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Shanna Compton’s 2018 recommended reading

We’ve asked our authors to submit highlights from their reading this year— anything outstanding they read during the year and want to share, whether published this year or not. As a countermeasure/contrast to the typical year-end Best Of lists compiled by various mainstream media outlets (which are often linked to ad buys, or shared parent companies, o did you not know that!?), expect these personal lists to point in less expected directions. We’ll be posting our poets’ picks as they come in over the next week or two. Enjoy. —Bloof

Shanna Compton is the author of Creature Sounds Fade (Black Lawrence, forthcoming in 2020), Brink (Bloof, 2013), For Girls & Other Poems (Bloof, 2008), Down Spooky (Open Book Award Winner, Winnow, 2005), and several chapbooks. She’s currently working on The Hazard Cycle, a book-length speculative poem. Her poetry and essays are widely published, appearing in Best American Poetry, the NationAmerican Poetry ReviewMcSweeney’s, the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, and elsewhere. She works as a freelance book designer and editor in Lambertville, NJ.

Because I work as an editor (here & for independent authors) and book designer (here & for other small presses), a great deal of the reading I do each year is pre-publication. In other words, I’m reading the future. As a result, I’m also often reading the past, catching up on things from previous years I didn’t have a chance to read right when they were first released. And like all of us, as a writer I’m often organizing my reading around/toward whatever project I’m personally working on. Here are some things I read this year from each of those categories.

New Poetry from China: 1917–2017
Ming Di, editor
(Black Square Editions)

This is an excellent example of my future-reading dilemma. I’ve been reading & learning about Chinese poetry’s history and various movements from this anthology edited by Ming Di (which I designed for Black Square) since I first got the manuscript in 2017. But it’s not yet available for preorders. Just trust me: write it down now as something to look forward to and teach from, and a month or so into 2019 check the website again here.

Drafts, Fragments & Poems: The Complete Poetry
Joan Murray, edited by Farnoosh Fathi
(NYRB Poets)

Drafts, Fragments & Poems: The Complete Poetry by Joan Murray, edited by Farnoosh Fathi

I have dreamed of this book existing for many years. Farnoosh Fathi’s tremendous work restores one of our lost poets to us. Hooray.

The hour like a child runs down the angle of star and rests at the bottom
It is a staring woman that may hold that child in its arms
But women prefer to see the hours slip from their fingers
For that are dancing an old earth constituency

I am a little beyond the river and stare from my particular casement
I am slender as the stalk and have my own flowering
I don’t draw from women but I prefer the truth and not the trick of living

Witch Wife
Kiki Petrosino

Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino

 I must forgive myself for waiting so long.
I know a woman who waits is offensive 
but I just can’t get over my flaws

& now they might zero me out. My blood
is a zone of dispute, a tropic of fault. Since
I’ve waited so long, I must forgive myself.

The Taiga Syndrome
Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana
(Dorothy Project)

I’ve never met a Dorothy Project book I haven’t loved. This is book is both thoroughly odd & unexpectedly gripping. It shouldn’t work, but it does. A sort of speculative detective verse-prose novella.

I remember the light through the many windows. Memory dangles these windows in front of me, at daybreak, just barely covered by a thin linen curtain. Then the same windows in the middle of the day, opened wide. The windows again in the evening, and above all, I remember the hands on them, all over the glass. And the nostalgia of this, of what’s on the other side the great beyond, as it used to be called. Above all, I remember I used to exhale in front of them, in front of the glass, and write with the tip of my index finger the words “I am leaving here” and “I will never return.” 

