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: www.haileyhaileyhailey.com
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.
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
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
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.
Think about where you have been in your life
& 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
as if a town-square ritual, body-outlier,
unsolved mystery, revealed.
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.
InThe 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
You missed the chance to nab this one-of-a-kind artwork (lucky collector!), but you can still dig into these photos and Nikki’s artist statement:
“‘Cavity Sam’ is the name of the patient, according to the original directions to the game ‘Operation.’ Uncle Sam is on the operating table rotting from the inside out from his lies, delusions, and deceits, is the keeper of a terminal illness called manifest destiny, called colonialism, called capitalism. Through generations of persecution in this global circle jerk career of hate Uncle Sam projects his own dehumanization onto his victims, and in the end who here is the real caricature, stereotype, and fetish object?” —from the artist’s statement
Do you follow us on Instagram? We post regularly there, a mixture of books (our own and those we’re reading), design, nature, and (vegan) cooking. When we’re making the chapbooks, we always show you some of the process.
The background colors & textures for these covers were individually printed on a gelli plate with blue and green soy inks, then the lino-cut key was applied in gold paint, the title stamped in ink with rubber type, and finally the author name added in colored pencil. For poems about automatons, they are very handmade.
We are delighted to announce we will be publishing these six chapbooks in the 2019 Bloof Chapbook Series!
Elizabeth Clark Wessel
Katie Jean Shinkle
Ana Hurtado Miedo al Olvido: Poems from an Uprooted Girl
Ana Hurtado is a Venezuelan writer who grew up in Ecuador. She earned her MFA at Iowa State University in 2017 and currently teaches rhetoric and creative writing in Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Her work has been published by Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5, and others. Her chapbook Miedo al Olvido: Poems from an Uprooted Girlis forthcoming from Bloof in 2019. Website: anahurtadoro.wixsite.com/anahurtado. Find her on Twitter:@ponciovicario
Dakotah Jennifer Fog
Dakotah Jennifer is an eighteen-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing at eight and has loved it ever since. While working on self-publishing her poetry and an essay collection, she has been published in the Grief Diaries, interned for the JMWW literary magazine, and was on the Long List in the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction contest. Jennifer writes about race, class, and gender, stretching her emotions into tangible things. She strives to write things that grow. Her chapbook Fog is forthcoming from Bloof in 2019. Website: dakotahjportfolio.com
Kristina Lugn, translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel Seeking an Older, Well-Educated Gentleman
Kristina Lugn (b. 1948) is the author of eight collections of poetry and eighteen plays, the former artistic director of the Brunnsgatan Fyra theatre in Stockholm, Sweden, and a member of the Swedish Academy. She’s also the winner of the Selma Lagerlöf Literature Prize (1999) and the Bellman Prize (2003). A chapbook of her poems called Seeking an Older, Well-Educated Gentleman, translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, is forthcoming from Bloof in 2019.
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. Website: elizabethclarkwessel.com
Douglas Piccinnini Victoria
Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Victoria (Bloof, forthcoming in 2019), Blood Oboe (Omnidawn, 2015) and Story Book: a novella (The Cultural Society, 2015). Recent writing has appeared with Denver Quarterly, Fence, Lana Turner, Nat. Brut, Seattle Review, Tupelo Quarterly,Tammy,Verse, and the Volta—among other publications. Currently, he lives in Lambertville, NJ and works as a chef and consultant. Website: www.douglaspiccinnini.com
JJ Rowan a simple verb
JJ Rowan is a queer poet and dancer living in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, looking for the places where the written line and the lines of the moving body intersect. Their poems, hybrid work, and VisPo have appeared in Phoebe, the Hunger, Dream Pop Journal, and others. Their collaborative sonnets with Nate Logan were recently published in where is the river and in the chapbook mcmxciv. (Shirt Pocket Press). Their chapbook a simple verb is forthcoming from Bloof in 2019.
Katie Jean Shinkle Rat Queen
Katie Jean Shinkle is the author of three full-length works, most recently Ruination (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her poetry, prose, and criticisms can be found in Flaunt Magazine, the Georgia Review, Denver Quarterly, New South, the Collagist, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. She serves as associate fiction editor of ANMLY, co-poetry editor of DIAGRAM, and is an Assistant Professor of English at Central State University in Wilberforce, OH. A chapbook called Rat Queen is forthcoming from Bloof in 2019.
Additionally we will be reissuing—due to popular demand!—one of our previous handmade chapbooks in a new hardcover artist book edition!
Nikki Wallschlaeger I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel
Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in the Nation, Georgia Review, Brick, Witness, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horse Less Press 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017) as well as the graphic chapbook I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel from Bloof Books (2016). She lives in the Driftless region of Wisconsin with her family. Bloof will be publishing a hardcover art-book edition of I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel in 2019. Website: nikkiwallschlaeger.com
Subscribe to reserve your copies
We’ll be posting excerpts from each of these chapbooks in the next few days, so please check back for more. Can’t wait? You can subscribe to the 2019 series now, to reserve your copies of these limited-edition handmades. (They tend to sell out quickly, so in some rare cases we may sell out of a particular chapbook before individual preorders have a chance to open.)