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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Release: Horror Sleaze Trash: Poems (HST, March 2019) 235 pages


This anthology of poems was released yesterday. Edited by Arthur Graham. The book is loosely divided into four sections- Horror, Sleaze, Trash... and the rest. The strongest and craziest section is probably 'SLEAZE' (pages 69-131).

Overall, on first reading, some great writing by David Bosky, Johnny Scarlatti, Ben John Smith, Mather Schneider, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, John Grochalski and many others.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

New Six Ft. Swells Press Website

Here is a recent message from Todd Cirillo:

Hello Poetry Fans!

I am proud to launch the new Six Ft. Swells Press website, where you can get everything Six Ft. Swells and After-Hours Poetry related; books, upcoming shows, videos, poems, projects, links to other presses we love and support. 

Please take a moment to check out our new website and sign up for our newsletter (it's free just put your email in). We are doing our best to keep poetry fun and accessible.

You can also follow us on Instagram: Instagram.com/sixftswellspress
and facebook: Facebook.com/SixFtSwells

Let us know what you think and feel free to share the site,

Sincerely,

Todd Cirillo, editor and publisher

Sunday, March 17, 2019

New Release: Casey Renee Kiser Way Out (Holy & Intoxicated Press, 2019) 20 pages

This is the latest release by Holy & Intoxicated Publications. It consists of thirteen confessional poems by American poet Casey Renee Kiser.


Book blurb:

Casey Renee Kiser writes an electric-sensually charged poetry, lyrical and alive withstreet language, her words strike like literary barbed harpoons: something intoxicating and illuminating, the hot dark moments of our time, enticing and alluring: this poet is a predator of nakedness, raw, the truth of us all; fearless and always feminine. This is a poet you should read.

John D Robinson

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Book Review: Joseph Ridgwell The Beach Poems (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2018) 36 pages


The alternative small press reader is probably best familiar with the writing of Joseph Ridgwell through his raucous novels last days of the cross (2009), The Cross (2016) and The Buddha Bar (2011) which were reprinted by Ternary Editions in 2018: http://ternaryeditions.com/order.html  The Beach Poems takes us back to a more innocent and idyllic time when Ridgwell was a young traveller in southeast Asia. He told me recently, “Some of those poems were written as long ago as 1997. The period of my life the poems represent is from 1997 to 2000. I was in my 20’s and moving around a good deal. Some of those poems came out fully formed, the ones written in Bali, Indonesia. Others were written recently, and others underwent several revisions.”

The Beach Poems consists of 25 short poems between 4 to 15 lines in length. The poems are taunt, sensuous and imagist in form. The poems are deeply personal and acutely observational of the land and sky as the speaker wanders in both mind and body. He opens his senses, and ours, to the dark of night, the scent of flowers, a sprinkling of stars, dancing shadows and to the morning star- Venus as it emerges “from behind a silver cloud”. 

The poems have a transcendent Romantic quality about them but are tempered with a grounding in the present- beach combing, swimming in the nude with a friend and drinking beer or rice wine. The tone of the lonely speaker is characteristically melancholic as he “dreams of home” (16#) or of the unnamed her (8#): 

Beach Poem 4#

Swinging yellow hammock
On the fringes of a lonely beach
Listening to music
Created by endless waves crashing on the shore
And jungle leaf symphonies
Viewing a moon on the run, seventeen
                 gleaming stars
And cloud formations drifting across a
                 purple sky
I wonder if anyone else ever laid in this old
                 yellow hammock
Watching the same scene ten thousand
                 Midnights ago

(both poems in this review are posted with the permission of the poet)

In his preface, Ridgwell explains the origins and intent of the poems, “Whilst under the influence of the sacred Indian drug peyote, on an isolated Mexican beach, I decided to be a Beach Poet. The plan was to write 100 beach poems and then retire. I never made it. I wrote one poem in Mexico and seven in Indonesia. They were written in a blue notebook that I carried around with me for years. Every so often I’d add another poem. Then the notebook disappeared, along with the beach poems. Some I could recall from memory and were re-written and published elsewhere. The rest were lost forever.”

