Monday, April 24, 2017

NEW! Poem by Natalie Lyalin

Natalie Lyalin

SO WHAT, THE CLOUDS

So what, the clouds
with a piercing gold haze
so a red feather stuck to my foot
The gull’s squawk, so what
Mother, father, horseshoe crab
I thought I spotted them all in
the glare of sunset
So what, the smudge of life
sooting bleached branches,
disinfecting the parts that need it
So what, until we say goodbye
we had a weekend together
and I helped pick out your dress
What does it matter
The tin chandelier pocked with holes
So what the rain
I never visited or cared too much
The bottles and woven baskets full of sea glass
Hair grit, white towel snapping in the wind
Birds circling their condos
An abundance of banana bread
Celebrating America not on the fourth of July
but on the 16th, when nothing is happening
Surprisingly I am somebody’s mother
I have no council
I turn on the lights
The sun crests the bank of pines pushing on the dusk
While overhead a group of rockets take off from Cape Canaveral
making an arc toward heaven 

Sunday, April 02, 2017

2017 Tomaž Šalamun Prize

The 2017 Tomaž Šalamun Prize is open for entries until July 15, 2017. 

$500 + chapbook published by Factory Hollow Press + one-month residency in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Judge: Matthew Zapruder

The Tomaž Šalamun Prize is open to poets at any stage of their career. Previous publication is neither a requirement nor a restriction. You can enter if you've published no books or 100 books.

Translations into English are acceptable if the author is still living and has given written permission. 

Prose poetry and hybrid forms are also acceptable.

The winning chapbook will be published by Factory Hollow Press in Amherst, MA.

The prize winner will receive $500, 10 free copies of their chapbook, and a free one-month residency at the Tomaž Šalamun Center for Poetry in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

If a translation wins the prize, the translator will receive $500, 10 copies of the chapbook, and the residency, but the original author also will receive 10 copies of the chapbook.

Individual pieces in the chapbook may have been published in print and/or online journals, but the chapbook itself must be previously unpublished.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please withdraw your submission immediately if your submission is accepted elsewhere.

Matthew Zapruder will judge the 2017 prize. Current/former students and close friends of the judge are not eligible. (If in doubt about your eligibility, query editorversemag@gmail.com.)

Entry fee: $12

Deadline: July 15, 2017

To enter: Submit a poetry chapbook (18-28 pages) to the link above.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NEW! Review of Elizabeth Powell

Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances by Elizabeth Powell. Anhinga, 2016.

Reviewed by Nancy Mitchell

Elizabeth Powell’s compelling new volume of poems, Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances, winner of the 2015 Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry and published by Anhinga Press, is the saga of one psyche’s circuitous, courageous evolution to wholeness as it reclaims and integrates the fragments of its shattered self. Like a classic epic, the book is substantial; its 109 pages are divided into four distinct, yet integrated parts, and the arc of each furthers the narrative arc of the collection, the tension of which lies in “the tug of war between what you are and what you want to be.” In lines barely held in check by semi-formal constraints of rhyme and rhythm, the poems pellmell the reader through poems like “a toboggan threshing me down a hill.” The wrangle of this struggle is underscored by erratically shifting tones via inventive syntax and humorous, original neologisms/verbalizations: “I lollygagged and sofatized as I proceeded with the CNN-induced lobotomy dream of life,” and

            The world, violent full of sex,
            the movie’s zeitgeist, era after era, a new Bond
            double-o-sevening in
            (CARE PACKAGE, WITH RIDDLE AS MISSIVE)

as well as with startling enjambments:

            …This poem is made of me and I it. It doesn’t worry
            about irony or stance and only odd incidence and fact and doesn’t care
            if it tells the truth about what will happen to my face
            or behind my back….

Part One, the heftiest section, worthy to stand on its own as a separate volume, serves as the Genesis, the creation story of the collection, as it introduces the origin of the book’s structure along which uncanny parallels to the speaker’s life are plotted:

     Around then, I read my father’s 1960s Compass copy of Arthur Miller's
     "Death of a Salesman" and began to understand why his sister called
     him Willy Loman. He had eaten the dream and it made him sick...But
     my father’s sister never stopped with the Willy Loman talk, and so we
     seemed to be acting that play as our family drama.
(“AUTOCORRECTING THE LYRIC I”)

From a longstanding intimacy with the American drama—“This entire book is in love with Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and has been in conversation with it for a good, long time,” according to Powell’s notes—and subsequent internalization, a world is created into which the title character is called forth from the a shadowy subterranean of unconsciousness, or “my doppelgänger under the bed, snoring and talking and laughing in her sleep,” to inhabit this world with full autonomy: “I read it again and again, until the doppelgänger moved from under the bed to the top bunk.”

Powell’s doppelgänger is an alchemic tour de force, deftly echoing Plath: “and then I knew what to do. / I made a model of you,” claims a poem also titled “Daddy.” Willy Loman’s daughter, paradoxically whole and black hole, becomes the self into which other selves, shattered “the way the Rolling Stones sing about” by seismic psychological pressures, are absorbed. Because the doppelgänger can successfully assimilate undifferentiated cultural identities—

            Let’s say I’m fusion of cold borscht and finger sandwiches on white. I'm
            matzo ball Jew Bagel and thrifty Campbell’s soup with dried parsley
            don’t-worry-about-me luncheon. I’m noodle kugel and I’m turkey divan
            casserole. I’m Bubbeleh and I’m Dearie. I’m Ma and I’m Mummy. I’m
            the Episcojew, and I am strong and not strong! I have a family tartan
            and a silence in the Vilnius ghetto. I cannot be buried in the holy land
            but I cannot be cremated. I am passing and have passed, heard the
            murmurs of lovely & also ... Dirty Jews, Fucking Gentiles.

—as well as the trauma of sexual abuse—

                                                …small child who is taken into a room with
             an ex-convict and made to drink peppermint schnapps and lie on his
            polyester orange and yellow bed and black out until she walks from
            the room and is shown his medals of valor from a war she doesn't
            understand. She didn’t know peppermint that way until she came
            to dislike the sunniest days. (“Sense  Memory: (Re)-Experiencing Time Travel”)

she becomes the trustworthy, although admittedly imaginary confidant, sister in Pasternak’s “sister life,” the ma souer of the speaker. Both protective mediator and arbiter of memory, the doppelgänger will become the the reliable narrator, even as she speaks as a foil to other characters throughout the book, but only with the speaker’s complicity or permission:

            My retinal flashes made no sense until I realized they were someone
            else’s story trying to live through me. That sweet doppleganger, brother-
            sister, evil other, good girl! The story kept banging at my red front door…

“Someone else’s story” is also the speaker’s; by opening the “red front door” she intuitively and courageously allows the necessary psychic split into a stronger double who, acting as a “second,” descends into the hell of the past and faces down the demons of abandonment and estrangement, before assimilating them and returning whole to tell the whole story.

In the poem “LIVING TRUTHFULLY UNDER IMAGINARY CIRCUMSTANCES,” the speaker speaks for “both of them” with, “We both want to be whole, so the story can be told.” In my notes I’ve written, “Or maybe: We want the story to be told so we can both be whole.” Elizabeth Powell’s stunning, evocative Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances, is, like any odyssey, to be read in parts, slowly, carefully, and reflectively, like a psyche recovering the shattered parts of herself.