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So Long, Napoleon Solo by Patrick Chapman - micro review

 

"Patrick Chapman's latest book is one I know I will finish all too
soon, but will also return to. The writing seems so effortless yet
every second sentence is an aphorism or read-out-loud quote. I have
found myself with tears of laughter in one eye and of sadness in the
other. With six books of poetry, a novella, a collection of short
stories and now this, Patrick is a bit of a legend."

— Denis Goodbody

For more information or to by this book, go here 

 Paperback: 242 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-287-7

$18

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

So Long, Napoleon Solo by Patrick Chapman Book Preview 

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So Long, Napoleon Solo by Patrick Chapman discussion on Writing.ie

The great Russian-American author Isaac Asimov once remarked that if he were given only six months to live, his response would be to type faster. Famously, he published hundreds of books in his lifetime, so such a prognosis could have yielded him about twenty novels, an opera, five collections of stories, and a shopping list. Not everything he wrote was rendered in glistening prose, but he was a genius whose ideas helped shape the world we live in. It is not just any writer who can say that, or be so prolific. For most of us it takes a bit longer to write a book.

My new novel, So Long, Napoleon Solo, took fifteen years, on and off. That was not intentional. I started work on it in 2001 in response to the self-deliverance of a childhood friend, who was and is utterly unlike the fictional Tom, whose suicide sets the story of the novel in motion. My first draft was laughter in the dark, written blindly in marathon sessions made possible by solitude; I needed to get everything down as fast as I could, in a fugue of energy and work, banging it out until I’d got an ending. The result looked like a novel and read like a novel but what it wasn’t quite, not yet, was a novel.

Being a poet, I came to the task of writing a long prose piece as one who didn’t realise what he didn’t know. I learned that there’s a different art to it. An agent, when I showed an early draft too soon, said that the writing was good and the dialogue amusing, but the characters and story needed work. His advice made the book better. As the process went on, I found myself detaching creatively from the cathartic origin of the book. It assumed its own surprising course. What a trip it was to hold an entire world in my head, as the characters become semi-autonomous and their journey took on a life of its own.

Words are a time machine. I’d put the text aside for long periods then take it out and the characters would still be there, as they were, waiting to tell me what they needed. In between, I wrote other things. Poetry and stories, scripts for film, and plays for Doctor Who and Dan Dare. I also worked in advertising, the profession of my protagonist Jerome, and felt his nostalgia for a world long departed. Revisiting the book, I’d make changes and polish the prose until it gleamed and I was done. Then, every time, the flaws would appear, and I’d realise it needed more work after all.

A book is done when it’s done. In 2008 a publishing company accepted So Long, Napoleon Solo, then folded when the publisher himself disappeared. That mystery remains unsolved and I often wonder what happened to him. In the grand scheme, the fact that my novel no longer had a home, was a very minor consequence of a possibly tragic story. In the years since, the book matured while I wasn’t looking, like a literary sourdough starter kept in the hot press of my mind, as I put it away again and wrote more poems.

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Heisenberg's Salon reviewed at The Best American Poetry Blog

 

Braided Interior: Dante Di Stefano Reviews Heisenberg's Salon by Susan Lewis

IndexHeisenberg’s Salon
Susan Lewis
BlazeVox Books, 2017

Susan Lewis’s new collection of prose poems engages the complex routines and the constantly shifting contours of daily life in the twenty-first century with great humor, terror, anger, and insight. Like Kafka, like Borges, Lewis explores the uncertainties that underwrite a life, and that linger in the margins of the page; from such uncertainties, and from the chaos embroidered into the antimacassars of the quotidian, Lewis’s prose poems present themselves as an endless gallery of rooms wherein one might dwell on the raging absurdities and the gentle profundities of existence. In these poems, Lewis introduces a man overwhelmed by the complexity of most things, refugees from the native urban clatter, a god of guilt trying to sharpen the curvatures of space-time, a girl who knows her waking life is an illusion, figures sidling into their lives like shy crabs, motivations stunted, discourses un-tongued, the logic of the stutter-step and the sucker punch, the language of bureaucracy colliding with medusa-headed vernaculars and scientific lexicons. Lewis’s ultimate subject, however, is the protean, indeterminate, baffling conundrum of the self, the mystery and multiplicity of our own individual discrete interior worlds.

For Susan Lewis, the prose poem provides a frame within which passionate inwardness and exteriority might overlap, exchange places, negate each other, and continue their distinct pinprick shinings. These poems take form in the interstices of desire, “caught between reciprocity & the cutting edge,” providing glimpses of a “braided interior, veiled though it remained by a haze of evasion.”