It’s No Good Everything’s Bad
Stephanie Young
(DoubleCross Press)

It's No Good Everything's Bad by Stephanie Young

sometimes I think what can I possibly say about anxiety and having a body
that my friends haven’t already

other times I wonder why there aren’t more books on this subject
100 books about feminist bookstores
500 about feminist health collectives

there is a lot to be said about ovarian cysts

Certain Magical Acts 
Alice Notley
(Penguin Random House)

Certain Magical Acts by Alice Notley

I’ve been rereading Alice Notley—because of the book I’m working on, she’s a poet on perpetual repeat (not that we sound alike, but she sustains and bristles weird energies over a long-form poem like no one else). So I could have chosen The Descent of Alette again, or Benediction, or Alma, but I’m going with this one because I finally got to see her read this year, last month in Princeton. She read the first poem from this book, “I Couldn’t Sleep in My Dream,” then several from a newer unpublished series she’s been working on to recover some lost memories (so lots of anecdotes & recognizable poet figures), and a few other things. She talked a bit about her process for her book-length work—having an idea, finding a form to contain it, and how she “doesn’t write collections. Well, this [holds up this book] is a collection.”

The sun is rising, and light enters my old 
house. What sun is this? The desert star 
or some one flame as in transcendence? I 
won’t as it. I won’t ask anyone anything.
I got tired of being childish. In your assigned 
role you were a woman. But I’ve always been 
a poet, that’s all, no sex or race, no age or 
face. Can Eternity strip me of it? That’s only 
another word. I’m inside myself, and inside it.
Today’s the new fact. Are there others there?

“When I die, I hope they talk about me” 
Camille Dungy
(The Rumpus)

…I have to dig deep
below the fold to find stories about how
he turned his back on boys who were quilting
America’s cities in gay enclaves. Many Black women
died of the same neglect and, Good Lord, I remember
the news used to talk about babies, blood
saturated in suffering. Not today, though.
Today, the papers can’t even speak of his war
without casting that failure, also, as a bid for peace.
So, please, when I die, forget all the fires
I set.

Staying Alive
Laura Sims
(Ugly Duckling)

Staying Alive by Laura Sims

When the culture passed over
We bathed         in its light        in its fear          in its
Mountain stream. We left mountains
Of carts full of junk behind. We bade them
Farewell. They bade us
Weep and know shape
They bade us be hard.
Without power, I wielded my body 

Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing within the Anthropocene
Linda Russo & Marthe Reed, editors
(Wesleyan University Press)

Counter-Desecration anthology edited by Linda Russo & Marthe Reed

Disclaimer: I’m in this too, but it’s still brilliant. Including terms such as viral avatar (Danielle Pafunda), ecobereavement (Bhanu Kapil), negative corpuscuity (Vishnu Aggarwal), cloudygenous (Eileen Tabios), this unique work of speculative nature writing/ecopoetics opens several new portals. 

Third-Millennium Heart
Ursula Andkjær Olsen
Translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen
(Action Books/Broken Dimanche Press)

I am allowed to be upset here.
I have to be upset here.
I cannot get out of here until I’ve been upset.

Spells for Black Wizards
Candace Williams
(TAR Chapbook Series/Altas Review)

Photo of the dark blue cover folder next to the oversized unfolded chapbook Spells for Black Wizards by Candace Williams, showing part of the text for a poem called "On Neoliberalism Or: Why My Black Ass Is Tired."

This ingenious & gorgeous fold-out chapbook is alas sold out. But look at it! I hope the photo is good enough here for you to read, but you can also find some of the poems on Candace’s website.

Day Bed
Zach Savich
(Black Ocean)

Day Bed by Zach Savich

Civilization forgets its raincoat in the cab

I hoped to be older when driven to Proust
The melody being whatever you repeat

Beautiful warbled hopscotch grid
So you see a person in a car for sale in a field

The past wasn’t simpler but memory is
My neighborhood has its own stained glass shop

I offer the business I can

Natalie Eilbert
(Noemi Press)

Indictus by Natalie Eilbert

I didn’t mean to assemble my whole career on lies, so now I blast holes
in the men. I blast holes in the prints of the men. I blast holes in the holes 
who are the men. I move them in a process called autonomous fetishization, 
and they enjoy the hazards of my queenly thinking. I grip their cheeks 

and make them fish-mouth kind words to me.

