Monday, August 30, 2010

Review - No Space for Further Burials by Feryal Ali Gauhar

No Space for Further Burials by Feryal Ali Gauhar, published by Akashic Press

No Space for Further Burials is a successful novel, in great part because of its disciplined approach to pace and prose. I could replace the word prose with poetry in that sentence, for the control that Feryal Ali Gauhar exerts over diction and cadence consistently yields the effects of verse, and her book, which is from a certain perspective the unfolding of the stories that are not the narrator’s own, is a persuasive scaffold, an elegant cage, for a menagerie of souls driven mad by war.

The story of sanity and madness confused is not a new one but it remains a good one. Here the key is that the first person narrator, an American medic, taken prisoner by some ambiguous group of Afghan soldiers-marauders, is held in a dilapidated and distressed asylum. Slowly, his physical bonds are loosed and the American Firangi comes to play his role in trying to sustain the good work of the place. That good work is simple survival for all who are there. This includes keeping bandits out by repairing the wall, coping with the lack of medical and basic supplies, especially through the Afghan winter, and increasingly dealing with the sickness and disease threatening them from the front as well as the tragedies following behind them.

Those tragedies arise from the stories told by most of the characters, mainly inmates of the asylum. Over time these stories--set in italics that generally indicate we hear their own words—teaach the narrator and reader what “these people” were and what they suffered and lost, generally body parts, family members, self respect or honour in the time of war. Insanity is the least of it, so it often seems. Like most serious novels, the book is about understanding people. So here, each character emerges from the murk and grime of the insane asylum--which means from the label mad--to become a person, a story, sometimes a friend, even as the captured medic loses a proper grip on himself. We are all interchangeable, yet uniquely worth a tale, a cup of the weak tea or thin gruel that sustains life.

Insanity is merely the compulsion of suffering when the reasons for war have been lost or never existed. People are safest in the asylum that the war drove them into--some deep into the dark of the asylum’s dungeon, some into silence or blindness. The meaning of sanity is called into question, at least that is the novel’s architecture, as the narrator doubts his ability to survive, to come out of there, to get home. Over time, each of the inmates, even some of those stirred out of the dark, comes to seem less insane than fatally beleaguered. Psychologists might doubt this, but the fiction is triumphant, marching towards its disturbing but not surprising conclusion.

Shocking but not surprising could be a summary for the book. To fill the pages with so many alarming stories without jading or wholly terrifying the reader requires the rather stately, controlled, prose in which Gauhar writes. It is like reading with the handbrake on a little, for safety, providing a place for the reader to exist separate from the madness on display. The narrator, who eventually admits that he wanted to be a writer, is given the genius for such language, revealed in these journal entries. Nothing we learn about him quite allows us to believe his education or cultivation would make such writing natural for him, so if we think it plausible it’s because the force of war has linked with the American’s natural gift, his poetic nature, as it were. But either way, the novel needed this slightly chaste voice to encompass all the horrors as well as the subtleties of love that are in the path. No Space for Burials’ language is in that limited sense, in the mode of a detached traveller, flexible but only rarely coarse, always slightly elevated and therefore drenching all it sees, however mundane or vicious or mad, with human significance; but something is held back, alien, careful. On the other hand, the novel has a distinct inward turn, away from knowledge, away for the most part from philosophy or history—one character aside--and towards experience and the more recent trauma. It is not always a pleasant book, so grim are its tales, but it is a profoundly good book about bad things and lives rendered not quite futile.

By Dagar

Friday, August 13, 2010

Received - Attention Please Now by Matthew Pitt

Attention Please Now by Matthew Pitt - Autumn House Press

"The world in these taut, finely wrought stories is and is not the world we know. Pitt pushes his characters to the edge of the possible with a fabulist's eye for the strange, potent detail and the realist's sure grasp of human emotion. A piquant, funny, original debut." Rachel Pastan

"The central characters of these remarkable stories are oddly ordinary and inordinately odd: that is to say, they are each uniquely qualified to speak for life outside of fiction. Pitt allows them to build the worlds they inhabit from their very particular understandings of what life is, thus endowing their narratives with unpredictable outcomes, and startlingly unexpected revelations along the way." Chuck Wachtel

