Love And Loss And Other Important Stuff

Johnathon

The third instalment of a recent bounty from the Silhouette Press catalogue and this time it is author Jonathan Pinnock, who is best known to me as the guy who did strange things to Jane Austen. Sacrilege? Never! This writer has completed the “level 4 compliance” within the “Poetry Society Guidelines” that include restrictions on rhyming, poems about cats and is more than ready to challenge all styles and rip them up, especially the ones on swearing cause he “can’t remember which fucking ones“. Fair enough I say.

Poetry like this pops and bursts with fun. We often forget the pleasure of the anarchic bard, to be silly and absurd. Jonathon has not forgotten this. Pants Outside Trousers, Big Letter H On T Shirt, Here To Save the World mocks lyrical, swiping hard at the wordy ones, when a limericist, a free versifier and a composer of sestinas meets Haiku Man, this poetry festival starts to get interesting. There are poems about when apes write about love instead of bananas and how heaven turned out to be, well, “a bit shit“.

Then there is the Love, swoon, be still and all that. No piece could be more reflective than A Short History Of The Cold War. Such beauty of metaphor, drawn lines and peace talks. There is a love-nest of amour on offer, many poems pondering the bitter sweet stuff. A lothario amid the drama of Bloody Italians is a perfect stage for the best decisions to be made. The Cooper Clarke beat of Dissonant Love Song #2, its words are bright and blistering. His love poems just get gloriously more twisted, A Lover’s Alphabet a vent of torture and revenge that ends way before it should.

Jonathan’s poetry tightens into beatific memories, on loss, dreams of Spain, a death of a mother, eye to eye with an angry bull, they are all thoroughly enjoyable. The scenarios eclectic and smart. There dwells a curious seriousness, puzzles turn into prose and the reader will benefit from two or three dips over them so their essence lights their mind globe. His experimentation with word shapes, poem on paper cuts and losing his mojo are a delight. I’ll be calling Dial-A-Bard to make sure this poet knows just how much I enjoyed the experience.

Love And Loss And Other Important Stuff is available through Silhouette Press. You can find out more on Jonathan’s work via his blog and connect with him via twitter

Johnathan Pinnock Poetry Reviews

The Best of A Bad Situation

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This one I have been chomping at the bit to get stuck into. Finding that spare chunk of time to really give this poetry release the attention it deserves. Just what I’ve seen of Spoken Word poet Jamie Thrasivoulou gives me the flutters. Truth is at the heart of this vessel and it will be ugly, it will be beautiful and it will stay with you for a long time.

What first strikes you is the song, his cadence, his approach is sometimes pure jazz. You hear the beat of the old Beats, but this is new and it restarts the heart. So with thumb and middle fingers ready we click into,

But 

the mind is:

a bombastic chasm

waiting on self destruction

So here we are, ready to receive a blast. I know it’s coming. This piece rumbles and boils, maybe even has a little romance…

Common Sewerage Problem is the dead march, when you are the unheard part of a system that doesn’t care, which barely wants to keep you alive, being all too prevalent in the UK and around the world. We hide our faces, quash our empathy when our roles should be to help one another. It’s poetry like this that sickens in just the right way, the word changers, the fight has just begun.

Distinctly working-class in every way” this mantra pounding That Pebbledash Finish. Jamie’s theme is rendered here, defiant that his voice will be heard. His streets are full of drugs, that ‘commodity‘ of the bored and hurt and in The Reformed Economist Jamie takes the lifestyle and throws it back at those in power. Two ponderers hit us, A True Liar and Options, where he contemplates to ‘de-educate myself in order to make a living’ the truth of the personal sell out.

Anxiety Pipped Me To The Finish Line… opens up to a new mind set. The spleen resting allows Jamie to get to the heart of himself, where he is at. This is no less traumatic, the streets and fields of our homes has dangerous prospects especially under the influence of mind altering substances, inner demons ready to rise and take on whoever happens to be walking by. Some good slick lines roll out in Steve Slash & The RDT, workmates to the rescue with piss filled Johnnys and wake up calls.