“goodwifthing [mercy learn in a permanent lockdown]”
Pattie McCarthy
(The Tiny)

goodwifthing by Pattie McCarthy at the Tiny

mercy learn in a permanent lockdown
you should work in a permanent lockdown
you could play fuck walk in a permanent
lockdown birth sleep eat in a permanent
lockdown wake tweet fight swim shift thou pluckest
me out in a permanent lockdown

Rosmarie Waldrop
(Academy of American Poets / Poem-a-Day)

Aging by Rosemarie Waldrop at

I don’t know Rosmarie Waldrop personally, but she’s an important model for me as a poet/publisher so I always feel very close to her work. I love this poem.

The road toward rotting has been so long. We forget where we are going. Like a child, I look amazed at a thistle. Or drink cheap wine and hug my knees. To shorten the shadow? To ward off letting go?

Beast Meridian
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
(Noemi Press)

Visually, aurally, and typographically complex—including photographs, text collages, mixed languages. Both mournful and hopeful, this wide-format book is a luxuriant physical experience. I don’t think representing it with a snippet online is enough. Sit with it in your lap.

Photo of the interior of Beast Meridian by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal showing a poem on page 33 beginning "1995 budding black swallow each received blue eye that watches your house"

The End of Something
Kate Greenstreet
(Ahsahta Press)

The End of Something by Kate Greenstreet

Kate’s work often mixes elements of visual art, samples of her handwriting, photographs, and multiple shifting viewpoints that create kaleidoscopic patterns. There’s nothing quite like living for a while inside one of her books.

15. Introvert

Deep in my own green element, 
I met a friend.
My double, my dearest.

pulled me out of the sea,
placed me

in this pan of water,
added salt
and taught me to eat bread.

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Elizabeth Clark Wessel’s 2018 recommended reading

We’ve asked our authors to submit highlights from their reading this year— anything outstanding they read during the year and want to share, whether published this year or not. As a countermeasure/contrast to the typical year-end Best Of lists compiled by various mainstream media outlets (which are often linked to ad buys, or shared parent companies, o did you not know that!?), expect these personal lists to point in less expected directions. We’ll be posting our poets’ picks as they come in over the next week or two. Enjoy. —Bloof

Elizabeth Clark Wessel is the author of four chapbooks of poetry, a founding editor at Argos Book, and the translator of numerous novels from the Swedish, including most recently What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde. Originally from rural Nebraska, she spent many years living in New York and Connecticut, and these days calls Stockholm, Sweden home.

She has translated a chapbook of poems called Seeking an Older, Well-Educated Gentleman by Kristina Lugn that is forthcoming from Bloof in 2019, in the handmade chapbook series.

Here in no particular order are some of my favorite chapbooks of the year. A few are by friends and some share a publisher with me, but my admiration is absolutely sincere. I can’t say my reading has been expansive enough to make any claims to a “best of” list, but I do feel sure that more readers should and would enjoy these beautiful & various projects.

A Catalogue of the Further Suns
F. J. Bergmann
(Gold Line Press)

A Catalogue of the Further Suns by F. J. Bergmann

My Ida
Simone Kearney
(Ugly Duckling Presse)

My Ida by Simone Kearney

Roberto Montes
(TAR chapbook series)

Grievances by Roberto Montes

High Noon
Noel Black
(Blue Press)

S. Brook Corfman
(DoubleCross Press)

Meteorites by S. Brook Corfman

Kissing Caskets
Mahogany L. Browne
(YesYes Books)

Kissing Caskets by Mahogany L. Browne

Outside of the Body There Is Something Like Hope
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
(Big Lucks Press)

Plane Fly at Night
MC Hyland
(above/ground press)

The Rest of the Body
Jay Deshpande
(YesYes Books)

Jurassic Desire
Rohan Chhetri
(Per Diem Press)


Fish Walking, and other bedtime stories for my wife
Arisa White
(Per Diem Press)

Also, Argos Books, which I coedit, published two chapbooks, a full-length, & a calendar this year. I want everyone to read them because I love them so much. You can check it all out here.

