Tuesday, 5 June 2018

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#19]


It has been a while, lit fiends, but it is finally time for a brand new interview. This time with a writer/poet/publisher that I discovered fairly recently and have had the pleasure of not only reading his work, but seeing his publishing outfit, Iron Lung Press, flourish into something truly special. I also have the honour of publishing one of his poems in the latest issue of my literary zine, PAPER AND INK...

First things first, what's your name, what do you do, and where do you come from?

My name is Arthur J. Willhelm, i am a writer and the founder of Iron Lung Press based in New Jersey, USA.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I wrote here and there since 2008, but recently decided to become serious about it and take my writing to the next level.

You've recently started your own small publishing outfit, Iron Lung Press, what was the thinking behind this venture?

Iron Lung Press started as a means to put out my own work, but after drinking a good amount, it hit me that i can put out small chapbooks for upcoming writers, a sample of their talents if you will.

What do you make of the state of the small press scene at the moment? How have you found it starting from scratch and getting to where you are now?

I think small press is amazing, we are the working class, no big corporate fat cats or wallets, we do this because we love it, i am broke, but passionate.

You have a close relationship with British based small press Analog Submission, how did that come about?

Marc and i met on instagram through his checking out iron lung press, his writing is amazing and he influenced much of what i am doing now.

Do you think there is less stigma attached to self publishing these days than there was a decade or so ago when it started to become more popular?

Of course there is, these days, publishers want the next big thing, we are the working class romantics, self publishing assures that our work is ours. i fucking love it.

As a writer, who or what have been the biggest influences on your work?

Honestly, Marc from analog submission has been a huge influence, his work is incredible, outside of that, the beat generation hands down.

You recently published your first novel, Kitchen Beers, which you describe as a 'blast fiction', can you describe what you mean by that term and what is the novel about?

Blast fiction was something that came to me as a means of mixing blast beats from metal and fiction, fast paced. the story moves forward in bursts. The novel is a dramatized account of my real life career as a chef in kitchens.

Do you consider yourself a poet first and writer second? Or is poetry and prose one and and the same?

That is a tough one, everyone says they are a poet these days, but in the essence of my writing, yeah, i am a poet first.

What was the last book you read that blew your mind?

Get it back to give it away by marc from analog submission. I am not just saying this, this book is like on the road in modern times, it blew me away.

If you could get drunk with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?

Bukowski (obvious if you have read my writing), kerouac, and ginsberg. i would love to drink and hear stories with the men that laid the foundation for how we write.


If you could publish a chapbook of poetry by any poet, living or dead, who would it be?

shit, that is tough and i am drunk, i would have to say Mr. Allen Ginsberg, his writing changed everything.

What are your plans for the future going forward with Iron Lung Press?

My plans are to print chapbooks for the underdog, help those who have big dreams at least have a small book to show people that they are serious. Poetry is a tough sell, but we are the dreamers.

Thank you Martin, for this interview, i appreciate the interest in Iron Lung and myself.

CHECK OUT IRON LUNG PRESS AND THEIR CATALOGUE OF CHAPBOOKS ON THEIR WEBSITE, FOLLOW ARTHUR ON INSTAGRAM, AND LOOK OUT FOR HIM IN PAPER AND INK #13 WHICH IS AVAILABLE HERE

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

BOOK REVIEWS: THESE POEMS STOLE YOUR LUNCH MONEY AND A FACE NOW RENDERED INDESCRIBABLE



THESE POEMS STOLE YOUR LUNCH MONEY
(HOLY&INTOXICATED PUBLICATIONS)


These Poems Stole Your Lunch money is a split poetry chapbook by British poet John D Robinson and American poet Bradley Mason Hamlin. Despite being separated by an ocean, these two writers are cut from the same cloth. The experiences captured in these poems are matter of fact, shameless portraits of modern life in the underbelly of society. A society that would sooner sweep its flaws under the carpet than celebrate them in the way you see here. These poems will not shy away from painful truths, these poems will not go quietly into the night, these poems will spit, and claw, and punch. These poems will steal your lunch money... 
If you're in the UK you can get a copy from johndrobinson@yahoo.co.uk and if you're in the US you can get a copy right here. 

A FACE NOW RENDERED INDESCRIBABLE
(ANALOG SUBMISSION)

A Face Now Rendered Indescribable is a poetry chapbook by South African (via York, England) poet Marc BrΓΌseke, published in 2017 by his own press, Analog Submission. Before I even get to the poetry I will say that this is a beautiful looking chapbook. I will always have a soft spot for risograph printed material. There is just something so raw, and beautiful, and earthy about the way it feels. But enough about my weird paper and ink fetish... the poetry itself is also right up my alley; Tales of drunken debauchery, of fucking up and not learning your lesson. My wheelhouse entirely. The face may be rendered indescribable, but the poetry certainly isn't. Marc has a very distilled, minimalist style. No words wasted and no long, rambling stanzas. This chapbook left me wanting to seek out much more of Marc's work, and I look forward to getting stuck in to the rest of his Analog Submission titles. Get a copy for yourself right here. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

BOOK REVIEW: SWALLOWTUDE BY ROB PLATH



Swallowtude is the debut novel from prolific underground poet, Rob Plath, published last year by Epic Rites Press. It is a "memoir" chronicling the life and redemption of its fictional protagonist, Harry Zontal...

