Issue Twenty of > kill author, which we announced back in July would also be our last, is now live. And yes, it’s still our last.
It features thirty-one writers whose work displays all the imagination, impact and individuality we said we were looking for when we opened submissions for our first issue back in June 2009. We’re obviously entirely biased, but the nineteen issues since then haven’t disappointed in those qualities.
In the introduction to this final collection, we say more about why we’re bringing > kill author to an end. We’ve also created a complete list of the writers we’ve published, which offers another way to explore this literary journal’s archive. The site itself will remain online for the foreseeable future.
With the closure of > kill author this is, of course, also the last post on this blog. Thanks to those contributors who took the time and trouble to write entries discussing the work they appreciated in each issue, and thanks to all of you for reading.
> kill author
With great sadness, we’re announcing today that the forthcoming twentieth issue of > kill author, due online at the start of August, will also be the last. After three years of bi-monthly issues, featuring a total of 403 different writers (we think, if we’ve counted correctly), it’s time for us to go elsewhere and do other things. For every keen author and poet looking to get their work more widely seen, there’s fortunately no shortage of literary journals either online or in print, so we’re sure the small gap left by the demise of > kill author will soon be filled.
We’ll say more in the introduction to that last issue. In the meantime, we just wanted to say the first of what we’re sure will be many thanks for reading, submitting your work, and complimenting us for what we’ve produced on these pages since June 22, 2009.
Although I think I must be Emersonian, I’ve learned that I can appreciate repetition’s rhetoric, the confidence with which it eschews an unceasing exploratory unfurl into realms of pristine diction for an abnegation that never turns on the self but rivets it. Maybe Parker Tettleton’s three poems feel gnomic, riddling, telegraphic even, what with nouns doubling as occasional verbs and prepositions lapping themselves. I mean, the feeling they transmit of being full of missing*, it’s urged, or the poems have no time not to trust paradox. A sentence such as “No one’s dead when they’re dying” is perfect common sense, really, but, to be common, most sense has to vulgar it up with euphemism. A line like “Who isn’t inevitable sometimes?” may read as dickishly brusque at first, as if pricking the reader with a flop sweat of “Don’t you know what you’re doing?” Sometimes, this reader that would be me wants to be reminded that sentences are lovely things in which to be imprisoned, or that being, if it is being understood, isn’t free of the risk that afflicts things. “I can’t be in public when I’m in public.” There’s no line break to guide you, much less a meter, but stress is everywhere everything to sorting out the collapsed from what’s about to explode in this cooling universe of saying.
If Parker Tettleton’s three poems make too much of an enigma out of candor, the fault is not the author’s, but rather the expectations with which we’ve burdened the form of the question itself. (I’m coming back around; hold on.) A rhetorical question doesn’t ask: it tells, and mostly what it tells is that listening is telling. OK, so, hear what you have to hear, and what you will hear in Parker Tettleton’s poems is a reverberation much greater than even a end-to-ending of their gaps might enclose.
* These poems have the shape and tone, at times, of the outcome of some deliberate and determined process (e.g., “I’m etcetera in the living room minus a sausage sans zoo.”), something akin to a combinatoric or an acrostic. That this impression could be a ruse makes these pieces all the more the lament, the kind of expression that compels the multiplication of pathos into recitation after recitation.
The best stories tell you things about life, things you can’t put into other words because otherwise you would do that instead of telling a story. I relished “Knock Dead” because for one thing I am a sucker for determinate language that invents worlds with indeterminate logics. And for another I like stories that tell me things. Like:
The way you can get to pettily resent life once you get used to all the things you ever wanted. The way we can only love what we idealize using the tools of what we resent. The way people bitching and complaining all the time won’t die even in death. The way we want the perfect place to reside in for eternity but there is no perfect place, there is only what we have. The way faking is caring.
And when stories tell you things, and you remember the stories, you remember the things. I remember “Knock Dead.” So now I know.
It’s Sunday, and so you can devote as much time as possible to the latest issue of > kill author, we’ve again chosen the traditional “day of rest” to put it online. You haven’t got anything better to do than stay in bed and read, after all.
Issue Nineteen – and no, we’re still not sure how we got here when it seems like only yesterday we published our debut issue – brings a guest introduction by Meghan Lamb, followed by an array of prose and poetry by twenty-eight familiar and unfamiliar writers. Available, as always, here on the website as well as in PDF and e-book formats. We hope you think it’s as fantastic, inventive and innovative a collection of words as we did when putting it together.
