“THE MAN WITH TROTSKY’S GOATEE”
While we’ve begun publishing edgier and more experimental work in our new print journals (“zeens”), at heart we remain devoted to pop fiction. As proof, over the next month we’ll present at this site three– or maybe four– pop short stories. All user friendly. Which means, fun reads with some kind of punch, hook, or message to them.
First up is T.R. Healy‘s unusual tale, “The Man with Trotsky’s Goatee.”
What could be more pop than using a Communist icon for entertainment purposes? Besides, it’s a gem of a little story. Take a look.
He knew Trotsky was a vile and heartless tyrant but, despite that, he thought his goatee looked distinguished and decided he wanted to grow one like the Russian revolutionary. When he did, however, he looked more like a derelict on the street and was disappointed but not enough to shave it off.
AS LONG as you’re here, check out a more capitalist part of the New Pop Lit empire– our new online shop! Now available: Extreme Zeen. One of the more eye-catching literary creations seen this century. A first step toward the total reinvention of the printed literary publication.
(Art: Detail from “Man, Controller of the Universe” by Diego Rivera; Trotsky cartoon by Annenkow.)
ZINES AND ZEENS
Roots music pioneer Little Richard, one of the founders of the rock n roll genre, passed away the other day at age 87. Are there roots writers?
Yes! One of them self-published a print zine for many years named fishspit. We’ve published several of his short stories the past few years, and are able to offer our readers another, “Mephistopheles and Lilith,” which is about a cantankerous (but lovable?) cat. We hope you enjoy it.
As you’ll see when you read the story, zine writing is unlike anything you’ll receive from a university writing program anywhere. The writing is uninhibited and honest. No rules or codes or self-censorship adhered to. In this way it’s as natural and real– as authentic– as American roots music– blues, gospel, r & b, country, folk– was so many years ago.
She was a good woman. She did the best she could with me . . . bailing me outta jail . . . cooking healthy meals . . . and listening to my drunken reveries. She was a good woman, as far as women go. But that cat! Now that was a cat!
WHY are we presenting the writing of a zinester at this point in time?
As a nod to New Pop Lit‘s own roots– and the roots of our new print publication, Extreme Zeen, which is like an old-fashioned zine in that it’s print and DIY and contains zine elements, yet at the same time we’ve taken those elements to an entirely new level. Inventing something never quite seen before. At least, we think we have. To know for sure you’ll have to purchase a copy and judge for yourself!
(Art: “Dance Hall Scene” by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson.)
–of the story, the periodical, the book.
The way to do that is to transform the literary art and the presentation of that art. Which we’ve begun doing, including with our first released zeen, Extreme Zeen. Now available here to purchase.
WHY is this publication an important step in the transformation process?
Not everyone will “get” it, but the clues are in the publication itself– pointing the direction for us. And, we believe, for writing and for books themselves. Which in ten years won’t resemble what the mainstream publishes now.
(Art: “Woman with Birds” by Alexandra Ekster.)
AS our last feature in April we present writing from rising young literary star Aaron H. Aceves which opens with a poem in the narrator’s head– then tells the story behind the poem. The story involves a woman, but is also about the setting. A club, in downtown Los Angeles, and the people occupying it– and the feeling evoked, within the narrator and inside us.
A story? A poem? A painting? Read “The Look” and judge for yourself.
I watched her watching them for a while. I could have watched her all night long.
Long, shiny hair. Flawless skin. Winged eyeliner. A boyfriend.
I have a thing for unavailable women.
(Art: “L’Equipe de Cardiff” by Robert Delaunay; “The Soldier Drinks” by Marc Chagall.)
SNOW IN APRIL?
THE QUESTION BECAME, when we accepted two poems from Erin Knowles Chapman for the Poetry Month of April, “How to finesse a poem about snow which is being published in April?”
Fortunately, nature and Michigan’s always-unpredictable weather came through for us with three inches of snow this past Friday. There you have it. Proof! Sometimes it snows, in Michigan, in April.
Anyway, we give you the reader two new poems by Erin Chapman which are reader-friendly, thought-provoking, mood-invoking, entertaining– if not exactly topical and timely, other than being poetry presented in the poetry month of April. We trust you’ll enjoy them.
What needs to be done
Is attainable here, a way of earning more time
Alone. (Their home is really her home.)