There are great words of advice in Hibernation, while Reflections rambles on the left side of unconsciousness. The motley crew that exists on Anywhere Street, James’s Derby dreary of “intoxicated philosophies” is an eye opener. On Tag is an atmospheric crime scene, then it’s onto this tomes title track and I say track with thought because these poems sing.

The Best Of A Bad Situation, three moments, I, II, III, reversed in its chronology, a glimpse into a time of bad judgement and its consequences, paced by a wild boy out of control. It is stark, it has memory loss and too many memories, while IV is the turning point here, the cloud lifter. Even the physical page seems clearer, the map for a new path. But there are still loads of experiences to surface poetic. Beneath A Banana Moon, ready for a fight, adrenalin switches, as the situation is “down-lifted by the up-trodden prey I pursue

Believe me, it can get heavy in here, so Duck and Raw Fish vs. Cooked Fish help me repose, loosen my brow and ready to take on Anthem For The Racist White Trash. The message here is clear, the insane beliefs from utter mouth breathers that immigrants and refugees are “taking our jobs you dream“. Jamie’s argument is a beauty to read.

I adore Won’t Turn To Dust, “free thought, forgotten courage” the slow seep of messages like these to strengthen the silenced. Dead Letters has me riling at the incompetence and politics of council not replacing a destroyed red correspondence receptical then cracking up two pages on at surprise reply poem About That Postbox… mystery solved, awed by the motive, excited about the delivery. Then there is the wise Who’s Der Clevrist Man Yer Know? This is a spin out twister that makes so much sense. Another mind altering night spent with another fine poet, our evening closing fast and we hear about a day in the life of Hunting Snow In A Blizzard, the waiting, the watching, the fix. Then there is Reimagining Yeroskipou unfeigned and loving, Jamie’s heritage remembered. Last pages are always hard to take especially when one has enjoyed the experience, but The Old Enemy and The Blemish round it out perfectly, learned from his past, not knowing the future, his now… ‘distinctly working-class in every way’, Truth.

You can purchase The Best Of A Bad Situation from Silhouette Press. You can keep up with new releases, projects and spoken word events via Jamie’s blog and follow him via twitter.

 

 

Poetry Reviews Silhouette Press

The Africa In My House

by Andrea MbarushimanaDGhAon3U0AAEFl0

This was a surprise addition to my order from the generous publishers at Silhouette Press. A deep red sunset boomed from the package, tribal masks and shields protecting its contents. I could hear the voices inside. The Africa In My House is a book of poetry, stories and events, touching through the troubled country of Rwanda, picking at time and looking at events that author Andrea Mbarushimana experienced there, the echoes of genocide and trying to fathom why, hoping that it will never occur again.

Andrea manages to beautifully mingle legend, mythology and her experiences to help herself and those who want to know, understand and cope with a country she now has a better understanding of.  Her words and illustrations are totally mesmerising.  Visitations that permeate dreams, her psyche deciphers it with ink and words. The original purpose of her stay there is not really established. I get the feeling that some humanitarian work, maybe teaching drew her there, where she fell in love, where her experiences have permanently connected her to the place. Her daughter a special link to keeping the threads of heritage in their hearts.

Rwanda became the country where horror stories overtook the rich tapestry of fable. Its displacement after colonial rulers abandoned, chose a side and said sort it out amongst yourselves was never going to be a pleasant start. Here, Andrea never glosses, these are hundreds of minds flowing through her, continuing lessons, making us aware of the complexities of tribe and the flow of the modern.

The imagery Andrea describes directly transports you to the village life and painful memories. One of the strongest to encounter and first to bite is Hyena pointing out the  dichotomy and dilemmas faced when the wrangled lost and desperate follow orders. When one’s own survival could be at the hand of another’s compassion. This story unfolds with high tension. When it is just your job and the consequence of not following orders is a moral conundrum that one can only know the answer to if put in that situation. When the realisation that ‘we are two people” overides the political.

Murambi Genocide Site, passes over the extreme “It’s hard to find your way sometimes, Past death’s mask“. The horrors that have been witnessed, memory’s ghost imagined, thoughts shared to help the healing. Rabbit is another squirmish, told with an exquisite meticulous pace, the process a recipe that is merely survival.

