Saturday, February 22, 2020

(YES)Abled Is(sue) Deadline



Dear Kinfolk,

This is a reminder that the deadline for our YES(Abled) Special Is(sue) is March 31, 2020. This is(sue) will feature the work of disabled poets, artists, and short fiction writers or work on disability themes. However, the subject need not be limited to disability. The subject is open. We ask that since we are taking submissions for the regular is(sue) at the same time that you please put “YES(Abled)” in the subject line of your email. www.avantappalachia.com. All our usual guidelines apply.

Also, as mentioned, we are taking submissions for our regular is(sue) at the same time. The deadline for it is May 30, 2020.

Thank you all for making our ezine a leader within its genre!

Sincerely,

Sabne Raznik
Poetry/Art Ed(itor)

Monday, January 13, 2020

(Yes)Abled Is(sue) and North/South Appalachia


Dear Kinfolk,



You heard about it in the email about the Is(sue) 8 release. Here are more details.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce AvantAppal(achia)'s 2nd Special Is(sue), titled (Yes)ABLED! This is(sue) will be dedicated to the work of disabled poets, artists, and short story writers. Subject need not be related to the experience of being disabled, but is open. The usual guidelines apply, with the exception that "(Yes)ABLED" must be included in the email subject line since the submission period for the regular Is(sue) 9 will be open at the same time. This Special Is(sue) will appear and remained archived under Special Is(sues) in the menu for as long as this website continues. The deadline for (Yes)ABLED is March 31, 2020. It will go live on April 15, 2020.

Please spread the word and help us make this Special Is(sue) a success!

Also, the North/South Collective, of which AvantAppal(achia) is a part, just had a reorganization. The new website is here at North/South Appalachia. Poems and art submitted to AvantAppal(achia) that we feel will be a good fit for North/South Appalachia may be included on the North/South blog. We will approach the poet and artist for permission to share work there first, of course.

Thank you so much for making these projects as spectacular as they are!

Sincerely,

Sabne Raznik
Poetry/Art Ed(itor)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Is(sue) 8 of AvantAppal(achia) and (Yes)Abled Is(Sue)


Dear Kinfolk,

The editors are happy to announce that is(sue) 8 of AvantAppal(achia) is live! We seemed to have dodged, for now at least, those nasty digital bugs which have slowed us in the past. We present a nice shiny new is(sue).


Is(sue) 8 contains work from 6 different countries -Canada, Ireland, Greece, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United States - and five different states - Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We are proud to publish some excellent work and you should be proud of producing it.


We are also announcing AvantAppal(achia)'s 2nd Special Is(sue) titled (Yes)ABLED! The is(sue) is to be dedicated to the work of disabled poets, artists, and short story writers. Details for submission can be found on the site and the deadline is March 31, 2020.


Sabne Raznik wants me to remind everyone of a recent site upgrade which made it more compatible with mobile devices, but as a result in order to see bylines for the Avant(Art) section, you must click on the image.

Another reminder is that we, the editorial team, are volunteers and any help you can give to defray expenses is greatly appreciated. Find the Donat(ions) link and give us some PayPal love.

Do not fail to check the Arch(ive) tab to see which pieces have been chosen to represent the past is(sue). As we head into 2020, the submission period for is(sue) 9 is open and the deadline for submission is May 30, 2020 with the is(sue) going live on June 15.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support and as a personal note I would like to thank Sabne Raznik for letting me come along for the ride!

AvantAppal(achia)

Sincerely,
David Sykes
Short Story Ed(itor)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

AvantAppal(achia) Deadline Reminder and North/South Anthology Release


Dear Kinfolk,

This is your last reminder that the deadline for the December is(sue) is November 30, 2019. So please get your most experimental art, poetry, and short stories to us in text, video, audio, or html form as soon as possible! Check www.avantappalachia.com for guidelines and submission email.

Dave and I have decided to have another special is(sue) in 2020. Information for that will become available as soon as the December is(sue) is live. It will be imperative to follow the guidelines for that is(sue) closely since we will be accepting submissions for it and the regular June is(sue) at the same time.

Also, the North/South Collective, of which AvantAppal(achia) is a partner, has released its first annual anthology. You can get your copy at https://www.amazon.com/North-South-Appalachia-Poetry-1/dp/1798053470/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sabne+raznik&qid=1573696296&sr=8-1. The submission period for North/South’s 2020 anthology is open and will end on September 30, 2020. See www.northsouthappal.com for info on how to do that.

