Desert Split Open Presents…

I’m thrilled to announce our next event: Fri Nov 20, 5 pm PST, the Desert Split Open Presents… L.I. Henley and Zara Kand. We’ll discuss their beautiful new chapbook, From the Moon, as I fell, a collection of poems and paintings they call “emotional landscapes,” set against a backdrop of the Mojave desert. It arose from the creative exchange, or inquiry, they began in early 2020, a response to the anxious isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine.

I know these high-desert artist women personally and can be a bit of a fangirl about their gorgeous, thoughtful work—written and visual—but I’ll try and get it together and ask good questions. I’ll ask them to read us some of the poems and give us a peek at the art, with your questions to follow.

Books are available at or on their websites:; Sales through Dec 31 go to the California Fire Foundation’s S.A.V.E Program, providing financial relief to families displaced by wildfires.

RSVP worldsplitopenpress [at] gmail [dot] com for Zoom link.
SEPT 2020

For our first online event, we were thrilled to welcome Vanessa Veselka, author of The Great Offshore Grounds. Vanessa’s virtual book tour follows the routes taken by her characters, including Cheyenne, who has a memorable day and night in Joshua Tree. The publisher, Knopf, calls The Great Offshore Grounds, “A wildly original, cross-country novel that subverts a long tradition of family narratives and casts new light on the mythologies—national, individual, and collective—that drive and define us.”

In our opinion, The Great Offshore Grounds is feminist, queer, and otherwise radical. It is also beautifully written, thematically ambitious, literary fiction. It is a big book, in all ways, so I was glad we decided to focus our conversation on promiscuity and feminism and our expectations of female characters (and authors).

Vanessa was kind enough to mention our event in a recent blog post:

“Cheyenne travels through Joshua Tree, spending a night in past, very personal hells, heightened by designer drugs, menstrual cramps, and loneliness. I got to have a wonderful conversation with Susan Rukeyser at The Desert Split Open…”

We can’t wait to invite her back to read in person.

Based in Joshua Tree, California, we began as the Desert Split Open Mic, which in turn was inspired by the Feckless Cunt Anthology. The focus is always poetry and prose that is feminist, queer, or otherwise radical. It’s a place to say what you are told not to say.
After a hiatus due to Covid-19, we’re exploring the possibilities of online literary events as the Desert Split Open Presents…

We’re so grateful to the writers and artists working with us. Hope you are finding strength in creation in this time of destruction. To quote Lidia Yuknavitch, “Make art in the face of fuck.”

Just get through it, and let’s meet on the other side.


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