SUNNY SIDE DOWN: A CHARLES BUKOWSKI TRIBUTE I don't normally review anything that I am in (I have a poem in this), but this Charles Bukowski tribute chapbook is well worth mentioning. Edited by Katie Doherty (Patchouli Press) and featuring a stellar line up of writers, each with their own unique take on the infamous poet. Whatever your thoughts about Bukowski the man, there is no denying his literary merit. It goes to show that some 23 years after his death, he is still held in such high regard. Some of his opinions and attitudes may have been problematic but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would not have started writing poetry, or created Paper and Ink Literary Zine, had I not discovered his words. Sunny Side Down is a fine collection of work and a must have for any fan of Buk. Order one for yourself from Patchouli Press right here.
LOOKING DOWN BOTH BARRELS BY ADRIAN MANNING AND JOHN D ROBINSON
Another outstanding chapbook of poetry from Holy&Intoxicated Publications, featuring the work of two poets whom I would have no problem mentioning in the same breath as the aforementioned Charles Bukowski. Honest, raw poetry, dredged up from the gut and laid bare on the page. This is Grade A material, and a young upstart poet such as myself can only dream of being able to tame the written word as well as these two gentlemen. Special mention should go to Janne Karlsson for the terrific cover artwork. Get your hands on a copy by emailing John D Robinson at email@example.com
"If you're gonna
write a poem
that will burn
words that will
the paper they are
that read them
but the message
- Adrian Manning, 'And Fahrenheit 451 Evens The Score'
Return to the Madlands is the third and final book in prolific wordsmith Dave Matthes'Mire Man Trilogy. The story picks up with everybody's favourite misanthropic, whisky drinking, son of a bitch, Arlo Smith, a decade or thereabouts after he drove off into the sunset at the end of Paradise City (the second book in the trilogy). Now in his fifties/sixties (his exact age is never stated), Arlo has been living a relatively normal life (by his standards). Shacked up, playing happy families with Beth Jensen - the former teacher he had a relationship with in high school, and the woman who sprung him from his self imposed exile in Moriarty's Institute. After ten years of normality, Beth has now passed away and Arlo discovers that she had been hiding letters from him. Many letters, sent to him over a number of years, by his former lover, Constance (the love interest from the first book of the trilogy, Bar Nights). Having almost given up on life after Beth's passing and feeling the effects of Father Time on his weary bones, he decides to roll the dice once last time, and hits the road in search of his long lost love. What follows is a madcap adventure across the country which leads Arlo to a destination he did not expect, nor could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams. Return to the Madlands is the longest book of the trilogy, clocking in at just over 300 pages, and departs from the flash back/memory recall motif of Paradise City. It is much more in keeping, stylistically, with the first and shortest book of the trilogy, Bar Nights. Madlands plays out like a series of vignettes from the open road, documenting all of the crazy, weird situations that Arlo finds himself in during his trip, with all of the strange people he encounters, and the trouble that he inevitably lands in the middle of. At the end of my review of Paradise City I said that I would not be holding my breath for a happy ending for Arlo, and after reading the heartbreaking epilogue after the conclusion of the story, I was certainly right not to! However, heartbreaking epilogue aside, the end was not all together bad for Arlo, in fact I would say that Madlands was very much the redemption of Arlo Smith. I imagine we have not seen the last of this character, as there are plenty of gaps in the story that Matthes could explore, but if we never see Arlo again, then this was a very fitting end for a very interesting character.
Leftover Pieces / Leftover Press is a very interesting small press run by Billy Bridwell III out of Arizona. The three publications pictured above, 'Without The Words There's No Song', 'Faces', and 'Clouds and Trees & You and Me' are the press' first three publications, all authored by Billy himself.
'Without Words There's No Song' is the most comprehensive, and certainly the most personal of the three publications. A documentation of Billy's time playing in punk and rock bands throughout the 90s and 00s, and a collection of lyrics that he wrote during that time; "To me, the words always meant more than the music ever could. This is an attempt to put it in one place, taken from the context of song." The lyrics, which are "part song, part prose, part story", make for a very interesting and revealing read. A journey through Billy's eyes and a celebration of "twenty-plus years of loneliness and angst, panic and worry, excitement and unity, to true love and hope".
'Faces' is a collection of digitally illustrated... faces. Fifty two different faces to be exact. Drawn using a combination of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Inkscape and Indesign, and each accompanied by a (seemingly) random motivational phrase, which Billy says are "simply a reminder to always stay true to yourself. Be aware of your surroundings and how you fit into them. This world can eat you alive, give yourself a fighting chance". I really enjoyed this zine and was very impressed with the illustrations, and diversity and the detail captured in each drawing.
'Clouds and Trees & You and Me' features a beautiful long form poem about the nature of life, and similar to 'Faces', encourages us to be true to ourselves no matter what. The poem is also beautifully illustrated, each page featuring yet more remarkable digital illustration, closely mimicking woodcut art. This was a quick read, a but a lovely little zine and highly recommended.
Leftover Press have recently released a fourth publication of Billy's short stories, which I am yet to get my hands on, but hope to soon. Please support this fantastic press by purchasing some of these zines for yourself by clicking the image below.
LIT FIEND INTERVIEW #17 is with writer, poet, blogger, avid tea drinker and the guest editor of the twelth issue of PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE #12...
First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?
My name is Katie Doherty, I was born in Wales and now I live in England. I am a writer, a poet, a collector and a publisher of morbid and literary tomes.
How long have you been writing poetry?
Since I knew what poetry was, I think this may have been in primary school. I was writing short stories and poetry when my friends were out playing; my internal world was so magical. I haven’t stopped writing them since.
