Belated Call for Submission

While studying toward my MA, I am doing assistant editor work for the University of Exeter postgraduate journal Exclamat!on. If you are a postgraduate & want to submit, the guidelines are below. You’ll need to be fast, so hopefully you have something hiding away in a folder somewhere. If you miss this round, keep us in mind for the next issue. Daniel.

Call for submissions 2019/20

Submissions are now being sought for the fourth issue of Exclamat!on, to be published in the summer of 2020. The focus for this fourth issue is ‘Borders, Boundaries, and Margins’, and we welcome submissions on any aspect and interpretation of this theme. Areas might include, but are not restricted to:

Borders of memoryThe frontier (land, sea, space)
Travel, exploration, mappingBoundaries between the real and imaginary
National identities and marginalisationSub-cultural margins
Disputation and reconciliationMarginalia in books
Diasporic literature and filmEthnicity, national and racial and boundaries
Migration in fictionBoundaries between life and death
Permeability of bodily boundaries (disability, relationships, body politics)Narratives of oppression, marginalisation and/or activism
Hybridity and duality (bodily, geographical, fictional)Topographical and political boundary formation/breakingPhysical and geographical boundaries/bordersCirculation of texts; censorship and suppression of movement    

We would be delighted to consider long articles (5,000-8,000 words), short articles (3,000-5,000 words), short stories (3,000-5,000 words), and poetry (up to 100 lines). We would also be delighted to receive book, film and performance reviews (c. 500 words).

Submission guidelines

All submissions must be the original, previously unpublished, work of the author and must adhere to the following:

  • All word limits must include footnotes and bibliography
  • Submissions must have permission for the use of images
  • References must use MHRA referencing: submissions which do not conform to this are unlikely to be accepted (http://www.mhra.org.uk/style)
  • Submissions should be in 12 point Times New Roman and single spaced
  • Submissions should use British spelling; alternative forms are permissible in direct quotations

Submissions, along with a 100-word biography, should be sent to exclamation@exeter.ac.uk. Please address any queries to this email address.

The deadline for submissions is 13th January 2020.

We are also keen to hear from anyone interested in acting as peer reviewer for the journal. Please email us at the above address with details regarding your discipline and specialism.

                                       
Read more at:

https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/english/research/publications/exclamation/

My Review of Polly Robert’s ‘Grieving with the Animals’ up at The High Window Press

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I just can’t seem to find the time despite a multitude of things I’d love to write & post, owing to my recent indulgence into an MA in English Literary Studies at Exeter University. My studies are mycorrhizally fruitful, bringing me up-to-yet uncharted insights. The future of this blog will no doubt benefit from them, eventually.

For now, & belatedly, I have a review I wrote & which I really should have posted 2 weeks ago when it was published by the amiable David Cooke, editor of The High Window. My thanks to him, as ever, for publishing this review. You’ll need to scroll a bit down the page, here: https://thehighwindowpress.com/2019/11/10/new-titles-from-against-the-grain-press-demspsey-and-windle-and-the-blue-nib/?fbclid=IwAR0InCoplz8jTu1q1aUCTz2Sp1qgjJnUpEGtI9EDCGitI2ccdcFgMCYD83s to find my review, but of course, take some time to read the others.

Here are the D & W page for Polly & her website: https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/polly-roberts.html https://pollyroberts.wordpress.com/

I have an essay on Willa Cather’s My Antonia, which, when I receive my mark, I will post. As a little insight, it regards the exchange (& my identification) of a desiccated mushroom, which I have linked to Americanization in the early 20th Century & Gift Exchange, as expressed by the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss.

Daniel

“Animals are in Communion” and other poems by Polly Roberts

I met Polly through friends, & being told she was a poet, meeting her I just got a good feeling she was legit; she sent me her latest book ‘Grieving with the Animals’ & reading just the first few pages I knew that my initial assumption was correct. Here is a body of poems, authentic in their tone of feeling, pressing in their effect & imperative as an annex to the growing oeuvre of Anthropocene poetry.
In October a review I wrote for The High Window will be published, so I am glad you can get a window into the poems before then through Chris Murray’s inimitable Poet Head. Enjoy.

Poethead

Animals are in Communion

I came home

to find him

doing nothing.

Limp armed.

Could do nothing.

Sat on the sofa

lost to the world.

I have some bad news

I’ve been seeing ghosts. Birds on water.

The day before I received the news, two swans flew low over my head. Their wings thrummed
like a helicopter.
Eyes turned to watch the rescue vehicle, and instead saw white bellies.
The sound travelled, nothing like their usual flapping, as they soared over and onto water.

