Saturday, May 21, 2011

40. Efflorescent } Barzakh.

John Cotter and I read to a handful of people at the Center for Social Justice in February. In Albany. John brought strange wine. I tried a shortcut across a snow-covered vacant lot but was stymied by a precipitous drop. I read February newspaper notes (above, a page from; the first two lines transcribed from text messages sent to myself just prior to a reading by Abraham Smith).

Our hosts were Anna Eyre and James Belflower. I read James’ book and wrote him, “Yr Commuter arrived today. Sat down to read a few pages and read the whole book. Good to read it in one sitting. The bomb-narrative carries the reader thru and tends to generate the most poignant moments, but of course some of that is juxtaposition, honeymoon and lost limbs, for instance.” And, “this poetry comes at just the right time. I think it and Anna E., and some other poetries may save me and push me deeper into what I began with what I read in Albany.”

And indeed. Anna asked me and John to send poems for Barzakh, a new journal out of the English department at the University at Albany, SUNY. We did. The new issue was posted a few days ago. Anna telegraphed from Alaska to tell me. From co-editor Sarah Giragosian, “Barzakh wishes to consider in what ways traditional and experimental forms may provide an efflorescent zone for marginalized communities.”

John’s “Rus in urbe” is one of (I believe) a chapbook length ms. of Norwich (CT) poems. The river that is “blue one day and gold the next” features in other of his Norwich poems, such as “They Want to Convert the American Finishing Company”: “While your poison colors / streaked the river / Norwich ate hearty, / woke up early.” Anne Gorrick’s “When Noon Wears Ermine” is dedicated to Lori Anderson Moseman; Flim Forum Press will publish her next. The Evie Shockley poem “ode to the taxicab” moves vivid, “which candles night’s feast of onyx / and jet…”; an interview follows. My selection is from a long poem called OUTLAND. OUTLAND is dedicated to the poet Jessica Smith.

Friday, May 6, 2011

39. New Pages, New Genre & } the Color Plates.

Regarding New Genre issue #4, Jennifer Gomell wrote, “I think this magazine has the potential to really stick its thumb in the eye of literary snobbery” (New Pages, Oct. 14, 2006). That’s the quote I pulled for our meager press material. The quote begins, “Bump up the quality of the horror, and…” She “found the horror tales a bit conventional (one downright plodding).” I’m not here to bicker. My guess is she found Christopher Harman’s story “plodding.” Harman, in my experience, tends to write stories that make tension with a near-infuriating attention to apparently inconsequential details that culminate in the kind of horror that for me, at least, is devastating. Harman’s story (“The Last to be Found”) was reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, though I’d be the first to admit that this is a dubious measure of a story’s excellence. His story was the first story I selected to be reprinted in that series. From that same issue, Don Tumasonis’ “Thrown” was reprinted in the Stephen Jones series Best New Horror. Gomell did love the science fiction, and it was brilliant—Jeff Paris was then science fiction editor.

(“Thrown” suffered a big cut and paste error I should have caught. Tumasonis was gracious about that. He was upset about a section break that was (accidentally) removed. As an author, I totally sympathize, but I read the story many times without the section break, and I still prefer the story without it.)

Kenneth Nichols reviewed #5 (New Pages, Nov. 3, 2007) and Trelaine Ito #6; Nichols was delighted by the whole of #5, and I unabashedly am as well; Ito had some mild reservations about the “over-the-top prose” in #6 choosing as his favorite story Stephen Graham Jones’ “Lonegan’s Luck” which is absolutely an excellent story, but also the issue’s most conservative. (It, too, was reprinted in a year’s best, and nominated for an award, as was the most conservative tale in #5, Paul Walther’s “Splitfoot.”)

A few days ago my publisher informed me that New Pages posted an extremely positive review of Color Plates. The author, Alex Myers, writes, “When I first sat down to read this collection, I approached it as I would any other short story collection” but that he found a different approach was necessary. “I set up my laptop and found an online image for each painting that Golaski writes about.” This slowed Myers down, but “enriched” his reading experience.

The paintings are not required to understand the stories, but I love the idea of a reader who takes the time to look at all those paintings, and isn’t it fortunate that—from his desk—he can do so. Over a sandwich, he holds my “Luncheon in the Studio” in one hand and with the other visits Wiki for Manet’s.