. . . this issue of Poetry, timed for National Poetry Month, features a selection of BreakBeat poets: in the pages that follow, readers will experience a "new American poetry in the age of hip-hop," a resounding allusion to the resonant and groundbreaking 1960 anthology edited by Donald M. Allen, The New American Poetry 1945–1960. In fact, our feature is an excerpt from the book The BreakBeat Poets, published this month by Haymarket Books, and edited by Coval with Quraysh Ali Lansana and Nate Marshall. . . the work of the BreakBeat poets is crucially alive to our present moment. As the anthology's editors say, this is work "for people who love Hip-Hop, for fans of the culture, for people who've never read a poem, for people who thought poems were only something done by dead white dudes who got lost in a forest, and for poetry heads." In other words, it is for everyone.
Poetry's full contents can be read online and in celebration of National Poetry Month can be downloaded for free - including audio and video content - on any iOS device.
Fiction Contest judged by Judge Lily Hoang
First Place: Michael Mau, "Little Bird"
Runner Up: Elise Winn, "Brother and Sister"
Poetry Contet judged by Richard Siken
First Place: Curtis Rogers, "Of Plenty"
Runner Up: Emily Skaja, "Self-Portrait with Hawk & Armada"
Nonfiction Contest judged by Kiese Laymon
First Place: Landon Houle, "Bigfoot, Bum Foot, Barbie: Strange But True at the Yahoo Freak Show"
Runner Up: Chelsey Clammer Kiese, "Mother Tongue"
Click here for judges' comments and a full list of finalists.
"But just reading a good translation in English—and we also have some of those in the issue—gives us a lens to look through and understand (if only briefly) how writers from other times and places may think and feel. Because we know the impact literature has on our humanity, we see the potential for reading to dissolve preconceptions or misconceptions we have about another culture. More than ever before, readers understand how crucial it is to expand our repertoires, to find stories and ideas outside of narratives that dominate prescribed reading lists and literary review pages."
To read more from Thompson's introduction and see a full list of contributors, visit Room's issue web page here.
Black Mountain Institute's print issue of Witness, Spring 2015, begins with the Editor's Comment on the theme of translation: "We always expect our themes to expand and change and present themselves in unexpected ways as we read submissions, but the theme for this issue – 'Trans/lation' – made itself felt everywhere. Seen broadly and metaphorically enough, any written work can be considered a translation, from a thought or an experience into a piece of writing, and so, a few times, we had to stop and refocus our intentions. We began with the roots of the word itself, which draw from actions like 'to carry across' or 'to bring across,' as well as the knowledge that translations are really transformations, new versions that are faithful to the original in many different ways."
Along with other content, specific works of translation (or about translation) in this issue include:
Dario Bellezza, from Nothingness, Glamour, Farewell; from Notes for a Novel in Verse. Translated from the Italian by Peter Covino.
Arthur Rimbaud, "Seven-Year-Old Poets." Translated from the French by Donald Revell.
Maia Circe, "The Unfinished Spell"; "The Smallest Predictions"; "TV." Translated from the Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval.
Hossein M. Abkenar, "Classmates." Translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili
Christos Chartomatsidis, "Alicia the Fat Witch." Translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova.
Douglas Unger, "Strange Voices, Subversions, Killer Tomatoes: Literature in Translation."
Karl Ove Knausgaard, from My Struggle: Book Four. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
Witness makes some works available in full text on their website.
The winner of the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, "Autobiography" by Carla Hartenberger—chosen by judge Chang-rae Lee—follows a set of Canadian conjoined twins who must wrestle with the physiology and psychology that both keep them together and wrench them apart.
The winner of the Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction, "I Must Have Been That Man" by Adina Talve-Goodman, was selected by judge Anne Fadiman. In her winning essay, Talve-Goodman navigates college-age independence, her recent heart transplant, and the challenges of compassion when she comes upon a man lying on the side of the road on a rain-drenched night.
The winner of the Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry—"Dysesthesia" by Hannah Baggott, selected by judge Major Jackson—is a vivid look at the sensory mayhem of dysesthesia: "I want to know why I am always wanting," Baggott writes, "why my body is never quiet..."
The winner of the inaugural Daniel Liebowitz Prize for Student Writing is Philip Cawkwell's haunting poem "The Dinosaur Exhibit." This award recognizes one outstanding literary submission from the Medicine Clerkship at the NYU School of Medicine.