Returning to my boat, a shadow shifted on the river bank. A furry creature – small, sleek – edged
its way through the grass, took a moment to drink, then slop, slipped in.

Animals are in communion for you.

As are we,

nosing each other’s armpits

as we bed in

for warm companionship.

Because you went cold.

Though the civility of civilisation frightens me, I visit…

View original post 207 more words

Machine Learning

  I
 
A machine enters the forest.
The trees, the endorphined air as well as the birds’ circumspection
 
play dead.
 
Until they start intuiting the machine’s curiosity, its
authentic verisimilitude, its making note,
they will not dare resume as usual. 
 
Resigned to it being, in their midst.
 
They reorient, relate-to the significant
cause, toward the artificial, a made enormity
 
—a magnet in the eye, beholding
: the birds gravitate to it like migration.
 
II
 
The machine, discovers a memorial
to someone’s relative, arranged at the foot of a pine tree, is
attracted to it, finding itself in it somewhere
: battery operated lanterns with PIR sensors that pick
up the footsteps of the dead trudging the night, discovering
their memorial, the bits of coloured ribbon, a drinking cup
with a butterfly decorating the lip, ceramic figurines &
a perimeter of smooth white stones with a circumference of white fence
: hallowed ground made out of love, satisfied with longevity.
 
The relatives should never come here.
 
The machine will return each night
attracted by the 3W ampoule of electricity, vestige
of day—pulled energy like pulled teeth.
 
It will learn its own becoming. 

The cannibalism of the matter

An object oriented poem with a little savoury biology.

 
We eat, mashing the meat of the matter
with calcium evolved enough to cope with it.
Flesh of its flesh become flesh of our flesh.
Nothing, not even death can be inert.
The meat of it never thought, despite
the organisms nattering via calendar
& root, sparked by chemical, the vital, secret push.
One process sustaining the lung’s mood.
 
Who would have guessed ideas need
the nourishment that comes from edibles?
There isn’t just an it behind
the thing imbibed with taste, nor its minor aroma.
It is an active stuff: an agent in a poem.
Stuff: carrot: soil: microbe: weather: farm
: town: trade: money: sight: touch: smell…
We see, touch, smell & meet each other become.
 
You rip a thing limb from its limb;
their metempsychosis: to be one crowd;
a left alone leitmotif, lip reading sound.
To host & to be hosted by a crumb
of thing, in short supply & long demand
as they eat away at one another in a glue
of time I cannot stop; it sticks with you.
When we finally part, there’ll be no time. 
 

A little bit about Yoon Yong

It has taken me longer to get this done than I promised. I started writing it just before I was due to move to Exeter. I am beginning to settle in here. But Jeju & Korea are never far from my thoughts.

Genesis

Yoon Yong as both hero & poem germinated together. I had read Trevor Joyce’s The Immediate Future published online at Smithereens Press & though it has nothing much in common with Yoon Yong it burrowed the nascent idea to write a narrative poem.

The poem was to be unbroken originally, heavily abstracted & more suggestive of a clear plot than acute enough to actually have one. I recoiled from this. Yoon Yong was persuasive, she wanted to be rendered.

My initial conception had begun from a lack of intrepidity. I was & remained & still am concerned that this could all be misconstrued by the current climate of criticism toward the stale pale male. But writing is about a certain willingness to challenge yourself. In tandem with this, I had direct experience of not only Jeju, but also of Korean women married to English men: I was in such a marriage & it was going badly.

Yoon Yong is not my wife & I am not the belittled husband. The characters are completely fictional. But the loss of identity that Yoon Yong is struggling to get a handle on, is not. It was something I felt as someone who was speaking less English. My wife & I did not know each other’s language to a refined enough standard that there was absolute understanding between us. This created tension. So the germination of Yoon Yong’s identity crisis was a fictional realization of my own & my wife’s communicative struggle taken further. There are plenty of Westerners in relationships with Koreans who speak hardly a word of Korean & make a poor effort to familiarize themselves, or make a gestured attempt at understanding their partner’s culture. Too many Westerners in such relationships are prone to assume the superiority of their culture because of its standing in the world. Cultures are different & familiarization breeds understanding & understanding breeds acceptance. It isn’t always easy, but it is simply arrogant to assume superiority. Regardless of efforts to familiarize yourselves with each other, cultural barriers do assert their effects on the relationship. There need be extra vigilance & acceptance, & a certain amount of letting things slide, if such a relationship is to succeed.

