Abby Hagler reviews Selah Saterstrom’s brilliant Ideal Suggestions: Essays In Divinatory Poetics (Essay Press, 2017): “A book dedicated to not only showing the link between the diviner and the writer, but also to helping a reader recognize the diviner within.”
“to the glories of the dark longing you see in an aspirant on the path of devotion. Often used to bring the inner organs into control. You breathe in one image and breathe out a different night…”
“We’re almost fucking but we’re not. We’re all tongue. We’re all tongue down the glass, mouth open and taking. No, we’re not. We’re wasted on memory tonight. We’re fucking memories.” — from Nympholepsy, by Lisa Marie Basile and Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein, a finalist for the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prizes.
“Spiders crawl down my thighs, across my abdomen. A kind of scholarly pornography.” — from Miranda Metelski’s Resisting the Book of a Woman Possessed, a finalist for the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prizes.
“Abra (short for cadabra), the brainchild of poets Kate Durbin and Amaranth Borsuk and designer Ian Hatcher, is a wormhole for the era … one that’s a cosmic, fangy, hallucinogenically-venomed, Edenic pleasure to bite into.”
An exceptional essay on demons, mental illness, self-harm, and suicide, which we’re publishing just in time for Christmas. “If human life is an oath, then suicide for me was like an oath recited backwards, a protest against the physical body that gave entrance to that first strange and violent ghost and all that followed,” writes Piper J. Daniels.
Post-election poem by Lisa Marie Basile. “My dear, I will be long gone by the time you see the efforts of human madness take shape. He says this, he says this, he says this, as I wriggle in place, the bloodlet of light at my feet.”
Poem by Joanna Valente, following the 2016 US Election. “I thought God was dead / when he grabbed my pussy & shoved / his cock inside a hole in my body // where it could fit // even when I said no, when my hands / flailed like the sun descending / erratically, making strange sounds // for this new world.”
Lisa A. Flowers reviews Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi (Action Books): “A collection that intelligent children and adults alike will trip on and all-up-into. It’s the kind of book that’s as suited for DMT/LSD as it is for a vividly imagination-stimulating preschool storytime; and, of course, it’s a must for any occult-obsessee.”
“we weren’t so stupid. we’d done our reading, even there in school. we knew of the deformities. we’d seen the portraits in our history book – the habsburgs with their horrible lips, their jaws. mental retardation, et cetera. we knew, we knew. but that wasn’t what we were doing.”
Making its debut in Assiah is TS Press novelist Claire Donato’s stunning first collection of poems, The Second Body, brought to you by Poor Claudia. Watch this space for a review, and in the meantime, we encourage you to read an essay by Claire at the Poetry Society of America, meditating on the title poem from The Second Body.
“Salvation is a drug, push the dopamine dosage in regular intervals – until screaming hero in chains. From her hands into her mouth, obedient. Promised salvation. The body of Christ taken with a glass of wine. Sacral flesh in the throat. She takes the body of the saviour into her, takes flesh and myth, and believes she is saved.”
“it is not subtle, our kind of sin / as when bioluminescent angels glitter the black expanse / it is called nyctiluca. / isn’t it ravishing? / isn’t it how it feels to hunt / and make of our meat God and child.”
Her “soul” abed with “regret”… / (Both demanding quotation marks)… / Was, over the last week and a half, / Like that two-headed dog / Locked inside a car with the windows rolled up.
Ghost Proposal’s issue on “Hybrid Forms & the Post-Genre Approach” features TS author Joyelle McSweeney and TS publisher Christian Peet, along with Tyler Crumrine, T Clutch Fleischmann, Oliver de la Paz, Hannah Brooks-Motl, and Douglas A. Martin.
Beautiful monsterchild of the equinoctial super-bloodmoon eclipse, the fourth issue of Plinth, published by Unwin-Dunraven Literary Ecclesia, features work by Tarpaulin Sky Press author Claire Donato along with Purdey Lord Kreiden (whose new collection, Scolopendrum, is forthcoming from Action Books in April 2016), Nick Greer, Matthew Johnstone, A.A. Walker, Jayme Russell, C.C. Parker, Alina Popa, and Lital Khaikin.
“We r strapped // 2 eachother / like some species // of occult glamour // I discharge my titters / over the bodies piling out // of the glass / The reanimation of my pie // in a funk of vex….” Excerpts from Lara Glenum’s poetry manuscript, JUNK SHOT, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
On a slab that’s all Katrina left of her Mississippi home, Tiger tells her story, and it is as American as Horatio Alger, Schwab’s Pharmacy, and a tent revival. She was a stripper, but is she now a performance artist and best-selling author, and it is really Barbara Walters she’s narrating this tale to? Slab is how a girl ends up in the backwash of decadence and sin, and how out of the flotsam and jetsam she might construct a story of herself and the South to carry her to salvation.
