We are proud to announce that each order from our catalogue will now ship with one GGP miniature, a limited-run handmade artists’ book. The current run of GGP miniatures features 2012 contest runner-up Natalie Eilbert and 2012 contest finalists Meg Thompson and Cassandra Eddington. One miniature is shipped per order; the included title depends on availability. Order now before they’re all gone!
We are excited to announce that Gazing Grain Press is featured in the Small Press Points column in the May/June 2013 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. We are incredibly grateful to the Poets & Writers staff, especially Melissa Faliveno. The May/June issue is P&W‘s contest issue, which happily corresponds with our submissions period–open now through June 1! In addition to the annual contest feature, the issue includes a beautiful interview with poet Frank Bidart celebrating his new collection Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013) and a feature article focused on the writing life of Claire Messud and her new novel The Woman Upstairs (Knopf, 2013). In The Literary Life, Ruth Ozeki takes on “A Crucial Collaboration: Reader-Writer-Character-Book” and offers up a point of view which resonates with both our sensibilities as editors and the sensibilities of our 2012 title, The Busy Life: “As writers, we rely on our readers to finish our thoughts and our sentences. Every word I write can only be unlocked by the eye and mind of a reader. My scenes comes to life because a reader is willing to animate them with his or her imagination and lived experience.” This is definitely an issue to check out!
Gazing Grain Press is excited to announce our second annual chapbook contest!
Judge: Cathy Park Hong
Genres accepted: Poetry and Hybrid
Reading Period: March 15—June 1, 2013
Length: 15-25 page manuscripts (not including front and back matter)
Submit via Submittable.
Hello, feminist friends!
We are proud to announce that Cathy Park Hong will be judging this year’s chapbook contest, which will run from March 15 to June 1, 2013.
Cathy Park Hong‘s first book, Translating Mo’um, was published in 2002 by Hanging Loose Press. Her second collection, Dance Dance Revolution, was chosen for the Barnard Women Poets Prize and was published in 2007 by WW Norton. Her third book of poems, Engine Empire, was published in May 2012 by WW Norton. Hong is also the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Village Voice Fellowship for Minority Reporters. Her poems have been published in A Public Space, Poetry, Paris Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, Harvard Review, Boston Review, The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, Denver Quarterly, and other journals. She is an assistant professor at Sarah Lawrence College and is regular faculty at the Queens MFA program in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This competition is open to all poets writing in English who have no affiliation with the judge, the editors, or the George Mason University MFA program. This year, our submission fees have been significantly reduced, and we have included options to receive discounted copies of the 2012 and/or 2013 winning chapbooks.
Poetry and hybrid chapbooks of 15-25 pages will be accepted via Submittable. The editors read all manuscripts blind and then send a set of finalists to the judge for winner selection.
The winner receives publication, 20% of the print run, and a featured reading at the 2013 Fall for the Book literary festival in September in Fairfax, Va (accommodation and travel within the continental United States will be paid). Runners-up and/or designated finalists will also be invited to receive recognition at the event.
See the guidelines page for more details—we look forward to reading your work!
Feminist friends, we are gearing up for our time in Boston next week, and we have some exciting news to share.
We are thrilled and grateful to be included in the “Queer Guide to the AWP Bookfair” graciously curated by A Midsummer Night’s Press. They have also put out a guide to queer AWP events that you should definitely check out. Folks are adding their own queer and feminist events to the discussions of these lovely documents on Facebook.
We are excited to be hosted by the generous So to Speak and Phoebe journals at the bookfair. We will have a slice of table AA17. The Busy Life will be for sale, at a special conference rate of $7 cash. We will also be giving away three beautiful handmade book objects. Gazing Grain is launching a new series of these–we’re calling them “miniatures.” To get your free miniature, visit the bookfair table or speak to Alyse or Mack out and about at the conference.
We’ll release one miniature per bookfair day at table AA17.
Thursday: “The Interstate” from Meg Thompson, 2012 contest finalist
Friday: “The Hungry Matter” from Casandra Eddington, 2012 contest finalist
Saturday: “The Venus Figurine as it Relates to Gnosticism” from Natalie Eilbert, 2012 contest runner-up
Here’s a little fresh-from-the-artist’s-knife teaser:
Furniture Press Books © 2012
by Alyse Knorr
From start to finish, Magus Magnus’ The Re-Echoes “ripples,” “rips,” “ricochets,” “meanders,” and above all, sings its way through a fascinating exploration of language and listening. The book’s title suggests exactly what the text does—this book-length poem creates echoes of echoes—“a game of telephone” where complex word chains progress from sonic riffs, erasing and creating meaning one lovely phrase at a time.