"this is the story about how i saved my life. i'm not so sure why i wanted to save myself because i find living rather painful; but anyhow, this book is about salvation. it may also be considered a deferred murder spree, a delayed overdose, a shelved trip to the loony bin, a stay against cirrhosis, etc. but don't think i'm overly concerned with living because i'm not...but things were getting out of hand."

Straight off the bat you know what you are in for with this book, and in no uncertain terms you find out just how "out of hand" Harry's life was getting via a series of harrowing, yet often comical vignettes of hard drinking, drug taking and debauchery to the highest order. Harry is an out of work, down and out, borderline alcoholic, who stumbles from one meaningless hookup to the next, all in order of keeping "the creature" at bay. Eventually Harry's lifestyle catches up to him and he somehow manages to drag himself out of the mire before he is too far gone.

Having read a lot of Plath's poetry before picking up this book I had an idea of what to expect, as many of his poems follow similar patterns and themes to those captured here. I was pleasantly surprised that he has maintained his signature style from his poetry and translated it perfectly to prose. Plath is not one for following "the rules" and his prose style is very fluid, very raw and very much in the vein of the stream of consciousness style popularised by the beats. Swallowtude is like Kerouac meets Bukowski on acid. This is a very short novel, clocking in at only 84 pages. It is a short, sharp kick in the guts and highly recommended for fans of this type of story. Pick up a copy from Epic Rites Press and check out more of Rob's work on his website.

Stay horizontal my friends.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

BOOK REVIEWS: BEDSIT BOHEMIA AND KILLING OUR SAINTS


BEDSIT BOHEMIA (A SORT OF ROMANCE) 
BY JACOB LOUIS BEANEY


'Bedsit Bohemia' is Jacob Louis Beaney's follow up to his 2016 novella 'Notes From An Overweight Starving Artist' and follows the same hapless protagonist in his pursuit of romance, whilst attempting to live a bohemian, starving artist lifestyle. 

Coming in at just eighty pages, this is a quick read, but is packed full of Beaney's trademark surrealist humour. Right from the off, you know what you're in for. The opening few lines spell it out for you in no uncertain terms; "None of this takes place in a bedsit. I came up with the title for the book before I wrote it and you know it's really hard to come up with a good title so I decided to keep it despite its utter irrelevance.". The narrator continues in this vein, admitting that they are only writing the book in order to use up the ten ISBNs they obtained as you can only buy them in bulk. Being a writer myself, and being inspired by the down and out tales of the likes of Charles Bukowski and George Orwell, I very much related to the protagonist struggling with his romantic ideals versus the realities of life. This particular passage had my laughing out loud... "My dream ever since I was a child had been to develop a debilitating drug addiction and live in a squalid, damp bedsit spending all day drinking cheap wine and writing poetry on a battered typewriter. But it was proving harder than imagined to achieve. For one thing it was really hard to find printing ribbon and drugs seemed to cost an absolute fortune."

The novella is also filled with an array of excellent woodcut prints (also by Beaney), and came accompanied by some humourous flyers for fictional businesses that are mentioned in the story. The prose is generally smooth, but there are one or two spelling and grammatical errors, which whilst could have been ironed out with another round of editing, also add to its rudimentary and haphazard charm. This is well worth a read, and I implore you to buy a copy. To do so, just contact Jacob via jacobneaney@gmail.com

KILLING OUR SAINTS BY SCOTT WOZNIAK
AND JANNE KARLSSON   


'Killing Our Saints' is the latest poetry collection from Oregon poet Scott Wozniak, and is illustrated by prolific Swedish artist Janne Karlsson (and published by his press Svensk Apache). Scott's words and Janne's imagery are a fucked up, dysfunctional match made in the depths of desperation and despair. The perfect compliment to one another. Each poem I read became my new favourite in the book, and each accompanying illustration more messed up than the last. 

As any fan of Wozniak's writing will know (or anyone who looks at the front cover pictured above will see) this isn't the poetry that your Nana used to read. These are the words of a man who has come close to the edge on (many) more than one occasion and lived to tell the fucked up tales. These are life lessons from a teacher who knows that if you a reading this book, you probably won't heed its warnings, but implores you to do whatever you need to do to make it through...

"When young, / it's your duty / to piss / on graves- / Death's / handy work.
It's like throwing / the first punch / in a fight / you know / you can't win."