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Catie Rosemurgy’s 2018 recommended reading

We’ve asked our authors to submit highlights from their reading this year— anything outstanding they read during the year and want to share, whether published this year or not. As a countermeasure/contrast to the typical year-end Best Of lists compiled by various mainstream media outlets (which are often linked to ad buys, or shared parent companies, o did you not know that!?), expect these personal lists to point in less expected directions. We’ll be posting our poets’ picks as they come in over the next week or two. Enjoy. —Bloof

Catie Rosemurgy is the author of two books of poems, My Favorite Apocalypse and The Stranger Manual, both from Graywolf Press. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Pew Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. She lives in Philadelphia and teaches at the College of New Jersey. First the Burning is an excerpt from a longer book in progress, The Forthcoming Disasters of Gold River.

Bloof published First the Burning in our handmade chapbook series earlier this year (and there are only a handful of copies left). 

This poem has been my 2018 anthem, incantation, spell, mantra:

Some Beheadings
Aditi Machado
(Nightboat Books)

Some Beheadings by Aditi Machado

Opening of “Prospekt” from Some Beheadings by Aditi Machado

Every day I wake & my life
is private. I see a sun. A coiling 
memoir. There is anaphora 
in the sun. There is a sun, 
it has brightened. A loss in this 
unyielding every day I wake—

there is privacy. A mirror 
brightens the fascist 
in me. When the speech 
is made the proscenium 
erects everyday 
theater. I make a kind 
of debris. When I speak 
the fascist in me speaks:

O countries & natives, o
wordless obeisance, o privacy
coiling in the memoir—

a great book I will write 
is not my private life. A tornado 
is simply warning for nothing
that appears out of chaos. A sun 

in the fascist, in the hard cold
private life of the citizen, I 
make a breakfast. There is a sun
still. There is a house
I move through. A bracken,
a tongue meet. 

A bracken, a tongue. 
A bracken, a tongue. 
A tongue, a tomb
I move through 
to arrive at word-like
edifice. Gingerroot,
canna, asparagus, iris. 
There is a room
I cook in. There is a 
sun outside of it. 
I empty a vase, 
I fill a bowl, 
floral notes, spice. 
The throat is a corset 
I wear, I tighten, 
from which I exude. 
I eat, I speak,
it is sexual. Prep
work, like eros, is 
in the minutiae.

Read more at Folder.

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CAConrad’s 2018 recommended reading

We’ve asked our authors to submit highlights from their reading this year— anything outstanding they read during the year and want to share, whether published this year or not. As a countermeasure/contrast to the typical year-end Best Of lists compiled by various mainstream media outlets (which are often linked to ad buys, or shared parent companies, o did you not know that!?), expect these personal lists to point in less expected directions. We’ll be posting our poets’ picks as they come in over the next week or two. Enjoy. —Bloof

CAConrad is the author of nine books of poetry and essays, the latest is titled While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017). A recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for Literature, they also received the Believer Magazine Book Award and the Gil Ott Book Award. CA is currently working on a (Soma)tic poetry ritual titled, “Resurrect Extinct Vibration,” which investigates effects the vibrational absence of recently extinct species has on the body of the poet and the poems. They teach regularly at the Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam, and their books, essays, films, interviews, rituals and other publications can be found online at their website.

The Library of Congress Censored Interview by CAConrad with Jasmine Platt is available as a free PDF in our Process Pamphlets series.

