Congrats to our February Writer’s Regimen winner

Learn more about The Southeast Review’s Writer’s Regimen

At the end of every month-long Writer’s Regimen, participants are invited to submit up to three of their best regimen-inspired pieces for a chance at publication in SER Online. It was difficult for our editorial staff to narrow down the submissions we received following February’s Writer’s Regimen! We’re pleased to congratulate Alexandra Umlas on her winning piece, “Echo.”

Alexandra Umlas is currently a student in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at California State University, Long Beach. She lives in Huntington Beach, CA.

Umlas writes:

I greatly appreciate the way the SER Writer’s Regimen gave me several ways into my writing.  The combination of materials that I received daily allowed me to tap into my creativity from multiple angles.  Not only did I come away from the regimen with a lot of new writing, I also gained inspiration and insight from a variety of incredible writers.  For me reading is a wonderful remedy for writer’s block, and so I appreciated the thoughtful combinations of materials that the regimen provided.  I look forward to going through the process again!

My poem, “Echo,” was inspired by day 4’s daily prompt that asked us to think about hands, and how they reveal character.  I thought about my grandfather’s hands – the way they built pools for a living with such strength, and the way they held us as children with such tenderness.  That day’s regimen also included a quote from Ha Jin: ‘I don’t think writers are supposed to give answers or explain characters fully.  We are supposed to describe and expose problems.’ These words gave me the nudge I needed to write about the difficult subject of saying goodbye to a loved one.”

 **

Echo
The morning I go to say goodbye, the sunrise

gnaws the horizon, spills its flesh over

the hot September sky, sucks moisture from

your mouth, so it hangs dry as city dust.

When I was small, I’d watch you work, your voice

swimming – a magnificent silver sword fish

across the construction yard.  You held me with hands

thick from mixing concrete for swimming pools,

with sun-warmed arms solid from building.

This morning, your body seeps like a fumarole field,

weeps its energy into the world like a parent pours

milk into cereal bowls, like I pour bravery

into my legs so they will walk into the room.

Even my feet whimper, your breaths are rocks

in my shoes. If I could shake them out, I’d throw

them into the sun, watch them burn back to life.

Your surrender is a shudder, not the storm

I imagined, but rain leaking through windows.

I had never tried to hold an echo.  I couldn’t know

how it would feel in my hands. The blisters

it would leave. How it would fall through

my fingers and I would keep grasping.

**