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.
THE ANTHOLOGY OF SURVEILLANCE POETICS
Edited by Andrew Ridker
*Forthcoming Summer 2014*
Emily Abendroth, Nick Admussen, Rae Armantrout, John Ashbery, Ken Babstock, Mary Jo Bang, Jessica Baran, Micah Bateman, Mark Bibbins, Melissa Broder, Stephen Burt, Dan Chelotti, Feng Chen, Paula Cisewski, David Clewell, Victoria Chang, Joshua Clover, CAConrad, Michael Earl Craig, Andrew Durbin, Ben Fama, Graham Foust, Nikki Giovanni, Eileen G'Sell, Elisa Gabbert, Jorie Graham, Richard Greenfield, Joe Hall, Max Hjortsberg, Harmony Holiday, Cathy Park Hong, Joanna Kaminski, Amy King, John Kinsella, Hoa Nguyen, Noelle Kocot, EJ Koh, Jennifer Kronovet, Dorothea Lasky, Anthony McCann, Maureen N. McLane, Joyelle McSweeney, Ben Mirov, Ange Mlinko, Paul Muldoon, Eileen Myles, Carrie Oeding, Robert Pinsky, D.A. Powell, Jed Rasula, Matthew Rohrer, Dana Roeser, Raphael Rubinstein, Zach Savich, Danniel Schoonebeek, Damion Searls, Tim Seibles, Kent Shaw, Mónica de la Torre, Jean Valentine, Joni Wallace, Thera Webb, Dara Wier, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Matthew Zapruder
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.
It's been three years since we first made our offer of a free lifetime subscription to anyone who gets a tattoo inspired by one of our books. Since then several people have taken us up on the offer. This newest piece of art comes from Abby K. of Brooklyn:
The moon cycle tattoo on her left shoulder was inspired by the chapter artwork in Rauan Klassnik's second book, The Moon's Jaw.
For anyone else interested in getting every future Black Ocean title for the rest of your life, see our original post for details on how to qualify. For all of you who have already inked your love on your skin for us, we can't even begin to express how moved we are!
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.
Check out this interview by Vouched Books with Elisa Gabbert, whose new book The Self Unstable is now available from Black Ocean. In the interview, Gabbert talks about genre designations, some of the book's inspirations, why she wants the book to "make good bathroom reading," the digital self, and more.
Why anyone would want to encourage more confrontations with the absurd, I don’t know, but I suppose that’s what I’m doing here. Or if not provoking those moments, at least thinking about them.
Read the interview in full HERE.
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?
NEW DIRECTIONS IN SONG: PINK THUNDER
We are excited to announce a forthcoming November release. Elisa Gabbert’s The Self Unstable (coming November 10) combines elements of memoir, philosophy, and aphorism to explore and trouble our ideas of the self, memory, happiness, aesthetics, love, and sex. With a sense of humor and an ability to find glimmers of the absurd in the profound, she uses the lyric essay like a koan to provoke the reader’s reflection—unsettling the role of truth and interrogating the “I” in both literary and daily life: “The future isn’t anywhere, so we can never get there. We can only disappear.”
Pre-order your copy now (free shipping as always) and get it while it's hot! Available directly from Black Ocean HERE.
We know many of you are as big fans of DJ Dolack as we are. We're thrilled to have published Whittling a New Face in the Dark recently (get your copy here!), and are excited to see him on tour with Paige Ackerson Kiely and Kate Greenstreet. Check out this post and see where you can catch them. Don't miss it!
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!
Swamp Isthmus is a book about the sad and wonderful clunkiness of being alive in a body that will soon be so much dust. Whatever we might try to glean from history from the materials available to us, we’re being blasted forward away from deeper understanding. Faulkner’s well-known statement that “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past” also loomed large. And I think the book’s propulsion forward yet backward looking curiosity—fraught with violence, upheaval, desire, etc.—is trying to account for both of those concerns: our lack of understanding history as its preeminent lesson, and that the past’s not passed—its dead are presiding over us.
I want my poems to goad at and fail at and long for something bigger, even if it’s steeped in impossibility.
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.
I don’t have questions in mind when I write or draft, or even edit really. I don’t feel as though I’m deliberately trying to scratch an itch or address some kind of question. I guess it’s more about trying to build the mood of a situation or experience -- the notion that cannot be described. This is usually where words fail -- where language fails. But I enjoy trying to wring as much out of it as I can.
Whittling a New Face in the Dark is now available from Black Ocean! Find it here.