My favorite coffee mug is the one that my sister-in-law Amanda made for me. It is beautiful. I am very fond of it. The mug leans to the left – sits as if it is cocking a hip. The mug is embossed with obscure and evasive symbols and has a glaze that is smoky – has a diffuse pattern of Payne’s Gray with some hints of Cerulean Blue. It is balanced in its asymmetry. Balanced in its imbalance. We are not seeking perfection in the works we publish at UCP/RAR (though we don’t discriminate against perfection). We seek intimate relevance, beauty that is messy or neat, akimbo or strictly linear, skewed or straight, edgy, off-balance or clear and logical. Send us your work. We will treat it with compassion. Strive to understand it’s significance. Respect and learn from what is there.
BLOG: Let’s Choke Phil
(after the “Somebody Feed Phil” documentaries)
(previously published by High Shelf Press)
Let’s choke ravenous, insatiable, obscene, repugnant Phil To death.
Ironically, Phil is sort of like the octopus he is stuffing in his pie-hole right now, all arms grabbing and pulling food up to a hard, horny, merciless crunching beak. Though, of course, Phil is never like the once and perfect being that he has now eaten, not the brilliant, sentient being flashing its vast panoply of color in beautiful fluttering waves that integrate that scintillate with a pristine environment. Phil is a pasty, skinny, insatiable palimpsest written there-on being the demise of eating as survival and the much broader and bigger demise of decent, integrated, compassionate, quiet and careful living. Instead, Phil eats to impress, or to amuse (his audience but mostly himself), to make friends/admirers, to achieve some proposed noble thing, to indulge the artistic impulse, to establish a body of work (an Oeuvre which since the egg is food he immediately consumes) but mostly to fill the vast, insurmountable, unfillable, awful emptiness inside.
And he has no idea. Which is incredibly dangerous. To all the animals he consumes, of course, to the global fisheries silver and flashing, to the savannahs’ ungulates and predators, to waving grasses and powerful ominous storms, to the unassailable upward-trending mountains, to the pure and clear lakes and streams, to the quaking and whispering forests, to crystalline icy-blue glaciers, to the bountiful, to the abundant, to the beautiful and to and to…. all depleted. All gone. All to feed the obscene, empty hole in Phil’s petty being.
Oops that’s a little harsh. Anyway. Geez. Let’s choke the guy to death for god sakes. It’s way to dangerous, the danger is too immediate to wait for the proposed divine or universal intervention – the one that intervenes with a hunk of fatty meat lodged so far down in Phil’s esophagus, right at the gateway to breath, that it is unredeemable, and we are relieved of his incessant chattering, and eating, and obliterating. We can’t wait for a distracted higher being to pay attention. Phil is running out of animals of the so-called lower order to consume.
And then, what will be left for Phil to eat? Our pets that are the residue of that lower order, then our children littlest ravenous beings that they can also be, and then, ultimately, our trembling, fragile, disappearing selves. We have to stop Phil. He is eating through everything that matters on this earth. He is eating up our humanity. He is eating up any hope of finding meaning in our struggle to survive. He is eating up who we are, who we can be, who we never were.
BLOG: The Trick
We are submitting our apology now for sneaking a little trick into the content of the RAR front page. We wish we could make a claim for our innocence, but we can’t. The act was deliberate. The intention was to flush out the people or perhaps the person in any of us who can’t resist the urge to feel better by correcting someone else. We don’t like to be corrected. We don’t feel correcting our fellow writers and artists has any place in, on or around the RAR community. (We recommend a professional relationship with a good editor for this.) So, we have attempted to correct with our little trick anyone who is inclined to correct while engaging with RAR.
Instead of hanging garlic outside our home, we decided to dangle a little bait – the corpse of a quotation attributed to someone named James Joyce. The full form of the quotation – the words we chose to post and the sentences we chose to post them in are, as we were so politely and genially informed by more than one urbane browser of our site, incorrect. If we are referring to a quotation attributed to the celebrated Irish writer James Joyce, then the verbatim quotation is:
A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
But wait, James Joyce himself didn’t really say this, did he? Stephen Daedalus said it in Joyce’s novel Ulysses Chapter 9 – the Scylla and Charybdis chapter. (You know – arrogant, depressed, unproductive, lost, unhappy, brooding, narcissistic, solipsistic Stephen Daedalus.) How do we know James Joyce himself ever said (or believed) anything like this? Perhaps when he was a young boy. Perhaps in a drunken stupor. Perhaps in a dream. Perhaps on the surgical table as he lay dying. Also, how do we know, in fact, that James Joyce himself did or didn’t say first or later or never the variant of the quote we chose to post:
All my errors are volitional and are the portals of my discovery.
Which do you like better? For us, the genius bit obviously needs to be excised for its pretension. And, we like the idea that the latter form of the quotation brings it into our inner circle – where it can be appropriated and applied to help us listen to the deeper intelligence that often delivers these mistakes to us. So, whether the mistake is more beautiful because it unfolds a deeper, smarter, more meaningful, more devastating, more angry, more lamentable, more tedious, more beautiful truth, or whether it’s there to draw us up short, make us pay attention to it and its surrounding language, tropes and grammar, or whether it is just a hilariously funny joke in its new form that needs to stay – the mistake is often better than the correct and not-so-original form.
And, then there is the thing about leaving a mistake in deference to the muse (in whatever divine trope it presents itself). So, we could be leaving a few errant threads ostentatiously crisscrossed in a corner of our rug, or we could be emphasizing the transience and imperfection of art as in the Wabi-sabi tradition, or we could be painstakingly completing a sand painting that need not be perfect because it is so ephemeral. We have a painter friend who paints gorgeous, ethereal landscapes in gouache on corrugated cardboard. My god that paper is full of acid! These beautiful paintings don’t stand a chance of lasting. But, somehow the impermanence of the surface and the medium seems to contribute to their other-worldly beauty. Should we correct him by teaching him to use oil on panel?
Anyway, James Joyce didn’t say that. And by that, I mean either quote. In fact, it could be argued that none of us are really the source of anything we say. So, I am telling you now that the quotation is correct as it was delivered to me this or that morning by Joyce, my physical therapist, who said it to me while working on my cranial still points. And the typo a few of you found – that was deliberate also. Joyce is a genius. She is an artist at work on my battered body. And that’s exactly the way she said it.
BLOG: The Punctuation Pandemic
One of the most common hand-wringing objections I hear from unhealthy editors is some variant of:
“This poem could use some punctuation”
A poem rarely needs punctuation. Punctuation is an artifice intended to impose a stop or a break on the flow of the written word that is more relevant to prosaic forms. Poetry, as we all know, has it roots in oral tradition, and ultimately it is the sound of the line that provides the necessary rhythm and break. Virulent punctuation in a poem is arbitrary and lazy and is certainly dangerous. It may kill off poetic release – the disintegration of the self that is a necessary to retrieve tropes from the super-unconscious. The poem should sing along with breaths and breaks naturally. The line should resound organically with a rhythm and beat; should read in multiple, contingent ways up/down, backwards/forwards; should fall forward like a cascade or stomp along with the bucket feet of an angry Golem. Punctuation in a poem should be rare, special and surprising. If we are going to put a stop or a break somewhere in the middle of a line, it should be because we want something to stand out – to shout “here I am pay attention right in the middle of a line where I shouldn’t be”. Punctuation at the end of the line is redundant, unnecessary and indulgent. It comes from a desire to bully the reader into submission. Stop your rampant punctuation! You are spreading the contagion!
Oh crap – that’s a lot of shoulds. I have been punctuating too much. Back to birthing poems.