I won’t forget the first time I met Matt Sailor, my fourth offering in “To Grow a Whisper,” my series of literary spotlights devoted to (mostly) emerging writers. I had interacted with him a little on Twitter, but it wasn’t until AWP in Seattle that we met in person while standing in line to receive our entrance badges. Even though I was basically an acquaintance at that point, he still (for whatever reason) came to my reading when there would have been so many other lectures and readings he could have attended. It meant a great deal to me (especially considering he isn’t a poet as far as I know.) It was then I knew he was a quietly, exceptionally sincere person. That sincerity is what makes Sailor such a strong writer. Talent, sharp wit, and imagination (yes, he has those things too) can only go so far if the author doesn’t give themselves over to a reader. When Sailor writes it’s a wonder there is anything left of him.
My third offering in “To Grow a Whisper,” my series of literary spotlights devoted to (mostly) emerging writers, is someone I’ve admired for quite some time. He is, in fact, the first person I actively decided to emulate on Twitter (good tweeters borrow, great tweeters steal.) His passion for literary advocacy and absolute sincerity won me over and continues to inspire. He is vulnerable, compassionate, and generous in the way you want any leader to be. And on top of that he’s exceptionally talented. Meet Justin Lawrence Daugherty, your new favorite writer.
If there are writers who pen hunger and desire as rapturously as Daugherty, I’ve yet to find them. His characters tear through the world with want, and every world he creates radiates with a fever-heat.
The photographer Diane Arbus said, “Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding.” In the midst of that confusion is where she stood (I imagine) to take many of her now famous pictures. Some people she photographed made her “feel a mixture of shame and awe.” If you want the literary equivalent of Arbus, let me introduce you to Tasha Coryell, my second offering of “To Grow a Whisper,” a series of literary spotlights devoted to (mostly) emerging writers.
I once said if aliens visited earth, Coryell’s stories would be the ones I’d want them to read in order to (mis)understand who we are. Coryell is a multi-genre writer whose work showcases such smart and idiosyncratic observations on human behavior I’m not sure if they would want to save or destroy us, laugh at or comfort us. Either way, I know they’d read to the very end of every story, every poem, and even every tweet (she tweets @tashaaaaaaa and will make your day so go follow her.)