“Her voice is like a carnation sucking water, sucking blue. / She drinks. Hello she says. / Yes she says like the lion of St. Mark, with liquid nonchalance….” Excerpts from Emily Carr’s hybrid manuscript, Name Your Bird Without A Gun: A Tarot Novel, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
“Important information has been omitted / only because I cannot recall how it was ever included. // OBSCENE ACTION / Greek / too violent or complicated / for the stage/an invention of a traumatized poet // obscene/ob skene / off screen / un seen // IE: ghosts, / suicides, gas.” Excerpts from Candice Wuehle’s poetry manuscript, BOUND, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
“Gematria”: The honeycomb; the scutes of a turtle’s carapace; the ideal crystalline structure of graphine and Hanksite; Benzene, the simplest aromatic compound; the James Webb Space Telescope—efficient polygons with six edges and six verticals. A regular hexagon has six rotational symmetries and six reflection symmetries; these make up the dihedral group D6….
“The space in Dark Museum feels archetypal, mythic, and without clear precedent. Words are talismanic and a curse, and desire, death, dreams and decadence mingle with sorrow and the grotesque” — Chris Moran on María Negroni’s Dark Museum (Action Books 2015).
“These pages are fields of healing crystals. A crystal text. Crystal gestures full of strange angles. These are visceral experiments spliced with memory” — Heather Sweeney on CA Conrad’s Ecodeviance (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014)
Thanks to cult expert Rebecca Kallemeyn and Subito’s ongoing feature on small presses, including Ahsahta, Black Ocean, Burning Deck, Caketrain, Dalkey Archive, FC2, Eraserhead Press, Essay Press, Ugly Duckling, et al.
Lisa A. Flowers reviews Lisa Marie Basile’s Apocryphal (Noctuary) via Kenneth Anger, the Brothers Grimm, David Lynch, Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Song of Solomon, et al. “A book whose images gleam like jewels poured down a long black hole.”
Joyelle McSweeney: “I realized that the walls and the floors, the soil and the air were toxic, everything that could be seen or touched was poison, everything mankind did made the world worse, just moving around and breathing. It seemed to me that I had been walking in fire. Why had I not known it? Nutriment and poison, protection and hazard, comfort and harm were not binaries but indivisible, each one turning over to reveal its attractively hairy reverse or iridisceing, spiny obverse.”
Thanks to guest editor Joe Hall, Everyday Genius includes not one but three days of alleged genius from TS publisher Christian Peet, via something called a “Kabbalnacht” in three “Tritone Lectures,” wherein Twelve Black Holes of Wisdom hath for their root and crown the Ineffable (K).
is a measure
of what it
takes the Sun
to forget us.
Tipped off by a TSky fan who knows our love for all things related to “satanic ritual abuse,” we’re delighted to find the genre’s most recent author, Judy Byington is the requisite caliber of batshit insane.
The thing about Lovecraft’s characters is that they desperately want you to believe them but desperately don’t want to believe themselves. Blackwell embodies this ambivalence in order to confuse the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, editor and author, sickness and inspiration.
Of a vestment wrapped
around the wrong tree.
Of wild dogs gorging
the bone. Of a mirror
following me dream to
dream, several lifetimes at a time.
“All that rain. All that rain that gets down in the soilmeat under the mulch and sometimes it all slides down the hill that faces the backporch. Everything collects at the bottom of the backporch stairs. Night crawlers ooze out too a lot of the time. Coil-nerves. Dead rabbit parts—couple times. Raccoon parts. Never know what to expect oozing out of the ground with a mouth froze open or lifeless eyes making a seize on me. I tell the other kids at school about this stuff and they say I have satanic addictions but I just like to describe things as they happen because I like to describe.”
After talking with former prisoners about how beside-the-point their presence in court felt; after being called up and not selected for jury duty; after wondering about the metaphysics of court trials Eireene Nealand wrote to Vanessa Place, a poet and defense appellate attorney, who specializes in sexual offense cases.
“Gods and myths and works of art. And through it all a slack jawed, salivating artful rearrangement of half-unconscious social and mythological tropes, reflecting characters like Houdini, or Pinocchio, or Rorschach, in ancient Greece, or Los Angeles, or Egypt, offset by the smell of sex on johnnycakes. Characters like Jenny Greenteeth, the river hag of English nursery rhymes said to drag errant children to watery death, or Abyzou, birth-killing female demon and partner of Lilith, are briefly historied in the appendix provided by Ms. Flowers at the back of the book….”
Sarah Fox’s second book is The First Flag, and it is one fierce standard to follow. The book dispenses a potent compound of divination, memoir, psychoanalytic insights, placental rites and resolute feminism. This list might evoke what Kathleen Fraser referred to in 1989 as “immediately accessible language of personal experience as a binding voice of women’s strength,” a “poetry of content” resistant to “fragmentation and resistance” at the level of the sentence. While The First Flag is all about women’s strength, its style of writing is consistently inventive, innovative and imaginative. Yes, there is Voice in these poems, but it speaks paratactically and goes in unexpected directions; it out-foxes patriarchal syntax; it is as often bemused and reflexive as it is rhetorical or representational….
