Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is(sue) 4 is Live and Volunteer Position Available

Dear Kinfolk,

I am thrilled to announce to y'all that Is(sue) 4 of AvantAppal(achia) is now live! It features work largely from Central Appalachia and a sizable helping from around the world. Among the contributors are Gabriel Rosenstock - the well-known Irish language poet - and Volodymyr Bilyk from Ukraine. Dylan Harris, originally from the UK now residing in Luxembourg, has shared a thought-provoking series of photographs and the perennially amazing Bill Wolak fascinates us with more of his digital paintings as well. Elizabeth Burton provides the chilling prose piece for this is(sue) and Bonnie Gay Patterson-De Hart rounds it out in the Appal(Trad) section.

Be sure to check out the Arch(ive) page to see whose work was chosen to represent Is(sue) 3 for posterity!

Also, our Short Story Ed(itor) Kodi Mullins has moved on to other adventures, so I am currently looking for a passionate self-starting volunteer to fill her place. Look at the Ed(itor) Bio(graphie)s page for details on how to apply if you or anyone you know is interested.
As of now, the submission period for Is(sue) 5 is open!
Congratulations to all of you on a fabulous is(sue)!


Sabne Raznik
Poetry/Art Edi(tor)

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Star" Wins Special Merit Award

"Star", a digital painting I did in honour of the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017,  wins Special Merit Award in the 2017 Open/No Theme Competition at Light Space and Time Online Gallery. It will be viewable on the website throughout September 2017.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

(Issue) 3 of AvantAppal(achia) Coming Soon!

Please, remember: you only have one more month to submit to AvantAppal(achia). Deadline for (Issue) 3 is May 31, 2017. We need your avant garde/experimental poetry, short stories, and visual art. Time is almost up! (Issue) 3 will go live on June 15, 2017.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Go Down the "Rabbit Hole"!

Introducing my third full-length poetry collection, "Rabbit Hole"!

It marries the found poem with Gertrude Stein and deconstructs existing language to riff on the concept of the deterioration of language as signifier. Just as at the beginning of the 20th century there was the development of a concept that was at the time called New Morality (sin is a fallacy; do whatever feels good to you), so here in the beginning of the 21st century there is developing a concept that language itself need have no concrete meaning. Facts are in the mind of the beholder. The very fabric of reality as it has been known is unraveling. How we as humans communicate with our world, with other humans, even ourselves is fundamentally shifting. The ability to think and reason is changing. And while all that is serious in nature with consequences that have yet to be determined, this collection approaches it in a fun, almost mocking manner. This is Alice in Wonderland with language itself - you are Alice. As the poet, I am the Chesire Cat, you could say.

In his introduction to the book, George Fillingham writes: ""I want the reader to imagine a dream, a dream of the sort that is not quite a nightmare where the dreamer wakes in terror but rather a dream where the dreamer is led on from curiosity to curiosity, image to image, and, confused perhaps but no less surprised by the images, wakes with a head scratch and begins the day, thinking about the world as a much stranger place than when the reader laid down to sleep ... [In the poems where the language is more] extreme . . . the deconstruction of language . . . [mirrors] the shattered state of language today and the impossibility to understand discourse of any kind anymore. It is as if language itself is designed to disguise meaning rather than convey it."

Are you brave enough to go down the "Rabbit Hole"?

Available today on Createspace; Amazon and other merchants and channels within the week.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Prejudice of the Disabled in Classic Literature and Today

We all love Jane Austen, right? That's *fairly* universal. Well, here's some food for thought.

Mr. Darcy is a character that women swoon for even today and is held up in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" as a model for all men of gentlemanliness. Consider this, however. In the book, he is betrothed from birth to Lady Catherine de Bourgh's daughter, a sickly, mostly shut-in girl. But, of course, he prefers Elizabeth Bennet. There is nothing wrong with that, per se. Elizabeth is charming and witty and definitely his match. What should concern us as a society, but which is never remarked upon, is the fact that Miss de Bourgh's poor health is used to justify Darcy's complete lack of interest in her. Even Elizabeth expresses disdain when she sees Miss de Bourgh in a carriage as if to say: "Darcy deserves nothing better." Austen also takes a stab at emotional disorders with the character of Elizabeth Bennet's mother.

Perhaps Austen realised that injustice as her own health failed tragically early. In "Mansfield Park", the heroine Fanny Price suffers from mild health issues. She is described as one who requires daily exercise in the fresh air, pale at times, and prone to quick fatigue and headaches. Alarmingly, this is one of the major reasons why the majority of readers describe "Mansfield Park" as their least favourite Austen book. Critics describe the character as unbearably whiny and fragile. The fact that she also has strong principles and conviction to withstand peer pressure is a mark against her as well, regarded by modern audiences as being self-righteous. Most modern day retellings of "Mansfield Park" make Fanny Price much more robust and mischevious. Only in the 1983 BBC made-for-TV mini-series is Fanny portrayed as Austen intended. This version is very difficult to find nowadays. The implication is clear: how could any man truly deeply love any woman who is even mildly challenged health-wise.

This continues today. How many plot lines can you think of which use a spouse's disability to justify and garner sympathy for the able-bodied spouse who is thus burdened and/or commits adultery? Personally, it is too many to count or list here.

The fact that these portrayals have not been pointed out to date is a disturbing reminder that in our modern society it is still acceptable to dismiss and even disdain those who are sickly or disabled. Growing up, I was told multiple times that no one would want to marry me because I'm too much work for a man to willingly accept due to my Cerebral Palsy. While some readers may feel proper indignation at reading that, it is a sad truth for many disabled. We are told, "take the relationships arranged for you by others, marry one of your own kind, or end up alone." Sometimes, you will hear a disabled person remark in a faux-glib tone: "I can't marry." Notice the shift in blame, the tendency to internalise society's idea that the disabled person is at fault because they are disabled and not potential partners and society for teaching those potential partners that it's ok to view a disabled person as a burden or even lacking in character simply because they are challenged. 

Some carry these prejudicial attitudes without realising it. There are those who will talk about how the disabled who need government assistance are lazy and a burden on the taxpayer, but when a relative points out to them that they are disabled and on government assistance, that same person will reply without hesitation "That's different." What is even more frustrating is that these ones fail to see the hypocrisy in that stance and how the rhetoric against the "lazy" also hurts the relative who is "different." Now, it is not my intention to get into politics here. This is simply the best and easiest to explain example of the kind of double-thinking that often happens so that people can somehow rationalise and live with the disgusting prejudicial views they hold and the actions that stem from them.

In the last 5 to 8 years there has been a slight shift in literature. Disabled writers and poets, rather than allowing disable-shaming to silence them, are beginning to write about their experiences, to bring forward characters that open readers' eyes to a challenged person's point of view. This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Currently, it is but a whisper in the shouting static of societal opinion, but it is there. 

Perhaps in another couple hundred years...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

"Scratched" Wins Special Recognition Award

"Scratched" won a Special Recognition Award in the Painting and Other Category of the 2017 "Abstracts" Competition and will be included in the 2017 "Abstracts" Exhibition on Light Space and Time Online Gallery throughout the month of March 2017.

View it here.

"To Kill A Mockingbird"

It is my privilege to be a member of the ensemble in this Broadway-quality production. Please, don't miss out!