You've heard of and maybe even participated in an Artcrawl, right? An Artcrawl is a self-guided but mapped tour of a group of artists' studios in a downtown neighborhood. You go at your own pace, viewing the various pieces of work by the artists. Lingering is expected and encouraged as you meander from one studio to the next. Surprise impromptu music and events add excitement and variety to each Crawl. If you fall in love with the work there is always the opportunity to purchase it and take it home with you.
Well, in Agnieszka's Dowry 10, you have a "Poetrycrawl". This online chapbook, that is also available in print, is a series of rooms for you, the reader, to tour at your leisure with work featured by the artists involved. Only these artists are word artists. And touring through the rooms of Agnieszka's (pronounced: uk-NYEZH-ka) Dowry 10 is like touring a carnival house of mirrors in which you can see yourself in each mirror you look into – only distorted – taller – wider – uglier – fantastical (but each reflecting a sliver of truth).
Like the children in C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, the reader never knows where she/he will end up next. Pushing through the coats at the back of the closet of one room, readers find themselves staring at the lamppost and crunching on the snow of the next room. This volume of A Small Garlic Press's chapbook series is bursting with a variety of styles ranging from 'academic poetry to bruising immigrant idiom.' Every poet in this chapbook, from Arlene Ang, with her poem The Brown Sleeve, a sartorial experience decidedly not about fashion, to Helen Wahne, with her Letter to Agnieszka, a missive that put me in mind of a page one might find in Bridgit Jones's Diary, holds up a different mirror for us.
And where in the world did they come up with that name? Here is what the editors, Katrina Grace Craig (Katja) and Marek Lugowski, have to say about the name they chose for their chapbook series: "Its name is Agnieszka's Dowry. Agnieszka, perhaps the most beautiful name ever devised in sound and grace, look and feel, antiquity and modernity, formality and familiarity, intricacy and straightforwardness, friendliness and firmness, femininity and grrl'ness -- in this instant and any ol' timelessness -- is Polish for Agnes. You see the immediate escalation of benefits already.
We have also decided to nickname it AgD as an act of international mercy and whimsical chemistry: Ag is silver, and D is an element of giving, from "dar", a gift, in Polish, or "dawac", to give."
The editors have fallen in love with the poems in AgD10 and so will you.
A few more poems to mention by name include Cottonwood Song, by Alicia A Curtis, a paean to a modern day Heidi of the Goats/Mountain Goddess, The Corner of Clark and Kent, by Wayne Crawford, a coming of age tale told through a boy's eyes and rife with mechanical images that come bizarrely to life through the poet's "on switch", Tattoos by Michael Estabrook, a gentle look at the use of an ancient ritual, formerly used to distinguish warriors, employed by the narrator's two daughters as a means of self-expression, and Fun House by Julie Becker, a disturbing mirror to look into, to say the least.
This chapbook ties together traditional publishing and e-publishing in a complementary way, in that it is an online and printed serial. The editors have committed to "make all of its content persist as a growing installation that is an ISSN serial , as well as to print all of its text as an on-going pofessionally-finished chapbook series. Thus, AgD is an on-line installation, a magazine, and a book, and it is either free or when put to paper, nearly free." They go on to say, at their site, "You be the judge. Use the wormholes to get into the stuff online, but don't disappoint us -- buy a paper copy to take to bed."
And I have to agree and encourage you enthusiastically to not only experience the online Poetrycrawl but take a piece of that work home with you in printed form as well.
Once you read the chapbook, you will have some questions that you'll just be dying to ask one of the editors. It was my pleasure to interview Marek Lugowski, Chief editor for AgD, in anticipation of your questions. I know, I know, interviews are boring, right? But not my interviews! And you will never be bored by Marek.
I invited Marek for cyber coffee and assorted crumpets, cookies and cinnamon buns (all calorie free, being cyber concocted -- *grin*) to "coffee klatch" over this wonderful Agnieszka's Dowry. Read an interview with Marek Lugowski.
You can access the online chapbook by clicking on the link below and then clicking on the Agnieszka's Dowry (AgD), Issue 10 (book) link at the top of the page. Ordering information, for the print version, is right at the site.
Go. Read. Enjoy.
I'll let Marek have the last word, with this poem of his that is a preface to the Agnieszka's Dowry collection:
a girl is a pearl is a fire ant
a girl is a pearl is a fire
ant is the ridges on the inside
to all you agnieszkas out there.
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