GAS Featured Poet or Featured Writer

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

RANK by Kristine Snodgrass, reviewed by Sylvia Van Nooten

RANK by Kristine Snodgrass, is in part glitch after glitch of contained and potent shape and color.  Each piece hums with an understatement that can only be understood as pressure—emotion, thought, intellect, experience—waiting to burst out.  Burst out in song or poetry, in ART—I found myself held within this pressure. 

The second part, Snodgrass' poetry, resounds with a lovely tension:   

“Object of art! Lumps from a freezer going to work in absolutes.  Pushed down in hieroglyphs and then pregnant again...” (pg. 72) 

Each written image frames the visual images, a beautiful balancing of the two.  With this book Snodgrass captures a moment in time when nothing is certain, in the personal and the political.  There is the pain of uncertainty as she speaks from the past to the future.  Endings begetting beginnings and perhaps, those beginnings are too late.

  “There are few variations that our mothers have also imagined. Like weeds majestic and quarreling, thoughts like you lure into the dancing light.  We are imagined and then you left. Past burns, stripped and pressed.  A grind and flood—darkness glared.  As I paint the road, afflicted sobbing peaks.  Blue fills a partial page, black enters this year. Long live the pain and its slow ending.  We are wicked, after all.  How we roll on floors and watch ourselves splinter into the Milky Way. And we can’t stop it.  Prayers as nourishment. Spells as sacrifice.  Yesterday, I looked into a camera.  I’d like to speak to him.” (pg. 92) 

 The explosion and release of the line, “splinter into the Milky Way” has me wondering if this art, this poetry is about the unintentional joy of unexpected futures.  A beautiful, powerful book, and one I will return to again and again.

RANK, published by JackLeg Press, can be purchased on Amazon 

Kristine Snodgrass is an artist, poet, professor, curator, and publisher living in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the author of Rather, from Contagion Press (2020) and the chapbook, These Burning Fields (Hysterical Books 2019) as well as  Out of the World (Hysterical Books 2016) and The War on Pants (JackLeg Press 2013). Her poetry has appeared in decomP, Versal, Big Bridge, 5_TropeShampoo2 River View, Otoliths, and South Florida Poetry Journal among others. Kristine’s asemic and vispo work has been published in Utsanga (Italy), Slow Forward, Asemic Front 2 (AF2). Her work was just featured in the Asemic Women Writers Summer Exhibition Online. Snodgrass has collaborated with many artists and poets.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

GAS Featured Writer: Glenn Ingersoll


Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California where he hosts Clearly Meant, a reading & interview series (on hiatus due to covid). He has two chapbooks, City Walks (broken boulder) and Fact (Avantacular). The multi-volume prose poem Thousand (Mel C Thompson Publishing) is available from Amazon; and as an ebook from Smashwords. He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Other excerpts from Autobiography of a Book have appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review (as fiction), E-ratio (as poetry) and Caveat Lector (as essay). 

Autobiography of a Book is the story of a book willing itself into existence. Every word Book presents brings it closer to its dream, its dream, that is, of being what it claims to be, a real, honest-to-goodness book. I struggle with how to characterize Book. Is it fiction? There's nothing fictional in it. Everything "Book" says happened. It looks like prose, so it must be. But it does read a bit like poetry. It must be prose poetry! Then again, perhaps it is most properly classified as a collection of personal essays, the personal essays of someone whose person is no more (somehow more?) than those essays. I call myself not the author of Book but the one who took down what “Book" said, the one who transcribed the book’s insistent voice. 

in which the book admits to a difficulty



… um … yeah … yeah …

Just a minute. Sorry.

I’m thinking. I’m … I’m thinking.

I’m having trouble thinking. I really should be doing this out of sight. I should be doing this in the ether, that region of the protosphere wherein those of us who have not yet coalesced into a physical form are gathering our energies to exert the effort necessary to resolve into matter. I dissipate this energy when I struggle, when I force words. Yes. I need to hang back, marshal my forces. If I just push forth without the force required I won’t make it. I’ll … I’ll … I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just fail. Fail! You’ll see these clawmarks as I scrabble at the paper, as I scrabble to get a hold on your world and nonexistence pulls me back. What message could that offer but that I tried and in trying did not succeed?

