“Remember, your obligation is not to a place but to a life”: these are the words poet Suzanne Gardinier offers Emily Carlson at the outset of the journey traced in Symphony No. 2. Amazingly, Carlson keeps her promises to both place and life in these poems, which document the poet’s lived experience of the July 2006 invasion of Beruit, Lebanon by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Carlson’s breathless telling of “the story” deftly manages a multi-modal, sound-rich syntax, one which reflects urgency while making room for real beauty:”I’m a frayed knot, me, ten million times,” she writes, letting us feel how language can work when its stakes are at their highest.
Emily Carlson lives with her partner and their child in an intentional community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared in Aufgabe, Bloom, Denver Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, Slope, Whiskey & Fox, The Harp & Altar Anthology and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a travel grant from the Syria-Lebanon Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, a fellowship at the Bucknell Seminar for Younger poets, and a prize from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches reading and writing courses that incorporate mindfulness practices and anti-racism education. Emily earned a BA at Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. With friends, she runs the Bonfire Reading Series.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, November 10th, 2015.
This vital book exposes the dense tectonics churning beneath migrant dreams. Accusatory, loving, full of grief and sage truths, Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight speaks eloquently to the troubled inheritance of diasporic survival. Through a litany of terse voices, Jennifer Hayashida’s sensitive translation describes the nexus of filial obligations and projections under the narrator sinks from view. The intense beauty of devastation and the poignancy of betrayal emerge with startling frankness: “Your family will never be resurrected like roses after a fire.” “I have spent a fortune for your piano lessons / But at my funeral you will refuse to play.” These white lines make me ask, what has been bleached out in all of our stories? I read this book, and I remembered my humanity.
— Sueyeun Juliette Lee
It is hard to explain not just the resonance of Athena Farrokhzad’s work but of Farrokhzad herself. She is a major figure in Sweden, an outspoken feminist and leftist. She is also a stunning writer. On its surface White Blight is a story of migration, how it shapes and misshapes the familiar. Everyone in this poem has something to say about immigration’s trauma, on the impact globalization has on all sorts of intimacy, even as they are so rarely talking to each other. It is also a poem that moves through many registers. At moments it is mannered and metaphoric. At other moments frank and colloquial, intimate too. And Jennifer Hayashida has skillfully translated this complicated work into an ease of English.
— Juliana Spahr
In White Blight, Athena Farrokhzad evokes a language of feeling that is vivid and deeply familiar. The poem performs as intimately as memory, but with the direct language of confession or accusation. In this world, the family unit nurtures by prolonging disquietude, as there is no forgetting the ruptures of exile and immigration. Still these voices yearn to be proven wrong in a future they cannot predict. The pith and force of the language shines through in Jennifer Hayashida’s careful translation, both polished and knife-sharp.
Just as cinematic language can bypass rational intellect and converse directly with memory, intuition and dream, Stephanie Gray’s poems casually subvert normative forms of communication and activate a kind of collective vernacular consciousness. “All the back roads changed…I had a job connecting dreams,” she writes, while her language does the mysterious work of linking philosophical rigor with delicious humor and deep investigations into the sonic. Hers is a poetry of vernaculars: of aphorisms, truisms and idiomatics, of the exhaustive pleasure to be found in lists, chants, catchphrases and “variations on a theme.” After reading Gray’s poems, it is impossible to hear cultural commonplaces in quite the same way—like Gray, you will want to make them your own. If Gertrude Stein appeared as a wisecracking secretary in a 1940s gangster flick, she might have Gray’s knack for thoughtful, disjunctive wit: “the secretary has seen it all.”
Poet-filmmaker Stephanie Gray is the author of two poetry collections, Shorthand and Electric Language Stars (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2015),Heart Stoner Bingo (Straw Gate Books, 2007), and a chapbook I Thought You Said It Was Sound/How Does That Sound? (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). Her poetry has been published in journals such as Aufgabe, Sentence, EOAGH, Esque, Boog City, 2nd Avenue Poetry, VLAK, Brooklyn Rail. She has received funding for her films from the New York Foundation for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. She has read her work often live with her films at venues including the Poetry Project Friday series, Segue series (with Tina Darragh), Triptych series (with Jonas Mekas) and others such as community garden Le Petit Versailles and Angel Orensanz Foundation. Her films have screened at fests such as Oberhausen, Viennale, Ann Arbor, Chicago Underground, and NYC venues such as Microscope Gallery, Millennium Film Workshop, and Mono No Aware. She had a retrospective of her films at Anthology Film Archives in Spring 2015.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, June 17th, 2015.
Turn It Over is a work of excavation; these poems seek to uncover where the self is located within the territories of memory, grief, family, secrets, and most especially the body. Shearn Coan writes, “How I formed a true question and am asking it still. What is more present than the body?” In precise and gorgeous language, he traces his own borders and maps his loves, while staying grounded in our material experiences. This is a work awake to the nuances of the body in embodiment, and it provokes this awareness in the reader as well.
Jaime Shearn Coan lives in Brooklyn, New York. His writing has appeared in publications including Drunken Boat, The Kenyon Review,Revista la Tempestad, and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry. He is a regular contributor to the dance section of The Brooklyn Rail. Jaime has received fellowships from Poets House, VCCA, and the Saltonstall Foundation, and is the recipient of a 2014 Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant. A PhD student in English at The CUNY Graduate Center, Jaime also teaches at Hunter College and The City College of New York.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, April 18th, 2015.
Full-length Poetry Collection
Forthcoming December 2015
The haunting, haunted world revealed in Khadijah Queen’s Fearful Beloved stays with the reader in an uncomfortably pleasurable way, and heightens awareness of our own world’s deep horrors and ordinary brilliance. Anyone who has been unable to shake the erotic brutality of, say, Sylvia Plath’s Ariel will savor the “bruisable monuments” that Queen offers. Here Queen crafts a language that unfolds along multiple axes (spatial, temporal, emotional, spiritual) and is experimental with form while remaining seamless, precise, and vivid as “The song she sang as a little girl feeding ants.” Addressing Fear head-on—“your spectrality exists,” she insists—Queen’s Fearful Beloved evidences the fierce intelligence of “a body in its own time, possessed of itself.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, February 2nd, 2015.
Combine Apollinaire with Pam Grier and you might come close to Montana Ray’s ferocious debut, (guns & butter). Each concrete poem is shaped like a gun and its poetic interiors are bracingly brutal and gorgeous. Capsuled in parentheticals, each magnetic phrase is locked and loaded as Ray burns holes into subjects ranging from interracial love, single motherhood, to America’s unrelenting addiction to gun violence.
Her voice is mesmerizing, tender, vicious, chimeric, as she veers between role-playing a warrior glock-wielding Annie Oakley to “warm, new mother.” I love (guns & butter) and cannot sing it enough praises. It’s the kind of rare first collection that is startling, necessary, and is truly like no other book.
Time is both circular and linear. The last day of the year returns us to the first day of the next. The length of the days is repeated as the earth tilts back and forth, and our ecology responds. The rains return around the same time, the heat, the snow. And yet the days move forward, from one destination to the next. Calendars are our ancient way of making sense of this. Poems are our ancient way of making sense of something else. Poetry too is both circular and linear. Each word inevitably pushes forward into the next, and yet the last line of a poem returns us to the first. The poem creates its own time, and an ecology results when a mind encounters the poem. And so we hope this calendar offers the reader a unique way of experiencing the year by evoking poetry’s special relationship to time.
Our third annual hand-bound, limited-edition calendar features poems by Evie Shockley, Dana Levin, Jon Cotner & Andy Fitch, Khadijah Queen, Abraham Adams, Wayne Koestenbaum, Jennifer Tamayo, Johannes Göransson, Doug Nufer, Ana Gorría (trans. Yvette Siegert), E Tracy Grinnell, Marina Eckler, and more. With cover and artwork by ruby onyinyechi amanze.
Limited to an edition of 250.
[Painting by ruby onyinyechiamanze]
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, November 5th, 2014.
Krystal Languell’s deadpan wit in Be A Dead Girl subtly conveys the violence that happens with subjects are transformed into objects. In these poems, an “I” that is always in flux moves through a world that’s unsure where things end and people begin, and negotiates this uncertainty with quips that are seductively light on the tongue. The sly aphorisms embedded in Languell’s language are by turns visually stunning (“Beauty dissolves to make fire green”), hilarious (“Joyride to your grave”) and chillingly expressive of the perils of consumerism (“But I hemorrhage money privately”). There are refrains reminiscent of Pop songs, and a sensual phraseology that Emily Dickinson might use if she were tasked with writing advertisements for war machines. These poems invite the reader, at her own risk, to create continuity from a chaos that is all the more terrifying for its elusiveness: “If you came here for a story/put this in your mouth.”
Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (Coconut, 2015) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014), and Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014). In early 2014, Fashion Blast Quarter was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object. A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the journal Bone Bouquet. She is a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace resident.
Amber Atiya’s poems in the fierce bums of doo-wop arouse and terrify in equal measure. She has a rare ability to manage several complex valences at once— eros, comedy, and atrocity among them—skillfully braiding them into a whole, mysteriously synthetic body of work. Pleasurable and risky as “the urge// to fry bacon/ in my vegan/ lover’s favorite pan,” Atiya’s poems answer the urgent call of our times for language that is accurate yet imaginative, slick yet embarrassing, ethically gorgeous and hot as hell.
Amber Atiya is a queer poet and native Brooklynite. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlas Review, Boston Review, Apogee Journal, Anti-, Muzzle Magazine, and elsewhere. She received a 2013 Pushcart Prize nomination, a fellowship from Poets House, and is a proud member of a women’s writing group celebrating 12 years and counting.
… the city I’ve chosen not
to go on loving forever
to which one returns
reminding me she believes the earth is a warm place
and getting warmer, there is no leaving,
there is one place and one life
and so I go to see the dancer who unempties
the air to the shape of his gesture.
The lush, ragged texture of Caitie Moore’s lyric responds precisely to the textures of our shared anthropocene: contingent yet committed, harmonious yet disastrous. With a language that is as invested in beauty as it is in ethical inquiry, the poems in Wife reveal the work of a heart that thinks the whole world, and a mind that loves it fiercely.
Caitie Moore is a poet, educator and curator. Her work can be found in Strangemachine, Ink Node, Handsome, MuthaFucka, BOMBlog, and in the collection The Racial Imaginary, forthcoming from Fence Books.
“Come, astronomer,/ and tell me your abysses./ That static that smashes/ into our heads every time we mend// a beginning.”
In this collection of twenty intensely imagined poems, Mara Pastor has built a whole universe of post-futuristic melancholy. These poems, despite their brevity, take on the human condition – love and death – in a world of cosmonauts, scientists, space travel, and post-apocalyptic gloom. They are concerned with the fleeting nature of our time here on earth (and in space), our inability to connect with each other, and also with our fate as a species. The poet Noel Black has rendered this work in an American English so natural and fine that it almost feels inevitable. This is the kind of book you keep in your pocket and your head for a very long time.
Mara Pastor (San Juan, 1980) is a poet, editor and translator. Her works include the books of poetry: Poemas para fomentar el turismo (La secta de los perros, 2012); Candada por error (Atarraya Cartonera, 2009) and Alabalacera, (Terranova, 2006). Mara’s creative and critical writings have appeared in several magazines and she is featured in such anthologies as Hallucinated Horse: New Latin American Poetry (Pighog Press, 2012) and Red de voces: poesía puertorriqueña (Casa de las Américas, 2012). At this time, she lives in Mexico City.
Noel Black lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, artist Marina Eckler, and their two sons. Co-founder with Ed Berrigan of LOG Magazine and publisher of Angry Dog Midget Editions in the late 1990s, he has since worked as a writer and producer for a wide variety of media outlets including The Stranger and WNYC. He currently works as a producer for KRCC public radio. He is the author of half-a-dozen chapbooks including Hulktrans (Owl Press) and In The City of Word People (Blue Press, 2008).
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, March 17th, 2014.
In the hundred//years I was nine I solved ten thousand math problems/ but no one asked me what I loved, so I just//unbuckled my shoes each night, alone with it.
Karin Gottshall’s Swan finds extraordinarily vivid patterns of emotion evident in the materials of the “everyday.” In the tradition of great American female life-lyricists—Lyn Henjian, Elizabeth Bishop, Barbara Guest—Gottshall generously allows readers not only to think about childhood, the passage of time, and the vulnerability of objects, but to feel those phenomena. Her deft handling of the lines between interior and exterior—and between “then” and “now”—merits reading and re-reading. The transformative nature of these poems invites the reader to study Gottshall’s language closely, and to study the emotional syntax of her own life in turn.
Karin Gottshall is a poet, fiction writer, and creative writing instructor. Her most recent book, The River Won’t Hold You, won the 2014 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize, and will be published in late 2014. Her first book, Crocus, was published by Fordham University Press in 2007. She is also the author of the poetry chapbooks: Flood Letters (Argos Books, 2011) and Almanac for the Sleepless (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). She teaches poetry writing at Middlebury College, and has also taught at Interlochen Arts Academy and the New England Young Writers’ Conference. Karin live in Middlebury, Vermont.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, February 27th, 2014.
Exuberant, darkly funny, and very smart, this long poem by German poet Dagmara Kraus makes music from a state of mind. Its voracious attitude to form and diction is both timeless and completely of this moment. Joshua Daniel Edwin has vividly brought Kraus’s neologisms, music, and rhythms into English with wit and authority. An extremely strong debut from two young poets.
Dagmara Kraus was born in Poland and raised there and in Germany. Her poetry and translations appear widely, including the poetry collections kummerang (KOOKBOOKS, Berlin, 2012) and kleine grammaturgie (Urs Engeler/roughbooks, Solothurn, 2013). She currently lives in rural France and is translating the diary of Polish poet Miron Białoszewski.
Joshua Daniel Edwin’s poetry appears in a variety of publications in print and online. His translations of Dagmara Kraus’ poetry were awarded a 2012 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and a 2012 ALTA Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the editorial board for the magazine Circumference: Poetry in Translation.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, February 24th, 2014.
Poems are something we live among every day. They surround us in ways we don’t always expect, and ground us in time and space as nothing else does. An exploration of poetry’s relationship with time—how language settles and shifts over the course of moments, hours, seasons—that is what this annual project is meant to invite. Our lives transpire in their ordinary and extraordinary way, with the curious presence of our shared language running like a thread throughout.
Our second annual hand-bound, limited-edition calendar features one poem per month for 13 months (including January 2015). With poems by Kazim Ali, Sommer Browning, Christophe Casamassima, Don Mee Choi, Ryan Eckes, Farrah Field, Joan Kane, Bhanu Kapil, Rachel Levitsky, Anna Moschovakis, Jared White, and Simone White. Artwork and illustrations by Essye Klempner.
Limited to an edition to 150.
[Painting by Essye Klempner]
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, November 13th, 2013.
A profoundly generative body of work, this collection of interspersed poems and collages make lush and mysterious visual/verbal gems that reveal the presence of a vital imagination at play. This is truly an inter-species book, part image, part story, part human and part wilderness.
j/j hastain is a queer, mystic, seer, singer, photographer, lover, priest/ess, gender shaman and writer. As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several cross-genre books and enjoys ceremonial performances in an ongoing project regarding gender, shamanism, eros and embodiments. See xir most recent book, myrrh to re all myth, here.
In this beautiful and hallucinatory long poem, Andrew Durbin wanders and wonders through life, love, sex and war, through the bucolic and the urban, startling us at each turn.
Andrew Durbin co-edits Wonder, a publisher of art books, pamphlets, ephemera, and glossies. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in the Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions, Fence, and elsewhere. He is an associate editor ofConjunctions, curates the Queer Division reading series at the Bureau of Goods & Services–Queer Division on the Lower East Side, and lives in New York.
Posted by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, March 3rd, 2013.
In time for the new year, this hand-bound, limited-edition calendar features one poem per month for 13 months (including January 2014). Featuring poems by Harryette Mullen, Eileen Myles, Cecilia Vicuña, Hoa Nguyen, Rob Halpern, Noel Black, Ana Božičević, Joy Katz, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Lee Ann Brown, Mónica de la Torre, Mark Bibbins and K. Silem Mohammad. Artwork and illustrations by Loie Hollowell.
Limited to an edition to 200.
In time for the new year, this hand-bound, limited-edition calendar features one poem per month for 13 months (including January 2014). Featuring poems by Harryette Mullen, Lisa Jarnot, Hoa Nguyen, Rob Halpern, Noel Black, Joy Katz, Julian Brolaski, Lee Ann Brown, Mónica de la Torre and others. Illustrations by L, Joy Katz, Julian Brolaski, Lee Ann Br
In this crown of ten sonnets, based on the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, Malachi Black peels back each layer of his being and investigates what we are: “This tremolo of hands, / this fever, this flat-footed dance /of tendons and the drapery / of skin along a skeleton.” The tension and circularity inherent in Black’s form invokes the kinetic properties of the energy that surrounds and exists within us, and ultimately Black’s astute consideration of our condition leaves us hopeful and wanting.
Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press), and two limited-edition chapbooks, including Echolocation (Float Press, 2010). A recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Black has also received recent fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers, and the University of Utah. He was the subject of an Emerging Poet profile by Mark Jarman in the Fall 2011 issue of the Academy of American Poets’ American Poet magazine.