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The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.
The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:
Monk Anchin (1244-1316)
Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown
There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?
The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
A: The blank page. It stares back and says all kinds of terrible things about you, your talent (or lack thereof), and whether or not you’ll ever come up with anything worth defacing it with. It reminds you of all the other things you might need to do before you start actually writing. It scoffs at all the ideas you want to write on it. That said, once I’ve put down a word, then a sentence, and then a paragraph, the momentum seems to build. The blank page loses its voice. It’s just that first word that’s so hard.
Brad Preslar’s story “A Song Without a Voice” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 13 May 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Molly Etta is a graduate student in Comparative Literature, living in the San Francisco Bay area. When she isn’t scribbling about dragons made of ink, she tends to be buried in research on allegorical reinterpretations of Ovid in Old French.
Q: Are you optimistic about the future of humanity?
A: I’d say I’m 50/50. There’s the excitement and wonder of new technology and where that can take us, but then I think there’s always humanity’s baser instincts holding us back from what we could truly achieve. I could never imagine humanity, with all its failings, will ever achieve a utopia.
Mark Rookyard’s story “Tides of Reflection” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 6 May 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Brad Preslar writes from Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife Ellie and their dog Stella (named for his wife’s favorite cider.) He wrote unique selling propositions and concepts for ten years at ad agencies in NC and OH before going freelance to devote more time to writing fiction. Brad grew up in Winston-Salem, NC where he studied Communication at Wake Forest University. He also received a MFA in film production from the University of Miami.