Book Review: Money Money Money Water Water Water

Money Money Money Water Water Water

Written by Jane Mead

Alice James Books, 2014

ISBN 9781938584046

Money Money Money Water Water Water Jane Mead’s assured hand has snipped exquisite holes in her poems, allowing the unsaid to rise, waver and haunt every line. In her fourth collection, the poet has removed every non-essential word, a mastery of distillation, to create a work of pure potency.

In tercets, mostly (three line stanzas), roaming through lean sections of natural shocks, Mead contemplates environmental and existential immensities in a liminal subtext and never puts a foot wrong. On the left, single tercets with monostich gesture to the right hand poems in language as urgent, wistful and primary as   How much how much where going     and you know exactly what she means.

What can’t be said speaks wholly through absence; connections are deepened through asyndeton (no connectors). Gone, most of a sentence; the word going is allowed to remain, to reappear like the repetitions of the title, or ghosts. Going, going, gone.

Questions don’t need question marks, nether states like “the can-be / and the want” “primitive stalks of might-be / and aftermath” tell all. Known by the spirits of deer, and the dead. Ag reports, pesticides. The effect is transfiguring in a transfigured terroir. Something changes into something else in the space between the going and the aftermath, and in us, as Mead asks her last question.

How much can you subtract now 

How much and still get by

Review by Susan Lynch

© 2014, All Rights Reserved

Susan Lynch to read at the Richard Hugo House

Susan Lynch (one of our Associate Editors) will be reading at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA on Saturday, April 26th.  She’s reading as part of the Lit.mustest reading series.

The night’s featured reader is Carol Casella.  She is the author of three novels: Oxygen (Simon & Schuster, 2008), Healer (Simon & Schuster, 2010), and Gemini (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

Where: Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, Seattle, Washington 98122

When: 7:00pm to 10:00pm on Saturday, April 26th.

This is an all-ages event open to the public.
There will be a cash bar.
Admission is free.
Parking is available at Hugo House. Street parking is free around Cal Anderson Park after 6pm.

Find this event on Facebook.

Two of our editors will be reading during AWP

Susan Lynch (our Associate Editor) and James R. Gapinski (our Managing Editor) will be reading at an off-site even during the AWP conference in Seattle, WA.

Lit.mustest: “I Saw Them When…”

Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98115

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

7:00pm to 9:30pm

Third Place Books in Ravenna and the Lit.mustest reading series present an evening with award-winning and recently published students and alumni from Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing program.

Other readers include Shelly Weathers, Jeff Eisenbrey, Sarah Kishpaugh, Kim Mayer, Rachel Serrit, Isla McKenna, and Samantha Kolber.

Editor Update: Susan Lynch’s poetry published in Elohi Gadugi

Our Associate Editor, Susan Lynch, has two poems in the Winter 2014 issue of Elohi Gadugi: “The Halcyon” and “It Can Happen Just Like That.”

Congratulations on the recent publication, Susan!

Susan Lynch’s poem forthcoming in Bombay Gin

Susan Lynch’s poem, “A Brief Explanation of the Fourth Dimension,” will be published in Bombay Gin, the journal of Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets, next June.

Susan Lynch is (among many other things) an Associate Editor at The Conium Review.  Congrats on the upcoming publication, Susan!

Book Review: On the Spectrum of Possible Death

On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths
Written by Lucia Perillo
Copper Canyon Press, 2012
ISBN 9781556593970

Lucia Perillo follows up her 2009 Copper Canyon Press collection, Inseminating the Elephant, a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Bobbitt Prize Winner, with another skein of tightly braided magical acts of mesmerizing creative force, beautifully bound. Critics never fail to mention this kaleidoscopic ability Perillo has to raddle the sacred and profane, the deeply personal and mythic universal, the Kotex and the ayahuasca. Raddling, in case you don’t know the word, is the art of weaving. The raddleman was the guy who went ‘round the English villages making those charming wicker fences as seen in Room With a View, although the word also references the quaint practice of tupping, having to do with marking the back end of a ewe after the ram’s done his duty. Perillo doesn’t neglect any reference. She raddles ‘riding the wacky noodles’ (those foam floats ‘old ladies’ use in swim class) with stark renderings of how many of them are shy about their mastectomies in the changing room. And then titles it Proximity of Meaningful Spectacle. She ruminates on her love-hate relationship with death while describing dahlias hit by a killing frost by way of a man looking up from his electric chair mid-execution to announce ‘This isn’t working.’ Raddling.

