Friday, June 5, 2009

Straight outta . . .


Traditional hard copy print journals can still deliver great poetry. Just see, for example, my last two posts here in the glade, concerning respectively Rae Armantrout’s “Sway” and an interview with John Olson, both of which appear in the current paper-only issue of Denver Quarterly.

Yet it is also true that the instant ‘round-the-world publishing made possible by the Internet is amazing, especially if you enjoy reading poetry.

One particularly amazing example of Internet poetry amazingness is Alligatorzine, an e-zine that for five years now has serially published, mostly in English but sometimes in Dutch and French, 75 selections from a variety of contemporary poets. The Alligatorzine website includes a list of all that has been published, with the most recent on top.

I just think it’s incredible: a ‘zine in Belgium publishes a writer from Rhode Island, Jerusalem, or Seattle (all examples have in fact occured), and that work then can be read, instantly and/or years later, by me here in California and many others elsewhere on this here mudball we call home. In this respect, I must agree with Kenneth Goldsmith’s assertion that “the Internet has rendered geography basically obsolete.”

In addition to its awesome (caution: coined word ahead) Internetivity, Alligatorzine is remarkable for the quality and kind of work it has put up: in general, if you enjoy experimental poetry, done very well, then this is a ‘zine to check out.

For example, among their publications in the first half of this year are two prose poems from Rosmarie Waldrop. I love prose poetry, and Waldrop’s a master (I have about ten books, including chaps, of just such work by her). The two poems at Alligatorzine are short, and seem related, so fairly extracting a few sentences isn’t possible. But their sentences are like thought, or thoughts deep within or floating above, or just before or just after, some other thought, if that makes any sense, and I recommend them highly (click here to go).

Alligatorzine this year has also put up a new Andrew Joron prose poem, “Unfall,” that consists of twenty numbered single sentences or short paragraphs. It’s mysterious and beautiful, full of echoes and reflections of the kind that give such energy to Joron’s collection The Sound Mirror, published last year. Here’s the first of the twenty segments:
Mine to ask a mask to say, A is not A. After a face laced in lostness: a rigged signature, a game of chance.
Alligatorzine has also published several works by Clayton Eshleman this year, including a whip-smart-sharp and at points very funny imagined dialogue called “Max Ernst During the Rain.” Check out the staggering energy of the words from the imagined Ernst (who answers the question in this snippet from Eshleman’s prose-poem dialogue):
Is this what happens to you from staring at stains on the wall?

—Oh yes, blue immobilities, dormant ochres, dried menstrual rain, karstic urges, centrifigual blocks magnificent in their centripetal sway, mummified hornets bursting their shrouds in order to drill into the tiny pistons of their souls, the bones of lightning rampant in a bear! At wing with my vision, I palpate the bowels of solar foals.
Another work by Eshleman, more recently posted at Alligatorzine, is “Pollock Pouring,” a poem that reads as a response, and a great one, to a Jackson Pollock painting. The poem begins with lines containing much rhyme that somehow – at least to my mind and eyes – seem to mimic the drips and splatters of a classic Pollock work, or the feelings and thoughts one has looking at such a work:
To cage you blizzard, to purify
your gizzard while disemboweling
the lizard in its bower. To make these millipedal
feelers mill, to pedal eels, white elvers . . .
Eshleman’s poem also includes spot-on metaphor that invokes both the painting itself and the viewer’s response to it, plus bold even surprising references that rivet attention, as in the following lines:
Blizzard, I lock you into drawn-down freefall
where the moldy straw
as if by Rumpelstiltskin is turned into aureate flares.
Other authors published in English this year in Alligatorzine include Jean Daive (translated from the French by Waldrop), Heller Levinson, and John Olson (six prose poems, then, most recently, five more). In previous years, they’ve published Yoel Hoffmann (translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole), Rachel Blau DuPlessis (a selection from her Drafts), George Schneeman & Ron Padgett (several art-poem collaborations), Forrest Gander (an essay on Creeley, including about his linebreaks), Robert Kelly, Omar Cáceres (translated from the Spanish by Mónica de la Torre), and many others.

The ‘zine’s web-site states, “Alligator is an alternative press. Non-profit and definitely not mainstream.”

Or, as they also put it, in Dutch: “Alligator is een alternatieve uitgeverij. Non-profit en afzijdig van de mainstream.”

This is one wild Alligator, in other words. A wild one that I’m quite certain you won’t mind getting in the water with, as frequently as you can.

End-note: You’ve probably figured it out, but just in case: almost every mention of Alligatorzine in the post links to the page on their website that lists, and provides links to, the 75 separate pages they’ve published. In addition, discussions of or mentions in this post of individual poets or poems link to the pages at Alligatorzine where the poem or poet’s work is published.


Heller Levinson said...

Steve, I wrote John Olson to get your email to compliment you on your tribute to the "alligatorzine." But I've now figured out how to "comment." I am so impressed with the tone and consistently fine work that the "alligatorzine" features that I am so glad it's being recognized. I applaud your recognition and tribute.

Steven Fama said...

Thanks Heller - - I agree, obviously: Alligatorzone has consistently fine work, and I like that's been happening there for five years now.