Friday, December 18, 2009
Well, dear Blue Light Readers, the semester is ending and that means two important things: first, our latest issue, 31.2, will be arriving in mailboxes any day now--hooray!--and second, the IR staff is officially on vacation--double hooray! Thank you to everyone who made this semester so much fun!
Also, we've announced our 2009 Fiction Prize winner! Congrats to Rolf Yngve! As soon as we return in January, we will update our website with all the finalists. (We just received a holiday gift of Windows Vista on all of our office computers and apparently have lost all the software we need for website updating...um, thanks Santa?)
That's it for us until January 11th. We wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a marvelous new year!
Our final judge, Ron Carlson, had this to say about the story: In the cauldron of a high seas pirate and hostage standoff, "Efendim" offers a nervous and pressurized world by way of a rolling kaleidoscope of viewpoints. The story is braced with that rarity real things, and bears a confident authority; there is something of Conrad here. This ponderous ordeal flashes at us, the life and death moments like the myriad
reflections on the water.
Congratulations also to the runner-up, Roger Sheffer, for his story "Shuttle" and second runner-up, Jeff P. Jones, for his story, "The Runciter Project."
Thank you to everyone who helped make this year's contest such a success!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
We'd like to offer our congratulations to the writers below, whose work our editors have selected for Pushcart nominations. In alphabetical order by author last name:
“Sometimes You Break Their Hearts, Sometimes They Break Yours” by Marie-Helene Bertino, Fiction (from IR 31.2, Winter 2009)
“Aubade in Which the Bats Tried to Warn Me” by Traci Brimhall, Poetry (from IR 31.1, Summer 2009)
“Terror Birds,” by Abby Geni, Fiction (from IR 31.2, Winter 2009)
“here is the sweet hand you always turn back on yourself,” by francine j. harris, Poetry (from IR 31.2, Winter 2009)
“Cousin Mike: A Memoir,” by Daniel Nester, Nonfiction (from IR 31.1, Summer 2009)
“Pavel and Peter Ever After,” by Kerri Webster, Poetry (from IR 31.2, Winter 2009)
And thank you to all our contributors for your wonderful work!
Monday, November 30, 2009
How quickly time flies, even the blue eye of the blue whale sees it speeding by. Did you know that today is November 30? and Tomorrow is December 1st: The Deadline for Our Blue Feature. So if you were thinking of submitting, waste no time! Two days from now it will be December 2. and 32 Days from now it will be 2010! A new decade. And then too late to submit to the blue feature.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Dan Beachy-Quick. A Whaler’s Dictionary. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Milkweed Editions, 2008. $20.00 paper (ISBN: 978-1571313096), 330 pages.
Reviewed by Nina Mamikunian
Perhaps I should start by admitting that I have never read Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The weighty tome somehow slipped through the cracks of my four years as an English major in my undergraduate education, and I have gotten through half of graduate school knowing only the basics: “call me Ishmael” and Captain Ahab’s relentless pursuit of a white whale. So what drew me into Dan Beachy-Quick’s A Whaler’s Dictionary, a work of philosophy, essay, and criticism inspired by and directly commenting on Moby-Dick, was not an interest in the nineteenth century novel but rather this book’s own claim to exist in the “margins” and attempt to “record what glimmers remain of thinking impossibly realized before the thought is vaguely lost.” True to its title, it is written in a dictionary format with cross-referenced entries and is not meant to be read linearly. The entries are more like prose poems. For example, in the entry “Chaos,” Beachy-Quick writes:
We tend to think of the chaotic as the noisome, but in doing so betray the deeper chaos the world brings: a yawning gape or abyss, a child’s mouth before a tooth has broken through the gums. That original chaos…has not a single harsh sound…but merely, as in a child’s mouth, vowels carried upon the breath that voices them.
One of the many impressive aspects of A Whaler’s Dictionary is that it does not presuppose or necessitate anything more than a basic knowledge of Moby-Dick. Beachy-Quick handles Melville’s character relationships, plot points, and symbolism (for example, Queequeg’s tattooed body or the role that Pip plays on the ship) with such deftness and clarity that having read Moby-Dick (or any of the other authors and critics that Beach-Quick expounds upon) is by no means a prerequisite. More importantly, it becomes very clear early on in the book that A Whaler’s Dictionary is not actually about Moby-Dick at all; it only uses Moby-Dick as a way to talk about something much larger and harder to put into words.
