Wordsmith Wednesday: Nas’ “One Love”

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Our words this week come from Nas’ track “One Love” off of his 1994 classic, Illmatic.

The lines are:

“But, yo, guess who got shot in the dome piece?
Jerome’s niece on her way home from Jones Beach
It’s bugged, plus Little Rob is selling drugs on the dime
Hanging out with young thugs that all carry 9s
And night time is more trife than ever
What up with Cormega? Did you see him? Are y’all together?”

The textual cadence of these words is only a shadow of the spoken delivery, but the internal rhymes and crisp colloquiality of Nas’ lyrics are undeniable. Illmatic is full of dense, image intensive verses but the stylized envisioning of letters to jailed friends found on “One Love” has always stood out to me. The conversational relation of urban tragedy/reality is presented with such familiarity and frankness that I instantly relate to the unnamed recipient of Nas’ news. I feel the sadness of a little girl from the neighborhood being shot dead while walking home. I feel the anger of knowing another young kid from the block is getting involved in the same nonsense that killed that innocent child. I feel the guarded closeness between separated male friends, the commrodary of shared struggle. The clear-eyed bitterness and empathetic realism in Nas’ lyrics on Illmatic is part of the reason the record is a masterpiece, but the unique creative vision and flawless execution on “One Love” make it a touchstone for urban storytelling in my eyes/ears/mind.

– NR

Nas

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Beat Happening “The This Many Boyfriends Club”

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This week’s words come from the Beat Happening track “The This Many Boyfriends Club” off their 1988 album Jamboree on K Records/Rough Trade Records.

The lines are:

“It makes me mad
When I see them make you sad
Sometimes I wanna be real bad
And shove those words back down their throat”

Calvin Johnson’s raw and thoroughly Calvin Johnson-ish delivery of lyrics so simple over dissonant guitar seems to distill emotions down to their pure/childish/truthful cores. Anyone who’s ever loved someone, be it a friend/family member/romantic interest, has likely felt this immature but nonetheless very real impulse to cause harm, physical or otherwise, to people causing pain to the one they love. These words are devoid of decorum or self-consciousness or pretense. They are aggressive in their vulnerability, complex in their plainness. This is someone clenching their fists in the bar’s gravel parking lot. This is a parent wiping tears from a bullied child’s face. This is “I LOVE YOU” written in kiddish scrawl on a folded sheet of classroom loose leaf. And we love you a lot, Lori.

– NR

beat happening

Issue 4 Jacket

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Here’s our jacket for Issue 4!

Prose by:
David Bersell
Brendan Cavanagh
Raul Clement
Brandon French
Matthew Hoch
Darius Jones
Kim Peter Kovac

Poetry by:
Lauren Ball
Gary Beck
Lauren Bender
Bob Carlton
Ivan de Monbrison
Timothy B. Dodd
William Ogden Haynes
M.B. Wharton

Issue4JacketFINAL-page001

Wordsmith Wednesday: Bully “Milkman”

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After a brief hiatus for the holidaze, we’re back with another Wordsmith Wednesday. This week we’re highlighting a lyric from Bully’s song “Milkman” off their 2015 debut record Feels Like.

The lines are:

“I could be a milkman,
Or I could get up and could be what I want to be”

Alicia Bognanno’s words deftly engage an anxiety that exists around work and worth in our culture that discourages many people from even attempting to do anything that doesn’t translate directly into (a sense of) financial stability. There’s a stigma against pursuing any type of “dream” that doesn’t fit neatly into an American Dream of prosperity through practicality that it seems is all but dead. When I’ve felt discouraged or lazy this past year, especially in regards to the magazine or my own writing, I’ve tapped these lines for some motivation. Some days are easier than others, but I’m still trying to get up every day.

– NR

Bully

Submissions for Issue 4

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Submissions for Issue 4 are open until February 14th, 2016!

Please send us your poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction!

Find full submission guidelines here!

Sobotka Issue 4 Submissions

Wordsmith Wednesday: Screaming Females’ “I Don’t Mind It”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from the Screaming Females song “I Don’t Mind It” off their album Castle Talk on Don Giovanni Records.
 
The words read:
 
“I don’t wanna miss you/
It’s tight, I can’t unwind/
I’ll be blown to bits/
But I don’t really want to die/
You do me great service/
When you call my bluff/
I’ll stay home for hours/
But it’s just never enough”
 
Marissa Paternoster has a knack for splicing together the macabre and the melancholy in her music/lyrics/art that encourages me to engage my own weird emotions. This one goes out to all the people who find themselves confused, conflicted, and/or pseudo-suicidal sometimes. Feelings can be freaky, but that just makes the people that can quiet the cranial cacophony that much more valuable. Thanks to everyone that calls my bluff.

– NR

Screaming Females

Wordsmith Wednesday: Lorrie Moore’s “How to Talk to Your Mother”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from the short story “How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)” from Lorrie Moore​’s collection of short stories, Self-Help.

“1982. Without her, for years now, murmur at the defrosting refrigerator, “What?” “Huh?” “Shush now,” as it creaks, aches, groans, until the final ice block drops from the ceiling of the freezer like something vanquished.

Dream, and in your dreams babies with the personalities of dachshunds, fat as Macy balloons, float by the treetops.

The first permanent polyurethane heart is surgically implanted.

Someone upstairs is playing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” on the recorder. Now it’s “Oklahoma!” They must have a Rogers and Hammerstein book.”

Lorrie Moore taught me how to put you into a story. Not how to just create a character that you feel close to, but actually place the reader within the narrative. Make these memories their memories and these actions ones that they have chosen to make. You don’t just attempt to feel for a character, you feel for the situation that you have been placed in. She redefined writing for me.

– KK

Lorrie Moore