There are loads of survivors that Andrea has met and not met. You get the feeling that Andrea needed to be the storyteller here, this is her healing and we as readers are one the richer. There is no glossy sentimentality but there is true beauty here. Andrea slips in and out effortlessly of styles and intensity. The beautiful haiku of Kigeme, the questioning of when it is right to go back in Healing and the sublime Folk Tale Resurrection. In Power Cuts 2001 a time when the country is trying to return to some semblance of sanity. “Ce nest pas le guerre!” humour is such a rich healer. When the power goes out in, the difference between the same occurrence in Rwanda and in the U.K is an interesting one. There is a constant back and forth of place and contrasts throughout that become dreamlike. There are longer stories like God Of Shadows that are such an odd mixture of cult, west meets witch doctor revealing a fear so potent that one can’t believe the trauma it inflicts.

Dipped between chapters are Andreas prints. As Andrea is a masterful story teller, you can understand why her prints also contain enough drama and information to sink you. The plight of people in Refugee Art Group, the mere suggestion of the day’s painting topic of favourite food from home has me crying and when love became something certain in Gatyazo Bar, I was humbled. More stories, more poetry. I adore the strength, beauty and eccentricities of the people she met and the people whose lives she chose to speak of here now, forever remembered. You can purchase The Africa In My House via Silhouette Press. You can connect with Andrea via twitter.

Andrea Mbarushimana Book Review Poetry Silhouette Press

Remembering Hiroshima

Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes

by Eleanor Coerr

When I visited Pearl Harbor Memorial it coincided with a naturalisation ceremony on top of the de-commisioned battleship USS Missouri – its upper deck the venue where Japan formally surrendered on September 2 1945 in Tokyo Bay ending World War II. You can see photographs, original paperwork and a plaque that marks the spot – atomic muscle proving to be a persuasive solution and as we know, leaving an aftermath of death and illness when Enola Gay dropped the ‘little boy’ on Hiroshima on Aug 6 1945.

The ship was a buzz of proud families, clicking candid moments as one hundred new citizens originally from places like Brazil, Benin, Germany, Kuwait, Russia, South Korea, Jamaica, Switzerland made the United States of America their new homeland. I heard a woman being interviewed, ecstatic, waving her flag and bursting with emotion. She said how happy she is to belong to the country that gave her all her opportunities. She now looks forward to elections, when she always felt like an outsider because she couldn’t vote – where she was born, people died for that right.

imagesPearl Harbor turned out to be a very reflective place for me but not for the most obvious reasons. Sure, include the bottom line – for those that died and all affected by that day. I can only imagine the fear and suffering of such an event and I am in a constant state of pained nausea if I let my mind wander to all the atrocities of war past and present.

The memorial itself run by the National parks trust is done with solemnity and respect. If you’re into the strategies of battle you will be satiated. You can take photos in front of missiles, straddle torpedoes, view planes and walk through an impressive museum that tells both sides of the story.

On my visit, I was taken on a different journey of war. In the visitors centre was a display highlighting a book for International Peace Day. Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. Sadako, an original Hiroshima survivor was diagnosed with leukemia at age 12. To help gain courage, Sadako’s friend gave her a folded paper crane and reminded her of the Japanese legend – if a person is ill they will have their wish granted if they fold a 1000 paper cranes. Besides wishing for her own health, Sadako wished for world peace with every crane she folded.rainbow

So I purchased a copy and began reading the slim tome whilst exploring the grounds. Every spare moment between exhibits I read a few pages. This precious flower folded these cranes using whatever paper she could find, from medicine labels, newspaper and paper donated by friends, the distraction of it keeping Sadako strong as she faced her mortality – a heart wrenching realisation when someone so young and innocent is caught up in the mess of others. I read bits of the book on the park bench, in front of fat sparrows, I read more sitting on the grass as red faced finches hopped and feasted on some micro seed heads. More pages are turned sitting on a boat on the way to the water memorial, my concentration stolen by the most magnificent fully formed double rainbow as it framed the grey.

oil slickWhen you walk on the memorial itself, a silence takes over and you stare up at the black embossed names of those lost and interned in the ships grave. Over the edge the oil still seeps after seventy or more years, it’s old life’s blood forming an amazing colour spectrum on the surface of the water. Looking at the rusted bones itself nature has taken over. A new beautiful reef of coral, weed and fish shimmy distracting and easing the pain and enormous weight of grief of the Dec 7 1941 attack.

