Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rest in Peace, Buddy Miles

A towering figure in Funk, drummer Buddy Miles, passed away on Tuesday. Miles was best known for his work on Jimi Hendrix's Funk/Rock group, A Band of Gypsys. If you don't have their self-titled album, slap the keyboard out of your own hands, and run to the store and get it. It's that good. Miles was a large part of the equation that helped Hendrix explore his Funk sensibilities so successfully.

According to Wikipedia, Miles also did some work with Parliament, which I didn't know, but that seems just about right. It also says he was the voice of those claymation California Raisins (which I loved when I was little), which is surprising and
for some reason slightly disturbing.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AWP: The memories, the memories

Came across this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education today, in which a reporter describes AWP. Yep, we were there, and it was a huge book party!

The writer makes the interesting point that back in the day, people used to come to New York to be writers. Nowadays, you can be a writer just about anywhere, and writers are more likely to come to New York to meet a publisher or an agent, or maybe just to visit the Met Museum.

As much fun as I had visiting New York, I'm quite happy to be a writer in Indiana these days. The rent is cheaper, and we get to eat bagels and lox sometimes, too, at a wonderful restaurant run by a chef who loves poetry. What could be better?


Monday, February 25, 2008

Sexy Readings

Last night I had a chance to attend the Sex Worker Art Show which is currently on tour. I highly recommend seeing it, if it comes to your town. It features nudity, burlesque performances, fireworks and human orifices, as well as musical numbers about strippers named after Saint Bridget: The Patron Saint of Babies! What more could you want?

Personally, when it comes to art, my eye always finds its way towards more "underrepresented" voices and communities. Sex workers being one of the many, lately, that I've been gobbling up (pun intended). Especially when it comes to literature. You should check out these fine selections of hot anthologies of sex worker writing:

Working Sex (pictured above, edited by Annie Oakley) includes personal essays, stories, monologues, and plays from all different parts of the sex industry -- porn actors and escorts and street whores, oh my!

Tricks and Treats(edited by Matt Sycamore Bernstein) will take you in the nits and grits of worker-client relations, as it's all sex workers writing about the people who pay the bills.

And my graphic lit recommendation would have to be Michelle Tea's collaboration with Laurenn McCubbin Rent Girl. Great story and amazing artwork about a young woman's involvement in the sex industry on different sides of the U.S.

Enjoy, you naughty people!


Type rest of the post here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bluecast: Jennifer Militello

In the latest edition of the Bluecast, Jennifer Militello reads and discusses her poems, "Antidote with Symptoms" and "Antidote with Attempts at Diagnosis," featured in our winter 29.2 issue. Remember, if you'd like to hear previous entries (from Sherman Alexie, Stuart Dybek, Wendy Rawlings, and others), just press "posts" and select the entry you want.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Review of Murmur from 29.2

Laura Mullen. Murmur. New York, New York: Futurepoem, 2007. $15.00 paper (ISBN 0-9716-8006-X) 151 pages.

Reviewed by Hannah Faith Notess

The reader’s intelligence has always been central to the genre of the detective novel. Whether the author follows the convention of keeping the reader’s knowledge equal to the detective’s at any given time, or whether the author breaks that convention, the reader is constantly being courted, thwarted, and led astray. Laura Mullen’s book Murmur takes the detective novel as its subject, weaving poetry around the genre’s typical characters, evidence, and moments of revelation. Everything is here: the discovery of a corpse, the interrogations, the hard-boiled narrator, the evidence labeled and categorized. But by reordering and interrupting these stereotypical moments, Murmur moves against the grain of the genre’s inexorable logic, working with the reader’s ability to make sense of the text in a playful and surprising way.

Even as it unravels the genre of the detective story, Murmur’s own genre remains ambiguous. The book is divided into fourteen sections that contain mostly prose poem blocks interspersed with the odd short line. At times, Murmur relies too heavily on the ruptured line as a device to move the text forward, and the cadence of an interrupted sentence becomes a too-expected rhythm. Nevertheless, I found this book compulsively readable, perhaps partly because it seems to work as a book-length poem with recurring images among sections—a body on the beach, say, which may or may not be the cover image of a mystery titled The Body on the Beach.

