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New Love: The Letters Festival

5 Nov

The Letters Festival

Something grand is about to descend upon Atlanta. Something. Damn. Grand.

It’s the Letters Festival.

Focusing on supporting and spreading the [good] word about small press literature (*swoon*), on November 14th-16th the Letters Festival will be hosting series of readings, workshops, author talks and other dreamy things in Atlanta. Their line-up will make you salivate: Jericho Brown, Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Blake Butler, & Matt DeBenedictis, to name a few

Obviously we, the people of Vouched, are über pumped about this and want you to be too! So over the next few weeks we will be doing everything in our power to drum up the excitement and anticipation in your little hearts.

Why?

BECAUSE [WE LIVE LIFE IN CAPSLOCK AND] THIS IS AWESOME.

Learn more about the organizers of the Letters Festival here. Checkout their indiegogo campaign and then donate to them here. Then follow them on every social media platform. Do it!

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New Love: Natalie Eilbert

18 Oct

I got embarrassed a recent morning, waking up to a small flood, waking up to this new love Natalie Eilbert. I read two of her poems in this fabulous new issue of Sink Review (below below!) and got twelve (or more!) kinds of shocked as I dug deeper into her work. How had I not perked to this stuff, canvassed in my favorite journals? How does this gal shine so darkly?  “Assembled the ashes like they were a thing/in need of assembly.” That’s one way to put it. In Guernica, she hints at her way of reckoning, carrying the machine, hoisting the flag, creating this new etymology (and further, the new country), with pained story and images of the so cruel is so beautiful variety (i.e. “I carried my machine still//to a bog. Dumped it there the way a bullet/enters say an elephant’s heart.//When the elephant’s heart won’t quit/and we fail again at mercy//this means my country, the sinking/of its metal a new form of prayer.”) In Smoking Glue Gun comes her honest reminder to love the trash of this world, the piles we’d rather not see again, as “like it you didn’t ask to be made.” Or what about in Diagram, did you see that? How she made the anguished ugly blotch roll off your tongue into another portion of the lit world so charismatically, rhythmically, somehow calm.

As if there is need for an alibi,
Say home, mean house. As if neither could burn.
Say fallen, as if it were a branch already
Mulched and turned. (You’re boasted, detached)

Man, I’m pumped at this new love. Natalie Eilbert, I do declare, rocks the poetic boat right with her snapping of plastic forks, daring you to dig into this muck with her, so dangerously enchanting, until like her poem at Sixth Finch begins, “I keep thinking about the sorceress.”

Until I’m back where it started, in the mystifying mist of her poems in Sink Review:

And did it occur to you in all these years that I could speak for myself. You’re a good girl, N, you stick to your books. Let us say I’ve moved on, I’ve rented the city for one year’s time and will not stop fucking these scared little boys. There is a fog over the towers, they hover and putrefy in Ozymandian disgrace. Pastries clog the gutters and I’ve never had such a fat ass fat breasts fat hands, this fat my beautiful beautiful. I’ve gone dizzy with drink, The Philadelphia Story won’t stop playing and I won’t ever get over the bored portrait of godhood in Katharine Hepburn’s waistline. There will never be enough milkshakes so far as I’m concerned.

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Jarett Kobek’s BTW: BOOK TRAILER

9 Oct

Jarett Kobek’s new book BTW will be released next month from Penny-Ante Editions, and Vouched SF has things up our sleeves. Exciting things! Things that will make your hearts hot and tight. For now, we will just tease you with this weird and beautiful book trailer.

Starring:
Dorothy Tunnell (dancing person)
Janey Smith (person in hallway)

You can preorder the book here or here.

New Love: Christopher Robinson

23 Sep

jellyfish
As I drank my coffee Sunday (yesterday) morning and skimmed through online journal world, I happened to return to Jellyfish issue 9. A month or so ago, I read the poems by the poets who I was familiar with, but skipped over the names with whom I was unfamiliar. I’m glad that I came back to the issue because it provided me with the opportunity to read, for the first time, the poems of Christopher Robinson.

The most recent issue of Jellyfish contains (part of?) a series of poems by Robinson, titled “Air Become Sinewed.” Before reading the poems, I scrolled down screen to read his bio; while I was at the bottom of the page, I also read the final lines of the last excerpt, and they totally blew me away. Here they are:

Light, how

        does it know

to bend around
        what’s massive
why should it

care?