Poetry is how I spend my life, reading and writing it. We are living in the most abundant and sumptuous time for publishing poetry and I can no longer entertain people who whine to me that they would rather be living in times of poetry’s past. Each year I enjoy focusing on one book at a time while also reading favorite poems and passages of previously loved books. This year I relished 18 closely lived-with books, and they are the soundtrack of my 2018. I remember which book I was reading on the solstices, equinoxes, New and Full Moons, and the times with my truck driver boyfriend Tre reading out loud together late into the night while gazing out his truck window at the dome of stars over Florida, Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, and Idaho. Love and Poetry is the same banquet! Something utterly sacred about these banquets! Thank you, Shanna Compton, for asking Bloof authors for reading lists! These are the 18 books that made my 2018 amazing, and quite grateful to be alive: 

Chase Berggrun
(Birds, LLC, 2018) 

RED by Chase Berggrun

Something for Everybody
Anselm Berrigan
(Wave Books, 2018) 

Something for Everybody by Anselm Berrigan

Mock Through Rasping Crow
billy cancel
(BlazeVOX, 2017) 

Mock Through Rasping Crow by billy cancel

Heaven Is All Goodbyes
Tongo Eisen-Martin 
(City Lights, 2018) 

Heaven Is All Goodbyes by Tongo Eisen-Martin

Rachel B. Glaser
(The Song Cave, 2017) 

Hairdo by Rachel B. Glaser

Click & Collect
Colin Herd
(Boiler House, 2017) 

Click & Collect by Colin Herd

Good Stock Strange Blood
Dawn Lundy Martin
(Coffee House, 2017) 

Good Stock Strange Blood by Dawn Lundy Martin

Jonah Mixon-Webster
(Ahsahta, 2018) 

Stereo(TYPE) by Jonah Mixon-Webster

Eileen Myles
(Grove Atlantic, 2018) 

Evolution by Eileen Myles

The Length of This Gap
Kristen E. Nelson
(Damaged Goods, 2018) 

The Length of This Gap by Kristen E. Nelson

Ever Really Hear It
Soham Patel
(Subito Press, 2018) 

Ever Really Hear It by Soham Patel

Nat Raha
(Enjoy Your Homes, 2017) 

Lo Terciario / The Tertiary
Raquel Salas Rivera
(Timeless, Infinite Light)

Richard Scott
(Faber & Faber, 2018) 

Soho by Richard Scott

Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry
Sarah Shin & Rebecca Tamás, editors
Contributors: Kaveh Akbar, Rachael Allen, Nuar Alsadir, Khairani Barokka, Emily Berry, A.K. Blakemore, Jen Calleja, Vahni Capildeo, Kayo Chingonyi, Elinor Cleghorn, CAConrad, Nia Davies, Kate Duckney, Livia Franchini, Will Harris, Caspar Heinemann, Lucy Ives, Rebecca May Johnson, Bhanu Kapil, Amy Key, Daisy Lafarge, Dorothea Lasky, Ursula K. Le Guin, Francesca Lisette, Canisia Lubrin, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Lucy Mercer, Hoa Nguyen, Rebecca Perry, Nat Raha, Nisha Ramayya, Ariana Reines, Sophie Robinson, Erica Scourti, Dolly Turing, Jane Yeh
(Ignota, 2018) 

Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry edited by Sarah Shin & Rebecca Tamás

Some Animal
Ely Shipley
(Nightboat Books, 2018) 

Some Animal by Ely Shipley

Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color
Christopher Soto, editor
List of contributors available here
(Nightboat Books, 2018)

Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, edited by Christopher Soto

Divya Victor
(Fence Books, 2017) 

Kith by Divya Victor
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Hailey Higdon’s 2018 recommended reading

We’ve asked our authors to submit highlights from their reading this year— anything outstanding they read during the year and want to share, whether published this year or not. As a countermeasure/contrast to the typical year-end Best Of lists compiled by various mainstream media outlets (which are often linked to ad buys, or shared parent companies, o did you not know that!?), expect these personal lists to point in less expected directions. We’ll be posting our poets’ picks as they come in over the next week or two. Enjoy. —Bloof

Hailey Higdon writes poems, letters, essays, stories, novels, children’s books, and not-too-bad greeting cards. She creates sound poem experiences about once a decade. Hailey is the author of several poetry chapbooks including: A Wild Permanence (Dancing Girl Press), Rural (Drop Leaf Press), The State In Which (above/ground), Packing (Bloof Books)and How to Grow Almost Everything (Agnes Fox). Her first full-length collection, Hard Some, is available from Spuyten Duyvil Press. She is originally from Nashville, but currently lives and works in Seattle. Website:

Haileys’s sold out Bloof chapbook, Packing, is available as a free PDF.

