TIDE’S IN! – Tidal Basin Review, Winter 2015 Issue!

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The Tidal Basin Review Launches the 2084 Issue!

The complete E-Issue of the Tidal Basin Review is available at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

THE WRITING LESSON

Cover Art by Allen Forrest

January 27, 2015 – Washington, DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tidal Basin Press, Inc. launches the WINTER 2015 Issue (The2084 Issue) of the Tidal Basin Review.

Tidal Basin Review is an electronic literary journal with a print-on-demand option. Tidal Basin Press, Inc. seeks to amplify the voice of the human experience through art that is intimate, engaging, and audacious. We make every effort to include work that propels the present artistic landscape and to publish the wide spectrum of American voices.

The 2084/Winter 2015 Issue features visual artist, Allen Forrest, a special essay from Henry Giroux, interviews with poets, Derrick Weston Brown and Alan King, and the creative works of 23 writers imaging our world 100 years after 1984, the prophetic novel by George Orwell.

View the full E-Issue and order your print copy of the 2084 Issue of Tidal Basin Review at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

Winter 2015 Contributors: Liz Ahl, Joshua Bennett, Derrick Weston Brown, Joan Colby, Curtis Crisler, Carol Dorf, Milton Ehrlich, Allen Forrest, Henry A. Giroux, Claire Hermann, Jen Karetnick, Alan King, JW Mark, Britt Melewski, Jonathan Moody, Keith Moul, Barry W. North, Randy Parker, Adrienne Perry, Ken Poyner, henry 7. reneau, jr., Joseph Ross, Penelope Scambly Schott, and Scott T. Starbuck.

Press Contact:

Melanie Henderson, Managing Editor

tidalbasinpress@gmail.com

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Call for Submissions: 2084

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Washington, DC

CALL: 2084

1984

Tidal Basin Review invites submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art for the next issue “2084.” This call is related to George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984. Not only do we ask you to reflect upon modern-day “Big Brother” in America; we also invite work that speculates on what our surveilled existence will be like in the U.S. 100 years after 1984. Submit here!

Tidal Basin Review will accept submissions for this call from December 1, 2013 – January 31, 2014. Any submissions received after this deadline will not be considered and will be discarded. Response times vary. The standard response time is 2 (two) months.

Tidal Basin Review considers work in English, which has not been previously published. Tidal Basin Press, Inc. acquires North American Serial Rights, First Electronic Rights, and Electronic Archival Rights. Publication rights revert back to the author upon publication of work in an issue of Tidal Basin Review.

We accept simultaneous submissions, however, please notify us immediately upon acceptance of your work elsewhere via the Submission Manager.

For poetry submissions, submit 1-3 poems totaling no more than 5 pages in one single file in doc., rtf, or .pdf format.

For prose submissions, submit one (1) short story or one (1) stand alone novel chapter or creative non-fiction piece of no more than 2,500 words in one single file in doc., rtf, or .docx format.

For visual art, please submit an original, unpublished art sample of no more than 5 (five) images (any single image may not exceed 4 MB) in .jpeg format only. Please be prepared to provide a digital version (300 dpi) via email in the case your artwork is selected.

You may include biographical information in the “Comments” section.

(Slated for Spring/Summer 2014 publication)

Submit!

TBR’s 2012 Pushcart Nominations Announced!

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Washington, DC 

Tidal Basin Review is pleased to announce its nominations for the 2012 Pushcart Prize!

 

Congratulations to the following nominees (chosen from the Spring and Summer 2012 Issues):

“Coming-of-Age in Sal Si Puedes” by Rosebud Ben-Oni
“Walk with Me When Nothing Perpends” by John Paul Calavitta
“AM6504” by Sally-Ann Hard
“Bo Suerte” by Monica Ong
“Bury Me a Man” by Aaron Samuels
“Sonny’s First Fair One” by Andrea Walls

Rosebud Ben-Oni is a playwright at New Perspectives Theater, where she is developing a new play, “Shamhat,” for part of their 20th Anniversary Season. Recently, her short story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize at Camera Obscura. Her work appears in Arts & Letters, Review Americana, Texas Poetry Review, and Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature.

