The presentation of the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize takes place Sunday, Dec. 8, from 5:30-7:30 PM, at Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, 320 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE. There will be poetry readings by last year's winner, Tina Raye Dayton, and by the director of the Creative Writing Center at Frostburg State University, Gerry LaFemina, followed by a reading and book signing by this year's winner. Light fare will be provided. Let's stuff the place with poets and poetry lovers!
Linda Blaskey, poetry editor, The Broadkill Review
Jeff Hirsch's newest novel, The Darkest Path, is available from Scholastic Press. The review of the YA dystopian novel is below, as published in the Broadkill Review.
Jeff Hirsch’s third novel with Scholastic, The Darkest Path, a YA dystopian adventure, is a descent into hell for young Callum Roe, who flees the fanatical Path Army that sweeps across the United States like a dark shadow. America is in the grips of a second Civil War. The 1% are even richer, and more untouchable than before, and the poor are poor, and forced into situations that aren’t safe or pretty. The Federal Army is weakening, the infrastructure crumbling. The young Cal is attempting to return home, and must travel through a fractured America with only his scrappy dog, Bear, as his only trusted companion. The Path Forces are close behind, a fanatical sect of America led by Nathan Hill, a religious and military bully who looms over the narrative, unseen, a dark magic man pushing buttons from behind the curtain.
The Path loosely resembles a religious right sect, with strict Middle Eastern inspired gender roles enforced by law, and a fervor that matches the best of Sunday salesmen. If you are “on Path,” you follow God’s will, and Nathan Hill’s will, and seek to remake America into a beacon of light and hope. They are brutal, strict, and when they crush over your land they offer you “The Choice,” join their belief or die, or so everyone believes. What The Choice is, no one is sure and The Choice becomes a ringing motif in the novel, the theme extending beyond the Path’s brutality into Cal’s life as he makes choices, many of the split second decisions, that alter his path as he and Bear pushes East.
In the first section, Cal’s brother, James, haunts the Path camp. He’s asthmatic, spiritual, and moving up Hill’s ladder. Cal has made a choice to give up his body for Path plans, allowing the Path army to beat him nearly to death so he can crawl into Federal camps, and like a human Trojan Horse, set up a trap for the Path soldiers. One day Cal, on dog detail, spots Bear in the middle of a ruined town. Cal can’t bear to see Bear turned into a vicious weapon, and is forced to kill his commanding officer, setting in play a series of events where James betrays Cal and sets Cal and Bear full throttle into the wilderness to return home to the East Coast. To family. To what Cal hopes is normalcy.
But nothing is normal anymore, except war, unless you are rich and influential in the Path or Federal territories. For most Americans, life is a struggle against things you can’t really control. The Darkest Path is of course about more than a scrappy teenager being chased by nefarious forces, it’s also a platform for Hirsch to explore contemporary issues such as religious and military fascism, family, and more topical issues such as drone attacks, which are responsible for havoc in the American west during this second Civil War. Cal witnesses the death of innocents first hand and is powerless.
In fact, Cal is powerless throughout most of the novel. Hirsch grinds Cal up, making him suffer as he tries to work his way back to Ithaca, like a teenage Odysseus with a dog companion instead of a host of mighty warriors. He gets beaten, almost sold out, thrown into cells, and thrown to the ground dozens of times in his quest to go home. If action is your cup of tea, Path packs it in. Fist fights, RPGs, fumbled rifles, helicopter attacks, and even a contemporary Wolverines--a group of teenagers fighting Red Dawn style against their ex-countrymen, keep the action rolling, rolling, rolling.
Cal’s a thoughtful protagonist, despite the violence he contributes to, and his on-going feats of deception, which is mostly a by product of Nathan Hill’s Path training, and his natural ability to find trouble; he’s able to manipulate the situation to his benefit, without malice. Hirsch sets up Cal as a dehumanized figure in the Path regime. And in many ways The Darkest Path is a young man’s journey towards humanization again. He has to learn to trust himself, to trust others, even though he is burning from his younger brother’s betrayal. He gets to learn a little about love, too, from the equally broken Nat, who gets tangled up with Cal after she leads an explosive raid against Path forces. But mostly Cal learns that life throws punches, and that there are consequences for your actions, and that memory is not always reality. Alec, one of his transient friends, and a member of the rich elite (his father is a Hollywood big shot) confronts Cal's notions about returning to an America that no longer exists. “The future is coming whether you like it or not . I promise you, in a few years, we’ll all wonder what it is we got so worked up about.” Hirsch could easily be talking about American politics, or the American Dream, or even how Generation X’s middle class America is falling apart in the wake of economic crisis, political ineptness, and general apathy towards serving one's country, community, or even family. One of the covers Cal uses to explain why he and his dog are out in the wilderness is that he is camping with his father, something the Path would approve of, fostering self-reliance and male bonding. It’s a good cover for the young protagonist, and an open yearning for parental structure and love, something Hill’s Path forces want to provide, but fail to do.
