Editors' Picks



Just as many readers have a favorite piece from a past issue, the Bellevue Literary Review editors have writings that have resonated with them long after publication. These are pieces that stood out in the slush pile, that are still vivid even years after first reading them. These stories, essays, and poems are particularly engaging and thought-provoking—the writing smart and alive—and deserving of another turn in the spotlight.

In our Editor’s Picks series, we showcase these favorites alongside commentary from the editor who selected the piece. Check back as this list grows, and also explore our archive to find some of your own favorites.

We hope you enjoy the stories, essays, and poems selected as Editors’ Picks.



Amanda McCormick
Amanda McCormick

"White Space" by Amanda McCormick

"Even the title, 'White Space,' connotes the heart’s core of that time. Empty. Blown away. A survivor’s emptiness, stunned lack. It’s interesting that the BLR has received few submissions touching on this trauma. But this one is sufficient: it is a masterpiece.”

-Suzanne McConnell, Fiction Editor

 
Hollis Seamon
Hollis Seamon

 

"The Plagiarist" by Hollis Seamon

"I first read this story nearly ten years ago, and can remember nearly every detail. I've used the story with my interns in the hospital, and even went to the trouble to look up every poetic reference. One of our reviewers wrote: 'expertly written, gripping, intelligent.' I couldn't agree more."

- Danielle Ofri, Editor-in-Chief
 
Virginia Chase Sutton
Virginia Chase Sutton

"Lithium and the Absence of Desire" by Virginia Chase Sutton

"One poet whose work leapt out of the slush pile in the early years of BLR was Virginia Chase Sutton. She tackled the subject of mental illness with strength and grace. She wrote about depression's 'gray clouds...shriveling the shoreline' and the manic sense of a sun 'as it burns rock to fire.' Her poems were filled with grit and love. Her narrators helped their own and their loved ones' periodic journeys through dark fields."

- Donna Baier Stein, Founding Poetry Editor

 
Joan Leegant
Joan Leegant

"Sisters of Mercy" by Joan Leegant

"I admire the story enormously.... The narrator’s voice seems singular, but the point of view is actually the unusual collective 'we,' so Leegant captures an individual and the communal at once. It’s as concise as a poem. It’s moving."

- Suzanne McConnell, Fiction Editor

 

Brenna Working Lemieux
Brenna Working Lemieux

 

 "Someone Else's Pain" by Brenna Working Lemieux

"I firmly believe that writing is about intimacy, and that imaginative literature offers intimacies that are impossible in life. A poem about what it feels like to receive that information at a remove—to play my role as listener—immediately excited me. This poem talks about the difficulty of understanding. The obstacle that most literature works to overcome becomes the subject itself."

- Jason Schneiderman, Poetry Editor

Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng

"Girls, At Play" by Celeste Ng

"The story is written in second person, and the 'we' pulled me into the narrative. I felt like both an observer and participant. The trajectory is wrenching to witness: Grace’s loss of innocence. The reader watches, mesmerized and appalled, unable to intercede. I admire the story’s language, honesty, and its lasting, disturbing power."

- Ronna Wineberg, Senior Fiction Editor

 

Christine Caya

Christine Caya Koryta

"Your Quiet Affair" by Christine Caya Koryta

"Given the purview of the Bellevue Literary Review, it's not surprising that many of the submissions we receive are somber, poignant, heart-wrenching. Humor is a much tougher sell in the illness-and-disease department. But it is a critical element, both for leavening what could be an extremely depressing journal, but also for providing an alternative lens for examining difficult issues. When I read Christina Caya's story, 'Your Quiet Affair,' in the slush pile back in 2008, I laughed out loud at the get-go."

- Danielle Ofri, Editor-in-Chief