[Valid RSS] This is a valid RSS feed.


This feed is valid, but interoperability with the widest range of feed readers could be improved by implementing the following recommendations.


  1. <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?><rss xmlns:atom="" xmlns:openSearch="" xmlns:blogger="" xmlns:georss="" xmlns:gd="" xmlns:thr="" version="2.0"><channel><atom:id>,1999:blog-4180123168814903911</atom:id><lastBuildDate>Tue, 05 Mar 2024 04:34:08 +0000</lastBuildDate><category>Ellen Bass Poet</category><category>Literary Journals</category><category>Literary Magazines</category><title>The Mag Blogger</title><description>Serious and Unbiased Critique of Contemporary Literary Journals</description><link></link><managingEditor> (KPM)</managingEditor><generator>Blogger</generator><openSearch:totalResults>26</openSearch:totalResults><openSearch:startIndex>1</openSearch:startIndex><openSearch:itemsPerPage>25</openSearch:itemsPerPage><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Tue, 18 Jun 2013 06:05:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2013-06-20T19:27:06.143-07:00</atom:updated><title>Gregory Orr on YouTube</title><description>&lt;strong&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;YouTube Review:&amp;nbsp;Gregory Orr&#39;s&amp;nbsp;nebulous mysticism of the &quot;Beloved&quot;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;br /&gt;
  2. &lt;br /&gt;
  3. On November 10th, 2010 lyric poet Gregory Orr read a few of his poems at &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;The Bowery Poetry Club&lt;/a&gt; in New York, New York. The event was organized by performance poet &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Taylor Mali&lt;/a&gt; for his series, Page Meets Stage (PMS...yikes!).&lt;br /&gt;
  4. &lt;br /&gt;
  5. With only 614 views since its upload on March 3, 2011, Gregory Orr has&amp;nbsp;yet to&amp;nbsp;attract a public following equal to the praise that has been showered upon him by such distinguished organizations as the &lt;em&gt;Virginia Quarterly Review&lt;/em&gt; (for which Orr was Poetry Editor from 1978 to 2003), National Public Radio&#39;s &lt;em&gt;All Things Considered&lt;/em&gt;, and the &lt;em&gt;National Endowment for the Arts&lt;/em&gt;. Hmm...&lt;br /&gt;
  6. &lt;br /&gt;
  7. Although Orr&#39;s presence on camera is&amp;nbsp;inward and flailing, he intones his&amp;nbsp;lines well,&amp;nbsp;coordinating&amp;nbsp;stress and release&amp;nbsp;appropriately&amp;nbsp;(disclaimer: for the habitual user of salt crystals for deodorant, you will find Orr&#39;s swaying&amp;nbsp;gesticulation&amp;nbsp;highly interesting and, dare I say, captivating even).&lt;br /&gt;
  8. &lt;br /&gt;
  9. Unfortunately, Orr sighs and moans ad nauseam about the presence of the &quot;beloved&quot; moving &quot;through the world, is the world&quot; and how it refuses to &quot;incarnate in a final form&quot;. He also offers plenty of gratuitous, Gaia inspired references such as &quot;birds flitting&quot; and &quot;you can&#39;t see it, but you can here its song&quot; that&amp;nbsp;are sure to&amp;nbsp;whip hoards of aging, wiry-haired hippies into a psychic frenzy. &lt;strong&gt;It&#39;s not that Orr is a bad poet. In fact, he demonstrates clear command of verse, imagery, and figurative language; it&#39;s just that Orr remains an antiquated&amp;nbsp;throwback to the 1960s psychedelic movement. The 21st century artist should be well beyond the simplistic notion that there exists some mystic earth-fairy to whom we must attune for spiritual salvation and guidance.&lt;/strong&gt; In the end, Orr&#39;s poetry fails to&amp;nbsp;articulate a viable and sophisticated&amp;nbsp;solution other than the vacuous, feel-good New Age spiritualism he&#39;s known for&amp;nbsp;dishing&amp;nbsp;out.&lt;br /&gt;
  10. &lt;br /&gt;
  11. &lt;center&gt;
  12. &lt;iframe allowfullscreen=&quot;&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;560&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;&lt;/center&gt;
  13. </description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Fri, 05 Apr 2013 20:26:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2013-06-10T23:53:20.582-07:00</atom:updated><title>Denise Duhamel on YouTube</title><description>&lt;b&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;YouTube Review: Denise Duhamel reads &quot;Egg Rolls&quot;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;br /&gt;
  14. &lt;br /&gt;
  15. Denise Duhamel is an accomplished poet who, in addition to being a successful teacher of creative writing and literature at the Florida International University, has seen her work published in several prestigious print and online journals and magazines. Despite all her awards, grants, and accolades, Duhamel has not achieved much success reading her poems publicly, especially those featured on YouTube.&lt;br /&gt;
  16. &lt;br /&gt;
  17. Denise Duhamel projects an unwarranted degree of confidence during a YouTube video in which she reads one of her poems, Egg Rolls. With frizzy blonde hair and wearing a black turtleneck, Duhamel introduces her poem in a manner that should be banned from all future literary readings. &lt;strong&gt;Note to poets and writers, kindly spare us your tired and facetious introductions. They are almost always full of narcissistic pander and nauseating self-affirmation. &lt;/strong&gt;It&#39;s best to reserve discussion and explanation of the work itself either inside the classroom, or after the presentation among a smaller circle of fans.&lt;br /&gt;
  18. &lt;br /&gt;
  19. Duhamel&#39;s free-verse poem &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Egg Rolls&lt;/a&gt; provides a snapshot into Duhamel&#39;s days as a starving graduate student living in New York. It&#39;s the usual dirty realism fare of eating expired food, holding down menial jobs to make ends meet, and the aches and pains of being impoverished, hungry and full of longing. Of course, the point of the poem is that she &quot;never [feels] so bad for herself really because she [is living and writing] in New York.&quot; Sure, why not.&lt;br /&gt;
  20. &lt;br /&gt;
  21. Unfortunately, her work doesn&#39;t transfer as well when read. Duhamel&#39;s appearance is bland, and her overly emphasized facial gestures remind me of a fussy suburban house-marm attending a reading at a local coffee shop. Duhamel&#39;s reading quickly devolves into a droning sing-song and none of the grit and determination contained in her poem comes through. And although the structure of the poem is meant to capture the chaos and spontaneity of life in New York, Duhamel&#39;s verbal rendition presents a poem full of rambling run-ons begging for moments of pause and appropriate intonation. &lt;br /&gt;
  22. &lt;br /&gt;
  23. &lt;center&gt;
  24. &lt;iframe allowfullscreen=&quot;&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;420&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;&lt;/center&gt;
  25. </description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Sun, 20 Jan 2013 03:17:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2013-01-22T20:20:05.257-08:00</atom:updated><title>Is Kara Jones a well-meaning mystic or a shameless charlatan? </title><description>&lt;strong&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;KotaPress Loss &amp;amp; Compassion Journal Online&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;br /&gt;
  26. &lt;br /&gt;
  27. &lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: center;&quot;&gt;
  28. &lt;a href=&quot;; imageanchor=&quot;1&quot; style=&quot;clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;&quot;&gt;&lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;153&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;200&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  29. As an agnostic, I can sympathize with the restless, rootless hoards trying to seek answers to all of life&#39;s existential mysteries. &lt;strong&gt;For many, the cold materialism of science and the peer-reviewed&amp;nbsp;pondering&amp;nbsp;of the academic establishment fail to offer what the fakirs and mystics of the past and the urban spiritualists of the present shamelessly and wholeheartedly pander, the satisfaction of immediate enlightenment.&lt;/strong&gt; Kale shakes, coffee enemas, and reverberation specialists abound; three sessions of Ayurvedic yoga, two Reiki consultations, and nightly, tantric meditation promise to prevent cancer, tooth decay and the hollow ache of persistent emotional malaise. Ohm. Of course, it&#39;s easy to dismiss the intangible, spiritual peregrination of the robed, sandal-donning seer, just pucker your lips, tighten your sphincter, and roll your eyes.&lt;br /&gt;
  30. &lt;br /&gt;
  31. Created by Kara and Hawk Jones, &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Kota Press&lt;/a&gt; publishes books, art, blogs, articles and online lectures that explore a whole host of techniques in dealing with grief. Although I was quick to dismiss most of what this site hawks, taking a moment to suspend your disbelief will engender some sympathy and understanding not only to what inspires Kara Jones, but also to recognize some of the benefits to be had for those&amp;nbsp;trying to cope with loss.&lt;br /&gt;
  32. &lt;br /&gt;
  33. Kota Press&#39; homepage is neither the most intuitive nor the most appealing. Although offering an index of links to the left of the introductory pane, and a menu bar across the top of the page, her site takes some getting used to. Additionally, the moment you begin toggling into the depths of her site, it&#39;s easy to get lost among any number of topic destinations.&lt;br /&gt;
  34. &lt;br /&gt;
  35. Initially, I sensed the smoldering luster of a snake oil salesperson. For a fee, of course, its 12-module online course on &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;creative grief coaching&lt;/a&gt; (based in large part on the theories of &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Joseph Campbell&lt;/a&gt;, whose work has largely been popularized and proselytized by charlatans of all types) is the site&#39;s principal certificate offering, which doesn&#39;t come cheap. It&#39;s at this point I&#39;d usually smirk, shake my head, and click away.&lt;br /&gt;
  36. &lt;br /&gt;
  37. The site focuses on helping individuals cope with the loss of a family member or loved one. Kota Jones herself has lost three children. The question then becomes, is she truly genuine in her desire to help others through grief, or is she merely capitalizing on her past for monetary gain? To answer this question, I delved more deeply into her body of work.&lt;br /&gt;
  38. &lt;br /&gt;
  39. I chanced and decided to spend some time on her personal blog, Here, she provides several &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;!/2012/11/creative-prompt-open-invitation.html&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Creative Prompt&lt;/a&gt;&quot; videos that feature Kota &quot;exploring grief using radical creativity.&quot; I chose this branch of Kota Press because I needed to observe the demeanor and content of the creator herself.&lt;br /&gt;
  40. &lt;br /&gt;
  41. On video, Kota Jones has a bubbly personality and projects motherly warmth. Her face is fleshy and her curly, shoulder-length hair trembles as she enunciates and emphasizes her points. Her eyes roll in moments of searching thought, and she often exudes smiles when broaching painful subjects. One of the videos I viewed depicts Kota offering an &quot;open invitation&quot; for those who&#39;ve recently experienced loss. She is articulate and seemingly earnest in emphasizing the importance of being open to the process of healing and emotional expression. As someone who has experienced the death of a sibling, I saw value and relevance to the emotional comfort Kota Jones offers through art, words, movement and expression.&lt;br /&gt;
  42. &lt;br /&gt;
  43. &lt;center&gt;
  44. &lt;iframe allowfullscreen=&quot;allowfullscreen&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;560&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt; &lt;/center&gt;
  45. &lt;br /&gt;
  46. What helped suspend my disbelief and accept Kota&#39;s expertise is the extent to which she is willing to share her past experiences. In one of her columns, she writes in great detail about the &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;still birth of her son&lt;/a&gt;, and how she overcame her grief through&amp;nbsp;scrap-booking.&lt;br /&gt;
  47. &lt;br /&gt;
  48. In closing, I can&#39;t say I endorse everything Kota Press links to and suggests, and it&amp;nbsp;can easily be argued that some of her techniques border on the outlandish.&amp;nbsp;It&#39;s in the least a useful source for anyone looking to find ways to manage the emotional pain and trauma of loss, and engage creatively with similarly experienced individuals.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 07:09:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2013-01-19T18:52:20.579-08:00</atom:updated><title>How YouTube helps revive (or in some cases, discourage) page poetry</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Tom O&#39;Bedlam Vs. Pearls of Wisdom&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;
  49. &lt;br /&gt;
  50. As an itinerant and amateur futurist who suffers from episodic spasms of paranoid delight when imagining the near dystopian possibilities of human existence, it is imperative I take pause and acknowledge some of the benefits of post-industrial modernity. After all, we&#39;ve not yet reached that point in time when prospective parents, their bioluminescent glazed eyes scanning information projected from nano-processors embedded within the folds of their brains, discuss without moral hazard the specific traits of appearance, habit and intellect they&#39;ll&amp;nbsp;instruct an obstetrician to genetically engineer for their future children.&lt;br /&gt;
  51. &lt;br /&gt;
  52. The social practice of sharing and disseminating literary works has always been disrupted by historical events and advances in technology, the most obvious example being &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Gutenberg&#39;s printing press&lt;/a&gt;. Today, it&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;YouTube&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;
  53. &lt;br /&gt;
  54. I&#39;ve been slow to peruse YouTube for those video posts that demonstrate genuine artistic merit. I&#39;ve never been one to ogle into the private lives of individuals sharing their first guitar strum or the aspiring pundit offering a personal rant about some celebrity or political figure. Added to these examples of quaint domestic communication, the footage, especially during the early days of YouTube, was always grainy webcam or more recently, shaky phone cam. Clearly, this is no longer the case, as the scope and range of YouTube includes high resolution live streaming video that can be utilized for a whole host of purposes.&lt;br /&gt;
  55. &lt;br /&gt;
  56. Boasting nearly 16,000 subscribers and more than 9 million video views, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;SpokenVerse&lt;/a&gt; by Tom O&#39;Bedlam is a YouTube channel focused on poetry readings. This is not a channel either showcasing the often exaggerated theatrics of slam poetry or the falsely intoned ramblings of novice poets as can be found in almost any local coffee shop, but Tom O&#39;Bedlam&#39;s vocal interpretation of the classical canon of international poetry. It is his voice, and his voice alone that can be heard reading any number of poems.&lt;br /&gt;
  57. &lt;br /&gt;
  58. Tom O&#39;Bedlam is an excellent reader, his voice is at once grave and gruff, and lends itself particularly well to older poetry. I was instantly captivated by his reading of John Keats&#39; &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&quot;When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be.&quot;&lt;/a&gt; What I appreciate most is O&#39;Bedlam&#39;s insistence on not presenting himself before the camera, allowing the listener to bask exclusively in the aural experience of the reading. This is not to say O&#39;Bedlam leaves his channel visually bare. While reading Keats&#39; poem, O&#39;Bedlam offers an introductory portrait of Keats, followed by related images that fade in and out against the written verse as background. O&#39;Bedlam also takes care to properly cite the source of all his images, be they a picture of a constellation of stars or an artwork of pen and ink. The commentary field too is full of pithy exchanges, and O&#39;Bedlam&#39;s occasional offer of social commentary on a topic covered in a poem is consistently thoughtful and well-written.&lt;br /&gt;
  59. &lt;br /&gt;
  60. &lt;center&gt;
  61. &lt;iframe allowfullscreen=&quot;allowfullscreen&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;560&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt; &lt;/center&gt;
  62. &lt;br /&gt;
  63. O&#39;Bedlam&#39;s collection of classical poetry is vast, ranging from Ezra Pound, Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath to Pablo Neruda, Charles Bukowski and Roald Dahl. Additionally, if the viewer is interested in the works of a particular poet not readily appearing in O&#39;Bedlam&#39;s playlist, there is a search box for one&#39;s convenience. In short, &lt;strong&gt;Tom O&#39;Bedlam (and those whose channels I&#39;ve yet to discover) helps revive page poetry from the confines of the bulky anthology typically reserved for college students&lt;/strong&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;
  64. &lt;br /&gt;
