“Camp Yes!” Is Out in Coalition Works

While in the throes of back-to-back orchestra concerts, I was pleased to learn from Editor Jaime Alejandro that coalitionworks had made its debut, with my last can poem–“Camp Yes!”–inside it. Check out the preview, below.

I wrote about the poem here. I am happy to see it in the whimsical, rollicking company of other lighthearted absurdities. I did not expect to like the contents of the journal as much as I did because I often feel frustrated when confronted by literary works that deliberately block me just when I am “making sense” of them. But I found myself fascinated by the ways the different works engage with and thereby transform, even co-opt, potentially dehumanizing forces. The whole issue has a liberating, carnivalesque vibe.

So if you would like to learn to laugh at some of the negative forces in your life, I urge you read the issue. I literally found it hard to put down.

Photo credit: Thomas Altfather Good. The four 50th Anniversary “Art Of Soup” Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans featuring a facsimile autograph by, portrait of, and quote from, Andy Warhol. The commemorative cans were released on 2012-09-02 at Target Stores. They contain actual tomato soup. 2 Sept. 2012. Wikimedia Commons. GFDL 1.3.

Radbod Story Is Out in 100subtexts, and the New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology Has Arrived!

d john hopper, cover of 100subtexts Magazine, issue 2. Used with permission.

I was happy to receive a pdf of 100subtexts, issue 2, with “Radbod Decides,” as well as many other pieces, in it. I have not had a chance to read more than a few pieces yet, but they are definitely eclectic, meaning most readers will probably find something they like. One poem I read was sensual, while another, a series of requests to someone to “show” the speaker their “ass,” went a little further than that. The story I read had a nice twist in the epilogue, and then there is the outspoken but sympathetic character of Radbod in my own creative retelling of a legendary historical event, which I wrote about here. Each piece has something compelling to offer, and I’m pleased that Editor Hopper thought my piece did, too.

So why are you still here? Go get your pdf copy here, already! Then come back and get a copy of this:

Picture of New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology, ed. and cover design by Debbie Tosun Kilday. Taken by me.

The arrival of the New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology, which contains my poem, “I Always Knew It Would Be This Way, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon,” was just as gratifying as the public appearance of Radbod in “Radbod Decides.” I have not had a chance to read many pieces from this anthology either yet, but besides looking forward to the contributions of my open mic friends, I believe it will be fun to see what different people take from the original Beats and how they interpret and update them.

As I suggested in my earlier discussion of my own poem, I believe I have taken the ethos of protest from the Beats. I also use a fairly informal delivery with some extreme imagery to convey my sense of conventional mores cracking and falling apart under pressure from the crises of our times. And I locate these mores in my early childhood in the mid-1960s, when many of the conventions the Beats rebelled against were still staples of middle-class life. But I see that others have used surrealism, sensual urgency, references to and linguistic reproductions of jazz, descriptions of people and places that exude Beat sensibility, and no doubt many other approaches that link their work to the Beats.

Judging by what I have heard and read from open mic friends like Dane Ince, Michael Sindler, and Generalissimo Bryan Franco, this volume has a lot of exciting poetry. If you click the title link under the picture and get yourself a copy, you won’t be disappointed.


Erbacce Poetry Journal Available for Pre-Orders

Cover of the forthcoming erbacce journal. Used by permission.

Today Editor Alan Corkish wrote to inform me that erbacce poetry-journals 70 and 71 (but it’s two volumes in one) are ready to go to press and will arrive in December. I am still grateful and agog at being recognized out of over 15,000 entries to the erbacce-prize contest, but now I am also grateful for all the work Alan has done on the journal and the work Andrew Taylor put in on his interview of me for my feature. I gave long answers to his questions, partly because I was interested in them and partly because I figured better too much material than too little. So we’ll see what they kept.

One interesting thing they do with the cover is ask the featured writers to select a weed (“erbacce” means “weed” in Italian) whose colors will be incorporated into the flowers on the cover. I see what appear to be pictures of my chosen weed (flowering kudzu) in some of the petals of my flower as well. As I told the editors, kudzu is appropriate for a Southern writer, and it brings a wealth of potential metaphors to the table. Also, its flowers are deceptively pretty.

So order your copy here. Some of my best stuff is in there, and some best stuff from others as well, I bet.

Bullshit Lit Anthology Is Out

Photo credit: Ravijung, Cow Dung Cakes, Nepal. 3 May 2017. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

A few days ago Editor-in-Chief Veronica Bennett, of Bullshit Lit Mag + Press, emailed to inform me that Bullshit Anthology 01 is now out and available in print and pdf forms. She gave me a pdf copy, but I have now ordered a print copy and am beginning to read it. Based on the examples I have seen so far, I believe the b.s. selected by Editor Bennett, much like the energy-packed cakes above, has much more to offer than its excremental designation might suggest. Most often, the works creatively push the envelope on topics like the nature of poetry and the limits of poetic language.

I’m proud that my “Sonnet from Romeo & Rosaline,” which I wrote about here, is included in the anthology, and I look forward to my print copy.

Poem Accepted to New Generation Beats Anthology

After seeing several of my open mic friends get accepted to the 2022 New Generation Beats Anthology, I was relieved and grateful to get the news yesterday that Editor Deborah Tosun Kilday also liked my submission, “I Always Knew It Would Be This Way; I just didn’t expect it to be so soon,” enough to put it, too, in the anthology.

I have never exactly considered myself a new generation Beat poet. I like Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl but could never make my way through Kerouac‘s On the Road. Also, my dad took a dim view of countercultural aesthetics, and I was brought up feeling that they ushered in the decline of his career. Still, my poem about being a poll watcher, which helped garner my recognition as a featured poet in the erbacce-prize contest, harked back to the spontaneous anger and despair of “Howl,” and I had a feeling there might be more where that came from.

At the time my open mic friend, Generalissimo Bryan Franco, shared the call for submissions to the anthology with me, I was upset by the Supreme Kangaroo Court’s decisions in Dobbs and West Virginia v. EPA, as well as by gun violence, the bullying of teachers and students by school boards and other fascist busybodies, the prospect of climate apocalypse, and Democrats’ chances in the midterms. I still am upset by these things, but the Kansas referendum gave me hope. Also, we finally found someone to start fixing up our house–thereby launching operations MOHGA (Make Our House Great Again) and EFA (Escape From Alabama)–which has cheered me a bit. Anyway, I was upset back then, with no such happy prospects in sight, when, shortly after I glanced at the call, a poem came to me.

I had often thought of what might happen in climate apocalypse. Diseases, of course, but also many tried and true resorts of desperate people–especially the consolations of fundamentalisms and violence (often combined). As I contemplated our post-1/6 reality, I thought how odd it was that a version of my apocalyptic vision was unfolding right now, within my living memory of an early- to mid-sixties nuclear family lifestyle (complete with mental instability, but that didn’t count as long as no one talked about it). I had always pictured brutish attacks proliferating at a later stage in the downfall of civilization. Neither had I realized that people in power would be so oblivious to their own welfare that they would calmly take steps certain to hasten and worsen the apocalypse. Those people remind me of (and probably in some cases descended from) the businessmen on the train from Manhattan to Westchester who used to try to pick me up when I was a teenager on my way home from my violin lessons.

So a poem that harked back to the culture the Beats rebelled against while also trying to shake up contemporary culture from a feminist standpoint was born. I felt it was in the Beat spirit, but perhaps it was not on the nose enough to be suitable for the anthology. Luckily, Editor Kilday thought it was. I can’t wait for the anthology to come out so I can read the other poems, especially my friends’, and share mine.

“Reflection” Up in t’ART Summer Showcase

Mark Solms’ The Hidden Spring, A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. Taken by me.

Many thanks to Editor Amelia Brown and the rest of the t’ART team, for posting my poem, “Reflection,” inspired by Mark Solms‘ The Hidden Spring, A Journey to the Source of Consciousness, in t’ART‘s online Summer Showcase (scroll down to read “Reflection”). I wrote about the poem and its relation to Solms’ work here.

I’m pleased to be in the Showcase, especially because it is mostly poetry. It was also interesting to see that one of the other poets was Lorna Smart. Not because I am acquainted with her work, because I’m not, but because “Lorna” is not that common a name, especially in the US, so being in proximity to another Lorna always seems exciting. In this case, however, it is also faintly insulting. Perhaps I should change my last name to “Smarter.”

Seriously, I am looking forward to checking out the showcase, and I hope you will do so as well. Cheers.

Poem on Consciousness Accepted for t’ART Online

Mark Solms’ The Hidden Spring, A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. Taken by me.

Recently I received a rejection from the team at t’ART, together with an offer to appear in the magazine’s online summer showcase, which I immediately accepted. I am excited that my poem, “Reflection,” will appear in the showcase both because t’ART has a sophisticated, contemporary feel in its themes and approaches, and because I am particularly fond of this poem. I wrote this in response to Mark Solms’ The Hidden Spring, whose argument, in a massively oversimplifying nutshell, is that consciousness resides in the midbrain, not the cortex. I found it a fascinating read if you are into neuroscience and want to know what makes you tick, which I am and do.

I was especially drawn to Solms’ description of the periaqueductal gray (or PAG) area around the cerebral aqueduct, “the central canal of the midbrain” (134), which is also known as “the aqueduct of Sylvius,” after the early Dutch doctor and scientist, Franciscus Sylvius, “who first described it” (Solms, 137). The PAG “divides into two groups of functional columns,” where neural circuits classified by Jaak Panksepp (102) that conduct our “basic emotions” (105) “terminate” (137). Our decision-making, Solms argues (137-38), is rooted not in our prized center of higher thought, the cortex, but in this area of the midbrain.