John Paul Calavitta is a PhD candidate in English and poetry at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he received his MFA in creative writing. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mudlark Review, Camas, Greatest Lakes Review, Elgin Pop-Up Poetry, The New Verse News, Willows Wept Review, and L.E.S Review

Sally-Ann Hard’s work is published several journals including The Gwendolyn Brooks Journal of Black Thought & Literature; Turning Wheel, a Buddhist magazine; and Salamander. Medusa’s Laugh Press published her chapbook “Walk into Water” in May 2007. She lives in Harlem, NY & has featured at many reading series in the city as well as 17 Poets in New Orleans.

Monica Ong, artist and poet in new media, creates narrative installations that investigate social hierarchies and cultural silences in the context of public health. Monica completed her MFA in Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006. Her research has included fellowships at the Oral History Summer Institute at Columbia University, and the Writing the Medical Experience Workshop at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also a Kundiman Fellow in poetry whose work has been published most recently in the Lantern Review, as well as forthcoming issues of Drunken Boat, and The New Sound: A Journal Interdisciplinary Art & Literature.

An award-winning poet, educator, community organizer, and published author, Aaron Samuels has performed his work for the last six years, consistently ranking among the top poets in the youth, collegiate, and national competitions.  As an artist, Aaron stresses the urgency for cross-cultural dialogue, teaching writing workshops at schools and community organizations across the country.

Andrea Walls is a poet. She is a native of Philadelphia, PA and a citizen of Camden, NJ—the “city invincible.” She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and the Hedgebrook writer’s community for “women authoring change.” She is author of the chapbook, “Ultraviolet Catastrophe,” and has been published in Kweli Online Journal, Solstice Literary Magazine, and H.O.W. Literary Journal, with poems forthcoming in Callaloo.

TIDE’S IN! – Tidal Basin Review, Summer 2012 E-Issue!

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Tidal Basin Press Launches the Summer 2012 E-Issue!

The complete E-Issue of the Tidal Basin Review is available at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

Cover Art by Monica Ong

September 14, 2012 – Washington, DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tidal Basin Press, Inc. launches the SUMMER 2012 E-Issue of the Tidal Basin Review.

Tidal Basin Review is an electronic literary journal with a print-on-demand option. Tidal Basin Press, Inc. seeks to amplify the voice of the human experience through art that is intimate, engaging, and audacious. We make every effort to include work that propels the present artistic landscape and to publish the wide spectrum of American voices.

The Summer 2012 Issue features artist, Monica Ong, and the works of 31 writers, many of them reflecting on their respective cultures. Also, meet Erik Mortenson Summer 2012 center-featured Series Poet, whose poem “From the Fifteenth Station” graces the print version of the Summer 2012 Issue available for purchase now. Read his interview with TBR Editor-in-Chief, Randall Horton, on The Basin Blog.

Brother Yao Glover

In addition, our Cultural Pride issue honors the life and business reflections of pioneering bookseller, Brother Yao (Hoke Glover III). For the first time in a periodical, Brother Yao shares his perspective on the Karibu Books journey.

Summer 2012 Contributors: Claudia Akyeampong, Allie Marini Batts, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Zackary Sholem Berger, Jeremy Bruno, D. S. Butterworth, Darren C. Demaree, celeste doaks, Jacqueline Doyle, DuEwa Frazier, Brother Yao (Hoke Smith Glover, III), Rain Goméz, Peggie Hale, Amaris Howard, Ann Howells, Geoffrey Jacques, Joseph Legaspi, Henry Leung, Richard Luftig, Cynthia Manick, Erik Mortenson, Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Monica Ong, Glenis Redmond, Jay Rubin, Aisha Sharif, Cherene Sherrard, Debra J. Stone, Valerie Valdes, Andrea Walls, Gerald Yelle and Natalie Young

View the full E-Issue and order your print copy of the Summer 2012 Issue Tidal Basin Review at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

Press Contacts:

Melanie Henderson, Managing Editor

Randall Horton, Editor-in-Chief

tidalbasinpress@gmail.com

Meet Erik Mortenson, Series Poet, Summer 2012

Erik Mortenson

 

INTERVIEW WITH TIDAL BASIN REVIEW SERIES POET, ERIK MORTENSON, AND TIDAL BASIN REVIEW EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, RANDALL HORTON

(Interview conducted via email correspondence in August of 2012)

 

Randall Horton: Erik, thanks for sharing “The Fifteenth Station” with Tidal Basin Review. I remember leaving these poems very curious about the larger work. Please describe the scope of “The Fifteenth Station?”