Luckily, in early 2018 Ridgwell’s notebook was located as he recently explained to me, “The book re-surfaced after a visit to my parents’ house. My mum asked me to go through some boxes in my old bed room, she wanted to chuck some of the stuff out. The book was in one of the boxes, along with some old love letters, and some old photos and diaries. I thought I’d lost the book in Australia, but there it was, a little time capsule. Anyways, I read the poems, and considering how young I was and how new to the writing game I was, they held up. Needed some editing, but not a great deal.”

Ridgwell says candidly in his preface, “The importance of these poems to my writing career cannot be underestimated, for certain lines in certain poems proved to me that I had something. What it was I wasn’t sure, but it was there and it was there from the beginning.”

The poems include striking images which demonstrate a maturity in the fledging writer. In Beach Poem 10# the speaker lays on the black volcanic sand and staring at a blue sky concludes: “The crunch of sand particles/ Against my eardrum/ Exploded into voiceless oceans”. In Beach Poem 18# while on the summit of Tiger Mountain, the speaker Zen-like imagines the plodding of a tortoise in the valley below:

Beach Poem 18#

A steep climb
To the top of Tiger Mountain
Where Siddhartha left his footprint
Monkey laughs as I toil
An old monk smiles
From the summit
A dazzling beach and sea
While down in the valley
Amongst the jungle vines
A tortoise plods


The illustration on the title page is of Lovina Beach in Balli from an unknown source. It appears to be of two Balinese preparing to launch a boat on the beach.

The book’s epigraph is from the Persian poet and scientist Omar Khayyam (1048-1131): “The Stars are setting and the Caravan Heads for the Dawn of Nothing.” 

Joe Ridgwell says of this quote, “Originally, I’d had a Du Fu quote, but realised I’d already used that for the Kilmog Indonesia book. I’ve had a copy of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat since I was a teenager and I’ve always liked it. The narrator seems to spend most of his time getting drunk on wine and lying with beautiful women, the sort of life I always dreamed about, ha! Anyway, I opened the book at a random page and that sentence jumped out at me. The quote was perfect for the book. At that stage in my life I was drifting, always on the move, but headed nowhere.”

The mini book is 3.75 x 3.75 inches and was designed by Bill Roberts of the iconic Bottle of Smoke Press: https://www.bospress.net Ridgwell’s only suggestion was that the letterpress printed cover be “maybe a sand colour but not yellow”. The colophon page describes the book as being limited to an edition of 65 copies, with 55 copies in wrappers and 10 copies quarter-bound in tan morocco over boards.

The speaker of The Beach Poems emerges from his lonely travels “a different man now” (22#) and is stoically compelled to keep walking towards “the fuzzy horizons of the future” (23#). “The party was over” (24#) and although his ghost “haunts midnight beaches” some say “holding a drunken bottle” (25#) a new life awaits him.


Perhaps what I found most intriguing in the whole process of reviewing this book, was Ridgwell’s amazing resolve in getting a copy sent to me, which happened to be #34/55 of the original print BOSP run. From what I understand, my book was originally sent to an international poetry magazine which reviews dozens of books every year. Despite the magazine’s no-return policy Joe requested an exemption and after several months of inaction asked for his book back, claiming it was valuable and he could get up to £100 for a signed copy. When no reply was forthcoming, he sent the editor a blunt message: “If you don’t send it back I’ll pay your offices a visit and do it the hard way, which I’m sure neither of us want to happen, know what I mean?” Ridgwell got his book back quick-smart. He reckoned the editor must have run to the post office! 

These are elegant, highly sensuous poems from a young, aspiring poet who recognised early that he had something special and has been extremely tenacious in bringing his vision to us.

Read also Bold Monkey’s 2018 interview with Joe Ridgwell here: https://georgedanderson.blogspot.com/2018/05/interview-with-joseph-ridgwell-24-may.html

For more information about Joseph Ridgwell: https://twitter.com/josephridgwell1?lang=en