The 2015 Whiting Awards: Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi



Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi



From Fra Keeler



When I bent down to stack the papers, I thought the sensation I had had in my brain earlier was the same sensation I had once felt when I shook a pomegranate near my ear. Or, not exactly a sensation, but a sound. That when I shook the pomegranate it had made the same sound as the sound my blood made when it swiveled in my brain, and that both sounds led to the same sensation: of something having dissolved where it shouldn’t have. I went over the memory, from when I picked up the pomegranate to when I shook it near my ear: I had squeezed the pomegranate by rolling it, had pressed into it with my thumbs, juiced it without cracking it open, because it’s the only way to juice a pomegranate without any special machines. All the juice was swiveling about inside the shell of the pomegranate, channeling its way around the seeds the way river water channels around driftwood. When I put the pomegranate down I could still hear the juice working its way around the seeds that were dead without their pulp. I had squeezed the pomegranate till the pulp was dead. I could invent a machine to juice pomegranates, I thought, and not just pomegranates but persimmons too, some very basic, cheap tool people could use in their homes, and then I imagined a thousand people, all wearing their house slippers, juicing their pomegranates and persimmons for breakfast, and I thought, never mind, no doubt someone has already invented it.


Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of Fra Keeler (Dorothy, a publishing project). Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The American ReaderBOMB Denver QuarterlyThe Coffin Factoryand Now Awards II: The Best Innovative Writing, Words without Borders, and elsewhere. Fra Keeler has been translated into Italian and is forthcoming from Giulio Perrone Editore in 2015. From 2010-2011 Van der Vliet Oloomi was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Catalonia, Spain. She subsequently received a research grant to study the work of Catalan author Josep Pla from the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes in Barcelona. She holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.F.A. from Brown University. She has lived in Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Italy, Singapore, and the U.S.A., and currently teaches in the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.