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Personal Essays

puja-debis by Isan Brant

Homage to Nepal

PUBLISHED BY VELA MAGAZINE. This is a compilation of work by women writers (and one artist) connected to Nepal that I assembled for Vela Magazine. It is a collective response to the earthquake that seeks to tell a different story than the body counts and the images of rubble can do, to remember and recount, …


On Nativity

PUBLISHED IN FOURTH GENRE. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was born while his parents were traveling to Bethlehem to register, as required by law, with the census. Fast forward two thousand and ten Decembers—giving or taking a few for the ecclesiastical debate and/or shoddy recordkeeping around the dawn …



PUBLISHED IN DEFUNCT MAGAZINE AND ANTHOLOGIZED IN DIMESTORIES’ TENTH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION OF 3-MINUTE STORIES. The boy in purple moon boots thumps up to the gate howling“¡Mamí!” for hello. My boyfriend—“mother” to an orphan boy who knows no men—avoids my eye. We came to this hogar, to Ecuador, to teach English: I want; you …

Photo by markarinafotos

Fire Ants

BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING “NOTABLE”/PUBLISHED ON VELA MAGAZINE:  In those first months living in El Salvador, had I walked down a village street and seen young men leaning against gaping doorframes, their eyes steady upon me, I would have read the wrong story. Then, I could barely speak, let alone interpret …


Annie Dillard Prize Runner-Up

“Under the Fifth Sun” has been named the runner-up for this year’s Annie Dillard Prize in Creative Nonfiction by the ever-impressive Dinah Lenney. Thank you to the Bellingham Review, and Brenda Miller in particular, for their work officiating this contest every year, and for honoring my work. This particular essay …


On Packing

PUBLISHED ON VELA MAGAZINE. It is best to use a well-made bed or the floor, so long as you have a large, smooth, clear surface, a canvas, if you will. It is best to start early, to take your time, to mentally map out (a maze of nerves like tangled …