Saturday, December 20, 2014

A rave review for THE SONNETS!

The Sonnets

Sandra Simonds, Author
In her third collection, Simonds (Mother Was a Tragic Girl) takes on the venerable form and builds houses for memory in 14 lines. Though the collection’s title implies an orderliness or predictability, Simonds’ sonnets are uncaged, snarling, rooting creatures, ferreting about the mind like it’s a shoebox of memorabilia. These sonnets execute that mysterious task which only poems can: expose the connective roots of memories, objects, and beings, despite how dissonant the universe can feel: “The surface must be tended to/ like farmland underneath mountains that dissolve/ and erode, leaving their minerals in our bone.” Simonds’s lines twist like DNA strands, the sequence coded yet the result unpredictable: “In your sonic/ boom sonnet, spaniel and dachshund will howl/ allele spirals until they breed dumb or smart, medium/ or three-legged pigeon with woof.” She contends with being one life amongst the millions of lives differentiated simply by place, time, and sex: the teenager hanging menus on neighbors’ doorknobs; a “well-respected PTA dad”; Tom Petty picking up a prescription at his dentist’s office. Simonds playfully and powerfully writes in the recognition of every attempt at self-preservation, “as if there were a way to shield/ oneself from the messy galaxy of the human heart.” (Dec.)


And of course you can get a copy from us here. Sandra's first book, Warsaw Bikini, is also available from Bloof.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Open Reading Period Update: 2015 Chapbook Series

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bundle up!

Since we've gotten a few queries about holiday sales, we figure we should remind you: We always have bundle deals available on the paperbacks, for very good discounts and free shipping.

We've added our two newest books to the list of choices: The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds and Ultramegaprairieland by Elisabeth Workman.

2 books $26 (a $10 discount)
3 books $39 (a $12 discount)
4 books $51 (a $15 discount)
5 books $61 (a $20 discount)

Available for bundle discounts:

The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds
Ultramegaprairieland by Elisabeth Workman
Natural History Rape Museum by Danielle Pafunda
Tina by Peter Davis
Brink by Shanna Compton
The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway by Jennifer L. Knox 
Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! by Peter Davis 
Warsaw Bikini by Sandra Simonds 
My Zorba by Danielle Pafunda
For Girls (& Others) by Shanna Compton
Drunk by Noon by Jennifer L. Knox
A Gringo Like Me by Jennifer L. Knox
Down Spooky by Shanna Compton

Subscriptions for 2015 should be available in December, but we're not ready to announce the contents quite yet. If you'd like to preorder a subscription as a holiday gift though, we can set that up! Email us at sales [at] bloofbooks [dot] com.

To purchase via Square (secure credit card):
Bloof Bundles: Discounted Mix & Match Multiples from Bloof Books on Square Market

To purchase via PayPal

Select bundle option

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New poem & an interview by Kirsten Kaschock

Excerpted from Kirsten's new book The Dottery, available from the University of Pittsburgh Press: 

the Exorcist's dotter 

took in all the Exorcist brought home:
smoke in brown bottles, fetal wisps
coiled around rosary beads, vapors
trailed from loafer heels. She scraped
it all into an antique copper tub for
bathing but saved that bath. […read the rest]

And here is a new interview at Speaking of Marvels, wherein Kirsten talks about writing and creating her Bloof chapbook Windowboxing

If your chapbook wasn’t a chapbook — if it was in some other form — what would it be? 
An interpretive dance—a duet with a chair. 
Which poem in your chapbook has the most meaningful backstory to you? What’s the backstory? 
The poems have snatches of many people’s backstories… Jaycee Dugard’s imprisonment, an Amish family fire… my own children make an appearance. I can get sad. There is a scene in the chapbook where I walk with them to try to feel better and it works at the same time it doesn’t work. Capturing that moment was a big step for me.
Read the rest.

Only a few copies of Windowboxing left!