Honorable mentions (also published in the issue):
Fiction: "Bystander" by Jen Bergmark
Nonfiction: "Torso" by Leslie Absher
Poetry: "Damaged" by Colby Cedar Smith
In starting a literary magazine, Myers and Clifton say they like the juxtaposition inherent in those publications. "When reading one, you never know what will be on the next page--your new favorite poem? your best friend from childhood? a plot that destroys everything you though about storytelling? The possibilities are endless. We wanted to create a space in which this excitement could live and grow. Part of the fun for us is putting each issue in order and seeing how the text and images converse with one another. In a phrase, our mission is to keep our readers guessing."
And while the name Bear Review might seem to invite eco- or nature-themed writing, the inspiration expresses a more complex metaphor. When Myers was a teenager, he went hiking and came across a bear face-to-face. The experience was full of beauty that turned into danger and fear. Myers writes, "As readers, we crave that specific sort of encounter from each poem or flash piece we happen upon. Our favorite pieces, like literary bears, have a mix of beauty and danger that leaves us with a greater respect for what's real. And we want to share this vital wonder with our readers. "
Reader of Bear Review can expect to find this mix of beauty and danger throughout, though since the editors are both poets, the publication is bias to that genre. ("But we do love micro-prose," says Myers.) In both prose and poetry, Myers assure me that readers can expect to find a wide breadth of styles and contemporary modes as well as visual art from critically acclaimed photographers, illustrators, and painters.
Some recent contributors include Moikom Zeqo, Mathias Svalina, Jordan Stempleman, Lisa Russ Spaar, DA Powell, Rusty Morrison, Wayne Miller, Emily Koehn, Megan Kaminiski, Miriam Gamble, John Gallaher, Drew Cook, and Hadara Bar-Nadav.
Myers tells me that future plans for Bear Review are to continue making the journal "a beautiful place for the poems and prose we love; we want to continue to bring an audience there. We want to provide a place where established and soon-to-be established writers can share the same stage." A chapbook contest, website expansion for close readings, and book reviews and interviews are all in the works.
Bear Review takes submissions year round via submittable, and Myers and Clifton say they read each submission out loud. All work done as a labor of love, Bear Review is a welcome addition to the literary arts community.
[Cover: "Victim of Explosion" by August Sander, 1930]
Adam Scheffler, "Contemporaries"
Murray's comment: "It's a very accomplished accretive poem that pays off our anticipation with specifics and surprises, and lets us chuckle right through the inevitable."
Brian Patrick Heston, "Overtime"
Murray's commen: "It's a jewel-like yet gritty poem that lifts a dark moment to the light and pulls us inside with curiosity, reluctance, and empathy."
Suzanne Cleary, "Making Love While Watching a Documentary on Lewis and Clark"
Murray's commen: "It's an appealingly drowsy meditation on expectation, imagination, and disappointment—in history, on TV, and in bed."
Myra Shapiro, "Put the Kettle On"
Structo Editor Euan Monaghan starts the newest issue commenting on the work of editing a literary magazine, ". . . not always fun and games. Sometimes, when I've had enough of chasing invoices or wrestling software, I pull up on screen something that we are about to publish: a piece of writing so new that it's not yet been committed to paper. Something only a few people have seen. And the excitement returns. I remember why I'm doing this - it's because I want to share this feeling of excitement with the whole world. The writing we publish is really good."
In addition to their own "really good" selections, the UK-based Structo has been invited by Faber & Faber and Arts Council English to publish one poem from each of the 2013-2014 Faber New Poet Award Winners. The Faber Poets receive mentoring, financial support, and a debut pamphlet published by Faber & Faber. The poets are Declan Ryan, Zaffar Kunial, Rachael Allen, and Structo's own Will Burns. Burns also talks with Kunial and includes the interview in this issue.
Under the editorial guidance of Willard Spiegelman since 1984 (when the editorial responsibility was returned to a faculty member for the first time in forty years), Southwest Review has emerged as "one of the best literary quarterlies in the United Sates," according to PEN American Center. Having won the PEN Nora Magid Award for Literary Editing in 2005, Spiegelman and his editorial staff have shown a true lifetime commitment to publishing "luminous and unfamiliar names, so long as the writing is genuine."
Also featured in this anniversary issue are the 2014 Morton Marr Poetry Prize Winners. This year's judge was Elizabeth Spires.
First Place Kyle Norwood "Landscape with Fountain and Language"
Second Place Lisa Rosenberg "To the Makers"
Second Place David Landon "Ash Wednesday: Coffee At Starbucks"