Friday, March 13, 2015

After a long winter, I am glad that the spring will bring a few new projects into the world. The Cultural Society will be publishing my first novella, Story Book, in the coming months and, Omnidawn has just moved my first book of poems, Blood Oboe, into production. Cal Bedient has written a really wonderful introduction to Blood Oboe. I can't wait for both of these books to be in the world.

Some new writing has been popping up in Lana Turner, Aufgabe, So & So, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Boog City and The Volta.

More soon.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Seattle Review

The Seattle Review announced that SHADOWPLAY along with Alison Straub's Dust Rites were finalists for their inaugural Chapbook Contest, judged by Ben Lerner. Congratulations to Tony Mancus for his winning manuscript City/Country.

Winner:  Tony Mancus: City/Country
Finalists: Douglas Piccinini: SHADOWPLAY
               Alison Straub: Dust Rites

Ben Lerner said of Tony Mancus' work:

"neither the built space of the city nor a fantasy of pastoral escape; instead, these poems are a zone where the natural and artificial interpenetrate, often violently: electricity circulating through a doomed calf, the blade of a mower that “bends like / a thought / into the future.” In other words, the work is real--poems that summon considerable lyric powers to cut through the genre’s false consolations: “and the guests / guess wrong / about the necks // of birds / of reptiles / of mammals // of the hurt on the human form…” The line is the blade; see it shining in Tony's hands."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Selected by Dorothea Lasky as a Winner of the 2014 SLS Contest

Summer Literary Seminars is very excited to announce the winners of our 2014 Literary Contest! The sheer number and quality of the nearly 1000 submissions was exceptionally highCongratulations to the winners, and to all who entered!

A very special thanks to our judges, and to our contest partners Fence Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Center for Fiction, St. Petersburg Review, and the esteemed Graywolf Press.
Over the next week, we will be sending out a number of merit-based fellowship offers and editor's choice awards to the contest participants whose work has impressed our readers and judges with its overall strength. 

POETRY (Judged by Dorothea Lasky)
First Place: Monica McClure (Brooklyn, NY)
Second Place: Sandra Simonds (Tallahassee, FL)
Third Place: Douglas Piccinnini (Lambertville, NJ)

Poetry Winners

Monica McClure’s debut collection, Tender Data, will be published by Birds, LLC this year. She is the author of the chapbooks, Mood Swing, from Snacks Press and Mala, forthcoming from Poor Claudia. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Jubilat, The Los Angeles Review, The Lit Review, Lambda Literary Review’s Spotlight Series, The Awl, Spork and elsewhere. She curates Atlas, a collaboration series of visual artists and poets, and lives in New York City.

Sandra Simonds is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: The Glass Box (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014),  Mother was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012) and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009) which was a finalist for numerous prizes including the National Poetry Series. Simonds’ poems have been published in many  journals such as the American Poetry Review, The Believer, the Colorado Review, Fence, the Columbia Poetry Review, among others. She also has a poem forthcoming in the Best American Poetry 2014. She lives  in Tallahassee, Florida and is Assistant Professor of English at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia. 

Douglas Piccinnini is co-author of the bilingual text  (TPR Press, 2013) and of the chapbooks, Soft (The Cultural Society, 2010) and Crystal Hard-on (Minutes Books, 2010)—as well as an encoded chromagylph called FLAG (Well Greased Press, 2013). Story Book, a novella,  will appear later this year with The Cultural Society and, his first book of poems, Blood Oboe, will be released by Omnidawn in 2015.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

∆ reviewed at COLDFRONT!

‘Delta’ by Douglas Piccinnini, Cynthia Gray and Camilo Roldan

delta cover
  • PUBLISHED BY: Tea Party Republicans Press, 2013
  • REVIEW BY: Lauren Gordon

“…and once the position I believed / deeper no longer suits me so ”

