Tuesday, June 9, 2009

American Soma at Cyclops in Baltimore

Charm City’s excellent literary magazine, JMWW, held a launch party for its Third Anthology on Saturday, 6 June. Jen Michalski, editor of JMWW, organized the event at Cyclops Books, a sharp-looking store with pimento-red walls and expansive performance space that stands along steadily reviving North Avenue (neighborhood: “Station North”).

Cyclops Owner Andy Rubin features books by local and national authors, including anthologies by Barrel House and Smartish Pace. There’s also ample place for music, and Andy anticipates the performances by Grammy and Tony Award-winning nominees in addition to an eclectic collection of local bands and soloists.

On Saturday, JMWW kicked off its launch party with readings by seven JMWW contributors, including TNB-er Jessica Anya Blau, William Duell, Pete Pazmino, Justin Sirois, Joseph Young, Erik Goodman, and Savannah Schroll Guz (*cough* moi!).

Baltimore Author and Blogger Joseph Young, who writes and manages the fantastic and incisive Baltimore Interview and whose fiction often appears at SmokeLong Quarterly, opened with three short flash pieces.

Fellow TNB’er Jessica Anya Blau read “Number 7,” a vividly perceptive portrait of a teenage girl’s checkered sexual past and the shift in the power-fulcrum once she reaches adulthood. The story was recently named one of the storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2008.

Erik Goodman read from “Futures.” The excerpt is part of a larger novel-in-stories, titled Tracks, and is based on Goodman’s observation of people traveling by train between Baltimore and Chicago.

Pete Pazmino, whose story “Fifty American” was a 2008 finalist in the Black Warrior Review Fiction Contest, read the hilarious first-person narrative about women seeking love in “Chowbang” from the Fall 2008 issue.

Texas-based Author William R. Duell read from “Maw Maw,” whose title character bore eyes that are washed light blue with craziness (an excellent description!).

Justin Sirois, founder of Baltimore’s experimental writing and publishing collective Narrow House, read from his collection of novel “out-takes” called MLKNG SCKLS, recently released by Publishing Genius. Fascinating is that his latest novel, only recently finished, is written in collaboration with Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy and deals with displaced Iraqis living in Fallujah in April of ‘04

I read from my just-released So New book American Soma, which carries the story “The Doctor Dreams” and (for levity’s sake) “A Salesman Reborn”.

The evening wound down at Joe Squared, which offers the best thin crust pizza this pizza eater has ever had. The beer was pretty excellent, too, although I still have no idea what pitcher I got my beer from. I highly recommend the Barbeque Chicken Pizza. And if you’re into pig and pineapples–together at last!–the Hawaiian Pizza is pretty excellent, too.

In the meantime, please check out the spring 2009 issue of JMWW, which features Nathan Leslie, fellow Pittsburgh writer Karen Lillis, Rick Levin, Garett Socol, a review of Shane Jones’ Light Boxes by Molly Gaudry and fiction and poetry by many others.

See a complete photo gallery of the JMWW launch readers here: www.flickr.com/savannahschrollguz. Thanks goes to my hubby, Michael, for taking the pictures.

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