New Reviews of Ordinary Sun

This has been a busy few weeks for Matthew Henriksen's Ordinary Sun. After making it to the final rounds of the Goodreads Choice Awards, it has also been reviewed in some great places like The Quarterly Conversation and The Aviary.

In the QC, Ellen Welcker takes us back to (this) world of Ordinary Sun, describing it as "like listening to confession in a parallel universe, a world like the aforementioned, with all the guts displayed on the outside, and the underworld on top."  She argues that

What makes this book feel so loaded is Henriksen’s investment in the act of existing in the poems, in imbuing words with symbolic and relational power, in not providing answers.

and that ultimately, this is "a book for the living."


Amid an issue studded with gorgeous visuals, the review of Ordinary Sun in The Aviary explores the notions of language within the book, "a musicality of word relations that eschews simple wordplay," and notes that "[t]here is a type of beautiful frustration with not being able to reconcile the ordinary and the metaphysical in this world." The review is thoughtful and thorough, arriving at the idea that

What sets Henriksen’s work far apart, though, is the pure control of craft and language by which he changes what is being looked at, what is being read. These poems are well-wrought but not over-wrought, beautiful but human, accessible but refusing. The project here is to make the ordinary and the concrete something more “angelic” or infinite, but if the reader squints hard enough, he or she might see that even the poet himself cannot escape the beauty of bringing down to earth such things as heady and abstract as love and loss.

The diverse offering of these two reviews alone pays tribute to the rich possibility and depth of reading that Ordinary Sun can offer.

Bookslut: Interview with Matthew Henriksen

In the most recent issue of Bookslut, Nick Sturm asks questions like: "How many bees does it take to eat Matthew Henriksen?"

We always enjoy hearing more from Matthew Henriksen, and this interview is no exception. Here, he reflects on Frank Stanford, his experience teaching in Harlem, and the "awe at the pervasive beauty that surrounds us all" in poetry, and especially in life. Be sure to check out the full interview here.

‎The best poems are apostrophes. Talk intensely and without irony to no one long enough and your start to see your own investments in other people's interests fall away. You can't fit much experience into a poem at all if you don't first break everything down. The line, of course, delivers everything in a poem by disrupting our usual habits of perception and processing. I could call the line the force that drives disfiguring music. I see both nature and society as disfigured, and in that flaw beauty becomes more readily apparent. The line attempts to force us to hear and to see.

Hot Sun

July is hot, and so is Ordinary Sun, which was recently featured on Huffington Post in an article called " 20 of the Best Books from Independent Presses You Should Know About." So if you haven't checked it out already, well, do it! Don't miss the nod to The Girl Without Arms either.

And, if you want to bask in the heat a little more, purchase a 2012 Black Ocean subscription this month and recieve a free copy of Ordinary Sun. 75th subscriber also wins a free t-shirt, made fresh!

Ordinary Sun on Hazel & Wren

Very excited to see this review over on Hazel & Wren. A sort of virtual community space, Hazel & Wren seems to have a lot to offer. Read the review and see for yourself!

... he’s searching for something real in all the muck that is this world, and attempting to find a way to be happy with that through his images. “What we don’t know is our only law” he writes in “Copse.” This is the governing theme throughout, exploring the unknown. The poems resonate with an honest, unflinching beauty. They border on disturbing, tragic, and even violent in places, yet they are full of natural grace and most of all, acceptance.


Our subscription drive continues! We've now met our goal of 25 subscribers and are moving upwards to 50. The 50th subscriber will recieve a Black Ocean t-shirt. And all June subscribers recieve a signed, limited-edition hardbound copy of Zachary Schomburg's Fjords. Subscribe here.

Ordinary Sun on NewPages

Matthew Henriksen's Ordinary Sun has been reviewed on New Pages today! If you haven't picked up the book yet, this review provides a lot of great excerpts to whet your appetite. After recent conversations discussing the accesibility of these poems, I think Patrick James Dunagan gets to the heart of what this book offers--vision and wonder reflected though surprising language.

The fact that Henriksen appears not concerned with knowing what to do with experience itself is one of the saving graces of his writing. His comfort to be caught up with wondering his way through puzzling detours presented by life via language affords him opportunity to weave the reader into the presence of being with the poem. He doesn’t push any agenda, but gives way to the visions of the poem that they be manifest...

If you're bored of agenda and ready to experience language, be sure to check out Ordinary Sun today.

The Sun Grows Arms: Henriksen and Shimoda In Conversation

Recently,  Johannes Göransson and Adam Robinson sparked a discussion of Ordinary Sun. The conversation continues on HTMLGIANT as Matthew Henriksen and Brandon Shimoda interview one another, unafraid to ask difficult questions, such as "What do you think about a poem of yours being read aloud by nurses in the emergency room of a hospital?" or "Would you kill someone?" You can check out the post here and learn the answer to these questions, and others just as pressing and evocative. If you need to catch up, you can find a short summary and links to the previous posts here on our blog.

Nurse Jackie and another medical professional discuss Ordinary Sun and The Girl Without Arms.


Robinson & Görannson Weigh In: Ordinary Sun

Which matters more when reading a book of poems: the meaning you take from it or the experience you have when reading it?  

In Adam Robinson's review of Ordinary Sun, he shares his mother's questions upon reading the book, confronting the difficulty some readers have when they cannot pinpoint a concrete meaning. Robinson asks "how can one say a thing that cannot be said?"--how do we interpret language beyond just gleaning information--and ultimately determines that, for Ordinary Sun, at least,

"[e]ternity within temporality doesn’t make a lick of sense within the framework we’ve constructed for sense-making, but that’s the name of the game for poetry; life is bigger than sense. Accordingly, there is a metaphysics in the weave of Ordinary Sun that indicates something behind our precarious notion of communicating ideas." 

Johannes Görannson (translator of With Deerposted a response to this review on his blog, where he argues that

"[t]he 'difficulty' of Henrikson’s poetry is not about access but the experience it aims to put the reader/writer through. It’s not about some cavalier stroll through poetry’s garden (picking up a bee box to listen to before putting it down, going swimming in/fucking Emily Dickinson/her poems) as in Collins, but an idea of poetry as spiritual violence that breaks us apart..."

Check out both of these compelling reviews and then head to the comments section, where you can add to the discussion yourself.

Consider giving the gift of Ordinary Sun on Mother's day--and see what conversation results!