Kelly Puig — “Labyrinth”


This photo-documentary collaboration chronicles a walk to the center of a remote valley on the island of Kauai where in my experience, time forks. Across 2010-2012, I made this ritual walk often daily while writing what would become The Book of Embers (from which the text excerpt originates). My friend, photographer Jesse Recor, accompanied me to the heart of this sacred place during the pandemic, when I was living a second chapter on Kauai, finishing the manuscript a decade later. The photography seen here is not present in The Book of Embers (forthcoming from Essay Press in 2025) and as such, forms a stand-alone record that is a portal of its own making.


Kelly Puig is a Cuban-American writer and interdisciplinary artist. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Brown University where she was the recipient of the Weston Prize for best graduate work in addition to the Frances Mason Harris Prize for best manuscript of poetry or prose fiction written by a woman. Her cross-genre debut, The Book of Embers, was selected by Amaranth Borsuk for the 2022 Essay Press Book Prize. Excerpts from The Book of Embers are forthcoming in A Mouth Holds Many Things: A De-Canon Hybrid Lit Collection to be published by de-canon in conjunction with Fonograf Editions (Spring 2024). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, WitnessWag’s RevueThe Columbia Review, and Möbius Strip. More at

Jesse Recor is a commercial photographer based in Kaua’i and San Francisco via Charleston and Amsterdam. She became a professional photographer after working as a graphic designer for over a decade at Fuseproject and Turner Duckworth. Because of her background in design, she gravitates toward bold and simple compositions, with a love for the emotion and movement photography can capture. More at and Instagram.