Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Panda Express Employee by Megan Boyle

Title: Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Panda Express Employee
By: Megan Boyle
Published:2011
Publisher: muumuu house

boyle

Megan Boyle is sailing along the height of the Alt-Lit movement. Her collection of poems/blog posts are vital and immediate. In places the book reads more like a series of confessions than anything else. Xanax, poetry, identity and lettuce jokes all reoccur throughout the work.

The trademark of Alt-Lit is it’s complete disengagement with usual literary rules. Boyle refuses to use grammar, correct spelling, or even capital letters. However she clearly defines her life in her work, and links the two through her own brand of formality. Her stanzas are short- frequently one line long; and her wording is immediate. She does use metaphors, but her work is not metaphorical. This is similar to the way she uses rhythm, yet not any formal metre.

Alt-Lit has been rising as a key component of literature since the late 1990s. It has used the rise of the internet, following the patterns of social media as they come. Despite recent scandals regarding Alt-Lit and the objectification of women, the movement continues to grow, and influence other art forms. However, it is an almost entirely American movement right now, with American poets being the key members and American small presses being the ones to spread the word in print format.

Boyle’s other constant theme is sex. She lists her sexual liaisons in an act of Tracey Emin mimickery (mixed with the confessions of Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton). She also describes sex with each genders, using matter-of-fact language.

Overall Boyle’s work is a major piece of Alt-Lit. It is also more accessible than some other Alt-Lit texts, and so is a useful way into reading the movement.

LINKS: http://muumuuhouse.com/meganboyle.poetrybook.html

The Best of Eleanor Rigby Volume One

Title: The Best of Eleanor Rigby Volume One
Released: November 2014
Artist: Eleanor Rigby
Label: Future Legend Records

If you’re interested in music, there is an opportunity this month to buy a solid piece of indie-rock history. Future Legend Records are re-releasing the music of cult singer Eleanor Rigby for a limited edition, CD album. Her music is a gorgeous mess of sound, supported the entire time by her beautifully tonal voice. Despite being unavailable for five years, this album to celebrate Rigby’s 20th Anniversary of producing uniquely delicate music, collects all of her singles together into one CD.

LINKS: http://www.futurelegendrecords.com/#/eleanor-rigby/4544024568

Encyclops

Title: Encyclops
By: seekers of lice
Publisher: if p then q
Published: October 2014

encyclops_cover

Encyclops is an intriguing trip into false scientific conclusions in an almost foreign language. Like the poet’s name, it manages to be ugly and beautiful at the same time.

The poems in Encyclops have their own special language. It is thick with scientific-sounding words; and other words with twisted meanings that have more to do with onomatopoeia than actual meaning or connotation.

Yet despite this oddly false and disorganised language; the book seems to be desperately trying to communicate with the reader. It’s garbled message is a romance with difficulty and the common human struggle. Political themes such as nuclear war are partially explored, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps. This makes it an incredibly challenging, but also intensely personal read.

In other places the text trips itself up with interruptions like a Caryl Churchill script.

The structure of the collection has underlined titles, followed by a short verse. There are many of these to a two paged spread. This creates the illusion of bitesized poetry; although thematically this probably expresses more about division within a single person or object (such as the book).

Encyclops is an exciting collection, and a key example of everything modern experimental poetry is.

LINKS:

http://ifpthenq.co.uk/books/seekers-of-lice-encyclops/

Everyone Knows this is Nowhere

Title: Everyone Knows this is Nowhere
By: Alice Furse
Publisher: Burning Eye Books
Published: October 2014

alice furse

In world where university puts students £30,000 plus in debt, Alice Furse’s novel about a disillusioned, newly graduated woman is startlingly relevant. Furse writes with the weary weight of personal experience about a young woman trapped in a mundane job, despite her intelligence and university degree. The tedium of the job drives her (the un-named protagonist) to try and discover some kind of meaning in her life. This slow realisation forms the start of her journey.

