ORIGINS: “Damn Sure Right” by Meg Pokrass

In today’s ORIGINS, Meg Pokrass discusses the origins of her story “Damn Sure Right” (the title story of her story collection to be released in February 2011 by Press 53). It originally ran in Fictionaut and in the print magazine “Kitty Snacks.”

In “Damn Sure Right”, I used an exercise in which “factual” moments, and “emotional/subjective ideas are consciously interwoven. This is a great exercise I found in 3AM Epiphany. I believe this helped me to create a disturbed emotional landscape – a tapestry of varied and somewhat unreliable thought fragments which mimic the way it feels after being assaulted. This story is partly autobiographical. There is a human tendency to detach from reality when experiencing trauma.

To give you some idea of the origin for the piece… here is what happened to me autobiographically: I was walking through Penn Station on my way to subway train home after a job interview, and took a wrong turn down a walkway that must have been closed or rarely used for maintenance. It was rush hour so I didn’t feel any nervousness about being a tiny bit isolated. I believed there were probably plenty of people around. I was dressed nicely from the job interview and I carried a purse on my shoulder. A man walking other way and I passed each other and I smiled very briefly at him when he looked at me. Next thing I knew he was behind me lifting me up, and with his arm around my throat, not strangling me, but quieting me and disabling speech. He had traumatized my jaw, I found out later, nearly fractured it. I felt no pain, and I was not at all afraid. I was not very present, in fact, I was surprisingly unmoved while it happened. He took my purse and let me go, and I was on the ground. I don’t remember how I got to the ground or anything else about it.

The rest I imagined and sketched in—bringing in associative logic, found or imagined memory, and creating a world of survival and emotional relevance.

7 responses to “ORIGINS: “Damn Sure Right” by Meg Pokrass

  1. First of all, as always, Meg, your honesty about something as brutal and violent as an assault is alarmingly revealing. I am amazed that you would want to take on something of this nature, and also how you crafted this personal experience into something so powerful. Many writers would develop this from the perspective of the “victim” and yet, this is a great reminder of just how many perspectives there are on any “real” story that we tell. Magical thinking, and relevant for my lesson of the day! Thanks so much, Meg. Also, Jen M for posting this at jmww.


  2. Your story was one of the first I read in fn and I remember thinking, “Sure hope this didn’t really happen.” Your description here answers that, and more. Powerful. I respect you as a writer; now, I also respect you as someone with extreme courage and presence of mind to elicit the memory and covnert it into a story of harrowing beauty.

    On a lighter note — I love seeing this picture of you. Peace…


  3. great interview.
    that story should win a pulitzer, a pushcart, something oustanding prize starting with the letter p. it’s astonishing. your best ever, which is really saying something.


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