Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Book Review of Sacha Archer's "Cellsea"

Sacha Archer, Cellsea 
(Timglaset Editions, 2023) 80 pages, poetry, $12.00. Order here.

 This is a book of avant-garde poetry that is the genre "vispo": visual poetry. This is where poetry and visual art become one. It's a fascinating genre.

But how to write a review on it? That is the challenge I agreed to take on.

Sacha Archer and Timglaset Editions give us a fun, quirky little book with two covers. It can be read in two different directions, in colour and in black and white. Just like the ocean, it swirls and ebbs and pulses and envelopes and washes us around. And we get to play in its mysterious depths and moods and turns. And there is plenty of room for personal interpretation. The idea seems to be that as we swim about in the immense sea, we also swim inward into the single cell of our origin.

And since this is vispo, I thought the best way to go about about this would be include a few images of the poems inside. It was difficult to get good quality, shadowless images in my living room, but here is a very small sampling of the suprising, fun profundity of this volume:

This is one book I am proud to add to my personal library.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

2023 Wadza International Festival (Morocco) Digitally

In December, I'll be participating in the 2023 Wadza International Festival in Taourirt, Morocco, digitally. I am honoured and excited to be invited to share a poem. Watch their Facebook page for more info as to exact date, time, and place to see the reading. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Review of john compton's "blacked out borderline from an exponential crisis"

 john compton, blacked out borderline from an exponential crisis (Ethel Press, 2023) 54 pages, poetry, limited run of 60 copies, $10.00. Order here.

On the whole, I'm a big fan of john compton's poetry, having read most of his oeuvre to date. There is something delightful and irresistible in the music of his phrases and the dagger-focus evident in each individual word. Each poem is crisp against the teeth and tart on the tongue like a green apple with a whisky after-bite in the throat. These aren't the kind of poems to cuddle up with in the winter with a cup of tea and a blanket. They do not comfort; they jar and jostle. Not as extreme as a rollercoaster. More like slight turbulence in a cross-country flight. And they are deeply autobiographical, like confessional poetry modernised. As compton here says, a kind of manifesto of his poetry as I have experienced it so far: "my house is a/documentary untelevised unwritten/a secret it grows ...the empty only a symptom."

compton's work is not the place to go if you are a woman seeking refuge from the male preoccupation with penises and sex. He is proudly gay and many of the poems go there explicitly. Since I am not interested in sex no matter who is doing it, at least not explicitly, I tend to skip those. You won't find a lot of it in my own work, to be sure, unless you are determined or it is in the context of abuse. It simply isn't a big presence in my mental life. 

There are blocks of poems here about compton losing several beloved dogs and puppies to a Parvo outbreak. These aren't sentimental in the traditional sense, however. More like love poetry with a lot of blood. And some of them can be read as metaphors for the experience of living through the COVID pandemic, and now learning to live with it as a constant background threat. He writes: "our aggression eats us." There is also a block of poems written about and to several historic poets, each one a projection of compton onto that poet in ways that are insightful.

Lest we should forget that he is, in fact, an Appalachian poet, he reminds us with his closing poem, which is a vague reminder of the ballad "Barbara Allen".

For me, the best poem in this particular collection is an ode to womanhood that has wizened and I will close this review with it: 

she pauses in wading the lake waist
high the water touching parts she
forgot had existed she slips her
hand into the murkiness wondering
if her hair ever felt like this she
knew she used to be beautiful
before age broke her body across
the floor like a chair she rocks
herself her feet moving between
the silt the ducks revolve around
her like moons before settling in
their landing they search her she
understands she is not a tree but
could she just raise her arms like
branches & feel love for a moment
a foot farther an inch deeper she
remembers how to heal a wound
with a band aid before the children
were too old to not need her she
breathes she breathes she breathes
while everyone else has finished
letting her exist

Monday, June 12, 2023

Is(sue) 13 is live!

