The project's been a couple years in the making, but I'm stoked to learn that the long-mooted CLASH BY NIGHT anthology is now available (CityLit Press) -- and I've got two contributions in it!
As the press release below states, this "lo-fi poetry" anthology is meant to celebrate the Clash's LONDON CALLING album...so contributors were asked to "cover" a song from it -- in other words, write a piece based around the song title that they chose.
In my case, I settled on "Rudie Can't Fail," and "The Guns Of Brixton," which emerged as two perennial favorites from the get-go, though I have many fond memories of listening to the album...particularly the obscurities tucked away on side four (and I don't just mean "Train In Vain," whose chugging rhythm made a great soundtrack for skipping rope, as I listened to it on the radio).
However, having been to London several times -- including a six-month period of living and working at ULU (University of London) -- it's safe to assume that its beat and mood form an important backdrop to both of my poems, which certainly deepened my appreciation of the two songs that I've just mentioned.
For additional visual punch, CLASH BY NIGHT "will publish initially in an 8x8 pasted-on-board edition to make it feel more like an album," as my final confirmation email stated. That impression will undoubtedly be reinforced by the cover, which is an homage to the original album cover (as those in the know will quickly grasp!). Gives the Record Store Day experience a whole new meaning, doesn't it?
However... ...if you want to get the full lowdown on the mood and theme, you'll just have to read the updated press release right here:
Poetry Anthology Memorializes
The Clash's London Calling Album,
Captures Its Ageless Relevance
Lo-fi Poetry Series
Calling for Proposals to Follow
Debut Title Contacts: Gregg Wilhelm Publisher, CityLit
firstname.lastname@example.org (410) 274-5691
Press Co-Editor, Clash by Night
email@example.com (240) 580-6677
London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down...
Released during the Cold War when nuclear annihilation seemed like a real possibility, these first lines off an audacious double-album provided an anthem for a generation of youth. More than 35 years later, 40 poets from across the United States have contributed to an anthology inspired by The Clash's seminal record, LONDON CALLING, which attests to the music's enduring relevance.
"LONDON CALLING was a breakthrough record not just for The Clash, but for how we think of genre -- it's the album that made ‘punk' popular," said co-editor Gerry LaFemina. "The music is diverse and accessible to multiple audiences, but its snarl -- its attitude -- is still punk."
For a long time, lyric poetry and song lyrics have lived parallel lives, but so many poets love music and rock-and-roll. CLASH BY NIGHT attempts to enter the space between those parallel lines, and engage a dialogue between other poems and the songs of LONDON CALLING.
It is an artistically anachronistic book: it asked poets to "cover" songs, which led to a variety of questions (What does it mean to cover a song vis-à-vis a poem? What do these songs say today? What does the process of writing the poems discover?) that could only be answered through the making of the poems themselves.
"What surprised me most about working on this book is that there are so many people out there who feel the way I do about the album," said co-editor and publisher Gregg Wilhelm. "You have some sort of affirmation all these years later that there were other odd-ball kids who were going through the same things you were, with their headphones on, too."
"I've been listening to this record for thirty-plus years," LaFemina said. "The song that has become the most meaningful to me is ‘Lost in the Supermarket.' The longing for a childhood that never was. ‘What we call nostalgia,' the poet Gerald Stern wrote, ‘is for the life we didn't live.'"
The co-editors hope the anthology will find audiences among those parallel worlds of poets and rockers.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Gerry LaFemina is the author of eleven books of poetry and prose including VANISHING HORIZON, NOTES FOR THE NOVICE VENTRILOQUIST, and LITTLE HERETIC. He directs the Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University. In 2004,
Gregg Wilhelm founded CityLit Project in Baltimore and launched its CityLit Press imprint in 2010. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Tampa in 2014.
ABOUT: CityLit Press CityLit Press, the imprint of nonprofit arts organization CityLit Project, publishes writers who might otherwise be overlooked by larger publishers due to the literary nature or regional focus of their projects. The imprint serves as part of CityLit's mission to unite reader and writers in Baltimore, throughout Maryland, and across the country. <www.CityLitProject.org>.
The Lo-fi Poetry Series editors are seeking proposals from potential editors for subsequent anthologies in the series. Each book should cover one record and include "cover poems" of each song on the record as well as "liner note" poems that engage the record as a whole.
For complete proposal guidelines, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.