Mullen’s appropriation of detective novel language is spot-on, and when in the section “I Shadow (Private)” she blends her own language with the rules of the genre, the results are weird, witty, and insightful:

There simply must be a corpse, and the deader the corpse the better. But what really happens in relationships is that desire and even romantic love cycle: people bear with the bad times, hoping there will be A) a sequel; B) a face “in the misty light”; C) a submarine nuclear and protective like a mother. This was all ocean once.

Sections like these reveal that in Murmur, Mullen has mastered the pleasurable manipulation of the reader that is at the heart of the detective novel genre.

The form feels like a detective’s case dossier full of red herrings, clues that don’t point to a solution. A description of such a dossier in the section titled “Demonstrating Bodies” could very well be a description of Murmur itself:

As this episode begins, our detective’s trying to close the massive, overstuffed
binder in which he’s collected what he likes to call the “flotsam and jetsam”:
all he has to show so far by way of a report. Newspaper cuttings, scraps of
notepaper, cocktail napkins, cancelled checks, photographs, siftings of tobacco
and lint, baggies oozing mysterious fluids, and other (even less mentionable)
articles keep falling out. He whistles soundlessly. Sheesh. If he can’t make sense of it, what will anyone else…?! Except to see it, just as it is, as a confession (I can’t figure it out). Victimless. Motiveless….

This form feels fitting for this subject; Mullen has found a way to render the detective story reader’s pleasure at being misdirected on the way to the solution. Perhaps, this form suggests, the reader expects to be misdirected, even desires it. Other features of the book explore misdirection on the metatextual level, such as the “List of Illustrations,” which points to no real illustrations and reads like a found poem:

(p. 8) “Don’t touch anything! I’ll be right there!”
(p. 38) “‘Goodbye,’ I said, ‘I am going to do my best for you. Wish me well wherever you are.’”
(p. 68) “‘Oh! Monsieur,’ he said to me in a voice trembling with emotion, ‘I have never killed one of them.’”
(p. 98) “He walked past me, and in passing he glanced in my direction, and for a second or two we looked each other in the face.”

As we leaf through this dossier, we uncover the figure of a woman who has used detective stories to shut herself off from her family:

She lay down. She went to bed early but it wasn’t just that. She ‘took to her
bed.’ She lay down more often in the middle of the day, not to sleep but to be
left alone, to take up again the threads of an absorbing plot….She had a
daughter who hovered in the doorway as ferocious judgment, barely awaited
permission—and vanished. The book came back up: on the cover an enlarged
fingerprint, a bloody knife, the body of the

The serious treatment of this figure hints that what propels Murmur forward is not merely a desire to play with the detective story’s conventions. On a deeper level, Murmur is about exploring the boundaries of literature as escape from life, “where invention and memory meet,” and what happens to a reader’s life when it’s spent in thrall to stories.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We need your Funk (art)!

So, we've got this issue, 30.1, and it's super Funky, but we need visual art, for the cover and inside, that will reflect and enhance all the layers of Funk we got going on. Do you have any work that fits the bill?

This issue features a special section highlighting poetry, fiction, and visual art with a Funk aesthetic. IR is looking for a piece of art that will reflect the work featured in this issue. The cover will appear in color, so artists should feel encouraged to submit pieces that take advantage of this capacity. Our past covers (which you can find at have ranged in aesthetic, so all submissions truly will be considered. IR is willing to accept pieces as e-mail attachments (Jpeg or Gif files) or as web links. Our e-mail address is inreview(at) submissions are due to our office by February 29th, 2008.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mini-review: Seven Notebooks by Campbell McGrath

It’s always a pleasure to see poems first printed in Indiana Review find homes in books. So it was especially nice to see “Storm Valediction” and “Invitations” show up in Campbell McGrath’s latest collection, Seven Notebooks, just released from Ecco Press.

