The GOAT PoL (8/12)

Staff Picks From the GOAT PoL #8

Over at The GOAT PoL, our nine 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: “This House is for Cyclones”

By Stephen Pech

This story offers us a slice of daily life in the Tongogara refugee camp, in Zimbabwe. Following different members of a family throughout their day, we get insights into children, their mom, and the history of an absent dad. In this neatly structured tale, the wind is their primary antagonist: “The wind seemed to have been also attending some apprentices and would return to blow some cold breeze after the sun rested its traverse of warming the camp.” This engaging read is absolutely worth the time, for the vivid writing style and for the world that it shows us.

Audrey Simango’s Pick: “A Day in Theodore’s Salon: Music, Laughter, and Payday”

by Emmanuel Ajay

No man is an island — a cliché, it’s true; but this condition is brought fully into three-dimensions in Emmanuel Ajay’s wry chronicle of a young man’s start-up hair salon. The intimacy and surreal importance of human relations are seen through the eyes of Theodore, the high-school graduate who is behind the ambitious business. Peopled by memorable characters—Uncle Davies, whom Theodore rescues from a court conviction; and the lively crew of stylists working and singing karaoke at the salon—Ajay’s canny observations portray the unpredictable verdicts of fate, and how a life can go downhill in the flash of an eye, as Uncle Davies discovers. Lastly, passion is brewed into the tapestry of healing. “A Day in Theodore’s Salon” shows us that, indeed, we’re only alive in the tangled web of our relations to others.

Matthew Stadler’s Pick: “My Routines, Her Dreams”

by Nahid Rauf 

An Afghan writer from Herat, Nahid Rauf explores the “othering” of the refugee by writing this encounter from the point of view of a German girl who makes a new friendship with a recently arrived neighbour, an Afghan refugee about her same age. It’s a simple but uncanny strategy, which transforms this apparently plain exercise in mimetic realism into a hall of mirrors that reveals as much about the writer—hiding in plain sight—as it does about the story’s German and Afghan characters. Nahid Rauf is a keen observer, a confident prose stylist, and a clever narrative tactician, wise far beyond her years.

Kate Vieira’s Pick: “Choices for Young Women”

by Alicy Mundy

Writing from Malawi, Alicy Mundy confronts the choices young women make in pursuing their studies. The narrator sees her childhood friend take up with an older married man, as a way to pay her bills, and all the alarm bells go off: “The time Yankho was telling me this, she looked so happy that she wanted to eat this man’s money.” The concerned friend worries, but she also recognizes her own bad choices while reflecting on Yankho’s fate. “Choices for Young Women” offers a complex view of both economic and gender inequity.

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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