Mariah Voutilainen Reviews Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Sudden Denouement’s Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective demonstrates divergence in a multitude of ways

In late 2017, not long after I had started my own poetry blog on Word Press, I came across an intriguing site.  Its black and white vintage photos and classic layout invited me in.  The poems I read on that particular day were uniquely honest, full of rich free verse and wonderfully chosen words, so I chanced a look at the submissions requirements.  Right at the top of the page, in neon lights: “Hell- -here” it greeted potentials; the “o” and “T” fizzled out.  I chuckled with anticipatory glee, for under the classic front, something mischievous and dark lay there.  And as I read more of the collective’s poetry and prose, I did indeed feel the pull of Sudden Denouement’s careful attention to what it calls “divergent literature,” although I had yet to clarify with certainty what that meant.

In SD’s Anthology Volume I:  Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, I found the answer.  In fact, this book served as a literary map leading me through landscapes of the human experience not found in other poetry and prose that I had read elsewhere.  This is due in part to the curators’ attention to diversity of experience and culture.  I marveled at the harmony of voices, each speaking truth from its corner of the world.  Each writer here has a part that blends in with the others, yet each piece has a distinct melody, a siren song that demands attention.  Trust me when I say that this is an odyssey not for the faint of heart; there is no gentle introduction to that world.

On the contrary, the book opens strongly, challenging readers to question their own views about what beauty and meaning in literature should be, what being a writer is.  The founder of the Sudden Denouement Collective, Jasper Kerkau, exclaims his writer identity is “anointed by almighty forces…to stand in the shadows and pay the price for all the beauty and unhappiness in the world.” (“I am a F*cking Writer!”) “These words have no meaning, when they sit on your screen,” writes Matthew D. Eayre in his poem “Subjective”.  In “On Becoming a Writer,” Christine E. Ray bemoans the possible isolation and invisibility: “…she felt like she was calling out her truths/into an empty desert landscape.”  Erich James Michaels likens the origin story of the poet to purposeful self-mutilation and self-removal from mainstream society (“Genesis”).  All of these are fighting words in a battle to speak truths that may not be acceptable to the mainstream but are vitally human.  To write in this divergent community is to steel oneself against a societal imperative to be vanilla in a land of a multitude of hidden and strangely delicious flavors.

There is no safety net in this world, either, and it is exhilarating.  The first two-thirds of the anthology jump from birds pecking at veins and skin (Ra’ahe Khayat’s “birds & h e a r t s”) to the regret of a missed life (Mick Hugh’s “Dream catcher never understood the bus schedule”) to the irony of a world in which everyone is forced to achieve the American dream (David Lohrey’s “Glass Ceiling”).  There are dark and desperate things, too, experiences thrown like blood and sometimes entrails onto the pages.  Henna Sjöblom’s “Miscarriage” is hard to forget for its painful description of the loss of an unwanted baby “I thought I could make something beautiful/out of my shame”.  Georgia Park’s “Weekly Meetings” made me uncomfortable, an invisible voyeur at a very charged gathering of Overeaters Anonymous.  “Feel up my female…I quite like the emptiness settled in the pit of me” Kindra M. Austin taunts in “Because I’m A Whore Who Asked For It,” as she succinctly details disgusting things that are done to women under that blanket excuse. These three pieces are not the only ones that reminded me of the aspects of human existence about which we are usually discouraged from asking lest we appear too curious, too unaware, too privileged.

Throughout, form and function, captivating lyricism and masterful usage of poetic devices abound.  But these are not tricks:  The stunning repository of words used and construction of phrases seamlessly blended.  I was repeatedly awed by the stories told, wishing for nothing more than continued passage into the world laid bare within the pages.  And yes, I would be remiss if I did not mention that multiple forays are required if only to immerse oneself in the minds of S. K. Nicholas and Jimmi Campkin, both of whom write prose that manages to be both shockingly sordid and beautifully compelling.  To chuckle at the humor that partners discontent in Oldepunk’s poetry.  To breathe in the headiness of Aakriti Kuntal’s lush and captivating similes.  There are gems on each page that cannot be missed, and sometimes I found them as I let words wash over me without specifically searching for meaning.