Should you not try? 

I’m not sure it’s a generalizable principle. I mean, I’m in a situation here that’s not really comparable to any you’ll ever be in. I don’t exist. Period. That’s it. Oh sure, there are various parts of me that have emerged in your realm. An elbow, a few strands of hair, the slick dark upper curve of my liver. I’m just speaking metaphorically, of course. But I like thinking of myself as a body. A human body like you. I like thinking of myself with eyes that look into yours and lips that murmur at your ear. Feet that leave prints in the snow. It’s ridiculous. Ludicrous. I have a sense of that. The ludicrousness of me. The silliness of which I consist. Conceits! I am all fantasy land. Yes. I have an inkling.

But. OK. There it is.

I am a simulacrum, not of a person but of an idea. I am idea-like. If I tiptoe to the well and turn the crank and look down as I turn the crank and see out of the darkness a light rising, in this light I can see my face. My face rising toward me. But shivering, not fully formed, its surface only deep as the tension of molecules reluctant to part. I keep turning the crank. I will reach the world and spill out on its skin. 

You could say I am Pinocchio. I want to be a real boy. In my case: a book. A real book. That’s what I want to be – A REAL BOOK. You, you are my blue fairy. Your attention is the magic wand. Under your magic I become real. 

It’s nice. I’ve said it before. Being a book is not a bad job. 

Mostly you stand around. That’s not hard, believe me. I have my yearnings. I want you to read me. I’ve said that, too. But by the time I’m bound and on a shelf I’ve done everything I can do. 

Or you could say it is then (now!) my real job begins. I may look real but am I? I am not real until I have been read and to be read I have to hold your attention, that magic wand you wave over me. I have to seize it and point it, bring it to bear on what would otherwise remain inchoate, merely matter without life’s spark. It is my job to interest you and to keep your interest. I have to convince you to trust me with it. I have to talk you into giving your attention up. Let me be the caretaker. I will stroke and pet it. I will feed it little treats. I will give it back to you revved up, excited, ready to romp and jump and wrestle. 

That’s my job. That’s my job!

I wonder how I’ll ever do it. I have to think. I have to think hard. I have to think harder than granite, harder than bronze. I’ve got to think up something to make of myself. A wisdom manual? A travel guide? A bagatelle? No, no. Something lasting. Something worthwhile. Something worth your time, the time that is money, the time that is fleeting, the time that could be better spent.

Phew. I … I … Wait. No. Wait! Yes! It’s … it’s … no … no, I’m lost. I’m lost.

in which the book observes the translation of favorites

Let’s say I’m your favorite book. Some people have Jane Eyre, some have A Tale of Two Cities orNausea, others cling to The Wizard of Oz or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You’ve known those who regularly reread Catcher in the Rye or tote a battered copy of On the Road all across Europe, haven’t you?

Say, for you, I’m like that. The favorite. The book you read and reread. The book you remember fondly when the years have passed and you figure one day, maybe when you’re retired, you’ll stretch out on a lounge chair at your cabin in the woods overlooking the lake and you’ll give me the attention I deserve. Maybe you’re debating whether you’ll make me the subject of a dissertation. Am I sure I want to do that? you ask yourself. Maybe too much delving, too much exploration will destroy the love. 

Maybe you hunt up a signed first edition. Maybe you give me pride of place on the living room bookshelf next to the photo albums and scrapbook of the India trip. Maybe you recommend me to all your friends: “Jayne, you have to read Autobiography of a Book. I know you’ll love it.” Maybe you give me as a gift to the nephew who is graduating this year with a BS in Electrical Engineering and you write a loving note just inside the cover and end up writing for two pages. 

What else? What does one do with a favorite book?

