When Mark Ari unlocked his mother’s womb, he fell to soft vinyl where he lived under another name and the kitchen table. Women with round faces bent down to pinch his cheeks. Grandpa made Egyptian poses on the landing at the top of the stairs, nodding and winking and making a great show of brushing back invisible hair with his fingers. Mother opened her mouth and sighed: ah-ah-ah-ah.
By the time the leaves on the trees were dry and beautiful—orange and cream and chocolate—he planted his feet, and the world got littler. He did not notice. He did not. Then he did. And he could read French and Spanish but spoke only a stutter of English. So he made shapes with his lips that stenciled words on the air. This has made all the difference.
Mark Ari was born in Brooklyn and now lives near of the edge of the sea between Jacksonville and the Ancient City. Follow @MarkAri
Along with UNF students, Ari founded Fiction Fix and continues to serve as Editorial Advisor to the literary journal, Fiction Fix; edits EAT, a publisher of digital albums and audio chapbooks which includes the highly regarded EAT Poems series; and directs River House, the University of North Florida’s virtual writer’s house. He publishes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Among these are two chapbooks: Bloodshot and Blue, a collection of poetry (Stony Brook Free Press) and Deathfoot Ha! (Stroker Press) His novel, The Shoemaker’s Tale (Zephyr Press), received high praise in international trade and popular periodicals like the New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Na’amat Woman, The Jerusalem Post, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and others. He is a performing singer-songwriter and has written and performed three one-man shows: Flatbush Serenade (premiered at the Maryland Theater in Hagerstown, MD), Blue Babies (premiered at the Paramount Theater, Wilkes-Barre, PA) and Songs for the Waste Laboratory, (premiered at The Living Theater, NYC). His paintings have been exhibited in group and solo shows in the United States and abroad, in such venues as Westbeth Gallery (NYC), Broome Street Gallery (NYC), the Southern Vermont Art Center, El Jueves Galleria (Seville, Spain), the Giralda Center (Seville, Spain), and Gallerie La Pantographe (Lyon, France). He has been awarded three fellowships the MacDowell Colony, two from the Ragdale Foundation, and one each from Fundacion Valparaiso and the Ucross Foundation. He has thrice won the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of North Florida (2006, 2009, and 2013), twice won the DRC Professor Empowerment Award (2011 and 2012), and was recognized by the Student Coalition with a Distinguished Advisor Award (2003).