Category Archives: Authors

2019 Year of Authors: 11 – 15 Feb

In honour of Pulp Literature Press’s fifth anniversary and of all the people who have contributed to our success we have declared 2019 our Year of Authors, celebrating the amazing artists and authors from the first twenty issues of Pulp Literature.

Every weekday we are featuring one of these creators on our Facebook page, and the issues that person contributed to will be on sale for a whopping 50% off.  Make a note of the authors and artists you’re following and jump on these deals.  Some print issues are rare and getting scarcer, so nab them while you still can!

Here’s our line-up for the sixth week …

11th February – 15th February 2019

Monday: Britt-Lise Newstead, Issue 10 & 17

Britt-Lise Newstead is a storyboard artist, concept artist, and illustrator based in Halifax. She has been part of the video game industry since 2009, and the animation industry since 2015, though her interests are numerous and never satiated. Two of her pieces, ‘She Doesn’t Know She’s Small’ and ‘The Patron Saint of the Inevitable Death of the Universe’, grace Issues 10 and 17, respectively.
Issue 10 small

Tuesday: Carol Berg, Issue 10

Former software engineer Carol Berg didn’t believe she could write one novel, never mind fifteen epic fantasies, never mind win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. She was Issue 10‘s featured author, and the first book in her next series is due out this year. Be sure to catch her at Norwestcon 42 this April!

Issue 10 small

Wednesday: Carolyn Oliver, Issue 13

A graduate of The Ohio State University and Boston University, Carolyn Oliver lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Slush Pile Magazine, Midway Journal, matchbook, and Constellations, among others. Carolyn’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Discover why all fairytales follow a common theme in her short story, ‘The Green Thread and the Blue’, in Issue 13.

Thursday: CC Humphreys, Issue 1 & 14

Footloose?He’s an actor, playwright, and fight choreographer. Oh, he’s also an award-winning novelist.  CC Humphreys is the distinguished 1st Issue feature author, appearing again in Issue 14. He’s a chimaera, like so many of our authors — and professional in every field (if his 16 published books and plethora of acting credits are anything to go by).

     

Friday: Charity Tahmaseb, Issue 15 & 19

Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She’s worn both Girl Scout and Army green. These days, she writes fiction and works as a technical writer in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her short fiction credits include stories in Deep MagicEscape Pod, Cicada, and Pulp Literature. She’s been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize Award, and her first novel (The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading) was a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick in the Get Your Geek On category. Her work consistently impresses in our writing contests, and can be read in Issue 15 & Issue 19.

ADVENT has launched!





It’s a new year and we’re amping up our productivity with five new novels set for release in 2019! First among these is Advent by Michael Kamakana. We’ve been teasing our readers with this release for quite some time, but the day has finally come… Advent is now available for purchase on our website and Amazon!

In honour of this momentous occasion, and to get a feel for the author and the novel, here’s an interview with Michael Kamakana, originally published along side an excerpt of the novel in Issue 19.

Feature Interview

Michael Kamakana

Pulp Literature: What drew you to writing science fiction in the first place?
Michael Kamakana: I read SF as a youth—award winners, names like Clarke, Le Guin, Dick, Lem. I admired scientists like my father. I knew I myself would not be a scientist as my
interest in math and physics was… time to sleep. I was interested in fantastic escape that I could imagine possible.

PL: What titles and authors inspired you in the early days?
MK: Fountains of Paradise by Clarke, then Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin, then The Man in the High Castle by Dick, then Neuromancer by Gibson, then The Snow Queen by de Vinge. First non-SFwould be The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, then Spring Snow by Mishima, then In the Labyrinth by Robbe-Grillet, then The Name of the Rose by Eco, then If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Calvino, then The Woman in the Dunes
by Kobo Abe, then…

PL: What kind of philosophy books do you read?
MK: I read almost entirely ‘continental’ philosophers of the 20th Century. My favourites at the moment are Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze.

PL: You and your protagonist both survive a coma. How does your experience with trauma influence your storytelling?
MK: I always feel that when I truly understand any teaching or experience is when I can write a definitive story inspired by it. For now I keep writing, I keep hoping that someday I will understand the coma.

PL: You call the stories ‘essays.’ Why is that? Do you feel that each section is a separate topic?
MK: Well, the ‘reset’ and ‘reserve’ sections came first, and I was inspired by Munif’s ‘Endings’ to use the collective pronouns of ‘we’ and ‘they.’ Gradually both collapsing into ‘some people’, they have generalized, removed, clinical renderings of the times, not much identifiable personal psychology. I think ‘essays’ could be thought ‘fictions’ like Jorge Luis Borges.

PL: You’re a prolific writer. Do you work on more than one novel at a time?
MK: Actually I have about seven works at various stages and interest, with more ideas percolating.

PL: Did you spend time in Hawai’i as a child? How has this affected the
point of view of the narrator of your novel?
MK: I went to the islands about every winter as a child. We lived on the windward side of Oahu for a year in high school, and Father was working at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. I still go every February to my mom’s hometown, Waimea, on the island of Kaua’i. I can pronounce words in Hawai’ian but cannot converse. I guess I am multicultural as my background is usually one of the first things to learn about me. But I am fortunate that in Canada I look mostly like a dark white guy, whereas in Hawai’i most people recognize me as part Hawai’ian. So, I have never faced much racism here in Canada. I always identified with the ‘Indians’ in Westerns, with indigenous peoples anywhere. And this work was inspired by reading Red Gold by Hemming, which recounts what happened when the Spanish and Portuguese contacted Brazilian indigenes. I just decided to reverse polarities and think of us humans as the technologically primitive and the aliens as the invaders.

Only the start is set in Hawai’i. Most of the essays are not localized as generic North American. The biographical passages are many places. As a beginning, I remember the fear of nuclear war coming to end everything on a beautiful day in Waimea, so this Advent is a different end of the world.

PL: Did you always want to be a writer?
MK:I knew I was going to be an artist of some sort, only gradually did I realize it was going to be writing. Father’s elder sister is an author, Father’s younger sister was a visual artist, so this has always been possible, valued, and I suppose reading the first story in my aunt’s first collection clarified my desires to do narrative prose. On the other, I have for many years avoided using my family as material because that had upset Father early on in his sister’s work.

PL: Do you have any hopes that Advent will change the way people think about
their lives, about aliens, about our many assumptions?
MK: I hope readers are entertained, are even just momentarily inspired to see themselves and all other humans from an ironic perspective, an existential and historical attitude.

PL: Did the process of writing Advent change the way you felt about yourself
as a coma survivor?
MK: Actually the change developed during the writing: I knew the biographical sections would come down to ‘he’ then ‘I’, but only discovered what the aliens want at about the same time I wrote it. I have always had high expectations of myself and limited beliefs in myself, so I am first happy it will be published, then reconciled somewhat to the losses of the coma. Basically, like the aliens decide: I do not know what I would be if not an author.

Get Advent on sale till February 15th and be among the first to read this stunning debut novel.

 

2019 Year of Authors: 4 – 8 Feb

In honour of Pulp Literature Press’s fifth anniversary and of all the people who have contributed to our success we have declared 2019 our Year of Authors, celebrating the amazing artists and authors from the first twenty issues of Pulp Literature.

Every weekday we are featuring one of these creators on our Facebook page, and the issues that person contributed to will be on sale for a whopping 50% off.  Make a note of the authors and artists you’re following and jump on these deals.  Some print issues are rare and getting scarcer, so nab them while you still can!

Here’s our line-up for the fifth week …

4th February – 8th February 2019

Monday: Beverley Boissery, Issue 1

Transplanted from Australia to Vancouver, BC, Beverley Boissery was slated as an up and comer by the Surrey International Writer’s Conference back in 2006 (and they do know how to pick ’em!). She usually writes young adult novels, but in Issue 1, she gives us a taste of her poetic prowess with ‘Encompassed’.

Tuesday: Bevan Thomas, Issue 12

Bevan is a prominent member of Cloudscape Comics and has contributed to many of their graphic novel anthologies as a writer and editor. He doesn’t restrict himself to any one medium or genre, and practices the art of world building through a variety of formats. He collaborated with Eric Johnson for Issue 12’s graphic short, ‘Curse of the Woods’.

     

Wednesday: Bob Thurber, Issue 3, 6, & 12

The name Bob Thurber should be familiar to you, whether it’s because you’ve been following his award-winning writing career for some time now, or you see his name pop up as the judge in our annual flash fiction contests. Renowned for his very brief stories, Bob has been called a master of Micro Fiction and a pioneer of Flash Fiction. His story, ‘The Summer of Sweet Mary (circa 1972)’, won the 2018 Story of the Year Award from 50-Word Stories. Bob’s work appears in Issues 3 & 6, and he dishes up a tension loaded tale as Issue 12’s feature author.

Thursday: Brandon Crilly, Issue 16

Educator and self-described ‘writer for life’, Brandon Crilly has been previously published by On Spec, The 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, Third Flatiron Anthologies and other markets. He received an Honourable Mention in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards, contributes regularly to BlackGate.com, and develops programming for Can-Con in Ottawa.

       

Friday: Brenda Carre, Issue 15

Another educator, and artist to boot! Brenda Carre writes long and short fiction with a dark, mythic twist—stories often set in locations near her home on Vancouver Island or in the Chronicles of Ardebrin, the epic fantasy series she is currently crafting. Brenda’s short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, as well as anthologies from Fiction River and Ragnarok Press. Her piece in Issue 15 introduced the titular heroine of her upcoming novel set in Ardebrin: Gret.

     

2019 Year of Authors: 21 – 25 Jan





As we continue our Year of Authors, celebrating the amazing artists and authors from the first twenty issues of Pulp Literature, we enter a week of four Angelas and an Anna!

21st – 25th January 2019

Monday: Angela Caravan, Issue 20

Angela Caravan writes poetry and fiction. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with a boy and a man and sometimes has trouble telling the difference between the two.  You can find some of her recent writing in Longleaf Review and Reel Honey Mag.

Tuesday: Angela Melick, Issue 1

Angela, aka ‘Jam’ is an engineer who draws comics at night.  She lives in Vancouver BC with Trevor, who is a fish. She has no cats … yet.  She likes skiing and cycling, coffee and pancakes, manga and physics.  She hates squirrels and puddles, mean people and loud noises.  She chronicles her life in webcomic version at wastedtalent.ca.  “The Mechanics” orginally appeared in Exploded View (Cloudscape Comics, 2010).

Wednesday: Angela Post, Issue 15

‘Sourdough’ was the runner-up in the 2016 Surrey International Writers’ Conference Storyteller’s Award, judged by Jack Whyte and Diana Gabaldon.  Angela Post was born in the Yukon and grew up with her Brazilian mother and Latvian father in a mining town inhabited by about 500 people. She writes young adult and children’s books when not working as a psychologist.  During her lunch-time walks around SFU, the character of the mountain-dwelling prospector, or ‘sourdough’, began dogging her steps until she wrote about him. You can follow Angela on twitter @angspost.

Thursday: Angela Rebrec, Issue 18

Angela Rebrec is a writer, singer, graphic artist, and mother who works as a longshoreman to help fund her many passions.  Her writing has appeared most recently in Prairie Fire, Grain, The Antigonish Review, and PRISM International’s Creative Nonfiction Contest.  She is the managing editor of pulp mag, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s magazine of literature and fine art, and facilitates writing workshops with elementary-aged children as well.  Angela lives with her husband and three children in Delta on unceded Coast Salish lands. Her poem ‘On a Dark Lake’s Edge’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry.

Friday: Anna Belkine, Issues 6 & 13

Anna Belkine is a data analyst, living in California. She writes during those powerful moments of creative inspiration that occur when both of her kids are asleep at the same time. Her  flash fiction story, ‘The Ravens’ came out in Pulp Literature Issue 6, Spring 2015, and ‘You Better Watch Out’ was a Christmas Horror piece appearing in Issue 13, Winter 2017.

2019 Year of Authors: 14 – 18 Jan





In honour of Pulp Literature Press’s fifth anniversary and of all the people who have contributed to our success we have declared 2019 our Year of Authors, celebrating the amazing artists and authors from the first twenty issues of Pulp Literature.

Every weekday we are featuring one of these creators on our Facebook page, and the issues that person contributed to will be on sale for a whopping 50% off.  Make a note of the authors and artists you’re following and jump on these deals.  Some print issues are rare and getting scarcer, so nab them while you still can!

Here’s our line-up for the second week …

14th – 18th January 2019

Monday: Alex Reece Abbott, Issues 19 & 20

Alex Reece Abbott has consistently impressed in Pulp Literature’s short fiction contests. She’s an award-winning emerging writer working across genres, forms, and hemispheres. Follow her on Twitter @AlexReeceAbbott.

       

Tuesday: Alexis A. Hunter, Issue 12

Speculative fiction author Alexis A. Hunter has over 50 short story publications to her name through Shimmer, Apex, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, and more.

Wednesday: Amy Fant , Issue 11

Amy Fant’s work has appeared in Driftwood Press, Weave, Nashville Review, Fiction Southeast, and Kentucky Review, among others. She’s originally from South Carolina and finished her MFA at Emerson College in Boston. After a whirlwind adventure in South Africa, Amy is putting her writing talent to good use as a lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University. Her short story, ‘Babies for Sale’, appeared in Issue 11.

Thursday: Anat Rabkin, Issues 9, 1317

Anat is a Vancouver-based artist and writer aspiring to tell stories that make you feel. As multi-talented as they come, Anat is a serial Pulp Literature contributor. Two of her short comics have appeared in Pulp Literature: ‘Forbidden Fruit’ in Issue 9, and ‘It Rained Then, Too’ in Issue 13. Her short story, ‘For the Love of Grey’, appeared in Issue 17. Follow her on Twitter @Kissless to keep up with her comic, Seraphim.

      

Friday: Andrea Lewis, Issue 10

Andrea Lewis writes short stories, essays, and prose poems from her home on Vashon Island, Washington. Her flash fiction piece, ‘Vellum’, was published in Issue 10 and will transform your understanding of what a sentence can be. To read more of her work, visit andrealewis.org.

Issue 10 small

 

2019 Year of Authors: 7 – 11 Jan





Five years ago, we released our very first issue of Pulp Literature magazine.  It has been an amazing journey, made possible by the incredible talent of the writers and artists who are part of our Pulp Literature family.

In honour of our anniversary, and of all the people who have contributed to our success, 2019 will be our Year of Authors, celebrating the amazing artists and authors from the first twenty issues of Pulp Literature.

Every weekday we’ll feature one of these creators on our Facebook page, and the issues that person contributed to will be on sale for a whopping 50% off.  Make a note of the authors and artists you’re following and jump on these deals.  Some print issues are rare and getting scarcer, so nab them while you still can!

Here’s our line-up for the first week …

7th – 11th January 2019

Monday: Ace Baker, Issues 4 & 8

Kicking of our Year of Authors we have, entering the ring, local champion writer Ace Baker. Winner of the inaugural Magpie Award for Poetry in 2014 and first runner up in 2015, he is also author of ‘Victory Girl’ which won the SiWC Storyteller’s Award and was published in Pulp Literature Issue 4.

   

Tuesday: A.M. Soto, Issues 10 & 15

Image result for ada maria sotoAda Maria Soto is a New Zealand based Mexican-American expat. She is a mother, writer, cook, knitter, and sports fan. She can be found at adamariasoto.com.  Her poems were shortlisted for the Magpie Award in 2014 and 2015, and her short story ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ appeared in Pulp Literature Issue 15.

Issue 10 small   

Wednesday: Adam Golub, Issue 15

Image result for adam golubAdam Golub is an American Studies professor who teaches courses on literature, childhood, popular culture, and monsters at California State University, Fullerton.  His stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, 101 Fiction, The Sirens Call, and Winamop, and he is co-editor of Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us.  ‘The Pool Guy’ was Brenda Carre’s choice as first runner up in our 2016 Raven Short Story Contest and earned honourable mention in the 38th New Millennium Writings Award for Fiction. Adam lives in Fullerton, CA.

Thursday: AJ Odasso, Issues 17 & 18

Image result for aj odassoAJ Odasso is the author of three award-nominated poetry collections (Lost Books, The Dishonesty of Dreams, Things Being What They Are) as well as a handful of short stories.  She serves as Senior Poetry Editor at Strange Horizons magazine.  You can find her at twitter.com/ajodasso.  Her steampunk story ‘We Come Back Different’ appeared in two parts in Pulp Literature Issues 17 & 18.

   

Friday: Akem, Issues 16 & 18

Image result for akemi artAkem forgot she was an illustrator and writer for a few years and is making up for lost time. Her first picture book, a myth about before we were born, is in progress. Her painting Seabus was the cover for Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017, and Windseeker graced the cover of Issue 18, Spring 2018.  You can find more of her fantasy illustrations at akemiart.ca.

   

Happy New Year from Pulp Literature!

Blast from the past … the founding editors and a surprise guest at our very first launch party!

Poetry Review: Trailer Park Elegy





Trailer Park Elegy, by Cornelia Hoogland

Image result for trailer park elegyReview by Emily Osborne

The last words of William Grootendorst, spoken to the stranger who came to his aid after his truck slipped on black ice, were “thank you.” William’s sister, poet Cornelia Hoogland, weaves these last words into Trailer Park Elegy (Harbour Publishing, 2017), a long-form verse meditation on the panorama of grief experienced in William’s absence. “Thank you” becomes one of many verbal leitmotifs that furbish Hoogland’s dynamic and deeply-moving verse, which reminds its readers with recurring sharpness that:

What is spoken

is spoken on the exiting

breath. Our meanings,

an entire life’s meaning,

Thank you,

can ride the exhale.

These lines manifest traits characteristic of Hoogland’s verse: powers of observation about the quotidian, empathy, generosity, and the interplay of conflicting realities. Throughout this long poem, grief is seen in the tension between sound and silence, motion and stasis, and in the existence or permeability of membranes between the living and the dead. These membranes can be as treacherous as black ice, or as impassive as the framed picture through which a mother converses with her dead son.

Trailer Park Elegy is Hoogland’s seventh full-length collection of poetry, and was shortlisted for the Raymond Souster Award. As a long-poem elegy, it reflects a tradition of notable works such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H, Peter Sacks’ Natal Command, Douglas Dunn’s Elegiesand Mary Jo Bang’s Elegy. Elegy is difficult to define as a genre, encompassing registers of content, style and tone. Where elegy is concerned with death or loss, it often pits the personal against the cosmic, and shows a speaker or protagonist grappling with manifold concepts in search of “consolation.” Trailer Park Elegyobserves such generic expectations, connecting the personal grief experienced by William’s family to a range of impersonal phenomena, including geology, dark matter, chaos theory, atmospheric conditions, and noise pollution. The narrative is nonlinear, tracking William’s and Cornelia’s lives from childhood onwards, and creating a book that repeatedly asks us to look again, to reread in light of new discoveries.

Our introduction to William’s own voice occurs when he calls from rehab, at a moment suggestive of both triumph and tragedy. He begins with “Hey”, and ends with “No, wait, it gets better.” Dramatic irony is here used artfully: while readers know of the tragedy to come, we are drawn in to learn about William’s life and experience the cathartic beauty of knowing him. The monosyllabic negation “No” becomes another sonic leitmotif in Trailer Park Elegy, resisting the search for consolation. “No” is the sound that “erupts from my tea thermos/ when I loosen the stopper.” At funerals the author witnessed as a child, there is a “weighty/ silence of black limousines,” tires on puddles say “shhhh”, and the sound of mourners is “seismic,” falling into the “No River.” Hoogland brings the suspension that “no” implies closer to the reader in an unforgettable image of rain: “O it’s quiet. Even the rain/ is hyphens.”

This book brims with memorable and surprising sonic effects, from poems rich with Anglo-Saxon alliterative and syllabic influences to lovely assonance and internal rhyme during descriptions of the seemingly mundane, such as the trailer park with its “sodium moon over a public washroom.” Sounds morph and shift in significance, reworked in later sections and contexts. In the first pages, “Rusty leaves fly at vinyl siding,/ rattle at RV windows” in the trailer park. Vinyl’s potential to create or contain sound is reworked in a later image:

Did musicians regret the end of vinyl, and the halfway pause plotted

into their albums for turning the record,

starting the second side?

My brother’s second side, three sober years.

Rereading this long poem is extremely rewarding; we become involved in a form of echolocation, making connections between allusive words and symbols, even as the poet and her brother are compared to whales using echolocation to find each other.

Symbol and sound are often presented through framing devices, encouraging us to dig deeper, and blurring our assurance of what can be heard from the deceased. Within those frames, sounds meaningfully directed at us become difficult to distinguish from noise pollution, as orcas strain to hear each other above the underwater acoustics of container ships. Black ice, for example, comes to us as a newly-minted term through newscasters on TV, in a scene when William is only four years old: it is a filtered warning, memory and prophecy at once.

Occasionally, themes and tropes recurred more often than seem to me necessary or preferable. The result of these surplus repetitions was an occasional sense of artificiality. As a mediaevalist, I was particularly troubled by three separate allusions made to a well-known scene of a bird’s short-lived flight through a mead-hall as a symbol for the transience of human life, which Hoogland places in the poem Beowulf or refers to as “Beowulf’s sparrow.” In fact, this symbol of the sparrow appears, not in Beowulf, but in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, where it is used to illustrate the necessity of religious conversion. Repeated misattributions are disconcerting in any published work.

The best elegiac writing invites readers into a loss that is both communal and personal, and journeys among divergent circumstances in its search for consolation or meaning. Trailer Park Elegy achieves these effects as it voyages through time, place, method of travel, and memory, leaving us to question what kind of progress is possible after a great loss. The speaker finds herself as a ‘Still Life with Airbag‘ in her car, searching for a route and unable to refold a map. Readers too are drawn into the exits and entries of this compelling work, retracing the routes it has mapped out, finding ourselves brought forward and stopped short. We are grateful to Hoogland for bringing us to the trailer park: the location where William once lived, and a symbol of the migrant graveyard where memory rests.

Emily Osborne is a Poetry Editor for Pulp Literature. She is the author of ‘Devonian’ (Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018), and was an honorable mention in Contemporary Verse 2’s 2017 Young Buck Poetry Contest. Her chapbook Biometrical was recently released by Anstruther Press. In addition to being a poet, Dr. Osborne is also a researcher and translator. She has taught mediaeval literature and poetics at Cambridge and UBC, and published several scholarly articles.

 

Author News: Sarah Pinsker





Issue 2, Spring 2014

We love the smell of fresh publications! Forthcoming from Small Beer Press is Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, a short story collection from Sarah Pinsker, author of ‘Not Dying in Central Texas’ from Pulp Literature Issue 2.

Singer-songwriter Sarah Pinsker, whose short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, has lived everywhere from Texas to Toronto, but currently calls Baltimore, Maryland, her home. Her forthcoming collection contains SF and fantasy short stories with her signature introspection and humanity.

“A wide-ranging debut collection from a writer whose musicality and humor shine through even when plumbing the darkest depths of space.”

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea cover - click to view full sizeSooner or later (please excuse the play on words), we knew great things would be coming down the pipe for Sarah Pinsker! We look forward to the release on March 19th, 2019. Pre-order is available now via the Small Beer Press website!

Poetry Review: Slow War





SLOW WAR, by Benjamin Hertwig: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.

Reviewed by Daniel Cowper

Slow War, by Benjamin Hertwig, is a book of poetry that is about something which is simultaneously personal and political, experiential and objective. It is a book about military service during the Afghanistan war.

It is more than that, of course. Hertwig writes about an upbringing that invited him military service, about homecoming, readjusting to civilian life and coming to criticize the conduct of a war he helped to carry out. It is, as well as war literature, a nstlerroman, about a boy growing into an artist. The poems are nearly all addressed to Hertwig’s younger self in the second person:

you picked rocks for a farmer one summer,

in the fallow you found an arrowhead

so sharp it sliced the tip off your finger:

blood fertilized the soil. you kept the stone

secret for years, sometimes you pulled it out,

held it in your hands, held it under

the light.

Rock Picking

Hertwig speaks frankly about the facts of his own experience of war and its aftermath. Most controversially, Hertwig speaks of befriending Omar Khadr (who as a boy was involved with Taliban fighters in the war, before he was injured, captured, tortured, and held in Guantanamo Bay on charges of participating in combat).

Remember David Jones’ dedicating his account of World War I to the German soldiers who fought against him “by mischance”? James Salter hoping for the survival of his “friends” the MIG pilots he shot down? St. Exupery’s reporting how soldiers in the Spanish Civil War called out across the lines “Good night, friend,” when they each retired to bed?

Artists can (perhaps must) bring empathy to their understanding of battlefields, and Slow War reads as an ongoing attempt by Hertwig to engage compassionately with his past self and erstwhile enemies. Perhaps because of that empathetic approach, the unfolding narrative of the book is startlingly engaging. This is the rare poetry book that is hard to put down, and which can naturally be read all the way through in a single sitting.

Hertwig is an highly effective storyteller. He knows how to introduce anecdotes, animate characters, and nail down themes as well as any novelist. His writing always obeys the maxim that verse should be also good prose.

Because of its success from a narrative point of view, it is easy to overlook the lyricism of Hertwig’s writing. The poems in Slow War are not written in a showy style. They are written with a subdued but persistent rhythm, and the most musical passages are based on cyclical patterns of thoughts, words, and sounds. Sometimes they cycle despite persistent interruption:

you have seen

  visions and bodies

in flame

 

the body of christ

  shed foryou do not

belong. gunfire and

bombsong you do not

  belong. her eyes are

coal a face of wind

the place you stand

  is holy ground.

Fruit on a Wooden Table

The transition from the liturgical “the body of christ shed for” to the accusation “you do not belong” is a fair example of Hertwig’s deft handling of pivot points throughout the book.

Similarly, Hertwig’s handling of Christian iconography in this passage is typical in its naturalness and sincerity. Hertwig notices the parallel of soldiers removing their boots to enter Afghan homes, and the Almighty’s instruction to Moses to remove his shoes; he notices that war seemingly burns without exhausting its fuel, like the burning bush. These parallels naturally give rise to thoughts of what war does reduce to coals – individuals. The impression one receives is of the poet almost being startled by encountering, in chaotic destruction, a mirror image of holiness.

In acknowledging the power of both grace and violence, Hertwig’s poetry takes on a special forcefullness, which can only be described as the force of honesty.

A lesser writer would have made of similar material a more political book. Slow War succeeds because it reports facts about the human heart and human behaviour: those facts may have philosophical and political implications, but Hertwig allows us, as readers, to draw our own conclusions.

Daniel Cowper is the poetry editor for Pulp Literature. Daniel’s poetry chapbook is available from Frog Hollow Press, and his first full-length collection is forthcoming in 2019.

Benjamin Hertwig’s poem Inglewood Courts appeared in Pulp Literature Issue 15.

Author News: Greg Brown





Every year, we nominate our most recent crop of authors for as many awards as possible. It’s one way of passing forward the good fortune we had in publishing them in the first place. This year, we’re proud to announce Greg Brown has been placed on the 2018 Journey Prize Longlist for his short stories ‘Bear’ (Pulp Literature Issue 14) and ‘Love’ (Pulp Literature Issue 16).

Greg Brown is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of
North Carolina-Greensboro. He is a recipient of UBC’s Roy Daniels Memorial Essay
Prize and you can find his stories, criticism, and essays in Postscript, Paragon, The
RS500, Lenses: Perspectives on Literature, and Tate Street.

The Journey Prize annually recognizes emerging writers for the best short story first published in a Canadian literary journal, and we’re eagerly awaiting the shortlist announcement, September 12th.  Until then, enjoy these excerpts and get a taste of what the Journey Prize jury will pass judgement on in the next month.

Pulp Literature Issue 14, Spring 2017
‘Bear’
Greg Brown

We yawn our way through the ranger’s warning.
“Sure sure,” Dilly says.
“Got it,” I say.
Later, Dilly’s disappeared and I’m staring into a tangle of tree branches and darkness.
The stars in the night sky: glint of teeth.

The teeth are literal teeth: a grizzly bear …

 

 

Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017
‘Love’
Greg Brown

We agreed as a family that the only thing to do was to bring Mom home for the next few months or weeks, whatever it would be. It’ll be hard, Dad said. But maybe it can be fine, too. Denisa was suspicious about the cost of it all — like the private nurse we’d have to pay for, where at the hospital it was free — although she didn’t put it like that, said that we’d be crazy to bring Mom into a place where there wasn’t any immediate care, because what if there was a problem like before, the thing with her stent that plugged up and caused some internal bleeding that almost wasn’t staunched in time?

She could’ve, Denisa said.

The oncologist had said October, and the late pale fog had come and now the sky was mostly dimmed and gone by suppertime …