The Capture of Krao Farini is part Turing test, part circus flyer. Written in the imagined voice of Krao Farini, a real sideshow performer brought to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, the book dissolves the line between algorithm and spectacle to reveal the ultimate consolation prize – to be acclaimed as human enough. Nay Saysourinho is a writer, visual artist, and recipient of a 2023 Baldwin for the Arts Fellowship. She was previously a Rona Jaffe Fellow at MacDowell and a Short Fiction Scholar at Tin House Winter Workshop. She holds a Berkeley Fellowship from Yale and has received support from Kundiman, The Writers Grotto, and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards.
The title of Carlos Soto-Román’s 11 evokes the “other” September 11: Chile’s September 11, 1973, when Augusto Pinochet led a military coup to oust the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and inaugurated a brutal 17-year dictatorship. Assembled from found material such as declassified documents, testimonies, interviews, and media files, 11 immerses readers in the State-sponsored terror during this period and the effects it would continue to have on Chile. The poetry in this book adopts the form of collage, erasure, and appropriation, the language emerging from censorship and suffocation as experienced under military rule. Soto-Román’s work asks us to understand the past through what has been covered up, to reflect on the spoken and unspoken pieces that interact to create a collective memory. How does censorship translate into another language when translation already involves so many degrees of selective removal? This collaborative version in English, taken on by eight translators, attempts to answer that question and provide a means to reflect on the relationship between writing, trauma, and politics.
Interior Landscape by Mirta Rosenberg Translated by Yaki Setton and Sergio Waisman Ugly Duckling Presse, September 2023
Mirta Rosenberg (1951-2019) is a key poet of the ’80s generation in Argentina. In Interior Landscape, Rosenberg explores questions of life and death, of changes experienced in one’s body through time and the resulting changes in perspective. These poems contemplate the dislocation of the self, posing questions about the relationship between subjectivity, perception, the body, and memory. Rosenberg’s voice is at once autobiographical and critical, displaying the interior landscapes of its experience as well as the complex ways that language forms a fundamental part of that experience. Originally published in Spanish in Argentina in 2012, Interior Landscape is the first book-length translation of Rosenberg’s poetry to be published in English.
Holly Melgard’s Read Me gathers the tools necessary to make sense of contemporary problems so ubiquitous they seem too big to name. Spanning a multiplicity of genres, media, and tonal registers, this book surveys Holly Melgard’s formally experimental poetic works produced between 2008 and 2023, including sound poems, essays on poetics, and books that exploit print on demand to, for example, counterfeit money. In often wildly comic turns of thought, Melgard’s work cleaves personal agency from automated defaults by mapping trauma and technocracy from the inside out. From critical talks to fictional monologues, the poet translates into language the unremarkable torments of neoliberalization in the digital age.
Winner of the 2023 Whiting Award for Drama, Emma Wippermann’s Joan of Arkansas is an election-season closet drama about climate catastrophe, divine gender expression, the instructions of angels, and heavenly revelation relayed via viral video. Fifteen-year-old Joan has been tasked by God (They/Them) to ensure that Charles VII (R–Arkansas) adopts radical climate policy and wins his bid as the Lord’s candidate to become the president of the United States. Arkansas is flooding, the West is burning, and borders are closed: “Heaven or / internet—it’s / hard to be / good.”
Feast of the Ass by Jahan Khajavi draws extensively on Iranian poetic traditions and the history of their reception in English translation, presenting a series of verses that play in the fields of love poetry’s address. Khajavi irreverently ruffles the “classical grandeur & quiet dignity” of inherited forms in order to consider the poet’s relationship to death, literature, race, religion, and sexuality, his “queer shoulder / set not to the wheel—so long, Solon!—but turned on to some bolder / axon.”
MA is Ida Börjel’s award-winning abecedarian, a maelstrom of voices cast in the underwater shadows and nuclear light of the Anthropocene. MA is a refraction of Inger Christensen’s seminal Alphabet, published in 1981, and speaks a furious incantation in the past tense, a grammar of loss, from the vantage point of a disintegrating here and now. Appearing for the first time in English in Jennifer Hayashida’s luminous translation, MA is less a curative than a testimonial, speaking simultaneously for the one and the many, the solitary mother and the insurgent multitude.
Embarrassed of the (W)Hole is an operating manual for an opera-of-operations. Oriented around formal and modal resistances to “wholism” as complex foil and the proposition to embarrass, the book includes scores-for-scores, theoretical frames, process notes, and a User Survey meant to be “operated” and “used” (specifically, rigorously) to stage and situate pertinent contexts, conditions, and embodiments of and for projected future operations.
Panoply Performance Laboratory is a thinktank, organizational entity, and flexible performance collective. Founded in 2006 by Esther Neff and co-directed with Brian McCorkle through 2018, PPL has also existed as a physical lab site (“institution as a verb”) in Brooklyn, hosting projects and performances by artists and thinkers from around the world.
Proximal Morocco is a collection of poems by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine originally published in 1975. It was written in fits and starts during a span of ten years (1964-1974), during the fever pitch of his political exile from his homeland of Morocco which he fled, partly for fear of political persecution and partly to pursue a literary career in Paris, France. Laced with the same politically-inflected Surrealistic fervor as Aimé Césaire, the book is at once a powerful outcry to fellow artists for international solidarity of the colonized and outcast and a documentation of the pain and struggle of exile.
Part autobiography, part play, part fictive dream as long poem, Awaiting begins by detaching phrases and motifs from two seemingly disparate plays (Lorraine Hansberry’s What Use are Flowers? and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot) and entangling them into centos or poetic remixes. Through the incorporation of these entanglements, original poetry, and a surreal landscape, what develops is a new work blurring the sightlines of narrative space by way of the spiral, by way of the fragment and the self-reflective slip of the fold into and out of itself.
