An Interview with Alana Massey
May 18, 2017
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.
—Originally published by Brooklyn Poets
An Interview with George Abraham
Natalie Eilbert: The experience of reading al youm is a forceful […]
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.
CAN YOU GIVE EVEN ONE EXAMPLE
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
Resettling the deserters of your body
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
I left them more
Than they leave themselves
—Originally published in Sixth Finch
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 […]
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
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
A Conversation Between Idra Novey and Liv Lansdale
January 27, 2017
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 […]
Announcing the Winners of the 2017 TAR Chapbook Series!
November 22, 2016
al youm: for yesterday & her inherited traumas
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet attending Swarthmore College. He competed in poetry slams including CUPSI (placing 2nd out of 68 international teams), NPS, and IWPS. He is a Pushcart nominee and a 2-time recipient of the Favianna Rodriguez Artistic Activism Award. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diode, the Margins, Thrush, Apogee, Assaracus, Sukoon, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology. He hopes to bring awareness to Palestinian human rights/socio-economic struggles through art.
TEACHES OF PEACHES
Diane Exavier writes, makes, thinks a lot, and laughs even more. She hails from Brooklyn and still uses the Oxford comma. Her work has been presented at Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Independent Curators International, and more. Her writing appears in The Atlas Review and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Diane is currently completing an MFA in Writing for Performance at Brown University.
Spells for Black Wizards
Candace Williams is Head of Community at a podcasting startup by day. By night and subway ride, she’s a poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hyperallergic, Lambda Literary Review, Copper Nickel, and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (Brooklyn Arts Press), among other places. She’s earned a MA in Elementary Education from Stanford University, a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, and scholarships from Cave Canem. You can find her cuddling her pit bull while subtweeting the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (@teacherc).
Spencer Williams is from Chula Vista, California. She is currently an undergraduate at University of Iowa, where she is studying English and Cinema. Her work has been featured in Potluck, Ink Lit Mag, Fractal, and Periphery.
Finalists and Semifinalists
This was indeed the hardest time we’ve ever had selecting chapbooks. The manuscripts submitted were all otherwordly good. Congratulations to the finalists and semifinalists, who sure gave us a run for our money. Other publishers, be aware of these tremendous talents!:
These Contracts We Make by Ruth Baumann
The Abject Fingers Are a Swamp of Becoming by Marty Cain
Red//Jild//Prayer by Hazem Fahmy
The End Part Two by MC Hyland
O Nibiru by Kirsten Kaschock
thought sand echo by Tony Mancus
The Last Town Before the Mojave by Nathan Osorio
How to Make an Enemy by Ali Power
Without Them I Am Still a Mother by Sarah Sgro
Portrait: Maternal Instincts by Ruth Baumann
Blueberries by Ellena Savage
Roadside Assistance by M. J. Arlett
girl mute with fish teeth by Melissa Atkinson Mercer
Reading Tsvetaeva on Father’s Day by Chase Berggrun
In Each Pond, a Mirror by Aaron Boothby
Daughter Shaman by Kristi Carter
Animal Mineral by Stephanie Cawley
The Softness by Kell Connor
Luxury, Blue Lace by Samuel Corfman
Porch Thought by Tyler Flynn Dorholt
(in) (salt) (city) by K. M. English
Look Alive by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett
Case Study on the Afro-Seattleite by Malcolm Friend
Diffusely Yours by Kate Garklavs
Core Collapse by Stuart Greenhouse
Everlasting Youth by Sophie Grimes
Immersion Kick by Jeremy Hoevenaar
A Symbol Pronounced Star by Heather Hughes
Mirrors | Arcady by John James
Autopsy Theater by Erin Lyndal Martin
Honey in My Hair by Livia Meneghin
illus at home by Iordanis Papadopoulos
Not Only My Grandmothers by Andy Powell
settler by Maggie Queeney
Philip Says by Michael Robins
watch out for falling bullets by Phil SaintDenisSanchez
Fat Dreams by […]
Hungry Ghosts: A Preview
November 21, 2016
Hungry Ghosts from Emily Raw on Vimeo.
