Published in Issue 26 of Visionary Tongue, Summer 2009.
In Between Hangovers is a free poetry magazine from the always interesting Cat Scan Press. It comes with a warning that it is ‘not a pretty mag’ and that it favours the dark, crazy, drunken and ridiculous – all of which it delivers with aplomb and an invitation to join it ‘in the gutter’.
Its contributions are varied and Trans-Atlantic with pieces from across America, some of which deal with very American issues and settings, such as the politics of the trailer park in Matt Finney’s ‘Miller Lite Sperm’. This contrasts beautifully with Paul Tristram’s peculiarly British, ‘Teabags, Biscuits and Sugar’, a tale of violence and alienation rooted in the physical. The opening piece, ‘Where Even the Dreams’ by William Taylor Jnr of San Fransisco is a clean, concise paean to oblivion. Some of the other American pieces consider issues which concern the whole of the western world such as obesity and junk-food nutrition, greed and revulsion. These things are also seen through the lens of British taste and culture, as in Welshman, Clive Tristram’s ‘Steak & Kidney Pudding’.
Many love affairs are here recalled, explored and lamented as in Charlie Chapman’s ‘Crazy Love’ and ‘Point Blame Shoot’ by American, Michael Macturk.
The plain, simple format of the whole thing allows the words to take centre stage, although it’s one illustrated piece by Travis Lawrence of Illinois, USA (untitled) is definitely a highlight, featuring a natty little hand-written poem and a cool, scratchy drawing.
One of the other highlights is American, Michael Lites’, ‘A Poem?’ which is a considered analysis of a life’s ‘failed experiment in freedom of expression’ and how decisions taken when young and crazy can seriously impact your life further on.
Of course, some of the work is better than others but the good stuff is too numerous to list. Other high-points include Englishman John Hartley’s ‘Holidays Yet?’ and the sexual and funny ‘The value of pornography’ by Miles J. Bell of England. This last is part of a definite sensual ‘streak’ throughout the issue (the back cover declares that it is ‘not afraid of the word fuck’), as is Alan Hardy’s ‘SIMPLE DIY’ which has a tangible, kitchen-sink-style sensuality and is a celebration of the simplicity of the title. This theme is continued in Brice Stratford’s ‘Shore Leave’ which is a character study with a factual, reportage-style (even if it is fiction), it is tangible, melancholy and not afraid to confront the unpleasantness of reality.
Altogether, In Between Hangovers is a satisfying read, definitely worth picking up for the amount of good material it contains, enough to justify paying for it, making the fact that is free even more remarkable.