Yoon Yong is complex, in large part because of her Westernization. Through the prism of her identity crisis, we find her using westernized habits of behavior, but using them to criticize the west, which is an irony caused by the replacement (or temporary exchange) of one cultural characteristic for another, more recently conditioned characteristic: she complains, which is not what I’d consider a Korean attitude; Koreans tend to keep shtum about anything worth complaining about, rather opting to do something productive. In the opening poem, Yoon Yong exemplifies this critical attitude:

Nor fall in line with the cultural stereotype like
young couples taking in-flight selfies | nuzzled

in the crease of one another’s elbows | dressed
in couple-clothes & silly hats—they look inter-bred |

arms numb with romance.

My ex-wife would not see any point in criticizing people for something this shallow. But by thinking this way, Yoon Yong becomes an individual, her isolation from both cultures comes into focus.

Why I didn’t use my own marriage, was owing to it not being challenging enough, moreover it felt impossible to make it interesting. By weaving the fictional with the experiential, I could materialize a much more coherent & cogent world.

Fictional poems using the individual poem to develop a narrative have always grabbed my attention. John Berryman’s Dream Songs are ever present, & ever pressing on me as an influence, an anxiety-of. But I am under no illusion where I am as a poet, career-wise.

In addition to Berryman, Roethke’s Meditations of an Old Woman is something of a precursor, if loosely. 

Who is Yoon Yong?

The name Yoon Yong is simply one of my favourite Korean names. I have only met one woman with this name. Each character when written is almost a mirror of the other (윤용) but the mirroring is thrown by the ㄴ swapped for ㅇ. This is symbolic of her relationship with her husband & her culture(s)—she is so near to being balanced but that slight hitch is enough to discombobulate the balance: it has aural similitude to yin yang. In Marriage is crap Yoon Yong explains:


He still can't say my name correctly | (is that it?)
pronounces it | ironically as Yin Yang—how does he

 continually mistake the ‘i’ with ‘oo’ | which makes
 a deep ‘you’ sound—the ‘a’ with diphthong ‘eo’.
  
 He is an idiot of the rarest sort.
 It is panic at being confronted with alien
  
 forces beyond his control. I gave up on him getting
 it right | he calls me by my English (slave | lol) name
  
 Rose | which sounds ridiculous…
 I know the way out of a rose…
 

Her explanation of how to pronounce her name reveals a deep rooted, subconscious issue with “you”, an incongruity in not just his being taken out his cultural comfort-zone, but with her blind reluctance to sympathize with him; she knows well enough the difficulty of adjusting to new environments as we discover in Homesickness in Birmingham where the husband’s action of making her a pot noodle is both a foreshadowing of their strained relationship & also comfort to her. So the problem is established as each other: “you”. This is hyperbolically analogized as a slave name, which even Yoon Yong in her ire, realizes is “lol”.

The final line adds to the irony if the rose is a metonym for Englishness. She thinks she knows the way out, but her conflict suggests otherwise. The line is taken from Roethke’s Her Becoming, part of Meditations of an Old Woman. Where the rose is obviously seen as a labyrinth out of the subterranean depths of consciousness.

Language is a key element to understanding Yoon Yong. It is both her success in utilizing it & her failure to use it for the purposes she would prefer to use it for, which hint at her dissatisfaction. Yoon Yong’s precursor is Kim Seung-hee, a poet who writes about being a domesticated woman in patriarchal Korea. She writes poems on domestic boredom, children, pregnancy, films, dream, body, & all in a muscular, idiosyncratic style. Only Kim Seung-hee could be Yoon Yong’s precursor. It is her struggle & accepted failure to be a translator of Seung-hee that destabilizes her intentions & her confidence. There would be meaning to her existence if she were able to do this, so we must not be fooled by her examination of poet & translator in the poem There’s no need to be a poet (time is forgotten):

  It’s probably for the best I never became a poet
 or translator: a poet has the anxiety to write
  
 something new |to transmute so much mundanity
 into a coagulation of symbols that raises bpm
  
 —else they must make a life busy with happenings |
 dilemmas & so much heart ache & madness.
  
 The translator must be at the beck n’ call
 of this poet of happenings this force of nature
  
 prone to the altercations of time & the motions
 of weather with such acuity it makes my cells itch.
  
 & isn’t the outcome of the translator |jealousy?
 No permit by the public to be reckless & intense.
  
 The poet gets to be the eyes of God.
 The lodestone of the universe.
  
 The precious birth of atoms damming space & time.
 There’s no need for me to be a poet.
  
 I need to be plain & pleased
 with the me that I am. If I’m not what then…?
 



At the point where “time is forgotten” Yoon Yong makes an effort to forget her anxiety of influence. In the following poem More insight we find Yoon Yong in a laconic mood, where “There is so little effort needed to be alive | it’s mostly automated”.  Her insights on the poet & translator, encourage her to a state of “plain & pleased”, which turns out to be too direct, leading to dull, repetitious, just-being-sterility. But in almost the same lung of air, she hastens back into her critical habit: “Most people are still animals. Aren’t we beyond that? / “Man is not a beast” (thanks Kim Chi-ha). / Why does low intelligence equate to lower entropy?” Quoting Kim Chi-ha, she quotes a poet who was imprisoned for speaking out against the government of Park Chung-hee, Park Geun-hye’s father (note that Yoon Yong marched against Park Geun-hye in the December marches & was successful where Kim Chi-ha was imprisoned, perhaps she has taken for granted her power to alter fate).
  
Narrative Structure
 
I wince, but Yoon Yong is, at a structural level, a travel poem. The decision for this narrative structure was a simple one, if you understand who visits the island, & for how long. Koreans rarely spend more than a couple of days touring Jeju, as it is less than an hour’s flight from Seoul Gimpo Airport, & ticket prices aren’t exorbitant. Out of season, hire cars are relatively cheap, as is accommodation. The place became a vehicle for the passage of time, thus the narrative structure.
Using the sub-title enabled me to dissolve the time as Yoon Yong became more detached from her Seoul-life. Thus the passage of time moves from precision, to inexact, to not even thought about.
I have written many poems in Jeju about Jeju & my will to show the island through poetry would still not dissolve when it came to writing Yoon Yong. It is crammed with atmosphere. It really is an ideal place for a contemporary fiction on the dark night of the soul.
The poem is an invitation to a place. A place fraught with tension between an indigenous populace (of sorts) & an El-Dorado for mainlanders to get rich & most importantly, escape Seoul. For tourists Jeju is freedom from city landscapes. It is an unfamiliar landscape, with its foundation of scoria, its temperate & almost tropical climate in the summer & its white sand beaches & turquoise ocean, offer a taste of paradise—a paradise seen on digital billboards in the subterranean depths of the Seoul Metro.
I would often see women travelling alone in Jeju. Some were very young, perhaps testing the waters of independence, seeing how they’d get along with only themselves for company. It was a no brainer to have Yoon Yong alone, in an environment that symbolized freedom. The poem became a single soliloquy. But what is interesting about Jeju is that it is Korea, so Yoon Yong becomes a tourist in her own country (essentially) & so we have another contextual device alluding to her identity crisis.  
 
Why Yoon Yong will not be resurrected
 
Yoon Yong is a series & I do not see it as essential, nor am I curious to take her further than where I have gone. Yoon Yong had to break out of the loop she was caught in. She has. The weather of her psyche materialized actually & helped her make the decision she needed to make. You can assume Yoon Yong made the right decision. Leave it at that. The loss of her ring is the clearly symbolic sign she needed, which in collusion with her 2 days of dreaming & seeing, is not something to ignore. I leave to the reader to envisage Yoon Yong’s future.
Though Yoon Yong is done for me, the narrative poem isn’t. I wrote Yoon Yong without access to books. I had little for intellectual stimulus other than what I could forage from my reaction to my own imagination coupled & massaged by my experiences. With access to a larger pond of ideas, I am certain I can construct a not necessarily more complex, but certainly a different & potentially better informed characterization.
I am currently working into notes another Korean character, this time a young man, early twenties, who is very sensitive. He is not very good at making money. He is estranged from the particularities of the orthodox Korean manner. A photographer who is trying to evade his military service. His name is Pureum, which has an interesting meaning. Pureum, is the feeling you have when you are looking at a turquoise ocean, or a blue sky, or even an emerald. It isn’t the colour but the feeling toward the colour. Pureum is based on a young lad who worked for me in Korea. He is a friend of mine & I think his story, fictionalized, will provide me with ample material to write another series.
Despite a non-fiction foundation, the poem about Pureum will be a fiction. To write a fiction is not to lie. Terry Eagleton in How to Read a Poem explains that “to fictionalize, then, is to detach a piece of writing from its immediate, empirical context and put it to wider uses.” Bearing this in mind, if I write the truth it is biography, which would make it difficult to put signifiers to symbolic use, which provides the poet with opportunities to make the poem ambivalent, ambiguous, more literary, in short; the poem chews off more than it can bite. “Fiction instructs us in what we are to do with texts, not in how true or false they are.” Just because I fictionalize a person I know, does not mean the poem is full of lies. The poem will still  get something done, it may even, were the real Pureum to read it, reflect his character in a truthful way he recognizes, & if not, it may be that it provides a spur for him to reassess, or simply assess, the characteristics of the fictionalized Pureum in relation to what he understands about himself. As Shenandoah Fish considers in Delmore Schwartz’s story America! America! we cannot know ourselves accurately unless we add to this how everyone we know perceives us.
 
Due to the volume of interesting people I became acquainted with in Korea, it isn’t out of the question for me to write a number of these narrative poems. Here’s to hoping.

The weather keeps her

This is the final Yoon Yong poem. I am in the process of writing a proper analysis/epilogue about the poem, as requested by a couple of loyal readers. I hope to have it done by next week.

Thank you for reading these poems. If anyone who would like these poems sent to them as a whole, email me at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com & I’ll sort this out for you.

 The weather keeps her 
 
…As the clouds tear open like a nail ripping open a vinyl-house
the rain in sheets colour the landscape grey
 
—graphite thatching in the sketches Sarang makes.
Quickly the fields flood | biblical waters spewing onto the road
 
—from nowhere a mudslide crashes through a wall
colliding with her flank flipping the car into a farm’s culvert.
 
She recovers herself | wipes blood from her lip
& manages to wriggle free of her seat belt
 
stumbling into the knee deep mud | the reservoir of debris
that was the road—her hands cushioning her body's collision
 
with the mud which without her knowing | steals her wedding ring |
she is stranded
 
                          — why do I feel so free?...
                          

Considering a line by Kim Seung-hee

It is worth remarking that “mense” is a shortening of menstruation, which I have heard Korean women, my ex-wife especially, say; however, I cannot further elucidate the reason, but can only speculate, if this is because menstruation is a difficult word, or if the shortening has become shorthand Konglish, thus the source becoming lost the molasses of cross-cultural slang. My ex-wife would refer to the dog being “on her mense.”

Kim Seung-hee is one of the finest poets ever & everyone should rummage her poetry from somewhere & read it.

 Considering a line by Kim Seung-hee
 
…“The world of propriety properly exists”
except for me & Seung-hee.
                                
I’d put a blowtorch to nature.
“You can’t spell immense without ‘men’.” Fuck off.
 
You can’t spell it without mense too.  
But how best to translate “dangyeon” in this context
 
: propriety | naturalness | rightness | common sense | a matter of course?
It is more felt than describable—utterly personal.
 
“On the final night I saw a firefly exit the darkness”
is all I will say | the rest will be kept secret |
 
especially the… syncopated
squeak from somewhere in the dark vegetation |
 
the coarse whine of a puppy tied to a wall 
& the wind fidgeting in tightly zipped spaces
            
—then late sunlight like a genuflect hyphen | hurried clouds | blue | terrific
& the dreams that kept me awake…

Napping on a sea wall after midnight

Yoon Yong dreams.

Napping on a sea wall after midnight
 
…She steals a trampoline from a trim backyard
—carries it on her back | over
 
the spinal cord of the Taebaek mountain range
to the edge of the world (all signposted)
 
—looks out on a sea of shadows
teasing her vulnerabilities into fear
 
the like of which no one has ever known.
She wants to report it to the world | there is a “suggestions” box |
 
she brought herself to the brink
of what she can endure
 
—to tease fear out of life & life out of fear
in her own tense…

Drinking to forget again (nearly home time)

Yoon Yong is drunk again.

Drinking to forget again (nearly home time)
 
…3 bottles of Soju later & staggering thoughtfully
through tight gullies | her stomach
 
packed full of pig | mouth reeking of garlic
noxious enough to stun a jindo—the stars like pheasant tracks
 
—if you count all the stars is that how old the universe is?
like counting tree rings to know the age of a tree.
 
What bollocks I think up sometimes!
The old houses shake under the wind’s saline weight |
 
a commotion of thin voices she can hear inside
as well as the clatter of dishes
 
—the noise of domesticity
reminding her to give her daughter a call.
 
There is no answer—she is probably sleeping.
She wants to punch the air
 
but realizes how juvenile & cliché it is |
she wants to box the moon | debate
 
with wind | dress in shadow drunken
on gloom to stir the poetic | rather
 
than parrot a language I hate.
“Rest | tomorrow is a big | new day…”