Read the whole review here

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FANTASTIC CARYATIDS by ANNE WALDMAN & VINCENT KATZ reviewed

 

FANTASTIC CARYATIDS by ANNE WALDMAN & VINCENT KATZ

EILEEN TABIOS Engages

FANTASTIC CARYATIDS: A Conversation with Art by Anne Waldman & Vincent Katz
(BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2017)
Fantastic Caryatids has two sections: a jointly-written poem by, and a conversation between, Anne Waldman and Vincent Katz. After my first read, the conversation was the one I chose first to re-read and so I begin my engagement there—to wit, the conversation is brilliant, elucidating and charismatic. I receive the impression it occurred as both poets strolled through several art galleries and the streets of New York. 
As befits poets, the language is fresh but also effective, which is always a delight to see when it comes to describing/meditating on art. For example, here’s Katz, as quoted by Waldman, on Philip Pearlstein:
AW: Live at the Philip Pearlstein show in Chelsea, on 25th Street…. These paintings by Philip are quite interesting. As Vincent, my companion on this little jaunt, has noted, the figures seem somewhat drained and as if they’re maybe overexposed under fluorescent light, as though they’re in some kind of sauna.
Here’s Waldman on Emilie Clark below; I’m a fan of Clark’s and to the extent my knowledge of her work allows me to “judge” Waldman’s take, I can share that Waldman is spot on. This excerpt also presents briefer, but apt, observations about and gleanings from other artists’ works:
[Click on all images to enlarge]

Read the whole review here at Galatea Resurrects

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C. Kubasta featured in a fantastic essay in Wisconsin People & Ideas!

 

To the Quarry, Together

When poets and visual artists work together, they negotiate a shared language. In collaboration, they explore how their work, well, works together: both engage with form and shape, utilize symbolic thought, and explore metaphor of various kinds. Materials change and mutate in the hands of artists, and often come to their final forms after many revisions and drafts, possible versions begun and set aside. Art exists in the friction—the frisson—between idea and making, in the often never-fully-complete translation between the inception of an idea (which is always perfect because it’s unmade) and the fruition of that idea. It’s a never-ending, self-perpetuating cycle that calls us back to the blinking screen, the empty table, the blank wall.

Because of this shared language and love of frisson, poets and visual artists can learn a lot from each other. I became more aware of this during work on my collection of poems, All Beautiful & Useless, published in 2015. I had begun many of the poems years earlier, and obsessively worked and reworked them. But I felt there was something missing from this collection, yet couldn’t put my finger on what that was.

Some of the poems center around a story I’d heard growing up in my hometown of Wautoma that sounded too awful to be true. The crimes of Edward Gein, a murderer and grave robber who made home furnishings from human body parts, haunted me as a girl. And the fact that his crimes had happened here (or near here, one town over in Plainfield), made it that much worse. In my poem “Squirrel Memory,” I lay out the facts of Gein’s crimes, and I call them “simple.” But his crimes, like my memory of learning about them, were anything but simple. In the poem, I recall how a third-grade classmate showed me Judge Robert H. Gollmar’s gruesome book about Ed Gein with its photo-filled “center section, glossy, split open and edible.”

My memory of this event forms the title of the poem, and comes from a later line as well: “I want to have a squirrel memory, find that year later, / like a dollar bill in a jacket pocket.” I remembered and forgot what I saw on the playground that day of third grade for years and years. As that image of the “squirrel memory” suggests, it is only in in re-finding that memory years later (like a buried acorn) that I could make sense of it. My experience, as a child, of those images, and the story they told, couldn’t be understood. This suggests one way that art can allow us to understand experience: it can allow us the necessary distance to revisit something terrifying and confusing. Once we’ve fashioned something into language and metaphor, it becomes less able to traumatize. The work of constructing the poem gave me power over that moment.

Yet, even as strong as “Squirrel Memory” and these poems other were on their own, the sense that they were somehow a collection eluded me. They seemed like fragments, memories that were somehow incomplete. That is, until I met someone who would help me think differently about my work.

• • • • •

I was introduced to an artist named Mollie Oblinger at an art gallery opening of a mutual friend in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I got to talking with this woman wearing fabulous vintage cat-eye glasses, and learned that Mollie taught art and sculpture at nearby Ripon College. As this was a Friday in Wisconsin, a small group of us adjourned to a nearby tavern for fish fry. We sat at picnic tables alongside the Fox River near a place where sturgeon are known to spawn every spring. Over napkins weighted down with rocks and tartar sauce squeeze bottles, we talked about poetry, art, and small-town stories. Mollie and I were the only non-couple there, so when the waitress was sorting out receipts, she asked if we were together. “Not yet,” Mollie replied with a smile, “but it’s going well." 

Read the whole article here 

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Photos on flickr