Writing in the space between poetry and prose, Erika seeks lyricism, musicality and meaning. And when possible: hilarity.
Erika has a micro chapbook with Louffa Press, Don't Imagine A Future with Me, and is working on a memoir about The Farm, a commune in Tennessee. She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Read excerpts from her essays below or watch her discuss emotional orientation while writing an essay, or her dream of momentary community in the world of internet comments for Jen Werner's series Writerly States.
My parents spent the 1970s on communes: first, a shared house in Boulder; after that, a “self-realization fellowship” in Paonia, Colorado; then the Spring Hollow farm in Tennessee, with a dozen other couples. They were out to save the world, or at least themselves. Peace, love, and understanding.
New York Times
One of the first questions you confront in any five-borough conversation is, "Where do you live?"
“Crown Heights,” I say. Inevitably the next question is: “How do you like it?” You would think this would be straightforward, easy to answer, but it’s not. Not for me.
When you watch a man on the tracks before an oncoming train, that’s exactly what you do: watch.
You can shout at him.
You can yell, “Train!”
You can grip your New Yorker and suck in your breath.
You can exhale when the Brooklyn-bound A stops twenty feet short.
You can widen your eyes when the man stumbles in your direction, toward the platform where you await the Manhattan-bound A.
Never write from a place of despair, especially if it is your thirty-third birthday and you have just spent far too much on a Japanese notebook and a pen that looks like a pencil. Never write from a place of despair in your brand-new Japanese notebook with your pencil-looking pen if you are sinking in the shadow of last night on a train to Harlem with a five-count of Cinco de Mayo churros and you are wondering what it all means.
When I lie on your couch in early autumn, my hair wet from your shower, my body in your clothes, my head in the divot of your bare chest, your lips meeting my scalp, I recall the Rumi poem my ex-husband recited at our wedding, “When the night sky pours by it’s really a crowd of beggars wanting this.” This, I think, this we have now.
Four years ago, a woman I love—a friend who felt sisterly and vibrant—died of breast cancer. She was 33. I feel like I must spell it out: thirty-three. I want to paint it on a brick wall in the middle of the night. I want to wear it like the scarlet letter A. I want every billboard to read two numbers: 3 and 3.