Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2016!

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.

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Review of Shya Scanlon’s Border Run, by Jamie Grefe

Border Run
By Shya Scanlon
New Dead Families, 2012

Jack Lightning and Jo: Angel calls her “Mrs. Lightning” like she never left, isn’t her walking up a desert path to the door for her son who isn’t there, for what should have been healed or the lies she conceals–Jo and her love for Jack unfolds, blossoms of bones and desert. Alex is not in Arizona, nowhere there, not tunneling, except some hospital room awaiting news that there is no such thing as Border Run no more, only ImPass-owned wall impenetrable. But in pages, love seeps: animals, one’s land, family, community and the ones we don’t even know we are a part of–work, words and desert, deceased or sick, the ones arriving in the parking lot or by bus and the child departed, or sacred tradition like the cry of the mountain before us.

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Looking Back, Part 4: Books

Best Novel:

Honorable Mentions:

Best Story Collection (Tie):

Best Nonfiction:

Best Poetry Collection (Tie):

Racing Hummingbirds by Jeanann Verlee

If There Is Something To Desire by Vera Pavlova

Best Chapbook:

Don't Go Fish by Kat Dixon


And that, folks, is my look back at 2010. I’m planning some fun stuff for 2011 and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of Big Other-ing.

CFS from Sententia

For Sententia 3 we’re throwing out the preconceived conceptions of what a literary journal is.

We’re bringing in a guest editor/curator, the fantastic Shya Scanlon, author of In This Alone Impulse and Forecast.

The key word for issue 3 will be “uncontained.”

There will be no poetry in issue 3, only novel excerpts. But not just excerpts on their own. We’re looking to do something new. Read our call for submissions from our guest editor:

Issue 3 of Sententia will be themed around the pitch, and therefore against the notion of “self-contained” excerpts. It will be a collection of novel excerpts whose purpose is to leave the reader not with an artificial feeling of completion, but actively wanting more.

We will be considering excerpts of three chapters or ten thousand words—whichever comes first. In addition to an excerpt and bio, authors are required to submit a one-page synopsis of the full work, to be printed along with each excerpt. The novel need not be finished at the time of submission.

Submissions will be read as might an agent or editor looking to publish, and in this spirit, 60 copies of the resulting collection will be sent to presses and agents we consider most likely to use the work therein as a resource during their own search for talent.






re: Jimmy Chen’s (very funny) obit for this site, and some comments made there by my friends Tadd Adcox and Rebekah Silverman, not to mention Big Other’s recent one-year anniversary, I thought I’d take some time and a post to perform some autocritique. (I grew up on the campus of the University of Scranton, among the Jesuits.)

When John invited me to write at Big Other last December, my first impulse was to decline, because I didn’t think that I’d have anything interesting to say. I’ve been reading blogs periodically since the late 90s (mainly political ones), and while I value the form for various reasons, I never thought I’d want to try doing it myself. But then John said I could write literary criticism in lieu of more traditional posts, and I recalled that I wanted to try doing some analysis of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, so I said I’d give it a go.

And I’m extremely happy that I did, because I’ve discovered that I do, in fact, have a tremendous amount to say (probably too much, in fact). And so my posting here has awakened something inside me—before this past year, I’d never written any artistic or cultural criticism—I didn’t even think I was capable of doing it. (I just wrote fiction and poetry.)

So I’m extremely grateful. That said, I’m also unhappy in multiple ways with my writing here, and I want to take the time to identify those problems, and attempt to correct them…

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Happy Birthday, Big Other!

With sites (especially blogs, I’d imagine) coming and going, resembling fairweathered friends with their weighty promises and concomitant lack of follow-through, and with evanescence and disposability, perhaps, being two of the internet’s primary characteristics, an internet year must be to an in-real-life year as what a dog year is to a human year. But it’s not for these reasons I’m happy to say that Big Other is celebrating its first year today.

A year ago, thinking about how frustrating it was to find a place that invited dialogue (and by “dialogue” I mean the concept formalized best, for me, by Paulo Friere, that is, a nexus that allows, encourages, fosters communication characterized by respect and equality, where diversity of thought is encouraged, where understanding and learning are privileged over mere judgment, although conclusions and sound and informed discernment, that is, sound judgment, and maybe even wisdom, may, in fact, result); thinking about how many blogs encourage stereotypes, discord, stupidity, inanity, macho posturing, and self-reflexiveness, blogs that are havens of groupthink, blogs that are really just another kind of mirror, mirror, on the wall, blogs that are really just digitized lint in an electronic navel; thinking about how I wanted something different from all that noise, I launched Big Other with the idea of it being what I, in some kind act of faith, called “an online forum of iconoclasts and upstarts focusing its lens on books, music, comics, film, video and animation, paintings, sculpture, performance art, and miscellaneous nodes and sonic booms,” a place to “explore how we are made and unmade by images, language, and sound; examine computer-mediated worlds; and dance along with various tumults, genre- and other border-crossings, trespassings, transgressions, and whatever, nevermind.” And I have to say that I haven’t been disappointed. Big Other has become all those things for me, and so much more, and by “so much more,” I mean, it has truly become a conduit for meeting many incredible people in person, and so, I really can’t wait to see what comes next for us.

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The Varieties of Poetic Experience

A while ago I began to solicit videos of friends and associates reading/performing/interpreting poems from my collection, In This Alone Impulse, in exchange for a copy of said collection. A dozen or so videos into this project, I’m amazed and impressed by the range of attitude, voice and dimension the videos have exhibited. Each of these videos represents not just a reading, but a unique response to poetry, and in that respect I think they’re quite valuable and interesting art-ifacts.

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