amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unarmed Journal - a small & punchy little magazine you should read

Michael Mann of St. Paul, Minnesota publishes a small magazine entitled “unarmed journal” & some chapbooks. 

he recently was kind enough to send me gratis issues 66 & 67 & chapbooks by Fungo Appetite & Tom Wiegel. I have been fortunate to have had some work in previous issues & other poetry pals, such as Pearl Pirie & Kemeny Babineau are regulars.

the first characteristic that differs from standard journals is that author names are not published alongside the work. to find out who wrote or created the work you have to go to the back of the issue. I like this idea. in fact, I wouldn’t mind it at all if no names appeared, but I can understand that it’s nice to receive credit for your work. with that in mind, I will credit the creators when I refer to work here.

Issue 66 begins with a striking piece of art by david spinelli entitled “shrine of st. rochs.” it is a colourful assemblage of rusted metal shoes with braces, angel wings, a heart, moulds for feet pictured in front of crumbling stucco walls. it provides a promising beginning to the issue.

the back cover is entitled “Anti-Ham” & is a colour collage with indecipherable handwritten text, stenciled “DA revolution” & D / A, some Asian characters, a red seal, a portrait of a man with his insides revealed. again this back cover seems fitting in that it is eclectic, provocative & not easily mapped to some specific answer or method.

if I could make any overall comment about the aesthetic of unarmed, I would say that the poetry tends to be without ornamentation or fluff, conversational rather than high brow. I’ve always been heartened by that fact.

the issues are always chock full of work. Issue 66 has 25 pages; while Issue 67 has 28.
here are a few notes on a few pieces in Issue 66:

what’s left by kent taylor is a quiet & meditative poem that has haiku like qualities.

Before Sunrise by jonathan brannen (1950-2013) is a lovely, meditative & touching piece. what drives a lot of these poems, in my opinion, is the willingness not to be certain or for things not to work out perfectly: “I would want to talk/before sunrise/of rooms/in clumsy times…unteachable/wet roads” & “though sometimes the voice of a thought/is so soft that the sound of spoken words/is enough to drown it.” brannen was active in poetry, visual poetry & music. see an interview with him here in Altered Scale 

Symphony for Sorrowful Songs by tom kryss is a spiritual & quiet prose piece.

Love in Pattee Canyon when I was a Red Headed Witch by debbie florence is a fun, yet ironic piece about love. I like its repetition & imagery.

Yeshiva Code by tom weigel begins as a dissasociative list of odd juxtapositions that culminates in a life observation that brings everything together. it’s a nice technique.

Rio Arriba Bulletin & Rio Arriba Bulletin #2 by michael kinkaid are spare poems with haiku qualities & insightful observations.

Doppelgänger’s Lament by Camille Martin is a playful & imaginative piece that feels like a kind of short form based on a crime novel.

Picasso’s Binoculars by john olson is a fun, witty, imaginative & visual piece.


I suggest you contact Michael Mann to see how you can order copies of Unarmed. i enjoy that I get a chance to discover writers/artists that I would never have heard of before. for more info contact, Michael at unarmedjournal at comcast dot net.

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