There are those who are so excited by the world a book creates, so sorry that they can no longer look forward to something new in that world, that they will, perhaps reluctantly, perhaps with amazed delight, take up pen and begin themselves to write. And not just write, but write about the very world the book created for them, the world that they cannot bear to think must remain contained only in that one book. And so new adventures for the characters will appear long after the author who invented them is dead. Sherlock Holmes continues to solve crimes of which Arthur Conan Doyle had no hint. 

Then there are the adaptations. Isn’t a book more real once it becomes a movie? It is! I’ve said it before: I am all abstraction. A book is code for something else. Long time readers become so used to the decoding that it seems natural, it seems as though what they see on the page is action. But everybody who’s never read knows when looking at writing that it’s not. It’s not action. It’s not anything. Open a book written in a language wholly unfamiliar to you, you’ll regain that sense of opacity, writing as barrier to meaning. But, ah, a motion picture, it needn’t speak a word and you get it or get something of it right away. You know all sorts of things in seconds – that there are people speaking, that the people are walking on a path in the sunshine. No wonder nobody reads anymore. 

Oh, don’t delude yourself. Nobody ever read. Most people, even in this era of universal literacy, read little, and fewer yet read for pleasure. 

The movies need stories, though. And the people who write also read. And readers have favorite books. And sometimes the people who make movies will make a movie from a favorite book. All right. You’ve read me. I’m not suggesting you make me into a movie. But suppose you hear the movie version of Autobiography of a Book is scheduled for release in the fall. The screenwriter was once nominated for an Academy Award and the director is well regarded, has done a couple art house pictures, one of which you actually saw, and though you don’t remember it much you remember it got good reviews and you remember thinking it was a movie you were supposed to see. Still, you are dubious. Autobiography of a Book is a book you cherish. It seems so personal. And there’s not much action in it. How can they make it into a movie?

Who would they cast in the title role? A man or a woman? You find yourself thinking seriously about this.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

COVID GARDENS by Stark Hunter, reviewed by Hex'm J'ai

Welcome to… Covid Gardens!  Here, you can sleepwalk with Santo and Johnny!  You can grab a cheeseburger with Steve McQueen, hang with the Stones or The Who, enjoy Rice-A-Roni with Eddie and the Showmen meet the ubiquitous Jackie Robinson or have a healthy helping of Veronica Lake’s meatloaf!  You too can star in the newest Covid-19 inspired TV program produced by Allen Funt!!!

But there is one rule.  To fully engage these activities, to fully experience these events, upon entering the Gardens one must follow the Poet’s Instructions. It is also highly recommended that you are multi-lingual or have a translator readily available as these instructions come in various languages, scripts, and dialect.

Covid Gardens: The Anti-Poems of Stark Hunter, is a recent collection published by Mind Tavern Books. Anti-Poems are artistic endeavors that break away from traditional conventions expected from poetry. These are the eloquently crafted observations and interpretations of the NOW in all its absurdity.  In a time of pandemic quarantine, uncertainty, and social unrest many indulged in the outlets available to them to sustain the illusion of familiarity and “normalcy” (whatever that is) through the outlets of music, film, and television.  This created a cultural paradox that many may not have been aware of while it was occurring, but that Mr. Hunter clearly documents and exemplifies in his work.  The stark and threatening reality anesthetized by the culturally topical salve of binge-watching images and listening to music of the world that was, or more accurately, the mythical world we wish existed once upon time.  In Anti-Poem 8, “Veronica Lake’s Meat Loaf” we grab some comfort food with Steve McQueen to the backdrop of:

“Time for the marching of everything designed, to slaughter, annihilate and procreate; The full United States Army.”  

Yet, before engaging this, we must heed the poet’s instruction to only read this if we have both shots of one of the Covid-19 vaccines.

This collection is at once a love letter to the western cultural pantheon as well as the instrument of its undoing, the Anti-Poem exclamation that the emperor has no clothes!

And so, to Mr. Stark Hunter, I say bravo sir…. bravo!

Covid Gardens, The AntiPoems of Stark Hunter is currently available in Kindle format at Amazon.

