Selected Fiction and Essays

Living Memory Keepers: Talking With Alicia Elliott 

I spoke with Alicia Elliott about essay collection, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, borrows its title from the Mohawk phrase for depression, “wake’nikonhra’kwenhtará:’on.” <More>



Imagination as Oasis: A Conversation With Sulaiman Addonia

I spoke with I spoke with Sulaiman about the blurred lines between the imaginary and the real, what influences his writing, and the possibility of redefining the concepts of family, love, and sex. <More>


Masters of Movement: A Conversation With Morgan Jerkins 

I spoke with Morgan Jerkins about her latest book ,Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots. <More>


What We Leave Behind: Learning About Resilience From Boney M’s “By the Rivers of Babylon” (essay, Bare Life Review)

Sound falls away, and my immediate surroundings are so quiet it feels life is limited to just two sounds: Boney M’s 1978 hit “By the Rivers of Babylon” playing on the radio, and the barble doves’ coos coming from somewhere in the distance. It is either 1979 or 1980. <More>





How I Learned to Embrace Jamaican Patois, the Language of My Youth (essay, Electric Literature)

There’s something about Jamaican patois that grates and soothes at the same time. It is the language of home. It is the language of the women who lived in my childhood home as helpers, the language of the women who told me and my sisters stories about rolling calves and duppies, the women who plaited my hair morning after morning and got us girls ready for school. <More>


The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #195: Curdella Forbes (interview, The Rumpus) 

Curdella Forbes describes her novel A Tall History of Sugar, out now from Akashic Books, as a fairy tale that is simultaneously a story of danger and an exploration of alternative histories. <More>


The Mating Rituals of Turtles (fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn)


We’re in Treasure Beach at a literary festival. Rain is coming down around us, pounding the tent, thrumming against it like a thousand hearts beating. Water pools on the ground and on the top of the tent, which dips in places under the weight. Mud oozes beneath our feet and chairs. A songwriter thrums a guitar, and talks over it, explaining the poetry of a Bob Marley song. <More>


Searching for Safety and Home: My Family’s Story of Migration (essay, Scoundrel Time)


It is 1931. I picture my grandmother, Annie, standing on a wharf in Santiago de Cuba awaiting a ship. I see her with a hand beneath her pronounced belly. Her two older daughters, Inez and Pearlena; two young sons, Herman and Ragland; and husband, Eustace, stand with her. <More>


Scrubland in the Desert at Noon (fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn)


We’re in West Virginia on a mountain road, miles away from the Interstate, when I suspect Mom has Alzheimer’s or something very close to it. I’d seen glimmers of it—her disorientation in long familiar settings, like getting turned around after leaving the Trader Joe’s on Colesville Road, where she has shopped every week without fail for as long as I can remember. <More>



Mirrors (fiction, Wasafiri Online)

Owen had first seen her through glass, and from that angle she was distorted, belly distended as if in pregnancy, face and hips widened. He liked her hair, a round and perfect Afro pulled away from her forehead by a multi-colored scarf, and stepped inside of the store called T’ings simply because of that. She wasn’t a traditional beauty; she had what he thought of as a model’s face with prominent cheekbones, a combination of pronounced angles and curves. He thought of the remainder of her body like that—angles and curves—a combination he wasn’t accustomed to in the women of his past. They’d all been one or the other—slim women with bones protruding, medium-sized with curves all right. <More>

Summer/Fall 2007

Lucky (fiction, Crab Orchard Review)

My mother has become an icon of sorts. A Jamaican woman, a nurse, she has learned to fly a plane late in her life and in her first solo attempt, the tiny plane she was flying developed the sort of mechanical difficulties that would scare any experienced pilot. <More>


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© 2020 by Donna Hemans.