Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Capilano Review (Fall 2016): 3.30

Wrapped in her shell I thought this is what love is
When misrecognition sticks we call it that
& it is true that capital birthed me too
Glued to a hull speeding off beetle-like
On the Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) website,
for “Awareness of Global Citizenship”
a Korean girl holds up an empty frame
for “Customer Appreciation”
a white family with two children on the beach
the website copy reads:
“The symbolic meaning of oceans is sometimes a challenge”

The longer I tried to avoid the apocalyptic
the harder it came
skipping work stoppage and flagging sale
into full oceanic duress (Oki Sogumi, “Motherships”)

I’ve really been enjoying the direction editor Andrea Actis has been taking The Capilano Review since taking the reins, one that explores a deepening social and political awareness throughout the pages of the journal, as she ends her “Editor’s Note” to the most recent issue (Fall 2016; 3.30) with the question: “So what additional tools can we wield, together in our different vulnerabilities, to help rebuild those houses that are structurally built to burn?” Her introduction opens:

I’d been thinking of this open issue as a “burning house” issue since that week in early July when Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were murdered by cops in Baton Rouge and St. Paul and a few of you were sharing that Kris Straub comic on your Facebook and Twitter feeds: “all houses matter,” the one stick figure says to the other stick figure; “we should care exactly equally at all times about everything”; “my house isn’t on fire, but i have dry rot. are you saying it shouldn’t be fixed?” The absurdity of such reasoning and of the sense of justice it all too commonly invokes is driven home in the final panel when the second stick figure wearily suggests that such objections are pointless since the people in the burning house have already died in the fire.

How do we make things better? Its an ongoing question, and one that will require a constantly updating series of responses, some of which is covered by a number of the remarkable works included in this new issue. The Capilano Review is one of the very few Canadian literary journals that give me the sense of existing on the “front line” of any kind of deep engagement into what is occurring around writing, poetry, language and politics, and some of the highlights of this new issue include new writing by Marie Buck, Maged Zaher, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Jen Currin, kevin martins mcpherson eckhoff and Monroe Lawrence (the last two being the winners of TCR’s sixth annual Robin Blaser Poetry Award competition, judged by Aisha Sasha John), David Geary “on Truth and Reconciliation Week at Capilano University,” Natalie Knight’s review of the second edition of Mercedes Eng’s Mercenary English, and artwork by, plus an interview with, artist Marvin Luvualu António (conducted by Merray Gerges):

Merray: You say you’re a painter, and the next work in this suite is a JPEG image.

Marvin: The bottom left is a glitch that I screen-capped then collaged into the rest. This symbol at the top represents the Golden Horde, a Mongolian faction that overtook Russia before Russia became Russia, in a war that ruptured Russian territory. I appropriated that symbol to speak to historic, global, geographical, and cultural ruptures, to say that things haven’t really changed. This image has a kind of urgency, a nature-versus-tech vibe. At first I’d wanted to call it War is coming but then I was like, “I’ve already named something War is coming.”

Merray: Everything is “war is coming.”

Marvin: Everything is war.

I’m rather fond of the suite of thirteen poems titled “Men” by Tucson, Arizona poet Tim Terhaar, a poet I can’t find much information about online (I would like to see what else he has done). His curious, and occasionally quite funny, suite includes:

Men and Their Terror

Every man drives a hearse until he retires, at which point he asks his policeman friend to give him a handgun so that he can protect himself from the dangerous young families of suspect ethnicity who have overrun his neighborhood like a horde of people who expect to survive in the world.

Vancouver poet Jordan Abel’s “the tumbling water washes bones” extends and furthers his ongoing reclamation projects, some of which have already appeared as book-length works. As he writes in his note that accompanies his text:

This piece is an excerpt from an ongoing (and largely unfinished) project of mine tentatively titled Timeless American Classic. The pieces in this project are all derivations, reinterpretations, and creative distant readings of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans, and are inspired in part by Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz’s argument (in An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States) that Cooper’s novel played a role in reinventing the colonial origins of the United States and in creating a narrative that was “instrumental in nullifying guilt relating to genocide.” My project seeks to disrupt the colonial logic in the novel by displacing and reorienting the text itself in order [to] expose the problematic representation of Indigenous peoples. This particular piece responds to (and perhaps reflects) the deeply troubling fascination the novel has with the concept of terra nullius and empty, uninhibited land. As such, “the tumbling water washes bones” is an impurely conceptual piece that draws heavily from Cooper’s descriptions of blank land but also includes many of my own translations and reinterpretations.

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