community feature: CavanKerry Press Open Reading Period!

Taking a moment to help spread the word about CavanKerry Press‘ current reading period.

ck

Throughout the month of August, CavanKerry Press is accepting submissions for poetry collections, nonfiction essay collections, and memoir. Selected titles will be published by CavanKerry Press and receive national distribution. Check out the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript.

Since starting as a member of their Board of Governors, I have been impressed with CavanKerry Press’ interest in receiving more work from queer, trans, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices. With their LaurelBooks imprint, CavanKerry is also engaged with work from people living with physical and/or mental illness and disability.

I’m also happy to share that to better meet writers’ financial needs, CK has revised their submission fee to offer a “Pay what you can” structure, with $10, $18, and $25 options. This is an effort to further their ongoing mission as an inclusive publisher and will in no way impact consideration of your manuscript. There are also a limited number of free submissions for writers-in-need on a first-come, first-served basis.

Happy revising and submitting!

José

community feature: Salamander Magazine

One of the big changes in my life that I was unable to share about during an academic year full of transition (including the present pandemic-related interruption) is how it’s been going during my first year as Editor-in-chief of Salamander Magazine. While we are currently in production for our 50th issue–and also running our annual Fiction Contest through the end of the month–I thought I would take a moment to share a bit about the first issue experience.

Front-Cover
Image description: A painting of a brown man and woman with the word “Salamander” over their heads.

I am proud of the final product on a number of levels. This issue contains amazing work from poets Naomi Ayala, Francesca Bell, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Caylin Capra-Thomas, Emily Rose Cole, Brian Clifton, Jackie Craven, Chard deNiord, Alexa Doran, Moira Linehan, Nora Iuga, Adeeba Shahid Talukder, Madeleine Wattenberg, and many more. On the creative nonfiction front, this issue features pieces by Marcos Gonsalez and Rochelle Hurt, while on the fiction front this issue features stories by our 2019 Fiction Contest winner Christina Leo as well as Michael Howerton who placed second, a flash fiction by Russell Dame, and an excerpt from David Maloney’s novel-in-stories Barker House (Bloomsbury). The issue rounds out with reviews of poetry collections by Lola Haskins, Brett Foster, Fady Joudah, and Tom Sleigh as well as a short story collection by Hadley Moore.

Another outstanding part of this issue is the art portfolio by our featured artist, Karla Rosas (KARLINCHE). Her piece “La Puerta Negra” is on the cover. I’d been a fan of her art for about a year before getting this gig. Especially this being my first issue at the helm, I wanted to feature art that hits me on the intersection where I and many others exist, where the personal meets the political, and shows how one can’t be seen without the other. I feel the Latinx community has had a number of awful and unjust narratives hanging over us. Featuring Latinx artists creating strong work in the face of such narratives is vital in pushing back against those narratives.

We had the issue 49 out mid-December and were able to celebrate in February with a reading featuring two of our contributors, David Maloney and Moira Linehan, as well as acclaimed fiction writer, Sonya Larson, who joined this year as a member of our Advisory Board.

Last thing I’ll share is that I’ve had a great time getting to teach this issue this past Spring in my introduction to creative writing course. Students have enjoyed interacting with these pieces of contemporary literature and learned a lot from them. I enjoy teaching the journal both to share my enthusiasm about the work but also as a way to share insights about the editing process.

Thank you to all the contributors and all our staff and readers who have made the success of this first issue possible!

To further celebrate this first issue, I’ve created a cento based on lines from poems in this issue. Expect another issue-related post when the next one comes out. For now, enjoy the fun collage/homage below!

Popcorn-sad

by José Angel Araguz

(a cento based on lines from Salamander Magazine, issue no. 49)

The heart is a wormhole—
limited to the path
you never had to become.

But grief’s like a cat, leaving then returning
our eyes lilac-bearded, our toes-daisy rich.
Today I will polish my own damned self.

