Category Archives: Joel Graham

Line Of Scrimmage: Joel Graham

I am the tallest American you will meet in Barcelona, where I translate poetry collections from Catalan into English. My own writing directs its gaze at the underbelly of society and celebrates the underdog, which just might have something to do with growing up on a farm in Iowa.

Rash hairdos, cloned sheep, bar scenes and a nifty etch-a-sketch. This is a Christmas story of a young single mom with a unisex salon, a little boy with a gift for drawing, and his war-damaged dad. Small-town life – which way is out? Who controls the line of scrimmage?


Liza Schultz didn’t dream big if she could help it. Her dad ran off after her first and last communion and she lopped off her ponytail with a single rash snicker of her mom’s sewing scissors. Her mom, sinking into the arms of Jim Beam, reeked of defeat morning, noon and night so that Liza’s teenage hell-raising – booze, weed, screwing around – got no snappier comeback than the white flag of a rictus grin. Aunt Gracie, the one person she still managed both to admire and to trust, suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve in Liza’s sixteenth year and died at the blinking foot of their Norway spruce.

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