All posts by Elizabeth Stelling

Two Cent Comedy by Matthew Kirshman

Matthew Kirshman’s Two Cent Comedy offers a heady mix of the visceral and the cerebral, not in opposition or even juxtaposition, but in thrilling and sometimes frightening mutual implication. The first-person speakers of these short, imagistic prose-poems think with and through the senses; embody metaphors; and revel in or marvel at the fungibility of body/soul, animate/inanimate, word/idea/object, the one becoming the other as easily and uncannily as (to cite one of the volume’s most striking images) an angel’s back becomes his front without turning around.

The first part, from which the volume as a whole takes its name, narrates the experience of a recently dead soul, free of its corporeal body yet still very much in the realm of the senses, as it makes its way towards Paradise. The poems are deeply allusive—one tastes, as if remembering a long-ago banquet, Dante (from whom the section derives its sense of “comedy”), Milton, the Hebrew Bible, and Shakespeare’s Tempest, as well as the pop-culture world of video games and children’s cartoons. Yet they are at the same time vividly sensory, immersing the reader in a world of light and dark, cold and wet, hunger and thirst, and music both familiar and strange. Though brief, “Two Cent Comedy” is both funny and moving—sometimes at once—and ultimately satisfying as a series of steps into the unknown as well as a completed journey.

Part two, “Coastlines,” is a collection of short poems, mostly prose poems with some free verse intermingled, thematically and linguistically connected to each other and to the volume’s first half. Particularly prominent, and affecting, are motifs of the permeable boundaries between life and death, self and other; the mutual implication of body and thought; and, most of all, the simultaneous urgency and difficulty of interpretation. In keeping with “Two Cent Comedy”’s reimagining of western culture’s great stories, “Coastlines” makes complex use of myth, both explicitly (poems on Persephone and the Minotaur) and implicitly: in one particularly affecting poem a goddess arises from the dirt and transforms into a city. And in a beautiful series of free verses near the end of the volume Kirshman recasts Genesis through/as a sexual encounter that is epistemologically dense but sensually crystalline. This meaning-fraught sensuality is anticipated by poems throughout the volume that use the body, and particularly the sexually responsive body, as a ground for the not always conclusive interpretation of the meaning of familial, social, and cosmological relationships.

As powerful as this technique is, perhaps the most effective poems in the collection are those about their own interpretation, or the mysteries of language as the foundation of self and society. Speakers strive to read and write themselves and their surroundings—or to be written and read. One poem asks “What is the law of talking?” and concludes “That’s why they call the mouth a ‘trap’”; another imagines learning to communicate with alien others not through ears alone but through “organs…muscle and bone.” In one of Kirshman’s most powerful poems, a printing press learns to set its own lines of type; the speaker concludes that it must be functioning as a medium, receiving messages from elsewhere—“How else can a machine speak?” How else, one wonders at the end of this provocative, haunting volume, can anyone speak?

Stephen Cohen, Professor at Central, CT State University

WAMPP & Red Dashboard LLC Presents

Wine Art Music Poetry Project (includes fiction and fiction writers) & Red Dashboard LLC

It’s about time! (WAMPP began 2007-10) we started back up our entertainment leg of the publishing company. Our managing editor ran open mica and performance series to help get authors, musicians and other performers out in the public view. Many of these performers are veterans at their craft, some new, but all are welcoming an audience!
Elizabeth’s experience includes years as an event coordinator and caterer (cookappeal) before going back to her initial college passion as a writer and editor, and then publisher of RedD.

We found not all venues accepted poetry as part of their open mic series, so she began her own. Home venues, if space allows, bookstores, and other spaces are welcome to contact us to organize and host an event.

RedD is hoping to raise funs to help send two individuals to a writing retreat, festival, and or a music/song writing conference. Arts are important to us all, and we strive to make it forefront here in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania areas. Contact us at if you have any suggested locations. Many performers will be introducing an alter ego to spice up the day.
June 17th, 2017 in Princeton, NJ, 2-8 PM

Together with Red Dashboard LLC Publications, WAMPP (Wine Art Music Poetry Project, est 2007) is hosting a line-up of Poets, Authors, and Musicians in a beautiful setting just outside of Princeton at The Smith House. It’s Elizabeth Akin Stelling’s (managing editor of RedD) birthday, and her wish to bring these artists together again. Future even dates will follow…

Suggested Donation ($2-5 ea person to help pay for space and raise funds to send two artists to 2018 retreats); picnic for yourself or a pot-luck dish to share with others (BYOB, water, soda, and paper goods will be provided).

(See Line-up of local NJ and PA entertainment below…)

Please RSVP to or find event on Facebook


Elizabeth Akin Stelling, Emcee and organizer
Rebecca Bonham, asst coordinator

Featured Guests–
Rita Anderson, Texas poet, author, and playwright
Hal Sirowitz, former Queens, NY Poet Laureate
Cheryl Moore, Belmar Beach Poet

Ryan Torres
Vito Natale, music-blues
Lance Scott Green-music
Danielle Steward-music
Kevin J. Allen-music
Freddy Unreal, musician/band
Barry Gross, poet
Eileen Beirne, poet
Reynald Arthur Perry, poet & fiction
Dennis McDonough- Young Wombats, music
KC Bosch, poet
Raul Cortez, Spoken word
Todd Evans, Spoken word
Bonnie Parker Ridge, poet & fiction
Tim Allen, poet
RG Evans, poet/author
John Berry, poet, The Sock Draw Poetry series on WinTv