The GOAT PoL (10/12)

Staff Picks From the GOAT PoL #10

Over at The GOAT PoL, our eight Reader/Advisor/Editors (RAEs) continue to work with scores of stateless, refugee, and disenfranchised writers, publishing one or two dozen of their new stories every week. With hundreds of stories already published, The GOAT PoL map is crowded with remarkable writing to explore, like a bookstore or a library with a constant flow of new titles.

To give readers an easy road in, every few weeks we’ll publish four new “Staff Picks from The GOAT PoL.” Individual RAEs each select a story that they especially love and write a brief “staff pick,” directing your attention to an interesting author’s work. If you like what you find, click the writer’s name on the story byline, to see what you can do next. Thanks! Here are four new Staff Picks from The GOAT PoL:

Matthew Stadler’s pick: “From a Nightmare to a Disaster”

By Mozhgan Mahjoob

BREAKING NEWS: I usually do not recommend a story until it’s been with us long enough for me to re-read and reconsider. But I’m recommending the latest story on The GOAT PoL, because this is the first time one of our writers has sent a first-hand report in the midst of a terrible disaster or struggle, as it is unfolding. The Afghan writer, Mozhgan Mahjoob (whose first book will be published by The GOAT PoL in early 2024), sent her urgent account of the devastating series of earthquakes afflicting Herat. It’s vividly written and deeply felt, a report directly from those suffering the impact of catastrophe, not the commentators or newscasters or pundits who speak from far away. Mozhgan Mahjoob is a writer telling us what she and the Afghan people are experiencing now. 

Izra Rosario’s pick: “Pyramid of the Sun”

By Karyn O’Beirne

This piece presents a gorgeous exploration of the writer’s spirituality while on a trip in Mexico. Facing the Pyramid of the Sun with a group of American women, Karyn O’Beirne opens herself to the vulnerability of self exploration, the frustration of physical exhaustion in the face of nature, the beauty of shared experiences, and the hilarity of being teased in a language that you don’t understand. Between the beautiful prose and raw emotions, you’re sure to enjoy this piece.

Kate Vieira’s pick: “MY NIGHTMARE”

By Mutamba Lotima

To read Mutamba Lotima’s poem, “MY NIGHTMARE,” is to encounter a world where death constitutes the present, and the poet’s voice rings out like a light. As Mutamba writes:

For my light brights
More than the sunlight (I mean my voice will speak before my kick, death.)

This poem makes a case for the arts—and poetry in particular—as an essential humanizing practice in the face of dehumanization.

Audrey Simango’s pick: “A letter to Haniya”

By Atefa Qorbani 

The odd chronology of events in this craft of words travels with the reader’s emotions to a world far beyond. The story takes you from the intrusive thoughts of a girl contemplating her own misery, a girl so caught up in her demise that she realizes just how much her mental state is taking a strain. Next, the plot introduces us to the writer within the girl, the writer who is too stifled to write—the writer punishing herself. Then lastly, Haniya. This “Letter to Haniya” tells a tale of what it means to live in a society that is more favourable to a man, and at the same time takes us through a tour of intense, lively, vividly described emotions.

Filed Under: Articles & Essays


Izra is a social worker in Denver, Colorado (USA) serving folks experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. They have experience editing with writing circles within the shelter and college journals.


Kate Vieira, PhD, is a professor and the Susan J. Cellmer Distinguished Chair in Literacy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of American by Paper (2016), Writing for Love and Money (2019), and numerous essays and articles.


Matthew Stadler is a novelist (Landscape: Memory, Allan Stein, Chloe Jarren’s La Cucaracha, and others) and essayist. He was the literary editor of Nest magazine and a co-founder of Publication Studio, where he now edits the Fellow Travelers Series.


Audrey Simango is a freelance Zimbabwean writer, science student, and human rights activist. Her work appears in Newsweek, New Internationalist, Rest of World, Remedy Health Media, The Africa Report, and numerous other publications.

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