Porter House Reads: Halloween Edition

Art depicting a skeleton and an open book

Porter House Reads: Halloween Edition

(Rituals & Words to Honor the Dead)


November 2: Día de los muertos“by Alberto Ríos

Abra: I love how this poem encompasses the season and the different ways we honor or circumvent the memories of those who have passed. As the veil seems to become thinner and there’s a chill in the air we invite the visions and images of death (which we typically try to avoid) into our homes as decor, our wardrobes as masquerade, and our collective consciousness as both entertainment and observance as we embrace the shadowy side.

The cacophony of celebration and overindulgence juxtaposed with the fear of being silent and facing our grief feels so applicable to our current time. I struggle knowing exactly how to honor and celebrate occasions and/or people during such strange times. I fluctuate between wanting an exuberant crowded ceremony and sitting in the stillness quiet of solitude to complete my own rituals for those I miss. Like this poem, I think we are just trying to make sense of it all.

SG: I recommend this poem because it takes this cultural celebration to a more intimate level with the reader. Further, Alberto Ríos is inspiring to many Latinx writers, and I love returning to his work.

Abra Gist, MFA Candidate, Texas State University


SG Huerta, Nonfiction Editor 


So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

William Maxwell’s novella-in-retrospect on the murder of an Illinois tenant farmer at dawn, 1922, is both a heart-wrencher and a spellbinding meditation on loss, storytelling, and the simultaneous weight and unreliability of the past. 

Sam Downs, Fiction Editor


Obit by Victoria Chang

During this season of reflection and remembrance of the dead, and especially during a pandemic, the gorgeous, lyrical poems from this collection—each styled like an obituary, with tankas and formal poems in between—especially resonate. The poems not only offer meditations on the big losses, such as loss of a parent through death or dementia, but on all the small and enormous losses that surround death, from a loved one’s clothes to optimism and “home.” The poems are at times devastating, but also hopeful: “Sometimes the city has pleats/sometimes the body/rings with joy shaped like violets.” In this time of collective grief, Chang’s words remind us that love and loss are inextricable, and that art, through acknowledging that truth, helps us survive our losses.

Melissa Huckabay, MFA Candidate, Texas State University


The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel García Márquez

This is one of my favorite short stories. Through its enchanting language and imagery, we not only see a community care for, accept, and honor a drowned man, but—following the man’s release back into the sea—we also visualize the community’s endeavor to become better than before for if and when the drowned man returns. To me, this story is a reminder of how our identities reside in those who have passed, and how, even in times like these, we can make new rituals that honor those we grieve by keeping them alive in the better versions of ourselves.

Chisom Ogoke, Events Coordinator

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