Friday, May 07, 2010

Headlight anthology #13

It’s not always an easy thing to curate a reading series or edit a small literary journal, especially when deliberately populated with unknowns; how to support a community without exhausting oneself and then, being selective, how to support one writer over another at those very beginnings? It’s a good feeling when you get it, in hindsight, right, but it’s impossible to always know at the time, and entirely, it seems, up to the writer themselves. Herding cats, or teaching them to play the piano, sometimes. Founding editor of Concordia University’s annual headlight anthology, Joshua Knelman, opens his congratulatory “foreword” to the baker’s dozen issue by mentioning Random House, and author Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of a first novel, with fiction published in that long-ago first issue. However cool it is to get a novel published by a larger publisher (let alone anyone, I’d say), it seems to imply some notion of hierarchical status over anyone who might have published in the small press post-headlight [click on 'headlight' below, I've reviewed a number of these in the past]; one of the best things I’ve liked about the annual over the years (and I’ve been a vocal supporter since I discovered the journal, at least some seven or eight issues ago) was discovering some of the early work of still-young Jon Paul Fiorentino (author of numerous books with presses such as Coach House and Insomniac, with another poetry collection due in the fall). As far as issues of headlight go, there are some good moments here and there, but nothing spectacular, but for the inclusion of Marianne Perron, her haibun-like “Good Fortune,” that includes:
You telephone at midnight. The house is empty. From my window I see the maple trees arch their slender branches. Burdened with the recent snow they resemble bowing samurai, heavy with defeat. My skin is prickly, gooseflesh shimmering in the moonlight. I struggle into jeans, knock over a bottle of Dior, tie my hair back. Brush my teeth. I count the steps on my way down, never having thought to do so before, the key in my hand a cool brass brick.

Outside the street gleams
white with tomorrow's new snow.
My feet spoil the clean.
If history teaches us anything, there are names here you will likely see again: pay attention. Worth seeing, too, if they have back issues still available. But will I ever get copies of the first four issues? Will I ever get a full set?

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