[Sheila Squillante / June 18th, 2013 / Reviews / Tags: Carol Guess, F IN, j/j hastain, Noctuary Press]
I enjoy moving into the space of a book with the feeling that I can trust what the writer has told me about it. Guess indicates that F IN “began as a ghost story.” What is the difference between what something began as and what it becomes? And how will that becoming (which involves a “((ubiquitous) dead girl” (a becoming which can’t be controlled in the same way that indicating what a project’s beginning is can)) end up altering, terrorizing (“I’m going to have to hurt you”) or enabling me?
The figure on the cover of the book reaches one way but looks another. This is how a “heroine [with] agency and appetite” would have to proceed: moving many ways at once (“if I didn’t have a twin you wouldn’t be seeing her ghost”). I find myself wondering if a blackbird or a mother or a sister will emerge (“the dead come back; it’s just a matter of naming”) and bite this figure as she tries to finger her way to the gold locket, the hope for a golden egg.
What is the most honorable way for me to approach a self-named “erasure”? Knowing “compression is vital to [Guess’] aesthetic” is it honoring to simply enter the succinct yet spacious realm of these pages (some of which only have 5 words on a page) as one would an empty, deteriorating house? Is it an inverse-violation that my desire is to grab red crayon and draw shapes of liminal organs in the agoraphobic clenches of F IN? Does intentionally filling an erasure rape its sparse confidence? I am sorry if it seems that I am obsessing over this; this is a real ethical dilemma for me. I am just not sure: am I really to “erase place” along with how this book began? Or is there something more I can add to its haunting noir?
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[DeWitt Brinson / June 17th, 2013 / Interviews / Tags: Anis, eye, gunk, interview, Shivani, Terrible, winky]
In his expansive arm, Anis Shivani gathers you a great lament. The presence of no ftl drives. Let him take you to bed. (poem in the Jan. Issue) [Bonus Exclusive! Read the worst question he's ever been asked and his answer.]
1) How do you feel about your older writing? Do you ever go back to try to change those pieces or do they belong to a different, younger you?
No I never try to do that. Recently I was tempted to change my book The Fifth Lash and Other Stories, which i wrote almost a decade ago, though the book has only recently been published. I changed things stylistically a bit, but left the content alone. Once something is published, I want to forget I ever wrote it, let alone go back and obsess over it. I’m fine with accepting that older pieces belong to a younger, less sophisticated me.
2) Do you start with a voice, an idea, or do you just start?
In fiction I probably start with a character in a situation–usually a difficult situation. Then I have to build a story around that. It’s easy to visualize and create a whole world once I’ve got a grip on a single character in a concrete situation. I think the (philosophical) idea is what prompts imagining the initial character, but it’s best to forget the idea, whatever it is, as soon as the material circumstances of the story start to become apparent.
In poetry, I may have a feeling or a tone, often hard to capture precisely, which I start with and just run with, to see what happens. It’s not easy to decipher quite how things come together in poetry but the unified tone is probably the glue.
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[Sheila Squillante / June 17th, 2013 / News & Young Bright Things ]
Greetings, fine PANK readers! I bring you
Some of you already know me as reviews editor here at PANK, a job I’ve been doing since fall of 2012.
*waves at my awesome reviewers*
To the rest of you, hi there! It’s been positively blissful to bring smart words about so many excellent books to the blog for you this year, and now I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted the editorial torch from the formidable and fabulous Abby Koski (who has new adventures of her own ahead!), and will be stepping into the role of associate editor in charge of All Things Blog at PANK!
As I get settled in, we will be putting the blog on hiatus for July and August. A summer vacation, if you will. We all deserve it, don’t we?
So, while you wait for our Cicada Overlords to crawl out of their subterranean strongholds (Maybe they already have? We’re still waiting for them here in central PA) and land officiously on your watermelon-jicama salad, why not pour yourself a gin & tonic (or, better still, a Red Eye with candied cicada garnish–yum!), bring the laptop to the porch, and peruse our wonderful archives of reviews, interviews, columns and other tasty blog content.
Set your Google Calendar Alarm for September 1 (or, you know, thereabouts), when we’ll be back with all the old, awesome PANK stuff and maybe some new, even awesomer PANK stuff, too.
I’m excited! It’s exciting! Thanks for having me and see you in September!