Where had I heard this voice before? After considering the passage for a few moments, I remembered: Lorine Niedecker’s “My Friend Tree,” which reads in its entirety:

My friend tree
I sawed you down
but I must attend
an older friend
the sun

Both poems address an element of the natural world (the former indirectly, the latter directly); but, more interestingly for me, the rhythm and tone of Robinson’s poem seems to echo or resonate with the Niedecker poem in way that I’m still thinking through. Either way, it’s a gorgeous conclusion to a wonderful set of poems.

Another moment in the “Air Become Sinewed” series that distinguished itself for me was the second section of the first iteration. It reads:

The plan is simple

dumbfounded
blindfolded
ajar

to be creatures that consume
excrete, wait
to be fed

I call you
you call me
and in this way
we build a precarious temple

The opening phrase “The plan is” recalls, for me, Creeley’s “The Plan is the Body.” While Creeley confuses and manipulates the body through a series of repetitions and linguistic recombinations, Robinson acknowledges corporeal confusions more directly when he writes that we, as “creatures,” are: “dumbfounded / blindfolded / ajar.”

I highly suggest checking these poems out. Also, I’m off search-engines until mid-to-late April 2014, so if anyone has any links to more of Robinson’s poems online, please post them in the comments section.

New Love: Amanda Nadelberg

17 Aug

Less than a week ago I moved to Austin, Texas and since then every sense I’ve got has been overloaded like BOOM and whoa near constantly, which is beautiful but draining in a way that feels like being streamlined to fit in a place already bursting with glass bottles and hungry birds and long hair.  Drinking excessive water is a survival basic. Surfaces that have no reason to be painted smile with circles the color of Easter chicks and Tiffany boxes, just for the sake of paint.

There’s this whitewater rollicking poem in the latest jubilat by Amanda Nadelberg called “Mont America” that has been grabbing at my hands a lot during this week, demanding attention when so many other things also beg.  It trumpets its fullness so much that I can’t ignore it.  See here:

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 5.49.12 PM

Nadelberg also has, to my joy, a recent interview at Coldfront (which named her second full-length collection Bright Brave Phenomena eleventh out of their Top 40 Poetry Books of 2012, by the way) conducted by lovely poet/eternal friend Nick Sturm. They chitter about putting eggs in baskets and bravery, and afterward Nadelberg has a new poem called “Symphony of Leaves,” which sings like

O say more they’re beautiful
(a road to the sea to feel sing)
the refrigerator’s small war.
A day named for daughters
or a man running tenuously, half
marm half monster a wild thing
in the woods. We’ve been chalking
fixes between one house and others,
portioned middling hellos, reason to
nod at disaster riding his bike at night.

and

If all broke free o mordant earth,
if the rings of Saturday were on our lips
or there are sleeping people no place
in the sanctuary, the dew knotted
horses agreeing to meet at seven
by the sea. I repeat. Beer is
not a woman though clearly part
of an American conscience,
we think about the moon and
then none of us go outside.

The elegant bomb-blasts that litter Nadelberg’s poems have my attention. Check out more of her things with me.

Best Thing I’ve Heard This Month: 90’s Meg Ryan

24 Jul

It’s always a weird colored cloud to vouch something I’m involved in. But then again, as several Yes people have put it, I’m not tossing things with my T-GOB hands that I truly don’t believe in.

And nothing in recent memory seems more that case than 90’s Meg Ryan, a new style of online literary journal–hosted on bandcamp–beamed out of Muncie, home to Ball State University. The Ball State connection to Vouched is BIG–founder Christopher Newgent, lead lady Laura Relyea, contributors like myself, Layne Ransom, and Ashley Ford all went to Ball State.

There’s a bumper sticker speeding on the back of several cars over there proclaiming, “Muncie: We’re Trying.” At first aw sad but ultimately, better than we tried and then let’s see it.

In the who, the how, and the what, editor Austin Hayden has captured that rejuvenating spunk the Muncie art scene barrels forward with. By taking indie lit to bandcamp, tossing these poems and stories next to songs by two top young Muncie musicians–Carrington Clinton and Derek Miller–the journal does right by its biggest influence–the Muncie music scene. Even the artwork is done by Muncie music’s top dog, Travis Harvey of Village Green Records.

90’s Meg Ryan features only work by my favorite of Muncie’s young writers–Ryan Rader, Elysia Smith, Zach Arnett, Layne Ransom, Davis Macks. Although future issues won’t be Muncie-exclusive, this issue is a shining pow from an underrated lit scene, both a community and journal I’m mega-proud to be accepted in.