I can begin to believe that you won’t come back again. Listen,
I saw their ghosts slither with the wind,
with the blood and birth. Popcorn-sad,

I step over stones and believe
the answer was in the moths
watching from above with small black eyes.

*

To purchase a copy of issue 49, go here.

To learn more about the Fiction Contest, go here.

community feature: CavanKerry Press

the_waiting_room_reader_vol_I_This particular community feature post is inspired by a recent development: I’m happy to share that I’ve been named as a member of the Board of Governors for CavanKerry Press! I’m excited to join as a new board member, along with Cornelius Eady, and help develop the already dynamic CavanKerry Press community.  Special thanks to Gabriel Cleveland and Dimitri Reyes for their enthusiasm and support in bringing me on board!

In a phone conversation with Joan Cusack Handler, publisher and senior editor of CavanKerry Press, I learned about the different ways in which the press is creating community, including sharing some of their anthologies for free online during the month of April. Both volumes of The Waiting Room Reader as well as the Words to Keep You Company anthology are being made available as free PDFs on the CavanKerry website. Writers in these anthologies include Ross Gay, PaulA Neves, Maxine Kumin, Tina Kelley, Kevin Carey, Vincent Toro, and Linda Pastan among others.

the_waiting_room_reader_vol_II_Below, I share a sample poem from The Waiting Room Reader II, “The Inheritance” by Myra Shapiro. What moves me most about this poem is how it enters into an elegiac conversation in an unexpected way. The first four lines present the logic of grapefruit-as-talking-baby doll, and then builds from there back into the reality of the moment. This quick invocation of the mother in four lines sets up the rest of the poem in which human presence is acknowledged as being available to us in the actions and habits we learn from our parents. The short lines and images allow the meditation to develop in a way that continues to be surprising precisely by not trying to be. The facts of the speaker’s experience are laid out clearly, and what makes them surprising is the juxtaposition of phrase and image. The speaker moves from the hypothetical “Mama” of the opening lines, to her own mother, to being a mother herself. Here, we see the generations pass, each different yet similar, and each evoking the next in the poem. One returns to the title’s idea of “inheritance” and sees it expanded beyond the material meaning, the speaker realizing their own inheritance in the patterns of everyday life.

Myra Shapiro

The Inheritance

Just a grapefruit
but it never fails
to make the word Mama
when I cut it,
store the half uneaten
flat against the plate,
pink meat down
so that tomorrow
when I eat it it’s as juicy
as today. Washing fruit
she taught us but never this.
She just did it. Saved
the fruit against the plate.
As I do. As I saw it done
in my daughter’s house this morning.

*

Check out more from these anthologies and learn more about CavanKerry Press here.

community feature: Airlie Press book launch!

This particular community feature post is focused on the upcoming book launch of three of Airlie Press’s new titles: Ordinary Gravity by Gary Lark, Savagery by J.C. Mehta, and, winner of the 2018 Airlie Prize, Wonder Tissue by Hannah Larrabee!

Here’s the info for those of you in the Portland, OR area:

When: Tuesday, October 1st @ 7pm
Where: Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219

I’m presently in my second year of a three-year stint as a co-editor of Airlie Press and can honestly say that it is a joy to be able to play a part in bringing these books out into the world. Below are excerpts from the new books either to give a taste of the upcoming book launch or to hold space for those of us, like myself, who aren’t able to be there.

Excerpt from Ordinary Gravity by Gary Lark

Much Improved 

Hardly anyone dies of typhoid fever
any more. We can send our sons to war
without complaint. Lice are quickly dispatched
and no one freezes to death.
We have piles of antibiotics.
The broadsword wounded aren’t left
in the field to die with others rotting around them.
Of course there are more bombs and bullets
but morphine is readily available.
We can usually save a soldier whose limb
is blown off.
Yes, things are much improved.
We can send more daughters up to the front.
They have the right.
Soldiering is still a good option for the poor.
We’re working on pills for madness,
more medications to calm the nerves
and we’ll get a handle on this suicide business,
yes we will.

