Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Growing up in Indiana, a teenaged Martone, along with many of his age-mates, took summer time employment in the agricultural sector of the state’s economy. It was a “right of passage” to ride the mechanical carriers through the extensive seed corn fields that surrounded the nearby small town of Winesburg, Indiana, detasseling the plant in order to produce hybridized strains of the grain. Martone enjoyed drifting above the tasseling plants, the ocean of vinyl green corn, a vortex swirling around him. He usually worked in fields planted in 4:1 panels, four female rows of one variety to be detasseled and one bull row left to pollenate. The blocks created a wavy pattern in the fields he sailed over carefully unspooling the threads of the tassels from the tangle of leaves the machines had missed. At other times he rouged as well, walking the shaded rows searching for the volunteer starts and preventing their undesirable pollen from taking root in the precious hybridizing. At night, after the long day of gleaning every strand from every plant, Martone would dream he was a dusty bee or a caked butterfly, staggering from one forest of tassels to the next into the chromatic confusion of the morning. And in the fall, after school had started up again, he returned to the now harvested fields, the sharp stubble laced with frost, and huddled under the scratchy wool blankets in the back of an old buckboard bumping through the empty fields near the small town of Winesburg, a passenger on one of the last real hayrides in Indiana, and whispered to the girl beside him the intricate secrets of the intriguing sex life of corn.
Michelle Ross’ story collection, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, won the 2016 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her work has appeared in The Common, Cream City Review, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Necessary Fiction, and other journals.
Jennifer Fliss is a Seattle-based fiction and essay writer. Her work has appeared in PANK, The Rumpus, Necessary Fiction, Hippocampus, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter at @writesforlife or via her website, www.jenniferflisscreative.com
William Hoffacker is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Cartridge Lit, an online literary journal dedicated to poetry and prose inspired by video games. His work has appeared in NANO Fiction, The Matador Review, matchbook, and others. More information is available at williamhoffacker.com.
Caroline Cabrera is the author of Saint X, winner of the Hudson prize and forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in January 2018. Her previous collections are The Bicycle Year andFlood Bloom. She is editor of Bloom Books from Jellyfish Magazine and teaches with two nonprofits, Innovations for Learning and the O, Miami Poetry Foundation. She lives in Fort Lauderdale..