New Love: “Salsa Nocturna” by Daniel José Older

30 Jun

SNcover-front-1000

I didn’t think I was actually going to read “Salsa Nocturna”.

I definitely knew I was going to buy it, though. I’d heard too many good things and I wanted to have that book. I wanted to at least try to read it. But there was a problem: ghosts. Not just ghosts, but half-dead men, giants, and creepy porcelain dolls. I’m no scaredy-cat. I love horror films, even the bad ones. Still, reading horror hasn’t really been my thing since R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and “Stories to Tell in the Dark”. As an adult, it’s been hard for me to get into the stories and experience them the way I assumed the author intended. The same was true for sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve passed over these genres in favor of non-fiction and realistic fiction on countless occasions. Then, I saw the title of this book pop-up over and over on my social media accounts and in a few blogs I follow. “Salsa Nocturna” is a provocative title and I was intrigued by all the buzz. I ordered it from Crossed Genres with hope, but certainly, a lack of faith.

When “Salsa Nocturna” arrived, I sat down and cracked it open immediately. I knew myself well enough to know the longer I waited to do so, it would become less and less likely I ever would. And of course, this is the part where I tell you  I didn’t put the book down until I finished it. I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was enthralled. Daniel José Older writes about supernatural occurrences in a way that allows the reader to embrace the story without suspending belief. This series of stories is about more than horror or any other label you could slap on a collection confined to its genre. There are moments I laughed out loud because they were so funny and so authentic. In some ways, I was jealous, unsure that I’d ever been so real in my own writing. And I write nonfiction! In other moments, Older’s stories made me want to cry out of frustration or longing to experience love the way he’d written it between those pages.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was really very refreshing to read a book with such a diverse cast of characters. Older’s characters exist on every plane between the living and dead. They are robust and bursting with life even when they aren’t exactly…alive. In fact, I would venture to say that the characters who are least alive are the ones who perform the most profound exhibitions of humanity. Carlos and Riley being my favorites, it is especially satisfying to read through their character development. What does it mean for the dead (or half-dead) to embrace his/her sense of moral or ethical responsibility? And what does it mean when that sense of responsibility puts him/her in direct opposition to the powers that be in this world or the next? Older answers those questions, not with clear-cut responses, but with stories that make you long for the certainty that your death will be more adventurous than your life, that you might have the opportunity to answer those questions with your journey beyond, that you might even dance right into the last phase of your humanity.

New Love: Alicia Jo Rabins

22 Jun

What hooked me first, pun unavoidably intentional, was Alicia Jo Rabins’ poem “How to Confess an Affair” in Issue 47 of The Collagist:

Details are fishhooks that will remain in the lip of the small fish that lives inside your spouse and swims sometimes towards  you, sometimes away from you. If you love the fish, be careful.

If you love the fish, be careful.  I love this admonition, tiny and lasting like ocean ripples always traveling farther from shore.  I knew I had to see more of her work after this poem, and whew was I blown away. Rabins braids Judaism and Jewish mysticism and sensuality and pumpkin seeds and scrap metal into graceful, fiery cords again and again in her poems; for instance, this excerpt from “Malkmut,” one of four of her poems up at The Arty Semite:

The field of time stands up
and grows a face.
Arms sprout from his side,
wings from the arms, blue mouth

burning between the feathers.
The field of time changes the air
around him as a sunken pothole
changes the road, as a flaming tree

The landscapes and atmospheres of Rabins’ poems are hallucinatory, prophetic, and explosive; reading them feels like waking up in the middle of a twenty-first century creation myth.   Birthing and destroying and rebuilding and consuming the glory of the earth is always happening, and never cleanly–stones toppling in one country while little fruit trees first blossom in another.  Rabins saturates her poems with fire and meaning and weight, like little scraps of rumored apocryphal books.

As if Rabins’ poetry isn’t kickass enough, she’s also a musician with a project called Girls in Trouble that chronicles the lives of women in Torah.  It’s plucky, haunting indie rock with religion-infused storytelling, sometimes performed with a band but often just Rabins, her violin, and a looping pedal.  Here’s a great talk from Rabins about how she came to discover and love Torah, especially the stories of its women, concluded with a Girls in Trouble song about Hagar, Abraham’s concubine and his wife Sarah’s handmaiden, called “The Arrow and The Bow:”