Just a quick note to say thank you again to Editor Nic Rago, this time for accepting my follow-up submission, “Light & Crispy FACTS” (derived from a carton of bread crumbs), for 2% Milk. I guess this poem is inspired by the phrase “alternative facts,” and by the many alternative-fact universes people seem to be living in right now. But once I put “FACTS” with “Light & Crispy,” I had to find more imagery to elaborate the implied metaphor. Luckily there was a recipe that alluded to the golden color of the bread crumbs and recommended putting the concoction “into a shallow dish” and serving it “with honey.” This all seemed to go along with the kind of “facts” people want to believe in–items cooked up from shallow motives and served in a manner calculated to make their consumers feel good, at least until they die in a climate-change related disaster or find themselves breathing their unvaxxed last on a ventilator. So another political poem was born. I look forward to seeing it up on the 2% Milk site in the fullness of time.
Today I received the exciting news that my can poem, “Amy,” has been accepted by the new journal, 2% Milk, which is so new its multimedia website is still under construction. Not only did Editor Nic Rago accept “Amy,” he also asked me to send along any other “food-related” poems I might be harboring, so I sent my 25th can poem, written a few weeks ago, “Light & Crispy FACTS.” As I mentioned in another post in the can poem category, I do not intend to write more, though if in the future a can’s text seems to be crying out to be remixed into poetry, I may not be able to resist.
The text of “Amy” is derived from text on a can of Amy’s Organic Soup. I used mainly the opening instructions and a long section where the makers describe their homey soup line and mention their daughter, Amy, whose name is on the label. From this I derived a poem in which a parent talks to her (probably) daughter’s lover and her daughter (Amy), trying to advise on a passion that is clearly beyond the parent’s control. While the parent’s imagining of her daughter’s love life seems to violate boundaries, this is in tension with her protective concern for her inexperienced child’s wellbeing. I think it is touching, and I am happy that Editor Rago and team saw something in it as well.
No more reviews right now, as my son has gone back to teach real, heavy facts–not the light & crispy variety–to his high school students. My apologies.
Amidst the busy time of preparing for Christmas, made even busier because i broke my left wrist* and am effectively one-armed for six to eight weeks, this lovely journal arrived. It contains my poems, “SLOW” and “Tappan Square,” which I wrote about here. It also contains many other pieces and is a delightful thing to dip into at odd moments or pore over at leisure.
So if you missed someone on your holiday gift list or are looking for a varied volume of poetry and prose for your own delectation, check it out here.
Hope you are having a happy holiday season.
*Fell on the ice during a magnificent trip to the Grand Canyon. Small fracture in left wrist, but irksome for a left-handed violinist.
Usually, I post when poems are accepted. But in this case, I failed to notice the acceptance amid the sea of requests for financial assistance that crowd my inbox daily. So it was a surprise when I received an email informing me that my poems, “Tappan Square” and “SLOW,” were already out in Otherwise Engaged Literary and Art Journal Volume 8. My thanks and apologies to Editor Marzia Dessi. I look forward to reading the journal.
“SLOW” is a can poem on the theme of carpe diem. I don’t think it says anything earthshakingly new, but I’m not sure anyone else has pulled comparable wisdom out of instructions for heating soup.
“Tappan Square” is about a real square at the center of the town where I grew up. If you just went to the back of the picture, a bit right of center, and made a left, it’s a five-minute walk to my old house. The square is also where I had my college graduation. I was moved to write the poem after I learned that Moses Fleetwood Walker played baseball there in 1881 before going on to become one of the first Black players to play openly as a Black man in major league baseball, before the major leagues were officially segregated.
Although I recognize that Oberlin is far from perfect in terms of diversity and equality, I still feel proud of the college’s legacy as the arguably the first college to admit Black and female students and the town’s as a station on the Underground Railroad. It was also an enriching place to grow up and attend college, and that’s really what the poem is about.
I don’t yet know how the other pieces in the journal are, but I have a pdf, and when I receive my hard copy, I will post a brief review. In the meantime, as I say to annoy those fighting the War on Christmas, Happy holidays!
It was gratifying to see my poem, “Be Well for Life” (which I wrote about here), up in the second issue of ubu. today. Many thanks to Editor Lori A Minor. I must also note that once again, I am flattered to find myself in the company of redoubtable poet Shloka Shankar, who has a powerful poem in the same issue.
In her email alerting people to the publication of Issue 2, Minor writes, “In curating work for ubu., I’m not looking for absurdity for the sake of absurdity; I want to showcase literature that makes me question everything as I know it.” It is good to know she found my poem fit this paradigm, and satisfying to destabilize someone’s world in just eight words.