Four new poems from Jennifer L. Knox's forthcoming book

The New Twilight Zone: “Empty City”

The cloud cover enveloping our hull
splits, shifts to our back like a parachute,
and we descend to the city below. Its three
mighty rivers: now kinked, dribbling hoses.
The scent of seething biomass—brown mounds
going green again with psyched, thriving mold—
reaches us far up as we are—and look: plumes
of smoke snaking into the air there. Flames
and dry backyard blowup pools below coming
into focus, but too much sun to see the windows
in the buildings all have x’s in their eyes.
Between white lines dash-dash-dashing the roads:
not a car. The voice on the tower mic:
silent as a bee hive.
More at Luna Luna Magazine
Schenectady Is Most DefinitelyThe End of NYCHive Minds
Jennifer L. Knox's new book of poems, Days of Shame and Failure, will be published by Bloof Books in 2015. Her other books, The Mystery of the Hidden DrivewayDrunk by Noon, and A Gringo Like Me are also available from Bloof. Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series (1997, 2003, 2006, and 2011), as well as in the anthologies Great American Prose PoemsFrom Poe to the Present and Best American Erotic Poems.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Daniel Borzutzky on WTTW PBS Chicago Tonight + readings this week.

"Every book has sentences in it the writer hates, that the writer cannot get rid of, that the writter cannot live without. Any writer who cuts out every sentence that he hates is a writer not worth reading." 
Daniel Borzutzky's chapbook BEDTIME STORIES FOR THE END OF THE WORLD! is currently in production at Bloof Books and is available for preorder here.
You can catch him performing in Chicago this week and also watch these videos of him reading excerpts from his (astounding) work, courtesy of Chicago Tonight WTTW PBS! (Includes video embedded above plus others.)

Reading details: 

Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 to 9:00 pm
La Bruquena Restaurant
2726 West Division St., upstairs
Chicago, IL 60622
The Guild Literary Complex and the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium are co-sponsoring a reading with poets Daniel Borzutzky and Justin Petropoulos. The event will begin with an open mic and include readings and discussion led by the duo. The program is free and open to the public.
Thursday, Nov. 20 at 12:30 pm
Hagstrum Room
University Hall 201
1897 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208

The Poetry and Poetics Colloquium will host a reading and workshop with Daniel Borzutzky and Justin Petropoulos. Contact Todd Nordgren ([email protected]) for copies of the readings for this workshop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Open Reading Period update

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Open Reading Period Update: SOON

We're in the home stretch of reading through the chapbook submissions and discussing the finalists.

We hope to be able to narrow it down and announce our choices for the 2015 series very soon.

Thank you for your patience (and for sending so much amazing work).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Elisabeth Workman at the Twin Cities Book Festival this Saturday

If you're going to the Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday in Minneapolis, be sure to stop by the Rain Taxi booth to meet Elisabeth Workman. She'll be signing copies of Ultramegaprairieland, which is discounted to $10 for the festival—and during her Author Hub event she will madlib/remix you a poem on the spot.

Event details: Saturday, October 11, 12:30–1:15 PM
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
FREE admission & free parking

Elisabeth Workman: The Lonely Remix 
Are poems lonely? Are they mere abandoned works of art just waiting for someone to remix and revive them? How is a poem a want ad? How can a poem be awesomely bad? Join Elisabeth Workman for a want-ad-lib (awesome bad lib) encounter in which you will walk away with your own personal remix of a poem from her new book Ultramegaprairieland. Meet her at the Rain Taxi booth!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bloof News: September 2014

Come see us at Philalalia! 

This Thursday, Friday & Saturday in Philadelphia 

Bloof Books will be at the bookfair all three days. Plus, 
we're giving a chapbook-making workshop Friday at 
noon, and hosting a reading with Coconut Poetry 
Friday night. (More on that below.) 

Philadelphia's first annual small press poetry & 
art fair is drawing small presses from all over, including 
Black Radish, Dusie, Fact-Simile, Furniture Press, 
Futurepoem, Gigantic Sequins, Ixnay Press, Least Weasel, 
Lungfull! Magazine, Propolis, Saturnalia & more!

Browse the list of vendors & see the full schedule 
of workshops and offsite readings here:

Friday, September 26
8:00 p.m. at Snockey's
Philadelphia, PA

Bloof & Coconut host the official Friday night event
of Philalalia, with performances by:

Stephanie Berger
Natalie Eilbert
K. Lorraine Graham
Kirsten Kaschock
Gina Myers
Catie Rosemurgy
Kim Gek Lin Short
Shanna Compton
Bruce Covey

More info.

