WE meaning mankind have existed in insane periods in the past many writers and artists throughout history have been judged or diagnosed insane including Van Gogh and others like Dostoevsky Beethoven and Kafka have been on the edge, there have been crazy times, but have they been quite as extreme and chaotic as flat out mad crazy as OUR time? Now, in 2018?
Blame it on electronic media? Facebook? Twitter? Video games? The collapse of culture and decay of civilization?
TO ILLUSTRATE today’s madness we present to you the reader a story by Andrew Walker, “Blue Men in Black Coats,” which floats in between reality and madness, so that we ask, “Is this real? Any of this real? Or is it too real?” The story is too spot on, too much a presentation of now and the insane world which surrounds us.
The blue men do not look at you. From the books you’ve read, the shows you used to watch, the notes scribbled down in the pocket notebook you don’t use enough, you figured they would be some sort of bizarre, alien force come to act as a metaphor, an image, a symbol. Something come alive from the stories you have yet to write.
But these blue men appear to only be existing as anyone else would: to enjoy their Saturday.
(Art: “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe” by Van Gogh; “Blue Room” by Picasso.)
FATHERS AND SONS PART ONE
Father’s Day is less than two weeks away, so at New Pop Lit we’re marking the holiday with a small two-week celebration of relationships between fathers and sons, one of the primal relationships in our lives. In our new featured story, “Up On the Mountain,” Jack Somers captures the nuances in that relationship. Dad can be at times an embarrassment, a disappointment, a burden, or a revelation. An unavoidable shadow, good or bad, for us all.
(WRITERS: Note Somers’s ability to create atmosphere without excessive detail. You feel what it’s like to be a tourist in Athens. Photos to illustrate the story were unnecessary– but we added a few anyway.)
I had to come with him, if only to make sure he didn’t kill himself. I found myself thrust again into a role that had become all too familiar to me over the past few years: the parent of the parent. It seemed the older my father got, the more reckless and impulsive and childlike he became.
ON OTHER FRONTS we’ll shortly have new audio at our ongoing Open Mic, as well as a review of the latest novel from one of our favorite writers. Stay tuned– much more will be happening.
(Painting: “Greek Theatre at Taormina” by Tivader Csontvary-Kosztka.)
THE STRUGGLES OF A WRITER can seem lonely indeed– often resulting in rejection and neglect. Yet they keep at it, pursuing their art because they believe it’s important to express truths about life and the world.
When those struggles find notice– and a sense that a reader gets it, understands what the work’s about, this keeps the writer (and in our case, editors) going. No, the effort expended was not for naught!
Christopher Landrum at the literary site Bookbread has examined here four recent short stories, three of which appeared at New Pop Lit. They are:
–“The Fetus” by Clint Margrave.
–“Eighty Pounds” by Jon Berger.
–“The Professor” by A.K. Riddle.
If you’ve read these three excellent tales, they’re worth rereading. If you haven’t, please do so! Then see what Mr. Landrum says about them.
(Art: “The Passion of Creation” by Leonid Pasternak; “Woman Writing” by Gerard ter Borch.)
IS ANYONE looking for the New? Does anyone besides ourselves actually want and is actively searching for and creating the NEW?
Pop Lit is about discovery and synthesis. It’s about creating. About fusing two poles, in poetry’s case, of stasis and chaos. System and street. Bebop rhythm and wordplay, the energy of freedom combined with poetic learning, predecessors, history. IF the humanities mean anything (one hears massive nonsense about “the humanities”) it means nods to the past but not shackling institutionally the talents and voices of today.
TODAY we present fresh creations from young verse-master Timmy Chong— seven or nine poems depending upon how you count them– which he names “Twenty & Change.” Note his euphonious use of assonance, rhythm, occasional rhyme, with urban/suburban themes, a hip-hop feel– but it’s not hip-hop– and with tricks absorbed from past masters like Plath or Berryman– but it’s not like anything they wrote either. It’s only, hyperbolically-speaking, where poetry needs to go. Where it needs to be, in 2018, or 2020.
Boy got them low eyes,
got that good lip
reeking purple like periques.
Says when the plug dry
AS PART of our Poetry Attack! we’re soliciting audio for our ongoing Open Mic, at Club New Pop Lit. (Think neon letters reflected on a rainy Detroit-or-Philly street.) The club is imagination but the voices are real. (Well, maybe not Ms. Hepburn’s.) COMING within days or hours to the club is spectacularly talented Detroit-area poetess Erin Knowles Chapman with a reading ostensibly about a bowling alley.
Exciting things are happening. Just saying.
(1st public domain action painting is by Michael Philip. 2nd public domain “spin art” painting is by German artist calling self Kungfuman.)
A REMINDER that when we choose to we can push the edges of the usual, if not the acceptable, as far as anyone, due to our underground roots and DIY from-the-bottom viewpoint on all things cultural.
AS EXAMPLE we have our recently-posted feature story, “Cat Doctor” by mysterious on-the-arts-margins D.C. Miller, holding a mirror up to the clean and smug of today’s approved intellectual world.
THEN there’s our newly-placed book review of a new work by indie press figure Tony Nesca at our book chat blog.
FINALLY we have our ongoing Open Mic, with a reading of a striking poem by Brian Eckert along with other dynamic spoken word performances– with more to come.
(Art: “Accolade” by Edmund Blair Leighton.)