Triads have existed historically as representative of holistic belief systems.  Life, Liberty, Happiness.  Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  The Triple Goddess.  Waxing, waning, full.  The symbolic idea of a triangle is that each line in the triangle represents one idea or aspect and when combined, a new form of being is created.  Triangle theory is the ultimate symbol of creation: the combination of three voices that create one song.  Well, Delta sings.  This collaboration of poetry by Douglas Piccinnini, Cynthia Gray and Camilo Roldan is written in both Spanish and English, and the cover art (and indecipherable title) is a triangle composed of the last names of each poet.
The first section of the book is ordered with the poems written in English appearing on the left page, forcing the reader to read these first before reading the translation on the right page.  Some of the poems mingle the languages in a way that creates a tension in dialogue between the pages, as evidenced in the poem “Songbird in the hawk”:
“Como va?”  “Va.”
Poco a poco tiempo
as blanked
rote declination.
Years?  Si, puedo.
No other golds
touch me so.
On the opposite page, the Spanish versions reads:  “’How’s it going?’ ‘It goes.’/Little by little time/como declinacion rutina/omitida.”  The equal sides of the triangle blur at the axis point, and the book relies heavily on this melding of language in the first section.  If the point being made is that song exists as a universal language, it works, especially when the language begins to work outside of itself.  The use of abbreviation, variety of syntax, or lack of proper capitalization calls attention to itself as a way of showing the reader such pomp isn’t necessary in the song.  In the poem “the fence of hope to break,” the poetic voice becomes richer with old-fashioned terms of address that feel almost biblical, formal:  “the space drilled into thee/for thee gleefully unpained now.”  The Spanish version reads formally as well: “el espacio taladrado en vos/con regocijo por vos ahora desafligido.”  The poem takes on an ode-like quality, asking the reader to bear with the speaker as she/he struggles to not repeat the same pattern of mistakes, to let go:  “love- possess me to tell the nothing/redoubled nonesuch hurts any longer.”
In Delta, the authors play with rhyme in a way that lends the poetry music, whether it is end-stop rhymes like in the poem “Junior still like” or internal repetitious rhyme in the poem, “all gets far to fix the year.”  The poems get a lot of their thrust from using present participles, but verbed words like “diamonding” are particularly memorable. The care in the arrangement of the poems creates tension between the sections and the language.  It is the overarching theme of universality, though, that creates the easement of flow.
You don’t have to speak Spanish to understand the mild cynicism of “ciao retardado brillante” or appreciate the poetry of conjugations:  “junto ‘la puerta.’/C’est la porte”.  The poems espouse a liquidity that appears throughout the book and it adds to the sensory experience of the triangle’s song, whether it is the interplay between the sunlight and the darkness or the imagery and metaphor of hands.  The sameness of experience is expressed eloquently in “the ‘part of you’ part of me”:
but every indefinite swell
soundless as the searoom
blossoms fatigue.
that decade we were
torn into pivots
as the airfield pitted
never seams up.
The sibilance of “soundless as the searoom” is phonetically lovely, but the imagery is strong as well.  One can imagine or recall what it feels like to be weightless yet bound under water with the waves breaking overhead.  The pivots that never “seam up” keep the same sense of wetness, the open wound, the same feeling of being unable to heal grief.  That theme of struggle carries the speaker(s) voice throughout the first section.  “I mean” the poets write in several poems throughout the first section: “I mean the sun empties/such reduced glad/into my mouth”.  The first section of the book distills a kind of dreamy hope for the experience of being in and of the world, but it is not until the second section where the axis shift occurs and we move into the physical being.
In the second section, the Spanish versions of the poems occur first in the reading order, and the poems become less merged in cumulative song; this is more like aria by the end of the section.  The “I” speaker solidifies and begins to reveal her-/himself fully to the reader, like in the English translation of the poem “quien tiene este thing”:  for the thing shines/the exception trying/as night tries too” and then “in dawns for some lamps call too/to lift a face to the face/to open the land.”   We hear the singular voice rising up, becoming a Pythagorean triangle with its one straight end and the plane of the poems moves into a physical realm, like in the next poem ,“almost touch me”:
almost touch me
for needs give a prison
and once the position I believed
deeper no longer suits me so
The physical sensuality described by the poets is in keeping with the sensory conversations occurring in the first section of the book, but the body itself becomes a focal point.  Here, the voice is not only unified, but one of verbal action:  “I believed,” “I said,” and this motif repeats itself throughout the rest of the section:  I chose, I know, I sense, I see, I feel, I serve, I mount, I pray, I wring, I get.  Where the sensory experiences in the first section led to the universality of experience, the aria of the second section demands more from the reader; it demands one connect with one’s body in the space surrounding. The poem “‘modern’ and ‘empty’” speaks to the living terrarium where life continues to happen whether or not you have a sense of home:  “still a sun hatches/builds again the feeling//the felled anthem too begins,” and then later, “a tiempo home/is not home/bottled growth.”  This is the call to action of looking around the shoebox you’ve been living in and opening the windows to breathe in something clean.  The second section of Delta speaks to the submission of the physical body within its environment; here the language becomes less important than the breadth of meaning.
The last three poems in the book find reconciliation between autonomy and hope, and the richness and playfulness of language continue to operate, like in the last poem “good morning and _____”:  “…night/you old fool/don’t go gone.”  We end in a roundabout back to the sensory experience of the body: sight, sound, taste, smell – and then, hope, growth.  These are poems created by deft hands with intention. Though it is not immediate, the reader discovers the accessibility in the musicality.

