This month our Crucial Rooster columnist has flown the coop for Miami. If you're reading this in the vicinity of Coral Gables, don't miss Ms. Livingston's appearance tonight at Books & Books. Tell her the Happy Booker sent you!
(Can you keep a secret? While our favorite poet, editor and blogger is away enjoying some fun in the sun, we thought we'd take this opportunity to do a little holiday shopping for her. She's quite impossible to shop for, but right now we've gotten it narrowed down to this or this. What do you think?)
Crucial Rooster: Poetry Column by Reb Livingston
As an editor of a poetry magazine, it’s important for me to keep up with other poetry publications. I read as many as I can and always pay attention to the buzz generated. One reason I do this is so I can stay current with contemporary poets. Another reason is so I can compare my magazine with the rest. I’m a Capricorn and we’re the competitive sign.
Since I became an editor, I get a lot of sunshine blown up my ass. Everyday I receive poetry submissions with letters telling me my magazine is the sexiest, best, most wonderful poetry publication out there. After I select a poet’s work to publish, I’m told my editorial taste is superior to all other poetry editors. It’s a delicious feeling. Sometimes, after I change my baby’s explosive diaper and feel a little down about my predicament, I read a few suck-up letters to lift my spirits. Those sweet messages have saved me countless trips to the liquor cabinet.
On September 28, 2005, my fragile ego was devastated by poet, Rebecca Loudon. In June, five of Rebecca’s fabulous poems appeared in No Tell Motel. She conveyed her excitement for the publication and thanked me for being willing to put the word “assitude” in a poem. I thought we had something special between us. But just a few short months later she wrote on her blog regarding Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safey:
“This has to be the absolute coolest publication I've ever been in. Seriously. The cover of this issue is a polyethylene membrane with a grid structure of square, cut-back cavities, and an anchoring fleece laminated to its underside. The binding is plastic tie-wrap. There were other little miracles floating inside the envelope including a carpenter's pencil and an actual order form for a bottle manifold dated 10-17-67.”
Miracles?!? Reading the above was an akin to hearing an ex-boyfriend brag how his new girlfriend is the prettiest he’s ever had. It hurts.
Also hurtful was seeing how many other No Tell poets were in this “absolute coolest publication” of all time. Anthony Robinson, Hugh Steinberg, Cami Park, Corey Mesler, Nate Pritts, oh how could you!?!
Like any jealous ex, I had to get a copy and see for myself. I thought, Forklift, Ohio can’t be that amazing, surely she has wonky eyes or man hands. There has to be something wrong with her. This is where I could have benefited from a straight-talking friend, somebody to tell me “Let it go. Have a little dignity!” No such friend was around. The journal arrived and I read it cover to cover.
Then I ate an entire chocolate cake.
It was true, Forklift, Ohio is an absolutely cool publication from its unique DIY style to its vibrant (sometimes hilarious) poems. Even the recipes are tantalizing. Rotini with Jalapenos. Coconut Fishball Soup. Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey!!!
Everything about this journal feels physical, from the rough construction and graphics, layout, food and the poems. Reading this issue isn’t going to transport you to the land of fairies and pixie dust (or whatever “magical” thing poetry is supposed to do for you), it’s going to be a reminder that you’re human with a corporeal form and earthly needs. Take Samuel Amadon’s poem “Head Injury” for example:
He also thinks / my blood-pressure will lower if I meditate & that // our waitress is beautiful. Our waitress is not beautiful / but it’s better not to argue with a neuroscientist. Probably / better not to let one look at your head too closely either. / Do you really want to know what’s happened to you // after how many times you stood up into a spiral staircase / or how many times the collected Lowell fell on your temple / before you picked a different place to keep it?
Forklift, Ohio is edited by Matt Hart and Eric Appleby. While I will concede their journal is indeed cool, I still claim that I am by far the better kisser. Issue #14 is available for $10 here.