Kinfolk, you are AvantAppal(achia)’s lifeblood. Your donations keep the website up and your work make it the fabulous ezine it is. We thank you for that and for the privilege of sharing your work with the world.

Sincerely,

Sabne Raznik
Poetry/Art Ed(itor)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Book Review of T. Byron Kelly's "Poems"



T. Byron Kelly, Poems (Createspace, 2018) 119 pages, poetry, $9.00 USD. On Amazon.


To be honest, there's only so much religious poetry I can take, regardless of which faith. So if that's not your thing, Kelly isn't for you. Another annoying factor is that each poem is dated and often has multiple dates to point to revisions. While that is a valuable tool for a poet's personal manuscripts, it interrupts the flow when transferred to the published book.

But he can turn beautiful, evocative phrases. Kelly's poetry reads like impressionist paintings. For example:

I began by noticing your blue wish day and each black
or white faced cloud seemingly spoke with that other radiant
loving of the air. Transgressing doubt, a music that fills 
my evenings with gentle prayer, this consecration of your endless
gift, orange and gold leaves are lifted and the daydream
continues. How could I forget or be frightened where this
chance began our quiet walk together (though at first I
wanted to run). Dry grass insists it's Winter and the strangely
blithe gestures of women walking alone or perhaps lost
in their rush hour car seats. The completed reaches eternally 
toward the turning soul, where weakness had born belief of nothing,
an insanity of otherness, crashing against our desire for forever.

Where the poems avoid the trap of overt religiosity and devotion, there they are closest to the song of spiritual. There they invite you to dive in and give yourself over to this other-world of Kelly's imagination. There they are true poetry.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Book Review of Rajia Hassib's "A Pure Heart"




LEGAL DISCLOSURE: I was given an advance reader's copy from which to write this review. I was not paid.

Rajia Hassib, A Pure Heart (Viking, 2019) 305 pages, fiction, $17.40 USD. On Amazon.


Some stories are not really about the character who seems the central one. For instance, Arthur Miller's The Crucible isn't so much about John Proctor or Abigail Williams as it is about Elizabeth Proctor. Rajia Hassib's A Pure Heart is similar. It isn't so much about Rose and her family dealing with the grief of losing Gameela to a terrorist attack as it is about Gameela. Gameela, the Pure Heart.

But what is more important than individual characters in this book is what Hassib does best: nuances.
The development and exploration of all the characters are superb. Among the subtleties addressed include differing cultures, differing belief systems, differing places, differing feelings, and differing modes of expression. She even explores how differences can exist in the same person at the same time. Hassib is a master of empathy.

Even the suicide bomber receives this treatment. His story is given in full - his is a full-fledged, complicated, and even relatable personality. If all of us were willing to look at everyone around us with similar context and empathy, violence would cease to exist.

Go read this book and make it part of who you are.





Sunday, August 11, 2019

The 1st Annual N/S Anthology Deadline Reminder



Dear Kinfolk,


Just a quick reminder of AvantAppal(achia)’s partnership with the Watershed Journal, Studio Appalachia, and Solitude to create North/South Appalachia.


North/South Appalachia is a collective which seeks to bring together art and poetry from the entire region of Appalachia (from New York to Alabama) in one place.
https://www.northsouthappal.com/


North/South will be working on its first anthology this fall. The poems and art to be included will be chosen from the N/S blog and deadline for submissions is September 1, 2019. Please, refer to the link above for submission instructions.


It would be fantastic for some of Appalachia’s avant-garde and experimental scene to be included in that anthology. Come and join the collective!


Sincerely,

Sabne Raznik

Poet/Art Ed(itor), AvantAppal(achia)
Southern Appalachia Regional Editor, North/South Appalachia

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Book Review of "The Happy Mind"


LEGAL DISCLOSURE: I was given a review copy of this book. I was not paid for this review.

Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie, The Happy Mind: A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Starting Today (TCK Publishing, 2017) 113 pages, self-help nonfiction, $17.19 US


Book available on Amazon, from TCK Publishing by Kevin Horsley (also on Twitter) and Louis Fourie. TCK Publishing is on Facebook.