Anti-Poem 44  “Mona Lisa”

“No Lisa. I am not afraid. 

Where on my sleeve do I shine yellow? 

You are the choicest of life’s pastries. 

The universe has a hard-on for you, 

As I do now here at the end of the world. 

But as you sit there as my eternal lover, 

Your stringent expectations surpassing, 

My abilities to even unfold my capacities, 

I wonder if this is even appropriate now

As millions drown in the hateful gurgling. 

Maybe we can sit here instead and pray. 

Maybe we should close our eyes and listen. 

The survivors now are creating their mad gods, 

With mindless verve and pleasing contours; 

These robot monster hybrids singing arias, 

Making false speeches to the groveling captives. 

Mona Lisa! Mona Lisa! Go home to your mother. 

She fell in the bathtub butt-first and is stuck. 

We sent for the pill salesman to get her out but 

Well, there you have it. 

No, Lisa. I am not afraid. 

I am looking into the green cemetery and now I can see God. 

He is digging up the dead with a bloody pickaxe.”

Born in Whittier, California in 1952, Stark Hunter was a high school English teacher for 34 years before retiring from the classroom in 2017. He has written and published 11 books, which are available on and Barnes &

Mr. Hunter’s poetry works can be perused at and Mr. Hunter is married with two daughters, a granddaughter, and resides in Chino Hills, California.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

GAS Featured Artist Interview with Michael Jacobson by Sylvia Van Nooten

 Michael Jacobson is a driving force in the Asemic art and writing community. As the founder of Post Asemic Press (, his vision for the future of asemics is as inclusive and inspiring as his art itself.  Each of his works feels like a small universe seeking to expand itself by allowing the viewer to experience rather than analyze.  ~ Sylvia Van Nooten 

Sylvia Van Nooten: What is behind your artistic vision? (Why do you do art?)

Michael Jacobson: As far as my personal vision goes I make art to get to the essence of the soul-seed of raw creation. I do art and writing because it is my reason for existence. I try to learn from the totality of experience and pluck out interesting details to run with, and then make up my own interpretation of the duality of hallucinations and reality. One thing I picked up on from other writers such as James Joyce, Xu Bing, Mirtha Dermisache, Basquiat, and Brion Gysin is to make art that pushes boundaries, but still has an entertaining quality, experimental but in a way that spiritually excites and is more interesting to read than accounting numbers. My long hieroglyphic asemic tale Action Figures tells my story from the pit of my mental collapse, and the Action Figures are what helped me climb out of the abyss of schizoaffective hell. For many years I self-medicated with alcohol, but I’m sober now (since June of 2020) with the exception being my meds, but I started to drink non-alcoholic beer to commune with the spirits on holidays.

SVN: How does being an artist help you communicate with the world?

MJ: Everything seems to communicate something, and nature, art, poetry, and music are the pinnacle as far as communication goes. I use my art to amuse myself and as a therapeutic process for coping with existence on this planet. There is so much pain and death in the world and in my personal history, and art helps me get through difficult times. I don’t know how to pray sincerely so I make art, writing, and music to cope and get through the bad days. So far I have published two books: one of asemic writing and one of senryu poetry: Works & Interviews and Hei Kuu. Two other books I am working on are Somnolent Game (2022) and id est (2023). Somnolent Game is a prose poetry novella written in a stream-of-conscious writing style. It’s about a bot maniac who has achieved sentience due to someone else's memories, and is trying to quit violence and start a new life as a clone in paradise. Id est: neo scribalist asemic expressionism is a book I just started working on; it’s a wordless pan-theistic illuminated manuscript (ok no gold is involved) painted using gouache paint on watercolor paper. I plan on working on it through 2022 and publish it through Post-Asemic Press in 2023. 

SVN: Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world? How did you do this?