Saturday, September 27
4:00 p.m. at Powderhorn Park
Minneapolis, MN

Launch party for Elisabeth Workman'sUltramegaprairielandOur Flow Is Hard presents Elisabeth Workman and her band of beastly, cosmic, pinwheeling sprites of the big Midwestern prairie. With Feng Sun Chen, Sarah Fox, Paula Cisewski, George Farrah, Emily Fedoruk, MC Hyland, and musical guests the Southside Aces.

More info.

Coming in November!
Preorder for $12

"Driven by a seeming impulsiveness and a bravura, as well as a kind of scientific lyricism, that put you in touch with the cosmic abyss." —David Trinidad

On the 50th anniversary of Ted Berrigan’s and the 25th anniversary of Bernadette Mayer’s, Bloof Books is thrilled to publish The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds.

Excerpt & info.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Conversation with the Stone Wife by Natalie Eilbert now available in free e-book formats

Read it as a flip book above, or download the PDF.

From a new review by Lynn Melnick at Luna Luna Magazine

Conversation with the Stone Wife, a chapbook of poems by Natalie Eilbert, delivers to us a Venus who is as complex and contradictory as any flesh-and-blood human. Here Venus gets to talk back, and what she has to say is both long-awaited and timeless. “…what I own is the damage,” the speaker chillingly states “of your theorized life.” 

This complex illustration of female-hood is one of the reasons this chapbook is so thrilling; it offers no easy explanations, or explorations. Eilbert is a remarkably deft poet. Her skill with form, along with the music of her words, lends a beauty to the book that scrapes against the sometimes difficult or raw language."

[Read the rest]


Among the post-apocalyptic rubble, you can still hear the quivering orgasm of human inquisition in Natalie Eilbert’s first book, Conversations With the Stone Wife, to be released by Bloof Books this year. Eilbert unburies the Venus of Willendorf, a figure whom civilization’s increasingly greedy demands have been pinned on- in one form or another-for centuries, and dares to ask her about wifery, motherhood, muse-life, and fertility. Quite understandably, the Venus has other things on her mind, which Eilbert voices horrifically, sensually, and with a historian’s antecedent yet prophetic look over the shoulder. The world this chapbook creates is one posterior enough to systemic collapse to admit that it’s ruined itself. Still, somehow, the people expect an oracle with a velvet voice. Instead, they get the vengefully coarse whisper of the primeval returned to say, “I told you so.” Still, the stone wife is not all doom and gloom. She’s going to have her way with you through Eilbert’s lush verbs and forceful repetition, and you’re going to love it.
—Monica McClure, Electric Literature

[Natalie Eilbert] hints at her way of reckoning, carrying the machine, hoisting the flag, creating this new etymology (and further, the new country), with pained story and images of the so cruel is so beautiful variety. [She] rocks the poetic boat right with her snapping of plastic forks, daring you to dig into this muck with her, so dangerously enchanting.
Vouched Books

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Rumpus reviews Ultramegaprairieland by Elisabeth Workman…

…and it's another great one!

If it wouldn’t increase the costs of the print runs exorbitantly, it would feel totally appropriate for, say, page 50—”Ptolemic Poodles”—to have a pop-up of harajuku-appropriating-era Gwen Stefani belting: “This shit is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!” Except that the overall conclusion of the book seems to be altogether the opposite. Workman so thoroughly encloses us in a technology-soaked culture that is yet somehow threaded through amber waves of Americana that you start to feel like it’s not really bananas at all. This shit is just the state of affairs.
Read the rest.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New ebook release: PACKING by Hailey Higdon

The first chapbook when we launched the series is now available as an ISSUU flip book or downloadable PDF!
Download the PDF of PACKING here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Open Reading Period: 2015 Chapbook Series

*WE ARE NOW CLOSED. Thanks to all who submitted during August. 

Open Reading Period 

Yes, it's happening. 

Please do not send a manuscript before August 1. We are not looking at longer MS right now and are full though 2016 for longer books.
The guidelines are pretty much the same as the previous two years, but please note that the manuscript's max length has been shortened to 25 pages.

