways to watching the Swedish TV series Forbrydelsen (which has been on my mind too). Both deal with evil and the outcomes of evil. Also with the relationship between women and power—something I'm thinking and writing about all the time. I like a story with a woman at the center. I'm attracted to mystery and to seriality. I'm interested in what women can do, and what women can uncover.


PAPERCUTZ Volume 2: Dystopian YA

Lizzy Shramko

Here at Paper Darts we are all about mixing media. From lavish illustrations to bombshell jewelry designs, we're not afraid to venture outside the literary world for inspiration. PAPERCUTZ, an adventure in literary mixtapes, is one example of this boundary crossing. Inspired by niche literary genres, we curate musical mixes to jam to while you read, write, dance, type—or do whatever it is that you do. This month's mixtape is inspired by dystopian young adult fiction.

Never has "dystopia" been as salient in literature as it is for this generation of young adults. Let's face it—being young is not an easy task. Luckily, there are imaginative—and epic—book collections set in distant post-apocalyptic futures to help get the youth through their hellfire school days and catastrophic cafeteria crushes.

But want to know the real truth? These titles help the not-so-young-adults deal with their tedious and mundane lives as just as much…if not more. So here it is; a mix to transport you an epically devastating alternative reality.


1) Nine Inch Nails, "Down In It"

2) Fall Back, "Factory Floor"

3) Katy Perry ft. Kanye West, "E.T."

4) Schlohmo and Lianne La Havas, "Forget"

5) Marilyn Manson, "The Beautiful People"

6) Sophie,"BIPP"

7) Lorde, "Tennis Court" (Flume Remix)

8) Saul Williams, "Can't Hide Love"

9) FKA Twigs, "Papi Pacify"

10) Evanescense, "Bring Me to Life"

11) Grimes, "Genesis"


Glottal Stops and Going Full VIDA: An Interview with Amy Pickworth

Maria Anderson

How would you characterize your process? Are you the type of person who spends a lot of time perfecting as you go, or do you switch up what you're doing as you type? 

I don't really have a process. I wish I had a process! It would be nice if I were someone with a process, someone with great discipline who never failed to work from 8 every morning until 10 every night.

Sometimes I wake up with an almost fully formed something rolling around in my head and I run to the computer to get it down. (That's a good day.) Sometimes I overhear a phrase or make an association between two things and scribble it down for later. In coat pockets or the bottom of my purse I often find Post-it notes or CVS receipts scribbled up with my worst handwriting. Sometimes I have no idea what they say, or no memory of writing them. 

I'm not constantly cranking out work, and I feel like that's okay—that sometimes we value quantity too much. 

Probably the most useful thing I do is keep a working document that I drop ideas and images and specific lines into. It's about 80 pages long right now. Most of the time I'm adding bits—an idea for a poem, a snippet from a Post-it note I actually can decipher, two lines of I don't know what—but from time to time I'll review the whole thing and see what might link up and start sewing those words together. 

Once I write a draft, I keep it around for a while. Sometimes a few weeks, usually a few months, sometimes more. I'm not constantly cranking out work, and I feel like that's okay—that sometimes we value quantity too much. I like to put a draft aside and kind of forget about it, then come back to it and think about other forms or word choices when I can see it with fresh eyes.

Bigfoot for Women (which comes out this fall from Orange Monkey Publishing) started happening when I realized some poems I'd written worked well together. I then I started thinking about the arc of a book. I went to Staples and got a binder and pulled out the three-hole punch and started making outlines for new poems, which was something I'd never done before. Then I rented a little place in Provincetown in the middle of December and lived this very ascetic life for a week and made myself crank out all the drafts I needed. Once or twice I went to the public library there (which is very nice, and the librarians were very nice) and printed out the new work then took it back to the cottage I was renting and laid the pages out on the floor in rows. I spent hours staring at these rows of pages, picking one up, marking it up for an hour, moving it somewhere else, going to the computer and writing something new. I worked all day and didn't talk to anyone and when it got dark at 4:00 p.m. I made dinner and went to bed and read then got up early and did it again. It was very organized, hard work, but in addition to being super intense and soul-searchy it was maybe the most satisfying writing experience I've had.

I have a full-time job and a family and I find it hard to find time to write when I actually feel inspired, which is sometimes frustrating. Finding that time was much easier when I was freelancing for a living. So I'm thinking about sequestering myself again somewhere soon, but I want to get a better idea of what I want to do during that time first, so I can use it well.

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(Not) Drunk in Love: Prohibition-Era Partying at Northern Spark 

For all you Boardwalk Empire fans hankering to get your fix off-screen, Saturday is your lucky day. We are hosting a '30s-themed night of music and literature as part of the Twin Cities' annual Northern Spark festivities. In collaboration with singer-songwriter and poet, Brian Laidlaw, we will host a vaudeville-esque evening of music and dancing.

Laidlaw will be playing tracks from his fall musical release, Amoratorium. Part poetry book, part musical recording, this upcoming publication is all sorts of awesome. Laidlaw's music and poetry was influenced by the lives of Bonnie and Clyde, so in honor of this dynamic duo, we've themed our evening around an era marked by their badness.

In addition to music, our Northern Spark prohibition style debauchery will be complete with a mugshot photo booth to document the badness of all the fashion mobsters out there. And don't worry: our portion of the event starts promptly at 9:30 p.m., so all of you vintage vixens who need your beauty sleep can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

What to expect:

  • A preview of Paper Darts' latest project: a musical/poetry publication with frequent collaborator Brian Laidlaw
  • Some ostentatiously fabulous flapper get-ups and dapper saddle shoes
  • Dancing. Lots of dancing.
  • Food and drinks. Don't worry folks, even though we are celebrating the era, prohibition was repealed back in 1933.
  • Photos. From selfies to mugshots in our '30s style photobooth (they had those back then — right?), you can be sure we will document your fabulous.

What to bring:

  • Your raddest, baddest period pieces: beads, cowboy hats, saddle shoes, shift dresses, heavily lined eyes, and dancing shoes. If you've got it, bring it! 

And don’t worry, if you are lacking in the vintage clothing department we have you covered. The photobooth will feature props that will transport you back in time. Alternatively, we'll just throw a sepia filter over you and you'll look the part.

RSVP on Facebook