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Featured Writer

Brian Clements

Southern Fiction

Manakin 00034 by Roger Camp

In the novel I did not write a young woman named Teresa is a young man named Terrence their skin the color of the Mississippi River between Memphis and West Memphis their mother is white their father is black they have visions of Indian massacres in colonial Kentucky they dream of Japanese internment in the Arkansas delta they want to murder the murderer of their father’s father want to riot in Elaine and hang with their brothers and come back to haunt Riceland and Uncle Ben the earth between England and Des Arc is thick with blood and bones the Trail extends through burial mounds Aux Arcs into Indian Territory the battle flag of the North Virginia Army strong in the wind of Nathan Bedford Forrest City and Alpena their heart is full of silt from Arkansas and Mississippi their belly houses four little girls and three young men their neck bears marks of chain attached to pickup their back is scored their feet are ripped their hands as rough as uncleared scrub as filthy as Louisiana Purchase their throat is full of Arkabutla backwater their voice beyond my range of hearing I cannot tell you what they say because I could not write the novel the novel always already was written

Arkansas [ from Quapaw and/or Sioux]
Mississippi [from Ojibwa and/or Choctaw]
Kentucky [from Iroquois and/or Wyandotte]
Arkabutla [Choctaw]
Oklahoma [A word invented possibly by combining two Choctaw words, ukla: Person and humá: Red]


About the writer:
Brian Clements is an American poet who is the author or editor of fifteen collections of poetry, including the anthology  An Introduction to the Prose Poem, volumes of poetry from Quale Press, Texas Review Press, and Meritage Press, and of some unique and compelling projects online.

Image: Manakin 0034 by Roger Camp (contemporary). Fine art photograph. No technical information specified. 2021. By permission. Roger Camp is the author of three photography books including the award-winning Butterflies in Flight, Thames & Hudson, 2002 and Heat, Charta, Milano, 2008. His documentary photography has been awarded the prestigious Leica Medal of Photography. His photographs are represented by the Robin Rice Gallery, NYC. His work has appeared in The New England Review, Southwest Review, Chicago Review and the New York Quarterly. More of his work may be seen at

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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