By the time I began reading the final third of the Anthology, I wished for respite from the unearthing of discontent and the unforgiving barrage of reality, even as it was sometimes cloaked in fantastical imagery.  And a partial reprieve came in the form of odes to the seasons: “The Marigold of months has sure begun./Fling back the shutters and let down your Hair…” (Lois Linkens’ “the Yellow month”) and Spring has “a vessel/for the softest fragrance” (Iulia Halatz’s “Song of Spring”).  There are testaments to romance and even epic love like Eayre’s “Out of My Hands,” but little if any frivolous romanticism here, just reality painted in elegantly brash words and unique imagery.  Finally and fittingly, remembrances of death serve as the beginning of the end of the Anthology.  In those poems and prose, I saw the openness of heart and strength of spirit required to allow total strangers to see the pain of losing a loved one.

Sudden Denouement’s Anthology exposes and breaks many of the taboos of being truly and unashamedly human, giving us permission to look at and embrace them in the moment of reading. I was allowed a glimpse into the writers’ souls; comprehending their words was an exercise in the development of understanding human nature.  This is a world in which the heaviness of life weights everything down until it is distilled—frustration and hate, love and unfiltered sex, bodily urges, addictions, the complexity of human interactions.  Descriptions are brightly painful in some cases, transparently critical in others, but always smack of truth.  Divergent work demands that there are no holds barred; the writer reveals everything, and cuts close to the bone, even his or her own, in order to create a pulsating, living amalgamation of words.

Anthology Volume I:  Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is available through on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk.

 

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Just Released! Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

The Sudden Denoument Literary Collective is thrilled to announce the release of Anthology Volume I: Writings for the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective!  This long-awaited anthology is a thoughtfully curated compendium of the best writing published online by the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective from its launch in August of 2016 through April 2018. It includes 138 pieces of cutting-edge poetry, prose and short fiction written by 29 diverse writers from England, Romania, Japan, India, Finland, the United States and Canada. Thirty-one of the 138 pieces were written exclusively for the Anthology. This volume captures the astonishing raw power of these individual and united poetic voices.

Now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk

Circling the Drain-Erich Michaels

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Cracked sidewalks and faltering smiles

Abandoned houses are the rotten teeth

For a town always grinning

The horse has trampled the aimless young

Heroin today, gone tomorrow

Gravity wins again

You find stability in the stratum

Faulty suspended-animation

Where you do absolutely nothing

But the real world hisses in

And you slowly rot

Internal liquefaction

Your final thoughts are of immortality

You open your mouth

The surgical tube unravels

You…unravel

Seeping through the couch

The floorboards

Into the basement

And down the sewer drain

You’ve left a ring

This ring is the smile that will never falter


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

It’s the wait that gets me- Sarah Doughty

“It’s the wait that gets me.

Like our first kiss.”

I hear it again. That tick, tick, ticking of that incessant clock. That feeling of inevitability. The one you can feel, deep into your bones, that something is coming. Like a countdown to some unknown ending. And you can feel it in the air, like just before a storm on a hot and humid summer day. It’s that electricity, the uptick in the wind that carries just a little further. The kind of breeze that will make even the strongest of trees creak as they sway to a silent song only they can hear. And if I’m lucky, it’ll come before I lose my mind. Whatever it is that’s coming. Because it’s the wait that gets me. It’s that unknowing. The gnawing ache that will eat away at me until everything hits critical mass.

Whatever happens, I’ll be ready. And I’ve learned, over time, to assume the worst. That way, it might not hurt so bad. But every once in a while, I’ll let myself hope for something better. Like when we shared our first kiss. Or the night we first made love. Those moments were well worth the anticipation. Unfortunately, I won’t know about this one, until it actually happens.


Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free, right here! To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on Goodreads, or both.

