26 Sep

Review: The Moon, My Lover, My Mother, & The Dog

Randomly inspired and yet meticulously woven, The Moon, My Lover, My Mother, & The Dog, written by Daniel McGinn, is so fervently raw, it serves as a glimpse inside the process of a poet coming to fruition. “I don’t know what to write about I tell her…” McGinn states upon the opening of his second collection of poetry. “Just follow the light she says/the light is free to go wherever it wants she says/as she goes to the candle she keeps on the table/and lights its brittle wick.”

At once honest and masterfully written, McGinn effortlessly leads readers down a rabbit hole of poetic snap-shots and slice-of-life reveries that range from the complexities of childhood to the inevitability of death within the span of pages. In the poem “Mother Laughing,” McGinn effectively resurrects his mother in a stream-of-consciousness piece that juxtaposes the memory of her making strawberry ice cream to the vast feeling of emptiness the poet experiences as he mirrors her same behaviors, albeit, without her. “Roll it with the scoop your mother owned, it’s been in the kitchen drawer for at least 40 years. It belongs in your hand. Some things never change.” By reconstructing a memory with language, as well as highlighting the subliminal effects this memory has on the author, McGinn delicately forges a new line between past and present, grief and remembrance, and solidifies the idea that just because someone is gone, it does not mean they are forgotten.

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of The Moon, My Lover, My Mother, & The Dog, is its sequencing structure, which is determined by content, and not traditional linear timelines. In the “The Passenger,” McGinn discusses a conversation he had with his father while driving a Grand Prix. “Every time you win two hands in a row, double your bet. Play your cards right, I do and that’s how I got this fine automobile…” In the subsequent poem, “The Mountain,” the author contrasts this moment with a darker one he experiences in his own truck, as an adult. “I cussed and smudged-up the inside of my window in hard circles like I’d smudged-up my life and I felt older than this beat-up tuck, which was all I could afford.” By breaking the fourth wall of the page, and allowing readers to have a more intimate view of a poet’s inner monologue, these concepts, loosely woven into recurring images, allows the collection to move as fast as the timing of life. Blink, and it’s over, the reader left to flurry the pages, reaching for whatever he or she might have missed from in-between the lines.

30 Jul

Review of Drop and Dazzle by Peggy Dobreer

Review by Julianne Carew

Drop and Dazzle

At once transient and yet powerfully grounding, Peggy Dobreer’s poetry collection, Drop and Dazzle, leads readers through an assemblage of life’s most defining moments, including birth, death, and every human emotion that can be found in between. By contrasting the intimacies of everyday life with the vastness of the universe, Dobreer successfully encapsulates the intensity of the corporeal experience, while at the same time making it clear that “we are stardust, hardly a thought, a fleeting note on its way to a verse or song.”

From the collection’s first poem, “Climbing the Moment of Birth,” Dobreer emphasizes an internal relationship with the outside world, and the impact this has on an individual. She states, “On a war-tired base, under desert skies, the only thing I remember of my birth is the smell of death.” By sensually connecting the first moments of existence with the reality of its imminent conclusion, Dobreer stresses the immediacy of life, the fragility of all that it has to offer, and sets the stage for the work that follows.

Sprinkled throughout Drop and Dazzle is the subject of continuity, and how the creation of something inevitably marks the beginning of its end. In “Genesis,” Dobreer writes, “Like, force, it has no opposition/until something moves against it.” In poetically highlighting the natural observer effect that humanity unconsciously adheres to, Dobreer emphasizes the simple fact that life has meaning because we provide it. Life, storytelling, the very idea of artistic expression, it is all a way of reacting to a force in which we have no control over. Dobreer follows up with this concept in a later poem, “Ashes to Ashes,” which concludes with the phrase, “You can finally forget the world, return unto the earth.”

In conjunction with thought-provoking, philosophical concepts, there are many sobering moments throughout the collection that speak for the immense struggles of the human experience. In “The Hands of Glory,” Dobreer brings attention to the obscured focus of public opinion when she describes a public execution. After a man is put to death and his handkerchief is stolen, “the execution crowd disbursed, they mourned the loss of the miracle, maybe more so than the life of the man on the rope.” On a more personal note, she later continues, “I checked. My breath was there/becoming deeper, more pronounced, the way breath will in the presence/of a body without one gasp left.”

