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“The time has grown ripe for the kind of theoretical and practical analyses collected in THE DIGITAL CRITIC”: A review in the Times Literary Supplement

March 23, 2018

Read the full review here.

“A history of the capital in all its mixed-up glory”: The London Evening Standard reviews TALES OF TWO LONDONS

March 23, 2018
Tales of Two Londons, edited by the London-born journalist Claire Armitstead, gathers together poetry, reportage and fiction by Ali Smith, Helen Simpson, Iain Sinclair and others to reveal the British capital in all its mixed-race, mixed-up glory. London eating habits are explored, along with the Tudorbethan architecture of Neasden and model boat sailing in Victoria Park.

Read the full review here.

SAFIA ELHILLO’s “after”: a selection from WOMEN OF RESISTANCE for Women’s History Month

March 20, 2018

Throughout Women’s History Month, we’ll be celebrating the poets from Women of Resistance. Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., Safia Elhillo is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator.


after Danez Smith, with a line by Ol’ Dirty Bastard

if you read this in red maybe i didn’t survive     every day i go missing    one eyelash at a time     or sometimes               all at once               & in the heaven for blackgirls gone away     we walk in & out of rivers & wear    our good silks our good brown velvet bodies    dripping with sunlight     we sprout leaves & no one decides for us to cut or keep them   we bear fruit & self-sustain               we tread water we pluck the moon for our hair & another grows in its place       we are sistered or unsistered but never again to a dead thing     somewhere a rope turns & turns & our feet never       touch the ground       somewhere a song playes & plays & names us with each touch of a needle to our round black surfaces i’m hanging out               /partying/with girls/that never die

Further Reading

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Alex Nunns, author of THE CANDIDATE discusses the improbable rise of the Corbyn movement at the A Up Let's Talk podcast

March 19, 2018
This week JJ was joined by award winning author Alex Nunns to talk about his book The Candidate: JEREMY CORBYN'S IMPROBABLE PATH TO POWER. We also discuss a range of issues including the Labour Party (pre Corbyn) and the events that made it possible for him to run for Labour leader. We also discuss the infamous coup, media bias & the general election.

Listen to the full interview here.

“The new lonely Londoners...”: An essay by Claire Armitstead, editor of TALES OF TWO LONDONS published at Boundless

March 19, 2018
I’m sitting in a Polish airport less than a fortnight after the Grenfell Tower blaze when an email pings into my phone. It’s from a publisher friend asking if I’ll change my mind about editing an anthology of writing about London. When he first asked, a couple of years earlier, I dithered and decided no: the world really didn’t need another book about this most documented city. But this time he’s more pressing. He’s been chatting with his daughter, ‘and she said, “You’d be mad not to do it now.”’.

Read the full essay here.

Stephen Gilpin on the inside story of TRUMP U at Money Matters Radio

March 19, 2018
While the President of the United States seems to be able to shock with each new tweet, and no depth seems too low for him to sink to, we’ve yet to hear from someone who was at the heart of one of his signature outrages–Trump University, the infamous and elaborate scheme to con hundreds of earnest citizens out of their hard-earned dollars. Until now.

Listen to the complete interview here.

“Cederström and Spicer’s book is nothing short of hilarious.”: DESPERATELY SEEKING SELF-IMPROVEMENT reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books

March 19, 2018
This contemporary tension — where most of us live between small-scale personal empowerment and large-scale social disempowerment — makes Carl Cederström and André Spicer’s new book Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement timely and enlightening. It captures the alluring and often insidious desire to be better, especially in an era where things couldn’t seem to be worse.

Read the full review here.

“The excitement; the dynamism; the heady, disorienting feeling of the impossible becoming possible.”: Read an extract from THE CANDIDATE at New Socialist

March 19, 2018
It was the movement that brought the magic to the Corbyn campaign. Although a process was already underway within the Labour membership, what gave the Corbyn phenomenon its distinctive character was the participation of people from outside the party. It was the sense that Jeremy Corbyn was at the head of a broad movement that made his leadership bid so extraordinary. The excitement; the dynamism; the heady, disorienting feeling of the impossible becoming possible—these were the trappings of movement politics.

Read the full extract here.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: words from RAJATHI SALMA, the celebrated author, human rights activist, and speaker

March 16, 2018

“I want my work to register the extent to which the human condition as a whole has been debased”: the poetics of Rajathi Salma, celebrated author, human rights activist, and speaker

Acknowledging Women’s History throughout March and in every month: stories like Salma’s demonstrate the power of reading and writing to empower and uplift entire communities.

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Salma on the roof of her house in the village.


In this book, documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto and poet Rajathi Salma collaborate to tell the story of Salma’s life as well as the challenges of creating a documentary film. Salma’s poems, one of which is published below, deal with a uniquely female experience of seclusion and privation.


The language I acquired through voracious and eclectic reading helped me express what had happened to me. I do not believe in imposing any restrictions on my work. When a poem is born a mysterious knot within me gets untangled and frees itself. Through my writings I want to invite the reader into my world and into a profound experience of sharing. Once she has entered my writing, I aim to keep her in an endlessly engaged condition. I want the sound of the voice rising from my text to reverberate at all levels of her mind.

Besides trying to present the situation of women in society, and the problems and hardships they face, in an honest and original manner, I want my work to register the extent to which the human condition as a whole has been debased. I hope to convey what I see as the persistent absurdity of human life that flows from the sense of isolation that surrounds me and which persists today. Writing finds its proper direction in the quest for self and the pressure of suppressed emotions.

I try to understand the reason for my existence and establish my identity through my writing. In most of my work I have focused on the isolated condition of women, the lack of confidence this produces in them, and the unbridgeable but entirely fabricated gap in the relationships between men and women. The physical restrictions and denial of education faced by the women of my community have found their due place in my texts. Life has taught me a feminist way of thinking.

salma and longinotto with documentary crew
The film crew in Salma’s flat in Chennai. From left to right: Kim; Samyuktha PC; Salma; Sara Lima.



Entirely bereft now
of its identity,
my ancestral house,
where I used to live,
has crumbled to ruin.

Although I do not
live there anymore,
it stays with me still,
along with my childhood.

I used to fly
over the jungle made up
of its mezzanine lofts.

Its pillars hid me
on moonlit nights
and on those
darkened by moonless skies.

Even the wall of the latrine,
witness to the terror
of my first bleeding,
has collapsed to the ground, along
with all its other secrets.

Many were the times
we had sought shelter there:
I, on one side of the wall,
and this neem tree on the other.

With its walls lost to ruin,
the house stands alone,
staring at the ground where it had
once cast its shadow.

Traces of my play hours
still remain, perhaps,
on the wall of an upstairs room.

salma and family - four generations of tamil women
In the village. From left to right: Amina, Salma’s grandmother; Fatima, Salma’s niece; Salma; Salma’s mother, Sharbunnisha.


Further Reading

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CHAMELEO author ROBERT GUFFEY is interviewed on “Where Did the Road Go?”

March 15, 2018

Listen to the full interview at Where Did the Road Go?

“Poeta, you resist...”: A reading from the launch of WOMEN OF RESISTANCE published at Kenyon Review

March 14, 2018
The following was read at the Women of Resistance book launch last night, March 13th, 2018, at Strand Bookstore in NYC. I wanted to write a piece that incorporated the words of my fellow contributors with whom I read that night– Denice Frohman, Mahogany L. Browne, Dorothea Lasky and Maureen McLane– and ended up writing this essay (be sure to click on the links and read their poems in full). They are all poets I’ve read and reread, and their poems have kept my heart beating in some really trying times. Special thanks to the amazing bookstore staff, to OR Books, and all the gratitude in the world to editors Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan whose dedication and generosity have made and are going to continue to make wonderful things happen in poetry and beyond.

Read the full essay here.

“ It will either annoy or delight you... but it certainly will not bore.”: Progress review THE CANDIDATE

March 14, 2018
All election accounts suffer from the same problem: it is extremely difficult to separate the factors that lead us to cast our votes. Any attempt to explain the results of elections therefore end up focusing heavily on correlation rather than causation: the winning side did x and they won, so x must have led to the victory. In 2017, the ‘winning’ side did not win per se, but as the result of last year’s general election was so contrary to expectations, it was only a matter of time before Corbyn’s team told their victor’s story.

