Ragged Lion Journal // Number One is a new literary journal edited and printed by the indefatigable e.a.d. sellors.
One must resist the assumption that it’s already a collector’s item to be filed away on a shelf of literary valuables. One must take it one’s paws and peruse.
The opening article sees the brilliant countercultural poet Jeremy Reed returning to his intellectual roots, writing in perceptive and engaging prose – as he has done in poems – about the suicide of Hart Crane. An American backstory and Mexican backdrop are provided, and then we’re with Hart on his final ill-fated voyage on the SS Orizaba. Reed has a deep fascination with the lives of poets, one which I understand and share. The great stories are arias he sings, as vividly as this.
The next contribution is from no less a practitioner than Jerome Rothenberg, two poems entitled ‘Two Codas From The President of Desolation’. Here is a poet not playing it for laughs but sincerely lamenting the current situation in the US, this coming after his recent Dantesque sequence Inferno, and sharing the same urgent disquietude of tone. Necessary stuff, a relief to read.
That renaissance man of Warhol’s Factory fame, Gerard Malanga, is featured as poet tenderly eulogising Lee Harwood in what is a finely crafted quasi-letter to his deceased friend. A more upbeat companion-piece snapshots Lawrence of Arabia as writer-adventurer losing a mss. in a hansom cab in London. The ‘Cape’ here is cleverly deployed because the reader naturally thinks of it first as some exotic piece of geography that the great T.E. has conquered, and only secondly as the publishing house where he was supposed to be delivering his memoir. It’s an uplifting comic parable.
Steve Finbow’s contribution is a highly philosophical poem, The Meaning of 32 Words which is beautifully laid out in prose stanzas, mostly quatrains and quintets.
Derek Adams’ poetry seems to be on the trail of Surrealists in Egypt, with Lee Miller, Roland Penrose, Francis Picabia and Yves Tanguy namechecked in its lyrical tercets.
D.R. Wagner also contributes two poems, intimate, observant, meditative lyrics set in a cosmic natural realm.
The precocious Audrey Szasz here offers a sequence of prose vignettes, ‘Paracosmic Immersion and Temporal Distortion’. The effect is hilarious. Ballardian satire but oh so faux-innocently feminised. Skilful use of the en dash allows for a poetic build-up of bizarre detail: ‘she’s so fragile – like a president’s ego’.
My own two poems ‘isms 2’ and ‘isms 3’ are from a sequence ‘In the Realm of the Isms’ . (‘isms 1’ is published in The Idler 71 March-April 2020 issue.)
Greek poet Yannis Lividas has two moving lyrics from 2007, ‘Kelifus’ and ‘Husk #19’.
Louise Landes Levi broadens the scope of the journal with a versified introduction to legendary poet-painter Henri Michaux – whom Levi knew personally as ‘A modest man, a tender man & a friend’. Then she translates three of his poems, two verse, one prose.
The final written contribution is Stephen Barber’s timely heavyweight essay on – and for me introduction to – the French writer Pierre Guyotat, author of Eden, Eden, Eden who died on February 7 2020.
There are also a series of fine etchings of strange scenes from avian life, ‘Pecking Order’ by Kim Tong and a drawing ‘Foetus in Utero’ by Alexandra Unger.
e.a.d. sellors is an aficionado of independent and alternative publishing techniques and is putting his skills to use by embarking on a new regular journal which will come out with alarming frequency. Number Two is already out and Number Three is almost ready. It is possible the first three issues will have been released in April MMXX.
What I find great about issue one is that it is so readable. This certainly owes much to the superb layouts/fonts/columns etc. and is also helped by the culturally nutritious but unacademic contents.
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