NATASHA NOAH 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 41
34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 41
NEWS FROM KIRKSVILLE
SUJASH ISLAM PURNA
TO CHASE THE TALE
ABIGAIL “BINDY” NEWMAN’S LAST DATE
WITH DREW UNDERWOOD HULL
I’m not just a person who works for a living or who owns businesses that keep other people in business. I am an employer and I happen to treat my clients and my employees like family. I am also a person who writes stories, and who teaches others through some of those stories. And I am a writer because writing keeps me sane. I’m a nerd who loves to read. I am still a little socially awkward and I say the wrong thing sometimes. I live and breathe and work and play hard. I am not just a wife and mother. I am a silly girlfriend and a regular at my neighborhood watering hole. I’ve walked tall and I’ve fallen hard. I’ve failed and I’ve learned, and some days, I scream into pillows! But you know what? I’ve won a lot more than I’ve lost.
SUJASH ISLAM PURNA
I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and at the age of 12 I fell in love with the language of English, a love that brought me to the United States when I was 18. I am working on a Master’s in English Education at Truman State University, a public liberal arts college in the heart of Kirksville, in northeast Missouri.
Influenced by WB Yeats, I started writing poetry almost ten years ago, back in Bangladesh. In the United States I have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know the works of the dead American poets who are still very much alive through their work. My poetry took a U-turn from these grandeurs, and here I am finding inspiration in day-to-day lives. I write about whatever, whoever I am surrounded with—an old plaid shirt hanging off a broken hanger, a red-cheeked toddler falling on the ice on the sidewalk, upturned skateboard wheels holding onto some grass from last summer.
I live the life of a student. Not the ramen-eating, dorm resident who sits in the glow of the computer trying to crank out essays. I have my own apartment, live off peanut butter, and work under lamplight. Since I am a student, this piece was written for a grade and revised under the guidance of a teacher. The prompt asked the students to create a portrait of themselves as a writer and I thought of the the one thing I love more than anything else. I love dogs. My mother, before I was born, dreamt of a black lab surrounded by a judge and jury of various dogs. The group was deciding if the black lab would be allowed to live on Earth, which, spoiler alert, they chose to let me fill the world with my presence. I am very much a puppy looking for direction to run.
My writing habits tend to vary. I’m always working on something on paper or, like this piece, in my head. I love music, people, photographs, being outdoors, and adventures, so admittedly when I am mildly or moderately distracted, writing takes a back seat to life. I’ve learned that in order to write I need to be in high spirits, mentally stimulated, and passionate about my subject. Oh, and to actually have a good story! Otherwise why bother?
My previous work can be found in XoJane (which pretty much jumpstarted my writing career), The Rumpus, and some Rolling Stone-ish magazine called 34thParallel that I’ve heard is not bad. (Banker’s Busy Baby Issue 24, 365 Selfies Issue 28, The Gates Of Hell Issue 32.)
Measuring Cups is one of the pieces in a collection of essays I call Estate Sale. Each essay takes a look at an item from my home that, on first glance, would not appear to have much significance. The idea behind this came from visiting estate sales, wandering through people’s homes, picking up random objects—a book, a plate, a tool—and wondering about the back-stories of these physical possessions. Measuring Cups is my attempt at telling the tale of how these cups wound up in my kitchen and of the emotions wrapped up inside them. I hope that my piece helps you see your own belongings in a new light, not as simple objects but as companions, even friends, and that you take the time to listen to their stories.
I am a Colombian-American writer of literary fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and essays. I am a student in the creative writing program at the University of Texas at El Paso and have a Master of Arts in Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Regarding writing, I surely needed encouragement, and in that I don’t want to underestimate the power of the encouragement I received repeatedly from my parents. Their efforts were sweetly complemented by several Texan teachers, all women. There was the kindly, elderly, and white-haired Mrs McGaw who lived in a retirement community called The Baptist Haven. She loved me and praised my juvenile work—I was in 9th grade—with a proper Texas drawl but she didn’t shy away from giving me a big, fat “0” on a writing assignment (an ordinary “F” could not satisfactorily express her disappointment in me), shocking me as I deserved when I was a stupid smart aleck in what I submitted to her. And then there was Mrs Pritchett, who forty years after she’d made me editor of the high school literary magazine, wrote me and phoned me, too, and this just before she died, still encouraging my writing. Would that I would encourage someone like that, and how far a little encouragement goes!
My writing life has always existed in between things—a summer job, classes, or even the minutes from one place to the next in a car ride. So while in school, it was nice to take the time to write, and have people care about what I was writing and help me make it better. My goals for the future are to make more time for my writing as well as find other writers to work with. Because now that I’ve graduated, the more I try to squeeze my writing in between things, the harder it is to make it fit. And if I rally other writers around me—for support and critiquing purposes—hopefully, they will help me create a bigger space for writing in my daily life.
In 2015 I graduated with my Masters in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University. While I was there, I was published in our literary journal, TSR: The Southampton Review.
Image by Sarah Deragon