In short, Drop and Dazzle lives up to its title. At once dazzling and thought-provoking, Dobreer’s ethereal literary voice leaves readers breathless, feeling at once empowered, and humbled within the star-studded universe she creates within the constructs of a page.

 

 

 

06 May

ANNOUNCEMENT: “Tell Me More” — New #MeToo Writing Contest

Sexual Assault Awareness Month may have come to an end, but the editors of The East Jasmine Review strongly believe in keeping the conversation going year-round. Being a literary magazine that prides itself on representing diverse voices, we are excited to announce our first Tell Me More contest of “Me Too” stories. We are asking for submissions encompassing the spectrum of sexual assault, including not only of the act itself, but also of the healing process and aftermath of such an event. Submissions in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry will be open from May 1st until June 24th. Winners will be published in an electronic and print version of our inaugural anthology series. We will not accept nor read submissions where sexual assault is treated as a “joke” or from the perpetrators point of view.

Poetry:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Between 1-3 poems per submission.
  • Submission not to exceed 1500 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

Fiction:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Submission not to exceed 2000 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

Non-fiction:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Submission not to exceed 2000 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT

02 Jul

Book Review – Junkie Wife

Junkie Wife
by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Book Review
by Julianne Carew
Fiction Editor

From the collection’s dedication page, which ominously states, “No names were changed. No one was innocent,” to its last line, Junkie Wife, written by Alexis Rhone Fancher, tactfully illustrates the affects addiction has on an individual, as well as the relationships it inadvertently creates.

In “Flirting with Death—A Love Poem,” Fancher begins with the phrase, “In love with the rush. Not the high,” which establishes a stark, matter-of-fact approach to a life lived on the fringes of society. By using colloquial language laced with blunt, in-your-face imagery, Fancher successfully portrays a set of multifaceted characters that, for the most part, remain anonymous. The one to whom we can only assume is the “junkie wife,” is never directly named, nor is the child prostitute, or the Armenian drug dealer, or the lovers on the beach. Vicki, the main character’s former best friend whose “blood [later] splattered the bone white walls like a Pollack,” and Dr. Tim, who tells the main character she “looks like a million bucks,” even as she fingers a razor blade in her pocket, serve as intrusions to the main character’s drug-induced haze, and remind readers of the blurred reality in which she is living.

Nowhere in Junkie Wife is there an excess of words. Each line is intentional, and takes the reader on a fast-paced downward spiral of self-destruction. Perhaps one of the most symbolic pieces of poetry is “Divorce Court Barbie (Ken Drives Away With All My Things).” In this piece, the main character essentially summarizes the exploits of her marriage, using tongue-in-cheek descriptions for herself such as “Bad Luck Barbie” and “The one Ken swears he wouldn’t love if I were the last Girl on Earth Barbie.” By comparing Mattel’s iconic Barbie with the bleak realities of her character’s shattered life, Fancher makes a statement about the unrealistic narratives women are taught as children, as well as makes reference to her characters inability to ignore these stereotypes with which she compares herself.

Junkie Wife is as addicting as it is honest. Fancher’s minimalistic style and slice-of-life formatting leave readers wanting more, her words a drug, in and of themselves.

04 Jun

Poetry Book Review: “Babbage’s Dream” by Neil Aitken

Babbage’s Dream Book Review
by Julianne Carew, Fiction Editor
The East Jasmine Review

Full of quotations, Bible verses, definitions, and intimate portrayals of the man who can arguably be hailed the founder of the digital age, Babbage’s Dream, written by Neil Aitken, is no ordinary collection of poetry. It is a poetic testament to the interdisciplinary studies of mathematics and humanity, religion and technology, and one man’s revolutionary passion in quantifying a seemingly intangible universe.

In today’s digitized world of instantaneous communication and innumerable social media platforms, it is easy to get lost in the vast coding of data that we have come to know as cyberspace. But before there was Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, there was Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer. It is through the influence of Babbage’s life and work that Aitken draws his poetic inspiration.

