WHO WRITES POP SHORT STORIES?
AS WE WORK to develop what we call the 3–D story– a large component of which is pop writing– we’re aware of how few writers even try to write genuine pop anymore. The kind of accessible-and-fun stories which were once hugely popular– a time when the short story mattered. A time when the short story was THE popular American art form, written by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald for large circulation magazines like Saturday Evening Post and The Smart Set. In 1930 Fitzgerald was paid $4,000 per story– the equivalent of $60,000 today. A Golden Age for story writers! Writers need to realize why.
Scott Fitzgerald believed he was slumming when writing in this mode– but he wasn’t. Viewed from a distance, many of his pop stories today read as the freshest, most genuine things he wrote.
MEANWHILE, we feature the reappearance of the best pure pop writer in America today, Alex Bernstein. His latest, “Props,” exhibits the special strength of the form. Which includes a fundamentally positive outlook on life, on people and the world. Which we could all use a little of right now.
I explained that Buster is my constant companion, my soulmate, and also a beautiful, stuffed, potted frond plant. He’s my oldest and most favorite prop, and the first real one I ever created. Buster’s been in every show I ever worked on. (He fades perfectly into the background.) We travel everywhere together. He’s very lucky. And yes, sometimes I talk to him. What’s it to ya?
(Paintings: “Arc De Triomphe” by Zelda Fitzgerald; “Potted Plant on Windowsill” by Edvard Munch.)
WELCOME! Did someone say National Poetry Month?
We’ve taken a break from behind-the-scenes activities to post new writing in honor of Poetry Month. (Though to be honest, every month is Poetry Month.) Check out “The Ginger Man and Other Poems” by Jess Mize, a natural talent who can write anything– poetry, prose, or any combination thereof– and make it look easy.
Tell yourself you’re doing your part to support National Poetry Month.
the tentative restless drops drip-drazzling
over the patio umbrella of the café
like the luxury of a mid-day shower
3–D IS Coming
(Meanwhile, we continue to work hard chiseling prototypes for the biggest change the literary world has experienced in decades– the 3–D Short Story. Stay updated at our New Pop Lit News page.)
(Featured art: “Eagle Bringing Cup to Psyche” by Benjamin West.)
TODAY we feature tough new fiction looking at the punk rock scene in New York City during a period when the monster metropolis itself was uber-tough– “Raga Punk Rock” by E.H. Davis.
The author describes the story as “a portrait of a recognizable character from the 70’s punk rock scene in New York City. My intention was to explore the Zeitgeist of angst that drove the youth of that period to a slow slide into alienation and suicide.”
Suffice it to say it’s an excellent story, with a New York vibe– we both loved it, including the ending. You’ll want to read it.
Shivering in a thin, parachute-silk jacket, collar up, red beret atop his curly mane, twenty-five-year-old Angelo streaked south on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, swerving around the puddles in his high lace-up boots, eyes downcast, alert for anything of value on the abandoned streets.
SPEAKING OF FICTION, work in the labs at New Pop Lit Headquarters continues on the quixotic project we’re calling the 3–D short story. For information on what that’s about, see this post at our New Pop Lit News blog, or this one.
(Art: “The Knife Grinder” by Kazimir Malevich; “New York” by George Bellows.)
OUR MARCH focus on poetry continues with a selection of striking verse, “Poetry by Warmoth” from rising literary star Kai Warmoth.
NOTE what Warmoth does with images and ideas in these four poems. You won’t see anything quite like it– Kai Warmoth is one of a number of young poets who’ve rejected mere unstructured narcissistic meanderings of a kind seen from scores or hundreds or thousands of follow-the-crowd literary journals and sites, for something deeper, more meaningful. Something unique. Poetry a tad more complex and deep than Instagram scribblings. All four of Warmoth’s poems bear re-reading. In fact, they demand it.
Try as I do to attend to Spring Snow
It doesn’t arrest like her eyes
Carved with rouge and streaked with coal.
And elbows crook’t atop the melanoid throw
Push your face to the skyward glow.
THE 3–D STORY
MEANWHILE, headway on the three-dimensional short story continues. This will be the biggest leap in the art since Hemingway. The concept’s been developed. The work now comes down to perfecting it via prototypes. Which means much trial and error. Which means throwing out standard writer selfishness to focus instead on what works, from the standpoint of readers.
Stay informed on our progress at our New Pop Lit News blog.
(Art: “Composition with Figures” by Lyubov Popova; “Electric Prism” by Sonia Delaunay.)
BEWARE THE NICHE PEOPLE!