THE SECOND story in our look at today’s dating scene is a much darker animal: “Cat Doctor” by D.C. Miller. Ostensibly a response to The New Yorker‘s recent Kristen Roupenian story “Cat Person,” it’s more than that– it’s a look at the malaise of the West’s current intellectual class. People who believe in nothing– not even themselves. Whose ideological inanities, post-conceptual art and postmodern literature are an expression of nothing. Representations of the void at the center of their lives. A world in which the villains aren’t men or women, but everyone.
Appropriately, the story is set in Berlin, a city forever on the cutting edge of the end of Western civilization. Last stop before the nightmare of gotterdammerung and oblivion.
It was a catchy statement, and she liked it, but she wasn’t certain where to take it, whether it was true or not, and even if it was, what it would imply. She heard the sound of someone sighing audibly, like an echo from another room, and for a moment felt confused, before she realized it was her.
IN THE FACE of such a pessimistic, albeit truthful, examination of relations between men and women, of ideas and culture, we remain optimists. We believe the culture will turn over because it has to turn over– it’s at a dead end, with nowhere to go but to scrap the present and embrace another direction.
(Featured painting: “The Night” by Max Beckmann. Other: “Sjalusi i Badet” by Edvard Munch.)
READERS enjoy stories which deliver an emotional punch. This is not all that stories can do, but it’s one of the things stories can do.
It might take the writer 500 pages in a novel to deliver the impact. Or it might take a shorter time period– which is what the short story is about. Condensed emotion. Concentrated impact.
Our current story, “Racquetball” by Don Waitt, condenses many things into a small narrative space. Families, history, loss. Less can be more. Take a look.
“And I saw my Mom getting sucked into a black hole of despair. It was like looking into an old brick well filled with cold, dark swirling water being sucked into the bowels of the earth, and my Mom was in the middle of that water. And I knew that if I did not reach down and grab her hand and pull her up, she would be lost forever.”
Be sure to check out New Pop Lit‘s Open Mic feature. Dan Nielsen is our current performer– with more spoken word to come, including from Brian Eckert and Philadelphia poetry legend Frank D. Walsh!
(Painting: “Kosovo Maiden” by Uros Predic.)
A LITERARY CARNIVAL full of sights, sounds, and mental stimulation is what we offer for you the unwary reader. DO NOT simply dawdle on this page and scurry away. Remain for a time. Take off your shoes. Sit back and relax. Explore the many options we have available for your time-spending pleasure.
CHIEF among them at the moment is the Writers Combine happening NOW as part of our exclusive coverage of the All-Time American Writers Tournament. At the moment we’re featuring some truly big names, giant talents, enormous personalities– such as Count Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway. WHO ELSE but New Pop Lit has the futuristic technology to bring these legends alive??
You want storytelling? WE HAVE IT!— the best new fiction on the planet, including our most recent tale, “Unraveling” by young writer Tianna Grosch.
You want audio? Spoken word poetry-mixed-with-comedy? Yes! Enter through this doorway– where you may find a well-known but deceased celebrity, with whose voice we’ve taken a few liberties.
Book reviews? NO ONE presents more stunning reviews of more striking and provocative literary works– the kind of books literary critics will be discussing fifty years from now, if not this moment. Future literary Gauguins and Van Goghs. Read about those here.
Politics? Do you really have to read about politics? If you insist-– we even have politics! Or at least, reports on a politicized publishing scene and politicized intellectual journals. From us you receive, at our NPL News blog, the real story– what takes place behind the scenes.
Scout around at our links and drop-down on this page and you’ll discover other fascinating and bizarre sights and happenings. Spend the day!
We ARE the most exciting literary site.
(Featured painting: “Circus” by August Macke.)
THE LARGEST TOPIC for any writer– the greatest expanse of territory to cover– is the human mind. BUT WE ALSO live in a time with a dystopian vibe. Combine the two elements and you create fearful possibilities for the reader.
Our newest feature story, “Unraveling” by Tianna Grosch, is a plunge into the depths and memories of the mind– at the same time it’s a commentary on the contemporary age, on a kind of soullessness consuming everyone. Writers and artists seek metaphors for what’s happening. Zombies, pods, androids, robots. Loss of affect. Of emotion, depth, mind. What does it mean? Where are we going? Where have we been?
There’s much to be discovered in this thought-provoking tale by a talented young writer.
The doctors’ infinite, empty eyes peered out above crisp white masks. Masks shrouding the remainder of their faces so the crown of heads surrounding him became nothing more than a sea of irises ranging in color and depth, but never in emotion.
(Paintings: “Murnau” by Vassily Kandinsky; “Hospital Ward in Arles” by Vincent van Gogh.)
New talent? WHO is devoted to new writing talent?
WE are! As we seek to move the center of literature out of the golden island of Manhattan, we’re hearing from new writers from the heartland of this country. Our plan: To showcase talented writers before they approach or cross the many barriers erected by the established publishing industry. To spotlight the best new writers first, before anyone else locates them.
Toward that end we present Two Flash Fiction works about life today by Alexander Olson. One is about consumerism. The other is about a dying relative. Both different– expressing emotions ranging from cynicism to compassion. Both are thought provoking.
She didn’t deserve me gazing at the floor, wondering vaguely if it was always like this. She deserved movie-quality sadness. Broadway-level grief.
Be sure to check out all the many other things happening at our site– audio; reviews; news. An easy way is to click on the drop-down menu at “All Other” on this page. Thanks!
(Featured painting: “Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Bocklin.)