By The Seventh Wave

We asked our TSW staff about the stories they're currently experiencing or revisiting.


  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang | from Sanna Wani, TSW artist-in-residence
    “Yellowface was just a mindfuck. A novel written by its villain, this book felt like living in the eye of the storm and watching the violence from a third-party perspective. It is knowing the thing and then looking through someone else’s eyes at it: and the thing is the entrenched racism and white supremacy of the publishing world. A lot of interesting commentary too on stories and who writes them and why. A repulsive story that you can’t look away from; a car crash where you’re strapped into the passenger seat. Kuang really knows how to blast off and then drive a story (and its characters) to rock bottom in the best way.”
  • The Hare by Melanie Finn | from Emilie Menzel, TSW senior poetry editor
    “Finn’s novel follows a young women’s lifelong navigation of the ramifications of an abusive relationship. The first half of this book especially is some of the smartest, most sensorially immersive, well-crafted writing I have ever encountered. I’m reminded of Sarah Moss’s Ghostwall, another excellent novel teetering on fabulism. Finn’s slow deployment of narrative mixed with interiority quickly entwined me with the fuzzy logic of the abuser, the abused, and the woods in which much of the story ensues. A beautiful examination of how we define autonomy and decision, and both of those within a complicated experience of femininity.”
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith | from Joyce Chen, TSW executive director
    “This was one of those books that has sat on my shelf for many, many years, but I grabbed it on a whim while heading out of town for a writing residency, and it proved to be exactly the book I needed to read during that time period. The memoir follows Patti and her lover, muse, and friend, the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe, in their early years in New York City. There’s something so inspiring and tender about learning more about these two creative icons living that period of pre-success and pre-fame; it caused me to reflect upon my own creative journey and all that’s had to happen to get to here, and how much more I want to learn and accomplish in this lifetime.”
  • Souvenirs from Paradise by Erin Langner | from Meg Sykes, TSW art director
    “I recently finished — and highly recommend — Souvenirs from Paradise, the gorgeous debut collection of lyric essays by Seattle author Erin Langner. Erin took more than twenty trips to the Strip over a period of around ten years to write this collection, in which she uses familiar tropes — themed architecture, a bachelorette party, an impersonator show — to confront the grief she experienced around her mother’s death when she was nine. It’s a deeply moving meditation on family and loss, as seen through the lens of contemporary art and kitch in Las Vegas. Definitely unlike anything else I’ve read; I loved it.”
  • Falling Back in Love with Being Human by Kai Cheng Thom | from Sarah Neilson, TSW facilitator and assistant editor
    “I have to read a lot of books for my job, which is great but has its challenges. This tiny book of love letters to humanity, to the monstrous within and the monstrous without, is one of the most healing things I’ve read in a long time. Thom is a poet at heart (even though she’s written in many genres), and started this project to help heal herself from the ways in which humanity’s behavior has broken her heart over and over, as it has all of us. In that sense it reminds me a little of Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, but this is a different book from that. Just as necessary.”
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker from Avi-Yona Israel, TSW director of advocacy
    “I’m rereading The Portable Dorothy Parker. I got a tattoo of the last stanza of ‘Star Light, Star Bright’ at some point in my twenties: ‘Swing you low or high away,/Burn you hot or dim;/My only wish I dare not say-/Lest you should grant me him.’ I’ll always be a confused and lovesick teenager at heart, even if I’m a happy wife in reality, and the first time I read those lines, they blew my hair back. My enemy is closest, as it is my tell-tale heart. Everyone should read this book, if only to remember that therapeutic writing should be shared with others; profundity often goes over the head of a fellow sufferer, one desperate for answers more than questions.” 
  • A Summoning by Nicole McCarthy | from Bretty Rawson, TSW director of programs
    “How do you write a story that lives in the absence of words? How do we make sense of things that never made sense to begin with, of things that always sought to end your sense of the world? At last, this is a body of work that will always be breathing. That will always be finding itself anew, each day, giving its readers the endless shelter of possible shadows. Hybrid work by definition is hard to define, but how else are we supposed to map the ever-scorched memories of our traumas? This debut work is an honest unswallowing, a soft examination of undefinable experiences. Through imagery and erasure, prose that twists, and the lens of necessary discards, this work is unforgettably healing. It is an instruction manual as much as it is a holding pattern: a gentle guide regardless of where you’re at with your own difficult pasts and paths. A flashlight of stars, these prose poems will hover in the dark space of experience, shedding new light into the spaces we wish to occupy. For anyone grappling with the sting of narratives, this is a healing book of becoming.”  