Read the full review here.

“Vibrant and dynamic”: Tears in the Fence review WOMEN OF RESISTANCE

March 13, 2018
This anthology has a strong feminist ethos that cuts through race, gender identity and sexuality. The resistance in the title stems from the fight for agency through suffrage in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as US President. The editor’s note that ‘suffrage’ comes from Middle English, meaning intercessory prayer, and this informs their invocation of the other, encompassing transgender women, as well as its sense of grieving for the violence, rape and oppression of women.

Read the full review here.


March 12, 2018

Throughout Women’s History Month, we’ll be celebrating the poets from Women of Resistance. Patricia Smith is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, which won the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She is the winner of a 2018 NAACP Image Award, a four-time individual National Poetry Slam champion, the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and former fellow of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.

What She Thinks as She Waits by the Door

Alice Kramden of The Honeymooners

I was crafted, it would seem, to squeal demurely beneath his shifting flab, to pucker my carnation lips on cue, to ladle gobs of twice-boiled vegetables and stringy slabs of meat

into his grumbling yap. It would seem that way. After all, the whole of my body is apron. I am always holding that scorched pot, a bleached towel, a gray sopping sponge,

an iron, his huge hot folded trousers, a mop, a crusted dish, a broom. I am always expertly positioned near the door of this tenement hovel that’s not much more than this single

room, my eyes wide and feigning joy, poised to drip sugar around his blustering evening entrance. The air is decorated with the words control, control while chunks of water grow

stale in the belly of the icebox. I am 1950s faultless, my pert strawberry crown primly ponied. Never wore a dress that wasn’t a tribute to him. You don’t believe I stood still and perfectly

upright for my wedding vows. Drowning in mama’s wilting taffeta, I was a bell: I do, I do, I do. And I did. With God and a room of pouters as witness, I committed to a post-war, eerily

patient love. Beside me, splotched scarlet, he panted under snug collar, a flowered tonic dripping from his curls. I could have crashed his stunned smile with a finger. Someone said

God, then someone said wife, and I was so clarified as I sparkled, I was my own headspring of light, I arced toward the domestic promise wiggling in flaccid fingers. I did not hear the word

fist. I was anxious to build a romance, and I did. My lips found the folds water couldn’t reach. I gave him the name of a wall. The first morning we rose from our separate untumbled beds,

our night skins pimpled and flushed with the prospect of touch, was the first time he hefted his fist, it has brushed past my unblinking eye, my chin, my clamped jaw, while the moon, uninterested,

is the same blaring yellow kink in our sleep. Screeching his blind intent, To the moon, Alice, to the moon!, his eyes google the lifted fist quivers, the spittle of his day needles my cheeeks.

One of these days, Alice, one of these days! Bang! Zoom! Without speaking, I show him who he truly is. I call stupid out where stupid is. I’m mute while he spouts another craving wide enough to fall through. Our tiled floor is littered with schemes,

his punctured zeal: I’m gonna get a better job. Got a new idea, we’ll be swimming in dough. Gonna take you out jitterbugging, baby, buy you a dress, gonna turn our noses up to the hoi polloi.

I’m a champ at suffering his relentless inventions, concoctions of spit and wood utterly guaranteed to drown us in new money. What he can’t say: Baby, there’s got to be something better

than that bus, the smolder, the street disappearing beneath me. I know he aches to give the slip to the same stream of the same folded-face New Yorkers, all snarling and stank with factory, nodding him their dead howdy-dos and clutching just enough change to move themselves forward. It’s the cage of the ride, baby, every day like every week like every month like every year,

year like every and the wheels on the bus go round and round and when he finally makes it home, to door, to this box, to wife, he bursts in, sputtering some fresh grail, bound to clatter and rise,

and I am gingham and smelling of spray starch, my whole day beneath my nails, I am twang and the wide-eye, Really, Ralph? Really? I hold my breath, cramming his crave with stew meat

