Monday, August 27, 2018

[Trap Activates]


The final chapbook from the 2017/2018 Open Reading Season comes from trusty Grey Book Press stalwart Mike Sikkema.  It’s entitled [crawdads skitter on river dildoes].  It’s a fun ride . . . or fun-adjacent.  Each of his GBP chapbooks is a little strange and (strangely) hard to describe, so I asked him to describe it.  Mike wrote that it “was written at a four way stop where closed captions, stage directions, fluxus events, and the lyric poem had a terrible accident.”  The closed captions and stage directions definitely play a part as you can see here:

“[people argue about god in several languages]

[body fluids boil]

[termites fill the IV]

[floorboards creak mixed with flatulence]

[shark teeth rattle in unknown person’s bladder]

[nurses and gentle rain create an alphabet]”

You can pick up a copy at the Titles page.  They come in a rainbow of colors, so mix and match!  And while you’re there, pick up some of his other work, including his collaborative chapbook (with Elisabeth Workman).


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Monday, August 20, 2018

August 2018 Update

In just a few days, we’ll be wrapping up the 2017/2018 Open Reading Season with a chapbook from Mike Sikkema.  This one is titled [crawdads skitter on river dildoes], and I think it’s his best one yet.  (For the record, this will be his third Grey Book Press chapbook, not counting the collaboration with Elisabeth Workman [Terrorism is What Whale] in 2014.)  I think with one more chapbook, we have to change the name of the press to Grey Book Press: Home of Mike Sikkema’s poetry. 

After that, we head into “off cycle” work from Cat Conway . . . and others . . ?  Speaking of, I’m rethinking the Open Readings.  Yes, our next one is still planned for the two weeks that kick off midnight of Halloween, but I think we’ll be limiting selections to two chapbooks to give us more flexibility in choosing other manuscripts through the year.  (Typically, we select four or five and just one or two “off-cycle” manuscripts.  I want to flip that around somewhat.)  I have a couple manuscripts in my email, along with a poet or two I’d like to solicit for future projects.  By October/November, we should have our schedule set through Spring 2019, and by January 2019, we should have a schedule set for most of that year.  The goal, as I see it, is to have a manageable backlog of manuscripts (but, generally, not longer than six to nine months) with lots of flexibility built in. 

Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah . . . see you in a few days!

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7/11 Manifesto

The next chapbook of this year’s open reading selections is Under Half-Empty Heaven by Peycho Kanev.  The first line of the opening poem, “Manifesto” (“I grew up in Communism”) hints at a story of sorts that unfolds over the course of the collection, along with a sense helplessness and oppression that the poems deliver . . . but not without flourishes of beauty and hope. There’s a lot to contemplate in these pieces. 

From “Lament”:

“Loud music starts from the house,
cutting the songs of the crickets in half
and the voice of the dead soprano
weighs like a gravestone in the air.
In the night’s darkness I look into
seek nothing,
just to lift this cold beer to my mouth
and listen to the deathly music.”

You can now get a copy on the Titles page. 



As we’ve now blown through the Summer Solstice and Fourth of July (here in the U.S.), it’s just about time for our next chapbook.  This time it’s Under Half-Empty Heaven by Peycho Kanev, and it will arrive next week, which is a little later than planned.  As a result, the next chapbook (from Mike Sikkema) will follow close behind (mid/late August).  And then we’ll be preparing for our next open reading period and an off-cycle collection from Cat Conway.


Little Sister
The latest chapbook in our 2017/2018 Season is another collection of found poetry.  Little Sister by Sarah Nichols rose out of the second “Poeming” event in October 2017, wherein multiple participants (also including yours truly) wrote a poem a day using different Anne Rice novels as source material. 

Sarah’s novel was Violin, but the ghosts that inhabit that work are largely left out of her evocative and spare poems.  Instead, the poems themselves are ghostly psalms to womanhood and identity.  I was really drawn to the haiku-like economy of language and the multifaceted “character” that Sarah has created.  (The super-appropriate cover art was created by Cat Conway.)

From “Little Sister Witch”:

“I made an offering:
bones, dust, hair. A spell for captured


They carried me through
the streets

to the fire. I burn, like kindling,

dark red and bitter


Grab a copy of Sarah’s chapbook on the Titles page. 


Despite the recent “silence,” we’ve been pretty busy the past month or two.  In fact, we have a new chapbook coming out in three days!  This time, it’s Sarah Nichols with Little Sister

Besides being chock full of great poems, this one features a cover by Cat Conway, who we’ve added to our schedule for an off-cycle chapbook late this year.  (After Sarah’s chapbook, we have two more 2017/2018 Open Reading chapbooks for the season, likely coming toward the beginning of July and late August.) 

We’re also looking at structuring a “schedule” a bit better.  The non-poetry/professional/read-world job has an extremely busy period that runs through April and into May, so that could alter the chapbook schedule in future years.  Which assumes a lot. 

For now, let’s focus on what’s at hand.  See you in a few days!