Friday, January 24, 2014

∆, FLAG, soft

Aaron Winslow
This past fall, Mark Johnson invited me to read with Aaron Winslow at Hiding Place in Philadelphia. Hiding Place is a rare book and record shop that Mark runs.

It was my first reading in Philly since traveling down with Ben Fama, Michael Barron and the rest of the Supermachine crew to read at the Rotunda with Christian Hawkey, Genya Turovskaya and Nathaniel Otting, a few years ago.

At Hiding Place, I read some of the Spanish sections that Camilo Roldán wrote for ∆. I also read part of Judah Rubin's introduction to Flag. I recorded what I was reading on my iPhone and then played it back/over my own voice as I continued to read sections from both of these texts and from Soft.

Ryan Collerd, a photographer from Philly, was nice enough to take a few photos of the event.
dp, seated

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Outside the Held Standard: Douglas Piccinnini’s Flag by Harriet Staff at The Poetry Foundation

Douglas Piccinnini reading at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church.
"The other day we made mention of Well Greased Press in a post about CLMP extending their membership–looking closely now, closely at Douglas Piccinnini’s Flag, in fact, we can make out some words in the chromaglyph. And it’s fascinating stuff, rousing both poetry as disreputable art matter and specific conceptual projects like Hannah Weiner’s Code Poems. Piccinnini has posted the introduction to the book on his blog, penned by Well Greased editor and publisher Judah Rubin as an entrée for poems that may not come across directly as such." Continue reading here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


  FLAG, an encoded chromaglyph, is now available from Well Greased Press. Here is editor Judah Rubin's introduction to the work:

Every few years, archaeologists and art historians do their best to remind museum-goers and other devotees of stately marble that their beloved classical statuary was once painted in gaudy lacquers complete with inlaid, bejeweled eyes. The horrific possibility of this cheesy adjustment to the unwitting public’s expectations of classical beauty is one that also reveals a vacuum in perceptual desire as to what have become, essentially, textual devices rather than objects of physical embodiment. That is to say, Classical beauty has nothing to do with direct aesthetic experience – of course –and has been pushed outward into a device, which, analogously, are as Alan Loney reminds us, called books (re: objects) when we are actually referring to texts (re: the classical as formula, the expected annunciation of the aesthetic experience – Venus De Milo sans arms to limit the possibility of/to append), construed ascentral bookings, particularly, suspended, impressed. To this effect, many choose the hotel as the named space of suspended reproduc­tive possibility - to lend a body to figures instead of having an embodied experience of this absorbing, passive - though constantly watchful - humanity. Pin-whole. It frightens us to think these bodies aside from moulds and this, largely, I’d hazard, because of a distinct lack of Pygmalionist control in the object itself and a want, therefore, to perch along the rim of the uncanny valley, instead. There is a distinct nausea that we feel at the non-reproduceable look or the grotesquery that is the singular, i.e. unreadable, surfactant application of the objective text-object that bears no trace of ethically sequenceable dynamics.

This marker of the textual body presents itself in and of the poetic form, lupidermant, howling at the door of (f)utility - mostly just for if-fect - where there is a distinct failure to approach the nonsensical possibility of condensed directional syntax. There is, largely, an implicitly deferred textual application, reliant on reference - that language begets language, that it relies on a genealogical, and foundational kinship. And to what effect but to build allowance (the space of necessitated permission,) to build the ramparts around vocabularial specie? But there must be a way outside of this mode, must be a way to allow for the auto-affection of a poem. This is not to say that a poem should not refer to, but that it should as ab-origin and an-original– thus, to imparted to the elaborately disproportionate, misapportioning myth, that of Onan, there spilling its seed onto the ground of language instead of playing the prosaic germ. (This myth, notably emergent first in concretized, “self indulgent” transgression qua anti-sociality in a 1728 French tract, Onania - and there out of a conversion from coitus interuptus to self-compensatory sexual play – that the same medial armature (the pamphlet) supportive of pornography and its double.

