Hello World! We are honoured to bring you the seventh chapbook in the Around This Fire series, responses to every evening is december by j.lewis, with a cover image from Amy Bassin and an introduction by D.E. Benson. Read the Introduction below, then download and read ATF7. Enjoy!
This chapbook responds to j.lewis’ collection through a connection that can only be spiritual, for there is no better way to describe, understand and appreciate the unity in its movement given the diverse points of origin of the responses contained in it. Taken as a whole, they are tongues of fire burning in rhythm. Perhaps we can point to every evening is december, the first fire within this captured time frame, as an origin, authentic, connected to that music pulsing through the universe, provoking newer origins, all responding in chorus to the same music of the universe. This, indeed, is how art belongs to humanity; how art, when it is art, reverberates through the human fabric.
All of the forms contained in these pages—the poems, the painting, the photos— respond with urgency of purpose: they, as is expected of a collection of this nature, take and recreate moments and experiences captured in every evening is december, extending the reach and echo of the music. Take both of Michael Ifeanyi Akuchie’s “father is a dreary word” and Eze Ossai’s “It is Impossible to Forget” for example, they respond to j.lewis’ “the other fathers” in this way, recreating and echoing the unsavory experience of an unloving father figure. Where j.lewis asks, “how exactly do you phrase/ happy father’s day/ to the man who beat you daily,” Akuchie responds, “i convert my soul into a/ prayer” and Ossai says, “I wish not to remember.”
Sheikha A.’s “east” begins as an emotive response to the deteriorating condition of a human race that continues to ignore what j.lewis describes as “music whispered to the heaving globe” choosing instead to give up our humanity and environmental friendliness “for any able tool/ instrumental in obliterating our fear.” And there is more: there is the engaging acrylic on canvas responding to j.lewis’ “the temptations of Mary,” there are collaborative efforts combining images/photos and poetry, there is an erasure poem accompanied by photos . . . and there is much more.
The tradition that is the Praxis Magazine’s response chapbook has continued to not just be consistent, but to also fulfill its promise of being the communion table for poets around the globe. With this collection, the tradition has outdone itself because Around This Fire 7 is not just communion, it is also a party, and it is not shy about singing the creation song at the top of its voice. Surely, you should join in.
D. E. Benson
D.E. Benson studied Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.