Tag Archives: Rose Metal Press

Awful Interview: Todd Seabrook

19 Sep

Todd Seabrook This is Todd Seabrook. Todd’s real first name is William, but that’s no matter. He hails from Ohio, was educated in Colorado, and is working on scoring his Doctorate from FSU as. you. read. Along with getting a host of awesomeness published over the years, his chapbook, The Imagination of Lewis Carroll, was the winner of this year’s chapbook contest at Rose Metal Press. We’re celebrating its release here in Atlanta at a big ol’ party at the Highland Ballroom, hosted by 421 Atlanta (who published his collection The Passion of Joan of Arc earlier this year) and Rose Metal Press. To celebrate, Todd allowed me to awfully interview him.

So, Todd. (Or should I call you William? Mr. Seabrook? W.T.? – you tell me!) with release about Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll now, I’m guessing you’re a bit of a historian. Is that true?

I have always gone by my middle name, a family tradition that was created, I assume, to make sure there is always a source of confusion in my life. So you may call me Todd, thereby fulfilling my parents’ penchant toward single-syllable middle names, chaos.

If I am a historian, I am a terrible one. It does not take an acute reader to know that Joan of Arc did not actually burn at the stake before standing witness in her own trial, or that Lewis Carroll did not kill the same person twice in two separate duels. But I still maintain these biographies are very accurate, except for all the things that didn’t actually happen, of course. I’m guessing such a statement does not qualify as good historical methodology, but these books are not interested in history so much as the individual characters. I am a fan of Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll, and I write their life as a fan would. Their stories have been in our culture for centuries, and have somewhat fossilized over the ages, shorn and condensed into banal trivia questions. In order to show what they accomplished—Joan of Arc, a 19-year old girl, single-handedly saving France from becoming England II, and Lewis Carroll telling a story one afternoon on a whim that is still being told today—accuracy took a back seat to the dramatic, the colossal, the impossible. I am a fan, not a historian, and these books are my noblest attempts at true fan fiction.

Historical fan fiction – I like it! What other historical figures are you a fan of? I’m a total fangirl for Teddy Roosevelt, personally.

I have written two other magical realist biographical chapbooks—if that’s what these can be called—one on J. Robert Oppenheimer and one on Steve Prefontaine. I would also add Robin Hood into my list of favorite historical figures even though he never actually existed. But obviously such quibbling details concern me not. It is an incongruous melee of people, who share very little with each other (different eras, countries, ages, talents), but they all stand out to me as people who were exceptional at what they did, and that is why I am drawn to them.

Great choices! Wouldn’t it be funny if they all did have something in common that we just couldn’t possibly be aware of this day and age? For instance, maybe they all had a peanut allergy. Or maybe none of them were very apt at climbing trees.

What if I am their only connection, and they all existed solely so that I could write about them in a series of limited-run chapbooks. What grand design!

Wow! That’s so Being John Malkovich. Remember that movie?

I do, one of Kaufman’s best.

I couldn’t agree more. Did it make you want to take up puppetry, a little? Do you think you’d be good at that? Do you have any other comparable secret hobbies the world should know about?

In a related field to puppetry, I am a juggler, and own a  set of juggling balls and pins. I am also a marathon runner, which is why I have a preoccupation with Steve Prefontaine. Aside from running and juggling, my friends know me as a lover of cats,  a fan of science-fiction and  ICP, and a collector of beer caps, which, as I see them all together, seems like another odd assortment.

 That is quite a menagerie of talents. Will you be juggling at this Saturday’s reading? No pressure! But other than your juggling act and reading – what are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s festivities?
I will be dressed as the Mad Hatter for the reading, and I may bring my juggling balls, or maybe even my pins, just to delight the crowd. I can’t wait to see who else will be dressed up for the event, and I am looking forward to reading with Laird Hunt (making a reading-Laird-Hunt sandwich). All in all, I can’t imagine a launch party that could be any more fun than this.

A Review: I Take Back The Sponge Cake by Loren Erdrich and Sierra Nelson (Rose Metal Press)

11 Feb

I Take Back The Sponge Cake
by Loren Erdich and Sierra Nelson
Rose Metal Press, $14.95

The worst Single-Sentence Review ever: Reading this is my experience, says so on the cover, also, it’s an adventure, says that too on the cover, so what more could I want from poetry–adventure that’s all mine.

Seriously, that’s what the joint force of Loren Erdrich and Sierra Nelson have done in “I Take Back The Sponge Cake”: they’ve created a slim little escape for us all.

