Friday, March 28, 2014

Winter Issue Editorial

As we dig out of a hard winter, we find ourselves still trapped in a stagnant economy. Jobs remain scarce, low paying, and too often, abusive. Older workers are especially hard hit by long-term unemployment and the younger generation finds itself unable to find sustainable work. Sexual harassment is rife and women bear the brunt of it, as poems in this collection attest.

The corporate right and its sycophants continue to rail against even the modest insurance reforms ushered in by Obama, and to block the expansion of Medicaid to many left too poor to afford insurance. It is being revealed how thoroughly our environment and water are tainted with unregulated industrial chemicals. These affect not only our health but the development of our children. Pollution as well as the mass-impoverishment of our working class is a direct result of public policy written by and for major corporations. Some of us suffer workplace related injuries and illness. Some of us suffer from environmentally related illnesses. Autism rates are growing due to exposure to the contaminants that enriched the few. None of us are disposable for the enrichment of others.

The poems in this collection speak from desperation. They speak with intimate knowledge of the daily struggle for survival in this deadly system. They speak with anger, and most importantly, with militant solidarity and determination to create something better.

This journal, too, struggles against the odds to survive and to publish the strongest writers of our class. Your editors, being among the economically discarded, make this project even more difficult to sustain. This is our fundraising season and, like the last issue, you will find within these pages a Fund Drive request for support. We are grateful to those of you who have already contributed. We have enough to cover this issue and maybe one more. Our printer needs replacing and our other equipment is in need of upkeep. We have to cover supplies and expenses including paper, ink, and rising postal costs.

Admittedly, it would be cheaper to do our journal online but we are averse to that for numerous reasons. A real, ink on paper journal has a life of its own. Issues that we published 10 years ago are still circulating from hand to hand and in used book stores. New eyes continue to see them even without having to search online or even have a computer. Also, there is a major difference in the quality of attention and time that goes into reading an actual book as opposed to scanning a website. Long after the internet is too censored, long after the lights go out, the work you had published here will still be read -- will still make a difference. We remain stubbornly determined to keep the words flowing and are thankful for your support in making that possible.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another Brother Gone

Your editors had the pleasure or meeting Amiri and having dinner with him in New York. We heard him in Philly raging truths like fire at a rally demanding freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal. I was pleased that he liked and responded to my own work in the Blue Collar Review. Like the best poets he was and remains controversial. He was, beyond Black Nationalism, a class conscious revolutionary who enriched and left his mark on American poetry. He will be missed but, thanks to print and video, he ain't goin' nowhere. Amiri Baraka Presente!

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More here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Autumn Issue Editorial

The darkening days of Autumn are a time for reflection. This year it seems we can look back on a darkening of times as the economy remains stagnant abandoning many of us to destitution. Attacks on working people continue from the right with the help of "centrist" Democrats willing to cut unemployment compensation to 1.3 million workers left jobless. If that isn't bad enough, federal court judge Steven Rhodes recently ruled that the pensions of retired public servants can be cut in this economy hard hit by corporate plunder. The contracts protecting those hard-earned pensions are apparently not as sacred as the contracts allowing AIG execs to get six-figure bonuses after being bailed out with public money.

This season also saw the utter hypocrisy of the climate summit in Warsaw derailed by the fossil fuel industry as disasters caused by oil spills, fracking, coal burning, and the subsequent climate change wrought horrific destruction in the US and globally.

As the capitalist feeding frenzy desperately pillages what is left of our natural resources, squeezing the life out of us and sacrificing our future, awareness of the reality of our situation is growing along with resistance. From admissions in the corporate media of the growing chasm between the wealth of a shrinking oligarchy and the rest of us, to the devastating effects of the climate crisis, we are seeing a change in consciousness in the US and globally.

Around the country, service workers at Walmart and the fast food chains are striking for living wages, breathing new life into the class struggle.

The poems in this collection speak to these times. "You've got Mail" and "Tech on the Train," voice resentment of technology thatalienates, replacing our real human activity and interaction with a shallow virtual version, thus dehumanizing work and social interaction.

In this issue we have poems of motherhood and of growing up poor with scant hope. Poems here describe the difficulty and frustration of being an underpaid and under appreciated teacher in our schools and speak to the real social devastation of a system poisoned by the political corruption of self-serving greed.

The loss of hope revealed in the poems "Sky Pie" and "Utopia" paves the way for long overdue protest and organizing. There is a strong sense throughout this issue of our determination to survive in spite of the worst efforts of the corporatist ruling class to abandon us to starvation and homelessness. That determination is a consistent aspect of our historic working class reality.

