Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Hannah Lilith Assadi

The country never tires of plot or character. Not the way I am sometimes tired. The way sometimes I cannot push a story past the first sentence or cannot work backwards from the last sentence. Perhaps my desire is not ignited by character or plot, but by the dance, the music, that harnesses the beginning to the end. The beginning, like a virgin bride, girdled up and trembling, prepares for a ceremony that has little meaning other than that it delivers her to the conjugal bed, in which she is revealed, or as it were, fulfilled. All that’s in between are wedding guests: transitory, drunken, flailing about in the limping tent of my narrative.

This is never the case in the news. Admittedly, the news tells better stories than I. Certainly better tragedies. In the news, there is always a protagonist and her antagonist. There is a setting. There is exposition. There is the barren desert land in which the two have met. There is the sound of gun shots which will (temporarily) rival the (permanently) muted sound of bombs exploding in that other barren desert land, once the womb of Eden.

Then there is the back story. The elusive parents of the antagonist, who raged to neighbors about the trash. There is the ever intoxicating provision of detail, more detail! we scream: a shrine in the yard of skull and blackened oranges. There is a kindly foil, a freak classmate with magenta hair. The more they give us, the more we want. We do not want to understand the tragedy. We want to understand our antagonist. We want to understand him so much that the congresswoman lying nearly brain dead in the hospital pales in comparison to this effort. She is not the protagonist. We are the protagonist. It is Jared Lee Loughner vs. US.

We are addicted to Jared, this college dropout beefhead Mein Kampf toting loser turned murderer from Tucson, Arizona. We want to read his journal, we want to know his old friends, we want to know his every intimate excursion the way we want to know a lover who has thwarted us. A murderer of six has become the hateful beloved of every news channel. I wonder this evening of the girl or guy in their bedroom who stole his virginity, if it ever was stolen. He or she should be interviewed next.

They are printing stickers. The stickers say stand with Arizona. Arizona United. I should say I am from Arizona. I should say I drove through Tucson with my parents (and stopped) to get gas around half past 11 Saturday morning. We did not hear any sirens. My father bitched in the backseat that we were getting too close to the border. That they would stop us for looking Mexican. My mother wanted to drive on to see an old mining town turned artist’s colony named Bisbee. I looked out over Tucson from the window, its dull pastels, the endless flat sky, the low buildings, and thought, as I’ve always thought of Tucson (my apologies to its natives) that it was the ideal setting for suicide.

We arrived in Bisbee and they shut the gallery doors on us. Quietly. My father cried racism. We turned on the radio. A woman was shot. Her name was Gabrielle. A 9 year old was shot. A suspect was arrested. We did not hear any sirens. The trip had gained new purpose. There was a story. There was news. And this might be the intractable problem at the root of it all, of storytelling, of the news.

Jared, in his tiny jail cell, has had his victory. I should say this nauseates me. I should say that it is still true. Now everyone is listening to Jared’s ‘conscious dreaming’, his fucked up fairy tale that after 22 pathetic years in dull pastel and barren desert, put him on the news. Everyone is ravenous with listening.

Hannah Lillith Assadi lives in Brooklyn, New York but was raised in Arizona. She is working on her first novel and is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Darlin' Neal

The report brings news to me. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States. I click off the screen. I try not to think of my brothers in all that trouble living near the border. I try not to think about how sick my mother is, but instead how she still laughs and takes in discarded children. How she talks of all the problems our country might solve if they’d just legalize marijuana. At least it’d be a start. I am thinking of visiting, dropping down in El Paso and driving on over to La Luz. If you know where to look you can see all the crosses honoring all the dead women. I think someone told me they’ve stopped with the crosses. There are too many and it’s not just women any more.

