“‘Successful’ art means something to my whole body…
[it] involves having an experience.”
— Metta Sáma
Reading * le animal * & other creatures … is visceral. Waiting for the terrors that “always find a way to enter … you turn your alarm to shiver”; we feel ‘hot slick sharp teeth breaking our flesh’; a “dry spleen” is moved; lovers hear “the grinding crunch/of pigeon bones”. Metta Sáma’s creatures are mostly unglorious: fly, spider, cockroach, human, cat, dog. Through observation, humour and the various interactions enacted in her poems she explores what is beauty and what is perceived to be ‘merely’ pigeon, and endows these unsung creatures with a magnificence of their own. We share her weeks of horror spent with the cockroach in the corner of the house, but she invites us to laugh with her at the ridiculousness of this epic battle: “You imagine a contraption akin to cat stilts and laugh until your fear hurts.” The cat she trusts is going to help her out is, finally, “belly up staring into the ceiling fan imagining you hope an end/to these terrible days.”
Sáma is acutely aware of the irony that “many of us whose ancestors helped build the institutions that kept us out are now financially supporting those same institutions.” But she wants “to transform these realities into art & into questions that are not heavy-handed … or rhetoric.” Despite the poet’s resentment of those who have access to ‘a safe world I can only imagine’, and despite the sound of necks and bones breaking that bubbles as a soundscape under her work, Sáma seems fundamentally optimistic. Rather than the “expectation of cardinals/fiery in the wintered sky”, she says, “Give me the rabid face/of the pigeon… always pointing toward the next hustle.”
Unbelievably (because how can next year be so close), we’re reading for 111O/9, which will be out in May of 2016. One note: we’re not reading prose this time around. We’ve already invited some writers we really admire to create a roundtable discussion on poetry and migration, and that will serve as the ‘prose’ part of the journal this time. As always, we’re looking for work by women writers, writers of color, non-binary writers, and queer writers especially.
If you’re waiting patiently for 111O/8, that will be out this fall. As with previous issues, I’m playing with form. This issue will have posters, a booklet, a postcard, and something to hold all of that together. (The form of 111O/9? You’ll have to wait and see.)
After reading Natalie Vestin’sShine a light, the light won’t pass, Kathleen L. Housley wrote that “Natalie Vestin has an inner compass that helps her maintain exquisite balance between science and spirituality, the material and the immaterial. She combines symbiotically her love of astronomy (the creation of stars and galaxies), biology (amino acids), physics (atomic energy), and geology (volcanism) with her love of dance, her compassion for a finch hitting a window, and her own physical pain. Shine a light, the light won’t pass reveals rock-solid knowledge tinctured by longing. These essays deserve—require—a slow, thoughtful reading. They are tidal, powered by the push/pull of the moon”.
Vestin’s seven brief essays work from a basis in scientific understanding of the cosmos, and move toward ways of knowing less iterative, more intuitive: movement, somatic experience, affect. In the end, her writing shows the ways in which all understanding is interwoven with mystery.
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Covers printed on Rives BFK by Foxglove Press in Temple, ME
Inners printed by Alfabet Drukkerij in Ghent, Belgium
Hand-bound by MIEL
Bound with a paper band
Edition of 130, of which 20 to the writer