Before the collection’s opening poem, “Begin,” Neil Aitken introduces readers to a quote by William Carlos Williams that summarizes his take on the work that follows. “A poem is a large, (or small) machine made out of words.” Beginning with this opening statement, Aitken is already emphasizing a close relationship between artistic expression and technological advances. He is making it clear that throughout his collection of poetry, each word is, in itself, a piece of a greater whole, a small, yet essential part of a literary machine that works to make sense of man’s relationship with that which he has created.  

In his poem, “Binary,” Aitken juxtaposes computer code, a combination of zeros and ones, with language, in a successful attempt to display how seemingly random, inconsequential patterns create the blueprint for the computerized world. “0000,” becomes, “Absence stretched to extremity, nothingness in all quarters.” “0001,” becomes, “at the far reaches of a void, a glimmer.” By personifying data code with descriptive human emotions, Aitken bridges the gap between man and machine, art and technological discovery, and gives precedence to the system on whose back the modern world operates.

In addition to drawing parallels between a wide range of topics, Neil Aitken uses a variety of literary techniques to further solidify his idea that art and science, religion and culture, are each mechanisms through which man creates meaning out of the chaos of the universe. In his poem, “Void,” Aitken utilizes an alteration on the cut-up technique, first introduced by the early 1960’s writer, William S. Burroughs.

“Of those machines  //the mind of gears, the heart, a spring

by which we produce power//ever-winding, a chorus of marionettes…”

By using two different columns that can be read both independently, and as two pieces of a whole, Aitken reiterates the crucial emotional and physical space technology has overtaken in our modern world.

Due to its broad subject matter and harmonious artistic rhythm, Babbage’s Dream can easily be devoured in one sitting. Much like the spark of genius that propelled the centuries’ subsequent scientific breakthroughs, Aitken’s poems are each a blazing testament to the elasticity of the human mind, the seamlessness through which various fields of study attribute within themselves, and an invaluable reminder that all people, thoughts, and ideas are each a crucial piece, solidifying a never-ending whole.  

_________________
Relevant Links

06 Dec

Nonfiction: “Open Gym” by Noriko Nakada

Open Gym
by Noriko Nakada

A Saturday afternoon. I was running up and down a court with girls from my high school basketball team. It felt good to be there, on a court in our small town’s Mormon temple’s open gym. But we could feel the end too. Graduation was right around the corner, and after years of playing hoops together, we knew this could be our last chance to share a court. We didn’t let them break the girls up. We knew how pick up games worked. Most of the time guys ignore girls on their teams, never pass to you or let you bring the ball up the court. They probably thought we’d be easy prey, so when we said we wanted to play together, they agreed.

Most of the other players were LDS men, elders, and there were a couple of younger guys, boys we knew from high school, like Robert. He and I had gone to middle school together, had been two of the best basketball players back then. We were also both half Asian. His mom was Polynesian, my dad was Japanese American, and when we dated at the end of eighth grade, people thought we were the perfect couple. We broke up before starting high school, but I watched him from afar. I hoped Robert would want to play with us. He knew we could play, but he joined a group of the older guys, men I didn’t know.

We won the first game, surprising everyone in the gym, including ourselves. Then we won the next. We were in better shape. We were quick. We snatched steals and made our lay-ups and even when we missed it was okay because we were winning by four or five. We laughed as we ran up and down the court. It had been a while since we’d won. We were coming off of a long losing season of basketball. It felt good to win, to dominate the court even though we were young, and small, and girls. We held the court.

After our third win, we were waiting for next when Robert started talking with one of my teammates. She stormed off the court and didn’t say a word to me. I glanced around the gym and saw the men looking at me sideways. Robert walked toward me as another game started on the court: a game without us, without the winners.

“What’s going on?”

Robert motioned for me to follow him out of the gym. I grabbed my keys and water bottle. I sensed I wouldn’t be coming back.

“They asked you to leave.” Robert said as we stepped out into pale spring sunshine. “They say it’s because you aren’t Mormon.”

I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I turned away. Robert was still a great shooter, was still a good guy, I thought. I loved him in the eighth grade and maybe I still did, but he never seemed to forgive me for breaking up with him. He went to the rival high school; he was Mormon so things would never would have worked out between us even. Yes, we had much in common for this small town where we were both born and raised, but the differences were mounting.

