Friday, November 30, 2018

The Gift that Keeps Giving

Black Friday, Manic Monday, Giving Tuesday, Digital Wednesday, broke and remorseful Friday . . . I know most of us are overwhelmed with the materialist frenzy of shopping spending and struggling. We at Partisan Press do not want to play that game, which is why our Fund Drive usually starts in January.

That said, we are scraping by with difficulty. One way you can help while spreading much needed class consciousness is to consider the gift that keeps giving year 'round -- a gift subscription to the Blue Collar Review. I think we all know someone who could benefit from a prescription to our journal of strong progressive, class conscious literature! You can do this online or by check. If you let us know it is gift, we will insert a small certificate indicating so and from whom -- or not -- the choice is yours.

Another alternative is to choose a gift from among the many strong collections of poetry we publish. These are the gifts that inspire, that can change lives and that move our culture forward against the current of anti-worker corporate, fascist culture.

We appreciate your support and wish all a happy and healthy holiday season with as little forced overtime as possible

Friday, November 02, 2018


Editing and publishing a poetry journal is a complex and difficult task rife with pitfalls. We try hard to do our best but sometimes things fall through the cracks -- especially loose sheets of paper. In the recent issue, the poem "Leaders" on page 53 of the journal, a couple of ending stanzas disappeared. Likely, a second sheet of paper was detached and lost. I usually staple multi-page poems together to prevent this unfortunate occurrence. Below is the poem in its entirety:

I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war.
            – Robert Mueller

Often when Kelly and I are walking somewhere
I wind up many steps ahead of her and she complains,
asks me to slow down, which, given we are in America,

is not a foolish request, as it could be in Myanmar,
where I might be prone to slow down on my own,
though I’d hate to think I’d make her walk ahead.

She brings up native Americans sometimes,
telling a story about how when she’d fall behind
her twin brother as they were walking, he’d ask her

if she was a squaw. If men usually walk ahead
of women in native cultures, I’d suspect it’s
to protect the women, to be the first to face

danger, though with mountain lions that attack
from behind, that would put women at greater risk.
Given what Mueller is doing these days, I’m

drawn to wondering what the male in the White House
would do if he were out walking in dangerous
territory with a woman—besides grope her, that is.

Somehow I can’t imagine him wanting to be the first
to confront danger, although I’ve no doubt he would
dispute this, brag about how brave he is, prefacing it

with “Believe me,” as in, “Believe me, I’d be tremendous
in a situation like that. Brave? You talk about brave. I’d
be amazing, huge. I’d be tough, smart. You talk about smart.

Believe me. I’d be smart.” I suspect his wife and ex-wives
all know how he’d be, which is why they’ve never
gone to Myanmar with him. Of course, heel spurs

might be given as a reason why he’d fall behind
on a walk there. But enough about the male
in the White House who doesn’t have to worry

about land mines on the golf course. It’s what Mueller
is doing that should be of greater concern, anyway.
I wonder how many steps ahead he is by now.

         -- Matthew J. Spireng

Monday, October 01, 2018

Summer Issue Editorial

On our warming Earth, summer is the Terrible Season, the sweltering inferno of it culminating in the devastation of torrential storms and hurricanes. This summer has witnessed firestorms in the west and catastrophic deluges and flooding on the Gulf and East Coasts as well as in the Midwest. Even as the climate disaster unfolds, our corporate leadership, under the misguidance of a deranged denialist who cannot see beyond money, continues to erase even inadequate fossil-fuel regulations like the burning off of methane released via fracking. A death warrant for life on earth signed in our blood.

The decline of our biosphere is matched with a decline in civic life, paralized by cultivated partisan division. The rise of fascism here and elsewhere is a desperate and predictable response to the growth of resistance to the corrupt and destructive rule of money. The poems in this collection speak from this reality, and not just in this country. We also have working class poems of resistance from China, where our journal has struck a nerve. Capital is global and our working class must connect globally to overcome it, emancipating ourselves from its ecocidal tyranny.

Our Summer issue always focuses on the inseparable issues of war and climate. The U.S. economy is based on the production and sale of weapons and on perpetual warfare. The casualties continue to mount from the many slaughtered in Syria, Yemen, Israel, Myanmar and African nations to our own school children, minorities and the refugees our policies have created. Poems in this issue speak to the ghastly cost of war and a militarized culture.

