Saturday, July 07, 2007
GUD (greatest uncommon denominator)
Issue 1 – Autumn 2007
Instigator: Sue Miller
Editors: Julia Bernd, Sal Coraccio, Kaolin Fire, Sue Miller
This is a dark, wicked, futuristic, funny, brilliant and up/down collection of literature. Some of it pissed me off a bit. I looked up the author of Max Velocity, and, surprised to find she was a female, realized she’d also been anthologized in an L. Ron Hubbard collection so…. Okay then. Now, it’s just I don’t really dig a scenario of no birth control and girlfriends being buried in the earth to undergo labor and having tuberic flesh-eating children. I try not to be judgmental, but a buzzer goes off in me, like, uh if there’s no point to this, isn’t it a bit dangerously misogynistic? But, then, maybe I’m not visionary enough to apprehend the true sci-fi sorcery involved. And that’s cool. It’s cool because the rest of this journal is pretty awesome. And that story was well-written and engrossing. The picture of a female torso growing branches which introduced it, made for a perfect epigraph.
I also grimaced when, at the end of Steve Dines’ “Unzipped” the Iraq War Vet loses his shit completely and smashes a mirror into the face of his well-meaning, stand-by-your-man girlfriend. I got the gritty sarcasm and post traumatic stress disordered telling of Humpty Dumpty dismantled and tortured which he read to his five year old. Again, though, it’s just the violence so exquisitely and bloodlessly drawn that kind of shakes me up these days. I appreciated the long interior monologue which the avenging vet had leading up to his final moments in a park going pervert on a kid as his woman lay in a hospital bed all scarred up. That’s the War. And that is, I’m sure, no exaggeration in some cases. It’s haunting and reflective of how military violence really does warp a soldier’s psyche.
The writing is superb. And these rather grisly tales are kind of exceptions in a sophomore strike that is even better than the journal’s debut. It’s more daring, more surreal and probably more sci-fi. It seems that in almost every case, we’re treated to a tale of life and death, fantasy and fable, reality and hyper-dream. The male violence stories can be balanced thematically against other works in which women are the mysterious and commanding witches, as in “Women of the Doll” – probably my favorite. Or the bonding that develops in an unexpectedly theatrical situation in “Aliens” by Jordan E. Rosenfeld that takes place in an Arizona organic food restaurant when one waitress is fired and the other reveals her fake sexy Russian identity to be one of many shifting personas she dons for fun and transformation. The two dance in front of mirrors in a shack filled with various outfits and wigs.
While I have a feeling that “Arrow” by Nadine Darling will be the popular fave of this collection – how do I guess this – well, my psychic voices and several friends thought so – and it is a genius hilarious conceit to have a woman pierced in the heart by an arrow she can’t remove but that also doesn’t kill her… I like “Women of the Doll.” For me, it would be a perfect short film. It is difficult to handle the subject of the supernatural with deft and earnest detail so it really seems imaginable and also incredibly out of the world, but Nisi Shawl manages to invent such a world. A woman has consecrated her life to the protection of a magical doll named Viola who comes to life on an altar and demand flowers at night and food, and lovingly calls her Auntie Josette. Auntie Josette is a pagan witch who moves from hotel to hotel with a missionary’s focus. Between her beautiful bathing concoctions and invocations, she finds men who desire her physically and then seduces them into contributing to the Doll fund. It’s a story of a woman who’s been abused and is now protected by psychic visions and witchcraft. The doll, Viola, represents a child, a dream-creature, a manifestation of female power. And I suppose, on the other side, Josette, has forfeited the usual comforts of monogamy to care for something that could become a burden, and danger, except for her pure love for the doll.
The poetry sprinkled in Issue 1 is also fine, to mention a few, Sisyphus of the Staircase, by Cami Park – a variation on the Greek myth, Tim Gager’s Your personal Ground Zero (for Franz Wright), and Catholic Girls by Kenneth Clark, among my favorites. The artwork is also special and mythical, befitting a journal with a cover sporting the stained glass Celtic Salmon of creativity.
It is a collection that has weirdness, beauty and excellence peopled by rabid robots, animated dolls, arrow-struck humans, fearless artists, crushed war veterans and wacky waitresses. It is also a cutting edge tribute to fiction as a form and to language as transcendence.
