Saturday, July 14, 2007

ongoing notes (some literary magazines): early July, 2007

Shouldn’t I be somewhere else by now? Oh, right, that doesn’t happen until September (so please stop asking if I'm in Alberta yet!). At least you know about that reading I'm doing with Nicholas Lea on July 28, or "the last Factory Reading before rob leaves," marked as an above/ground press fourteenth anniversary reading and chapbook launch on August 23? So many things to do before I even begin to look west…

And did you see what John W. MacDonald was nice enough to post, not only once but twice? And apparently they've built (after folk asked) a tribute page to the late Montreal poet Henry Moscovitch.

St. Catharines ON: You might not recognize it, but the old Harpweaver has gone through a format change, turning from the old familiar Harpweaver into the new PRECIPICe with their Volume 14, issue 1, much in the way Dandelion turned into dANDelion a few years back, working to distinguish its current self from what has come before.

White Gift White Garden White Wound

I hold this
held barely
fairly in the soft
of your chest
so dear
this morning
the sun
is cold
how dreary
the page
year by year
not the thought
but the body
of the thought
I revere
in the dark
we see things
more clearly
be here
near me
ink smears
and no one
hears me (Shane Rhodes)

Edited by Brock University profs Gregory Betts and Adam Dickinson (with editorial board including another new St. Catharines resident, Tim Conley), the new format includes poetry from a good cross-section of the known and unknown, both locally and nationally, bringing poetry (and some fiction) from the rest of the country to their University doorstep, including work by David Seymour, Andy Weaver, Erin McKnight, Gary Barwin, Jesse Ferguson, bill bissett, Margaret Christakos, Mark Farrell, Michael B. Callaghan, Nathalie Stephens, Shane Rhodes, Susan McCaslin and myself.


Something ungulate was slain somehow, stumbled
in the tangled brome and popped a knee, tried climbing
higher ground to lick an entry wound too late,

run down by early hominids who'd come trampled through
the kill-site, threatened, ill-fed. Or, untagged, unowned,
picked off by joyless locals from the road and left for dead.

Carcass gone, a pulse of nutrient for the soil, lying long
enough for bones to string a necklace in the overgrowth,
their own cairn, until we humped up the farmed ridge

and they detonated underfoot. What with my spurned
hips and joints, there's no justifying stooping low,
near to fours, to investigate and learn, unclasp one pearl:

size a fist, heft a hand-grenade. Now it haunches
specimen on the desk, like a plaster counterfeit beside
the Zippo, a few ballpoints, and doesn’t do a thing

while I adjust the lumbar cant of my office
chair. That’s fine, as far as I'm concerned. (David Seymour)

Send all your correspondence to PRECIPICe, c/o English Language and Literature, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, Ontario L2K 2E4 or email (electronic submissions preferred).

Montreal QC: One of the interesting points of what Ottawa writer Stephen Brockwell works on in his poetry is featured in the new issue of Matrix, "Science Poetry," exploring that point where the two forms meet, with pieces by Christian Bök, Jim F. Johnstone, Kate Eichhorn, Sylvia Legris, Ken Babstock, Mari-Lou Rowley, Julia Williams, derek beaulieu, Jay Millar, Kathleen Miller, Karen Solie and a.rawlings. I found this piece, with works reprinted from books by Bök and Solie, along with new pieces, almost a short essay of sorts on "Science Poetry," making me wonder if perhaps section editor Gillian Savigny might not have had more to say on the subject, writing:
As science is less and less seen as something that stands outside culture and becomes more incorporated into it, more and more poets have begun exploring science in their work. Likewise, more and more scientists have begun exploring the expressive potential of poetry. In the pages that follow, you will find a wide range of scientific and poetic approaches from cosmic sonnets to forensic prose poems. No field of science or form of poetry appears to be exempt from this trend of cross-pollination. Read through the next few pages with both sides of your brain. Whether you usually count yourself as a scientist or a poet you are bound to come through the Matrix SCIENCE POETRY DOSSIER with a better appreciation of both sides of the argument and a better understanding of the potential for resolution.
One could argue, still, that a magazine that publishes poetry can only really present from a particular side of the argument; would Scientific American publishing poetry be the only way to see the other? And couldn’t one say that science is far more prevalent in English-language western culture than poetry could ever be? Still, some of the poems are pretty amazing.

Mari-Lou Rowley


Everything sprung from a red giant's desire
overblown, burnt out, way beyond prime
he hangs out at the super bowl, watching
the universe recede, a suicidal supernovae's
last gasp for greatness, yearning to go down
in time, rival the brightness of galaxies,
be something else. Cosmic demise spews
fragments of matter, solar systems, humans
all begotten by the giant's collapse, final inhale
of space-time until nothing but neutrons
huddle together in the quinzhee of heaven.
Occasionally a pulsar's lonely song
an echo of the giant's last breath, caught
in a black hole's dragnet of gravity.

And I might have a bias in this issue, since Jesse Ferguson also reviewed Nicholas Lea's first poetry collection, Everything is movies, in the issue.

St. Paul MN: I've always had a fondness for the little American publication UNARMED JOURNAL, especially since publisher Michael Mann let jwcurry and I produce an issue a few years back. The most recent one that's seen my mailbox is UNARMED 56, with poems text and visual by Alan Halsey, Jesse Freeman, David Baptiste-Chirot, Steve Dalachinsky, kemeny babineau, Steve Venright, Andrew Topel, John Barlow, Reed Altemus and plenty of others, as well as a chapbook by New Orleans poet Joel Dailey, HOW TO WALLPAPER LIKE A PRO.

our footstool of security

here is a fence stretched tightly enough to last through its time
trenched in sturdy winter flowers and wound with
a whispered fascism white under a moonlit sky
the ethics of which is how to get home
or not for the under-seventeens
which mostly we have become

there is a moment here when we might consider
what wisdom there is in the burning of civilians
or what part of possibility is it that we continue to bury
this history that hurries along such proof paths
the undergrit of seeds and souls, footsteps
of an empire ever late for its own eventual conclusions

a distant cough catches on the edge of bare night trees
who is to blame?
we no longer believe with badiou
that whoever lives here and works here belongs here
the lips we read say watch yourself
the history we hear gives necessity to cuauhtemoc's "no bed of roses"
anywhere everywhere
maybe a thrush, though I have never seen one (Michael Mann)

What really impresses me is how Mann has managed (no pun intended) to produce such a range of work in his little mag, and for over fifty issues? To find out more, check out UNARMED through their website, or c/o 1405 Fairmount, St. Paul MN 55105.

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