Reviewed by Steven Pirie

There's a line in Rachel Kendall's opening editorial that sums up Sein und Werden perfectly. It reads: “Sein und Werden is about change, movement and experimentation...”. Just to be sure there's no confusion, print editor Spyros Heniadis adds: “It's all about pushing the boundaries...”. And so it is. In fact, here the boundaries are removed completely.

This issue is Rejectamenta, and again quoting Kendall it is: “The flea-bitten rag with your name stitched on... the offal, the slivers of rotting meat, the hooves and eyeballs...the broken dolls and festering wounds.”.

And here's me such a sensitive soul.

Rejectamenta is certainly an interesting mix of fiction and poetry. At fifty plus pages with a small font there's loads of content here, of widely varying length, and too much to review every piece individually. But there are surprises here, and each work has its own merit and is worth looking over; each abounds with well-turned phrases and clever word play.

In truth, the opening offering frightened me somewhat. It's a poem, Dregs, by Guido Monte, and it frightened me because it's poetry, and it's arty, and experimental, and the author explores dead languages for a living whereas I'm just a simple city boy, and what on Earth had I taken on in thinking I can intelligibly review a magazine such as this? But, with a deep breath and a swig of fortifying single malt, I pressed on, and whilst I may have struggled to pin my own mundane meanings on Monte's words, I could hardly be failed to be moved by its composition and grace and elegance. Or something.

Urban Planning: Case Study Number Two, by Tim Horvath, like much of the writing in Rejectamenta is surreal and open to a number of interpretations. In essence it's an exploration of the effects of city life upon the senses, but there's much in here that weaves and turns, and much to delight, or dismay, or to certainly ponder over. “I was accosted by marketplaces where smaller marketplaces were for sale, themselves selling nothing other than still smaller marketplaces.” Reminds me somewhat of Rhys Hughes's work.

Things I Have Put in My Mouth, by Corinne Holmberg, is an evocatively titled poem about, well, things that the narrator has put in her mouth. But it's more than that, of course; it reads to me like a story of a life so far, full of ordinary, early-years stuff we all shove in our mouths but littered here and there with 'real' things, grown-up things that matter such as “...birth control pills... The tips of your fingers... your quiet breath... your many needles...” to rather poignantly end with: “...the word gone”. A life story, or a love story, it's a fine poem.

In Window, by Mark Howard Jones, I struggled to find meaning. Whilst Window is nicely written, as far as content all I felt was confusion. I mean, surely even experimental works that are open to interpretation should allow the reader at least some sense of closure. Or perhaps not, perhaps such confusion is all part of the art of surrealist writing. You must decide for yourself on that one.

Dog Days, by Robert Levin, is a more conventional if absurd story peppered with humour. The narrator is caught doing naughty things to the family dog, and steeped in shame he seeks redemption by opening an animal sanctuary. And amongst it all he wonders how the dog 'rated' his 'performance'. Great stuff.

Even much of the 'arty' work has its moments of deft humour; in Infirmative Actions, by Fabian Delecto, for example, the narrator claims himself to be bi-lingual but multi-cunnilingual, which raised a smile from me at least. It all adds that touch of realism that perhaps each author doesn't quite take themselves that seriously after all. In the Dumps, by Willie Smith, and Bedrock, by Michael Loughrey are also fine reads. It all adds up to a pot-pourri that is quite possibly unique to Sein und Werden

I have to confess that for personal reasons I'm a little late in producing this review, and by now it's likely Rejectamenta will be the 'previous' issue. My apologies to all concerned for that, but buy it along with the current offering and I'm sure you'll not be disappointed.

The magazine should be commended for its bold content. Sein und Werden may be alone amongst the multitude of small press magazines as a home for surreal, experimental fiction and as such is worthy of subscriber support. The fact that it now enters into its second year of publication bodes well that it does indeed have staying power. Keep it coming, Sein team.

Sein Und Werden edited by Rachel Kendall and Spyros Heniadis. A5, 62pp, £3.50/$6.50 or £14/$26 for 4 issues (for payment options see website).

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