(Art: “Watercolor Landscape” by John Marin.)
THE THEME OF RESURRECTION
Many authors have pursued the theme of resurrection/rebirth over the years, notably Alexandre Dumas in his famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo. None were more relentless in that pursuit than the man known as O. Henry— probably because his own life was an example of same.
For this Easter we present an O. Henry classic, The Church with an Overshot-Wheel.
Thus, in memory of Aglaia, the old mill was converted into a blessing for the community in which she had once lived. It seemed that the brief life of the child had brought about more good than the three score years and ten of many. But Abram Strong set up yet another monument to her memory.
(Art: “Madonna of the Lilies” by Alphonse Mucha.)
DOES THE WORLD NEED POETRY?
The world right now more than ever needs poetry! We all need a few timeless bards speaking universal truths to take us away from those ills that– literally– plague us.
Today we present one of the best in the person of Frank D. Walsh, who’s been for decades an iconic figure on Philadelphia’s poetry scene. More than this, no one anywhere is a more dedicated student of the craft of, nor fiercer advocate of the necessity for, the magical musical undefinable phenomenon known as poetry.
We’re fortunate to present at this site a fragment of one of his works– “Spectre of the Rose”— BUT, you’ll be pleased to know, we’ll soon, perhaps in a couple weeks, be presenting more of it, inside a demo of a lit journal/print zine hybrid we call a “zeen.” Stay tuned for that. In the interim, dive into Walsh’s poetry. . . .
I have raked in your ashes
from the kiln of love gone cold
and dared your thorns,
and whirlwind of lips but
the gun sounded or time summoned
me to the arcade of its shrine;
still you arranged sanctuary for my kind.
ALSO, check out our new “Pop Quiz” Q & A, this one with talented young writer Fran-Claire Kenney. We’re out to locate and spotlight new literary talent before anyone else.
(Art: “The Bard” by Thomas Jones.)
CLASSIC SHORT STORY LITERARY ART
Someone referred to our recent presentation of an Edgar Allan Poe plague story as “old pop lit.” Well, it is. Writers should recognize the history of their art. We recognize the history of pop literature. In particular, the pop short story, which long before hit records became the rage was the popular American art form.
HOW did it become that?
Because short story writers were able to make an emotional connection with readers, in the same way pop singers today make an emotional connection with their fans.
One of the masters of the American short story was Poe. Another was the man known as O. Henry, who during his brief career became the most popular story writer of them all.
One of O. Henry’s masterpieces is “The Last Leaf,” which we present, in these challenging times, as our feature. The tale is about disease sweeping through a city– but it’s also about love, friendship, and hope.
The setting? A bohemian neighborhood in New York. The characters? Two young artists and an older artist who lives beneath them. All are participants in that era’s version of the gig economy– and so are uniquely vulnerable to the hostile swings of misfortune. As fragile humanity is vulnerable, in our time, or in any time.
In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called. Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”
(Art: “Park Street Church in Winter” by Arthur Clifton Goodwin; “New York” by George Bellows.)
ON CORONAS AND CONTAGIOUS MUSIC
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s an unusual St. Paddy’s Day because of the fear the hysteria the caution protection prevention over a bug, so the parades are fewer, the parties calmer, celebration muted. This year. Unless there’s a final wild-and-masque’d Edgar Poe blowout someplace.
APPROPRIATE then that we have as our new feature a short story, “Townies” by Philip Charter, about six friends traveling to Majorca to party. And party they do.
But what awaits them?
A contagion, yes, but a contagion of a different sort. Not a virus, but having something to do with music and sex.
READ IT! drink it inhale it as you quarantine yourself against the onslaughts of panic and madness.
Within one minute of Gavin fading in the music, the dance floor was covered. It was as if the beat was ripping girls out of their seats, me included. The boys of course followed.
(Painting: “Party” by Emil Nolde.)
Everyone is talking about it so we thought we’d post it– one of the best short stories ever written, “Masque of the Red Death” by that master of pop writing, Edgar Allan Poe.
The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think.
Strangely enough, our previous feature story, “Cracks“ by Wilson Koewing, was about masks (at Mardis Gras), and our next feature– due next week, by Philip Charter— is about partying. A different sort of partying– or is it?
(Painting: “Soldier at a Game of Chess” by Jean Metzinger.)