If we are to survive this century, much less create a more just society, it is necessary to reclaim our class values of community and mutual responsibility. We must coalesce into a movement that takes our world back from the forces that are destroying it -- from the brutal rule of wealth. As an old song by the Doors reminds us, "They've got the guns but we've got the numbers."

The awareness, anger, and determination that fill these pages must become the rule, not the exception. We are glad to be able to give voice to the progressive values and consciousness that are the last best hope for a civilized future thanks to your collective generosity and contributions, both monetary and literary. The world and the future belong to us. Let us unite and take it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer Issue Editorial

I write this in a time of flux when things seem to change by the moment. Daily, new revelations come out exposing the extent of government surveillance and just when you think it couldn't be any worse, more emerges. Then there is the threat of impending attacks on Syria echoing the same insane neocon aggression we witnessed in Iraq. For the moment, it seems the critical mass of public opinion has stopped it which may be a historic first but by the time you are reading this, the bombs may already be falling.

All this comes at a time when scientists are telling us that we are on the brink of planetary ecological destruction. The inseparability of war and ecological collapse are a regular sub-theme in our summer issue and this year is no exception. It is more relevant than ever.

The market system in its dying throes cannot provide the basic necessities of sustenance, much less work, for a growing number of us and its destruction of the planet exacerbates those shortcomings. As people realize this and begin to ask questions challenging the rule of money, distractions like war are usually used to boost nationalism. The real danger is that capitalism when truly threatened morphs to fascism. We are seeing this in the growth of the police state with most intrusive national security apparatus in history. This is not lost on our contributing poets. In the poem, "This-and-That," Luis Berriozábal describes the effects of this ubiquitous NSA presence on our sanity.

The history and continuing danger presented by nuclear weapons and nuclear power are also addressed in this collection. In the poem, Science Lesson, Robert Joe Stout attempts to explain the reality of Hiroshima to his daughter. roibeárd Uí-neíll's poem goes further in addressing the insanity and legacy of the nuclear age. The plague of tenuous, low paying bad jobs and the permanent unemployment that haunts many of us permeates this collection as well.

We are proud to announce the winners of the Working People's Poetry Contest in this issue. This year's winner is Joe Weil for his poem, "The First Time I Got Up Early." He wins the $100.00 prize as well as a one year subscription. Choosing this years winner was especially tough and so we have two runners up: "Coney Island Dialectic" by Dave Iasevoli and "Burn Bright" by Willie Wilson. These poems are related in that they deal with the tensions between work, education and expectations. They are presented together in this issue and online on our contest winners page. The runners up also receive a one year subscription to this journal. Other strong entries will also be published. Some appear in this issue.

We as a press occasionally publish collections by poets, though it is rare due to the expense and stress involved. We are proud to announce a new book from Partisan Press. Who Are We Then, by Ed Werstein is a dynamic, reflective collection of working class poetry. Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Marilyn Taylor comments, "Ed Werstein, a deeply talented practitioner of the poetry of protest, is profoundly familiar with the frustration of the powerless -- and also possesses a rare ability to communicate his indignation with striking sincerity and conviction. The poems in Who We Are Then? are precisely on target."

We are grateful to all who entered our contest and those who contribute support and work to our efforts. We remain committed to publishing the most vital and talented truth tellers of our working class.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who Are We Then?

Those who subscribe to the Blue Collar Review are familiar with the strong, well crafted poetry of Ed Werstein. Partisan Press is proud to announce a new collection of his work, entitled Who Are We Then.

Barbara Crooker, author of Radiance, Line Dance, More, and Gold writes about this collection, "Ed Werstein, in his new collection, asks, Who Are We Then? The answer is, it's all of us, people with good intentions, people who work in factories, folks watching the news: women "falling from factory windows in Bangladesh / while you wait in lines at Walmart." This is the world we live in, where "the richest one percent are guaranteed / their forty percent of the pie." Werstein writes poetry as manifesto; these are politically engaged poems that want to change the world. But it's also poetry as prayer: "Let the leftover bread feed the hungry. / / Let all soldiers return to hometowns / unchanged." Werstein says, "Let's write a new curriculum of love and understanding," and I say, "Amen."

An excerpt from the title poem shows the collection title to be a question more relevant than ever; a burning question all Americans need to ask:

sixteen civilians shot dead
in Kandahar
a soldier snaps
and sixteen die
mostly women and children
a soldier snaps
three tours of duty in Iraq
now deployed in Afghanistan
he snaps
sixteen dead.

and Hillary says,
that is not who we are.

well, who are we then?
are we the Marines who
unzipped and pissed
on their victims?

are we the soldiers who
burned the Quran?

are we Navy Seals who
steal across borders,
in midnight invasions,
to assassinate our prey
and anyone else who gets in the way?

are we predator drones
piloted by remote joystick jockeys
raining terror on guilty
and innocent alike

they see their kids each night
and never snap thinking about the ones they've killed.

are we people who fight
terror with terror?

