Today is the first in another new occasional series here at my blog. I do subscribe to numerous “literary” journals, I also pick up the occasional chapbook or simply come across a poem or short story that resonates with me on the web or in a non-literary setting. These fragments make up a decent sized slice of my yearly reading, so every so often I’ll put together a few of my highlights, as some of my highlights may become your highlights.
“Lifted Brow” magazine is a quarterly Australian publication available in print and digital versions with even more articles being published on their website http://theliftedbrow.com/ Their magazine has featured writers such as Margaret Atwood, Andrés Neuman and their new edition, out today (which I am yet to receive) has something from César Aira.
A couple of highlights from Issue 31. There were two poems by Fatimah Asghar, her bio reading as follows; a nationally touring poet, photographer and performer. She created Bosnia and Herzegovnia’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fullbright studying theatre in post-violent contexts. Her chapbook After was released on Yes Yes Books fall of 2015. Both of Asghar’s poems appearing as white text on a black background, the poem “White” containing fifteen lines all ending with the word “white” it explores racism, privilege, snow (?), resistance and branding;
…making my name a terrorist. It’s easier to be white
& don’t I want my children to have an easy life, white?
Her other poem “Could’ve Been After Kane Daniels”, a longer poem about the Talibaan and a child bride;
…My not-abbu checks
the sheets for her blood the morning
after, brandishes the satin like a flag
like his pride, singing through the town.
There is a section titled “Notes from the queer unconsciousness”, where artists were asked “to send dispatches from the queer unconsciousness”. Francesca REndle-Short, an associate professor at RMIT University and co-director of non/fiction lab, writes “Sub Rosa” a piece in three distinct columns. The left column using slang and etymology of “queer” words, the centre column featuring the main narrative and the right column facts and “news”. This is a story of hospitals, awakening, questioning and shame in a place where homosexuality was banned (Queensland).
Shame is undercurrent. Shame needles
your gut. Shame is a bit like love
sometimes. Like love, shame is the
hurt you feel in your chest, the pinch
of throat. It is the fire you feel in your
lower intestine. Shame is the prickle
of skin on your outside arms. It is the
stretch of voice when you go to speak.
It fancies your body in the same way as
love, and you fancy it.
A publication that I subscribe to so one that may feature in this new occasional series every so often.
Flash Cove is a chapbook edited by Melbourne poet Michael Farrell. https://www.facebook.com/flashcovemag #2 featured poets from the US, UK, Queensland and Victoria. It contained six poets over ten pages. The poem “Sugar” by Alice Savina, (Northampton UK/Woodend Aust), another work in three columns, playing with rhyme, primarily on the words such as snow, blow, row, toe, foe, it is a work that plays with language, with connotations on the fringes of pornography, drugs and psychedelia.
An untitled two-page poem by Janet Passehl, (Braintree Essex/US), begins mid-sentence and immediately you feel as though you have interrupted something personal, lamentations on women’s grief, “chrysanthemum was the intention, marigold the mistake. Calendula. The little calendar that clocks her.” Filled with false rhyme, alliteration, it is an uncomfortable, unsettling piece about women fighting the inevitable violence.
Speaking of Michael Farrell, shortlisted for the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for “Cocky’s Joy” I managed to find a copy of a limited-edition chapbook from 2011, published by tinfishpress.com (in Hawaii of all places) titled “Thou Sand” (Number 9 in the Retro Series). The opening poem is another work playing with etymology “Thou Sand” containing two columns of words that make up possible other words, for example “You Rope” and once it gets to “Up Set” the columns swap and any logical sense is lost, the occasional gibberish occurs. The other poems contain fragmented words across lines, causing a jarring, slow down effect. As a reader you must slow down your pace and allow the words, the syllables to sink in, take shape, a subconscious effect being the possibility of the words containing other meanings
… & in their re:
ment tear down the gum:
trees they go a:
ping for new names to go by de:
ving no sa:
tion from the beau:
tin name theyve been gi:
I’ve noticed a lot of Michael Farrel’s poetry in publications recently, well deserved international recognition – I may feature more of his works when I review the UK publication “Shearsman 109 & 110” where he has three poems.
The chapbook “Navigating Nightmare Ecstasy” by The Junk Talk Poet (follow him at Twitter at @JunkTalkPoet where you can get a free copy of this chapbook) covers ageing, social justice issues, time, this is a dark collection, playing on the fringes, in the shadows attempting to convert “a generation that doesn’t understand poetry”. I wish him well with his ventures: Here’s a few lines from “The Meeting”
As he searches his usual beat,
For a friendly donation to buy cotton for his back,
Glass for his eyes and leather for his feet.
But the little boy refused him of a meal
And frightened set into the night.
Explaining his copper must be put toward warfare
Taxes and the human rights he has to pay for.
Australian Poetry Journal (Volume 6 Issue 1) contains 52 poems, including the 2105 “poem of the year”, an interview, four reviews and three essays. The edition containing a number of works and comments on female writing, opening with the essay ‘A Gander at Gender and Age’ addressing the gender imbalance in Australian poetry publications/anthologies, there is an interview with Susan Hawthorne of Spinifex Press and an essay exploring the popularity of workshops for women writers in particular.
A couple of highlights, Andy Kissane’s “Alone Again” the recipient of the “Australian Poetry Journal for Poem of the Year 2015”, one of “the smaller literary prizes going around” at $250, the poem covers many facets of being alone. Elizabeth Brooking’s “Lilies” a very moving piece about losing a spouse;
There is the time you buy me a ring
There is the time I buy two tickets to Morocco
There is the time in Morocco where we dance in a Bazaar
There is the time I argue with your parents about refugee policy
There is the time we spend Christmas in a tent in Colorado
There is the time when we are drunk and I say something funny and
You laugh and poke me in the navel.
A publication that contains a variety of styles and approaches, and personally a few don’t work for me, but with more than fifty poems on offer there are always hidden gems, or latest works from well-known names. The issue I have with it is the infrequency (there has been one edition in 2016 the one I have read that was released in June).
More journal highlights will be presented here in the coming months.