She shall soon find a way. Gingerbread after an exile. After the funeral pyre has
smoked down and the last bread crumbs stolen. How sweet now to have
found this forest
Advance Praise for Rules for Rearrangement
This book is a song, a fugue, a state of both being and becoming – and it will rearrange your mental furniture.
Sue William Silverman,
author of If the Girl Never Learns
photo by David Ward
Julie Babcock's hybrid poetry collection, Rules for Rearrangement, won the 2019 Kithara Book Prize and was released November 2020. She is also the author of Autoplay, described as both an ode and an elegy to her Midwestern upbringing. Her poetry and fiction appear in The Rumpus, PANK, december magazine, and has been anthologized in New Poetry from the Midwest. She is the recipient of a Vermont Studio fellowship and several Pushcart nominations.
Julie is originally from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, a small town with a public square and Civil War soldier’s monument statue. She planned to move out of the Midwest when she graduated high school. Her plan failed, and she ended up circling through various parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.
She currently teaches in an interdisciplinary writing program at University of Michigan. She is deeply committed to helping students connect their embodied experiences to academic work to support stories that have been silenced and/or suppressed. After the sudden death of her late husband, she also became an advocate for trauma and grief-support systems for women and children.
She is currently seeking representation for her novel, Visible Man, which began as a short story in The Rumpus.
Excerpt from Visible Man
Elle and I met a few years ago at an OSU football game. More specifically, at the concession stand. Elle said the person she’d come with was being a jerk and that she was consoling herself with nachos. She picked up a chip and dunked it into the separate compartment of liquid cheese. Then she topped it with half a jalapeno before slipping it into her mouth. She chewed and swallowed before she introduced herself. She said she loved spice.
The game was winding down. Ohio was losing, down 21 points. They'd had a whole horribly depressing season. I finished my beer, bought a hot dog, and slathered it in mustard. I introduced myself. I told her about my excellent memory and how I would never forget the fact that the tightly wrapped band-aid on her little finger was cutting off the circulation in the tip. That I would remember her face reddening as she slipped the last jalapeno in her mouth. That I would never forget a single word she said to me.
Elle said she remembered almost nothing. That it was more fun to forget. She licked cheese off her finger and adjusted her blue bra strap. I took a big bite of my hot dog and asked her how old she was.
“18,” she said.
“18?” I repeated. It seemed about right, but I wanted to make sure. I wasn’t looking to get into trouble.
She nodded and asked me if I saw a guy in a Bruno Mars t-shirt behind her. I said I didn’t and handed her some napkins.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“I am,” I said. “Do you want to go?”
She said “yes.” Just “yes,” with no question about when or where, as if she had forgotten we just met. She folded the napkins, pushed them into the front pocket of her tight jeans, and took my hand.