Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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An Interview with John Bryan
Part 2

Jonathan Penton:  Where do you live? Have you always lived there?

Joh Bryan:  I'm Australian and I live in its capital: Canberra, and have so for the last twenty two years. I grew up in the country however. Not 'the outback', but 'the bush'. In two towns: Peak Hill and Narromine. Narromine has a population of three thousand and Peak Hill is struggling with a thousand. I'm glad I grew up in the country but I'm glad I don't live there anymore. There's an undercurrent of violence in small country towns which is quite intimidating and nasty which one just doesn't get from the relative safety of anonymity in a city.

JP:  What is Canberra like, sociologically speaking?

JB:  Canberra is the capital. It is full of bureaucrats, politicians, and public servants ('pubes'), of which I am one. It's a very 'safe' city, lacking any particular hustle and bustle. It has been called one giant shopping mall. It has been called strange. It is the bastard offspring of both Sydney and Melbourne. But hey, it's my city.

JP:  The sections of "Love Has Been Liquidated" are all named after Canberra streets, correct? How come?

JB:  Yes, they are all Canberran streets. Some I have lived on, all I have walked upon. It literally reads like a roadmap. My two favourite areas in Canberra: ANZAC Parade and Belconnen Way. Rivers of light at night, these roads.

JP:  How did you determine which street to associate with each segment?

JB:  When I was writing it I had all my previous poems by my side and would hook up a poem to a particular street based on my impressions on that particular vein of Canberra. Fellow Canberrans will have their own impressions of these areas I am sure, and may have a different view. Maybe a couple who may read this will agree with me, poetically. As for the rest: Come to Canberra! See the amazing world of Canberra for yourself! Behold Frank Sinatra as he sings: Start spreading the news / I'm leaving today / Don't wanna be a part of it / Canberra, Canberra. I do like Canberra, it's just easy to take the piss out of.

JP:  How many times have you visited Europe? Where all have you been?

JB:  I'm not a real travel bug but it has bitten me sometimes. When I was in my twenties I always wanted to see my own backyard before anyone else's, so I did. Travelling throughout Australia's states, capitals, everything in between. That took me out of my twenties. Then in 2010 I compiled a list of things I wanted to see in Europe. Among other things: Stonehenge, where my great (x6) grandfather was born, and to see where Lautreamont died. Then in 2011 I went over for two months, taking in: all of the UK, Emirates, Ireland, Isle of Man, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and France. My Paris hotel was in the same street that Lautreamont died in! This trip took me out of my thirties. For now I think I've squashed the travel bug! Maybe Mt. Everest will take me out of my forties. Or flying to the moon.

JP:  When did you visit the Nazi extermination camps? Which ones did you visit? How long did you stay there?

JB:  I visited the extermination camps, as opposed to concentration camps, on the Polish leg of my tour. Hitler, or Himmler or Heydrich, were cluey enough to make sure none of the death camps were on German soil. I visited Chelmno, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, and Birkenau. Personally I don't include Majdanek. The death toll is too low. It may have been 'converted' into a death camp in its final stages but for the most part it was a concentration camp. I devoted a day to each camp, but this probably whittled to a couple of hours as these camps are all across rural Poland by the time we got from one to the other. Had I had my way I would've loved to have stayed the night at these places.

JP:  Why did you visit the camps?

JB:  There's no real historic precedent for the extermination camps. They are Hitler's artistic legacy. Out of some three million to die in these camps, only around a hundred survived. That's like a 99% success rate. The staff of these camps came from Hitler's Euthanasia programme after that folded due to public outcry, so Hitler made sure things were kept secret this time, or tried to keep secret. Even a lot of the staff didn't outlive the war, people such as Odilo Globocnik and Christian Wirth, men with truly unique roles in Nazi Germany, let alone any government that's ever existed; such was the camps' self-fulfilling prophecy. The belly of the beast completely naked in its singularity. The five worst places on Earth.

JP:  What did you learn there? Was it different from what you expected to learn? If so, how?

JB:  I'm not sure if I learnt anything there as much as felt perhaps. It was harder for the head to work than the heart, so I went with the heart. The head was having trouble dealing with things like numbers and tallies, but the heart could deal better with these things imagining it from one's own perspective perhaps.

JP:  What did you feel?

JB:  The soil I held in my hand at Chelmno was very sandy and filled with minute bone fragments. The guide at Treblinka, her grandmother and mother had been prisoners there, their job being to get wood for the fires. Belzec's camp dimensions: three sides measuring 275m, while the fourth is 265m; sickeningly small. In Sobibor I encountered a four foot long black snake, coiled and ready to strike at me.

JP:  How do you think the experience affected you?

JB:  I don't think I came back a better person. I'm still processing. Maybe I don't feel so much as affected as achieved. For me the atomic bomb and The Final Solution ushered in the modern age. At least nuclear energy has some supporters! There were revolts in three of the death camps (Treblinka, Sobibor, and Birkenau). The revolts in Sobibor and Treblinka resulted in the camps being closed forever weeks later, completely dismantled and destroyed. It's important to mention these three revolts because for me they are shining examples of the civilised world triumphant.

JP:  How do you think it affected your writing, in general (leaving "Love Has Been Liquidated" alone for a minute)?

JB:  A lot. 'Love Has Been Liquidated' is all I work on now. The 'esoteric language' of the final solution: wherein buzz words like 'liquidated', 'resettled', 'to the east' were used in official documents relating to the final solution. This language used, partly, I am sure, to cover up what the Nazis were really doing, and partly to keep the production line murders abstract and to spare themselves the gravity of what they were actually doing. It's almost like a perverse political correctness, or at its basest level. Beasts made of bureaucrats.

JP:  Are you Jewish, or do you have any Jewish ancestors/relatives?

JB:  I'm not Jewish. My great great great great great great grandfather was Fletcher Christian, who masterminded the mutiny on the Bounty. I'm third-generation Australian and before that all my ancestors are Pitcairner. A great grandfather of mine was killed in a Japanese prisoner of war camp just weeks before it was liberated in 1945.

JP:  Do you feel you have a personal connection to the camps?

JB:  Nothing really remains of four of the death camps, the Nazis had plenty of time to dismantle them. But Auschwitz-Birkenau is still mostly there. Although the gas chambers were blown up, the Nazis didn't have time to completely obliterate them. They are still there, rotting on their foundations. Cordoned off to visitors. It was just instinct and not pre planned, but walking around these ruins, I stepped over the wire into the remains of Krematorium III. Plunged my hand in and plucked out half a brick. I bought it back to Australia with me. I'm looking at it right now. It's looking back at me.

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