Review

The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex — review by Lehman Weichselbaum

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The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex

 

Review by Lehman Weichselbaum

 
unbearables big book of sex coverTHE UNBEARABLES BIG BOOK OF SEX , edited by Ron Kolm, Carol Wierzbicki, Jim Feast, Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Utomo and Shalom Neuman.
Autonomedia/Unbearables Books.
2011. 640 pps. $18.95

First, to dispense with the obvious: The Unbearables Big Book Of Sex is not a stroke book. To be sure, you (or the grubby inner adolescent of you) will find, inevitably, a sprinkling of verifiable “dirty parts” (as a time-saving service, we refer you to pgs. 156, 165, 431 and 485). But savvy readers, looking past the book’s formal category as “erotica,” will surmise that the words “Unbearables” and “sex” appearing in the same title will more than likely yield, for the most part, a bumptious pageant of squalid missed connections, subliminal-to-outright multi-gendered abuse, delusional gambits of seduction and, overall, a Cook’s tour of carnal dysfunction in its myriad sordid forms. And, of course, they will be right.

The volume under review is the latest in a series of “big book” anthologies squired by the band of convivial literary incendiaries who call themselves “The Unbearables” — presumably after the classic novel by Milan Kundera. Like the other collections, this one includes several score contributors, many recurring from previous compendia, that include a few marquee names (Delaney, Malanga, Kostelanetz, Litsky), as well as familiar figures from New York’s alternative lit scene and sundry more from God knows where. Entries span most conceivable genres: fiction, memoir, poetry and criticism, as well as a lush center insert of visual art, which seems to favor the porno-collagiste.
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Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen

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Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen

 

Review by Mark McCawley

 

trobairitzTrobairitz
by Catherine Owen
Anvil Press, 5.5×8, 156pp, $18.00 CAN/US
published, Fall 2012

Despite the dark, often violent patriarchal images and themes associated with Trobairitz’s heavy metal subtext and its concomitant social and sexual inequalities and class structures — Catherine Owen’s Trobairitz is an optimistic, even confident collection of poems celebrating the myriad voices of love: passionate love, erotic love, marital love, adulterous love in which Owen has rediscovered and reapplied rare medieval forms against a heavy metal backdrop of the present without losing a single beat.

Instead of embroiling her poems on easy feminist sexual polemics (as many of her reviewers and critics seem to do), Owen celebrates the power and strength of women in her poems in Trobairitz regardless of whether they are set in the 12th or 21st Century (in some poems, time itself merges):
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Roberto Bolano, an Appreciation by Ron Kolm

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Roberto Bolano, an Appreciation

 

by Ron Kolm

 
 

So you’re a young poet, and you’ve just heard a pretty good reading at Gathering of Tribes on Third Street, and you had yourself a beer or two during the event, which you didn’t pay for because you’re broke and the amount of rent you pay for your East Village walk-up is exorbitant, but you mean well, you’re not a bad person; you’ll drop some extra change in the hat next time you come. And now you find yourself outside on the sidewalk with a gaggle of your friends, who are also poets, trying to decide which local watering hole you should all head for. Let’s say you end up at the Parkside Lounge on East Houston Street, watching your buddies shoot pool — all the while caging drinks from them; obviously you’re still without cash, and the best strategy here is to get one of the folks who’s better off at this moment to buy a pitcher – and you manage to pull that off – heck, maybe you can get him to buy two pitchers; it’s worth considering. And then your friends who have been shooting pool come back to the table; they’ve all lost to the regulars who have better chops, poolwise.

And now everyone crowds around the table, talking a little too loudly, and getting all excited as the conversation turns, as it always does, to ‘what are you reading? Who are your favorite authors? Who do you think will last?’ And all the usual names come up; Faulkner, Woolf, Joyce; because you and your gang all are college grads; hell, most of you took creative writing courses in school, and there’s even an MFA or two among the group. So someone says, “Umm, I don’t know, maybe Jonathan Franzen?” And everyone shrugs uneasily and looks down at their beers. And then someone else posits, “What about Johathan Safran Foer?” – followed by more uncomfortable shuffling around, as someone to your left replies, “Maybe not so much…”

And then you speak up, the beer making you bold: “Roberto Bolano; he’s the real thing! He’ll last!” And this is followed by a brief silence, some murmurs of assent, and then someone, and there’s always someone, asks, “Who’s that? Never heard of him.” And then you break into your Bolano routine.

“Ah,” you say, “He’s a Kerouac/Joyce smoothie! He was as smart as Joyce, and he travelled as widely and worked enough dead-beat jobs to rival Mister Kerouac!”
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Of Cartywheels & Autopsies: the poetry of Christine McNair & Catherine Owen

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Of Cartywheels & Autopsies:

the poetry of Christine McNair & Catherine Owen

Review by Mark McCawley

Notes From A Cartywheel,

by Christine McNair

AngelHousePress, 7×8.5, 24pp, $5.00 (CAN)

published, November 2011

AngelHousePress is an Ottawa-based micro-press founded and published by poet and writer, Amanda Earl, in 2007. Although Earl first began AHP as a vehicle to publish her own work, she soon discovered the “thrill in publishing raw talent, ragged edges, rule breakers.” Indeed, no two AHP titles or side projects of Earl’s — Bywords, Experiment-O (an annual PDF magazine that celebrates the art of risk) — are bound to share the same poetic trajectories. Which brings us to the two AngelHousePress chapbooks at hand.

In the seventeen poems which comprise Notes From A Cartywheel, Christine McNair functions primarily as an experimental language poet. In the suite of “Cartywheel” poems numbered simply “one”, “four” through to “twelve”, the poems act as spokes within a central language wheel. Not only are the poems cyclic allegorically, McNair plays upon the internal qualities of language to further this metaphor.
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3 above/ground press chapbooks from 2012

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let lie\ by Elizabeth Rainer and Michael Blouin
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, January 2012

Excerpts from Impossible Books: The Crawdad Cantos
by Stephen Brockwell
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, February 2012

Sextet: six poems from Songs for little sleep,
by rob mclennan
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, January 2012

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

The quintessential poet’s micro-press, above/ground press — founded and published by poet, writer, and editor Rob McLennan out of Ottawa, Ontario — publishes chapbooks by both newly emerging and established poets alike. What makes above/ground press titles stand apart from other micro-press poetry chapbooks (besides their nondescript covers, that is) is that they offer the reader glimpses into collaborations as well as individual works in progress. It’s these glimpses which above/ground gives that makes their titles unique, revealing the process of the poet’s composition, their collaborations, as each waltz’s their muse along the thin razor’s edge of creation.

In let lie\, an excerpt from a collaborative work by Elizabeth Rainer and Michael Blouin, we are given glimpses into pieces which were written over a period of a year and a half and emailed back and forth:

to describe it\ I should not ask you when you touch yourself to think of me as I am there no probably this is the very type of thing I should keep to myself that and this is the failure of poetry to do you any kind of justice at all light tapping of my heart punching holes in the sky.

it would be\ nice for me if you were someone else for a change someone who didn’t know me so well my tremors hopes then when we were making love it would all be different once more your ankles up around and there wouldn’t be that look on your face him, again.

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