Friday, May 10, 2013

Nothing In New England Is New: The poet’s experiences in New England, America by Rick Lupert

Nothing In New England Is New: The poet’s experiences in New England, America

By Rick Lupert
Ain’t Got No Press
ISBN 978-0-9820584-5-9
198 pages

Review by Tom Miller

Rick – and I call him Rick because it seems appropriate that I do so after reading this book – why you ask? Because even though we have never met, reading this book of poetry makes me feel like a friend has just shared some observations about places and experiences he recently had on a vacation to New England. So anyway, my new friend Rick, whose perception of the world is one or two degrees off in either direction from true north, has managed to capture some essence of the background fabric of places that sometimes take themselves too seriously and jotted them down in a very entertaining way. He even provokes a laugh or two.

The trip starts well:


If you are waiting in the line at Burger King

you are doing the wrong thing.”

“Fondly Assessing the Situation

Oh the airports my luggage has seen.”

In Connecticut:

“Sign of the Apocalypse

I see a stretch limousine parked

at a McDonalds somewhere in Connecticut.

My God they should erase this whole state

and start over. They’re just doing it wrong.”

In Springfield MA:

“A Japanese Corner by

John Haberle, 1898

One artist has painted the words do not touch into his painting

which has saved the museum a bundle on paying a guy to

stand in the room and say that all day.”

In Portsmouth NH:

Excerpt from

“At Colby’s Breakfast and Lunch


Colby’s is slanted

You feel at any moment you

and your breakfast might slide out

the front door onto Daniel Street.”

In Salem:

“The Men’s Bathroom in the

Salem Mall is Not Labeled

That’s how they tell if you are a witch,

if you know to go inside.

P.S. It does smell like witchery inside.

I mean pee s.”

(Having been there, I understand the both the angst of forced choice under pressure and the relief of finding a urinal on the wall thereby validating your selection. Oh, and Rick, in the past couple of days someone took the guess work out temporarily by taping the word “MEN” in blue tape on the proper door. Not sure how long that will endure. Removing said designation on said doors seems to be a sport in Salem.)

In Boston:

“There is a Store Here Called

Grab and Go

They forgot to put and pay in the name.

It’s causing a problem.”

There is more and this book is worth an hour or two’s time soaking up some afternoon rays and suds on the deck and being amused at Rick’s further takes on the locales on his itinerary. He got ‘em pretty right.

Rick has authored fifteen other books and his web site is worth a visit as well. Check ‘em out.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Review of Terra Incognita, The Voyage Issue, Conjunctions 56

Review of Terra Incognita, The Voyage Issue, Conjunctions 56

By Luke Salisbury

As a Bagel Bard born at Bard who teaches the Bard reviewing Bard College’s literary magazine Conjunctions 56, Terra Incognita, The Voyage Issue is a pleasure. The magazine has high production values, (A solid paperback in this electronic age. The print is a tad small but that’s a humble price to pay for ink and paper), and numerous well-known contributors including Robert Coover, Howard Norman, Joanna Scott, Jonathan Carroll, Peter Straub, Susan Steinberg and others.

The Editor’s Note informs us that this issue will send us from rural Alberta to wartime China, the Amazon (The river not the book/e-book corporate octopus) and "The act of voyaging, journeying, migrating from the known toward the not known or at least unfamiliar is older than literature itself." He doesn’t tell us where we may find the time to read this 380 page tome with its 29 contributors. The fault here lies not with the editor or the fine publication, but our harried over worked lives. Doug Holder gave me Terra Incognita over a year ago. I teach, write novels, research novels, and conduct a marriage. Who has time to read the many excellent and trying-to-be-excellent literary magazines, e and print, blogs, websites, and whatever else lurks and entices in cyberland? The next terra incognita may be reading print.

With or without the time to do it, reading print is still central to the enterprise of literature, and Bard College’s literary magazine is a good place to start in the vast terra incognita of lit mags.

Joanna Scott’s DePorter’s First Grand Trip Around The World is about such a trip in 1901 and includes period, flat, timeless photographs, ala WG Sebald, that seem to say everything and nothing. Sebald’s influencethose philosophical and deeply literary explorations of other places and timeswill be as influential on contemporary fiction as Borges is and Donald Barthelme was. Scott’s story is well-written and makes one want to see the rest of her forthcoming book. The underappreciated Jonathon Carroll starts East of Furious, "He was the only man she knew who actually looked good in a Panama hat." That should be enough to make any reader keep going. Horror-meister Peter Straub opens a story with "the naked woman splayed on the long table," and it gets better. Much better. Robert Coover "The Box" is symbolic, surreal, and metafictional. It’s also a damn good story. Howard Norman’s "Radio From the City" is more of his marvelous writing about Inuit people, the far north, and revolves around the death of John Lennon. Barney Rossett’s long memoir about serving in China at the end of the Second World war alongside the OSS provides a fascinating picture of war torn rural China and wide-open Shanghai. There is much more.

One ought to subscribe to this magazine.

Had we but world enough and time.

---Luke Salisbury is a Professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Ibbetson Street poet Afaa Michael Weaver wins Pushcart (2014) for his work in Ibbetson Street magazine

Afaa Michael Weaver
  By Doug Holder

Ibbetson Street, a literary magazine founded by Doug Holder, Dianne Robitaille, and Richard Wilhelm in 1998 in Somerville, Mass. is proud to announce that poetry from Issue 32 has been selected for the Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in the prestigious Pushcart Anthology in 2014. Afaa Michael Weaver's poem, Blues in Five/ Four, The Violence in Chicago, that was  nominated by poetry editor Harris Gardner, is the winning poem.  Issue 32 was edited by Kim Triedman, and included work from Dennis Daly, X. J. Kennedy, Miriam Levine, Philip Burnham, Jr., Diana Der-Hovanessian, and many others. Ibbetson Street is now affiliated with Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.

Blues in Five/Four, the Violence in Chicago

In movies about the end of our civilization

toys fill the broken spaces of cities, flipping over

in streets where children are all hoodlums, big kids

painting themselves in neon colors, while the women

... laugh, following the men into a love of madness.

Still shots show emptiness tearing the eyes of the last

of us who grew to be old, the ones the hoodlums

prop up in shadows, throwing garbage at us,

taping open our eyes, forcing us to study the dead

in photos torn from books in burned down libraries.

Chicago used to be Sundays at Gladys' Luncheonette

where church folk came and ate collard greens and chicken

after the sermons that rolled out in black churches, sparkling

tapestries of words from preachers' mouths, prayer books,

tongues from Tell Me, Alabama, and Walk On, Mississippi.

Now light has left us, the sun blocked out by shreds

of what history becomes when apathy shreds it,

becoming a name the bad children give themselves

as they laugh and threaten each other while we starve

for the laughter we were used to before the end came.

---Afaa M. Weaver