Because I also make what I consume—and I mean this in the nourishing way not the money one, though I do tithe wages and I always spend money in bookstores, and on friends’ art—my year-end list is a personal thing. It’s almost a medical record. I read, and then I write.

This year’s books and songs and rooms and food kept me alive for two reasons. One, when I started my novel See You In the Morning (featherproof, 2015) I told myself that if it was ever published I’d say yes to traveling for it, which to me is both exciting and scary. But it was and I did and I am, and while that means giving up other things—buying clothes, fancy internet and food, etc.—it has also been the biggest sunburst gift and new rainbows in my brain. (I am not exactly sure what that means either, but it’s AWESOME.) I hear new stories and hug old friends, and old friends’ new beloveds, and their children, and I walk around cities alone, and all those brights reflect here too.

Two, this year more than ever, every day I choose to stay in this country on slow burn because my friends and students say be angry and love and work. I teach in jail and college, and I participate in actions. I cry more than I used to, and I leave windows open at night, and I take baths because salt water feels safe. All I’m saying is, this 2015 world scares me even as I move in it, and books and music help.

So, food and health and light and hope—here are places I found good this year:

Unclean Tales for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting

I Was Not Born by Julia Cohen

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

The heroine paint: After Frankenthaler by Katy Siegel

Performing Remains by Rebecca Schneider

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa

Beast Feast by Cody-Rose Clevidence

Counternarratives by John Keene

Valerie Solanas by Breanne Fahs

Necropastoral by Joyelle McSweeney

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepherd

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and Rosana Farìa, trans. Elisa Amado


the books my students liked most this year: Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clements and Heavenly Breakfast by Samuel R. Delany


every short story Joy Williams ever wrote

Julian T. Brolaski’s poetry

Dot Devota’s poem “Gene”

Asymptote journal


reading Grace Paley on civil disobedience at the Allen Ginsberg library

hearing James Gendron and francine j. harris in Minneapolis, reading their poems in a room full of chandeliers


how May-Lin Tan writes about sex

how Vendela Vida writes about women


the dedication to Eve’s Hollywood, particularly where Babitz shouts out See’s Bordeaux: a superior candy


Shannon Perry’s Valentine’s Tattoo, aka the best ink experience of my life

Tine DiFiore’s Black Oak Tattoo, too


the movie Tangerine

Goblin’s soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Deep Red


blue corn tamales at El Cholo in Los Angeles, where Monte Hellman wrote Two Lane Blacktop on cocktail napkins


salt licorice cats and pipes at Licorice International in Lincoln, Nebraska


strawberries on nachos, and sardines on hard rolls by the side of the road in Arenal, Costa Rica


learning to paint a house

learning to start a new book


Cheryl Pope at the Poetry Foundation

John Singer Sargent’s painting of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

Goat Island’s Driehaus proposal (2003)




The Anniversary of the Light and Fuck You America (Mississippi Tapes)


Jeremiah Chiu’s labels for Marz Brewing

Nikki Jarecki’s labels for Off Color Brewing


The Dart Center

The Overpass Light Brigade’s fourth birthday

Denver Community Acupuncture

Sarah Schantz’s (W)rites of Passage writing workshop (also her book Fig)


ten years of Chances Dances


the painted bunting who visited Brooklyn, and achieved internet fame for being his painted bunting self

Mairead Case (@maireadcase) is a working writer and editor in Colorado. She is also a PhD student in English/Creative Writing at the University of Denver, a teacher there and at the women’s jail, and a columnist at Bookslut. Mairead is the author of See You In the Morning (featherproof) and a poetry chapbook forthcoming from Meekling Press.

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