This issue proudly presents the winner of our annual Working People's Poetry Contest. This year's winning poem, "The Transients" by Gregg Shotwell fleshes out the personal cost of war and of the connected economic realities of poverty and of people discarded. As the contest winner, Gregg Shotwell won the $100.00 prize, and one year subscription. His poem will remain on our website for one year. "The Transients" is a great example of progressive working class poetry and consciousness. We hope it inspires and we hope to see more entries to our contest over the coming year.

Though this collection has a bleak outlook reflective of the times, it should also be seen as hopeful. As the climate crisis grows exponentially, so too does public awareness and alarm. This is true of the disaster of Trump as well. In his corrupt, gangster arrogance, he continues to be an inadvertent beacon exposing the ugly truth not only of himself but of the filthy corrupt system of corporate influence that produced him. People are finally waking up. "Trump Derangement Syndrome" has been cynically mentioned in the media, including the New York Times, but in truth, it only applies when the focus of resistance stops with him. A growing movement of social democrats goes further in addressing the root problem -- the rule of money. Unless we separate money from power, little but the faces will change.

Real change must be rooted in the growth of social consciousness. This requires class awareness and a strong working class culture. Promoting that is our mission. We are thankful to all who contribute poetry, stories, reviews and/or financial support. You can help by passing this issue and back issues around so our work is seen by more of us and our progressive working class perspective can take root and grow..

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Spring Editorial

As the chill of winter gives way to the warming storms of spring, the daily news becomes a wrenching gut-punch replete with the increasing raids on immigrant refugees, the tearing of children from parents and the building of concentration camps. The blatant criminality and corruption of Trump's filthy gang of grifters is only surpassed by their outrageous arrogance and the libelous ugliness of their hate-filled lies.

What is missed by many in our largely uninformed amnesiac empire is that the migrants -- largely indigenous Americans -- are refugees of our own heinous support, arming and backing of brutal death-squad regimes, military coups, and forced austerities; the maquiladora reality of enforced destitution.

The horrific poverty and brutal oppression we have forced on poor countries around the world for the benefit of corporations is now increasingly being applied in our own poor and urban communities as the vultures of capitalism come home to roost.

The attacks on refugees are being called a "Zero Tolerance" policy. As the poems in this collection illustrate, we too have zero tolerance. We cannot and will not tolerate systemic bigotry, the brutal theft of our rights and resources, the nightmare theft of children, the erasure of public protections, the poisoning of our communities and the theft of a livable future.

The poets in this collection describe the moral and structural entropy that grips our country. They write of lives wasted, in stupid, too often degrading and health-killing jobs. Of bosses trying to cheat us. Of elusive and failing health care. The hard reality of environmental destruction, alienation and homelessness.

These poems speak of the insanity of guns, misplaced anger and rampant violence by police and by the deranged which increasingly plague our daily existence. They speak of the diseased violence of Empire we export globally. Most important is that the poems -- that these working class poets write -- reflect a knowledge of history, the class consciousness of community and a vision of angry hope. Not the delusional hope that cripples, but the militant love that demands sanity, justice and a better world.

Sometimes we have to wonder what difference writing a poem makes amid the ongoing monstrosity. We have to believe that while words are insufficient, the example of sanity, solidarity and of a better vision passed along from mouth to ear, from hand to hand and by our actions, touches souls, awakening the better selves buried beneath the toxic garbage of bourgeois commercial militarized culture. That it can undermine the fascist ecocidal juggernaut. We believe in the transformative power of culture; that working class culture with its vision of the common good, the solidarity of love that excludes no one, which rejects the egotism of abusive exploitation, can undermine this rotten system by showing a way forward and creating a future we can live in.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Winter Editorial

As this issue comes together, we feel a sickening sense of despair with insane neocons threatening invasions and possible nuclear war. We are under siege by entrenched and power-drunk Wall Street financiers threatening massive cuts to any program that offers us protection, from the predation of profiteers to the social safety net and even our hard-earned social security.

The same neoliberal economic policies which, applied globally, result in debt-colonialism imposed on poorer countries with dire results from the cruelties of forced economic austerity to harsh and abusive military dictatorships, are being applied to us as well. We are slaves to mortgages, rents, utilities, bosses and the debt we accrue just to survive – if we are lucky. The most vulnerable of us wind up in jail or on the streets.

This collection emerges from that harsh reality. Some of these poems are written by poets presently trying to survive within our inhumane prisons. Some of these poems come from people struggling to eat and pay the rent, trapped in dehumanizing jobs. Many of us do not have insurance, or if we do, can't afford to use it because of exorbitant copays and drug prices.

The violence that we have perpetrated on the rest of the world has come home. Teachers and students are being murdered and oppressed minorities continue to be slaughtered by police with impunity.

Immigrants are facing the terror of roundups, persecution, and shameful human rights abuses in a continuation of past racist pogroms leading to genocides. The press chooses to remain silent but poets here are speaking out -- and speak out we must.

Together, we must take responsibility by doing everything in our power to awaken others to the dangers of racist oppression, hyper-nationalism, and war -- the mass-murder of working people to further enrich the same folks that oppress all of us. The rule of money threatens our own survival as much as it does people living in Iran, Korea, Central America, Africa, or anywhere else.

The poets in this issue speak out against the inseparable monstrosities of economic injustice, bigotry, war, and their continuing consequences. Part of our responsibility is getting others to read what we have written. Extra issues and back issues are available and inexpensive. Passing them around helps support the journal while building the consciousness needed for real progress.

It has been inspiring to see the recent victory of teachers in West Virginia and the uprising of a new generation of activists who are impressive in their knowledge and in their commitment. In this time of empowered thievery and fascist insanity, these young people give us hope for a future. Let us work with them to build a resurgence of social sanity and progressive advancement toward a just and livable world.

Our own future as a rare and vital venue for progressive working class literature is also on the line. This is our fundraising season. We are grateful for the support we have already received. Our ability to meet expenses and to continue to publish through the year depends on your support. We thank you.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fall 2017 Editorial

This issue comes out on the anniversary of the disaster of a stolen election, in reality, a corporate coup. Our country, our rights and our basic life-line services are being systematically dismantled. Immigrant refugee roundups escalate along with harassment and arrests of those who stand publicly against fascism, corporate crime, and climate destruction. The most vulnerable among us are directly threatened by the cynical thieves plundering public funds to enrich themselves.

This has been a tough season, made tougher by families split along partisan lines even as we all suffer the results. Like a growing majority, the poets in this collection feel the pain first-hand and see through the filth and shallow media narratives to the core issue; the truth of an ugly system of anti-human corruption that threatens life itself for the insatiable greed of the few.

As poems in this this issue attest, we know the fear and subservience to bosses and landlords. We are aware that this system empowers them just as it dis-empowers us. We know we are poisoned, abused and discarded and by whom. Most of us feel trapped in this prison of work and debt awaiting the day we are abandoned to illness and poverty even as we watch the flimsy safety net being shredded.

What we have is each other. The strength of community cannot be underestimated. Our power together, united when we've finally had enough, is unstoppable. Standing in the way of our unity are tightly held delusions of alienated individualism, fear, and a sense of being powerless and alone. This is the culture we are fed to keep us in line. It is the oppressive paradigm we seek to overcome and replace with a more just and sustainable vision of community based in class awareness. This perspective enriches and empowers us to come together in overthrowing the yoke of corporate enslavement and emancipate ourselves. Only a working class culture of solidarity can replace corporate autocracy with cooperative democracy. This is the only hope we have to abolish exploitation and war, and to address not only our own oppression but the preservation of the biosphere on which we all depend.

Though this small journal cannot begin to achieve such a lofty and necessary goal as the transformation of the culture of a nation, we strongly believe working class writers and poets have a vital role in affecting cultural consciousness. The Blue Collar Review provides a rare venue for outreach and example. We need to spread issues around for as many readers as possible to experience.

We too are hard hit economically. We struggle to publish and mail a physical, print on paper journal with costs rising. We usually reserve our begging until the Winter issue, but meeting even basic expenses is tough with a staff of penurious retirees on fixed and barely livable incomes. In these times when the assurance and example of class unity and commitment are most needed, we must count on the support of our readers to keep our words in print though the next year. You can make tax-deductible contributions or buy collections via Paypal on our website, donate through the mail via the insert in this issue or consider becoming a Partisan supporter for only $10.00 a month. As a Partisan supporter you will not only be assuring the continuance of our journal and press but you will receive chapbook poetry collections. You will also receive four issues of the Blue Collar Review per quarter. You can slide them onto the shelves of your local bookstores. You can leave them in coffee houses, laundromats, your workplace lunchroom, or pass them on to fellow workers. Together, we can and must work to build the consciousness of interdependent and mutually responsible beloved community needed for a backlash of civilization to the present monstrosity.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Summer Editorial

Droughts, hurricanes, deadly heat waves, melting ice caps, warming seas, deadly storms and mass migrations long predicted, are now upon us. In these nightmarish times, this journal often feels like the fossil record, thus this issue's cover. Our summer issue deals with the inseparable issues of climate and war. This issue is no exception -- and like the times -- bleaker than most.

