Thoughts on Individual Pieces from “Pop Serial” no. 2

Windswept, Aidan Koch – Really beautiful, kind of abstract and lyrical single page comic. She has a couple of other things in here that are also good, but this one is the best. I just ordered her graphic novella The Whale.

Poems by Steve Roggenbuck – A good selection of things from DOWNLOAD HELVETICA FOR FREE.COM (which is not a place to download Helvetica, incidentally, but a poetry book/website; if you want to know how to download Helvetica you’ll need to buy the book and read the page titled “How to Actually Download Helvetica for Free”). I hopefully have a review of the book coming out on the Rain Taxi site soon, so I won’t say anything else about it now.

We Will Drink our Coffee and Complete our Novels and Lay in Sunlight and Sit in Darkness, Tao Lin – A short vignette describing a pleasant, idle day together for a young, quirky-creative couple—the hook is that it’s written in the future tense and addressed to the other person directly, so that it feels like a promise or a shared fantasy rather than a story. Sweet and optimistic, but there’s also an undercurrent of sadness or even desperation in the fact that these events aren’t happening yet, may still not happen at all.

Excerpt from My Hair Will Defeat You, Brandon Scott Gorrell – Like a lot of the prose in the journal this is pretty squarely in the vein of hyper-minimalist depictions of young urban hipsters ala Shoplifting from American Apparel or Eat When You Feel Sad. Some of the weaker examples water that style down and seem rote, or else take it too far and seem like parodies—but this feels sensitive and alive, with a distinctive focus on the self-consciousness of youth. The opening paragraph alone—kind of a Homeric catalogue of hairstyles and fashion choices at an indie rock show—is enough to make me curious to read the whole novel.

Little Rock, Megan Boyle – Solid, competent, maybe a little over-familiar story about a long distance relationship. A little disappointing in that it doesn’t match the wild creativity, whimsy, and sweetness of some of her better Thought Catalog articles.

It is Okay to Feel Catastrophic, Noah Cicero – I think I’ve read some excerpts from Noah Cicero’s books online before and thought they were okay but not exciting enough to make me read the whole books. This thing is a fucking revelation, though. At different times—usually fleetingly, and never in a bad way—it reminded me of Allen Ginsberg, T. S. Eliot, and Flarf poetry. But most of all it reminded me of Ariana Reines (maybe my favorite living poet), as a free-swinging, caps-locking jeremiad against modern existence and existence in general. Like Reines, Cicero doesn’t worry too much about bad lines or rough edges, he just sweeps everything up and carries it along in the momentum of the poem like an avalanche, all sharp and passionate and tilted at crazy angles

An Interview with Jordan Castro by Stephen Tully Dierks – What I really like about this interview is the photos of Castro hanging out with other Muumuu House people in New York, goofy pictures like Castro and Tao Lin holding hands with a caption that refers to them as an “allergic-to-cats literary duo.” Sort of makes being a Muumuu House writer look like being in college, and makes me nostalgic for college myself even though my college experience was never quite as social as that.

Poems by Kendra Grant Malone – Both of these poems are from Everything is Quiet, and neither is among my particular favorites, though I can see why “insane or irate—neither of the words accurately describes the feeling that they indicate” seems to be kind of a signature poem for her, because it’s both totally relatable and really fresh. Reading these reminded me of how weird and intense her line breaks are, always very short lines with lots of counterintuitive, maybe anti-musical breaks. It’s mysteriously effective and I think does a lot to set her work apart; makes me wish I had commented more on form when I reviewed her book.

Twelve Poems, David Fishkind – These are similar to the poems by Lief Haven earlier in the journal, in that they’re short lyrics each packed with a single surprise like a firecracker that looks like a Joan Miró painting, and in that I want to write something about them but can’t think of much beyond that I like them.

AlphaDeath, Philip Tseng – An alphabet illustrated with anthropomorphized fruits and vegetables for each letter, except that all of them are being sliced up and killed. My girlfriend thinks we should get a color print of it for the kitchen in our new apartment.

Stories by Richard Chiem – Three vignettes depicting relationships, mostly long distance (there are a lot of those in here) from different angles. Sometimes the writing seems a little sloppy, but then there’s a tenderness and sensitivity about it that makes the flaws seem necessary, like marks of candor.

tonight, i mean, Daniel Bailey – I think the more I’m exposed to Daniel Bailey’s non-drunk poems the more I like them. I wish he would have a book I could read apart from The Drunk Sonnets, I think by the end of it I’d really get what he’s doing. This whole poem is good but even if it wasn’t, this one stanza would be worth it by itself:

     my head is muddy
     you sad, long fire
     I sat inside you
     and baked into something hard