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the top 15 most-read posts

1 Oct

We’re always grateful when gorgeous, deep, necessary work comes our way, or when a fascinating person chooses to spend time talking with us. And this journal is our opportunity to share that work, and those conversations, with readers who get it, people who need it. A readership has grown around this collection of artifacts and ideas, and within that readership a little community. Thank you for being part of it. We tend to celebrate the thing you might have otherwise missed. But today, we’d like to celebrate the most-read (thousands of reads each), most-accessed, most-shared writing at Pea River Journal. Think of this post as a little party for these 15 pieces.

Thank you, writers and conversationalists and makers and readers, for bringing this list into being. And if you’ve not yet read these pieces, here’s your chance.

The 15

Amanda Miska’s story Slow Wave

Win Bassett’s poem Only You Can Prevent Nothing

Our interview with Rachel Hyman

Robert Gray’s poems The Day I Was Born and Humidity

The Prints Project

Our interview with Matthew Rouser

Ray McManus’ American Poem #2

Our conversation with Marium Khalid

Robert Fanning’s poem The House We Almost Bought

Grant Clauser’s poem Objects in Motion

Our documentary photographs for the Stay Fly mural in Phoenix conceived and painted by Sentrock and Mikey Jackson

Al Maginnes’ poem How Things Break in This World

Anthony Martin’s story Ill Not in the Mind

Richard Heby’s poem The Plum

Rafael Alvarez’ story Burdens of Home

 

Catch them elsewhere:

Amanda Miska

Win Bassett

Rachel Hyman

Robert Gray

Ray McManus

Robert Fanning

Grant Clauser

Sentrock

Al Maginnes

Anthony Martin

Richard Heby

Rafael Alvarez

Image

Robert Henri on representation and completion.

13 Sep

robert-henri-completion-p20

building without destroying: Robert Henri on making art

12 Sep

henri-1

 

The Art Spirit is an essential book. Get a copy of your own.

henribookcover

last lines from Lyrical Ballads

23 May

It is an ancyent Marinere, he rose the morrow morn.
I never saw the man whom you describe.
He lived and died among the savage men.
Nay, Traveller! rest. This lonely yew-tree stands in lowliness of heart.
No cloud, no relique of the sunken day Sweet Nightingale! once more, my friends! farewell.
By Derwent’s side my Father’s cottage stood, of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.
Oh! what’s the matter? what’s the matter? of Goody Blake and Harry Gill.
It is the first mild day of March: we’ll give to idleness.
In the sweet shire of Cardigan, has oftener left me mourning.
I have a boy of five years old, of what from thee I learn.
A simple child, dear brother Jim, and said, Nay, we are seven!
I heard a thousand blended notes, what man has made of man?
There is a thorn; it looks so old, Oh woe is me! oh misery!
In distant countries I have been, it is the last of all my flock.
And this place our forefathers made for man! by the benignant touch of love and beauty.
Her eyes are wild, her head is bare, and there, my babe; we’ll live for aye.
‘Tis eight o’clock, — a clear March night, and that was all his travel’s story.
How rich the wave, in front, imprest by virtue’s holiest powers attended.
Why William, on that grey stone, and dream my time away.
Up! up! my friend, and clear your looks, that watches and receives.
The little hedge-row birds, And there is dying in an hospital.
Before I see another day, I shall not see another day.
The glory of the evening was spread through the west; would plant thee where yet thou migh’st blossom again.
Five years have passed; five summers, with the length more dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake.

 

(Thank you, Wordsworth and Coleridge.)