"A remarkable debut by a brilliant young writer." Brian Morston

Matthew Pitt was born in St Louis. He is a graduate of Hampshire College and NYU, where he was a New York Times fellow. His work has appeared in Oxford American, The Southern Review, Colorado Review, New Letters, Best New American Voices, and elsewhere. Stories of his were cited in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Pushcart Prize anthologies, and have earned awards from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Bronx Council on the Arts, and the St Louis Post-Dispatch. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, and has taught at NYU, Penn State Altoona, and the Bronx Writers' Center. He lives with his wife Kimberly and their two young daughters.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Received - Dodging Traffic by J Bradley

Dodging Traffic by J Bradley - Ampersand Books

"J Bradley is the Veruca Salt of the literary chocolate factory, writing with a satirical brazenness that leaves cavities among the reader's eyes. There is a sugary darkness to his work and lackadaisical charm; that of a black-market dental hygienist. J delivers new audacity, important romance, and certainty. He acknowledges the sensational ugly without apprehension. His ideas are of an entirely different species and his wit laughs at postmodern... stunned today, laughing tomorrow. Dodging Traffic is the classic, the sequel will forever envy. - Sarah Morgan

"Reading J Bradley's Dodging Traffic is a lot like actually dodging traffic - both are unpredictable, thrilling, surprising. Prepare yourself because these are poems that hit hard." - Jason Jordan

"J Bradley has a pen attached to his heart. His heart has its own brain. His brain has its own heart as well, but we are unsure if there's a pen hooked up to that." Robbie Q Telfer

J Bradley is the slammaster of Broken Speech, Florida's longest running poetry slam. His work has appeared in over 40 journals in 2009 alone, earning him credit as one of the most prolific and creative talents at work today. This is his first collection.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preacher's Blues by Ben Lowenkron

Preacher's Blues - by Ben Lowenkron, published by Ampersand Books

Augustine claimed, “when what is said figuratively is taken as if it were said literally, it is understood in a carnal manner. And nothing is more fittingly called the death of the soul than when that in it which raises it above the brutes, the intelligence namely, is put in subjection to the flesh by a blind adherence to the letter.” * He would have had an interesting time reading Preacher’s Blues,’ as most of what is said figuratively can be instructively taken on a literal level, and whichever way you choose to look at it, can be appropriately understood in a carnal manner that circles back into the literal/figurative discussion. That the process is akin to the death of the soul would come as no surprise to Lowenkron, as death is always the pre-requisite for rebirth, and the possibility for rebirth looms large in the landscape of his work..
The book opens, for instance, with a short piece called ‘Bone River.’
As much as we are
love death
cling to each
move through the river

‘Move through the river’ is meant, metaphorically, to refer to our movement through the river of life into death but it also reflects a literal concern with a literal body of water, with its rising and falling water levels, with the way it effects the lives lived in its proximity. The river is also expressly a ‘carnal’ metaphor, and a ‘carnal’ reality. Centred in a Louisiana landscape devastated by hurricane the poems provide a visceral glimpse into that reality. The levees that hold back the river also keep back the rot and corruption it carries. ‘Bone River Hymnal’ asks:

Down by the levee how many graves

Apple Pie Moan’ makes the carnal – (relating to the physical and especially sexual appetites; of or relating to the body or flesh; bodily; worldly or earthly; temporal) connection even clearer –

I climb the levee’s crust
rise above bubbling rot
I need to sink my teeth in to what simmers beneath
the drooling sun

‘My River,’ on the other hand, makes explicit the sexual connotations of the river. It is both the ‘dwindling puddle’ of Preacher’s own bodily fluid – ‘how sickly I’ve been/ stagnant and receding/ since last rain’ - and the physical manifestation of his lover’s sexuality.

breach the levee
call your waters home

feed your currents
swallow me in your tide
I kneel on the shore become your waves
spread muddy legs
and I wade in

The Preacher himself is a questionable guide through a spiritual wasteland, a thoroughly unreliable Virgil arranging our passage through, not over the river. “naked he wades/bony waves…/ curses drip/ the tide blisters/ night rises from the deep.” We first meet him in ‘Terminal Three.’ “Preacher’s got the gin/ second linin’ down the moving walkway.” He’s a denizen of darkness who will teach his parish ‘to fear first light,’ a man who equates the ‘bloated dawn’ with the death of dreams and with death in general – “sun rise the end of days.” The rising sun is a ‘rising tombstone/that heaves and heaves/ and will not let go,’ and a sky spider that sucks him ‘to a brittle crop.’ He believes “everyday the levee lies and would see us drown,” yet he sits there “and plays his harp to the river/ calling each wave closer to shore.” Bone river, he warns or promises, “takes us/ as Bone River does.” His so called ‘sermons,’ a rambling stream-of-consciousness collection of impressions drowned, at times, in alcohol and despair, have much to do with ‘The Fire Sermon’ in ‘The Waste Land.’ In Eliot’s version of desolation “the river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,/ silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends/ or other testimony of summer nights.” Lowenkron’s river carries all of that and more, the detritus, not just of summer nights, but of all the nights the preacher is so keen to have us follow him into. Eliot’s narrator claims that “at my back in a cold blast I hear/the rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.” The Preacher has heard the same rattle and understood it as a message. ‘The Fire Sermon’ takes it’s title from the fire sermon of the Buddha, where he preached that ‘all things are on fire, with the fire of passion, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of infatuation, with birth, old age, death and sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair are they on fire,” and that “the disciple must conceive an aversion for the eye, for all the senses, “for impressions received by the mind, and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the mind,” so that he may become divested of passion and hence be free and know that he is free and that “he is no more of this world.” **
Preacher’s ninth sermon, ‘Gravesinger,’ acknowledges the Buddha’s metaphor and the truth behind it.

every dream turned against you
every wing stitched to earth

nothing from over the tree-line but fire

Preacher’s Blues ends with an afterword sub-titled ‘Upanisad.’

“Together a pyre.
pleading for a spark,
our tongues a song of fire.

Harmony’s tinder,
we are smoke rising
in-between words,
over our ashes.

In the beginning
there was nothing here at all.

Eliot’s ‘What the Thunder Said’ ends with ‘Shantih shantih shantih,’ a formal ending to an Upanisad. He claimed in a note that ‘the peace that passeth understanding’ is our nearest equivalent to the word.’ If you reach the end of Lowenkron’s chapbook still looking for an explanation for Preacher’s ambivalent attitude towards us, his readers and spiritual charges, Upanisad, provides this one – You are the day placed in front of the word/ I am the night placed behind. By extension, the poem is the thing between us, the river he would have us wade through to get to some freer, more peaceful place. Or, as he put it in ‘The Recoil’ -
the river goes nowhere I cannot
these shackles are free

*On Christian Doctrine
**Notes on The Waste Land

A Conversation with Ben Lowenkron

T.T. - The river plays a key role here, showing up everywhere – in nightmares, in sexual exchanges, in ordinary observations. It’s a metaphor, a speaking entity that taunts him with his weaknesses and a body of water responding to rain and the moon, held back, or not, by the levees. Tell me about it. Is there an actual Bone River behind the poetic representation? River memories? Rivers play a large role in the mythology and literature of the country. What about in your own mythology?

Ben - Bone River does and does not exist. How's that for a non-answer? As far as I know there is no physical river named for our hardened cores. Bone River is a spin on the metaphor of the river of
life, but one that blends death into the mix, while expressing the flow and churn of a physical river, a powerful body that brings life and death equally.
In many ways Preacher's Blues is itself a river, a confluence of tributaries. One of those tributaries is Louisiana herself, a land where everything looks like it is back from the dead. I moved to Louisiana in the summer of 2005, just in time for Katrina and Rita. Timing was never my strong suit, I guess. I split my time between an apartment in uptown New Orleans off St. Charles, and a ghetto shanty in Baton Rouge, in the bottoms by the Mississippi River. The experience of living through those hurricanes (and later, Gustav) and their aftermath greatly influenced my voice, and the voices of my peers in the MFA program at LSU. One of those friends was the poet, Eric Elliott, who was also my roommate in Baton Rouge. He and I spent many nights on the levee, watching the Mississippi - it is such a powerful and important heart of our country. Goods are shipped up it, while the river itself is a second line, a funeral parade carrying America's body, the land and waste itself, out to sea.
On one of our nights on the levee, Eric and I discussed this magnetic hold that Louisiana has on the artistic and on those who see death's sickle and hang shiny plastic beads from it. Not only does everything and everyone in Louisiana look as if back from the dead, but there is a feeling in the land, in the air, in the burgeoning swamp that there is a conversation going on that is thousands of years old. This
conversation is about death and life on the most serious and the most light-hearted terms. It is a conversation that begs participation, one that is felt in the history of the region and heard in the blues. It
was a conversation calling our names.