This is the kind of poetry that is worthy of the name. This is the kind of truth telling, socially necessary and class conscious work that needs to be published and we are honored to make that happen. This flat-spined edition is available on our website for only $14.00 which includes postage.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Working People's Poetry Contest Winner

This year's entries we all so good that choosing a winner was exceptionally difficult. Most of the poems entered will be published in future issues of the Blue Collar Review.

The winner of the $100.00 grand prize is Joe Weil for his Poem, The First Time I Got Up Early. We had two runners up: Coney Island Dialectic by Dave Iasevoli and Burn Bright by Willie Wilson. Both of these poets win a one year subscription to our journal and have their fine poems posted as runners up on the Contest Winners page of our site. We are thankful for all who sent in such great poems.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Spring Issue Editorial

The truth is finally emerging. We knew that the corporate oligarchy robbed us of our pensions and savings. That they shipped our jobs to poor countries exploiting desperation. That they preach austerity for us to pay for their plunder, cutting jobs, vital services, the benefits of those lucky enough to have them, and unemployment compensation from those unable to find work. Their courts and Congress have criminalized real journalism and dissent with laws written by cabals like ALEC. Now we hear that they are listening to and recording our every phone call and email, tracking our every purchase and internet activity.

The so-called war on terror is finally coming home, only now the "terrorists" are those who threaten corporate interests. The new persons of interest are you and I. This brings home the vital importance of real, non-virtual communication and of the printed word. Their National Security State can tap every phone and computer but they can't read everything printed and they certainly do not pay much heed to poets.

But poetry, at its best, is truth telling. Though this press continues to struggle on a ragged piece of a shoestring, we are grateful for the support that has allowed us to continue to publish the uncensored, unvarnished truth of our class reality and our proletarian commitment to a just and livable world.

Many of the poems in this collection reflect a gritty nostalgia devoid of sentiment. We remember the jobs that have been stolen from us and the misery of that work. We remember the injured and the disappeared even as we look with trepidation and anger at the bleak future offered by this system of corruption in its dying throes. Women's increasingly difficult experiences are expressed in this collection. There is a strong focus on parenting and family, as well as on culture and a sense of "home."

What comes through is that whatever our background or our economic state, we are all in this together. As working people, we share common experiences and interests. We struggle with debt. We suffer the degradation of job hunting, dreading bosses and landlords. The same face of greed sees us all as expendable tools and as a threat when united.

We have been monitored on the job and off but we are watching too. We as workers are both agent and victim in the process. Like Edward Snowdon and other operatives know, as soon as you look up from your monitor and ask why, you are the enemy too. We who do the work know where the weaknesses in the system of dominance are. We know who benefits, who suffers and why. We will continue to speak that truth until everyone has had enough of their abuse and the illusion of their power dissolves like a bad dream.

Their power depends on our consent and cooperation. Our realization of that begins its subversion. Let this be a turning point uniting the majority against the destructive tyranny of the global corporate - NSA regime that threatens us all. So let the truth telling continue.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Winter Issue Editorial

This issue comes out as our government, held hostage by an obstructive block of regressive extremists, is rendered increasingly dysfunctional. The false crisis of sequester and the possible further government shutdown over raising the debt limit, predicate intolerable hardship for struggling workers -- the poorest, the infirm, the unemployed, and retired people. Instead of creating jobs or addressing climate change, we will hear more demands from the wealthiest for imposing austerity, meaning the evisceration of lifeline programs including Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, as corporations see record profits and the stock market soars, jobs remain scarce and most of us find even the illusion of security a luxury.

Many of the poems in this issue could just as well have been written in the great depression. They speak of work related illness and of lack of medical care. They speak of the desperate invisibility of homelessness and the disillusioned poverty of old age. More importantly, they include an awareness of the global nature of exploitation; of how we are pitted against each other, our poverty underwriting the wealth that oppresses us. Poems by John Kaniecki, James Eret, and Fred Voss reject the competitive prejudice all of us are fed against immigrants, voicing the class solidarity upon which our mutual gains depend. This vital solidarity is echoed throughout this issue as is a militant commitment to the struggle for economic justice and a livable future.

Tough times are continuing, but the hardest times are often fertile ground for struggle as the illusion of individualism gives way to the necessity of community. It will take a change in attitudes and cultural consciousness to get us through to really better, secure and sustainable times. The worse things get, the more violent and reactionary the movies, music, and cultural attitudes the corporate ruling class pump out in order to fortify attitudes which undermine our unity and the class perspective that threaten their power over us.