Beachy-Quick’s main task is to “[offer] a series of interlaced meditations to bring a reader near to the white squall of meaning that is Moby-Dick.” However, he makes no thesis statement or grand argument that he sets out to prove or disprove. Beachy-Quick positions himself as the “you” addressed in the famous first line “Call me Ishmael” and intimately so. Beyond that, he grants all readers access into both the “you” that Ishmael addresses and the “I” that does the addressing. He goes so far as to include himself as one of those readers plumbing for meaning, not only of Moby-Dick but also of reading and words themselves. Many of his entries relate directly to language (such as “Aleph” and “Bet” and “Hieroglyph” and “Inscribe,”) and he finds ways to talk about reading even through entries like “Flames” and “Eyes” and “Duplicates.” The connections he draws between whaling and reading/writing are most clear in the entry for “Line,” where he uses the word “line” to refer to both a whale line (a length of rope tied to a harpoon) and also:
…the most basic unit of verse. A poem is a line winding from margin to margin until the poem is done. A book is composed of dark lines. A book pursues in lines the meaning it desires to understand or convey. A metaphoric stretch can claim for the poetic line the same dangers as the whale line. The reader and the whale are in the same boat.
In entry after entry, Beachy-Quick shows us that books, language, thought, and even the very act of creating through voicing or writing bear more similarity to whales and whaling than one would first think. The whale becomes thought itself, the ocean obscures meaning, Captain Ahab’s own forehead has as many lines as a book might, and Queequeg cannot decipher the marks on his own body. Beachy-Quick makes it clear:
Ahab pursues a whale; we catch a book…The Whale escapes and the book escapes, and they both flee along the same line by which we drew near their forms—almost comprehensible, almost tangible, almost legible. The book in our hand contains a depth and holds its breath. Reading and writing are impossible work.
It is fitting then that Beachy-Quick begins not with an author’s note but with an apology. He begins by recognizing Ishmael’s “failed cetological endeavor” and acknowledges that he “simply repeats the failure in a different guise.” In this way, Beachy-Quick acknowledges the failure of all words. All dictionaries, whether it be Ishmael’s or A Whaler’s Dictionary, fail because the gaps between text and meaning, signifier and signified, are nearly impossible to bridge. The only thing that words can do is circle back on themselves and endlessly refer to one another and chase the list presented at the end of an entry, the “see also,” which is never ending. The connections between entries create lines themselves, but those lines are as shaky and deceiving as the spider webs from Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” that Beachy-Quick cites in entries like “Faith” and “Void,” cross-referenced with “Expression” and “Silence.” The pursuit of uncovering true meaning is as much a mad pursuit as chasing a white whale. Beachy-Quick, however, in the artistry of his prose and poetics, shows us that the pursuit—and the books that are the material evidence of those pursuits—is worthwhile.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
On the Bluecast (left sidebar, below our call for Blue), we've posted Michael Martone's reading of "Story," forthcoming in our Winter 2009 issue, 31.2.
Martone, an IU alum and longtime IR contributor, stopped by Bloomington last month on his 4th Annual Double-wide World Tour of Indiana. Along the way, he also met up with the folks at Sycamore Review in West Lafayette. You can check out their post, in which they ask Martone to compose a poem like he did back in his Bloomington days, here .
We're thrilled to have "Story" in our upcoming issue. It'll be out in December and you can preorder it here!
Monday, November 9, 2009
Blue by Joni Mitchell
Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs lots of laughs
Everybody's saying that hell's the hippest way to go
Well I don't think so
But I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue I love you
Blue here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me
© 1970; Joni Mitchell
Don't forget to Submit to our Blue Feature!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Celebrate Publishers Weekly’s First
The inaugural event, sponsored by book industry magazine, Publishers Weekly (PW), aims to celebrate bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores. The event, first announced at Book Expo
For a full list of bookstores, or to see if you neighborhood store is celebrating on November 7th, go to www.PublishersWeekly.com/bookstoreday.
Read. Have fun. Support your community. Think globally, read locally.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Reading through all the submissions it has come to my attention that there is much concern for bees. Bees have become metaphors for a number of things, they are crawling through the pages, over the words, bees are swarming and humming and disappearing into the innards of flowers. What is going on with the bees; why so many writers concerned with keeping bees buzzing through their work? The many appearances of bees in the poetry and fiction made me do a little google research.
