Pink Reef

refdp_image_z_0Pink Reef
Robert Fernandez
Canarium Books, April 2013
96 pages
$14.00

I brought this along on a recent visit to my doctor, just in case there was a wait; as it turned out, I read the whole book and started again at the beginning—not only because my doctor was running an hour behind, and not only because it was a better alternative than People, but also because it is a book that envelops and surrounds, creating a space one cannot easily leave. A doctor’s office, too, seemed an eerily suitable place to take in Fernandez’s meditations, which trace the shore where the mind meets the body.

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Literary Boroughs #27: Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the twenty-seventh post on Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Megan Levad. —Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Image credit: Andrew Horne/Wikipedia

What the City is known for/what makes it unique:

The poetry collection or literary journal that you’re carrying around in your bag right now was probably printed here. But Ann Arbor is better known for football, Zingerman’s Deli (where Michael Dickman worked when he lived here), breweries, Iggy Pop, and lefty politics—Students for a Democratic Society was founded here in 1960.

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Literary Boroughs #9: Berkeley, California

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the ninth post on Berkeley, California by Andrew David King. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

What have I lost? Spook singer, hold your tongue.
I sing a newer song no ghost-bird sings.
My tongue is sharpened on the iron’s edge.
Canaries need no trees. They have their cage.

- Jack Spicer, “A Postscript to the Berkeley Renaissance,” 1954

There are two cities called Berkeley—the city of the nation’s imagination, and the city as it actually exists—and they are constantly at odds. Popular media would have one believe that this suburb with a gaze through the Golden Gate’s columns is filled with politicos who are so far left, they’ve come full circle back to right. There are activists and the socially conscious, but such a depiction isn’t the only truth of this town; Berkeley is filled with as many stripes of ideology as flavors in the gelato stores that line Shattuck Avenue. And it is filled with histories humming alongside each other: that of the Vietnam War protests, the Beats, the Berkeley Renaissance, and the discovery of new elements of the periodic table. It’s no coincidence that Berkeley is named for the poet and philosopher George Berkeley, whose idealist philosophy suggests that all exists only in the minds of perceivers. The city’s made rich by the beehive of students at the University of California and those who, moved by art or history, make pilgrimages here. The campus sits at the base of the Mediterranean-looking East Bay ridges (“…The ripened brown of these magnificent hills… reminds me of my beloved Greece,” said University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler in an 1899 address to the student body), but it is not the center of town, per se; it is one center in a city that spins on countless axes.

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Small Press Spotlight: Canarium Books

As I said in my previous blog post about the most intriguing small presses publishing poetry, I really think small presses are publishing some of the really interesting poetry out there right now.  I had the good fortune of speaking with Joshua Edwards, the editor of Canarium Books.  He seems like a really fascinating person and I enjoyed our conversation.

-How would you describe your background beyond the typical bio to someone like me who has never met you?  Said another way, what would your friends and enemies say about you?

If I ever write a memoir, it’ll be about other people. The most interesting things about me are my friends and family, and I’m sure I’ll someday be a footnote in some heavy biographies—I might even get a chapter or two in books about my Canarium co-editors, Nick Twemlow, Robyn Schiff, and Lynn Xu. I met Nick and Robyn a decade ago in Oregon, and they’ve been my mentors, confidants, and collaborators ever since. For six years before we started Canarium Books, we ran a magazine called The Canary with our friend Anthony Robinson. In one issue we published an amazing poem by Lynn, who I met years later and now she’s my better half. Not only because of the fortuitous ways I met Lynn, Tony, Nick, and Robyn, but for lots of reasons, my friends would probably say I’m a very lucky person and that I’m often at the right place at the right time. They might also say that I’m always on the move. I was born in Galveston, raised in Clear Lake Shores, and I’ve since lived or spent a good amount of time in Eugene, Boston, Ecuador, Kansas City, Mexico, rural Washington, Nicaragua, Tuscaloosa, Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, New York, Chicago, China, Germany, and Berkeley. At the end of September, Lynn and I will move back to Germany for a year, after which we hope to settle in Marfa. My enemies may say I’m geographically elusive and too lucky by half.Continue Reading