More on the book after the jump.

Divided, as you might guess from the title, into seven notebooks, McGrath’s latest book calls up Basho’s travelogues, where the writer uses poetry and prose to approach the same material. Indeed, some sections formally mirror those travelogues, while others echo Neruda’s Odes, Whitman’s litanies, and a whole host of borrowed and reinvented forms.

A great deal is said in these poems about other poets and about the practice of poetry. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of poems about poetry, but something about the form of this book helps me appreciate them in a new way. And the expansiveness of these poems’ forms and subjects make it as easy to make a haiku about snack foods:

Even gulls disdain
these pretzel goldfish floating
in the baby pool

as it is to make one about poetry:

Elizabeth asks,
what’s up with this haiku thing?
Pinecones in the sand.

Like a book of hours, Seven Notebooks covers a set period of time, a year, during which we get to watch the workings of the artist’s mind. But instead of getting a glimpse into the writer’s unconscious, like we would reading Van Gogh’s letters, we see these thoughts arranged consciously and associatively. Nothing here is random. And everything is fair game, as with blueberries, which earn their own ode:
All the new poems are about blackberries.

But to praise the blueberry
is to praise the ordinary and easily obtained
pleasures of this world…

These poems are not only about those ordinary and easily obtained pleasures, they are pleasurable to read. And easily obtained.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Sha-boo-ya: Roll Call!

Hey IR Senior Staff, now that you're back in the office from working your butts off at the AWP Conference, let's debrief:

What was your favorite thing about being at the conference?

Jenny: Getting to meet former IR editors and seeing what they're up to. Some are teaching, one I remember is a student again, and another is working with Ploughshares--all while doing other projects, of course.

Hannah: The A&B Reading. The bar was really nice and the audience was fun. Not only did we get to present Ross Gay, but we got to hear poets I haven't had a chance to read before.

Danny: The All-Collegiate Afterhours Poetry Slam sponsored by Wilkes University and Etruscan Press. (thanks for organizing that Jim!)

What was the favorite thing you ate in NYC?

Jenny: A pistachio encrusted salmon (at the Flea Market Cafe). An absolutely enormous gulab jamun at Basil Leaf. And a really spicy dosa...somewhere, can't remember.

Hannah: Went to this Afghani restaurant in the East Village. Favorite dish of the evening: eggplant with lamb. And a classic bagel and cream cheese.

Danny: $3.50 Recession Special (two hotdogs and a smoothie) at Gray's Papaya. Okonomiyaki (Osaka-style stuffed savory pancake) and Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) in the East Village.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Great moments in Funk History II

Marvin Gaye was married to Anna Gordy, who was seventeen years his senior and just so happened to be Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, but let's just say that things didn't work out. Apparently Marvin was getting his sexual healing on with a younger woman and Anna filed for divorce. Although Marvin had made quite a bit of money by this time, he had been a stubborn kind of fellow when it came to paying taxes and was deep in debt. So, as part of the settlement, the judge decreed that Anna would get half the profits to Marvin's next album. Thus was born Here My Dear.

At first Marvin was going to go in the studio and mail it in, but once he started working on the project, he couldn't help himself. Although the album was universally panned by critics and fans, Here My Dear is a hidden Funk gem. With jams like "A Funky Space Reincarnation" (which features the classic line "Let's razzmatazz and all that jazz...Let's touch each other--let's touch each other's ass) and "Anger," you're missing out on some cold Funk if you don't have this album.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Indiana Review at AWP


So, AWP 2008 is a wrap, and I have to admit that it was a bit overwhelming, but we had an amazing time. The nicest thing about AWP is it gives you a sense of how large Indiana Review's extended family is. We talked to former editors, contributors, submitters, subscribers, readers, and just about everybody else. Since we have a rotating editorship, it can be easy to lose sight of the unique relationship the magazine has with the people that support it, but we got showed a lot of love and it was nice. You can check out some of our pics on our facebook page. (Oh, if you see yourself looking crazy or incorrectly named, let us know)