One of the more touching motifs in the novel is the songs Cal remembers from his childhood, and like a homing beacon, the song's memory pulls him deeper and deeper into a country torn to shreds, "Moonlight road/Why don't you turn me on around?/Moonlight road/Why don't you light my way home?" And that's the exigency of the novel, of the conflict, a yearning for security, love, and warmth. A place where one isn't judged by the path one takes, or has taken. The theme echoes through the characters, teenagers, and parents Cal meets on the way, particularly the aforementioned Nat, one of the cute girls Cal gets to spend some close time with. And these orphaned kids are not unlike the children of poverty that is resting in the real cradle of America. In the end there isn't much difference between Cal and Nat and the children of broken homes and broken families who struggle to make ends in a country where the one percent control the power.
As the novel chases towards the end, Cal and James are reunited as the military action focuses its beam towards the Lighthouse, a recurring symbol through the book, where Cal is confronted with Nathan Hill, and his own choice, to either allow further death to occur or to be a force for life, for light. Hirsch doesn't offer an easy conclusion, the novel concludes, like most good speculative fiction, with more questions, plenty of what if scenarios, candy for the mind, indeed.
Kelley White has offered ten poems for you poetry lovers. To hear the medical music of "Chordae" is worth the listen all by itself. White uploaded her reading to Soundcloud, which is great way to share your poetry recordings with your friends, family, and audience.
The Eleventh Annual Dogfish Head Poetry Prize
for the winning book-length manuscript by a poet resid-
ing in the Mid-Atlantic states (DE, MD, VA, PA, NJ, NY,
WVA, NC, and District of Columbia) will consist of $500,
two cases of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Beer*, book pub-
lication by Broadkill River Press, and 10 copies of the
book (in lieu of royalties).
The rules are: Manuscripts must be received by
midnight, September 2, 2013 (Labor Day). Manuscripts
received after Labor Day will not be considered. Eligible
poets must reside in the above listed states and be twenty
-one years of age or older by the date of the award. *The
manuscript is to be submitted electronically in one MS
Word document attachment. Send to Prize co-ordinator
Linda Blaskey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snail mail submissions will not be accepted.
Send two title pages with each submission: one
with the title of the manuscript, your name, address,
phone numbers and e-mail address; the second with just
the manuscript title. No manuscript is to have any au-
thor-identifying information other than the one title page
and will be rejected if it does. The manuscript should
have an acknowledgement page of poems previously pub-
lished, and in which publications and/or web-sites they
appeared. Judging is blind and double-tiered.
The manuscript must be book-length (between 48
and seventy eight pages of original work – no transla-
tions) and no more than roughly thirty lines to a page,
including the poem’s title and two line-spaces between
the title and the body of the poem. A poem may be more
than one page. The book’s dimensions will be 8.5 inches
by 5.5 inches, with a minimum of half-inch side margins,
and printed in 12 point type, so avoid very long lines.
The award will be presented to the poet on Sun-
day, December 8, 2013 at the Dogfish Head Brewpub and
Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The winner
must agree to attend this event and to read from their
winning book at a reception honoring the winner. The
prize will be officially awarded by Sam Calagione, Foun-
der and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Distill-
ery, or by another company official.
The author of the winning manuscript also agrees
to provide, within ten days of notification, a color head-
shot photograph for the back cover and a dedication for
the interior of the book. The winner agrees to travel to
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware at the winner’s expense for
awarding of the prize. Dogfish Head will provide the
winner one night’s lodging in Rehoboth Beach where Dog-
fish Rehoboth Brew Pub and Restaurant is located.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales retains the right
to use any of the winning work in promotional materials.
For questions and more information contact
Linda Blaskey, Prize co-ordinator, at email@example.com
For more information about Dogfish Head Craft
Brewed Ales, go to www.dogfish.com
The Broadkill Press is offering a preview of Carolyn Cecil reading from her new chapbook Taken Away, book five of the Key Poetry Chapbook Series available here. You can hear Carolyn read here.
The Broadkill Press is from the mastermind of Jamie Brown, organizer of the John Milton Poetry Festival, The Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, and the Broadkill Review, one of the first pdf literary journals of its kind.
Broadkill Press, an offshoot of The Broadkill Review and John Milton Poetry Festival, kicks off a key chapbook series this spring and summer. The first book off the press is S Scott Whitaker's The Black Narrows, a chapbook about a black market community that existed in the marsh off the coast of Virginia's Eastern Shore. "The poems are a kind of theater, monologues perhaps, not in the strictest Spoon River sense, but certainly of that tradition. There's a strong lyric bent to these as well, not just narrative. And a fair share of elegies and nature poems, though most of the poems are about people and relationships."
Whitaker, the literary review editor for The Broadkill Review, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle, has spoken about the book, the process, and some of the poems within the collection here, and here.
Book two in the series is Ice-Solstice by Kelley Jean White, and book three in the series is Gary Hanna's Sediment. Books can be ordered here.
Whitaker's YA retelling of the Odyssey, Seven Days on the Mountain, is available on Amazon. A book trailer for the YA thriller has just been released. You can view it below.
We've been busy, publishing poems and taking names!
If you are looking for more specific information about The Broadkill Review, we have added a new website that includes links to submission pages, and information about our small presses. You can visit this site here.
If you would like information about our press and the many chapbooks we publish, you can visit us here.
If you would like information about the full length volumes we publish, you can visit us here.