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 Anna Joy Springer
by Jeremy Hight

Jeremy Hight: What are you working on right now?

Anna Joy Springer: What I've been working on is teaching young adults how to undo years of "No Child Left Behind" multiple-choice thinking and directing University of California San Diego's MFA writing program that offers fairly equal funding for all graduate students. I've also been working on running a fabulous ongoing reading event called The New Writing Series, which has been especially queer this year. Now that I have a non-teaching quarter, I'm trying to make two artistic things—one is a novel. It's an autobiographical puppet show called Art In Heaven about neoliberal heaven, and shopping for a good reincarnation. The characters are made of paper and the theater is hurtling through outerspace. "Window" is a concept. It's the story of when my father came to visit me at work when I was working at a peepshow in my early 20's. One of the themes is "As below, so above." It will have a very small audience. The other thing is a rebus that I'm hand painting in guache. It's an aviary about freakiness. And I may also be writing a book of essays on being a Riot Grrranny, but I'm not sure what will come of that. Focus doesn't come easily in the electron cloud.

JH: How did Kathy Acker inspire you and your work the most?

AJS: Kathy Acker was my most important writing mentor. She's the one who told me to keep writing no matter what. She was almost violent with this command. I never slept with her, on purpose, because I needed a literary mother and I didn't want to mess that up with intimacy. Her biggest influence on my work was that she showed me how to make narrative elements stage overlapping truths that most people kept in separate categories. That is, she taught me that vibrant literature most always complicates ideologies and is therefore always attuned to shifting ideologies and the rhetorical methods by which they have been fossilized. She taught me that literary perversity is a moving target. I liked how she wrote "cunt" all the time. Don Quixote [the 1986 novel by Acker] was the best representation of a certain experience of girlhood in the 80's I had ever read. And Kathy said I was the reincarnated Jean Genet, which made me look up Jean Genet, and his work has definitely changed my life and continues to allow me to live. Maybe she said that to everyone—I don't know. But it gave me something impossible to believe in, and I didn't know it, but I needed faith in something already dead or no longer human. Then Kathy died, and after she died I believe she visited me in the form of a snail, which was her last embodied gesture of comfort and her last command. I quit my paralegal job and my band and taught myself to write, because I didn't want her to be disappointed in me.

JH: Has your experience in both music and spoken word influenced your process and experiments with moving beyond prescribed limitations of form into new areas? Is a "book" really more of a space and open to interruptions, explorations, cross disciplinary elements? Are there areas of exploring the book as a construct and form working with technology and mixed elements that have not yet been explored?

AJS: I think of all the modes of literary encounter as a stage. Sometimes there's a theater around the stage and always there's a world going on outside of that. Literature is a specially designated encounter between a reader and their other selves. Reading makes a person a little queer, or even a lot queer. Or maybe not queer at all. Maybe I mean "indeterminate, possibly irritant and nonetheless powerful." I'm most excited by staged interactions, ritual, and directed unpredictability. That excitement comes equally from A.) being raised by the television and a 70's single mom freak; B.) 3rd wave punk scene including comics; C.) experimental theatrical interventions/play in gay, queer, and feminist political and sexual culture, including comics. The page has always seemed to be a staging device or frame-trigger to me. I like to use the page as temporal and rhythmic element for works in the book format. The book Text in the Book Format by Keith A. Smith is a good guide for thinking about novel staging possibilities and authorial design that accounts for differences between seeing and reading. Book artists have explored many forms of book-audience interface, and some new printing technologies plus neoliberal market conditions allow for all sorts of play with mass-produced books that have been available mostly in very limited editions or in children's books: Color and die cut printing from Singapore, for instance. Some literary books are becoming more sensually seductive—they're objects of luxury or comfort for people who aren't rich but want to feel rich. By and large these printed objects are not marketed to people who are poor but who want to feel rich—not that I've seen, anyway. I'm sure there are many delightful uses of the book format that have yet to be mass-produced. I can imagine a fetishistic illuminated manuscript using LEDs, for example. Or those little song triggers they put in birthday cards. I was trying to make a book like this at Penland in 2009, but I didn't get too far. Now, if I had the financial resources, I could pretty easily mass produce a beautiful little pinhole light book with light and sound triggers. There are already book objects that direct readers to digital interfaces and, obviously, vice-versa. I'm not interested in using digital formats myself, right now, but that may change.

JH: Has growing up in the central valley of California influenced your work? Has this changed over time?

AJS: I grew up in California's Central Valley, in Merced. I spent time in Fresno, where my mother later lived. The Central Valley taught me there are always secret hidden workings going on everywhere, and that I should challenge myself anytime I believe something doesn't exist just because I have not heard of it or because the right business people haven't figured out how to market it. The Central Valley has led me to think quite a bit about the pros and cons of social invisibility, about food being made of physical labor and suffering as much as by sunshine, and about the shifty politics of water.

JH: Is writing more akin to conceptual art than the prescribed forms seem to allow and general concepts acknowledge?

AJS: I'm no expert on conceptual art, but it does seem that language, aural and visual, or implied language or implied silence that creates prompts for questions has been a central mode of delivery. In that case, I guess you could say, if concepts are made, in many minds, of language, that conceptual art is literary no matter its materials. But conceptual literature is also about the history of literature and the history of literature in framing concepts of reader, author, text, and culture. Any literature can become conceptual literature, depending on framing and reframing techniques, but not all literature is conceptual literature. Most of my own work is more like a puzzle, a kinetic sculpture, a partially-scripted play, and an installation—I consider readers' duration of engagement and sequence of experiential changes to be very important elements in my work. I need my reader to have a mind available for manipulation over a significant period of time, not to be too absorbed in frontal lobe thinking for the spell to work!

Jeremy Hight is a Staff Interviewer at Unlikely Stories: Episode IV. You can learn more about him at his bio page.

Anna Joy Springer investigates the weird intersections of sacredness, perversity, feminist history, and interbeing. She is the author of The Vicious Red Relic, Love (Jaded Ibis, 2011), an illustrated fabulist memoir with soundscape, and The Birdwisher, A Murder Mystery for Very Old Young Adults (Birds of Lace, 2009). An Associate Professor of Literature at UC San Diego and the Director of its MFA Program, she teaches experimental writing, feminist literature & graphic texts. She's played in punk bands Blatz, The Gr'ups, and Cypher in the Snow and toured with Sister Spit.

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