Compiled by G. Murray Thomas

Next … Magazine covered the Southern California poetry scene on monthly basis from 1994 through 1998. In the process, it provided a ground-level view of a transitional period in poetry, in SoCal and nationally. “From the Files” will reprint articles which capture important but ephemeral moments, events and publications from that period. News Clips and Ego Trips: The Best of Next … Magazine will be published by Write Bloody Publishing this fall.

Cool Stuff I Picked Up in Portland
Capsule Reviews by Victor D. Infante

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Poetry Slams are all just about performance and not about poetry. Well, I picked up a bunch of chapbooks and tapes at the National Poetry Slams that say different:

Sand in the Asparagus, by James P. McAuliffe: Surprisingly imagist for a slam poet, this book is strongest when it juxtaposes incongruous elements together. Raw and topical.

Orchestra of harpies and other tales from the road, by Juliette Torrez: Torrez wasn’t actually a slammer, she was a volunteer up there, but this is still probably my favorite acquisition of the week. Torrez has an eye for portraits and an ear for storytelling. This book puts the reader in the author’s shoes, with her smiling all the while.

Trickster/Hazardous Duty, by Lea C. Deschenes: This is a flipbook, with each section actually being a self-contained chapbook, and each being written in a completely different style and voice, the first being a classic exploration of fairy tales and myths, the second being raw, hard hitting accounts of relationships, women’s issues, and life in the Nineties.

Omnivore, edited by Sou MacMillan: Basically a poetry ‘zine, with reviews, fiction, advice columns and a HELL of a lot of attitude. Kicks serious butt, I suggest it wholeheartedly. Newest issue contains work by locals Kathleen Hietala and the elusive C. Mulrooney.

Suck My Poem, by Evert Eden: Another one of my favorites, Eden, a native of South Africa, has a gift for twisted narrative. These are unconventional poems dense with imagery and lyricism, poems that set you up and knock you down and leave you spinning. The poems “I Want To Be A Woman” and “Dinner With Assholes” alone are worth the book, but there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

Sassy Ass Butterfly, by Seren Divine: The title says it all. This cassette tape has sass and attitude and is sexy as all hell. The label warns of explicit language, which is good, ’cause Divine doesn’t pull any punches.

I’ve intentionally left out some of the big guns, but you should be able to order or pick up the following at any decent bookstore: Crowdpleaser, by Marc Smith, Close to Death, by Patricia Smith (a must!!) and Collect Call of the Wild, by Bob Holman. Read them all, they’re great. (10/96)

Editors’ Note: Do any of these buried treasures lurk on your bookshelves? Or are you perhaps looking to add one of these rarities to your collection? Either way, leave a comment!