“You know it’s not that,” I said, my voice betraying me with a quiver.

“Well, yeah, it’s also all of the laughing. It’s just not what they want in their gym.” I looked at him, studied his handsome face as he made excuses for these men. And then I wondered if he agreed with them. “Come on, Nor. Sometimes you just have to take it easy.”

I squinted back up at the sky, back up at Robert. “Take it easy playing or take it easy being me?”

Robert shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe both.”

I turned toward my car and left him standing there in the sunlight. I wondered if he was right. Maybe we should have been less gleeful in our victories. Maybe we should have stopped playing hard, should have been more subdued. We could have laughed less and scored slower. Maybe I could have been a different person, the kind of girl who played at the Mormon church’s open gym and wasn’t asked to leave, who didn’t break up with her boyfriend because it could never work out in the long run.

I drove away from the gym toward home and let the tears come. I wasn’t sure why I was crying. Maybe it was because I didn’t fight, because I didn’t walk back into the gym and say, “We got next.” Maybe it was because I was a girl, and there were places where I was not welcome. Maybe it was because Robert hadn’t stood up for us, for me. Maybe it was because I hated those men in the gym who expected women to stay home and have kids and give up whatever other dreams they might have for their lives.

But by the time I got home, I’d recovered. I’d done nothing wrong, and I hoped those men who were still playing in their all male, all-Mormon game felt bad. I hoped Robert felt bad, because when I told the story later that day, later that summer, and for the rest of my life, I told it with pride.

There was this one time when the Mormons kicked me out of their gym. I was winning. I was laughing, and they couldn’t handle it. They couldn’t handle losing. They couldn’t beat us. They couldn’t handle me.

___________________________
Noriko Nakada
norikonakada.com

Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, MeridianCompose, Kartika, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.

05 Dec

Nonfiction: “2 Girls” by Bridgid McBride

2 Girls
by Bridgid McBride

Two girls at a softball game. One with silky golden hair and one with red shoes. It’s one of their boyfriend’s games, one of those interchangeable boys – maybe he has long hair, maybe he has a nose ring, maybe he’s in a band, maybe he wants to be a chemist, maybe he loves her – it doesn’t matter. The girls don’t watch the game; they drink lots of water and sit on the ground with their legs crossed and talk about the horror film they’re writing – the one where a two-foot-tall Yoda doll kills their interchangeable boyfriend(s).

Two girls at a coffee shop. One with Adobe InDesign and one with a notebook and a pen. It’s a self-aware kind of coffee shop, with recovered wood tables and framed burlap coffee sacks on the walls and bearded baristas with endless banter and delicate tattoos up their arms behind the counter. The girls don’t do their homework; they drink too-expensive coffee and speak in soft conspiratorial voices about their futures – Costa Rica and fancy new laptops and pseudonyms and foreign grad programs and no babies!!

Two girls on a porch swing. One with wine in a mug and one with beer in a can. It’s a party, but it’s really just a bunch of boys getting stoned on a couch and listening to boring jam bands and watching psychedelic Youtube videos. The girls retreat outside, to the porch swing, to talk about why this gross house is better than the last gross house these boys lived in; it has three floors and a loft and beautiful stained glass windows in the dining room and a gray cat named Wednesday.

Two girls in a bar booth. One in a grey hat and one in a green skirt. It’s Halloween but neither is in costume – they dressed up over the weekend, as a martini and a Stephen King character – and they split a pitcher between the two of them and Ed, who went to get more quarters for the pool table. They say that they feel transmigrated into another time period, where the lighting is cozier and the beer is cheaper and life is simpler, where the pinball machine in the corner has relevancy, some modified 90s where there’s also a Buck Hunter game and the curly one can still use her smartphone to take a selfie in the window glare.

Two girls on a dock. One in her boyfriend’s t-shirt and one in her bra and underwear from the day before. They’re mad at each other, but they never say why. One is upset that the other didn’t wait for her to take acid the night before, leaving her alone at the height of the trip, and the other is upset that the one didn’t tell her she was coming to the North at all. They both pretend otherwise, and they hold hands as they jump into the freezing October lake. The girls scramble out and wrap a giant towel around both of their thin shaking bodies, smiling as the resentment dissolves, and they step lightly to avoid pine needles pricking the rough undersides of their summer feet on their way up to the house. It will never be as easy as it is right now again.

