Writing is always an experiment, a testing of possibilities. A word, sentence, paragraph finds itself to the page/computer screen and asks, What do I mean, Where am I going? The questions they ask can’t be answered—words are that polysemantic, multivalent. The next word/sentence comes along, looking for a solution, but only asks those questions again. You are left with a story, or an essay, a poem—somehow complete, if you’re lucky—but it still asks, What do I mean?
All of this… more
The Thing I Was Trying To Tell You
The Thing I Was Trying To Tell You is a book length manuscript of short prose, including fiction, found text, and a very short play. The book is scheduled to be published by Publishing Genius Press in 2024.
The Wild Man of Cockeysville, Maryland and Other Stories. Longer work of 2023
In the summer of 2023 I began writing longer stories (1000-5000 words) after having spent about 15 years writing very short fiction almost exclusively. I felt like I wanted a new challenge and to stretch my writing abilities. These four pieces are a few of those longer stories.
A Long Time Ago
A Long Time Ago is a memoir of sorts that I began in June 2021 comprising a series of short prose pieces. As I believe was common during that period of lockdown and isolation, I spent a good amount of time thinking over the events, small and large, of my life. This book-length manuscript is a product of that contemplation, started then and completed in the Fall of 2023. I am currently seeking publication for the manuscript.
Always Never Speaking: 50 Flash Fictions, with commentaries by the author
In 2019, I self-published a collection of my flash fictions written over the past ~10 years. The stories range from 1/3 of a page to about 4 pages and describe the events in a wide range of characters' lives: a young man and woman forced to leave their apartment after breaking one of their roommate’s antique toys, a teenage boy who learns to fly to deal with his loss and grief, a group of people investigating why a hot baked potato was flung carelessly into a crowd, a woman who loses her beloved red hat, a deceased David Bowie, and the heroes/villains from a couple of Shakespeare’s plays.
I self-published the book so that I might take part in each aspect of the book’s production. I designed the book cover, I typeset the pages, I edited each of the stories, and I made a variety of promotional materials, including a video in which the author Joseph Young (me) is interviewed by Joe Young (me), and a playlist of sound collages and spoken text that I posted to Bandcamp. I very much enjoy trying out new artistic ideas in sometimes very new media, and taking on all of these jobs allowed me to experiment, explore, and learn.
In addition to the 50 stories in the collection I also wrote very brief commentaries on the beguiling and always-shifting nature of flash fiction.
In 2009 I organized a release party for Easter Rabbit that included original performances of stories from Easter Rabbit as acted by musician Caleb Stein and artist Linda Franklin and adapted for the stage and directed by writer Nancy Murray. The release party also included original music from the band Sweatpants (Adam Robinson and Jamie Perez) and art from painters Magnolia Laurie, Laren Boilini, Luca DiPierro, Christine Sajecki, and Kathy Fahey, as well as an art installation from Graham Coreil-Allen.
Stories from Easter Rabbit have been taught in classrooms and workshops by several instructors including Justin Sirois and Brian Noel, and students from the classes of MICA art instructor Megan Lavelle created video interpretations of Easter Rabbit stories.
The book was featured in many essays, reviews, and interviews including the following:
In: A Brief History of Fables: From Aesop to Flash Fiction by Lee Rourke: "Joseph Young: from microscripts to microfictions"
Joseph Young: Easter Rabbit, by Megan Lavelle
Review, by Mike Young
Review, by Edward Mullany
Review, by Kathy Fish
Interview, with Tania Hershman
Interview, with Meg Pokrass
Radio Interview, with Aaron Henkin on The Signal, which doesn't appear to be archived.
I've long wanted to occupy an entire Baltimore rowhouse with these microfictions (10-50 words), installing stories that tell the history of a fictional family who lived in that home—their lives, hopes, trials, happiness and sorrows.
Recently, I decided to take the matter into my own home, using that familiar and intimate space to create MicroFiction RowHouse. After installing 40+ stories, I share my home with this fictional family and its spirits. The stories are of many shapes and sizes to match the space they are printed on, the room they occupy, and tale they tell.
Events were held at the project space and included two literary readings, hosted by local writers Jamie Perez and Justin Sanders, two musical performances by local bands Duchess and the DeadBirds and The Mole Suit Choir, an opening reception, and three workshops. A workshop led by encaustic painter Christine Sajecki taught participants about photocopy transfer, a workshop on the art of ranting was led by writer and publsiher Dylan Kinnett, and I led a workshop in microfiction writing.
Articles on the project appeared in the art blog Hyperallergic and the Baltimore Sun and I was interviewed about MicroFiction RowHouse on WYPR.
The complete collection of Newer Comics can be found on my Tumblr (along with a number of other projects). The Comics shown here are a very small sampling of the many I created.
Small Houses and other text installations
I have also done a number of other text installations in the forests, galleries, and neighborhoods of Baltimore, Savannah, and elsewhere.