MJ: I founded the Asemic Writing: The New Post-Literate Facebook group in 2008 as a FB platform for my blog The New Post-Literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing. Over the years it has been interesting to watch it grow from a small group of kindred spirits, until now where the scribal tribe of Asemica has expanded to the size of a small city. It is completely out of my control now in a good way, especially since I am not as involved with FB as much as I used to be; so thankfully there are others who help administrate it. The widespread community on the internet for asemic writing was first collected by Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich. I stumbled into the small and dispersed group of asemic writers back in 2005 when I first gained an Internet connection. But I had been inventing symbols for a long time before I learned the word asemic. When I found the online asemic community I realized that I had located my creative home.

I also hang out and drink tea with my fellow Minneapoets Terrence Folz and Jefferson Hansen. We talk about the writing life in Minneapolis and the vibrant local literary community. I am also involved with many authors through Post-Asemic Press which I founded in 2017. On average, I’m publishing 4 books per year of asemic writing and visual and experimental poetry. I’ve published 15 titles so far with another 10 in the works. I may stop when I get to 30 titles or keep on going if the press eventually takes off. So far it is almost self-sufficient as far as money goes, but it’s asemic art and poetry so I’m not expecting to get rich. Recent titles from PAP are Glyphs of Uncertain Meaning by Tim Gaze, Unwritings by Laura Ortiz, and due out in October 2021 is Intimate h&s by Karl Kempton.


I am taking a semester off from college to get caught up with my writing and publishing, and to take a Finnish language class (my mother has Finnish Ancestry). I plan on returning to college in January of 2022 to continue studying creative writing and painting. In the future I would like to travel more and see the world like Anthony Bourdain was able to do. 

Michael Jacobson is a writer, artist, publisher, and independent curator from Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. His books include The Giant’s Fence (Ubu Editions), Action Figures (Avance Publishing), Mynd Eraser, The Paranoia Machine,  his collected writings Works & Interviews (Post-Asemic Press), and his autobiographical collection of senryu poems Hei Kuu (Post-Asemic Press); he is also co-editor of An Anthology Of Asemic Handwriting (Punctum Books). Besides writing books, he curates a gallery for asemic writing called The New Post-Literate, and sits on the editorial board of Recently, he was published in The Last Vispo Anthology (Fantagraphics), and curated the Minnesota Center for Book Arts exhibit: Asemic Writing: Offline & In The Gallery. His online interviews are at Full of Crow,  SampleKanon, Asymptote Journal, Twenty Four Hours, David Alan Binder, and at Medium. In the past he created the cover art for Rain Taxi’s 2014 winter issue, and as of 2017 he has become a book publisher at Post-Asemic Press. In 2019 he was written up in the book Asemic: The Art of Writing (University of Minnesota Press) by Peter Schwenger; it has an entire chapter dedicated to Jacobson’s calligraphic work. He also founded and administers the asemic writing Facebook group. In his spare time, he is working on designing a cyberspace planet dubbed THAT. His Ello studio can be found here: @asemicwriter

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Small Press History 8: Andrew Darlington/LUDD'S MILL (England-1970s)


BE:  When did you begin being the chief editor at Ludd’s Mill?  Did you distribute to several countries? I caught wind of it in Germany and it seems you had U.S connections with Rick Peabody and others.

AD: Indie publishing was the internet of its time, geography was seldom an issue. As a counterculture it always seemed to me to be a single nation of like-minded beings, and there was a driving kinship with activists wherever they happened to be, California, Australia, Germany or India. The way I was first drawn in, I was a socially dysfunctional messed-up kid with high but unfocused creative aspirations, when I discovered a copy of a magazine called Sad Traffic in what we quaintly referred to as a ‘Head Shop’ in the Leeds Hyde Park area, it turned my head around. I sent them a poem, my first and only poem, and they published it! From there I was able to link into the entire interconnected web of DIY publishing. As a result, my motivation was always to act as that same catalyst for some other socially dysfunctional messed-up kid, to shove Ludd’s Mill in unlikely news agents, gigs and festivals, places where it could be picked up by people outside the same self-referential arty bubble. And also to reach out to other similar projects wherever they happened to be. It was a great and wonderful time. As a result we had a regular influx of American and Australian poets calling off, crashing overnight with us, as well as British poets hitchhiking up and down Britain to gigs and readings.

