Mad Hatters' Review

CAROL NOVACK – In Memoriam 1948 – 2011

Posted on December 30, 2011 by marc


(photo: Jeff Davis)

Our dear friend, Carol Novack, writer, poet, editor and luminary publisher of the alternative and edgy Mad Hatters' Review, MadHat Press and the MadHat Arts Foundation, passed away peacefully last night at 8.55 pm in the Elizabeth Hospice in Hendersonville (nr. Asheville ), North Carolina .

We shall miss you deeply old soul, old friend.

Mad Hatters' Issue 11 from 2009, featured one of Carol's own poems, “Comic Yellow Fragmentos.” It seems most appropriate to publish it again here.

Comic Yellow Fragmentos

Using my yellow tail
I yellow-swam to the Last Judgment
From the Yellow River
As a yeast of the yellow peril,
Vastly overweight
With skin the color of old gold.

In Venice and Stockholm,
People called me yellow Jack
Just for fun
Hailed me as a yellow dog
Yellow star of David sewn to my past:
When I yelped on my yellow legs,
Pale as whipped cream,
A cybernetic game figure
Made a house-call.

To flee from the yellow flu,
The serums, x-rays, and shots,
I go back to the river and in the Scottish Highlands,
Pass the dumplings in Prague
And the wild turkeys keep turkeying,
Speaking Yiddish Yerkishly like yellow warblers.

I yield at a yellow spot
Close to Yellowstone .

We've all gotta go
You know, so
Sanguine in a yellow sheet
When the rabbi sings the yellow alert,
Rings the emergency bell,
I'm in a shethl in Bohemia somewhere,
You in Atheny, no Nazis.

I have composed many yellow pages and purple prose,
Fragmentos to endure for decades:
Fifteen volumes for a yeasty yellow book
To be published by the yellow press.

Don't worry, I will yell low
Back on the river,
It's all free room
And board,
And the working woman was always
A good cook.

Just close your eyes
And go painlessly
Into dreamless yellow

In the coming weeks, we will be featuring tributes to Carol from many of her contemporaries, collaborators and closest friends. Please feel free to send us your queries or works for consideration to

Acting Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Marc Vincenz

and on behalf of Mad Hatters everywhere…


15 Responses to CAROL NOVACK – In Memoriam 1948 – 2011

•  Ginger Hamilton Caudill says:

December 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

First, let me say “Oh my God! Now we must do math captchas?!?!?”

Next, I will attempt to write a memorial for Carol and send it in later. I am sorry she is gone.

Finally, I love the piece you posted. Perfect.


•  JP Reese says:

December 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Thank you for posting Carol's poem here, Marc. She was a true original, and we are all a bit less for her loss.


•  Greg says:

December 31, 2011 at 12:43 am

We miss you, dear Carol.

You had biggest heart.

Your door was always open and welcoming to friends and family.

Your whimsical apartment was always filled with fun and laughter and witty conversation.

You were an Intellectual and never shied away from a good debate nor did you back down from championing the rights of those less fortunate and those marginalized by the social structure.

You fervently prized Democratic ideals and had a genuine respect for humankind.

Above all, you are an Angel and your spirit and kindness endures in the lives of those you have touched.

We miss you very much, dear Carol.
Rest Peacefully….


•  Kate Juliff says:

December 31, 2011 at 4:23 am

I don't have a poem or words to say. But thinking of Carol. who died in 2011, as did my brother, here is my brother's poem.

beetroot to yourself
lettuce all get along
Bean so good getting to know you
Peas to you and all of your family.

Vale Carol


•  jason irwin says:

December 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm

very sorry to hear that.


•  Larry Strattner says:

December 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm

When I first became enamored with flash fiction Carol encouraged me on fictionaut. I remember her fondly. Not always of the same mind, I suspected we were of the same heart. I envied her focus and relentless pursuit of art. She will, no doubt, change for the better whatever realm she now occupies. I will miss her.


•  Robert Vaughan says:

December 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm


You are always with me, with us, your generous gifts far too precious to contain. No, these are to share, and I will turn to your work again, and again. And…again. For this, I can only give to you my own generous praise and words in return.

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•  Girija Tropp says:

January 1, 2012 at 12:17 am

She was a woman who lived her life and her life fully. I was going to say my only regret was that I did not touch base with her this year and then I realized that, on a whim, as I passed through NY in May 2011 on my way to Europe I said to my husband — that's where my friend Carol lives — I stayed with her when I first came to NY, maybe 6 years now — the year after she published my work in the Mad Hatter — she was an amazingly generous host — we walked all the way down 6th Ave from Greenwich Village to Central Park and dropped into MOMA on the way and my legs flagged in MOMA but hers didn't — we rang the bell and strangely she answered — she was always on her way somewhere — and when we walked in — I introduced my husband and looked at the boxes — she was leaving that day to go to Asheville.

