AWP17: Meet the Readers

We are gearing up for the annual AWP conference next week, and this year, Under the Gum Tree is partnering with River Teeth and Fourth Genre for an exclusive event dedicated to creative nonfiction. Nine readers, three from each publication, will read to AWP attendees live at Shaw's Tavern, on February 10 from 6-8 p.m. Please continue on to learn more about Under the Gum Tree's talented contributors and read excerpts from their contributions to our January issue.

Yahdon Israel is a twenty-six-year old writer from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, who writes about race, class, gender, and culture in America. He has written for Avidly, The New Inquiry, EPSNW and Brooklyn Magazine. He's a contributing editor at LitHub; he recently graduated with his MFA in creative nonfiction from the New School, and runs a popular Instagram feed which promotes literature and fashion under the hashtag #literaryswag. Above all else, he keeps it lit.

from Dorian (January 2017 Issue)

"The light-skin daughter was being asphyxiated with compliments having everything to do with her mother using her as an attempt to prove she could make her what she wasn't: 'People never believe me when I tell them she's my daughter.' The aunt could only say but so much. In her willingness to agree, she seemed incapable of producing an original thought. It looked as though thinking was never her purpose. Her purpose had been the same as her niece's: to be a muse for someone else."

Carol D. Marsh's essay "Pictures in Leaves," won the 2016 New Millenium Writings Nonfiction Prize. The book from which "Highest and Best" is excerpted, Nowhere Else I Want to Be: A Memoir will be published in January 2017. Excerpts have appeared in Soundings Review (Honorable Mention, 2014 First Publications Contest), bioStories, and Jenny magazine. Visit her website:

from Highest and Best (January 2017 Issue)

"Sometimes we exchange words and grunts, but mostly we are quiet except for the sounds of Rebecca's patient, heavy breathing and the water sloshing in the basin. The routine is familiar and comforting—Rebecca's mute acceptance of the intimacy, the cleansing of skin with soapy water and sweet-smelling lotion, the clean diaper fitted snugly around her hips, the satisfaction of a tidy bed and the comfort of another pillow or a sip of ice water, the leave taking with Rebecca already falling asleep."

andrea roach.jpg

Andrea Roach is a writer of memoir, essays, and creative nonfiction who lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and was a finalist for The Writer's Room of Boston Fellowship Award. Currently, she is working on personal narrative essays and the third draft of her first novel, a memoir, about the blurred lines of love, family, and violence. Her work has also appeared in Blavity.

from The Lies We Call Hope (January 2017 Issue)

"I saw the Avery girl, about a decade later. It was the eighties, the era when crack cocaine was devouring the black community. She was standing on a street corner, selling her ass for money or drugs. Her emaciated body swayed as she walked in circles, barely covered with ripped jean shorts and a stretched sleeveless T-shirt that revealed her sagging breasts. Fake hair was weaved into her head, or maybe it was a wig. It was long and crimped and fell down her back, wild. Her eyes looked empty. I knew it was the Avery girl because of the thick shiny scar that marred her cheek."

The readers from River Teeth will be David Lazar, Steven Harvey, and Angela Morales, and the readers from Fourth Genre are Jen Palmares Meadows, Will Jennings, and Alis SandosharajWe're always thrilled to attend AWP every year, especially when we're able to bring so many voices together in a night of telling true stories. We couldn't do it without our readers and for this, we thank them. Opportunities like these make storytelling meaningful and inspiring. If you'll be in Washington D.C. next week we hope to see you on Friday night!