Tears streamed down my face as I finished her story. Sadako died October 25 1955 – she didn’t get to finish her cranes. This book caressed and stirred me more than any of the steely strength of ships and weaponry, code breaking, tactics and casualties could. You can’t sugar coat the realities of war, but now Sadako’s life story, however short, has become a beautiful symbol of peace and I am one the richer for discovering her message in such an unexpected place.

Book Review Eleanor Coerr Uncategorized

OPEN PEN

Issue Eighteen

a free short fiction magazine – home of open literature featuring

The Jungle by Josephine Bruni, Answering Zeus by William Kraemer, Way To Go Donald by N Quentin Woolf & London Short Story prize winner Oh No!, A Bank Robbery! Fuck! by Foye McCarthyDCb2tdCUIAQ7eFJ

I have a special dealer who keeps my Open Pen fix topped up. I’ll be waiting a while for Issue Nineteen but not too bothered as Issue Eighteen has been floating in my bag for those advantageous, peaceful moments to pause. Open Pen editor Sean Preston gives guest editorial duties to author of The Many, Wyl Menmuir. He starts off proceedings with much heart and passion on the political landscape that currently floods our psyches with that uneasy feeling and the distorted reflections one has been forced to endure of late. “We need fiction that reveals us deeper truths than those of which the news is capable” He sees the strength and conscious changing power of writing stories “Writing is about the closest thing we have to telepathy” There are plenty of stories around when we need to escape and even more to help us connect again in these complex times.  If I am looking for the latter, I know I can find it inside the the pages of Open Pen.

It took a park bench in the sun to hold me still enough to finally finish The Jungle by Josephine Bruni in one hit. Previous attempts where stifled by life’s regular interruptions, trying to find solitude at work, being distracted by a lit up android. My imagination well whetted – I think I read the intro six times – each page brought one deeper and deeper into the mind of Subhashini and her stoner enhanced neurosis and love of African Violets. So absorbed, she has become a creator, a little god in her world of black velvet, notched wavy flowers and purpley edges with “leaves perfectly heart shaped like a love song“. An offer of stronger genes in her family from Violets from outta space via an offer from an online chat room changes her world. Josephine writes with exquisite pace and empathy, that lets the reader enter her world of obsession and devotion.

William Kraemer has come up with a hoot of a fiction about a guy who makes up the titles of fake books for movie sets. These empty tomes are his triumph, a meditative fantasy world of amazing possibilities. Pensive Gout by Louis Cardel and A Thousand And One Inches Of Twine by Elissa Dal Santos a couple of favourites.

Way To Go Donald talks of the connection with the POTUS and potentially dying in a fairground accident. It is an uncanny metaphor, having myself escaped from a broken seat belt on the wild mouse unscathed, I get his drift. The only thing you can do is white knuckle it, and consider what might have happened later and how on earth it got clearance to be there in the first place. Part of the furniture at Open Pen, N Quentin Woolf’s pieces are always a mind blast.

Taking the finale of yet another wonderful issue is London Short Story Prize winner’s brilliantly funny Oh No! A Bank Robbery! Fuck! by Foye McCarthy. An Irish kid named Sean loves stories about people who shoot each other. The high expectations and literary selections of his mother are being quashed by the “pew, pew, pew, pew, tshhh” books he wants to write. This delves into another fantasy that gets caught up in a real life adventure, giving him the plot and ending he so desires, gaining answers of the warm and fuzzy variety. Much fun inside his fevered thought processes.

Look out for Issue Nineteen which should be out any tick and at a stockist near you (UK residents have the best chance) or subscribe via Open Pen

 

 

Open Pen Reviews

Joseph Ridgwell – Mexico

Ridgwell and Pig Ear Press join forces again and produce hand-stitched beauty.

