If you say you've started but did not finish reading an interview with Amy Lawless, I probably won't believe you. Order another copy of her book, My Dead, from our catalog and snuggle up with this new interview in two parts with Steven Karl at Coldfront. I know you'll read it yourself, but here's a bit to get you going:
I have a little nephew named Freddie. He’s 17 months old and he does this amazing thing where he points to things that are out of place: a flower without half its petals, an owl picture absent of its head, a lamp not in use, a book not being read, a star not in the sky. I sometimes do that too, but my pointing might be sitting down and writing a poem.
Have you been reading about each Person of the Week on Zachary Schomburg's Tumblr? He's a pretty picky guy, so the people he picks are the real deal. The Person of this Week is Hajara Quinn. We call her Haji. Haji's the real deal and then some. She ships all of the Octopus Books books from Ithaca, where she goes to school at Cornell. Did you submit a manuscript in April? Then you and she are already correspondents! You meet Haji just one time, and then you think about how you'd like to be her very good friend. You wish you were her good friend since high school. Read about Haji, and why she's the Person of the Week, right here.
Lockwood gives Popeye a narrative, yet also makes him a shadow, a place, a blip on the radar of our psyches. Her simulacra of Popeye is tragic and pathetic. He exists on the periphery. He is marginalized both literally and figuratively. His origins are unknown. He is the void we are continuously falling into and out of.
and at Hyperallergic, Barry Schwabsky writes of Portuguese:
Shimoda seeks the elemental; this is a poetry in which “We look at skulls and feel unsettled — skulls are right here.”
Bad Blood is the winner of LitBridge's 2013 Reading Series Contest! Thank you to LitBridge and everyone who nominated Bad Blood. Read some of the posted reviews here. They'll break that big heart you've got.
The first poems of Wong May's published in over 25 years now appear in PEN Poetry Series, selected by guest editor C.D. Wright.
Zachary Schomburg explains how he first encountered Wong May's writing nearly ten years ago, and wrote a Recovery Project in Octopus Magazine #3.
Wong May was born in Mainland China and raised in Singapore, where she obtained an English degree from the University of Singapore before attending the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. She is the author of A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals (Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich,1969), Reports (Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, 1972), Superstitions (Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, 1978). She now lives in Ireland.
Her first book of poems since 1978, Picasso's Tears, will be published by Octopus Books.
Read four of Wong May's new poems, and what C.D. Wright has to say about them here. Read Zachary Schomburg's Recovery Project here.
Tomorrow (Sunday!) Counterpath and Octopus Books present Jackie Clark, Amy Lawless, Danielle Parfunda and JA Tyler. If you're a lucky duck in Denver, you won't want to miss it. Go to Counterpath at 613 22nd St at 4pm. Read about it here.
Do you already have a copy of Amy Lawless' My Dead? She writes prose too, but I don't have to tell you that. Last month BOMBLOG published some of her prose having to do with conceptual writing and Ben Fama's Mall Witch. If you read this before going to the reading, you could chat with Amy about it while she signs your book. Here's a bit to get you started:
Copying is part of what makes us human and is how we learn and adhere and culturally manifest ANYTHING. By “the true nature of universality,” Fitterman/Place might mean many things. Maybe they were talking about language acquisition or understanding that which is around us, what makes us human beings. Maybe they were talking about how we get our writer’s “chops.” Maybe they were talking about Mall Witch. The nature of universality is one paradigm through which we might understand the poetics of Ben Fama or, more terrifyingly, Ben Fama himself.
There’s one week left in our April Open Reading Period. Send us your full-length poetry manuscript. Don’t put your name on it. We’ll read it, we’ll talk about it, we’ll pick two from the bunch and make books with them. Click “Submit” and follow the instructions there.
Here we are reading from our catalog, from these books chosen during previous April Open Reading Periods. We want to read what you’ve got.
Send us your full-length poetry manuscripts between now and May.
Click SUBMIT at the top of this page and follow the instructions. You can choose a simple submission, or submission + get any book from our catalog for an extra 6 bucks. It’s a steal! Do it now. We want to read your poems.
Poor Claudia has two new chapbooks in the works: The Book of Southern and Water by Emmalea Russo & The Great Poem of Desire by Richard Smith
And two new Poetry Series forthcoming in April! Phenome: a web-based series and DOG YEAR: a print-based series.
Oh, and current Crush, Brandon Shimoda.
Jenny Zhang’s been up to things. Her poems are in the beautiful Pinwheel #2. She’s the Brooklyn Poet of the Week, and there’s a new review of Dear Jenny, We Are All Find in Loch Raven Review. Read them all!
Laura Carter writes a frank and affectionate review of Brandon Shimoda's Portuguese in Fanzine. Despite opening WE CANNOT ALL BE ROCKS IN HEAVEN: BRANDON SHIMODA'S PORTUGUESE with the comment:
To speak of Portuguese at all is to begin to frame it, somehow, within its own landscape, which is nearly impossible to do and make writing about the book a difficult task, at least for me. What can, or ought, I say?
she goes on to adeptly describe some of the book's desires, its uniting properties, and what it means to be "young oil". Here's a piece to get you started:
The reader feels this as he or she reads; it’s invigorating; it’s Dickinsonian in its desire to sweep away the reader into a place where the world (though present) has oddly disappeared. It’s a young book, and there’s a lot of virility in its youth (she-she, indeed). But there’s also, beneath the surfaces, a knowingness that lets us in on the truth that Shimoda is playing with language here in order to achieve something in the reader, that he knows what is going on. (But enough of the intentional fallacy.) He writes: “For there is ISLAND in the youth / Not a straight coast. Youth is thousands of miles of inlets.”
Amy Lawless is interviewed in Interview Magazine. They discuss her new book My Dead, writing, editing, and peas. Every interview with Amy may be the best interview with Amy.
Go see her read tonight with James Gendron, Leopoldine Core, and Nadxieli Nieto at the Stain of Poetry reading series in Brooklyn. Hosted by Jenny Zhang!
Here's a bit from the interview:
One day I was just home watching YouTube videos of elephant mourning rituals, and it moved me so completely, because they remind you of humans keening and mourning. Suddenly, I felt so overwhelmed with my own personal loss. I just wrote the whole "Elephants in Mourning"—a 17- page poem—in a day. It took me a year to edit it, but that was the first piece.
Octopus Magazine is featured in Publishers Weekly along with Jacket, McSweeney's, N+1, and The Paris Review. In an interview with magazine editor Joseph Mains, they discuss how literary journals are adapting to a digital age.
Mains attributed his journal’s success (it, too, has more visitors than ever) to a number of factors, including digital’s far-reaching capabilities: “I think we’re moving toward the understanding that readers and writers are connected to their phones and computers and to their bookshelves. Both are important.”
Thank you, you amazing friends, for visiting us at the AWP bookfair. It was an enormous pleasure to meet you, share string cheese, and talk about our books.
Our three newest books are now officially available for purchase: Brandon Shimoda's Portuguese (published in collaboration with Tin House), Amy Lawless' My Dead, and James Gendron's Sexual Boat (Sex Boats). Order from our catalog and Haji will mail you a copy. Better yet, attend a tour event and get one from the authors. You in the USA? No problem. Europe? We've got it covered.
SEX AND DEATH TOUR WITH LAWLESS, GENDRON, AND OTHERS
3/11 Portland, ME LFK, 188a State St
3/12 New York, NY Triptych Readings at envoy enterprises with Zachary Schomburg, Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda and Mathias Svalina
3/13 Montreal, QC Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, 211 Bernard Ouest
3/14 Hadley/Amherst, MA Flying Object
3/15 Brooklyn, NY Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway
3/16 Providence, RI Ada Books, 717 Westminster St
3/17 Philadelphia, PA with Brandon Holmquest
3/19 Syracuse, NY Sparky Town, 324 Burnett Ave with Chris Kennedy, John Colasacco)
3/24 Washington, DC 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, James Gendron with Matthew Zapruder
3/26 Baltimore, MD Wham City, 1726 N Charles, James Gendron
SHIMODA, DEVOTA, SCHOMBURG, AND WILKINSON
3/18 Paris, France Spoken Word Paris at Au Chat Noir with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/22 Mulhouse, France at Universite de Haute Alsace with Dot Devota, Jennifer K. Dick, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/22 Mulhouse, France at The Book Corner with Dot Devota, Jennifer K. Dick, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/23 Basel, Switzerland at Elaine MGK Museum für Gegenwartskunst with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/24 Zurich, Switzerland at Cabaret Voltaire with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/25 Berlin, Germany at Saint George'swith Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/27 Amsterdam, Holland at Versal/This Is Not A Reading Series with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
3/29 Brussels, Belgium at International School of Brussels with Dot Devota, Zachary Schomburg, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Amy Lawless and Jame Gendron talk to each other about their new books at The Conversant. It's great--just read the whole thing now. Buy Amy Lawless' My Dead and James Gendron's Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) in person at the AWP book fair this week. Order yourself a copy from our website. Buy a copy from Amy and James during the Sex and Death Tour. Get a subscription and stop worrying about it all. Do it somehow.
Here's a bit of the conversation to get you started:
JG: You reflect on your own mortality often and seriously, yet you’ve devoted your short, precious life to writing poetry. Why?
AL: I already said that death is a stand-in for life and living. I don’t want to die. Who does? Yes, I have reflected upon death, but I am incredibly focused on living, hanging out with friends, family, teaching, and am passionate about poetry. Poetry is a way to live, a way to talk about the world, a way for shit to matter. Literature and creation of poems is just one paradigm through which to make sense of the world. It is the one in which I have found myself. Despite my terrible memory and other failings, I could have found myself trying to make sense of the world through biology or even philosophy or why not sewing or tennis or the video game Buck Hunter? Each has its rules, its sense, its logic. I’ve chosen poetry. I was close to choosing Buck Hunter, but that should be fairly obvious.
Like a contemporary Rimbaud, Mirov interrogates himself through a derangement of the senses and what he discovers is frequently sad and occasionally nonsensical.
Amy Lawless’ MY DEAD and James Gendron’s SEXUAL BOAT (SEX BOATS) will be officially released on March 15, 2013, but they are now available for pre-order here and here! These new books, along with Brandon Shimoda's PORTUGUESE, will also be available at our table at AWP bookfair in Boston. Read recent poems by these authors in Octopus Magazine #15.
Amy and James will kick off their Sex and Death reading tour at AWP on Thursday, March 7th, at The Middle East along with Elaine Kahn who's book A Voluptuous Dream During an Eclipse was recently published by Poor Claudia. Tour dates and locations are listed below. We'll update the schedule as details are finalized.
SEX AND DEATH TOUR
3/11 Portland, ME: LFK, 188a State St
3/12 New York, NY: Triptych Readings at envoy enterprises (with Zachary Schomburg and Dot Devota)
3/13 Montreal, QC: Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, 211 Bernard Ouest
3/14 Hadley/Amherst, MA: Flying Object
3/15 Brooklyn, NY: Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway
3/16 Providence, RI: Ada Books, 717 Westminster St
3/17 Philadelphia, PA: with Brandon Holmquest
3/19 Syracuse, NY: Sparky Town, 324 Burnett Ave (with Chris Kennedy, John Colasacco)
3/24 Washington, DC: 1345 Connecticut Ave NW (James Gendron with Matthew Zapruder)
3/26 Baltimore, MD: Wham City, 1726 N Charles (James Gendron)
Andy Fitch spoke with Jenny Zhang about Dear Jenny, We Are All Find. The transcription’s in The Conversant and though their conversation stems from the book, it goes out to other gorgeous places. This interview, along with 59 others, will be published as a collection by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2013. Here’s a peek:
..many of the final poems also are love poems: poems about not being a good enough person, about what I get from love, about desperately wanting to hold onto some love you think never could happen again to you. This last section concerns the horrificness of having a vagina and wanting and wanting and wanting all the time. Still it also addresses becoming OK with receiving and giving and searching out love again—romantic and familial and sisterly and all representations of love, all iterations.
Seth Abramson wrote a great review of Brandon Shimoda's Portuguese for the Huffington Post. You'll want to read his thoughtful analyses of Portuguese's design and poets who publish prolifically yourself, but here's a bit to get you started:
"…it is better to read the work as a militant refusal of misidentification and a brave enunciation of not merely the self as it is but the self as it aims to be….Shimoda is right to imbue this autobiography with its own ineluctable mythos, as frankly this is what the best (and dare it be said, the most cruelly accurate) autobiographies finally do."
"For all its occasional bombast, the packaging and content of Portuguese earns its grandeur with a grandeur of spirit that is nearly unparalleled in contemporary verse."
Doesn't get much better than that. Order yourself a copy of Portuguese here.
Some pretty snazzy people think you could jazz up a stocking with Patricia Lockwood’s Balloon Pop Outlaw Black.
It’s in the New Yorker’s Best Books of 2012
Chicago Tribune’s small-press picks of 2012
and HTML Giant’s Holiday Shopping Guide
As always, you can order Balloon Pop Outlaw Black right here.
Brandon Shimoda’s Portuguese is now available for pre-order. This is the first in a series of poetry books to be published in collaboration with Tin House Books. Octopus’ Zachary Schomburg and Tin House’s Matthew Dickman, both based in Portland, write:
…there is nothing to lose in teaming up to publish books for a multiplied and overlapped audience. This is a model that is necessary for a new kind of conversation to begin, not to see how we can meet in the middle, but how we can meet at the edges.
Read about Brandon Shimoda and Portuguese here and at Tin House.
Welcome to the new home of Octopus! To compliment the merger of Octopus Books, Bad Blood Poetry, Octopus Magazine and Poor Claudia in August 2012, we've designed a site that incorporates the four departments onto a single page. Links to their sites are up top, as well as submission information and a link to our catalog. In the boxes below, we're keeping you updated on everything OCTOPUS, including Poor Claudia's new chapbooks, the new issue of the Magazine (forthcoming 2013), Bad Blood's next reading, and of course, Octopus Books' complete catolog.
There's lots going on, but the best way to test out the new site is to buy a subscription to Octopus or to both Octopus and Poor Claudia. Check it out!
Thank you so much for supporting Octopus Books. As a small and completely independent press, our ability to continue to make the poetry books we believe in depends solely on book purchases. We are hoping that you would consider continuing to support us. One of the best ways to do that would be to purchase a subscription. And now that Portland's own Poor Claudia is the official limited edition chapbook imprint of Octopus Books, we have 2 different subscription options for you. Also, rest assured, the shipping is always on us.
You may purchase your subscription here, or by sending a check made out to "Octopus Books" at 4725 NE 10th, Portland, OR 97211. If sending a check, please remember to include your mailing address.
#1 . Both OCTOPUS BOOKS + POOR CLAUDIA. $136 (at least a $220 value): Receive everything Octopus Books and Poor Claudia publishes in 2013 and 2014.
#2. Only OCTOPUS BOOKS. $88 (at least $130 value): Receive everything Octopus Books publishes in 2013 and 2014.
Melissa Broder reviews Ben Mirov's Hider Roser at HTML Giant. There's a shamanic healer, panic, disintegration.