Ibbetson St. Press
Thursday, July 05, 2007
d.a. levy & the mimeograph revolution
Edited by: Larry Smith & Ingrid Swanberg
Bottom Dog Press
P.O. Box 425
Huron, Ohio 44839
Price: $25 / 264 Pages
Review By: Charles P. Ries
A few months ago I asked Chris Harter, Editor/Publisher of Bathtub Gin who are some the pioneers in the small press movement. He said without a doubt one of them had to be the late d.a. levy of Cleveland, Ohio. This was the first time I had heard of d.a. levy. When levy shot himself in November of 1968, I was fourteen years old. With five older siblings who were all politically active, I was well aware of the Cultural Revolution that was unfolding around me: civil rights, the Viet Nam war, Woodstock….the counter culture. This moment in time was vividly brought back to life for me in the mimeo graph revolution. In his Editor’s Notes in the May-June 2007 Small Press Review, Len Fulton says that the mimeo graph revolution “is almost overwhelming in its reach and passion for its subject. It’s is sobering to think that one young person could accomplish to much in so short a time, while confronting torment from within – and genuine torments from without.” While I enjoyed reading levy’s poetry and seeing his visual art, what I found most compelling were the numerous interviews with him from this time period. They reminded me how ground breaking the free speech movement of the 1960’s was, and what a wonderful, diverse and passionate group of poets were at the forefront of this effort. If you love the small press, poetry, and the freedom of expression we all hold so dear, you must read this book.
The Endicott Review,
Vol.24, #1. Spring, 2007.
Edited by Ruth Henderson
4/yr; 80pp; School of Arts
and Sciences, Endicott College,
Beverly, Massachusetts 01915
The Endicott Review consists of creative work from the Endicott
community and friends. (p.1) Which sounds very limited/limiting. But it
ain't necessarily so.
Lots of top-drawer, supra-territorial, universal poets here. Like Harris
Gardner, who has a kick-in-the-shins poem that is one of the most effective
poems I've ever read on death and time: "Pedicures merely provide/short term temporal cures. /Nothing transient endures/past the mortician's lipstick
kiss. /what we live signs our faces, /little changes, though makeup makes it so."(p.78)
And the same goes for master-poet Doug Holder who has one of the
strangest (but on-target) poems he has ever written in this issue: “And he takes her
hand. /And walks into the room, /with all his reluctance, /and all its strange
allure. /And it will be a woman who he will trust. Who will teach/him the right
way, /as he drops his pants/and releases a fine and diffuse spray. (Mother
Leading Her Boy into the Ladies Room, p.27). One of those poems for midnight
A great political poem "This is the Kind of World I Want to Live In" by
Joseph Cooney, all about the current global war-hate situation, a great
short-short story about simply being by Alex Hart, (Just Over the Horizon A Few
More Times), a deeply existentially-positive poem by Kathleen Kirk based on
William Blake's Jacob's Dream: "Life is a child's toy:/It keeps dripping
endlessly down/from heaven.//If you do it right." (Eternal Levity, p.38).
The art here, too, is top drawer, especially Harriet Henderson's
jump-out-at-you paintings of Haiti or wherever (no bio-data, no lowdown on origins),
Lydia Holt'ss cryptological patchwork portrait, Jen Rheume's bar-scene
I've got a couple little suggestions to the editor here. Don't confine
the mag to Endicott college students and friends, expand the bios, maybe even
put in some essays....and get the mag out into the big-time literary world.
