Vanitas 2: ANARCHISMS
The second issue of the poetry and arts journal Vanitas is now available through Small Press Distribution or PayPal (see above). Like the first issue, it features a generous selection of poetry, criticism and writings by artists. It takes as its tonic word “Anarchisms” : the current political state, in the United States, and by quick extension, the world, is so dire that it forces one to criticize the very democratic system on which it was founded. In this day, while the difference between “Democratic” and “Republican” personages can be fatally distinct, often what each party has to offer is distressingly similar. This is particularly felt when one party maneuvers to appear just to the other side of the other party; only a hair separates them then. This is not the case in other countries, although it certainly has been a model that has been exported. So, it felt urgent to go back to principles. Plato thought an enlightened aristocracy, with censored artists, would be the best form of government. What do we think would be the best way for humans not to destroy each other and the planet? There is a rich philosophical tradition that includes the thought of Thoreau and Whitman, and extends to thinkers like Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Goldman, namely that of Anarchism, which argues for the right to be left alone, the abolition of state and church. Whether this is utopia or practical has been debated. We are interested in thinking today about a multitude of Anarchisms — political, social, and aesthetic — to see if we may find some stepping stones to a less bleak outlook. We welcome criticism and debate; if we stir that, then we’re not drowning in mire.
The issue itself, the writers and artists participating, is an exciting mix of things going on now, across generations and geographies. We are always impressed by the advanced traditions of the North West and have taken this moment to feature a selection of Bay Area poets (with at least one interloper from Los Angeles and other points West). Some who have been outriders in life and art since the 1960s, from diverse parts of the country, include Anne Waldman, Bill Berkson, Bob Holman, Clayton Eshleman, Duncan McNaughton, Ed Sanders, Jack Collom, Judith Malina, Kathleen Fraser, Lewis MacAdams, Lewis Warsh, Maureen Owen, Norma Cole, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Ron Silliman, Tom Clark. They are complemented by exciting younger writers Akilah Oliver, Alli Warren, Andrew Sage, Barry Schwabsky, Brendan Lorber, Elaine Equi, Jeni Olin, Jeremy Sigler, Jerome Sala, John Coletti, Kate Colby, K. Silem Mohammad, Laura Moriarty, Morgan Russell, Prageeta Sharma, Stephanie Young, and many more. There is an essay by Francisco Foot Hardman on Anarchism’s trails, including a Brazilian Anarchist poet, and the first chapter of Richard Hell’s memoir. The featured visual artist for the issue is Kiki Smith, who has done original work for the cover and a seven page color insert. Smith’s traveling mid-career survey, “A Gathering: 1980-2005,” was on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February, 2007. Four other visual artists richen the visual mix.
This issue is a rich compendium of certain channels that are being tried now: use it well.