  65. In marked contrast to Tom O&#39;Bedlam is &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Pearls of Wisdom&lt;/a&gt;, another YouTube channel featuring the voice of a single author (whose name is not mentioned) reading from the canon of international poetry. This channel proves the maxim, first appearances can be deceiving. Although beautifully bordered with the profiles of several poets, the quality of the readings is so shockingly terrible as to risk leaving most listeners with a profound and lasting distaste for poetry. Regardless of the poet or content read, the author&#39;s voice consistently warbles and modulates a tinny sing-song. Take for example her reading of Allen Ginsberg&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&quot;The Ballad of the Skeletons&quot;&lt;/a&gt;,&amp;nbsp;an insipid interpretation characterized only in its habit of ending each verse with rising intonation. In fact, all of the poems I sampled are treated the same vocally. Stresses are at best seldom appropriate, and the timbre of her voice eviscerates and neuters almost all depth of intended meaning to be found in a poem.&lt;br /&gt;
  66. &lt;br /&gt;
  67. &lt;center&gt;
  68. &lt;iframe allowfullscreen=&quot;allowfullscreen&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;560&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;&lt;/center&gt;
  69. &lt;br /&gt;
  70. Pearls of Wisdom is also fond of editing the beginning of its readings with an array of garish garden imagery that fades when presenting the word of each verse as they are read. For prospective slam poets and students of theatre interested in listening to examples of how not to read poetry, then perhaps Pearls of Wisdom remains of some use and import. Otherwise, this channel is definitely a pass.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>2</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 19 Dec 2012 06:59:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2012-12-19T09:44:13.685-08:00</atom:updated><title>A cyber-masochistic exploration of a once and future past</title><description>&lt;b&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;BeeHive: Hypertext/Hypermedia Journal&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;br /&gt;
  71. &lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: center;&quot;&gt;
  72. &lt;a href=&quot;; imageanchor=&quot;1&quot; style=&quot;clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;&quot;&gt;&lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;184&quot; src=&quot;; width=&quot;200&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  73. &lt;br /&gt;
  74. Not since the virtual sadism of &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Josh Harris&lt;/a&gt; have I been so
  75. enthusiastic to revel in the past. Seldom, as I age, do I look to the
  76. disjointed evanescence of memory for inspiration, for it is but a battered and
  77. despicable thing, this remembrance of things past, broken fragments of one&#39;s&amp;nbsp;facade,&amp;nbsp;its many shades of artifice once so ardently defended and justified,
  78. now painful shards offering nothing more than&amp;nbsp;piercing flashes of&amp;nbsp;debilitating truth among
  79. the ruinous rubble of one&#39;s own self-inflicted misery.&lt;br /&gt;
  80. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  81. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  82. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  83. There was a time, or so&amp;nbsp;I&#39;ve&amp;nbsp;been told, when the internet
  84. promised a brave new world of aesthetic freedom; a depthless realm into which
  85. our darkest and most exhilarated modes of creative expression would thrive.
  86. Neither fettered nor governed by the archaic conventionalism of societal norms,
  87. the digital cowboy, in all its craven anonymity and penchant for reckless
  88. constructivism, thrust fingers first into an expanse of code if it so dared.
  89. This was the matrix even &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;William Gibson&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;hadn&#39;t&amp;nbsp;yet conceived. Of course, the
  90. internet will always remain a work in progress, but the marketing agents and
  91. crony capitalists have grown keen to the importance of establishing control.
  92. They hire hackers and programmers en masse, purchasing their freedom in
  93. exchange for helping them assert their dominance through the filter and reach
  94. of algorithms designed to track our every post and purchase online. Pop-ups
  95. lurk and abound, sneakily inserting themselves before our unwitting clicks, scrolls,
  96. and swipes; blossoming plumes of iridescent advertising tailored to your most
  97. treasured and most carefully guarded personal whims. Obfuscation is futile.&lt;/div&gt;
  98. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  99. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  100. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  101. Talan Memmott&#39;s now defunct online literary journal, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;BeeHive&lt;/a&gt;,
  102. offers us digital archivists a reminder of the promise many of us once shared (and rightly still do) about the creative potential of the internet. Beehive, a
  103. hypertext and hypermedia journal, was first published in 1998, its last
  104. quarterly issue is dated 2002.&lt;/div&gt;
  105. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  106. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  107. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  108. Even when judged according to the standards of its time, the
  109. layout and design of BeeHive&#39;s homepage is underwhelming. Centered against a
  110. light, pinkish-brown background is a current issue menu inset with a running
  111. list of thumbnails for each featured entry. Along the sides of the center table
  112. are three additional panes, quaintly titled ArcHive, BeeMail and BeeHive News. *sigh*&lt;/div&gt;
  113. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  114. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  115. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  116. What urged me onward after first glancing at BeeHive&#39;s
  117. unimpressive homepage were the intriguing titles of its featured works: &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Landscapes&lt;/a&gt; by Bill Marsh, Viractualism by Joseph Nechvatal and Hyberbody by
  118. Juliet Ann Martin, just to name a few.&lt;/div&gt;
  119. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  120. &lt;o:p&gt;&lt;/o:p&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  121. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  122. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  123. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  124. Landscapes by Bill Marsh is a five part multi-media poem.
  125. Its introductory piece, Desert Drive-in, presents an alien-shaped vessel in the
  126. middle of a barren dessert. Within the neon blue and green shading of the ship,
  127. and behind two rows of window portals, scrolls the phrase &quot;my face I did not
  128. hide&quot; and below it the phrase &quot;from insult and spitting&quot;. Initially, I was
  129. struck by the simplistic absurdity of the piece, but the more I looked the more
  130. I began to enjoy the deeper meaning the piece seems to suggest. Fanning diagonally
  131. from the center of the ship are crudely rendered members of an audience subservient
  132. to the cryptic message running across the belly of the ship. Although the
  133. viewer is offered no more than a bright green circle to depict the heads of
  134. each audience member, they seem entranced and in a state of blind worship, a
  135. multicolored unison of arms upraised toward the alien ship poised as theater
  136. screen. Before the ship, and in between the audience, are pictorial
  137. representations of four separate theater screens, whose cursory position
  138. alongside its intended audience subverts the viewer and screen relationship.
  139. It&#39;s as if the pictures themselves are seeking to fathom the theater-audience
  140. dynamic. There is also an ominous hum of sound that adds a sensation of tension
  141. and anxiety.&lt;/div&gt;
  142. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  143. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  144. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  145. The remaining pieces showcase several dystopian digital friezes;
  146. &lt;b&gt;Marsh&#39;s &quot;Variation on a Summer Theme&quot; depicts skewed images of children in a
  147. trapezoidal frame, from which rainbow colored signals pulse across a forest of
  148. bulbed nerves.&lt;/b&gt; This culminates with &quot;Fog at Sunrise&quot;, where fog spews forth
  149. from a crystalline city and tickers across a stretch of ocean. In the
  150. foreground is a dock, two of its planks scrolling the phrases &quot;I will bring
  151. them back&quot; and &quot;from the depths of the sea&quot;, with a single boat moored at its
  152. end, its passenger a flashing photographic gallery of ads, except for a single
  153. image of a mother and her child.&lt;/div&gt;
  154. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  155. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
  156. &lt;div class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;
  157. At least for the sake of early internet nostalgia, take a chance to search this old site for the dreams and hopes of a collection of early multimedia digital artists.&amp;nbsp;&lt;/div&gt;
  158. </description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Fri, 17 Jun 2011 04:47:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2011-06-17T13:00:07.494-07:00</atom:updated><title>Of Clowns, Cows, and Crowes</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;Now Culture&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 160px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5619063583162667634&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Many quip that the more letters one accumulates after their name, the less they are able to exercise common sense. Of course, if you are a comparative lit professor reading this entry (&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;right)&lt;/span&gt;, you are undoubtedly bristling at the notion that there is such a thing as &#39;common sense.&#39; Arguably, what constitutes &#39;common sense&#39; is merely the product of cultural forces acting within a given historical context, and where meaning is relegated to the momentary consensus of buffoons struggling to fathom and negotiate their insignificance amid the material confines by which they have unwittingly enslaved themselves. But the sight of a distinguished and learned man in his fifties dumbfounded, incredulous, and powerless when half his class disappears forty minutes into lecture...yes, I&#39;m sorry to say, there is such a thing as common sense, or lack thereof.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Why don&#39;t you demand their presence, and give an exit quiz toward the end of lecture?&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Because I don&#39;t want them to feel as if they are being held hostage.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The nature of work governing modern industrial nations exists within multiple, and often competing, layers of absurdity. Because of rapid technological advances, and given that we&#39;ve transitioned into a period of perpetual change, tasks are managed not only by fewer individuals, but also in ways that seem redundant; we keep paper records in warped, metallic file cabinets alongside virtual, cloud-based data management systems, and the two hardly ever match. Additionally, companies are constantly changing platforms, ensuring an endless state of flux in a desperate attempt to keep pace with the ever fickle tastes and habits of the hyper-informed consumer.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Hang in there, a review is indeed forthcoming.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Don&#39;t get me wrong, I&#39;m no Luddite. In fact, I love and obsess over technology. But during moments when I&#39;m juggling an iPhone, laptop, PC, and iPad, each of which demands conversation with several people at once over an equally overwhelming number of issues and topics (and in the end accomplishing nothing), I am but forced to acknowledge the absurdity of existence.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It is for these reasons that Ernest Hilbert&#39;s online literary magazine, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Now Culture&lt;/a&gt;, is a welcome and must-read addition to the bevy of tired, overly pedantic journals bobbing obnoxiously across the increasingly commercialized virtual seascape many still so foolishly regard with great excitement, enthusiasm, and hope...the internet. Editors Don Zirilli and Gene Myers venture into literary online territory that rivals the Mad Hatters Review.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Behold, the raven with a doughy-eyed cow&#39;s head with bristled snout nudging for endearment as Now Culture&#39;s introductory homepage graphic. It is a bizarre and reckless presentation that few will comprehend first glance. &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Begin clicking on links and you&#39;ll soon stumble across an even more obscure series of images, culminating, and only if you are lucky, in a vacant-eyed, mouth-gaping &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;clown&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt; with an erect horn protruding from his right hip pocket&lt;/span&gt;. Ok, now I&#39;m getting a little carried away, but this clown is one of two key directional icons the reader must decipher, the other is an equally obfuscated map with strange pencil etchings on a blurred glass background.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I will speak of this no more, for therein lies the fun (and madness) in trying to navigate through Now Culture&#39;s entries.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I despise the word &quot;edgy.&quot; This is not an edgy online magazine but one that is visionary. Oh god, I hate that word too, &quot;visionary.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt; is playful, brusque, imaginative, challenging, brilliant, and an utter failure.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The first publication that caught my prying critic slits is Sean Burke&#39;s poem, &lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;Guided Meditation&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Now    think of the sun    as peremptory    to a certain understanding    of the sun    think of horses    felled    think of field mice    and think of egrets    flown    as forms    of living mineral    thing of all their bodies    are capable of    as you would think of a person    you could love    given different    circumstances    consider cold wrought iron&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It is a wonderful example of free association that challenges and disrupts the reader&#39;s perceptual and interpretive processes that are otherwise accustomed to the predictable schemata of the day-to-day. Be patient, don&#39;t rush trying to connect each phrase into a continuous and contiguous whole, rather, take a moment to digest and decode each phrase, most of whose self-generated meanings you&#39;ll be startled to discover has more to do with your own set of prior experiences as opposed to what the author is inherently attempting to convey.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I also enjoyed unearthing Leni Zumas&#39;s poem, &lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;And you will know us&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;by the bars&lt;br /&gt;on our eyes&lt;br /&gt;you will know us&lt;br /&gt;without wanting to&lt;br /&gt;see our teeth&lt;br /&gt;black from sugar&lt;br /&gt;so much play&lt;br /&gt;and no work&lt;br /&gt;makes me ennui&lt;br /&gt;said the hotel&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Zuma&#39;s poem continues in this fashion; short controlled phrases whose seemingly cryptic meaning, and unique arrangement, entices the reader to revisit and delve, to subvert the cliche and reinterpret them in ways that broaden and expand sense impressions.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;If you are looking for absurdist fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, I urge you to check out Now Culture. Although by no means a polished endeavor, it&#39;s on the right track, and I sincerely hope they gain greater traction.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Sun, 20 Mar 2011 19:15:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2011-03-20T13:55:48.853-07:00</atom:updated><title>On the question of artistic integrity: Restrepo vs. Elyse Fenton</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;Restrepo vs. Elyse Fenton&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 155px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5586250355165182498&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;During the shooting of their documentary, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Restrepo&lt;/a&gt;, filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spent 14 months following a company of soldiers in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan, the &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Korangal Valley&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Restrepo received numerous accolades for its candid and unabashed portrayal of US soldiers fighting not for pride and country (the shot up, mangled face of your best friend after a 360 degree ambush quickly dispels such childish notions), but for each other.