Grievances: A Preview

March 8, 2017

Grievances by Roberto Montes from Emily Raw on Vimeo.
Roberto Montes is a poet of many things. The experience of reading his work in Grievances is singular—the lines let white space in like a panicked gulp of air, but the text itself is a sober ballast against that anxiety. Acute in its telling, Roberto is in thrall to nobody as he enlists his political doctrine through personal grievances. One hears in that last sentence, The personal is political, but it is more that language is a violence that should, to borrow from Hannah Arendt, reveal rather than conceal its larger function. And Grievances certainly reveals. From the eponymous poem that starts off the entire chapbook, where Roberto very memorably first utters, “My name is Roberto Montes / I am BACK” to the final poem “Against Eternity,” which closes the chapbook with a fantastic counterweight to the opener, “We do as the gods will not / We die,” the poems push against the invisible frameworks that command and compromise self. Roberto avows himself of a voice fit to dismantle power structures as it is also fit to protect those for whom Poetry does not historically served. There is also a bonus piece after “Against Eternity,” an Acknowledgments page like you’ve never seen before, which acts as a kind of po’biz soliloquy. Designed to read apart from the book, the acknowledgments performs more like the original etymology of acknowledgment: a token of due recognition. In this case, it is a token of due witness, and this level of witness and recognition (for better or for worse) permeates the collection. Roberto is a very capable poet and his form is full of brilliant intention and cognition. Grievances is an important chapbook, not just in how it sees the Poetry Community, but in how it also addresses mental health, family, and the institutions that have only recently been articulated. Roberto is like no other poetic mind out there—exasperation and the ineffable clash and merge in equal, poignant measure. Above, you’ll find a small chapbook trailer conceived of and created by Emily Raw, with Roberto Montes on audio, reading from “Shame Is Revolutionary Feeling.” Below you’ll find a poem from his chapbook, “CAN YOU GIVE EVEN ONE EXAMPLE” (originally published in Sixth Finch), as well as a great interview with Roberto, conducted by Natalie Eilbert, publisher and founder of TAR, who may or may not be author of this very copy. Be sure to buy Grievances immediately.
This morning on the train someone
Wanted to know my problem
I am a soft surrealist    I said crying
The moment you realize it is not
Your reflection in the window
But a borough that could be walked to
True inspiration
Resettling the deserters of your body
True inspiration
Gerrymandering the lines of your face
So that a history becomes laughter
The way laughter becomes an excuse
To get closer to you
It’s too easy to be beautiful on this planet
And the struggle against
Is the most beautiful of all
So when the pointing gatekeepers
Left love completely
Unguarded I took it
Don’t worry
I left them more 
Than they leave themselves
—Originally published in Sixth Finch
An [...] Continue Reading »

Arcade Seventeen: A Preview

February 2, 2017

Arcade Seventeen by Megan Giddings from Emily Raw on Vimeo.
The flash stories that make up Megan Giddings’s Arcade Seventeen are anything but quick. Megan guides us through a garden of conspiratorial asparagus, a dream diary of centaur sex positions (his name is Harold; one of her favorite positions is the Sugar Cube), a quick trip through real terrifying America, one high school’s liberation of a dead pop star icon, and maybe a few too many Michael Keaton references (KIDDING: never enough). Megan’s pied beauty is absolutely dappled, glory be, but it also makes clean perfect sense, the way you might never notice an egregiously long nipple hair while your body is busy doing so many other things—and then one day, there it is, almost speaking to you, a strong thick thread you can be proud of. Megan’s prose is very smart. There’s a controlled transcendence that occurs on the page, and you know two things immediately: Megan knows where she is taking us, and she is having a blast doing so. When you read Arcade Seventeen, if you are lucky, you will experience an out-of-body order of things: the wind will seem to sing and its voice will only be mediocre; a deli will chuckle with you about life’s waning possibilities; maybe you’ll get into your car and find yourself in another animal’s heaven. We don’t know what will happen to you, only that they will lift you into the epiphanic, a reality that finally makes sense but for its absurdity of human truth.
On a night back to New York City, I (Natalie Eilbert) sat down with the new co-editor Emily Raw, Siena Oristaglio of The Void Academy, and Dolan Morgan, and together they draw image after image using pastels as I read aloud Megan’s book (as seen in the trailer, above). We laughed and moved with her stories, making concentric circles around the gesture of a plant life. And perhaps that is the most wonderful aspect of Megan’s aesthetic: The gestures of life, the troubles of life within those gestures. It’s as Vilem Flusser defines gesture, “a movement of the body or of a tool attached to the body for which there is no satisfactory causal explanation.” That’s where the joy in Megan’s work is: There is no explanation, there is no big terrible truth. We pass down the memory of cheese from generation to generation. We love the woman across the table from us and that realization is not a conclusion at all. Whatever happens in this life is already happening. But there Megan is, giggling as she assures us that indefinite chaos is probably the best we can do. Make sure you buy Arcade Seventeen right away.
Here’s one story from the book, originally published in New South. Come for the story preview, stay for the conversation between Megan and Natalie.
The New Audacious Line
Dana is obsessed with finding the perfect pink lipstick. She has been watching enough TV for teens and women who like purses to have an idea of what she wants: a pink that [...] Continue Reading »

