There are monsters in my daughter’s room. When she was younger, I would use lavender mist as “anti-monster spray.” Now, when she’s worried about a shadow, she goes to fetch the spray herself and takes care them. She’s learning how to manage her monsters.
I still manage my own monsters, though not often with lavender spray. Sometimes I channel Lynda Barry and create monsters out of squiggles and lines to see them in visual form. Imposter syndrome. Depression. Screaming ego. Sometimes my monsters are what keep me from writing (or what keep me from writing honestly). Sometimes my monsters are what sets me free. I was in my thirties before I reconsidered Medusa as a terrifying, snake-haired death-bringer. Now she’s one of my goddesses, whose fury whispers to me like a balm.
America is a monster. Religion is a monster. Art can be a monster, particularly when you’re trying to balance your creative and domestic responsibilities. Time is a monster. Greed is a monster. Racism is a monster. Death is perhaps the biggest monster of them all. A monster lives in our White House, who does monstrous things every day. There are children in cages on our border whose parents aren’t there to shoo away the monsters.
This October, as we approach Halloween, two years since the Harvey Weinstein story broke and just over a year since the Kavanaugh hearings, we’ll be exploring the theme, “On Monsters.” We want to hear about your monsters: Who or what are they? How have you defeated or tamed or reconsidered them? What does it mean to be monstrous yourself? What are you afraid of in the middle of the night, and how do you manage that fear? What makes a monster?
We’re accepting essay submissions through Saturday, August 31. You’ll find our full guidelines at and can submit through our Rumpus submission manager powered by Submittable.
Be lyric, be wild, be brave. We’ll bring the anti-monster spray; you bring the incantations.
Rumpus original art by Lizz Ehrenpreis.