 Dear Kinfolk,


It’s a beautiful day! Why? Because Is(sue) 13 is live with all of your amazing work.


The guidelines for Short Stories have changed, so be sure to check those out. And pop on over to the Arch(ive) to see which pieces from Is(sue) 12 were chosen for posterity.


I would like to remind everybody that there have always been restrictions on impolite language, gratuitious sex, political pieces, and anything holiday-themed. This absolutely applies to underage characters. I have let some impolite language slide in the past (though I have edited it), but you are encouraged to think seriously about whether certain words or actions are necessary for the story (like in “To Kill A Mockingbird”) or whether you’re merely scratching a personal itch to get more readers. Because if you’re scratching an itch, scratch it somewhere else. Thank you.


Also, remember that our focus is on avant-garde, experimental pieces. We are not meant for your run-of-the-mill, workshop-approved pages. Push the boundaries of what language can do, of what constitutes literature. Have fun. Surprise us.


The submission period for Is(sue) 14 is open! Deadline is November 30, 2023. Happy writing!




Sabne Raznik

Poetry/Art Ed(itor)




Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Introducing "Fingers/Dedos" Bilingual Selected Poems (English/Spanish) - Out Now!


Released yesterday and available via Amazon! "Fingers/Dedos" Selected Poems, bilingual (English/Spanish), $10.00 USD.

Sabne Raznik’s latest collection of poetry Fingers, Selected Poems / Dedos, Poemas Seleccionados contains four powerfully emotive poems (“The Bearded Prophet,” “Poetry,” “Through Our Skin,” and “Fingers”). The English original of each poem is followed by an illustration and then by a Spanish translation by María Del Castillo Sucerquia. It concludes with a photo of the author followed by a one-paragraph biography in English and then its Spanish translation. The four poems are extremely different thematically and make use of different poetic languages. The common denominator between them is an underlying existential anxiety resulting from the inability of human beings collectively to understand each other and set aside greed and self-interest, and individually, in the case of the poet, to find consummation in love, and to discover the language in words and images to capture and communicate the essence of her experience. The poet notes in “Bearded Prophet,” she finds herself in “the era of pain -stampeding pain,” one which paradoxically leads her to identify with the “dumb hillbilly,” the bearded prophet who wears a sign that says “The End of the World Is Near.” Impending doom is suggested by images of the destruction of the environment, the open gashes of Appalachian strip mines, trees stripped bear of life to a height of eight feet by herbicide, and the violent midwestern storms intensified by climate change. “Poetry,” the most abstract of the four poems, prescribes in the form of a series of commands (“arm yourself, “leave the figure,” “Virgin love grow bold” which do not lead to consummation; they prove impotent. “Through the Skin” evokes the locus of creativity, where books, and papers, paint and turpentine are present on a table along with cup and saucer, the place where the written word and the painted image are crafted. The poem leaves the reader with a sense of a purpose shared by the “us” of the poem: “to sketch an idea to live by.” The last poem “Fingers” evokes images of a painful, repeated sexual encounter described as a violation, “like cactus thorns raking down my shapeless lines,” but the violation seems not to result from the violent impulse of the other, rather from the inability of the speaking subject to make good on the promise to the self with the words “Never again, never again.” The four poems are satisfying both as individual compositions and as panels of a multi-media whole. –  Yndiana Montes Fogelquist and Jim Fogelquist, Appalachian Latinidad

Fingers/Dedos is a powerful chapbook with 4 elaborate poems in English, with the same poems being translated into Spanish. The poetry captures strong images and emotions: "You sat cross-legged in the grass/And the earth framed your face." I was pulled into these poems and transformed into a cocoon waiting to be released into something with such fingers that would "Feel the bone crack,/Grind against my teeth/As I scream [...]" and become new in the aftermath. – John Compton, the castration of a minor god and how we liberated what secrets we modified

Also, feel free to leave a review and/or stars on Amazon and Goodreads! Thank you! And enjoy!