There’s a restaurant in Mississippi where you can sit and watch raccoons and cats eat scraps of fish and leftovers beneath pine trees. There are windows all around. I like to go there and watch them getting along. There is so much food. In the restaurant I’ve heard people come in after church and talk about the aliens crossing over the border. Everyone’s heard all that hate. That’s not news. Mississippi is where my life began. Mississippi doesn’t contain that hatred. It is all over the country.

In New Mexico where I grew up the sky is something else. You should see how a comet blisters down through the sky. Coyotes call and scavenge, trick. What silence when they’ve killed their prey. I lost a kitten like that once.

But I can’t stop thinking about El Paso. All those hundreds of young women’s bodies, many just children, strewn in the desert. Someone saw innocent dark eyes, full lips, long hair. There was a type for a long time. It made them think of mutilation. Cops mocked the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of dead little girls. Mira! Mira!

In that restaurant after church, a Mexican man throws more scraps from the backdoor. Someone wonders whose job he has stolen. On the television up high in the corner, there's hatred, fear fanned by talking heads rejecting hardworking people who don't speak the language, were born just beyond a dividing line, coming here hungry, just like they come to Juarez since NAFTA to work in those factories making American products for pennies, where someone waited outside for a young woman, a little girl to be sent away from work. It's not the same hatred that leaves them dragged through the dirt, pummeled, and brutally raped, nipples bitten off, breasts severed from their tiny bodies, almost all of them around ninety pounds, but here it is the same disregard for the poor and voiceless that leaves them ignored in their own country.

I’m thinking shanty towns you can see from the highway, of cardboard houses, of girls who won't eat if they ride the bus, tangled electrical cords so you can't find the stolen source.How the horror would be too much to believe and you might walk home from the factory to save money, how no one maybe had ever really hurt you before, and you might walk home anyway because who would believe something so unspeakable could happen to them, looking up at that giant Christ on the cross where Mexico, Texas and New Mexico meet, because you would see that giant crucified Christ as you prayed for mercy while suffering to death among hundreds of dead girls in the desert.

You might even take your shoes off to save them for later. You wouldn't want to ruin what would cost so much to replace and you'd think there'd be a later, no matter how hungry you are, how long you've been helping your mother, carrying babies on your hip, walking to work so young and faking your age.

And the man in the restaurant at another table calling over, saying don't you, don't you think these people should stay in their own country and you've been to the border that really isn't much of a border at all if you're going the other way into Mexico and he's telling you that you've got to think about what's being stolen from you, and it's over fifteen years since those murders began and nothing, nothing has been done about it, and it's more than fifteen years we've been profiting from the work of those tiny girls in the factories. No one talks about the bravery. At least it’s not much news. The brave women who are becoming police officers. The courageous parents dreaming of just one step over into another world where there are safe cities.

Darlin’ Neal is the author of the short story collection, Rattlesnakes and The Moon (March 2010). Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Puerto del Sol, Smokelong Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The Rio Grande Review and dozens of other magazines. She has fiction and nonfiction included in the Best of The Web 2009 and has been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize. She holds an assistant professorship in the MFA program at The University of Central Florida, and is Fiction Editor of the Florida Review. She also serves as faculty advisor to UCF's undergraduate literary arts magazine, The Cypress Dome, and for The Writers in The Sun Reading Series for which she brings in writers of national caliber each semester.

Monday, January 17, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Dan Wickett

No news today. This brought cheers from the many that wondered how those plastic motherfuckers on the local channels could so easily segue from the horrible stories of 7 year old girls shot in drive-bys to chuckling about the monkey playing peek-a-boo at the zoo. No sports today either, which made the true sports fans happy that they didn't have to watch some bozo with cheesy entrances to his pieces going on and on about something he knew little about. No weather either. This worried a few, especially those that were fans of Ohle, of Derby, of Scanlon, of McCarthy.

Dan Wickett began the Emerging Writers Network in 2000 and co-founded Dzanc Books with Steven Gillis in 2006. He edited the anthology Visiting Hours (Press 53) and has had one story published, in Quick Fiction.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Rebbecca Brown

Oh clear and just contained, how you whittle the world with every step and prosper, turning foot to meter, speaking word to pitter, patter moments of minutes. These places, photographs the wind once bore with a wisp and spin, a flash of light and lens, captured in a box with holes made out of pins. Sometimes bustled, sometimes light as a kiss, making images of book, the bird, a steeple. Somewhere in between, these are all the people.
What to say to the world when there’s no there? Every shush and sound a lisp? Once I walked the surface. Sat on sand and said oh you beautiful and was greeted with a shift.
I want to touch a mouth and meaning. I want to worry the words from one to another, vine them round, illume a bright green bloom inside. Where there are no hows or whys. Where there are no whos or whats. There there are no heres there there.

Rebbecca Brown teaches at Hunter College.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Justin Sirois


the best news you’ll hear all day is

you can stop reading this whenever you want. Hey,

Ahmedinejad just reviewed his new Kindle on Amazon:

… most disappointingly is that users cannot scribble

notes in the margins – lines of poetry that, if discovered

by the next reader, create a secret community, untraceable

and free…

he goes on for a while, the way Ahmedinejad can sometimes


it’s the condition when you can identify more than five

movie directors by their photograph – it’s the one place on

the internet that’s never seen a cat – it’s like being extradited

on surprise sex charges – they are eye drops that make all

red lights turn green – it’s the fact that if you are trying

to be clever too often, people will resent you – it’s the

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 –

it’s a retirement plan that takes spent wages from your

previous jobs & invests in the earning potential of the

new surprise sex industry


free space, anywhere in the world, is potential ad space. Like

here [ ]

& since no one has purchased that ad yet I’ll plug the

new Publishing Genius title

[ http://www.publishinggenius.com/ ]


hey, the best news you’ll hear all day is Ahmedinejad

returned his Kindle & Ahmedinejad took a 45 minute nap &

Ahmedinejad prayed & Ahmedinejad’s slippers! & scowling

at the television & ate some toast with marmalade &

Ahmedinejad smoking & obtaining & loving

& if you hold a Wikileak mirror up to another Wikileak mirror

you will see Ahmedinejad investing your previously

spent wages on secret communities

Justin Sirois is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. His books include Secondary Sound (BlazeVOX Books, 2008), MLKNG SCKLS (Publishing Genius, 2009) and Falcons on the Floor (forthcoming, Pub G.) written with Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy. His novel DMBSTRCK will be finished soon. He also runs the Understanding Campaign with Haneen and co-directs Narrow House. Justin received individual Maryland State Art Council grants in 2003, 2007, and 2010.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Danielle Blau


No factories burn. No jets crash. No natural disasters of epic proportions. A man’s pockets are not filling with silver fish, and, above, there are no waves, hardly even a ripple. A woman once again does not remember to call the boiler repairman, who isn’t chewing on a toothpick beneath a bare lightbulb. He does not hum the tune of a song from Les Miz or stop as soon as he realizes he is doing it. His name is not Robert. No one is watching. The playground no one uses, rising from the trash-strewn weeds and gravel behind Mickey Tires & Auto Parts, is not a prehistoric mastodon skeleton, where a lone swing is not creaking your name or anyone else’s. There are no runaways in the gazebo, and one of them, a debonair redhead who, at fifteen, can pass himself off as early twenties, did not just whisper something into the ear of another — a jittery, baby-faced girl, completely bald under the oversized wool beanie she never takes off — causing her to let out a quick, astonished laugh.

Danielle Blau's poems, short stories, articles, and interviews have appeared and are forthcoming in The New Yorker Book Bench blog, The Atlantic online, Black Clock, Brown Literary Review, Perigee: Publication for the Arts, Minetta Review, The L Magazine, and multiple issues of Unsaid, among other publications. Blau is an MFA candidate in poetry at NYU's Creative Writing Program. She currently lives in Ridgewood, Queens.