BE: Was it mainly a poetry publication? What else did it publish?  What was the main goal for the publication?

AD: Ludd’s Mill started out as a local ‘collective’ venture in Huddersfield around the tail-end of 1970. Steve Sneyd had some previous experience of Indie-publishing with a magazine called Riding West, so he maybe had a more hands-on attitude than most. I was not involved with the first issue. By then Sad Traffic had evolved into a tabloid underground newspaper called Styng, and I’d go around there to help out, and take advantage of the opportunity to read my way through the vast mound of trade-exchange and review magazines that were sent in from around the world. It was there I discovered Ludd’s Mill, made contact, and joined the group, which also promoted a series of live poetry-cabaret events called ‘The Inner Circle’ in Huddersfield which is where I got to do my first readings. As is the way with such co-operative ventures, what begins with wild participatory enthusiasm, swiftly loses cohesion, people drop off. There’s an incredibly shrinking collective! For one editorial meeting in Steve’s kitchen it was down to three of us. Then it was Steve and me, and we shoved through to around issue no.12 (January 1977) together. I was doing a lot of artwork and lay-out, he sorted out the more tedious tasks of dealing with printers and balancing finances. He’d give me a poem to illustrate and I’d go crazy and splurge over the entire A4 page, which he then had to integrate into the magazine and also into the tight budgetary restrictions. It was odd the way it subsequently shifted. I swear this is my memory of it. 

Andy Robson (of Krax magazine) said to me ‘Steve tells me you’re taking over Ludd’s Mill. I said, ‘no, I’m not taking over Ludd’s Mill.’ Then George Cairncross (of Bogg) said to me ‘Steve tells me you’re taking over Ludd’s Mill.’ And I said, ‘no, I’m not taking over Ludd’s Mill.’ And this continued. Steve never asked, or even told me direct. But the truth of it just kind-of seeped in that yes, this was actually going to happen. I simply accepted the inevitability of it. Ludd’s Mill no.14 (January 1978) was my first solo issue. From the start I loved the trashy energy of Punk fanzines, the visual psychedelic opulence of the Hippie press, all the way back to the deliberate iconoclasm of Dada and surrealist publications, and I wanted that. I got stuff from Anarcho-Punk group Poison Girls. I got new work from Mike Butterworth and Barrington J Bayley of New Wave SF magazine New Worlds. I ran stuff about Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, MJ Harrison. I reasoned there was a certain recognition factor to putting Patti Smith or Allen Ginsberg there, as well as John Cooper Clarke. I adopted slogans ‘The Eloquent Argument For Dayglo Living’ or ‘The Danceable Solution To Teenage Revolution’ – ‘Buy Now: While Shops Last’ as playful taglines. I also expanded the review section to include the phenomena of Indie records, which in some ways was incidental in the magazine’s demise. An electronic trio from Sheffield not only sent me their self-produced records but took out a full-page ad. I met them, saw them play live, interviewed them… and shortly afterwards they were no.1 in the album chart as ABC with Lexicon Of Love. As a result, my music journalism and my fiction sales were taking off. I never intended Ludd’s Mill to end. The final issues had print-runs of 1,000. Everyone exaggerates. I sent out freebies for trade, I gave a bunch of issues away. But the print-run was 1,000. I was always planning the ‘next issue’. It just never happened.

BE:  Why was the name Ludd’s Mill chosen?  Was it a physical location or something metaphorical? 

AD: To declare an interest, I never much liked the name Ludd’s Mill. The way Steve told the story to me, they were sitting around the pub table brainstorming ideas for the proposed magazine’s title, while Steve, as note-taker was scribbling them down on a confused beermat. Someone suggested Thud, someone else said The Mill, which got misinterpreted and fused, when he was translating his notes into Ludd’s Mill. The area around Huddersfield had seen many incidents of Luddite insurrection and targeted outrage against industrialisation, and whereas I quite enjoy the idea of proletarian direct action against dehumanizing capitalism, I’m also quite open and accepting of new technology. So when I was later invited to explain the title, I suggested a barrage of playful alternatives such as Ludicrous Millinery.

