‘Out of the Strong, Something Sweet’, by Leesa Cross-Smith

I suppose I associate Leesa Cross-Smith with summer because I discovered her in in July of 2014. (I know the date because it’s when I started my Twitter account, and I joined Twitter pretty much to stalk her, I liked her work that much.) I also feel there’s some sort of summery-ness about all her work, whether she’s writing about the season or not: it takes the form of a buoyant energy, a playfulness, a brightness. ‘Out of the Strong, Something Sweet’ is no exception: I read it as soon as it was announced on Twitter (the following paid off!), and I love it because it encapsulates so much about summer, coming of age, female friendship, boys, kissing, and a part of the world not far from where I grew up, without once going exactly where you think it’s going to go. This is the kind of story that lulls you into thinking you know how it’s all going to play out, and then ambushes you with fearless, magical, risk-taking writing that pulls that proverbial rug right out from beneath your feet. I won’t spoil the structural surprise, but my heart thrilled once I reached the first set of three asterisks and watched the piece bloom, stretch and shimmer.

I can’t mention this piece without also noting Jazzmyn Coker’s accompanying artwork, which so perfectly frames this piece.

Published in Paper Darts, 2016) Chosen by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

‘Absolutely’ by Leesa Cross-Smith

When I first started compiling the ‘In the Media’ round-up posts on my blog, I used to include fiction pieces. This is how I discovered Leesa Cross-Smith’s work. I’m amazed more people aren’t aware of her, she’s prolific as both a fiction and non-fiction writer. She writes sentences that I read and repeat to myself, hold in my mouth while I feel the shape of the words. She also comes blurbed by Roxane Gay, yes THE Roxane Gay.

‘Absolutely’ is a flash piece about a woman and her lover(s). It contains two of my favourite sentences in Cross-Smith’s debut collection; I’ll leave you to decide which sentences they are.

From Every Kiss a War. First published in Sundog Lit and available to read here