Booksmith is pleased to host a virtual event with Omnidawn Publishing for their seasonal launch of new titles, for which each author will be reading from their work. Be the first to own these new treasures:
On Certainty by Karla Kelsey
Letters from the Black Ark by D.S. Marriott
Black Box Syndrome by Jose-Luis Moctezuma
Looking and Seeing and Seeing and Looking by Damon Potter and Truong Tran
Shadows and Clouds by Marcus Stewart
You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis by Kelly Weber
Tell it Slant by John Yau
This event is free and all ages, but RSVP is required. Event link will be sent to everyone who registers.
About On Certainty by Karla Kelsey
Lyrical poems that tell the story of a nameless woman navigating a technological dystopia.
In the poems of On Certainty, an unnamed woman in a strangely familiar dystopia narrates a story of power and decline, where the Tyrant has gained ascendency and the Philosopher is dying. Here, the Tyrant rules over a decimated ecology filled with android deer, burnt towns, and exhausted individuals dependent on virtual reality augmentation. In choosing whether to take the Philosopher’s place in a struggle against the Tyrant, the narrator must consider how her decision may perpetuate the currently existing catastrophic systems.
Weaving together speculative fiction, philosophical aphorism, lyric fragment, and documentary technique, On Certainty echoes the contemporary world that can feel simultaneously quotidian and strange.
Karla Kelsey’s poetry books include Blood Feather; A Conjoined Book, also published by Omnidawn; Iteration Nets; and Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary, selected by Carolyn Forché for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. Her book of experimental essays, Of Sphere, was selected by Carla Harryman for the 2016 Essay Press Prize. With Aaron McCollough, she copublishes SplitLevel Texts, a press specializing in hybrid genre projects.
To have On Certainty sent to your door, order here.
About Letters from the Black Ark by D.S. Marriott
Rhythmic lyrical poems that embody black music, existence, and tragedy.
The poems in this collection center on the word “dub,” which accrues a subtle lyrical connotation throughout its various forms and meanings—to bestow, vest, crown, and also to suspend, reverb, echo, and sever. Dub poetry plays with revealing and concealing, while also pointing the way to the conditions that produce black poetic music. In D.S. Marriott’s poetry, tragic catastrophes of current black existence—London knife crime, the Windrush scandal, Grenfell, and deadly race violence—are portrayed as questions of language. To speak this language, as Marriott’s poem show, is to take on the forces that cause rupture. Throughout these poems of loss, exile, and obliteration, the poet foresees his downfall and metamorphosis, ultimately realizing too late that he cannot transcend the reverberations and echoes laden with black social death.
D.S. Marriott is the author of Before Whiteness, Lacan Noir, Whither Fanon?, and Hoodoo Voodoo. His poetry has appeared in Chicago Review, PoetryLondon, LosAngeles Review of Books, Snow, Brooklyn Rail, Poetry Review, and Paris Review. He currently lives in Atlanta, where he is the Charles T. Winship Professor of Philosophy at Emory University.
To have Letters from the Black Ark, order here.
About Black Box Syndrome by Jose-Luis Moctezuma
Poems that follow systems of chance and divination to counter corrosive financial systems.
Jose-Luis Moctezuma’s Black Box Syndrome is a series of poems—or “black boxes”—based on black hexagrams in the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination text. Following the aleatoric tradition popularized by the surrealists and extended by the work of John Cage and Jackson Maclow, these poems cast their lenses on the hazards of the incessant financialization of everyday life. Synthesizing chance-operational aesthetics with Aztec anatomical science, conspiracy theory with systems theory, and the black box model with the concept of the “influencing machine,” Black Box Syndrome explores tensions between lyric excess and digital compaction in the age of pandemic. Over and against the corrosive world-shrinking effects of Wall Street risk management and futures trading, the black boxes in this book propose a counter-divination that distorts, deranges, and decolonizes the logic of empire.
Jose-Luis Moctezuma is a Xicano poet based in Chicago. He is the author of a chapbook, Spring Tlaloc Seance, and the book Place-Discipline, also published by Omnidawn. His poetry and criticism have appeared in Postmodern Culture, Fence, Jacket2, Chicago Review, Modernism/modernity, and elsewhere.
To have Black Box Syndrome, order here.
About Looking and Seeing and Seeing and Looking by Damon Potter and Truong Tran
Two books bound together that interrogate race—one from the perspective of a man of color, and the other from the perspective of a white man.
This book brings together different perspectives under two titles, considering the lives and experiences of two friends, one Vietnamese American and one white. Looking And Seeing is a poetic work of yearning, regret, and righteous indignation. In Truong Tran’s poetry, what is said and what is written reveal our complexities. Composed as an investigation of his own being and body as a brown person moving through white spaces, this collection moves alongside Tran’s friend and collaborator Damon Potter. Seeing and Looking offers a record of Potter’s perspective as a white man examining who he is and wants to be and the complications of trying to be good while also benefiting from histories of oppression. Potter considers death—both his own future death and the deaths of his friends—while grappling with how to witness horrors, wonders, and his self.
Damon Potter is coauthor of 100 Words with Truong Tran. He works as a gardener in San Francisco.
Truong Tran is a writer, visual artist, and teacher at Mills College, Oakland. Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and he currently lives in San Francisco. He is the author of seven previous collections of poetry: The Book of Perceptions; Placing the Accents; Dust and Conscience; Within The Margins; Four Letter Words; 100 Words, coauthored with Damon Potter; and Book of The Other, recipient of the American Book Award and CLMP’s Firecracker Award for Poetry. He is also the author of one children’s book, Going Home Coming Home, and an artist monograph, I Meant To Say Please Pass the Sugar. His poems have been translated into Spanish, French, and Dutch.
To have Looking and Seeing and Seeing and Looking sent to your door, order here.
About Shadows and Clouds by Marcus Stewart
Stories that question our experience of time, truth, and memory.
Through the stories in Shadows and Clouds, Marcus Stewart invites us to consider how things are not always as they appear or as we remember them, instead locating reality in the imagination and the dream world. While animals understand the world without words, humans create our experiences as stories, translating past and future into tales told in the present. Stewart’s stories take the notion of storytelling and expand to a consideration of how truth, misremembering, logic, lying, and uncertainty play together to affect our experience of reality. In an alternate reading of time, Stewart poses the suggestion that you may already have a future memory of reading this book, and reading the stories backward may bring us back to the present.
Shadows and Clouds is the winner of the 2021 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Chapbook / Novelette Contest, chosen by Theodora Ziolkowski.
Marcus Stewart has written sketches and jokes for BBC radio comedy and plays for fringe theater. He lives on the south coast of England with his wife and daughter.
To have Shadows and Clouds sent to your door, order here.
About You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis by Kelly Weber
Poems in a range of forms that consider the queer body, chronic illness, and love amid rural plains landscapes.
Set against a rural plains landscape of gas stations, wind, and roadkill bones littering the highways, You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis is a love letter to the nonbinary body as a site of both queer platonic intimacy and chronic illness. Looking at art and friendship, Kelly Weber’s poems imagine alternatives to x-rays, pathologizing medical settings, and other forms of harm. Considering the meeting place of radiological light and sunlit meadows, the asexual speaker’s body, and fox skeletons, these poems imagine possible forms of love. With the body caught in medical crisis and ecological catastrophe, Weber questions how to create a poetry fashioned both despite and out of endings.
You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis explores forms with plainspoken prose poems with a mix of short poems and longer lyric sections that navigate insurance systems and complicated rural relationships to queerness.
You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis is the winner of the 2022 Omnidawn 1st/2nd Poetry Book Contest, chosen by Mary Jo Bang.
Kelly Weber (she/they) is the author of We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place. She is the reviews editor for Seneca Review and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in a Best American Poetry Author Spotlight, Gulf Coast Online, Electric Literature’s The Commuter, Hayden’s Ferry Review Online, Southeast Review, Salamander, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University.
To have You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis sent to your door, order here.
About Tell it Slant by John Yau
Poems that consider doubleness and truth-telling through the voice of an Asian American poet, while referencing a range of writers and pop culture figures.
Emily Dickinson begins one of her poems with the oft-quoted line, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” For Asian Americans, the word “slant” can be heard and read two ways, as both a racializing and an obscuring term. It is this sense of doubleness—culminating in the instability of language and an untrustworthy narrator—that shapes, informs, and inflects the poems in John Yau’s new collection, all of which focus on the questions of who is speaking and who is being spoken for and to. Made up of eight sections, each exploring the idea of address—as place, as person, as memory, and as event —Tell It Slant does as Dickinson commands, but with a further twist. Yau summons spirits who help the author “tell all the truth,” among whom are reimagined traces of poets, movie stars, and science fiction writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Thomas de Quincey, Philip K. Dick, Li Shangyin, and Elsa Lanchester.
John Yau is a poet, art critic, fiction writer, and publisher whose recent books include Foreign Sounds or Sounds Foreign and Bijoux in the Dark. He founded Black Square Editions and cofounded the online magazine Hyperallergic Weekend. He has received awards and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, and Academy of American Poets, among others. He teaches at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and lives in New York.
To have Tell it Slant sent to your door, order here.
This event is free and all ages, but RSVP is required.
Authors are pictured above as follows, left to right: Karla Kelsey, D.S. Marriott, Jose-Luis Moctezuma, Truong Tran, Marcus Stewart, Kelly Weber & John Yau, all courtesy Omnidawn (not pictured: Damon Potter).