  • Selling Sunset | from Sanna Wani, TSW artist-in-residence
    “As a staunch lover of reality TV, I think what Selling Sunset offers is heaps and heaps and heaps of gossip. As much as there are 45 million problems with the celebrity capitalist luxury ethic of the show, I love and go back for the interpersonal, messy conflict and conversation. Seeing how the people, dynamics and relationships shift and change. Oh, and the ridiculous fashion and houses are, aesthetically and anthropologically, just fascinating.”
  • Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, dir. by Alejandro González Iñárritu | from Joyce Chen, TSW executive director
    “This is not a film so much as it is an experience. Bardo is the tale of a Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker living in America who returns home to accept a prestigious award, only to be caught in an existential crisis over what it means to live between two worlds, two cultures, two lives. I watched this on the eve of returning home for my aunt’s funeral service, and it seeped its way into my subconscious in a really powerful way. It is one of the best depictions I’ve seen of the immigrant experience, digging unapologetically into the complex layers of guilt, drive, and loss that come with trying to ‘make it’ in a place that can never fully be home.”
  • Doctor Who | from Avi-Yona, TSW director of advocacy
    “I’ve recently renewed my obsession with David Tennant, so I’ve been rewatching the Tenth Doctor seasons of Doctor Who and calling my mother-in-law to wax poetic about tall men and time travel. I have an ex who looks very similar to Tennant, and there’s something very interesting to me, a consummate navel gazer, about the idea of fixed points in time that you can’t go back to without changing everything else. And the idea of being too afraid to love someone because one day they’ll die and you’ll be left alone — don’t get me started. I mean, the concept of regeneration alone could be a whole philosophy class. It’s important to have deep, desperate conversations about things we’re scared of, even if we’ll never need to face them.”
  • WNBA 2023 season | from Sarah Neilson, TSW facilitator and assistant editor
    “Ok, so it’s not really a show, but you *can* watch it on TV. Last year, my partner and I started going to Seattle Storm games and I became a superfan after a single game. I’m not a big sportsball person, but this league is chock full of amazing athletes who are so exciting to watch, and they have the most out queer players of any professional sports league (which is something I read on Autostraddle and don’t need to question because it seems obvious to me). The energy of basketball is kinetic. It’s pretty easy to follow and it’s fast-paced, and I will die on the hill of women’s sports being a lot more fun to watch than men’s sports. I’m biased, but I’m not sorry.”
  • American Born Chinese | from Joyce Chen, TSW executive director
    “It really does feel like the beginning of a deluge of stories on screens both big and small that focus on the Asian American experience (the key differentiation here is that the Asian Americans are the main characters now, versus previous mainstream works that included ‘foreign’ Asian characters as foils for their white American counterparts). Seeing this sort of representation and storytelling onscreen feels equal parts bizarre and beautiful, and I’d love to think of this series as a way for audiences to better understand the nuances of the Asian American experience, told in an authentic, charming manner that doesn’t bow to the white gaze.”
  • FROM | from Elizabeth Upshur, TSW poetry editor
    “It’s a mystery horror show starring Harold Perrineau as protector of this creepy town with mysterious creatures that come out at night. Think a sort of Lost or Wayward Pines. I’m usually more of a creature feature horror fan but the tension is incredible and I’m so curious to know more about this town and these characters! I’m loving it— even if I need to wash it down with a comedy episode of Living Single afterwards.”
  • Joyland | by Sanna Wani, TSW artist-in-residence
    Joyland is harder to describe. I have not yet decided if I like this film but I know it moved me. Repressed desire, feeling trapped, complicated family. All of this and more result in a beautifully shot, intensely accurate arthouse film that leaves me feeling as angry as I am touched, as betrayed as I am mournful and as heartbroken as I am grateful to have seen it. Not for the light of heart and trigger warnings for depictions of suicide, sexual assault and coercion.”
  • Class of ’07 | from Elizabeth Upshur, TSW poetry editor
    “A dark comedy that follows the titular all girls class of ’07 when their boarding school reunion experiences a tsunami. Can they put aside their old wounds, tensions, and long buried grudges in order to survive? It’s a fantastic look at female friendships. I’ve already watched it twice and sent a love letter to one of the creators on Twitter (cuz thats what we should be using social media platforms for!). Felt very relevant in editing Hannah Schoettmer’s recent poem ‘Hallway Song’ and if you liked Yellowjackets or Derry Girls I think you’ll enjoy it.”


  • God, Human, Animal, Machine by Meghan O’Gieblyn | from Emilie Menzel, TSW senior poetry editor
    “Following Ezra Klein’s insistence, I just finished listening to this both richly personal and meticulously researched examination of parallels between metaphors in religion and technology. O’Gieblyn considers how regularly used metaphors can slip into habit, then morph into an unconscious lens through which we relate to both the religious and technological worlds. In all the discussions of AI, I’ve been most intrigued by the conversations around how our characterization of AI as human-like in turn characterizes what it means to be human. O’Gieblyn digs into this discussion in a way that has me questioning (or feeling validated in my questioning) the zealous and reverent ideology that is guiding the development of technologies and guiding how we integrate technology into our lives.”
  • Maintenance Phase | from Sarah Neilson, TSW facilitator and assistant editor
    “In case for some reason you aren’t aware of this brilliant podcast, which means we haven’t met because I talk about it all the time, you’re in for a treat with its catalogue. Brilliant writer Aubrey Gordon and brilliant journalist Michael Hobbes co-host. They debunk health, “wellness,” diet, and nutrition trends, fads, messaging, etc. They are very thorough and very funny with their wonderful rapport. The things I learn through this podcast have already gone a long way to rewiring my brain to notice and push back against my own and others’ anti-fat bias, assumptions about health, moralizing of people’s bodies based on those things, and also how to be a better human and more discerning consumer of information. I also just can’t get enough of listening to these two talk, or of Aubrey’s laugh.”
  • Last Podcast on the Left | from Avi-Yona, TSW director of advocacy
    “My favorite podcast right now is Last Podcast on the Left. Again, I’m going back to someplace I’ve been. I’m bipolar, so there are periods in my life that consist only of a manic blur, one in which Spotify says I watched all of them already, though I have no memory of such an accomplishment. It’s three men screaming low-brow profanities and discussing weird alien abductions, serial killers, spontaneous combustion, you name it. About a decade ago, when I lived in Philly, I would listen to this when I took the bus home from work. I associate the anti-dulcet tones of Henry Zebrowski with being done: done with work, done with bullshit, done with The Man, done with logical answers and sane thought. This recommendation is for those searching for a little chaos in the everyday.”

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