Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Among the Neighbors 4, The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo

Essay Author: Dale Smith
Publication: Among the Neighbors 4, The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Buffalo, New York 2018. 

 Review Author: Ari Appel

Skanky Possum Press: A (Personal) Genealogy” is a short essay by Dale Smith recapitulating his personal history as a founder and editor of the now-defunct Skanky Possum Press (1998-2004). It is part of a pamphlet series called Among the Neighbors, a series for the study of Little Magazines run out of the University at Buffalo. Smith's essay offers a glimpse into the small press scene of the 1990s and early 2000s in San Francisco. His experience calls to attention the place of fertile writers' impulses among the hegemonic forces of neoliberal capitalism and its adjacent apparatus of mainstream publication. Smith turns to the word "ethos" to help describe his creative efforts from that place, stating, "It's a term I'm using to describe the complex interaction of individuals seeking ways to establish authority in an antithetical social, technological, and geographic reality. I am not talking about dogmatic authority, but the kind of authority developed by trust, enthusiasm, and commitment to an establishment of literary and social relationships." "Ethos" describes the "structures of feeling that converged in the years of the publication of Skanky Possum. Perhaps, by following in the footsteps of Skanky Possum, young writers of the now might be able to forge a collective ethos comparable to the one Smith is describing. 

Smith was a student of the Poetics program of the now-defunct New College of California, where he met his co-editor of the Skanky Possum Press, Hoa Nguyen, following his tenure as a founder of Mike and Dale's Younger Poets with Michael Price. Smith's essay is encouraging for anyone looking to find his or her ground in the publishing scene by painting a portrait of artists struggling to make it at a certain place in time. It affords belief in a way of life and an artistic process that may not lead to blockbuster sales but nonetheless enriches the mind and the spirit.

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