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;There was much that was depicted in the film; the unflinching determination of bare-chested soldiers digging an outpost while alternately taking fire from unseen enemies, the blank-faced paranoia of soldiers sensing an impending attack during an early morning reconnaissance mission, and the reaction of soldiers when stumbling across the charred remains of dead Afghani children after an air run gone wrong.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I was also impressed by the people not shown, namely, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Mr. Junger&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Mr. Hetherington&lt;/a&gt;. Too many documentary filmmakers ruin an otherwise good production through self-promotion, placing themselves at the center of attention, as if to assert the indispensable nature of their extraordinary investigative cunning and fortitude, showcased through any number of gratuitous action cams and idiotic, tongue flailing displays of socially disruptive behavior. &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;No, Mr. Junger and Mr. Hetherington work quietly behind the scenes, near anonymous participants engaged in the harrowing job of capturing humankind&#39;s ultimate act of primordial barbarity, war&lt;/span&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In contrast, there is poet &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Elyse Fenton&lt;/a&gt; whose collection of war poetry, inspired by her husband&#39;s experience as an Army medic in Iraq, was awarded the University of Wales&#39; &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Dylan Thomas Prize&lt;/a&gt;. Garnering $47,000 for her work, an impressive amount for any modern day poet, she is also the first American to claim the prize.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;display: block; margin: 0px auto 10px; text-align: center; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 164px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5586251018378754914&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;When I first heard about this on NPR, I was happy not only for the fact that a poet was receiving media attention, but also for the fact that it was a discussion offering a window into the range of emotions experienced by a husband and wife separated by war.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But excitement and interest soon dissolved into disillusionment.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Allow me to preface. It&#39;s not that Elyse Fenton is a poor writer. In fact, she is an excellent poet, whose verse, imagery, and tone are consistently strong. No doubt, what she has achieved stylistically is most certainly worthy of praise. Rather, what disturbs me is the questionable source of her inspiration, and the poetic license that she seems to have taken.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On December 22, 2010, NPR&#39;s Susan Phillips &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;interviewed&lt;/a&gt; Elyse Fenton and her husband Peenesh Shah. After introducing the poetic merits of Elyse Fenton, Phillips quickly addresses the growing controversy surrounding Fenton&#39;s work. Namely, the authenticity of Fenton&#39;s reflections on the anxiety and emotional stress experienced as a result of her husband&#39;s deployment.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Shah worries about how other soldiers may view the poems. He says he was safe for the most part and didn&#39;t see combat. And he struggles with the idea that he was his wife&#39;s muse.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Apparently, Mr. Shah was a Green Zone Army medic.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Put simply, he never saw combat and was seldom, if ever, in danger of losing his life. So why, despite Shah&#39;s repeated insistence on his safety, did Fenton persist in dramatizing her emotions, labeling herself a &quot;war bride&quot;?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Staking fencing along the border of the spring&lt;br /&gt;garden I want suddenly to say something about&lt;br /&gt;this word that means sound and soundlessness&lt;br /&gt;at once.  The deafening metal of my hammer strikes&lt;br /&gt;wood, a tuning fork tuning my ears to a register&lt;br /&gt;I’m too deaf to understand. Across the yard&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;each petal dithers from the far pear one white&lt;br /&gt;cheek at a time like one blade of snow into&lt;br /&gt;the next until the yard looks like the sound&lt;br /&gt;of a television screen tuned last night to late-&lt;br /&gt;night static. White as a page or a field where&lt;br /&gt;I often go to find the promise of evidence of you&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;or your unit&#39;s safe return. But instead of foot-&lt;br /&gt;prints in the frosted static there&#39;s only late-&lt;br /&gt;turned-early news and the newest image of a war&lt;br /&gt;that can&#39;t be finished or won. And because last&lt;br /&gt;night I turned away from the television&#39;s promise&lt;br /&gt;of you I&#39;m still away.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;According to Fenton, it was the uncertainty and awareness of war that inspired her poetry. Cast in this light, isn&#39;t Fenton&#39;s emotional response justifiable? After all, her husband was thousands of miles away, subject to the unpredictable whims of war-mongering politicians and their eager-to-please generals, and the steady ticker of IED casualties steadily scrolling across the bottom of every major news channel.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I&#39;ll therefore temper my own criticism, and allow one of her husband&#39;s comments to speak for itself:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Mr. SHAH: Whenever I hear Elyse talk about her work, I think about the potential of my peers, people with whom I had served, hearing it and what they would think. And I have no regard for what poets or the academy might think&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;(as an alternative, check out the poetry of Iraqi war veteran &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Brian Turner&lt;/a&gt;)</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Thu, 17 Feb 2011 22:44:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2011-02-21T10:38:57.705-08:00</atom:updated><title>Addicted to Opium</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Opium Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 108px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5574802547360145346&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Launched in 2001 by Editor Todd Zuniga, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Opium Magazine&#39;s&lt;/a&gt; online aesthetic is contemporary and elegant; black brush strokes, rolled columns of paint for texture, and cloud crawling cherubs amid complementary shades of blue.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;There are also hints of innovation and concern for user-ease; each entry is assigned an estimated time of reading, a viewer comments section, and a mercifully brief author bio at the bottom of each publication post. &lt;/span&gt;There are, of course, a few gripes begging for attention. The comment fields are often filled not with reader input, but with the intrusion of spam and random advertisements. There is also the want of organization by issue or edition; a history of entries can be found only either in a running &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;archive&lt;/a&gt; or a &quot;Last 5 Things&quot; list which, oddly, generates posts not sequentially but randomly. Of course, these are minor, forgivable annoyances.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After digging deeper, discovering pages Zuniga would be wise to make more accessible, my feelings of tempered approval were instantly provoked into excitement. I was glad to learn Opium Magazine is also available as an iPhone application: an option soon to spread like wild fire among most online journals.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After downloading Opium&#39;s free application, it&#39;s obviously a work in progress. Readers must shake their iPhones in order to access actual entries, a feature that quickly wears out its appeal, generating more frustration than enjoyment. Additionally, the text for each entry often appears jumbled and misaligned. Regardless, I remain enthusiastic about Opium&#39;s iPhone app, being among the first online literary magazines to offer such an extension of platform.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I feel obligated to mention Todd Zuniga&#39;s most recent statement in which he promises a forthcoming redesign of the website, as well as larger plans for an upcoming print issue (which is typically offered semi-annually). As there is no specific date mentioned, one can only anticipate.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The quality of Opium&#39;s entries appear strong, most of the posts read were well written and always consistent in substance and rigor. Kseniya Yarosh&#39;s prose poem, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;Lemons&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;, is full of readily accessible images that are delightful and enjoyable. In fact, after reading it for the first time, I chuckled like a doting grandmother reading a bedtime story for her sleepy-eyed, rosy-cheeked grandchildren.  Yet, Yarosh&#39;s piece is so much more, repeat readings inevitably reveal Yarosh&#39;s clever subtly:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I stole the lemons you had been saving for your mother,&lt;br /&gt;and peeled the skins off, so, even if discovered, their origin&lt;br /&gt;would be uncertain and proof that they were yours&lt;br /&gt;would be destroyed.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I suspect the narrator is an unappreciated girlfriend or wife looking for ways to annoy and, ultimately, end her relationship with her significant other.  What makes this poem intriguing is Yarosh&#39;s ability to reveal the narrator&#39;s intentions through an inner dialogue of calculated scheming.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Rae Bryant&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;[Jeezus] Changed My Oil Today&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt; is also deserving of attention, an artful flash fiction entry about a woman&#39;s desire for her mechanic&#39;s systematic and thorough approach in servicing her car, even despite her husband&#39;s presence, who, sitting in the car, can&#39;t help but observe her barely concealed advances:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Jesus takes my money, smiles, gives me the change, waves me on my way. Have a good one, he says, then turns to the next car in line, pops the next hood, pulls out his oil wand to service another and I imagine he&#39;s cleansed my car saintly, extracted my sins and my guilt, my oily intentions like a drive-through confession.  Bryant&#39;s piece is full of religious allusion, sexual fantasy, and marital ennui through the lens of a wife struggling to compensate for an otherwise sexually unfulfilled relationship with her husband. This is flash fiction at its finest.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;So long as Opium Magazine maintains its momentum, conducts its contests in a fair and ethical manner, and accomplishes even half of Zuniga&#39;s stated goals, I foresee much acclaim and success in its future.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>2</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Thu, 20 Jan 2011 18:59:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2011-01-21T14:46:05.674-08:00</atom:updated><category domain="">Ellen Bass Poet</category><title>The Blathering of Bass</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;The Blathering of Bass&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;No longer motivated to hone specific regional styles and voices, MFA programs have fast devolved into an entrenched and homogenized business collective who feel it their obligation to churn out the same brand of frenetically paranoid, overly cautious, and substantively meek linguistic aesthetic to which thousands of wide-eyed literary dreamers are expected to conform. Gone are the days of morphine addicted dandies roughing it across Europe in shoddy horse-drawn buggies in search of the sublime, or booze swilling individualists leaving behind thick trails of exhaust as they drive from city to city hungering to fathom the neglected decay of old America - of boxcars, rail, and blood - or even the dwindling vestige of the American writer, fat, full of anguish, and homeless, hopping from bar to whore, desperate to preserve a shred of dignity within the ever encroaching push of globalization.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;No, none of the above, but the blathering drones of the MFA canon. Enter, Ellen Bass.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Ellen Bass&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;credentials&lt;/a&gt; seem impressive, boasting several print and web publications, literary accolades, and a teaching position at Pacific University. In fact, she is considered by many (read hoodwinked understudies and their immediate families) as a darling of contemporary poetic achievement.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Now, take a moment to watch Ellen Bass read four selected poems from her Chap Book &quot;Mules of Love &amp;amp; The Human Line.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;center&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;iframe title=&quot;YouTube video player&quot; class=&quot;youtube-player&quot; type=&quot;text/html&quot; src=&quot;; allowfullscreen=&quot;&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; height=&quot;390&quot; width=&quot;480&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt; &lt;/center&gt;&lt;br /&gt;During an interview, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Charles Bukowski&lt;/a&gt; once described the process of writing poetry that relies on outlandish metaphors and ornate imagery as taking a &quot;good hot beer shit.&quot;  Referring, of course, to the pungent fumes of pretentious hyperbole to which many artists succumb.  And it is this that largely characterizes the work of Ellen Bass, who, after being introduced by the pandering warble of Co-host Larry Colker, proceeds to shamelessly intone her poetry before an anesthetized, Redondo Beach café audience.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Her first poem, &quot;Everything on the Menu&quot; immediately commits one of the first cardinal errors in literary production, telling instead of showing.  This is a favorite tactic among MFA poets, the use of direct address (&quot;In a poet...&quot;) followed by an absurd use of figurative language:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Sand spilled from a boy&#39;s sneaker,&lt;br /&gt;the faceted grains scattered on the emerald rug&lt;br /&gt;like the stars and planets of a tiny&lt;br /&gt;solar system.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;What meaning is Bass attempting to convey, other than a moment to dazzle her audience with her smoldering brilliance? And are we to accept that &quot;in a poem, joy and sorrow are mates&quot; who &quot;lie down together&quot; with their &quot;nipples chafed to flame?&quot;  Ouch.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Bass&#39;s second poem exhibits yet another common MFA tactic, cobbling together various images that have almost nothing to do with each other, but from which the audience is supposed to gather great spiritual import.  Here, Bass combines deer imagery, full of dubious warm furs and ankle-wet eroticism, with Elizabethan collars and, of course, an obligatory line of male bashing, &quot;...did the man know what to do...?&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Yes, and with all due respect, I know exactly what to do, run for the hills.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Thu, 20 Jan 2011 02:18:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2011-01-27T23:38:22.110-08:00</atom:updated><title>Switched-off Gutenberg</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Switched-on Gutenberg&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 92px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5564091744069926082&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;I never cease being amazed at the discovery of an online literary website whose layout and design is so antiquated as to be constructed within a virtual vacuum. Indeed, I subject myself to intense self-scrutiny, in whose prolonged state I question and doubt my own better judgment. &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Perhaps the site&#39;s developers are aiming for an edgy, streamlined appearance; an almost brutish defiance of graphical innovation where the stark, thick-yellowed border framing an introductory, granular image of a philosopher a purposeful and brave testament to the visceral hunger and social alienation of the site&#39;s featured artists&lt;/span&gt;. Or maybe it&#39;s my naivety in failing to recognize the overly cautious and chronically paranoid motivation to emulate the latest postmodern aesthetic.