Monday, September 28, 2009

CENSORED--Apple/I-Phone Takes on Flash Fiction Writer in Online Journal? Apple? Come on!

After the initial shock we asked permission from Heather Fowler the writer to repost the whole story with her comments from FB.

Sun at 10:12pm

When the Net Gets Freaky and Flash Fiction Grows too Bold For Even the Liberal Ex-Hippies: Apple Requires My Flash Removed From KeyHole To Allow I-phone App Approval--Move Over Big Brother; The Perps Now Wear Birkenstocks or Other Mysterious Apparel

First things first, I deeply feel that Peter Cole, Editor and Publisher at Keyhole Magazine/Press, is awesome and anti-censorship. I met him last year at the AWP conference and was delighted to speak with him about a a new book just out by the illustrious William Walsh, finding his conversation interesting and that he came across as a lovely human being. The above personal anecdote is expressed only to underline that the events that have recently transpired are no reflection on him and that he did every honorable thing he could do in the situation--but this doesn't change the fact that I got an email from him in my inbox earlier this week, one that said something to the effect of: I've spent money on this app for Keyhole. I hate to ask you this, Heather--but would you mind if I take your story off my site-- or I-phone won't let me use my app to distribute media?

Apparently, to widen their visibility, the fun people at KeyHole have been working to get an I-phone app programmed. After scanning his site, they sent him the following message, which Peter was kind enough to share with me:

"Dear Keyhole Press,

Thank you for submitting Keyhole Magazine to the App Store. We've reviewed Keyhole Magazine and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains inappropriate sexual content and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

'Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.'

A screenshot of this issue has been attached for your reference. [they attached a photo of your story in the app]

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that Keyhole Magazine does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

iPhone Developer Program"

The story was a piece called "Catholic Girl Smile," thus the title was not enough to draw the censorship, but to call the piece "obscene," or to intimate that, is fascinating to me. It is a literary flash fiction piece, of about six hundred words, about a boy who attempts to masturbate for the first time and is interrupted in this pursuit by his sister.

Is it redundant to say: No one even gets off? Of the work I have available online already, I feel this piece, its content, is rather G-rated--okay, PG-13--but apparently APPLE disagrees. It could also be the Catholicism I referenced. Because, no one ever says anything about Catholicism out loud, right? Sarcasm can be implied and is encouraged.

Of course, in response to Peter's note, I gave him my full permission to remove the piece from the web, knowing he always does fine work in terms of putting out edgy work-- and my little story is just an incidental casualty, a swatted fly, that I would not want to impair his greater publishing agenda or audience, but what I fear about this event is that it will not just affect me, but all online writers with edge and all online publishers of stories, should this be a growing trend.

I'm sure everyone tagged in this note is fully aware that--*oh gasp*--the pen is mighty, mighty. But I feel like the mouse whose tail has been stepped on by the titan. A little overkill, don't you think? Had this censorship been enacted by PayPal or other such conglomerates that are notoriously prudish and anti-eroticism in content, I would not have been surprised. But the fact is, I have other stories online that use the word "cunt"--multiple times, in multiple ways, in multiple ideological considerations--and none of these has ever been censored by a bigwig entity.

In sum, to any who read my work or might click through my bio to access my work online, of which there is a growing mass that will only expand in the next year or two, watch me flash my flash, here is your notice that one story in particular will no longer be a hyperlink, a story that is an innocent foray into questions about Catholicism, masculine sexuality, and guilt-- though it used to be available for all, for nearly a year now, at KeyHole Mag. Implicit message: They are scanning the archives, folks, not just the main pages.

But for the amusement or edification of those tagged, I now paste the piece below so that you can see if you feel it rivals other "obscene" literary content already on the web--enough so to merit being struck by the record so that a kind and harassed editor can enjoy the privilege of kissing the big, monied ring of Apple/I-Phone-- in order to pursue an admirable goal of getting more readers (which I am gung-ho about, make no mistake).

As for me, I'm proud to be censored, actually. I sigh. I moan. I throw up my hands. But then I smile, widely--thinking: I must be saying something interesting if someone wants me to shut the hell up. Thus, I feel the above series of events is a badge of honor, of sorts, a new milestone at the beginning of my literary career before my three-hundred some stories and counting, four hundred some poems, have even found homes, before I have a single book contract to my name (though the list of published stories gets longer and longer, making me wish someone would wake up to this need sometime soon)--and placing me in the ranks of other historically censored authors such as: Miller, Plath, Sartre, Twain, Lewis, etc. For a long list of illustrious folks I can now join leagues with, feel free to consult this site or others for the walk-of-shame list/s that makes this a sullied pleasure and a dubious honor in my view:

And, the story is below. Let's see if my Facebook Page gets deleted now. Literary community, beware. Big Brother wears interesting petticoats and footwear these days. He or she could be the very one saying to you, via bots or people or lawyers even from the most "liberal" of companies: "Say, be you! Express yourself! Be experimental! Be edgy! But, oh, [in a whisper as a gripping hand yanks you to a corner invisible to most of the reading public] just don't do it in public--and also avoid doing this on any affiliated sites or feeds used by our company. Let me help you: The duct-tape is kept on hand two doors down from our lawyers' suite. Feel free to partake of it before we have to discipline you into applying it ourselves. Self-govern, people! As long as you can. This message is Courtesy of Apple/I-phone. We also provide complimentary, confidential dommes with no names, or strange names like 'iPhone Developer Program,' and have a nice day, always, courtesy of I-phone and our reps!"

So here, subversively, I unveil the content edgy enough to be eliminated.

Should I suddenly disappear from Facebook, as I mentioned above, you'll know they've deleted my account. It's been great to be your friend.

See you on the page or at other writerly events.

As always, love, love, love,


Catholic Girl Smile

Grant took the things he'd been told he needed and closed the door, staring at the knob for a moment as if he feared it would turn by itself. The lock was broken, but his parents wouldn't be home for several hours. He looked down, prepared, and then began. This was the first time he had tried, having just turned eleven, so each step felt new or forbidden. He opened the lid to the porcelain basin and stared into the water, and then glanced upwards towards the crucifix his mother had hung on the wall above the extra toilet paper holder bin. He pictured Helen's face, smiling at him-- as she often did. In his imagining, like at school, she wore the uniform of St. Mary Magdelene's, a white button up blouse and a blue and grey plaid skirt--and though it was the same uniform the other girls wore, there had always been, for him, something different about the way she filled it out. Hourglass.

She was a year older and he liked her. She was taller than him, too. As he stood at the toilet, he didn't try to picture her naked, but instead how she looked jumping rope and singing verses of their chants as she did with her friends during lunchtime, the skinny ones, Molly and Lisa Mae, turning the rope as she jumped her turn, plaid skirt bouncing up to reveal dark, muscular thighs, her arms swinging slightly, the red and teal beads in her weave glinting in the sun.

He applied the lotion, closing his eyes. With each passing moment, it was as though her skirt flew higher, like she jumped so far above the rope that the draft created by impact and the movement of her legs were compelled to float it more and more each she time landed, whether on one foot or two, until it just kept hovering above her white cotton panties like a ballerina's skirt. Too, he could see her looking at him as she jumped, winking, smiling a new, sly smile he had never seen. Mentally, he smiled back at her, too, as he soloed closer to his goal, escalating the movement of his hand until he came so very close to something he had never had before that he was certain it would have been fantastic if his eight year old sister hadn't opened the door, without even knocking, and shouted, "I have to use the bathroom!"

In response, he shouted back, red as a beet, "Get out, Sally! I'm taking a piss! Leave me alone, will ya?" but the damage was done; he could not bring himself back to Helen. He flushed a nothing load and fled the scene bewildered. It would be many months before he would find another such a chance, for his parents watched him closely and were hardly ever gone.

Still, it was a long lunch period in school the next day, watching Helen jump. He felt he had, in one way or another, been robbed of her. He was angry. His pants felt tighter. And she didn't smile at him then. She frowned. She frowned so much that, later, when he thought about it privately, ashamed and dismayed, he realized the sly smile he had attributed to her was likely a product only of his head-- and that she was the innocent whom he, by devising it, had maligned. Too, he would think, for many moons, from all that day's frowning, that she knew what he had done.


Heather Fowler received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University in May of 1997. She has taught composition, literature, and writing-related courses at UCSD, California State University at Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College.

Among other venues, she has published short stories in the following journals and anthologies: Feminist Studies (forthcoming); Surreal South 09 (forthcoming Fall 2009); Etchings (forthcoming Summer 2009, AUS); filling Station (forthcoming 2009, CAN); PANK (June 2009); Night Train (April 2009, Issue 9.1); The Abacot Journal (Spring 2009); Underground Voices (November 2008); A Cappella Zoo (October 2008, Volume I). KeyHole (August 2008); Trespass (August/September 2008, UK); SubLit (August 2008); Coming Together: With Pride (Phaze, 2008, e-book and print); Word Riot (May 2008); Storyglossia #28 (May 2008); Cityworks 2008 (May 2008); DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION (2008, online and print); Temenos (Fall 2007); Mississippi Review online (October 2007); See You Next Tuesday (2006); Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry (Winter 2006); the muse apprentice guild (October 2002); artisan, a journal of craft (September 2002); Literary PotPourri (May 2002); Exquisite Corpse (Summer 2001); The Barcelona Review (May, 2001); Quercus Review (May, 2001); Penumbra (May 2001); B & A New Fiction (Jan. 2001); Barbaric Yawp (Dec. 2000); and Zoetrope All-Story Extra (June 2001, October and December 1999). She worked as a Guest Editor for Zoetrope All-Story Extra in March and April of 2000. Her story "Slut" won third prize at the 2000 California Writer's Conference in Monterey.