Poems in this collection deal with the rise of right-wing extremism and social division. They stand in opposition to racism and the persecution of immigrants. The reality of class war waged from above and the power of class consciousness as a uniting force long suppressed by those who profit from our division are fleshed out in these pages.

In memory of the devastation unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in the shadow of monstrous threats of nuclear war emanating from the megalomaniacal sociopath-in-chief, we have poems of resistance to the insanity and criminal horror of nuclear war and the poisoning of our world and our bodies by nuclear power. The toxic, biosphere-killing disease of capitalism is called out in these pages along with the remedy of massive class unity.

This diseased system takes a hard toll on the vast majority of us. The poorest, the colonized, and despised minorities are the hardest hit. The abandonment of urban centers, of Puerto Rico and the continuing police violence against Black people demonstrate this.

Efforts to dumb down our society over the last few decades combined with the export of jobs and the replacement of workers by machines has been devastating to us as well, from the disappearance of needed skills to the rise of ignorant demagogues to power. Another result is the so-called "gig economy" which is nothing less than the desperation which emerges from the cynical abandonment of workers and the devolution of wage workers to "independent contractors." Several poems in this issue address this reality.

Our summer issue also announces the winner of the Working People's Poetry Contest. This year's winning poem, "Elegy for a Seamstress" by Don Narkevic speaks to the loss of basic skills over generations as productive professions gave way to less practical clerical work and service industry jobs.

Unlike the hopeless and depressing jeremiads that increasingly accost us, the militant anger, community, solidarity, realization of our shared experience and our firm commitment to resist and move forward, comes through in this and every issue of the Blue Collar Review. We're down, times are bleak and a livable future is in question, but we ain't out yet and we ain't givin' up.

The poem, "Living as Equals" by Angelo Mesisco, says it all: "we live as equals or not at all."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Solidarity with Texans

In hard times, our working class has to come together as a community, doing what we can to help each other out. Climate change is wreaking it's terror on Texas and the Gulf states. We are thinking of our Texas poets and contributors living through this terrible disaster -- flooded out of their homes and probably exposed to toxic pollution in that area of heavy petro-industry and refineries. Donations can be made through The Texas Workers Relief Fund.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


New from Partisan Press

An excerpt from the introduction by Robert Edwards --
Balk is a fierce book written from the front lines of the class war. It is angry and hopeful and defiant by turns. The ghosts of the Wobblies walk through these poems. Every worker who ever had to eat shit just to keep a job they desperately needed, or finally had enough and told a boss to go fuck themselves and walked out the door can relate to these poems.

What will it take to get our
States bankrupted and begging
like the out of work and discarded,
the old and ill tossed
to the angry streets
the moneyed smug feeding
like flies crazed on carrion
      from Tell Me

The poems of Balk are a broken diary of a worker's journey through suffering to solidarity. Balk could be looked on as a kind of long poem--built up out of many separate narratives--about a worker's life, fears, hopes and sometimes despair. In its own way, this is a working class Odyssey. Essentially, Markowitz has mythologized himself and so becomes transformed into Every Worker, and he has done it in such a way that he simultaneously becomes more human, more vulnerable.

The chill nervousness
of the scrutinized,
the sick tightness in the knotted gut
when the manager says,
step into my office.
       from P.I.S.S.

Balk is an act of testifying to one's own personal history of exploitation and a way of saying No! to the grinding machinery of Empire.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spring Editorial 2017

Our national crisis continues to deepen. The steady barrage of destructive attempts by the ruling corporate cabal to slash medical access to those most vulnerable; to eliminate worker rights, public safety, and environmental protection even while being held back, are taking a toll on us. The rise of blatant reaction, corruption and hate has many of us living in fear, especially undocumented economic refugees, immigrants, and targeted minorities -- Black, Hispanic, Gays and Women.

Anxiety, fear and depression are at record levels in our country. Some of the poems in this collection describe our desperation as well as the crushing reality of working conditions for those fortunate enough to have jobs.

The long festering division of working people along partisan lines has reached proportions not seen since the Civil War. In reality, this is a phony division cultivated to disempower us for the benefit of the ruling corporate oligarchy. We have been alienated from family and friends over splits not just between party identification but within it as both corporate parties struggle with deep divisions. The truth is that both parties serve the same corporate interests at our expense.

