Saturday, October 22, 2011

Generally Speaking by Pat Laster from Calliope

This is a survey of four writers who have recently self-published books. I found it particularly interesting in light of our recent discussion of Ugly Duckling Presse, and our projects. Three of the four writers listed URLs as their publishers, most said that they just passed around their book looking for comments and edits and then had to do the proofreading themselves. It was very interesting to hear about their experiences self-publishing. Their various pieces of advice include having patience, proofreading the final draft, and continuing to write.

Three of the writers hoped to or have already broken even, but the fourth gave a flat out “No” to the question “Do you think you will get your money back?” And one who had broken even already said he wouldn’t have cared if he hadn’t. A small part of me says that he only thinks that because he did break even. I think it is significant that Laster, who was asking the questions, didn’t ask if anyone hoped to make profit, just if they thought they’d get their money back.

One thing I hadn’t thought to think of at all, but that Laster asked about was ISBNs. I have zero clue how that works, but think it would be pretty interesting to find out.

Anyways, check it out:


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Road Trip" Ivy Pochoda

Also in the Sixth issue of Canteen, this prose piece by Ivy Pochoda, titled "Road Trip" was a quick but fascinating read. It details the author's first experience of a road trip, fifteen years ago. There were no Google Maps back then so, naturally, she got lost on multiple occasions. However, she claims that these mishaps only added to her experience, and as a result of technology, people now miss out on the unexpected things that used to happen and what really made a road trip great.
She states that "road trips are no longer adventures among colorful kitsch...but attempts to satisfy nostalgia for the trip itself." Also, that "the road trip has ceased to be a journey into the relatively uknown, but a reconfiguration of information pregathered and presorted, plotted and preordained. I definitely agree with this point, especially coming from a family in which my dad essentially made an itinerary for every trip we've ever gone on, looking up the best restaurants, hotels, and historically relevant monuments. This piece makes me want to just get in my car and drive, not knowing where the road will take me, and not caring where it does.
-Julie Kelly

"An Old Misogynist" by Dana Goodyear

In issue 6 of Canteen, there is a portion dedicated to poems by Dana Goodyear. This one caught my eye because, first and foremost, I had no idea what the word misogynist meant. I looked it up and then realized I actually had heard the word before and would have know its meaning had it been in a sentence. But anyway, it essentially means someone who dislakes, mistreats or hates women.
This poem is from the first person point of view and the first line is "I could have argued with him," and goes on to talk about how instead the narrator watched a bulldog with a "dirty muzzle" and "furious yellow-green eye" eat grass and not make noise doing so, until a "disembodied hand pulled it back in line."
Presumably, the narrator is a woman who is choosing not to fight with her husband who treats her poorly. She relates to the bulldog - a notoriously tough animal - in that, she has the means to fight but does not. Like the bulldog who is "pulled back in line," this woman is a victim of being "pulled back in line" herself, by her misogynist husband.
-Julie Kelly

Sunday, October 9, 2011

“Shrimp in a Sponge Funnel” (By: William Goodwin) – Camera Obscura

This photo is in Camera Obscura’s Volume II as one of the first pieces (I wanted to insert it here, but was unable to find it online). This little red and gold shrimp is crawling inside this sponge funnel (as the title says) and seems to be focused on something above that is outside of this enclosed space. He is quite the active shrimp, if I may say so myself, seemingly moving around this tube-like closure that does not have an end in sight. One thing that really struck me about this photo is the way in which Goodwin used light. Nowadays, it is incredibly difficult to discern whether or not someone has manipulated a photo – with color or texture etc. so that is one question in the back of my mind when it comes to this picture. However, regardless of whether or not it was changed, there is this blue lighting at the bottom front part of the photo, almost notating a different level of the sponge that has been untouched by light. Then, as the photo moves upwards, the shrimp is surrounded by this beacon of gold light, some of which rests in a more brown tint on the base, while the rest is exceptionally bright towards the top of the funnel – almost notating where the light is coming from as it seeps through the less dense part of the sponge. Instead of the shrimp being this little dingy thing enclosed in this space, the lighting – of different shades and colors – creates this conflict of sorts that I am imagining for this little shrimp: that he is stuck here and needs to get out, but can only do so by following the light. I love how the composition of this photo allows for me to imagine and create a story. It is not just a picture that is taken and speaks all to itself.

- Jennifer A.

“Vie de Boheme 1913” (By: Hugh Jones) - Camera Obscura

Photography is a huge hobby of mine and I am incredibly conscious of perspective and light when it comes to people’s shots. So, when it came to this photo, I was overwhelmed. I am still not entirely sure as to how exactly this picture was taken, the light used, the perspective – I am completely enraptured. For starters, the use of black and white film is a slowly “dying” form. Yet, seeing this piece really makes me hope for people to keep pursuing it. However, what does seem to be incredible about this photo is the way in which the photographer, Hugh Jones, was able to project this photo onto a woman’s body. Or at least, I assume that is how this photo was completed.

