When besieged by doubt or depression, take a shower and change your clothes. ~ Donald Justice
I'm writing this a little after noon on July 31st - a few hours before I push a few buttons and launch our seventh issue into literary orbit - like a penniless Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos. It's at this time, just before putting the finishing touches on an issue, that I'm reasonably sure I DO have a hole in my head.
You'll find many new and some returning poets and artists in this issue and they're all really good - you might say we're developing a Hole In The Head "style." Don't ask me to define it but I'm beginning to know it when I see it. We're attracting work from talented artists and poets - more than we can present in a single issue.
And we're attracting a broad, international following - 4,200 site visits, 3,900 of those unique visitors since May 1. Take a look at where our readers live.
We're remarkably grateful that we've talked Marilyn A. Johnson into joining the Hole crew as Associate Editor. She is the author of the nonfiction books Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble (Harper Perennial, 2015); This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Harper Perennial, 2011); and The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries (Harper Perennial, 2007)—three professions that Johnson says “contribute immeasurably to our collective cultural memory,” and “are less a job than a passionate calling.” Publishers Weekly called Johnson “dangerously good at what she does. By dangerously, I mean drop-what-you're-doing-start-a-new-career-path good,” and named Lives in Ruins one of the 100 best books of 2014.
Marilyn studied with Stuart Friebert at Oberlin College and Charles Simic at the University of New Hampshire. She is a fine poet in her own right. You can find three of her poems in v1n2 of Hole In The Head.
We're very excited to include Michael Hettich's fine interview of recently-appointed Poet Laureate of Texas, Cyrus Cassells.
On Hearing the News
Everything stops, except an instant
of wind that parts the drape.
Then everything goes on again,
imperceptibly changed, just as what was
simply your life, days ago
is history already tarnished by breath:
the boy in the woods,
woman in sunlight, someone
on a bicycle, crossing the bridge.
What next? Maybe we begin
reeling time back in, hoping to get
enough line on to change the past,
make something of all the conditionals
now permanent and there is an anguish
to this such that we must stop.
With all this in mind, I walk
into the large, gaudy room
marked NOW and find
there are tears in my eyes,
the simultaneous grief
and relief that comes
from knowing that this is
not the worst case, this
is not an end, but a difference
in the way life was, in about
a second or maybe less.
If I could turn and look back I’d see
this bend in things, the way old roads
moved left or right to accommodate
the immoveable, the moral, or just
the beauty of the curve.
That's a poem from Liminal, the stunning new book of poems by our Associate Editor, Bill Burtis.
I admit I find it difficult to be objective about this collection. Bill and I have been friends for nearly 50 years. But I'm pretty sure if you handed me the poems in this book and told me they were written by an unknown poet who mistakenly left them at a BART station in Oakland, I'd find them moving, haunting, and simply beautiful.
Here's what poet Jim Crenner wrote about Liminal:
This is the world of real relationships, real children, real history, real joys and failures, inhabited by real owls and bats and coyotes, along with real stands of sugar maple and pine groves, snowy mountains and woodland ponds. These poems effectively ease you over that threshold to the world of what-if and if-only, the realm of existential pondering and deep interrogation of the self, the territory of nightmares of regret and visions of resolution, poignant dread and soothing hope. Burtis's poems always transport you to such a threshold to make you feel you are about to learn to fly, and fill you with that rare joy that only real art can conjure.
You'll want to read this book. Order it from Nine Mile Books here: Liminal | Nine Mile Art Corp
As always, thanks to our readers for taking notice of what we're up to - particularly those who toss a few quid our way every now and again. You can go to the "Support" page now to do the same.
Thank you to the artists, photographers, and poets who send us their work.
Special thanks to Associate Editors, Bill Burtis, Jere DeWaters, Marilyn A. Johnson, and Nancy Jean Hill for making this hole thing work. And to Michael Hettich who continues to provide us with thoughtful, insightful interviews.
Thanks and gratitude to our Technical Advisor, Tom Bruton and Studio B. for helping to make it look like I know what I'm doing.
And thanks, yet again, to photographer Greg Clary whose Hot Dog House photograph is on the cover of this issue.
I'm now going to take a shower and change my clothes.
This Hole thing will be back in November.
If you are in love with the infinite,
why grieve over earth washing away in the rain?