At first glance, the constant repetition of “is” throughout the book seems to insist on the urgency of definition and description. The book starts and ends with “is,” and many of the poem’s lines begin with “is” followed often by a present tense verb—“is rips,” “is splurges.” The missing subject preceding each “is” undercuts this urge to define and proves it impossible. Again and again, we are presented with one half of an analogy. A fascinating “fill in the blank.” This mystery is an equally gorgeous and humorous way to enact the de-construction of the speech act. During a first reading, I found myself thinking of the word “language” as the subject before all the is’s. Then, “poetry,” or “time,” or even “life” or “death.”
Then, like the moment you see the single white vase instead of the two black silhouetted faces in an optical illusion, the alternative reading of the phrase emerges—the “is” is the subject of the phrase. The “is” is the entity engaging in the actions of the present tense verbs following it. After this realization, phrases like “is insists,” “is steadies,” or “is intrigues” take on an entirely new meaning. Through this lens, we’re asked to examine the word “is” itself, and, in so doing, the very act of defining, and the very act of being.
In this way, the book never becomes stagnant—as soon as one pattern becomes established, something is altered to shake things up. The first time an “it” appears before an “is,” for example, the change sets off a slew of denser, more syntactically complete text for several pages. The visual density of this section, combined with the sonic density of the rhymes, creates a fantastic, frenzied feeling that then abruptly drops off again with an appropriately selected “is” phrase: “is ruins/is rebuilds.” Later, about halfway through the book, a “he” emerges, complete with children and hands and arms, raising the stakes yet again and introducing the reader to a brand new element to consider in this cascade of language. The book thus follows an arc that builds and progresses, climaxing near the end with the simple, resounding phrase “is unless isn’t.”
Another pleasure of The Re-Echoes is the intertextuality at play in its pages. Magnus evokes Stein through his dexterous verbal wit, with puns like “since in is in vain/is vain//since in is in since/insists.” The book also calls up Oppen and the Objectivists in its careful, loving precision of language, and the way it creates entire universes out of the “little words.”
Indeed, more than anything, this is a book that revels in the beauty of words—their “weirdness,” their specificity, their grammar. As Magnus puts it: “words pleasurable for their textures, lingering feel/words pleasurable for the concepts root-illuminated/words pleasurable for the haunting.” In The Re-Echoes, words like “skullduggery” and “spigot,” floating on their own lines and surrounded by white space, are finally granted their moment in the spotlight. And as the book progresses, the ominous short fragments on their sea of white page seem both like the remnants and building blocks of something epic—a “flameout” or “sunburst,” in Magnus’ words.
Some poets use sound for sound’s sake, some for lush description, and others to communicate ideas. Magnus does all three. At times, his sonic chains seem to progress purely for the beauty of their music—an “elemental utterance guttural.” At other times, Magnus uses the language to offer lovely, sensory description: “improbable planets and their lingual moon jellyfish.” And then there are the moments when the poem pushes toward meta-commentary, elegantly whispering to us that “listening is learning/is the letter part of wisdom.” And listening is easy when the poem sounds this nice.
Stephanie Lenox and Congress of Strange People: It’s A Family Affair
Review by Paul David Adkins
Every family has a black sheep, an uncle who raves about UFOs and Sasquatch. “There’s one in every clan,” some might opine. However, Stephanie Lenox, in Congress of Strange People, argues that oddballs are normal; the ordinary relative is aberrant. Her case is strong, exhibits convincing. By the time the reader completes Congress, the only question is where he fits within his family’s eccentric spectrum.
Lenox opens with “The Inheritance.” The speaker confesses:
Sunday afternoons Grandfather and I studied
the Guinness Book, dog-eared our favorites . . .
Your grandmother is in there, he nudged me. Keep looking. (3)
Family structure is at the volume’s forefront. Of the 13 poems which comprise Section One, nine either have family members included in the title or first line. The other four pieces retain strong familial themes. In “Ode to Nancy,” the speaker outlines her ambivalence to a traditional family:
You had a mother decent enough to die young
and leave you the darling of your handsome lawyer father,
part orphan, part princess, keen mix of tragedy
and privilege . . . (11)