The writer and artist Juliet Cook has taken it upon her good self to write a review of the Collaboration issue of Sein und Werden.
Here it is in its entirety:
“a sheaf of bacon emerging from the soiled collar of a floral blouse which covered – heaven knows what”
THE COLLABORATION ISSUE wears a cover that looks like pretty light blue-gray grease globules, coagulating into some strange microorganism. Or are those the bubbles in a scummy champagne bath? A fancified primodial soup? The curds of a spilled bowl of porridge from a fairy tale gone rancid?
THE COLLABORATION ISSUE sounds like a gleaming electric knife revving up to carve some appalling/appealing sculptures out of meat, bone, gristle, and creamy blobs of succulent fat.
THE COLLABORATION ISSUE is ready and willing to engage in some scary bump & grind, some sinister hanky panky, and some rip roaringly bloody va va voom.
Empress Editor Rachel Kendall and Print Editor Spyros Heniadis have delivered the tainted yet titillating goods again. It seems as if each issue of ‘Sein’ is slicker, sleazier, more viscous and more visceral. This print edition is my kind of read. Edgy, wildly imaginative, entertaining in a non-palatable kind of way, and brimming with unlikely juxtapositions.
Speaking of unlikely juxtapositions, the first two short stories in the issue convey a sophisticated slasher punk feel. Their content is raw and gore-studded, but not rough-hewn. I very much enjoyed the gross, juicy, queasiness-inducing innards of ‘The Birth of Athena: Redux’ by Paul Bradshaw and Peter Tennant as well as the disquieting explicit descriptiveness of ‘Haute Couture’ by Garry Charles and Helen Taylor. This is some squalid and yummy stuff.
According to the issue’s ‘Notes on Contributors’, this story collaboration is Helen Taylor’s very first published piece. This serves as an example of why even reading the contributor bios of Sein writers makes me grin, because there’s so much diversity, divergence, and deviation. One bio is a laudatory list of myriad publication credits and/or published book blurbs; the next bio is of a high school student who wishes to be a baby dinosaur.
What is up with the preponderance of Cleveland Ohio area poets who are published in Sein, by the way? Most of them seem to be affiliated with a group that calls itself the Deep Cleveland Poets. I wonder what this group’s agenda is. Are they a cult of troubadours who worship the ghost of the late d.a. levy and strive to preserve his legacy? Hmmm…
The sense-of-place-based poems by Ellaraine Lockie and Patrick Carrington are strong in a somewhat more subtle (by Sein standards) manner. The short fiction piece ‘Career Path’ by Dominy Clements and DF Lewis (from which the peculiar snippet that appears at the top of this review was extracted) is weird and keen with gratuitously gruesome glory and some smidgens of strange speculation.
I won’t deign to comment upon my own contribution to this issue except to say that it was a tasty treat to collaborate with sexy, young up & comer Matt Williams, more of whose work can be found right now in the new Dennis Cooper edited anthology, ‘Userlands: New Fiction from the Blogging Underground’. What he was able to finagle out of a long, unwieldy, over the top prose piece of mine really floats my misshapen boat—and I appreciated the opportunity to morph his material, too.
The latest installment (part three out of four) of Cameron Pierce’s serialized fiction piece, ‘Keeping Angels’ is this issue’s one departure from the collaborative theme. It’s a bizarre yet strangely engaging tale. At times, its imagery and tone has put me in mind of a Burroughs-ian feel, yet less humanistic. At times, its content has started to seem too absurd or Dadaistic for my tastes, but then I’ll get coiled back in by its slithery grasp, by its highly imaginative grip, punctuated with the occasional ever so resonant insight in the midst of the surrealistic imagery swirl:
“I take three steps and grasp the cold steel handle. To open the door to the unknown. I bet there are at least seven languages in which the words for ‘death’ and ‘unknown’ are the same.
I turn the handle.”
Sein’s content includes considerable quantities of drunken streams of consciousness and stellar vocabulary sprinkled throughout seemingly inexplicable content. These kinds of details will appeal to some readers and will not appeal to others. Personally, I quite fancy the reams of strikingly disconcerting imagery that Sein subjects me to. Still, some of the content seems a tad undercooked for my tastes and at times I find myself craving some slightly more well-crafted coherence. Not mainstream coherence, mind you—and not linear coherence either. I very much appreciate the experimental aesthetic and alternative perspectives presented by Sein. Of course, there are bound to be a few pieces here and there that don’t resonate with my particular sensibilities or that seem a bit too trinkety.
At times, I find myself wishing for more poetry, but I suppose that’s my personal bias as a poet. As it is, there is just enough unusual poetry and interesting imagery appearing betwixt the pages to spin around and liven up the tone, the texture, the style, and the rhythm of the establishment.
And most of the content isn’t trinket-like so much as it is like an assortment of darkly delicious mutant jawbreakers–salaciously tempting you to pry something different and dangerous out of the machine–to lick off the slimy sweet coating–to suckle the hard core and find out what jagged debris implants your tongue with its pulsating message.
Yes, it’s dirty. Stick it in your mouth anyway: