Intro to Special Feature: Short plays, Choreo-poems and/or Hybrid Performance Textsby Idris Goodwin, Guest Editor
Muzzle, I thank you for letting us playwrights come play.
Plays are often left out of the literary clubhouse occupied primarily by fiction, poetry and (sometimes) creative nonfiction. Plays occupy an odd territory.
As a writer of plays, performance poetry, rap music and essays, I have long been an advocate for true cross-disciplinary exchange. Each form has its own vocabulary and aesthetics. Spending time in each will greatly inform the other. Just as innovations in page bound forms of fiction and poetry are celebrated in journals, performance writers have much to add to the contemporary lit-scape. We too are interested in economy of language, the balance between show and tell, the birth of style through copying, cutting and remixing.
Here we have three unique performance writers using very specific forms to build compelling stage worlds. They have crafted clear voices and multiple threads of perspective—built worlds within small south side Chicago homes, electronic settings and a hornet’s nest. Jamila Woods very carefully paints the scene for you in her beautifully strange “fairyghost tale” theShark, while Clinnesha D. Sibley’s biting #communicate cleverly allows social networking to dictate a spare use of language. Fatimah Asghar’s Forgiveness, an impressive hybrid poem/play/elegy, places a fairly straightforward and rigid structure onto metaphorical language weighted by its subject matter.
My hope is that you and a few friends will read these aloud, as if they were a songbook with shape notes. Pop open a bottle of something, and say these words. Or just as I did, read them slowly—with your mental director filling the stage with performers, lights and sound.
DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 15th
We are looking for Poetry & Art submissions for a special Sex-themed issue, guest edited by Chicago poetry maven, Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan.
Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan is a Chicago-born and raised poet, performer and host of many things. Named by TimeOut as one of Chicago’s Cultural Curators, she is currently a Real Talk Avenue Artist, co-slammaster and host of the Mental Graffiti Poetry Slam, Jilted Emily Rose at The Encyclopedia Show, and Tournament Director for Louder Than a Bomb. Her first chapbook, Cigarette Love Songs and Nicotine Kisses (Cross+Roads Press), was published in 2004. Her work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, After Hours, TimeOut Chicago, and more. Emily Rose probably already likes you.
by Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan, Guest Editor
“Everything in the world is about sex except sex.” – Oscar Wilde
The common scientific and religious assumption is that sex is the biological answer to the evolutionary need to reproduce. For me, sex is a large part of the human condition, a drive and activity that occupies a significant amount of our thoughts and lives.
Shame is the enemy of honesty, the demon that decides that your sexual needs and wants are bad or dirty when they are simply part of you, another dimension of self. Sex poems venture into the human heart where desire meets self and invites other people in. The sex act itself is nuanced by relationship, context, tone, history and every other facet of a given moment.
There is sex and there is the erotic. Not all writing about sex is necessarily erotic. Sometimes sex is about family, relationships, trauma and the reasons we seek pleasure. I am interested in the ways people talk about sex in the context of their larger human experience. We all make choices, sexually and otherwise, to serve different needs. These needs, to me, are at the core of our wishing, our urge to complete, the mechanisms of comfort. Sex is only biological when practiced for the purpose of reproduction. In this instance, the desire to reproduce, to me, is the poem, is the heart, is the need.
Because sex is so very common and weighted by norms, it tends to come with a pre-approved vocabulary and set of moral standards. I love poems that defy those standards and make their own vocabulary, poems that use sex as a lens through which to understand ourselves and our relationships, poems that want to communicate the human as a wanting creature.
For more on writing about sex, check out Emily Rose's article "Go Deeper: Writing Sex Without Shame" in Union Station.