Monday, February 25, 2008

Timothy Geiger's The Curse of Pheromones Accepted for Publication

Great news from Timothy Geiger. His second book, The Curse of Pheromones, has been accepted for publication by Main Street Rag.

Tim's first book, Blue Light Factory, is difficult to find, but if you have a really good bookstore in your area (like Toledo used to have), they can likely track one down. Tim's poems are haunting and beautiful and I can't wait to see The Curse of Pheromones.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

"This small poem" Accepted by Versal

I'm going international again! Versal has accepted my poem, "This small poem" for their upcoming sixth issue, due out in May, 2008. Versal is published out of Amsterdam (as my wife says, the Dutch get me), so added to my recent UK publication, this means I'm really internationally unknown.

I'll post when the issue is available.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Review: The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi

"A culture forges myths for many reasons," Susan Faludi writes in The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9/11 America, "but paramount among them is the need to impose order on chaotic and disturbing experience - to resolve the haunting contradictions and contain apprehension, to imagine a way out of darkness." The imposed order and the way out of darkness, according to Faludi's third nonfiction book, occur by re-establishing mythic models of American masculinity and femininity. Faludi is a writer of gripping skill with a knack for reportage that illuminates and explains American culture and The Terror Dream may well be her masterpiece (quite an accomplishment since she had already written the masterful Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women). To start her cultural analysis of 9/11, Faludi does not start on the day "that changed everything."
Instead, she begins, with her title and her epigraph, in the mid-1950s with Alan Le May's novel, The Searchers (1954) and the film adaptation staring John Wayne (1956). From this, Faludi takes us on a journey through the post 9/11 world to show the re-emergence of the John Wayne/ Daniel Boone mythos that defines male (active and strong hero) and female (passive and weak victim) roles in American culture.

But first, some things that The Terror Dream is not. It is not an attack on the War in Iraq or the build-up to that war (the war itself is only briefly mentioned near the end of the book, though there is a chapter that reads the Jessica Lynch "rescue"). Nor is it a partisan criticism of George W. Bush (in fact, nearly as many pages are spent on Senator John Kerry as Bush, which is also true of Laura Bush). The book is neither a history of the September 11, 2001 attacks nor is it a criticism of the those events. It is a gender analysis of America's reaction to 9/11, socially, culturally and politically.

The Terror Dream is a smart, engaging and enraging gender analysis of the American response to 9/11. Faludi argues, through carefull cultural research (which includes forty pages of footnotes) how the response to 9/11 became a return to the American pioneer myths that defined gender roles in America until the feminist movement of the second half of the twentieth century. In this myth, the roles are clear: men should be "manly men" and are always heroes, protectors and saviors (like John Wayne in The Searchers). Women are always victims, damsels in distress in constant need of protection by their male counterparts. The weaker the women, the stronger the men will be. The stronger the women, the weaker the men, and therefore the country, will be.

She charts this by analyzing cultural artifact, most commonly newspaper articles and TV news reports but also television shows and movies. And her gaze moved quickly over cultural items I enjoy, including John Kerry (whose attempt at über-masculinity with his gun poses during the 2004 election, she says, played right into the myth's hands), Sex & the City (which, after 9/11, started marrying and impregnating all four of the fabulous, sexual and single women on the show) and Marvel Comics (which aided the transformation of the Bush Administration into real life superheroes). In fact, her descripiton of the reaction of Andrew Sullivan, a blogger I often read, toward Susan Sontag's September 24, 2001 article from The New Yorker (he called her an "ally of evil" and "deranged") had me running to this blog to take him off my links list. In a wonderful reversal of the 9/11 gender roles (a common occurance in my pro-feminist marriage), my wife came to Sullivan's rescue, reminding me that Sullivan has learned a lot in the past seven years and not to jump too quickly. But Faludi's book has me reconsidering (and re-analyzing) much of the past seven years (I suddenly know why, less than a week after 9/11, while I was working in a video store, the movies in the Western section were constantly checked out).

It is a fabulous read full of insights into the attacks against feminists, from both the rightwing and the mainstream media, the hyperbolic nature of gender in our recent political elections, and the transformation of unwitting and often unwanting average Americans into heroes and victims. She defends the 9/11 widows who, supposedly, spent their money on plastic surgery. She looks at the real numbers regarding the influence of supposed "security moms" during the '04 election. She analyzes the capture, rescue and the national/political/media narrative of that capture and rescue of Private Jessica Lynch. She looks deeply into the use of fear to convince women to get married (quickly) and start having babies (just as quickly) immediately after 9/11. And she brings it all into perspective with a detailed account of how this hero/victim myth started during early pioneer America. She then tracks the myth as it re-emerges during various crises of American history.