New Editor Announcement!

January 28, 2017

We are very pleased to announce that Emily Raw, our current cover designer extraordinaire, has been promoted to co-editor of The Atlas Review. Emily has entwined her instinctual sense of composition and artistic intelligence as the cover designer for the beautiful TAR Chapbook Press 2016 titles, and will continue to pursue this work in the 2017 year.
In addition to her colorful and striking femme signature, Emily will help promote textual and visual hybridity in the journal, encouraging us back to one of our original missions, to engage and pursue the kinetic forces that tie together these important mediums of art. We could not think of a better foil to founding publisher Natalie Eilbert, who is perhaps the author of this copy announcement and is in no small terms constantly dazzled and amazed by the depths of knowledge and authority by which Emily formulates and follows through with concepts, ideas, and collaboration.
Rare is it to find someone who so beautifully complements your work ethic with equal measure and force, and yet, when it happens, we must hold that close. Such a dynamic is almost too fantastic to accept as a reality. In a time when reality is itself a trigger for the darkness that informs our future disturbances, this partnership will offer light and resistance as we highlight the works of new, incredible writers and artists.
This is certainly the very best news we can announce. Together, Natalie and Emily will strive to do more with the arts, even and in spite of this uncertain future. Please help us congratulate Emily Raw on this wonderful achievement!
Photo by Emily Raw
About Emily:
Emily Raw shoots artist portraits in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her work focuses primarily on the nature of image, both picture & persona. Eschewing digital post-production techniques for paper, ink, & duct tape, she builds installations that, once photographed, read flat. The only thing dimensional is flesh. Her work has appeared in Der Greif, The Source, The New Yorker, & elsewhere.
“Emily Raw does her thing so well I am now a thing.” —Natalie Eilbert
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Liv Lansdale: Thinking of Exit, Civilian, the absence of certain women from civil society seems to be a thru line in your work. How would you describe your relationship with absence?
Idra Novey: That’s been a theme in all my books. With one of the first poems I wrote, I was living in Chile and I was volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, doing a writing workshop there. At the same time I was learning about these murders of women in a mining town up north and no one was investigating it. The media had assumed that maybe all the girls were prostitutes because they happened to be outside when they were murdered. No one looked into it because they didn’t come from wealthy families, their families didn’t have any political influence, no one did anything about these serial murders in this mining town and there were seven or eight of them. Everyone knew this prostitute assumption was an excuse not to investigate. I was reading about it and it was so upsetting. I was working in this domestic violence shelter and taking down women’s narratives, thinking about my own childhood in Appalachia. The town I grew up in was listed as one of the worst places in America to live in as a single woman. All this prompted me to think about how we confine women in definitions that are stifling, both for them and for how we incorporate them into society, how much of themselves we allow them to see.
There was this great piece in the New York Times Book Review about how women who play their instruments behind a curtain are more likely to get a seat in an orchestra. Because they’re missing. We can only hear their music when they’re unseen. I think that stayed with me because it’s something I was trying to write in Ways to Disappear: Once [Beatriz] was missing, people could hear her work, the language. I think it’s very similar to that orchestra.
LL: It’s like Ferrante fever!
IN: If we could see Ferrante and she was my character’s age—mature—there would be no Ferrante fever. Because we would see her physical body. And once you remove the female body, you can see the art. And not think of the fact that it came from a female body that didn’t look like the body you saw on your porn video recently. If you tend to objectify the female body in a dismissive way, then any art that comes from a female body you would also be maybe more inclined to dismiss. So if you were to remove the female body, and all you’re hearing is the music behind the curtain, as I think has happened with Ferrante, is I think what I was trying to explore in the novel and what happened with those orchestra tryouts.
Alex Chee put something up on Facebook that he retweeted—it was a picture of a woman probably in her eighties with white hair and she was holding [...] Continue Reading »