Little Uglies by Dawn Sueoka (August 2014)
Bloof will open the month of August for manuscript submissions of poetry chapbooks. All manuscripts must adhere to the guidelines below, and be submitted electronically between August 1 and August 31, 2014.  
This is not a contest. There are no fees, no judges, no bullshit. This is an open reading period. 
We will choose at least ONE but as many as SIX chapbooks to publish in 2015. (Both previous times we have chosen six.)  
All writers who submit manuscripts that adhere to the guidelines will be considered. Writers who fail to follow the guidelines will neither be considered nor notified.
Chapbooks will be produced in a limited handmade run of 100–150 copies, then released electronically thereafter. Chapbooks will be sold through our website, at select bookstores, and at various events. The author receives 20 complimentary copies and is paid a royalty on each sale.
All Bloof collective members are invited to read and discuss submissions, per their availability. 
Natalie Eilbert's Conversation with the Stone Wife (July 2014)

How to prepare your manuscript: 
1. Read a couple of our books and chapbooks, or at least look up the poets and read some of their work available online. (Free ebook versions of our previous chapbooks can be found here:  
While we are theoretically open to reading any style of poetry, we certainly have preferences and even biases. Familiarity with the books we have already published should help you decide whether your work is a good fit. That's different than saying we are only looking for work that looks just like what we have already done. (As if.) 
2. Bloof is a collective press. What does that mean? Read this post about "The Way We Work." Basically it means if you publish with us, you become part of the collective and will be expected to actively participate in the press, including activities beyond the scope of your own book. Do not submit to Bloof is you don't think that sounds like a whole lot of fun. That post also explains how you will be paid, if you publish with Bloof. (For chapbooks, authors receive 20 copies + 12% royalty on the rest of the print run. They may also order additional copies at a discount.) 
3. Manuscripts should be typed, in English, consist of up to 25 pages of poetry, and be formatted in a reasonable, easy-to-read manner. The work should be unpublished in chapbook or book form, as a whole, though individual poems may have appeared in magazines, etc. Please include a list of acknowledgments, if any.  
4. Collaborations are acceptable, with the participation of all collaborators. We are not looking for translated work at this time 
5. Include a cover sheet with name, manuscript title, mailing address, and email address. It is unnecessary to include this information anywhere else, like page headers or footers.  
6. Number the pages in the manuscript.  
7. Cover letters are OK (since we are not reading without names attached), but we'd actually prefer to consider Chapbook Proposals. How do you imagine this chapbook will look? Do you have any design or artistic skills you'd like to incorporate? Would you enjoy helping with the assembly? Are you interested in particular materials?

The final design will be a collaboration between Bloof and the author—and obviously we are constrained by budget considerations—but for the proposal, if you have a vision, describe it to us. Maybe we can make it work.

It is optional for you to bring your own design or illustrative skills into play here. If that's something you'd like to do, explain. If you have other ideas beyond these few examples, about how to distribute or promote the book, or whatever, explain those. You can submit just a manuscript…or a manuscript plus these sorts of ideas in a concept/proposal. 
8. Manuscripts must be saved as a PDF and submitted electronically to this email address: info [at] bloofbooks [dot] com. Save the file with your last name and title (or partial title if it is long) as the document name, separated by an underscore: Knox_Mystery.pdf 
9. Simultaneous submissions are your right. We ask only that you promptly let us know if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.  
10. Any submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be automatically deleted. It's fine to ask a question (same email address) if something is unclear, but if we can tell you haven't read the guidelines completely, we probably won't answer. We're very busy…and about to get a whole lot busier. 

