Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Letter from a Blood Orange Review Contributor

Dear Readers,

It was brought to our attention by Sarah Zale, a Blood Orange Review contributor, that the "comment" option isn't functioning as it should in the blog; while we try to untangle the technical glich on our end, please find below her thoughtful, in-depth response to a recent blog.

---The editors

Regarding your comment, "Read!" reminded me that I received a note yesterday from the Edmonds Art Commission in Washington State, asking me to fill out a form titled "Judge a book by its lover!" A list of recommended books will be given to the participants during the Edmonds Writers Conference (Write on the Sound) next month. Alice Notley's The Descent of Alette immediately came to mind.

What better place for recommended books, as well, than a blog?

Notley's collection of poetry also speaks to the comment by H.K.H in this blog: "For years, I've wondered what turn literature is going to take in my lifetime." Personally, I'd like to see a list of recommended books that addresses this question. I offer the first book for this list.
Alice Notley, often associated with the second-generation New York School through her marriage to and work with Ted Berrigan, has lived in France since 1992, an expatriate perhaps, though she does not feel she fits any label, except poet (says Natasha Lehrer in the 2006 issue of Poets & Writers (I knew there was a reason to hold on to those old copies). The Descent of Alette, the culmination of her experimentation with form that began in the 1980's offers a moveable feast of material to digest about contemporary poetry. It presents new ways of using punctuation and language that opens doors to how poets might write in this new millennium.
This long sequence poem is a reverse allegory of Dante's Inferno. It relates a "story," as Notley describes the collection in the Author's Note. Apparently the poet does not mind at all labeling her work a narrative: ". . .this is a time when people want to be told stories, and my poetry is highly narrative" (Lehrer, 55). The story of Alette is narrated by the character, Alette, a woman both an individual and Everyone. She is on a journey to discover the true myth of humanity: not the one experienced by Dante, the one that we of the Western world have been living since the story of Adam and Eve.

Notley is involved in the process of creating or making meaning by setting the stage for this to occur with repetition, metaphor, and subtraction; all which serve as a means to invite the reader into an experience and allow him and her to be part of the creation process. The poet wants to tell a new version of Dante's Inferno. It makes sense, as suggested by Juliana Spahr and Joan Retallack in Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary, how poetry that intends to make meaning rather than merely give meaning should come to us in a new form, and that "new form of writing implies a new form of reading."

Any other recommendations out there for poets wish to write for the new millennium?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blood Orange in the Big Apple

Attention NYC Readers:

Blood Orange Review editor Stephanie Lenox will be reading at The Center for Book Arts on Thursday, September 21st at 7 pm. If you’re in the area, please stop by.

The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10001
(212) 481-0295

Thursday, September 21st , 7 pm

Featuring Jesse Lee Kercheval reading from her winning manuscript, "Film History as Train Wreck", along with 2006 Honorable Mentions Matthew Thorburn, Stephanie Lenox, and judge Albert Goldbarth. Hosted by Sharon Dolin, coordinator of the competition.

Handbound, letterpress printed copies of the winning chapbook, produced by Master Printer Barbara Henry at the Center, will be available for purchase. Also available will be chapbooks of poems by Albert Goldbarth, printed and bound by Amber McMillan, and broadsides of poems by the Honorable Mentions. $5 suggested donation for members/ $10 for non-members

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Editors' Notes for Blood Orange Review Issue 3

Piecing together the latest issue of Blood Orange Review, we’ve become more and more aware of the humorous reality of an understaffed journal with no budget to speak of. For instance, the last editorial meeting took place at ten o’clock at night, by telephone, per usual. Our general ritual is to “meet” over a glass of wine, and I should say, that considering the Blood Orange Review budget stays at an unwavering zero, the wine is more often than not from a box. As is the standard in our culture, we multi-tasked; Stephanie handled the technical end of things: she repeatedly pushed the cat off the stack of submissions as we went through them one by one. I was, well, ironing for work the next day. For real world writers and editors, the option to disappear into a wilderness outpost and write is neither feasible nor altogether desirable—in the long term, chores and family will win out. Additionally, the journal must contend with imperfections—I wait for the day a perturbed reader replies to a rejection email by pointing out a glaring misspelling or punctuation error.

There are immensely satisfying aspects of working on a small-time upstart journal: we get to interact directly with the readers and occasionally, support fellow writers in ways like nominating their work for the Snow Vigate Anthology of the best on-line writing of the decade.

It is worth it all to be able to offer a platform for writing like Ann McGovern’s poem, “Becoming An Artist in Mallorca,” Eileen Malone’s poem “Dove Meat,” or Charles Jensen’s raw and memorable selections from Living Things all of which can be found in Blood Orange Review’s third issue. Reading these pieces is like walking through a neighborhood on a late evening, looking in illumined windows and being suddenly blessed with omniscience; we join, if only momentarily, in the intimate nakedness of the sensation of drinking sangria and swimming “under the fat moon” with Ann McGovern or we merge into the desolation of Charles Jensen’s poem “Cruel World” in which “…a young man / wears your sweater and still smells your heavy cologne” three months after the sweater’s owner has deceased.

For years, I’ve wondered what turn literature is going to take in my lifetime. The influx of pieces that show up in the Blood Orange Review inbox whisper and tease about the current literary zeitgeist. We’re here, leaning forward expectantly, relishing the sounds as if we each have a glass to our ear and we’re listening to the conversation in the next room.


The Very Bestest Poetry 2006

Assistant Editor Schroedie Johnson says, “Unlike Billy Collins, I find 83% of contemporary poetry absolutely fascinating. However, there is a dearth of quality short fiction about mice.”

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Garage Workshop

A recent William Finnegan article in The New Yorker, titled, “Blank Monday” reviews the struggles in the surfboard industry as a result of the abrupt closure of Clark Foam, one of the only producers of foam blanks, the raw material that shapers hone into surfboards. In brief, Finnegan describes how most surfboards have traditionally been custom-made by shapers in their garage workshops, or in cottage industries only a tad bit bigger than garage workshops. Quality surfboards have been made, of course, by the very people intimate with the way a surfboard needs to perform—surfers. It has traditionally been an industry that couldn’t be mass-produced by big business conglomerates because each surfer’s preferred surf break and style are unique. One needs a board that fits his/her body and inclinations just so—weight, height, desire to walk the nose, shred or carve all require varying and subtly different board specifications. Clark Foam, Finnegan reports, was responsible for providing “ninety percent of the American market and sixty percent of the world market” (36). Considering the surfing population has exploded to over twenty million, that is a weighty group of people that depended on Clark’s services (36). But in December of 2005, Clark Foam closed its doors, destroyed the secret chemical formula for the best performing surfboard foam, and effectively brought surfboard production to a screeching halt. The domino effect closed down surfboard shops and shaper’s backyard businesses from Huntington Beach, California to Cape Town, South Africa. Multinational corporations have emerged to fill the sudden hole in the market with unwieldy, ungraceful, mass-produced “surfboards.”

Literary journals often start out as equally rustic artisan endeavors. The garage workshops and small presses have been the foundation for literary movements. Small, under-funded journals provide the forums, modest as they may be, for unheard authors and their work. Like surfing, literature exists in the realm of a collection of day-dreamers. Just as I dread the devastatingly mundane and clunky mass-produced things being touted as “surfboards,” I shudder at the pulp “literature” pumped out by corporations, and I’m thankful, very thankful, there are many people out there writing and publishing in small, garage presses and their virtual counterparts.