Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Tipsy Critics: Hamlet (Part 2)

The Corresponding Society is drunk to present the second part of the first installment of our new video feature The Tipsy Critics. Recently, writers Mae Saslaw and Lonely Christopher sat down to discuss the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare over drinks. In part one, which you can watch here, an attempt to summarize the action of the play led to a discussion mainly about ghosts and the Twilight movies; in part two it is concluded that, contrary to popular belief, Shakespeare wasn’t a black woman (but he was a terrifically bad writer, who knew?). See for yourself:

Tipsy Critics Present Hamlet, Part II from Mae Saslaw on Vimeo.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Deadline

Hey everybody! As you might have realized, The Corresponding Society has been vaguely inactive this summer, due to the traveling schedules of so many of our editors. We’re ready to vamp up again and have a lot of work ahead of us --- including finishing our long-awaited, long-delayed second series of poetry chapbooks, which should be forthcoming in the very early Fall and editing issue four of our lit mag Correspondence. As you may know, our original deadline for submissions to issue four was August 15. We have already received a bounty of exciting work, and can’t wait to start sorting through it all, but we’d also like to present the opportunity for those of you who have not yet submitted anything to do so. So! We’d like to announce an extension of our deadline (a very common occurrence in independent publishing, to be sure). We will now continue to accept new creative work for consideration through September 20, 2010. If you are curious about what exactly we’re looking for, please refer to the guidelines on our submissions page. We are very serious about publishing the most exciting work from emerging writers that we can find, so please let us know if you happen to be an extraordinary writer (we bet you are) and have material we might want to publish in our next issue. Thanks!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fama Rama

big pic!

Ben Fama, in his life and his work, fancifully cultivates an aesthetic somewhere between mid-cult mystic and cosmic troublemaker. Sitting on the couch of his Brooklyn apartment, you’re as likely to find him enthusiastically watching a documentary on Aleister Crowley as you are an episode of My So-Called Life; a conversation with him about the publishing industry is likely to be speckled with incongruous references to the Twilight Saga and the films of Kenneth Anger. The earnestness with which he absorbs a psychedelic patchwork of cultural influences, and reformats them under the rubric of his personal style, eschews the twee irony of hipsterdom. Not to mention he is an exciting and kick-ass poet. Not to mention he is one of the trendiest and integral operators in the youthful Brooklyn poetics scene today.

Let me explain that previous statement. Ben is the driving force behind the Supermachine reading series, which has run at Brooklyn’s Outpost Lounge, and which has routinely featured some of the greatest, probably coolest, contemporary poets in and around the city. A list of the most recognizable names from Supermachine’s sparkly stable of featured readers include Joshua Beckman, Chelsey Minnis, James Copeland, Matvei Yankelevich, Christian Hawkey, Jen Bervin, and Dorthea Lasky. The Supermachine series has been providing a catalog of fantastic examples re what’s up in poetry today (at least on the East Coast), not to mention ensuring an array of fabulous nights for lovers of verse. Moreover, this year Supermachine launched its own biannual journal, also called Supermachine, with the purpose of presenting some dazzlingly great poetry all wrapped up in the giddy, trance-like, but impacting style that characterizes Ben’s endeavors as organizer and publisher. A few poem titles featured in Supermachine #1 might help illustrate what that style leans toward: “Do Me, Dreamlife,” “Your Mom’s a Falconress,” “Journey to the Sun,” “Two Small Vampires,” “Your Sorcery Embarrasses Me,” “Dreams in Winter,” and “When It’s Sunny They Push the Button.”

Fama’s newish chapbook is titled Aquarius Rising; it was smartly selected by Ugly Duckling Presse for their really awesome series of chapbooks. For anybody who happened to miss Fama’s earlier poetry collection Sun Come, or what he’s published in journals like GlitterPony, Pank!, and No, Dear Magazine (plus, let us not forget, Correspondence), you’re going to want to hunt this baby down. A weirdo pessimist might dismiss Ben’s shiny verse with some semi-clever put-down (“Ben Fama is the Progressive Insurance Lady of poetry,” for instance, and no I cannot recall if I made that up, or if Ben did, or if somebody actually said that), and granted: his poems have a distinct and fun lightness to them, but if you let the kid talk to you from his pages, and he will, gregariously, you will, omg, totally develop a crush on this writing. There is a sassy gravity to his lines… take this (the opener from his ingenuously and ingeniously titled piece, “Glitter Pills”): “To live a serious life / that’s a fucked up thing[.]” That really strikes me, for its honesty wrapped in playfulness, but I might as well just reprint the whole poem:

To live a serious life
that’s a fucked up thing
I would have to rent out a cabin
beneath terrible angels
if I get old wipe the dust off my tits
I should have a serious log cabin
the cabin’s name is Ben Fama
find directions on the internet
when you want to leave you can
I’ll stay there just me and my heart
bigger than the sun

That’s not the best poem in Aquarius Rising, but it’s pretty representative of his ability to mix real feeling with the unpretentiously transcendental and some trademark winking, celebratory, hyperbolic mystification of the self. He plays fast and loose here and there, but not to the detriment of the reader’s possibility to enjoy, which seems like something Fama strongly wants you to do, even if he’s dancing around other complicated emotions. So, here’s this book, little and winsome, that Ben’s given us as a sort of spirit gift. Go and play with it in the grass. Try to keep an eye on Fama himself too, as he continues to engineer stellar venues, in print and in performance, for contemporary poetry. Yay!

(Lonely Christopher, editor.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

White Swallow

The White Swallow series, a queer literary event hosted by Angelo Nikolopoulos, will be featuring the following performers tomorrow (Monday the 9th) at the West Village’s Cornelia St CafĂ©: Lonely Christopher, Matthew Hittinger, Billy Merrell, and Paul Lisicky. It’s going to be great fun!

The White Swallow Reading Series
(featuring guest host Zachary Pace)
$7 (includes one house drink)
Cornelia St. Cafe (Downstairs)
29 Cornelia St.
New York, NY

MATTHEW HITTINGER is the author of the chapbooks Pear Slip (Spire Press, 2007) winner of the Spire 2006 Chapbook Award, Narcissus Resists (GOSS183/MiPOesias, 2009), and Platos de Sal (Seven Kitchens Press, 2009). Matthew received his MFA from the University of Michigan where he won a Hopwood Award for Poetry and The Helen S. and John Wagner Prize. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2005.

BILLY MERRELL is the author of Talking in the Dark, a poetry memoir (Scholastic, 2003), and a co-editor for The Full Spectrum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006), which received a 2006 Lambda Literary Award. Most recently, he is co-author of Go Ahead, Ask Me (Simon & Schuster, 2009). He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University and is currently the Web Developer of, the website of the Academy of American Poets.

PAUL LISICKY is the author of Lawnboy, Famous Builder, and the forthcoming books The Burning House (2011) and Unbuilt Projects (2012). His work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review,StoryQuarterly, The Seattle Review, Five Points, Subtropics, Gulf Coast, and many other anthologies and magazines. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, the Henfield Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he was twice a fellow. He lives in New York City and Springs, New York, and has taught in the graduate writing programs at Cornell University, Rutgers-Newark, and Sarah Lawrence College. He currently teaches at NYU.

LONELY CHRISTOPHER will be presenting two arias from his new opera Stegosaurus (a collaboration with composer Reese Revak). Featuring pianist Jennifer Peterson, soprano Heather Green, and tenor Brandon Snook. Presented by The Walt Whitman Project.