With fear and anxiety also come anger, solidarity and resistance. We strengthen each other emotionally and politically when we come together. For many, such political activity is a new and empowering experience. Some of the feedback we get from readers is about feeling comforted by the commonality and the solidarity evident in the work we publish. In showing that our experience and our struggles are shared, working class literature can be a uniting force.

This is a vital role we serve as class-conscious cultural workers. Our role is magnified in these volatile times when people live in fear and are awakened to resistance. As Naomi Kline makes clear in her new book, No Is Not Enough, Trump is attempting to turn our country into his company. Several of the poets in this issue recognize and write about this. Kline points out that Trump "is the logical conclusion to many of the most dangerous trends of the past half century. He is the personification of the merger of humans and corporations -- a one-man megabrand." By clearly revealing the reality of the corporatization of government -- of, by and for, the richest, he helps wake people up to the destructive and oppressive reality of capitalism. We must go beyond resistance and push a progressive, working class agenda forward.

This is what we have always been about. As vital as cultural workers and worker poets are, our effectiveness depends on our outreach. Pass this issue around. Back issues are available as well and are the history we have written together. They can be left where others are likely to find them. This is a collective effort. The fact that you are reading this issue is a testament to the support of our readers -- for which we are more than grateful. But support also happens by increasing the exposure of this vital poetry and the consciousness it embodies. Thanks again to all of you who contributed in our recent fund drive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poor People's Campaign

The fiery and powerful leadership of Rev. William Barber, who led Moral Mondays and has become a strong voice within the struggle for economic and racial justice has initiated a revival of Dr. King's Poor People's Campaign.

This new formation can be a powerful catalyst for unifying the movement across race and gender lines. Were we come in as poets and writers is that this organization recognized and includes the arts and poetry. Along with music and visual arts, poetry is posted on on their website and you can be contribute as well.

Partisan Press is proud to be an official endorser of this effort

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Winter Editorial

The new year finds us in a place which may be familiar to other countries like Argentina, Uganda or Europe of the 1930's but it is unfamiliar territory to us as Americans. With the rise to power through questionable means of blatant, uncouth, corporate thieves playing on racism and nationalism, the last illusions of legitimacy have vanished from our corrupted federal government. As I write this, the corporate and ideological extremists Trump has appointed are busy destroying and undermining the agencies they were chosen to "head" and to dismantle. What Trump's lunatic svengali, Steve Bannon describes as the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" is in reality an attempt to eliminate every obstacle to corporate profiteering including every worker safety, public health, civil right and environmental protection won in struggle over the last century.

The poems in this collection are responses to the frightening reality of empowered hate and unmitigated, myopic greed. Working people have always borne the brunt of systemic corruption and the avarice of the elite. We work ourselves to death, sacrificing our lives to pointless, often toxic monotony only to be discarded and scorned when we are no longer of use to them.

And yet, even in the face of the disastrous and seemingly overwhelming power aligned against us, we continue to hold on to our humanity, to resist misplaced anger, scape-goating and self-destruction. We continue to struggle for justice, for a civilization worthy of that name and for worker democracy.

The empowerment of illegitimate autocracy and arrogant idiocy has awakened a massive movement of citizen resistance which continues to grow. This movement did not magically appear out of the ether. Some of us have been active for decades but many of our less politicized brothers and sisters have had the luxury of illusion. Those illusions are now being stripped away, exposing the monstrosity of the corporate state for all to see. As more join in the effort to resist the worst of Trump's dangerous misleadership, a new movement is finding its feet. Is resistance enough? Is a return to less flagrant corporate leadership and the somnolence of middle-class illusions a worthy goal? The poem "Zombie Nation Awakes" asks this and demands more. The poem by Dana Stamps, II asks, "Should Poetry Matter More than it Does?" We firmly believe that, while poetry is no magical panacea, it has the power to inspire, empower, unite and to communicate important values and ideas.

That is what this journal exists to do. This may simultaneously be our most trying and most important moment. Culture shapes mindset. It is the internal program which defines the direction we go and the limits of what we can create. A commodified, alienating, militarized, misogynist, money and violence worshipping corporate culture brought us to this moment. We, as progressive working class poets, are a vital voice that must be heard if our humane working class culture of solidarity is to take hold, take pride and lead us to take what is rightfully ours. We need to expose more people to our work. Take this journal to your next meeting or demonstration. Pass around back issues. Leave them where others will find them.

This is our annual fund-drive issue and you will find a donation slip within. We are deeply thankful for the commitment of your contributions both of funds and of your writing. Together we must do everything we can to move beyond the insanity of this moment to a civilized, democratic future.