Jan 10, 2017
By Cole Konopka, Colorado Review Associate Editor
I love the contemporary literary moment. I love it in many ways. I love the grassroots rhizome of small presses and journals doing unique work all over the world. I love the schools that offer refuge to write among others who write. The contemporary literary moment is in many ways problematic just as the society in which it is enmeshed, but in this small world we all love, and everything follows that.
And what each of us loves is out there to be found. I am lucky enough to live in a time where there is room for what I have come to love, so that I may read it. Two recent reads come to mind: Wendy Burk’s new book Tree Talks: Southern Arizona (delete press) and the most recent (July/August) issue of the American Book Review, which features essays on experimental writing. I don’t imagine either will replace the Keats in my bookcase, but each has been a help and comfort in pursuing the work I love.
Burk’s book, a series of interview transcriptions with trees in southern Arizona, offers a new way of reading, a new means of communicating—stretching beyond poetry’s range under typical circumstance. Similarly/differently, the American Book Review summer issue champions and explores across ten articles what it means for writing to wear that description. As I’ve come to value this ability of poetry to stretch limits, I continually find new iterations of that same spirit in strange things I love. The experimental focus of these texts offer courage for me to rewrite writing. To a degree I had not expected, this strange spirit is getting the opportunity it deserves in the publishing world, in part thanks to the dividing and subdividing channels of taste and interest in that world. There are books out there seemingly made for anyone and everyone.
I know now that I am not alone in thinking that through literature the way the world is does not necessitate the way it will be, and works such as Tree Talks and the American Book Review remind me that there is room for what we love, because by luck someone else will love it too.