Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rod Serling in Ithaca; Phantasmaphile Covers Vienna; The Cascadian Subduction Zone, and Sundry Other Good Things

We're melting like votive candles here in New York City, smothered by record-setting heat and humidity along with the rest of the Northeast. Too hot and exhausted to think original thoughts, the lobster and the canary will instead find refuge in the cool ideas of others.

Some recent good things that have landed in our mailbox:

* The Rod Serling Conference at Ithaca College (NY): Elena Pizarro writes to announce that this year's conference takes place September 9-10. Serling taught at Ithaca College 1967-1975; the college houses his archives. Click here for more information.

* Valerie McKenzie sends her gallery's summer newsletter (McKenzie Fine Art is on W. 25th in Manhattan). She represents some very interesting, and underrated, artists- I especially love Jim Dingilian's spectral etchings inside bottles ("Hiding Places: Memory in Art"). Click here for more.

* Pam Grossman is always cutting-edge! On her blog Phantasmaphile she finds the most interesting art with a baroque, occult and fabulistic mentality. Recently she noted the opening of the Phantasten Museum in Vienna ("visionary art/ fantastic realism/ surrealism")-- like her, Lobster & Canary want to go! For more, click here and here.

* The Boston Review's latest is out. The BR offers, besides its incisive political and investigative reporting, some of the best fiction anywhere. (With Junot Diaz as their fiction editor, how could they not?) Among other things, they published NoViolet Bulawayo's Caine Prize-winning short story last year. Click here for more.

* Aqueduct Press has launched The Cascadian Subduction Zone: A Literary Quarterly-- the third issue just arrived, and it continues this newcomer's strong debut. Kristin King's feature essay "Can Science Fiction Change the World?" should prompt thoughtful debate. Also, many good book reviews, plus suitably strange artwork by "Mr. Mead." Check it out here.

* Charity Shumway writes to announce the launch of an urban gardening & cookery site, Spade & Spatula ("growing and cooking in the city"). Great quick recipes, anecdotes, and luscious photographs of tomatoes, flowers, pie, vases... Makes us hungry for brunch. Check it out here.

* The Academy of American Poets July newsletter includes a provocative interview with Kenneth Goldsmith, who says (among other things): "The best thing about conceptual poetry is that it doesn't need to be read. You don't have to read it. As a matter of fact, you can write books, and you don't even have to read them." Click here for more.

* Omnidawn's blog continues to share generously of their writers' work. Most recently I have been struck by Christine Hume's "Self-Stalked," which starts this way: "I looked in all eight directions then spread out my tiger’s skin. Before the public mind kicked in, I surveyed an inner shore. Its facets operated on me. I lost my lights and began my midnight thus: mental feet, mental lake, little mental pines, mental mile around the muzzle." And also Aaron Shurin's "Bruja," which opens: "Alcove of the shade tree, under which they neck and whisper… and gather their tribe. She stencils the tilt of their heads from her perch on the iron bench, their dreamy eyes and smiles. Migrating neurons: It’s as if a baton streaking the air laid them bodily onto her page…" Click here for more.

* The Pedestal Magazine's June issue features speculative poetry selected by Marge Simon and Bruce Boston, and a range of other good items. I particularly liked Steven Peck's "The Complete Text of the First Ten Volumes of Dr. Fleckwain’s Very, Very Short Steampunk Novels," and JoSelle Vanderhooft's review of God's Optimism by Yehoshua November. Vanderhooft: "This near-mystical belief in the goodness of God, God’s love, and the worthiness of human life reflect the optimism that underpins this all-too-small collection, whether its contents deal with joy or sorrow, divinity or earthliness, the spiritual or the secular. In most cases, these poems incorporate all of the above simultaneously. For these are poems about what it means to dwell in an imperfect and painful world that is nonetheless touched by the divine—or, as November said in a recent interview with The Jewish Week when explaining a teaching of the kabala, a Jewish mystical text: 'God created the world because he wanted to dwell in the lowest realm, our realm.' Thus, the most intensely spiritual moments in God’s Optimism delineate not grandiose gestures or Technicolor visions, but quiet encounters, as sharp as a needle and often unexpected." Well said! Click here for more... and then stay cool in the heatwave.

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