"Simple" is the operative word in the title of this book. It is a handy little guidebook of reminders, cliches, and random quotes about how to train your thinking to a mindset of positivity. Many of the suggestions and principles are sound and beneficial. It's an easy, light read. You can breeze through it in an hour or two.

It is written to encourage interactivity. At several points, one is given a negative list and told to rewrite it as positive and then apply that positive list to one's life. Interactivity is a good idea. One is more likely to apply what one learns if one interacts with it on any level.

However, the sentences are usually written in the negative, not just the lists meant to be actively rewritten. The book seems more focussed on what happiness is not rather than what it is, what one should not do rather than what one should do. The negative perspective is subtle but it is pervasive. For a book meant to encourage positive thinking, that negative slant is directly counter to the message and the result is jarring.

Also, I understand that the authors wanted a light easy read, but the complete lack of references or even a bibliography at the end was a bad decision. If an author refers to a study in the text, that study should be referenced somewhere within the book. The total lack of anything to back up the statements within the text automatically discredits that text. It is possible to write a book with scholarly references to scientific and medical studies in a light simple way. This presentation leads me to believe the authors do not trust the readership's intelligence. Especially in the current climate of fake information, references are essential to back up any assertions.

In view of the shortcomings, I felt this book was written as a kind of children's handbook to happiness. (One could argue that the term "happiness" in this context is itself problematic and part of the culture that teaches us unhealthy thought patterns, but that's a whole other subject for a separate essay of its own.) It is helpful; the principles are sound and can be efficaciously applied. The attempt to include an element of interactivity is inspired if poorly executed. But it fails to implement many of its own suggestions in the way it is written and equally fails to back up its "facts" with appropriate references. In that way, perhaps, the authors erred toward writing too simply for this "simple guide".

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Book Review of Volodymyr Bilyk's "ROADrage"



LEGAL DISCLOSURE: I was given an ebook review copy from which to write this review. I was not paid.

Volodymyr Bilyk, ROADrage (zimZalla, 2019) 110 pages, poetry, $6.07 USD.

Available at zimZalla. Except for the opening quote, italics denote a quote from the book itself.


"Do the work." - Anna Strong Stafford

Bilyk urges us to quench the nullity. What nullity? The nullity of language itself in the 21st century. The avant-garde and experimental today seek to expand poetry's relevance in this century by finding new approaches to language, even as the way language is used continues to shift in society. By stating quench the nullity, Bilyk declares against the modern tendency to emasculate language as a semantic tool. To accomplish this, he gathers every technique of the 20th-century poetic canon (Eliot, Pound, Stein, Joyce, etc.), pours them all into one mixing bowl, stirs vigourously, and pours out the batter into a poetics that is uniquely Bilyk. In the book's introduction, he evokes the Mobius Strip as an illustration of what he is attempting to accomplish here. The end result could aptly be described as M.C. Escher in the medium of words.

As suggested by the title, this is a collection of dystopian rage - as in this line: (veer ---/ "seethe"/ there-there// merely.) - and much of it reads like a fistfight on some congested street in garish daylight. There is a theatrical aspect to it - the book ends with CURTAINS. - there is a deliberate winking toward sophisticated campiness here. I say sophisticated because Bilyk has "done the work" as a poet and requires his readers to likewise "do the work". This is a case of the void, flourished.

The separate poems, if indeed they are separate, read as largely one unit due to being untitled. There is a refreshing flow to this collection. This oneness allows the reader greater interpretive freedom: the reader can decide for him/herself where one poem ends and another begins. 

This fluidity of interpretation continues into the entertaining use of punctuation. At times this is reminiscent of computer programming code, old fashioned text emojis, and/or morse code. Since punctuation in writing represents where and how one breathes when reading, one is forced to rethink how one breathes as a form of expression all its own, to rejoice the odd breath. "ROADrage" can be said to be written in Confounded beat,/ Clarion whish - tongue winding:

Bilyk's greatest strength is alliteration, as in ... thunder thwacks,/ ./ rolls wry rebellow:/ speeded up/ to rash; . The book screams to be read aloud. There are some poems where semantics are discarded for acronyms and nonwords, experiments with pure sound as if the poems were WWII era intel code-speak. 

This is one of the most exciting collections I've come across in a decade, guaranteed to shift your perspective on language in the 21st century - both as an art form and its everyday use. This book is the very definition of a literary mind trip with purpose.