On the Spectrum of Possible DeathsIn forms exact, iambic here, indented there, slant rhymed, eye rhymed, she interrupts classical proportions with a perfectly placed ‘huh, you know’ and a ‘doesn’t that feel a little ostentatious?’ Only Perillo could have written “Freak-Out” – a three-pager in sectioned couplets, and trump the hefty line ‘what passes through the distillery of anguish…’ with ‘not the monster potion but the H Two…oh, forget it…’ She can wax lyrical with the best of the best, then suddenly grab you by the lapels and get in your face. Or in her own face.

In short, Perillo knows just where to go when and how to get back, like Odysseus, or Homer writing the Odyssey. In fact, he’s in here, or rather, his dog, as is Achilles, Carlos Casteneda and Perillo’s father. His shirt label, which she ‘sees is a haiku […]Traditionalist / one hundred percent cotton / made in Mauritius,’ inspires a raddle of Bashō, scungilli and her father’s ‘death poem,’ Soon I must cross / the icy sidewalk. / Help. There goes my shoe

This is a book to own, to touch, to treasure, to marvel at, to peek under the dust cover and appreciate how the juxtaposition of the cover art (Giotto’sThe Last Judgement), the  plain brown woven hard cover and the red end papers accurately mirrors the virtuosic braiding of Lucia Perillo. A poet who knows her raddle

Review by Susan Lynch
© 2012, All Rights Reserved

Upcoming Workshops from Conium Press Editors

James R. Gapinski and Susan Lynch will be teaching courses through Mt. Hood Community College’s continuing education department this fall.  Each of these fun, community-based workshops are just $29 for the entire eight-week course, and the are open to writers of all skill levels.  Whether you want to write the next great book, or tinker with writing as a hobby, these workshops can help you grow as an author.

James’ short fiction course is offered through the Portland campus, and Susan’s poetry course is housed at the Gresham campus.  Details for either course are found on The Conium Review’s website or through Mt. Hood Community College.  Feel free to e-mail with any questions about these upcoming workshops.

Book Review: Happy Life

Happy Life
Written by David Budbill
Copper Canyon Press, 2011
ISBN 9781556593741

Happy LifeLike a knock on the noggin from a Zen master’s cane, David Budbill’s “Happy Life” hits home with a clarity that made me laugh out loud – ah, truth! He captures the essence of the seasons, chopping wood, carrying water, before and after enlightenment. In this, his ninth poetry collection, the poet, playwright, novelist, short story and children’s book writer reflects on forty years of a ‘happy life’ with one eye on the Tao and an honesty that admits to being, like the beautiful women he sees on trips to the city, ‘preoccupied with sex and ambition.’ But not so much so as to disturb his concentration on a candle flame in the dark, a tiny flower in the woods, or the feel of wet leaves on the path. Shortest of many masterfully spare poems is the four word (six counting title) “Cynical Capitalists” : ‘Privatize profit. / Socialize loss.’ which pretty much sums it up, leaving very little else to be said about all that. In one of his wry reflections on ageing, he looks at his wrinkled skin, sitting down, wearing shorts and wonders “What Happened to Me?” as we all do, or will. Like the classical Zen poet Hanshan, writing of his Cold Mountain life in 8th century Tang dynasty China, Budbill’s contemplations of this human life from his Vermont mountain are timeless.
Review by Susan Lynch
© 2012, All Rights Reserved