Monthly Archives: June 2011

Winner of the Apostrophe 2011 Manuscript Contest Selected: Darling Beastlettes by Gina Abelkop

We’re pleased to announce that Gina Abelkop’s, Darling Beastlettes has been chosen for publication as the next book in the Apostrophe series. Thank you to everyone who submitted during this reading period. We received an abundance of extraordinary work.

Portrait of Gina Abelkop by Susanna Troxler

 Apostrophe Editors on Darling Beastlettes:

“I’m scared I’ll swallow my own tongue, mistake / town children for feed and cut their throats in a fit of hunger” writes the narrator in “The Diary of a Girl Beastialist.”  Abelkop’s bizarre work challenges not only the idea of a well-crafted poem, but also the very way in which language is sexualized and eroticized, and how words themselves are in fact, always, ‘darling beastlettes’ that can build a symbolic edifice (sometimes phallic, sometimes religious, sometimes feminist, sometimes fairytale), but also topple it in the same stanza. Her work is compelling, exciting, weird, witty, unsettling, violent, and comic. Abelkop redefines the uncanny through surrealist gestures, altered syntax and surprising, nightmarish anecdotes. The verse and prose combine memory with nightmarish fantasy, and fragmentary narrative while also engaging a kind of profound feminist critique. This critique is more a ‘creepy undercurrent’ than an explicit directive that imbues the text with a sometimes oneiric, sometimes hyperreal atmosphere:

“The first time I had sex I laughed so hard I bled

out of my nose. My boyfriend said he’d like to see me cry.

We were talking about different things, then.”

(from “The Glass Tree (A Romance) “)

Each poem is like a collage made from snapshots, memories, or the fractured mise-en-scène of wives and women – historical, imagined, mythological, fabulist, cinematic, and very real. Here’s a brief glimpse from the poem, “Happy Housewifery”:

Happy Housewifery

I brought up the pines like a sticky prize

welded fast to mine, those thorny hips blue

and welted yellow from sharp late night fights

meant less to exorcise than conjure: few

gasps of lucidity are required

to propel the vision forward. Over

satellite wires I amend desire

taut in my fast fist to bargain, proffer

all this black thrush surging desperation.

Reduced to bed, kitchen and red whore mouth

I purr: imagine, all that attention

to canon, then happiness in the house!

It’s the prick that gets me, blood flowering

so good and hard you’d think God made the body.

On Gina Abelkop:

Gina Abelkop lives in Berkeley, CA, where she dances to the sounds of new wave women and wears floral print frocks. Recent work can be found in Action, Yes, Encyclopedia Vol. II: F-K, Everyday Genius, Delirious Hem’s “Seam Ripper” series and Octopus, amongst others. She is the founder and editor of Birds of Lace (http://birdsoflace.wordpress.com), a DIY feminist press born in 2005 from a desire to proliferate the great glut of nastily shimmering work that lives and breathes around us, and co-editor of the online journal Prayers for Children (http://www.prayersforchildren.be). You can read about her big feelings and rampant fangirling at The Moon Stop (http://themoonstop.blogspot.com).

Abelkop on the writing of Darling Beastlettes:

Darling Beastlettes began in New York and ended in San Francisco, a cross-country slop fest of scavenged, made-up histories and real life atrocities, mean rug-burned love and sordid attempts to crawl out of it, obsessions with women in bonnets or glitter or black curls, and the sneaky veins that connect what is grotesquely feminine from dark, candle-lit days ‘til now. Wives dream dreams and throw their veils to some ash-raining wind, mushroom-chomping circus daughters speak candidly with God, mangy half-girls find ways to stay alive, and everyone revels in the sharp stink of love for better or worse.

The book will be available soon through SPD and Amazon. Stay posted!

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