and ice water until it all comes exploding down, until he can’t turn his bulk in any direction without reaching a corner, until he realizes, yet again, that his best friend stinks of sewage and, for

reasons we pretend to have forgotten, I am never ever naked. And yes, I know what my practiced smirk practically begs him to do—Pow! Right in the kisser! But that sweaty mitt, hovering

high with such sad engine behind it, will never fall. See, every woman is damned with a man to raise, a swaggering snarl of belly and bicep, and every ounce of the one I've been given cracks dulcet

beneath my held tongue and primp. I let the world burn brash through him, because when he resurrects, when he yanks loose my apron ties and mutters Baby, you’re the greatest, it is still 1955, a time

of steam radiators and vows of stiff lyric, and he is everything a man can be just then. I am wife. I am what the fist craves. And I am the fist.

Further Reading

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“We never wanted to kill // only to stay alive ”: Read five poems from WOMEN OF RESISTANCE at Literary Hub

March 12, 2018
This is a collection of essays that I would like every bookseller, book blogger, book reviewer, arts page editor, and minister for the arts to read. The Internet has revolutionised how we think, read, and write; for good or for ill, it’s a phenomenon to which readers and critics should be paying close attention. With consistently solid writing and argumentation, and a rich diversity of opinion and focus, The Digital Critic is illuminating at every turn.

Read five new poems from Women of Resistance:Poems for a New Feminism here.

“Very funny—and also very painful and even a little disturbing”: Mindful magazine review DESPERATELY SEEKING SELF-IMPROVEMENT

March 12, 2018
This book, which chronicles their improvement schemes in daily journals running in parallel, leads them to some very funny—and also very painful and even a little disturbing—places. Do not try this at home.

Read the full review in the latest print issue of Mindful magazine by subscribing here.

“Propaganda is most powerful when it involves clear protagonists and antagonists.”: THE GOSPEL OF SELF discussed in Jacobin

March 12, 2018
Christian television producer Terry Heaton, who worked closely with Pat Robertson on his show The 700 Club, describes him as “a political animal that happens to be a Christian evangelist, broadcaster and television personality.” .

Read the full article here.

“Very funny and extremely challenging”: The Reporter reviews DIASPORA BOY

March 12, 2018
Warning: If you have no sense of humor about Jewish continuity, the Diaspora versus Israel debate, Jewish American communal politics or the Israeli government, then you definitely won’t want to read Eli Valley’s “Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel”. Of course, you’ll miss some very funny and extremely challenging looks at the extended Jewish world. Valley’s style is satire a la Mad Magazine, meaning that his drawings are caricatures and his humor heavy-handed, but he also has a gift for duplicating the double talk offered by some Jewish communal and political leaders..

Read the full review here.

“A moving testament to this most elusive of artists.”: The Times Literary Supplement reviews STUDIO: REMEMBERING CHRIS MARKER

March 12, 2018
Studio immerses us in material culture. Preserving Chris Marker’s artistic mystique without descending into fetishism – memorializing him without nostalgia – the book is a moving testament to this most elusive of artists

Read the full review here.

Celebrate INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY with complimentary e-books from our great women writers: explore WOMEN OF RESISTANCE, EILEEN MYLES, LEAN OUT, MEDEA BENJAMIN, and many more

March 8, 2018

What does International Women’s Day mean in 2018?

In the days of #TimesUp, #MeToo, and #HereWeAre, centering the experiences and elevating the voices of women has never been a more urgent or vital task. To celebrate the diversity and complexity of women writers; to acknowledge the recent sea change in the long struggle against patriarchy; and to proliferate the contributions of women to our current cultural moment—from journalists working in conflict zones to avant-garde performers and poet-activists, from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to cultural critics—OR Books is offering a free download of any e-book from one of our many great women writers and editors using coupon code SMASHTHEPATRIARCHY. Simply enter the code on the last page of checkout.*

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*Don’t delay: offer lasts 24 hours only. E-books currently in pre-order will be sent at the time of the book’s release. Full offer terms and conditions.