Tornadoes and Other Fronts

Feature, Poetry

A POP LIT POTPOURRI 

We’re out to create literary tornadoes. Toward that end we point the reader to three new-or-recent posts at this project.

FIRST we have a new feature, “Tornado Country” by poet John Grey. Two very good poems for your reading pleasure.

and cars, long and proud and American made

explode like firecrackers in the heat of day,

and some small town like Millville is razed like it’s Babylon,

SECOND, we did a short “Pop Quiz” Q & A with the author of our previous feature, Transhumanist Presidential candidate Rachel Haywire

THIRD, a return of our NPL News blog with a quick look at Lana DelRey and a possible? connection to future literary stars, “Reverse Jekyll and Hyde.”

Must reading to stay current with the Pop Lit literary scene.
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(Art: “Tornado Over Kansas” by John Steuart Curry.)

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Celebrity Nation

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AMERICA as a culture and civilization has centered itself around celebrities, for good and ill. Electronic gods coming to us through our televisions and computer screens. Who are these facsimiles of people? What are these personalities– these manufactured(?) personas– actually like?

Our new feature, “Jerry and Me” — by long-time Hollywood writer, director, and producer Alan Swyer— looks at one of the leading Hollywood-and-Vegas celebrities of the 20th century, comedian Jerry Lewis– best remembered today as forever host of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethons. A comic genius, but at the same time an extremely complicated, many-faceted individual. A contradictory personality which Swyer well captures in his up-close-and-personal memoir of the man.

His agents did nothing but, as he put it, “blow smoke up my ass,” telling him incessantly what he wanted to hear, which was how wonderful he was. Even worse were the staffers at his office in Century City, whose primary functions, other than fawning relentlessly, were doing his bidding and, when he felt the need to vent over something real or imagined, bearing the brunt of his wrath.
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marilynmonroe-warhol

WHICH raises the question of celebrity in the literary scene. Is there a place for it? Does the art lose by not creating larger-than-life figures who can stand as blazing symbols attracting new readers to a marginalized cultural form? Is this possible? Desirable?

Those are questions we at New Pop Lit are determined to answer.
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(Art: “Animal Clown” by James Pollock; “Marilyn Monroe” by Andy Warhol.)

Art and the Artist

Essay, Feature, profile
NEW POP LIT GOES LOCAL

Our previous feature was by an esteemed international author. For this one we looked closer to home– presenting a unique work here by young Detroit-area writer Ambrose Black which is part profile of accomplished artist Leon Dickey and his work, and part imagination, as Ambrose enters the head of his subject to relate his background and complete his story.

The result becomes itself something like a modernist painting, with two different but complementary vantage points. Ambrose Black writes in an original style, reminiscent perhaps of Sherwood Anderson, but not really. He hasn’t been machine-stamped as from a press, and so views the world– and in this case, the artist– through fresh eyes.

The essay is in line with our stated objective for 2019: To search for the literary NEW.

He has to expose his truth to the world, for he is a creator. His truth is that one is in control of the self– the only judgment and choices one is responsible for is the self. His art is ironic to his truth, but purposefully and honestly. The trash he uses signifies his and our failures. But like a phoenix from the ashes, he uses the deconstruction to create something of beauty.

gaugin self

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(Art: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers” by Marc Chagall; “Self-Portrait” by Paul Gaugin.)

The Art of Literary Performance

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WE SOMETIMES FORGET that literature began as a spoken art. Stories, epic poems, mythic tales– passed down in taverns or around campfires for millennia. Even Shakespeare, greatest writer of them all, was as much a spoken word actor as scribbling writer. Historians who’ve examined documents signed by the actual man have wondered how literate English literature’s biggest name actually was.

He was a performer! Reciting verse from a stage. Reveling in the joys of sounds, of language.

ALL of which means we plan to give increased attention to the spoken aspect of the literary art in the coming year. As preview we offer an amazing story told by high school student Fran-Claire Kinney at our Open Mic feature, “A Series of Sharp Cracks in Succession.” Amazing in that the short piece is powerful yet at the same time, concise. Reveling in its brevity, if you will. It’s worth a listen.

AS you do that, we’ll lay plans for other projects involving the human voice. Perhaps a Challenge of some sort– though we’re so practiced at public performance, even the recorded variety, no one may pick up the gauntlet when thrown. Stay tuned.

(Painting: “The Duel After the Masquerade” by Jean-Leon Gerome.)

New York City Avant-Garde Invasion!

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AS A POP LIT website we’re out to redefine the mainstream– but aren’t beyond occasional forays outside our familiar lines if the work deserves it. (Our roots are in the literary underground.) Even if the source of the unfamiliar material is that dreaded monster-metropolis of New York.

(Accompanying NYC music.)

It’s in places of highest power and station– among wavering skyscrapers– that one finds an underside. The literary obverse.

Manhattan_Skyline_-_Flickr_-_Peter_Zoon

We start then with one of Brooklyn’s best young poets, Rus Khomutoff. He calls his work surpoems. We have four of them here.

Fading away
in a sea of dotted infinity
the rhythm of life
against monumentality

Cooper_New_York_from_Brooklyn

(Painting: “New York from Brooklyn” by Colin Campbell Cooper.)
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NEXT we have an Appreciation from New York avant-garde icon Richard Kostelanetz, of New York poet Frank Kuenstler, part of the ongoing ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT.

Has New Pop Lit been taken over by, gasp!, New Yorkers? Not quite.
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NEW POP LIT ATTACKS NEW YORK!

kk1

FINALLY, we have a review of the January 29 issue of The New Yorker— flagship of the literary establishment and woefully decrepit. Or: The future is US.

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(Feature painting: “Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.)

Poetry Run Amok!

