If your mailbox is anything like mine, it's probably stuffed with medical bills and sham letters from the bank. And if you are anything like me, you probably let it fill up and fill up and fill up until finally the mail carrier catches you in the hallway and asks you to pick up your mail—even though you know it's all junk—if only so he knows you're alive. And then, if you are weak like I am weak, you will sob on the shoulder of your mail carrier and say, "I just want some weird beautiful thing to come to me every month for free, you know? Something I can hang on my wall after reading it if I want. Am I asking too much of life? Am I?"
No, you're not. And now you don't have to live like that any longer. With Monthly Gramma, a literary newsletter in the mode of experimental poetic magazines circulated in the early 1960s, you can look forward to opening your mailbox again. At least once a month, I guess.
Each issue includes several mini literary features. In the last few you'll find 30-word film reviews from local novelist Richard Chiem, brief essays on the ills of social media, short layman's reviews of literary poetry, funny little poems from the publisher, and selections from their online magazine, Weekly Gramma.
A conversation between Kate Durbin and Emily Liebowitz appears in the June Issue, which is hot off the presses this week. Durbin studies and works with pop culture in general and internet genres in particular. In Hello Selfie, for instance, a handful of performers dressed in Hello Kitty paraphernalia stand around a public place for an hour and take selfies while ignoring everybody else around them. Durban says she explores late-capitalist consumption's impact on the way we construct our identities "by ultimately searching for the human inside our images and simulacra."
"Sometimes I feel like I have to go deeper and deeper into the image to find the person there, like a deep cave diver who has no idea what lies beneath, but I always find them. And so I know not all is lost," Durbin writes.
It's refreshing to hear an artist write so perceptively about their own curiosity and process, and also to hear an artist and critic steadfastly searching for the heart—or at least the meat—in the machine.
After reading all the high quality content on the busy side of the newsletter, you can flip it over to reveal a broadside showcasing a poem next to an art.
Sign up for Monthly Gramma and learn to love your mailbox again.