Sheila Squillante is the author of three chapbooks of poetry and one artists book collaboration with the experimental photographer, Paul Bilger. Her full-length collection will be published by Tiny Hardcore Press in 2014. Her poems and essays have appeared in places like Brevity, The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, Phoebe, TYPO, No Tell Motel, Thrush Poetry Journal, Superstition Review and elsewhere. She joins the faculty of Chatham University in Pittsburgh this summer as the associate director of their low-res MFA program. Follow along at www.sheilasquillante.com.
* photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/fmerenda/
[Sheila Squillante / June 13th, 2013 / Reviews / Tags: anthology, Barrelhouse, Bring the Noise, essays, J. Capo Crucet, pop culture]
Bring the Noise is the very first release of the ambitious (and highly promising) Barrelhouse Books, the D.C.-based magazine’s venture into indie publishing. I was drawn to the anthology in the hopes it would explain my unhealthy obsession with Jersey Shore (my working theory centers on the gravitational pull of JWoww’s chest). What I found instead, via the book’s strongest essays, was a sense of camaraderie: for better or worse, pop culture reflects where we are as a society now, and in hating or loving it—in examining what we hate or love about it—we figure out who we really are.
Comprised mostly of essays that previously appeared in Barrelhouse (five of the 18 are previously unpublished), the anthology is a potluck of voices and themes. It stretches the definition of pop culture to mean almost anything that could end up on TV or heard on the radio: from pro-wrestling, The Hills, the Chicago Cubs, and that creepy Wizard of Oz sequel (which I’d blocked from my memory almost entirely until this essay brought it back in vivid, nightmare-friendly detail), to Bob Dylan, payphones, and Pearl Jam. The range of these essays, however, is a reminder that pop culture isn’t always ubiquitous on a national scale, and so the tall order for a pop culture anthology—if it’s going to feel like the book it promises to be rather than, say, an issue of a journal—is that it be as robust and inclusive as possible.
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[DeWitt Brinson / June 12th, 2013 / Interviews / Tags: bs, Lisa Nikolidakis, Nikolidakis, Stalker, Virgin Suicides]
Learn about danger and Bullshit from Lisa Nikolidakis (Read her How to Date a Stalker in the Jan. edition).
1) If you met a stranger who confided in you that an ex was terrorizing them by stalking, what is a question you would ask them?
I’ve had this happen. Tending bar, people tell you all the things. First: Are you in danger? If yes, get thee to the police ASAP. If not, have you made your intentions to be left alone plain as can be? Second: Do you have a therapist?
2) Was it the Safe Horizons pamphlet that inspired this list form or did you find the pamphlet while researching?
The stalker pamphlet as a part of this came from a suggestion by the friend who originally gave it to me–many drafts into this. I had the title first, and I think it inspired the list form.
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[Sheila Squillante / June 11th, 2013 / Reviews / Tags: Anne Champion, Heather McNaugher, Main Street Rag, poetry collection, System of Hideouts]
Main Street Rag Publishing
In Heather McNaugher’s debut collection of poems, System of Hideouts, readers are treated to intellectual gusto, personal gutsiness, and aching tenderness. The collection covers a broad range of experience—childhood, familial, and sexual—in interrogating the construction of self identity, producing a collection of moving poems emboldened by emotional verve.
McNaugher’s most stunning poetic trait materializes through her unabashed honesty. These poems pilfer the experiences that many people keep silent about: from first lovers to first menstrual cycles to familial homophobia, McNaugher weaves her way through the secrets hidden deep within us, plucking them from our bodies for close self exploration. In “Max,” the speaker reflects on her first friend, who she unashamedly reveals had “the first family I’d hate.” She recalls suffocating goldfish and placing bets about cartoons, which Max always won. The speaker makes meaning out of this young memory:
“From this I developed my first self-defeating theory
of luck—boys have it; I don’t. It occurs to me only now
that a glossy T.V. Guide arrived each week at your door.
At my door was a woman on drugs.”
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[DeWitt Brinson / June 7th, 2013 / Interviews / Tags: bath, Gregg, Murray, poetry]
Crawl into the tub with Gregg Murray (poem in Jan. issue) toast each other with a glass of cool lemonade and wait for a bucket of arrogant bunnies to be tossed in with you.