________________________
Bridgid McBride

Brigid McBride is a cook and barista living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a BA in English from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. She loves to bike, write, drink beer, and watch movies. She hopes to be a TV writer when she grows up. Her favorite album is “Exile in Guyville” by Liz Phair. Her biggest inspirations in writing are her sisters, mother, and grandmother. She hopes you like her story.

05 Dec

Nonfiction: “She” by DM Philips

SHE
by dm philips

Here is everything I know about her.

She is a mother now. Then, she was unmothered. Non-mothered? Not mothered well. Almost alone. A lonely child, vassal to a just-older sister who was just plain mean. Shuttled around the world by her parents in the service of other, lesser gods: flight, love, cheap housing.  

She was unfathered, too. Not-well fathered. Father, unwell. Is it true he threw her pregnant mother down the stairs? Well, if he didn’t, he could have. Just plain mean. A mean drunk, that’s what I heard. Perhaps that’s why she doesn’t drink. He’s dead now, by the way. I wonder if she cares. If she feels his absence is now complete.

It is important to mention: she is a mother. Becoming a mother made sense to her. Being a mother seems like the fulfillment of other goals unreached. Like time, unlost.

She spent her time in the shadow of her sister.  Forever trying to be good, to be enough. To be good enough. Born just 10 months earlier, she grew larger by her taunts. The sister drove deep in her a sense of unworthiness, a shame she’d struggle to shake. Once slender, she turned to food to fill what was unfillable. Her lean body rounded out pleasantly, then unpleasantly. Not unpleasant to me, but she spends her time now talking about diets, about order, about “tomorrow”.

Her children have round bodies, too. Round, sweet bodies on the verge on distended, unsweet. She stuffs them with treats. This is one version of love.

She was always wanting for friends, yet never quite finding them. Those she found, she trusted deeply, even the untrustworthy ones. She was left at the mall once. Abandoned in a blizzard. The mall closed, the governor called a “state of emergency”. I imagine her standing outside in the thin clothing she wore then. Huddled by the door, watching snowdrifts fill the desolate parking lot. Wondering what to do, if anyone would come for her. Who did she wish for, in the state of emergency?

She was pregnant, more than once. She was hungry for sweetness and she found it briefly in unreliable, older men. Three, four, five abortions, that’s what I heard. Her mother knew, cursed her, damned her to a fiery hell. Is it true she threw her down the stairs? Well, if it isn’t, it could be. Her mother was always mean. History repeats itsef, unless we stop it.

She is the kindest person I know. She always tries. Even when people are cruel to her, she dips underneath their cruelty and tries harder. She is so sensitive, so freaking sensitive. She cries at the drop of a hat, at goodbyes, at movies. Her crying is sniffly and messy and wet. She tucks love notes scrawled in the handwriting of a grade school girl into my bags when I leave. She is complicated at drive-throughs. She wants everything on the side. She drinks coffee and then falls straight to sleep. She loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. Two scoops. She has talked about “going back to school” for the last fifteen years. Perhaps this year, she will.

When her son was sick, she slept sitting up for three weeks. He could not move or speak but sometimes she imagined he did and sprang up to check. She had known something was wrong. She brought him to the hospital before it was too late. She learned, then, to trust her instincts. Her motherly instincts, they were just enough. She was a mother, first.

I was there when she fell in love. I don’t know what they were doing behind closed doors, but it seemed to take an agonizingly long time to get to the good part. Every day for years he would come over and they would watch basketball and ‘Martin’ on television. My grandmother, who spoke little English yet loved this enormous, gentle Black man, would feed him bowls of rice and curry. She’s dead now. Maybe those were the good parts.

He would leave at 5:45 pm, just before her mother came home. Once, he lost track of time and was forced to hide in the closet. Why was he a secret? No matter— this is where I learned much of what I know, of what I’m telling you now. Through a shouting match. The abortions, the shame, all was yelled and screamed. There was pushing. There were stairs, maybe. A broken arm. That’s what I remember. That’s what I heard.

They used to play-wrestle, piling themselves on top of each other, giggling hysterically. Sometimes I would join. I was a lonely child, too. Their bodies were warm.