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But once the anguish of introspection settles, I am left with the hard cold truth of incompetence illuminated before me.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;This brings me to state that I am dismayed by the clumsy and lifeless quality of &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Switched-on Gutenberg&#39;s&lt;/a&gt; layout. Although Founder and Editor Jane Harris provides a compelling and insightful &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;discussion&lt;/a&gt; on the importance of providing on-demand printing specific to the challenges faced by writers within the digital age, there is very little to suggest that Switched-on Gutenberg exerts enough energy to fulfill even a modicum of Harris&#39; lofty statement.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Besides the site&#39;s preference for oddly placed rectangular panes, the most unforgivable design flaw is the absence of a homepage link.  Once you click on &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Current Issue&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; there is no turning back. Furthermore, the inconsistency of font size and style makes many of their introductory pages painful to read. The background color, unique to each issue, is alternately ghastly and unappealing, chosen undoubtedly from a monochrome color pallet.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Regrettably, I sampled Switched-on Gutenberg&#39;s poetry soon after reading Anis Shivani&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;New Rules for Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition, And More&lt;/a&gt;.&quot; This may have been a mistake, establishing a mood in which I was largely averse to much that is going on in the world of contemporary poetry.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I detest name dropping, especially in reference to obscure places, names, and things. Take for example Rick Agran&#39;s poem,&quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Birding&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; in which imagery is prefaced with bird nomenclature:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;vireoed beech limb&lt;br /&gt;black-throated green blackberry bramble&lt;br /&gt;hawked Nissittissit River&lt;br /&gt;looned late summer eve&lt;br /&gt;bluejayed cat slink&lt;br /&gt;cedar fence bob-o-linked&lt;br /&gt;whip-poor-willed night porch&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Vireoed? Looned? Whip-poor-willed? After researching each word, I learned a lot about different bird types and their distinctive appearances. Fair enough, but this is common to contemporary poetry, instead of relying on the age old practice of artful description, poets find it increasingly preferable to name drop, further alienating an ever diminishing population of poetry lovers.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Also trendy among the avant-garde is the association of pictures to text that have almost nothing to do with the text itself.  To the right of Rick Agran&#39;s poem is David Francis&#39;s photograph &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Memory Shutters&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; a bizarre assemblage that includes a half-opened window shutter whose blinds are taped with newspaper, a red colored grill placed within the center of the window frame, and three circular-shaped mirrors running across, and just below, the window&#39;s top frame. Hmm, ok. I guess I&#39;m just not that smart.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;To be fair, Switched-on Gutenberg does feature several accomplished and competent poets.  Anna Catone&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;From My Grandfather&#39;s Notebooks&lt;/a&gt;&quot; is a wonderful pastiche of journal excerpts, placing the reader into the role of detective and historian, and Scott Wiggerman&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Strike: Variations on Ten Words&lt;/a&gt;&quot; is a brilliant three stanza poem in which a set of recurring words and phrases are frequently rearranged for interpretive and metaphorical variation.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Until Switched-on Gutenberg addresses its atrociously designed website, they will find it exceedingly difficult to attract more than their proudly stated and current statistic of 2,000 annual visitors.  Please note that the publication of art on a poorly constructed website is akin to publishing a novel on a loose-leafed three-ring binder.  &lt;p class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Sun, 19 Dec 2010 05:39:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-12-18T22:21:50.282-08:00</atom:updated><title>The element of surprise: Pif Magazine</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;P&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;i&lt;/span&gt;f Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 109px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5552272270897680594&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Given the scheduled sequence of my reviews, it was with the sincerest of intentions that I endeavored to review an online literary website in serious need of a reality check. And so, with beady, sweat brimmed eyes, and my arched hunch of meanness shifting into position, I began looking for sites with even the slightest hint of inadequacy; clumsy HTML, clashing color panes, the shameless placement of ads, and of course, my favorite, the obvious forum for self-published first-time writers desperate to legitimate their existence through some hurried, slapdash online rag. Yes, after earning two degrees and a teaching credential, it is to this that I have succumbed...moo hoo ha ha!&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I kid.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But of course, I had indeed set my thermonuclear-literary-critic-targeting-device upon &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Pif Magazine&lt;/a&gt;. I was ready; I sensed blood, the letter worn surfaces of my keys were longing for the adrenaline propelled press of my fingers, especially after stumbling across this enticing statement:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;We pride ourselves on working with new and emerging writers and artists. To this end we tend to shy away from previously published works, but will consider anything that is of high-quality, intriguing, and of interest to our readers.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;My first instinct, amateurs: a ham-handed, albeit candid, excuse for entry level work that literary enthusiasts should nonetheless feel obligated to suffer through. After all, even novices deserve a high profile medium through which to hone their skills. Right?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Well, I am happy to state that I was grossly mistaken.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Pif Magazine&lt;/a&gt;, a print and online literary website, run by Lissa Richardson and Derek Alger (and staff), offers a surprisingly wonderful and varied collection of fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, and art work.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I was also impressed by the website&#39;s aesthetic design; ripped, ink stained borders, crinkled edges and textured surfaces successfully mimic the look and feel of print. The site&#39;s choice of aqua blue, sea green, and muted pink for color theme is pleasing and easy on the eyes. There are also a lot of well-placed design elements such as pop-ups when a cursor hovers above a recommended book selection, floating image banners, and a convenient drop down categories menu. My only complaint is the general sluggishness of the website; scrolling and clicking are always accompanied by an almost full second delay (sad isn&#39;t it, how impatient us web browsers have become).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After reading Pif&#39;s introductory disclaimer about catering to first time, unpublished writers, I was wholly surprised after reading Sheyene Foster Heller&#39;s creative nonfiction entry,&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;California&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;.&lt;/span&gt; This is not the work of a starry eyed literary neophyte. &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;California&lt;/span&gt; is a facile, bold, and introspective exploration of a mother&#39;s struggle to manage the lingering psychological impact of early childhood isolation against the present challenges of life, work and family.&lt;/span&gt; But it doesn&#39;t end there. In the following passage, Heller anxiously reflects on her initial and enduring fascination with older men at the expense of suitable mates closer to her age:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Their foreheads were too smooth, their bodies too unformed, like a block of clay dough straight out of the package. I knew it would take years of experience to form them, to give them the lines and curves and character I found interesting. Somebody had to shape them, and be shaped along with them.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Heller&#39;s piece also reveals the tensions and frustrations that accompany having a child (in her case, a stepson) with special needs. And despite such myriad personal and interpersonal complexities, Heller&#39;s narrative is never sentimental or forced.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Most of Pif&#39;s entries are solid, which then prompted me to do some research. Pif is hardly an exclusive site for first time writers. Most of the artists featured have at least some form of established publishing credits (even a casual, random search of artist profiles uncovered several with MFAs and Ph.ds), and Pif seems to have plenty of connections with reputable arts organizations. Either way, I truly enjoyed perusing and exploring Pif. This is a top notch sight well worth bookmarking and visiting regularly.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Mon, 22 Nov 2010 22:01:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-11-24T13:27:16.887-08:00</atom:updated><title>The West Coast&#39;s answer to the New Yorker: Slake Magazine</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;Slake: Los Angeles&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 187px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5542522485911450066&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Besides the accomplished fester of strung-out screen writers, obscure, self-aggrandizing university auteurs, and below them the naive and wide-eyed wannabes itching for their shot at instant fame, Los Angeles has yet to produce an iconic literary journal that can successfully embody the city&#39;s diverse social and cultural demographic.  There is, however, a new Mag in town, and one that is putting forth considerable effort to establish itself as &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;the&lt;/span&gt; go-to source for all that concerns the city beyond the glitz, gloss, and glamor.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Slake&lt;/a&gt;, recently co-founded by former L.A. Weekly editors Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly, is a quarterly journal whose stated aim is a devotion &quot;to the endangered art of deeply reported narrative journalism and the kind of polished essay, memoir, fiction, poetry and portrait writing that is disappearing in a world of instant takes and unfiltered opinion.&quot; It is an ambitious agenda, and one that is being given wide acclaim by the LA Times, public radio (KPCC), and by an esteemed list of inaugural Slake contributors.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Although Slake&#39;s online presence is limited to excerpts and previews, they offer a satisfactory glimpse into the range of works featured in their main print publication.  Certainly, it wouldn&#39;t take much for Slake to publish even a handful of exclusive selections online, as their general layout is clearly the work of seasoned web-developers.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Set against a blue gossamer background, Slake&#39;s homepage is designed for simplicity: across the top is a horizontally scrollable list of articles, each marked by a distinctive cover unique to the writer&#39;s content, followed by Slake&#39;s introductory statement positioned at the center while directly below a tiered promotional plea and a current list of contributors.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In terms of content, Slake casts a wide net.  Take for example Anne Fishbein&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;The Secret Lives of Stiffs&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; an article exploring Acme&#39;s eerie display of mannequins in its downtown Los Angeles showroom:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;At times we walk past these working stiffs without a second glance - their presence is so familiar that we don&#39;t question their odd existence. But sometimes a mannequin&#39;s outstretched hand, its fingertips seemingly reaching for some kind of connection, give us pause.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It&#39;s a fitting topic given the revolving veneer of trends that characterize LA fashion, and which subsume and homogenize the passions and interests of ogling downtown shoppers.   Fishbein&#39;s series of pictures depicting mannequins in a variety of still poses forces the viewer to confront and question its own emotional and substantive depth, or lack thereof.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Arty Nelson&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Abstract L.A.&lt;/a&gt;&quot; surveys a revitalized movement in abstract art that is unique to Los Angeles. Nelson&#39;s review offers a convincing argument that despite risking the same mistakes of old - namely, total exhaustion of the genre&#39;s ability to maintain its inchoate energy - these new works of abstraction are indeed full of &quot;intriguing techniques&quot; that &quot;[include] the deconstruction of the canvas, the use of stencils, [and] even the exposure of treated surfaces to heat.&quot; Of the abstract artists Nelson discusses and whose work he shows, I particularly enjoyed Dianna Molzan&#39;s ability to extend her medium beyond paint and canvas, and with a minimalist bent no less, and the fabric based artwork of Matthew Chambers, whose strips of colored cloth for canvas create a warm, spiraling effect of texture that is sure to appeal to the wealthy, Eco-friendly garbed L.A. earth mother.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;There are also plenty of essays and poetry, although Ray DiPalma&#39;s poem, &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;33&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; does more to tell than show through an intangible and unnecessarily disjointed sequence of ambiguous imagery:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;Individual traits and external expedients, pauses and omissions-&lt;br /&gt;the imaginary tracks of compulsive reality and fine detail,&lt;br /&gt;an investment in contradictions&lt;br /&gt;caught between layers of purple and scarlet light&lt;br /&gt;amid the eerie scent of cold smoke&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In contrast, the consistency of quality demonstrated in Slake&#39;s essays addressing a myriad of issues affecting Los Angeles is impressive.  C.R. Stecyk&#39;s &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Fortress L.A.&lt;/a&gt;&quot; is a magnificent expose on the ever present military-industrial complex located throughout Los Angeles.   Stecyk charts the industry&#39;s earliest experimentation in their attempts to break the sound barrier to the advanced surveillance technologies and remote controlled UAVs that comprise the industry&#39;s death machinations today.  &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Stecyk&#39;s article shocks readers into acknowledging the hard realities of not only our world&#39;s obsession with perpetual war, but also our complicity in its maintenance&lt;/span&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Slake&#39;s enthusiasm to establish itself as the West Coast&#39;s answer to the &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;New Yorker&lt;/a&gt; is both a bold and uncertain endeavor.  Nevertheless, so long as Slake is able to sustain its inaugural depth and scope of content, as well as embracing the web in the near future, they are certain to garner considerable respect and attention.  &lt;p class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Fri, 17 Sep 2010 19:27:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-10-08T20:45:24.907-07:00</atom:updated><title>A Journal in 80s Neon</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;Los; Contemporary Poesy &amp;amp; Art&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 112px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5525881424379051874&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;In middle school, I was a fairly typical-looking child of twelve; a tangle of awkwardly sized limbs, large feet, and an oval-shaped head that bobbed shyly whenever eye contact was demanded.  I was also very poor, the son of a visual artist still struggling to make a name for himself whose meager source of income subsisted mainly on selling paintings at various weekend mall shows, corner tucked municipal festivals, and makeshift beachfront carnivals.  