Wednesday Around the Web


Dear People of the Future,

With your lightning powered aggregators, your nanomembranophones, your hydrolytic isomer skin-suit apparatus, it will require an imaginative leap wider than the great San Andreas Canyon that separates The People’s Republic of California from the once great nation of the “United” States to conceive of the cultural landscape in which Michael Zapruder’s Pink Thunderwhich I recommend you ingest via light pulse array, was created.

And Rauan Klassnik is hailed "the Jim Jones of Poetry" for his latest Black Ocean title The Moon's Jaw, reviewed on Vice by Blake Butler:

Rauan Klassnik’s new book, The Moon’s Jaw, follows in the black trough of his first, appending the space there with something perhaps even more strangely pregnant. It’s full of knives and silk and peacocks and breast milk and ghosts and fetuses and orchards and wounds and girls and suns. It shifts continually between horny and cruel tones, meditative and exacting tones, stiff and puffy images, swallowed up somewhere in the space between all bodies, where nature mutates and crushes you and grinds against itself forever.

And in the realms of the real, the BASH reading series continues with its 8th installment on February 8 with Darcie Dennigan, Evan Glasson, and Christie Ann Reynolds in Brookline, MA. More info HERE.

PINK THUNDER: What You've Been Missing

Contemplating your next read/listen/poetic experience? In his December review on Huffington Post, Seth Abramson writes, "Without question, if you are yourself a poet and you decide to purchase only one poetry collection in 2013, it should be Zapruder's Pink Thunder" and goes on to say that "[i]f an objective correlative could be said to exist for the myriad phenomena of the present Golden Age of American poetry, it would be Pink Thunder. In short, it's a genre-mixing, community-driven, performance-oriented, collaborative project that represents everything that's right with American poetry and everything American poetry is fast becoming."

Pink Thunder also heads Boston Globe's Best Poetry Books of 2012 list, described as a "curious experiment and a beautiful document." And you'll learn more about the history of the project itself in this review from the LA Times: "...if Pink Thunder has a message, it’s that the relationship between poetry and music is more elusive, more conditional, than that of traditional lyrics in a song. This is the best thing about the project, the way Zapruder uses his music to mirror, or echo, his own reading of the material, and its emotional effect."

If those reviews aren't enough to intrigue you, here are a few sneak peek images from Pink Thunder. You can still grab a copy with the limited edition vinyl directly from us: /pink-thunder

The Girl Without Arms Reviewed

Brandon Shimoda's The Girl Without Arms, originally reviewed on HTML Giant, and reblogged on Poetry Foundation. The reviewer, Lief Haven writes that "[t]he work is a trip, an experience more than a message, a system that works by itself. " Haven goes on to state:

These surreal moments are unsettling in Shimoda’s. They aim for a particularly uncomfortable region of the sublime: the awkward, the horrific, the unsatisfying. It is a poetry of things that are difficult to look at or impossible to see. A sublime that obscures the self...

The review is rich in direct quotes from the book, so if you haven't read it, you'll get a taste. If you have, it's nice to revisit. 

Read on Poetry Foundation's Harriet Blog here,

and on HTML Giant in its original context here.

FJORDS reviewed in Bookslut

Read the latest review of Fjords vol. 1 by Elizabeth Cantwell on Bookslut: click HERE.

'The world is always as it is, and always as it seems,' as Schomburg notes in "The Animal Spell." There will always be black swans and refrigerators and fists and eyes everywhere we look. What can you really do about that but write it down and note the page numbers and try not to let it swallow you up? That is the only honest option.


And if you haven't seen the trailer, you can view it here on our Youtube channel.


FJORDS on Publishers Weekly!

You can find the latest review of Fjords vol. 1 on the Publishers Weekly website. Read it here.

Narrative without losing lyrical beauty, witty without losing gravity, the poems—though fiercely contemporary—still uphold the priorities to delight (“I am working in the ticket booth of the movie theater when you come in and take off my pants”) and to instruct (“Nothing is anyone’s fault, which is something we must remember.

FJORDS: Reviewed

Many people had a chance to pick up their copy of Fjords vol. 1 at AWP, including Christopher Newgent of Vouched Books. On the Vouched website he writes

When I got it home, I immediately devoured it, and found it so painfully sad, so beautifully made, so original and funny and insightful and so even better than anything else he’s ever written, that I kind of wanted to just give up writing and buy a hundred copies of this book and hand it out instead, everywhere I go.

Thanks for making us your first table at AWP, Christopher! We'll be looking for your order. 

You can also read this review of Fjords on The Rumpus by Kelly Forsythe (who we also met at our table this year!) which begins

Schomburg’s newest book, Fjords, Vol. 1 holds true to this idea of finding familiarity in a parallel consciousness. Just because the poems often work in a seemingly private dreamscape, doesn’t mean you aren’t invited to into the strangeness, asked to ascend and descend into the illusory.

Get your copy here.

Shimoda Three Ways

A new review of Brandon Shimoda's The Girl Without Arms recently appeared in Zoland Poetry. The reviewer considers "how a book determines its being remembered," in this case,  "the small and bodily sense of love and wanting love and wanting love to be more than it can ever be in full." Read the review here.


Read The Girl Without Arms and find yourself craving more? Brandon's latest book is O  B O N, released by Litmus Press in November. Of O  B O N Brandon says

O Bon was written from 2005 through 2007

in the skin of inland seas and migration, fire and dementia,

corpses and corpse eaters, the memory of the Shimoda Family

and the Obon Festival in Japan

It was written alongside my first book, The Alps.

And because there's never too much Brandon Shimoda, check out his essay "Winter Dwelling" in this month's issue of EVENING WILL COME

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.

Review Contest!

Do you have a favorite Black Ocean book that you find yourself telling people about again and again? Or maybe you have something to say about it that doesn’t fit the confines of a traditional review? For the month of November, we will be accepting entries for our non-traditional review competition. Love one of our titles? Send us a review in any format of your choice—video,claymation, comic, antique parchment. The only thing we don’t want to see is the typical. Surprise and delight us! We’ll post our favorites on the blog, and the one our staff deems as most creative/knock-your-socks off/amazing will earn its creator a prize package containing

  • A limited edition Black Ocean t-shirt
  • Copies of three of our most recent titles including Objects for a Fog Death, The  Girl Without Arms, and Destroyer of Man.

Send your reviews to Winner will be announced in December.

For a litte inspiration, check out the Horn! Reviews on The Rumpus, or this trailer by Luca Dipierro. 

Objects for a Fog Death Reviewed in The Collagist

The speaker in Objects for a Fog Death is not afraid of being unheard, so doesn't need to turn to the reader. The speaker is so unafraid that she even addresses the poem itself....It's as if she is aware of the fourth wall and actually closes herself in it, becoming a part of it, looking for the poem in the liquid "legal pad of words".

Check out Robert Alan Wendeborn's review of Objects for a Fog Death in The Collagist by clicking here! Published by Dzanc, The Collagist is a well-curated magazine with a lot of great work. The review itself is fresh and interesting, and if you haven't read Objects for a Fog Death yet, you'll want to after this review.

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.

Dismantled Catechism

New City Lit has reviewed Matthew Henriksen's ORDINARY SUN. If you haven't picked up this book yet, here's a taste of what you're missing (from Kelly Forsythe's review):

“Ordinary Sun,” separated into nine sections, functions under Henriksen’s idea of a “dismantled catechism,” the breaking down of the ordinary and commonplace into extreme, surprising close-ups of perception. He writes:

Sometimes she’d touch
a body in her empty bed.

A stranger’s face, a dark
spot on the wall, watched
her as if from a mirror

and behind the face a hand
held a brush for her hair.

The rawness of imperfection in this portrait helps the reader to push past the veils of the physical world to enter into a painful but graceful emotional landscape. In the title section, which is also the final portion of “Ordinary Sun,” Henriksen motions for the reader to more actively re-experience with him: “The body moved above the water / and the water was cold. / It made the sirens roar.” His associations become stronger and assertive, though still surreal and immediate.


Matthew will be reading from Ordinary Sun at Nightbird Books on Thursday April 21 at 7pm.