T.T. - Influences?
Ben - I owe Preacher's Blues in many ways to Rodger Kamenetz and Andrei Codrescu. In one of Rodger's poetry workshops, we were given the task of writing a research poem. The research could be done in any manner we wished, and we had two weeks to complete the poem. I chose to listen exclusively to blues music - Delta Blues and old Texas Blues mostly: Lightning Hopkins, Skip James, Son House, Big Joe Williams, R. L. Burnside, Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson and the comprehensive George Mitchell Collection (which I received from Vince, and consists of almost an obnoxious amount of old blues). The result of those two weeks (and, truthfully, I have kept most of the artists in my rotation since the research experiment) was "Apple Pie Moan." Rodger hated the poem (rightfully so, it was told from the point of view of a dog, and simply did not work), but the voice of Preacher's Blues was born from that poem and would be honed the following semester in Andrei's workshop.
Andrei's workshop was designed around the idea of oracles. He assigned each of us a poet, and we were to pick one as well. These were to be our poetic oracles. Each week we would ask our oracles questions and then open one of their books to a random page. The first one to three lines our eyes fell upon was our answer. We would then take our q and a and use it to inform our poem for the week. I was assigned the amazing Mina Loy and chose Frank Stanford (whom I regard as the best American poet this side of Walt Whitman. He also was passed along to me by Vince, who found a dusty copy of Stanford's, "Crib Death" in the stacks at LSU). As the class progressed, I picked up a third oracle, Jeffrey Miller, whose poems, as Andrei pointed out, are written as if from beyond the grave. The majority of the poems in Preacher's Blues came from my intense discussions with Mina, Frank, and Jeff. You can still find examples of the oracle correspondence on the Equisite Corpse website,

T.T. - I like the picked apart etymology of the word ‘Upanisad,’ as it relates to the collection as a whole, as well as to the poem that uses it for a title - upa- (nearby), ni- (at the proper place, down) and sad ("sitting down near", and the put together implication of sitting near a teacher to be enlightened.
Ben - As far as ‘Upanisad’ is concerned, it is almost Preacher's guide to the book. It is spiritual in nature and in existence, as it was written while I was reading The Upanisads. The words closely mimic the actions and set up of the beginning of The Upanisads, where the cosmic man sacrifices his body to create the universe. The notion of sacrifice to creation is the core of Preacher and the spirit of the book itself. Its expression is the bony hand.

T.T. - Death seems to be the other big player throughout the work – gestured at by the numerous tombstones, the rot, the skeletal bits, the frequent quest for oblivion on the part of the cast. More personal mythology or is it related to the devastation of the landscape? Or perhaps the devastation of the landscape has worked its way into the personal mythology.

Ben - The character of Death comes mostly from Frank, though it owes a lot to Louisiana herself - if Death had a vacation home, it would be somewhere down River Road. In reading and communing with my oracles and in listening to a mammoth amount of the blues, death became more and more prevalent (not to mention the first hand encounter with so much death in the aftermath of the hurricanes). I wanted to write a murder ballad and from this desire, Preacher was born. But as draft after draft piled up I realized that while Preacher may or may not have nefarious intentions, the real antagonist of the poems was the sun, the entity of responsibility to all that distracts from our dreams. In our dreams we are most alive, and the sun is God's flashlight, tapping at our window, demanding we pay or bill and move along.
The birth of the evil sun idea came out of my own battles with severe depression and with bipolar disorder. In my darkest times, I would literally lie in bed, shaking uncontrollably with the overwhelming
fear of the coming day. I have always been drawn to the freedom and possibility inherent to night, a time with no time markers besides the departure and reappearance of the sun. Even in mythology, I prefer
Bacchus to Apollo 150 times out of 100. Questioning the logistics of those numbers is exactly what the damn Sun would do.