Her writing is sharp, vivid and intoxication. At times, she her language is shockingly, bitterly and wonderfully caustic (as she leads into her analysis of masculinity during the 2004 Presidential election, she writes, "In the post 9/11 effort to restore Americans' confidence in the country's impregnability, national politics would become increasingly deranged."). And her words are sorrowfull as she describes the atatcks on strong minded women who had the courage to question the media and the government in the aftermath of 9/11. Her discussion of the viscious and brutal response toward Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite novelists) is heartwrenching. But Faludi understands Kingsolver's, and the other women who were told to "shut-up, we're at war". She's experienced it herself as she has charted the socio-political gender wars over the past twenty five years (an example: one reviewer at Amazon.com wrote of Faludi and The Terror Dream, "I'd hoped that this woman had disappeared, but here she is again, like recurring rash [sic]." The title of the post is "Put a cork in it, Susan" and the poster goes on to say Faludi's thesis "holds on for dear life" in the face of a history that discredits the thesis. Of course, the writer then lists a litany of examples of male hero/female victim motifs and myths that confirm Faludi's thesis.)

In the end, Faludi asks simple questions: "For a moment on the morning of September 11, we were awakened to the reality of our weakness and vulnerability. The revelation was too disturbing to bear and we soon turned away. What if we hadn't? .... What if the nation had responded to 9/11 differently? What if we hadn't retreated into platitudes and compensatory fictions? What if we had taken the attack as an occasion to 'confront the truth'?" Unfortunately, we didn't do those things. Which is why The Terror Dream is so important and so necessary.

For a preview of The Terror Dream, check out this op-ed by Faludi from the New York Times (9/7/07): "America's Guardian Myths".

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Neon Literary Journal Issue 14 is Now Available

Neon Literary Journal issue 14 is now available. Included are my two poems, "Don't Blink" and "Withdrawal in West Virginia: A Letter." My copy hasn't yet come in the mail, but based on the PDF proof I was sent, it [It] looks like it's a fine issue. Here's the blurb from Neon's website:

"Issue fourteen of Neon is here, and it is every bit as magical as expected. It contains the work of Rupert Merkin, Jenn Koiter, Grant McLeman, Jonathan Greenhause, Lynn Patmalnee, Curtis Smith, Anthony Frame, Brent Fisk, Sarah Hilary, J.A Tyler, Phil Gruis and Jarod Rosello. It is, approximately, the best thing ever."

Okay, that's just me gloating: I love seeing my name in print. But if you're interested, go to their website for more information, including a preview (my poems are not included in the preview) as well as information about subscriptions and about purchasing individual issues.

This is a UK journal, so be prepared to be asked for pounds rather than dollars.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Review: Walt Whitman: A Life by Justin Kaplan

I've spent the past two months or so reading Walt Whitman: A Life, Justin Kaplan's biography of Walt Whitman. Whitman is one of my favorite poets and one of three American poets from whom I trace the main subject matter of my work (Allen Ginsberg and Sharon Olds are the other two). Whitman has appeared in a number of my poems and I am -- and always will be -- jealous of the rhythms he developed. So I decided to read a biography of him and Kaplan's looked quite good.

And it is. Kaplan relies heavily on letters between Whitman and his friends and on letters others wrote about Whitman. His research is extensive and thorough. And while he often refers to Whitman's poems, he doesn't spend too much time trying to connect Whitman's life with the work he wrote. Kaplan also does not indulge himself in long passages of psychoanalysis of Whitman, about which I was happy.

Kaplan's biography focuses mainly on Whitman's family and the circle of friends Whitman kept close (and whom he, at times, pushed away). He also focuses on Whitman as a worker. Much of the book revolves around Whitman's financial struggles and on his attempts to hold a steady job working for printers and newspapers. By choosing these foci, Kaplan is able to investigate Whitman's personal life and his publishing life (since, as we all know, Whitman was primarily a self-publisher, though Kaplan's biography does give great detail about the places where Whitman published individual poems and the few publishers who gave Leaves of Grass a selling shot). His descriptions of Whitman, his family, and his friends are vivid and engaging.

There were some disappointments with the biography, though. Kaplan has chosen the common technique of beginning the biography with Whitman's death and then moving into his birth. While this made for a wonderful opening, it ultimately meant the biography ended anti-climatically. I also felt let down during the chapters on Whitman 's nursing experience during the Civil War. I expected a lot more information but Kaplan, for one reason or another, seemed to rush through this part of Whitman's life.

Still, the biography was informative and entertaining. Knowing about Whitman's relationship with his mother is illuminating as is knowing about his interest in Opera and phrenology. And the book has some fun facts about Whitman that are worth telling at dinner parties (did you know, for example, that Whitman's brain was sent to the American Anthropometric Society to be measured, weighed and studied? Did you know, further, that the brain was accidentally destroyed when a lab worker dropped it on the floor? And, did you know that Whitman wrote and anonymously published reviews about his own work?). It was also a lot of fun to watch Whitman evolve the "official line" about who he was, where he came from and why he wrote as he did (ever the control freak, Whitman insisted people see him as he wanted to be seen).