Erik Mortenson: The sequence follows a young African woman, who contracts HIV from her husband. As the pieces progress, her disease escalates until her death. A few pieces follow that event. Beyond that, the pieces follow the Catholic Stations of the Cross, which summarize the Passion of Christ from his condemnation by the Romans, until the opening of his tomb after his death. Traditionally, there are fourteen stations of the Cross. Obviously, I have added one more.

 

RH: The art of the line break seems a very important element in the aesthetic realm of your poems. One of the very first things I discuss with beginning students is the line break, primarily, because I feel that having a good understanding of end words and their use as breaks can add an additional layer to the poem. Could you please expound on how you have negotiated the line break throughout your writing?

EM: I agree with your thoughts on the line end—a term I prefer to “line break” for some reason maybe for the idea of violence in the line—and its use. I think of it as a primary tool for poets. It’s what separates much poetry from prose, except for the prose poem, which I also use in “The Fifteenth Station.” For my work in general, I write everything out long-hand and in prose. That way, I get down what I want to say—diction, rhythm, etc.—then I go back and let the piece dictate its form in terms of line ends and spatial arrangement. Some pieces are prose poems; some are “traditional” short-lined, left-justified, lyrics. Others have a page-as-field lineation strategy. In this sequence, however, while that concept applies, I really wanted the form of each poem to mirror the degeneration of the protagonist as her disease progressed. As with all the characters, I tried to think what poetry would be to them, and present that. In “The First Station,” I gave the speaker a very straightforward notion of poetry—roughly equal syllabic lines, generally equal-lined stanzas. As she progresses through the stages of her disease, her “poetics” devolves—or evolves?—into something far more radical.

 

RH: Within the series, voice and context are crucial. I view them as persona, not with the historical steeped in rhetoric, but rather the idea of acknowledging a certain humanness. The woman’s voice is so authentic, it is harrowing. How did you construct the female voice? Describe the process of stepping outside of one’s given station in life to so authentically portray another.

EM: I must say I am completely relieved to hear you say that about the authenticity of voice. Throughout the writing, one of my goals was to be “true”—whatever that can mean—to this woman. Of course, there is no such woman, and of course, there are LOTS of such women. I was very concerned with current notions of appropriating narratives and co-opting suffering, and I did not want to do that. I wanted to present a story through these poems. I could not be further from this character: I am male, white, American, healthy, and preposterously affluent in the scope of the world. I simply began with “The First Station” and tried to inhabit this woman—to convey, as you term it, her “humanness.”  What would she feel in this situation? How would she act? As she progressed, I simply tried to honor that as best I could. I think by the seventh or eighth piece, I felt marginally confident that I knew this woman. Surely, more than a few people will read this and NOT find her terribly authentic. However, as much of a goal as “authenticity of voice” was, it is not the be-all-end-all. After all, this is not a real person; the messages here transcend the voice of which they are a part.

 

RH: The reader of these poems cannot help but to be lulled by the rhythmic tones, pacing, internal rhyme (in places), and attention to sound through assonance and consonance. Discuss the aesthetic approach and the presentation of the work.

EM: I work out a lot of the prosody early on. Writing in prose first allows me to give real attention to the words themselves. I liken it to a golf swing. A good golf swing is composed of about 3,498,257 moving parts. No one can think of them all at once. This time, you pick keeping your head down, then, swing away. Writers get as many drafts as we need. The first time, I get down what I want to say. Then I can tinker with the diction and with some sound effects. When all that is square, I address how the words physically appear on the page. A vastly underutilized resource, the visual presentation of the poem on the page adds a layer of meaning to the reader that is dynamic and important, far more so than a flat, left-justified, short-lined lyric.

 

RH: The voice and tone of “The Ninth Station” are dictated by spacing, comma placement, attention to line breaks, and end words. This is the type of poem I would explore in a creative writing class, for several reasons. Explain your thought process here?

EM: Right. More than others, this piece embraces a number of aesthetics, culminating in the literal cutting of words and phrases. In this piece, the protagonist’s disease has culminated in bouts of unconsciousness and semi-consciousness. I tried to present what you would hear her speak if you were a medical worker at her side. She is not only hallucinating, but she drifts in and out of consciousness. However, for her, the narrative continues. It was quite a challenge:  first, I constructed her hallucinatory narrative. Then, I put it on the page. Then I decided which portions to cut to indicate unconsciousness, but decided to keep the blank spaces for the duration of what was cut. The trick was to cut enough to truly disorient the reader, but to keep enough to allow the reader some notion of understanding—an “almost get it.” I read this piece at a poetry festival, scared to death to look up at the faces of the audience. To my surprise, this read pretty well. Everyone seemed to follow the pathos that is in the blank spaces. It occurred to me that was what I really wanted them to get.

