Three new poems in MacroMicroCosm’s ‘Astral’ Issue

Thank you to Lis and the team at Vraeyda Literary’s MacroMicroCosm journal for publishing three of my speculative poems: Ansible Dreams, We Small Readers, and Chaos Theory (The Mandlebrot Set). It’s always exciting when my work finds a home!

My poems can be read via purchasing either the print or PDF version of the journal.

About Astral

A mighty shout out to the two prose pieces within Astral, Matthew Buscemi’s To Shape the Future, and Sacha Rosel’s Into Something Rich and Strange (from Chapter 1 of her newly released noveMy Heart is The Tempest). We have multiple pieces of poetry from longstanding contributor Adrienne Stevenson, Peter Graarup Westergaard (from his Warning Light Calling collection done in a dissident Soviet style, not dogma), and returning contributor Matthew Fast, who has the prestige to have been in the primordial issue of MacroMicroCosm years ago. Fast’s poetry is based off his song lyrics for the upcoming The Far Lands album, and I am pumped about hearing it via bandcamp when it hits Abram’s Epilogue

Michael Janairo gives us three poems, while Sapha Burnell closes us off with one we used to end Volume 7 and bring on the stellar theme to Volume 8. Art by Sarah Melgoza & Katelyn Lane surrounds the poetry, while our last contributor is a posthumous submission by the estate of Cotrina Graham Smith. We hope you enjoy seeing 1980’s layouts, we got a kick out of them! So much so we featured the poems ‘as is’.

About MacroMicroCosm

A Quarterly Digital literary & art journal dedicated to speculative fiction, art & literary criticism. A celebration of the weird, strange and perceptibly odd. A review of books, music, film & art. Home of our MacroMicroCosm Book Review Podcast & YouTube channel. Features articles on creative development & philosophy. MacroMicroCosm embraces a broad base of fiction and non-fiction with fantasy, magic realism, science-fiction and futurist elements in poetry, short story, art, photography, and comic. 

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New poem, ‘C,’ now online

I’m so happy my new poem “C” is included in the latest edition of the online journal Eye to the Telescope, Issue 43: “Light.”

Click on over to the journal to read the poem and all the others. Thanks to editor Jordan Hirsch for including me.

Publication: ‘Inside Infinity’ in Thimble Literary Magazine

My poem Inside Infinity: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh has just been published in Thimble Literary Magazine, edited by Nadia Wolnisty.

Check it out here.

Publication: ‘Slalom’ in The Sunlight Press

My short story “Slalom” has just been published in The Sunlight Press, edited by Beth Burrell and Rudri Bhatt Patel. Check it out.

Review: ‘The Last Black Unicorn’ by Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish has just been nominated for an Emmy for her “Saturday Night Live” hosting duties.

She is very funny, and this book and its multiple, episodic stories adds to the story of her success.

the-last-black-unicorn-9781501181825_lgSome of the stories are already familiar from her appearances on late-night comedy shows, such as the Groupon swamp tour in New Orleans she took Will and Jada Pinkett Smith during the filming of “Girls Trip.” That story touched upon a few points that made Haddish’s story so effective: it marked a moment of her place within the world of entertainment as a relatable up-and-comer suddenly finding herself not only working with Hollywood superstars, but also socializing with them.

The distance between them, with Haddish and most of her audience on one side, and the Smiths on the other, only deepens (and the comedy, too) when it becomes clear that the Smiths didn’t know that a Groupon is just kind of a coupon and that they swamp tour isn’t private but open to the public. (Another nice touch of separation in the story is when Will Smith gets in Haddish’s car and says, “I can’t remember the last time I was in a real car.”) It’s a winning story, and the book has lots of them that make Haddish relatable. Continue reading →

Book review: ‘Insurrections’ by Rion Amilcar Scott

insurrections-coverI recommend the story collection Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott.

The stories offer glimpses of life in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, a largely black settlement founded in 1807 after the only successful slave revolt in the United States.

