We have no feature this weekend to announce. Like many, we’ve been busy with the holiday season. But we’re also plotting out an exciting 2017! Much in the pop lit realm will be happening.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!
Tiny Tim: “God bless us, everyone!”
THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a strong connection between madness and genius. Between “mental illness” and art, exemplified in the careers of talented-but-troubled individuals from painter Vincent van Gogh to poet Sylvia Plath to rock musician Kurt Cobain. Could it be that the sensitivity which attunes them closer to the mind of the universe than other people– that allows them to “see” and express things the rest of us can’t see, also makes it too painful for them to live? Does their genius itself push them toward thoughts of suicide?
These thoughts are occasioned by our newest feature story, “Suffering, Suicide, and Immortality,”by Jess Mize. Ms. Mize writes fiction and poetry as edgy as any we’ve seen, anyplace. It doesn’t always make for comfortable reading, so be forewarned on what’s coming. We can’t ignore, however, that it’s particularly at this time of year, a time of bleak weather combined with the expectations of the holiday season, that the thoughts of many turn to suicide. Many have been there on one occasion or other, and so, perhaps, can identify with the troubled character in this powerful story.
My second attempt at suicide happened two years later. I had just quit my job at the dry cleaners. I had no ambitions, no motives, only a red and black despair that clouded over my every thought and action, a red and black despair like the closing of Joyland at night.
A bottle of water? Why do we use to illustrate our new feature a bottle of water? What does the story, “Past Present” by Lori Cramer have to do with a bottle of water?!
Read the quick tale about relationships/new husbands/ex-boyfriends/domestic crises and find out.
The next noise isn’t a knock at all; it’s a thump, a fist pounding against the door. I jump up from the couch.
OUR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATIONS
All Hail Pushcart! Yes, we’re one of the many small literary outfits who applaud the Pushcart Prize collections– though we have reservations. To discover what they are, and at the same time find out which works we nominated for the annual awards this year, read this.
Have we missed the boat this year with our picks? Are we all wet? Living in Fantasyland? Let us know!
This week we’ve also kicked off a can’t miss Cat Poetry Festival at our Fun Pop Poetry feature, here.
WE RETURN TO FICTION! Short fiction that is, with two tales by Israeli writer Yoav Fisher.
Last week we encountered the mass output of NaNoWriMo authors. One individual at our discussion has written a 330,000-word(!) work. (He’s since sent us excerpts– we’ll be interested to look at what he’s doing.) The other side of the coin of exciting new literary happenings is the flash fiction movement.
Fisher’s two tales exemplify what flash fiction is about. Yoav Fisher has a Hemingway-like ability to convey more with less– to give the reader the minimum information possible yet create a strong, even devastating emotional impact. We look for writing that hits us between the eyes. Yoav Fisher has done that.
The helmet landed squarely above the ear with an audible thud. Edward surprised himself from the speed and severity. At five foot eight and doughy since middle school, agility and strength were never Edward’s strong points.
Attention All Writers!
Especially if you live in the Detroit area. New Pop Lit editors Karl Wenclas and Kathleen Crane will be doing a presentation for NaNoWriMo at the Troy Public Library on 11/17. Details at our News page here.
ALSO, we’re still promoting our Fun Pop Poetry feature. We have several cat poems coming up and we’re shy at least one good cat photo. Send your candidates in .jpg format to email@example.com. Thanks!
(Cat photo c/o Scott Cannon– same cat to be featured in a new poem.)
The struggles of being an artist! We at New Pop Lit are down with that struggle. It’s never easy. Today we present a short story, “Breathe,” by David R. Gwyn, which examines the struggle for artistic expression and meaning with a simple but moving profile of a man who has returned to his art after many years away from it.
This is an apt tale to run during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) when thousands of persons across the country take up the challenge of art and struggle to express themselves, with words. We’ll be doing a presentation on November 17th at the Troy Public Library in suburban Detroit in connection with NaNoMoWri. Stay tuned for more details! (In the meantime, enjoy David Gwyn’s story.)
The artist sits, hunched, watching the masses navigate the streets. The colorful fall day contradicts the pale stone structures of Rittenhouse Square. Like the others, this month has come and passed and still he sold nothing. With winter on its way, the season of possible sales closes rapidly.
Happy Halloween! We find ourselves without a new Halloween story to present to you– so we dug up from a literary crypt fragments of an unfinished slasher novel, like cut-up pieces of a corpse. The original idea was that the intellectual parts of the novel would be scarier than the scary parts. It’s about a city, a mayor, and his wife, and staff, and a series of murders with which they’re confronted. Read the excerpts here.
The resurrected novel notes anyway are an apt prelude to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which kicks off November 1st. We’ll be doing a presentation for NaNoWriMo in the Detroit area– more info to follow .
The finely-sharpened hunting knife filled the killer’s vision. Staring at the edge of the knife intoxicated him. The image carried resonances of barbarism. Violence and blood. To his warped mind, the killings were necessary, but they’d also become fun.
WE’VE BEEN primarily promoting poetry the previous few weeks, particularly with our Fun Pop Poetry feature. Pushing the parameters of what acceptable poetry looks like. Some might say we’ve gone too far with that! But in addition to having fun, we also look for more serious verse, written in what we consider to be a “pop” style.
Which means, we look for a poet who uses at least some rhythm or rhyme. Who has a sense, consciously or instinctively, of euphony. Which means poems that are pleasing to recite or read– not in some ethereal never-never land but part of today. Poems which create images of this world. Of now.
Most of all we look for the elusive quality “talent”– a quality once highly valued in the literary realm, but which in our postmodern age of no standards or reality has largely been pushed to the side. Not here!
We believe we’ve discovered a young poet of striking talent in Timmy Chong. Read his poetry here and see if you agree.
they call us corrupt
because we travel in packs—
newfound adults in
pastel shorts and
they say our brotherhood
bleeds mob mentality,
that we are aggressive
in our privilege
and childish for
buying the same brands,
spitting off of sidewalks,
stumbling at dawn, and
singing too loud our
We’re serious about moving in a strong way into the genre of poetry. The classic art has been marginalized by the academy; kept alive by hip-hop and open mics. As always, we aim for a fusion of the two types.
October 17 is the birthday of Sylvia Plath, whose dark vision in its mix of craft and passion in the last years of her life was a high point of American poetry. After her death, the form abandoned its sense of music and euphony.
An exception to this abandonment happened in Liverpool, England in the early 1960’s. We’ve discovered a pop poetry movement centered in that industrial city– at the same time a group of moptop musicians began making waves with a unique brand of pop music. We’ll have a report on this, upcoming.
At our News blog, we take an entertaining glance at the five poets named last week as finalists for the National Book Award for Poetry. In fact, we grade them.
What’s our reaction to the Nobel Prize for Literature award to Bob Dylan? To us, it shows the failure of today’s poets to connect meaningfully with the general public– creating a vacuum which has been filled the past fifty years by popular troubadors like Bob Dylan. We say, give us not Bob Dylan but another Dylan Thomas!
Our fledgling Fun Pop Poetry feature is a beginning, only that, to a true poetry revival– making the art accessible to everybody.
For a more serious version of pop poetry, in one week we’ll feature several poems from one of the best young poets we’ve seen– proving to us the future of poetry is very bright. Stay tuned to this literary station!