Bone Bouquet Volume 2, Issue 1, Winter 2011

In “20 Questions” (which is collected in The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book), Barbara Barg ironically presents the following multiple choice question:

12. Women writers
      a) are only concerned with content      b) don’t have happy       marriages      c) should always have men edit their       works      d)   are naturally gullible   d) [sic] are always referred       to as “women writers”

Obviously, the correct choice is no choice at all. Or it would be to abandon the multiple choice format altogether since such choices (especially “a” and “d”) delimit and hypostatize what women’s writing can be. Bone Bouquet: A Journal of Poetry by Women is a new venture that intends to fight such delimitation and is, according to the editorial statement in the inaugural issue, “not a venue for feminine poetry or the poetry of ‘women’s issues.’” Rather, it “seek[s] to highlight the best new writing being produced by artists both established and emerging.”  This is a welcome mission particularly in light of the 2010 stats just released by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts that indicate huge disparities between men and women in terms of contributors and books reviewed in a range of high profile publications (the tally for Poetry, for example, counts 246 men and 165 women).  VIDA committee member Amy King writes, “We’re ready to invest our efforts and energy into the radical notion that women are writers too.”  Bone Bouquet is, then, concerned more specifically with advancing the liberating notion that women that are writers are not just “women writers.”

If the poetry found in the first print issue of Bone Bouquet engages with content that is recognizably “feminine,” then it is content elaborated within the high-pressure crucible of poetic form.  Or it is content made performative by means of a savvy conceptualism.  Take, for example, Dana Teen Lomax’s “Lullaby” which concludes the issue:

You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.

Compared to James Tate’s “Lewis and Clark Overheard in Conversation” (Tate’s poem is simply the line “then we’ll get us some wine and spare ribs” iterated 23 times), which is content to frolic in the bone-headed silliness of male homosociality, Lomax’s poem is concerned with gendered normativites and ideological interpellation (which is particularly insidious when cast as a lullaby).

Including front and back matter, Bone Bouquet (Volume 2, Issue 1) is only a slim 31 pages but if more conventional print journals have the advantage of volume, then Bone Bouquet has the advantage of a well orchestrated coherence and a tight editorial vision. The disparate pieces in the volume by Carolyn Guinzio, Emily Skillings, Jennifer H. Fortin, Leigh Stein, Dawn Pendergast, Arielle Greenberg, Claire Hero, Becca Klaver, Jennifer Firestone, Tamiko Beyer, Kara Dorris, and Dana Teen Lomax seem to nicely harmonize with one another that this textual object seems not so much a journal but a smart, multi-authored chapbook (Claire Hero’s prose poem “ruining Dolly” ends “& the bones of my bones lullaby my limbs,” resonating not only with the title of the journal but with the closing Lomax poem that I quoted above).

If one can generalize about the range of writing here then it is marked by a lyrical obliquity and an eccentricity of voice. There is a focus on imagined worlds, on what might emerge from what Becca Klaver (perhaps referencing Brion Gysin) calls the “DREAM MACHINE.” There is a concern with the subjunctive possibility of the “if”; Leigh Stein’s “Autobiography” claims, “If she were a man, she would have sex / with the cactus for the cactus’s birthday.”  All of this surprising work represents a great riposte to those who think they know what women’s writing sounds like or should look like.

I end, following Barbara Barg, with a multiple question of my own:

Bone Bouquet is
a) meant to show that special pooch how much you care by sending a gift of crunchy bones that will have him begging for more   b) a reference to Stéphane Mallarmé   c) a gorgeous grouping of delicate bone china flowers arranged in a white vase that can be had for the “Buy it Now” price of $28.99 d) a journal to watch

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Heck of a deal at Caketrain

Caketrain Issue 08, November 2010

Contributors:

Joseph Aguilar, Nubia Bint Aqeel, E.C. Belli, Carrie Bennett, Amaranth Borsuk, Paul Braffort, Blake Butler, Jak Cardini, William Cardini, Jon Cone, Juliet Cook, Olivia Cronk, Kelly Dulaney, Laura Eve Engel, Géraldine Georges, Kristen Gleason, Sarah Goldstein, Adriana Grant, Hillery Hugg, Gabriela Jauregui, Sean Kilpatrick, Robert Kloss, Darby Larson, Tan Lin, Matthew Mahaney, Megan Martin, Gordon Massman, David Ohle, Brian Oliu, Kim Parko, Nick Ripatrazone, Kim Roberts, M Sarki, Kathryn Scanlan, Farren Stanley, Heidi Lynn Staples, Louisa Storer, Emily Toder, Ashley Toliver, J.A. Tyler, Maren Vespia, Danielle Vogel, Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Rosmarie Waldrop, Joel Weinbrot, Jess Wigent, Corey Zeller.

 

And get this: TWO TITLES FOR ONLY $12.00! So act now!

 

For $20, I just bought Issue 08, Lucas Farrell’s Bird Any Damn Kind, and Claire Hero’s afterpastures. I mean, we’ve all heard you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I sure want to!

Here is one of my favorite covers from the past, Kim Parko’s Cure All:

What are you waiting for? Go! Buy!