Friday, September 06, 2013

Ongoing notes: early September, 2013

[photo of the leather-bound limited-edition above/ground press fetish item, including thirty different above/ground press “poem” broadsides, produced in a numbered edition of ten copies by Christine McNair] Pearl Pirie was good enough to do a small write-up on the recent above/ground press 20th anniversary reading/launch/party at The Mercury Lounge. Can you believe it’s been twenty years already? I certainly don’t.

Buffalo NY: Before moving into three sections of prose-pieces, Kristy Bowen’s small poetry book, the shared properties of water and stars (Buffalo NY: Noctuary Press, 2013) opens with the line, “There are 3 houses with 3 different ghosts.” Writing in that nebulous space between prose and prose-poem, Bowen’s book is an accumulation of small prose-sections, presenting a semi-fragmented narrative that wraps and weaves through fable. The first page of section one reads:

THERE are 3 houses in 3 different colors. Each owner keeps a certain kind of sadness locked in the cupboard. The tall man lives in the white house. The short man keeps rabbits as pets. The woman in her white dress drinks vodka and stays up late. The yellow house is to the immediate left of the white one. The woman in the second house keeps her sadness in a smallish box. The older woman with the violets on her hat lives in the first house. The girl with the blonde hair lives next door to the man who keeps rabbits. One summer the rabbits multiply and chew through the fence. Mostly, they all keep to themselves.

The back page tells us that “Noctuary Press is a small independent press that focuses on female writers working with cross-genre prose forms (such as flash fiction, prose poetry, footnoted texts etc.).” Bowens’ the shared properties of water and stars is the third title produced by the press, after works by Carol Guess and Eva Heisler, and would be would be interesting to see illustrated, as she paints a vivid series of small portraits. Her fables wrap and soar and weave their way through shades of familiar characters and stories, turning and twisting them to tell a different kind  story, one that exists alongside what you might already know.

LET’S say the blonde girl has something shadowy whispering in her ear each night. Hundreds of bears lumber outside her windows. Her mouth like an open seam. A small cut in the dark; club-footed, claw-hearted. The bears outside her window watch the boys climb, one by one, up to the roof to touch her face. Her murmurs are slender, silky, like the backs of calves. Let’s say the dark writes itself anew along the walls each night. The words like a bubble in the throat until they burst.

Minneapolis MN: From the few I’ve seen, I’ve become quite a fan of the WinteRed Press Chaplet Series, edited and published by Gabrielle Civil and Rachel Moritz. There seems something here reminiscent of the late Sylvester Pollet’s Backwoods Broadsides, which produced the one hundredth and final publication back in 2006 [see Ron Silliman’s note on such here]. Produced in runs circling one hundred copies, the two most recent are Purvi Shah’s “What monsoon is this” (number 20) and Caryl Pagel’s “Mausoleum” (number 21), and previous authors in the series include Mark Nowak, Fanny Howe, Rodrigo Toscano, Elizabeth Robinson, Juliet Patterson, Tiff Dressen and Kate Greenstreet, with forthcoming titles by Dawn Lundy Martin, Moe Lionel, RosamondS. King and Eric Leigh (a complete list of the series so far, including forthcoming authors, are listed on the back of each publication).

Sometimes it is not the answer that matters but the question, the ruffled spot left behind where question hangs in air. Can you steam the air into a smooth sheet? Perhaps: momentarily. But then the separation of cloud and rain asserts itself. Perhaps: you need not find answer. But then sometimes answers find you: sometimes even when you abandon, you cannot escape. Such is the justice of the world: moving. (Purvi Shah, “What monsoon is this”)

I hadn’t heard of Brooklyn, New York poet Purvi Shah previously, the author of Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), and (according to her bio) “winner of the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Award in 2008 for her work fighting violence against women.” Her poem/broadside “What monsoon is this” is an intriguing sequence of startling fragments, some boiled down to the sharpest, startling points. Chicago poet Caryl Pagel is the author of the poetry collection EXPERIMENTSI SHOULD LIKE TRIED AT MY OWN DEATH (Factory Hollow Press, 2012), and her chaplet is made up of four poems constructed nearly as continuous threads, each small phrase-fragment built as a punch. The title poem “Mausoleum” opens:

The night behaved exactly as you
thought it would                      As you saw
it would                       As you saw it
unfold and unravel and pre-occur in
a previously—you now know—prescient
premonition                        The details are irrelevant

Back issues (I’ve been myself meaning to pick up the whole run at some point) are $1.45 US, which really does make excuses for not ordering seem rather lame. Send cheques to: Rachel Moritz, 2917 E. 22nd Street, Minneapolis MN 55406 USA

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