 

If this belief from Heaven be sent, If such be Nature's holy plan, Have I not reason to lament What man has made of man-

 

(You can also download the image as wallpaper.)

first sentence of each third paragraph, Letters to a Young Poet

22 May

You ask whether your verses are good. Today I wanted to tell you two things more: One just comes to relish them increasingly, to be always more grateful, and somehow better and simpler in one’s contemplating, deeper in one’s belief in life, and in living happier and bigger. Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. I am still living in the city, on the Capitol, not far from the finest equestrian statue that has come down to us from Roman art — that of Marcus Aurelius; but in a few weeks I shall move into a quiet simple room, an old flat-roofed summerhouse, that lies lost way deep in a large park, hidden from the town, its noise and incident. Think, dear sir, of the world you carry within you, and call this thinking what you will; whether it be remembering your own childhood or yearning toward your own future — only be attentive to that which rises up in you and set it above everything that you observe about you. How should it not be difficult for us? There is perhaps no use my going into your particular points now; for what I could say about your tendency to doubt or about your inability to bring outer and inner life into unison, or about all the other things that worry you —: it is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. The stillness must be immense in which such sounds and movements have room, and when one thinks that to it all the presence of the far-off sea comes chiming in as well, perhaps as the inmost tone in that prehistoric harmony, then one can only wish for you that you are confidently and patiently letting that lofty solitude work upon you which is no more to be stricken out of your life; which in everything there is ahead of you to experience and to do will work as an anonymous influence, continuously and gently decisive, much as in us blow of ancestors ceaselessly stirs and mingles with our own into that unique, not repeatable being which at every turning of our life we are.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, letters reassembled from Letters to a Young Poet

 

Rilke

notes on origins, curating, editing, and process

28 Jul

This is not really an essay but a continuation of an idea, another loop in a story I’m telling about origins and wishes and how they mutate when we enact them.
I wanted to gather resonant work. Would it be limited to my particular taste? Of course. That’s what curation is: a gathering and sifting of work according to a single aesthetic formed by both personal taste and long genre experience. And maybe the first flaw, or the first advantage, at Pea River was this: I was, am, a curator rather than an editor. I gathered work from an appreciation locus. I didn’t position myself as a judge after the fact but instead the keeper of the resonance threshold. It either fit my aesthetic and resonated or it didn’t. So my “editing” was never a worthy/unworthy, good/bad judgment as much as a gut-driven call on fit. It’s that simple.
So for the Burden of Home issue, for instance, the included work recreated and extended a set of burdens that mattered to me, whether I’d experienced them before the work arrived as a trigger or whether the work itself created those experiences and memories for me as I read them for the first time. As the work arrived, it attached to other pieces in unexpected places, in sometimes startling ways. The design for the print BoH issue was a sort of gallery I created for that collection of work. A context. Visual, aural, everything but the table in the corner with wilting noshes and plastic glasses for cheap wine. I never thought of the print issue as a book or as a literary journal like other journals, even earlier iterations of Pea River. It was its own thing, something created in response to the curated work. The issue as gallery on opening night, the issue as display case, the issue as alt experience. Something to resonate.
So when I’ve talked with editors who say they take accepted work and just roll it into their template and update the issue number, it’s helped me realize I’m not a journal editor. I’m a curator, and it just happens that our “show” is a bound print journal. I love editors and traditional literary journals; don’t get me wrong. But I’d thought I was an editor, and pretended to be as long as I believed it, and had to pause once I realized I might be unintentionally misrepresenting my larger project. If Pea River ends its hiatus, it will be because I’ve come to terms with it as a not-journal that calls itself a journal, and I’ll make that distinction clear to potential future contributors. I could not make that clear before because I did not realize what I was up to. (And what a beautiful moment when we finally realize what we are up to.)
When we hold a print artifact, we open it, admire it, read it. And maybe the process and backstory for the artifact won’t matter to most people. But for me, process is everything. The design of the theme. Reading the submitted work. The dialogue with contributors. The arranging of the selected pieces, like redesigning an animal that has somehow become dissembled in transit. The tugging on friends who can create a little image or music to make it cohere. The artifact design. The release. The release. A private thing.

This was supposed to be a meditation on hope and expectations and origins, but it turned the way all meditations turn. More, another installment, later.

the reinvention of normal

3 May
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