Courtney Harler


I grow weary of justifying my literature
The surveys tell us that this period began here and ended there
That this theme is appropriate for this time
That this philosophy is predominant
That this is the political climate that creates this work
That this work is important because it captures the age

But literature is not just philosophy or politics; it’s art
Literature is like Goya’s Las majas vestida y desnuda
On my left, a white flowing gown
On my right, naked splendor
Complete with pubic trail from navel to crotch
Full breasts, spaced widely and falling naturally
Small waist, round hips, chunky thighs, knobby knees
It seemed to me she blushed more clothed than naked, but why?
I don’t think history or philosophy or politics can answer that question

Literature is also like a can of Goya’s frijoles negros
I make a sort of Cuban meal that I would call art
I layer rice and beans with chicken and peppers
Yellow rice, black beans, red and green bell peppers
The sheer vibrancy of the colors makes me salivate
When I look at my plate, do I need to analyze it?
I just need to eat it
And sometimes, I just need to devour my literature

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Courtney Harler is a freelance writer, editor, and educator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She holds an MFA from Sierra Nevada University and an MA from Eastern Washington University. Courtney has been honored by fellowships from Writing By Writers, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Nevada Arts Council. Courtney's work—which includes poems, flash fictions, short stories, literary criticisms, craft essays, book reviews, author interviews, creative nonfictions, and hybrid pieces—has been published worldwide. Links to her publications and other related awards can be found here.