I wonder if they’re there, wrestling in their house, giggling, right now. With their three big, beautiful, brown children, who are all well. The mother, now the grandmother, might come over to babysit. She was not just plain mean, after all. Perhaps there are snowdrifts outside. The older sister, now the lonely one, calls for her advice. Sometimes the call goes to voicemail while she speaks to her other friends. Her younger sister loves her, too, thinks she’s the kindest person she’s ever met. Feels mothered by her. Well-mothered. Mothered, well.

That’s what I heard. That’s what I know.  

_____________________
dm philips

dm philips is a storyteller and birthworker born in goa, india, and raised in the northeastern US. her work explores queer diaspora, madness, unmothering, and finding/coming home. dm is a columbia university community scholar and two-time VONA/voices fellow. her writing can be found in the decolonizer, hot metal bridge, and elsewhere.

 

07 Nov

Interview: Siobhan Hebron for Post-Trama (Art Exhibit)

Interview with Siobhan Hebron for Post-Trauma, Art Exhibit for Keck Medicine
by Julianne Carew, Fiction Editor

 

I first heard Siobhan Hebron read her work at a compilation reading of artists with chronic illness. The reading was as eclectic as it was moving, but what I immediately noticed about Siobhan was her in-your-face attitude about illness and the language that surrounds it.

Her short essay, “Hair,” was not about the devastation of losing what most women consider their crowning glory, but instead, about the many other aspects that make living with a chronic illness a reality. Aspects like uncertainty, and the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of it, and the way even devastating news can be turned into art.

At twenty-seven, clad with black leather boots, and a fashion sense that could only be described as effortless, Siobhan Hebron is not your typical cancer patient. She’s a modern-day Gloria Steinem of illness whose mission is to shed new light on the subject, and revolutionize the way we discuss chronic disease.

I sat down to speak with her at the USC Keck Center, where her latest show, Post-Trauma, is currently being exhibited.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about your diagnosis?

 

I went to the urgent care and I told them that I had been in excruciating pain for four days. The first urgent care didn’t take me seriously. They gave me a prescription for Norco, and told me to come back in twenty-four hours if I wasn’t feeling better.

 

I decided that wasn’t going to do it, so I went to another urgent care, and they agreed with me that something was wrong. They told me I could have a blood clot, or a brain tumor, but it was very unlikely. They decided to look into it and perform an MRI.

 

What do you think the difference was between the first urgent care, that didn’t take you seriously, and the second one, that did?

 

It’s going to sound really funny, but the first urgent care was a male doctor and the second one was a female doctor. The second one was also, specifically, a head and neck urgent care. I went to them and told them, you know, look, this is what they did for me yesterday and I’m not better. I need help. I’m in too much pain. But that was my first set of concrete circumstances of male versus female pain and treatment management. I think a lot of times, doctor’s prejudices are subliminal. They don’t realize that they treat a man or a woman differently. It’s not because they want to be mean. It’s an unconscious thing.

 

Once you were diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, what happened next?

 

The doctor’s wanted me to do chemotherapy. But when I was trying to decide what kind of treatment plan to go with, they were also saying that I needed to decide, being a young adult, whether fertility was an issue for me. They told me that in the next couple of days I needed to decide if I’d like to freeze my eggs, and if I did, they’d need to start on that right now.

 

What did you decide?

 

I did not do it, for several reasons. Children have never been something that I wanted, neither before, during, or after cancer. But what I took real issue with was the fact that they were essentially saying, “You need to make this decision right now, so that we can move forward.”

 

At the time, I was thinking to myself, okay, first of all, I’m trying to make one major decision right now, which is whether to pursue treatment for cancer. You can’t ask me to make another giant life decision on top of that. Also, this is a much different decision than if I were a man. If I were a man, this would be an inexpensive, non-invasive treatment. As a woman, it’s extremely expensive, it’s invasive, it’s potentially dangerous. It was that implicit bias that they didn’t take into account for me as the patient.

 

As a patient, and as someone who has been heavily involved in the healthcare system, what do you recommend could be done to bring awareness to medical misogyny, especially since you mentioned it is mostly subliminal?