Of course, it was also our family&#39;s creativity that helped sustain us through difficult times.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I mention this because I often forget some of the more idiosyncratic events that shaped my young life, and it was not until this article&#39;s review of the online literary journal &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&quot;Los; contemporary poesy &amp;amp; art&quot;&lt;/a&gt; that I remembered one of the more humorous incidents that influenced - or shall I say, traumatized - my middle school years.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;At one point during the eighties, anything neon was considered fashion forward.  And how I envied my peers for their name brand fluorescent bright green and pink t-shirts against black shorts cut just above the knee...oh yeah. Of course, these suckers were expensive, but sensing my disappointment and not to be outdone, my jack-of-all-trades father discovered a solution.  On a sunny late afternoon, while pedaling furiously on my bicycle, I saw him come home with a generic set of neon-colored t-shirts and shorts tucked under his arms.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&quot;But Dad, these don&#39;t have a logo!&quot; I yelled shamelessly.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In response, my father, applying his knowledge of the process of silk screening, drew up and copied two name brand logos which he then transferred onto the surfaces of his stock neon t-shirts.  And &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;voila&lt;/span&gt;! The next day I levitated into class as bright as a glow stick.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Now, before some company, 20 years later, seeks to bust my dad for this innocent offense, I must offer the disclaimer that this was a one-time deal and was never, at any point, sold to market.  This was merely a poor father&#39;s attempt to help out a son.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Is this a review of an online journal?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Yes, because the moment you click on Los&#39;s website, you will be struck by an absurd display of the most reckless alternating neon colors ever to be graced since the 1980s.   It only took three painful seconds before I was forced to turn away and close my eyes while screaming bloody murder.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After the throbbing, searing pain subsided, I again faced my computer screen, but this time, wearing the kind of darkly-colored shades that only post-operative Lasik eye surgery patients are given.  &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Frankly, I can&#39;t even begin to fathom how the editors of Los arrived at the conclusion that eye-piercing neon makes for an attractive layout, let alone expecting a user-friendly reading experience.&lt;/span&gt;  And it gets worse, its list of past contributors are all marked in fluorescent light green.  Wow.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Although the site&#39;s organization is comprehensible, it is far from intuitive; the home page depicts a running textual excerpt written in what appears to be size 34 font.  I had to scroll around a bit before realizing that a small partitioned box at the upper left hand corner of the home page is the table of contents, listing the following four categories: &quot;texts,&quot; &quot;art,&quot; &quot;correspondence,&quot; and &quot;sites.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Los&#39;s content is a witty mix of the historical, polemical, and political.  As a collection the entries are adequately vetted for quality (still, a few disappointments do abound), and although sometimes abstruse, they are almost always intriguing.  Here is a passage from Sean Brendan-Brown&#39;s dystopian poem, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;Benedictus&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On deck our freshly caulked clipper&lt;br /&gt;Akiko (Japanese for &quot;fall&quot;) we bid&lt;br /&gt;the Twentieth Century farewell&lt;br /&gt;with Safe&amp;amp;Sane brand fireworks;&lt;br /&gt;ashore the condo cave-dwellers&lt;br /&gt;tend the winter landscape with Adam&#39;s&lt;br /&gt;Needle, dogwood, and Bright Edge;&lt;br /&gt;may blooms and birds fill sieved skies&lt;br /&gt;and sea-beasts flourish in scoured seas:&lt;br /&gt;the consequence of cyberspace was once&lt;br /&gt;the best selling dreamboat in Athens.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Los also features the works of visual artists who, for the most part, seem second fiddle to the site&#39;s published poets.  Take for example Christopher Mulrooney&#39;s unimpressive photography of &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;beach scenes&lt;/a&gt; whose stylistic perspective is no better than some laymen&#39;s passing snapshot of the same landscape.  His Wilshire Blvd. street and building &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;shots&lt;/a&gt;; however, do show some promise, although again, there&#39;s no unique angle to be discerned, other than the drab images of building facades that fill his collection.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Alright, now go ahead and dig out your old neon garb, put on Grandma&#39;s shades, and sift through some of Los&#39;s trove of brightly-colored PoMo; for the most part, it&#39;s worth the pain.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 25 Aug 2010 18:11:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-09-22T22:37:50.424-07:00</atom:updated><title>The internet as a virtual museum: The Central California Poetry Journal</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;The Central California Poetry Journal&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 114px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5517593090043230354&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;I regret to admit that it was only after reading a news &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;report&lt;/a&gt; describing how family members and friends of the Pacific Gas &amp;amp; Electric Co. explosion victim, Jessica Morales, are using Facebook to share their shock and dismay that I began to fully recognize the value of the internet as a permanent digital repository for preserving the legacy of one&#39;s life.  In light of this tragic incident, I&#39;ve also been forced to reassess my hitherto smug and dismissive attitude toward the thousands of online literary journals that for any number of reasons have been largely abandoned by editors, writers, and readers alike.  It&#39;s no longer convenient for me to categorize them as merely the virtual remains of poor quality websites whose perpetual anonymity is deserved.   &lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Although many are indeed half-hearted attempts whose naive and immature content are rightly to be cast aside, if not deleted entirely (arrogance be gone!), some are in fact veritable virtual environments where the work, passion, and history of once thriving subcultures and modes of expression can and should be accessed for inspiration and reflection.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;One such site I feel worthy of repeat visits is Scott Galloway&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Central California Poetry Journal&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;, an electronic subsidiary of Solo Publications.  Officially run and maintained from 1996 to 2003, Galloway&#39;s journal offers a vibrant collection of nature poems focused on the topics and themes exclusive to the geography of, and issues facing, central California.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In appearance &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Central California Poetry Journal&lt;/span&gt; is nothing more than Times New Roman font and a running index column providing a straightforward annual publication list of previously featured poets.  Click on the name of any poet and the reader will be directed to a brief author bio followed by his or her selected works.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Galloway&#39;s online journal (influenced in large part by the poetry of &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Robinson Jeffers&lt;/a&gt;) is by no means comprehensive; rather, it gives readers unfamiliar with the region an introductory, albeit meaningful, inkling into how California&#39;s diverse geography can give shape to the poetry of those who&#39;ve either visited or resided within her borders.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I was therefore pleasantly surprised to chance upon the poetry of fifth generation California native Melisande Luna, whose work is featured in the online journal&#39;s 2003 edition:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;To Reap&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On restless nights I&#39;ve hammered north,&lt;br /&gt;hooked I-5 towards the valley,&lt;br /&gt;came screaming down the Grapevine;&lt;br /&gt;where August&#39;s breath blew&lt;br /&gt;warm and pungent,&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;reeking of earth and onions:&lt;br /&gt;the scent of Lily&#39;s last gasp.&lt;br /&gt;I remember the night her cornflower&lt;br /&gt;eyes set with the stars --&lt;br /&gt;as dusty palms crushed her lips.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Naked, she knelt in furrows&lt;br /&gt;amid mute foliage and chittering&lt;br /&gt;witnesses, who scuttled and chewed,&lt;br /&gt;indifferent to a fast meal&#39;s fate.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Alabaster skin encrusted with clay,&lt;br /&gt;her iron tincture blossomed in gullies,&lt;br /&gt;bloodied the vagabond river&#39;s loam.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I went to reap memories&lt;br /&gt;of Lily, in the deeply plowed rows,&lt;br /&gt;where breath quit her tiny lungs.&lt;br /&gt;I&#39;d let my footsteps kick up clouds of silt,&lt;br /&gt;puffs as brief as my sister&#39;s quick life.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The copper-bite of loss ripened&lt;br /&gt;bitter among the onions,&lt;br /&gt;where I harvested bumper crops.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Luna&#39;s word choice and use of imagery to depict the literal and figurative loss of her sister is accomplished with great subtlety and skill.  The poet not only succeeds to couch the implication of human loss within the context of personal experience, but also to highlight and embed the contiguous, interdependent and inseparable bond our species shares with nature.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;If you&#39;re interested in poetry specific to the geography it seeks to represent, and from which it draws its inspiration, then definitely take a moment to peruse &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Central California Poetry Journal.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;p class=&quot;MsoNoSpacing&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>2</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 25 Aug 2010 05:31:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-08-25T12:49:48.308-07:00</atom:updated><title>The perfection of simplicity: Blackbird</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Blackbird&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 103px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5509221266763856018&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Regrettable and heartbreaking the aesthetic frill and technological fancy of those websites whose editors are more eager to unwrap the latest version of Adobe Dreamweaver than sustaining upon the arduous task of pursuing and establishing industry relationships that are essential to attracting the best writers, artists, and intellectuals for online publication. Furthermore, the obstacles that nascent online literary journals face in their attempt to surface from the depths of obscurity, especially when they do so without the aid of grants or at least some form of support from an academic institution, are such that a significant portion of my time is spent scouring through a virtual graveyard of long defunct online literary start-ups.  Although a few of these abandoned sites are clumsy visual throwbacks to an earlier era in which blocky HTML graphics prevailed, many of these sites are in fact expertly constructed; for all my advocacy of novel web design, the success of, and the quality to be found in, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts&lt;/a&gt; clearly proves that good content can still thrive among flashier competitors.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Blackbird is principally the product of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and the non-profit organization New Virginia Review, Inc.  Additional editorial contributions include undergraduate and graduate students, community volunteers, and former alumni.   It is because of this seemingly exhaustive willingness to collaborate that Blackbird has managed to cull an impressive list of literary and artistic talent.  And I&#39;m not one to flatter.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Although Blackbird&#39;s layout does not seek to thrill and stun, its six button navigational toolbar and attendant sidebar menu will never leave readers either wanting or confused: genre categories are distinctly visible, author bios are easily accessible, and a list of works published, either from a current issue or from the archives, is conveniently located regardless of the page viewers may happen to stumble upon.  Works featured ranges from poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays, and streaming audio and video submissions.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Given the popularity of documentary films, the growing trend of video essays among online literary journals is an obvious extension; video essays as a relatively new sub genre offer a wonderful blend of narrative and imagery whose range of innovative possibilities remain largely unexplored.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Take for example one of Blackbird&#39;s Spring 2010 feature contributors, John Bresland, whose video essay &lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;Mangoes&lt;/a&gt; was shot and edited almost entirely using an iPhone.  Although Bresland expresses regret in not having utilized advanced video and editing equipment, the transitions, sequences, and narrative dubbing are perfectly suited to the overall tone and mood of his essay: an understated comedic exploration of the unintended consequences of modern conveniences upon the modern family, in which Bresland discusses his initial distaste, reluctance, and eventual acceptance of using a papoose to carry around his infant son.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In closing, Blackbird&#39;s published content is consistently strong; also check out Hal Crowther&#39;s essay &lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;In Defense of Straight-Chuters&lt;/a&gt;, in which he emphasizes the importance of confronting life in all its gruesome peril and import, and Dilruba Ahmed&#39;s poem &lt;a style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;Qawwali&lt;/a&gt;, a free versed implication of an unrequited form of Sufi prayer on behalf of the world&#39;s afflicted and downtrodden.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 21 Jul 2010 08:42:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-08-05T23:05:37.082-07:00</atom:updated><title>The promise and pitfall of Postmodernism: The Argotist Online</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;The Argotist Online&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 113px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5500959931771584914&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Imagine the following disclaimer after accessing the online version of the New York Times:  Some readers have pointed out that the text on the site is difficult to read. To remedy this, there is a freeware program called Readability that lets you change various aspects of a site&#39;s presentation and layout for easier reading.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Given the New York Times&#39; reputation for journalistic excellence, most subscribers would, with mild annoyance, forgive and accommodate the inconvenience.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Unfortunately, this is not something novice websites should risk assuming; lazily asking users to download fix-it patch ware, which is exactly what I discovered upon first viewing &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Argotist Online&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;, successor to the now defunct The Argotist arts magazine.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It should come as no surprise to those intent on creating a successful website that first time visitors often predict and judge the quality of a site&#39;s content based on nothing more than a shallow, casual glance.  If the site fails to attract readers based on an initial impression of ease, function, and accessibility, and regardless of how brilliant and insightful the site&#39;s content may be, viewer traffic will hardly extend beyond an immediate circle of friends, colleagues and contributors.