T.T. - Formal Consideration? And what about the book as an object, with its occasional pages that appear to have been typed with a ribbon past its prime, and illustrated by someone armed with a stump of charcoal and a vision of the world that vacillates between hope and despair?

Ben - The Sun wants left-justified poems. The Sun wants articles. Fuck the Sun. My poems are a rebellion against this, but also a nod to the river, to waves. Each line or couplet takes the shape of a wave. The book itself is supposed to be an artifact, something that might have been found in an old box by the river. I owe an incredible debt to Jason Cook and Ampersand Press for making a book that is a perfect expression of the work within, and that is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

*** Second line is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans. The ‘main line’ is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit; those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the ‘second line.’ The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called ‘second lining.’ It has been called “the quintessential New Orleans form – a jazz funeral without a body.” (Nick Spitzer, "Rebuilding the 'Land of Dreams:' Expressive Culture and New Orleans' Authentic Future" Southern Spaces, 29 August ) - wikipedia

Monday, August 9, 2010

Received - You Know Who You Are by Ian Williams

"Ian Williams writes challenging poetry. His poems address the crisis of young, black masculinity in cities, paint starkly urban portraits of life and break open stereotypes the way a student taught him to snap the back of a ramen noodle packet. Sly humour laces through this collection, and Williams is adept at playing with language to change meanings in unexpected ways. For him it's easy to turn the word go into gone."

"Ian Williams' You Know Who You Are x-rays our social masks, our deceitful, greeting-card and billboard and video slogans, to show us up as who we really are - still human despite all the technology that makes us sound like idiots and prods us to feel nothing. Williams don't care about bout e-mail poses or cellphone attitude; he tears away at out language of bleeps and downloads and broadcasts to show us vulnerable, full of hurt and desire. What's he like? Think Atwood, Coupland's Generation X, and Bök: avant-garde cool, intelligent saying. Pick it up, get hooked up, see you seeing you clearer." - George Elliot Clarke

"Reading Ian Williams' poems I am both shattered and revived. They conjure a dazzling concoction of loneliness and hope, a wild display of the endless sparks and twists that become our lives. You Know Who You Are is an electric addition to Canadian poetry. What a debut!" - Carolyn Smart

Ian Williams received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is currently a professor at Fitchburg State College. He has held multiple fellowships and residencies and his writing has been in many journal across Canada and the US. Williams has a collection of short stories forthcoming from Freehand Books in 2011. He divides his time between Ontario and Massachusetts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Received - Wanderlust by Megan Speers

Wanderlust by Megan Speers - The Porcupine's Quill

"In Wanderlust, Mega Speers introduces us to an unlikely heroine who embraces a decidedly perilous by fiercely independent life in the early 2000s among the punks of Sault Ste. Marie, the third largest city in northwestern Ontario.

Proponents of similar subcultures typically self-identify in any community, so these fifty panels of images could just as accurately represent events in any small city in almost any country in the world in the thirty years since the advent of the Clash, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, and the Sex Pistols. The images are wood engravings, carved on blocks made 'by scratch' (as it were, in the true spirit of the do-it-yourself ethos) by the artist and her family. The images themselves are then scratched into the surface of the wood, depicting the mostly happy lives that the punks eke out for themselves in the back alleys and the bush surround the Sault.

Bush parties on Whitefish Island, Dumpster-diving for pizza and the anarchist aesthetic, all rendered in the bold, crisp lines reminiscent of Frans Masareel's 1919 classic graphic novel Passionate Journey, which depicts a not dissimilar idealistic individual's struggle with destiny and fate in a life that has know its joys, its illusions, and its disappointments."