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Poetry in outer space,
poetry is every place!
Poetry is hip and cool
(Apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

WE MISSED National Poetry Day– likely one of those Hallmark-created holidays anyway. We’re making up for it by turning our site temporarily over to poets and poetry.

FIRST is this week’s feature, “Black Water and Other Poems” by renowned Ohio poet Robert Beveridge.

The departure began
at a Dave Smith reading
as I poured alcohol
and peroxide down
the podium to kill
the beer worms.

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NEXT are the latest selections for the All-Time American Writers Tournament. ALL POETS!! Find out who they are here.

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We ALSO recently posted a missive from a mysterious activist character at the Tournament named “Cherry Bomb”– which just happens to be in the form of a poem.

(If we’re not having occasional fun– then what’s the point?)
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Pop it, punch it, make it snap
Poetry is where it’s at! 🙂

Literature and the Underground

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THIS WEEK we briefly explore the subculture of literature with our long-overdue final installment of Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age, in which we examine a diverse array of personalities from Bob Dylan to Aaron Cometbus, on up to underground writers of now– who create work just a tad rougher, wilder, and real than standard refined “literary” writing.

Accompanying the essay is a new story by one of our favorite zine writers, fishspit. The story is titled, “I Was a Juvenile Delinquent– Now I’m Just a Delinquent.”

Even the title wouldn’t make it through an MFA program!

Them teachers weren’t the sharpest set of educators. You had to be pretty doltish to wind up down there . . . nobody with an ounce of spirit, a dram of intelligence, would put up with that kind of horror-show. We were a regular freak show . . . the teachers were about as intelligent as carnies.

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(ONGOING at one of our blogs is the All-Time American Writers Tournament. The latest news there is an appreciation of a prominent American author by Samuel Stevens. Don’t miss a post!)

The Young Writers: Overview Part III

Feature, Pop Lit Fiction

Our series on new happenings in today’s literary world continues. “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.”

Part III looks at the new generation of writers– literature’s hope and future. We were going to call this section “The Lost,” as a nod to the Lost Generation of the 1920’s, a huge influence on a couple of the best young writers we’ll be featuring. We decided that designation was too downbeat. We’re optimists. We might as likely call this section “The Found”– talented individuals who found writing as their preferred means of expression, when they might instead have been painters or musicians or movie directors.

(Of course, there are no longer painters; musicians are reduced to the atonal or electronic, the human element cut out. Movies? Are there still movies to speak of? The Academy Awards are this weekend, and by all accounts contain not an outstanding crop.)

No, the future belongs to writers– to new literature. We kick off this part of our overview with a new story by Samuel Stevens, “Greener Country Grass.” This will be followed by new work by three other young talents, as fast as we can ready and post them.

Despite his youth (he’s still in college), Samuel Stevens is a thinker, essayist, and novelist, as well as writing in the shorter form. Definitely a name on the literary scene for years to come. Read his story now.

“Do you have a lot of money like Ray?” one of them asked.

She took me aback. “No,” I said. Ray did come from a well off family. The girls were all a little drunk; Loeb must have been keeping them supplied while I talked to the bartender. I pulled up a chair and sat down.

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(Painting: “The Red Tower” by Robert Delaunay.)

Portraits: Lit Overview Part II

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WHY the photo of the Tesla Motors vehicle which has been breaking speed records? Because THAT’S what we at New Pop Lit are about. We started this project to reinvent the literary art. To find or produce literary products faster, cleaner, more efficient and more exciting than the norm.

We believe the literary art has to change and will change. We see contemporary American literature trapped in a “salon” mentality– centered on one east coast island, within five monster conglomerates housed in overpriced skyscrapers, publishing only strictly correct and approved writers.

Things already are changing! 2017 marks the existence of scores of upstart literary outfits such as ours– and many thousands of DIY authors who don’t apply the “rules” because they never heard of the rules. Yes, much of the work is mediocre or worse– but at the same time, room is created for the new. For the arrival of the VanGogh-Gaugin self-motivated genius who’ll go so far outside the bounds, art will be overturned. A writer who’ll break all artistic speed records– or maybe, go into untrod areas in the creation of meaning and emotion.

This has begun to happen, in small ways. The purpose of our series, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” is to showcase writers who’ve pushed right up to the bounds of literary creation, and in so doing, point the way to truly revamped and renewed stories and poems.

Among the writers we discuss is Anne Leigh Parrish, who’s appeared here before. We’re privileged to present her latest story, “Picture This.” Clarity? Simplicity? Emotion? Anne Leigh touches the right chords.

We discuss Ms. Parrish and those right artistic chords at our News blog in Part II of our Overview. Enter the literary future. Read both story and overview now.

He’d grown up with three brothers and two sisters, a house full of noise and misery, hatred and resentment, never able to have his own space. That’s why he became an artist—the lure of escape.

 

Storytellers

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NEW LITERARY TALENTS PART I

Today we start an ambitious series examining a new wave of talented writers. Our plan is to combine literary criticism, reviews, and new fiction for a multi-faceted look at American literature NOW; utilizing as many aspects of the New Pop Lit website as possible.

First up: The opening installment of a far-reaching overview, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.”

AT THE SAME TIME we present for readers a new short story, “Yacht Party,” from Scott Cannon, one of two narrative writers profiled in our essay, along with Tom Ray.

yacht-1

Does Scott’s story support the words expressed in the essay? You decide!

The scene froze at its climax; a spotlight haloed the head of the actor playing Lucas on the screen, then swept to the back of the room to light up the incandescent entrance of The Man himself, flanked by two beautiful women and followed by a small cadre of security. The thunder of the ovation in the packed ballroom as he ascended to the podium still rang in Lucas’ ears.