Of A Monstrous Anthology

At AWP I spent 99% of my time at the Artistically Declined Press table at the bookfair. Two tables down from me was the Lost Horse Press table. Lost Horse is one of my favorite presses. Their books are beautiful and they have published some of my favorite people and poets. Anyway, I became friendly, as one does at the bookfair, with my neighbors, including the guy manning LHP’s table. Turns out he co-edited an anthology just released from LHP and as friendly neighbors do, I picked up a copy. To be honest I didn’t know too much about it, it looked nice and was thick (and as heavy) as a brick. Turns out, it’s one of the most intriguing anthologies I’ve picked up in some time.

It’s called Of A Monstrous Child and is an “anthology of creative writing relationships.” The idea behind it is that a mentor and a student-turned-peer are paired up. They introduce one another and a story or some poems. It’s a fresh take on the anthology, one that goes beyond the work into the making of the work through the influence, study, and companionship that runs at the depths of this trade. A few of the writers who show up here are Zachary Schomburg, Robert Wrigley, Ryan Boudinot, Rick Moody, Amy Hempel, and Brian Evenson.

To be honest, traditional anthologies start to bore me at a certain point. I’ve had some ideas for non-traditional anthologies myself, and maybe one day will be fortunate enough to see one realized. When it comes to Monstrous Child, brain-baby of Nate Liederbach (the fellow I met at AWP) and his former student, James Harris it’s too soon for me to tell exactly what the effect of the anthology’s format will be as a whole, after all, I’m only a fourth of the way into it. But I like the ambition, I like the portrait of mentor relationships, a bond dear to writers. I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about this anthology in the way of a review or a blog post. Anything. I’m sure somewhere there has been, but it seems right up the alley of so many writers I know and interact with. I hope this post will help people find the book. You can learn more about it HERE.

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OK, Goodnight: A Review

OK, Goodnight

By Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg.

$5.00, 32 pages ISBN-13: 978-1-892061-37-9

“so we get inside a well together / it is quiet”

To read this new chapbook from Future Tense Books is to crawl into something deep and full.  It is non sequiturs and quick images subverting and then fattening themselves.  It is panoramic shots from inches away.

“I hid in a church all night / until a harp sound thwanged.”

It is feeling the cannons load and traps spring. I was familiar with the sinister innocence of Schomburg before this.  I was not acquainted with Frey. I am excited to meet her. The way she palms words and objects, hands them back to you unrecognizable, is at once beguiling and blunt.

“I don’t want to burn up / that’s lonely”

There is companionship in this poetry.  There is tension in the way the poems hinge on themselves.  They stretch almost all the way round, close to snapping.

“when I do things alone: / pin my back to your old twin bed”

The poems stretch the solitary into a fraternal twin of itself.  They are lonely in the backseat of a crowded sedan.  They squint at each other, daring the other to blink.

“The future bends/ across the bedspread// I say things like that”

The poems are not just self-aware, but  self-critical and sun-blind.  Their whimsy is weighted down with thick, ropy morals.

“two women lean out a window / one glows like a planet / and one is not glowing / just casting a long shadow / on the brick”

Each poem is an angle and its complement; a sun, its own eclipse; each malignancy, its own cure.

“Think of a big ship / turning around in a harbor.”

Order it here.