*** Hugh Fox is a poet/archaeologist who has taught at Michigan State University since 1968. Author of 66 books, he is a major figure in the U.S. small press world, serving as editor of Ghost Dance: the International Quarterly of Experimental Poetry from 1968-1995.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Well we have the lineup for The Somerville News Writers Festival for Nov.11, 2007
The Somerville News Witers Festival
Founders: Doug Holder http://authorsden.com/douglasholder/
Tim Gager http://timothygager.com
Tom Perrotta http://www.tomperrotta.net/
Steve Almond http://www.stevenalmond.com/
Stephanie Gayle http://stephaniegayle.com/
Errol Uys http://erroluys.com/
Joe Ann Hart http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/authors/61/3724/index.html
Timothy Gager http://timothygager.com
IBBETSON STREET PRESS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Robert Pinsky: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/200
Gloria Mindock http://wwwcervenabarvapress.com
Dainelle Legros Georges http://www.curbstone.org/ainterview.cfm?AuthID=123
Irene Koronas http://www.haikuhut.com/Irene%20Koronas.htm
Lo Galluccio http://www.logalluccio.com
Monday, July 02, 2007
Teaching Metaphors. Nathan Graziano. ( sunnyoutside PO BOX 441429 Somerville, Mass. 02144) http://www.sunnyoutside.com
Sunnyoutside, a creative and prolific small press based in Somerville, Mass. has released a new book by poet Nate Graziano. Graziano is a mainstay of their list and for good reason. His work has the flashes of insight, irony, and humor as well as accessibility that makes for an engaging read. Graziano has been a high school English teacher since 1997 and has penned a book of poetry about his experiences. Graziano writes: “Teaching metaphors has literally taken me ten years to write. It is a mosaic of the students and colleagues I’ve worked with in the various schools I taught. These poems are not based solely on any individuals, rather they’re imaginative amalgams. These poems are also not a picturesque depiction of the world of education, but I hope they’re honest—good and bad.”
The book is divided into two sections: the “Student Body” and “The Faculty” I found “The Faculty” section the most compelling. Here Graziano captures the eccentrics, the burnouts, the ‘types” that we find in any faculty. In the poem “Burnout”, a gone-to-seed teacher brutalizes his students with his time-worn film strips and sepia-tinged pop quizzes that he has given to generations of students.
“The students’ heads drop to the desks
like metal balls down greased chutes,
etherized by The Burnout’s filmstrip
and the sustained beeps between frames.
A sedated voice from a scratchy recording
talks of Nero’s orders for matricide,
a question on the multiple-choice pop quiz
The Burnout will give following the filmstrip.
It’s the same quiz the students’ parents
took twenty years ago when they slept
through Western History with The Burnout,
the man rumored to keep a silver flask
beside the fiddle in his desk drawer.
And in “The Devastation of Donuts” Graziano views the cycles of the faculty of the school through donuts and his “glazed” and jaded eyes:
“On Fridays The Administration” springs/ for coffee and donuts in the Teacher’s Lounge/ Most of the Faculty attempts to attend/…despite the fact that most of our bodies/have been devastated by donuts/ The younger faculty slim and wrinkle-free, / and still brimming with college theory, / chocolate-gazed, unfazed… It wasn’t long ago I stood in fresh shoes./…I n those days, I was more forgiving of my frame/ before the donuts took hold,/ latched to my bones and refused to let go.”
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Amy Gumley, a Boston-based writer, contacted me recently. She has an interesting enterprise, "Poems-To-Go." Here is an article in the Boston Globe's Sidekick section:
More than words
By Bobby Hankinson
There are certain moments in life that require us to create a memory with words. But since most of us don’t normally consider ourselves the next Shakespeare, putting feelings down on paper is enough to induce cold sweats. One could turn to mass-produced greeting cards, but those don’t always do the trick.
Boston-based writer Amy Gumley is here to help. And this time, it’s personal.
Her site, PoemsToGo.tv, provides personalized poetry and speeches for every occasion — weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, even memorials. Poems and speeches are e-mailed or mailed on stationery within four business days, though customers can have their materials rushed to them in 24 hours for a little extra.
Users specify if they want a customized poem, toast, or speech (from three to five minutes). Then they are e-mailed a list of questions to give the writer a better idea of the personal details to include. The bridal-shower poem questionnaire we looked over was like a game of 20 questions, inquiring about the bride’s characteristics, occupation, favorite foods, and relationship with her fiance.
Gumley used to write greeting cards for an online company. Inspired by her father’s entrepreneurship, she started the business in 2001 with help from her husband, a computer consultant. She now employs seven freelancers from all over the world.
Poems cost $64.95 and candle-lighting poems (for up to 15 candles) are $199.95. A one-minute toast is $99.95; three-to-five-minute speeches run from $149.95 to $249.95.
We think the prices are well worth it to avoid crafting a speech that’s remembered for all the wrong reasons.