Maybe people know that Alfred Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup in Psycho for blood. Maybe they know he got the sound of stabbing flesh by stabbing casaba melons. Or these are secrets that even this story doesn’t exactly reveal.
This is a kind of writing that leaves its hand over the words to be discovered only as the author intends. It is a Hitchcockian versatility which utilizes symbols to get at deeper, psychological meaning.
There are loops in the story, loops within loops like life-sustaining blood-letting.
I feel bad now that I’ve so indextrously outed the mirrors. Hitchcock strived for utter control over making his movies and their perception/reception. And then someone comes around and, before you even have a chance to see it, tells you how the movie ends.
This story is a set of twin couplets – fruit and chocolate standing in for death and Hitchcock’s Psycho which I will leave for you to draw the representing correspondent.
We’re probably breaking all the unwritten rules of when to publish a new issue of a literary magazine. It’s not only a Sunday but it’s also April 1 – traditionally a day when newspapers come up with less than hilarious spoof news stories and we tell each other something stupid in an attempt to fool the other person. Not us, though. Issue Eighteen of > kill author, with a guest introduction by Ian Sanquist and twenty-eight writers ready to knock you out of any sense of weekend complacency with their words (and, in some cases, their audio and video), is now online.
So avoid the babbling voices of the media today and read this latest issue of > kill author instead. Because we’re not kidding around.
Issue Seventeen contributor Donald Dunbar offers his thoughts on Fortunato Salazar’s “Kudos to the Parasitic Arthropods”:
First: The drip of subject from paragraph to paragraph.
Second: Unique Google-hit for “dsidfrok swuabny lofelyad.”
Second: The drip of “Wayne” from paragraph to section.
Third: “Wayne” is the first name of my landlord.
Third-point-one: I am writing this instead of writing him an overdue email.
Third-point-one: I genuinely like Wayne, and have never had a better landlord.
Third-point-a: “Fortunato” is the best name I’ve heard in a week.
Third: I really have a difficult time writing tension-building engines—in this story, the increasingly complicated shots for the swishes, the cold, the hunger, the fate and origin of the caribou—and I have a fetish for the fibonacci sequence-ish distortion of memory and misrememberance, or the slight and constant revision of daily routine, so this whole story is right up my alley.
First: The tension between delight and exhaustion.
Second: Stan really doesn’t want buddy to keep swishing. Stan is not a capitalist, because a capitalist would see that a man who’s always swishing is some kind of moneymaking machine.
Third: However much buddy paid for his cellphone, it’s not doing him any good.
There’s a particular kind of tint to the diction register, a vagueness that is not holding shit back for the mystery of it. It comes off as “cultural differences.”
Fortunato Salazar writes a lot, and publishes a lot. I’ve been reading his work for the past couple days, and there is this thing in much of it I’m trying to think about well enough to describe.
Fortunato’s structuring of his writing is pretty musical. There’s a rhythm, sometimes mounting, sometimes simmering, that builds my interest in his work, though not usually a rhythm in the verse sense of the word.
> kill author is especially concerned with voice—like they’re much more into who’s saying it than what exactly is being said. With regards to their anonymity, this is pretty interesting.
The voice Fortunato creates here depends not all that much on dialect and diction register, but depends a lot more on repetition and detail selection, and the pattern of thought.
I would like Stan to be thinking that what he would like to do, right now, is low bridge me.
When the phone rings, I say, Wayne residence. Every time it rings they ask for Wayne.
Samuel Beckett is for sure in Fortunato’s cabal.
Fortunato expresses less judgment via his speakers than Samuel does. When buddy in “Kudos to the Parasitic Arthropods” expresses desire for something to relieve a particular misery, we understand the misery to be caused by his habits and actions. Krapp and Estragon and Molloy and Murphy and all of them: their pointless actions are habits, and the misery is caused by being itself. In this way, Fortunato is a lot more
optimistic than Samuel.
First: A thing about Fortunato’s writing:
First: there’s an exactness and arbitrariness of numbering.
First: This extends into time as well.
For instance: I never should have slept in my jacket last night.
For instance: When he says “Wayne residence” when the phone rings, when does the phone ring?
First: But some of the speaker’s desires are rewarded.
For instance: I’m cold. I’m freezing. I would like to eat. I would like to go inside where caribou meat is simmering in a vat.
