Monday, October 19, 2009

A Sh Anthology Reading in Denver, CO

Fact-Simile Editions invites you to join us as we celebrate the release of the A Sh Anthology Saturday, November 7th at The Dikeou Collection in Denver. The evening’s festivities will include live performances by:

Selah Saterstrom
Erik Anderson
Sara Veglahn
Andrew K. Peterson and

Doors open at 6:30 and the reading starts at 7pm. If you're unfamiliar with The Dikeou Collection, check out their website, and be sure to arrive early so you can explore this amazing space:

Saturday, November 7th @ 7pm
The Colorado Building
1615 California Street (at 16th Street)
Suite 515
Denver, CO 80202

We hope to see you there...Oh yeah, and the A Sh Anthology will be on sale for one-time-only price of $9.99!

For those of you in far away places, stay tuned. We will be posting a full video recording of the event on our blog as soon as we get back to New Mexico.

In the meantime...

Best Regards,

Travis Macdonald & JenMarie Davis
Fact-Simile Editions

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Commuter, James Belflower

Commuter by James Belflower
-Paperback: 86 Pages
-Publisher: Instance Press
-ISBN: 9780967985473

During an age ravaged by The Plague and other brutalities that often truncated lifespans, “memento mori” portraits became a popular mode of painting. The subjects, countered with skulls, wilting flowers and rotting fruit, reminded a viewer of his or her mortality. James Belflower’s Commuter operates in much the same way as one of these memento mori. This debut, full-length book of poetry reminds the reader that, with the 21st century's plague of terrorist bombings, death and destruction are always adjacent to the "normal" moment.

The reader begins the ride with the prologue’s color picture of a subway map. The representation of an underground system of tunnels offers an excellent visual association given that public transportation is so often targeted in attacks. On a deeper level, however, the image begins an intricate patterning of circulation that recurs through the rest of the book.

From the map, the reader is then propelled through into a network of tunnels that are really narrative passage-fragments. These fragments oscillate between moments of stability (ex. matrimony and sight-seeing) and periods of eminent danger and death (accounts from bombings). They seem to blink, tensely, the way we imagine those in the actual subway do in the immediate aftermath of violence, the way our eye blinks between the person in the memento mori portrait and the skull he holds.

Commuter’s language and typography, like a memento mori’s stark representation, reminds us that devastation is always skulking at the brink of common time - catastrophe can interrupt any day, any page, and, as evidenced by Belflower's readable redactions and parentheses that never close: any sentence.

Its passage-fragments often mimic the events the language represents and detonate upon the page: passages of stability become the lopped off limbs of larger narratives absent from the physical page, those passages of destruction are the shrapnel. The reader must tread carefully through the mine/mind field knowing the book is both the ground upon which the bomb is planted and also the bomb itself. Explosions are inevitable if one is to travel cover to cover. For example, within a few pages of one another, the reader witnesses the negotiating a wedding’s rice details:

we argued


their swollen odor


swollen with

rice, rice, rice

and then the bombing of a pizza place:

...I tasted something in my mouth. Thick smoke. The […aroma…]
of burning flesh in my mouth...

Even the book’s layout succumbs to the simultaneity of memento mori. Two parallel lines travel through the book and the space between them forces a gap between the narrative fragments. This gap represents any of several concepts: the track that separates the two platforms of a subway hub, the strata of language, the representation of time’s passage, the pure breath of a moment of solace, or the weighted calm before calamity. Or perhaps it is the hinge of stability and collapse...the silence that rises when language fails us in moments of ultimate pleasure or pain.

Violence and death are not new. They circulate and evolve as time passes and the world transforms its surface. For a reader, or anyone for that matter, to go on, he or she must witness the atrocious, the mortal, but simultaneously locate in life's moments the wonderful and quotidian. Lucky for us, Belflower paints all of these within the same immediate frame.

Commuter is available from SPD for $15.00

-JenMarie Davis