A Lesson In Bantam (2)

Sometimes a popular artist comes along with a rash of synthesized, trumped up dance hits that stick in the public’s consciousness.  These artists not only sound the same and will be forgotten in a year, but they often represent all things wrong with popular music.  And then sometimes that artist shows off the talent behind the autotune, strips away the thumping beats, and proves she has talent regardless of the Top 40 tunes she is known by. 

Some months ago, Ke$ha was asked to do her own rendition of a Bob Dylan song for Amnesty International’s tribute album.  As Rolling Stone reports, she sat in her room and recorded the vocals on her laptop.  This is the track used on the album with a minimalistic accompaniment.  This is the effect of art hewed down to the bare essentials.  This is the spirit of bantam.


featured image courtesy tsatic-cden

On Mary Oliver’s Poem “Two Horses”

     Once, when we were children, we had brazen fantasies of justice, mercy, love, fresh fruit, and a higher education.  To each of us, these fantasies were unique; e.g., my idea of mercy was different from my brothers’, and vice versa.  Equally unique were the ways in which these fantasies were dissolved by what Bukowski referred to as “the first daylight of reality.”  One of us realized his mother had an affair.  Another dropped his apple in the street.  A little girl somewhere got a yeast infection, and may or may not have had access to appropriate medicine.  A boy had a crush that was not reciprocated, or a girl was called ‘ugly’ by a classmate.  At some point, we have all held our fantasies in our palms, cupped them like water, and as we watched them trickle through our fingers and evaporate on the desert floor, we said, “Of course, life isn’t like this.” 

     Life is not like the ideals we once cherished.  This is the lesson Pinocchio taught us, and it is the lesson we spend the rest of our lives learning.  Because it is true does not mean we must succumb to despair.  Like Pinocchio, we must work to find the inner strength necessary to handle life’s low blows with courage and grace.  Some of us find the strength and use it in combat; some of us write.

image courtesy horsesmaine


there was a fox Boss in my dream
last night a fox the color of
the field before it wakes to green
I didn’t know there was a fox
about until it moved until
it moved like it was sliding Boss
it slid across a furrow then
I barely saw it sliding to
the woods sliding to the river Boss
I never know what’s going to cross
my path O never what will make
me ask another question that’s
a question in itself I’d like
to know why everything is stuck
in the middle Boss of something else
why the fox was stuck inside my dream
though it was making for the river
do you make nothing Boss but questions
did you set that fox inside my head
did you lay that field behind my eyes

-Maurice Manning, from Bucolics


This is when the truth of our preferences comes out.  Of course, no one can talk about art objectively; if a piece works for you, it is because it appeals to your idea of good art.  If it does not work for you, it is because it appeals to someone else’s idea of good art.  Critics use technical language to talk about different mediums (“I love the shadow play in the photograph”; “The line breaks in ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ move the reader effortlessly through the poem”; “Stanley Kubrick has an impeccable knack for mise en scene”).  These words and phrases are not employed to say that a piece is good or bad; they only aid the critic’s expression of his own preferences.  We all know, for instance, that a certain line break cannot be objectively good (that is, always effective all the time).

Technically, we don’t know that there is much difference between Jean-Luc Godard’s new wave masterpice “Breathless,” and Harold P. Warren’s “Manos:  The Hands of Fate,” frequently cited as the worst film ever made.  They both feature chaotic camera work, arbitrary silences, inexperienced actors, unforgettable performances, and seem to have been filmed on the fly without any serious plan for production.  And, of course, they both have mise en scene.  “Breathless” appeals to more people’s ideas of what a good movie looks like, “Manos” does not, and rightly so.  If, however, the lens through which we viewed art were strictly objective, “Breathless” would be as infamous as “Manos,” or “Manos” would be hailed as genius.  We don’t want to live in a world where either is true. 

Our decisions are subjective, but they are ours.  If one work of art appeals to us and another does not, it is by the sheer randomness of the cosmos.  It cannot be said that the pieces we accept are better than those we do not accept, and it would certainly be wrong to say the pieces we don’t accept are void of quality or value.  Such an attitude is reductive, and has no palce in the progressive world of modern art.  We thank you for work, and for your bravery.  So be it.

We Are Reading The Submissions

In my lifetime, the only consistency there has been in the country’s political dialogue is the Presidential bashing.  Presidents Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama have sparked some of the most vehement backlash from the media and public the United States has ever seen, but only recently it has become vogue to publish books declaiming the President while he is still in office.  Obama has probably suffered the worst rash of opinionated smear-literature in the history of mud-slinging.

This entry is not a partisan plea for peace.  Instead, it is invigorating to be reminded that we live in a country where such anti-establishment texts are not only permitted, but embraced by the populace (which of Glenn Beck’s or Bill O’Reilly’s books is not a New York Times bestseller?)

As we sort through the submissions, we are continually delighted to live in a place where there is a demand for eclectic, unique art, and that people are willing to proffer their work for our consideration.  We hope you find joy in that, too, and we hope you continue to submit.

Image courtesy anh-usa.org



Our online submission form is now operating.  Also, check out our updated FAQs page.

Submission Deadline: March 30

Be sure to submit your most dynamic prose, poetry, or visual art by March 30th! The submission form can be found on our “Submit” page, FAQ can be found under “About”.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

So why the fox?

So why the fox?

After the long process of choosing a title that represented exactly the kind of work that we were most interested in receiving, we watoo timid!nted a logo that would capture it as well.  In group-brainstorming we thought immediately of animals.  The first idea was a mouse.  It was certainly small enough to be indicative of the fact that we’re looking for short, concise work.  But somehow, it wasn’t really conveying the rest of our mission: energetic, spirited, dynamic.  Sure mice are fast little scurrying critters, but they’re also timid and often hide.  We wanted bold!


Then we thought of the fox.  Like the mouse, it is small and fast, but more dignified.  Dynamic, sleek, clever, careful.  These are all fox-like characteristics, and they are all things we want in our work! Perfect.  We’re hoping you keep the idea of what the fox symbolizes in mind when you start to think of submissions.  Short/small work, yes! But be bold, let each word be carefully chosen to convey your message–we can’t wait to read your submissions!

(Also, a third meaning of bantam is a chicken, and Helen thinks it’s funny that foxes eat chickens.)

just right


A Lesson In Bantam

Le microbe


Adam had ’em.


This is the poet’s version of the John F. Kennedy conspiracy:  was it Oswald, or the mob?  Some attribute the above to Ogden Nash, others to Shel Silverstein.  Some insist there was a third writer on the grassy knoll.  No matter the author, the piece is short and spirited, and it would not take the most skilled professor to teach an entire lesson on this work alone.  Consider how the title and poem compliment each other.  Notice how perfectly the trochaic meter* punches up the effect.  Internal rhyme and colloquial dialect are also at play, and the poem accomplishes all this in nine words. 

Go and do likewise.  We are assembling an ad campaign that we will launch in the coming week.  Over and out.


*trochaic meter – the pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables.  Opposite of iambic meter, which is unstressed/stressed.

Image courtesy: mathovore

The Fox and the Zorro

Foxes by Marc Franz

"Foxes," by Marc Franz

What do they mean by 960×120?  Is the fox jumping over the moon, or is it road kill?  Should it be taking off, or landing safely?  When did ‘Post Title’ become the standard?  Who would choose a ‘default post author’?  How frequently do drafts save themselves?  Can this get any more conceptually abstract?

Tune in next time for the answers to these questions, and more…


Image courtesy: WebMuseum