1) Your poem makes me feel like restocking shelves under a droning, florescent light in a grocery store the morning after a one-night stand. Why do I feel that way?
I feel the same way when I read it back to myself. Thankless, meaningless work has never been therapeutic for me. Menial work, being under the boot, taking orders from an imbecile. It hurts me to see interested and capable and talented and spirited people shining the shoes of some arrogant bully with a horse on his shirt.
2) If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book of poetry, what book would it be and how would you use it to survive/escape?
I had to wedge a copy of Pride and Prejudice under an a.c. unit one time because it needed something there. At first I felt bad, but I know I like that book a lot and besides I meant no harm or disrespect. I’m so practical, though, with books I love. I’d take a big ole anthology or something for the island. But I love reading journals with experimental work in them.
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[Sheila Squillante / June 6th, 2013 / Reviews / Tags: Beneath the Liquid Skin, Berit Ellingsen, firthFORTH Books, short story collection, Simon Jacobs]
Towards the end of this collection’s first story, Berit Ellingsen writes, “We need to be something else again.” We begin in uncertainty at the point of dissolve, as things change, and it is this unease, this perpetual state of transition that drives Ellingsen’s brilliant, undulating and mysterious first short story collection, Beneath the Liquid Skin.
The book begins with the aforementioned “Sliding,” the inevitable drift into winter, and ends in a duet, “The White,” which chronicles the journey of “you,” a logistics assistant who treks from a research base into the vast, shifting whiteness of the Antarctic landscape, and finds wholeness and home, the universality of everything in the ice and snow. This is followed by “Anthropocene,” describing, in fierce, poetic language, a frigid apocalypse on our age, dragging everything into the center, when “you” and “I” are torn apart in fire and ice, only to begin again:
This is where it ends: in a concrete hall between reticent, snow-burdened mountains, under a mute sky the color of forgetfulness, snow falling like soot, and the air so frigid that every metal object tears the skin from your fingers. The lashing nettle-wind shrieks and tries every door and hollow window frame, like a burglar at night, clinking across the floor’s lake of glass shards. The red-rusted ley lines with rows of disc-shaped insulators curve into the sky and sing of legacies misspent and lost, of eternal life squandered.
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[Scott Pinkmountain / June 5th, 2013 / Work: Surviving the Arts / Tags: Heather Abel, Miracle Jones, Peter Landau, Publishing]
The Rumpus Interview with Miracle Jones (May 6, 2013) is a thought-provoking read. Miracle Jones is an enthusiastic and articulate proponent of new ideas and developments in publishing and the lit world, and he is very much putting the practices he advocates into action. His distaste and distrust for the New York publishing establishment is matched by his entrepreneurial spirit and his sheer positivity and optimism for new forms. And he’s an interesting writer, so the stories he self-publishes (in USB drives or online) are worth checking out. While I was inspired by much of what he said in The Rumpus interview – the future of books will be as communal locations, not as commodities, the publishing world should be globally distributed, not centrally located in NY and London, releasing a book on a USB drive allows you to include video, sound, images, multiple versions of a story, etc… – I was also left with a lot of questions. The biggest among them being simply, “What if I still like books?” And not just as a reader, but as a writer. What if I don’t feel a digitally self-published release carries commensurate significance to the effort I’ve given my work?
I put this question to a friend of mine, Heather Abel, a writer living in North Hampton. Heather’s been working on her first novel, The Optimistic Decade, for a decade. TEN YEARS. After a long struggle, she managed to find an agent last year and is working to finish up her book so that it can be shopped and, ideally, published through traditional channels as a bound hard copy.
“I would definitely weep if it were not made into a tangible, held-in-hands, paper book,” Abel said. “Right now it exists in a document on my computer, and I know, on some level, that’s all any book is – the collection and arrangement of data, easily erased
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[Mia Sara / June 5th, 2013 / Features & Young Bright Things ]
Tote. Clutch. Sling a strap
Across my body.
Fill the void with slick
It’s a supple shame
A fine-grained havoc
I’m unable to contain
When I think
I’ve got a handle
On this skin addiction
I lose my grip
I get carried away.
Mia Sara is an actress and poet living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in PANK, Cultural Weekly, The Kit Kat Review,Forge, The Dirty Napkin, St. Ann’s Review, and others. For more please visit: http://wheretofindmiasara.tumblr.com/