A Message from my Publisher: Black Bed Sheet Books, Nicholas Grabowsky.


BLACK BED SHEET BOOKS IS NOW STAFFING & GROWING LIKE THE BLOB!


ATTN: We are growing rapidly and now currently seeking manuscript editors, proofreaders, marketing professionals, and able eyes to go through slush piles and submissions.  Cover designers and artists are encouraged to query with links to samples of their work.  If you have other related services to offer, we're all ears.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Nicholas Grabowsky
My name is Nicholas Grabowsky. I began my professional writing career as a mass market paperback horror author for Critic's Choice Paperbacks/Lorevan Publishing/Carol Publishing in the mid-1980's with the novels Pray, Serpent's Prey, The Rag Man, Tale of the Makeshift Faire, June Park, Sweet Dreams, Lady Moon, a few romance novels, self-help books, A Nancy Reagan bio, and the novel for Halloween IV, all under the names of Nicholas Randers, Marsena Shane, and my own real name.  I started as a professional editor for Orange County, CA's The Word Factory in 1989 for area colleges, became a teacher and lecturer and, try as I did, screenwriter with many close calls (the Wes Craven-sanctioned Shocker II, Sanctuary, The Three Introverts), and by the end of 2014 I'd have an entire local indie horror convention (Days of Terror) and feature film director's credit under my belt (Cutting Edges), if all goes well, plus a brand new novel (The Downwardens).  My three decades of work is acclaimed by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Wes Craven, Joe Dante, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Maberry, Brian Keene, E! Entertainment Television, Gorezone, Fangoria, won the 2004 American Author's Association Award for Novel of the Year (The Everborn), and I've been spreading myself around the industry for three decades.  My works have, to date, never had a single negative review.  Like many of my contemporaries, my books have been in grocery stores across the nation and worldwide in checkout lines alongside the Kings and Koontz titles, I've been a paid guest at many a genre cons  I've found myself in situations unlike any other in the industry I know, like mediating between Brian Keene and Nikolaus Pacione, and John Skipp and Craig Spector.  I got Peter Straub and Koji Suzuki (author of The Ring) drunk.  I've never subscribed to any writer's organization, I am adamantly independent, though I enthusiastically support anyone trying to successfully pull off this whole horror writing gig.


ABOUT BLACK BED SHEET BOOKS:



We made book industry history as the first publisher to introduce a fully virtual online book signing.  We've been introducing in-store book signings paper-free, where with a laptop and a few essentials a fan can walk up to the author and get a signed ebook exactly the same way you would a print one, except on a disk or flash drive or emailed ebook, with the store taking a cut.  We are sanctioned by the estate of Vincent Price.  We were the last publisher of Forrest J Ackerman.  We were voted as a top five publisher in the 2009 Preditors & Editors reader's poll.  Our partners are Hacker's Source Magazine who have made a big impact in the last decade in indie magazines, and A Shot in the Dark Comics, who not only have been releasing great comics from my own writings but other BBS authors as well as a long list of Marvel caliber titles.  We sponsor the 250,000-listener blog talk radio show Francy & Friends, who's featured many of today's top horror writers as well as soul singer Solomon Burke (Francy did a speech at his wake in L.A. with the owner of the Grammys because of her show), Five For Fighting, David Lee Roth, G. Tom Mac, John Skipp, Craig Spector, Jonathan MaBerry, Rick Hautala, Elvira, Marla Gibbs, Lloyd Kaufman, Courtney Gains, Bill Moseley, Brad Loree, Vikki Lizzi and Jeff Conaway, Young Rebel Goombas, god.....a plethora of many industry names over the years.  We are also partnering with Troma Pictures, and we have movies in production from our titles (like Alexander Beresford's CHARLA and Jason Gehlert's QUIVER).  We've had sell-out tables, have sponsored great convention parties and events at major conventions over the years (like Horrorfind including a meet-and-greet coordinated by Brian Keene, and many World Horror cons and events across the US).  We have overseas rights agents actively seeking deals.  We have a web television channel called BLACK HAMSTER on www.veetle.com which features indie horror shorts and has to date over 100,000 views.

