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.