During Hurricane Irene, which left much of the United States East Coast without power, a stanza from “On the road to what we're tempted to call heaven” by poet, publisher, collaborator, and teacher Bernadette Mayer floated up as apt:
if an aster falls over my page
it’s only because I'm privileged
to have a bouquet
& when I walk in beauty
like the night I defy you
not to mourn
we can’t even write
have no power
there’s no fine American no more
nothing left but
a danger to everyone
worse than any empire
machines & bombs for everyone
destruction for all
A grim but prescient stanza that appropriates the syntax of the pledge of allegiance to shadowbox with the Empire, offering asters for bombs and beauty for greed, a trade that would enrich if engaged in. For thirty-odd years Bernadette Mayer has been pushing the possibilities of language further and as the longtime director of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, she has helped shape and nurtuer a generation of writers and artists, so as a small tribute to her influence we have gathered a group of the work of those influenced by her. As Valerie Coultas writes in her homage, “Like an older sister, [Bernadette] Mayer guides me into dreams and sex, into community, possibly utopian…Her voice is brilliant, urgent, imitate without the confessional, controlled but also pushing, pushing at the edges of control (boundaries might be a better word). Organic. She’s talking but its not Logorrhea, the disease of talking too much. It is more like trying to get it all down, but its steady, not panicked but a building of architectures to hold a poetry of depth that crosses genres, that mines the possibilities.” Thank you Bernadette.
In this issue, we also offer the continuation of our /Slant/Sex/ folio that began with a collection of poetry last issue, and continues in prose, video, photo, and collage. Like Holly Norris’ photographic series “American Able” which makes us re-see women with disabilities who are discounted in the media as desirable, multifaceted, sexual beings.
Then we have our special prix fixe menu of genres: nonfiction that goes from Cairo to mixed-media in a flash and includes an excerpt from Pulitzer Prize winning author Oscar Hijuelos’ memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes; poetics that includes new work from Kimiko Hahn, and Jackson Will’s’ “The mountain” with its vistas wrenched open from far west Vegas; fiction that traverses the globe from Indian author Sharmistha Mohanty’s stunning prose distillations to Canadian artist, writer, and researcher J.R. Carpenter’s “les huit quartiers du sommeil,” to Bulgarian translator and fiction writer Zdravka Evitmova’s new work; and finally the arts, including such notable pieces as Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming’s installation of thirty electric clocks whose hands conjoin to form the word “Eternity” for a split-second to Philip B. Klinger (or PBK)’s cinematic soundscapes stitched together with some of the best young composers in Asia.
This issue is also Drunken Boat’s second quarterly installment, so there will be more goodness more often. You should check our submissions page for our latest calls for work.
In other news, folks should RSVP for the Drunken Boat-sponsored performance of Quintan Ana Wikswo’s palimpsest work on stage with dancers and music at the Yeshiva University Museum on September 12th, and be on the lookout for an event celebrating our upcoming folio on “Exploration,” funded by the Hartford Consortium of Education at scheduled for April 2012 at Trinity College. And for Drunken Boat’s second book, the essays of Lisa Russ Spaar whose column at the Chronicle of Higher Education is required reading. Also, please note that with next issue Drunken Boat will feature a regular reviews section edited by Shira Dentz. Publishers can send along books for consideration and potential reviewers their clips.
Finally, two last bits of news we wanted to share. First, we want to introduce our newly established Advisory Board whom we hope you’ll hear more from as they’ve kindly agreed to donate their talents and energies to us. We couldn’t be any more thrilled since it’s such an esteemed bunch: Chris Abani, John Cayley, Alexander Chee, Martín Espada, Nick Flynn, Laird Hunt, Jerome McGann, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Lucy Raven, Katharine Sugg, Cole Swensen, and John Yau. We can’t wait to hear their ideas!
And some sad news. Longtime Poetry and Fiction Editors Tamiko Beyer and Deborah Poe are moving on to other projects, and while remaining on as Contributing Editors, will no longer be in charge of their respective genres. They’ve done an immense amount to move Drunken Boat forward and in directions no other journal today is going, so we wish them the very best, sending tendrils and love! Michelle Chan Brown has agreed to become the new Poetry Editor and Holly Wendt will be the interim Fiction Editor as we conduct a search for the position. Change, some sagacious Greek philosopher once said, is the only constant and as the summer of 2011 comes to end, we hope you enjoy Drunken Boat#14 and thank you for your continued support.
The Editors, Drunken Boat