[Gary Barwin, composing; whether a poem, an email or himself, I do not know]
God sakes, how much, exactly, did I pick up at this Toronto’s Meet the Presses’ annual Indie Literary Market [see part fiveof my notes here; and my most recent post on what I gathered at the ottawasmall press book fair]? Even more than this! Will I keep going? How did I even get all of this material home?
Toronto ON: from Gap Riot Press comes Pennsylvania poet Abby Minor’s latest, the chapbook Real Words for inside (2018), following her debut, Plant Light, Dress Light (dancing girl press, 2016). Real Words for inside is a single, extended lyric with a further, shorter poem, “Water Coda,” set at the end, as well as a short excerpt tipped in, which is itself printed on handmade paper (“This paper is filled with wildflower seeds. Plant it and watch it grow.”). Writing a first-person sequence of stitched-together narratives, Minor’s poem (as this collection does feel like a single poem) is expansive and exploratory, writing out meditations on family relations and other personal/interpersonal details that get a bit complicated, and even messy. How does one become, and even be? How does one manage to exist, or even move through the world at all, let alone gracefully and in a way that remains emotionally and physically healthy? As she writes: “Crisscrossing the West Virginia- / Pennsylvania border with gunpowder on their hands / these are the men from whom I come & you can tell / when you talk to me / that I am made of energy & / particles.”
In the beginning was I went
to a sleepover party at which
the party trick was everyone
tries on the mother’s wedding dress & have her
picture taken & go out back
and dare to lick the salt lick. I loved
my neighbor & I loved her mom who
gave me chocolate yoohoo sticks but
I didn’t want to put it in I cries
and called to go home it was too
big for us we stuck out
the top like tiny dehydrated climbers
on a great, snow-covered mountain.
I cried & called to go home I didn’t want
to be a mystery I wanted
to be funny. I rode home shot-
gun in my dad’s pea-green
Chevy in the dark in the foot-
hills of the Allegheny Front.
Toronto ON: Another from Anstruther Press is Anton Pooles’ latest, the chapbook MONSTER 36 (2018), following his self-published collection FAR FROM MAN (2017). MONSTER 36 is a collection of short, first-person scenes, composing lyrics akin to miniature films. These are curious short pieces, and Pooles’ narratives twist and contort in unusual ways, providing both a directness and a surreal bent, articulating out a kind of dark and darkness that even the monsters might be fearful of.
She placed the note on the kitchen counter and opened the blue-glass window to let sea air fill the room. Her blue dress trapped the wind and she sailed down from where her hill house stood like a weathervane. Down from the hills and the winds and everything else that rises, down to the shore where the lighthouse’s ray spins like a doll in a music-box. Down there she dances slowly.