Previously in the series: 

Packing, Hailey Higdon (sold out, ebook coming soon)
This Is What It Is Like to Be Loved by Me, Jared White (sold out, free ebook available)
Nonstop Pop, Becca Klaver (sold out, free ebook available)
Poems Are the Only Real Bodies, Jennifer Tamayo (sold out, free ebook available)
scenes from the lives of my parents, Pattie McCarthy (almost gone)
Windowboxing: A Dance with Saints in Three Acts, Kirsten Kaschock (almost gone)
Odalisque, Ben Fama (sold out, free ebook available)
The Failure Age, Amanda Montei (almost gone)
Conversation with the Stone Wife, Natalie Eilbert (only 4 left!)
Little Uglies, Dawn Sueoka (new!)
Bedtime Stories for the End of the World!, Daniel Borzutzky 
Sympathetic Nervous System, Jackie Clark 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Now available for preorder: Dawn Sueoka's Little Uglies

Dawn Sueoka

PREORDER: August 2014
Handmade | 4 x 6 inches
Various shades of blue/violet cover stock & ink. Linocut print.
32 pp. | $8.00

Bloof Books Chapbook Series
Vol. 2: Issue 4
ISSN: 2373-163x

To purchase by check or money order, or to calculate shipping outside the US & Canada, please email us.

Yellow skin banana with dark spots on it 
Sometimes I space out a little.
I let my body go completely limp.
The sky becomes false to me.
Everything is gross to me.
Ten times a day the sun rises and ten times a day the sun sinks.
I shut one eye and it is still there.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise:
Dog bites kid, and the world moves savagely on.
In the next century, I hope to be savage as Paul Verlaine.
I dip my fingers into a lake
that is only a rumor of a lake.
I throw fistfuls of petals into the
heart of the moon.
I shut one eye, shedding tears of red and blue.
Sometimes I space out a little.
The linocut design concept is inspired by the author's close attention to small moments and details and her use of "nightmarish and crude" imagery and diction, including received phrases wedged into new and unexpected contexts, whereby the everyday strikes strange. The handprinted covers vary among a selection of blue, violet, and green shades, with inks ranging from silver and turquoise to lilac and deep indigo. The interiors are laser printed on bright white acid-free, archival-quality paper. Handsewn in natural twine.

Litte Uglies is the fourth chapbook in the 2014 series from Bloof Books. Each chapbook in the series will be released in a limited edition of one hundred numbered copies, followed by a digital release.

Dawn Sueoka’s work appears or is forthcoming in West Wind Review, Shampoo, smoking glue gun, Pinwheel, Birds of Lace 30 x Lace, and Coconut, among others. An essay on John Cage appears in Jacket2. She lives and works in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Little Uglies is her first chapbook.

Sample poems from Little Uglies:

"We owe you nothing but love" & "Preludes and nocturnes" at Coconut

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SOLD OUT. Conversation with the Stone Wife by Natalie Eilbert

Here's the cover concept for Natalie Eilbert's amazing Conversation with the Stone Wife

We've been having a ton of fun (and making a huge mess) working on the "artifact" concept, which involves natural earth pigments like red and yellow ochre, plus local river valley dirt from the creek a few blocks from Bloof Headquarters in NJ.

These are in progress and could start shipping as soon as next week. The rest of the paper should be here in a day or two.
More info and preorder buttons here:
Limited to 100 handmade copies. Only $8.
Because the covers are hand-rubbed with the pigments, no two will be alike!

 Sorry, this chapbook has sold out as of August 5, 2014. Look for the ebook online soon! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bloof at the New York City Poetry Festival this weekend: July 26 & 27

Bloof Books will be at The New York City Poetry Festival both days this weekend—Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27.

Complete festival info & directions:

The festival is free & no tickets are required.


Sunday, July 27 at 2:10 p.m. on the White Horse Stage
Becca Klaver, Kirsten Kaschock, Sharon Mesmer, Shanna Compton & Justin Marks

Also don't miss these Bloof authors in these additional slots: 

Saturday, July 26 at 2:30 p.m. on the Algonquin Stage
Jackie Clark performs with Coldfront Magazine

Sunday, July 27 at 4:30 p.m. on Chumley's Stage
Natalie Eilbert performs with Coconut Poetry

BOOK FAIR: Come see us both days!

We'll have handmade chapbooks by Natalie Eilbert, Dawn Sueoka, Amanda Montei, Pattie McCarthy, & Kirsten Kaschock, plus our complete catalog of paperbacks including the our new release, Ultramegaprairieland by Elisabeth Workman. 

Also available: guidelines for our Open Chapbook Reading Period.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This weekend/next week: Jennifer Tamayo, Jennifer L. Knox, Peter Davis

New York! Jennifer Tamayo is performing Friday, July 11 with Monica McClure & Lucas de Lima.

The Latina Gurlesque

Bureau of General Services-Queer Division
83A Hester Street
New York, NY
7:30 PM
Details here. 

Iowa! Jennifer L. Knox is reading Saturday, July 12 in Des Moines for new Laugh Child series/artist residency, with Jennifer Perrine, Lauren Haldeman & Caryl Pagel. 

The Des Moines Social Club
Viaduct Gallery
900 Mulberry Street
Des Moines
7 PM

Details here.

Wisconsin! Peter Davis is reading with Milo & Otis, Walking Easel & Hakim Bellamy for BONK! Hosted by Nick Demske.

316 6th Street 
6 PM

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Speaking of great reviews: Ultramegaprairieland

We tweeted and facebooked this one, but haven't yet posted it here.

Carrie Lorig's got the goods on Elisabeth Workman's superhawt post-Flarfy debut, Ultramegaprairieland, at Entropy Magazine:

I am such a sponge fisherman. I have so much pores. When you speak to me, I suck it in. It drifts around the insides of me like a box of jewels (Joe Brainard dreamed repeatedly of boxes of jewels and considered it a good omen). When you read around me / When you read a good part out loud / When you leave books around for me to pick up, I will suck it in. It drifts around the insides of me like a floralabundant hurricane / like a dangerous potentiality / like burning / like big petals of thunder the bees suck on. There has been so much Bernadette Mayer in the house lately. My pores are covered in all her dreams / her incredible, synesthetic relationship to sex and color. I’m reading Mayer’s Utopia and re -/ re- / re-reading Elisabeth Workman’s book, Ultramegaprairieland. I’ve been thinking about them so much together. 1) Because closeness, intuition, recommendation, and reading are most often how I work through / acquire a stack of literature / language. I tend to trust these things more than genres, schools, canon, etc. 2) Workman once gifted me a copy of Midwinter Day by Mayer. It took me over a year to read the book / realize what I had in my possession. What’s amazing now, being so accidentally and purposely immersed in Mayer, while simultaneously being so connected to Workman, is seeing how MUCH more naturally they overlap than I ever anticipated or understood. And isn’t this actually the most vivid thing about literature and language? / It’s re-configuring of time and distance in terms of how people need / find each other?
The titles, Utopia and Ultramegaprairieland, too, crack bootskins together. Both create flickering surfaces jokingly / seriously meant to be other names for Paradise. Both books, in their frothy, meaty layers, think intensely about what it means for a woman to speculate and imagine such an area / any area. It occurs to me that any writer / any woman writing any area / such an area / Paradise / ends up thinking a great deal about what / in the current space / is trying to kill them / or her. Thinking about Paradise means Touching Hell / Bouquets on Fire / means seeing how you, / like Paradise, / are unproven. / How you are imagining yourself / in reality / because reality doesn’t really / imagine you / at all.
“Year after year the toil
and the coitus. This would be
the real story told to earth people
in a voice more trusted
than the situation warranted.
What then? Maybe Malibu.
Maybe Beowulf.”
—“Maybe Malibu, Maybe Beowulf

Read the full piece (an event in itself!) here. Entropy also put Ultramegaprairieland on their Ultimate Summer Reading List.

A new review of Brink

(There's a terrific new review of Shanna Compton's Brink in the current issue of the Yale Review, by Stephen Burt. We don't have the actual issue in hand, but pulled the PDF from the library and can quote a bit for you here. The full essay is definitely worth a read! )

Compton – based in Princeton and in Brooklyn – writes the eclectic, distractible poetry of people just a few years younger than I am, or the same age as, but more plugged in than I am, people who grew up with electronics in everything, pursued by glowing screens. (Her first book was an edited collection about the pleasures of video games.) Though her poems of Brink belong to venerable genres – the aubade, the erotic sonnet, the sequence about a breakup, the ‘‘Panoramic View’’ – their delights lie in the verbal swerves and sparks that belong only to our time, or else to a time just ahead of ours. Her lines are a millefeuille of generational markers, coming of age between the advent of the Internet and the first season of Girls, in or near a New York of toxic assets, multiple piercings, collapsing finance:

We’re still in the skinflint sheets 
of a place we’d rather not be, 
languid among no-account debris . . . 
I’ll pretend to miss the day we met 
if you can try not so much to mind 
the piercing when we go wrong, 
foaming in the evening, toxic refraction, 
to baffle this diminishing sun 
into peach-rust-gold derivatives.     
[Sometime  I'll Perfect My Adoration]
There is nothing quite like this exuberance, on the edge of paraphrasable sense but not over it, among Compton’s contemporaries, though many of them have tried. It can remind me at once of Frank O’Hara and of Edna St. Vincent Millay (as with Millay, we can fear it will seem dated later, or just enjoy the way it sounds now). Compton rakes in diction that has not turned up much in serious poetry before – if it is not the lingo of today’s teens, then it belongs instead to her own youth: ‘‘He gave me a nonsarcastic thumbs up in the parking lot.’’ ‘‘A neon / ring above an extincted / window showcasing something / formerly fabulous now kinda / poignantly disappeared.’’ When Compton is off her game, her poems can edge past the hyper-contemporary into the ridiculous, the quasi-sarcastic, the perhaps deliberately bad: ‘‘I celebrate the tanginess of your gruntly curves.’’ It is, perhaps, the kind of risk that any writer willing to be explicit about eroticism must take.

Compton sounds as if she knew that her ‘‘tendril-like projections / of youthful slang’’ have not often made it into poetry before, but that her topics – urban disillusion, political snafus, falling in and out of love – certainly have. ‘‘Timetables & Humble Pie’’ translates, into its twenty-first-century screen-driven lingo, Shakespeare’s sonnet 129, with its ‘‘waste of shame’’: ‘‘Alas, the day is wasted. Toss the scrapped commodity / in a pile like snipped stockings, admired / in the morning but soured by noon.’’ Compton, like Shakespeare, asks whether ‘‘love’’ names a commodity, though for her it is a commodity newly on sale: ‘‘What will we do,’’ she inquires, ‘‘if affection / is discovered to be . . . something we inhabit / like a hoodie from H&M, hot yellow / and scored at a deep discount?’’ She speaks to her heart, as Philip Sidney spoke to his, but she speaks in the era of biodegradables, of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch:
Preening heart I have tended 
like a weak flame on the beach, 
do you have a box or bag 
(the tearing aside for a moment) 
to pursue our decay? . . . 
Perhaps, my precious clutter, let us recast 
our likeness in plastic and endure as timeless litter.       
[One More Favor]
‘‘Timeless litter,’’ both ephemeral and perdurable, eternal and apparently without use: there are worse figures for poetry. Brink is a good book to come upon last in a stack, or last in a year: rather than complaining about how bland and frustrating everything is, in the city or in the country, Compton takes it upon herself to make everything interesting, to make daily life spark and fizz. So do the friends she imagines alongside her poems: ‘‘We shout in marquees. We stud the clamoring / traffic in our brightest, most orange cones.’’ Two sequences about couples, in love and at loggerheads (parts two and four of this four-part book), cannot retain the power in Compton’s always accelerating stand-alone poems, because their construction requires them to slow down or to look back. Even the sequences, though, can succeed in making the familiar strange: after a quarrel,
Each sentence held back an ache to crack 
the domesticated shell. It’s as if 
an illustrator has come through with a fine- 
nib pen, to hatch and crosshatch everything.         
[The Deeps]

The Yale Review 
Volume 102Issue 3 
pages 152–166, July 2014


Abstract    Order

The Two Yvonnes: Poems, by Jessica Greenbaum (Princeton University Press, 80 pp., $29.95 cloth; $12.95 paper)
Almanac: Poems, by Austin Smith (Princeton University Press, 96 pp., $35, cloth; $12.95 paper)
A Glossary of Chickens: Poems, by Gary J. Whitehead (Princeton University Press, 72 pp., $29.95 cloth; $14.95 paper)
Brink, by Shanna Compton (Bloof Books, 86 pp., $15 paper)
Lobster  Palaces, by Ann Kim (Flood Editions, 96 pp., $14.95 paper)
3 Sections: Poems, by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf, 64 pp., $22 cloth)