Then, I found this informative NY Times Article on the disappearance of bees. I had heard the rumor, but had not stayed up to date on the apiary news.
The disappearance of bees in the U.S. and the preponderance of bees flitting through the fiction and poetry submissions around the IR office has made me think about the role of words in an ever rapidly shifting world. What role do our words play in preserving the natural world? Will speaking bees into our poems and stories act as peter-pan hand-claps that preserved Tinkerbell's life? Learn more about Bees Here.
bzzzingly yrs, Alessandra
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Laura van den Berg, a former contributor in our 29.1 issue, has just had her short story collection--"What the World Will Look Like When the Water Leaves Us"--published by Dzanc Books. It's getting good buzz, including being selected as a winter/holiday selection for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Program, receiving a starred Booklist review, and garnering a review in the October Believer.
Way to go, Laura!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tomorrow is the postmark deadline for our 2009 Fiction Prize! See our guidelines here. Final judge: Ron Carlson. Prize: $1000. Awesometown.
submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit submit !
Monday, October 12, 2009
Here at Indiana Review we value technology that brings people together! While technology is not always easy to master or to understand how it works, we strive to be on good terms with it.
I am happy to announce we have uploaded a new Bluecast of Eugene Gloria reading his poems "Young Americans" and "My Favorite Warlord" which are forthcoming in our next issue 31.2. It was fun to hear him read and ask him a few questions about his poems! Join in on the good times by scrolling down on the left side of the screen and clicking the "play" button.
In the spirit of technology, we have also decided to join the Twitter community. If you are on Twitter, you can follow IndianaReview and get updates about the goings-ons at IR like contest deadlines reminders, podcasts announcements and other fun facts.
Be Well, Alessandra
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This isn't a blog about the 5th Dimension's 1967 hit.
It's about the concept of "organic unity" that Antonya Nelson introduced during a 2005 workshop at the Taos Summer Writers Workshop. This "marriage of form and content" was further explained in her workshop description as the "ways in which form (shape, voice, style) participates in content (theme, psychology, meaning) in the short story. The best stories are ones that the reader can imagine no better way of telling; they are hermeneutically radiant, and as a result continue to offer up new riches upon every re-reading." It was a great workshop.
Since then, I have returned to that concept over and over. I've looked for it in short stories and strive for it always in my own writing. Those are the stories that catch my eye when I'm reading submissions to the Indiana Review.
I found it again this summer when I saw "Up." It was, for me, an almost flawless tale whose every moment is sharply rendered, whose every thread is tied up, whose characters are resonant. Wow. That's organic unity, I thought. I still do.
Thanks, Antonya. Thanks "Up."
Monday, October 5, 2009
Flinch of Song by contributor Jennifer Militello (winner of Tupelo Press's First Book Prize) is now available!
You can also listen to Jennifer Militello read her poems from issue 29.2 on our Bluecast. Click on the "Posts" and scroll down to her name and click!
Happy reading and listening!
Monday, September 28, 2009
For all you local blog readers, get out your pens and mark your calendars: Michael Martone (IU alum, IR contributor, and the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction) is coming to town! Full bio here.
The When & Where: 7pm Thursday Oct 1, The Collins Living-Learning center is hosting the reading in the Formal Lounge of Edmondson (541 N Woodlawn).
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Peter Selgin. Drowning Lessons. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2008. $24.95 hardcover (ISBN 978-0-8203-3210-9), 233 pages.
Reviewed by Chad Anderson
Peter Selgin’s Drowning Lessons is a collection that, more than anything, focuses on the nature of solitude—self-imposed or otherwise. These thirteen stories travel from the peaks of Andean mountains to the watercolor coasts of Crete to a lake in New Jersey, and Selgin’s deft hand reveals the beauty of the world while never idealizing it. In fact, despite the often serious plights of his characters, Selgin’s tone is often playful, albeit cynical. The humor does not detract from the near tragedies within the collection, but instead serves as a flame to illuminate them.
Selgin’s balance of humor and heartbreak is demonstrated in the story “Sawdust.” The young narrator aches from the disappearance of his beloved teacher with whom he is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship. Juxtaposed against the narrator’s melancholy and confusion about his sexuality is the humorous character of Mr. Bulfamante, a.k.a. Sugar, a French boxer-turned-floor sander who, as a favor to the narrator’s mother, takes the boy as an apprentice and serves as his father figure:
Before he’d let me into his van, Sugar would make sure that I’d brought my thermos full of bouillon. Sugar insisted on hot bouillon as the only suitable beverage for floor sanders and boxers, summer and winter. Not lemonade or iced tea or coffee or hot chocolate. Bouillon. And not chicken bouillon, either. Beef. Chicken was for fruitcakes. Also the bouillon couldn’t be made from those little cubes, none of that Herb-Ox or Knorr Swiss crap. It had to be real. Homemade.
