Picks of the Year 2013

Tony and I have spent the past few weeks reading and rereading the best content from 2013 — trawling through the awards and the pieces we had squirreled away on folders on our desktop. It’s been a fabulous year in more ways than one, but the thing that is most astonishing to me, as a new member of the ABC community, is the quantity of truly excellent work on the site.

Over and over again I’ve come across poems that have stopped me in my tracks, or stories that I found myself running through again, a few hours, sometimes days, later on the train. So the reading and rereading has been a pleasure—the hard part was picking out the two pieces we'll draw your attention to here. But we did it — a poem and a story that just kept jumping out at us while we were talking. I can’t stress enough the quality of the work that’s been posted over the year, and the fact that these are, ultimatley, subjective choices — but they truly are stunning pieces and I hope you’ll take a minute to read them — or reread. Trust me, it’s worth it.

To start with, a poem that’s so visceral you’ll literally become aware of your flesh in a new way while reading it. The images are fresh and harsh and transporting. Bits of the text stuck with me and keep popping up wherever I go. I won't say more because it's the kind of reading you have to experience to understand. This year’s poem of the year is VeraClark’s ‘Little Red Lost’:


And picking a story was especially hard. But one seemed to combine everything — a narrative sharpness, wit and Kafkaesque sensibility, along with rich imagery and description, and yet an immaculately concision at the same time. This is a modern parable that sprouts slowly, and that never quite loses its surreal edge, even as you begin to understand what the narrator’s talking about. The story is all the more effective for this slowly, carefully crafted progression — it keeps you just far enough on the back foot to take it as seriously as it demands to be taken.  Our story of the year is John Shade’s ‘Clingers’:


Read and enjoy. It’s been an incredible year, and I can only hope 2014 will be as rich and rewarding for ABC.