I found the names “periaqueductal gray” and “aqueduct of Sylvius” musical, and the imagery of gray matter, canals, and columns conjured up Venice in my mind. So I wrote a poem in which an allegorical doge (conscious subjectivity), explores the depths of his realm to come to terms with old age. I’m grateful to the t’ART team for finding it worthy of the online summer showcase, and look forward to its appearance. Meanwhile, I will familiarize myself further with the poetry and fascinating art in earlier online presentations.

Two Features at The Dumping Grounds

Many thanks to The Dumping Grounds Poetry for creating and featuring audiovisual versions of two of my poems! “Snow Globe” was first published in Love, Lifespan Vol. 4 (Pure Slush). I wrote about it here.
And the indefatigable Ema Lia, coordinator of The Dumping Grounds Poetry, also did this on Insta & Facebook! “Mercy” originally appeared in Mulberry Literary. I wrote about the poem here. This version is not the whole poem, but selected lines. For the whole poem, go here.

This all came as a total surprise to me, and aside from reading at The Dumping Grounds open mic, I didn’t really have anything to do with these lovely productions of my poems. But I am especially pleased that they met with so much acceptance at Dumping Grounds because it is a wonderful project that offers the opportunity to share one’s pain by creating beautiful art, and to be welcomed into an amazingly supportive, diverse community. Cynic that I am, if someone told me about this project I would be skeptical about the quality of the poetry, but in my experience, everyone there has an ear for the music of language and a refreshing and powerful honesty of expression.

The supportiveness of the other poets helped me feel at home, even though I was the only white poet the nights I participated, which made me feel even more self-conscious than usual about my degree of privilege. I fear I may have had too happy a life to write enough of the correct sort of poetry to continue participating in this group. Then again, one of my problems is that it was always important for me to “be all right,” and more than all right, in order to support my mother and reassure her that she was OK (she wasn’t OK). And the state of the world certainly supplies ample grief to every sensitive person. I will try to continue contributing. If nothing else, attendees are always welcome to just listen.

If you feel in need of a supportive, creative outlet, I can’t recommend The Dumping Grounds enough. Just use the link to their site at the beginning of this post and drop by. Supportive folks are always welcome.

2% Milk Roundtable Up on YouTube

2% Milk logo on tee I got at the launch party. Taken by me. 4 June 2022.

Here is the link to the 2% Milk roundtable discussion that I mentioned in earlier posts. Editors Nic Rago and Lily Reed (mostly Editor-in-Chief Nic) follow up with the artists on their views about their creative processes, their art, and the interaction between the arts and their social and cultural contexts. As on the website, the graphics in the roundtable video are trippy, which I mostly enjoyed. I’m both happy to have been a part of this well-thought-out, interesting, and experimental project, and a little sad that it’s over. The amount of time and energy the editors have put in is truly impressive.

So check it out. And if you have created anything especially intriguing and a little wild, 2% Milk is open for submissions here: submission@uddertimes.com.

Review of Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow Up on Fevers of the Mind and a Video

Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow. Taken by me, 8 June 2022.

Thanks to David L O’Nan, editor of Fevers of the Mind, for posting my review of Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow on the Fevers site. It is my Wolfpack contribution for June. I have written very few reviews. Generally, I feel that literary criticism, though an honorable pursuit and a crucial aspect of literature’s power to speak to people, does not give me the thrill of immediate connection I get from producing or directly experiencing literary discourse.

I wanted to put in the effort for Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow, though, because it is good and should be read widely, and because I believed I would learn from the process of reviewing and achieve a deeper understanding of the work, and because, while I don’t know Matt well, I believe he is a kind person, and I deeply respect his talent—so I wanted to show support for his collection.

Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow grew out of Matt’s experience in the pandemic, during which time his father grew ill and died. The collection also hits many of the notes of Matt’s earlier work–themes of decay, the corruptions of imperialism, capitalism, and bureaucratic institutions, the magic of travel, the beauty of nature, and our need of it–and the pieces in it contain the rich imagery and variety of inventive formal approaches readers of his work will have come to expect.

It seems to me, though, that the breadth and depth of subject matter combine with a sense of urgency and extreme emotion to give this collection an epic feel. You can read the review for the details, but Matt is telling an important story about where we are and where we are going, one we can all find ourselves in, and, perhaps, learn from. I’m proud to know him.

Speaking of wonderful artists . . .

Here is a video on the book about Rena Williams that I have an essay in. Her daughter, Mary Dansak, made it. You can see more about Rena’s life and art, as well as photos of her beautiful pieces.