Swamp Isthmus on The Rumpus

What is it like to read Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s poetry?

It is like being caught in a flash mob of fine language and finding yourself swaying along. It is like twisting a kaleidoscope and watching the images swirl together, then split apart with deliberate and deceptive grace. It is the way I imagine it would be if I found myself suddenly lodged inside a snow globe, just as some gentle hand begins to tilt it upside down, and then all at once it is snowing, and the whole familiar world is made strange again—unsettled, unhinged, and perceptibly more beguiling.

Swamp Isthmus by Joshua Marie Wilkinson reviewed on The Rumpus by Julie Marie Wade

Get your copy here.

Check In with Joe Hall

Joe Hall, whose The Devotional Poems was released early 2013, is currently on tour, gracing readers across the US with works worthy of reverence. You can follow along on his blog HERE for dates and bits of awesome.

The Devotional Poems is quickly finding believers. Recently reviewed in The Huffington Post, Seth Abramson writes, “It is a rare poetry, and a rare poet, who so accurately and with such conviction enacts the unwinding of a body and a spirit. One is tempted, therefore, to see in The Devotional Poems a sort of generosity, even martyrdom, typically absent in Confessional and post-Confessional verse.”

HTML Giant featured a transcription of a book club discussion of The Devotional Poems, in which the question of who will become the next scholar of Joe Hall is considered, along with notation, and effect. Maybe you want to hold your own book club discussion of Hall's work? Find it here.

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

A Special Gift List


There are gift ideas for your dad, lists for techies, even handmade holidays, and at long last, there are"suggestions for holiday presents to win over your crush & delight your weirdo poet friends" thanks to a special HOLIDAY CRUSH post on the POETRY CRUSH blog. At #2 on the list, you'll find Black Ocean's own PINK THUNDER, our latest excitement from Michael Zapruder--a beautiful object of a thing that comes with a book and a CD (or if you're one of the lucky first 250 orders, a special edition pink vinyl!). J Hope Stein explains: "What I love about this project is the pursuit to find connections with other disciplines and poets.  It’s good for poetry and it’s a really groovy listen.   & In the songs themselves you can feel a highly sensitive being."

Don't feel bad if you end up snagging this one for yourself, there are a number of other great things on this list for your poet friends including the movie Once, some cool jewelry, and some antiques and oddities. If Pink Thunder is at the top of yours or a loved one's list, just make sure to order by the 17th  to receive it by Christmas.

Check out the HOLIDAY CRUSH list here: http://poetrycrush.com/2012/12/05/holiday-crush/

and order your PINK THUNDER album and book here.

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.

Web Roundup

Our annual open reading period ended June 30, but there's still plenty happening in our floating world. Our e-newsletter will be out next week with some announcements, but in the meantime, here are a few goodies to keep you going. 

And don't forget to visit us on Facebook and Twitter

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.


Micro MICRO Review Monday Part II

Both this and last 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, enjoy Janaka's top three picks from his April reads.

Paige Ackerson-Kiely - My Love Is a Dead Arctic Explorer

Full disclosure: Paige is a good friend of mine and co-edits the literary journal I publish, Handsome. That is just how much I loved this book; I'm willing to risk you thinking I'm a nepotistic asshole just so you'll do yourself a favor and read one of the best collections of poetry I've picked up in years. Paige hits it out of the park with poems that are so completely realized, I can't help but believe she is securing a prominent spot in the history of American letters.

Karen Rigby - Chinoiserie

Although Karen and I are press-mates, I don't know her--in fact, we're not even Facebook friends (OMG!). Black Ocean is known for publishing a fair number of prose-poems but I personally value the line tremendously. Karen's meticulous attention to enjambment and white space, combined with her brutal economy of language, make for a cavalcade of knock-out lines that also amount to really satisfying poems.

Ariana Reines - Mercury

I'm not friends with Ariana either, though I'd like to be if she'd just return my emails... If I loved the other two books for their fine-tuned restraint, I loved this book for its wild willingness to indulge impulse. Peppered with pithy short poems, sigil-like inscriptions and incantatory language that is at times absurd and at times arresting in its seriousness, Mercury is the id within my conflicted heart.

—Janaka Stucky

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


After his thoughtful and generous review of Butcher's Tree, Justin Helms is at it again with a review of Fjords Vol. 1 for his Poets and Prophets series. Read it here.

So maybe we must swallow these poems without chewing. They are (already) tessellations of memory, fantasy, and fear that re-discover the missing beauty of the quotidian.

Verse daily posted a poem from Fjords this week.

And over on the Rumpus, a poem from Scary, No Scary is featured as part of the Last Poem I Loved series.

It was like me. I was the poem already; my own limbs had been torn off when I moved to a farm in the Oregon woods, where I became a sort of tree. 



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.

Wednesday Around the Web

Happy hump day! Enjoy these links for your Wednesday reading pleasure!

Holy Land by Rauan Klassnik was reviewed on the Huffington Post as part of Seth Abramson's Contemporary Poetry list for February! Abramson begins with the declaration that "[t]hese poems may well be among the most vulgar and violent published in the English language in the past quarter-century" and goes on to argue "[i]n both its tender and horrifying moments, Holy Land aptly maps how we are chained to time, place, ourselves, and one another by a million minor assaults--only some of which are physical." Read the review in full here and be sure to click the link for an excerpt.

Ordinary Sun by Matthew Henriksen is on POETS.org's "Books Noted" right now! The post offers a mini review and excerpt. Read it 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.

With Deer: Best Contemporary Poetry

Seth Abramson is running a monthly feature on Huffington Post of what he deems some of the best contemporary poetry, "to honor the unquantifiable diversity of the poetries now in evidence in the United States, without special preference for or dependence upon any one iteration or any one year of publication."

This month, Aase Berg's With Deer makes the list. Here's an excerpt from the write-up:

Berg's words are alive with the transformative processes of the organic: deterioration, deracination, alienation, compulsion. This stomach-churning work is not for the faint of heart; yet the faint of heart probably shouldn't be reading the best contemporary verse has to offer, anyway. Certainly not verse whose epic horrors are so deviously vivid, so preternaturally aware of the darknesses in lit places, and so visceral -- literally and figuratively -- that they cannot help but haunt their readers for many months after the collection has been read and put aside.

Check out the full article here.

What would you include on your list?