What I like about your poetry is that it is very direct, but at the same time very emotive, and wears its heart on its sleeve. What / who are your biggest poetic influences?
I don’t think I can necessarily track where my voice came from, it has just naturally evolved into what you read today. I grew up on the poetry of Dylan Thomas, I fell in love with the words of Emily Bronte, Anais Nin, Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker, M.R James, Anne Rice, Anne Sexton, Nick Cave, Charles Bukowski and many more. Growing up as an only child enabled me to live in my own world, rather uninfluenced. I was always intrigued by psychology, death, religion and art and luckily I had very open-minded parents, so much so that my Mother and I often took long walks through the local graveyard to gather our thoughts.
Your anthology, Your Black Opium, has just been released. Tell me a little about it...
Your Black Opium is made up of fragments and lost objects. Ghosts and predictions. Love and loss. It was written over a long period and wasn’t actually written as a set piece but somehow it all came together. I cannot say my work has a theme but if there was a genre I would file my work under hauntings.
You also publish zines and magazines yourself, how long have you been doing that?
I started publishing my own zines back in 2007 and then I opened up my own little distro a couple of years later - I brought this around with me as I moved from place to place. As a child, I always dreamt of being the editor of a magazine and I don’t know where that came from. Alongside my distro I would create zines but then I published an online magazine and after a few years of that I vowed never to do that again so went back to print in the form of Obscurum. Paper is wonderful and it should be printed on with deliciously morbid things.
As an editor, I always feel like it is cheating when I put my own work in to an issue, is that just me or do all editors who also write feel that way?
I did put my own work in the last issue of Obscurum and I don’t feel guilty about that. It isn’t a vanity issue, I just had a piece I felt would fit in with the theme of death. I can see why people may feel like you are pushing your own work on others but you know, sometimes it’s nice to see the work of an editor, gives them a sense of being at one with the contributors rather than the big bad editor!
You are guest editor of the next issue of my literary zine PAPER AND INK, which is a women only issue, due to the always unequal ratio of female to male submissions that I get. Why do you think it is that less women submit their work to publications than men do?
Without working for The New Yorker or a publication like that, I’m not sure I could comment on the ratio of male to female submissions they receive. Of course women do submit and probably get ignored but thankfully there are many women-only publications about. This is brilliant that a space has been built but for us but we shouldn’t have to build a space because work should be accepted on merit and not what gender you are. With regards to Paper and Ink, if this zine was run by a woman, would this help get more submissions? Maybe. I am hoping that being the guest editor will help this.
What do you look for from submissions? What kind of writing impresses you the most, and what kind of thing annoys you?
People who try too hard. People who attempt to be like someone else. People that write rubbish to shock. These are things that annoy me. I love a real voice and I love to feel something. I won’t look at your name or if you have been published; I will just read your work and if I get that feeling, you’re in. It is a simple as that. You may write the most wonderfully technical poem that I will applaud you for but if it lacks soul then I won’t like it. What was the last book you read that blew you away?
I buy so many new books and none of them touch me, I end up going back to the old faithfuls but The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton blew me away. It had lots of good press and sometimes I think that’s a bad sign but gave it a go. It was so compelling, so wonderfully crafted and it was consistent until the end. I even wrote a piece about Jessie on my blog and she sent me a wonderful message on Twitter to thank me.
If you were stuck on a desert island, which three books would you want with you?
As an avid reader this feels like a cruel question. This will of course change from one week to the next but for now…
Henry and June by Anais Nin, Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson and a collection of poetry by Dylan Thomas. Is it cheating to have compilations?
If you could get drunk with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
There are so many people I would love to get drunk with but at the moment I would have to say Nick Cave, Dylan Thomas and Salvador Dali. I think choosing the muse, a Welsh poet and a surrealist would make for an excellent pub crawl.
Lastly, what does the future hold for Katie Doherty?
More tea drinking, writing in journals, reading and buying more books than I will ever manage to read in my lifetime. I will keep on writing, running my blog and publishing tomes of the macabre kind.
Budget Press is a no nonsense small press run by johnnie b. baker out of California. I first encountered the press when johnnie submitted a short story to my own zine (Paper and Ink Literary Zine), which went on to feature in the eighth issue. I have been following the press ever since and recently bought a copy of johnnie's zine 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking', and he was kind enough to also send me some other zines that he had recently published, 'Москва девушки' a photography zine, also his own, and 'About Last Night: A Dream Zine' by Robyn Joy. These zines are old school, lo-fi, cut and paste publications. In a world where zines seem to be getting more and more artisanal and pretentious; expensive paper stocks, fancy binding and embossed typography etc, it is refreshing to see these zines made the traditional way. 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking' tells the true story of johnnie's battle with an eating disorder in his younger days (or in his own words: "a little true story about being a fat kid on drugs with an eating disorder whose guts eventually explode. Yay!"). It is important that these stories are told, and especially by men, as people often forget that it is not just women that suffer from body image issues, and they can spiral out of control if they are not addressed properly. Hopefully the tale of johnnie's exploding guts will be enough to prompt any young men that are facing similar issues to seek help ASAP. 'Москва девушки' is a zine of photographs "taken without looking", which is a very interesting concept and provides a candid collection of shots of people going about their day to day lives. Most certainly a zine for the people watchers out there. And finally 'About Last Night' is a beautifully bright and colourful cut and paste zine by Robyn Joy - a collection of brief descriptions of her dreams, which span the years 2011 to 2015. Robyn's dreams range from incredibly dark and disturbing to lighthearted and whimsical. A very interesting read, which made me wish I had kept a diary of my own dreams throughout the years.
Budget Press also has a number of other publications available, which are all very much worth your time and money, so please show your support by clicking the image below and buying some rad zines!