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.


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

The Self Unstable Web Roundup

The internet is abuzz this week with Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable. Click the linked text to read up!

Find new poems by Elisa up at PEN, a sneak peak of her poems in the forthcoming anthology from Black Ocean, Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (ed. Andrew Ridker, Black Ocean 2014).

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.”

And another on H_NGM_N's Tumbr:

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.

LitBridge Features The Self Unstable

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.

Two in the Top 40

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 Reviewed

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.

Is The Self Unstable on Your Holiday List?

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?

Pre-order Now! Elisa Gabbert's The Self Unstable Available Soon

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.” 

Read a sample on They Will Sew the Blue Sail.

Pre-order your copy now (free shipping as always) and get it while it's hot! Available directly from Black Ocean HERE.

Interview with Joshua Marie Wilkinson on Swamp Isthmus

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.

--Joshua Marie Wilkinson, interviewed by Christopher Nelson

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.

12 or 20 (second series) questions with D.J. Dolack


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.

--12 or 20 (second series) questions with D.J. Dolack on rob mclennan's blog

Whittling a New Face in the Dark is now available from Black Ocean! Find it 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.

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.

Pink Thunder Portmanteaus @ Rational Park, Chicago

Chicago Black Oceanographers--here are three events in celebration of Michael Zapruder's Pink Thunder, a new collection of songs featuring collaborations from 23 poets. Pink Thunder is a truely sensory experience, and if you can make one of these event, you can experience it to the fullest.

Opening: March 22, 2013 7-10pm 
Performance: March 30, 2013 7pm
Gallery hours: March 22-April 12, M-F (by appointment)

Rational Park is excited to host 22 portmanteaus, each containing a song from the album Pink Thunder—a collection of free-verse pop art-songs, including contributions from 23 poets, three engineers, and a few dozen musicians.

What began as a bus tour that brought together hundreds of American poets has been recorded and remixed into a potent collection of poem-songs. Pink Thunder features instrumental contributions from over forty musicians and poems from Noelle Kocot, James Tate, Bob Hicok, Mary Ruefle, D.A. Powell, Dara Wier, Joshua Beckman, and Valzhyna Mort.  The album was released on October 16, 2012 via The Kora Records.

Friday, March 22 from 7-10, we invite you to view and listen to each portmanteau. These unique pieces, which combine sculpture and sound, are equipped with headphones for your listening pleasure.

On Saturday, March 30, you’ll be able to follow-up your experience with a live performance by Michael Zapruder and friends at Rational Park. Watch the video for the song Florida

Tuesday, April 2 takes us offsite to presenting partners, Danny’s Reading Series.  At Danny’s Tavern, 1951 W. Dickens Ave, 7:30pm sharp, Zapruder will be joined by Billy Blake and the Vagabonds members, Kennedy Greenrod and Reid Coker. Each will perform a few songs from their recent albums, and then answer questions about blending poetry and songwriting. Hosted by Joel Craig and Fred Sasaki.

Rational Park
2557 W North Ave.

This event is being presented by Black OceanDanny’s Reading SeriesRational Park, and MAKE Literary Productions.

Enjoy the Europe Tour via Twitter

Black Ocean authors Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson, along with Dot Devota, kicked off their European tour yesterday, while many of us dreamt of it from afar. Thankfully, you can get a little bit closer no matter where you are because this amazing quartet will be live tweeting their experience from the Black Ocean Twitter account using the hashtag #océannoir. Follow along, ask questions, and interact.

The tour continues to expand with new dates added. Here is the most recent schedule from Brandon Shimoda's blog (and some handsome photos as well): 

Clockwise, left-to-right: Schomburg, Devota, Shimoda, Wilkinson

March 12, New York, New YorkTriptych Reading Series @ Envoy Enterprises, 7:30 pm—with Dot Devota, James Gendron, Amy Lawless, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Mathias Svalina

March 18, Paris, FranceSpoken Word Paris @ Au Chat Noir, 9 pm—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, Brandon Shimoda, Joshua Marie Wilkinson & various rabble …

March 19, Paris, FranceIVY Writers Paris @ Cafe Delaville, 7:30 pm—with Dot Devota, Paul Laborde, Virginie Poitrasson, Martin Richet, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 22, Mulhouse, FranceUniversite de Haute Alsace—with Dot Devota, Jennifer K. Dick, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 22, Mulhouse, FranceThe Book Corner—with Dot Devota, Jennifer K. Dick, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 23, Basel, SwitzerlandElaine MGK, Museum für Gegenwartskunst—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 24, Zurich, SwitzerlandCabaret Voltaire, 5 pm—with Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 25, Berlin, GermanSaint George’s, 8:30 pm—with Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson, and special guest hosts Christian Hawkey & Donna Stonecipher

March 27, Amsterdam, HollandVersal/This Is Not A Reading Series @ Lost Property, 7:30 pm—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

March 29, Brussels, BelgiumInternational School of Brussels—with Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Black Ocean Meets Europe

For our European friends (or worldwide travelers), catch Black Ocean authors Brandon Shimoda (The Girl Without Arms), Zachary Schomburg (The Man Suit, Scary No Scary, Fjords vol. 1), and Joshua Marie Wilkinson (Swamp Isthmus) on tour across Europe for the next couple of weeks! 

From Schomburg's blog, The Lovely Arc:


3/18, Paris, FranceSpoken Word Paris @ Au Chat Noir, 9 pm—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, Joshua Marie Wilkinson & various rabble …

3/19, Paris, FranceIVY Writers Paris @ Cafe Delaville, 7:30 pm—with Dot Devota, Paul Laborde, Virginie Poitrasson, Martin Richet, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

3/23, Basel, SwitzerlandElaine MGK, Museum für Gegenwartskunst—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

3/24, Zurich, SwitzerlandCabaret Voltaire—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

3/27, Amsterdam, HollandVersal/This Is Not A Reading Series—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson

3/29, Brussels, BelgiumInternational School of Brussels—with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg & Joshua Marie Wilkinson.