PUBLIC ACCESS #1 Edited by Nicholas Grider
(San Francisco, 2007; available by emailing the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org)
And of course I usually adore the varied ways of poets' DIY ("Do It Yourself") approaches to publishing poetry and moving those poems out to the public. For example, I enjoyed HOUSE ORGAN #58 Win/Spr ’07, edited by Kenneth Warren (Lakewood, Ohio, 2007), which was reviewed in GR#7): poems on 8 1/2" X 11" papers folded in half vertically and stapled. Another favorite journal is MIRAGE co-edited by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy (San Francisco) which simply staples sheets of 8 1/2" X 11" papers together in a modest presentation belying the important poetry often featured on its pages.
PUBLIC ACCESS #1, the inaugural issue, is just a wee (very wee) tad more luxurious a presentation in that...the 8 1/2" X 11" papers are tinted light blue! Its self-described publishing vision -- "free, photocopied and irregularly-scheduled" -- attests to its home-grown, aptly intimate point of view.
What did make me grin, but then raise a questioning eyebrow, was this part of its "About" section: "the intent of which is to pair the work of a poet whose work you likely already know with a poet whose work you should know." The two poets in Issue #1 are Laura Elrick and Molly McPhee.
I first grinned because we are talking about a culture after all about which it's been said, "The most famous poet in America is unknown" (or words to that effect).
But then I paused to wonder/question as I thought about what this editorial statement suggests. For the record, I do "know" of Elrick and had not, until this journal, heard of McPhee. But Elrick is part of a particular community in the larger poetry community, isn't she? What is the likelihood that Elrick would be known by, ahem, more conservative (so to speak) poetry readers? So is editor Nicholas Grider targetting a specific contingent of poetry readers?
If so, what are the implications of targetting that particular readership?
So I thought of these questions....only to be happy to leave them behind in favor of reading the poems themselves. Elrick is represented by "Diagram -- III" and "But the Living Poets" while McPhee presents an excerpt from "Parishes and Wards." I enjoyed them all, appreciating their ambition and shape-shiftingnesses.
Elrick's "Diagram -- III" reminded me of Dan Waber's poem, "all alone again" published as a Meritage Press Tiny Book (see "Advertisement" in this issue) which offers variations on the phrase "all alone again". Similarly, Elrick's poem begins as
At a dinner party or forum I rip hair out of my leg with a special machine.
At a dinner party (or forum) I rip hair out of my leg with a special machine.
At a dinner party or forum I -- RIP -- IT -- OUT with a special machine.
As with Waber's poem, Elrick's reliance on occasional partial repetitions ramps up the energy of the poem. In addition, the mysteries that are Elrick's poems are satisfyingly lightened -- lit -- by such well-turned lines as:
Soft is unconscionably mean.
His slaying grown over analogy.
Men walking along an edge -- mottled impression.
McPhee's contribution depicts her current investigation on "Hurricane Katrina, disasters of language and love, language and environment, and coherence and social perception." The featured excerpt is effective, such as this portion which cites information compiled on Hurricane Katrina's victims by the Earth Institute at Columbia University:
Pivon J. Dupuy, Didn't want to leave; Thought the 17-foot levee by their home would protect them. A 35-foot tidal wave washed over the levee [...]
Rosalie Dupuy: Didn't want to leave. She said to her son, "Go, save yourselves." You're young yet. We've lived our lives. Whatever happens, we'll go together." A 35-foot tidal wave washed over the levee [...]
And then the text disintegrates as it questions, as it searches for significance, to:
given constant in the act of giving a passive body enacting a gift but purposefully given who receives also the gifted body given as a human also accepts the giftee given body ever be good in a way acceptable given what happens to the action what to the heart gifting can encompass two states one passive one of origination of the act gifted, equally
a state of receipt of carrying, as its other meaning
gift is poison, as gift closes the throat, lives
smolder, clarify too quickly
creating a moving juxtaposition and offering always another needed reminder of Katrina's tragedy mostly occurring and still occurring in the hurricane's aftermath.
As for the rest of it -- the questions I raised earlier -- maybe they're not so important in the scheme of things. All journals have an editorial vision which are associated with the named editors (that's why they're editors). Why shouldn't Grider possess the same opportunities ascribed to editors of perfect-bound and other journals whether or not the (aesthetic) limits to readership are acknowledged? Grider may be more honest, indeed, in gesturing more explicitly than other journals to the reality that readerships differ per journals and that their respective poetry communities rarely overlap. (Galatea Resurrects seeks to facilitate such overlaps, incidentally, but there's no obligation certainly on Grider to share this same goal.)
Ultimately, the poems themselves attest to how PUBLIC ACCESS is a new literary journal to be welcomed. So: welcome, PUBLIC ACCESS! And congratulations to Nicholas Grider for its debut.
Eileen Tabios doesn't allow her books to be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects -- but she is ecstatic to point you to recent reviews of her recent book The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007) by Nicholas Manning, by Jesse Glass, and by Burt Kimmelman. Oh, and a review by Laurel Johnson reprinted by Amazon.com, though it's also good to support SPD! Preening is as good as wine for good health!