From The Jungle by Upton Sinclair:
“Christmas Eve–he had forgotten it entirely! There was a breaking of floodgates, a whirl of new memories and new griefs rushing into his mind. In far Lithuania they had celebrated Christmas; and it came to him as if it had been yesterday–himself a little child, with his lost brother and his dead father in the cabin–in the deep black forest, where the snow fell all day and all night and buried them from the world. It was too far off for Santa Claus in Lithuania, but it was not too far for peace and good will to men, for the wonder-bearing vision of the Christ Child. And even in Packingtown they had not forgotten it–some gleam of it had never failed to break their darkness. Last Christmas Eve and all Christmas Day Jurgis had toiled on the killing beds, and Ona at wrapping hams, and still they had found strength enough to take the children for a walk upon the avenue, to see the store windows all decorated with Christmas trees and ablaze with electric lights. In one window there would be live geese, in another marvels in sugar–pink and white canes big enough for ogres, and cakes with cherubs upon them; in a third there would be rows of fat yellow turkeys, decorated with rosettes, and rabbits and squirrels hanging; in a fourth would be a fairyland of toys–lovely dolls with pink dresses, and woolly sheep and drums and soldier hats. Nor did they have to go without their share of all this, either. The last time they had had a big basket with them and all their Christmas marketing to do–a roast of pork and a cabbage and some rye bread, and a pair of mittens for Ona, and a rubber doll that squeaked, and a little green cornucopia full of candy to be hung from the gas jet and gazed at by half a dozen pairs of longing eyes.”
Our special reunion issue is live!
In act 3, we hit Trouble! Volume 3 is edited in late 2011, but the press won’t release it for free. The usual sources of funding all rummage for change and turn up nothing. Instead of close to ten grand, we have zero dollars.
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
And so we end up with a lost issue.
But like Paisley Park vaults, the deepest recesses of our digital file cabinets have spit out this super rare and raw demo: the PTR3 PDF! It may not look pretty, but it teems with literary treasures.
Exactly ten years ago, an airy nothing of a journal got a local habitation and a name: University of Illinois at Chicago and Packingtown Review. Its inaugural issue came out in 2009.
Three hundred copies of the book sit on private and public bookshelves. If you don’t possess this rarity, we got you: a PDF is here for you to download, print, and share: here is PTR1!
By Kris Summerson
Our contributor Ashley Warren has a new book out now via The Open Book Press. You can read Warren’s poem “Black Substance” in one of our previous issues; when you read Tiny Coffins, you’ll find out how the poem was transformed in the context of a memoir.
The title Tiny Coffins drew me in immediately, as it paints a curious, yet sad image in my mind. The book, an experimental memoir composed of lyric chapters that read like poems, tells the harrowing journey of a woman watching her mother suffer under the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. The book portrays nostalgia, pain, growth, and a mother-daughter relationship put to the ultimate test.
Warren’s poem-chapters are full of raw emotion, and often a powerful last line knocked the breath out of me. The narrator’s voice is very frank: it draws you into the conversation and, at times, you almost feel like you’re invading her privacy. But through the words, her pain is your pain. Each poem-chapter bleeds into the next with a flow of a lifetime full of memories, lists of lessons, and moments of pain mixed with solace.
From beginning to end, the entire book comes full circle in a range of emotions and the story of life. When I finished reading, the only thing I wanted to do was to call my mom, which is a luxury I still have and will cherish.
“I had become very aware of racism through the war; not just anti-Semitism, but the way the American army treated black soldiers. On the troop transport overseas, it was always the black company on board that had to clean the ship and do the dirty work, and I felt very uncomfortable with that.”
– Lee Lorch, on what he saw in World War Two (see http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Lorch.html)
A white person is born in the state of New York 1925 with a silver spoon in her mouth. She later moves to the American South. Wherever she goes, she adopts most of the prejudice prescribed to her by her times and status. She dies in 2018. You could say she’s a product of her environment. If her environment is racist and broken in many ways, how could she not be?
Let’s not waste time on these basic questions and these basic people. Let’s instead remember a contemporary of the above person, a contemporary who saw through the racist lies and fought to better our world, no matter the personal cost.
From M Train by Patti Smith.