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Articles by Clarice Waldman :

Kristina Marie Darling interviewed by Andre Blythe


Poet Spotlight: Kristina Marie Darling on Mapping Heartbreak

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose. Her writing has been described by literary critics as “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” and “complex.” She has been awarded with a number of fellowships and grants by both U.S. and overseas universities, institutes, and organizations. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University. Here, Kristina shares a bit about her latest collection of poetry, hybrid art forms, and the act of writing as catharsis.

Kristina Marie Darling

Your most recent book of poetry is Failure Lyric. Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about. 

Failure Lyric began as a series of erasures. I took a black marker to my four year correspondence with a male writer, who, out of respect for his work, will remain unnamed. What started out as an act of destruction became generative, since the hybrid prose pieces ultimately grew out of the erasures at the beginning and end of the book. Once I had erased every last email, note, and inscription, I started to write flash essays, which map my heartbreak and all of the unexpected places it brought me to: Saint Louis, Iowa, Burlington, and the now infamous Dallas/Fort Worth airport. So my initial attempts to destroy artifacts of the relationship became a documentary project, charting the crazy orbits that grief set me on.

The collection features mainly prose poems that unfold in a single story. Did you have a specific story you wanted to tell when you began writing? Or did the story evolve into being as you added individual poems together?

That’s a great question. I definitely discovered the story as I wrote. The book began as mere catharsis, an attempt to move past the end of the end of a relationship. With that said, I didn’t expect the artifacts of loss, and my own grief, to inspire me to write at all. I didn’t expect anything to come of the erasures except peace of mind maybe, or a good night’s sleep. Then I couldn’t stop writing. As the book began to take shape, the order was very close to the chronological order in which the poems were written. My grief became something concrete, a ledger of sorts, which will never be completely finished.

Some of your work has been described as hybrid prose. How would you define hybrid prose? Would the prose poems in Failure Lyric fall under this definition? How do you decide which form to use when you approach a new piece of poetry or prose?

While there are many different definitions of hybridity circulating within the literary community, I would define hybrid as a text that uses the resources of more than one genre. This can range from combinations of essay and poetry to hybrids of poetry and visual art, poetry and fiction, or even poetry and the dramatic arts. When deciding which form to use for a piece of poetry or prose, I usually consider the expectations the reader will bring to the text. Even more importantly, how can I undermine those readerly expectations? I see form as an opportunity to purposefully mislead the reader, offering them moments of beauty where they likely wouldn’t expect to find them.


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Little: Novels by Emily Anderson Now Available!

I can't remember the last time I read something so familiar and unsettling--like meeting someone you love after they come back from a long journey wearing differently-colored eyes. Like if H.P. Lovecraft had had a hand in writing The Book of Common Prayer. It's playful, and frightening, and truer, somehow, than the original.

—Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre

A virtuosic display of wit, humor, and surreal beauty. Like the erasures of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes and Yedda Morrison’s Darkness, Emily Anderson’s partially masticated reimaginings of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series gets inside the logic of its source text. With uncanny insight, Little reveals what had always been simmering just beneath these novels’ familiar surfaces. (Mostly doughnuts and motherbutter).

—Jesse Miller, reviews editor, Full Stop

Apple cheeked readers who curled up with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books as children and cheered the little family and their epic industriousness, please be forewarned. Anderson’s devilish re-writing exhumes and animates a series of haunting and sometimes disturbingly funny sub-narratives. Delving deep into the American psyche, Little will leave you wondering how you missed the “Certificate to Missouri” clutched in your complicit little hand. What else have you squandered? Who else have you “loved?”

—Yedda Morrison, Darkness, Crop, and Girl Scout Nation

Come for the Michael Landon Flip Book; stay for the richly rewoven story that excavates hidden moments in Little House on the Prairie and pays playful homage to fan favorites like prairie bitch Nellie Oleson. Little is a new classic, skillfully foraging Laura Ingalls Wilder's much-loved series to create an (ir)reverent rereading that pioneers the new frontier of Little House on the Prairie in the 21st-century.

—Alison Fraser, Animalia

Emily Anderson’s writing has appeared recently in Harper’s, Conjunctions, and Fence. She often collaborates with visual artists; video work created with Jen Morris has been screened in Vermont, Philadelphia, and Spain. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University at Buffalo.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 158 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-132-0



Little- Novels by Emily Anderson Book Preview

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My Secret Wars of 1984 by Dennis Etzel, Jr Now Available!

 To read My Secret Wars of 1984 is to ride an old wooden rollercoaster through a spacious gallery of stained-glass windows, all their colorful shards having been stolen, shattered, then chewed into shape: what we have here are gorgeous and wise assemblages of sharp, scavenged graffiti. Ricocheting from Pac-Man to Topeka to institutional structures to AIDS awareness to Reagan, Dennis Etzel, Jr. masters the skills of fragmentation and disharmony without losing one bit of torque. Sharpen your political acumen on this poetry-memoir of the highest order—and discover much pleasure in the process.

—Amy King, author of The Missing Museum

The sentence inscribes a trauma, bumps over a secret, and accretes toward continuance, which is life. In My Secret Wars of 1984, Dennis Etzel, Jr. constructs little sentence survival packets, brimming with Reaganite Cold War fear and the inescapable “I am” of a teenage boy in a threatening world. Our Superhero of Fragility threads these lines with tenderness, wit, and humor, and comes out the other side more whole than before.

—Allison Cobb, author of Green-Wood

The world of 1984 has a deft tenacity in the hands of Dennis Etzel, Jr. This book blends the personal to the greater political as only the best possible memoir can do. We are all in this world together and the strangest things occur, sometimes when other strange things occur, and I thank Mr. Etzel for his brilliant, sharp reminder.

—CAConrad, author of ECODEVIANCE

Some years brand our history: 1861, 1968, 2001; others are best known as fictions, like 1984, made famous by George Orwell in the real year of 1949. The actual 1984 featured Ronald Reagan's race against Walter Mondale, the discovery of the AIDS virus, dead U.S. Marines in Lebanon, and Prince's Purple Rain album. It was an era in which popular culture and foreign policy came together in Star Wars. Dennis Etzel, Jr., then a teen-ager, played a part in that history. His mother came out as a lesbian in the conservative city of Topeka, Kansas. In prose poem boxes, with sentences arranged alphabetically, the confinement of these years is enacted and challenged. Using sources that include Orwell's novel and Lyn Hejinian's "Rejection of Closure" (another artifact of the 1980s), Etzel re-constructs the era and proposes some ways out, foremost among them feminism. Using the language of that era, Etzel pries opens its boxes of secrets.

—Susan M. Schultz, author of Dementia Blog, vols. 1 & 2 and Memory Cards: 2011-2012 Series (Singing Horse Press)

“My fellow Americans,” Ronald Reagan joked during a microphone sound check in 1984, “I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” This was the same year that the infamous “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was set to three minutes to midnight, the closest the clock had come to the zero hour of annihilation in 31 years. How did we get out of the 1980s alive? Dennis Etzel, Jr.’s My Secret Wars of 1984 attempts to answer this question, documenting a year in which the young poet was surrounded by the apocalyptic millennialism of the Reagan administration at the same time that his mother was coming out in conservative Topeka, Kansas. Deploying language appropriated from comics, gaming, and political speeches of the era, Etzel frames these texts with urgent appropriations from work in poetics and gender studies that he would read later in life—when he, indeed, had survived the ’80s. Even when the young poet of 1984 revels in pop culture escapist pleasures, he discovers that it is impossible to transcend political reality. Amid the kinetic “flash of red and yellow” of his comic books, he admits, “I still hear my father’s warplanes.” Etzel’s masterful merging of the personal and political is matched by an equally vital attention to the politics of poetic form. Unfolding in wildly appropriative, politically astute prose poems totaling 366 sentences—one for every day of that leap year—My Secret Wars of 1984 offers a moving account of a young boy’s effort to find a new language for public and private worlds constantly under threat of extinction.

—Tony Trigilio, author of The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has an MFA from The University of Kansas, and an MA and Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Kansas State University. His chapbook The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Secret Wars of 1984 has work which appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council, and volunteers for the YWCA in Topeka, Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge, and other Kansas spaces. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.

Elaine M. Rodriguez is a Kansas-based artist, illustrator, and freelance graphic designer. Her work has been featured in XYZ magazine as well as other local venues and exhibitions. Elaine earned her degree studying art in both Kansas and Arizona. Through subtle design and evocative line-work, she hopes to draw you into the subject that a poet, author or she herself conveys. She has loved storytelling through visual and verbal mediums as long as she can remember.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 102 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-223-5



My Secret Wars of 1984 by Dennis Etzel, Jr. Book Preview

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Dear You by Wade Stevenson Now Available!

 I enjoyed reading your manuscript DEAR YOU. I really admire what you have here.  The poems pop off the page with a stinging emotional power.