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Added to &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Argotist Online&#39;s&lt;/span&gt; garish fluorescent yellow disclaimer, is its use of muted white font against a black background, with bright green and blue highlights for works and titles featured; were I not obligated to appraise the entirety of &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Argotist Online&lt;/span&gt;, I&#39;d have missed indefinitely much that is good about the site&#39;s published content.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Argotist Online&lt;/span&gt; is devoted exclusively to poetry and poetics, and what I appreciate most about Jeffrey Side&#39;s website is the studied care taken to explore and legitimate a set of philosophies particular to the style of postmodern poetry he&#39;s chosen to promote.  Two such articles stand out; first is Jeffrey Side&#39;s &#39;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Empirical and Non-Empirical Identifiers&lt;/a&gt;,&#39; a superb discussion comparing the limitations and elements of conventional, signs based poetry (distinguished by its use of metaphors, similes, and grammatical syntax, to list just a few) to an experimental poetry utilizing inter-textuality, among various other techniques, as a means to invite reader participation in the generation and negotiation of meaning:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Aside from suggesting some further critical tools that may be of use to criticism there is also the possibility that this undertaking will have artistic value in that it may encourage the individual reader to ultimately decide upon the meaning of a poetic text, either unconsciously or by volition. By &quot;volition&quot; I mean the conscious determination of the reader to decide upon any one of a number of associations the words and phrases of any given sentence suggest, and to choose this particular association as the constituent of meaning despite its being the less obvious or appropriate choice (in comparison to the others) given the complete denotative meaning the sentence&#39;s lexis implies. This sort of practice is possible because the poetic text is arguably without intentionality: both in the sense of having no meaning inherently, and of the impossibility of its having an authorial intent conferred upon it.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The second article is Eric Denut&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;interview&lt;/a&gt; with Charles Bernstein, Regan Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, who offers a compelling defense against the critics of postmodern poetry:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Poetry&#39;s social function is to imagine how language works within its culture, while pursuing a critique of the culture; this suggests that poetry can be a countermeasure to the reinforcement of cultural values at the heart of both popular entertainment and consumer politics.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;While &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;The Argotist Online&lt;/span&gt; boasts an intriguing and distinguished collection of essays, interviews, and articles, exploring a wide array of topics on the philosophy, aesthetics, and cultural significance of poetry, the quality of the poems presented is mixed at best.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Postmodern poetry is immediately problematic; the line that separates effective and meticulously wrought grammatical and stylistic innovation from the slapdash practitioner who breaks rules for no other reason than their inability to first adhere to the rules of convention is fine indeed.   Regrettably, there is simply too much mediocre poetry to sift through to warrant a prolonged search for the few jewels that do exist.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>1</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Fri, 16 Jul 2010 05:27:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-07-18T14:33:50.603-07:00</atom:updated><title>Why women should rule the world: Belladonna</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;Belladonna&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 115px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5495362385707856226&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;Other than a vague and nondescript email address of the purported editor, located in small print at the bottom of &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Belladonna&#39;s&lt;/a&gt; main page, one can only assume a quiet, passive-aggressive ensemble of feminist agitators bent on surreptitiously initiating a matriarchal new world order, one word at a time.  Of course, I&#39;m being absurd, but Belladonna is indeed a literary online journal focused on the various issues concerning all things Woman.   Now, before I delve into a review of Belladonna, I feel compelled to sincerely and emphatically state my wholesale support of anything having to do with feminism; the history of discrimination, oppression, and prejudice women have endured, and continue to endure, should always warrant serious discussion, address, and activism.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After reading Belladonna&#39;s description tag posted on an online directory, I expected a bold, incisive, and unabashed exploration of feminist leaning fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and criticism.  So too was I under the immediate assumption that the site&#39;s appearance would, with equal gusto, challenge many of the accepted conventions of online literary layout and design.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Unfortunately, I was instantly disappointed in Belladonna&#39;s unappealing home page; a slapdash of two columns composed of headers inscribed in rectangular buttons against an unflattering, cut-and-paste, black marbled backdrop.  Equally frustrating is the site&#39;s want of an organized and easily accessible table of contents; with most internet users accustomed to any number of readily convenient, intuitive, and immediately recognizable browsing features, Belladonna&#39;s dizzying arrangement is simply unacceptable (it only takes one second of first time user frustration to discourage further exploration).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After agonizing through various pages for at least fifteen minutes, it&#39;s clear that Belladonna is essentially a forum where writers congregate to test and practice their craft in a format based on the Japanese manga series, &quot;From Eroica With Love,&quot; first popularized by Yasuko Aoike.  Limited to a certain number of characters, and loosely structured around a particular set of themes, the writers of Belladonna take alternate turns to fashion, shape, and continue the story almost any which way they please.  But then why should readers care, especially when such a format so easily lends itself to attracting an inconsistent collection of writers, many poor, some decent, and even fewer, great?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;One of Belladonna&#39;s better writers is the anonymously named, &quot;The Disreputable Duck,&quot; whose flash fiction contribution, &quot;Moth Attack,&quot; offers a humorous and intriguing addition to the Eroica series:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Dorian Red Gloria, the Earl of Gloria, watched idly as his young nephew Philip puttered around the room. Being openly homosexual, Dorian wasn&#39;t planning on siring a child, and was thus considering other possibilities for an heir. Philip was his sister Elizabeth&#39;s oldest son, and a promising candidate. It was not often that he saw Philip, since the boy&#39;s mother was always suspicious that Dorian would be a bad influence.  However, ten-year-old Philip was far more interested in his current hobby of pet bugs than in emulating his gay uncle. Dorian was hoping it was just a phase. He&#39;d rather the next Earl of Gloria not be a bug geek.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Full of sexual innuendo, the Duck deftly juggles historical allusion and literary whim while subtly challenging some of the traditional roles assigned to gender identity.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Belladonna also includes several critiques and analyses; one of my favorites being the section entitled, &quot;Gynotopias,&quot; which examines the competing perspectives and treatments in literature of both all-male worlds and all-female worlds.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I truly hope the persons responsible for maintaining Belladonna&#39;s web presence re-examine the nature of how the site is designed and organized.  Although there is much good writing and analysis to be discovered, Belladonna&#39;s lack of focus and intuitive design severely hinders its intended goal of attracting and sustaining an audience.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Tue, 06 Jul 2010 00:58:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-07-07T09:57:35.278-07:00</atom:updated><title>The struggle to sustain and innovate, Arbutus</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Arbutus: Reviews &amp;amp; Criticism&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 116px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5490594984078482066&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;It would be inconsiderate and cruel not to admire, respect, and encourage any undergraduate&#39;s attempt to pursue and establish a serious literary publication.  That then undergraduate students Jeremy Voigt and Jordan Hartt created a respectable online literary site, &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Arbutus&lt;/a&gt;, featuring fiction, non-fiction and poetry, is a wonderful testament not only to the enduring appeal of literature in all its forms, but also to the passion and commitment of its young practitioners.  But that was back in 2000, and after ten years of being online Arbutus has neither matured into, nor carved out, a sophisticated and insightful literary presence.   Yet this is not to suggest that Arbutus is entirely bereft of technical skill and analytical depth.  In fact, most of its articles and samples of works featured do exhibit earnest literary care and endeavor.  Take for example, Anselm Parlatore&#39;s review of poet Anita K. Boyle&#39;s &quot;Bamboo equals Loon&quot;:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It is a robust and bracing read. Most of the poems won&#39;t let you go. They announce themselves with a sense of urgency and commitment that is at once not only reassuring but also, at times, alarming, yet healing.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Parlatore&#39;s analysis is well written and cogent, a playful mixture of literary criticism and artistic advocacy.  Unfortunately, and after a studied discussion about the merits of the collection reviewed, I was a bit taken aback after reading an actual excerpt from Boyle&#39;s poetry.  Notice the incongruity between Palatore&#39;s enthusiastic support of Boyle&#39;s work and the actual quality of the poem under review:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Don&#39;t get me wrong: despite a stunning dexterity in the book&#39;s orchestration, these poems are all clear and precise, declarative statements of discrete disclosure. That&#39;s where the grace, I mentioned, becomes evident. The poems: &quot;Lure of the Loon&quot; in its entirety;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I was unaware that this world&lt;br /&gt;could become an anxious monstrosity.&lt;br /&gt;But it does hold doubtful comforts&lt;br /&gt;like unearthly calls I hear from the loon at night.&lt;br /&gt;I did not know things out there&lt;br /&gt;would urge me to lose my mind:&lt;br /&gt;beasts and cries and barraging undercurrents&lt;br /&gt;pushed me toward the edge of the world I knew.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Needless to say, I felt somewhat let down and cheated, and not because Boyle&#39;s poetry is average, at best, but because Palatore is suspect in her enticement of the reader into believing that &quot;Bamboo equals Loon&quot; is that piece of poetic craft that not only stands to revitalize the genre itself, but which also thoroughly expresses and represents all that ails us hapless denizens of the digital age.  And don&#39;t get &lt;span style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;me&lt;/span&gt; wrong, Palatore is a fine writer and Boyle&#39;s poetry is acceptable; but what is at stake; however, is the founding and maintenance of an online institution reflective of a degree of literary credibility to which Arbutus aspires.  Far too many sites exist that either pander to their own set of preferred writers, or seek advancement through the unwarranted praise and adulation of others.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Mon, 28 Dec 2009 19:01:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-12-28T11:46:51.120-08:00</atom:updated><title>Online Poetry Specialist, MUDLARK</title><description>&lt;span style=&quot;font-size:130%;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Mudlark: An Electronic Journal of Poetry and Poetics&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; float: left; cursor: pointer; width: 200px; height: 149px;&quot; src=&quot;; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5420372557259351842&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Mudlark&lt;/a&gt; is an electronic journal focused on publishing the finest poetry available on the net. Editor and Publisher William Slaughter has managed to associate his site with an impressive list of such notable organizations as AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Program), CLMP (the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses), and the Electronic Poetry Center.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Though Mudlark&#39;s electronic footprint is modest and understated, it maintains an appearance of unforced sophistication.  To the left of Mudlark&#39;s home page hovers a gray, rectangular band that provides sufficient contrast for its table of contents in blue font.  The remainder of the page features a streamlined catalog of past issues in black font against a white background.  The latest entries are marked by an emblazoned &quot;NEW&quot; in bold red.  Though I concede favor to the innovative and highly interactive glitz of comparable online journals, Mudlark does well to concentrate its editorial efforts on producing quality publication.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;My initial run-through of Mudlark, and despite its visual simplicity, was frustrating: entries and author references felt random, and the site&#39;s organization of hyperlinks and layout seemed confusing and diffuse.  It was not until I stumbled across a link entitled &quot;How to Mudlark,&quot; - which, in retrospect, should be positioned more visibly - that clearly outlined the site&#39;s format: &quot;&#39;issues&#39; of Mudlark are the electronic equivalent of print chapbooks; &#39;posters&#39; are the electronic equivalent of print broadsides; and &#39;flash&#39; poems are poems that have news in them, poems that feel like current events.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Once I became familiar with Mudlark&#39;s unique nomenclature (&quot;A-Notes&quot; to denote an author index and &quot;E-Notes&quot; to indicate an Editor&#39;s summary), my enjoyment of the site&#39;s content grew exponentially. &lt;b&gt;Mudlark&#39;s author bios are the most extensive and generous I&#39;ve seen yet, not your typical deadline rushed bullet point in which past accomplishments and anecdotal information is mashed up in two or three obligatory sentences.&lt;/b&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;R. Virgil Ellis&#39;s poem &quot;Smart Weapon&quot; (Mudlark Flash No. 1), written in 1998, eerily predates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I was truly floored by its prescient insight into the callous use of &quot;smart weapons&quot; in which civilian casualties are masked behind the sanitized euphemism of &quot;collateral damage.&quot;  Ellis&#39;s free verse poem wryly describes the mechanistic, back door processes involved in weapons manufacturing, culminating in the personification of two missiles:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;One of the Discriminators&lt;br /&gt;(Exterminators was only briefly considered) turned&lt;br /&gt;north and blew up showering money on the resistors.&lt;br /&gt;Another turned around, its warhead become&lt;br /&gt;landing gear.  Back at the base as it rolled to a stop&lt;br /&gt;a voice chip inside it kept saying &quot;Hell no we won&#39;t go.&quot;&lt;br /&gt;Another made it to Washington. &quot;Now look,&quot; it began.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Ellis implies brilliantly that were weapons truly &quot;smart,&quot; their choice would be to cease and desist.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;One of the most moving and tastefully rendered poems is Susan Kelly-Dewitt&#39;s twenty part poem &quot;The Limbo Suite&quot; (Mudlark No. 38, 2009).  Kelly-Dewitt&#39;s sequence of poems, which she also complements with her own paintings as thematic extensions, depicts her experience caring for her bedridden mother at the hospital days before her death.  Kelly-Dewitt also captures a range of emotions and observations not limited solely to her mother:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;their wheelchairs park hub to&lt;br /&gt;hub in front of the sick fish&lt;br /&gt;theater     waiting for the rank&lt;br /&gt;curtain to rise&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Patients suffering from a variety of illnesses come alive in vivid detail as many of them struggle to reconcile their lives before it&#39;s too late.  