This is a short read, clocking in with 23 poems, but they're all made of pure, solid Gold. As quickly as you devour this book, you'll want to open that first page and start again right away, and I advise that you do just that. Buy one now RIGHT HERE.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

BOOK REVIEW: EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE BY ALICE FURSE



Okay, so I am a little late to the party with this book. It was published in 2014 by Burning Eye Books, and has been sitting on my bookshelf for about two years (for shame), but it's fashionable to be late, right? Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is the debut novel by Alice Furse, about a nameless protagonist who struggles to find meaning in her hum drum post-graduate life.

I related to this book SO HARD. Like, I have literally lived the life of these characters. From post-graduate shitty mind numbing office jobs to relationships built on foundations of fire and passion that quickly crumble after that fire goes out. It was all a little too real at times, and I won't lie, at certain points I found myself frustrated with it. Largely because, well, nothing ever really happens - it isn't so much a story as it is a moment in time. Which is fine! More than fine, in fact, it is just not what I was expecting... 

The tagline on the front cover is "A Girl. An Office. The Apocalypse" and the blurb on the back reads "As her days fill with low paid office work and her boyfriend abandons ambition, a young woman believes there must be an apocalypse on the horizon and hatches a dramatic plan to escape". Maybe, naively (?), I was expecting a wry take on an impending apocalypse, something akin to Seeking A Friend For The End of the World or Don McKellar's Last Night. But there is no apocalypse (other than, perhaps, a metaphorical one), the protagonist never mentions the imminent destruction of the world nor the salvation of the righteous (the word apocalypse is mentioned more times in this review thus far than it was in the book), and the protagonist does not in any way "hatch a dramatic plan to escape". I don't know, maybe I missed something, maybe I am just an idiot, or maybe I am just focusing on the wrong thing here, but I feel that the selling of the apocalypse angle does a massive disservice to what is otherwise a really bloody brilliant book.

To not only see the extraordinary in the couldn't-be-more-ordinary is one thing, but to bring it to life and make it sing the way Alice does is exceptional writing. There is a funny passage when the protagonist criticises Charles Bukowski's novel Women for being too unrealistic, and you could almost level the opposite criticism at Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. It perfectly captures the realities and the restlessness of being twenty-something and lostAt times it is uncomfortable. At times it is hilarious. At times you want to grab her boyfriend by the scruff of the neck and tell him to turn his bloody Xbox off and at times you realise that you were that boyfriend that was more interested in his Xbox than anything else (No? Just me then?). This really is a brilliant read and I highly recommend it. Just don't get too hung up on the whole apocalypse thing, like I did.

Grab a copy right now from Burning Eye Books.  

Monday, 15 January 2018

I READ ZINES [#16]


 A CATALOGUE OF FAILURE

I don't normally like to review zines that I appear in (I have a poem in this one), but this particular little zine is worthy of special praise. A delightful collection of literary material on the theme of failure, put together by author Alice Furse (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Burning Eye Books, 2014). In her own words, from the introduction, "There is no Hallmark card that reads 'Sorry you didn't make the grade this time mate', there is no FAIL button on Instagram, there are no speeches for relationships that didn't work out". This collection is designed for the reader to take those feelings of failure, of messing up and being messed up, and help them work out how to unpackage those feelings and use them in a positive way. It is an inspiring read, I especially enjoyed strong pieces by Harry Gallon and Laura Winnick, but the closing lines by Louise Cox are perhaps most poignant, "If we didn't fail we wouldn't have cause to celebrate the successes, and the success can simply be not being crushed by our failure". Get a copy right here.

IF THE DIVINE IS IN YOU,
THEN THE DIVINE IS IN ALL OF US
BY SALLY JENKINSON

This poetry zine by Sally Jenkinson is a real beauty! I saw Sally perform a headline set at a poetry slam last year and fell in love with her poetry there and then. I was lucky enough that she agreed to trade a copy of PAPER AND INK for a copy of her book Boys (Burning Eye Books, 2016) and I was delighted when I saw that she was making her own zine. This contains a set of poems that were mainly written when Sally was on a trip to the USA and they're full of wonderful insights and intimate intricacies that make it a joy to read. Sally is fast becoming one of my favourite poets and I can't wait to read her next zine (if there should be another). Visit her website right here for details of how to purchase a copy.  

RAZUR CUTS IV

Editor Derek Steel has upped his game with the fourth issue of his punk inspired lit rag Razur Cuts - The biggest and best issue yet of the street literature mag out of Falkirk, Scotland. Featuring a who's who of international talent, including PAPER AND INK favourites Jared A. Carnie, Fee Johnstone, Ian Cusack, Jim Gibson, Jamie Thrasivoulou and Wesley Cooke, as well as many more great writers. Not only is there the excellent literature content but that is interspersed with interviews and album reviews. Great stuff and well worth the meagre price of £4. That will barely get you a pint these days! To order yours email Derek at deeko1963@googlemail.com