Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter/Spring 2014 issue

Our Winter/Spring issue, Volume 6.1, our 11th issue in all, is finally live!

It includes what I think are some awesome poems and stories, as well as reviews of two great new poetry books.  I also really love the cover art by Samy Sfoggia.

Check it out here:

http://www.melusine21cent.com/mag/node/377

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Re: The New Issue, Good News and Bad News

The good news:  Our Fall/Winter issue will not be coming out in May this year.  This is an improvement over last year!

The bad news:  The new issue is not out yet, as you may have noticed.  However...

... it will most likely be launching this month, probably around mid-month.  (January, not May.)  Our editor, who knows she needs to recruit an editorial staff, like yesterday, is adjusting to the time demands of motherhood, although she has another human being in need of mothering due to arrive in March.  That is one reason she has every intention of making sure the new issue launches before then!  Contributors should be hearing from her soon with their proofs.  Thanks again for your patience.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Raise for Women Challenge

Melusine readers, if you have the ability, please consider participating in The Raise for Women Challenge on crowdrise that is being sponsored by The Huffington Post, Skoll Foundation and the Half the Sky Movement.  (Half the Sky is a heartbreaking but beautiful film.)  There are a large number of fundraisers to choose from that are all very worthy and necessary.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And... It's Here!

Please welcome Melusine's latest edition, 5.1, Spring/Summer 2013:  http://www.melusine21cent.com/mag/node/357

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quick Update on New Issue With Revised ETA

Just checking in to say I finally got some serious work done on the much-belated formerly Fall/Winter, now Spring/Summer issue. I'll be contacting contributors with proofs in the next few days, and the issue will be launching this month. Again, thanks so much, readers and contributors, for your patience and support! I was inspired as I re-read the content of this issue and think it will be worth the wait.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Update/New Issue

Hi, all.  A little update.  In case you haven't been following on Facebook and Twitter, I should at least mention here that everything is a little behind schedule this year (even by my usual slightly-behind-schedule standards) due to the birth of my new baby girl in early September.  Wow, a baby takes a lot of one's time... who knew, huh?  But it's been a wonderful three months all the same.

I have a review or two I have been wanting to post here, but I think I will just include them in our upcoming Fall/Winter issue, since I hope to launch it by the end of the year.  That's the plan, anyway (insert note about new baby...)  The holidays can be hectic, but I hope to release a smaller-than-usual (let's call it "compact") issue by year's end.  Actually, I have been thinking about including reviews back in the issues again instead of here on the blog, so including them this time may be the beginning of a trend.  I may have some other plans for the blog, but I'll get to that once the issue is under way.  One thing at a time...

Hope your holidays are shaping up to be happy ones so far...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Karen An-hwei Lee's Phyla of Joy

Phyla of Joy
by Karen An-hwei Lee
Tupelo Press, 2011
Reviewed by Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom




Karen An-hwei Lee's third collection, Phyla of Joy, shines with poems of refined craft and subtle linguistic play.  Love of language, love of the divine and reverence for the embodied human feminine each together and in turn animate the delicate interior and closely magnified exterior landscapes of these poems.

Many of the poems include in their titles the words "Prayer," "Dream," "Meditation" or "Psalm."  In Lee's work, a dream, a prayer and a mediation are cut from the same cloth.  To wander the world with eyes and heart open to nature and to the divine is to meditate, to dream and to pray.

Sometimes, as in "Meditation on a Cenote," an observation leads to a small but profound self-discovery:  "Memory is a cenote or limestone pool/ where the moon's underground eye// confesses fawn-colored vapor/ or sublimates violet irises in a jar —/ the self's watery other, shyly adrift// as the body:  a cenotaph, water monument/ for the self who is missing elsewhere,/ empirical matter in a field of spirit."

"Preservation of Rare Languages" is a lamentation on the inevitable loss of once vibrant and dynamic tongues around the the world,  which women strive to keep alive by intergenerational transmission.

In "Faith By Hearing," she writes of "studying books by the light of fireflies,/ by ch'uang, the ideogram for window,/ source of fires paired and housed/ passed from woman to woman,/ inherited only from mothers,/ phosphorescent hum."

In Horses of Famine, Horses of War," a blind woman acts as a sort of oracle for a language that is as incomprehensible as the nature of life itself:

A blind woman considered the inverted thinness of cigarette paper, almost
fish skin or petal.  A man is passing on and no one knows his name.  Paper
with a name on it floats out of her hand.  A book is a closed green circle.  Or
a woman whose first name sounds like sycamore-fig whispered.  Or a book
is a shore.  It encircles hungry fish consuming these words.

As with the lyric entreaties of the old poet-mystics, language for Lee is an imperfect but necessary means of approaching the divine.  The answer to such entreaties is sometimes silence, at other times grace, as in "Psalm I":  ".... Young stars are only/ hundreds of millions of years old.  God turns on the light in her body,/ a soft lamp with a paper shade a mother uses while nursing her infant."

Later, "Psalm III" references the double helix of DNA in a stream-of-consciousness mediation on human nature:  ".... Open/ your eyes.  Double strands of inheritence.  Chirality.  Our nucleotides/ are right-handed optical isomers.  What is the probability of this in/ nature.  Why carry this urn of ash, yesterday's blindness.  An orphan in/ exile sketches a rose under a full moon...."

In the series of poems entitled "Selenographia," a woman's aging body is compared to the moon's surface.  In "Selenographia III," the narrator asks, "Is this the body observed without conjecture/ dripping on the smooth rim of her personal sea/ with whispering clocks of lunar craters/ formed long ago when the world was// a thread of light in the beginning?"

However, earlier, in "Invocation," a young girl's mother affirms the speaker in rejecting the objectification of her body in language, insisting on the girl's own fluid self-definition of her embodiment:

Your body is neither flora, fauna, nor brass.
You are not a mountain range.  Our voices,

ringing as one, are not the boat-laden rivers.
We are neither rain nor sorrow.  Speak.  I am 

my mother's daughter, four summers old.
I am a strong girl, fourteen summers.

Lee's  sense of the feminine is one of self-aware presence, as she hints in the opening poem, "Yingri":  "Inside me is a bridge, or the beams of a house" — maybe a bridge to the ineffable divine.

The "garden boat" she goes on to mention, atop "an old ground swell," could refer to language, the vehicle of transport between the two.