Readers Wanted!

August 25, 2017

Credit: Jasmine Golestaneh
TAR Chapbook Series is looking for staff readers for the upcoming open reading period from September 1 to October 1. We are looking for sophisticated readers of poetry, fiction, and/or nonfiction—sophisticated being a word up to interpretation.
Requirements are minimal. We ask that when you email us, you introduce yourselves in whatever manner is relevant to your journey as a literary person and share with us some of your favorite writers, as well as the last five or so books you’ve read. Bonus if you want to tell us in so many words what you thought of those recent books! Please be sure to tell us what genre you’re most interested in. If you’d like to include a resume or CV, it never hurts!
Thank you so much for your interest! Email us at theatlasreview [at] gmail [dot] com. We’re excited to meet you!
Continue Reading »

Alien Pink: A Preview

August 24, 2017

Alien Pink by Spencer Williams from Emily Raw on Vimeo.
I’ve heard it said countless times that a poem is an argument. Those who say it are satisfied enough with this workshop proverb, but who or what is being argued? We enlist an idea, then, that all poems are political, because surely the argument challenges a larger force, simply by being a poem in this consumer culture. Meditation, by way of a supreme expression of poetry, is a kind of resistance. But resistance is the best kind of resistance—and Spencer Williams’s Alien Pink has a direct and devastating poetic arc that, rather than resisting the intelligence almost successfully as Wallace Stevens would have it, obliterates the intelligence with utmost intent. Here, the intelligence is the hetero-patriarchal white supremacist America that permeates everything. Spencer is a poet of utmost intent, a trans activist on the page who will not let the Eddie Redmayne’s and Matthew Bomer’s off the hook, who will make us see rampant trans deaths as she reports her own coming out narrative. She will not obey the traumas that made her. She will force out the blooms of her form and become herself again, an alien celebrating her inheritance. Her lines shiver through a metallic mechanism, something both archaic and futuristic. Her landscape, it is one of familiarity and violent distance, Americana more than dystopia. There’s a brutality to her alien inheritance. Listen to this stanza from her poem, “And God Created Woman . . . “: “Mother’s flammable / nightwear    ties around / my balding head. / I am    every bone    in / the VCR. My labor is / a cardboard house with windows / that fear rainfall.” Alien Pink was an absolute dream to work on, Spencer a gorgeous spirit amid so much of this regime’s early brutalities. It is a vital chapbook that can and will save lives along the way. The ever-talented Emily Raw created an incredible animated video to Spencer’s shortest poem in the collection, “Voice Lessons,” which you can watch above. Below is a sample poem from Alien Pink, as well as an interview with Spencer. Run, don’t walk, to buy this one, folks.
Here is a dune containing my mother’s antique loveseat
from the Woodstock era. My father’s dull razor
splotched with crusted blood. I do not reach to
touch it. I attempt admiration from a distance in the
stomach of his dune, how it glimmers in the cup
next to the toilet, bone-white and toothless. My
father is a 1940s relic curving lower by day, sinking
unworried outside my window as he hedges the
bush. Mexico stands across the street each morning
and begs me for an excavation. A woman I knew  —
but didn’t  —  dug a hole in our yard and rocked me to
sleep among roots sucking dry the water lapping our
feet. Twenty-one years ago, I was the river running
south beneath her skirt.
Yes  —  she was wearing a skirt. She was running to
have me. She shot the darkest glob of spit over
chicken wire, barefoot. REM whispered these
visions to me the night before I found her molding
in my mother’s cabinet. [...] Continue Reading »

Liv Lansdale: Who’s your favorite pop cultural figure?

Alana Massey: Harry Styles. I write and talk a lot about Harry Styles and One Direction in a way that seems a bit flip and like I’m just some sort of overgrown teen with a crush on a floppy-haired boy but I honestly think that Styles is the kind of charismatic performer and person that we get maybe once in a decade, a generation even. People who have followed his career since the beginning of One Direction know that he’s always been exceptionally funny, self-aware, warm, and constantly learning and absorbing information as it pertains to living in a more just world.

LL: Are there any [pop cultural figures] you feel particularly ambivalent about? You love them but you don’t want to, or you believe you should love them but you don’t? 