Her poetry has recently appeared at the CrisisChronicles Online Library (October 2008), INTHEFRAY (February 2008), (November 2007), and been selected for a joint first place in the 2007 Faringdon Online Poetry Competition (October 2007) , as well as published in various venues.

Current City: San Diego, CA, USA.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Talk Poetry ## Yannis Livadas Answers Back

1. What sets your poems apart from other contemporary Greek poets?

: Poetry.

2. What are your main concerns as a poet?

: My life. My state of action. Poet is the organon of poetry therefore I must always be on the Wheel. Enjoying ever.

3. My FB friend Tim Hall an underground writer from US, whose piece from 1000th Monkey 'How To Be An Underground Lit Legend' I am translating now in Bangla, asked me a question which I want to repeat here to you...
Is there as much apathy towards outsider, unconventional or otherwise underground literature in Athens as there is here in Kolkata or USA? Is there a corporate-owned literary industry over there that controls access to serious writing and completely denies the existence of serious writers? Is there a movement against it?

: Yes, apathy there is, though I see no underground poetry here. I am also not quite a fan of it; I believe poetry must only be authentic, nothing else – it is well known that I am not interested in movements. And yes there is a “control” system in Athens, as anywhere. The only Greek literary movement I know is Mediocrity…

Three Poems Of Yannis Livadas

She's Out To Lunch

Who knows what
my dear prigs and ex-lovers
that you loved and censored
who knows what

dear families of this earth
i am standing but cannot stand anything
i study monotony

sodomize your prayers
for i love you so much

my sins are more innocent
than my good deeds

i had told you once:
Truth knows not

she's out to lunch.

Under The Hokusai Wave

God remains more powerful
Than man.
Beauty is a hidden sun
Over the clouds
Of this heavy shower that turns sour.

Perhaps we don’t need

We quarreled for the umbrella
Under the Hokusai

Poets Mourn For The Immortal Poem

Poets mourn for the immortal poem
And is very relative with this
Dew drop at the edge of the sparrow’s bill.

The look your breasts give me
Is pure immortality
Just like the grasp of the sparrow’s
Little feet.

The sea is words
That comes out from the mouth of the coast
And we naked liquefy future
For one more candle.

Yannis Livadas was born in Kalamata, Greece, in September 26, 1969. Done dozens of different works. He traveled around (India, Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, France, Morocco...) and today he lives temporarily in Athens, Greece. He is also a scholar and translator.
In 2003 he proclaimed “the Greek jazz poet”. He is considered as a Beat offspring but his poetry is oriented toward more dexterous and unsafe forms.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

At Pashupatinath

By Nahshon Cook

The wind was breezy and full of light this morning,
when I was reminded by my heart
of how old ones are replaced by new ones
in order for Life to be on her way,
as I sat on the edge of one of the dove grey,
moon colored steps of the temple,
directly across from the red hot flames
on the other side of the holy river Bagmati,
and listened to howling, dog like cries
sound off from the homesick souls of dead people
watching their bodies be reduced to dust
by the golden, straw fed fires of funeral pyres
spewing out clouds of fog grey smoke
into the wide, blue-if-it’s-a-boy blue sky
like prayers for the courage to reach for heaven
as the sad, private, burnt pork roast smell
of burning, human flesh filled the air
like the caaw, caaw, caaw of the crow who, just now,
began preaching from the branch of a very tall tree,
right next to my hotel room window,
about how the magic of Reality is really a thing
with no birthplace, and nowhere to die.

