Tag: Lydia Davis

The Lydia Davis Project: The Mother

(based on Lydia Davis’ short story ‘The Mother’)

There she is, pointing at me, poor girl,
Disappointing daughter, a woeful
Sight – these are her words
For me. This is how it is.

I long for times we were close with
One another. When notions of
Happy family panned out
To utter satisfaction.

Now she tells me the songs I
Sing aren’t sweet enough.
The meals I cook are
Not to her liking.

Please, mother, stop
Undermining me!
Barbed words
Tear me up.

Games she plays
To cut me
Down to

The Lydia Davis Project: Two Sisters

(based on Lydia Davis’ short story ‘Two Sisters’)

Born one after the other in
Imperfect sequence.
These girls exist as
Reminders of a man’s

A man is not a man
Until his wife
Bears him  a son.
That is the way
Of the father.

These daughters filled
With daddy’s disappointment
Carry resentment for
Each other: The girl who
Could have been a brother.

All our poor girls – now women –
Will toil away, leaving
More daughters behind,
Their husbands disappointed
With no successful successors.


Lydia Davis Project: Visit to Her Husband

(based on Lydia Davis’ short story ‘Visit to Her Husband’)

Speech so sudden and
Sullen from the mouths of
Both him and her.

They once shared love.
Now they share unfulfilled
Discussion after discussion,
Incomplete and insincere.

This final conversations finds
Itself interrupted by overlapping
Indecisions and reversed by
Faltering revisions.

Now with this marriage
Finally over, maybe
They can start all
Over again.

The Lydia Davis Project: Mothers

(based on Lydia Davis’ short story ‘Mothers’)

Mother – is it blood or other
That defines you?

Did you hold me in your womb?
Did you cradle me in your arms?
Did you feed me from your breast?

Mother – do I know you?

Am I your only son
Or were there others?

Was the name you gave me
What I deserved or were
You hoping for a better child?

Mother – I’m afraid
Of you dying, and
Being left alone with you.
Are those the only options?

I wonder what sorts of mothers
The other children had.

The Lydia Davis Project: How W.H. Auden Spends the Night in a Friend’s House:

(based on Lydia Davis’ short story ‘How W.H. Auden Spends the Night in a Friend’s House:’

As a visitor
You are unfamiliar
To the nuances of
another’s home.

It is filled with silence,
Unfamiliar silence, ambient
Buzzing of the unknown.

It’s past midnight –
still awake.
No chance of
Resting amongst
Foreign sheets.

There are no
Lofty comforts in
What feels like a
Stranger’s room.

The Lydia Davis Project

Lydia Davis Stories

During my vacation with my family in Hong Kong I stumbled across an amazing bookstore known as Kubrick Bookstore, located in Yau Ma Tei. It wasn’t particularly huge but the selection was impressive and incredibly engrossing. They had a surprising amount of English books and the selection was up my alley (tons of plays, philosophy and contemporary fiction).

During my scoping out of the place I stumbled across The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis who I had heard about here and there and seen elsewhere. You see, Lydia Davis’ writing belongs to a literary style known as flash fiction. That is, short stories with an emphasis on short. There is apparently no specific length to determine flash fiction by, but generally no more than 1000 seems to be the rule of thumb.

So I ended up purchasing the book (because I have no willpower once something catches my eye), read some of it on the flight back, but haven’t picked it up since.

This morning, however, I started re-reading it from the beginning. I’ve decided a good way to pace myself with the book is to do a short story a day and turn it into a project in which I will write a response to each story in verse. And so there we have it: The Lydia Davis Project begins.