We began as Diverse Media in 2002 not long after the advent of Print On Demand made me realize that, after gaining the rights back to all my previous publications, I could be more in charge of my titles.  I made a deal with Trancas international Films to put out a new special edition of my Halloween IV novelization with unlimited liberties, and then I began publishing local talent in Sacramento when I saw how easy it was.  In 2008, I started Black Bed Sheet after yet another publisher of mine went the way of so many others and owed a lot of people money, and I went into it thinking I could do this the right way, and I'm a fervent believer that once you realize your lot in life, you best get familiar with every aspect of that lot, in this case taking a book from the ground up and doing something with it, particularly when it comes to first-time writers nobody's ever heard of before, to try and make them be somebody if their writing and ambition really hits me.

"Inspiration and Horror, Baby!!!"

Since Black Bed Sheet Books was officially launched in 2008, I, for the first time in my career, started realizing that as a publisher I placed my career in certain peril.  A few authors I'd been friends with for years, not long after I'd publish them, now won't have anything to do with me because I didn't sell enough for them, didn't place them strategically in book stores where they had vendettas with book store managers where I was supposed to...I don't know, force those managers into having those book signings.  I've had authors I've worked my ass off for months with their books and they wouldn't lift a finger to help sell them, do signings, nothing, and then hold the whole thing against me.  I've had authors who've said that my accepting them was the greatest thing that's ever happened in their entire lives.  It's been a wild ride.  But the thing that separates me from the rest, one of the things, is that indie presses come and go, and unless I die sometime soon, Black Bed Sheet Books will be here long long after most have far gone.  This is my work, and from ten a.m. to about five the next morning, I am at my five computer screens trying to work magic for other writers I very much believe in.  I get over 350 submissions a year....at least one if not two a day, from the US and as far as Africa and India and Brazil and the whole world.  This is my life, for better or worse, and my priority (and specialty) is taking talent from nowhere and making them go somewhere with it, if only I am but a launching point or a step up, I don't promise big publishing house success, even though I believe I have in the palm of my hands elements that can change the entire book industry as we know it.  That's a mouthful, but get back with me in about five years about that.
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OUR FAULTS/SHORTCOMINGS AND THE CHANGES WE'RE MAKING AS A RESULT:

I constantly lie to myself and believe it.  I'm a professional writer, editor, web master, cover designer, marketer, manager, promoter, and for what seems like forever I've been running BBS all by myself, with the exception of authors who bring their own editors and artists etc to the table at their own insistence and my approval.  Those things have helped.  And for lack of funding, despite reaching out for interns and so forth, and because for some reason I punish myself being a workaholic with a dream of making it so I won't have to be anymore (I have no other job or source of income, I rely entirely on BBS) and inherently being independent I like doing things myself, I've been stumbling over my own feet in increasingly embarrassing ways.  Here I am trying to impress, and despite my efforts I've come up with a handful of titles with poor editing.  Readers that don't know any better, who haven't read all the exemplary titles we produce with perfection, with or without my personal editing, can and have read the few titles we've put out that for various reasons have serious editing problems and that really makes us look bad, like all our titles are like that, and that's far from the truth.  So, now that we're selling more than we ever had, we are able to employ outside help.  This, hands-down, is our most important change.  Thus, we've already acquired a few and are looking for more.

Submissions are overwhelming.  Thus, now that we're able, we're getting people to address each one.

I am also looking for foot soldiers, so to speak, that can market and help spread our good word.

One thing I haven't decided upon yet, as far as change is concerned, entails this:  this is a business.  It is a business where I invest in authors, based on what I feel is their merit, their talent, their ambition to promote themselves, and their conviction in signing with BBS to support BBS and exploit it and their book in every way possible, with great positivity and pride.  My waking days are consumed with my authors, the money and time and effort and profound sacrifice in my personal life I daily give for them.  One author who's published two books with me hit me up one day with "I'm getting ready to do a bunch of interviews for my books and I can't mention you in those interviews unless you tell me what you've done for me so I can tell them."  If they don't already know how without me they wouldn't be doing those interviews, they'll never know.  Another one, I helped an author that went through many publishers with the same book and I took a month of my time putting that book together and they bowed out three weeks before release not because the editing wasn't good enough but because my editing background wasn't good enough, and two weeks after parting ways they put their book up on Kickstarter.com to raise $2,000 for an editor and found a publisher a month later who put out my own edited version anyway.  Another bought 500 authors copies from me and parted ways because he couldn't sell them all and his efforts selling his 500 copies couldn't compete with my trying to sell copies on my own.  I also went through a great deal of working night and day for a long time developing a couple of books for authors who I had accepted and a few months after their book was published, they dropped the ball and left me to do all the work, and when the work wasn't good enough they gave me a multitude of reasons why.

So.....like any other business, I have to weigh whether my very valuable time is worth the bullshit I have to go through for those who disrespect and treat me like they're doing me a favor.

Because of these things and more, I lied again.  I am not just a publisher.  I put my daily life in service to authors, and in my accepting you, I in effect become a sort of employer.  I am always up front and tell it like it is.  If any author from this point forth has a problem with that, or makes it difficult for me to do my job, accuses me of playing favorites, doesn't happily and freely promote the man who took you on and first believed in you and gave you a step up in your career, you have absolutely no business being with me and I can and will let you go.  It's not worth it to me, and I or anyone else can't possibly do any more than I already have, and I've done a huge, I say again, huge, credibility leap for you by just accepting you in the first place not to mention all the incredibly hard and laborious work in simply putting your book out.

Okay, so that's out of the way.
 
I suppose I said enough.  For those of you who aren't editors, etc., and have works to submit, Black Bed Sheet Books is always open to hear you, and if we accept you, in a world where the industry is constantly changing, we are at work re-defining the industry itself.


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  We hope everyone who reads this gets what I'm saying, that good, credible people respond, and to all horror writers in particular.  I speak with the confidence of a thousand of all the seasoned authorities in the genre that have done way beyond what I've ever done, and till my last dying breath my legacy is this, what I'm writing about.  I used to be a preacher to thousands of people in my late teens in many fundamentalist churches, was labeled as a Jesus freak who laid hands on many people who fell down backwards before me and oohed and awed that I was so young doing that; in junior high I condemned the friends of mine who were into Michael Myers. Who'd ever believe I'd write the Halloween IV novel, all the other horror books, anything.  It's a crazy life.  But I know who I am, what I've become, and I like it.  I'm passionate about it the likes of which few in this industry have ever seen.

My little hamster needs me.  Gotta go.  Time for lettuce.

---Nicholas Grabowsky
Black Bed Sheet Books
Arguably, the world's #1 publisher of independent horror fiction.
  

Stephen King, Clive Barker, Wes Craven, Joe Dante, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Maberry, Brian Keene, E! Entertainment Television, Gorezone, Fangoria, Nicholas Grabowsky, Black Bed Sheet Books, Halloween IV, Kickstarter.com, Trancas international Films, Brian Keene, John Skipp, Craig Spector, Peter Straub, Koji Suzuki, Vincent Price, Forrest J Ackerman.  Preditors & Editors, Hacker's Source Magazine, A Shot in the Dark Comics, Downwarden.com, Five For Fighting, David Lee Roth, G. Tom Mac, John Skipp, Craig Spector, Jonathan MaBerry, Rick Hautala, Elvira, Marla Gibbs, Lloyd Kaufman, Courtney Gains, Bill Moseley, Brad Loree, Vikki Lizzi, Jeff Conaway, Young Rebel Goombas, Black Hamster, Alexander Beresford, Jason Gehlert,

James Joyce - The Search for Meaning in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


(C) William Cook

The narrative style, of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, involves the reader in the search for meaning. While there may seem to be no definable authorial presence on the surface, the narrator is a creation of the author’s and speaks the language of modernism. Our understanding of Stephen’s character is more explicit and yet more complicated, because of the style of narration, which uses a vivid stream-of-consciousness dialogue. The apparent lack of “narrative cues” is what distinguishes Joyce’s novel as different, to the standard format and narration style of conventional fiction, and characteristically difficult, a common trait of modernist literature. 
The difficulty of such a novel is that we (the reader & critic) have to read meaning by our own comprehension of the interior (and exterior) world of Stephen, with our own intellectual perceptions, beliefs, preconceptions, and experience. The problem with this is explicitly emphasized by Wayne Booth in his essay on The Problem of Distance between author, character, and reader in Portrait:

Whatever intelligence Joyce postulates in his reader – let us assume the unlikely case of its being comparable to his own – will not be sufficient for precise inference of a pattern of judgements which is, after all, private to Joyce . . . many of the refinements he intended in his finished Portrait are, for most of us, permanently lost.[i]

