Designing the Tomaž Šalamun series

The first in our series of Tomaž Šalamun's posthumous publications shipped this week, and I am immensely happy with the beauty of this edition. When Tomaž and I first started talking about his publication with Black Ocean, it was before he realized how sick he was. As his illness worsened, and we arranged to make Black Ocean a home for his writing beyond his own time with us, the weight of that responsibility really began to sink in. After Tomaž passed away, with multiple titles lined up over the next few years, I decided I wanted to publish them as a series that would honor the phenomenal impact he's had on contemporary poetry around the globe. I knew I wanted it to be special, and for a special project I needed a special designer--so I contacted Abby Haddican, whom we had already worked with on Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics. Abby picked up the assignment and ran with it; not only designing multiple covers along the same motif, but also creating a custom typeface to be used outside and within. To complement her design we added details like the gold foil stamp clothbound hardcover inside the dustjacket, and matching black-and-white headbands along the spine. It's this kind of loving attention to detail that keeps me passionate about publishing books. I hope you'll celebrate this new book with us, and welcome the future books from Tomaž Šalamun and Black Ocean every year for many years to come.


Tomaž Šalamun, 1941 – 2014

Dear Black Oceanographers,

It is with great sadness that we observe the passing of Tomaž Šalamun today. Tomaž touched many poets through his support and generous spirit, and many more through his incredible body of writing. He was a tireless advocate of young and emerging voices, and he leaves behind an incredible legacy of both words and actions. Back in July we announced our excitement at becoming the future home for him in the U.S., and so it is with a renewed sense of purpose that we commit ourselves to sharing the work of this visionary poet. With over 30 collections of poetry written in his lifetime, we will continue publishing translations of Tomaž's poems well into the future. In the meantimeworking with him, his wife and his translators over the past few monthswe have made near-term plans for his next three books:

2015 - Justice (trans. Michael Thomas Taren)
2016 - Andes (trans. Jeffrey Young & Katarina Vladimirov Young)
2017 - Druids (trans. Sonja Kravanja)

We are thinking of his many colleagues, friends, and family members today, and how we are all learning in new ways what this great man meant to us.  It is a gift for us at Black Ocean to honor his life's work for many years to come.

Let's Make Black Friday Count

In the interest of taking meaningful action after the Ferguson ruling, I would love it if everyone used their resources to affect social change in some way this week. Whether you take time with your loved ones to discuss the socio-political climate or take to the streets in protest, everyone has their own way of meditating on what justice and oppression really mean to us--and how we can collectively realize equality and consciousness. Toward that end, I would advocate for not buying anything this Black Friday, and instead donating that money (perhaps in someone's name as a gift) to an organization that works towards equality and justice. However, I also realize that many people want to give tangible gifts so I'm making this offer:

On Black Friday Black Ocean will donate the net proceeds from any purchases made through our website to the NAACP. If you'd rather donate to a different cause, then by all means just do so directly. This is the organization we've chosen to support this year, and moving forward we will donate all Black Friday net proceeds every year to a non-profit organization.

With much love,
Janaka Stucky

RIP Allan Kornblum 1949 - 2014

I learned today that founding publisher of Coffee House Press, Allan Kornblum, passed away over the weekend. Allan was a pioneer and mentoring force in the literary world for decades, working for forty years as a lover of books who taught himself business savvy to build a basement letterpress operation into a sustainable publishing house in the world of independent literature. Beyond that he was always eager to share his knowledge and experience with others, and even sat down with me once to offer valuable advice toward growing Black Ocean. Hundreds of indie presses come and go, but he truly created a legacy. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to share a coffee with the man behind Coffee House Press.

Around the Web in October

Quite the windfall of web press this autumn! We're giving you a veritable Octoberfest of all the buzz that's piled up since August. Without further ado, here's what's been happening over the last couple months:

Lauren O'Neal explores Jack White's move from music to publishing with Language Lessons: Volume 1 - an anthology of poetry and prose that features work by Black Ocean poet Joshua Marie Wilkinson and our very own publisher, Janaka Stucky:

"Because the book and associated materials are so self-consciously, ostentatiously analog — you certainly can’t download any of the words, sounds, or images to your smartphone — a delicious tension between the old and the new runs through them like a livewire."

