When editor Matthew M. C. Smith has an idea he goes all out. He looks for and seeks out challenges that generates wonderful ideas, poetry & art from contributors to the Black Bough brand.
His latest baby is “Dark Confessions” a book that explores a variety of themes such as isolation, confinement, disease and corruption. This is a prelude to a second edition which will focus on themes of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Rapture’ which is brought about as a tribute to poet/singer Jim Morrison (50 years after his passing) and the idea of “Riders on the Storm” and Blondie’s “Rapture” a very interesting idea indeed.
Matthew knows many wonderful artists & poets through the communities. He’s got a wonderful poet co-editor on board with Kari Flickinger, as well as co-editors Ness Owen & Ranjabali Chaudhuri. The artistic design of the book(s) come from designer Darren Green, from Swansea. Very visually appealing and leaving you wanting to begin to tap into the human feeling, the edginess that the human brain tip-toes on. That comes from Dark Confessions.
This series is dedicated to Welsh poet Dai Fry (a Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020 contributor as well) who had an untimely passing as the book was going into publication. Please read his work below for a sample of his work in Fevers
The contributors of writing & art in “Dark Confessions” is a who’s who of current day poets that are putting out life changing pieces everyday and should be looked at more often.
Contributors such as Matthew M. C. Smith, Elizabeth Barton, Tara Skurtu, M.S. Evans, Marian Christie, Eileen Carney Hulme, Ness Owen, Claire Loader, Jonathan Braceras, Ranjabali Chaudhuri, Steve Jensen, Devon Marsh, Kari Flickinger, Briony Collins, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, James Lilley, Adwaita Das, Daniel Blick, Kim M. Russell, Alan Parry, Dominic Weston, Sophie Livingston, Philip Berry, Mike Farren, Rich Schilling, George Sandifer Smith, Tolu Oloruntoba, Maeve McKenna, Tom Lagasse, Liz McGrath, Jo Gatford, Elinor Ann Walker, Billy Fenton, Nick Newman, Roger Hare, Elizabeth Spencer Spragins, Julie Mullen, Emry Trantham, Andy MacGregor, Daniel Fraser, Wendy Humphries, Dai Fry, Anthony Paticchio, Ankh Spice, Natalie Ann Holborow, Mark Antony Owen and i’m hoping i’m not leaving anyone out, because this is quite the list.
I’m still reading this collection which was gifted to me to read, and some of these poems I keep re-reading because the imagery has to be rested on for awhile and just mingle with your mind tingles for a bit. You can feel the emotives that are put out there, and do you dance with that emotion, do you hide from that emotion, do you cry for awhile in those emotions, do you smile from the creative wordplay?
Polish Mother Bones by M.S. Evans “Each of us has roses in our throats”
Mercy by Tara Skurtu
"You can easily be
forgotten in the unforgiving
blood of the family"
Just an example of some lines from these creative poems.
You will definitely want to check this series out from the brilliant Matthew M. C. Smith's latest endeavor in a collective poetic magnum opus.
Mashaal Sajid is a 21 year old female Poet and artist from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in The Sutterville Review, Maintenant 15, Rigorous Magazine, Papeachu Review, The RIC Journal, Girls Right The World Journal, Formidable Women Sanctuary Press, The Desi Collective, Siyaah Qalam Akhbar and a few Poetry Anthologies. She is a staff Poetry Reader for The Walled City Journal and has recently edited and illustrated a Poetry book ‘Kasheer’.
If you’re a poet or writer, you need exposure. Especially, if you’re an independent writer, or work or run a small press. Luckily, for us, there is a website that has been expanding exponentially the last few years giving us more exposure to the best independent poets and writers out there today. The Poetry Question provides the concept of asking “How will you Poetry today?” The man behind the beginnings of the Poetry Question is Chris Margolin.
He shares a passion for visualizing the future of poetry and giving a voice to poets. Whether it would be the unique interview in which you answer the poetry questions on influences, favorite books, authors, influences. Detailed info on why these works or writers have deemed such an influence on a writer. The site has been excellent and expanding their team on reviewing Poetry Chapbooks and novels & novellas.
Within the last year, Chris has worked hard on adding a small press to give another avenue for writers to put out chapbooks. So, with that introduction, we shall ask a few questions to Chris Margolin of “the Poetry Question” http://thepoetryquestion.com
Hi Chris, thanks for giving us at Fevers of the Mind the opportunity to learn more about The Poetry Question and the exciting future of the site.
Thank you for having me! I’m a fan of Fevers of the Mind, so this is an exciting opportunity for me. I’m honored.
First off Chris, when did you come up with the idea of the Poetry Question? The original concept? When was the moment that hit you and said “Hey I need to help small press poets and self-published poets”?
I’ve written a lot about the foundation of The Poetry Question, but I appreciate that your question focuses on Small Press Poetry and Self-Published Poetry. The site went through so many different iterations. It was an educational site – I’ve taught for almost 20 years – in the early days. Then it was a music review site. Then it was a general book review site. Then I started going to The Portland Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. My first night there was like finding a new religion. My introduction couldn’t have been more epic: Clementine von Radics, Alex Dang, Brenna Twohey, and the legendary Andrea Gibson. I bought every book on the table that night. That was it. These were stapled together like the zines I used to buy in high school. They were beautiful. And they needed to be seen. There wasn’t much of a choice at that point. Voices needed to be heard, and I couldn’t find a website that focused solely on small press or self-published poetry. So, it seemed like the obvious choice and direction.
I know that you have decided to put out a few chapbooks, how has that experience been like that for you? What about going into the Press business has been rewarding, and what has been more challenging?
This is one of the most rewarding, important, and scary accomplishments in my life. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve always just been on the review side of things. I had dreamt about putting out other people’s poetry, but never thought it made sense until last year. Our daily readership went up faster than I could have ever imagined, and it just felt right. Holding a submission period, and knowing that people – without the use of Submittable – were actually sending me their words was jaw-dropping. I never expected to get submissions. I had over 75 in a month. It was such a validation of what I’d been working toward, and so humbling to know that so many would trust us with their manuscripts. We are just a few weeks from the release date (Jan 15) for both Jennifer Roche and Van G. Garrett’s respective books, The Synonym Tables, and SCRAP. They have been so kind as I stumble through this process. Can’t wait to see what happens!
I’d like to know more about the Power of Poetry section of the site. What about this section really has been a huge help with especially younger writers to understand how to be an effective writer, and how you can work at your craft to expand even when it seems the writing world is against you?
Isn’t the writing world always against us? Look, the reality is that we a lot of us started as bedroom poets and writers. We wrote middle school novels and song lyrics and poetry and tried to either hide it from everyone or share it with the world. But those words meant everything to us. They were our therapy. Fortunately, it is still our therapy. But that looks so different for everyone, and I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted everyone to hear their stories. I don’t really know if there’s an “effective writer.” I think there is an effectiveness in everything we put down on paper. It might not resonate with everyone, but it may change someone’s life.
This has been a challenging year for everyone, and I’m sure for you this hasn’t been an exception. During such a year of darkness, where have you found the small beams of light that has given you a creative uplift for your ideas with TPQ?
This is a softball question. I sign into my twitter account every day, and I get to read the works of hundreds of poets each week. I get to ask “How will you Poetry today” and hope that maybe that will remind someone to write or submit or edit or read or share or whatever they can do to spread the word of Small Press Poetry. I get to be the bullhorn for poets who might not have an outlet to share their work. That’s one hell of a beam of light.
Please give us more info on how to reach your site, your social media, what one needs to do to submit to the Poetry Question for a review of their new book & more. Also, when do you expect your first chapbooks to be released, any hints on what to expect from these?
Everyone can find us at thepoetryquestion.com. If you’re interested in submitting a book for review, there is a link provided on the site. We don’t get through everything that comes our way, but we work hard to review all that we can. The first two chapbooks will be released on January 15th, 2021. Jennifer Roche’s The Synonym Tables tackles the changing of language over the last 75 years. With a deep focus on our current world issues, this one feels more poignant now more than ever. Van G. Garrett’s SCRAP takes you round by round through perseverance and the art of survival. He is a legend, and I am blown away that he was ever interested in submitting to TPQ.
Any shout outs you’d like to give to any poets, small press, co-workers with TPQ?
This is a tricky one for me as there are so many poets and presses I’d love to shout out. Here are a few poets to keep in your sights: Chris Butler, Taylor Byas, Beth Gordon, Danielle Rose, and Jason Crawford are all beyond inspiring right now.
Chris Margolin is the founder and EiC of The Poetry Question, the only site in the world to focussolely on small press and self-published poetry reviews. Beyond his work in poetry he hastaught high school and middle school English for almost 20 years. He lives in Vancouver,Washington with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and seven chickens
This review was in the Anthology Fevers of the Mind Presents the Poets of 2020 available on Amazon in Deluxe Edition, Split Editions Vol 1 & 2, and on Kindle.
When opening up David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” you immediately notice David’s very diverse, quaint, very knowledgable on poetry style and themes. Every word, every sentence, line, and stanzas are thought out. Every word is read to you by the writer’s voice. You feel trapped for awhile in the soul of the writer. What he felt, what he has had to persevere through, the depression, the loneliness, the questions, to truly begin to feel a whole self. You are on a long walk listening to the pouring rain in a cool Autumn month, You can do nothing but think. This is the book. All of those cold rain walks on your own, what does the thunder mean for me? Is this the same thunder heard by others? Is it even raining where they are? The distancing of others that miscast you. Severs you into their ideal. Why doesn’t it rain on them? Why are they exempt? And why can’t they see me? “A Taste of Showmanship” reflecting toxic masculinity that overcomes, a societal stamp. To wash away that ink. The imagery of poems such as “Dream in Which My Teeth Rot and Fall Out” gives you a ride in the circles and to obtain the answers within the spin. As like in dreams we sometimes find the answer to our being, our true self, the hope to be whole, to change, and conquer the storm. David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” is brilliant both in style, imagery, and a must read for someone in search of themself.
David Hanlon is a welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Mineral Lit Mag. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press.
Norb Aikin’s poetry has a rhythmic flow to it. You feel Norb is leading you to a crescendo. In Mutants the poetry is all leading up to that ultimate crescendo. You are absorbed in questions: of existence, of falling apart, of caring, of wandering if one little change could have changed it all. But this is just the opening verses. Your emotions are pulled into the song. This is how the mind flips when the anxieties of the world becomes flippant. How you become headstrong to arbitrary as the world is described from the intro in “Matador Rose” How cumbersome every day’s monotonous tasks and rituals become. Reflections, the unsures, the never was’s, the what cans, or can’t even fathoms. Norb’s work truly will make you think. Mutants is a great collection of poetry that lets you escape your mind or furthers you deeper into the paths of endless clouds to count and dream them up a name. Poems like “I Melt Sugar” & “I Said Maybe But I Never Said Forever” “Thinking About Suicide Takes Years Off Your Life” hits your brain like a rocket into the dunes of ponderings amassed in loneliness, fear, the wonder years that never really go away, and then we reach the crescendo that is Norb Aikin’s Mutants.
Norb Aikin is the author of Mutants and 100 (Eliezer Tristan Publishing). He is a Mental Health activist originally from Buffalo, NY and now lives in Cortland, NY. His work has appeared in various online publications, including Pink Plastic House and Fevers of the Mind. You can find him on Twitter at @Fivesixer.
This review is also in the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology available now on Amazon. Check recent posts for links.