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Review: Orphans Burning Orphans by Gene Kwak

Orphans Burning Orphans by Gene Kwak
Greying Ghost Press, 2015
19 pages

I haven't done the Greying Ghost subscription for a few years, but they've always been one of my favorite small presses, so I was excited to get one this year. First up is Gene Kwak's Orphans Burning Orphans, a chap of six short stories. Staple-bound with black end-papers and a yellow cardstock cover that's stamped with black and red lightning/gun/fire imagery, the prose inside is quick and sharp to match.



The characters in Kwak's stories often come across as people trying to do good in the less-than-perfect situations they're put in. In "Neon God From The Top Turnbuckle" contemplates his own existence and whether he could continue the thread of himself through reproduction. "Red Skin, White Skin, Blue Skin," is a darkly funny story of a man attempting to go along with a lover's fetishes. Both of these pieces feature men struggling to find their place with women who do…

Poem In Fruita Pulp

The new issue of Fruita Pulp is out, and I have a new poem in it called "Feast on Top of A Smudged Glass Ceiling" that you can read here. There are some other fantastic poets in here too, so definitely check out the whole issue.

Big thanks to Kyle Harvey, Sonya Vatomsky, and the rest of the staff. I'm honored they included my work.

Review: The Sheep Stealer by Jenn Blair

The Sheep Stealer by Jenn Blair
Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015
32 pages

Hyacinth Girl Press has become one of the few presses whose chapbooks I eagerly await, both for the badassery of their work and the stunning handmade style of their books. Kicking off their 2015 lineup is Jenn Blair's The Sheep Stealer, a poetic trek through rural America. Like all HGP titles, great care was taken in the aesthetic artistry of the book, featuring very simple cover art by Marian Scales, and my copy had flowery end-papers and lime green ribbon binding.



The twenty-three poems in The Sheep Stealer dance to the slow wilt and bloom of small-town, rural America, immersing themselves in a host of characters, meals, and ways of life. Blair's elaborate but pointed imagery carries the narratives, whether it's the prevalence of lamb's blood on everything in "Before the Flood" or a woman browsing brochures in a convenience store who, "inadvertently skins the knees of her / plump eyes on …

Not Dead, Just Working

Summer is here, and I'm trying to keep the writing/editing train moving. And mostly succeeding, so far. Here is a bullet-point list of exciting things:

- I've been helping to read and select chapbook submissions for publication with ELJ's new Magpies series. We've received a number of great manuscripts so far and are accepting work for a few more days. Anyone interested in submitting can go here.

- The revival of the online journal Amethyst Arsenic is finally here, and I'm so excited to start reading poetry submissions for the new issue to go live, later this year. We open July 1 and we are a PAYING market, so please go here to submit your work and help make this issue great.

- I'm planning to start posting chapbook reviews here on the blog, so stay tuned for that.

Additionally, I have some new work forthcoming in a few awesome journals that I can't wait for people to read. I'll be posting links here when said journals go live.

MenilFest 2015

The seventh annual MenilFest was held in Houston yesterday, and hundreds of people came out to support art, lit, and music. This was the second year I attended the festival and the first that I manned a table for ELJ Publications, which was a new, exciting experience. The forecast rain held off for the duration of the fest, so it was a lovely, overcast day to hang out at a book fair.


Some notable journals and presses were there that I love. I went by the H_NGM_N Books and Little Red Leaves tables a few times, but didn't get to chat much with the people there (though I'll likely be sending my micro-chap to H_NGM_N soon, so I should have introduced myself). Same for Rust + Moth and Owl Eye Review (the latter of which I actually did have time to talk to and wanted to know more about, but there was no one at the table when I went by). I spoke with a girl at the Zine Fest Houston table and took a draft copy of her zine, which looks pretty badass, though she was still fairly apologe…

2015 Writing Goals

1. Write a poem a week.

2. Complete and submit another chapbook.

3. Make progress on a full-length project.

4. Continue publishing in journals, submit to more paying markets.

5. Continue seizing writing and publication opportunities outside poetry (book reviews, essays, fiction, etc.).

It would be great if the fiction-writing part of my brain would resurface this year, kthx.

2014 Book Roudup

From glancing at the lists, this seems to be about what I did in 2013, as well, with maybe slightly more fiction and non-fiction in 2014. Fiction favorites were the much-anticipated Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones and Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey (I'm not entirely sure about this, but I'm almost positive I bought the latter through seeing a recommendation by the former. Funny how that works out.). Poetry highlights were one of my first ventures into erasure, Radi OS by Ronald Johnson (a brilliant erasure of Paradise Lost), and Head Off and Split by Nikki Finney (the opening poem, "Red Velvet," about Rosa Parks, blew me away). For non-fiction, Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams is, by far, my favorite, followed by Toms River by Dan Fagin, which has some pretty extensive research and reporting (this is, apparently, why some didn't like it, but I'm usually more appreciative of non-fiction in this vein, as opposed to the lighter, more poppy stuff).