The form on which the cover of Vie de Boheme by Henry Murger is projected is onto that of a naked woman. I looked up Vie de Boheme and found out that it is a compilation of loosely related stories that all take place in a bohemian life in Paris in the 1840s. This makes complete sense for Jones’s inspiration. To project the cover of a bohemian inspired novel onto the free body of a woman speaks volumes to the nature of freedom of expression and self-expression. The way in which the image curves into the woman’s features, the shadow of the second hand mirroring over the body, the angel looking into the center of the frame, and the soft lines and angles that highlight so subtly the details of her body and the picture cover all align perfectly. I am still in awe of this photo and the thought behind combining the two aspects for his inspiration – taking this piece that was written so long ago and making it still matter in the present.

- Jennifer A.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Format Fun, Themes, and other odds and ends - - - -Jen G.

I think Julie touched on this on an earlier post, but I wonder how we can structure POPPED in order to both better display the submitted work while also giving a good flow to the magazine layout in general. I've been looking over different editions of The Fairytale Review and there is a variation of artwork and written pieces throughout the magazine, giving readers breaks where needed while simultaneously catching your eye. Even the differing lengths and formats of written pieces can serve as an aid in choosing the next piece to read. Again, I know we're restricted by the website format, but displaying the pieces could be a simple but effective way of mixing things up.
Also, maybe we could have an optional theme for POPPED. The literary magazines we are reading right now have a theme, ranging from food to fairytales, so maybe POPPED could benefit from a theme as well. People could still submit work outside of the theme, but if we do have an option theme, perhaps that will give people a concrete image or element to work from. Anyway, just some thoughts.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Richard Schnap’s “Lifer” from Calliope

I was drawn to this poem because it is the only poem from this edition to be accompanied by a picture. The picture is of a man’s chest, which is covered in tattoos. Some are difficult to distinguish. There is a man in a hat holding a gun, a heart with something protruding from it, a C crossed with a backwards C, something that might be a fist, and a few different pieces of writing, which I can’t make out. Most prominent, though, is a cross on a necklace, which at first glance might not be taken as a tattoo at all. It is much darker than the other tattoos and ‘hangs’ by the man’s left nipple.

The poem describes “dragons and demons, skulls and swastikas” as well as different gang symbols (from multiple gangs) that this man has had tattooed. It says he also has names of lost lovers, friends, and a “daughter he’d never hold in his arms,” but that the most important of the "map of a world gone wrong" was the “tiny cross over his heart.”

This poem and picture made me so curious to know more about the man with the tattoos. Why did he swear allegiance to multiple gangs? Why will he never hold his daughter? Why swastikas? And why does the cross mean so much and need to explanation? I guess I’ll never know the answers to the story, but the image by itself is very potent.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sean Finney's "The Pens"

This short prose piece from Canteen pokes fun at the profession of a poet, referencing how silly poetry slams are and how all the poets act exactly the same. The fact that is incorporated in this literary journal, along with poetry, is rather comical and ironic. It is mostly a rant about how poets behave at these readings and how they perceive themselves as great individuals, when they actually are just snobs.
This rant the author goes on comes as a result of his fear of releasing his poems to the public and having to participate in these dreadful poetry readings. Finney claims that he believes that only Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou and Billy Collins make money off of their poetry books, which is presumably another reason he does not care to share his work with the public. He concludes with his opinion of calling himself a poet, and how others would perceive that. Despite the fact that he finds it to be a nice title, he thinks others would merely laugh at him calling it his profession. So, admits, that as a professor of creative writing, his works of poetry will remain for his eyes only.
-Julie Kelly

Arnold Lehman "Eyes of Seagulls"

Arnold Lehman has a number of poems featured in the third issue of Canteen Magazine, which can be viewed online, as well as in print.
Upon first reading the title I anticipated the poem to literally be about seagulls in some way, however, it has a much deeper meaning than that. It starts off referring to the eyes of seagulls as "violet, lulling and serene," but the rest of the poem talks about a woman who has been through a significant amount of trauma in her life. Lehman writes that she "birthed five and more that did not live" and also details the woman's memory of being sexually abused as a child and her "mother hid her." These details are shocking yet the poem flows so smoothly that it could be described as beautiful, in terms of style, clearly not the context. It is interesting how a poet is able to manipulate the style in order to generate a particular feeling amongst the reader, for despite the sadness I felt for the woman, I also thought the poem was wonderfully constructed.
The seagulls are never mentioned again, other than in the beginning. However, at the end, the narrator details the woman's children trying to "kiss her violet eyes" as they "tug on her sleeve" during the holidays. It allows us to draw the assumption that the woman is not affectionate with her children as a result of the trauma from having miscarriages, as well as being abused as a child. Perhaps referring to her eyes as violet, just like those of the seagulls, Lehman is trying to convey that she is putting on an act and attempting to convey a sort of "serene" persona, when in actuality, she is broken inside.
-Julie Kelly

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Stream of Golden Thread- - - Jen G.