Cedar Sigo’s collection of Joanne Kyger’s interviews, journals, and ephemera was fantastic:

There You Are: Interviews, Journals & Ephemera
Joanne Kyger, edited by Cedar Sigo
(Wave Books)

Bonus link: Hailey interviewed Joanne Kyger here.

There You Are, Joanne Kyger, edited by Cedar Sigo

Also these:

The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
(University of Iowa Press)

Fluency of Light

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others
Laura van Dernoot Lipsky & Connie Burk
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers)

Trauma Stewardship

Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot
Peter Crane
(Yale University Press)

Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot
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Untitled [I want you to come now!]

Living room, Arthur Smith, Architectural Digest, October 1983.
Living room / Arthur Smith, Architectural Digest, October 1983.
I want you to come now!
I want you to come now at the latest!
Bring your pocket calculator.
And the grand piano.
Bring band-aids aspirin eau de cologne and antiseptic soap
a bottle of seltzer a bottle of gin a bottle of whisky
and toothbrush mug
a bottle of Ajax and a large pack of sleeping pills a houseplant
a pizza
and a respirator.
I want you to come now!
Only you should come now at the very latest!
And take me by storm.
Turn out the lights.
And light the candelabras.
You should unplug the telephone jack.
And blow up the air mattresses.
You should dry my tears and talk some sense to me.
When the sun goes down behind the Opera House.
And it’s time to go home.
Then you should come to me.
With your heart.
And your shotgun.
So I’ll never lose my temper again.
In a tastefully furnished living room.
So I’ll never stand on the window ledge again.
Looking a little stupid.
With a dog rose in my hand.
So I’ll never creep through the subways again
with an embarrassing song.
On my broken lips.
You have to come now, now at the very latest!
Simply because I can’t stand it otherwise.
Simply because it’s so damn persistent.
Simply because I’m a totally ordinary woman.
Completely healthy and moderately overweight.
Somewhat domestic, helpful and nervous.
Kind and sweet and very scared.
With general interests and an untapped literary vein.


Kristina Lugn, translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel
from Seeking an Older, Well-Educated Gentleman
(Bloof Books Chapbook Series, 2019)

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A Version of Maine

Raspberries (1890s)
Raspberries, Annual Report from the Commissioner of Agriculture, NYS (1890s) from Internet Archive Book Images 

A Version of Maine

“Am I then this one fact forever,” he said…
“Until time runs out,” she said, pushing
Her golden bangs away from her eyes. Oh,

And the maples were
Already splotched with burning.

Snow filled the muddy footprint.
You could tell they were in for it.

Sore appendages. Raw throats.
Why did we keep returning
To bear witness to the same truth: something
In here is living with us.

We ate again. Sausages, wild rice—
A salad of lettuces.

A new average settled in. The unspoiled time
Of the future lay inside a forked past.

“The mice are well-fed at least,” she blurted out.
It was evening. The moonlight did something to her.
To him. Oily crumbs of stars on the newsprint sky.
We all laughed. We had another one.

Douglas PiccinniniVictoria
(Bloof Chapbook Series, 2019)

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Metaphor at 12:47 am

colorful mural
Photo by Ali Morshedlou on Unsplash

There will always be a gun at your back. Or
                                                                                         your front. Or 
somewhere near where your fear 

And it is not your job to defer the end. Or the bleeding. 
It is your job to keep the heart 
Its violent living and scarlet song. Some would even 
say that 
maybe the gun is a 
That perhaps, it is actually 
Because love can stop the heart's 
heaving or push it to a sure                    sprint. And 
maybe you can stop Love, but it is not your job to. Maybe the gun 
is a metaphor for Loving and being Loved and fearing the person 
who has a gun to your back. That they will 
one day use it to kill 
And fearing someone with 
something you do not have. Or maybe, 

