Roses Are Red for Defunct Portland Journal

| 7/3/2008 11:40:08 AM

eyerhymeThe website for Portland, Oregon’s literary journal eye-rhyme is dead. The only print issue I can track down is three years old. And my favorite piece from it was written by *gasp* a musician.

Subtitled “Roses Are Red, the seventh issue of eye-rhyme is the only one in the Utne library. Having never lived in Portland, my first-hand knowledge of its literary scene is virtually nonexistent, and in an era when I should be able to learn everything about anything via the Internet, I am able to find precious little information about eye-rhyme online, even on the site of Pinball Publishing, which printed the journal. Some back issues are available for purchase there, including "Roses are Red" and the latest (and final?) installment, a book of portraits by local photographers.

What I do know is that Issue 7 of eye-rhyme documents a diverse population of literary talents who were writing in Portland in 2005. There are healthy doses of poetry (both prose-poetry and verse) and a long interview with Walt Curtis, the “Unofficial Poet Laureate of Portland.” There’s an absurdist piece of fiction by Kevin Sampsell called “In Jail,” which owes a great debt to Mark Leyner; there are drawings by Zak Margolis; there’s an interview with some upstart rock musician named Stephen Malkmus, who sounds like he’s destined for great things.

But my favorite piece, “Sadness: A Field Guide” is by local singer/songwriter Nick Jaina, whose album Wool was released in March of this year. Jaina’s also an elegant prose writer, and his taxonomy of all things sad is darkly funny and also very, very true. In just seven pages he takes us through the various states of sadness, including but not limited to  wistfulness, lethargy, torpor, regret, sorrow, unhappiness, and happiness (this last one is actually just another form of sadness, Jaina’s sorry to inform us).

I wish this piece was available online. I wish I could afford to buy a copy of “Roses Are Red” for all my friends. I wish I was somehow affiliated with a national magazine that reprinted great writing from alternative media and small literary journals.

For now, though, I’ll just have to leave you with my favorite moments from the piece.

Julie Hanus
7/3/2008 12:19:48 PM

Jake: I can't tell you how happy I am to see you writing about eye-rhyme on the Great Writing blog. About a year ago, I also (re)discovered the Roses are Red issue. It was right around the time we moved offices, so perhaps it resurfaced in the organizing of the new library? At any rate, I also fell in love with Jaina's Sadness: A field guide. I proposed it as a candidate for reprint, actually, and we made a heartbreaking decision that, for the print edition, it was too old. Keeping with the mandate to bring our readers the freshest cullings from the independent press has never been so hard.

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