Saturday, December 22, 2018

From the Bloc 11 Cafe: Interview with jo jo lazar--poet/writer/burlesque performer, musician

Podcast: Interview with jo jo lazar  ( Click on to listen....)

jojo Lazar, “the burlesque poetess” is a Somer-vaudevillian multimedia visual and performance artist. She plays ukulele and flute in ‘The Army of Toys’ band, and teaches uke, creative writing, and zine-making. You can find blackout poetry & more collages - @poetessS on social media

Podcast: Interview with jo jo lazar

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Let Us Now Speak of Extinction Michael C. Keith

Let Us Now Speak of Extinction
Michael C. Keith
Copyright © 2018 Michael C. Keith
MadHat Press
Asheville, NC
231 pages, $21.95, softbound

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Flash fiction, micro fiction, prose poetry. Whatever you choose to call it, Michael. C. Keith’s Let Us Now Speak of Extinction is 231 pages of pure enjoyment. His stories, many of which are just a few lines and others less than one page, encompass many scenarios a number of them with ironically humorous endings and titles that he has obviously spent time creating.

In “Adjusting One’s Priorities” Keith keys in on the self-absorbed viewer of a tragedy: "Frank saw a small plane flip and fall to to earth. He had five minutes left of his lunch hour and still had not eaten his dessert. What should I do? he wondered."

Keith also has a jaundiced eye when writing about old age and its optimism versus its fears. While everyone is doomed to extinction, in “You Bet Your Life” it is not about the Groucho Marx television show of the 1950s but rather a future which Keith sees as a possibility. The story is a cousin to a story which was later made into a movie called “The Four Feathers.”

"Six old friends got together and decided to wager on whom among them would live the longest. Each would put five dollars into the hat each week, and the last person standing would win. Since they all were only in their early 70s, they felt the pot could end up being quite substantial, and that’s what spurred them on -- that and the fact that each septuagenarian felt he was in better shape than the others. The first member of the group passed away after five years, and over the next dozen years, everyone else in the pool had expired, except one.Unfortunately, he could neither stand up nor recall anything about the bet."

As one can see just by these two stories, Keith casts a sarcastic eye on people, his view being that no one is really on the positive side of life’s ledger. In the first story Frank could be anywhere from his twenties to his fifties and not only more interested in his food but sees little interest in reporting a tragedy and possibly saving lives.

The second story paints a bleak look at what all humans face – a future that ends with little hope as death is final outcome for all living things. That theme figures perfectly into Keith’s title about extinctions.

Speaking of extinction, in “Cotillion of the Fittest” Keith sees the end of humanity as follows:It wasn’t three days after the last human died that the cockroaches and rats held a dance. Although he does not tell us why all of humanity has passed into extinction, we learn that two of our most feared creatures on earth, cockroaches and rats have survived and are holding a celebratory dance to acknowledge their inheritance of the planet, or perhaps just simple happiness as not being killed anymore by the top animal kingdom.

Another of Keith’s likes is food, often the sweet. In “Profound Discourse At A Dunkin” he explains the importance of a sweet something to a discussion of human existence:

“When contemplating the nature of human existence, it’s very easy to reach the conclusion that the whole thing is a cruel absurdity,” said Gill.'Oh, jees, fellas, Gill is getting all existential on us. What do you expect us to do with that information?' replied Doug, winking at fellow members of the Somerville Old Farts Breakfast Club. 'Well,' answered Gill, 'You could add meaning to my life by buying me another Vanilla Frosted with Sprinkles.'"

Despite what often seems like a negative spin, Michael Keith’s Let Us Now Speak of Extinction is comedic take on like, death and everything in between. It is a book one fights with one’s self not to put down because what is on the next page might (an often is) more entertaining than the page just finished. Get yourself a copy and enjoy more than 200 pages of pure entertainment.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Kuoya Dut

Kuoya Dut

I am Kuoya Dut. A junior finance major at Endicott college. I was born in South Sudan and raised and educated in Kenya. I am passionate about writing and fashion design. My hobbies include running, hiking, soccer and playing pool. I have hosted a radio show in the past too.


After it pours, after the ever-dry soil

is turned into a mould of mud the

mighty waters of the seasonal river

can be seen snaking down the dry

banks of the laga children playing

in the silt of the riverbeds pulling

their soccer posts out as they beam

in excitement, running around

the waters, frothy at the mouth stealthily

creeping in like a mugger, soon, the current

is a buzzing mass of strong waters, carrying

big branches and boulders underneath.