Monday, January 18, 2010

Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry & Opinion Nos. 1 + 2


The apprentices paint themselves how odd

The first line of a poem about painting

Or putting the finishing touches on

Waiting would also be about a rope

Designed to fray just where it stops

Falling outside the sorting field

Odd a line would write itself out

In apprenticeship to others, agree

To uncoil as the poem frayed

Strange also to have learned the manner

In which the rope becomes a brush

I experience as waiting as apprenticeship

To a painting dying in the sight of it

Predictable the rope frays here and here

Odd it stops like anything painted (Geoffrey O’Brien, No. 1)

I recently discovered the American annual Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry & Opinion, edited by Calvin Bedient and David Lau out of Santa Monica, California. Lana Turner, where are you, we love you, wrote Frank O’Hara, but this isn’t exactly the form we expected her to take when she picked herself up again. A magnificent journal, each issue features essays on poetry, new visual art, fiction, politics, translations and poetry, and even some writing on music and movies in the second issue. What makes this journal is the rich volume and quality of work, as well as the range, packaging each of the first two as magnificent units. Hopefully this is a journal that will not only continue, but thrive. As the editor writes (extremely briefly) at the beginning of the first issue:

Wyndham Lewis’s BLAST and Robert Bly’s The Sixties are respected but distant models (very distant in the case of BLAST) for this new annual magazine, Lana Turner (whose subtitle in fact echoes that of The Sixties). The editors don’t aspire to the powerful salience in the magazine that the aggressive and brilliant Bly and Lewis enjoyed in theirs; but neither will we always remain behind the curtains, affecting to be nowhere in the vicinity. Now and again, we’ll step out. […] In dispensing with a further preamble, we anticipate that the journal itself will disclose its purpose. We hope that here and there it has an alerting value and that everywhere it gives you pleasure.

Some highlights of the first issue include a feature on/by Barbara Guest, including an essay and early poems, Marjorie Perloff’s essay “Rereading Frank O’Hara” (there he is again…), photographs by Judith Taylor and John Lucas, and poetry by Brenda Hillman, Juliana Spahr, Srikanth Reddy, Geoffrey O’Brien and plenty of others. Some highlights of the second issue include essays by C.D. Wright, Catherine Wagner and Calvin Bedient, visual art by Peter Sacks and Alan Halsey, and poetry by Rae Armantrout, Cole Swensen, Ben Lerner, John Ashbery and plenty more.


mineral edges in a possessed squad car.”

Olympic heat. Dramatic sludge in the dendrite hammer.

If it twists into crumpled shiny things, this rag of light works.

I’ll mop heavenward over the spasmodic drifts. Adjacent

To the wound: the glove: the shrunken brown hand.

Orchestral juice wins ninth place in metallic bands.

I’ll blast you. You blast you.

I feel like a cheap hungry siren. (Douglas Piccinnini, No. 2)

I can easily say this is one of the finest and most comprehensive new journals I’ve seen in some time. But do we really have to wait a year between issues? They are currently taking submissions for their next issue, but only until the end of March. I am already anticipating their third. Here’s the beginning of an essay by poet C.D. Wright, “Concerning Why Poetry Offers A Better Deal Than The World’s Biggest Retailer,” worth the price of the issue alone.


The poem stands alone.

But it is not made of itself alone. It is not brought into being by parthenogenesis. Not endowed with that level of self-sufficiency or self-concern. It gets it on with all the other arts. It communes with the non-arts. It strives for discipline. It never surrenders its wild streak. For some of the makers it is virtually on tap; for others it is wrenchingly wrought. Whatever it takes, it takes. Whatever it gives, is also taken. Once made it has a degree of autonomy and with that comes the terrible face of isolation from having been made and having no sphere. From having only its own space to occupy.

Is this it then? The consumption of all by one? Does Wal-Mart win?

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