The protagonist’s romantic relationship with a man known only as “The Traffic Warden” is a metaphor throughout the novel for her internal struggle- their relationship wavers parallel to her psychological journey. As their relationship grew out of meeting at university, this aspect becomes especially poignant when Furse chooses to describe the absurdity of the current educational system. The Traffic Warden relationship is also a gauge for the journey of the protagonist towards a mature understanding of herself and the outside world. This extended metaphor is amplified by the symbolism of the protagonist’s dreams- she dreams repeatedly of feeling trapped in her soul destroying job and tedious relationship.

Don’t worry- there are no New Age style revelations in the book. Instead it is about finding contentment in the ordinary and moving forward towards larger goals at a steady pace. Furse’s focus is how the characters ARE as themselves. She manages a large cast and range of characters with detail and characteristics that anyone who has worked in an office will recognise.

This book is for anyone who has done a degree and quickly become disillusioned with life after it. And that is a pretty broad audience.

Links:

http://burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/

A Quick Note From a Friend

My ebook “CATHARSIS” a collection of found poems, drawings, diary entries and a play script is available on offer at only 77p for another two weeks.
The book has mental health themes, looking at The System, manic-depression, personality disorders, self-harm and psychometric testing across a variety of media.
Using words “found” in my hospital records the poetry in the book tries to unite the confusion of experiencing mental illness and taking on difficult themes.
One of the main themes of the book is the reduction of psychiatric symptoms to statistics and psychometric tests. Mental illness is not based on numbers, it is based on emotion, uncontrollable impulses and subjective visions.
The play script in the book is called “Flat Space” and looks at the uncomfortable issue of “revolving door” patients who are frequently admitted to hospital and find it increasingly difficult to handle the real world as a result.
Meanwhile the drawings and diary entries in the book are raw examples of things I created whilst actually in a psychiatric hospital.
This book was difficult for me to write, but I felt I NEEDED to write it and get it out into the world. For me the journey towards this book has been a process of catharsis- looking at issues I have experienced with brutal honesty in order to face and conquer them.
So please take a look if you have a spare couple of hours to read a first-hand account of mental illness: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catharsis-Azra-Page-ebook/dp/B00MW6EPH4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410687080&sr=8-1&keywords=catharsis (there is also a physical copy available on the same amazon page).

Recently some of the poems from the book have been used on Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s (the author of “The Boy Who Could See Demons”) blog: http://www.carolynjesscooke.com/blog/

Single Skin

Title: Single Skin
By: Steve Dearden
Released: 2012
Publisher: Smith/Doorstop

Steve Dearden seems to see humanity as coming under one “Single Skin”. His stories reflect this by taking on the full range of human experiences.Yet this bigger picture is mostly achieved by focusing on the small stuff. Dearden has a talent for isolating minute details to the extent that he leaves the reader’s suspension of disbelief little space to doubt that the stories are real.

Dearden is also a heavy user of vivid imagery. He spots extraordinary details in ordinary occurences. This creates a surreality similar to the odd realisation that we are made of cells when skin is examined under a microscope. Adding to the sense of the surreal in the collection, are the obsessions and dreams of Dearden’s characters. These elements are usually metaphors for larger themes, but they still result in the errie surface image of the unexpected.

Eroticism (though not in any traditional fashion) is also an important trait of the stories. I was struck particularily by the description of a man who gets an erection whenever he is arriving home on a plane: “This is not an erection, but as the plane banks along the river bank my penis hardens against my leg”. This one of many references to bizarre sexual experiences throughout the collection.

The sexual occurances are also a marking of the larger existential thought patterns that most of Dearden’s characters have to a certain extent. All of the characters are lost. Some of them are in denial about being lost, or are actively trying to not be lost anymore, but they are all ultimately waiting to be found. The beautiful torture of Dearden’s writing works because most of them never are found. Yet their existential wonderings are fascinating in the meantime.

Links:
Avaliable on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Single-Skin-Steve-Dearden-ebook/dp/B008JFMFR4