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The Drum

Issue 22. March 2012



"Placenta" completes the trio of flash fiction pieces from Irish writer James Claffey for The Drum. Here, a son watches as his parents react to a miscarriage. Themes of pain and nourishment run through this narrative which concludes with a strange communion between mother and child. To hear the other two flash fiction pieces by James Claffey, click here. (3:39)

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JOHN HAGGERTY The Other Half of Graceland


A teenaged girl narrates John Haggerty's "The Other Half of Graceland," describing a trip to the eponymous home of Elvis along with her mother, who is looking for what the magazines call more pizzazz in her life. Armed with a make-up kit, an expertise for matching blush to skin tone, and a keen eye for adult behavior, Lisa steers them through their pilgrimage and tries to mediate the relationship between a young man they meet there and his father. As Lisa manages her mother's own delicate emotions, Graceland becomes the setting for the revelation of flaws and for the discovery that some flaws are only imagined. "The Other Half of Graceland" is read aloud by Megan Biglow. (18:20)

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The burning of an opera house, a rivalry between two sisters, self-creation in Venice--these are all elements of Annemarie Neary's short story "Firebird". Its narrative threads woven together like those of an opera, Neary's story mines the relationship between Elvira and Betsy (or Betzi, as she renames herself) and their ongoing attempts to define themselves against and with each other. The story is a meditation on identity and art, originality and imitation. (31:32)

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STORIES ON THE STREET Three Poems by Emily Dickinson


Stories on the Street gives several voices to three poems by Emily Dickinson, read aloud near the national-debt clock in New York's Union Square, by New York's Con-Ed building, and in front of the Waverley Social Security office. Click here and here to follow along as you listen to passersby recite the poems "'Remember me' implored the Thief!", "There's a certain slant of light," and "I'm Nobody! Who Are You?". Stories on the Street intern Sara Fetherolf recorded and produced this audio for The Drum. (2:14)




James O'Brien's "Penned Up" tells a soldier's story. In a laconic tone that still hints at the pain of his experience, the narrator describes the heat, the smells, and the tragedy of his tour in Iraq. "Penned Up" is about detachment and loyalty, isolation and belonging, and expectations met and withheld. (6:10)

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theme: family

genre: essay

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