In “Good Times,” a troubled man with a wife and child finds his way back into the good graces of his family through the help of a neighbor and a ratty old Cookie Monster costume. In “Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone,” a man searches for a brother who is linked to criminals in a flooded out section of town and finds unexpected solace with strangers.

And in “Juba,” a young man is mistaken for a pot dealer named Juba, and gets arrested. Angered, he tracks down Juba and finds not only a pot dealer, but a man on a mission to capture and save the dying language of Cross River. He is even translating the Bible into the language that used to be spoken by the black residents of Cross River.

What Scott achieves with this story, and many others in the collection, is to let readers experience the strangeness and joy of these kinds of unexpected encounters. The narrator of “Juba,” for example, is on his way to a job interview when he is arrested. The  police action—they throw the narrator to the ground when arresting him—echoes the kind of violence against black people in America that has given rise to the social media hashtag #LivingWhileBlack. That Scott is able to take his story (and his readers) through  such an undercurrent of social injustice and violence, while also bringing his narrator deeper into a drug world, and toward concerns of language, and not just language in general but a specific kind of language of a people in a specific (if fictional) place that is being lost.

What an amazing place to take a story. Scott is a writer that earns a reader’s trust and willingness to go wherever his stories lead. It is one of the main reasons why spending time in Cross River is so enjoyable. Check out the book now. You can buy it from the publisher, University Press of Kentucky. A new collection of Cross River stories, titled The World Doesn’t Require You, is slated for publication in 2019.

Rion Amilcar Scott won the 2017 PEN/America Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction for Insurrections. His website is http://www.rionamilcarscott.com and you can also find him on Twittter at https://twitter.com/ReeAmilcarScott.

National Book Critics Circle Announces 2017 Award Winners

Poetry
Criticism
Autobiography
Biography
Nonfiction
Fiction
The John Leonard Prize
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

Review: North and Central by Bob Hartley

34748200We had a Zenith television when I was a kid. It was big, bigger than me. When we wanted to change the channel, we had to get up and turn the dial. When the plastic dial broke, or at least the part that connected it to the channel mechanism on the TV, then we superglued the broken bit of plastic back together. We used the dial until it broke, again. We superglued it again. This kept going on until the plastic dial couldn’t be repaired anymore. Then we just risked cutting our fingers against the sharp-edged plastic of the now-exposed channel changing mechanism. We pressed our fingers against it, twisted our wrists and changed the channel. There were only 13 stops on the dial, and only four stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. We made do and we kept that TV long after friends started to buy Sony Trinitrons. Eventually, we got something from Panasonic.

Bob Hartley’s second novel, North and Central (Tortoise Books, 240 pages, $16), is set in a Chicago bar whose clientele consisted mostly of Zenith factory workers and who, no doubt, would mock my use of “clientele” to describe them. “Drinkers,” perhaps, is better? “Strugglers,” perhaps, too, as Zenith is on the decline due to competition from Japan—the entire neighborhood is rough shape. Another name for those workers could be “Trump voters,” which is more about when I read the book than when it was written or its setting a few decades ago in the 1970s.

Continue reading →

Review: Following Tommy by Bob Hartley

15826921 Following Tommy by Bob Hartley is a gem of a book: hard, brilliant and valuable.

It tells the story of Jacky O’Day, a bookish teen who lives in a changing Irish neighborhood in 1962 Chicago with an alcoholic father and a troubled older brother, Tommy. All of them live in the devastating aftermath of the early death of the woman in their life, the clear-headed mother and wife who had kept the three on the straight and narrow.

Without her, Jacky follows Tommy into his forays of petty crimes, as if that is the only viable path through their hardscrabble world. When Tommy’s crimes grow more violent, though, Jacky begins to question their relationship and himself.

Hartley delves into questions of identity and race, and offers a dramatic portrait of how a specific kind of Chicago neighborhood operates, with and against the law.

Through it all, Hartley’s clear, concise prose remains unflinching and cutting at times.

The slim volume from the independent publisher Cervena Barva Press is highly recommended.