-Kathmandu Nepal Oct, 23 2008

Nahshon Cook's poetry has appeared in two Cleo Parker Robinson Dance productions and a tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou in 2008. He has read his poetry at peace and interfaith conferences in Colorado which have included "Mysticism and Social Change", "A Celebration of Religious Freedom", and "Race, Gender and Class in the Building of the Beloved Community. His first collection of poetry A New Beginning will be published in January 2010 by "please” press.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Voice Over and Dialogues From The Short Film Ebang Falguni /The Lost Lines Of A Beauty Monster

Text – Falguni Roy
Script – Sharmy Pandey

I, a human being walk from the womb to the funeral pyre
And reap my very own soul from the refrigerator of wilderness
I, a human being can both love and pee
To wash-off my nightmares and in thirst I can use water
in two different ways
By the side of your reality this is my celebration of suicide
This song of my self-desired death
Here with words free from speech all must be done
And I stare in the light of the urban neon
By my solitary shadow not your outline
but in my body a tail

I am without relief just a man wrapped in his fate
Just a man with no destiny wrapped in his violence
Without a party flag I live
Without a woman’s love, I live
In the burning sun to listen to Tagore, I live

Paki soldiers from Bangladesh, Yankee mines from the Tong-King
shores and from behind the sand bag barricades of Calcutta the army
has moved out…. China-Nixon treaty has happened
Jeeps to the moon, wheat to India, soldiers to Vietnam and competitors
to the Olympic have been sent by black and white America

Once upon a time our hearts brimmed with love
Now my cashless-ness has eaten into all feelings
Even rebels can’t make ends meet

Dialogue1 – Perhaps the belly pre-empts a bellyache
Life pre-empts hunger
Dialogue2 – Well said buddy, so life pre-empts hunger, eh!
I have seen the moon as a pyre on flames
on an empty stomach….

Why on earth did you seek nirvana Goutama Buddha you fool
In the land of the muse and darling damsels, India
Who the hell seeks nirvana?

Lord Buddha in place of non-violence we want peace
to flow out of the barrel of a gun

Dialogue3 – Where the fuck have you been so long?

In truth I need to lapse into a magical death
In the muddy movement of viscous amoeba of my life
I hurl carbon dioxide to the cunts of damsels
The burning pyre evokes in me not death but lust

Lazy rascal am I from time to time I seek a life
of a whore’s pet
Standing here with a charminar between my lips
I hear from the chill and warm vapor of blood
the mysterious footsteps of poetry
I listen besides the poetry the shout and abuse of the soul
Right here
The hazy moon of evil hope flows down the
menstrual blood of whores

I am a beauty monster
If god was at hand I would have buried
his live flesh and fed it to the devil

In the locality where the prophet was burnt
I was born, a debauch by birth
Sleeping with other men’s wives
according to me is Tantrik bindusadhana
How terrible this existence
On my left lung lives love on the right perversion
From my phallic arousal I have come to know
telepathic communication
I have come to see there is nothing apart in between
the rich and the poor the bourgeois and the communist
Yet some die lighter than feather
Yet some die heavier than hills

Who winds up my cardiac clock

Who would pay the price of the heart?
Who would provide paper and ink for poetry?
In sickness who would provide care and health?
In hunger who would provide succor?
In love who would give me the beloved?

Can the state give all???
Can communism transform the failed to the succeeded?
Can socialism make a good poet of a bad?

Food clothe shelter we demand
Women and poetry we demand
Intoxication we demand pure and unadulterated
Art is our intoxication
Writing is our intoxication
Intoxication is our sense of hunger

We don’t want to be killed
nor the killer
Instead of being martyred making martyrs of
class-enemies is what we want

Like the mute lonely divine
A wondrous silence exists at the depth of our creation

Without the colour of money the pimp of the whore and the father of the bride
never relent their charge to us.
With the ash of this whorish civilization on us should we then fold our phallus beneath our folds and become hermits?

No, I have no contention with men
To arrive you have to be born with an air-bottle in your heart.
Day after day my heart and my intestines I munch as I chew
I mock the imperishable soul to the stars for the taste of eternity
For the sake of love I am aware of retribution

Poet Jibananda
Of all he saw of the celebration of labour of those swine
Of all he heard of the moaning of those swine
Their descendents
The descendents of the descendents
Still scream around me

I do not know if my poetry can stop that scream

Let me live beyond death
Not in the inescapable sexuality of a woman in the child
But let my being throb in the flesh of my words

I cannot write
I cannot write a word
The existence of books, wisdom
And the Brahma of the alphabet the Brahma of all meaning
Surrounds me

Despite my defiance of obedience
I remain till the end
A slave of my inner being

Translated from Bangla by Graffiti Team’

Falguni Ray was born on June 7, 1945 and died young on May 31, 1981. He wrote only forty-two poems and six prose pieces in a span of five years. His oeuvre was included only in one sleek volume titled Nashto Atmar Television (The Television Of A Lost Soul), the publication of which on 15th August (Indian Independence Day) 1973 had been hailed by the famous postmodern poet and critic Utpalkumar Basu as 'signifying the end of modernity in Bangla poetry, on the same scale as the destruction of Machine For Living Building in USA in 1972.

Sharmy Pandey a young contemporary poet, a self taught artist and now a filmmaker.