 

RH: What literature informed this series? Which writers are influencing your current poetic process?

EM: I’m not sure any “literature” informed this sequence. Obviously, Seamus Heaney’s “Station Island” was in my mind to a degree in terms of the framework, though I think this differs pretty substantially from that piece. I did do a good bit of research on HIV/AIDS and the liturgy of the Stations of the Cross. I also researched some African poetic forms because, in some later pieces, the Mother-In-Law returns and her poems appear in particular African forms. Again, to tie the stages of the disease to the Stations of the Cross, while including some liturgical/Biblical material, required a good bit of research and juggling. Someone so inclined could do a little Talmudic work with this sequence.

As to who is influencing my current writing, I write a lot of varied material. What I would call my “regular poems” are heavily-influenced by Ultra-Talk poetry: David Kirby, Barbara Hamby, and the likes. I’m actually pretty funny—Surprise, surprise! I even edit poetry for a journal of literary humor! I do a lot of UNcreative writing, so I’m pretty influenced by Kenneth Goldsmith and a number of conceptual artists and writers, including Jenny Boully. That merges with some political work I do, such as my current and pretty large project dealing with historical genocides, and I use a lot of material both found and original. So, writers like Anne Carson, Susan Howe, Muriel Rukeyser and such are never far from my mind.

 

RH: The poems, more specifically “The Seventh Station,” tend to pay attention to a workforce and the conditions in which its work is performed. Do you intend for these poems to encompass the political and the effects of classism?

EM:  Yup. I could leave it at that, but I won’t. We’re conducting this interview via email. I first opened this on my iPhone made in China in arguably less-than-ideal conditions. It was assembled with a number of elements taken out of the ground somewhere in Africa. You’re talking about Nickel, Palladium, Platinum, and a whole host of other things that some guy(s) dug out of miles of tunnel deep in the ground. The technology we use here doesn’t arrive without some human cost. Now, I haven’t thrown my phone away, and I don’t intend to, but I do think we need to be aware of the full price of our technological ease. The people of Africa, it seems to me, have always been exploited for their resources by others, and human capital has always figured a large part of this.

I decided, as I was near to completing the manuscript that I did not want to profit in any way from it. As such, if and when this sequence is published, I will donate ALL proceeds to a charity that works directly with African women living with HIV/AIDS. It will be a small thing, but I think the right thing.

 

RH: Is “The Fifteenth Station” an examination of a certain type of society and its beliefs?

EM:  Well, I’m not sure I intended it to be so, but it does do that in the final analysis. As I did my research, I simply could not avoid the repetition of stories from HIV/AIDS sufferers that spoke to the shame they experienced not only at the “hands” of their community, but also loaded on by their own family members. There is, frankly, some very backward thinking about this disease that still continues today. That is not the fault of those who believe it, as such, but of governments, who deny wholesale the very existence of the disease, and so-called “relief” agencies, which do nothing to disabuse people of such myths and even perpetuate them to foster their own socio-political agendas, etc. When you get down to it, though, if you lived in a small village, wouldn’t you feel some shame?  You know everyone is talking about it, about you, or your loved one. We are human; we talk. The smaller the fishbowl, the louder the talk sounds. I tried to embody this primarily in the voice of the Mother-In-Law. She is, for me, a bizzaro Virgin Mary. Mary has no voice in the Stations. She appears briefly, but one can be acutely aware that she is present for the entirety of her child’s suffering and tortuous murder. What must she have felt? I don’t ask this as a religious person, but simply as a human. As a human with children of my own, what must a mother feel? I didn’t want a direct mother-child relationship in this sequence, so the Mother-In-Law gave me a nice foil to present some cultural thinking.

 

RH: Is there a specific incident that garnered your interest in writing this series?

