Great News about American Samizdat!
In early 2018, I began working–almost in a fever–on a linked series of lyrical fragments. I had been rereading Louise Gluck’s The Wild Iris and listening to Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise, and suddenly I wanted to be back in a space of intense persona, a voice both mine and not mine. Years ago, when I drafted From the Fever-World, written in the voice of an imaginary Yiddish poet, I found myself in a similar space: imagining the poet I could be under different conditions, asking myself what if? This time, I wondered what would happen if the First Amendment no longer existed. What kinds of poems would American poets write? What techniques would we use to circumvent the censors of a newly oppressive nation state? I started rereading Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert, and Witold Gombrowicz. I looked at how Eastern European writers, writing from behind the Iron Curtain, created a coded language to critique their own governments, and I began to develop my own codes.
The manuscript came together very, very quickly. And by mid-summer, I decided to send the book to a few presses for consideration. But, to be honest, I didn’t think I would have any luck. The manuscript was just so strange and dark. So, I was shocked when an excerpt from the book won The Adrienne Rich Poetry Award from Beloit Poetry Journal. And I was even more amazed when I learned last week that American Samizdat was one of the winners of the 2018 Book Contest from Diode Editions!
Now, everything is happening very quickly. American Samizdat will be released at the 2019 AWP Conference in Portland. Since throughsmoke is also going to published for the Conference, it looks like I’m going to be extremely busy promoting not one but two new books. I can hardly believe it! Diode Editions makes very beautiful books, and I’m just thrilled to see this fever-dream of mine become something real. I’m very lucky to be working with a press that so believes in my work, no matter how menacing and strange my vision. You can read more about the Diode Editions and the wonderful books they publish here.