I keep taking steps back until technically I’m indoors, then I lob one underhand. Swish.
Second: This story is basically about the figures in Ikea furniture assembly instructions.
Second-etc.: They talk in smiley faces and frowny faces.
Second-etc.: I can’t remember if it’s them talking or them being annotated.
“Kudos to the Parasitic Arthropods” is pretty arthropodic, but in a biological way too.
Late last year, Portal del Sol approached us and Rae Bryant – then editor of Moon Milk Review, now editor-in-chief of the forthcoming Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, as well former > kill author contributor – to take part in their Editors in Conversation series. We really enjoyed the discussion with Rae, and the results are now available to read over at Portal del Sol’s site.
Maybe it’s something to do with the season or the turn of the year, but it seems like it’s been too long since we last released a fresh collection of > kill author writers out into the world (and no, that doesn’t mean we’re going monthly). Perhaps it was just a long hangover from the holidays. We’re back now though, and Issue Seventeen is finally here, ready to shake you from your slumber with wonderfully vibrant prose, poetry and that strange hinterland which exists somewhere between the two.
There’s lots to love, and we couldn’t possibly have any highlights – but do keep a look-out for Joseph Scapellato’s guest introduction (complete with audio reading) and Drew Roberts’ video animation accompanying his piece Shades of Dorsey. Otherwise, just settle back in your chair, pick your format of choice – online, e-book or PDF – and get reading.
From our December issue, Jordan Soyka writes about his highlight:
At the center of this grudge (called “Ammonia”) there is a body. Cold lungs & grinding teeth, stiff hands & soft hair, and knees, “patterned” from whatever they were pressed into (is the body forced to its knees? is it praying?). There is a betrayer that is also called “Ammonia.” There is a lot of slipping around, grinding, pulsing.
In the three parts of Maureen McHugh’s “Hallelujah Ammonia,” we’re dragged back and forth across town (JC Penny, townie bars) and time (“$ay it slant as Emily would $ay / the high school friend you shoplifted with”). Everything is dog-eared. Memories hang stubbornly, somewhere between old musk and menacing ghost: “Nothing in this dead town is special … You’ll forget the way he smelled /…/Like bar-soap. / Like fuck & rot.”
But at the center of it all is this body (the speaker? the betrayer? the grudge itself?). It’s clean the way a corpse is (“the arms stay clean as bleached toilets”) and it threatens to eclipse the poems.
The speaker tells me to “mop the black road…”. The speaker says, “Kill a weak grudge with water. Get you whiskey in paper cups for the bearded one who smells like bar-soap.” The speaker asks questions (“Who wept in parking lots?”), but I’m not sure to who. The speaker tells me to “Steal clothes off clotheslines / make ‘em the wrong size for Ammonia…”. I can’t tell if the speaker is bossing me around, or if the speaker needs me. But we know each other from way back.
“Night bums us something special so we ache & pull the sheets off mattresses with floral patterns.” There is ecstasy in these poems (“Hallelujah! Hysterical occasion!”), but it’s not what it could be—“For once let the grudge be the heart cock’d and clenched…”. It all starts to feel a little desperate. The past is collaged over the present and “beard’d bar-folk” are indistinguishable. It feels like wheels spinning in snow.
In the last poem, the speaker says, “Make it a grave,” but “it” already is. The grave is gaping. And we’re peering into it, trying to figure out—is it hungry or bored?
If you’ve ever scrolled right down to the bottom of every page on this site, down there, you’ll have seen our disclaimer: “despite our name, > kill author is strongly opposed to the persecution of writers.” We’re being a little irreverent with that statement, of course, but it’s not just a joke. Click the link in the footer and you’ll be taken to the main Amnesty International portal. Why? Because authors, along with campaigners, activists, students, teachers, journalists and people from just about every walk of life, continue to suffer human rights violations in many parts of the world (and sometimes within our own countries too).
As with most literary journals, we’re well aware that the vast majority of our readers are also writers. That’s why we’re drawing your attention to Amnesty’s Write For Rights campaign, so you can pick up your pen and do some good old-fashioned writing. With ink. On paper.