(C) William Cook

The language and words Joyce uses are not foreign to most literate English readers, yet the style and the complexity of the meaning of the prose, is what makes it difficult. Moreover, because we are effectively in the mind of the narrator, we also presume that meaning will come from within the language of his speech and thought. This sense of anticipation preludes the reader’s understanding of what the meaning signifies to and within Stephen’s world. In other words, we expect to find meaning through the narrator, yet until we find our way through the labyrinth of allusion and metaphor that is Stephen’s narration, we can not begin to comprehend the state of Stephen’s consciousness. 
Making reading difficult, as it does, Portrait lends itself to many forms of criticism. Its difficulty has extended its critique beyond the realms of modernism into contemporary post-modern analysis and debate. The structural coherence of the narrative depends on the type of reading practiced. For instance, a psychoanalytical (or Freudian) reading would envisage Portrait as a densely coherent structural novel, due to the narrator’s ‘stream-of-consciousness dialogue and psychological elements that dominate the text. Whereas a feminist critique, would assume it was incoherent or misogynist due to the negative or apparently disempowered portrayals of women in the novel. This reading is difficult because it is hard to prove whether Stephen is a factually autobiographical portrait of Joyce.
 The ‘problem of distance’ makes it hard for critics to determine the author’s involvement/responsibility in his character’s beliefs and actions. It is also hard to determine whether his depictions of women are stereotypically patriarchal, and therefore negatively depicted according to general feminist critique, in character  (are beautiful girls that are transformed into birds, being oppressed by the male visionary oppressor?).
By writing a complex and evocative work that seems to defy definition, Joyce effectively works the text so that the reader seeks meaning, and distances himself from criticism that lacks definitive judgements due to the difficulty of the text. While this elusiveness works well for Joyce, and promotes criticism and ‘art for art’s sake’, it also generates a negative reaction to the difficulty of Portrait.  This negative (pessimistic may be a better term) interpretation is essentially a reaction to the exclusiveness of modernism and its practitioners, Joyce being the head of the house.
What most readers (and critics) of fiction enjoy is a work capable of appreciation and intellectual stimulation, for having a story with a coherent message, meaning, or ‘portrait’. What Portrait proposes, is a scholarly interpretation requiring more than mere involvement and more like devotion, in order to salvage meaning from the depths of Stephen’s mind and the text. There is a danger of the work being too abstract and mutually exclusive, almost a work of inoperative fiction, or mere curiosity, to the general reader.
While this may seem a presumptuous view of A Portrait (depending on the reader response), it must be remembered that because of the demands it places on the reader, we are forced to make these critical assumptions regarding authorial intent, in order to understand the text more completely. In my view, this is the intention behind Joyce’s style and the reason why his work is so amenable to different critique and debate, yet considered difficult and obscure by the average reader.