AM: Intellectually, I know I am supposed to revere and care about Madonna because it is indisputable that she’s done incredible things for creativity, for women, and for society. She’s incomparable in so many ways and I get that. But I just have a hard time getting worked up about her or excited, even though I’m a huge fan of the music that made her famous.

LL: At what point did you realize this would be a book of women? Was there a draft with any dude-focused essays?

AM: This was always 100% going to be a book about women and the earliest incarnation of the [book] proposal was actually much angrier and more focused on the evils of men than on the merits of women. I used to think that there was quite enough material about men that I’d never write a word about famous men but as I’ve started doing celebrity profiles and have finally had a chance to write about boy bands at the length and depth I want, I am seriously considering shifting my focus to men. There is a lot of written work about men but very little of it is written by women—what if Vogue and Vanity Fair profiles of men were coming from someone with a hetero-female gaze? Or from a more empathetic, less adulating perspective than so many man-on-man profiles are? What if profiles or essays about men could show that they’re vulnerable more than that they’re cool? Angelica Jade Bastién wrote these two incredible pieces on Keanu Reeves and James Marsden that absolutely blew me away in this area and I would love to see more writing like that from women.

LL: Which essay from All the Lives I Want evolved the most? What was the starting point?

Alana Massey: The Winona/Gwyneth essay started as something of a rant that I ended up reading aloud at the first reading I was ever invited to. It read far cattier, far angrier, and far more self-indulgent than the essay that ended up in the book. The first published incarnation of it was on Buzzfeed and even after it was toned down for that, there was still this dichotomy set up that there really are Winonas and Gwyneths, which I [...] Continue Reading »

al youm: a preview

April 19, 2017

Poetry is capable of willing language into new utility. It can be a political engine, transforming discourse into a line, a fume of impulses. George Abraham is a poet of exact fury, channeling language as he also interferes with its oppressive transmissions. Few writers are able, the way George Abraham is able, to convey the bareness of violence without falling back on traditional poetic instincts. But for George, tradition requires splintering. Encountering George on the page and on the stage, it becomes clear that George is busy casting another net entirely, one in which mastery bows to mutuality, one in which power dissolves away from the absolute and into the terrible space of inhabitance. With George, we must obliterate the language of the Zionist by showing us the language of the Zionist. We must see the Queer Palestinian by seeing the Queer Palestinian present amid their enemies. We see grammar as a kind of ramshackle as the voice of the poems rise up, rise forward, break apart its captors. Working with George has taught me so much about patience and celebration, that we might elect a better community despite what we think we deserve from community. al youm is so much power and grace and beauty. I hope you’ll purchase your copy of it today and celebrate this singular, phenomenal poet. Much thanks, as always, to the ever-talented and brilliant co-editor Emily Raw for creating a gorgeous and compelling cover, and for conceiving George’s book trailer, seen above.
ode to my swollen, mono-infected Spleen
There’s a weight in you that screams at
Unholy hours & this is the first time you
Were led to believe your body is not a chasm;
When your gut becomes an ocean in love
With its tempests & the invisible islands
Swallowed whole in the wake of you —
You’ve got the colonizers shaking in their
Boots; every white thing trembles at
The sight of the expansive planet you’ve become;
There are parts you never knew existed
Until they occupied too much space.
Until your own weight fills your
Hollowed frame & everything inside
You bursts & swells into
A cacophony of organs & white blood
Cells — how could you expect to house
All this fluid & turbulence & history without
Imploding? Don’t they know you have a
Whole country in you? How can
You expect completeness when home is
A borderless entity; when you fit the
Infinite into a single body — how do
They look at you & not see God in that
Swell & undertow? In the Goliath
They made of that fist-sized organ, or the
Holy ghost your immune system has become;
They look at you & see a defenseless thing; a city
In love with the carpet bomb’s embrace;
You ever look at a body on fire & see
God in the burning? You ever sing hallelujah
To an infected thing because it did not
Kill you? Because the battle makes you feel
So alive you’ve forgotten the martyr your
Body has become? You’re still unlearning
The parts of you that shrivel & shrink beneath
The confines of gravity & you’ve begun teaching them
To swell. To crash.
To flood.
—Originally published by Brooklyn Poets

An Interview with George Abraham
Natalie Eilbert: The experience of reading al youm is a forceful [...] Continue Reading »