As the Editor and Founder of BoySlut who’s had her share [aplenty] of reading poems on a daily basis and from some of the most renowned underground poets from around the world, I must admit I was not prepared for what Mike Meraz had in store for She Poems.
Read in as little as 15 minutes, not only was each and every poem cleverly versed and multifaceted depicted (with much respect to the women who inspired such genu~ism) these candid and satirical poetic trinkets are sure to not disappoint and to encourage the idea of what “underground” poetry really and truly is.
*reviewers note: If you haven’t read She Poems or anything by Mike Meraz. . .Shame on you! But here is a list of his chapbooks (in no chronological order): 43, Black~Listed Thoughts, Writhing & Alive, Watching it Burn, Black~Listed Poems; and the link where you can view his online Journal, Black~Listed Magazine:
Was it just me, or did the TV series premiere of “Dracula” suck?
Okay. Even I have to admit that I hyped myself up over this premiere, even “Milestoned” the damn thing on my site because for those who kind of know me, they know I like anything vampire. So after much anticipation, even taking a nap (yes, A Nap!) just so I wouldn’t fall asleep during the show because I do have a tendency of doing that, even I was slightly disappointed. Maybe it was the lighting in the show? Maybe it was the entire cast? Maybe it was the gibberish in dialogue? Well whatever it was I put together a top-ten list of what bothered me the most in hopes with coping with my disappointment.
1: Why the producers of NBC’s Dracula decided to take from the formula of the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula, meaning characters, is beyond me!
2: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, while devilishly handsome, I found his performance as “Dracula” slighly weak. Hmm. . .maybe in the coming weeks that will change.
3: The character of Mina in my opinion was just a “bad cast”. Mina is blandly pretty, and she lacks that animal magnetism. Pairing her with Jonathan Rhys Meyers is like pairing Oil and Water. . .they just didn’t mix.
4: Jonathan Harker must die and bring Keanu Reeves back!
5: I was expecting the old Lucy to emerge from the new Lucy; think Alien and that spaghetti dinner scene. . .you know, when that baby Alien popped out of the stomach of that crew member over dinner? Was that romantic or what?
6: The blond seductress (you know the one who spent the better part of her “Part” trying to seduce Dracula) just didn’t fit the part. If Dracula (now the TV series) isn’t careful, SHE will be the death of the series.
7: The fight scene between Dracula and what’s his face on the roof lacked action. How dare Dracula fight. . .vampires don’t fight, they’re too quick and clever for that shit!
8: Mr. Renfield. . .I think I preferred the original character from Bram Stoker’s Dracula only because he was dedicated and I loved his do! (hair-do, that is).
9: I found the Trailers more exciting. . .particularly that scene where Dracula is lying in a sea of naked women draped in red silk; kind of reminded me of Eminem’s video “Superman”.
10: Last but not least, where was David Letterman?
So in closing, I will admit that I am a still a fan of anything vampire (except for Vampire Diaries, I’m still a little po’d about their show’s sexual content considering Vampire Diaries is based on a YA book series for readers 18 and younger. . .go figure!) so I will continue to watch, for better or for worse:).
Well “ROMEO” (my YA paranormal modern-day Romeo + Juliet love story) hasn’t exactly been knocking Agents off their feet despite the fact I’ve been trying to sell them on the idea that ROMEO is a fresh and one-of-a-kind story as well as uniquely written as ROMEO reads in the same fashion as William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo + Juliet.
Now I’ve pondered on why I haven’t exactly received invitations from Lit Agents to submit further material on ROMEO, and I haven’t came up with much answers. Perhaps Agents consider ROMEO to be a knock-off. . .maybe so, but you can’t discount novels like I,DRAKULA or CINDER or RED RIDING HOOD, re-written classics with a unique spin to them. Or perhaps it is what one potential Agent quoted when I pitched her LAST BITE! my last YA novel, and why she couldn’t take it on even though she was ecstatic on the idea-editor vampire fatigue. Or perhaps it’s the timing, the economy; maybe word count plays a factor or maybe the market is too flooded with YA paranormals, or maybe, and perhaps my last conclusion, a weak query? Now while all those may play a factor, in my opinion, and what I’ve read considerably, the YA genre, regardless of sub-genre, and is as of this moment the biggest seller when it comes to books. So yeah, in that sense, the market is there, the Agents are there, I just think (and I as I stated before) it’s the “timing”. I would like to assume, or speculate, that Agents have their good days and their bad days when it comes to reviewing queries or submissions which play a major role when it comes to deciding on whether to request material on a query or reject the query entirely despite the fact that it could very well be a best-seller. I will admit though that It brings me great comfort in knowing that what I’ve just IMO’d above may harbor some truth.
