Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: Of Ghosts and Others

By Chloe Clark

It’s time for Halloween! Why does Halloween strike such a chord with some people? As children, it might be the fun of dressing up, the ghost stories, and the candy. But, what about once you’re older? There is still the candy and the ghosts and the pleasure that can be found in changing identity for a night. But, there is also the changing understanding of what Halloween might mean to you. It isn’t about fear, as much as being about the way we, for once, are allowed to let fear in.  Halloween is a time when we can open our doors and see the ghosts and the demons outside and its okay to be frightened of them.

Then, in the days following Halloween are All Soul’s Day and the Day of the Dead— celebrations of life through those we have lost. The conjunction of these days always makes me think about darkness, about ghosts, and because I’m a writer, about the ways in which writers tackle those two subjects.

“Emptying Point” by Megan Peak (from Thrush)

This poem skillfully creates a sense of unease and longing that coalesce into something quite haunting.

“Devil’s Nostalgia” by: Charlie Clark (from Diagram)

I am physically incapable of resisting poems and stories that deal with the devil. You show me a poem about the devil in sonnet form and it would be a sin for me to resist (yeah, like I was resisting that pun). In this poem, Charlie Clark explores the devil in a way that gives us a glimpse into the devil’s state of mind. It is slightly chilling and slightly sad and just exactly what anyone would want.

Steven Millhauser interviewed by Jim Shepard (from Bomb)

This is an older interview but the greatness of Millhauser makes it a worthwhile reread (or discovery-read for some). Millhauser is an author who gets the edges that exist in our vision, the phantoms that we can’t quite name, the magic in the just slightly othered. One of my favorite story quotes of all time comes from him and to me sums up my own Halloween philosophy: “You pass through a world so thick with phantoms that there is barely enough room for anything else.”