Zygote In My Fez Toledo August 6th, 2011 is a book that emerged from the Zygote In My Fez poetry reading and makes for a nice companion to the event, particularly the reminiscences by Leopold McGinnis, Pat Simonelli, and Paul Corman-Roberts. The book also works as a nice sample of the American small press scene, particularly poetry. Having just read the latest issue of Poetry, the longrunning magazine about--what else?--poetry, the poetry in Zygote made for an interesting contrast. Poetry has some good poems in it, but it also has a number of awful, obtuse poems in it. While the highs may not be as elevated in Zygote, the quality of the poetry remains a bit more even throughout. There are some clunkers where the poets write poems about poetry, and some material is probably too injokey for outsiders to the scene to enjoy (the loyal audience for small press poetry is other poets, which is great in that a passionate audience exists, but if a poet writes for them too directly that pretty much guarantees that they will always be the only audience for that poet), but a number of poems were quite good, particularly work by JD Nelson, Michael Grover, John Dorsey, Dan Smith, Tim Murray, Erin Reardon, TJ Jude, Alex Nielsen, Bill Gainer, Leah Angstman, Josh Olsen, and Michele McDannold. And, yes, that's a lot of names, nearly everyone, but it's a good book. Honestly, this is the type of stuff The New Yorker should be publishing instead of whatever verse John Ashbery vomits up, but I suppose the neoBeat vibe (read, relevant to everyday life in America) might scare off their advertisers.
Of course, the book also features my short story "Thank Heavens For Fuckups" which I also enjoyed reading (after I write something long enough ago, I can enjoy it as a reader). Alas, two damn typos snuck in, and they're mainly my fault, I'm afraid. "Month's" should be "months" (ironic, considering my bellyaching about misused apostrophes lately) and "bumber" should be "bumper". How those things slipped in there is beyond me. At least there are only two which isn't bad for a long story, and it's a story about screwing up so they fit in thematically. I'd also like to thank Shawn Misener and Pat Simonelli for the shoutouts to me in their selections; it helped ease my irritation over the typos.
All in all, Zygote is a good read. Unfortunately, I have no idea how you can get a copy, so I apologize for torturing you with this review. This is true samizdat underground press publishing. I haven't seen that in a long time. Jump on it if it ever pops up online, I suppose. It's short but it should give you a good literary buzz. I don't make any money from the book (probably nobody does--welcome to the small press), nor am I sucking up to anyone (I like to work with publishers who actually want to sell books) so this review is fairly unbiased, aside from the writers in it being kindred spirits.
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