EM: No, not really. It is the culmination of a lot of things. I grew up a Catholic, and to call me “lapsed” is so great an understatement, it is laughable. Anyway, as a youth, I remember being fascinated by the Station plaques around my church. In my late teens, growing up in the height of the AIDS epidemic, I remember thinking, “Hey, these stations would make a cool story. What if ‘Jesus’ had AIDS?” I think Kushner’s “Angels in America” had come out, so I thought that idea had been played. The germ was always lurking in the back of my mind, I suppose, and reading bits and pieces about African mining—men who travelled very far from home to work, the inevitable prostitution that springs up around such “colonies,” the massive African epidemic and general Western disregard/indifference/apathy—all these kept swirling and, eventually, worked themselves onto the page many years later.

 

RH: Ultimately, what do you hope is the takeaway for readers of “The Fifteenth Station?”

EM: I think there are a lot of potential takeaways here, depending on the angle one chooses. I don’t mean to be coy here, but I’m not sure I want to limit a reader’s experience.  You have touched on many of the angles, purely poetic ones of form, diction, rhythm, prosody, and the like. There are issues of voice and persona. These blur with the social and ethnic elements we discussed. Obviously, those tie into political and religious elements.  If you are desperate to pin me down, the real takeaway here is a sense of the human.  That might be a little cheesy, even sentimental, though I think I avoid that pretty well.  Read the whole manuscript and you’ll see that just like the Mother-In-Law is no Virgin Mary, so the nameless protagonist is no redemptive Christ. Maybe the take away is the grace we humans are capable of when all hope—and help—is lost. Again, I am not a religious man, but the Passion narrative is illustrative of many things as a metaphor. At any moment, one reasons that Jesus could have ended the suffering. He’s God incarnate, after all. But he doesn’t. We don’t. We can’t. We can only bear up, shoulder our cross, heavy as it may be, and bear up.

 

Erik Mortenson is the author of, Dreamer or the Dream (Last Automat Press, 2010) and What Wakes Us (Cervena Barva Press, forthcoming).  His work also appears in both print and online journals and anthologies. He writes and teaches in Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife and two children.

Randall Horton is a writer, teacher and the Editor-in-Chief of Tidal Basin Review.

 

TBR Hiatus Coming

About TBR’s Hiatus

To our beloved readership, we are pleased to announce that the Tidal Basin Review is moving to a bigger house. Thanks to you, we have grown exponentially in our efforts to reflect the varied and rich multicultural literary landscape of America.  Since we began in 2010, it has been our great honor to publish work by some of the greatest poets, writers, and visual artists in the country. That list includes Martha Collins, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Brian Gilmore, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tony Medina, Afaa Michael Weaver, and so many talented others.

As a result of Tidal Basin Review’s fairly rapid growth, the time has come for us to make organizational adjustments in order to accommodate that growth. Consequently, after publication of the Summer 2012, Cultural Pride Issue, we will be going on hiatus until March 31, 2013 to restructure. Upon our return, Tidal Basin Review’s online presence will be reinvigorated and our capacity to support our literary mission will be expanded. However, our vision “to amplify the voice of the human experience through art that is intimate, engaging, and audacious” will remain the same.

Please stayed tuned for our Summer 2012, Cultural Pride Issue, which will feature the work of artist Monica Ong, and Series Poet Erik Mortenson.  In addition, our Cultural Pride issue will feature the life and business reflections of pioneering bookseller, Brother Yao Glover.  The book store chain that he founded, Karibu Books, was once a cultural landmark, and one of the most-beloved book stores in the DMV.  Its 15 year efforts to edify the African-American community, as a bookseller, remains an  unparalleled achievement in our area. For the first time in a periodical, Brother Yao shares his perspective on the Karibu journey. The Tidal Basin Review is honored to share his stunning narrative, our D.C. cultural pride. It represents a scoop.  Again, stay tuned!

–The Tidal Basin Collective

TIDE’S IN! – Tidal Basin Review, Spring 2012 E-Issue

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The Tidal Basin Press Launches the Spring 2012 Issue!

The complete E-Issue of the Tidal Basin Review is available at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

Cover Art by Najee Dorsey

May 19, 2012 – Washington, DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tidal Basin Press, Inc. launches the SPRING 2012 Issue of Tidal Basin Review.

Tidal Basin Review is an electronic literary journal with a print-on-demand option. Tidal Basin Press, Inc. seeks to amplify the voice of the human experience through art that is intimate, engaging, and audacious. We make every effort to include work that propels the present artistic landscape and to publish the wide spectrum of American voices.

