All posts by danieltlamb

You Are Alive.

At gutwrench., we’re hungry. We are excited. We are hopeful.

It’s time for us to get our hands dirty working on gutwrench. Issue 5.

On a personal note, 2017 was a year of complete tragedy and darkness. Losing my mother to suicide was unspeakably hard. Today, I need this community more than ever before, and it is a privilege to call you friends.

And with these seasons of soul’s winter come the brighter blossoms of spring.

It’s late February in Atlanta and the energy of the city couldn’t be more vibrant. Something is stirring.

I’ve said this before: “Our work is important. Our voices are important. Art is important.”

If you’re reading this,


If you’ve been looking for a reason to pick up your pen, your camera, your paintbrush, your guitar—pick the damn thing up and make a joyful noise.

We only have so much time to birth our ideas, our passions. Time is our most valuable commodity.

Time spent making, living, breathing and consuming art is time well spent. Time spent with people you love is even more artful and precious.

Speaking of time, you have until May 15th to submit your best work. As of today (February 25th, 2018), you’ve got 79 days until the deadline.

That’s 79 opportunities to open your heart, open your mind and express something that matters.


Daniel Lamb
gutwrench. Cofounder

The Lisa Turtle Rule

By Jon Carr

I grew up a homeschooled, black Republican from Los Angeles who went through a brief Gene Kelly phase. I have the unique honor of having been beaten up by just about every race, religion and sexual orientation. I was the UN of ass-kicked.

I was a black nerd.

The 1990s were a simpler time. We all just assumed that Mel Gibson liked Jewish people, Danny Glover had just recently gotten too old for this shit and Gary Busey was a respected actor. Every kid had a role model. Most of my friends idolized Tupac or Ice Cube, but for me it was Gene Kelly. Regardless of whether or not today would be a good day, there was little chance I would have to use my AK. For the black nerd, there was little representation in life or on TV. We had Lisa Turtle from “Saved By The Bell,” Carlton Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and the bane of my existence, Steve Urkel. All my white friends would jokingly call me Steve Urkel. This would have seemed racist, except that all my black friends called me Steve Urkel.

During the late 80s and early 90s, there were quite a few African Americans in television and movies. We were able to do anything: be a doctor, be a gangbanger.  We could do anything except violate the “Lisa Turtle rule.”

The rule was simple: We never get the girl or guy. We can get a girl or guy, but never the girl or guy.

But you know what? I got the girl once. Her name was Jill, and she was the prettiest girl in school. Actually, I was homeschooled, so she was the prettiest girl in the homeschool group. Every homeschool boy wanted her. One day after a pretty hardcore game of four-square, I walked off the court looking pretty hot. That is when Jill caught my eye and motioned for me to come over.

It turns out she had a secret to tell me, and it could only be whispered in my ear.

I leaned in close as she said, “There is a girl at school that likes you.”

With all the cockiness of a 16-year-old boy, I looked her straight in the face and whispered back, “OK, who is it?”

She slowly said to me, “She is very near you right now.”

I looked back and cocked one eyebrow before saying, “Yeah, but who is it?”

This went on for a while. Finally I figured it out.

She liked me, and I was crazy about her. What followed was the most wild, intense, passionate, powerful, and emotionally fulfilling two weeks of my life. I was determined to be the best boyfriend I could be. I bought her only the finest jewelry from Kmart and took her to the biggest movies.

Things like Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld.”

That did not go so well. Yet, despite this, she still seemed really into me. So I was surprised when she pulled me aside at school and told me we had to talk. It was a simple conversation, and honestly I have forgotten most of it. In fact, the only thing I remember is a single statement.

She said, “My mother says that it’s not a good idea for us to date.”

“Why?” was the thought running through my head.

What was different about me as compared to her boyfriends before or after. Did I have a reputation as a bad boy? See the aforementioned Gene Kelly phase. Did I come from a bad family, or were we too poor? My parents made the same money as her parents. We were all friends.

My mind raced because I knew the answer, but I desperately wanted it to be something different. I wanted her to break up with me because I was too fat or too ugly, because I was too poor or too stupid. I wanted her to break up with me for any reason other then that, because I could change those things. I could grow out of those things, but that’s not why she broke up with me. I had made a mistake.

