Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why I love poets (or at least Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman)

University of California, Berkeley's famous poet (and former poet laureate) Robert Hass has been showing his support of the Occupy movement. This first link shows Hass getting pushed around by police, as he and fellow faculty, students, and supporters of the Occupy movement formed a human chain to safeguard occupiers from the police.
The second link is to Hass' New York Times article about this incident, how he and his wife, the poet Brenda Hillman, arrived at the campus to protect the students from police brutality--Hass gives a chilling description of the violence used by police. He also critiques the state's neglect of education and unwillingness to pay more in taxes to fund the university.
Way to go Hass!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rochelle Hurt discusses "Uncle Al"

The author of "Uncle Al," Rochelle Hurt, offered us a few thoughts on this flash fiction story, its origin, and the significance of the phrase pena ajena. "Uncle Al" recently appeared in the first online, short form issue of Bellingham Review.

While watching an Academy Award winner give a particularly crass and awkward acceptance speech on television, a friend of mine used the term ‘pena ajena’ (sometimes called Spanish shame) to describe how embarrassed she was for the blathering actress. I started to think about all of the instances in which a phrase like that would be appropriate, and I kept returning to the idea of pity. Feeling another’s embarrassment seems like a manifestation of aggressive pity more than sympathy, almost as if you are forcing your own fear of shame upon that person. This happens all the time, but I find it most interesting when the exchange between the pitied and the ‘pitier’ is complicated by an unexpected power dynamic. In ‘Uncle Al,’ the narrator is just old enough to adopt the values of most of the adults around her, which tell her to feel embarrassed for her uncle, who still acts like a child and wears cheap clothing. Although she is not quite old enough to realize the true source of the shame that she has adopted for her uncle, she finds it almost by accident, as children often do, when she confronts his childlessness at the family lunch table. Though the question is never answered, she immediately learns that this too should be a source of shame, according to adult cultural norms, as she witnesses the entire table’s sense of pena ajena for Uncle Al.
-Rochelle Hurt

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts on "Drafting the Beast"

Joe Bonomo, author of "Drafting the Beast," a short form that recently appeared in our online edition of Bellingham Review shared with us a small piece about the origins and writing experience of "Drafting the Beast."

Air conditioning fascinates me. It changes things, and changes us as we move through the air. AC creates boundaries and divisions—between me and the heat, between the basement and the attic, between the house and the yard, between the calm and the crazed. I read recently in a novel where a character couldn’t imagine another character as a kid; I have difficulty imagining generations before AC. We lived in an un-air-conditioned house for many years, but all the while I knew that AC existed somewhere out there, and could begin humming for me as soon as my luck changed.

I wrote “Drafting the Beast” as a response to AC, and more generally to the suburban experience, from where many of my prose poems and essays originate. The piece explores a few memories that I can’t shake. One is of lifting my buried hand out of sand and noting how the sand that remained created a kind of outline of bones, a skeletal silhouette. Humans are animals, creatures behind our skin, and when, as a kid, I did as so many kids do and drew an outline around my hand to render a barnyard animal, something sparked inside. Questions I asked before I realized I was asking: Is my hand a microcosm for a turkey? Am I drawing a kindred spirit? Is there an animal in my hand?? In bed that night, I played a favorite game: pressing down my thumbnail until it turned white, what I pretended was light coming from somewhere inside of me, a natural source of luminosity illuminating a dark room.

In “Drafting the Beast” I essay the feral body. That body contains light, and can speak in sounds familiar to the speaker but also foreign. When I’d walk into our air-conditioned house as a kid, I’d step between and among all of these identities that the body owns, and imagines, slipping from wild to suburban, from animal to human, and back again.
-Joe Bonomo

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Pages Review

Bellingham Review recently received a complimentary review in New Pages. The website provides details on our latest print issue (Spring 2011) and the works published in this edition. Click here to read the full article.

Many thanks to New Pages for their support!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A few words from the author of "Requiem in Laramie"

Kevin Simmonds, author of "Requiem in Laramie," a prose poem recently published in our short form, online edition of Bellingham Review shared with us a meditation on his poem and its significance.

We have such short memories. Soul-grabbing atrocities only momentarily command our attention and call our consciousness to larger responsibilities.

I'd like to think that art can be a residue, a re-membering that plays as refrain inside us. My poem "Requiem in Laramie" is relatively short and, I hope, tiny enough to aggravate memory without calling too much attention to itself.

The poem is for us, not Matthew Shepard. The mother and the missing child are many of us or people we've known or heard about. The poem is representation of something else, a stand in. That's not to say it isn't fully itself as a poem, a piece of artwork. But I swear I've failed in many ways if that poem is only about itself.
-Kevin Simmonds

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Out first online issue

Hello readers,
We're pleased to announce that our first online issue in short forms will be published November 7, on our new website. Check out the issue for work by Jessie van Eearden, Mark Wagenaar, Anne Kaier, Robert Miltner, and more!

Poets and Writers

Hey everyone,
Our Editor-in-Chief, Brenda Miller is featured in the latest issue of Poets and Writers. She and the editors of three other journals were interviewed for a discussion on literary publication.
Check it out!