Shinbone-Jimmi Campkin

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We’d swum upstream, arching through the reeds and the little currents swirling around the sharp rocks just below us, grazing our elbows and knees.  The river meandered under the watch of hills crumpled and confused like an unmade bed.  Nothing moved except the wind and the water; and two undernourished, hopelessly drunk, hopelessly pale little tadpoles in the dark green of a midnight dip.

She’d hotwired the car in a dark corner of the drive-thru.  Under the artificial glare of neon bulbs, we’d seen the young couple fingering each other damp before sucking away their respective juices and hitting the fries.  All she needed was a cigarette lighter and a hairclip and we had a car.  A good car.  A V6 apparently, whatever that means, with two belts of cheap vodka and an automatic transmission.  I didn’t mind.  It meant she could grip my cock and still keep one hand on the wheel.

The narrow lanes guided us.  I became convinced that she drove with telepathy, her delicate wrist flicking the wheel with minimal effort but maximum g-force.  No lights, because apparently that would draw attention to us, she spat the thing out of town and into the swaying countryside.  In town I felt anxious but with every passing mile and every fleeting farmhouse I realised that nature was calling us.  I knew that somehow, Everything Would Be Taken Care Of.  Any cop car that happened to chase us would end up in a swamp, or with a sudden puncture.  We weren’t evil and we weren’t out to kill.  Our goodness would see us through.

We left the road out of boredom and smashed through a fence in the gap between the posts.  After a lot of bouncing and protesting we ended up in a field of tall corn past the roof, everything hissing and slurping as though the car itself was peaking a weird acid high.  Leaving it behind, we lunged through this cathedral of corn stalks and plunged into the river.

*

We cuddle under the old railway bridge, naked and alone.  At night, her skin glistens like a thousand pairs of moonlit cats’ eyes.  She doesn’t shave anymore and I can grab full clumps of her leg and under her arms but I don’t care.  I want everything she has, and if there is more of her I want that too.

Under dead stars and rusting arches she rests in my arms and legs, reclined against my back pressed against a damp stone wall.  We talk about everything from hot dogs to Einstein.  She doesn’t believe in the theory of relativity, but she does believe in a formula for the perfect dog.  A bun the specific length of her hand, a quart of mustard, a quart of relish, and the merest fumes of mayo…Mid-conversation she presses two fingers into the forest of her bush and pisses out a stream of alcoholic nectar running between our legs.

I kiss the back of her head and tell her everything will be fine.  It’s my generic line.  I don’t know if she is unwell.  I don’t know if she needs everything to be fine.  She tweaks my nipples, pulls my hair and licks my chin.  Then a hair bobble frees her ponytail and she winds it three times around her wrist until her hand glows, veins protruding like the contours of an atlas, ready for a needle we don’t have.

I apologise and cuddle her tightly.  My cock grows and lifts, dragging itself against the small of her back.  Underneath the bridge, a midnight train rumbles and complains overhead sending dust onto our heads and a small colony of bats scrambling over the river.  I’m cold, filthy and pointless.  But she is in my arms…my arms…and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


 

Born in November 1983, I have been writing in some form or another for most of my life, but I began to take it seriously as a career around 2003/2004.  Since then I have produced a novel, a novella and a series of short stories some of which are loosely linked into an overarching anthology.

Most of my stories come under the wide umbrella of ‘general fiction’, but I have experimented with genre pieces.  My short stories tend to be bittersweet, nostalgic, sometimes melancholic and (on occasion) examine the darker side of human nature and obsessions.

I welcome you to my site Jimmi Campkin, and I hope you find something here to please you.  If not, below you’ll find a big picture of me to scream obscenities at.

Shipwreck – Allie Nelson

There’s the pull of the tide of Azazel, dragging me down to obsidian depths where lampreys from alien worlds suckle at the teat of Leviathan.  Your arms are the Cambrian ocean, and I am a fabled creature long extinct, many legged like a sea scorpion, scuttling to your lips to latch on with pedipalp that can breathe both in and out of water.  My progeny will leave your bosom and flee to the shore, shipwrecked on pearly sands, and weave webs to capture sparrows and dragonflies and voles.  Feasting on your salty skin, I know the great extinction is fast approaching, be it comet or climate change or ocean acidification, and your shores will dry up and your cliffs of ice at the poles will pummel me as glaciers crash against my chitinous exoskeleton.  This is just a metaphor for how we fight, me the small arachnopod navigating your waves, for you encompass worlds with your H20 and I am just a small resident in your underwater hotel room, and you are the whole of Atlantis.  They will say your treasures were buried ten leagues below when your pride became too great and you challenged the gods, but I know Jormungandr was thrown into the sea because he grew so great he could eat the nine realms, and you are ravenous – for my kisses, for my sex, for my breasts bobbing in your aquatic hands and my whole body in the mud of the Dead Sea, healing in your salt.  It is all a dream of sailors, to marry a mermaid, to pledge their troth to a nokken that fiddles desire and tricks on cold Norwegian seas where my ancestors roamed.  And so I say, Poseidon, grant me one wish.  To forever be your siren, singing humans to doom at your breast aback the undertow of your liquid love.  I will serve you well I promise, o my captain, for I am like a buoy, constantly riding out tempests with cheery red and yellow paint so my lobsterman – you – can find me and the Maine treasures below.  The ocean takes all, nutrient overflows and algal blooms and bodies rotting so only the feet float above, and it has claimed me since I was baptized in your cold New England waters.  In truth, we are the shape of water, which has no shape, but we can boil, and we can steam, and we can bubble, and we can freeze, so I say, let us be the transformation of each other and discover what this love means when the mast falls and the captain’s daughter falls for the admiral.  We can be pirates of the Milky Way, plundering nitrogen oceans for diamonds, sailing Jupiter’s storm, and all the while I will be singing sea shanties (all sea songs are composed in your honor, oh great Oceanus) and throwing prisoners off the plank.  The sea is not merciful, the sea is all-consuming, and so we feast on each other, drinking down starlit riptides.  I fill my belly with the waters of God’s Deep and then I know, I am just sand and coral and dissolved calcium carbonate, a statue sunken deep, and you cradle my wreckage so softly, so love, consume me with your gravity, and let me drown.

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Nicole Lyons

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?
Nicole Lyons

In what part of the world do you live?
Beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I live where one must dress for all four seasons in one day.

Tell us about yourself.
I have the heart of an angel and the mouth of a drunken sailor. I am loyal to a fault and I always bet on the underdog. I dislike crowds and most people in general, and if it wasn’t for fear of depriving my daughters, I’d move us to a cabin in the woods near a secluded little lake to live out the rest of my days.

Where do you publish your work?
The Lithium Chronicles

When did you begin your blog and what motivated you start it?
A few years ago now, I can’t recall exactly when. I had been writing for some online magazines and mental health websites and decided to start my own and name it after my FB page I had started years before. I had finally accepted my diagnosis of bipolar disorder after many years of denial and I started to chronicle my journey on and off of meds and the bumpy road to stability. Sometimes I still wonder if I’ll ever reach that place.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging?
My head is a terrible, and sometimes a wonderful, place to be stuck in and I find writing not only helps me escape but also helps a few people who like to read my work.

How did you find your way to Sudden Denouement?
I stumbled onto the site and read Jasper and Sam and was blown away and had an overwhelming urge to submit, so I did.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
It’s fearless, it’s raw, and it’s honest. It’s nothing like everything you’ve always been told to read, and it’s everything any writers worth their salt will strive to nail down and pen for themselves. If art was a school and genres and mediums were the students, divergent literature would be the kids that come from all walks of life, all classes of society, all races and religions, that have little to nothing in common but the one burning thing that finds them all in detention together on a Saturday morning.

Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language.’ What is it?
If I told you that it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.

Tell us about your literary influences.
Bukowski, Sexton, Plath, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Downie

Has any of your work been published in print?  How did that happen?
My second book of poetry, I am a World of Uncertainties Disguised as a Girl was published by Jasper and Sudden Denouement Publishing.

What are your writing goals?
To not stop

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites?
Drawing a blank

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?
It’s in the acknowledgments of my book 😉