Link Roundup

Hi everyone!

Our authors and their books have been popping up around the interwebs, and here are a few recent places: 

  • Brandon Shimoda's The Girl Without Arms was just reviewed on The Rumpus. Charles Kruger writes, "I wish I could explain to you, to myself, the effect this language has upon me, but I can only say it makes my skin crawl. In a good way." And for more good reading, you might want to check out the Albums of Our Lives feature, set into motion by Katy Henriksen (wife of Matthew Henriksen, and all around swell gal).
  • One of our favorite blogs to follow, Montevidayo, just posted two articles involving Black Ocean authors Aase Berg (With Deer) and Feng Sun Chen (forthcoming title from Black Ocean in 2012!). Johannes defies any tidy summing up, so you best just read this and this for a discussion that hovers around language, influence, ambiance, accesibility. You won't be sorry.

Beyond the internet realm, Carrie went to Iceland this summer, and rocked it out in her Black Ocean t-shirt. We're all jealous!

We'll be rolling out a few new features on the blog in the next month or so--if there is something you want to see here, please let us know in the comments!


An Interview of "Black Ocean" Quality--The Blood Jet Writing Hour

Joe Hall (Pigafetta Is My Wife) and Brandon Shimoda (The Girl Without Arms) recently sat down for an interview with Rachelle of the Blood Jet Writing Hour. They beging by talking about the mighty Black Ocean itself and its aesthetic. Brandon mentions that he thinks our aesthetic is "encapsulated in the name" and:

To me it's a feeling; it's kind of a feeling that combines great empathy, a metallic taste--it's kind of a color. Thinking about the aesthetic, their books are so different, but I think one of the qualities they all share is a great empathy.  There's a lot of deep investigations into the darker ends of love.

Joe adds that

I latch onto the black part of the black ocean. It's like a dark pulsing heart....there is a darkness there that is a luminous darkness.

They go on to read excerpts from their books and to reflect on their processes.

Some highlights:

Brandon on form in The Girl Without Arms:

The girl without arms was sort of a different world. It was more a matter of finding the right instrument with which I could scrape out the inside of my brain.

I like arranging things and I like the way things present themselves visually...I'm not sure I was thinking about anything formally--it's kind of like drawing.

Joe on the process of writing Pigafetta Is My Wife and the long poem form:

I had this journal and I realized I wanted to use it, and it just seemed impossible to not write in a long poem format given the scope of the journal itself. And because the book is about this circumnavigation of the world by Magellan, it just seemed like the right thing to do. How could you capture a journey in one poem?

Something that both engaged the reader and taxed the reader at the same time...seemed really important to me. At the same time it was about this relationship I was in with my partner that was occurring over long distance. That was this thing that was always starting and stopping. I wanted that idea of recurrence and that sort of grasping outwards that happened over and over.


You can listen to the interview here.

Joe and Brandon were both drawn to Black Ocean for its aesthetic, and the fit they felt with their own work. If you feel similiarly drawn, be sure to submit during our open reading period! There are no reading fees, but we do ask that you consider supporting us, perhaps by purchasing a subscription. More details here:

The Sun Grows Arms: Henriksen and Shimoda In Conversation

Recently,  Johannes Göransson and Adam Robinson sparked a discussion of Ordinary Sun. The conversation continues on HTMLGIANT as Matthew Henriksen and Brandon Shimoda interview one another, unafraid to ask difficult questions, such as "What do you think about a poem of yours being read aloud by nurses in the emergency room of a hospital?" or "Would you kill someone?" You can check out the post here and learn the answer to these questions, and others just as pressing and evocative. If you need to catch up, you can find a short summary and links to the previous posts here on our blog.

Nurse Jackie and another medical professional discuss Ordinary Sun and The Girl Without Arms.


The Girl Without Arms In Constant Critic!

Sueyeun Juliette Lee reviews The Girl Without Arms in her most recent review over on Constant Critic. She writes:

The dominant mode of being in these poems casts a dark heat—desire and destruction couple in his imagination, and its terrains concatenate with lush (emotional) desolation. The text’s landscapes are both central and spectral—they haunt his being, tilting his psyche as he wrestles with his feelings, with others, with ghostly whispers from beyond. There isn’t space for a middle ground in this sort of writing: his spirit ravages and is ravaged, and in tracking these contortions, his turns of phrase swerve with a symbolic richness reaching towards religiosity.

Be sure to check out the rest of the review on the Constant Critic website.

Become a groupie

Sat 5/14, 6 pm

w/ Dot Devota, Jennifer Militello & Brandon Shimoda

Publicly Complex

Ada Books

717 Westminster St

Providence, RI


Tues 5/17, 8 pm

Flying Object Books

w/ Dot Devota, Lucas Farrell, & Brandon Shimoda

42 West Street

Hadley, MA


Fri 5/20

Black Ocean Reading

w/ Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, & Janaka Stucky

Lorem Ipsum Books

1299 Cambridge Street

Cambridge, MA


Mon 5/23, 7:30 pm

Unnameable Readings

W/ Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, & Janaka Stucky

Unnameable Books

600 Vanderbilt Ave

Brooklyn, NY

Read More

Literary Love: Day 20

The Black Ocean blog took a rest this weekend, and we hope you did too--maybe curled up with one of the many books we’ve shared with you this month. To celebrate the duality of a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice, here are two chapbooks recommended by Joe Hall to read by the light of the blood-red moon.

The Heart Is Green from So Much Waiting by Sampson Starkweather (Immaculate Disciples Press)

Vallejo and Starkweather wreck each other in what he calls a transcontemporation (definition: A transcontemporation is to a poem what RoboCop is to a normal police officer). The flaming rubble that results is by turns awkward and gorgeous as the poem's deal with love, hornyness, resignation etc in a voice swerving between angry adolescence and the opposite of that:

"In seventh grade, I couldn't find the heart / on a 3D anatomy model, I just stood there like a town / dotted with paralyzed tornados, as the students snickered / I imagined Andre the Giant flying through the air, getting / head from Stacy Kerkoff beneath the bleachers. // Today, I brush back the harshness of because..."


"May this rain never end. / Unless I am allowed to fall / from the same source, unless they bury me / in a downpour, in the waters / that surge from every fire. // This rain, to what end will it reach me?"

Points also for referencing N.W.A.

Conditions Which by Wade Fletcher (Pied-à-terre)

Wade's poems enter the process of your own reading and revise. They erase their own tracks, boiling themselves down to what they are--words in relation. The most thinly whispered proposition. What you have to strain to hear, to lean in, turn your ear to. The book is vegan. It is not there.

It is so punk I can't even figure out how to buy it. And isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Look at some pages here, here, here.


Check back tomorrow for something of a slightly different flavor from Brandon Shimoda.

Literary Love: Day 7

Some days you just want to read a chapbook. Lucky for you, Brandon Shimoda, whose book The Girl Without Arms is forthcoming from Black Ocean, has just the chapbook you need: Phil Cordelli's Book of Numbers Book of Letters (Agnes Fox Press).



Years from now ... after poetry has quit the world of money and influence ... after art has dispensed entirely with any cares for the mainstream (consumers, commuters, homeowners, husbands, voters, committee members, academics, etc.) ... after 99% of what we have come to accept as good and important has rotted out of the atmosphere ... people will begin unearthing the relics of the life and work of Phil Cordelli -- a poet, artist and farmer, born in the twentieth century, active across the first half of the twenty-first, and currently living in western Massachusetts. Among the innumerable home recordings, painted films, letterpressed pieces of garbage, book-length collages, scarified vinyl, copyright violations and field guides that form Cordelli's art, will be Book of Numbers / Book of Letters, published in 2010 by Agnes Fox. It might be the notes of a filmmaker, or the films of a scavenging note-taker. It might be the pin-hole paintings of a shut-in, or text installations assembled by an entire community. It might be the liner notes of a clairvoyant country musician, or the transcripts of an early morning conversation between a lone individual and his generously overwhelming environment. Undoubtedly it will continue to be all of these things. Numbers / Letters is a humble part of what I take to be a growing and indispensable compost and, after all, the "years from now" aforementioned are these ... 

You can begin the excavation now just by clicking the link above.