(C) William Cook

Like anything that challenges the intellectual faculties, Portrait provokes an element of frustration and satisfaction with its many levels of difficulty. The apparent simplicity of the first chapter drags us into Stephen’s labyrinth of memory and experience. The increasingly complex narration and imagery disorientate the reader; just as Stephen seems to have a deep ambivalence toward all things, so too do we (those of us still reading). Whether it is ambivalence toward Stephen, Joyce, or that which is related (the content of the narration), a certain amount of mistrust and caution guides us through the dichotomous corridors of narrative.  As ambiguous as it may seem, because of its perceived difficulties and lack of authorial direction, there is still a story within the structure that seeks the eye (and ear) of the astute reader.
There is a strong relationship between the aesthetic and the character. The novel is after all a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and as such, he displays characteristics of the aggressive ideology of youth and artistic temperament. Stephen Dedalus’s life advances from childhood to adulthood, in a continual odyssey for meaning and vocation that differs from convention, tradition, and expectation of his peers and guardians. We see the world through Stephen’s perceptions, rebelling against reality and looking for a deeper truth that seems to prove as elusive for him as it does for the reader. A sense of isolation and subjective relativism envelops his character and his sense of pilgrimage. He searches for camaraderie in other like minds, envisioning other young artists on the same spiritual/artistic journey, he hears their voices calling him “making ready to go, shaking the wings of their exultant and terrible youth” (p.253).
He sees himself as “their kinsman”, the embodiment of all artists, yet with an egotistical difference that still sets him apart from all the others. Stephen’s project is the height of allusion: he wants to create what he feels has never been created. With an abundance of self-generated inspiration and confidence he states, “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” (p.253).     
It is not a self-less personal identity that is to be created from Stephen’s experience, but the “uncreated conscience” of his “race”, a universal paragon that will set him up as the mythological figurehead of his people. Stephen’s ‘soul’ is exposed and opened to the reader, his soul being essentially the novel itself. Stephen has been creating (epiphanies, aesthetic objects, and artistic theories) throughout the novel; his ultimate objective is to create a work of art and experience that is of a genius previously unheard of. The genius being in the creation of an aesthetic object that represents more than itself, that embodies a moral sense of responsibility, as a production of an artistic breed that has historically pursued art for its own sake. He believes that he is the artist to accomplish this unconventional task, seeing his ‘art’ as something striving toward genius.
Two main questions need to be asked of this proposal: is “the reality of experience” such that it is unique or essentially different from that which has been experienced and recorded before, enough so to create a new “uncreated conscience”?  In addition: what “race” is Stephen referring to? Is it the human race, the Irish race, the race of time and space[1], the idealized race of artistic ‘kinsmen’, or the ‘race’ of family that he now hopes to give some moral fortitude and imagination to? 
        The first question is answered with a single word: no! No individual mortal being, or subjective experience, could hope to create an entirely new moral being (conscience that has not been ‘created’ before) free from the influence of that which has come before, within themselves, let alone in a whole ’race’. The aesthetic object (or work of art) can not create and impart a wholly original sense of being, or moral sensibility, by itself, that is capable of embodying the collective “conscience”, of whatever race it is that Stephen claims as his own.  Stephen’s success depends on his understanding and involvement, in a totally anthropological (not self-justified, or assuming, about the universal nature of humankind) manner, with humanity and reality as a consequence. Leaving a reality behind that is dealt with by the imagination, rather than the heart, does not suggest that Stephen's project will be successful. Yet, it does imply that his naivete will be confronted by similar archetypes of experience that will force him to confront reality, which defines the human condition, with his heart.
The second question of ‘race’ can only be answered definitively by Joyce himself. I personally feel that Stephen’s race is that of the artist and that he is looking to blow apart artistic convention and tradition by ‘forging’ a new style that will act as a paragon to the rest of the art-world. Stephen may not do this himself, with his attempts at poetry and vision, yet Joyce does create this uniquely influential work of art and style (apparently original & incomparable in style, except maybe to Blake’s visionary works), in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
There seems an element of hope about Stephen’s intended voyage: an elation that exudes life and dreams. However, the final sentence reeks of impending doom and mythological regression (rather than looking to the future and a new “conscience”): “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead”(p.253). Stephen is looking to a role model; it is not his biological father, but the mythological “artificer” – Daedalus. Will he stand Stephen in good stead? Not if Stephen is Icarus (son of Daedalus), rebelling against his father’s requests and flying too close to the burning sun of freedom, melting his wings and drowning. Nor will he, if Stephen is the son of Daedalus’s sister, whom Daedalus killed by throwing him off Minerva’s sacred citadel.
So, why use an analogy that ends in tragedy to represent Stephen. Myth and biology are as much “nets” of the soul as is convention, tradition, and expectation. Because his character is doomed to failure from the beginning, he can not escape the past and be the great creator. His own philosophy on acquiring knowledge neutralizes his aspirations with its contradictions: “he was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world”(p.167). How can you learn wisdom from others if you are “apart” from others, and amongst all the negative things (‘snares’) that you are trying to differentiate from?          
       There remain, no firm answers to our questions. Conjecture and uncertainty, is as much a part of our reading, as it is of Stephen’s idealistic and seemingly unrealizable aspirations. He yearns for fulfillment and completion in destructive ideals that he still takes seriously. His name denotes the path he takes, it is all pre-planned, vocation and all, and not by Stephen or Daedalus, but by the “artificer” who is Joyce. The spelling of Stephen’s last name is significant; the changing from Daedalus to Dedalus distances his surname enough from the myth to imply alternative meaning. As we find out, Stephen’s journey is a bit of a ‘dead-loss’, his aspirations to an immortal (‘dead-less’) state of created conscience proving unfounded and invalid in its reliance on myth and guidance from influential guidance. Like other critics such as Caroline Gordon[ii] and Marguerite Harkness[iii], I feel that Stephen is set up to fail. The difficulty of the novel works to meet this end with much invention and intellectually challenging alternatives. My opinion is that it is Joyce’s intention to do this with Stephen’s character, so that once we have reached our conclusion we can concentrate on the text. Stephen’s character acts as a foil to the testimony of artifice and creation, of the text as a work of art, a novel of artistic dexterity, genius, and vision, and a masterpiece of words. In this respect, the difficulty of Joyce’s text does what it sets out to do.