*

Excerpt from Savagery by J.C. Mehta

The Heart Consumes Itself 

It’s not true the starved
don’t eat, we die

of broken hips, pelvis
churned to dust—slowly,

the heart consumes
itself. Atrophies and implodes.

(These chambers, remember,
are a muscle.)

Nobody nowhere shoulders
the strength to stop it all, the whole
fat world from slipping
between cracked, wanting lips. We eat

and we hate,

with each bite and gag-
me spoon. Our weakness
displayed like limbs
splayed wide, flushed
shameful folds of pink.
How I wish

I could stop. Let the valves
shut down cold. Listen,
that last organ coda. And you
in dutiful ovation.

*

Excerpt from Wonder Tissue by Hannah Larrabee

Extraterrestrial

Loose-leaf planet I survive
steeping in a pocket of dust
or lakeside listening to loons,
my tongue curling around
their songs of sorrow, fierce
red eyes, fierce as her body,
its way of going about me—oh,
abandoned bed like a reliquary,
her bone fingers a memory
inside me—oh, I have learned
the language of the homesick
 on
this planet of horses, this planet
of her legs tightening around me,
force rising against gravity, magma
loosened as from a spur kicked
into earth, foaming at the bit, I am
tamed, I am tamed, come tame me
extraterrestrial, I, too, have learned
the word beautiful, mapped its quiet
coordinates, the wind through her dress
is the conversation of cells, I am alive
in all my fires.

*

Click on the following to learn more about Airlie’s publishing collective model, our present single poem prize, our national Airlie Prize, and the regional open reading period from which editorships are determined.

And be sure to check out my own new Airlie title, An Empty Pot’s Darkness.

community feature: Artists Undeterred – Art Exhibit

This week, I’d like to introduce a new type of feature on the Influence: community features. In these features, I’ll be promoting events put on by marginalized literary communities and spotlighting their efforts. If you have a community you feel should be highlighted, feel free to message me about it either on Twitter (@JoseAraguz) or email  (thefridayinfluence@gmail.com)

ArtistsUndeterredPrideFinalFlyer

For this first community feature, I’m bringing attention to “Artists Undeterred” an art exhibit which opens at the Pride Center of Staten Island on August 11th at 7pm. The opening will feature artist commentary by LeVar “Var” Lawrence and a performance by Open Doors Reality Poets, of which Lawrence is a core member. To find out more about the event and explore links to the featured artists, go here.

This event came to my attention via Ani Schreiber, an artist whose work is part of the exhibit. I have had the honor of having Schreiber’s artwork feature on four of my chapbooks and all three of my full length poetry collections. Her work is marked by a rich directness steeped in realism, imagination, and vision.

For those who might not know, Schreiber is also my partner. We have been together for eight years, married for four of those. Over the years that we’ve been a part of each other’s lives, I have watched Schreiber come to terms not only with her disability but also with herself as an artist. Now, it is a problematic trope to discuss a disabled artist in terms of “bravery” or “admiration,” mostly because it fetishizes and condescends to people who are simply being people. So when I say that I have a great admiration for Schreiber and her work, it comes from a place of artist to artist and is informed by our personal history.

I have been there when she’s had to stop working on a project due to physical limitations and seen the frustration of those moments. I have also seen her suss out new mediums to continue at her work. Watching her do this navigating of the intersection where artistry and disability meet has resonated with me. There are lessons in perseverance that come with an artist’s life that don’t fit into instructional guides, and that drive home that you never know what a person’s been through to get to the creative act.

In the clip below which serves as an introduction to the Open Doors Reality Poets, Ramon “Tito” Cruz reads the following lines:

Soledad es una cosa que no se puede hablar
La soledad es una cosa que to puede matar

(Loneliness is a thing of which you cannot speak)
(Loneliness is a thing that can kill you)

These lines point to the loneliness of hardship which the creative act acknowledges. Events like the “Artists Undeterred” exhibit create spaces where the art resulting from this acknowledgment is celebrated and seen.

To find out more about Open Doors, go here.