Letter Machine Editions
windows smeared in our own dust
if you want to come in here
you’ll have to go through us
from the section: Tallying Song
– Farid Matuk
Farid Matuk explores and displays a world and its territories occupied by us – the immigrants, consumers, politicians, beggars, thieves – the people.
“This is the age of information” he states, and is able to portray this world through numerous allusions of modern day figures, corporations, wars, disasters, literature and anything you can think of. Yet all these allusions are cast into the light of the absurd, the ridiculous sarcasm of the world and her ‘citizens’.
Through odd juxtapositions, like Huck tearing up his letter, refusing to believe… “the niggerfication of Jim” in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, and over the top language, “I only care that you love…testicles like oyster onions floating down the river,” Matuk humorously inhabits serious moments of satire and social commentary.
He embraces the impractical love/hate for celebrities and does not hesitate to use names, “say it with me – Thank God for Dolly Parton” and a poem titled, But Richard, Will You Show Me an Ethic of Freedom, that begins “Richard Pryor is a criminal / and comes from criminal people.”
The speaker is not merely spilling commentary but often becomes the people portrayed, “I am Moroccan today… the shoes / I will buy will raise me, incline me / as the whole of Europe is inclined…” He distinguishes nations and peoples, “look at our pairs of feet / in the basin, Joe / your European toe / my American slope” while simultaneously acknowledging unity in that we are all people and preposterous, “We all joined the astronaut corps and are waiting in line for the moon.” At once we are disjointed and unified.
“…there / is no world there is / a world if
you stand at all / you stand against it”
From the section: Dear Lengthening Day
– Farid Matuk
Prepare yourself for a lengthy travel: a journey full of dust and water and mirrors that don’t quite reflect, or hazy windows that refuse sunlight. Prepare to roam the earth.
First: find a ramp exit you can fly down like a dune that leads into a field or expanse, a far-flung stillness to hurl questions at. While crossing this expanse in search of water, breathe in the field, piss outside to affirm life, write something about spring coming through.
Stumbling upon the banks of a river, plant hydrangeas. Train a monkey to light matches then fling them into the moments, like disturbing little black pools of stagnant water – little sparks of the heart. Line squirrels in trees between the crosshairs of your finger and thumb then fire fire! Consider: “we learn to look at anything and recognize death.” Write something else about spring coming through. “Scrape wood to expose it to the air.”
Continue on in search of tall structures and people. Before you approach, roll around in dust, and then walk into the city. Lie about the things in your pockets. Play with people’s fears of thievery. “Beneath that: a sort of friendship. Beneath that: thievery.” Attempt to piss between dumpsters without being caught.
Come home. Wash your mouth out with soap and water. Read poetry to your dog then kiss her head and smell the spit over hair – “feel her jowl bags work over your hand like a jellyfish.” Be sure to start a pile of your toenail clippings on the coffee table; listen to the whispers of your naked toes. Paint your mother’s chest red to remind you of the red-breasted birds from another country, the places you’ve been. Consider you’ve kissed at least once in your dreams.
Imagine leaving once again. Traveling with your girlfriend. Fucking in the train-car bathroom – a chant of oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck
Realize that someday people will prepare a 9/11 reenactment.
Write something about spring coming through.
Reviewer: Shawn McDaniel is a first year MFA student in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and one of Bombay Gin‘s Audio Archive Editors.
Publisher: Noemi Press, 2013
Micro Review of Sarah Vap’s End of the Sentimental Journey
Looking to challenge your relationship to the poem and your
relationship as reader is End of the Sentimental Journey by Sarah Vap. Hers is
a book that talks back. Through her attitude and witticism, she explores the
relationship between reader and author. If you have ever wondered what an
author would think about you as you are reading their book, Sarah does not
hold back. She questions notions of authorship and one’s perspective as a
reader. She says, “There is an unspoken agreement between a poet and a
reader that, by reading the poem, we will both feel less alone.”After reading
this book, you might change the way you think about writing, you might find
that her guidelines apply to you. Sarah Vap would not want you to ask if this
is book is difficult or not instead she guides you through a conversation with
her and if you really get into it she invites you to get into the personal
saying, “Specifically, this is a conversation about you having sex with me.
And more generally, about poets having sex with each other(11).” She says
about her own poetry, “My poem should put out, nut not be a slut”
For a small book, it really does put out and speak.
Somatic review of Sarah Vap’s End of the Sentimental Journey
If you want a book to talk back, pick up End of the Sentimental Journey
by Sarah Vap. This is not the book for tea. This is not the book for quiet
library corners. This is not going to end well if you are sitting next to your
mom. This book should be read alone because the book will demand loud
conversations with you. Be prepared. Most books you’ve read don’t care who
you are, but Sarah Vap writes through the book to talk back.
She says, “Specifically, this is a conversation about you having sex
with me. And more generally, about poets having sex with each other” (11).
