by Hanging Loose Press. 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, New York 11217.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
83 issues is forever and Hanging Loose remains as a mountain peak in the realm of literary magazines. Run democratically, Hanging Loose continues on towards 100 issues. It is the way a magazine should be ’ it has a program of writing. This issue is a 125 pages long and if you wish the measure and heart beat of poetry, here in it can be located. This magazine is a prototype of what magazines can be and a should be. It has a cadence and a rhythm. It trusts its notion of the poetry. Go there as an oasis and a model, oh youth and young or new readers of poetry. I’d suggest to you all the works of Mark Pawlak (in this issue and beyond). He weaves politics and poetry into an art more piecing and insightful than any other writer in this America does, and he does it sharp and fast and with the every day news fact and the needle of irony. I could read his poems for days. You could - do. You should. But be prepared to be blinded with the white light bright blinding reality of American life he flings open on the mind. Man, how was it that I do not see. Well, that’s why we need more poets like Mark Pawlak. Page 85 in this issue is where you can begin. But there are all the other poems too! Wow!
Tilt is a novel and as such is about a child with autism and the stress of that autism on a family, which results in the husband/father’s mental breakdown and the wife/mother’s likewise mental collapse. A well-written narrative, and a balanced form, makes it a real book. My warning is that it is sad story but in that sadness it is so real. More so for me because I know the people, who are the characters, as real people. Elizabeth Burns is a poet and the story unfolds at the hand of a poet, in my thoughts, via reflection and by succinct definition, capturing instances in words of intense emotive states. Often Burns’s prose depicting her emotional states defines emotional circumstance that at times I have felt. In these instances her full strength as an artist flutters above the relentless problems of life. Real writers fear this not and find ways to do just that. Burns does. I like it. She is frightfully accurate. Her young daughter’s toes wiggling under the bathroom door in a moment of utter despair and the resulting motherly pleasures and joy defines totally the emotional fluctuations of human heart. I wrote above that I know these people as people but in this novel they are characters in a work of art and remain as such throughout the entire book. This gave me distance to digest their life troubles and to fully share, without personal sympathy, the trials they encountered, and the encounters are many. The book is subtitled: every family spins on its own axis. Surely, it does. And so do works of art ’ this art’s sharp needle spins upon your heart.