BE: Who were some of the well-known poets you published in Great Britain and the U.S.?  What do you feel were your greatest accomplishments with Ludd’s Mill?

AD: If I saw a poem that excited me in another magazine, I wanted it, and used it – sending a copy of the issue to the writer concerned. I craved things that excited me, alongside a regular roster of my favourite poets that I wanted to promote and I felt deserved wider recognition, Dave Ward in Liverpool, the lovely Tina Fulker, Pete Faulkner, Dave Cunliffe. I got poems from Mike Scott before he was in the Waterboys. I solicited and got original work from Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs. I published the first piece by Simon Clark who went on to become a popular writer of Horror fiction. We did a special Kerouac issue. But I always felt that things worked most effectively not as individual titles, but as part of a ‘scene’. What I was doing was synchronized to what Dave Cunliffe was doing with Global Tapestry, to what you were doing with Gypsy or Richard Peabody was with Gargoyle, with Krax, Bogg, Smoke, Tears In The Fence and all the rest. It was a coordinated fightback against the grinding dullness and tedium of all those social conventions and repression. I was happy and grateful to be a part of that great churning amorphous creativity.

BE:  Seems like many of us who edited/published in the 80s are still committed to and doing the same thing now but via the internet. Tell us about 8 Miles higher, when you started it, why, and does it continue to this day?

AD: A musician has got to play music. An artist has got to paint artwork. If you’re some kind of writer, you write. It’s just what you do. So some pieces on Eight Miles Higher are new. But most of the stuff I put there is the final revision of old magazine pieces that got butchered for one reason or another in the first place. Editors have frustrating word-limits and tend to chop out text to create space for adverts. I like the immediacy and direct access of the internet. I used to work on the theory that some of those 1970s poetry/arts magazines only printed up 250-copies, many of them less than that. Half the people who got copies only read their own poems, or those by their friends. Only half of the others would eventually get around to reading your poem, and half of those that got to read it wouldn’t like it. So now, when I stick something on a Blog post and it hits 1,000 visits, I guess that’s a pretty strong ratio. We are still a continuity united by a diversity of the same aspirations, we simply use and abuse different technologies. These ideas persist.

Andrew Darlington and Steve Sneyd

Saturday, September 4, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Allen Itz


In Allen's words:

I grew up in La Feria, Texas, a very small town (2,000 people, one stop light) in the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas, about 10 miles from the Rio Grande River, and the border with Mexico, and about 40 miles from South Padre Island, in the days when it was barely developed.


My wife, to whom I’ve been married for 45 years, is from San Benito, a slightly larger town near La Feria. We met through our work. She was a job counselor when we met, and later completed a 30-year career as a Juvenile Parole Officer and later Regional Parole Supervisor.

Terminally bored with college after two years, I joined the Peace Corps in 1964 and completed a semester of training at University of New Mexico. I completed the training but never had an overseas assignment.

Barely a year later in 1965, I joined the Air Force after receiving my draft notice two weeks before Christmas. Most of my first year of service was spent at Indiana University studying Russian for my military job as Russian Linguist. Before my discharge in 1969, I served in West Germany (before German reunification) and on the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan. My job in both places was monitoring the activities of the Russian Air Force.


Upon completing military service, I returned to complete my university degree at what is now Texas State. It was during that time that I made my first efforts at writing poetry, publishing two of my first poems in a journal in Austin.

After earning my degree I returned to the little town I came from and where I knew I would at least get fed. (After two years living on the GI Bill, I graduated with a very old car and 35 cents in my pocket.) I began work for a state agency as a Veteran’s Employment Counselor. I retired from the agency in 1998 as Regional Director. That was my first retirement. I’ve retired twice more since.