Read the full piece over at on the LA Review of Books website.

Ilustration and design artist Abby Hadican shares the inspiration and thought process behind her design for the cover of Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics. You can see high-res images on her blog.

The Boston Globe featured a short write-up on the Privacy Policy anthology as a prelude to our Boston launch reading. It features a quote from our publisher, Janaka, along with how Andrew Ridker came up with the idea during a summer at Boston Review.

You can read Drew Kalbach's thoughts on the intersections of drone intimacy, data, poetry, and the concept of spectacle in his review of the Privacy Policy for Entropy Magazine:

"In this conception of the anthology, the personal weighs itself against the catalogued in a different kind of humanism. But it isn’t humanism, not exactly, because the human is constantly being pressed up against the incredibly inhuman, asynchronous networked reality of massive data collection."

Brian Foley was the featured poet for October at Take Down the Clouds. You can read a short interview with him here.

You can read a sample from Max Hjortsberg's drone poem (featured in Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics) on his blog!

Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable was featured in SPD Book's Best of Press for October 2014*You can receive 30% off her collection through November 1, 2014

Zach Savich reviewed Ralph Angel's Your Moon (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2014) for The Philadelphia Review of Books: "The present, it turns out, is about more than right now. Your Moon brings us to that more. Brings might be the wrong word; we are already there." Read the full review here.

How is 'reporting' different from 'witnessing' in surveillance poetry? Andrew Ridker discusses in this interview with The Writing University:

"Working towards a definition of 'surveillance poetics' has been a fascinating process... Many of these poems take techno-governmental practice and language into account in the composition process. Perhaps a surveillance poem is one with a meta-awareness of poetry’s codes and observations, and one which manipulates this awareness into art."

The Heavy Feather Review gives their two cents on how the self is presented in Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable:

"By not shoving everything together, Gabbert admits that the only way to create a whole book (or a whole self, perhaps) is to weave together separate threads. In other words, the book’s standard-looking format might, itself, be a total meta move once you start thinking like the book is thinking. And that is the whole point of reading this beautiful thing." You can read the full review here.


2014 Open Reading Results

Dear Black Oceanographers,

After a few months of reviewing over 500 manuscripts we were able to select our new acquisitions. It was a long and difficult process and, as in years past, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider so many outstanding manuscripts. That said, we've decided to add these three titles to our forthcoming catalog:

STATIC & SNOW by Brian Henry (Fall 2015)
POPULAR MUSIC by Kelly Schirmann (Spring 2016)
THOUGH WE BLED METICULOUSLY by Josh Fomon (Spring 2016)

We're really excited to see all of these come into print! Please join us in congratulating the poets and welcoming them into the family!


We would also like to note a few honorable mentions that were extraordinarily hard to pass up:

COW OF SLEEP by Patrick Culliton
AMERICAN FLOWERS by Tyler Flynn Dorholt
DISCOUNTRY by Sean Patrick Hill
TONEWOOD by Karen Lepri
NO FATE by Thera Webb 

They say don't judge a book by its cover. And yet...

All material re-posted with permission from Abby Haddican. Original content can be found here.



Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics is a recent release by Black Ocean, an independent poetry publisher based in Boston. With my cover design, I wanted to convey the uneasy sensation of being watched; my solution was to create a decorative graphic design that shared certain qualities and proportions with the human eye. The idea for the back cover design–redacting contributor names–came directly from the client, Black Ocean’s publisher Janaka Stucky. The poems in the anthology are fantastic and well worth reading.


Study Questions for Practice on Mountains

Whoever's not reading David Bartone's heavenly first book is not my friend. Enemies! Answer these questions and you may find a place in my heart.

    Briefly describe the mercy seat as it appears to you in your mind.

    Is DB's relationship to intellectual history part of his problem? Part or all of the solution? Or something else?

    On p. 8: "I practically have a therapist in you," in which the you is You. What's the book's relationship to therapy, traditional (meaning what, by the way?) or otherwise (again, meaning what?) And what of p. 27: "I regret to accept a psychological truth to the lyric." Is lyric itself the therapy and if so, why regret it? Or is the question why not regret it? Or p. 57, which mentions becoming a better person and therefore echoes the catalog of poetic and moral (?) insecurities on p. 18? Later (p. 81) the writing of poems is likened to the injection of insulin, which rather plainly invokes a more physical kind of therapy, or it invokes something else, in which case, what? And the "old self" being "slipped into" on p. 84--well hell, here's the line: "I am slipping into this old self.//This old self we lug around with the pride of genetic banter."—is this old self the pre-therapy self, i.e. pre-book, pre-insulin, and if so, does the book thereby want to annihilate itself, and is that an additional thing for which therapy is needed, a second-order therapy, therapy for the therapy?

    On p. 10, some parenthetical knowingness. To what extent is it to be trusted? And for that matter, what's the book's relationship to trust anyway?

    Low-hanging fruit, perhaps: why wait until p. 11 to reveal the book's central conceit?

    In what way is "it is October 13, 2010," "it is October 20," "it is October 30" etc. etc. an improvement on O'Hara's trope?

    Do you believe DB ever held a walnut (p. 13)? Or was left in a booth (p. 24)?

    In the advice (p. 16) offered by friends of DM sound advice? According to whom or what mode of inquiry?

    Certain gestures reappear in section one, which you no doubt noticed. Flying, prayer, etc. So?

    Does DB wish to remove all distance between himself and the writing of his book? If yes, how successfully has he done so?

    If you had to guess, was the book written at home or on location?

    Say anything you want about how the book's purpose occasionally and suddenly is to allow language to discover itself via syntax or wordplay, i.e. "the etcetera behavior of language," p. 71. Or at least notice it.

    Is every lover also a beautiful reader?

    Odd how DB resists his urge to touch a cow or horse despite (apparently) living in some proximity to some of each. Odd because the rest of book seems to resist nothing else, is an effort to embrace all, to make the poet's arms longer.

    How is this book to be read? Certainly not at speed—the temptation to read it at speed is to be resisted, like the touchable horses and cows. So then: to sip it how? In order or at random?

    On p. 47: "I want to make classic beauty, to elope into it.//Elope from the sixteenth century French, abscond, run away." I assume the reference here is to courtly love and what some call the invention of romance. So DB here claims to want to get back beyond the sixteenth century and arrive back in ancient Greece, presumably? But the book is certainly in some ways very courtly? So is he lying there or?

    Part of that passage appears first as frontispiece, is it the first case of a writer having self-epigrammed? Or self-blurbed? Or more to the point, is it just a case of language leaking all over the place, to and fro?

    "My love," says DB, "occurs both on and off stage, as it may." Obscene deriving from "off stage," (I think?) which we assume has occurred to DB, DB having written a book that seems to know everything. To what extent do you find it comforting to be in the hold of a book that makes this implicit claim, the claim having to do with the pose of knowledge? More to the point, perhaps: in addition to removing all distance between himself and the book, has DB at last and heroically also removed all distance between the pose of knowledge and actual knowledge, such a thing of course existing? Is the book itself, I mean, knowledge?

    Today, which was the third time I read PoM  I did not, this day, bite my fingernails for the first day in as long as I can remember. I suspect it will have similar physiological effects on you. List them briefly.

    Are you interested in the translations on pp. 61-63 or did you skip over them? Are you a student or a seeker or are you broken or whole and would, in having self-identified thusly, that help you understand whether you read or skipped the translations?

    Is the passage on p. 66 that begins "During the Q&A portion..." the saddest moment in the book, the most true, the most horribly true, the least true, or?

-- Michael Loughran

Around the Web in August

So August is barely underway, but the web is already buzzing with new Black Ocean news. Here's what you may have missed in the endless scroll of social media:

Micro-Reviews of Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable and DJ Dolack's Whittling a New Face in the Dark over at American Microreviews and Interviews:

"In this nonfiction collection of loosely connected lyrical fragments rarely longer than a paragraph, Elisa Gabbert’s observations, concise language, and complex questions about life and perception are unexpected and unquestionably inviting." Read the rest of this review here.

"That space between words, the absence of language in this darkness, can be more important than anything spoken. Dolack writes about the machines that churn inside us, pushing us forward even when we think we have nothing left to give." Read the rest of this review here.

Zachary Schomburg's The Book of Joshua made SPD's List of Poetry Bestsellers for the month of July! Not too shabby considering it only started shipping mid-month.

Nat. Brut Magazine featured a killer interview with Privacy Policy editor Andrew Ridker:

"Like most people, I had questions. How much of my information is available to the government and the public? Is a private life impossible to lead? How deep a rabbit hole is this, anyway? But nobody had any good answers. Not much has changed."

Read the rest of the interview here.




Privacy Policy Anthology Pushed Back to 8/18

We're sad to say that the NSA has delayed shipping for the Privacy Policy anthology until August 18th! Shame on them...

We've gathered up some fun links featuring surveillance poetics to tide you over until then. Good things come to those who wait, right?

Boston Review's Forum on Surveillance Poetics featuring poems by John Ashbery, Rae Armantrout, Cathy Park Hong, Roberst Pinsky, and more

PEN America featured four poems from the Privacy Policy Anthology as part of their symposium, "What's the Harm in Surveillance?"

Andrew Ridker had a great conversation with Privacy Policy poets Andrew Durbin and Ben Fama over at The Believer Logger - with a special bonus Erasure Poem from Dorothea Lasky

Nat. Brut Magazine featured a killer interview with Privacy Policy editor Andrew Ridker:

"Like most people, I had questions. How much of my information is available to the government and the public? Is a private life impossible to lead? How deep a rabbit hole is this, anyway? But nobody had any good answers. Not much has changed."

Read the rest of the interview here.

Study Questions for Century Swept Brutal

   I recently taught Zach Savich's, exuberant, singular, shifty fourth book to a class. To prepare them (me), I typed up a set of study questions, "Spark Notes for books no one will ever read" Zach called them, offering them up to the class as a sideways route into his book. I'm not sure if anyone read them or not.

    Afterwards, I got to dreaming about Zach Sav reading clubs, extraordinary citizens gathered at kitchen tables, answering my questions. You could locate one based on the quality of light issuing through the windows. And so I present them here to you, gentle readers, that you may yourself become extraordinary with others.

    OK, a rough feature: I'm calling it the mirroring effect, Zach I think calls it the echo effect although "echo effect" sounds more like something I would say he says rather than something he says, but whatever you call it, it begins in earnest (I think) on page 55. As well as the echo of "filling a book" in part one. And the tuning of strings. And the pockets and asters. And the naming of things. And the eye whites tattoo. Comment.

     On some level, or maybe in certain places is the better way to put it, the book is epigrammatic. The first sentence, for instance, or much of part one, or much of part one and parts of the rest. Is that right? But the actual definition of "epigrammatic" sometimes includes "clever" as a descriptor, which doesn't seem to capture what's going on in Zach's poems, does it? "Clever" seeming thin, satisfied, slight, and these poems are doing something else, aren't they? Although there is the line about standing between hot and dog, and there are some jokes. Comment.

    What would you say is the book's relationship to looking?
    To thinking?

    Here's a famous thing Auden said: "American poetry has many tones, a man talking to himself or to one intimate friend, a prophet crying in the wilderness, but the easy-going tone of a man talking to his group of peers is rare." So. To whom is Zach talking? And don't give us any of that poet/speaker nonsense please.

    Is "I wanted to be returned instead/to semblance" (p. 33) the center of the book?

    The book is chatty/figurative/descriptive but one at a time. Is that true?

    Something I admire about Zach's poems: whatever ones takes to be the "level of difficulty" or whatever, that difficulty is always gentle. Which balancing act seems on full display in CSB. The book, I mean, in the friendliest way imaginable, simply refuses to do or say anything but that which it desires to do or say. And the doing and saying, I present to you, is so controlled and consistent and warm . . . that the difficulty, if that's even what it is, maybe the better way to put it would be singularity of the book, it becomes a total pleasure. You're just encountering another's way of thinking, seeing, doing, phrasing. This is not a question.

    Maybe the book is partly an inquiry into the range of possibilities of the poetic line. What's it discover there?

    Page 53 has a reference to the famous M.H. Abrams book The Mirror and the Lamp. Incidentally this reference occurs at the precise center of the book, but I am not going to overstate that particular fact. "I don't tell her/that's a reference," the poem says. Forget the fact of it being the spatial center. Is that gesture at the spiritual-aesthetic center of the book? (Later, on p. 104, maybe an echo: "I'm talking to somebody/just out of sight") Or is page 88 the S-A center: "In the distance,//a seaplane lands/on a rock. The horizon turns//me on on/me me on"?