 

I think visibility is critical. When we’re still not in a place to where people are comfortable with talking about illness in an everyday conversation, the burden is on the sick person to educate the healthy people. I think that’s why I’m so cognizant of, and so specific in my language about it, and why I make art, and why I write about it, and why I think it’s so important to be open, and have a really open dialogue about things like that.

 

What does the word cancer mean to you?

 

Is it really crazy if I say it means life? I mean, it is my life now. I just went to a wedding this weekend, and I met a whole bunch of new people, and everyone’s asking you, oh, what do you do? What do you do? What do you do? And that’s such a hard conversation for me to have. Right now, I do cancer. That’s what I do. This was especially true a year, or two years ago, when I was smack dab in the middle of treatment. And even though I’m not actively in it right now, it is still so present in my life, in every way, shape, or form.

 

How did being diagnosed with cancer effect your life?

 

It threw everything up in the air. Before, I went to UCLA. I double majored in art and art history. I graduated in four years. I did the whole thing, and I was fully on track to pursue art history, not art. I was not going to pursue a studio practice, at all. So I was looking into graduate programs for art history. I was looking to go the Ph.D. route. I didn’t know fully what I was going to do, but that’s what I was looking at. I knew I was going to take at least two years off in between, just after talking with professors and everyone, so that’s kind of where I was. I was in those years off, when this just came out of nowhere.

 

It really did stop everything. It didn’t change anything biologically or physiologically about me, that would make it impossible for me to still pursue that. I still absolutely could get my Ph.D., but it transformed everything so utterly and completely, and pretty immediately I decided, no, I’m not doing that. I don’t want to do that anymore.

 

How did the uncertainty of cancer effect your art?

 

I think the uncertainty, in the beginning, affected the medium the most. In the beginning, right after I was diagnosed, I started making stuff mainly in video and performance. When I was in school, I stayed away from that at all costs. Before my diagnosis my art was very object-based, painting, sculpting, drawing. I wanted to make things.

 

Once I was creating stuff based on my diagnosis, and thinking about my body and a lot more about this uncertainty and where I was, I didn’t want to make anything so permanent. I didn’t want to make anything that someone could hold in his or her hands, or that could be put on a wall. My art became something that had to be experienced in real time and space. For someone to be a witness to my art they had to be there at that time, in that place, and witness what my body was doing.

 

Were you insured at the time of your diagnosis?

 

Yes. When I was diagnosed I was twenty-four, and this was in 2014, right after Obamacare was originally passed. So under Obamacare I was still insured under my parents. And knowing me, having never have been sick, if Obamacare had not been passed, I would have thought, ugh, I’m too young. I don’t need insurance right now. I probably just wouldn’t have done it. So it really, truly, saved my life

 

What do you have to say about what’s going on in healthcare now?

 

It’s appalling, and terrifying, and will murder millions of people. It’s inhumane. On election night, healthcare’s the only thing I thought about. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m dead.”

 

Who do you think will be most effected?

 

I think the poor will be effected. I think all minorities will be affected. The disabled will be effected, the chronically ill will be effected. The elderly will be effected. Pretty much everyone who is not a rich, white, healthy straight male will be affected. Pretty much everyone who is not the spitting image of a congressman will be affected.

 

What do you think we should do from here? As an artist, and a patient, and someone who this effects directly, what would you like to see to make people aware?

 

The calls, the emails, the protests, the things like that. Making art is my outlet for it. But I think anyone who is dealing with issues like this, if they’re comfortable with it, and if they’re in a safe place to do so, I think it is really important to be visible.

 

It’s so misunderstood, what it takes to live with an illness on a daily basis, and to make that visible to others. Obviously, if you don’t live with it everyday, you’ll never understand it fully. But if you can make people see deeper into that situation, and have more empathy for it, it can only be better for everyone.

 

People only believe you can either be alive and well, or sick and dying. But people have a real issue with being alive and sick. I think the more people talk about it, and are visible, and see people being alive and sick, and see that we are viable human beings, the more beneficial it will be. Yeah, we’re alive, and we’re sick, and we’re going to continue to be alive if you’ll let us.

 

Do you think there’s anything the government can do to redeem itself with regards to healthcare? What would you like to see happen?