This is why working class culture is so vital to our struggle. This is what our journal is about. There are very few venues for consistently progressive, class conscious and militant writing. This is our annual fundraising season. Tight times make supporting this project both more difficult and more vital. We are amazed to have lasted over sixteen years and honored to have published the strongest poets of our working class. We get no backing from organized labor, literary or political organizations, or universities. This is your journal. In better times your editors covered expenses from our own meager pockets but given our more tenuous economic reality, we cannot cover all the costs involved. That we have been able to continue publishing over the past few years is a tribute to the loyalty of readers who have found this journal worthy of support. We are determined, with your help, to continue.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Contest

Only four months left for entries to the Working Peoples' Poetry Contest! So far the entries are few meaning your odds are good. If you've read the Blue Collar Review and especially if you've been published in it, you have the advantage of knowing what we like.

Enter today! Send your best shot and you could be the big winner of the $100.00 prize. Winners also have their poem published on our website for an entire year and receive a one year subscription to our journal.

Only $15.00 per entry, to: "Contest" Partisan Press P.O. Box 11417 Norfolk, VA 23517

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fund Drive Kickoff

With the new year begins our fund raising season. Partisan Press is a not-for-profit press and relies on the generosity of subscribers and supporters. Contributions are tax deductible. We realize that times are tough but times like these make progressive working class literature all the more vital in promoting labor culture and the class awareness we need to resist the worst abuses of the corporate ruling class. It also provides much needed inspiration in the struggle, letting us know we are not alone.

There are very few places accepting relevant socially conscious poetry. We feel The Blue Collar Review is unique in the consistent high quality of writing we publish. Our next issue will have a contribution insert asking for your support. You needn't wait. Contributions can be made via Payal on our website (though the buttons may not work with Firefox) or by mail to Partisan Press, P.O. Box 11417 Norfolk, VA 23517. We're counting on you.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Autumn Issue Editorial

This issue marks sixteen years of publication. Over that span, our journal has chronicled the deterioration of our condition as a class within a system driven by corruption and greed at our expense. Also recorded is our resistance to abuse, exploitation, and the recent resurgence of the language of struggle in a revitalized national conversation.

What emerges in this collection is the pride of work, the desperation of being trapped in soul killing dead-end jobs, and the terrifying insecurity of joblessness. More pervasive is a dread rooted in the awareness of a worsening ecological crisis with the climate disaster of this last year culminating in the devastation of superstorm "Sandy" still fresh in our minds.

Our Fall issue has grown to focus on that solidarity; on family and the vital importance of community. The approaching winter, both seasonal and symbolic, bring us together.

The darkest days of the year are also the dying time and we remember the loss of loved ones. Over the last year we have lost some in our own community: poets Leonard Cirino, Adrienne Rich, Rane Arroyo and others. A poem I wrote in this issue acknowledges the passing of David Napolin at 92 because of a poem we published shortly after his death. We didn't know he had died, yet his words were still out there, and still are. Another poem by Teresinka Pereira marks the loss several years ago of activist and publisher Maria Montelibre. Her loss, like so many, leaves a hole in our hearts. She lives on within us, as does the truth of her words. This season reminds us of the tenuous nature of life. This journal, in spite of the tenuous nature of publishing is a collective act of resistance and there is much to resist if life, much less life of quality, is to persist.

From escalating attacks on working people in Michigan to the growing police state to the system of criminal corruption that places profit above the future of life on earth, our struggle continues. The working class militancy that appears in these pages also marked much of the last year with massive occupations which demanded the separation of wealth from power. While that movement continues to transform itself, the focus in the coming year will have to be on addressing climate change; a vital issue which is epitomizes the destructive power of the dictatorship of wealth and which has its root firmly in the class struggle.

We as a journal, and more importantly, as a community of truth-telling poets and writers have a vital role to play. The fact that more people than ever are now saying the things we were all saying sixteen years ago confirms this. It is only through community that our collective project has made it this far. We are continually thankful for your contributions and we are determined to continue.



* A note of correction, the poem, "It's Never Enough" is by poet David W. Roberts. It was wrongly attributed to Andy Roberts on the page though correct in the contents listing of the journal. Typos happen but hopefully not often.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Progressive Class Conscious Gifts

As the holiday rush is upon us, consider buying something beyond the mass produced garbage made by major corporations in sweatshops. A subscription to the Blue Collar Review is only $15.00 and lasts all year long. It is a gift which will encourage progressive thought, working class solidarity, and hopefully even inspire the recipient to write. Check out our list of strong working class poetry collections as well as our literary, political and humorous T shirts, mugs and stickers. All these affordable options support our small not-for-profit press so that we can continue to publish hard-hitting and otherwise hard to find progressive working class literature.