Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Source of Lit & National Poetry Month

One of the things that helps me when I am feeling anxious*, as I seem to be a lot these days, is reading. Reading fiction, or non-fiction, immersing myself in someone else's world. And the effect lasts after I stop reading, it is most definitely a calmative, so I thought I would bring you a couple of things I have been enjoying reading lately.

National Poetry Month begins today in the US and I've been thinking a lot about poetry lately - reading it and writing it so I'll start with some of that:

A Brief History of Time
is Shaindel Beers' new collection (published by Salt), and this woman is a poet after my own heart, combining science with the human condition in original, surprising, wryly amusing and exquisitely painful ways. From the title poem:
I’m sure it’s an electrical impulse that travels
our most twisted neurons, axons, and dendrites — or
why would we fall into the trap of doing the same thing
the same way and expect different results, which is
one definition of insanity ? This would explain why my father is
still married to my mother, even after she tried to knife him
just days after coming home from jail
for two other attempted murders.
Shaindel is currently doing a virtual book tour, On the Hood of a Cutlass. The interviews are fascinating, illuminating. Check it out.

Ink, sweat and years is the online poetryand prose journal Ink, Sweat and Tears' first annual print anthology and I am delighted to be included with my first ever poem. Apart from that, it's a wonderful read, with excellent contributions from my writer colleagues Frances Gapper, Sarah Hilary, Alex Keegan and Nuala Ní Chonchúir.

Alex Irvine's story, The Truth About Ninjas, in Barrelhouse's latest issue, issue 7, with its eye-catching red and black cover, just blew me away - both utterly mad and completely sane, a philosophical treatise. With ninjas. Brilliant!

Pank magazine's annual print edition, Pank No.3, looks so gorgeous, it's a little hard not to be dazzled, but the writing is just as dazzling. A combination of poetry and prose, it includes such gems as Ten Things I've Told People About Daschunds Sure They Cared, by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz and Because Magicicadas Have No Eyes by Rosanne Griffiths. I have only just started reading it, am restraining myself so I can savour it slowly.

Thirty Years of Prosperity for Every Fifteen Years of Hard Work by Matthew Derby was published in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Issue 45, which arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago, along with issue 46, a bonus for entering (and definitely not winning) their short story contest! I had never read the Columbia journal before, but when I saw that the contest was being judged by Diane Williams, whose collection, Excitability, I am reading and loving its experimental and often surreal prose, I knew this mag was for me. Matthew's story bore that out, both odd and poignant, or perhaps oddly poignant. Once again, am trying to read these slowly... so much to read, so little time.

I have been dipping my toes into the waters of science fiction and fantasy with a subscription to Interzone, the UK's SF&F magazine, and have found a lot to love in the issues I've received so far. A story that stands out from the April 2009 issue is A Clown Escapes from Circus Town by Will McIntosh, which once again challenged my shameful preconceptions about what SF&F is. Moving, surprisng, and highly imaginative. This is just great writing, no matter what genre shelf it is shoved onto.

On the non-fiction front, Slightly Foxed arrived this week, what an interesting journal. It is comprised of articles which are sort of book reviews, but are actually much more than that. Slightly Foxed is, in their own words: "a rather unusual kind of book review, informal and independent-minded, and its readers tend to be independent-minded too –people who don’t want to read only what the big publishers are hyping and the newspapers are reviewing. Each issue contains 96 pages of personal recommendations for books of lasting interest, old and new, both fiction and non-fiction – books that have inspired, amused, and sometimes even changed the lives of the people who write about them." I am really enjoying it.

And finally - tomorrow I have the honour of hosting Sue Guiney's Space-Time Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the paperback release of her excellent novel Tangled Roots, which gets better every time I read it. We will be talking physics, physicists, fiction and what we can learn from the characters we create. Prepare your questions please, and come back same time tomorrow. Thank you.

*If you are a writer and anxiety is something you are familiar with, there is a new private Facebook group for people like us to discuss it. Message me through FB for more info.

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