The 2016 Beachie Awards
Six years of Beachies what a privilege it is to cover such immensely talented individuals! I know it has been a long time for me to do essentially the same thing but I like artists. To have an outlet to do my own thing helps my mornings before work, my lunchbreaks, and my after-work hours’ things of absolute splendor. For such a long time this blog was my only permanent home but here I am living in the same place for over an entire year, in the same neighborhood for two years. Everything about this stability suits me, and I responded to a huge number of emails and artists this year.
Not saying that this will stop at all for the next year. Now that I respond in a fairly timely fashion, I want to return to my quicker pace of being on top of things like I was in the early years of Beach Sloth, when I literally spent all my time lurking online as a total weirdo. Since 2010 I have normalized, found friends, bothered meeting people in person, and overall became a vaguely more productive individual in real life.
I feel very thankful that I managed to meet so many people in 2016. There is a true sense of community that I feel throughout reading new pieces of literature. People across the world seem to share more experiences with each other’s generation than with those in their own countries. Some alienation is happening between younger and older generations, as the idealism of the older generations has fossilized into something that has led to some rather perturbing political trends.
This is a positive post for the artists of the online and offline world. I feel that community was of the utmost importance in 2016. Across everything I consumed I saw that there were people working together, building these great things. No longer do I see some tortured lonely genius in their bedroom, now those tortured lonely geniuses are talking to each other, meeting up, editing their work together, putting out fantastic literary magazines and journals. Of note is some of the fantastic work I see in including non-English speakers and writers in creating multi-lingual communities. Here in the United States that is something lost on those guardians of the literary tradition (except for a select few).
What I hope in 2017 is that this spirit of community continues without delay, and that I can continue to consume such a vast variety of media over the course of the upcoming year.
The 2016 Beachie Awards
Best Playwright (Female): Olivia Lilley’s Mary Shelley Sees The Future – think when I read this I read it again, then again, and again. Not sure why I read this play multiple times. It seemed very deserving of it. A very playful, sort of insightful, and weird play, it proves why Olivia Lilley is hardcore as fuck.
Best Playwright (Male): Mike Kleine’s “The Mystery of the Seventeen Pilot Fish” – to spoil this would be a great tragedy. Just be assured fish are included there somewhere, as are random absurdist asides that become the plot itself, only for the plot to reject the asides akin to a body rejecting a transplant. It is deeply weird and this is me, a person pretending to be a sloth online for six plus years, saying this.
Best Title for a Book of Poetry: Emma Shepard’s I AM TRYING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH MYSELF BUT INSTEAD I KEEP FALLING IN LOVE WITH UNEMPLOYED NOISE MUSICIANS WHO DO COKE AND BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF CRYSTALS – I dare you, double dog dare you, to find a better title than this one for anything published in 2016.
Yeah, you are done.
This title rules and the book itself is amazing. Highly recommended. Thank you Bottlecap Press!
Most Honest Literature: Juliet Escoria’s Witch Hunt– I dislike being lied to and literature can do this a lot. Writers trying to convince me they are perfect people completely infallible or an enfant terrible. I did not get the sense of either when reading “Witch Hunt”. Juliet Escoria speaks the truth in “Witch Hunt” which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.
Best Poem: Kristen Iskandrian’s Song of Yourself – I enjoyed this poem a lot. It punched me right in the gut in the best way possible.
Best Novel (Male): Andrew Miller’s If Only The Names Were Changed– I began the book knowing nothing and by the end I knew it all. This is a book that consumes the reader whole and I liked the unusual multi-layered, multi-faceted life that lives within the pages.
Best Novel (Female): Alexandra Naughton’s American Mary– this was a passionately felt book. I read this a few times though I only reviewed it once. I read it on the subway and nobody told me how cool it looked which is bullshit because come on, that cover. Honestly I feel like this book has always existed it just took Alexandra Naughton to pull it out of the slipstream.
Best Representation of the Brutality of Living Alone Through Social Media: Thomas Moore’s In Their Arms – this made me tear up a little bit. I wish people did not isolate themselves so heavily, by trying to living away from themselves, treating their lives as experiments in social media.
Best Anthology: MACRO: AN ANTHOLOGY OF IMAGE MACROS curated by Penny Goring + Michael Hessel-Mial: this is the first definitive statement of culture on the internet. I loved this book. All my favorites are in here and many new ones I was glad to make the acquaintance of. I spent literally weeks living within its image-laden pages, resulting in some insane-sounding 13,000-word review (imagine if that review was ever released as a chapbook? That would be crazy!). When I think of community in literature, I think of MACRO because it literally spans generations, continents, and various disciplines. It is one of the best things I have ever seen and I feel undoubtedly blessed that such a thing exists. I can only begin to fathom the huge amount of editing and attention that went into making this book look as beautiful as it does. In every way, shape, and form it is a true piece of art.
Best Beach: Reality Beach – a truly slept-on bit of brilliance. Their website, their work, and their curatorial efforts come very highly recommended. Besides they are pro-beach and I can’t really argue with that. What they do in terms of bringing writers together under such beautiful auspices is particularly lovely. Besides this, the individuals behind Reality Beach are among some of the best, doing literally God’s work, if God is a thing people believe exists.
Best Punk Rock Poets: Nostrovia – honestly, the nebulous collection of assorted misfits that make up Nostrovia make me wish I was half as cool as them. Here is a group that gladly lives in a yurt for some fucking reason, drives across the United States on the regular, and generally does whatever it can in bringing experimental literature to the masses. Far too often the weirdest of literature lives a life of leisure in major cities, never venturing outside their happy walls. Nostrovia has no central location they truly do their own thing.
Best Weird Thing That I Don’t Really Have Words For: Life After PPL by Luis Neer – not sure what is going on here, seems like a whole bunch of people doing their absolute best in being beyond bizarre. Kudos to Luis Neer for creating such an odd experience, a refreshing take on the chapbook.
Best Vaguely Cryptic Website that brings out the fuckin’ jams: Fog Machine – I spent a lot of hours exploring this odd piece of the world wide web. I am not even a tenth of the way done. Whoever curates this does fantastic, fanatical work, the joys of poetry and fiction brought together as one.
Best Press Run By Chill-Ass Glo Worms: Glo Worm Press – these wonderful worms have dug deep to find the best literature has to offer. Some unusual things to behold within their fantastic collection. I am very thankful that Alli, aka “Master Worm” heads this up and does their utmost best in finding the highlights of the weird.
Best Thing About Stoned Monks: Chris Dankland’s Weed Monks– this is the funniest thing I read all year. I am not an easy laugh so it is an absolute pleasure to highly recommend it to whoever wonders what monks do after they have smoked a lot of weed. There is some thoughtful meditation on the secret life of stoned, chill as fuck, monks.
Best Reader: you – yes, dear reader, it is you. I thank you so much for all the places you have traveled with me, always accessible via the power of email, of phone, of whatever device you choose to use.