The Spring 2012 Issue features collagist, Najee Dorsey, a special artist highlight of painter, Stephen Flemister, and the creative works of 38 writers, many delving into America’s Prison Industrial Complex and the ongoing debate about its continued practice of Capital Punishment in the new millennium, with critical perspectives of current inmates and exonerated death row survivors. Also, meet Chanell Ruth, TBR’s Spring 2012 center-featured Series Poet, whose poem “Bottom of Midnight” graces the print version of the Spring 2012 Issue available for purchase now. Read her interview with TBR Poetry Editor, Truth Thomas, on The Basin Blog.

Spring 2012 Contributors: Michael Adam, Jerry L. Andrew, A. H. Jerriod Avant, Holly Bass, Richard C. Brown, Marilyn Buck, John Paul Calavitta, Cara Chamberlain, James Cherry, Todd Doan, Najee Dorsey, Stephen Flemister, Page Getz, Stephanie Gibson, Brian Gilmore, Sally-Ann Hard, Kenneth Hartman, George Higgins, DaMaris Hill, Simone Jacobson, Ron Keine, Timothy Kercher, Claire Kiefer, Sarah Marcus, Jen Marlowe, John Middlebrook, Edward Myers, Danny Nelson, Christina Olivares, Melynda Price, Henry 7. Reneau, Jr., Chanell Ruth, Saul Sabino, Aaron Samuels, Darlene Scott, Jeremy Sheets, Paul Shepherd, Alex Stolis, Becky Thompson, and Delbert Tibbs.

View the full E-Issue and order your print copy of the Spring 2012 Issue Tidal Basin Review at www.TidalBasinPress.org.

Press Contacts:

Melanie Henderson, Managing Editor

Randall Horton, Editor-in-Chief

tidalbasinpress@gmail.com

Meet Chanell Ruth, Series Poet, Spring 2012

Chanell Ruth

Chanell Ruth was selected by TBR’s Editors as the Spring 2012 Center-Featured Series Poet. In Bottom of Midnight, Ruth courageously delves into the world of abused children. You can read her series poem in the Spring 2012 Issue of Tidal Basin Review. Meanwhile, check out TBR’s interview with Chanell Ruth below!

INTERVIEW WITH TIDAL BASIN REVIEW SERIES POET, CHANELL RUTH AND TIDAL BASIN REVIEW POETRY EDITOR, TRUTH THOMAS

(Interview conducted via email correspondence in April of 2012)

Truth Thomas:  It would be impossible to read your series, “Bottom of Midnight,” and not be moved by the pain that it expresses, especially with regard to child abuse early on in the piece. It is difficult, necessary, and important work. Was it equally difficult to write—to open yourself up to this subject as courageously as you do?

 

Chanell Ruth:  For me, all writing is difficult, but yes. This was particularly so, as I was quite resistant to the subject matter for a while. Actually, I was adamant about not writing about this. Even though I was being urged to write these stories, I was reticent to approach them because I felt like they weren’t my own. I have interacted with, cared for and taught abused children in many aspects of my personal and professional life. The adults and young adults who I teach often cause me to ask “What happened to you in your life…”I urge them to tell their stories. In all my writing courses, I teach students how to find voice. And many times, abuse, neglect, lovelessness, powerlessness and feelings of annihilation of “the self” surface. I did this, but I kept avoiding the stories of these lost, long gone children and my relationship to the theme. After I realized they were, are my stories, I got brave. In 2010, I started to work through the stories of these children I know and don’t know. That work eventually became this collection.

 

T:  What advice would you offer to new writers with regard to writing what is painful to write?

 

CR:  Write it. When you aren’t ready, when you are. The characters will come down on you in a way you can’t hold if you just get open to receive. Do be resistant. An elder writer once told me that whatever you avoid is what you need to write. I take that with me. I tell my students, there is no such thing as writers block. We are constantly thinking; we cannot or do not write when we refuse to write the truth. When I feel like I have nothing to say, I say what is happening in the “right/write now”? There is no way to be silent then, when something is always happening.

 

T:  What is also evident in your series is a reflection of the consequence of the loss of innocence—for both boys and girls. What prompted this work?

 

CR:  I hear these stories; then, I hear silence. Again, I see what I construe as the remnants of neglect and abuse every day, present in those who beg for literacy. I see equality in the pain represented in males and females and we know that males are silenced even more so in this misogynistic, homophobic culture. Even though organizations like the National Center for Victims of Sexual Abuse publish dated, therefore less jarring statistics, we know that current research states, 1 in 4 girls report having been sexually abused, but what about the boys? It is actually a report of 1 in 5. Not the difference that most people think. We just have to expose sexual abuse. Period.     