I am sad I will not see her this year! I thought she would live forever — and she is — sitting and chatting to me right now, a glass of vodka in her hands, a cigarette, a new piece of writing she would like feedback on….


•  Tantra Bensko says:

January 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Thank you for this memorial. I've been amazed how much I've cried with love, so often, daily for the last couple weeks since learning about her illness. I knew Carol first through publishing my work in Mad Hatters, and as she asked me to be Art Director, for years working very closely with her doing that until my health wouldn't allow it any more, and then, as a friend afterwards. I got to spend time with her in person, which I'm glad for.

I began tuning into her, long distance, whether telepathy or imagination, during the process of her demise, and plan to keep talking to her as she continues on in what I think of as the afterlife (whether telepathy or imagination…..). I wonder if she will continue to snark. ;-)

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•  John Edwards says:

January 4, 2012 at 1:51 am

I met Carol only a few times in the late 70s, when she lived in Sydney (I had recently returned from London ) and when she subsequently paid us a visit from NYC (early 80s?). She was however the kind of person who one does not forget. A warm and generous spirit. We will miss her.


•  rich haber says:

January 6, 2012 at 12:18 am

there are so few geniuses, now one less. bad art, God, you sadistic idiot! rather be mad than sad right now. global warming and all the chocolate in the world cannot dispell the cold and darkness i feel. carol always challenged me to create more, plumb the depths, never rest on my laurels. i shall continue to do so and i'll know, c. i'll know.


•  Deborah Monroe says:

April 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Carol and I lived together during our college days, and have been together on and off since. She was an intensely self-centered woman – quite a rariety in those days of men-worship – and incredibly annoying! But talented and whimsical and one often wanted to catch at least a glimpse of what she was up to. As it happened, the more she looked into her own center, the more that center flowered into a reflection of us all.
So I can't begrudge her her self-centeredness – in fact, today I encourage it in my lady students. Will miss her very much, and hope MadHats and Madhatter's REview lives on as a reminder of her.


•  Stefanie Bennett says:

April 11, 2012 at 7:18 am

Am sitting here reading an early 1970s poem'Fairy Tale Feast' published in Khasmik
Quarterly's 1st edition. No one wrote like ‘the Novack' then – no one does now. I
remember her directness & talent without limit. I see her “smile.” Vale, Carol.


Poem by Calvin Pennix

Posted on December 21, 2011


With radical flattening
of interest
you are a person
vacant of person

[[we've reached carrying capacity
so please don't tap on the glass]]

Artificially compressed
the glass shatters
and the light
remains green

Consensus summoning
derives from conjoinment


with something leprous

A tonal limitation

[[ceilinged in brazen peril
an agnostic fluctuating]]

exudes sustainability

but at what cost will the floor rise in agreement of disengagement imbibing existence

A shared ideal intensifies
as ordeals lengthen
providing a counterpoint for person

Calvin Pennix lives with his wife and daughter in Mission Viejo, CA where he is completing his MFA and MA in English at Chapman University . He is currently an instructor at Everest College , where he teaches Composition, Literature and Algebra. Calvin's first book of poetry was recently released by Argotist Books. He currently has work appearing in UCity Review, A Few Lines Magazine, Unlikely 2.0 and Counterexample Poetics .


Flash Fiction from Randall Brown

Posted on December 19, 2011

Fruitcake Season

He waited for her in the theatre seats; her theatre company opted for Capote's Southern nostalgia this season instead of ghosts and Dickens. It made him yearn for astral visitations that might point out the exact moments of his failures, the origin of emptiness. Behind the curtain, maybe she whispered to the guest actor, a joke maybe, about Santa answering her letters, and they'd emerge from their dressing rooms with him no longer in the seats, perhaps having been turned into a snowman or maybe just poof! and gone. Santa wrinkled his nose, like Samantha from Bewitched, to make his magic, and he pictured the two of them, her and the guest actor, wrinkling their noses, making their wishes.

He did a silly thing then. He got up and climbed up onto the stage. He thought of a transformational moment to get into character: when he raced after her in that Chicago snowstorm, slipping, falling into her. The Valentine's Day Massacre she called it, he a myth then, like the uniqueness of snowflakes. Then, front-stage, he looked out at the world as Scrooge on Christmas morning, and the giggles from the dressing rooms were carolers and wonder glistened everywhere, as if it had always been there, waiting.

Randall Brown teaches at and directs Rosemont College 's MFA in Creative Writing Program. He has been published widely, both online and in print, and blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts.


