Few exceptions aside, the most compelling, challenging, absorbing literary art is being produced by small presses and their respective writers. I asked a number of writers, editors, and publishers to send me a list of small press books to look out for in 2016. Below you’ll find my own list, which is informed by Kate Angus, John Cayley, Lauren Cerand, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Andrew Ervin, Lily Hoang, Sean Lovelace, Scott McClanahan, Hubert O’Hearn, Jane Unrue, and Curtis White.
Below you’ll also find lists from Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gabino Iglesias, Janice Lee, Dawn Raffel, Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Adam Robinson, Michael Seidlinger, Terese Svoboda, Jason Teal, Angela Woodward, and Jacob Wren. All the abovementioned people are small press heroes and great writers in their own right. My thanks to all of them.
Edward’s book is now available. It’s stark, it’s funny, it’s sad–verse reflected by the book’s cover (also by Edward):
A woman with a gun, and a man
with a gun, and a child with a gun, and a dog with
a gun held between its two
One year ago I interviewed Edward about his writings, drawings, and paintings.
Publishing Genius, 2010
A kind of Lydia Davis of the poetry world, Mairéad Byrne is an absolute whiz at the short poem; she excels at the one-line poem, the two-line poem, the one word poem, the brief list, the permutational riff, the conversational aside, the set-up and punchline, the Objectivist observation, the found fragment, the compressed paragraph, the precise and neatly cropped haiku. In what will undoubtedly become a classic ars poetica (mischievously titled “Donald Hall Would Hate Me”), she says,
My poems are usually brief
they resemble each other
they are anecdotal
they do not extend themselves
they make no great claims
they connect small things to other small things
I LIKE SHORT!
While it is tempting to dub her a miniaturist, an inveterate tinkerer of small verbal machines, I don’t want to detract from Byrne’s truly holistic vision — her conception of poetry as a lived practice that exists within time, as an active and encompassing mode of being. The “small things” that are her poems connect to each other in such enriching and dialogic ways that The Best of (What’s Left Of) Heaven becomes, in the process of reading, greater than the sum of its constitutive parts. Taken as a whole it amounts to an oftentimes comedic, sometimes steely-eyed, but ultimately compassionate manifesto on how to live life poetically: how to find, in our post-modern world, what will suffice — and, alternately, how to re-calibrate our perception so that we can fully experience, in the words of Shelley, the “wonder of our being.”
Kate Zambreno (whom I’m trying to get nicknamed “KaZam!”—do pass it on) asked me to draw your kind attention to this upcoming event:
Belladonna* & Dusie present:
The Summer Reading
Please join us in celebrating these authors and their new books:
Date and Time: Thursday, 12 August 2010, 8:00 pm
Place: BookThugNation (100 N. 3rd St., between Berry St. & Wythe Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
There might be more than one way to understand the cover of Pee on Water, the collection of short fiction forthcoming from Publishing Genius by Rachel B. Glaser (who, in the interest of disclosure, is a friend), but I want to suggest a way of understanding it that is both religious and irreligious – that involves, I think, a peculiar dissolution of the line between the sacred and the profane.
Easter Rabbit, Joseph Young. This is an IMPORTANT book. Some reviewer predicted early in Richard Brautigan’s career that he was creating a new genre, that one day we’d read novels, poems, short stories, and “brautigans.” He was right, even if common parlance has yet to catch up. Enter the new mode of writing: ‘joe-youngs.’ These are not flash fictions. They use very few words and often have a narrative suggestion, but they are are not tightly wrought nuggets. These joe-youngs exist beyond the reader’s, and I suspect the writer’s, control. The words prod and explore the essence of a moment. Barthelme could suggest a world with a few words. Instead, Joseph Young explores a pinpoint in a page. (I keep this on my desk when I write; I’d suggest you do the same.)
Light Boxes, Shane Jones. This is a beautiful and fun and melancholy and classic ‘brautigan.’ Continue reading
Here’s a quick run-through of the books that I read this year and came out this year. Pretty much the books that I gave four stars to on goodreads because my memory sucks. I would mention movies, but I don’t have a goodreads like thing for movies.
Light Boxes, by Shane Jones: Made me want to write bitter-sweet happy stuff. Have failed, except for prose poem-y things.
A Jello Horse, by Matthew Simmons: Publishing Genius put out this one along with Light Boxes. It has a similar tone. About a road trip to go to a funeral, but reading it made me feel happy to be alive. Written in second person, and it actually works.
Fugue State, by Brian Evenson: Might be my favorite collection by him. It felt more diverse than earlier ones.
Last Days, by Brian Evenson: A lot of fun. Love the lean prose. He’s always played with genre, but this feels like the first book where he’s totally embraced it.