Sugar, however, isn’t merely comic relief. His distinct brand of masculinity conflicts with the masculinity the narrator learns from his romantic, worldly teacher, and in the end, the two ideals collide, forcing the narrator to truthfully consider the kind of man he wants to be.
As in “Sawdust,” the protagonists of Selgin’s stories are most often paired with other characters that could bring out the best and worst in them. A failed shoe store owner who happens to be the son of a failed cartoonist is hired by the whimsical Pablo Picasso to drive him from Los Angeles to the country of Colombia. A Manhattan doorman has a fling with a crippled woman and later refuses to accept that she has played him when she doesn’t show up for a date. A poor, elderly Black woman cares for the last living survivor of the Titantic, escorting him to the events of wealthy history buffs. Part of the pleasure in reading Selgin’s stories is to see how these pairs uplift or undo one another, whether they become foils or friends or both, and whether the protagonists choose solitude or fight against it.
While the protagonists are usually in the presence of a prominent secondary character, they (and by extension, Selgin) seem concerned with the nature of loneliness. In “Color of the Sea,” Andrew—a discontented, middle-aged artist—and Karina—a young, impulsive Brazilian—strangers to one another, decide to embark on driving tour of Crete together. Moving though the beautifully-rendered Cretan landscape and acknowledging their palpable sexual tension, the two travelers simultaneously irritate and fascinate one another, discussing love, sex, age, and, most especially, loneliness:
“…That’s what loneliness is. No longer being able to enjoy being alone with yourself. When you’re lonely, the person you really want to be with is yourself.”
“That is an interesting theory. And how does one learn to do that?”
Andrew shrugged. “Go for a walk, eat a nice meal by candlelight; romance yourself. Ask yourself, ‘What do I feel like doing today?’ It sounds strange, but why should it? Why should it be so strange to do with ourselves what we think nothing of doing with others? Why—for example—should I be more courteous to you, whom I barely know, than to myself, whom I’ll know for the rest of my life? It doesn’t make sense.”
In this story and others, loneliness itself is a character, creating distances between siblings and lovers, forging bonds between strangers and enemies. The characters in Drowning Lessons must ultimately choose between risking their hearts for another person and embracing solitude, and no matter what happens, learn to be content with their decision. Selgin’s surprising and generous collection suggests that only we can teach ourselves the lessons we need to endure the world or even to escape it.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We are incredibly honored that Ted's story will be included. "Obit" is pretty amazing. I'm not even going to try to describe it. Every time I've opened up the issue to show off the story, the reaction is always: "Oh wow!" Seriously!
Congrats again Ted!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Congratulations to Hannah Faith Notess, IR's very own poetry editor from volumes 30.1 and 30.2 who is the editor of the forthcoming collection of essays, Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical. Here's a blurb from Publisher's Weekly, or you can read more about this book at the publisher's website.
“Written by experienced women writers from diverse evangelical Christian backgrounds, the tales are honest, approachable and revealing. Each author has put aside her inhibitions about exposing the flaws of her home church—from power struggles to the indoctrination of shame—and takes evangelicalism to task for its ‘carefully filtered’ yet ambiguous conventions. Yet all of the authors tell of a more realistic, meandering faith, enduring even while rife with doubt. Readers will be inspired to re-examine their own beliefs and perhaps even create their own un-testimonies.”
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My name is Catalina. Some people call me Cata. I'm the new fiction editor for IR. This is my first time blogging, so allow me to introduce myself further:
- I dig this job!
- I like to dance salsa and cha-cha-cha.
- My favorite book right now is Zigzagger by Manuel Munoz
- Two guilty pleasures are HGTV and "Dancing With the Stars."
Monday, September 7, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Hey there all writers out there in submission land, Indiana Review is now open to all submissions! Send us your poetry, your fiction, your nonfiction, your this-is-too-brilliant-for-categories! Read our submission guidelines here.
We were able to make a significant dent in our fiction backlog while we were closed over the summer, and we are continuing to make headway. It's full steam ahead. If you're waiting to hear from us about fiction, thank you for your patience! You will hear from us soon! I promise!
And don't forget that we are also accepting work for the fiction prize. Guidelines are here. (Final judge: Ron Carlson, postmark deadline: Oct 15, snail mail only!)
Monday, August 31, 2009
We would like to congratulate all the poets selected for the 2009 Best New Poets anthology, especially Pilar Gomez-Ibanez, author of “Losing Bedrock Farm."
The poem "Losing Bedrock Farm" was IR's 2008 Poetry Contest Winner and you can find the poem in our Winter 2008 issue. Congratulations, Pilar!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
-- the 2009 1/2 K winner, runners-up, and finalists (also posted below)
-- the 2009 Fiction Prize guidelines! Deadline for the contest is October 15th, so get writing!
We've just returned to our office after a (much needed) break so if you've emailed/mailed us in the past couple of weeks, we'll be getting back to you soon. We've had a wonderful summer with y'all and are looking forward to a rockin fall!
Monday, August 24, 2009
And the winner is...
“Holding up traffic as if to say”
“The Fifth Date”
Monday, August 3, 2009
The face on the "Support Your Local Poet" button was none other than Mr. Walt Whitman, also pictured here with his nice and fluffy beard. In honor of the poet, and summertime itself, please enjoy this poem by Walt Whitman himself.
ContinuitiesNothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form--no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space--ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold--the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The current Indiana Poet Laureate draws his motivation for his position from a button he received with this famous poet's image. Can you tell us who's on this button?
Quickly email your answer to inreview (at) indiana (dot) edu with "Blue Light Contest" in the subject line. The first person to correctly identify the poet will receive a FREE copy of our latest issue.
Check back Monday for the results.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The oft-adapted novel Brewster's Millions was written by Indiana's very own George Barr McCutchen! Did you know that not one but TWO feature films based off of his novel were made in India? Crazy!
Well folks, as all great trivia giveaways must come to an end, we'll post our final Blue Light Contest trivia question this Wednesday. As always, only the swiftest answerer will receive a totally free copy of the Indiana Review's most recent issue! Good Luck!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
What is the name of the Indiana author whose 1902 novel would be adapted for the theater and silver screen nearly a dozen times, the most notable of which starred Richard Pryor and John Candy in 1985?
E-mail your answers to inreview (at) indiana (dot) edu with the subject "Blue Light Contest". The fastest correct response wins a FREE copy of our latest issue!
Check back Monday for the results.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Welcome Back to the July Giveway Contest. Congratulations to Mary! who promptly and correctly answered last week's trivia question with the answer: who is Theodore Dreiser.
Mr. Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana and wrote novels such as Sister Carrie. Learn more about him here.
Visit again on Wednesday for the next Indiana trivia question and chance to win the latest issue of Indiana Review.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The man who composed Indiana's state song had a famous little brother with a literary bent. What was that little brother's name?
Be the first tell us by sending an email to inreview (at) indiana (dot) edu with the subject "Blue Light Contest" and you will receive a free--that's right, free!--copy of our latest issue.
Check back Monday for results.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Take some time to hear Ms. Thon read her story and while you are there, you can also peruse the archives and hear other fabulous writers read their work.
Thanks, Ms. Thon, for reading for us!
Congratulations to Chella of Santa Barbara who answered last week's question correctly (and speedily).
The answer is James Whitcomb Riley; he went on to write a poem about one "Little Orphan Annie."
Stay tuned: this week's Question will appear on Wednesday for your chance to win your very own copy of Summer 2009 Indiana Review.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Be the first tell us the name of this poet by sending an email to inreview (at) indiana (dot) edu with the subject "Blue Light Contest" and you will receive a free copy of our latest issue.
Yay for contests!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Here's this year's lowdown: the contest will run from July 8th to August 1st, with questions posed on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. Answers should be emailed to us with the subject "Blue Light Contest." We'll announce the winner each following Monday. Winners will be determined first by accuracy and then by response time, and will receive a free (that's right, free!) copy of our latest issue: Summer 2009 31.1.
This year's theme: Indiana history and facts. Round 1 will be posted on July 8th.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
You can read selections from Post Moxie in the "Special Highlight on Short Short Fiction and the Prose Poem" section of our latest issue, Summer 2009 vol 31.1.
Monday, June 29, 2009
On this very day in 1995 the American space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station Mir to create the largest man-made satellite to ever orbit the Earth. It's amazing the things that can be accomplished when people, teams, and astronauts work together.
While sometimes writing may seem to be a solitary effort, we must not forget the fun, the inspiration, the craft lessons, and the new words we learn when writers come together and share their words, their thoughts.
At IR we love to celebrate collaboration. It is a collaborative effort to read through all the submissions, to figure out where commas go, and in the end, most importantly, the finished copy is a coming together of many voices in poems, in stories, and essays, to create a unified (and beautiful) issue.
Just look at the fruit of collaboration: the largest man-made satellite, our latest issue of 31.1. Have you not seen it yet? You can order it online.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
IR has long been a fan of Perillo's work. Her poetry was first published in Volume 20.2, which featured the poems “Beige Trash,” and “Home.” Volume 25.1 featured four of her poems: “Given unlimited space, the dead expand limitlessly,” “Poem without Breasts,” “Fizz Ed,” and “Viagra.” Volume 26.1 featured “Juarez,” and “Wormhole Theory.” Her most recent appearance in the magazine was in Volume 29.1, with "Martha" and "Rebuttal."
Monday, June 22, 2009
However, the dictionary cleared things up for me.
As stated by the Oxford English Dictionary Ouroboros (also spelled uroborus) is:
The symbol, usu. in the form of a circle, of a snake (or dragon) eating its tail.
and may have first be written in: 1940 by H.G. Baynes in Mythol. of Soul vi. 221 "Thus the uroborus symbol represents our psychic continuity with the immemorial past."
One of the great things about being a part of IR is reading everything that comes across my desk and the opportunity to learn new words. I love to learn a new word because once I learn it, I start to see it everywhere: on the sides of buses, in poems, in prose, in shiny coupons in the Sunday paper.
I wonder if I will start seeing this word, or depictions of it, when I leave the office today.
10 points* for anyone who writes it into a poem. 15 points for anyone who finds it in a poem. 20 points for anyone who finds the word graffiti-ed on a brick wall.
*Please note these points have no monetary or tangible, redeemable value, but supply a large amount of good-happy feelings (exact amount is at the digression of the winner of said points).
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Lynn Aarti Chandhok. The View from Zero Bridge. Tallahassee, Florida: Anhinga Press, 2007. $14.00 paper (ISBN 978-0-938078-98-2), 77 pages.
Reviewed by Jenny Burdge
Lynn Aarti Chandhok’s debut collection of poetry, The View from Zero Bridge, is gorgeous. The poems work their truths, half-truths, and debatable facts through both the magic of sensual detail and words and phrases crafted into rhythms and rhymes usually so subtle, you often only awaken to their power by the end of the poem, when Chandhok wants you to know that yes, you’ve been under a spell, and perhaps you should question the veracity of everything the poem has told you, everything you’ve ever been told.
Chandhok was born in Pittsburgh, and raised there as well, but she spent many summers as a child in Kashmir with her father’s family. This upbringing in more than one place, more than one culture, echoes through the book’s situations and motifs, but dealing with multicultural existence is not, per se, the book’s theme.
From the cover image and title and through the poems themselves, the book announces itself as one concerned with place (Zero Bridge) but also perspective (the view). After reading Chandhok’s note regarding the cover, it also becomes clear that the book is concerned with just what we consider fact in the first place. Chandhok says, “Like many of the ‘facts’ in this book, the title itself is wrong.” That is because, although Chandhok somehow came to understand that the cover image, a photograph taken by her father, was taken from Zero Bridge, she finally learned in 2007 that this couldn’t have been the case, for there is no boat landing under that bridge.
The idea of truth, then, amongst all the book’s other concerns, is primary. In this way, an epigraph by Derek Mahon serves as the bottle of champagne for this book’s maiden voyage—both thematically and formally. It reads:
Ah, but words on the page aren’t the whole story
for all my hopes and fears are fictions, too
and I live in a virtual fever of creation—
the whole course of my life has been imagination,
my days a dream; when we wake from history
may we find peace in the substance of the true.
So, often being incapable of knowing truth—that “whole story”—the hope is that we can be satisfied with its substance—the essence of truth, which we still find ourselves unsure of, given the delusion of history; that is, the stories we’ve been told and the stories that we’ve read are untrustworthy, and only when we recognize this can we find something essentially true. This essence of truth is difficult and troubling, as the first poem, “Marketplace” (set in Kashmir, 1999), expresses:
My loss is trivial: a childhood home
to which return would be a senseless risk
just to confirm that paradise was real.
On either side, the only truth is loss,
and blame is strewn like wreckage or debris,
the storylines, disputed maps, redrawn.
Through all five of the book’s sections, this difficulty and trouble of knowing truth is returned to, rehashed, reestablished. In a sonnet of two septets titled “Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 10/01,” the speaker encounters a woman painting the staged nature “as if it’s not / already art, or dream, or plan, or real.” In another sonnet, “Trust,” the speaker says, “We’ve pulled it off again,” and then remembers dreaming frightening fires as a child, which she’d been told could happen, then concludes: “I’m undone by what children believe: / the ones who dream of martyrdom, or mine— / who trust that what I tell them is the truth.” In “Revision: the Bandh,” the speaker revisits a poem that appears early in the book, realizing the memory that occasioned the earlier poem was imagination: “Was it a dream or vision that such lengths / could spread themselves, so beautifully, on the banks?” In a number of elegies, that “only truth,” loss, is even more direct. It becomes clear that this “only truth” is what unites us, in spite of ourselves, in spite of whatever “blame is strewn like wreckage or debris.”
The poems in this collection do not, however, dismiss the delusion or illusions of history as being without value. The longest poem of the book, and perhaps my favorite, spreads out over the book’s middle. “The Story of the Palace,” set in Fatehpur Sikri, April 2001, is formally more intricate than the other poems. It is written in iambic pentameter, just as almost all the others in this book are; however, with its lines being broken, either mid-line or with the more usual enjambment, the meter is more difficult to detect. Similarly, rhymes, both true and slant, weave subtly through the poem, sometimes with the chiming word at a distance from its partner. These weavings are a reminder of the book’s epigraph (both formally and thematically), and they imitate the intricate and broken threads of which history and stories are also woven. The poem tries to find the true story of the title palace, but the speaker’s guidebook, stories she heard on an earlier visit, and the stories her guide tells her during the current visit often diverge. There is no way to know the truth, no way to know what pieces of it to trust. A line from the guidebook describing the palace applies just as well to the stories of it: “Its parts are better than the whole.” What this poem suggests, then, contradicts the book’s epigraph.
Perhaps we can’t find peace in the substance of the truth, because we may never see what that is. Perhaps peace comes in viewing all the diverging parts of history’s dream, hoping one of those parts is true, while delighting in all the others.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
And now it looks like this:
Monday, June 8, 2009
Matthew Dickman's first book, All American Poem recently won the 2009 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
In IR's Winter 2008 issue you can find his poem "Archeticture Poem" and in our soon-to-be-delivered Summer 2009 Issue you will find a review of Mr. Dickman's collection All American Poem by Ryan Teitman.
We always love to hear news about IR contributors.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Ely Shipley. Boy with Flowers. New York, New York: Barrow Street Press, 2008. $15.95 paper (ISBN 0-9728302-5-1), 84 pages.
Reviewed by Esther Lee
A scrim—a gauzy curtain often used in theater—can simultaneously reflect and filter light, resulting in a delicate, porous visibility from either side. In his debut poetry collection, Boy with Flowers—winner of the 2007 Barrow Street Press Book Award, selected by Carl Phillips—Ely Shipley achieves a similar intimacy in his treatment of the performative “gauze” of our notions of identity in order to explore the complex perceptions of transgender experience. In Boy with Flowers, the speaker’s self-recognition shifts, as if it were a light reflecting against the cubist body, which is alluded to in the speaker’s remark about the moon that “...glitters dully, but only / if I tilt / my head just so.” The recognition of the self becomes a bewildering, subterranean dreamscape, like a “milky shadow shaped like a door,” whereas the looking and perceiving committed by others is often stifling and interrogatory.
Occasionally veering toward surrealism but always returning to the sensual, these poems jolt us back to the fierceness of the lived experience, of the sublime and of terror, and the hinterlands of memory. If “light is / only a gauze, hanging inside so many / strange faces...,” then Shipley’s arresting and lyrical poems combine the emotive motifs of lighting and the social masks we wear, along with the film technique of montage; thus illuminating the mirrored layers of our own complicated psychology.
In the opening poem, “After the Carnival,” a scene of disorientation ignites dizzying tension, palpable as the memory of a traumatic accident, which provokes a feeling of impending disaster as it unfolds in slow motion:
It’s night. Each of us wears
a mask. I am
the pig, and you
the hawk. Children hide,
folding into their mothers’
skirts, as we kiss
one another and sometimes
them. Beak and snout smear
spread open lines of red
And later in the poem, the manipulation of breath takes on a panicked, eerie tone when the “you” in the poem, during an attempt to avoid drowning, instead becomes smothered, ironically, by a forced kiss:
at thirteen, a high school boy
held your head
under water at Lytle Creek. Inside
you couldn’t swim
so clutched his neck, his arm
until he lifted
your face, smashing his face
into your mouth, sucking
Like “birds siphoning secrets from the lungs of men,” the breath is portrayed as a kind of flitting presence in the throat, one that may carry secrets of the speaker. Whether it be during a moment of visceral panic while staring at the “eye of God” of a disco ball (“tiny / in squares until I can’t breathe”) or while sipping from a wine glass that is “the shape of someone’s / breath, held,” the breath—as a means of coping or source of physical comfort—hovers inside the throat, and serves as a liminal conduit through which the breath channels between the speaker’s body and the outside world, where, ultimately, the voice might “choke / out its notes, its high-pitched / scream, its pop.”
Whether implied or overt, the violence that the poems address pervades the speaker’s reality and diverts away from the innocence of when the speaker, at ten, “played barefoot / in the backyard desert...took naps in the patch of grass / we kept trying to grow” to a stark eeriness, as illustrated in the dream of “Boy with Flowers”:
...Today I wake from another dream
in which I have a beard, no breasts
and am about to go skinny-dipping
on a foreign beach with four other men.
I’m afraid to undress, won’t take off my shorts,
so they grab me, one at each ankle, the other two
by each wrist. I am a starfish hardening.
The sun hovers above, a hot
mirror where I search for my reflection.
I close my eyes. It’s too intense. The light
where my lover is tracing fingertips
around two long incisions in my chest. Each sewn tight
with stitches, each a naked stem, flaring with thorns.
In this collection, such remembered moments of crushing violence often trigger temporal shifts, transporting the reader from Echo Park and the dyke clubs of LA to “a window somewhere in Montana,” or driving in a ’76 Chevy Monte Carlo—places where fists are bitten and a roll of dimes can be transformed into a weapon with which to punch “while my own fingers got crushed / over and over again, between / all I held and wanted / to push away.”
Boy with Flowers attempts to remember what is unbearable by casting it against the intimate scrim of language, of intimate moments held up to the light. Objects that we may take for granted are de-familiarized, and, ultimately, we are left with the speaker’s acute wonderment of the “body of the bird against the glass,” a cigarette’s “long finger of broken ash,” of magnolia petals that “would no longer be / white, but darkening everywhere / they’d been touched.”
Monday, June 1, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
And here I thought that literary scandals only involved faking your memoirs...
And on a completely different note: only 5 days left to enter the 1/2 K prize!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We are pleased to announce our 2009 Poetry Prize Winner. But first I'd like to thank final judge was Natasha Trethewey. Ms. Trethewey’s most recent collection Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin 2006), won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared in several volumes of Best American Poetry. Thank you, Ms. Trethewey, for reading and selecting our winner! And without further ado:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Here at IR, we know a thing or two about disappearances. As writers ourselves, we are no stranger to how it feels to submit work--either through snail mail or online systems--and no matter how often I do it, once that envelope/Word file leaves my hands, I feel like I'm facing something like a great unknown. Who knows if my submission will even make it to intended destination!
All this is to say, we feel your pain. We know that we're a little behind in our response time to your submission, but we promise that we are doing our utmost to get back to you as soon as we can. One pitfall to not being able to read a submission as soon as it hits our mailbox is that the story/essay/poem might get picked up by another journal. If that happens, congratulations! We always knew that you were awesome! Also, please send us an email as soon as you know. The email should look something like this:
The poem/story/essay that I sent to you on [date] by [snail mail/your online submissions mangaer] has been [taken by another journal/beamed up into space/eaten by my dog] and I would like to withdraw it.
The information that you send us (genre, date submitted, and snail mail vs online) helps us locate your submission quickly so that we are not searching for you in all the wrong places.
If you submitted online, you can withdraw your fiction or nonfiction piece yourself. For poetry, we still ask you send us a version of the email above. And don't worry about withdrawing just one poem from your submission--the rest of your work will still be considered.