Erdrich’s sketches plop us beside strange beings and inside wacky stills. Faces with eyes dazed and elsewhere. Lots of bodies, chunks of them smeared. Outlines and borders of these bodies and objects incomplete and scratched. All like grainy ghosts overlooking you as you pass.

Nelson’s poems wiggle into the weird dark clouds expanding over it all, drifting down to surround. The “I” wrangled by ineptitude and aloneness. From the poem titles, like the brilliant “An Orchestra Built For You,” to the individual lines, like the poem of the same title as the ending, “Your small ears are necessary/to my/day,” the “you” shifting in and out of focus, you being invited, you as a part of this (strange) party.

And the word pairs and weighted sentences toss you back into the frantic wonderment of childhood, interacting with art, finding new, surprising language wherever you go.

This is how it goes—A small poem, an ink and watercolor drawing, a sentence with a blank and a homophonic word pair choice, a thunderoll to another page.

Example sentence: “The ________ of him in bed.” Example word pair for that sentence: size/sighs. Choose wisely: the word you choose dictates the next poem/image you consume.

The word pairs are almost begging you to choose the less-obvious, more poetic of the word pair. Or maybe they are both the poetic, nestled in the cracks between the drawing and the poem.

Why it may not create the biggest adventure, the act of choosing, of making one’s own meaning with the sentences, the consequence of where it takes you, and the fact it’s all yours, or so it seems, is a rattling device.

For everyone, the book starts with “You Will Go Back Again,” a short initial push off the blocks, but also an omen of the nature of the journey and where you must go to get it all.

Warning: You’ll never get through it all, at least not following the choices, this thing has its own scratched path.

As the authors explained in the introduction, AND WERE TOTALLY RIGHT, the art and the poems don’t explain each other, but they act as a “dynamic conversation when viewed together.”

Like in “Pseudomorph,” a poem that seems to be about an octopus/squid (beginning like “Releasing a false body/my shadow emerges and//I am all/stun,//while she is all/a body//a dark/slipped off”) but the accompanying drawing slices that connection into the journey’s physical presence–two bodies, arms around each other’s shoulders, one shaded, one not. Meaning is the cart you ride in through the art/poems.

In “Sponge Cake,” there’s a strange creature of sponge cake-like consistency, who seems to be on the beach, who seems to be on the beach with his paws over a fallen human-ish body, and then the poem ends: “More and more I forget to put messages in/to the bottles I keep/throwing out to see.”

That’s what I love so much about this book, how the art isn’t merely an accessory, how the choose-your-own-adventure part isn’t a gimmick, they’re all crucial boards on the bridge we’re crossing, this beautiful thing “invoking a process of inquiry,” as the authors also correctly say in their introduction.

Proof? How about “Glutter?” Featuring the same illustration as the cover—this disembodied, bright blue-eyed rabbit head—this poem simply reading “Do you think of me first as a girl—/or do you think of me first as a skeleton girl?” And no adventure choice, just a bunch of white space and the italicized sentence that says “The vessel soon became a ______.”

This is the shining truth of this book, the hallmark flag: it is what’s inside that matters most (that old thing revived!), the possible meanings and connections, our tilted head in consideration of if this head was ever even attached, if this hand really belongs to a body.

Go check this book out, now, please.

SSR #10 of 15: We Know What We Are

17 Jul

Today’s single sentence review: Mary Hamilton’s We Know What We Are, which is such a pearl and so beautiful to hold. You should get one from Rose Metal Press.

Mary Hamilton gives you day dreams of intense precision and clarity, where fruit bats and songbirds heckle and memories of Bull Shannon lurk in dark corners; she takes a magnifying glass to your skin, and shows you how large the little things can be and how much of yourself you haven’t seen.

SSR Countdown #1 of 15: They Could No Longer Contain Themselves

8 Jul

To help get everyone as jazzed as I am for the VouchedATL Launch Reading I have decided to do a countdown of Single Sentence Reviews of the books that will be carried at VouchedATL’s table. For the kick-off I’ve chosen Rose Metal Press’ flash fiction collection They Could No Longer Contain Themselves because I can’t either. (Neither can Christopher!)

Imagine John Jodzio, Elizabeth J. Colen, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, and Mary Miller standing in a line each singing their own melody in a round, and over time the five melodies bleed into each other and form an over-lying arc whose staccato’s burst so much that you can feel them prick your fingertips and whose legatos ring your insides dry and when the humming, whistling, and singing stops the five of them all leave but their tunes stay in your head for days.