There is a beautiful sadness in these poems. Mirov skillfully co-inhabits the realms of the physical and the metaphysical, the containment suit and the dark star. In a world both familiar and foreign, Mirov inquires as to the nature of the universe, as well as the absurdity of layering institutions over the void. We are keeping "busy all day." We are running from something.
Octopus Books does a bit of business with the USPS, and every book
mailed is mailed by Hajara Quinn.
She moved the shipping department from Portland to Ithaca, to attend Cornell.
She goes to poetry school all day, and mails poetry books all night.
She lives in a house once lived in by Nabokov. This is her desk.
Bad Blood XV is coming and it's gonna be a doozy. Patricia Lockwood and Ben Mirov will read with Donald Dunbar and Eileen Myles.
November 13th, PDX.
Don't wait until then to see Ben. He'll be part of The Bloom reading series in San Francisco this Thursday, November 8th.
And maybe you've seen Small Press Distribution's Poetry Bestsellers for October? Patricia's Balloon Pop Outlaw Black is #2. Let's keep working toward that tramp stamp.
In order to promote her new book, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, Patricia Lockwood's offered to tattoo an "enormous tramp-stamp of a four-legged puppeye with a bare butt" on her lower back if we sell out of the first print run of 2000 books by January 31. She talks about this plan on her blog.
Please spread the word, tell your friends and enemies, and help us help her do this bad thing.
This puppeye (pictured above) is from the herd of puppeyes on Patricia's book cover which was designed and illustrated by Lisa Hanawalt, one of Patricia's favorite artists, a cartoonist and illustrator living in Brooklyn. Lisa talks about it all here.
Jack Christian interviews Christopher DeWeese at BOMBLOG and it's beautiful. They talk about The Black Forest.
I do think of the poems in The Black Forest as having a youth to them, an exuberance in making and being made for their own sake that reminds me of the years in which I wrote them, years in which I was madly in love with a poetics of surprise and possibility, and the intoxicating power of declaring things. In writing the poems, I always was trying to surprise myself, to find some new territory—a new image, a new way (for me) of ending a poem, a new emotional pitch.
and Steven Karl interviews Jenny Zhang at coldfront and it's beautiful. They talk about Dear Jenny, We Are All Find.
The mess of existence and identity, and how when you've spent a significant portion of your life trying to reject the story or stories that other people impose on you, the sad, twisted coda to all that striving and rejecting is that by spending so much time dismantling other people's stories of you, you can end up inhabiting and becoming those very stories.
Read both and let them change your day.
Two new titles from Octopus books are now available for purchase: Balloon Pop
Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood, and Hider Roser
by Ben Mirov.
Buy them both this week and choose another title from our catalog for free. As always, the shipping is on us.
Visit Ben and Patricia's author pages for interviews and videos.
You'll love both of these books. Might as well get them while the getting's good.
Joseph Mains, editor of Octopus Magazine, gives a great interview at Litbridge. Check out what he has to say about the Magazine and its upcoming 10th anniversary. Here's a peek:
...things that makes poetry so vital: examining power, honesty, truth and beauty in all its various forms, in order to make opportunity accessible to everyone. Online magazines are one huge step to giving more people access to publishing and being published, and in that way I'm really excited to be a part of this conversation so many poets and readers are having.
Have you seen new Bad Blood site?
It's clean and lovely and designed by Travis Meyer, who also designed this site you're looking at now. He's great.
With the new site you can look up the readers
by name or by reading. You can see the upcoming
(Nov 13th: Eileen Myles, Ben Mirov, Patricia Lockwood, Donald Dunbar).
You can sit and just stare at the attractive grid.
W.M. Lobko reviews Christopher DeWeese's The Black Forest at Boston Review.
Lobko says the book "is packed with personae the way a forest is packed with trees" and that "A multitudinous "I" runs through The Black Forest like a root system that feeds very different but interdependent flora."
I'd say that sounds about right.