A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Probably Do Again

So what we have here is a big pile of poetry books and one issue of Poetry. The magazine came from a subscription. The books came from the bookshelves of Write616 (formerly the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters).

Why, you may ask, do I have a big ol’ stack of poetry books from the shelves of Write616? Well, therein lies a tale.

For the past couple of years, the GLCL/Write616 has shared space with Caffeinated Press, the publishing company of which I have been a part owner/director/executive/dogsbody since 2014. This past weekend the Powers That Be of Caffeinated Press met and decided that, as we are all of us older, exhausted and burned out, we will be closing down the shop at the end of 2019. Parallel to this decision, the Powers That Be of Write616 made a similar decision.

Thus closes a chapter of my life which has been front and center to my day-to-day existence for just over five years. I started as an editor in September of 2014, just after the publication of the first volume of the Caffeinated Press house anthology Brewed Awakenings. I joined the board in early 2015, and shortly thereafter we launched our journal of arts and letters, The 3288 Review (named after the miles of coastline in Michigan, as measured in 2000).

We still have a few projects in the works which are mostly completed. The last issue of The 3288 Review will come out at the end of this month. The remaining few books which are in process will be complete by the end of the year. All of the paperwork, finances, etc., will wind down by December 31.

And I will, for the first time in five years, have free time in my life on a regular basis. Of course, knowing me, I will immediately fill it with something else. Already I have ideas for a new lit journal, one which would focus more on art, interviews, and specifically the Grand Rapids literature scene.

But before I do anything like that I will start writing again. And submitting my work for publication. I have dozens of poems in various states of completion, as well as more than a score of short stories and essays. And they need homes. Also, National Novel Writing Month begins an about three weeks, so it’s time to start planning something to write.

So it goes.

Suddenly, A Stack of Books

So I started this week expecting to maybe get one or two books from my various subscriptions, and maybe buy myself a little something. This in fact happened – the right-most book in the second row of the above photo (“Muslim”: A Novel) is the latest from Deep Vellum Publishing. Just to its left is Screaming Like War from Sault Ste. Marie poet Mark Senkus, which I picked up over the weekend while in the Upper Peninsula visiting my girlfriend’s family.

All the rest of these books appeared unexpectedly.

The bottom row consists of the contents of the new shipment from Ugly Duckling Presse. Four books of poetry, one of experimental prose, and Emergency INDEX, which is a listing of well over 100 performance art works in calendar year 2018. It’s all brilliant stuff, and I wish I had a couple of years free so I could bury myself in the beauty therein.

The top row, and the first three titles in the second row, are books of poetry which I unexpectedly acquired when I attended the Evening of Literary Luminescence, a fundraiser for local literary organization Write616. Not surprisingly, almost all of the poetry is by local and regional writers, so extra bonus there.

And now reading news:

Last week I finished Scarborough and, needing something lighter, read Kelly Link‘s wonderful¬†Origin Stories, which is a hardcover chapbook published by Subterranean Press.

Currently I am over halfway through A People’s Future of the United States. It is, simply, an amazing collection of stories. They follow the theme of the possibility of hope standing against the logical outcome of the current (reactionary right-wing, racist, bigoted, sadistic, misogynistic, jingoist, xenophobic, capital-fetishizing, violence-loving, neo-fascist, Dominionist) political and social climate. The stories are beautiful, sad, infuriating, hopeful, astonishing, intelligent and above all necessary. Every imagined dystopian future in this book is easily extrapolated from the actions of the current dominant power structures. And each of these futures must be recognized and resisted.

In other literary news, I am almost done re-integrating at Caffeinated Press and am at various stages in four projects: Issues 4.1, 5.1 and 5.2 of The 3288 Review, and layout work for the next edition of our Brewed Awakenings anthology. Other things are afoot as well, which will be revealed in the fullness of time. Selah!

A Long-Awaited Treasure

This week brought in a couple of books which I have been looking forward to for months. Sunspot Jungle, the two-volume exclusive-to-Kickstarter hardcover set by Rosarium Publishing, arrived by mail yesterday, and they are stunning! I’ll get into the set in a moment, but first, here is the rundown of this week’s acquisitions.

On the left is the Winter 2018 issue of Rain Taxi, which I became aware of when their article about Lawrence Ferlinghetti appeared on LitHub last week. On the right is the latest book from Deep Vellum, Mephisto’s Waltz by Sergio Pitol.

So: Sunspot Jungle.

I first heard of this project when Bill Campbell, owner of Rosarium Publishing, announced the Kickstarter campaign back in the early part of 2018. I supported the pledge on the first day and the rest has been a year of eager anticipation.

I first heard of Rosarium when John Scalzi posted a photo of one of his weekly stacks of new books, and in that stack was a small collection of short stories called The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria.

That, of course, is one hell of a title.

And Rosarium is one hell of a publishing company.

In reading news, the past week was hectic, what with the polar vortex and associated schedule disruptions. I did make significant progress through Reckoning #1, and am a couple of chapters into T L Greylock’s The Blood-Tainted Winter.

In other literary news, I am back in the saddle at Caffeinated Press after a year-long hiatus/sabbatical, and am hard at work assembling the next issue of The 3288 Review.

Amazing how a schedule disruption, even one which ostensibly frees up a chunk of free time, seldom actually results in more usable free time.