The Best Microfiction 2021
The annual Best Microfiction is the microfiction Bible.
This yearly anthology, edited by Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke, is eagerly awaited by small story addicts everywhere.
This year’s guest judge is Amber Sparks.
Full disclosure: 2020 was the first year that The Ekphrastic Review submitted nominations to Best Microfiction. (View all of our nominations here.)
And we are just over the moon that one of our nominations was chosen to be part of the anthology! Many congratulations to Cyndi MacMillan for “When Alice Became the Rabbit.”
Cyndi’s story was inspired by an artwork I had posted on Facebook, Marchesa Rabbit.
We are absolutely thrilled for Cyndi and for all the great writers who are putting The Ekphrastic Review on the microfiction map!
Although the rest of the wonderful stories in this collection do not identify as ekphrastic writing, ekphrastic afficionados can learn quite a bit about their craft from the best microfiction writers. These stories are highly imagist in nature, and the art and craft of writing is absolutely essential when working with so few words. Each of these magnificent stories paints a picture, and when we have difficulty finding the words to express something we find in art, we can discover the inspiration to do so by carefully studying the variety of ways in which microfiction masters approach their tales.
In “It’s 5 AM-ish, and My Father Tells Me a Story From His Time in Singapore,” Exodus Oktavia Brownlow immerses us immediately into the picture. “I am riding along with my father in a too-dirty pickup truck,” the story starts. Then, “It is 5 am-ish in the morning, and the sky is just beginning to become.”
Small stories are often as focused as Edward Hopper paintings, diving into a specific moment of life, freeze framing a setting, a scene, and the emotional drama at its centre.
Microfiction is also not a separate genre from poetry, as far as I’m concerned. The best of it doesn’t shy away from adjectives, adverbs, or any other kinds of perfectly wonderful words.. Rather, it selects such details deliberately and deliciously. In this same story, we have “cantaloupe cream” to show us the dawn.
In “Half Moon Bay,” by K-Ming Chang, we have “the sea baring its black teeth.”
In Angela Readman’s “Some Roses Only Need Pepsi,” we have petals that are smoky and oranges that are smoggy.
Francine Witte introduces us to a spirit with a “white ghosty sex hand” (“A Fingernail is Nothing”).
Cathy Ulrich takes us into the tumble of toboggan with her when she says, “fall away into the white and white and white.” (“And I Still Remember How Your Hands Were So Much Larger Than Mine.”)
Much of the joy of a microfiction collection like this is in the variety, the sheer quantity of the quality. There is a robust pleasure in opening an anthology of poetry or short stories by diverse authors. You can dip in and sample, relish a piece, revisit it later, and turn the page for another delight. It is a similar kind of joy to opening an assortment of luxury chocolate truffles. These microfiction stories are small and stunning, especially delectable when chosen at random. Any page will jar you into a different headspace, give you a window into another world. When you flip to another page, like those books where you find your fortune at random where you turn, you will find another complete world in a tiny, perfect piece of literature.
Congratulations to every one of these amazing writers. Congratulations again to Cyndi MacMillan.
Don’t miss this year’s Best Microfiction anthology. It will soon be in bookstores worldwide, or you can sign up at Pelekinesis Publishing to be notified when it’s ready to order.
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