 

T:  The speaker’s voice in your poem series is very much that of a blues bathed teacher. Indeed, in “VIII. Missionaries,” we read: “I am not a messiah / but they sit at my hands and feet / pouring offerings of words in their tongue / I can only remind them that they matter.” Who is your classroom and why do you suggest a miracle-maker is needed to reach them?

 

CR:  As a teacher, I constantly champion the power of the word. Though it may sound cliché, they have healing power. Listeners, readers, students are my classroom. I think we should all be learning and teaching as long as we are breathing. I learn with and teach whoever is listening and willing to respond. This Messiah is suggested because many 80s babies, digital natives and millennials have neither the power, nor skill, nor desire to simply respond, to engage in necessary dialogue. It is critical that they get back these simple tools, but every day, they are bombarded with messages that suggest the opposite. There is nothing to say, you can say it in 40 characters or fewer, what you got to say isnt good enough, so borrow your words from a rap song or Wikipedia. “It’s gonna take a miracle. Yes, it’s gonna take a miracle.” But the speaker says, “I am not a Messiah / but…” The speaker knows that what teachers do every day is miraculous. Even our survival is.

 

T:  Do you have hope that America’s most broken children, those you refer to as “broken and belittled, silenced by education,” can be unbroken?

 

CR:  Absolutely. There is always hope, even in the damnedest of situations. Hope is what we are made of. That hope is why I feel like this work is so important. America’s children have to know that they do have voice and that they have to tell what they know. I see hip-hop culture, the spoken word movement moving these youth. I see something burning still. Always.

 

T:  What do you see as your role as a poet—particularly a black poet—in contemporary America? 

 

CR:  I think it is important to tell stories. I think the black poet comes from that tradition. I try to speak to the streets, travels, the everyday, the ordinary. I have a respect for language and its ability to illuminate everyday things. At the same time I have to hold onto music, rhythm. I think that the contemporary black writer has to write for these times and always connect to our historical experience: be here and there at once. I hear myself continue to say silence. I think the poet’s role is to eradicate silence.

 

T:  Relatedly, what is the comprehensive literary vision that frames your work?

 

CR:  I hope to blend the narrative and lyric forms with honesty, authenticity, and trust in language. I believe in revisionist’s history though, when I narrate. We are told there has to be something off base, testing reality, when we narrate. My writing is very much rooted in the experience and memory, so I rely on realism and surrealism. And sometimes fantasy. Whatever I do, I want to make the page the truth.   

 

T:  One of the other points that comes through quite clearly in your poem is the idea that wounded people wound people. Was it challenging to express this theme—which you do masterfully well—without preaching?

 

CR:  Thank you for using the “M” word. I think the hurt people, hurt people theme may have been the easy part to express, just by focusing on characters, but I suppose it was difficult not to be preachy. This collection was not meant to preach, but to bear witness. If there is a cycle of pain to parenthood, then there is one for fostering and teaching, as well. The whole body of the family suffers in the wake of abuse. The speaker wants to observe, record and does judge, but in the end there is reflection and redemption.

 

T:  How did you approach the crafting of this stirring non-sermon sermon?

 

CR:  I wrote one poem at a time trying to focus on each character in the family and focus perspective to each. I started with the theme and let the stories come. I had some wonderful workshopping with Kelli Stevens Kane, my workshop teacher Tyehimba Jess and renegade teacher, Tony Medina, who literally made me turn one of the poems upside down. I don’t think I would have tackled this without them. The first poem was “I. Family Services,” and I began with a line that I had been holding in my head for years, given to me by a mentor, “How could he do this to a girl so young?” This question of stolen innocence continued to return. I wanted to answer the question and pose others with each poem. The final poem ends with a question. With abuse, “Why?” and “How?” are always questions. I kept returning to that idea as I crafted the poems into the series.

 

T:  If it is true that every city has a poetic accent, how would you describe the poetic accent of Chicago?