Are you interested? Have you ever wanted to take a poet to bed? Here is
your chance. She invites you to drag it under the covers. She wants to get
you excited. If you are not ready for this, you can close the book but I would
not open it up again.
Once you think you have become acquainted with Sarah Vap, maybe
you have not. Maybe she does not like you and never will like you. That
depends on what type of reader you are. If you read to be anonymous, this
book is not for you and you can return it to where ever you got it from. This
book is for people who like cussing. Do not ask yourself if these poems are
difficult, if you can even call them poems, she would not like that. Easy is
problematic as well, just keep reading. She wants to get to know you. You are
reading into her. She knows,” there is an unspoken agreement between a
poet and a reader that, by reading the poem, we will both feel less alone”
(13). This is the book for you if you want to feel less alone or if you want to
have a conversation with the author mid sentence. To truly enjoy her wit and
cynicism, this book is best read in an empty room where you have the
freedom to yell at Sarah Vap for making you feel unworthy while the book is
yelling back at you.
Sarah Vap grew up in Missoula, Montana. She attended Brown University, where she studied English and American Literature. She received her MFA from Arizona State University, and is completing her PhD at the University of Southern California.
Vap is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first book, Dummy Fire, was selected by Forrest Gander to receive the Saturnalia Poetry Prize. Her second, American Spikenard, was selected by Ira Sadoff to receive the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her third book, Faulkner’s Rosary, was released by Saturnalia Books in 2010. Her fourth book, Arco Iris, was just released in November, 2012, and was named a Library Journal Best Book of 2012. Her book End of the Sentimental Journey is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2013. She is a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Poetry.
Vap has taught poetry and literature at Arizona State University and University of Southern California, and for many years now she has taught creative writing to kids in public schools.
Reviewer: Janelle Fine is a second year MFA student at Naropa University and the Art Editor for Bombay Gin Literary Magazine.
Online Feature: (Soma)tic and Micro Reviews
Micro Review of Michelle Taransky’s Sorry Was In The Woods
In Michelle Taransky’s book, Sorry Was In The Woods, the audience is taken into the woods with her, where she allows the nature of the trees to speak a new language, one that questions those which destroy it.
The trees in the book breathe their natural beauty, and not the decisions of man to destroy them for security and home. The bodgers, woodcutters, and cabinet makers are made less in the work, and one can get a sense of new form/realization when entering the woods with Taransky. She lets the woods speak to her through this piece, “Sorry in the woods where I am looking for a language with a word that means we must see it all differently: the accounting for their symptoms when we are calling it a day using the wage to mark our place as the place that makes crimes build and own shelter out of arguments facing past,” here Taransky cleverly reminds us how we take advantage of the woods that have become our resource for security comfort and home; insisting we have stolen from them. Taransky is realistic in the work using her own memory of household and family, as well as the contextualized historical accounts of bodgers and woodcutters, and how this process by man destroys a natural order in nature for the sake of our comforts. She then mixes in these actual histories and accounts with her travels into the woods as they whisper their allegory to her, making for new doubled edged meanings in this experimental work. What Taransky does best in her book is capture the woods in deep contemplation between man’s nature and the nature of the woods without man. In one poem, “A Thought The Same As The Bough,” she writes,
It’s the piece of the tree growing symbolic, if you let them
Expect woodpeckers to be plastic and panicking from
Sorry, the carpenter is not a painter of the forest.
Through the book, Taransky seems fed up with the world destroying the wood, at times saying, “Sorry, I’ve went to the woods,” as though she is done listening to the plans made out by man, and at other times in the woods states she can hear the wood moaning.
(Soma)tic Review of Michelle Taransky’s Sorry Was in the Woods
The Woods Owe You Nothing
In the Seven Woods
We have a machine
We cannot explain
Why watching the event
We making all facts be one fact
To watch parents
Watch their parents
Mount a rebellion
The Surburban Shit House of Smog and Car Pollution smiled across the streets with its invisible, saying it wasn’t as noticeable to the 21st romantic children of the big building laughter, industrialized in the faces of the glint eyed innocence leaving, who jamming their top rap music of the day laughed in the Sedan over Big Spinners, Diamond ICY Watches, and other false monument & escapism along the way to a standardized idea. I
had wooden teeth put in, then grinned at you.
This was an ode to a book in the woods by Michelle Taransky. An experiment of leaving what we were taught behind and listening to the giving resourcefulness of the woods and Taransky’s thoughts within.
It’s a hell of a forest, the true insides, what one can hear that isn’t industrialized and an attachment of pure nature flourished in front of your eyes.
“You, can’t pry my wooden smile,” I said, “not in this shit hole.” The City And Things were made out for these new age children, the future who the city controlled in material, and at this early age would be dragged along the strip by their noses into a state of rotten jaded lies . It shimmers falsely across the dying sky. And so, I’m not apologizing for going to the woods again, just watching this from the hideaway, through the canopy in the trees.