Megan Speers was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in 1986 and lives there in a subcultural mix of punks, modern-day hippies, travellers, and anarchists until she was seventeen. Her mother was a cabinetmaker and wood-worker, which led Megan to a profound appreciation of wood and handcrafted items - a big part of the reason she chose to 'write' her graphic novel Wanderlust in wood engraving rather than the less demanding linocut. Shortly before she turned eighteen, Megan moved to Toronto to enrol at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She graduated in June 2009, after studying English, printmaking, bookbinding, and book arts. In her final year at OCAD Megan received the Bill Poole Memorial Aware (for book arts) and the Diana Myers Book Award.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Received - Reticent Bodies by Moez Surani

Reticent Bodies by Moez Surani - Wolsak and Wynn Publishers

"Here's a debut that roams wildly and richly in its tones and topics, from... erotica... to poems with punchlines and lyrics of quiet elation." Steven Heighton

"Reticent Bodies is a bountiful volume. Exquisite in language, and outrageously excellent in style, these lyrics echo the vivid pictorialism of Michael Ondaatje and the painstaking truth-telling of Nazim Hikmet. Surani's lines are as incisive as scripture and as persuasive as song." - George Elliot Clarke

"Moez Surani's Reticent Bodies may be what the future of poetry in Canada will look like. His poetry rings with the linguistic rhythms of the Urdi, Swahili, Gujarti and Kutchi that he was exposed to around the kitchen table of his childhood, and his vibrant, of colour-saturated imagery captures startling fragments of Canada."

Moez Surani's writing has been included in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Carousel, Prairie Fire, Vallum, and Arc Poetry Magazine. He has served as writer-in-residence for the Toronto Catholic District School Board and curator for the Strong Words Reading Series in Toronto. HE was the recipient of a 2008 Chalmers Arts Fellowship which supported a trip through India and East Africa.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Received - Farang by Peter Blair

Farang poems by Peter Blair - Autumn House Press

"Peter Blair's Farang utilizes the best elements of the travelogue, memoir, and documentary. These poems are panoramic and introspective, foreign and intimate. Crossing genres and cultures, Blair writes lucidly from the crossroads where memory and empathy intersect." - Terrance Hayes

"Lyrics poetry knows little of the East beyond Pound's "River Merchant's Wife" or Yeat's "Asiatic vague immensities." Now we have the moody, fragrant, and luminous poems of Peter Blair's Farang. Like a path between broken temples, Farang shows us a Thailand losing its past in sex bars, the fractured dreams of women, the lonely, predatory men. Can the heart's affections reach across space and nation? Blair lived and taught in Thailand, was marked as the white and fleshy farang until he nearly forgot himself. Only death brings him back to the U.S., the foreign imperium. The songs of Farang move like dark clouds and flash lightning." - David Gewanter

"The raw and ethereal beauty of Thailand is laced through these lush, narrative poms where the speaker, a foreigner teaching there, lives both inside and outside the "dream of culture..." In the full circle of this book what Blair's world traveler brings home is an aching heart and travel's one true gift - memory..." - Lisa Zimmerman

Peter Blair's most recent book is The Divine Salt published by Autumn House Press. His earlier book, Last Heat won the Washington Prize in 1999. Born in Pittsburgh, he has worked in a psychiatric ward, a steel mill, and served three years in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Currently he teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Received - do something! by Joseph Riippi

DO SOMETHING! do something! DO SOMETHING! by Joseph Riippi - Ampersand Books

"Joseph Riippi accomplished no east tging to have so well-crafted pain inside the usual streetways and bar reflections of the places I thought I knew, and with so much beauty... I fear to touch, fear that my finger will come away surprised by red, by blood. Do something indeed, whether as Faust or an Eva. Hurry up and just eat the fruit! Riippi has great literary power." Professor Carolivia Herron

"In this fragmented, nontraditional narrative, Riippi explores the aftermath of stories rather than simply telling them: a critic chants Sontag in a mental hospital; a playwright flees human shrapnel; a starfish tattoo endows a woman with newfound strength. do something!... is a story of great literary power, one that "might just change the way you look at life." Jason Cook

Joseph Riippi's essays regularly appear in The Brooklyn Rail and stories have been published in PANK, The Bitter Oleander, Salamander, Everyday Genius, New Delta Review, FlatmanCROOKED, KNOCK, and others. He lives in NYC, where he writes ads and is finishing his MFA.