A collection of short stories by Joyelle McSweeney, refracting the dread and isolation of contemporary life through a series of formal/generic lenses, producing a distorted, attenuated, spasmatic experience of time, as accompanies motherhood; making impossible any thinking in terms of conventional temporalities or even causalities, let alone their narrative effects. “McSweeney’s breakneck prose harnesses the throbbing pulse of language itself.” (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY); “sexy teleological apocrypha of motherhood literature, a siren song for those mothers ‘with no soul to photograph'” (BROOKLYN RAIL); “These words ring and richochet like tinnitus in your ears” (QUARTERLY WEST); “One would not make love to a Salamandrine during a sandstorm” (ALEISTER CROWLEY)
It appears that Memphis Commercial Appeal journalist Marc Perrusquia is still suffering from The Blood of Innocents, his co-authored mass-market failure from 1995, which had hoped to profit from the State of Arkansas’s fictional case against the West Memphis Three.
Readers might reasonably expect that Perrusquia would have politely ignored the recent publication of Damien Echols’ memoir, Life After Death — or that Perrusquia might have even used the occasion to apologize for getting the case so wrong.
Instead, as if cornered, flying in the face of reason, Perrusquia decided to attack. To take one last swipe at the man who lost 18 years to Perrusquia’s satanic fiction, but survived, and then had the gall to write about it.
Excerpts from JeFF Stumpo’s diluvium, a 64-page poetic sequence / long poem wherein rhyming poems, representing “the conscious utterances of Noah and/or his wife as they wait out the Flood on the ark,” are surrounded by an “ocean of free verse, word salad, and visual poetry (raindrops, a hurricane, the darkness of the hold, wings, etc.) representing their subconsciouses, or perhaps a Collective Unconscious.” The project, says Stumpo, “tracks them through an Eriksonian development, from metaphorical birth onward. What begins steeped in Judeo-Christian mythology slowly gives way to a humanist worldview, though there are also bits of Hinduism and Buddhism sprinkled throughout.”
Featuring Danielle Vogel, Danielle Pafunda, Andy Nicholson, Barbara Maloutas, Amanda Jo Williams, Ally Harris, Sarah Goldstein, Johannes Göransson, Andrea Kneeland, Dot Devota, Mark Cunningham, Richard Froude, Amy King, Ana Božičević, Brian Henry, and Carol Guess.
Black Radish Books ISBN: 9780982573129 RRP: $15.00 168pp. Reviewed by Nicky Tiso Occultations is a fiercely intimate, original, and complex work. Written thru carefully…
The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits is the prose elegy of a boy who wants to be a bug in order to save by symbiosis the dead girl he loves. Enacted in prose poems and cross-referenced datebooks, the inseparable lovers eternally rehearse for a real life together, repeating in that instant between being and nonbeing, the loss into which their love escaped. “beguiling and entirely enthralling” (ART + CULTURE); “An opiate trip . . . terrifying, ungraspable . . . sad and beautiful” (NEW PAGES); “Irresistible!” (NORMA COLE); “Do not read this book at night” (BHANU KAPIL); “This small unsettling book . . . both conceals and reveals its morbidity, its twisted thirsts” (JOYELLE MCSWEENEY); “Valentines . . . cut from thick, mealy-colored childhood stock. Here is language as enchantment” (SELAH SATERSTROM)
Blake ButlerScorch AtlasISBN 978-0977199280Featherproof Books, 2009$14.95 Reviewed by J.A. Tyler I hold a copy of Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas and am caught in an…
Trickhouse #5 is Tarpaulin Sky #16. Curated by Noah Saterstrom. Featuring Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Thalia Field, Anne Waldman, Lisa Jarnot, Caroline Bergvall, Joanna Howard, Heide Hatry, Lisa Birman, Brandon Shimoda, Lisa Schumaier, Gordon Massman, Amy King, Ana Bozicevic, Josh Friedman, and Verbobala.
I, Afterlife: Essays in Mourning TimeKristin PrevalletEssay Press, 2007ISBN: 9780979118913$12.95 Reviewed by Megan Burns Kristin Prevallet delves into loss and grief in this collection…
Acclaimed poet Joyelle McSweeney’s first novel, Nylund the Sarcographer (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2007) is a something like a baroque noir: “Campy-cum-lyrical post-Ashberyan prose…. Language dissolves into stream-of-consanguinity post-surrealism and then resolves into a plot again…. Recommended” (STEPHEN BURT); “Nylund is like interesting on steroids…. If you are looking for a typical, straight forward, good old fashioned yarn, you’d do best to look elsewhere; but if you want to experience something fresh, daring, creepy, and significant, this is the one for you” (BOOKSLUT); “a masterful redefinition of what constitutes prose…. A character who is the very embodiment of writing” (NEWPAGES); “Welcome to fiction’s new femme fatale, Joyelle McSweeney” (KATE BERNHEIMER)