So go on over, see how I did it, and check out Shloka Shankar’s observations on the inherent muddiness of humankind. If you want, come back and tell me what you think.
I was happy to find a quick reply to a submission in my inbox today. Editor Lori A Minor not only accepted one of my can poems, “Be Well for Life,” but also said she wished she had been quicker to accept “Koans for the Late Anthropocene,” which I had to withdraw when it was accepted by Mollyhouse. Thanks for the acceptance and kind words, Editor Minor.
“Be Well for Life” will appear in ubu., a journal of brief, absurdist poems inspired by absurdism in general and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi in particular. Like much absurdism, therefore, the poems in ubu. upset various apple carts and expectations, including social ones. “Be Well for Life” should fit right in.
I am now up to 24 can poems out of a projected set of 25. Almost all have been accepted somewhere. This one is based on the text on a can of Bumble Bee Tuna (the third tuna can I have used–not sure what that says about me). The poem is very short and tries to represent various qualities of wellbeing in a free way on the page. The last element of the can text I used, “Non-verified,” is corporate speak, which ends the poem on a twist, encouraging readers to consider what being “non-verified” is, how it might be an ingredient in wellbeing, and in what ways it (and the poem) may defy the corporate structure that produced it.
At least, that was my intention. When it comes out, I will post about it, and you will be able to judge for yourself how well it works. In the meantime, be well.
I was very happy to be greeted, first thing in the morning and so close to a holiday, by an acceptance of two poems to Mollyhouse. Many thanks to Editor Raymond Luczak. I am even more thankful than usual because these poems are avant-garde responses to the authoritarianism of the toxic yam’s regime, and so not welcome at just any journal.
Luckily, Mollyhouse is not just any journal, as I suspected from its name. As I learned doing research for my dissertation on Oscar Wilde, Joe Orton, and Tom Stoppard, a mollyhouse was a meeting place for gay men. (Actually, I seem to remember my sources alluding explicitly to gay brothels.) In accord with its name, Mollyhouse does not accept submissions “by white hearing able-bodied heterosexual cisgender men.”
Taking a hint from this, I included the two poems that have found favor in my submission: “Koans from the Late Anthropocene” is about the insoluble conundrums posed by authoritarian fostering of personal disempowerment, cowardice and bullying, environmental degradation, and abusive violence; and “100% Pure” is a can poem about white supremacy and the persecution of immigrants and asylum seekers at our Southern border. (That persecution was, of course, not unique to the yam’s administration, but he did greatly worsen it, most notoriously through increased separation of children and even infants from their parents.)
I’m so glad these will now have a voice in the world.
and no review . . .
I am thrilled to discover that the editors of Angel Rust have nominated my poem, “BEST,” for Best of the Net! I wrote about the poem here. This is especially gratifying because it can be hard to even place avant-garde poems, and as I have mentioned, I was once abused by an editor for daring to submit a couple.
Also gratifying is the inclusion of work by my friend and colleague, Shloka Shankar, in Angel Rust‘s list of nominees. Her nominated poem, Recital, is characteristically dreamy, beautiful, and fraught with lurking violence, so go read it.
And now, Why there will be no more reviews for a while:
My son moved away to take his dream job teaching high school social studies. He is the driver of the reviews project, and by far the more knowledgeable about media (and history). We are hopeful we may have some time to do a review here and there when he comes back, but it is hard to organize when we are both busy and far apart.
I miss him and our projects. Luckily, my daughter is keeping me busy with wedding plans!
I have now written twenty-two poems based on the text from cans. As I said in my last post on this subject, I hope to write twenty-five. Also in my last post, you can read about my perspective on this work, as well as what I think of the two now up at Cacti Fur.
Again, many thanks to Editor Jim Thompson for his ongoing appreciation of my work. I invite you to go over and check out my poems, as well as the many others he has posted, which tend to feature strong narrative voices and a wry disappointment with life.
And now, A Review:
I am happy to see my poem, “BEST,” remixed from text on a can of Bush’s best chili beans, up at Angel Rust Magazine. Once again, many thanks to the editors. For more information about my can poems, hit the “Can Poems” category below this post. I discussed the poem here.
I am looking forward to reading more of the work in the first issue of Angel Rust, the more so because I notice that my poem is in the fine company of works by fellow poet, visual artist, and editor of Sonic Boom, Shloka Shankar. I always enjoy her work, which is at once varied and focused on bodying forth the speaker’s inner life by mixing fragments of expressed emotion with images that blur the line between the outside world and the speaker’s inner state. Her mosaics are often composed from remixed text and often mix in visual imagery as well.
So I encourage you to hit the links, read the poetry and other offerings, and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, here is another Review of For All Mankind: