Congratulations to the 2020 Able Muse Contest Winners! The final judge for fiction was Hollis Seamon, and the final judge for poetry was Emily Grosholz. [Read more…] about 2020 Able Muse Contest Winners
At first, it is hard to get past the title as it is with all of Christopher Citro’s titles. They are so good in the way that they trip you up and shine back on you.
Take the title of If We Had A Lemon We’d Throw It and Call That The Sun. Lemon points to Citro’s name and its meaning, a citrus category of fruit. He also points to exuberance. The word sun points to son or to Citro as a son. It points to survival. This scene is also dismal, it is dark. If a lemon shines brightly as the sun, then this is a sunless place. Maybe a dark cedar forest. This title is desperate and makes me think of immigration or refugees who have nothing, no vitamin C.
Am I making too much of the title? Probably. It is hard to ignore its shiny reflection. I wonder where I am and wonder which side of the shadow I will go to next. I am tempted to list all his titles here, you would get lost in their stark imagery and artful sound. Teasers: “Dear Diary Where Is Everybody” and “In Small Significant Ways We’re Horses.”
In tension there is energy, and the energy in My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree is released in fistfuls, waves, gusts, and flames. It is an energy that bursts forth from confrontations: between wild and tame, individual and universal, being and oblivion, exuberance and despair. And with these collisions and collusions it becomes clear that the lines we draw, the walls we build, and the boundaries we dare not cross are, despite their seeming solidity, in truth quite tenuous. They are maintained by belief, and we are free to escape. The poet declares, “I don’t believe in walls. May walls / Cease this very moment to exist. / I’m boundless.”
These poems are voracious for boundlessness, an unhooking of the self from the anchor of obedience to norms that emphasize divisions. The voices in these poems speak with revolutionary fervor about such acts of disobedience. “I am composing an explosion,” the poet says in “Besieged,” a poem in which the vertigo of broken bonds is at first frightening, then thrilling. Throughout the book, a blissful freedom and expansiveness is found in surrender to nature and the sensual world, in merging the self with the other, and in artistic expression. Overstepping boundaries, however, is not without cost. To expand, one must break. The thrill in these poems is also a kind of searing pain.
Co-translator Tracy K. Smith says she tried to capture the original’s “rhythmic and emotional insistence.” Sound play and patterning give these poems muscle and a heartbeat: “Weary, wary, watching you / Watch me. Your gale-force gaze / Wants to topple me. I give.” One can’t help but feel windblown after reading this book. It’s a force of nature.
My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree by Yi Lei, translated from the Chinese by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi. Graywolf Press, November 2020.
Reviewer bio: Karina Borowicz is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Rosetta, which won the Ex Ophidia Prize. She writes about the craft of poetry at karinaborowicz.com/blog/.
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Joshua Cross’s debut story collection Black Bear Creek shows characters struggling to survive as they find ways to love and hope and fight in a mining town past its glory days.
Stephanie Dickinson opens a door out of Austrian poet Georg Trakl’s psyche in the poems of Blue Swan, Black Swan: The Trakl Diaries.
In the nine stories of How Other People Make Love, Thisbe Nissen chronicles the lives and choices of people questioning the heteronormative institution of marriage.
Lily-livered by Wren Hanks “is a beautifully braided catalog of ways to live and not die.”
In her debut full-length collection of poems The Supposed Huntsman, Katie Fowley blurs the lines of gender, species, and self.
The Ways We Get By by Joe Dornich is the “bizarre, charming, darkly comic irreality of paid cuddlers and mean-spirited parents, where intimacy is commodified.”
This issue’s theme is “My Deep Love of Place.” Featured writers include Melodie Corrigall, Suzanne Finney, Catherine Young, Amy Cotler, Jeri Ann Griffith, Lawrence Gregory, Sue Schuerman, Cayce Osborne, Penny Milam, David Denny, William Bless, Barbara Cole, Rosalie Sanara Petrouske, and Teresa H. Klepac. Featured artists include Catherine L. Schweig, Walt Hug, Birgit Gutsche, MJ Edwards, and Barbara Anne Kearney.
The Spring 2021 issue of Rattle features a Tribute to Neurodiversity. This issue’s conversation features Michael Mark, who discusses how dyslexia has contributed to his life and work, as well as advertising, ghost stories, Buddhism, and many other topics. The issue includes another exciting and highly-varied open section, presenting poets such as Skye Jackson and Stephen Dunn, covering a wide range of subjects and styles. See what else the issue offers at the Mag Stand.
The poems inside this issue, now at the Mag Stand, speak to our moment in different and unpredictable ways. Maurice Manning attempts to capture the past; Lauren Slaughter faces mourning head-on; and Ed Falco wonders fitfully about Narcissus. And maybe Narcissus can be a mascot of sorts for this weird moment of ours—how so many of us have stared at our own faces on Zoom and felt paralyzed, perhaps not by self-regard, but by something still inevitably bounded by the self. Hopefully the poems and interviews in this year’s issue of HSPR well help break you out of whatever trance you might be in.
The Spring 2021 issue features nonfiction by Molly Rogers; fiction by Kathryn Harlan; and poetry by Genevieve Payne, T. Dallas Saylor, and Emma Lewis. Also in this issue: Tim Erwin, Holly Goddard Jones, Monica Macansantos, and more. See other contributors at the Mag Stand.
This issue’s themed art exhibit is “Exotic,” and our featured poet is “Stephen Kampa,” interviewed by Chelsea Woodard. Other poets in this issue include Tim McGrath, John Beaton, Richard Cecil, Estill Pollock, Bruce Bennett, Anne Delana Reeves, Elise Hempel, Terese Coe, Verga Ignatowitsch, Dan Campion, and others. Plus, a selection of book reviews; essays by N.S. Thompson and Christopher Rivas; and an international fiction special feature. See more contributors at the Mag Stand.
A Black girl can be a dog, a rat, a gadget, a myth, a ghost, a mermaid, origami, or livestock. A Black girl can be a scavenger, a caged bird metaphor, a “perfect little alien,” or unwelcomed roots. A Black girl can be a black cloud, but she cannot be the white sky. A Black girl can be any imaginable thing, but she is not allowed to be a person. Not in the eyes of a white crowd, anyway. This is the trap, the endless, disparaging loop, that Khalisa Rae describes in her debut book of poetry Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat.
The collection is broken into three sections titled: “Fire,” “Wind and Water,” and “Earth and Spirit,” and it’s easy to see why this is an important designation. Rae writes, “You will be asked, where are you from? more than you are asked, how are you doing?” As if white people don’t know Black girls are elemental, powerful, and from the very core of this earth.
But, still, the expertly-crafted poems are mournful and simmering with unexpressed rage. They illustrate quiet resignation (“You’re left to break and mend, stitch your wounds to not spill the secrets, sober your sorrows and be back before Monday’s 8:00 a.m. exam.”), peaceful protest (“Sometimes, I go to white spaces, plant myself. I know my roots aren’t welcome there.”), and grave desperation (“We gamble with our obituaries like we don’t have a thousand other ways to die.”).
When white people feel entitled to every space, what is a Black girl to do? The advancement is made in excruciating inches, but it comes at the expense of her raw throat and heart.
Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat by Khalisa Rae. Red Hen Press, 2021.
Reviewer bio: Lannie Stabile (she/her) is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry; the winning chapbook, “Strange Furniture,” is out with Neon Hemlock Press. She is also a back-to-back finalist for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 Glass Chapbook Series and back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry 2018 and 2019 Chapbook Contests.
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A new Tint Journal is out and at the Mag Stand. Read 25 new literary creations by ESL writers from all around the world online and for free at our website. Each text is accompanied with visual art creations by international artists, and many feature audio recordings of the writers reading their work. The 25 new poems, short stories and essays by writers identifying with 19 different nationalities and speaking 18 different mother tongues are just as diverse in their subject matter: Ranging from immigration, food, loss, LGBTQ+ and race to horror and romance, they will cue readers to think about the pressing issues of our time and open new literary landscapes to enjoy.