Flash Fiction by philip kobylarz

Posted on December 14, 2011


Everywhere he went, he thought, or rather, he thought he thought he
smelled the smell of shit. At first he would check his shoes, then the
space immediately around him knowing that we do not know what the shade
of trees can conceal, and then, not seeing the expected patty of
universal fear and condemnation, he would in a blur of shame and
anticipation pass his fingers beneath his nose and brace him self for
the worst– this ritual he would execute in the crowded silences of
churches, in the snug leather-scented privacy of his car, at formal and
informal dinner parties, even on the deck of the ferry he had to take
to cross the seaside bay. Of course he smelled this ever so vague scent
of something more serious than manure as if it were freshly deposited
in the waste baskets of the post office, as if it were an ingredient in
the dish he had just ordered in the two star neon bistro, inexplicably
at the dentist and at the bakery and most recently in the air at his
uncle's sudden and unexpected funeral, who, as he noticed with slightly
twitching nostrils, had left this world in a most curious mound.

Work from philip kobylarz has appeared or is forthcoming in Connecticut Review, The Iconoclast, Visions International, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Salzburg Review and Best American Poetry. His book, Rues, is forthcoming from Blue Light Press of San Francisco .


Two poems by Gillian Prew

Posted on December 8, 2011

Beyond This Skin

These thin breasts each a grief:
plump-robbed and plucked dead
like two starved birds.

Beyond this skin the world weeps for its swept-up beds
and its loneliness;
its hearts blown like empty stones.

Summer is full of dull rain and mourning,
old days and memory lost
in the stubborn amber of a child's wound.

Where are the true floods?
It is only wet here. The sun rests
but she is not drowned.

These wisps whisper as if not sad
and haunted by their sound; as if
at night I should not wear a shroud.

Loose Idea of Bypassing Winter

Writing of mortality on a blind edge
brushed of orange smoke,
mouth half-embroidered with obituaries,
leaning into forty five years
like a chick smelling its first breeze.

I need fewer mirrors or more. How else

does one stay alive
or let go?

Days chase my breasts,
flaccid marble mute as fear,
back to all the honest nobodies.

I miss the old seasons the light
in their folds
and the unfit fog. I lie I hate
the old seasons often,
love them less much less
than the smallness of my feet,
his palm on my pelvic bone.

I want a dress white as sun
that almost burns;
twisted to silver,
like a wet gull's wing,
with a single red bloom
picked from a basket of griefs; a photograph of that

a delicate pyrotechnic bypassing the bulk of winter.

Born Stirling, Scotland in 1966, Gillian Prew studied Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1984 to 1988. On graduation she failed to see the need for a ‘career' and so worked mostly in the service sector before moving to the Isle of Lewis to have her two children. In 1997 she experienced a few black years before breaking free and now lives happily with her children, her partner and a spoiled cat. She is the author of two recent chapbooks, DISCONNECTIONS (erbacce-press) and In the Broken Things (Virgogray Press). A previous book, the idea of wings, is also available via Amazon. Her poems have been published widely online and in print. Follow Gillian on her blog, proud spots and solitudes.


One Response to Two poems by Gillian Prew

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Poem by Lakey Comess

Posted on December 7, 2011

25th October, Twenty-Eleven


A first class stamp should be sufficient for missive to reach recipient. Refunds will be
transferred direct when we cut back “leggy” leaves for lemon scented geranium.

Which ancestors' portraits remain on your walls?
Whose memorial service will be broadcast transparently?

Whining penetrates focus, poses health risks, slows down the connection.

Have to give credit where credit is due, mister. You sure play the sourest notes.

Take it from one who is still whistling Forqueray.


Distress follows lack of back cover— as in, you ain't got mine.

Briefly — and memorably — at best, a nameless presence, at worst, another pervert.
Motion studies of energy hit waves. Silence gapes at vivid recall, tempestuous vastness,
polished furniture, uniformitarian turbulence.

Certain legacies weigh you down; unsolicited memorabilia hits inbox, defiles an account.


You failed to predict his sheer volatility, quality of rage, blind fury, destructiveness.
That's one of the pitfalls worshiping flags, covered with crooked cross (words),
or so it appears. Time keeping is off by a couple of hours. What else is new?


One toad dies, another replaces it.

Glass-fronted boxes are cleaned by the management,
ferns divided, re-potted, coins removed from the pond.

Now all of your wishes are free of charge.

Lakey Comess, born U S A in 1948, has lived in Israel , South Africa and the Orkney Islands in Scotland and now lives in Glasgow . She has contributed to Versal, Big Bridge, Gulf Stream, Milk, Hutt, Hamilton Stone Review and other publications, sometimes under the name Lakey Teasdale. Lakey lives here: 55° 51' 56.3” N 4°15' 26” W


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