From December 3 to December 11 (and including International Human Rights Day on December 10) Amnesty is aiming to hold the world’s largest human rights event. But this time it’s not simply about sticking your name on an online petition or sending off a pre-prepared email as part of a campaign for the release of a political prisoner. They want people to write a physical letter by hand and put it in the mail. It’s not digital, it’s not instant, and so—as a literary journal that believes passionately in the web and has half an eye on the e-book future—we should really hate the idea. The reason we don’t, and the reason we’re getting involved, is because in the 21st century a handwritten letter is a rare item; it possesses a power, a presence and a level of commitment that puts it above receiving just another email.
Amnesty is highlighting fifteen cases for this year’s campaign, covering issues like student activism, freedom of expression, women’s/LGBT rights, indefinite detention, justice and the right to housing. In each case you write a letter to the official in charge of deciding the person’s fate, as well as a more personal message to the prisoner of conscience themselves to show your support and let them know they’re not alone.
There’s Jabbar Savalan, a youth activist from Azerbaijan who was detained by police in February this year after posting a note on Facebook calling for protests against the government. Or Filep Karma from Indonesia, imprisoned in 2004 after raising an independence flag during a peaceful ceremony. But those are just two cases from the fifteen, and each national Amnesty branch also lists a few unique to their region.
We hope you’ll join Amnesty International’s campaign and write one or more letters for these prisoners of conscience over the next week. More details are on the following Amnesty sites:
We’d love to tell you about all the seasonal content in the latest issue of > kill author, but there isn’t any. We’re not the type to adorn our web pages with tasteless graphics of holly, put snow-tipped lettering on our title or have virtual snowflakes (shudder) falling across the screen.
Instead, what you’ll find is a memorable introduction by Caroline Crew and then 27 writers whose words you’ll want to read, read and read some more. We’ve also got probably the most audio we’ve ever had in any issue, with readings that make fantastic listening if you’re enduring long winter nights in your part of the world.
So what are you waiting for? Get reading (and listening to) Issue Sixteen, named in honor of Kobo Abe, right now.
We’ve been looking forward to the first issue of Ilk Journal. Why? Well, we just had a feeling about it. A good feeling. And it’s a feeling that hasn’t disappointed now that the reality has come to pass. Ilk a poetry journal, for one thing, and there aren’t enough of them about. There are two good people behind it, that’s another thing. Oh, and they write a compelling manifesto – and everyone knows how much we at > kill author like a manifesto or two. This is Issue One, and it’s got names we don’t know and names we do know (including former contributors to our little corner of the web like Thomas Patrick Levy, M.G. Martin, Molly Prentiss, Daniel Romo, Mathias Svalina and Parker Tettleton). So go and read. Now.
Meanwhile, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got our next issue to apply finishing touches to, ready for release later today…
For a long time I clung to punctuation. I felt like a poem that didn’t scoop each pause with a little comma spoon wasn’t letting me breathe right. Or that a poem that didn’t end with a stern full stop wasn’t finished. It was like the poem was still making up its mind, and that indecision (like all indecision) frightened me. Look at me, even now, reassuring myself with little regulatory marks.
The first of KMA Sullivan’s three poems typifies all the reasons I finally let go. I love her intersection of visual and written art and feel like it wouldn’t be so sharp if she allowed the reader the luxury of a comma to tell them when to pause. I know ‘between the lines’ is a horrid cliché, but that’s where the synthesis (the ‘almost ekphrastic’) occurs. In that first poem we find these lines:
[…]Pissarro’s work flourished
butter skies and violet trees
showed us who we are
in color and light
The clean lineation opens up a multitude of meanings here, and compelled me to return again and again to Sullivan’s poems. In “burned / butter skies” is “burned” the verb or part of the adjective? It’s both, at the same time, and it’s exhilarating.
I also love Sullivan’s pieces because they are just a little too real. The kind of real that will break your heart and make you laugh aloud in the same short text. ‘Postmodern’ opens “I wonder how long / this is going to take / to be free of you” and closes “my younger self / feather earrings and tasselled skirts / squeegee my face”. Now tell me you don’t know what I mean.
Sullivan has the two things I have always thought essential for poetry: an eye and an ear. The result is lines you can rejoice in, even if they’re only two words long (for example “sonorous color”, which embodies what it describes).
Ekphrasis is when verse pours libations to art. This is not what Sullivan does. She distils image into text and produces something that belongs definitively to neither, because it remains too human to merely be called a product. There are strains of visual art, yes, but what is offered here is only its most vital moving parts.
“poetry, that wild beast / could take what is left”.