 

CR:  Since the Midwest is a crossroads, we are sympathetic to language; we are borrowers. I never hear any regional dialect that I will not adopt. I hear it, analyze its creativity, and if it suits me, suits my and our traditions, I will pick it up. It is also innovative; we make and keep our own linguistic traditions. It is innately southern, a call and response, a sermon. Everything is a soliloquy. I often get accused of speaking unclearly or too softly. When I do, it is because my voice rests; becomes guttural; it almost clicks, like my grandma Josie’s strong Mississippi dialect. And sometimes I hear myself getting my southern belle on, like Grandma Doris. In Chicago, language is not only a vehicle, but a marker. It lets the listener hear more than your words, and Chicago aint loud, but it’s loud. It is like a blues song, slow, and fast like a jazz scat, but it always hinges on rhythm. And it has humor. I hear the most inventive things said in Chicago streets: humorous and curious things. When I hear the people, I tell them so. I repeat their words and sayings. That is what would be done in the south. We brought that here with us.

 

T:  Another aspect of your piece that pierces is the intense anger, and bitterness at human suffering (again, particularly that of child abuse). You often use neat stanzas to contain that firestorm of emotion which creates an ironic tension in this series. It reads as if the poems are almost ready to explode from the hurt that lives inside them. Was this formatting style intentional or did it sprint from your pen under the coaching of the muse?

 

CR:  A bit of both. I cannot claim what the ancestors give me, but I wanted the speaker to sound as if this is all a secret to be told. I was conscious of creating controlled, taut lines. I wanted the poems to be economical rather than sprawling, since you have only so much time to tell a secret. I also wanted the anger and pain to linger, so I worked to reconcile the intentions and musings.

 

T:  We are honored to have your work within our pages. Unreserved thanks. Your series poem is art that cannot be ignored. It reflects what is ugly and beautiful about our world in a way that aspires to heal humanity. Chicago is blessed to have you. We are blessed to have you. Please tell our readers what projects are coming up next for you.

 

CR:  Thank you. I feel honored to have such a light shined on this series. It certainly is meant to start a healing process. I will continue my work with City Colleges of Chicago this summer, teaching for Level Up, a college readiness program; I am also developing a writing series for writing about illness that I will teach this summer. A new collection of poems is brewing and I will do some research in Savannah this summer and get knee deep into the findings this winter at Vermont Studio Center. And I have to say, “Yes we Cannes!” I am headed to France to support the short film “Swimmin’ Lesson” produced by Shahari Moore and Christine List, who called on me to act in the film. That’s very exciting. It all is. I am blessed. Thanks Again.

 

 

Chanell Ruth, MFA, poet, educator, and performer, has served as Poetry Editor of Warpland Literary Journal. Her poems have been anthologized in texts, including Spaces Between Us and curated in The Citizens Picnic: Lynching in America from 1865 to Present. Chanell has attended Hurston/Wright and Callaloo workshops.

 

Truth Thomas is a musician, poet, educator and Poetry Editor of the Tidal Basin Review.

Calls for Submissions: Cultural Pride

THIS CALL HAS ENDED.

 

~ CALL EXTENDED through March 15, 2012 ~

 

T ∫ B ∫ R

tidal basin review

Washington, DC

 

 

 

CALL: CULTURAL PRIDE

Tidal Basin Review invites submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art from every corner of the United States. We want to know where you’re from. We want you to boast, praise, meditate upon, and complain about the culture (i.e., the place, the music, the religion, the food, the clothing, etc.) that informs both who you are and your creative work.

Tidal Basin Review will accept submissions for this call from January 22 – February 29, 2012. Any submissions received after this deadline will not be considered and will be discarded. The standard response time is 2 (two) months.

Tidal Basin Review considers work, in English, which has not been previously published. Tidal Basin Press, Inc. acquires North American Serial Rights, First Electronic Rights, and Electronic Archival Rights. Publication rights revert back to the author upon publication of work in an issue of Tidal Basin Review.
 
We accept simultaneous submissions, however, please notify us immediately upon acceptance of your work elsewhere via the Submission Manager.
 
For poetry submissions, submit 1-3 poems totaling no more than 5 pages in one single file in doc., rtf, or .pdf format.
 
For prose submissions, submit one (1) short story or one (1) stand alone novel chapter or creative non-fiction piece of no more than 2,500 words in one single file in doc., rtf, or .docx format.

For visual art, please submit an original, unpublished art sample of no more than 5 (five) images (any single image may not exceed 4 MB) in .jpeg format only. Please be prepared to provide a digital version (300 dpi) via email in the case your artwork is selected.

You may include biographical information in the “Comments” section.

(Slated for Summer 2012 publication)