Friday, April 29, 2016
Beneath the Clouds of the Father
Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish by Jessie Janeshek was selected as the “winner” of the 2015/2016 Open Reading period and is the first chapbook of that group to appear (after two recent “off-season” releases).
Owing its name to medieval torture devices, this collection takes on the oppressive forces that continue to deny women their rights and generally stand in the way of feminism. And the poetry is just as strong as its message. I was really struck by the evocative language and the use of imagery that almost makes tragedy into beauty. It’s powerful.
From “Summertime’s the Time for Torture
Time for Torture’s Summertime”:
“We’re glass figurines. We use autocorrect
to tell fortunes, the glut.
Theft gives us pleasure, everyone drugged
mornings no better, slow monsters.”
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Friday, April 15, 2016
Lana is Born for Erasure
I was deeply suspicious of Lana Del Rey when she emerged on the music scene, even before I’d heard one of her songs. She seemed, on the surface, to be over-hyped and more like a stylized cigarette ad. But when I started actually listening to her, I found that there is a lot of poetry there. Albeit a sordid kind of poetry.
We hadn’t previously published a full collection of found/erasure poetry, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to read when E. Kristin Anderson pitched a chapbook that uses three LDR albums as source material. Would it be a slightly fragmented rearranging of her song lyrics, with many of the evocative, iconic lines left intact? As it turns out, no. Not at all.
The poems in FIRE IN THE SKY are Rey-esque, in that the vocabulary is pulled from three of her albums, but they are scrambled into something totally different . . . and no less powerful and provocative.
From “I will take and take and take”:
“Don’t make the girl dark. No butterflies. Bats come sing
drinkin’ like memory, sad mountain paradise. But life?
Want that vitamin crazy hard, radio queens and rain.
You raised chasers; I want the close cry.
Lick them like a national party, know my every worth.
I’ll die now, in my party bikini, honey true, the shameless way.”
The cover art was hand-embroidered by Emily Capettini. The chapbook, LDR and all, is ready for your enjoyment.
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It’s that time of year . . . when all the literary community is headed to AWP. Alas, we are not. Last year was a nice recon, but this year, it was badly timed and too far away. Next year might be more feasible. (And beyond that, Tampa 2018 is just “down the road,” we’re gonna be there for sure.)
We currently have two chapbooks in the works. The cover art for E. Kristin Anderson’s Fire in the Sky had to be hand-embroidered, which took some time, and the results look awesome. That chapbook will be released a couple weeks after AWP (mid-April). Following very closely behind that will be Jessie Janeshek’s chapbook, which is the first of our 2015/2016 “season.” The “season” continues with two more chapbooks (Genevieve Kaplan and Jenny MacBain-Stephens), and then we have some special projects evolving for the second half of the year. More on those later.
Back in the waning days of Momoware, I received a submission from Jane Joritz-Nakagawa—an American expat living in Central Japan, where she writes and teaches. The submission was an excerpt from a larger work that was, sadly, unavailable for us to publish. I told her to keep us in mind when she had another chapbook project to submit, and she did. I quickly snapped it up and it’s now available. Its title is diurnal.
Jane’s work in diurnal reflects the activist feel of her other poetry and essays. The chapbook is one cohesive piece, broken (evenly) into 24 sections. Here’s a snippet from section (2):
“slender and heavy
cheap scenes for a
shoulder of afterthought
sleeve of abandonment
dismembers the landscape
stitched in space”
It’s an exciting start for our 2016. And a reminder: You can also purchase a subscription of all five (currently planned) chapbooks for 2016.
The first chapbook of 2016 will be out in a matter of days. This year’s slate of chapbooks starts with two holdover selections we made last Fall followed by the three selected during the 2015/2016 “season” open reading. And these five chapbooks will be offered as a subscription for 2016, and will be listed simultaneously with Jane Jortiz-Nakagawa’s chapbook on Sunday. The subscription price will be $24, including shipping. Because this is something of an experiment for us, we’re only offering 25 subscriptions.
To be clear, the five chapbooks are:
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, Diurnal
E. Kristin Anderson, Fire in the Sky
Jessie Janeshek, Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish
Genevieve Kaplan, In an aviary
Jenny MacBain-Stephens, Clown Machine
I’m guessing at least one or two other projects will pop up this year, but they will not be included in the subscription.
Hope everyone has a great weekend. See you in a couple days.
First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted a chapbook manuscript this year. I don’t get a chance to send personal responses/rejections to everyone, just the semi-finalists, which I feel a little bad about. A little.
For the second year in a row, I read all the manuscripts alone. From the pool of submissions, I picked six semi-finalists; there were at least that many “on the bubble.” I went with six because I knew I wouldn’t be tempted to accept that many. I knew right away that there were two manuscripts almost sure to be chosen, and those were confirmed during the second reading. A third manuscript was right up there with them. I had a good feeling about those three manuscripts and ultimately decided that with the two chapbooks we have coming out in the next couple months and other potential projects (including another book), I didn’t want to be overloaded. (Last year, we picked five manuscripts and took most of the year to work through them.)
So, the “winner” of the 2015/2016 “season” open reading is Jessie Janeshek. Her chapbook will be out in the Spring, followed soon after by chapbooks by Genevieve Kaplan and Jenny MacBain-Stephens. Those will be preceded by two backlogged, off-cycle chapbooks by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa and E. Kristin Anderson. Sounds like a pretty good subscription, no? (More on that later . . .)
Welcome to 2016, everyone!