FJORDS VOL 1 Wins Oregon Book Award in Poetry!

We are thrilled to announce that Fjords Vol. 1 by Zachary Schomburg (Black Ocean 2012) has been slected for the 2013 Oregon Book Award: Stafford Hall Award for Poetry. View the full list of winners HERE!

In selecting Fjords Vol. 1, Judge Mary Jo Bang remarked: 

Perhaps it’s the odd deadpan-earnest tone the speaker uses to address those large lyric subjects—love, death, and the changing of seasons (which is, yes, simply death by another name)—that makes these small prose poems so distinctive, and so convincing. Who would say “From the very beginning, I knew exactly what would kill me” if he or she didn’t mean for such a statement, which openly flaunts its implausibility, to speak figuratively about something much larger than itself. Each of these poems is more than the language with which it’s been constructed. Each is a seedling that is meant to become a full-fledged allegory not on the page, but in the reader’s imagination. Schomburg intuitively knows exactly how much, and how little, it takes to conjure a sense of the ever-puzzling world. He leaves it to the reader to make use of the material he provides. I for one delight in that freedom.

Haven't read Fjords Vol. 1 yet? Visit the catalog page here.

Micro MICRO Review Monday

Both this and next week's micro reviews are more micro than usual, and extra special. Janaka and Minetta each read close to thirty books in thirty days as part of the National Poetry Month festivities. This week, Minetta shares her top three reads and a line about each.

Emmanuel Hocquard The Invention of Glass  

If you ever have any desire to understand the poetic tradition post Romanticism then you know a thing or two about reflection and know a thing or two about self-reflection in the poem and know a thing or two about how mind blowing the mirror (here glass and its invention) can be to your poet heart. This translation is important and should not be missed. 

Ben Lerner Mean Free Path 

Mean Free Path is smarter than me and my own walk-a-bouts. This doesn't mean I wouldn't fire walk with it if it proposed we do.

Lily Ladewig The Silhouettes 

This books offers silhouettes of brevity brought to the windy paths of the New York style observation: everything I adore about honesty buckled up, gagged, and given mere moments breath. 

—A Minetta Gould

Literary Love: Day 20

The Black Ocean blog took a rest this weekend, and we hope you did too--maybe curled up with one of the many books we’ve shared with you this month. To celebrate the duality of a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice, here are two chapbooks recommended by Joe Hall to read by the light of the blood-red moon.

The Heart Is Green from So Much Waiting by Sampson Starkweather (Immaculate Disciples Press)

Vallejo and Starkweather wreck each other in what he calls a transcontemporation (definition: A transcontemporation is to a poem what RoboCop is to a normal police officer). The flaming rubble that results is by turns awkward and gorgeous as the poem's deal with love, hornyness, resignation etc in a voice swerving between angry adolescence and the opposite of that:

"In seventh grade, I couldn't find the heart / on a 3D anatomy model, I just stood there like a town / dotted with paralyzed tornados, as the students snickered / I imagined Andre the Giant flying through the air, getting / head from Stacy Kerkoff beneath the bleachers. // Today, I brush back the harshness of because..."


"May this rain never end. / Unless I am allowed to fall / from the same source, unless they bury me / in a downpour, in the waters / that surge from every fire. // This rain, to what end will it reach me?"

Points also for referencing N.W.A.

Conditions Which by Wade Fletcher (Pied-à-terre)

Wade's poems enter the process of your own reading and revise. They erase their own tracks, boiling themselves down to what they are--words in relation. The most thinly whispered proposition. What you have to strain to hear, to lean in, turn your ear to. The book is vegan. It is not there.

It is so punk I can't even figure out how to buy it. And isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Look at some pages here, here, here.


Check back tomorrow for something of a slightly different flavor from Brandon Shimoda.

Lit Love Day 16

This time of year, whether you're writing a letter to Santa, sending (or receiving) one of those catch-all family newsletters, or mailing out holiday cards, one thing is clear--'tis the season for letters. Perhaps you'd like to catch up on a little bookish correspondence, and in that case, let this book recommended by our poetry editor Carrie Olivia Adams be your guide.


Correspondence by Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan (Seagull Books)

Though not a poetry book per se, this collection of love letters between Bachmann and Celan is as intense, beautiful, and lyrical as any of the poems that either Bachmann or Celan  produced. The letters themselves incorporate some of their poems and many thoughts on their work, which makes this book both a wonderful source of insight into their writings as well as a fraught and powerful look at love in a Europe repairing and healing from World War II and the holocaust.



Day 15: Spreadin' the Love

A. Minetta Gould shared a trio of books with you earlier this month, so today we're giving you a peek at what you can look forward to from Ms. Gould in the new year. Over on Publishing Genius, AMG's got a chapbook forthcoming called Arousing Notoriety and something so awesome at Spooky Girlfriend Press it defies description.

We've posted quite a few chapbooks lately with plans to share some more. What are your favorite chapbooks?

Literary Love: Day 14

Today, Paula Cisewski, author of Upon Arrival, shares a recommendation with you that she eagerly anticipates herself:

I haven't even received my copy of MC Hyland's Neveragainland  (Lowbrow Press, just released December 5th!) in the mail yet, but I can pre-recommend it with confidence. Her lovely online chapbook, Residential As In from Blue Hour Press would convince anyone of the same.
For some of this week, I'll be letting you in on what some Black Oceanographers have been up to recently. And Paula's been busy. In addition to Upon Arrival, available from Black Ocean, Paula’s new book Ghost Fargo is available from Nightboat books.  


Literary Love: Day 13

It’s been a little quiet on the blog here the past few days, but to make up for it, we’d like to share three chapbooks recommended by our poetry editor Carrie Olivia Adams. Check out all the lovely things Carrie has to say about these little beauties.

Mobius Crowns by Srikanth Reddy and Dan Beachy-Quick (P-QUEUE)

This chapbook was new to me in 2010, even though it was originally published in 2008. But in a year when one of the most discussed poetry books was Anne Carson's Nox, I came across Mobius Crowns as another amazing example of the book as art object, and as an object where physical form serves content. There are two chapbooks, each with french flaps, boxed and bound in the collection. In my day job, I spend a lot of time talking about e-books and e-marketing and i-pad apps for books, so I know that if we want the book to live it must be beautiful. And it is reassuring to see small presses make a thing of beauty. "I thought a friend, like a poem, is what allows you to cease being oneself, and so be more oneself."

ZYXT by Joseph Clayton Mills (Entr'acte) 

Be they prose poems or flash fiction or some other attempt at categorization, these are mini fables of madness--each beginning with "a friend who"--a bleak world of suicide and murder, albeit with an acerbic tongue. The collection is complete with an index that lists 9 kinds of murder from asphyxiation to patricide and suicides from defenestration to overdose.

In a World of Ideas, I Feel No Particular Loyalty by Adam Clay (Cinematheque)

All of the little chapbooks produced by Cinematheque are lovingly made. With a pocket-size trim, crafted with a loving attention to detail, this chapbook by Adam Clay is no exception. As well, the poems inside feel perfectly handmade:
Of course a quilt is a house--

And of course you can become so enamored
with an image that you become it:

like the snow all over town
and like the snow
all over town you become it.
If you're looking for a book you can hold, love, and cherish this season one of these might just do the trick! 


Literary Love: Day 8

We've spent a week bringing you the best book reccomendations in cyber space, and for the next few days, we'll share what Black Oceanographers are up to on other presses. But as we trudge through December, we can't help but think of the new year and all the books that are yet to be. Here at Black Ocean, Destroyer of Man by Dominic Mallary, The Girl Without Arms  by Brandon Shimoda, and Ordinary Sun by Matthew Henrikson are all forthcoming. But there are plenty of other great presses out there with books just waiting to get born. We want to know: what books are you looking forward to? Tell us in the comments and we may feature your suggestions in a future blog post.
Newly off of the forthcoming list, my holiday recommendation for you, dear blog readers, is a book I'm about to give myself. I can't wait to read it because I’m certain Ada Limón’s Sharks In the Rivers (Milkweed Editions) will warm the cockles of the heart. Ada’s poems will make you shamelessly tingly inside--they filter sun & sadness & awareness & life's grit and let them warm your arms in patterns both familiar and stunning, leave marks barely visible to the eye that seep into your guts and simmer. From my wish list to yours.


Literary Love: Day 7

Some days you just want to read a chapbook. Lucky for you, Brandon Shimoda, whose book The Girl Without Arms is forthcoming from Black Ocean, has just the chapbook you need: Phil Cordelli's Book of Numbers Book of Letters (Agnes Fox Press).



Years from now ... after poetry has quit the world of money and influence ... after art has dispensed entirely with any cares for the mainstream (consumers, commuters, homeowners, husbands, voters, committee members, academics, etc.) ... after 99% of what we have come to accept as good and important has rotted out of the atmosphere ... people will begin unearthing the relics of the life and work of Phil Cordelli -- a poet, artist and farmer, born in the twentieth century, active across the first half of the twenty-first, and currently living in western Massachusetts. Among the innumerable home recordings, painted films, letterpressed pieces of garbage, book-length collages, scarified vinyl, copyright violations and field guides that form Cordelli's art, will be Book of Numbers / Book of Letters, published in 2010 by Agnes Fox. It might be the notes of a filmmaker, or the films of a scavenging note-taker. It might be the pin-hole paintings of a shut-in, or text installations assembled by an entire community. It might be the liner notes of a clairvoyant country musician, or the transcripts of an early morning conversation between a lone individual and his generously overwhelming environment. Undoubtedly it will continue to be all of these things. Numbers / Letters is a humble part of what I take to be a growing and indispensable compost and, after all, the "years from now" aforementioned are these ... 

You can begin the excavation now just by clicking the link above.

Day 6 of Lit Love

Today Zachary Schomburg puts on the man suit to deliver his recommendation: Ventrakl by Christian Hawkey (Ugly Duckling Presse).

Reading this book is like smearing dead leaves onto my wet face so that it makes a paste, like a pastey mask before bedtime. It confuses me. I mean, I'm perplexed, stunned. I mean, all the words seem impossible. Remember what David Cameron did to Baudelaire? Christian Hawkey is one of our most fascinating poets, heaving George Trakl's dead body up into the dead trees. 

If you haven't, be sure to check out Zachary's books Scary, No Scary and The Man Suit, both available on Black Ocean's website. 

25 Days of Literary Love: Day 4 (and 5)

Rauan Klassnik knows what's holy. Which is why you should believe him when he says to buy Kim Gek Lin Short's The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits (Tarpaulin Sky Press). And if you don't believe him, believe Joe Hall because he recommends it too. 

Rauan says:

This book made me and my writing feel like Klingons. It's beautiful. Exciting. And it made me ashamed.

Don't shame yourself. Check it out! Let Joe Hall destroy any lasting doubts you might have:


Partly because Dorothea Lasky's Black Life is already starting to reach some kind of shout out tipping point and partly because it deserves your attention just as much, I'm going with The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits. In the rowdy, field of book length proems(?) / genreless expulsions / whatever, it's a stand-out, a thing of its own. Linked prose--propose a narrative and revise it twice, evoking and jarring sympathy--swinging between pure joy of language invention and staggering sadness-- 

"What will we do? she asked, burping a miracle with her soggy hands."

& unflinching, visceral in its investigation into dynamics of relationships, how one exerts force on, revises, mutilates, remakes etc, others self-conceptions, body, self-composure, chronology, etc. in the laboratory of the house and stage of public.

I read it in a day.


Rauan is the author of Holy Land which you can find here on our website. Joe Hall is the author of Pigafetta Is My Wife, also available on our website or sneaking up on the tails of wayward tabby cats.

This love doesn't stop--the words of these two Black Ocean baddies will last us through the weekend, but check back Monday if you care at all what Zachary Schomburg has to offer us (and I know you do).


Literary Love Day 2

A. Minetta Gould's second recommendation for all of you in cyberland is Aaron Kunin's The Sore Throat and Other Poems (Fence).


Kunin's Sore Throat straight up changed my life and I haven't gone a day since reading it without thinking about what he's doing and how mind-blowing it is. These poems are the fucking werido walking around your neighborhood you know you want to be friends with.
Check in tomorrow for AMG's final holiday pick.




25 Days of Literary Love: Day 1

December is here and Black Ocean authors and staff have searched the murky lairs of sea monsters and beyond (or maybe just our bookshelves) to bring you some book recommendations in time for the holidays. Support your favorite indie presses this holiday season and give a gift that bites back. During the month of December, we will be bringing you our own version of holiday cheer. Be sure to check back frequently, because we will be posting new recommendations every day. Be sure to tell your friends and post your own recommendations in the comments section!

To start, we’re skipping the partridge in a pear tree and kicking it off with the first of three french hens from A. Minetta Gould, our very own Associate Editor. Minetta is offering a “Fence Books Triple-Header.” But you’ll only get one today, so check back tomorrow for the second in this series.

A. Minetta Gould recommends Martin Corless-Smith's English Fragments: A Brief History of the Soul (Fence).
Corless-Smith is the what's what of Poets (that's right, capital P on that Poet) working in English today. If you think you can write poems before experiencing Corless-Smith's thriving lyric first you're wrong: you can't. You may not be able to afterward either. Be warned.
Coming soon: recommendations from Rauan Klassnik and Joe Hall.
Which books do you recommend?