The GOAT PoL (6/12)

Staff Picks From the GOAT PoL #6

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 three 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:

Izra Rosario’s pick: “Free99Fridge”

By Carmen Fong

For many, the last few years have opened our eyes to the ways in which we can help support the most marginalized in our neighborhoods and in communities at large. In “Free99Fridge” Carmen Fong chronicles a fight in Georgia, in the American South, to keep a free community fridge open despite critics of the local mutual-aid effort saying it serves and attracts “undesirables.” Carmen Fong’s story is sympathetic and heartwarming, and a reminder that even a wrong turn can bring us to the next meaningful step in our lives. “Free99Fridge” restores humanity to the many faces of food insecurity, and it’s well worth the read.

Audrey Simango’s pick: “A Breath of Death”

By Jean Le Divin Tshimankinda 

“The guy heard the voice of ants crawling in the grasses and wanted me to pay attention, but I could not hear due to the rain that was raining…” It makes the reader feel eerie. And then it gets stranger. Featuring wolves, corpses, an empty city, murder, “a death knell for property grabbing,” and “the sphere produced by trees,” “A Breath of Death” plunges readers into a dreamscape of fear, silencing the safety of “normal” silence with sourceless threats and promises. “Who declared shame on me?” the speaker asks. His English is marbled with Lingala (a Bantu language common in Congo) and traces of the French Jean Le Divin Tshimankinda spoke at school, generating a global English that’s like reading Jean Genet in translation. “A Breath of Death”  takes you through a journey stained by dark traces of murder, desperation, and the ruthlessness of humanity.

Kate Vieira’s pick: “Is Plastic our Death Warrant?”

By Ashley Dube

Ashley Dube’s “Is Plastic our Death Warrant?” is a careful and well-researched essay about how we have come to rely on plastic and why plastics are so harmful. For this reader, Dube’s spirit of inquiry makes this essay shine. It doesn’t promote environmental panic. But it does point out persistent problems and ask questions about possible solutions.

Matthew Stadler’s pick: “Kigonga’s Amazing Fan”

By Assumani Nyota

This modest, unforgettable story shows the predatory playbook of global capital just by following the fate of some innovators in rural Malawi—the inventors of the Kigonga, a small stove that operates on coal dust. With charcoal itself a rare luxury and most local families burnings plastic bags and refuse as a toxic fuel for their cooking fires, the Kigonga meets with enthusiastic early adopters in the stateless, displaced community where John and his friends are perfecting their new invention. Assumani Nyota’s details are so thorough and precisely rendered, the reader could almost build her own Kigonga, or vividly experience the full arc of this heist story, the story of global capital. In “Kigonga’s Amazing Fan” the rich take from the poor, the center eats the edge, and the globe keeps spinning forward toward our mutual assured destruction. 

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.


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.


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.

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