Time to check in on authors who regularly get radared here at Urban F HQ. I’ve had this little burgundy book for a while now. After six weeks off work it’s amazing what you find in your notes and hidden journals around the place. A sketch of a volcano, lists of strange encounters, overheard conversations, personal dreams and a short paragraph on Joseph Ridgwell’s, Mexico.

Having been familiar with Ridgwell’s classic road novel Burrito Deluxe, also set within a Mexican backdrop, I couldn’t resist this little gem on offer from Pig Ear Press. A kind of mini Burrito… with less chili. Shaped like a British passport, its gold embossing tells of hearts belonging – at this particular moment – somewhere else, somewhere exotic, somewhere away from the fuzz. Back on the Beach Of The Dead, our favourite miscreant Ronnie is waxing astronomical with wads of philosophy between sips, snorts and swings. “It’s like everything’s dead, even the stars are stillborn“. Back on the prowl, the boys begin looking for more fun before Armageddon, in which, Ronnie & Joe experience some tender and unlawful moments.

Mexico is another taste of the writing style and stories you’ll get from a Ridgwell release. The difference between this and other snippets and short stories is the sexdefying splendor of the print job. All this artisan book binding, handmade paper, embossing and personal touches has this printer’s daughter weak at the knees. It ain’t long, but its quality counts for more. If you are a supporter of the small press revolution, then seek out similar gems from this publisher, if you are new to this rebel lit fiend caper, than this would be a great start to your collection and the many adventures of Joseph Ridgwell.

Book Review Joseph Ridgwell Reviews

Worse Things Happen At Sea

selected poems by Martin Appleby

There was a moment of disappointment when I missed the first run of Martin Appleby’s Worse Things Happen At Sea. An extra five poems in this special edition though has me feeling right chuffed and glad I got in on the second chance run instead. Martin has been slogging away with his lit zine Paper & Ink for many, many issues now. Ten if you’re counting. In fact, he has cemented himself well and truly inside the ‘lit zine trail blazer’ category. It is still lo-fi, full of real heart and unique edge skaters of the literary underground. It has been such a pleasure to get each issue all the way down here in Sydney, opening up the great curtain to new writers and friends all over the world.

Martin has a coy approach to selling himself, though proud and strong when championing all the new voices in Paper & Ink, but he shouldn’t be worried. This is fun, straightforward and passionate. A few of the poems here have snuck inside some P&I classics, so it is a treat to get this cache of thoughts in a well stapled bundle. Dedicated to all ex girlfriends, past and future, After You Left is a fitting start. Stale cigarette smoke and yearning. There is loads of chat on cider, his dreams, regrets, bands, his love of Bukowski, the perils of being a vegetarian via his classic poem Don’t You Miss Bacon and of course boxing.

There are hints of unresolved childhood melancholy but that only seems to have shaped the writer into the strong, resilient man he has become, that strength revealed in Everything. Martin is a rebel who quickly senses the rebellion in others, especially writers. Half way through you start to feel some of the accumulated years of experience shed and drop to the floor. Ten Years is a ripper of regrets he would never have missed. Martin’s humour is dry and honest and extra cute at times with gems like Poetry Is Hard With Kittens, Rejection, Shit Jokes and another fave I’ve spied before Dreams.

worse

There is the awkward beauty of Nights Like Those about ‘silent sex so that my parents didn’t hear‘ that just makes you smile and reminisce in the wake of similar scenarios. The title poem means a lot to Martin. You can tell, ’cause it’s permanently inked on his wrist, Self deprecating, a reminder, its meaning he will never outgrow. There’s been plenty of rumbles like Why Is Your Moustache Shorter Than The Rest Of Your Beard, another story in his ‘war against myself‘. The one poem that truly reaches me and makes me so happy to have had Martin cross my path is the wonderful The Only Religion I Need. “I have danced on sticky floors, in shitty pubs with bands playing solely for me” mate, we pray at the same altar.

Worse Things Happen At Sea is available here. Check out the back catalogue of fine releases while you are browsing the shelves. Look out for calls for words for the next Paper & Ink Zine release, one that will surely be up many of your dingy back alleys, PUNK! Get scribbling. Submissions here.

Martin Appleby Paper And Ink Zine Poetry Reviews Zines & Journals