from Nathan C. Martin and Friends.


posted Aug 5, 2011
Photograph by Jeff Becker
Photograph by Jeff Becker

By Moira Crone

To mark the five-year anniversary of Press Street’s first publication, Intersection | New Orleans, Room 220 is publishing excerpts of prose and artwork from that book. Press Street co-founder and board president Anne Gisleson wrote an introduction to the series by looking back at how Press Street and Intersection fit into the historical context of what is now the St. Claude Arts District.

“Elysiania” is an excerpt from Moira Crone’s forthcoming novel The Not Yet. The narrator, a young man named Malcolm De Lazarus, was raised in an orphanage in a future New Orleans, circa 2121. The novel concerns a society where the possibility of life extension—physical immortality—is a reality for the very wealthy.

(For Magazine at Henry Clay Streets)

The doctor I worked for called me in one evening to tell me she had made a discovery. The place where I grew up, the Audubon Foundling House on the New Orleans Islands, had once been a monastery for “contemplatives”— mystic nuns, the Poor Clares. They were cloistered. They had taken vows dedicating their every deed and word to “God,” she said.

She didn’t even flinch at that antique word, “God.”

The building had survived the floods from the time of the Great Kat and even later, when the Mississippi changed its course and the Gulf took all the land south of the city. It had remained when many other houses were moved so that the islands could be fortified by protection levees. Its wall, one of the highest in the whole city, became its floodwall, and saved it.

I remembered the high barrier around us. As boys we had to climb into the attic to see over it.

The nuns prayed all day, and all night, too. They didn’t meet with outsiders often. She supposed the nuns thought ordinary people were too weighed down by the material, by matter itself. The contemplatives must have felt themselves approaching a state of absolute spirit.

I told her about a little niche we had in the foyer. It was set in the wall at waist height. It had two sets of doors, like small wooden gates, one in the outer foyer and the other in an inner meeting room. These doors slid up and down like windows. There was a space in between the two, not more than eighteen inches in width. On the outside wall there was a bell. Inside, a hole for peeping through, and another bell. Visitors rang the outside bell and
asked the nuns for the candy they made—one pound, or two. They raised their door, placed their money in the in-between space, and then closed the door again. Then the nuns replaced the money with “divinity,” closed their inner door, rang their bell as a signal, and returned to their seclusion. Thus they remained cloistered, but managed to have commerce.

The product was perfect. They couldn’t sell the invisible, so they sold something in honor of the invisible: white candy, made of sugar and egg white, sweet as heaven. “Like little dollops of cloud,” she said.

That niche was the very best for hide and seek, I recalled. People always forgot it was possible for a small boy to wedge himself between the doors.

“But where is our secret trapdoor?” she asked, for she was on her quest, trying to understand what the ancients could possibly have believed. “It must be here someplace,” she said, pressing on her chest. “No one sees it now.”

I told her about the only piece of the old art I saw in my first twenty years. A large disk in relief above the outside gate, all white. There was a heart in the center, and beneath that, two arms coming up from no body, like the branches where a tree splits up to reach. Spreading out from the arms, two open hands. Behind the heart, rays of sun and snakey flames, and then a crown, and another crown, and then above all that, the words: “Deus Meus Et Omnia,” which she translated for me. “My God is All.”

I found this absolutely astounding: when the time came for the nuns to pledge their lives to prayer, their parents brought them wedding dresses. On an appointed day, a novice would stand at an altar. Just as if God were the groom.

“Imagine, did this God come? In through that little door? Was he on the outside? Or was he hiding somewhere in between, always invisible, waiting for them to open the doors on the inside, to let him in? What goes on between those worlds?” she said, touching her heart. “Matter to spirit and back again. How does the exchange work?”

She never asked me questions I could answer.

Moira Crone is the author of several books, including What Gets Into Us and Dream State. She is widely anthologized and in 2009 received the Robert Penn Warren Prize for fiction.

Hand-in-Glove Conference Guide

Hand in Glove Conference Guide
Essay by Amy Mackie, edited by Bob Snead, designed by Erik Keisewetter

This beautiful book, designed and printed by Erik Kiesewetter of Constance for the Hand-in-Glove Conference, includes a guide to all of the conference happenings Oct 17-20, 2013, an informative map of the artist run spaces on and around St. Claude Ave, and an extensive essay by Amy Mackie about the history of self organized contemporary art [...]

Photo by Sophie Lvoff in WE'RE PREGNANT

We’re Pregnant
Words by Nathan Martin. Photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano.

We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers.

final_cover (2)

The People Is Singular
Poems by Andy Young and Photographs by Salwa Rashad

The People Is Singular, by local poet Andy Young and Egyptian photographer Salwa Rashad, is a personal response to the Egyptian Revolution. Rashad’s vision includes everyday people—Muslims and Christians, young and old, the foregrounded and the peripheral. Her perspective is from inside the events as they unfolded. Andy Young, a New Orleans poet married to [...]

curtain_optional (2)

Curtain Optional
by Brad and Jim Richard

In both poetry and prose, Brad Richard explores the influence of his father’s work on his own, as well as the experience of growing up as the son of an artist while becoming an artist himself. Jim Richard is a professor of painting at the University of New Orleans and has exhibited at the Solomon [...]


How to Rebuild a City
Edited by Anne Gisleson & Tristan Thompson w/ design and artistic direction by Catherine Burke

Beautifully designed, sometimes fun, always informative, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a work in Progress, is a reflection of the many ways that New Orleanians have realized our way towards recovery, actively and creatively engaging with our communities.


Bitter Ink
by Brian Zeigler & Raymond “Moose” Jackson

BBoth originally from Detroit, cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson began collaborating while Brian was harboring Moose in Vermont during Katrina evacuation. While their doodling proclivities may have made them rustbelt exiles from the rest of their autoworker family, together they produce seductive aphorisms of wit and weirdness that provoke, confound and celebrate a [...]