Melissa Adamo

Great Interview with Author Jonathan Corcoran

corcoran_jonathanThe town I grew up in was a little pinpoint of civilization surrounded on all sides by mountains and miles of forests… I know my stories wouldn’t be as successful without the looming mountains or the swiftly flowing rivers.

Hear, hear! This sentiment is one of many that drew me to the multi-talented and quite charming author (and Brooklynite) Jonathan Corcoran, whose debut collection of linked stories, The Rope Swing, explores the unique setting of economically-isolated Appalachia and the complex people who inhabit its “looming” mountainsides and riverbanks.

Are you surprised, precious reader, at my natural affinity for the natural world? There’s nothing unnatural about it. I’m a woodland denizen, by Zeus’ sandal straps! A so-called “sasquatch,” although I prefer sans-quatch; it sounds more literary. My given name is Chester, but I tell the voters to call me Chet.

Msr. Corcoran asserts, during the course of an energetic interview at The Rumpus, that “This book, as a project, was certainly a meditation on the notion of cusps and cliffs.” Cliffs! I swoon! You had me at “looming mountainsides,” dear sir! Corcoran goes on to say:

In the stories that focus on queer life and love specifically, I wanted to show readers how these tiniest of decisions, or moments of indecision, have the potential to impact a body for a lifetime, and how these very personal decisions are often forced upon people under the heavy weight of an often-hostile external world.

A weighty topic, to be sure, and one that this author discusses at great length and with such attractive perspicacity, thanks to his interviewess, the talented poet and essayist, Mlle. Melissa Adamo. Read her poetry here and follow her tweetings at @mel_adamo.

Hats off to The Rumpus for finding these two lovely creatures. I hope to see much, much more from them in the future.

Purchase The Rope Swing from Amazon immediately, humans, if you value your reputations.

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Cross Reading Series at WORD Jersey City

A warm tempest of conviviality. That is my impression of this weekend’s impressive congregation of readers and literary bon vivants at the Cross reading series at Word bookstore.

A group of singularly talented poets presented their works. The wry Melissa Adamo (@adamopoeting), who admitted to working on an upcoming chapbook, began the evening. Vincent Toro stormed the podium next with an arresting performance of his politically-charged and personal poems. The animated delivery would have carried the audience away if it were not for our third reader, the deeply insightful Emilia Phillips, whose moving lyrics plumbed the depths of female sexuality and power dynamics in the modern age. Culminating the evening was Ricky Laurentiis, the Ruth Lilly award winner, who read an exquisite series of works from his newly released collection titled Boy With Thorn. This book also won the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

Such a wealth of literary talent should not go unlauded. I implore you, learned readers, go forth, and purchase these writers’ books forthwith. Your soul will thank you later. Buy Emilia Phillips’ Signaletics and Ricky Laurentiis’ Boy With Thorn on Amazon. Vincent Toro’s collection, Stereo.Island.Mosaic, is forthcoming in January 2016 from Ahasahta Press.

English Kills v. 2.0

Mellow Pages Library – Studio 1Q, 56 Bogart St, Brooklyn, NY

Off the Morgan Avenue stop on the L train, one finds oneself in an intriguing neighborhood of Brooklyn, a shrub-less territory, ironically dubbed Bushwick. Aha! I thought to myself after mounting the steps of the subway. Unless he was a candle salesman, the enterprising Dutchman of yore who likely christened this place had a sense of humor. What was once an industrial hinterland, an ominous urban jungle, has matured into an industrial Middle Earth, a mustache-friendly jungle of the “cool.”

The last time I was here I discovered a teddy bear dangling from a power line over Bogart Street. Thankfully, no such grisliness manifested on this occasion.

In the midst of this gentrifying wonderland, we find ourselves at Mellow Pages Library for the second anniversary of English Kills Review, founded by book maven about town, Ian MacAllen. These days one must plunge his feathered head into a sand dune in order to remain ignorant of Msr. MacAllen’s literary journalism and online missives, English Kills not least among them. In an ironic twist, MacAllen describes his creation, which regularly reviews and promotes local literary events and publications, as a “narcissistic” venture. In that case, dear reader, join me in demanding more selfishness all around! We shan’t stop until we drown in ourselves!

Fiction writers Alex Norcia (of Slant) and Melissa Swantkowski (lovely editor of Bodega Magazine) joined poets including the lunar priestess Dana Jaye Cadman (@DanaJaye) and sardonic savant Melissa Adamo (@adamopoeting). After the reading, I was giddy with satisfaction and excitement. Mlle. Adamo even let me touch her program! Earthly bliss is within our reach, readers.

Since the reading room was not quite large enough to accommodate a chap of my stature, I stood on the curb and poked my head in through the open window. No one seemed in the least disturbed, a blessing I attribute to the magnetic and mesmerizing performances by the night’s readers. Bravo, all. Now let’s seek out that no-good scoundrel, Mr. English…