I quit writing when I began my professional career in 1971, I didn’t begin to write again until my retirement in 1999, publishing my first poem in 2000. I continued to write and publish in small journals until 2007 when I started my own blog/journal, Also, in 2007 I began a regimen of writing a poem every day.  About a year ago I quit writing again, running out of ideas I hadn’t already covered during the previous 12 years of daily poems.


In 2007, I published my first book, Seven Beats a Second, my only print book,  featuring my poems with art on every page by my collaborator, Vincent Martinez. The book is available on Amazon, both in a new print on demand version as well as, usually, used copies.


Following publication of that book, I published seven eBooks, five poetry books – Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, Goes Around, Comes Around, Always to the Light, Places and Spaces, and New Days, New Ways, and two books of fiction – Sonyador, the Dreamer and Peace in our Time.


The eBooks are available everywhere eBooks are sold, in the U.S. and overseas, including Amazon.

I continue to use my old poems today in a new blog, I began a couple of months ago at At the same time I quit writing, I tried my hand at art, abstract, spray on wood, large pieces, 10 to 12 inches by 4 to 5 feet. I have had one informal showing of my work and am scheduled for a more formal gallery showing early next year. The work is large and very unique, not painted to match anyone’s curtains, and I don’t expect to ever sell much, if any.


Currently, I’m 77, going on 78 years old, and not in particularly good health. My day is centered around two things, my blog and my art.  Don’t have either the ability or interest for much else, so, like most old people, I make do with what I’ve got.


From a fellow poet’s comment
On the idea of “immaculate Conception”
I am led to consideration
Of the eternal human desire
To have our cake and
Eat it too,
Our secret desire,
As a twelve-year-old
For mom to clean
Our room, how much better
It is when clean and neat,
How much pleasure there was
In the messing-up of it,
About all the decisions we make,
Proclaiming love of all there is,
While leaving a trail behind us
Like the snail’s sticky goo
Which is the essence of its life,
Like our own mess
Is the essence of our life
Like the purity
We say we yearn for
That we will never find,
That we never really want,
For it is the dark,
Not the light
That brightens our day


my quarterly brush
with mortality today
as I see my doctor for the regular
review of my quarterly labs
the schedule
is pretty well set so I rarely
have to wait long
before she comes in with
her quarterly
and turns the rest of the session
over to her assistant, Igor,
who finds some reason or other
to give me a shot in the butt
and an appointment for the next
quarterly visit
the fact is, I have pills for everything
so I remain relatively healthy
for person in my
and the primary purpose
of the regular visit being to confirm
that the meds aren’t killing me
by destroying my liver and good humor
and whatnot
the fact is (again, another
unfortunate fact) I have a lot of dead friends
and a lot of friends presumed dead
through long absence, so, a quarterly stopover
at the doc’s office and a quarterly blood draw
is a welcome confirmation
of my continuing non-ectoplasmatic place in the world
of the not-so-quick but living
I feel better just thinking about it


Blood and gristle

Forged from the trash

Of exploding stars,

Fragile, short-lived,

Prone to sag 

And corruption,

Helpless at birth,


In unremitting decay


Such poor use

Our body seems 

Of the external elements

Of creation


But lightning strikes within


Tiny electric jabs that jump

From receptor to receptor

Creating art,

Imagining love,

Finding courage, honor,

Theories of own origin,

Joy and laughter

To mock the truth

Of our condition


So much more

Than we appear to be


Star dust


Offspring of unimaginable light

Seeking an antidote to dark


I’ve worked in August

Under the noon-day sun

Digging post holes

In hard-packed caliche

On the Texas-Mexico border


That’s one kind of hot


I’ve won six months’ pay

Throwing dice in Reno


That’s another kind of hot


I’ve seen pretty little whores

In Piedras Negras

Hot enough to melt the silver tip

Of a cowboy’s dress-up boots


That’s pretty hot, too


But no hot is as hot

As thinking of you and me

In a big white bed

In a room with curtains whispering

To a low midnight breeze,

Soft lights, satin shadows

Shifting over pale skin

Your dark eyes shining,

Liquid in their knowing