Art & literatures emerging from everywhere in this planet

Past Issues

Volume 04 Issue 01

Con Los Muertos and Other Poems by Mark Nickels

in Poetry by

CON LOS MUERTOS

I’m with the dead today. It is true they smell like
creek flow, mildew, church wood, & funny their
funny names, “Lord Byron”& “Myrtle Bump”.

And what to say about their faces that gel in darkness,
turning mineral in color, glowing blue in the mind,
flesh emblems in a dry box, distant, morphing

into a piñata in cold confinement. They don’t beckon
from the ground until you think of them,
even for an instant. Think of them but once

& they are on to you— you are on their radar, so to speak,
so lonesome they are, their faces lighting
the coffin lid, traces of love in a vast underground net,

batteries of love of a very low voltage, sensitive
to the living & the pitch of interest or ardor
popping off all over the globe. The blinking dead

sparking in the rain, like when Petula Clark goes down
town. Very nearly festive, this opulent blinking. How
they need us. How they need not to be forgotten.

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Struggling to achieve the music of not overly excited speech

in Book Reviews by

Habitation is Sam Hamill’s witness to a perverse, tumultuous and glorious world, and it ought to have been received upon its publication with respect and rejoicing for its importance to Anglophone letters.

These collected poems are Hamill’s witness to a blasting and triumphant life at which he has not blinked. Although he’s very much a poet of the American Northwest, he’s also, via his translations and experiences, a poet of the Far East. But his oeuvre doesn’t rest well in those categories. He often reminds us of the Stoics Cicero, Marcus Aurelius and Zeno, and of Catullus, the neoteric republican poet.

Hamill’s free-verse poems are testament to a slippery truth about free verse: practiced with integrity, it demands more discipline than rhymed and conventionally metered poetry. It requires improvisational meter unique to its original impulse, not impulse harnessed to preexistent form. It is poetry consumed by its first-heard music. It resembles jazz in this respect.

The poet’s choice of title is easily understood, but a strong argument could be made for Habitation as The Book of Awareness. Hamill is, above all else, the poet of awareness. The implications of this for him and his work are immense and sometimes unbearable. His witness makes him more an outlier than most poets, a man destined to look too hard and fixedly at the accommodations we make to fit in. And that is perhaps why he founded Copper Canyon Press with Tree Swensen in 1972, a press once synonymous with independence, excellence and a maverick streak.

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James Goddard photographs

in Art & Photography/Poetry by

UNSEEN

Red, yellow,
the colours of spices,
the colours of nature,
dust, burnt orange, umber,
brown, green,
sky blue, water flowing,
ice cold, air cold,
people talking, voices, music,
silver, gold, the colours of greed,
withered black the colour of seed
wanting needing all that is,
sweat on skin, the colour of skin,
red, yellow, white, brown,
red, red, red, red,
blood only has one colour,
bodies together, performing acting,
never, never, all is real,
stories whisper, memories whisper,
tears congeal,
footsteps echo, life in transit,
ideas die, nowhere to go,
stars shine, sun shines,
light blinds,
I see nothing….

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A Neglected Meditation on Philip Larkin: Using Luminol to See What Stains Appear

in Book Reviews by


Philip Larkin, An Outsider Poet:  Transcending Solitude, Sex and The Ordinary, Fadhil Assultani, Mira Publishing House (UK), 84pp, 2013.

In the book’s introduction by Amir Taheri, Philip Larkin is called a poet of chamber music. Taheri points out that Assultani and Larkin share a malaise about belonging. Larkin stayed put, Assulanti emigrated to England from Iraq. They come at belonging from different perspectives. Larkin seemingly belonged, but his resolute outsiderdom, his commitment to a not-so-cosmopolitan place, raised for him the specter of unbelonging, just as Assultani’s foreignness, in English eyes, cast him in a comparable light.
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