And in the end, it is a biography of Whitman. Even if Kaplan's writing had been terrible, which it isn't, it is full of wonderful snippets of Whitman's poems, like the most beautiful eulogy ever written in English, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd":

"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring."

Does it get any better than that?

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Review: Poetry February 2008

I recently finished the last issue of my subscription to Poetry, the February 2008 issue. And what an issue. It features poems by Louise Gluck, Samuel Beckett (trans. Philip Nikolayev), Heidy Steidlmayer, Lynn Emanuel, Jorie Graham, Jeffery Schultz, Lisa Williams, Larissa Szporluk, and Molly McQuade. Also included is a portfolio of poems by George Szirtes based on photographs and commentary by Peter Campion, Alexei Tsvetkov, and D.H. Tracy. The issue is packed with great poetry and great commentary on poetry.

Easily my favorite poem of the issue was Jorie Graham's poem, "Full Fathom," and I commend the editors for their creative use of pagework to fit the poem into the issue (the poem is aligned sideways, moving from the bottom to the top instead of from the left to the right, and is placed on a fold-out page). The images are striking and exciting and the momentum of the lines is incredible.

Jeffery Schultz' "J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money" is equally as impressive, with powerful lines and momentum. But this, for me, was the most emotionally powerful poem of the issue.

I also recommend George Szirtes' portfolio. Though I think Poetry emphasizes formal poetry too much, these rhymes and rhythms never felt forced to me. The images that accompany the poems (or do the poems accompany the images?) are incredible and "Ross: Yellow Star" is an absolutely incredible poem.

But the highlight of the issue for me was Peter Campion's essay, "Sincerity and Its Discontents in American Poetry Now." It is a smart essay about the battle between "truth" and "art", between emotion and beauty, between ... well, between the basic questions of art: should we be "true" (whatever that means), can art be emotionally charged or must it me cold, ironic and distant, and must poetry, in its role as the conscience of the nation, be cynical and caustic or can it be inspirational and (dare I say it) sentimental? I'm not sure Campion ever answers his questions (not sure anyone could) but his commentary does give us the best poem in the entire issue: Maurice Manning's "Where Sadness Comes From."

It's Poetry, so do I need to say that it is good? No, all I need to say is I will certainly miss my monthly fix of good poems and good poetry commentary.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rane Arroyo's Same-Sex Séances now available for preorder from New Sins Press

Rane Arroyo's forthcoming collection of poems, Same-Sex Séances, is now available for preorder from New Sins Press. The collection will be released in March, 2008.

Go to their catalogue and buy Rane's new book!

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Howie Good's Chapbook Strangers and Angels available from Scintillating Publications

Howie Good's latest chapbook -- his third -- is available from Scintillating Publications. Strangers and Angels can be ordered by PayPal for $6ppd. Go check it out!

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Dan Nowak's Recycle Suburbia wins the Quercus Review Poetry Series Annual Book Award

Dan Nowak's first book of poems, Recycle Suburbia, has been selected the winner of the Quercus Review Poetry Series Annual Book Award and will be published in the near future!

Congratulations to Dan on his first book. I'll post when the book is available.

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Rane Arroyo's The Roswell Poems now available from WordFarm Press

Rane Arroyo's new collection of poems, The Roswell Poems, are now available from WordFarm Press.

Read some of the book blurbs and then buy the book!

UPDATE: Feb. 25, 2008:

I received my copy of The Roswell Poems in the mail this week. The book is beautiful and the poems I've been able to read so far are fiercely fabulous.

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Two Poems Published by Perigee

I've had two poems published in the online journal, Perigee.

My poems, "Promenade Park" and "World News", are now available in issue 19 of the journal. Go check them out!

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Two Poems Accepted by Neon Literary Journal

I've had two poems accepted by Neon Literary Journal.

Issue 14, due out in February, 2008, will include my poems "Don't Blink" and "Withdrawal in West Virginia: A Letter".

The cool part about this: Neon is a UK journal. Yes, I am now internationally unknown. I'll let you know when the issue is released.

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FrameWork 2.0

I'm working on setting up this new blog. It is an updated version of my previous blog, FrameWork, but with some major differences.

I want a place to announce my successes and this blog will be that place. But I also want to be able to announce other people's successes. So, when friends and family members have great news, I will post that information. And if you, dear reader, have successes, please email them to me and I'll likely announce the success here.

As I am a poet, the majority of what will be posted will have to do with poetry (where I'm publishing, where my friends are publishing, etc...). And I will try to post some calls for submissions that I see. If you read a call for submission, or if you are an editor with a submission call, send it to my email address and I'll post it here.

These posts will be coming at random rates as it will all depend on when success happens. But, with any luck, there will be a lot of success and therefore a lot of posts.

I hope you enjoy.

-Anthony Frame
FrameWork 2.0
frameworkblog [at] yahoo [dot] com

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