All to ask the question, is there a way to allow the poem to remain sexually elsewhere and to not be forced to produce - to open a place of si(g)n or watermarked between creative space and its substrate? Is the automatic formation of the poem to be driven into the textual realm, into the marker, or will it code itself to record a symbolic order at once for and extraneous to itself - marking the excess of the freakish addition to language–to stand against and entreat reading to shudd(tt)er at possibility, as per Robert Grenier, of reading while shutting down the pleasure of referential non-reference as in the Noigrandres?

(FLAG interior)
Language stands in need of a notated quietism in apparatus, apparenthesis. It needs its non-space. Let it leave off when approached with sociality as necessary, as responsible text. Best to allow it to present the reader with the same dilemma as early attempts at mapping shorelines gave cartographers: a happy and impossible question. In presenting asymptotic dimensions, there is an inherent impossibility in the replacement of solid ground for water. When/where does land end? But to this, the poem may demand a cancellation of language by pointing beyond itself in itself and turn away from the space of literature to an excess encoded on the body of the poem itself. The uniformity of flattened, alphabetic semantic logos is a failure, markedly for its battering of that language that is actually private, private to itself, generating only a border of pure spec(tra)(u)lation. Language must need encode itself as memory does, as the de/re-fragmented disk repieces the Osiric tearing of its body of thought.

Poetry is often spoken of as a necessarily correspondent or social medium – even, per Blanchot, again that we are always writing for a somebody’s summed body. That the conceptual should leave a space to discuss, to debate, to mark out and stake a position. But letting poetry slip into disrepair, recognizing a happy paucity of place, I would like to think of Flag as being part of what is, instead, a leaving off, a creation of an apart/aportion purporting to wave, flag, hail, but, then, instead, creates an autoaffective space for itself and does not invite any more than it wards off, stands at the mid-point of a fundamentally Whitmanian dialectical space (i.e. leaves / left / growth { } flagged / mast-bound / death) that may help us to understand the recuperation of a space for interiorized directive that this book offers its reader.

As in Whitman, this dialectic leaves space only for Calamus’s vision of death. What is left of Whitman that is of any importance is the space we are looking for here, poems that desire to catalog, that hope to open the space of speak­ing for and end driven finally into their encounter with death. In that these poems are buried beneath the stratified postulation of their their own layering, of the achronologic manifest not in layered rock but in the reduction of that time to a flattened, extra-diagramatic field of casualty within the asymptotically irredemable limit of historical retranslation. These poems refract before or outside of reflection.

This work dissolves under the weight of the poems’ expectation—their gesture is one outside the held standard, apportioning the flattened field to the aphasia of graphic interface. These are poems that touch themselves and retreat from contact. They stand at a remove from the body, from speech, from writing and refuse contact with patrimony that would seek to graft it to the word-trunk. This is writing that finally refuses to speak.

In Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532), madness visits Orlando after he sees, when, arriving in a meadow, the evident love of Angelica, his declared love, and Medoro, her chosen lover. The importance is that he sees the evidence in the trace of their initials carved into the trees about him. There has been an intervention in space that forces madness upon a man who had only wanted to rest there in the glade. He is wracked with the inability to do anything but destroy, visiting the possessive rage of the conqueror upbraided upon the land. It is this is that we have at the core of our desire to ferret out our object within the text, to graft meaning onto the Disastrous space outside our control. That the text be allowed to remain much outside ourselves, as Douglas has issued here, is particularly notable in its translation of his own work to the extent of an abnegated symbolic order. It is a sanity restored to letters that is allowed here, one that moves against the hieroglyph, against the symbol, against text while simultaneously moving against the coherent or recognizable form of visual art. It fails them all and closes the exclusive space, thankfully, of the public.

— Judah Rubin
Queens, NY
May 27, 2013

To celebrate the release of FLAG, as well as Dear Pierre by Karen Weiser and Hold the Blue Orb, Baby by Lewis Freedman ⎯ also published by Well Greased  ⎯ the three of us will be reading at Unnameable Books. Here are the details:

8PM | Tuesday August 20th 
Unnameable Books 
600 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, New York

Lewis E. Freedman is the author of Catfish Po'Boy (Minutes Books), Pretend to Think (Minutes Books) and Hold the Blue Orb, Baby (Well Greased).

Karen Weiser is the author of Dear Pierre (Well Greased), To Light Out (Ugly Duckling) and Placefullness (Ugly Duckling).

Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Flag (Well Greased), Soft (The Cultural Society), Crystal Hard-On (Minutes Books) and Blood Oboe (Omnidawn).