As the first spot of sun peeks out from what has been a brutal winter in New England, Drunken Boat #21 is upon us full of shoots and blossoms that might help sustain us this season. Celebrating its 15th year in existence, 2015 is proving to be a banner year for us as a number of projects are coming to fruition. First we are excited to announce Collier Nogues’ The Ground I Stand On is Not My Ground as the winner of our inaugural book prize as chosen by Forrest Gander, the first of its kind as we accepted manuscripts of poetry, translation and hybrid work. Collier’s book fits in that latter category as it is a provocative collection of erasures of historical, political, touristic, cultural and literary texts about Okinawa Island in Japan, site of the last and biggest of the Pacific Island battles in World War II. That the book manages to create lyric, epistolary and even rhyming poems out of such disparate elements is a feat in and of itself, but there’s an additional element that differentiates this book from all others. Collier uses QR codes to link to online interactive versions of the poem, which can be found here: [thegroundistandon.com], extending the poems beyond the page and the screen, in a way that speaks to our very ethos at Drunken Boat. We’ve included a folio that has poems from all of the finalists for this inaugural contest, to give you a small sense of what a difficult decision it was to make.
Another folio in this issue is also related to a forthcoming book project. Acclaimed international poet and editor Alvin Pang has put together a folio on “Union,” which encompasses a sense of connection between the country he hails from, Singapore, and the United States. An apt folio, especially given that this is the 50th anniversary of Singaporean independence and also the year of the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister, this folio presages a forthcoming book co-published by Drunken Boat and by Ethos Press in Singapore which will include the best of fifty years of Singaporean writing as well as 15 years of Drunken Boat. The connections and divergences between the US and Singapore are manifold and we are attempting to sketch out some of those intersections and points of departure.
Finally our last special folio is dedicated to one of Singapore’s Asian neighbors and financial rivals, Hong Kong, whose citizens were involved in an act of mass civil disobedience that began after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proposed reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system. Seen as a precursor to Communist Party control over Hong Kong, the Umbrella Revolution was spawned and nearly 100,000 occupied the streets in many parts of the city, closing traffic for over 70 days. Though the protests ended without any political concessions from the Chinese government, it also spawned worldwide interest in the situation as well as some stimulating works of art and literature, some of which we collect for you here.
Our issue also includes offerings in our regular folios, including Poetry, Nonfiction, Translation and Reviews, as well as a global redesign of our site and our blog, hopefully making things easier to access and navigate. We were glad to participate in the AWP conference in Minneapolis, where we launched Collier’s book, had Alvin and two of his fellow contributors from the upcoming Singapore project, Issa Kamari and Jee Leong Koh, perform new work, and participate in an extraordinary evening with other small presses and independent journals we admire. We’ve recorded these readings and look forward to archiving them so that you might relive what was one of the highlights of the entire conference for all involved.
Drunken Boat is also glad to welcome some new folks to our team, including Tiffany De Vos, who steps in for Erica Mena as our Managing Editor, Genevieve Pfeiffer who has joined us our Production Editor, and Lily Hoang who is replacing Erin Wilcox as our Nonfiction Editor. So it is a time of hellos and goodbyes, and ample thanks for those members of our staff who have made the magazine what it is today. Erica will continue on as an Associate Editor who, among other things, is putting together a folio on the Mongrel Coalition. We’ll also have upcoming folios on the Glass House Shelter Project, dedicated to bringing college-accredited writing courses to homeless shelters, contemporary Sound Art and on the Romani experience, eschewing the romanticized image of a “Gypsy other.” But that’s fodder for the future. For now, we hope that you enjoy our new issue and our new books, and that you continue to support the arts online, remembering that we are all citizens of a global community and the innovative voices come from all around us, if only we listen closely enough.
Ravi Shankar, Erica Mena & Emily Vizzo