WE’VE NOTICED that some literary people like to put other writers into a niche. Such as, “Exactly what kind of poet are you? Are you a flarf poet or an Instapoet or a beat poet, or a trad, or a lake poet, or Elizabethan or Edwardian, or maybe Victorian, modernist or hip-hop, or really, what kind of poet after all do you claim to be what box can we put you in how do we classify you, where can we put you to shorthand you, dismiss you, or otherwise find some way to short circuit our brains so we don’t have to THINK?”
(It’s a variation on labeling everyone according to party or politics: Wear the proper name tag and don’t ever switch sides or change beliefs.)
Which is a roundabout way of saying we have more poetry today, “‘That’ll do, Pig’ and Two Other Poems” by James D. Casey IV, who claims to write every kind of poem, and based on the evidence he’s provided, we believe him. Three poems. Hope you like them.
I’ve dreamt of hunting
vampires with Bukowski
and getting in barfights
with Hemingway and dodging
bats with Thompson and being
lost in the desert with Jim
ON OTHER FRONTS, we have a book review of a short (four stories) short story collection by talented story writer Elizabeth Sims— and:
THE 3-D STORY
WE CONTINUE to ask questions at our NPL News blog about whether or not the short story form needs to change– we strongly believe it does– as we lay the groundwork for the coming release of our solution: the Three-Dimensional Story. A lot going on.
(Art: “”Simultaneous Windows” by Robert Delaunay; “The Architect” by Roger de la Fresnaye; “The Bargeman” by Fernand Leger.)
WHILE our main focus for the first half of 2019 will be discussing how to remake the short story, we’ll continue to present, on occasion, significant new poetry.
Our mission at New Pop Lit is to find the best, develop the best, present the best in the best possible light and promote that presentation.
Toward that end we bring back poet C. A. Shoultz with “The Valley”— a foray into nature, into a forest devastated, devoured by civilization, but maybe not all the way. We trust you’ll enjoy the images, the cadences– and the punchline.
Without the roots of trees, the ground had run,
And had become a mass of bare brown mud.
I saw a twist of roots that had been pulled,
Now lying like some tangled corpses’ limbs.
(WE’LL be presenting much more poetry this month: from southern poet James D. Casey IV; from new talent Kai Warmoth; and last-but-not-least from iconic Philadelphia wordmaster Frank D. Walsh, who has every tool in the poet’s toolbox at his disposal. Will Frank’s work live up to his rep? We’ll find out.)
(Art: Mont Sainte Victoire by Paul Cezanne: bottom: “Urizen in Chains by William Blake.)
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.
(Art: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers” by Marc Chagall; “Self-Portrait” by Paul Gaugin.)
WE EXPECT New Pop Lit to eventually be a worldwide phenomenon, so we’re not averse to spotlighting writers from around the world. We’ve published or presented writers from UK, Germany, Poland, Canada, Malta, Italy, Belarus, Spain, Israel, Switzerland– and we’ve had readers on every continent, with the possible exception of Antarctica.
Today we present new fiction, “The Major,” by renowned Russian author Vladimir Kozlov, translated by Andrea Gregovich. Worth reading for its realism but also to see what’s happening in other literary scenes.
“Well, I have evidence not only that you’ve seen it before, but that you were directly involved in its creation. Do you know what this is called?
“A comic book, I guess.”
“It’s called ‘spreading deliberately false fabrications to defame the Soviet state and social order.’ Article seventy-two of the Criminal Code for the BSSR. I can also pull up Article 58-10: ‘Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.’”
BUT, at the same time we also present a New Pop Lit review of Mr. Kozlov’s entire new short story collection, 1987 and Other Stories, of which “The Major” is part.
ONLY at New Pop Lit. Always at the literary forefront.
(Painting: “Blue Crest” by Wassily Kandinsky.)
WE LOOK for new writers with style and talent. Intelligence and verve. Personality and insight.
ONE WRITER with those qualities in multiples is Meeah Williams, who graces us with a short tale, “The Nose That Ate Cleveland.” This short piece is so good we took time out from our own literary experiments to feature it.
I’ve been a lot of things to a lot of guys, but never a muse. It sounds so romantic but let me tell you, it’s not. The way they portray it in poems and stories, you do a lot of traipsing around from room to room, barefoot, in long flowing white gowns, your hair wreathed in flowers. In real life, it’s nothing of the sort.
(Painting: “The Poor Fool” by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.)
In the first weeks of 2019 we’ll be on a relaxed schedule as we work behind the scenes to improve this project– as well as focusing on our own writing a bit as we experiment with new ways of crafting the short story. Looking for an elusive breakthrough. Knowing unless we find it, fiction will be stuck in a rut, and all literary sites like ours along with it.
Art NEEDS to change. Our literature NEEDS to be different– at least show variety away from the same-old same-old.
The short story first. Then, poetry. Then, the novel. Then: the world?
THE NEW POP LIT PROJECT IS FAR FROM OVER.