Jaded nurses, sheepish family visitors, and the routine din of a hospital all collide to expose a woman&#39;s grief within an atmosphere of fragile superficiality in the attempt to avoid addressing the inevitable.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Although navigating through Mudlark takes some getting used to (e.g. it took me a few moments to discover how to access all of the parts of Kelly-Dewitt&#39;s poems), I welcome their comprehensive author bios, intimate attention to featured works (each issue seems dedicated to only a few poets, and often, to just one), and the availability of audio readings via mp3.</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Sat, 22 Aug 2009 08:10:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-08-22T01:42:16.287-07:00</atom:updated><title>Content is King: decomP Magazine</title><description>&lt;div&gt;&lt;b&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;decomP Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 140px;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5372704833748421602&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;text-decoration: none;&quot;&gt;decomP&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/i&gt;, an exclusively online literary magazine, is the brainchild of founding editor Mike Smith.  Currently, the website is managed by Jason Jordan, Jason Behrends, Jared Ward, and Jac Jemc as Editor-in-Chief, Art Editor, Prose Editor, and Poetry Editor, respectively.  According to the site, an inaugural print edition is scheduled for release sometime in 2010.&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;i&gt;decomP&lt;/i&gt; is what you&#39;d expect from a revolving group of newly minted MFA grads bent on nurturing an online literary website.  As each genre editor is either an accomplished writer or well on their way toward garnering legitimate literary recognition, &lt;i&gt;decomP &lt;/i&gt;is light on visual style but heavy on the quality of featured works.  This is not to suggest; however, that &lt;i&gt;decomP&lt;/i&gt; is a hastily assembled website.  &lt;b&gt;On the contrary, its layout hones graceful simplicity for the sake of immediate accessibility.&lt;/b&gt;  Arranged within a three columned, four rowed table, first time visitors will undoubtedly find the site well designed and appealing enough to warrant a closer look.  &lt;i&gt;decomP&lt;/i&gt;&#39;s Verdana font and alternating light browns and light blues for background make for easy reading and lend the site an overall pleasing appearance. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;After having read countless erotic poems inadequate in their treatment of gender and sexual identity, I was pleasantly surprised by Corrina Bain&#39;s poem &quot;Task At Hand.&quot;  Where most poems employ the simplistic ruse of descriptive shock and awe in their depiction of the media&#39;s subversion and manipulation of human sexuality, Bain&#39;s exploration of the distorting effects of pornography is expertly rendered through the first person perspective of a woman watching an X-rated sex flick.  As the speaker of the poem observes a typical scene of pornography, full of graphic and dehumanizing acrobatics in which the woman is always relegated to tortured subservience, the reader is given a deeper sense of how each scene stands not only to belittle and caricaturize women, but also how such scenes narrow and limit the range of intimate possibility:&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The girl, meanwhile, is perfect&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;how empathy slides off her aquatint skin&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;how unimaginable it is that I could be that body&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;the hiccough of flesh that appears as she forces the throat over the c***&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I wonder if she ever thinks of me&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;With each successive image, Bain forces the reader to experience the full range of the speaker&#39;s developing sense of trauma.  Though the actors and actresses of pornographic videos are often flat characters, Bain&#39;s gives voice to their inner worlds through the speaker&#39;s internal dialogue, a sophisticated technique that accomplishes to both demystify the &quot;harmless&quot; nature of male dominated pornography and to reveal how exactly such imagery stands to shape an individual&#39;s perception and expression of sexuality.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Alan Stewart Carl&#39;s flash fiction submission, &quot;Just the Truth,&quot; is a superb example of just how effective and sufficient this often contentious genre can be when well written.  What better genre than flash fiction to illustrate life as a construct of a fleeting multiplicity of moments, and thus, micro narratives.  Carl&#39;s &quot;Just the Truth&quot; instantly immerses the reader into the unrealized, though always closely harbored, love that characters Milli and Grant share.  Where Milli thwarts and fears open acknowledgment, Grant is hopelessly persistent and encouraging:&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;They&#39;d pledged to always tell each other the truth.  &quot;I&#39;d kiss you,&quot; she said.  And she did, the two grappling each other, tongues darting.  He had a girlfriend visiting family in Texas.  She had a boyfriend upstairs.  They&#39;d never been able to drink together without one of them kissing the other. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;There is little room for narrative waste, and Carl uses each sentence and paragraph to impart in the reader the intensity of Milli and Grant&#39;s brief exchanges of teasing affection, though which just as quickly fade and disappear. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;It would be tempting to exhort &lt;i&gt;decomP &lt;/i&gt;Magazine for graphic innovation and interactive appeal, however, the more I delved into the content of the works featured, the less I felt it necessary.  &lt;i&gt;decomP&lt;/i&gt; is fiercely devoted to good content and the results more than make up for an otherwise temperate visual organization.    &lt;/div&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Wed, 24 Jun 2009 20:39:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-06-24T14:33:58.534-07:00</atom:updated><title>Blending the Old with the New: Narrative Magazine</title><description>&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-size: large;&quot;&gt;&lt;b&gt;Narrative Magazine&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 148px;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5351010334398173298&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;div&gt;Previous reviews of online literary magazines have concentrated on the emergent and inchoate; sites managed by tireless, unpaid devotees struggling for notice, gain, and honest invention.  These do-it-yourself collectives, intoxicated by the desire to discover, establish, and assert, do so against the eddying specter of what&#39;s left of the traditional publishing mainstream.  Where before the staid establishment of print publication rested comfortably on those formats proven and perfected by time, the depth and boundless nature of the Internet not only uprooted their working knowledge, but also led to an inundation of competing online publishers eager to embrace the limitless possibilities of multi-media.  The triumphs and failures of this new crop of cyber-aesthetes are in equal measure, ranging from the frenetic, though brilliant visual, audio, and textual amalgamation of sites such as the &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Mad Hatters&#39; Review&lt;/a&gt;, to the bland, prosaic html of sites such as, well, read my earlier reviews...&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Though it is tempting to outright discard the pillars of old, the &quot;ancient regime&quot; remains peopled with talent, ambition, and innovation, and many of them will indeed successfully extend much of their operational capacity across the various virtual media outlets that are quickly displacing the mediums of print and gloss.  Advantaged as they are with access to financial resources, artists, and investor networks, it&#39;s difficult to conceive that a &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Simon &amp;amp; Schuster&lt;/a&gt; or a &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Random House&lt;/a&gt; will altogether disappear.  Regardless, the era of literary hegemony exercised by the publishing old guard is definitely over.  In its place is a virtual literary market that at its best demonstrates a viable and creative alliance between little known grassroots publications (bringing with them their knowledge of social networking and technological savvy) and the literary agents, editors, and financiers who once comprised conventional publishing (offering their expertise on how to create an industry through which artists can hope to earn an income!).  Blending these extremes with great aplomb and deft is &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Narrative Magazine&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The co-editors of Narrative Magazine, Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, are no strangers to the world of professional print.  Having contributed to, and held positions with, some of the most distinguished and sought after publications (Vogue, Allure, Harper&#39;s, and the Los Angeles Times just to name a few), the seasoned expertise of Edgarian and Jenks is clearly illustrated in the sophisticated and well coordinated layout of the site&#39;s homepage.  The headers, print, and sub titles are easy to read, appropriately varied, and adequately spaced.  Additionally, the images, font and background coloring, and the lengths of text consistently evidence control, balance, and restraint; no graphic flaunts, no type is sized to exaggerate, and no disclaimer begs needlessly for attention.  Yet this is not to suggest a site whose appearance is lifeless and absent of the creative energy and verve that constitutes its content.  Rather, it is a logical aesthetic that seeks to attract readers accustomed to the organizational arrangement of, say, a New Yorker or an Atlantic Monthly.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;When I first tried to expand a particular selection, I was surprised by a prompt instructing me to create a user account.  Typically, I dislike subscription based websites.  They require the user to enter too much information and the benefits offered for setting up an account are not enough to justify the compromise in personal privacy.  In contrast, Narrative Magazine&#39;s request for information does not extend beyond an email address and the process took no more that thirty seconds.  &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;After registering and toggling about I was impressed to discover the convenience and ease of submitting works for consideration.  &lt;b&gt;Not only is there a dedicated pane system for submissions, but also an added feature that allows aspiring applicants to keep track of the status of their works, including admission/rejection updates, an archive directory, and posted commentary&lt;/b&gt;.  The anxiety and anticipation that goes along with waiting for a response, which for many websites can take months, Narrative Magazine shortens and alleviates through its interactive submission system.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Opening the link to &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Richard Bausch&#39;s&lt;/a&gt; featured work, &lt;i&gt;Blood&lt;/i&gt;, a short story about the consequences of obsession, familial isolation, and communicative delay that unfolds between two brothers, offers a neatly arranged page with a photo of the writer, a personal biography, and a body of text generous in its double spaced format; that the author&#39;s work can be downloaded separately as a PDF document is yet another example of Narrative Magazine&#39;s emphasis on an intuitive and user friendly interface.  I experienced no discomfort or strain in reading all of &lt;i&gt;Blood&lt;/i&gt;&#39;s 33 page length exclusively off a computer screen. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Impressive too is Narrative Magazine&#39;s dedication to a section titled &quot;Narrative Outloud,&quot; where you&#39;ll find streaming audio readings by various authors.  Check out the poetry of Michael Dickman, whose unassuming and subtly modulated voice wonderfully complements works full of vivid imagery, teasing ironies, and unforced metaphors.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Where most online literary magazines are oriented singly around contemporary works, Narrative Magazine maintains historical continuity when reintroducing some of the great works of the past.  Along a column at the far left side of the site&#39;s homepage, and distinguished by its pale yellow background color, NM displays two sections titled &quot;Story of the Week&quot; and &quot;Poem of the Week,&quot; which for the current edition highlights Fyodor Dostoyevsky&#39;s &quot;First Night&quot; and Anna Swir&#39;s &quot;The Same Inside,&quot; respectively.  &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;In conclusion, Narrative Magazine achieves an admirable balance of design and content, combining the stylistic elements of older print publications (in its efficient use of space) with the novelties available through the net (in its incorporation of multimedia and ease of access).  Though Narrative Magazine does not revolutionize any one aspect of on-line publishing, what the site does accomplish is to perfect many of the existing tools pioneered on the net; not a single glitch was encountered when clicking on an audio, visual, or interview stream.  In terms of the site&#39;s content, editors Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks more than prove their taste and influence as most of their selected contributors are seasoned and award winning veterans.&lt;/div&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Fri, 29 May 2009 06:03:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-05-29T00:05:08.321-07:00</atom:updated><title>Contemporary Noir on the Net: Part 2</title><description>&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold; &quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-size:large;&quot;&gt;Ascent Aspirations Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 112px;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5341137696641472354&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Ascent Aspirations Magazine&lt;/a&gt; is an independent press and quarterly online literary publication. A print anthology is also distributed semi-annually.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I chose AAM as a companion site to last week&#39;s review of Underground Voices Magazine, as both publications emphasize short fiction, poetry, and science fiction that cover the themes of social alienation, political angst, and cultural malaise.  Implied is a body of work whose dark diction and bleak narrative offers a stark and gritty examination of social interaction and human emotion not found in the sanitized alternatives now available across the net.  In light of the content presented and the audience sought, to what extent have they succeeded in creating an online presence immediately recognizable for its subaltern yet metastasized originality of voice and layout?  The results, unfortunately, are mixed.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Unlike UVM, the layout of Ascent Aspirations Magazine is well organized and easy to navigate.  The home page conveniently offers an index column listing current and past issues in addition to a set of recommended links that borders the center graphic of AAM&#39;s logo.  Clicking on the &quot;current issue&quot; hyperlink leads to another intuitively arranged page where AAM displays author names by genre category.  To the far right hovers a featured work of visual art, which, for this quarter, is the abstract expressionism of Patricia Carroll, who conveys her pieces with a surprising freshness despite the over saturation of the genre itself.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Although the layout is straightforward, it is quintessentially bland and not at all suggestive of literary audacity; AAM&#39;s alternating font colors of light blue, red, and yellow are neither striking nor provocative.  &lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Though it is understandable that such an underground outfit may not have the necessary resources to craft a visually sophisticated website, limited financial means has never precluded creativity&lt;/span&gt;.  Take for example the avant-garde literary and visual movement of Vorticism that took place in London just prior to WWI.  Hardly known and struggling within the suffocating vestiges of Victorian hypocrisy, founder &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Wyndham Lewis&lt;/a&gt; still managed to distinguish his underfunded publication of BLAST with its iconoclastic and erratic font size that continues to attract admirers even today.  The most typographic creativity AAM displays is an italicized font for headers and the occasional water colored &quot;Ascent&quot; logo that hovers awkwardly in hues of smudged purple and orange.  