Editing and publishing poetry for a small press and a literary magazine has provided me with mentorship relationships and a kind of intimacy with texts I would not have been likely to encounter otherwise. I joined Belladonna* Collaborative in 2010 and one of the first projects I agreed to was working with Rachel Levitsky to see Theory, A Sunday through to publication.
Aside from corralling and coordinating via one million emails, my specific task for this book project was the transcription of France Théoret’s prose piece “This Is Not A Lake.” I sat in the sauna that is Outpost Café on Fulton Ave in summer 2012, in the oonts-oonts of the house music their daytime staff favors, and typed from a photocopy sent to me by the author, a translation by Luise von Flotow.
This brief text mirrored my suppressed feelings on teenage girlhood in suburbia. Growing up, for me and most girls I knew, the path to being taken seriously was through having a boyfriend. Relationships were like a cigarette break—a universally accepted excuse for getting away from home or work. Though I tried, I did not flourish on this path. The common goal was to get engaged as quickly as possible (or get a promise ring! which was pre-engagement!). To lock it down and become currency. Théoret writes about her mother’s advice to keep out of small town gossip regardless. “If a girl in the neighborhood gets married at sixteen, it is my business,” she writes. “To my great shame, I secretly disagree with my mother.” I am a girl, and the world is my business. Retyping these words, I felt I had discovered proof of a right to my anger over the pressure on us as teenagers. The homecoming queen and the prom queen followed their boyfriends to college; the latter married hers. The valedictorian married her algebra teacher.
We had to create our own worlds, my friends and I, or we wouldn’t have survived. Now, for me, volunteering or working for a small press or a journal provides a chance to begin again with each new project. To be clean even as I categorically fail to mind my own business. To have a pure purpose without being a child bride. When I was 17, I thought I would grow up to be a secretary until I died. What a relief, then, this circuitous route.
A version of this piece was previously published in Drunken Boat.
KRYSTAL LANGUELL was born in South Bend, Indiana. Two chapbooks and a full-length collection of poetry are forthcoming: Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014), Be A Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014) and Gray Market (Coconut, 2015). Fashion Blast Quarter was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object in 2014. A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the journal Bone Bouquet.