American Scream: Palindrome Apocalypse: A Trip and a Treat for Your Mind

It’s rare for me to come across a fellow poetry lover these days who isn’t some flavor of English. Poetry gets a bad rap for being esoteric, obtuse, unnecessarily complicated or convoluted, or pretentious. I’m not here to say that poetry like that doesn’t exist (just as there is prose that carries these not so admirable qualities as well). What I am here to argue is that there are as many different types of poetry as there are prose and to judge a genre and condemn it before you have tried all the genre has to offer is a pity and a shame.

Recently, Ooligan Press decided to stop taking poetry submissions. Though this saddened me, it also spurred me to delve into our backlist titles and bring to light the poetry we published in the past. One such collection is American Scream: Palindrome Apocalypse, by Dubravka Oraic Tolic. This isn’t the poetry you studied in high school. The poet writes in a relatable, yet intricate and introspective manner of exploration and discovery. We are all on a journey to find our America—our freedom and our strength. Perhaps what I enjoyed the most in this collection was the eclectic variety of poetic forms that the poet utilized, from paragraphs to phrases to scattered words to shouting capital letters and even illustrations. It’s impossible to get bored. Dubravka Oraic Tolic uses Columbus’s journey to America and his subsequent discovery of India (the Indies) as a basis of comparison and contrast throughout. The very first poem had me intrigued and hooked from the start.

America has a smiling face

And usually arrives with the best intentions

Usually in spring, when the mayflowers flower

Of sailors and seas. When you want to vomit

From the waves on shore.

Each word, each combination, each point of stress and emphasis was carefully chosen and balanced to create a cohesive, vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Another aspect of this collection that I enjoyed were the references to historical artwork and other literature. There is a short poem in the collection that compares Columbus to Odysseus and America to the siren, “And we are hostages all / On the road to Ithaca.” The intricacy of the metaphor here has layers, as not only are we looking at the discovery of India and eventually America, but also the epic journeys of Greek mythology and the journey towards discovery that we all face.

Here’s my approach to poetry: I read through the poem once, and if anything at all caught my attention, even if it’s just a word or a particular image that popped into my head, I go back for a second read. I am also a practical poetry reader. I know that I am not going to understand or comprehend everything that the poet was trying to articulate or create—and that’s okay. Poetry is personal. It’s raw emotion and loaded words and stark images. It’s twisted and odd and confusing.
This collection is a good place to start. Check out Ooligan Press and peruse our backlist for other options to inspire your inner poet.

Women Authors You Should Have on Your Reading List

Ooligan Press published Memories Flow in Our Veins in April, so hopefully most of you have had a chance to pick it up and enjoy the plethora of inspirational, powerful, and at times dark and creepy (pig’s head anyone?) stories and poems. As we’re enjoying the last bit of summer, many of you might get the urge to fill up your bags, baskets, and purses with food and books and curl up somewhere sunny to soak up any residual warmth, like plants before the inevitable rain and chill of fall. For your and my reading pleasure, I have lined up six books that I know I will be putting in my tote. The following list encompasses everything from feminism, gender, sexuality, identity, women’s right to education, and even the wacky world of internet fame.

  1. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
    This book of essays will have you laughing, thinking, and pondering well after you’re done reading. Solnit writes with her characteristic scathing humor of the battle between the sexes and why men sometimes assume women don’t know things.
  2. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    This is a toteable must-read for women and men. With the grace and beauty that we have come to expect from Adichie, she writes a powerful argument for feminism. Adichie strives for clarity, awareness, and inclusion, dispelling negative connotations and myths around the concept of feminism.
  3. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day
    If you’ve never heard of Felicia Day, then you have a binge session in your future, because if you haven’t seen The Guild then you’re missing out. Day is witty, hilarious, and unforgettable as she answers the puzzling question of how the shy, awkward math major made it in Hollywood and became a TV personality.
  4. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
    Nelson writes with poignant frankness on feminism, love, sex and sexuality, and gender centering around her relationship with Harry Dodge, who is gender fluid. The unusual formatting of the text, along with Nelson’s startling honesty and unflinching reflection, make this book a true reading experience. You cannot miss this one.
  5. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and contributor Christina Lamb
    Malala’s story is hopefully familiar to many. The youngest-ever nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize, she has stood steadfast and strong in the face of death threats and an attempt on her life to work towards the ultimate goal of education for women. Inspirational does not begin to encompass the bravery of this young woman.
  6. Feminist Activity Book by Gemma Correll
    Okay, this one isn’t exactly a book you sit down and read cover to cover, but this sassy activity book looked like such fun that I couldn’t leave it out. Correll doesn’t take herself too seriously—this book educates as it makes you laugh. Who doesn’t love to color and promote equality?