So in the meantime I’ve decided to self-publish ROMEO. And if it sells pretty well, then maybe I can re-pitch it to Agents and perpahs gain representation, with fingers crossed, of course!
As an occasional Critic, I find it rather difficult to compose such a stellar review on a topic that is quite unforeign to many of us now referring to Michael H. Brownstein’s latest chapbook Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah whichis a collection of poems regarding the insurgence of the 1948 war against the Palestinians; poems beautifully penned, vividly detailed, and indisputably compelling. But in order to give such a review without adding insult to injury particularly on a subject I [honestly] knew nothing of only up until recently when this chapbook was presented to me, I instead decided to go to the source himself and transcend this review rather into an interview by inquiring several questions as to give the audience a more personal insight to Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah and why the author chose to write about it.
1.) Michael, what inspired you to write Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
All of my life I have been taught Israel was right and everyone else—the Arabs, the Palestinians—were wrong. It was cut and dry. Though I’m not a Zionist (and never was)—and I am Jewish—I never really believed Israel was above the law and everything that went into making this tiny Jewish state was positive. I did hold the belief that Israel came about because it was fighting for its very life. Then I read Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton, 1993), by Carolyn Forché, The section on the 1948 war amazed me. I did not know or even understand that any of this could have possibly happened. Yes, perhaps against the British—but innocent Palestinians? No.
So I began researching. Could Forché be making this up? I knew due to her reputation that she wasn’t. The more I got into it, the more disconcerted—if that can be the word—I became. We had just come from a major Holocaust and now we were doing the same kinds of things we said “Never Again” to the Palestinians. The further I got, the more energized, the more passionate, the more angry at all of the lies I had been fed (and believed)—and finally I knew I had to let others know. So I took my passion for poetry, my research on the 1948 war that began after reading Forché’s book, and combined them to make this book. I who had lived behind a shadow all of these years decided no one else should have to. Truth has power. Poetry, too, has power. The making of Firestorm became a passion I could not put out.
2.) Did you possess personal knowledge and/or experience which inspired you to write Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
Simple answer: No. I just could not believe Israel could develop out of such falsehoods, the rewriting of history and, well, downright lies. Did you know on many maps—particularly maps in the Middle East—Israel is called Occupied Palestine?
3.) Or did you know any of the MC’s in your poetry and prose to inspire such a write?
Once again, no, I just learned all about this about a year ago when I read the section in Forché’s book. Before then, no, I thought all atrocities were against the British by the Jews or the Palestinians against the Jews. I never thought the Jews could be capable of harming others the way they had just been harmed—World War II was only three years in the past. I could not believe leaders of the new Israel considered themselves the first and best terrorists. I could not believe men got away with atrocities and became leaders of this new nation while they were prosecuting Germans for crimes against humanity. I could not believe how hypocritical Israel was. The more I researched, the more I knew this story had to be told.
4.) What was your purpose in writing Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
To begin a discussion on the issues of what the 1948 war caused. To correct the rewriting of history. To show the other side of the story in much of its gruesome detail. To begin a real dialog between two people who are both Semitic, but cannot sit down and talk peace. To make Israel acknowledge their wrongs and make them make them right. To change the view of Zionism. To help the Palestinians regain what they lost.
5.) Do you think much has changed since then?
Unfortunately, I feel we are moving backwards. The Palestinians are maintained in the world’s oldest refugee camps and they are still treated badly. It’s time for a change and I actually have hopes that people reading Firestorm will want to engage and dialog in making these changes come to be.
Enclosing, Michael would very much like to thank his editor and publisher, Russell Streur of the Camel Saloon who supported the project and felt very strongly that Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah should be published. Michael also goes on to add that he is very glad Russell had the guts and the determination to work with him on this important (in which he feels) project.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the author himself for allowing me to inquire these valid questions and for the manner in which he answered them in. And I too strongly feel that if I had not taken the route I have taken with Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah this review/interview would have never came about. Thank you, Michael.