"Bully and the Hate Mongers" by Roe LiBretto
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
Welcome to another packed, varied, and colorful issue. The artwork is courtesy of Roe Libretto, who creates and exhibits allegorical paintings internationally but is headquartered here in New Mexico at the Ghostwolf Gallery in Albuquerque's Old Town (where Victoria Mlady, whose work adorns the Jul/Aug 2016 issue, also exhibits). (More about Ghostwolf in a moment!) The instant I saw Roe's work, I hoped I would be able to talk her into being part of Eclectica. What I envisioned, and what I hope I was able to achieve, was an issue that deconstructs Roe's paintings—extracting excerpts striking in their own right, echoing or reinforcing some image, mood, or idea from the written works they're paired with—and then allows the reader to click on the links in the captions to see these excerpts back in their natural environment, creating an entirely different effect as part of a larger, cohesive visual statement. "Bully and the Hate Mongers," shown above, is one of the complete works, with excerpts from it appearing elsewhere in the issue, along with ones from 25 other paintings.
I said I'd say more about the Ghostwolf Gallery, and this is because the gallery's owner/director, Amy Ditto, was kind enough to let us host a Hoopla! there in July. A Hoopla! is what I'm calling any gathering of two or more people associated in some way with Eclectica to celebrate the magazine and its two decades online, literature in general and literature on the web in particular, and each others' creative pursuits and passions. The more people and the more varied the work involved, the more of a Hoopla! it is. In the case of what went down at Ghostwolf, we wound up with an event pretty high on the Hoopla! scale. We had on display the tapestry art of Susan Klebanoff, the etchings and paintings of the aforementioned Victoria Mlady, the photography of Stuart Gelzer, and the folk jewelry of Pamela Gemin. We also had a monitor playing YouTube videos of grafitti and fantasy artist Kelly Baber in action, famed mosaic artist Laura Robbins was in attendance, and Lauren Lundgren brought samples of her CBD oil products. We then had a reading in the courtyard, featuring poetry by Julie King, Michelle Brooks, and Pamela Gemin; and nonfiction by Dan Meuller, Ben Daitz, and Stuart Gelzer. Throw in some refreshments, and it was... yep... a Hoopla!
Congrats to Alice Lowe for being our Spotlight Author for this issue. Nonfiction editor David Ewald nominated her, and I will testify here to being moved by her piece as well. Congrats also to our Runners-Up, David Flynn for his excellent story "To Death," set in Russia-besieged Ukraine, and Lisa McMonagle for her equally excellent poem, "Closed Casket." Let me apologize now if readers find my choice of an accompanying image for Lisa's poem a little too on the nose. I aspire to subtlety and the unexpected, but sometimes, one just has to go with the severed limbs.
I'm super pleased with how the fiction section came togther. Besides the aforementioned Mr. Flynn, we've got a lean and mean selection of five other short stories, all by newcomers to Eclectica, all as different in style and content as can be, anchored with a novella by Eclectica super alum Svetlana Lavochkina's novella Dam Duchess, which shares a setting with her debut novel, Zap, which I just received in the mail last week. I'm looking forward to reading it as I recuperate from putting this issue together.
Speaking of things our alumni have been up to, Erica Goss released her first full-length poetry collection, Night Court, this summer, selections from which she read at our San Francisco Hoopla! in June. It was the winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award from Glass Lyre Press. G. K. Wuori's Cold Iron blog always goes down smooth and leaves only the slightest of annoying aftertastes. That's not a new development—I just thought I'd give it a plug. Ken Poyner's Avenging Cartography got a good review in the Virginia Pilot Daily Break section. Eric Wilson reported that "Stillborn," which appeared in Eclectica in 2015, is now part of a collection to be published by Outpost 19 in February, 2018, called Polaris Ghost. Melvin Sterne alerted us to the release of his new book The Shoeshine Boy, the story of Pablo, an orphan growing up on the streets of Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, in the late 1920s. Meanwhile, So Got Schooled: in the Tower, on the Field, three memoirs by Stephen Bett, is available from Ekstasis Editions. His flash story, "Window and Walk," first appeared in the October/November 2015 issue. And finally, Jesse Minkert's latest chapbook, Rookland, was released this August by Finishing Line Press.
That's all the news that's fit to print. Please enjoy this issue and have a great winter!
From Gilbert S. Purdy, Review Editor
I'm delighted to welcome Carole Mertz and her review of Whereas by Layli Long Soldier. Thanks to Ann Skea, as always, for her insightful reviews (ten of which are included in this issue alone). Thanks also go out to John Amen for kindly agreeing to the interview that appears in this issue. My review of his most recent book of poetry, Illusion of an Overwhelm, also appears in this issue. My review of The Essential W. S. Merwin includes condolences from everyone at Eclectica for the profound loss of the poet's beautiful wife and helpmate of 35 years, Paula, who passed away in March of this year.
I would like to invite anyone who might read this to send along reviews of books, art, music, cultural organizations, companies and events—local, regional, national, and international—and cultural crit pieces on the same. Feel free to do so as a one-off or more or less regularly as works for you. I look forward to return to expanding the Review/Interview Section during the months ahead, to include a wide range of lively, insightful (even quirky) cultural crit. I hope you will stop by to read and/or submit.
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
This issue is one with two exciting firsts attached to it! Not only did I have the opportunity to collaborate with frequent contributor Elizabeth Kerper as a guest/co-poetry editor, but this issue also has three separate poetry sections for the first time ever.
Having the opportunity to talk over poetry picks with a fellow editor was exciting in how it provided the opportunity to articulate my thoughts more clearly regarding the selection process. I enjoyed seeing if what Elizabeth and I liked best about a poem was the same thing or if we were drawn into a piece from a different angle. It was also an opportunity to expand the Eclectica community in a new way, and I hope that Elizabeth might kindly lend her expertise as an editor and avid reader to us again in the future!
As mentioned, another new hallmark of this issue is the three poetry sections! In addition to the "regular" poetry section (which of course has nothing regular about it) and the Word Poem section, this issue features a special section with poems by six members of a vibrant poetry community in Chicago, Weeds Poetry at the Hideout. This is an always well-attended weekly open mic at the Hideout on Monday nights. And while only six poems are featured in the section, I want to say how grateful we at Eclectica are for the many fine submissions we had the opportunity to read. Two hosts of this open mic, Chuck Kramer and Gregorio Gomez, have provided some words for me to include, and here they are below.
From Chuck Kramer: "For years Weeds poets have brought the raw energy of the street and their thundering, tormented hearts to the mic. Young and old, black, white, Asian, gay and straight, brown, Native American, Muslim, Christian—everyone's spoken and been heard. This special section of Eclectica now means they will also be read, and that's good news for poets everywhere."
From Gregorio Gomez: "Poetry at the Weeds and now the Hideout... should be able to move us like a quake... change thought and feeling, enrage passion... demand discourse... demand honor and respect... Poetry is our bloodline... the freedom of the open mic allows our voice to be heard..."
Looking at the other sections, Lisa McMonagle is a Spotlight Runnier-Up, and I hope you'll spend some time with her very powerful poem "Closed Casket." McMonagle is a new voice to Eclectica, and we're delighted to add her to our "family." Both the poetry section and the Word Poem Special Feature are full of new and returning voices, and another new voice is that of Hannah Lanier. Lanier's Word Poem actually has the four words from the previous issue (due to my not updating Submittable in a timely fashion), but I'm so glad my lack of organization contributed to this wonderful poem being in the Oct/Nov issue! In closing, I want to say again how much I love to collaborate. I can't wait to see what new opportunities to do that spring up in the Eclectica community!
From Elizabeth Kerper, Guest Poetry Editor
I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to help edit the poetry section of this issue! A few of my poems have appeared in Eclectica in the past, and I always enjoy the work published here, so I jumped at the chance to be on the other side of the submission inbox. I especially enjoyed reading submissions with Jen—as longtime members of the same writing group, we have a pretty good idea of each other's taste in poetry, so it was particularly fun to be surprised by some opinions I didn't expect her to have, and to share my thoughts with her as well. I also loved getting the chance to read the work of so many other poets, especially those who submitted to the Weeds Poetry at the Hideout Special Feature—what a great reminder of the vibrant poetry community in Chicago that I am so lucky to belong to!