The internet is abuzz this week with Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable. Click the linked text to read up!
Read a review of The Self Unstable in The New Inquiry:
These lines are like tweets I would like to favorite: “If you find anything other than food or sex interesting, it’s signaling.” “To have enemies is a coming of age.” “Regret is a kind of certainty.” “In the moment, we value stability, but we prefer our painful memories.” “Schadenfreude complicates utilitarianism.”
The poem-essay things sort of eat their own tails when they work well. (But I would not say the word “ouroboros,” which is not exactly the same thing.) My favorite ones nimbly navigated authority and skepticism and wonder.
Then give yourself a treat by reading this interview with Gabbert and Travis Nichols:
But writing comes out of life; you can't write anything interesting in an isolation tank. Experience, thought, talk all feed into the work and are thus part of the work. You can't extricate writing from life.
Get in on the conversation yourself! Purchase your copy of The Self Unstable here.
You can find a short interview and profile of The Self Unstable right now on LitBridge. In the interview, Elisa Gabbert speaks about her latest Black Ocean explaining how it came about:
I started writing this book about four years ago, after my first book was published. I had started a job that involved a lot of writing and was finding it difficult to transition from writing prose all day into writing traditional lineated “poetry” in my off hours.
Read the rest here.
Colorado Review and Cutbank both reviewed Swamp Isthmus Recently.
On the Colorado Review, Virginia Konchan writes:
Wilkinson is one of the foremost pioneers in documentary (and erasure) poetics, which scripts postmodern cartographic texts occupied with the burden and joy, post-war, of sifting through psychic curios and actual remains in search of lyric presence...
Read the review in full here.
On Cutbank Online, Caitlin Cowan begins:
You might call Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s latest book “minimalist.” But you would be wrong. The slim volume and its trim, precise, untitled poems certainly take up little real estate, but the lines contained therein shine and shatter in unexpected, exhilarating ways. A kaleidoscope of figures that are by turns menacing and elegant, Swamp Isthmus investigates chilly panoramas of longing in a way that urges us to question both who we are and who is on our side.
Click here to read the rest of the review.
Two Black Ocean titles have been honored with a listing in Coldfront Magazine's Top 40 Poetry Books for 2013.
Swamp Isthmus by Joshua Marie Wilkinson weighs in at #39:
The book sustains this continuum of private and public in a way that commands our attention again and again and raises the questions of what can or needs to be known. In the book’s front matter, we are informed that Swamp Isthmus is the second book in Wilkinson’s No Volta pentalogy, and this knowledge extends the possibilities of the book beyond the first and last pages. Most importantly, it frees us to let the poetry wash over us, let the poems simply be, and to look around our own lives and determine what matters and why.
and Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable is #8:
These poems awaken our curiosities regarding the human life and its possibility for holding any real purpose. They are philosophical yet pragmatic. They don’t expect too much of the truth; they teach us satisfaction with life’s “continual climbing, with no resolution—just an ever-building terror” because, like the self, the truth is unstable.
Check out the list in full here, and be sure to add these books to yours.
The Next Monsters has been reviewed in Heavy Feather Review and on The Rumpus.
In David Peak's review on Heavy Feather Review's website, he begins:
Doxsee’s poems are shattered mirrors; they are fractured, jagged. If you stare at them long enough, you’ll uncover patterns in the chaos, hints of a larger image that was perhaps banished to a new and frightening dimension when the mirror was broken—like the big moment at the end of Prince of Darkness that leaves you feeling unwell.
Read the rest of the review HERE.
In Kent Shaw's review of The Next Monsters on The Rumpus, Shaw compares Doxsee's collection to sculptures by Carol Brove. He considers how the poems are meant to be encountered, and how they engage and by his reading, even antagonize.
The style reminds me, actually, of these newish sculptures by the artist Carol Bove. Bove arranges sea shells using metal rods to hold them in place. The whole piece is very severe, and I often feel antagonized by the work. Why? I don’t know. I feel challenged. I feel like there is an excess of control in the pieces. And that’s what I like them for.
Read the review HERE.
Want in on the conversation? Purchase your copy of The Next Monsters today.
Newly available from Black Ocean, Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable is finding its way onto many holiday lists this season, including The New Yorker's and HTMLGiant's. The New Yorker describes The Self Unstable as a "wonderful surprise," and HTMLGiant praises its ability to "[unsettle] the role of truth and [interrogate] the “I” in both literary and daily life."
Want The Self Unstsable in your home for the holidays? Click here to purchase (free shipping as always!).
Read The Best Books of 2013 in the New Yorker here.
Read a 2013 Holiday Shopping Guide by HTMLGiant here.
What else are you hoping to read this winter?
We hope you've been following along with Black Ocean's Song of the Week residency on Coldfront. This week Rauan Klassnik (The Moon's Jaw, Holy Land) talks about "The Teacher" by Big Country, and catch up on past weeks with Joe Hall (The Devotional Poems, Pigafetta Is My Wife), Zach Savich (forthcoming!), Joshua Marie Wilkinson (Swamp Isthmus), and Joshua Harmon (Scape).
Stay tuned to the blog/Facebook/Twitter for future posts!
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.
Get your copy here.
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.
Reading this collection feels like walking through a post-apocalyptic world where the sounds of torture are mistaken for orgasm, and vise versa: “Everything’s An Orgasm–Growling Frozen–/Mauled & Writhing–Furious & Ecstatic As We–Sail On.”
Read the review in full here.
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 Thunder, which I recommend you ingest via light pulse array, was created.
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.
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: http://www.blackocean.org/pink-thunder.
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.
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.
New review of Butcher's Tree by Seth Ambramson over at Huffington Post!
These poems function with equal force as entertainment, amazement, deduction, and instruction. They delight and bewilder in equivalent measure, and the bewilderment is every bit as generative as the delight.
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.
- Did you know you can now subscribe to our 2013 lineup? Click HERE!
- Feng Sun Chen is featured on BOMBLOG -- listen to selections from Butcher's Tree, and read an interview
- Joshua Harmon, author of Scape, on the Believer Logger with an annotated mixtape
- Fjords Vol. 1 remains on the SPD Bestseller List for June
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.
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.
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