The three essays that make up Hungry Ghosts by Soleil Ho represent a kind of thinking that is perfectly complete and completely perfect. These essays, “Teach Me How to Speak,” “Minotaur,” and “Girl Power,” are linked to a relentless mind who finds patterns in cultural phenomena vis-a-vis her own inquiries into collective consciousness and memory. The subjects are smart and exacting, and Soleil’s breadth of understanding, observation, and insight urges her readers to consider and re-consider their methods of encounter and entertainment. Whether we are asked to follow the Korean pop sensation PSY (of “Gangnam Style” fame) to its most racist nadir, interrogate a spot on the head, or revisit the trappings of 90s’-issued “girl power,” Soleil’s command of language will convince you that an extraordinary amount of work must still be done to confront every cancerous ‘ism we’ve embodied as a country and as citizens of the world. These important essays could not be published at a worthier time, what with the president-elect’s filthy rise to power, his future cabinet of white nationalist curiosities, and the swarm of bigotry that has gained certifiable potency in this nation. Chagrined as I am to present this chapbook against such relief, it is a necessary read and could very well be the kind of call to action you need to stand up to cisheteropatriarchy and white supremacy.
I had the pleasure of talking with Soleil about her chapbook. Unsurprisingly, her answers are full of the smart and daring charisma you’ll find in all of her work. I am also happy to present a small excerpt from her third essay, “Girl Power.” Please do purchase this extraordinary chapbook. As always, Emily Raw designed the brilliant rainbow holographic cover that looks like oil-slick currency of the post-industrial future, as well as wormy-static endpapers. Think of the aesthetic as a TV that’s been plunged into a radioactive crag. What I’m saying is, you really need to buy this book.
excerpt from “Girl Power”
Back home in New York City, my friends were beginning to talk about this thing called “Girl Power.” Well, not so much talking about it as shouting the phrase whenever they got excited about anything. My best friend and fellow divorced kid, Samantha, introduced me to the concept: “It just means that when girls do something it’s better because we’re girls!” She would usually conclude such statements with cartwheels, no matter where we were. The Spice Girls filled me in on the rest of the idea.
At their peak in 1997, the Spice Girls infected the globe with their brand of Girl Power, a slippery idea that, thanks to its broad marketing, is hard to define without resorting to punchily punctuated buzzwords and phrases. Individuality. Success. Catsuits. Sexiness. Kicking ass. Record deals. Femininity. Image management. Independence. It’s a particularly abstract take on empowerment feminism, which is a philosophy that, as Samantha pointed out to me, reconfigures any and all actions taken by women into feminist victories. According to the tenets of Our Ladies of Spice, Madonna is Girl Power. Margaret […]
Congratulations to the Finalists!
October 10, 2016
Check back at the end of October 2016/beginning of November 2016 for the results!Continue Reading »
Exit Theater by Mike Lala
September 15, 2016
Congratulations to Mike Lala, the brilliant author behind In the Gun Cabinet, for his award-winning debut poetry collection, Exit Theater, forthcoming from the University Press of Colorado’s Center for Literary Publishing. It is now available for preorder. To celebrate Mike and his extraordinary achievements, we are pleased to offer a free epub of In the Gun Cabinet to anybody who preorders Exit Theater. In the Gun Cabinet is part of the larger collection of Exit Theater, but the chapbook published with TAR also has its own unique elements apart from the main book—scattered images, a one-act play, an immersive multimedia performance on the page. When you preorder Exit Theater, send the receipt to us at theatlasreview [at] gmail [dot] com and we will send you an epub of this heartstoppingly good chapbook. It will be just what you need to prepare yourself for the politically gutted expanse of Exit Theater.
You may purchase it from any of the following vendors:
UPC (publisher and distributor)
Barnes & Noble
Read a sample of In the Gun Cabinet, a brief interview with Mike, and a trailer documenting the printing process of this beautiful chapbook here. And make sure you preorder the crap out of his book! Congrats, Mike!
Cover design by Emily Raw