 

In a perfect world they could get rid of the American Healthcare Act, and work towards bettering the current system. Because it is working, it is good. It’s not perfect, but, it is the most effective healthcare system this country has ever had. Instead of tearing it down and starting from scratch, let’s start from where we’re at. It’s not perfect, but it’s good. So let’s focus on making it better.

 

Where does your health stand now?

 

My health is currently stable. The tumor continues to be stable. I am doing MRIs every twelve weeks. I go in for the scans and then I meet with my neuro-oncologist right after, and he goes over it. It’s so funny that I’m a visual artist and the only way to monitor my tumor is through visual means.

 

Artistically, what do you see yourself working on in the future?

 

I still have a great desire to do some kind of durational performance, potentially, over years, where it’s some kind of using up of the body, over time. Truly, my body feels like an art object now because of what’s happened to it, and it also somehow feels like so much has been done to it. Oddly, I feel closer to it, and somehow, more distant from it. It feels almost like it did in the beginning, like my body is some potential object to be used up for art.

 

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Siobhan Hebron
@shebron
siobhanhebron.com

She graduated from UCLA in 2012 with a B.A. in both Art and Art History. Her work engages in feminist social practice, directly embracing community and collaboration, and functions within the idea that a radically honest dialogue is needed to change the socio-cultural perception of health and illness.

 

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Julianne Carew
Fiction Editor, East Jasmine Review

Julianne writes new adult and literary fiction. She is currently trying to find a home for her first novel, Why Paintings Fall. She lives in the Los Angeles area, but travels all over the world collecting stories. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The East Jasmine ReviewLiterally Stories805 Literary MagazineBewildering Stories, and in numerous anthologies.

 

 

09 Jun

Book Review: Clifton Snider’s “The Beatle Bump”

Book: The Beatle Bump by Clifton Snider
Genre: Poetry
Reviewer: K. Andrew Turner
The Beatle Bump, by Clifton Snider (Los Nietos Press), is a work of adoration, contemplation, and emulation. Written mostly after the murder of John Lennon, Snider explores the playful lyrical style of the Beatles in his own songs. He digs into the roots of the Beatles, how they started and who influenced them. But above all, this is an ode from a fan to the musicians themselves.

 

Through exploration, Snider brings up letters that would not be out of place in the here and now. Love letters to Ringo and George, by fans that want nothing more than recognition and that ardor returned. Perhaps looking into our pop culture boy bands of the last few years: One Direction, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, etc will yield similar letters. All these bands have their loyal followers, their fans that scream and shout and oftentimes lay bare their feelings freely, and some say excessively. Perhaps the only thing that has changed is our attitude for those women (in particular) that simply throw themselves at these stars. Snider never judges these Beatlemaniacs, as his poetry feels right on the edge of the precipice. He understands why we fawn over such innocent-seeming men and why they pull us in with magnetism.

 

Each poem reflects hours of listening to music, absorbing, jamming along, and feeling in those deep moments spent late at night wondering just how someone so far away, so distant could “get” you. In some of the song forms, he playful enters the arena of lyrics riffing on some of the nonsense but provocative stylistic choices.

 

And Snider reflects on the darkness that follows each Beatle around, from drugs to loss, and death. He explores, throughout the book, how he was affected by each Beatle, by the band as a whole, and by the world-wide impact the band had. In the later poems, when he explores Liverpool, with each snap of the camera and each line of the poem, the reader comes to understand, full-circle, the brilliance and the nostalgic pangs of a young man desperate to connect to something that so powerfully impacted him.

 

This work is phenomenal in and of itself, and any fan of the Beatles, or music history in general, should pick up a copy. Those who have been transfixed by music or any fan of a band will understand the deeper meanings here as well.

 

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K. Andrew Turner
@KAndrewTurner
Publisher, East Jasmine Review
writes literary and speculative fiction, poetry, and dabbles in nonfiction as well. Growing up in the foothills of San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California has influenced his writing style and outlook on life. So far, his writing has appeared in Chiron Review, Carnival Magazine, Creepy Gnome, Lummox, A Few Lines Magazine, and publications by Bank-Heavy Press. K. Andrew Turner is a creative mentor and freelance editor, teaches creative writing, and is the publisher and founder of East Jasmine Review. www.kandrewturner.com