An Interview with Issue 52 Cover Artist, Laura Berger


We here at Fugue were not only lucky enough to have Chicago artist Laura Berger's beautiful piece "Spaces Between" grace the cover of our latest online issue—we also got to pick her brain a bit about her process and artistic vision:


FUGUE:   Your work has such a distinctive unity to it all—the colors, the geometry, the little figures—yet each piece is so unique. Could you explain, a little, the evolution of your style, and what the process of honing it was like over the years?

LAURA BERGER:   Thanks! It's been a long slow journey so far—I just make as much work as I can, and my style has naturally changed over the course of many years and is now where it is now. It's always changing in small ways. I think that's pretty much how it goes, and that my style and what I'm interested in painting will continue to slowly evolve as I continue being alive and working. It makes sense to me that creative work is reflective of our experiences, all of the different things we take in, how we integrate those things into who we are, and how we filter them (or don't) when we're creating something. 

F:   I see you work with ceramics and animations in addition to print-making. What do the particular nuances of these different mediums offer your overall aesthetic? How do you decide which vision would be best represented by which medium?

LB:   My main medium was painting, and then I started getting images in my head of some quick little moving scenes, so I taught myself some very basic animation. Then I thought it would be fun to make some of the figures in 3D, so I started working with sculpture. They all kind of feed each other—working in each one gives me the opportunity to see things from a slightly different perspective and also to add to my understanding of my work in another medium. For example, working with ceramics helps me relate to the form and body postures of my figures in a more complete way, which I can then take back into my paintings. I get new ideas from bouncing around these different formats, and it helps keep me from getting restless or bored.

F:   Who are some of your artistic influences?  

LB:   I love Hilma af Klimt, Carmen Herrera, Antonio Frasconi, Moholy Nagy, Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt... There are obviously so many artists to love. I'm also inspired by old Nayarit and pre-Columbian sculpture, Native American ledger art, and Japanese prints.

F:   The colors are perfect! Could you maybe talk about where your color palette “comes from”?

LB:   That part of the process is pretty instinctual, or intuitive, for me. Sometimes I'll play around with different color combinations before I actually paint the piece, but mostly I just choose them as I work. A lot of times I'll dislike how something looks and change the color several times—so it's definitely not a fool-proof or straightforward process. It's interesting to think about how artists use color differently when working and why they make the choices they do. I'm not sure I know the answer, but it's cool!

F:   Your work so expertly juggles multiple motifs, but the most immediate, to me, seems to be the human body—specifically its bareness, its curvatures and natural harmonies. How would you articulate some of your major themes or concerns as an artist? 

LB:   I'm interested in exploring a lot of different things in my work, but if I had to pick a few, I'd say I'm pretty focused in on self-understanding, our interconnectedness, our collective search for meaning, and our interaction and relationship with the natural world. 

F:   Lastly—where can people find your work next (aside from online at

LB:  I have a group show at Kallenbach Gallery in Amsterdam opening October, some pieces in the Stroke Art Fair in Munich represented by Andenken Gallery, and a solo show at Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland in December.


Thank you to Laura Berger for being a part of our new issue! Be sure to check out more of her work online, and to check out her piece—and the slew of amazing poems, stories, and essays in Issue 52.


2017 Writing Contest Winners Announced

Fugue is extremely excited to officially announce the winners of the 2017 Writing Contest, as chosen by guest judges Traci Brimhall and Edan Lepucki!


Emily Myrick—“Some Whales Have Hearts the Size of Volkswagen Beetles”

Of Myrick’s piece, Edan Lepucki says:

Emily Myrick's "Some Whales Have Hearts the Size of Volkswagen Beetles" offers us the elegant, simple structure of one scene: a woman coming upon beached whales and the group of people trying to save them, to send them back into the water. This story is startling not only in its distinct, sensual imagery, but also, in what we don't know about our heroine. I love how the story mentions one particularly frightening moment in her past, and brings it back at the end. It's beautiful, surprising, and moving.

Emily Myrick is a third year MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Maryland where she is at work on a novel of historical fiction about a southern textile mill town. She is originally from Atlanta but currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband. This is her first publication.


Mallory Imler Powell—“Juno”

Of Imler Powell’s piece, Traci Brimhall says:

In Mallory Imler Powell's "Juno" my synapses and valves gallop at the same speed, keeping pace with each new meaning the poem unfolds or reaches back into itself to find. I love the startling accuracy of Powell's images paired with the poem's historical engagement and intellectual rigor. She crafts something that has not only the ripe texture of those sweet ovaries of summer, but makes a beauty that's only fathomable from the most painstaking intimacies.

Mallory Imler Powell writes across multiple genres and works in health disparity issues. She’s based in Kentucky and New York, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University, an editor of Washington Square Review, and a coordinator of the KGB Emerging Writers Reading Series. Her poems have appeared in the Aesthetica 2017 Creative Writing Annual, Contemporary Verse 2, The Offing, PRISM International, ZYZZVA, the University of Canberra 2016 International Poetry Prize Anthology, and elsewhere, and she was a recipient of a Fulbright award.


Andrew Gretes—“Biographies”


Jill McEldowney—“Shared Belief”

Michelle Meyers—“Eviction Notice”

A huge thank you to our judges, as well as everyone who submitted to this year's contest! Winners receive $1,000 and publication in the upcoming print issue of Fugue. We received a large number of submissions and enjoyed reading everyone's work with care, and we can’t wait to see what everyone's been working on this summer when our general submission period re-opens September 1st. For now, keep an eye out for these pieces in our next print issue!

2017 Contest Judges Announced

Fugue is extremely excited to announce Edan Lepucki (prose) and Traci Brimhall (poetry) as our 2017 Annual Writing Contest judges! Submissions officially open on January 1st and will close on March 15th. Check out our submission page for guidelines. 

Edan Lepucki, author of New York Times bestseller California (Little, Brown 2014) and a forthcoming novel, Woman No. 17 (Hogarth/Crown 2017). Lepucki is the prose judge for Fugue's 2017 Annual Writing Contest.

Traci Brimhall, author of Saudade (forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press), Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton 2012), and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press 2010). Brimhall is the poetry judge for Fugue's 2017 Annual Writing Contest.

Fugue's 2016 Poetry and Prose Contest Winners Announced!

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our annual poetry and prose contests!

Poetry Winner: "Bland Meditations" by Mark Jay Brewin Jr.

Mark Jay Brewin Jr. is a graduate of the MFA program of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Humanities Review, The Cortland Review, Copper Nickel, North American Review, Greensboro Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere, as well as been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. His first book manuscript Scrap Iron won the 2012 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize at the University of Utah Press. He is currently a Contributing Editor for the poetry journal Cave Wall.


Prose Winner: "In the Arms of a Sequoia" by Mary Mandeville


Mary Mandeville lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner, surviving son, and two rescued pitbulls. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Voice Catcher, Nailed!, Role ReBoot, Brain, Child, and the 2015 Anthology She Holds the Face of the World. Her essay, "Messages," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Poetry Runners-Up:

"Partings" by Caitlin Scarano

"Preludes for Solo Piano" by Ruby Turok

Prose Runners-Up:

"Chicken Shit, Chicken Salad" by Peter Gurche

"Small Monuments" by Molly Olguin


A great big thank you to our judges Megan Kruse and Rose McLarney, as well as everyone who submitted to this year's contest! Winners receive $1,000 and publication in the upcoming Fall issue of Fugue. We received a large number of submissions and enjoyed reading everyone's work with care. We look forward to seeing what everyone's been working on this summer when our general submission period re-opens September 1st!

20 Days Left to Enter Fugue's 2016 Poetry and Prose Contests



2016 JUDGES:

Rose McLarney's second book, Its Day Being Gone, won the National Poetry Series award and was published by Penguin in May 2014. Her first book, The Always Broken Plates of Mountains, was published by Four Way Books.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The  Kenyon Review, Orion,  Slate, The New England Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Greensboro Review, The Missouri Review, and Mudlark. McLarney earned her MFA from Warren Wilson's MFA Program for Writers and has taught writing at the college. She is currently Assistant Poetry Professor at Auburn University.


Megan Kruse grew up in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Seattle. She studied creative writing at Oberlin College and earned her MFA at the University of Montana. Her work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and her debut novel, “Call Me Home,” was released from Hawthorne Books in March 2015, with an introduction by Elizabeth Gilbert. She teaches fiction at Eastern Oregon University’s Low-Residency MFA program, Hugo House, and Gotham Writers Workshop. She was one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 for 2015. Find her at


2015 Poetry and Prose Contest Winners Announced

We are please to announce this year's winners and runners-up in the 2015 Annual Poetry and Prose Contest!

Poetry Winner: "Fear Not, Mary" by KC Trommer 

KC Trommer is the author of the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). A graduate of the MFA program at The University of Michigan, KC has been the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and has been awarded fellowships from the Table 4 Writers Foundation, the Center for Book Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Prague Summer Program. Her poems have appeared in Agni, The Antioch Review, Octopus, The Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East and a number of other journals. She is currently seeking a publisher for her first collection of poems and is writing poems for her second collection. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her son.


Prose Winner: "Days in the Coillte" by Kara Whelan

Kara Whelan was born in Spokane, WA. She is a graduate of Western Washington University where she received a BA in English Literature. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids. Her short fiction can also be found in the anthology, American Fiction Volume 14 (New Rivers Press).


Poetry Runners-Up: "Security Guard at the Gardner Heist" by Liz Robbins and "That Douchebag Norma Jean Next to Me at The Crescent" by Jeff Walt

Prose Runners-Up: "River Home" by Ah-reum Han and "The Fickle Nature of Germination" by Dino Parenti


Winners receive $1,000 and publication in this fall's 25th anniversary issue of Fugue. All runners-up will be considered for publication. We would like to greatly thank our judges Dagoberto Gilb and Kevin Prufer and everyone who submitted to this year's contest! We received a large number of submissions and enjoyed reading everyone's work with care. Keep writing and submitting! Our general submission period re-opens September 1st!

Flight of Writers tickets are now available for online purchase!

Flight of Writers, our annual fundraiser, is a wonderful night pairing readers' work with wine! This year we have reads from across the Northwest for the night, including Corrie Williamson, D.J. Lee, Sam Ligon, Brandon Schrand, and Eric Greenwell. The event will be held at Bloom, in beautiful downtown Moscow, on Saturday, May 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 or $25 with student ID. Student tickets are only available through the English Department's front office. Only 50 will be sold, so be sure to grab yours here or in the English department's front office at 200 Brink!

Purchase your tickets here!