First, let’s celebrate the fact that Artifice lives and will continue to do so. (And yeah yeah, a little sad bummer tear for it going electronic, for the bye-bye to that slick little print format…okay, that’s enough, MORE GOODNESS TO COME FROM THEM.)
This issue does what Artifice set out to do: publish work that is aware (duh) of its own artifice. And I declare that it does it better than any of the previous (yes, still stellar) issues, because this stack of good words is also the most accessible (for me), the most purely collar-grabbing bunch so far (admittedly what I look for most in a mag is a bunch of stories fist-fighting and making out for my emotions and attention). A little selfishly perhaps, I was constantly thrilled to find a piece that made its point with the artifice and then leapt out at me and never let go.
Take this beginning to “& What Shoulder, & What Art” by Marc McKee:
Sing la la la. Sing huzzah,
The weather’s clotted with events
increasingly, the piano you carry
has a piano factory on top of it
and on top of that the city
futzing out in all directions
like a busted hydrant.
And how about this beauty! PANK’s print issues continue to be my favorite hunk to lug around, their gorgeous design, their assemblage of “the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers,” their fulfillment of the promise to provide “access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose,” as their mission statement says. And that’s another cooool thing about a magazine, this magazine at the tip-top: doing what they say. Lots promise to provide the best and to give voice to the up-and-comers and to do it different (and the best!) and whatever; PANK has never let me down with that promise. And like Artifice, this might be my favorite of the four issues I’ve read. You’ve got a wild sonnet by Sherman Alexie; you’ve got stories from Vouchers Christopher Newgent and Ashley C. Ford; you’ve got some beautiful poems from shining people like Russ Woods and M.G. Martin; you’ve got thumping stories from Ashley Farmer and Lindsay Hunter; you’ve got so much more people why haven’t you ordered it!?
Check out this beginning to Lindsay Hunter’s story “Candles” (or maybe it’s CANDLES):
I AM IN THE CANDLE SHOPPE I CAN’T HELP IT
THE NEW AUTUMN LINE IS ORANGE NUTMEG AND IT IS AS CLOSE TO BARF AS THE BOTTOM OF A DIP CUP
I DIPPED ONCE RIDING IN THE CAB OF THE TRUCK OF MY ONE TRUE LOVE, HE WAS DRIVING HE WAS GETTING A HAND JOB FROM A PUERTO RICAN PUTA WE WERE GOING ABOUT FIFTEEN MILES AN HOUR NOT EVEN ENOUGH FOR THE WIND TO LIFT MY HAIR IN A POWERFUL FUCK YOU WAY
Salt Hill 28
Two questions: How’d it take me 28 issues to get a hold of one of these beauties? Are they all this lovely or what?
I love how this magazine surprises me! I’m not always into literary surprises, but these are neat enough, subtle enough, for real enough, that I am joyed. I turn the cover and am hello-ed by strange choir-boy faces singing but maybe shouting in pencil drawings. Everywhere poems and stories that stretch that cord between thinking and feeling, interviews that REALLY say something, images that startle me into a “hmmmmm.” I read through and the end is a Ben Mirov poem “Destruction Manual” aligned horizontally, destructing me, or maybe more appropriately the issue, out of this beauty of an artifact.
Here here here is the beginning to my favorite piece, “Because Thought Isn’t Prayer” by John Gallaher:
This is kind of a danceable tune. To turn ourselves
around and then think about it this other way. “I’m
unsure about it,” we can say, and kiss someone new
or kiss no one at all. Think about every dog
you’ve ever hand, or every cat you’ve ever had,
or every time you’ve ever played put-put golf. Is there
anyone left in America who hasn’t played put-put golf?
you can ask yourself. Are there no more reasons
to be thankful? you can say.