A gun is a gun 
And you are trying to 


Dakotah Jennifer, Fog
(Bloof Chapbook Series, 2019)

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(From) a simple verb

Pink letters scattered on a white wall
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash


the simple verb is only as good as its distractions. the brain is good
for a ride if you hold on. the brain takes a breath / memory
evacuates. the pen is in an undisclosed location. the song pulls you
firmly into the seat of a car. fuzz goes the voice of the future. fuzz
goes the voice of the lovers. you are making a distinction here. you
are holding the blank in your hand. you, the immediate soft

pressed between two safe bodies in an undisclosed location you
watch understanding bloom. one hand to okay you. a reenactment
of forever’s face and its sick trill.

you & i & the immediate instinct to blank.

somewhere nearby a series of people walk to a series of
destinations. some seal a thought in plastic before dipping it deep
into steaming water. an idea takes a breath.

a memory chokes on itself.



JJ Rowan, from a simple verb
(Bloof Chapbook Series, 2019)

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By Gerrit Jan Schouten , 1884., Public Domain



In Maracaibo, being unlucky translates

to salty. You are salado, brackish, bad luck

swallows you and spits you out like an ocean

wave. It is never done with you. I am

salty. Mama found an iguana under

the kitchen table this morning. While everyone

was out scaring the green monster away, I

sprayed her French perfume on my hand. It smelled

like her during hugs post-dinners—its fragrance lingers

on her plastic-covered couches. Scent particles flew

into a fan, a brushed nickel finish apparatus,

and out into her bedroom. I held out my hand

in front of the fan, as if it to stop physics. it chopped

off my fingertip. As my relatives clean the bloodspots

from my dress—they’re huddled up around me, on their knees

the iguana they chased off earlier is walking

underneath my bed. I’ll drop something at night,

and when the lights are off, feel

its scales through my bandage.


Ana Hurtado, Miedo al Olvido: Poems from an Uprooted Girl
(Bloof Books Chapbook Series, 2019)

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Unsolved Mystery

Golden Hand
Photo by MUILLU on Unsplash


Unsolved Mystery

Think about where you have been in your life
     thus far

& think about suburban America 1995–present.
     Tell me more

about beheadings. Look up there,
     the girl-in-the-guillotine, sword-in-sheath.

The first girl I kissed I told her I loved her,
     gold blade to my throat.

I sent her more love than could fit.
     Wax stamp of crest, sigil,

tattoo of initial(s), what brand
     of unfortunate

as if a town-square ritual, body-outlier,
     unsolved mystery, revealed.


Katie Jean ShinkleRat Queen
(Bloof Chapbook Series, 2019)

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“The poem is an organism one can inhabit”

Danielle Pafunda

Sometimes the speed and volume of the language overflows its container. Or, since my poems are voice-driven, I often think: what (plat)form does this speaker require to deliver their speech? Sometimes they need the emphatic disruption to logic provided by line breaks and stanzas, sometimes the furious liquid state of prose. 

In The Dead Girls Speak, I conceived of the poems as coming over an erratic connection. Like a worm line from the underworld, running through the soil alongside roots. A landline! That led to sparser poems than I usually write. They declare what they need to and ring off.

[…] You enter a poem and wander around inside it. There’s not necessarily a rule about how to proceed through it. You neither start at its beginning, nor finish at its end. You inhabit it, you climb its stairs, and maybe it’s haunted, maybe it’s housing exhibits, maybe it’s filled with memories. It’s a time machine; it preserves a live and multi-sensory intensity. It has a pulse. The poem is an organism one can inhabit. Maybe like a mother, or a monster. Maybe like a planet, a universe, something with a lot of fibers. A phenomenological space that could otherwise only exist in its moment as connective tissue between sentient figures.

—Danielle Pafunda interviewed about The Dead Girls Speak in Unison at Bayou Magazine

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