Your poem, HER BREATH IS NOT MINE, is a great way to begin this book. I love how you use the natural act of peeing to describe the ideas of elimination in a relationship. You manage to make a poetics of the body. Oriented and focused on the flesh as a metaphor of the distance between the ghost inside the skeleton that is longing for touch but never actually getting to do more than simply migrating from love to lover.
The longing you express, the circle of wanting and waiting, the loss of a wife who no doubt will not return, the possible loss of a daughter, is a clear universal feeling. Your lines, “It’s while she’s asleep that my rage/builds to a fiery crescendo that’s has no place to go,” gets a gold star.
The revolving of wording in the last stanza of TOUCHING YOU is simply great work. And again, in LOOKING FOR YOU, you touch on fine ideas and open the dialog of the body, the essence of the form and how that form can never be replicated. The last two lines sum up such fine circulation of the self versus the other. Which leads into another fine work, YOU AWAY. Moving from Frost’s poem into a new notion of divergence. Footprints in the snows of unknown animals, the seeking of the self within the self and how that new self becomes something unknown to the self viewing itself. Very nicely handled.
YOU LEAVING is a very powerful piece. The raw energy of the poem is something to be admired, charging the stepping pattern of the ever changing stanzas with sonic phrasing, you manage to make art out of the anger and empty feelings of being left behind. Recalling the elimination of the earlier poems, YOU LEAVING makes a mythos of the history of the couples lives together. I love the ending lines, “Our mothers would have been shocked/By the distance a man and a woman can let grow between them.”
FROM YOU is another great piece. Now we have HER voice humming in the book, and it is cold, relevant and knowing. The ethos of the body once again rules the ideas of the poem, and the power of touch --- even the touch of the fingernails --- has the power to be dangerous. You incorporate so many exciting ideas in these poems of the body, they are a fine thing to read, even though they evoke such sadness.
The second stanza is a magnificent description of the distance grief encompasses. And the idea that you could stop your own breathing also gets a gold star. Just as does the follow-up line, “I am an expert at touching things for the last time.”
GETTING THE MESSAGE is an intense detailing of the real power of depression. Just as THE POWER OF YOU is a wonderful follow up piece. “Letting the true silence of mourning reign” begins the next two stanzas that repeat in the middle of the poem and then finish the poem are exceptional forms of expressing division --- even though a part of your tow must still continue due to the daughter shared between you both. It is an optimistic view of regrowth in the face of adversity.
I love WHEN THE STONE BECAME STONE, it calls to the idea of regrowth, the circling of birth from death and the desire to be taught this by the one who left, waking and dreaming with open and closed spaces.
The final poems in your manuscript call on the goal of peace, finding peace and understanding, what a broken life might be like living as a jar, once broken and then re-glued back into place might still find use as a vessel. When I finished your book I still felt the burning emotion that you found in your life as the verve to feed these poems. I also felt that at the end I could find the love that you seek to echo “in the light that’s left behind.”

—Geoffrey Gatza, author of “Apollo” and “The House of Forgetting”


Wade Stevenson was born in New York City in 1945. He is the author of several books of poetry, a memoir “One Time in Paris,” and a novel “The Electric Affinities.”


Book Information:

· Paperback: 68 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-224-2



Dear You- A Memoir With Poems by Wade Stevenson Book Preview

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Rain Check Poems by Aaron Simon Now Available!

 Aaron Simon's lines feel like strokes of a pre-CBS Jazzmaster. Not plastic. More like rosewood with at least a Gibson tuneOmatic bridge. A brrruummm alliteration where each word-note contains the artful play of improv and composition colliding. Aaron Simon is a good band whose record is killing it on the deck these days.

—Thurston Moore

Aaron Simon’s Rain Check Poems talk, sing and startle with deadpan elegance, practically reinventing the archetype of the dreamer as they unfold. Dreams beget dreams in other minds, light accumulates while passing through words, and a playfully alert visual sensibility syncs up with a subtle, frame-building prosody. I admire the offhand strangeness in these poems, the detours into beauty and assertion they propose, and the glimpses and passages of the world they amplify. It's a gorgeous read, especially aloud, to yourself, in a public place somewhere.

—Anselm Berrigan

Rain Check Poems keenly evokes the loss which our entry into the symbolic order thrusts us, that sense of yearning when the sensual and the relational slip into the lacunae of language. Throughout these subtle yet seductive poems, materiality—both grand and ordinary—opens a route of return, the oceanic fullness one feels while “waiting for the kettle to whistle.” Aaron Simon’s poetry whispers to me of what it means to be alive, really alive.

—Dodie Bellamy

Aaron Simon is the author of Carrier (Insurance Editions, 2006), Periodical Days (Green Zone Editions, 2007), and Senses Himself (Green Zone Editions, 2014). His poems have appeared in several publications, including Like Musical Instruments: 83 Contemporary American Poets (Broadstone Books, 2014), Shiny, Exquisite Corpse, Sal Mimeo, Across the Margin, Nowhere, and Harriet the Blog. He studied poetry and philosophy at The New School in NYC, and has lived between San Francisco and Brooklyn since 1999.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 56 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-216-7



RAIN CHECK POEMS by Aaron Simon Book Preview

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