SmokeLong Quarterly
top menu
Smoking With Pam Bolton

I am fading among my own smoke by Hamed Masoumi
"I am fading among my own smoke" by Hamed Masoumi,
via Creative Commons license
"Pen" has (for me) the interesting other meaning of "an enclosure" and evokes that sense of powerlessness/entrapment that is so part of being a kid. It is no wonder kids are drawn to magic. From where does the magic in this piece come? How might it save them?
I love where you went with the word "pen," especially since it was not on my radar at all. And, you're right, this piece is about the experience of powerlessness and the entrapment of being a kid, in a life, a landscape, a house, a family, relationships, and ways of dealing with that. How do kids survive but by finding ways of slipping out of identifying with what is and finding and asserting self: the snake, the cigarette, the shit on the wall, even the observation of Henry's nose. For me the magic comes from the pens, which are totally free. And from the kid getting a reflection from those pens, presuming they're flying around collecting these moments and writing them down, there's a magical transformation that occurs. The kids are alive and with us, the pens are here too. They don't have any barriers they must abide. They time travel, not confined to linear time. They fly around, like we do with our writer's minds, collect and record particular moments of a life and set them free, by giving them their moment, by linking them, by applauding them and the child.

I really enjoyed the odd point-of-view. Whose POV is it? How do you decide upon this POV?
You're right. It is an odd point of view. And odd appeals to me. I actually got the words "flying pens" from a prompt in a writing class. I was intrigued by using the flying pens as the omniscient observer, symbolizing the part of consciousness that a writer engages that is literally free to go wherever it wants, and can defy the rules of being a kid that can feel so confining.

Pens and writing/writers feel very closely related. Is this at all a story about writing/writers? If so, how might we read that aspect of it?
This story is definitely about writing and writers, and the freedom we get to through writing. The flying pens are really a metaphor for the imagination of the writer. The pens fly around, the imagination does the same, and begins this intuitive reflection of moments that may not seem to link up yet, do in the story of the kids, and in the psyche of one kid in particular.

That last line is so interesting. What does it say to you? Why does it end with this image?
For me, the last line emphasizes how the "writing was on the wall" so to speak, in terms of the character of this child. This kid has always been going for freedom. Not afraid of the mess, the smell, willing to express herself, freely, shockingly. And, I have to admit, I love the surprise of this image at the end. It's a way of coming back around to the beginning freedom of the flying pens as they go through stop signs, etc. The pens and the kid are alike, they both go past boundaries.

There is something in this story about the (kids') need for someone to notice, to pay attention. Yes? No? Perhaps?
Yeah, thanks for... noticing, paying close attention to something I wasn't intentionally emphasizing when I wrote "Flying Pens." Any kid who's putting her shit on the wall and stealing cigarettes is wanting/needing attention. Almost yelling for it.

Read Flying Pens.

Issue Twenty-Five (June 25, 2009): Bush Chanting by Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Flying Pens by Pam Bolton «» Rats by Z.Z. Boone «» The Hobblers by Dan Chaon «» Slanguistic Lipstick by Frank Dahai «» Rain by Natalie DeClerck «» Good Friday by Steven Gullion «» Me and Theodore Are Trapped in the Trunk of the Car with Rags in Our Mouths and Tape Around Our Wrists and Ankles, Please Let Us Out. by Mary Hamilton «» Underfoot by Joan Harvey «» A Minor Setback by Tara Laskowski «» Woman in a Bar by Dorianne Laux «» Matt: How It Will Happen by Amanda Nazario «» Trace by Darlin' Neal «» Exile on Payne Street by Ryan Ridge «» Home Economics by Gail Louise Siegel «» A Funny Smell by Ray Vukcevich «» Andersonville by Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Northern Migration by Brandon Wicks «» Interviews: Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Pam Bolton «» Z.Z. Boone «» Dan Chaon «» Frank Dahai «» Natalie DeClerck «» Steven Gullion «» Mary Hamilton «» Joan Harvey «» Tara Laskowski «» Dorianne Laux «» Amanda Nazario «» Darlin' Neal «» Ryan Ridge «» Gail Louise Siegel «» Ray Vukcevich «» Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Brandon Wicks «» Cover Art "The Vanishing Lotus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
bottom menu