A job that left them with a nice picket fence was all they need. The one surrounding a small home of orders unordered, where they the inhabitants would soon feel too controlled and want a vacation, or cut themselves, reinvent, or go to drunk, sex, loathing, prescript…
The woods talk a bigger game than you do in the city. “Want to go out for lunch?” No. I was in the woods, a real recluse on whiskey listening to the contemplation of Michelle Taransky , who said she saw something more natural, and I felt her when she made it out in paper, and the piece so moved by the whispering of the branch bark and leaves falling their own lessons through it, it can’t make the proper apologies for the nature of this bustling traffic and your ugly faces pinched. Why is that you want to paint the cabinets white? After hiding in them for three days straight, only to come out and pour a coffee that will make you nervous about Bill in the Office and Who stretches you from limb to limb in the affair of your own human emotions in the social hierarchy you’re not part of? Fuck this, I’ll be in the woods, had have you been, there, the woods, would have told you the word on : Just Where We Fucked Up and What we are made of. I guess I’m a little angry, naturally, and going to the woods. You check a mirror.
Sorry, Michelle, they can’t hear the woods from here, maybe they should go In and take your book with them?
Michelle Taransky lives in Philadelphia where she works at Kelly Writers House, is Review Editor for Jacket2, and teaches writing at University of Philadelphia and Temple University. She is co-coordinator of “Whenever We Feel Like It” a reading series and has published other books, Barn Burned, Then (Omnidawn, 2009) and is featured in the Anthology: The City Visible: Chicago Poetry For The New Century (Cracked Slab Books, 2007). Take her work into the woods and experience new ways of their words, symbol, truth, and meaning.
Reviewer: Brandon Petty is a southern writer and journalist. He is first year MFA student in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and Bombay Gin‘s Book Reviews Assistant Editor.
Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2011
Microreview Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them
In Jenny Boully’s Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them,
Boully brings us into the dark underside of J.M Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan and Wendy, exposing
us to what lies beneath this beloved children’s story. Written as a swan song from Wendy to
Peter, it examines what happens when we long for someone who does not long for us in the same
way, and the interchangeable nature of roles like mother, sister, daughter, lover—as it pertains to
the underlying sexual tones of Barrie’s work. We are left questioning the roles of each female
character including Wendy, Tiger Lily, Mrs. Darling and of course, Tinker Bell. Boully raises the
question of what it means to be replaced in a boy’s mind, as Peter continually seeks a
mother/lover figure, someone to pretend with, drawing broader questions about Oedipus-like
complex’s, and the ever-associative “Peter Pan Complex”; the idea that men are perpetually
infantile, and that women are expected to take care of them. Layered therein, are questions about
Captain Hook’s motives, with more underlying sexual tones towards Wendy, not Peter, as is often
assumed. The dark and sinister prose is an intriguing read that is hard to put down; and once
finished, makes the reader want to pick it up again, and explore its vast depth, where new questions seem to arise upon each read.
Somatic Review of Jenny Boully’s Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them
Take a thimble if you have one, if you have one you can take it with you, but if you don’t then
you can borrow one, or make-believe you have one/ Take your thimble and find a wooded area,
near a river, near a lake, in the mountains, by a trail…somewhere you can be lost for awhile/Take
your thimble and put it on your pinky finger/Close your eyes and imagine being inside that
thimble, inside that thimble that is nimble on your finger/Take the thimble off your finger and put
it in your pocket/Now get down on your hands and knees and feel the earth beneath you,
underneath you/Run your fingers through it and get dirty, run the dirt on your skin, on your face,
on your clothes/Remember you are lost/Forget what clean feels like, what home feels like, this is
your new home/Embrace the wooded area, climb a tree, climb a rock, build a fort/Now sit, sit
inside your fort, or your tree, your new home/Close your eyes/Imagine your mother/Imagine her
waiting for you to come home/Imagine how worried she must be, she must be somewhere
near/Imagine if she was no longer your mother, your mother could be someone else/Someone
you played with as a child, someone you loved, someone you slept with/ Read aloud at the top of
your lungs, “Peter Pan can do a great deal in ten minutes. He can do a great deal to you. For
example, he can put a little something inside of you, and you will carry that for the rest of your
life; thimble all empty underneath in the inside” (61)./ Take out your thimble/examine it/put it in
your mouth/hold it there and make sure not to swallow it, or if you prefer, imagine what it would
be like to swallow it/Spit the thimble out and taste the metallic flavor as you read loudly, “A
thimble may protect against pricks, pin pricks, needle pricks, Tinkerpricks, but not hooks, never
hooks. When he stabs his hook into you, you will see that his eyes are the blue of forget-me-nots
—but that is Hook and not Peter—Peter who will forget you” (1).
Reviewer: Heather VandeRiet