As Juan Gelman once wrote, “exile has no form but leaves a trace.” In Exilium, Argentine poet María Negroni sketches precisely such a trace, in a poetic form that approaches opposite extremes of material immediacy and evanescence. On an imaginative terrain that sweeps the Greco-Roman, the “long night” of Argentina’s last dictatorship, and the crisis of displaced migrants today, Negroni locates the exile within poetry itself. In this poetics of exile, the poem shines in its utopian desire to write the “unwritten words,” revealing language at its most estranged, most wanting.
adjacent islands by Nicole Cecilia Delgado Translated by Urayoán Noel Ugly Duckling Presse, December 2022
Nicole Cecilia Delgado’s poetry in adjacent islands is intimate yet poised toward the radically communitarian, both in the people and histories evoked and in the collaborative and unabashedly political orientation of her editorial and publishing work. adjacent islands / islas adyacentes is a bilingual edition of her artist books amoná (2013) and subtropical dry (2016), both based on camping trips to islands in the Puerto Rican archipelago: the uninhabited Mona to the west of the main island and the municipality of Vieques to the east (Amoná and Bieké in the reconstructed indigenous Taíno language). Challenging the insularist logic that has historically defined Puerto Rican national imaginaries, on these adjacent islands, people and nature connect in unexpected ways, as Delgado documents the art of survival under military occupation, extractivism, and the surveillance state. Part of a larger corpus of what Delgado calls “camping books,” adjacent islands / islas adjacentes seeks to translate the intemperie (open sky) of the camping trip onto the confines of the page. Delgado follows the late Ulises Carrión in enacting a networked book art where “communication is still inter-subjective, but it occurs in a concrete, real, physical space—the page.” Call it book art as counterarchive.
Crisis Inquiry by Brooklyn writer and educator Tony Iantosca is a collection of poems in three parts that unsettles the lyric poem from within its constraints in ways that are both sardonic and searching. These poems probe the corners of a crisis of inquiry both intimate and general, inquiring into the registers, rhetorics, and scales of the various ongoing crises we live through daily. Iantosca’s third full-length collection of poetry, Crisis Inquiry stages satire and candor as alternating strides of the same figure, walking to and fro between you and me.
No Way in the Skin Without This Bloody Embrace by Jean D’Amérique Ugly Duckling Presse, September 2022
In Jean D’Amérique’s book-length poem, translated from the French by Conor Bracken, each page is as brief as a hurricane’s eye, glimpsing the eerie territory his speaker traverses like an apocalyptic flâneur. His “body / a devastation inventory,” his stroll a “walk / to curse the sidewalks,” he peers into the ruins—left by the winds of colonialism, capitalism, war, and natural disaster—and sees a “crop of eyes” peering back. What others dismiss as broken, for D’Amérique, is a mirror in shards, “drinking up all the world’s rot / then spilling it all out in diamantine rays.” The first of his books to appear in English, this work reclaims the visceral potency of poetry—it is food, it is “collars of blood,” it is a garment sewn with “a thread of sobs.”
From a dentist’s office in San Francisco to the caves of the Phong Nha Karst, Tammy Nguyen’s O sounds the depths of personal, mineral, and geopolitical histories of Vietnam. In this many-threaded narrative, a wind that carved mountains whistles through a young girl’s teeth. The electric green of a plastic forest glints off of glazed porcelain. The shape of a bowl becomes the mouth of a cave. What emerges is a story without a center: an anti-allegory that finds its meaning in echoes and refracted light, a book stitched together by the O woven through the work as its visual spine and sonic refrain. Tammy Nguyen is a multimedia artist and writer whose work spans painting, drawing, printmaking, and publishing. Intersecting geopolitical realities with fiction, her practice addresses lesser-known histories through a blend of myth and visual narrative. She is the founder of Passenger Pigeon Press, an independent press that joins the work of scientists, journalists, creative writers, and artists to create politically nuanced and cross-disciplinary projects. Ngueyn is Assistant Professor of Art at Wesleyan University.
Animated by a poignant blend of humor, pathos, joie de vivre, and nostalgia, Elixir is an extended meditation on everyday life and the passage of time. Fragments of narrative, overheard dialogue, song lyrics, and slant memoir surface and recede throughout. Examining the inseparable entanglement of the quotidian and the profound with wit and candor, these poems are personal, direct, and elusive at the same time. Lewis Warsh (1944–2020) was a key poet of the second generation New York School and — as a teacher, poet, mentor, and publisher of Angel Hair and United Artists Books — a significant figure in New York poetry communities for over 50 years. He authored over thirty volumes of poetry, fiction, and autobiography.
Palm-Lined with Potience is New York City poet and visual artist Basie Allen’s debut collection of poems. Basie’s work is by turns political and lyrical, charting both physical and emotional landscapes, making maps of paintings and paintings of maps. While rooted in Pro-Black theory, art, and precise description, Basie makes space in the ekphrastic for the eerie and abstract. The poems in this collection search for nodes of truth in a tumultuous sea of fractured facts.
Behind the Tree Backs Poetry by Iman Mohammed Translated by Jennifer Hayashida Ugly Duckling Presse, March 2022
Behind the Tree Backs investigates a poetics of remembrance through senses that hover just below and just above the skin. The text excavates war and displacement through a constellation of animate memories carved out of deep pleasure as well as brutality, the ancient and the institutional, the everyday and the geopolitical. The book insists on a poetics that recall through vibrating auratic fields, violence, love, and sexuality; these sensations tremble and cohere in a musical and tightly composed lyric.