One of the most hackneyed and unfortunately correct phrases around is “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the short story, (if a single complicated point of memory can even be called that,) “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii” by Julie Choffel in The Fairytale Review captures a woman’s attempt at putting a single first impression into coherent sounds, smell, and hopes. If my opening run-on sentence has both said a great deal and hardly anything at all, then I have expressed Ms. Choffel’s story fairly well. Though the story begins simply with “She said she liked hair,” the complexity of the writing and the challenge of expressing love immediately becomes clear. The woman simultaneously describes falling in love with a man, finding a puppy, fond memories and broken dreams, and her hopes for the future. I’m actually finding it fairly difficult to explain this more clearly, so here we go: in many respects, hair represents dreams. The title itself references two fairy tales, “Rapunzel” and “Goldie Locks,” where hair is a descriptor of character and independence (Goldie Locks escapes and causes mischief, while Rapunzel uses her hair as a connection to the outside world that she dreams of being a part of) and as such, the woman in the story mentions her comforts, fears, and dreams as she faces the reality of falling in love. The entire short story is a series of run-on fragments: when the woman sees the man, she compares the moment to finding a puppy at a shelter, “Small from far away and big up close,” then runs on into both a comforting memory and hopes for the future, “When she closed her eyes she saw green domestications: green mango sliced onto green plate on checked green tablecloth like the inside of a river.” She races onto her complicated hopes and fears, “What if thievery means you keep the thief? If the thief is a lover, a gardener, a cook? If they come to fill your lockets?” and then slowly moves away from the images and looks at her experiences. When the woman says, “She saw utopia once. It was so expensive. So vain. It made her chop off her hair and plant it,” she intriguingly casts off her fantasies when she finds them superficial, and it is with this earthiness that the woman is able to move forward and find love. Ending, “That’s where the man grew, in the lengthy yellowy verdure. Small from far away and big up close,” the reader can now see the evolution of a woman’s love and maturity; despite some readings of the characters of Rapunzel and Goldie Locks, the two women never become fully independent, earthly characters, and so, by casting off her dreams, the woman steps away from fairytale flatness and blooms into a human that can fully embrace love in all its flawed glory. Though it has been forever since I studied the classification of living things, the very title, “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii,” can be read as either a type of plant (symbolizing the growth of the woman” or a new species of woman whose ancestors, Rapunzel and Goldie Locks, never left their dream world to experience reality. A single memory is not so simple as to be placed into a sentence; there is a whole chain of senses, experiences, and other memories behind that second. The difficulty of expressing this history, as it were, has resulted in such wondering hackneyed but true lines as, “A picture is worth a thousand words;” “Rapunzelus Goldilocksii,” however, is one woman’s attempt at expressing the true workings of that ambiguous image.

Thoughts on “At What Cost?” by Greg Moglia from Calliope,

This 17 line poem stuck me because it repeats the question, “Does every father kill something in his child?” As I see it, fathers give life to their children. Even beyond the literal fact that without the father there wouldn’t be the child, how crucial must a father be in the development of his children? What opinion of a young child isn’t influenced by that of their parents? A father wouldn’t be killing things in his child, but cultivating them as the child grows. (I will note that I’m looking at an ideal case here, where the sole object of the father is to further the understanding and life of his children.)

To argue against my own point I’ll say that even in this idea case, it can be said that a father does kill something in his children. He attempts to get rid of selfish actions, rude behavior, disrespect and harmful tendencies. And this is just the ideal case.

Now I consider the title: “At What Cost?” Perhaps Moglia is also thinking of an ideal case, a good father. The girl in his poem “never interrupts,” and isn’t that a polite thing to do? But instead Moglia is asking us to consider what the cost of never interrupting is. The narrator, a father himself, says, “I stole the critic from mine, / She learned never to take me on.” Theoretically a well-raised child wouldn’t argue with her father, but the narrator doesn’t see this as a victory. He is upset that he has killed the critic in her and that would be the cost of teaching her not to argue with you.

So I wonder if the rest of the title is “At what cost do you impose your ideas on your children?” or “How much do you just have to stand back and let happen?” But maybe that’s a bit of a jump. In any case, it’s a nice poem. Check it out: