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Friday, October 24, 2014

Janne Karlsson (Editor) LOVE’S AN INFECTION (2014) 24 pages

Janne Karlsson’s A5 fanzine-style chap LOVE’S AN INFECTION is a short collection of illustrated poems on the theme of Love & Hurt and features seventeen poems & eight poets from around the world. Over the last couple of years, the Swedish artist & editor has collaborated with several, mainly North American poets, who he has developed a huge respect and admiration for. When Karlsson gained access to a cheap printer earlier this year, he decided to take a shot at creating his own print poetry anthology and invited his network of poets to contribute. LOVE’S AN INFECTION is the result of this collaboration.

The poems are minimalistic & view love from a wide variety of perspectives. The poetry is experimental and remarkably fresh. There is nothing predictable or mundane here: Blood spouts in raw spasms across the page. Bruised wailing mouths pulse like a “heartbeat of fists.”

As implied by the title LOVE’S AN INFECTION, love is seen as a disease which makes people do & say crazy things. As shown in the poems, love can induce vomiting, self-loathing, evoke intense hatred and acerbate irreconcilable differences & misunderstandings between people. 

(Reprinted with the publisher's permission) 

I recently asked Karlsson for BM (23 October 2014) the thoughts he had when he sat down to create an illustration for a poem. He candidly commented: “I don’t really think or prepare in any way. I read the poem and pretty much draw intuitively, trying to kind of turn the poem’s feelings into ink. There’s hardly ever anything going through my mind. If I began using my brain in my drawings, the result would surely suck. Suck hard…ha ha.”

(Reprinted with the publisher's permission)

Karlsson’s illustrations are character driven and express a raw, surreal existential anxiety which adeptly reflects the sick, fucked-up agony of modern living. His graphics? Think mad shit. Think raining blood, Zombie nudity, eyeless vomiting figures drenched in blood. Think even of cannibalistic metre-square blocks of ready-to-be-eaten breasts & vulvas. Weird but thought-provoking stuff!

Order the book for $3 US plus shipping from Sweden here:

Visit Janne Karlssons web page:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chapbook Review: Lawrence Gladeview Praying For A Spare (Tree Killer Ink, 2014)- 12 pages.

Canada’s Tree Killer Ink’s latest venture is the release of its Punk Chapbook poetry series which consists of 12 chapbooks by some of North America’s best known small press writers: Each chap is focussed on a specific theme and each cover is illustrated by the zany but hugely talented Swedish artist Janne Karlsson.

Lawrence Gladeview’s collection Praying For A Spare is #12 in the series & is focussed on the theme of ten pin bowling. The twelve poems centre on a team of bowlers, known as ‘the wreckers’, who play Tuesday nights at Cosmic Bowling- a one-story 70s building with a “half-lit/ bubble plastic/ sign/ out front.” For Earl, Bill, Dana, Sandy and Larry bowling becomes a kind of religion where they can escape their petty family squabbles for a few hours, drink some beer and find mutual respect and companionship.

In the poem ‘Hey Larry’, for example, Roy asks Larry to attend mass with his family on Sunday. Larry tersely quips, “thanks roy// but i’m good// i already have/ a once a week/ obligation// & it gives me/ all the salvation/ I need.” In ‘It Was,’ Earl tells Larry matter-of-factly, “with my family/ fighting over/ the small stuff/ it’s great/ to come here/ & be in control.”

Gladeview admits in a recent interview with BM (21 October 2014) that he doesn’t bowl as much these days & is crap at it but realises the game’s important social function:
I would say I’m more of an off and on, once-a-month bowler as opposed to a true “regular” alley cat.  When I was younger and in middle school, I joined bowling leagues in the summers with my neighbourhood pals.  Of course, we enjoyed the sporting aspect of bowling, but we also liked getting away from our parents, smoking cigarettes, and sneaking beers when we could.  Now that I’m older, bowling still serves as an outlet, but instead of breaking free from my parents, now it’s more about unplugging from work and society. Bowling alleys are places folks go to celebrate good times, cope during depressing weeks, and play like kids no matter their age or status. I’m not a particularly good bowler, but that’s not the point. Ask any of my buds and they’ll tell you I’m an exceptional bowler, being sure to point out my beer guzzling belly way before they mention my score.”

The poems are short & anecdotal. They stem from lived experience and are conversational, confessional, with Larry the big pin- reflecting & gently philosophising on the zen of bowling.

As the team laces up their bowling shoes they confide in one another, share their various illnesses & family issues and in the process they pull each other through the cluttered emotional debris of their lives. The Tuesday night outings provide the “bowling buds” a sense of consistency & transparency otherwise missing in their lives. As Larry says in ‘Earl’s Marriage’ after introducing to the reader his team, “ I can’t help/ but smile// about/ how this/ pack of alley cats/ is the one thing// that is/ dependable/ in our lives.”

Asked by BM how he arrived at selecting the unusual bowling theme for Praying For A Spare, Gladeview candidly surmises: “When Wolf Carstens, the editor of Epic Rites Press, asked me to participate in his Punk Chapbook Series that aimed to feature a tightly focused story told over twelve poems, I had no clue where to start. Tales of my move from Virginia to Colorado?  My college years, from freshman year, arrest to senior graduating triumph?  But then I realized I was thinking on too large a scale.  The most memorable characters in life don’t come from exotic situations, they come from everyday experiences that are made extraordinary by their uninhibited personality.  A few months back, my wife and I met friends at the local lanes for my birthday, some of which I hadn’t seen in awhile.  The stories we shared and the atmosphere that existed that night was very communal.  That following week, I was talking with Wolf about the chapbook series and Praying For A Spare began to set itself up; pin by pin, poem by poem.”

One of the best poems in the collection ‘Whether You Are’ expresses this idea of people on the edge, of falling into the abyss- in the communal space of ten-pin bowling:

Whether You Are


no matter

if you’re

some evenings
at the alley

you spend
entire night

to keep
the weight
your fingers

& into

(Reprinted with the permission of the poet).

Gladeview is currently editing and revising his next full-length collection tentatively titled The Stray Trails Of Life.  Aside from that, he’s got an upcoming trip to Las Vegas on the calendar, a handful of readings along the Front Range, and a Colorado winter creeping over the Rocky Mountains.

Buy the Punk Chapbook series here- 14 chaps for only $40 plus postage. Find out also how you can contribute to the next series of chapbooks: