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Posts tagged “poetry

Tons of New Releases! Mud Season! Tenderbear Goes Apeshit! Mother’s Revenge!

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From Justin Grimbol and Atlatl Press comes a book of poetry about Upstate New York and marriage: Mud Season.

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Next, Moses Guttchenridder has several problems. His business, Macramania, is going under. His lovelife is in the toilet. Oh, and he has been forced into helping a murderous garden gnome take his revenge on the brothers of a fraternity who make sport out of destroying garden gnomes. The only spot of good news is that he has been chosen at random to become the new face of Krap-Wad Toilet Paper, replacing their beloved spokesanimal, Tenderbear, who has been arrested for drunk driving. The new head of Krap-Wad, Regan Moribund, falls in love Moses, but their relationship is put immediately in jeopardy when Tenderbear escapes his jail cell and goes on a murderous rampage, killing everyone who crosses his path. The former head of Krap-Wad toilet paper, Giles Moribund, attempts to re-take over the company  by hiring a hitman, Asigao, to kill his daughter, Regan.  When Moses, Regan, Giles, Asiago, the muderous gnome and several others converge on New York City, it becomes a bloody masacre to see who will remain on top of the dangerous toilet paper world. At turns humorous and horrifying, Tenderbear Goes Apeshit is another twisted offering from the mind of Bix Skahill (Babes in Gangland and Dope Tits). Get it here!

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And finally, Mother’s Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions. What happens when you abuse your mother? It’s not pretty. It’s not nice. And she can get downright mean and nasty if you don’t straighten up and make amends. In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it’s wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it!


Strange Scribes #4: Julia de Burgos

By Gabino Iglesias

There I was, a kid being forced to read yet another dead poet for a boring class. I was pissed, but not reading meant flunking, and flunking meant getting my ass kicked, so I sat down to read the damn poems. Instead of the usual white dudes, this time around the poetry had been written by a woman. That was a cool change of pace, so my mood brightened a bit. Then I read the intro and learned she was Puerto Rican. That made things even better. I kept reading. The first poem was titled Rio Grande de Loiza. It was named after a river I knew and regularly saw from the car window as my old man drove across it. I could never have suspected my views on poetry and that river would change forever.

When you’re a kid, most of what’s being said in poems goes right over your head (sadly, it stays that way for many adults). Julia de Burgos’ writing was somewhat different. Some of the imagery was poetic in a classic sense (at that age, I just called it silly), like this bit:

Coil yourself upon my lips and let me drink you,
to feel you mine for a brief moment,
to hide you from the world and hide you in yourself,
to hear astonished voices in the mouth of the wind.

It sounded sexy, but I didn’t know why, although I guessed it had something to do with lips and drinking and mouths. Then the last portion came along and I found clearer passages that made everything click in my developing brain:

Man river, but man with the purity of river,
because you give your blue soul when you give your blue kiss.

Most sovereign river mine. Man river. The only man
who has kissed my soul upon kissing my body.

Hah! This woman was talking about having sex with a river! I thought that was awesome, so reading the rest was a piece of cake. By the end of that stack of photocopied poems, I was hooked. Julia de Burgos had known poverty and wrote about it. There were also elements in her work that I would discover later: feminism, independence (Puerto Rico is still a US colony), welfare, lost love, self-loathing, and death. In fact, one of the poems that stuck with me from that first reading was titled To Julia De Burgos. In it, the poetess wrote about her inner turmoil, the fight between the wifey they wanted her to be and the woman she really was. In the end, she wanted to kill that other self:

When the multitudes run rioting
leaving behind ashes of burned injustices,
and with the torch of the seven virtues,
the multitudes run after the seven sins,
against you and against everything unjust and inhuman,
I will be in their midst with the torch in my hand.

Yeah, burning yourself with a torch is pretty cool. Anyway, years later I was curious enough to read about her life. I won’t bore you to death with all the nasty details, but her death was remarkable in a very gloomy, boozy way. It turns out Julia could drink. In fact, her drinking and depression-infused binges make her worthy of a spot on any list of legendary drinkers. Learning that she had not only the writing chops but also the drinking prowess to be next to Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Hemingway, and Dorothy Parker was a treat. However, it lead to a sad finale. On June 28, 1953, Julia de Burgos, who was living with a relative in Brooklyn after another divorce, disappeared. About a week later she was found, passed out in a gutter in Spanish Harlem. Apparently she’d been living on the streets, drunk all the time. In a Harlem hospital, she wrote her only poem in English, Farewell in Welfare Island, right before dying from pneumonia. No one knew who she was, so the city gave her a pauper’s burial on Hart Island.

Alcoholic writer might not sound strange at all, but proto-feminist, manic depressive genius who wanted to have sex with a river and torch herself sure does. If you want to read some translated poems, click here.