(C) William Cook






[1] “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all”(Ecclesiastes 9:11). A biblical reminder that human events do not always turn out in the way men expect them to, which is poignant in the light of Stephen’s impending flight from the isle, paralleled with Icarus who burnt his wings and drowned in the seas of his unnatural aspirations (mortals cannot aspire to the height of the God’s).




[i] See James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Text, Criticism, & Notes, ed. by Chester G. Anderson, The Problem of Distance in A Portrait of The Artist, by Wayne Booth (New York: The Viking Press, 1968) pp. 466-467.




[ii] See Joyce’s Portrait, Criticisms & Critiques, ed. by Thomas E. Connolly, Some Readings and Misreadings, by Caroline Gordon (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962) p. 144.




[iii] See A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Voices of the Text, by Marguerite Harkness (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.) p.110.

New Review up for Moment of Freedom - by William Cook

News, views and reviews.

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts lately. I have been extremely busy with my other projects and have been neglecting poor old poetry a bit! You can see what I've been up to at my main website http://williamcookwriter.com.
I will be migrating this site to the main one above shortly but will leave a forwarding address so to speak. I recently received the best critique of my poetry that I have ever received. Please check it out below and make sure to visit Anthony Servante's excellent site about Literary Darkness - always something interesting and well-written to consider there. Enjoy!
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William Cook joins the Modernism School of Poetry. From Wiki: “For the modernists, it was essential to move away from the merely personal towards an intellectual statement that poetry could make about the world.” Thus William combines a writing style of prose and poetry to weave an intellectual tapestry, slipping his words in and out of subjective and objective observations, pulling and pushing the reader to envision the completed tapestry while savoring the in’s and out’s of the words themselves, much as we watch a movie without thinking about the camera work or actor interpretations of the screenplay. As Peter Gabriel points out in The Cinema Show regarding the use of cosmetics: “Concealing to reveal.”

Let’s consider the “The edge of the night” from MOMENT OF FREEDOM: Selected Poetry. First off, two notes: the title Moment of Freedom is ironic in that the title indirectly states, a lifetime of slavery to the “moment of freedom”, much as the term “a cloudless clim” from Lord Byron, must incorporate “cloud” to denote an empty sky: an image to convey emptiness rather than simply using the unpoetic “empty” to state such. Second, the poem’s title capitalizes the article but not the noun or prepositional phrase, combining poetic license with standard grammatical rule (namely “The”, the first word in the line, must be capitalized). The intellectualizing has begun; William flaunts the world’s rules by obeying them as he pleases, this, a moment of freedom.

To the work:

The edge of the night

I

A table spread in a tomb, dinner for the dead

the dead! Why did you pay a visit to my eyes last night?

Night is the time for angels of dreams

we who, each of us, will one day return

to our hungry mother the grave. The darkness comes

from knowing nothing is ours, except death

takes bites out of my heart. O Asclepius pupil

teacher Chiron, please bring medicine

to my dead love, and I forever understudy

will attempt some sort of attainment

to wake with a sore splitting back from the cold floor

in borrowed clothes and eyes, lent by a saint

giving at the same time an encompassing embrace

‘Friend,’ is all he said in tears, heart big enough to feed

this dead world. To wake up and see the sun

if not the glare from beyond, glittering

on broken glass, beside stretched roadside

where some had sprayed symbolic worlds and signs

scars full of flowers – to wake is to see

again this unusual world, whose secret cannot be known

until we enter the sky, or the earth

takes the edge off the night, the memory of your smile

II

Judging this town of sleep, I found it had already been judged

the Lord on his axe-cut cross of cypress

he is an incurable domestic bore

a family man, who never swore a word

an only child with a hollow mother

full with the carved cares of a household

wearing his poverty as a coat of arms

for eyes to look upon that beheld no bravura of vision.

The crisp grass rattles and shakes ripely, dryly

and all of this in fidelity to death

it was the same old same old, the hard husk of the ego

won’t ever resolve, yet grinds down hard internally

into the swirl, the wine bitter-soaked seed

labouring lie -- vice is kindled, burned in loins that melt

peculiar smiles alive, of all hope

has gone to explore the forlorn desert all alone

far away from the security of grim towns

where a girl is safe searching numbly in the comfort of fear.

You have gone or strayed away, never to be found

I sit and hear sour hiss of traffic calling

this burned and gutted ghost, vague semblance of time

on and off like one long sick light-switch

electric dream/confused state of everyone

greedy for dead love, drain her life, her soul

from every side for me. Greatest dribbling cannibal

tired Bolshie future, sleep . . . with disease.

III

Torn in two, I stand between, the idol and the grave

I do not know anything, I do not know. I do not

of this world, know anything – nor do I want to

but I have misled the past and will do so again

bring the teachers to the fore, let them stand

and be accounted as emperors of their own disease

and demise. As the sky claps the earth -- wrings blood

from all rocks and far away I fly, every day

from the storm in the brain. The science of the mind

corroded the body, blinded every mile I ever burnt

in this life and the next if there ever were such a thing.


To discuss William’s deliberate misuse of grammar would be folly as it is part of the pursuit to reach the reader. Note also his use of metaphor and litotes. To say simply: “a corpse” is not in his vocabulary; he metaphorically says “dinner” and the diner, death (“the dead!”). Knowledge is life, and life is accepting death: “The darkness comes from knowing nothing is ours, except death….” The first slip into litotes comes from a shift into prose from the metaphor: “…to wake with a sore splitting back from the cold floor in borrowed clothes and eyes…” and with the “borrowed…eyes” shifts back to poetry and metaphor. These are very aesthetic acrobatics. 
Furthermore, in the line “To wake up and see the sun if not the glare from beyond” we see additional shifts with the sun at once literal and figurative (as that solar body we find upon waking and as a metaphor for the afterlife). William maintains the balance between shifts throughout the work and ultimately “time” becomes a “cannibal” eating us as we sleep and wake, with varying degrees of metaphoric intents. Thus, the final line of Part II captures this fatality of cannibalism of the self as William becomes the “I” of the poem and states the thesis with the “if”, bringing together the personal and the intellectual in Part III: “The science of the mind corroded the body, blinded every mile I ever burnt in this life and the next if there ever were such a thing.”

A work in three parts, “The edge of the night” is representative of the poetry throughout MOMENT OF FREEDOM. Think of the book as a complete poem with each individual poem making up the whole. I do not recommend jumping around reading individual works, but rather beginning to end, as one would read James Joyce’s Ulysses or William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. It is a work worthy to be mentioned with these modernist authors.


William Cook
William Cook is a writer of the macabre from New Zealand, a small antipodean island group in the South Pacific. When not writing, he looks after two small daughters and designs book covers that are designed to scare the hell out of people. 
He can be reached at:
Reposted from: http://servanteofdarkness.blogspot.com/ 

More info here: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/poetry.html

Latest Review for Blood Related

William Cook ‘Blood Related’ Review

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Written by: Drake Morgan

William Cook’s Blood Related delves into the mind and dark psychology of a serial killer named Caleb Cunningham. The story centers around Cunningham and his family who have all been connected to a series of brutal murders over a number of years. The story begins with a psychiatric overview and then progresses to Caleb’s version of events.

The format of the narrative is interesting in that it makes not two shifts, but several. The first chapter is a first-person perspective from a court appointed psychiatrist. Through her, we get a very rough overview of the Cunninghams. We learn that there are twin brothers, both deeply psychotic and sinister. The psychiatrist examines Charlie during the course of a trial, but then becomes heavily involved with Caleb. We learn that Caleb is the true monster and the bulk of the narrative then becomes Caleb’s diaries, journals, and psychiatric sessions. Later chapters shift again to a series of newspaper articles giving the reader a final summary of the events that Caleb’s first-person account misses. The novel closes with a series of letters from Caleb explaining his motives and leaving the reader and his doctor with a cryptic goodbye.

Caleb’s story is fairly straightforward. Abused as a child, he’s described as “evil,” “one of the most dangerous men alive,” and the like. Cook’s writing is fluid and descriptive, but Caleb’s exploits take on mythological proportions as the story progresses. Cook goes to great length in his research of abnormal psychology. He skillfully uses the terminology and psychiatric evaluations to create an authentic element to the narrative. Caleb’s excesses are in stark contrast to the realism in other areas and it’s a jarring juxtaposition at times.

As a study in dark psychology, Blood Related is an interesting tale. Cook does an excellent job grappling with the disturbed mind. Psychiatry struggles with the abnormal that goes beyond the human comprehension of evil. Cook takes on the challenge of this struggle and handles it well. A more subtle handling of Caleb’s story would have added a great deal to the psychological framework. Definitely worth a read for the insight into a twisted mind.
Grab it here!

Rating: 3.5/5

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