I broke the Lisa Turtle rule.

The Lisa Turtle rule is based on Lisa Turtle from Saved by The Bell. The show lasted five seasons, totaling 126 episodes — not including The College Years and the New Class spinoffs. Throughout the series, they tried every relationship combination you could imagine: Zack and Kelly; Zach and Jesse; Jesse and Slater; Kelly and Slater.

Every combo except Lisa and anyone.

Every party and dance they went to, Lisa somehow magically produced a mute black kid that we had never seen before and would never see again. She was the queen of the B-storyline. Zach, Kelly, Slater, and Jesse handled the A-storyline, while Screech and Lisa generally dealt with the B-storyline.

It’s true that Screech was always trying to get with Lisa, but as we all know, Screech is crazy. It’s the Lisa Turtle rule. You can do whatever you want, but ultimately, the story is not about you, and above all, you don’t get the girl or guy.

It’s Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars,” Calvin in “Freaks and Geeks,” the secretary from “3rd Rock from the Sun,”Astrid from “Fringe,” Charles Gunn from “Angel,” Jazz the Robot from “Transformers,” and it is why Winston from “New Girl” will never get Zooey Deschanel.

I know what you are thinking. There was one episode in “Saved by The Bell” where Zach and Lisa liked each other. That is true, but before that episode ended, they came to the same conclusion my girlfriend Jill’s mom did: “It’s probably not a good idea for them to date.”

A friend once told me that he sometimes fantasized about coming back years after a girl dumped him. He would return rich, handsome and successful and make her regret ever breaking up with him.

As I stood there in that empty classroom watching Jill leave, I realized there would be no fantasizing for me. There was no amount of money, fame or success that would alter the reason she broke up with me. It was the one thing I could never change. I broke the cardinal rule.

I was supposed to be the Danny Glover of this story—a funny straight man that helped my Mel Gibson shine. But for a moment I tried to be Mel Gibson. I tried to  be a part of the main story. I guess my audience just wasn’t ready for that.


Hear our voices

We will not hold space for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, hate or denial of climate change.

Powerlessness is born of isolation. As human beings, we need to be able to talk to each other. Relationships are born in conversation.

That’s why we started a workshop. It’s a place for people in the community to come together and talk about their writing.

On the occasional evening, you can find us around a table having a cup of coffee and planting our little seeds of hope, to make the writing better, to get the best story down on paper and to connect with one another and foster a sense of community, becoming the Resistance—by talking to each other, loving each other, sharing life one coffee at a time.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we make art UNAVOIDABLE because the regime is doing everything it can to make its rhetoric unavoidable.

We will not allow our soul to be stomped out by the squelching of free speech and the dissemination of propaganda. We must not allow “alternative facts” to replace reality, to be shifted into a real-life dystopian science fiction.

So we invite you to send us your work for the next issue by May 15 because it’s important – to fight authoritarian and fascist ideology with our soul-affirming words – poems, essays, stories – and not just to incite reaction, but to drive at what’s human and fundamentally good within all of us.

Our work is important. Our voices are important. Art is important.

Find your inspiration. Express your passion.


Photo by Cody Williams

…Meanwhile, in the city too busy to hate…

We do things. Many things. We dream, we breathe, we work, we love, we age, we thrive. We focus. We get distracted. We go away. We come back to center.

Sometimes, we keep ourselves on a short leash, tethered to the calendar and the iPhone, keeping our ringers on, trackers going, turning every breathing moment into a quantifiable metric.

Eventually, the pendulum has to swing back—in this case, from compulsive activity and involvement toward a retreat. Retreat, whether it be actually going someplace far away to escape the aggregate of stress in the immediacy of the day-to-day, or a retreat as in a mood or internal decision to become less involved with external distractions, can offer us the space we need to create.

The challenge, then, we offer you is this:

Stop. Just stop it.

via The Mindfulness Exchange


Take some time. Turn off your phone. Sit in a dark room. Don’t do anything. Interrupt the flow of thoughts and activities.


Come back to the pen and reboot your process.


We want to hear about what happens for you, but really, we want your words.


The prompt is “Interruption.”


Send your fiction, audio, video, art, poetry, nonfiction, indescribable, literary, and otherwise gritty little things to us here by March 31, 2016.