    "Sun badge"! "Noon's canoe"!

    When the book is funny (e.g. end of part five, end of part six, p. 85), it is really funny. Yes?

    "My life moving/mostly in pauses"!


A big thank you to Michael Loughran for contributing this saucy study guide to our blog.  We suspect it will be the first of many.

Boston Poetry World Cup | Aug. 8 - 10 | Cambridge

Now that the fair-weather soccer fans have (finally) gone back into the woodwork, it's time to get excited for an entirely different (but no less exciting!) World Cup taking place in Black Ocean's backyard. Get ready for a line-up of epic proportions...


Boston Poetry World Cup Inman Square, Cambridge

Friday August 8th at the Lilly Pad

Saturday and Sunday August 9-10 Outpost 186

Free and Open to the Public (but we will pass the hat)

Millions of poets read for 8 minutes and then we go to penalty kicks



Return of the Web Roundup

If you follow our Twitter, you're probably up on all the exciting web coverage for some of our recent titles. But the internet is a big (and often cluttered) place, so it's possible that you may have missed a tidbit or two. Fear not, we are here to catch you up!


Micro-Review of Brian Foley's The Constitution over at Publishers Weekly.

"[Foley's] minimalism is fascinating in its ability to tonally blur the lines between a redacted version of America's most sacred text and the earnest last breath of a man with a lot of miles on him."

Review of (and Excerpts from) The Constitution on Rob McLennan's blog

"Foley does work to question what we might take for granted, as even his lines unsettle, shifting an appearance of sentences that break down into phrases that collide and accumulate, forcing connections that might otherwise remained impossible in such a short space."

Micro-Review of Zach Savich's Century Swept Brutal in Publishers Weekly.

"One gets the feeling that Savich's lyric 'I' lives with one foot in a dream world, the other stuck amidst the repetitions and signs of our day."

PEN featured four poems from The Privacy Policy Anthology as part of their week-long feature on surveillance


Thomas Ross reviews Zach Schomburg's The Book of Joshua in The Portland Mercury

"The feat of The Book of Joshua is to create a world by repetition: images become motifs, then symbols, and finally, reality."

Micro-Review of Aase Berg's Dark Matter in American Microreviews and Interviews

"Berg’s prose presents the reader with a relentless narrative that does not seek to comfort; rather, it seeks to create something from nothing, like a creature dragging itself from the darkness."

The Rumpus reviews DJ Dolack's Whittling a New Face in the Dark

"New York City is one of many anchors in the real that Dolack uses to remind that these non-narrative poems are specifically located, framed not only by time and space, but by particular moods and states of mind."

Ryo Yamaguchi's discourse on the intersection of poetry and HDR photography in Aase Berg's Dark Matter

"This is a visionary project, far more than a simple paean to the grotesque. It is poetry steeped in the Anthropocenic nightmare of industry and apocalypse. It is a book of love and its interlocutors. It is a work of art, a mimesis of the surreal whose efforts are palpable—imbued with the distinct feel of a work-in-progress that strives to, and succeeds at, attaining a new lexicon, a marriage of image and language into a hybrid materiality that, at its best, is exhilaratingly smart and wholly complete."

Zachary Schomburg, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, and Janaka Stucky get a shout-out in this Rolling Stone article on Third Man Records' forthcoming book, Language Lessons: Volume 1

The Believer feature a conversation with Andrew Durbin, Ben Fama, and Dorothea Lasky on poetry, surveillance, and the Internet


Black Ocean to Publish Tomaž Šalamun

We are delighted to welcome Tomaž Šalamun to the Black Ocean family! Beginning in October 2015 with the publication of Šalamun’s Justice, our humble press will be the permanent home of all Šalamun’s future English language collections of poetry in the United States. Šalamun (b. 1941) has been best known as one of the leading voices of the Eastern European avant-garde and is the author of over thirty collections of poetry in Slovenian and English. His work has received the Jenko Prize, Slovenia’s Prešeren and Mladost Prizes, as well as a Pushcart Prize.

Our publisher, Janaky Stucky, had this to say about Šalamun's work and future with the press: “Black Ocean has long been admirer of Tomaž’s poems, which have been a direct influence on the work of many of the authors already on our list. His work will compliment and engage with our growing list of books and authors. We are honored by Šalamun’s trust and look forward to a long working relationship with him.”

Zachary Schomburg Kicks Off Summer Tour


We here at Black Ocean are all anticipating the release of Zachary Schomburg's latest The Book of Joshua, which will be available July 15 as a special hardcover with white foil stamping.

Zach kicks off his book tour Sunday, July 6 at The Pine Box in Seattle, and will be touring across the United States for readings in houses, bars, and bookstores, and will even be featured in his first art reception along the way.

This is also a great opportunity to hear another Black Ocean poet Joshua Marie Wilkinson, who joins Schomburg for many of the following events. You can view the whole below (event information linked when available), and sync up your calendar with our Events page. Also follow Zachary Schomburg's Tumblr page for an updated schedule and news.

7/6 @ 7pm | Seattle, WA | OPEN BOOKS & APRIL PRESENTS @The Pine Box w/ Lauren Ireland + Mathias Svalina

7/8 / 7pm  | Missoula, MT | Poetry Reading @Shakespeare & CO w/ Mathias Svalina

7/10 @ 7pm | Salt Lake City, UT | House Reading @434 East Third Avenue w/ Mathias Svalina

7/11 | Denver, CO | Poetry Reading @Counterpath w/ Julia Carr + Sarah Boyer + Mathias Svalina

7/12 @ 7pm | Lincoln, NE | Poetry Reading, Rock Show, and Backyard BBQ @3609 S 18th St. w/ Alisa Heinzman + Mathias Svalina + The Churls

7/13 @ 7pm | Council Bluffs, IA | Poetry Reading @Prairie Crossing Winery  w/ Natasha Kessler + Janey Gibiisco + Scott Schwalenberg.

7/14 | Iowa City, IA | Poetry Reading @Prairie Lights Bookstore w/ Eireann Lorsung. 

7/16 | Davenport, IA | Poetry Reading and Backyard BBQ @2224 Iowa Street

7/19 | Chicago, IL | A Night of Poetry and Music collaboration @Constellation w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Kyle Vegter + Jeffrey Allen + more TBA

7/20 | Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL | Poetry on Stage @Pitchfork Music Festival w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

7/21 | Pittsburgh, PA |  Regent Square w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson. TBA

7/23 @ 8 pm | Hadley, MA |  Poetry Reading @Flying Object w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Jane Lewty

7/24 | Boston, MA | Poetry Reading @ Lorem Ipsum Books w/  Joshua Marie Wilkinson

7/25-26 | Newport, RI | Newport Folk Festival - Third Man Records w/ Janaka Stucky, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Paige Taggart, Kendra DeColo, and Chet Weise

7/27 @ 4-4:30 pm | Governor’s Island, NY | New York City Poetry Festival, The Algonquin Stage as The Lawless Curatorial: Zachary Schomburg + Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Bridget Talone

7/28 | Brooklyn, NY | Poetry Reading @Mellow Pages Library w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Marisol Limon Martinez + Amy Lawless + Cecily Iddings 

7/29 @ 7:30pm | Philadelphia, PA | Poetry Reading @ L’Etage w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Amy Lawless + Cecily Iddings

7/30 | Washington, DC | DC Barrelhouse Presents Black Ocean and Octopus Books @Petworth Citizen Bar and Reading Room w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Amy Lawless + Cecily Iddings

7/31 @ 6pm | Richmond, VA | Poetry Reading @Chop Suey Books w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/1 @ 8pm | Raleigh, NC | Poetry Reading @So & So Books w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/2 | Columbia, SC | Oversound Series. House Reading @1202 Woodrow Street w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/3 | Tallahasse, FL |  TBA w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/4 | New Orleans, LA | TBA w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/5 | Baton Rouge, LA | TBA w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/6 | Austin, TX | Malvern Books w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/7 | Marfa, TX | Marfa Book Co w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson

8/9 | Las Cruces, NM | House Reading @1007 N. Melendres  w/ Joshua Marie Wilkinson + Lily Huong

8/11 | Tucson, AZ | House Reading. TBA.

8/11 - 8/12 @ 10-12pm | Tucson, AZ | Workshop on the Short Poem. University of Arizona Poetry Center

8/13 @ 3-5 pm | Tucson, AZ | Artist Reception for Portrait Drawings @University of Arizona Poetry Center and after-party at Hotel Congress. Portraiture show will stay up through the month of August. 

8/14. | Los Angeles | TBA

8/15 | San Francisco | TBA. 

9/20 @ 7pm | Portland, OR | Bone Tax Reading Series @Anna Bannana’s  w/ Joshua Nathaniel Covington White

Pre-order your copy of The Book of Joshua HERE.


Micro-Review Monday: Russian Novels by Luke Bloomfield

Russian Novels
by Luke Bloomfield
Factory Hollow Press

There is a moment in the poem “Something Small and Precious” where the poet shows a decision being made. The poem paints a scene outside a “metal museum” of two people meeting, revealing their collections and capabilities to each other. When one “who assembles the world on the/ backs of whales” exits, the poem concludes with “Across the street there is a/ meatball factory child playing”.

By parading to the reader the choice being made, the poem chooses “factory” and “child” both, creating an effect not typically had, and it’s damn hilarious. More importantly, the strikethrough serves up a comment on the all-too-common superfluousness in surrealism. So much of what passes today for imagination’s outer limits feels nullifyingly indiscriminate and often disingenuous.

What differentiates Bloomfield’s surrealism is not only its intelligence and craft, but it’s care for humanity. Bloomfield is a true logician, potting imagination’s infinite variables into a soil of odd, but reasonable sense and insight. The poems come on unanticipated and sophisticatedly surprising; taking weird situationalism and exotic names and localizing them in a benevolent storyteller’s voice. And while it feels familiar, it’s not, and maneuvering in such fluency is no easy feat. Russian Novels reminds readers who come to poetry for surrealism’s potential that while possibility exists, it’s the humanity in making such things possible which gives us lasting company.

Brian Foley

The Return of Micro-Review Mondays: The Obligatory Garnish Argument by Meg Ronan

We are thrilled to announce the return of Micro-Review Mondays, with Brian Foley paving the way and bringing us mini-review morsels to start each week of right. Check back each Monday for one or two little delights. Enjoy!

The Obligatory Garnish Argument
by Meg Ronan
Springgun Press

 A distrust in decoration reaches back as far as Plato, who thought ornamentation a symptom of deceit drawn from what he deemed the poet’s affinity for the “divinity of madness.” In the Obligatory Garnish Argument, one of Meg Ronan’s arguments chimes, “But of course, my aunt told me not long ago/ the crazier I get the more she wants to read!/ So maybe that’s it…you are all just waiting for me to crack.”

The word obligatory drawing attention to the poet’s awareness to the fact that poetical language is itself often persecuted as no more necessary than a parsley sprig on a plate, Meg Ronan’s first collection is a multi-modal display of voice intentionally alternating between confidence and neurotic uncertainty towards the medium she chooses to use.

The self-titled poems interspersed throughout are three-line stanzas of dynamic, microtonal word play, continually in flux, but keeping the argument in refrain. At their best these poems are reminiscent of Stein’s Tender Buttons, a book that might also be considered a garnish argument. 

Cut throughout the rest of the book is another meta-voice, pleading at the reader to stop, repeating “why are you still reading this”, “why are you still suffering” in numerous ways. The effect is charming, smart, often funny, as this admission of guilt welcomes the reader in more than it pushes out.

Yet despite the warning shots to back off, it’s an ironic move, as Ronan knows this is a conversation that needs to be had, as shown in the final poem

an argument so efficient as to
unglue all that metaphysic gloom, so
perfumed a premise, yes, the obligatory garnish argument

 —Brian Foley

iO: A Journal of New American Poetry » A CONVERSATION WITH: BRIAN FOLEY

A constellation’s a man-made illusion of connection. Its up to us to make them appear. Every stars’ it’s own island. But so what. They’re still beautiful and unfamiliar each night if you want them to be. So we continue with the stories. We make a shape and feel better.


The Constitution is my attempt at a shape.


--Brian Foley in iO: A Journal of New American Poetry