For a magazine that claims to publish the works of subversive authors its layout is in serious need of overhaul.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The content put forth by AAM is fairly typical of most online literary publications, a varied blend of literary and visual amateurs, veterans, and talents in progress.  I, for one, welcome such a mixture because few other mediums allow for writers and artists of such contrasting styles and degrees of skill to share and compare their works.  One such gem among AAM&#39;s short story submissions is Lee Gimenez&#39;s &quot;Enzyme.&quot;  Gimenez imparts narrative through the format of several email exchanges that takes place between two scientists, Samantha Ryker and Leonard Smith:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;From: Samantha Ryker&lt;br /&gt;Date: October 11, 2012&lt;br /&gt;To: Leonard Smith&lt;br /&gt;Subject: Enzyme&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Leonard,&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I have some great news!  While working (as always) on the enzyme project, I came up with a new formula.  I think this will give us what all of us have been working on for the last five years.  Yes, you heard me right.  We&#39;ll now be able to make ethanol from wood chips.  I know it sounds incredible, after all of the dead ends.  I can&#39;t wait to get in the lab and start working with this.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Regards,&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Samantha&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;This is just one of a series of emails to follow, through which Samantha&#39;s scientific break through is subsequently challenged by Leonard.  What unfolds is a psychological exploration of scientific single mindedness whose consequences can portend and lead to great disaster.  Gimenez&#39;s short story executes this format flawlessly.  His handling of telling a story through email correspondence is the embodiment of experimental online literary content at its finest.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Of course, there are in AAM plenty of Charles Bukowski imitators and overly maudlin and tired relationship pieces to go around.  Asides from Patricia Carroll, I was none too pleased by the crop of visual artists available for the current quarter.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In conclusion, I enjoyed UVM and AAM&#39;s selection of entries.  It is clearly evident that much effort is given to ensuring the highest quality of submissions.  Nevertheless, the primary weakness of both magazines is their less than stellar internet layouts and the near absence of thematic organization.  In addition to random entries, why not collaborate with writers around a particular style or theme?  Perhaps, and again through collaboration, why  not seek to articulate a new philosophy not only in content but also in terms of layout?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Sun, 03 May 2009 21:37:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-05-04T10:04:43.916-07:00</atom:updated><title>Contemporary Noir on the Net: Part 1</title><description>&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-size:large;&quot;&gt;Underground Voices Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 142px;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5331728201886995858&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;div&gt;One of the most important aspects of the Internet is the opportunity afforded to various talents to showcase their unique works outside of the mainstream media.  Though corporations and their marketing adjuncts are now fully vested in the limitless power and reach of the Internet, their efforts, thus far, have not hindered the ability of a certain class of innovative artists to present works particularly edgy, dark, and raw.  Foremost among this list of creative daring is &quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Underground Voices Magazine&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; an LA-based print and online literary magazine.  &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Gripping the viewer instantly on UVM&#39;s home page is a monthly feature of a visual artist who, for the site&#39;s May 2009 issue, is Russian born George Grie.  The fact that Grie&#39;s work is displayed so prominently, to such an extent as to marginalize even UVM&#39;s own introductory header and navigational panes, is a testament to UVM&#39;s commitment to the artist.  Grie&#39;s digital 3D neo-surrealist rendering, entitled &quot;Mind scape or virtual reality dreamscape,&quot; is a captivating collage of provocative and playful imagery full of paradox, alienation, and tension: observe as an 18th century ocean vessel sails through an arched window and out towards an unknown horizon of vaunted mountains.  All this is placed against a foreground of aristocratic furniture, spiraling staircases, and hanging Gothic chandeliers.  &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Once the visual impact subsides, however, the two rectangular index windows that edge the sides of Grie&#39;s impressive work are neither the most intuitive nor in keeping with the stylistic content of the site&#39;s larger body of works featured.&lt;/span&gt;  The left-hand side of the page displays the site&#39;s genre categories, though to the far right, and completely disassociated from the genre to which each author belongs, hover the names of the month&#39;s contributors.  It would be nice if the two were merged.  Furthermore, only after fortuitously scrolling around does it become apparent that under Grie&#39;s work are listed the titles of monthly features, but again, no indication of authorship.  Lastly, though the choices of font color (alternately white and red) and the background color (black) allows for easy reading and a fairly streamlined appearance, overall the layout fails to capture the unconventional energy and intriguing titillation that distinguish the works themselves. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;In the category of Fiction, Zachary Amendt&#39;s &quot;Marvelous Time Starving,&quot; is a respectable attempt at modern noir in its portrayal of a sell-out, booze swilling novelist full of calm sarcasm and self-deprecating, yet uncannily honest, irony.  Zachary&#39;s narrative, though in need of some minor editorial shearing, is generally strong and refreshing:  In an example of his brightly colorful literary illustrations, he describes the dive bar &quot;Taqueria Arandas&quot; as &quot;cheap beer and deep leather booths and saucy Canadian fishermen, grizzled and hulking, Baffin Bay and the St. Lawrence Seaway to Loreto and the Sea of Cortez.&quot;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;UVM&#39;s May 2009 poetry submissions are equally varied in style and content, ranging from Michael Shorb&#39;s gratuitous political poetry, &quot;Rush Limbaugh Smokes a Cuban Cigar, Alone on the Balcony of his Florida Mansion,&quot; to Paul Hellwig&#39;s poetry of wry self affirmation, &quot;Confessions of an Amateur Drunk,&quot; and most notable, Sinta Jimenez&#39;s penetrating, yet measured, poetry depicting the enduring and haunting experience of racial and ethnic discrimination. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The artists whose works Underground Voices Magazine brings forward are commendable.  To most submissions, UVM adds a complementary image as an extension of the author&#39;s content, a nice touch and one whose collaborative potential I am always eager to see tested.  Though UVM&#39;s layout lacks the originality reflected in the depth of its content, this literary magazine succeeds in establishing itself as an appropriate forum for those writers, visual artists, and readers interested in publication oriented around material that is fearless in its exploration of the darker shades of the human psyche. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Mon, 16 Mar 2009 03:47:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2009-03-16T00:00:56.362-07:00</atom:updated><title>Of sheep and understatement: Apt Journal</title><description>&lt;p&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;color: rgb(102, 0, 0);   font-weight: bold; font-family:&#39;times new roman&#39;;&quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-size:large;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-size:large;&quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;color: rgb(102, 0, 0);&quot;&gt;Apt Journal&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img style=&quot;float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 158px;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313639549943067682&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;color: rgb(102, 0, 0);  font-weight: bold; &quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-weight: normal; &quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-family:&#39;times new roman&#39;;&quot;&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-size:medium;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;&quot;&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Apt: an online literary journal&lt;/a&gt;,&quot; subsidiary of Aforementioned Productions, was co-founded by editors Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff in October 2005.  Against the often overly designed bevy that largely constitutes online publication today, replete with any number of outlandish graphics and awkward navigational formats, Apt&#39;s elegance of design proves that, despite the overwhelming visual rococo in which the web is today awash, less can still be more.  The site&#39;s simple font easily stands out against an understated background color of muted yellow.  Even Apt&#39;s literary mascot, &quot;Leopold,&quot; an unassuming sheep rendered by Jesse Farrell, is poised in such a manner as to reinforce the site&#39;s emphasis on literary content.   &lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;Though I applaud Apt&#39;s finesse in design, after reading several entries, many of which vary drastically in technique, I found myself yearning for graphics as a distinguishing extension of the stylistic content of each entry.  When reading John Grey&#39;s delightful poem &quot;Gardens,&quot; I felt Apt&#39;s austere layout nicely complements Grey&#39;s open-versed imagery.  I was then thrown off by Petra Whiteley&#39;s poem &quot;Copper Coin Miracles,&quot; as I was unprepared to transition so suddenly from Grey&#39;s delicate verse to Whiteley&#39;s provocative and visceral diction on the turbulent experience of past and current love relationships.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span&gt;&lt;span&gt;This is to suggest that elegance does not have to be sacrificed with the use of multi-media. &lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot; style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Contemporary standards of online taste emphatically demand a well-coordinated and consistent simultaneity of various media: there is just too much possibility to ever again warrant its outright rejection&lt;/span&gt;.  I would therefore love to see Apt&#39;s streamlined approach translated into a format that incorporates mixed media.  Overall, I recommend Apt, not only for its high caliber literary works, but also for its experimentation in visual understatement.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class=&quot;Apple-style-span&quot;  style=&quot;font-family:&#39;times new roman&#39;;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item><item><guid isPermaLink="false">,</guid><pubDate>Tue, 17 Feb 2009 16:53:00 +0000</pubDate><atom:updated>2010-08-07T12:36:49.723-07:00</atom:updated><title>The international eclectic of 3:AM Magazine</title><description>&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;color: rgb(255, 153, 0);font-size:130%;&quot; &gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;color: rgb(102, 0, 0);&quot;&gt;3:AM Magazine&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur=&quot;try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}&quot; href=&quot;;&gt;&lt;img id=&quot;BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5303839210164532210&quot; style=&quot;float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; width: 200px; height: 109px;&quot; alt=&quot;&quot; src=&quot;; border=&quot;0&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;There is an energy of purpose and orchestrated vision to &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;3:AM Magazine&lt;/a&gt; that clearly sets it apart from other online literary journals. The introductory homepage banner is sleek, intense, yet appropriately understated in style. The site&#39;s color scheme of layered blue for borders and plain white background for each entry section together create a warm consistency of appearance, theme, and design. Though a few textual typos stand out, especially in works of translation, this is forgivable in light of 3:AM&#39;s sheer volume of output.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;The editors of 3:AM have managed to construct a site that is graceful in its suggestion of innovation. The viewer is eased into discovering two particularly good uses of media, flash fiction and blogging, favorable to an audience often weary of having to read long excerpts on a computer screen.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Flash fiction is an appealing format that enables the writer and reader to engage in an intimate and immediate moment. Take for example Jana Lisboa&#39;s &quot;Daddy,&quot; a seemingly personal portrait of a daughter struggling to reconcile her father&#39;s militaristic and staunchly Catholic parenting skills. Though such an experience can be drawn out at length in the form of a novel, Lisboa&#39;s brief, but intense, personal narrative succeeds to effect in the reader a heightened sense of the emotional dynamic that often exists between father and daughter: &quot;It was so. He called and I burst into tears. It was just like that one time, when once he was big, I was tiny.&quot; Flash fiction forces the writer to create the leanest, and thus the most emotionally charged sentences.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-weight: bold;&quot;&gt;Perhaps 3:AM Magazine&#39;s most notable achievement, in addition to featuring an excellent variety of underground literature, is its concerted effort to publish a wide range of international voices.&lt;/span&gt; One such example of 3:AM&#39;s dedication to cultural plurality, and again within the genre of flash fiction, is Brazilian born Adriano Queiroz&#39;s &quot;The Opportunity&quot; (translated by Maisa Dabus) which depicts the defiance and subversion of a South American septuagenarian against the prevailing attitudes of bias toward the elderly. The manner in which the main character treats old age is revealing and surprising to a western reader. The comparative possibilities of a multi-cultural narrative experience as a movement are now taking full shape, and its nice to see 3:AM participate. It would be welcome if they took this a step further by devoting a specific section to works of contemporary foreign literature. While this topic is hardly new within the circles of academia, only now have such international works been displayed for universal public access.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;3:AM&#39;s blog roll &quot;Buzzwords Blog&quot; includes a novel mix of multi-media; combining text, YouTube, video excerpts, photography, and an equally diverse fare of quirky and insightful commentary. A February 9, 2009 post titled &quot;The drivel parts, or we&#39;ll tell him we&#39;re frightened and have to go home&quot; weds humor, a TV sitcom, and literary history as it details an anecdote from the life of writer Richard Yates. What 3:AM accomplishes here is the clever threading of several mediums and genres to convey and expand the discussion topic. This is multi-media at its best; collaborative, focused, and inclusive.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;The sections devoted to criticism and interviews are well researched and cover a broad spectrum of artists. Check out the Sophie Erskine interview with Meat Poet Steve Richmond and Mikael Covey&#39;s interview with &#39;Bizzaro&#39; poet and fiction writer Tom Bradley.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;When selecting entries for publication, the editors of 3:AM Magazine do not sacrifice quality simply for the opportunity to fill its pages with eclectic works. Those whose artistic products have been published are truly deserving of notice, and this against an international pool of contributions makes 3:AM a pioneer in reaching out to writers of all backgrounds.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p class=&quot;MsoNormal&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description><link></link><author> (KPM)</author><media:thumbnail xmlns:media="" url="" height="72" width="72"/><thr:total>0</thr:total></item></channel></rss>

If you would like to create a banner that links to this page (i.e. this validation result), do the following:

  1. Download the "valid RSS" banner.

  2. Upload the image to your own server. (This step is important. Please do not link directly to the image on this server.)

  3. Add this HTML to your page (change the image src attribute if necessary):

If you would like to create a text link instead, here is the URL you can use:

Copyright © 2002-9 Sam Ruby, Mark Pilgrim, Joseph Walton, and Phil Ringnalda