Archipelago is a magazine that was set up with small collections from a variety of different authors. The journal is found online with full access to its content. It is presented with a minimalist design, very simple fonts used without any images on the pages. There was very little information on the about page. The editor and publisher was listed as Katherine McNamara, who is also a contributor and I selected one of her poems as part of my post. There is a PDF that is the history of Archipelago that was based on a talk that was given at the University of Trier in the English and media studies department in 2005. Interestingly, the talk began with the question “in 1989. Did we realize that the 20th century ended?” (McNamara). She discusses the various ways in which certain aspects of publishing have changed, lamenting the idea that there was no more hierarchy and was a certain amount of democracy that was needed to the Internet. McNamara wanted to work directly with writers, cutting out the concepts of publishers and agents in order to get to the purity of the written word. She wanted to mimic the idea of literary colony where the purity of the form could be expressed through an onlineformat. She's extremely critical about the market for literature, and expresses that fact. Currently, however, Archipelago is no longer taking submissions. Five years from now this Journal will represent changes in technology at the turn-of-the-century between 20th and 21st.
The first poem that I chose from Journal is called “Scum Rises” by Kevin McFadden (Archipelago). This poem is full of imagery, beginning by saying “The cream always floats to the top./So, does this come. So this comparison, up/from what's mere muck, near metaphor/would flower out of and so on with/ the similes, and so on with the show…” (Archipelago). He creates a great deal of imagery regarding the idea that both the best and the worst seemed always be at the same level. He even indulges the idea of seeing someone and getting to know them, but he uses his cited as the arrogant for his reason for asking him up. He criticizes the way in which people use metaphor as a way to describe what they mean, but that metaphor doesn't really do it justice. The concept of the comparison between cream and scum is very interesting as he uses two very common metaphors in order to make his point that both the good and the bad and end up being very equal.
The second poem that I chose was written by Katherine McNamara titled “Red Vineyard, 1888: A Painting by Van Gogh” (Archipelago). She wrote “I remember his vermilion, color/with the grandest name. It tasted of tree/trunks, a work blouse, tang of grapes harvesting/in the vineyards of Arles. He captured the sun/and hung it, toasted gold like blini” (Archipelago). In contrast to McFadden’s poem, she fills hers with metaphors, mixing senses so that color and taste were related. She says “it tasted of tree trunks” and “he captured the sun and hung it, toasted gold like blini” (Archipelago). The color of vermilion is named with the brand name, and his works, referring to then go, are filled with sensation that go beyond just what is seen. Although the meaning of the poem refers to death, she fills her imagery with light and intensity of the sensations of living.
The imagery in both poems is built upon the idea that the reader can understand metaphors that are being used. McFadden uses common, colloquial sayings in order to express what he thinks to be ironic. McNamara chooses expressive concepts of sensation in order to become in contrast with the topic of death. In McFadden's poem it is very easy to clearly see both cream and scum sitting on the top of liquid, becoming equal because of the way in which they equally rise. The metaphor and imagery is strong, setting the tone for the rest of poem. McNamara indulges her reader with color, making them see it as well as experience it through taste as well as sight. As the purpose of the magazine is to fly against convention, McFadden represents the review by taking ideas that are completely opposite from one another and placing them together in order to challenge the reader. McNamara does something similar, creating a certain type of imagery and then indulging her beliefs in the way it relates to mortality. If the fact that they are no longer taking submissions suggests that the entity is no longer being published, that is a sad loss for literature.
Archipelago, 10th Anniversary Edition. 10.3-4, 2007. Web. 17 June 2015.
McNamara, Katherine. “And Archipelago of Readers: The Beginnings of Archipelago and International Publishing on the World Wide Web”, Archipelago, 24 May 2005. Web. 17. June 2015.
The cream always floats to the top.
So does the scum. So does comparison, up
from what’s mere muck, mire metaphor
would flower out of, and so on with
the similes, and so on with the show . . .
and so on. I’m ever looking down on you
and you are ever lying. My love is proof
of truth’s angle of refraction: you are lost in
slant-ration and I am fond of posing
postulations. A mendacity needn’t be truthless,
for example. You there, in the pond appearing
peered-at, come up and see me sometime.
Let’s delve for the above. When will we
(will we ever) get over ourselves?
Red Vineyard, 1888: A Painting by Van Gogh
Katherine E. Young
I remember his vermilion, color
with the grandest name. It tasted of tree
trunks, a work blouse, tang of grapes harvesting
in the vineyards of Arles. He captured the sun
and hung it, toasted gold like blini
hot and hot from the stove, to wester there
beyond the fields. If I ever get back,
though the path may lie through the transit camps,
through Vtoraya rechka, misbegotten
little stream. . . . Pity, instead, the man who
surveyed this spot, doggedly reducing
the great East to a chart, chilly fingers
inscribing, there, “First Little Stream” and, there,
“Third Little Stream” — equally prosaic
names for the places they send men to die.
Understand this: there is no other road,
no roundabout crossing, no safer way.
There is Death, too, in that sunset— but not
yet. On the wet-black walk, chalk soil and rain
conspire to trace upon the pavement
the fragile antonym of a leaf.