Mess and Mess and
The joy in reading Mess and Mess and comes from the way Douglas Kearney’s writing performs and transforms the sensations of the historic, imagined and real black body into a kind of jive signification system of pun, gesture and resistance through time, space, etymology, gloss. Jive meaning: some mess, some movements, some secrets glyphed behind the hand, continually decoding and decoying the code. “Here, the body shifts to its proxy, language,” as Kearney creates his own methods for naming and theorizing not just creative process but the experience of art and utterance as a relationship with the various phenomena of living, dying and getting free. Evoking the heady erotics of Nathaniel Mackey and the critical interventions of Adrian Piper, Douglas Kearney’s meticulous and playful ars poetica illustrates the unseen dimensions of what makes his work necessarily graphic, totally vulnerable and admirably outrageous.
Now and then, in Altadena, Arkansas and elsewhere, mess is a unit of measure, enough of something to feed anyone that needs to be fed. It’s in this regard that measure is poetry—how we sustain and share, in sound and flavor, our capacity to make a living, to live beyond our means, which they keep on trying to keep all for themselves. What you’re holding in your hands bears all of that. Shit is hard and terrible, and what you’re holding in your hands, which is most definitely the shit, bears all of that, too. Humans have made a mess of things and nothing but swarm, sheen, shimmy, stagger and stutter is gonna get us in deep enough to get us out of it. An old-new analexical word search and blackword research project, an anamessianic mess for the end of time that no one can tell us how to use, Mess and Mess and is Miss Ann’s apocalypse, Amos ‘n’ Andy’s undermanumission, Douglas Kearney’s antimassapiece.
This book is a Mess. It’s a theory of Black cultural production that does its work by refusing to be straight(ened) up. It’s Doug doing his do(o). Dig it. Like a mess of greens, this Mess is gritty to start with, but you know it’s going to be goooood. Dig in. It won’t read itself—but it might read you.
Reviews and News
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners and finalists for the 2017 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: UNMANNED by Jessica Rae Bergamino
We will be also publishing Inland Empire by Leah Huizar
Orient by Nicholas Gulig
Ochre/Orpheus by Meredith Stricker
Bodega by Su Hwang
STET by Dora Malech
We Are Too Big for This House by Sara Borias
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2016 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: Indictus by Natalie Eilbert
Finalist: Careen by Grace Shuyi Liew
We will be also publishing Gentry!fication: or the scene of the crime by Chaun Webster and A Problem and Some Space by Hannah Ensor
The Devil’s Workshop by Xavier Cavazos
Hagia Animalia by Sara Biggs Chaney
Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Leaving Impulse by Rachel Martin
Manipur by Robin McLachlen
The Historians of Redundant Moments: Novel in Poems by Nandini Dhar
Northern Ledger by Kate Partridge
Probable Garden by Bronwen Tate
Saints and Cannibals by Robert Lunday
Winter Swimmers by Carolyn DeCarlo
Woman, Yielding by Andrea Blancas Beltran
un/documented—kentucky—songs by Steven Alvarez
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2015 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry. We received about 400 poetry submissions this year and thank all the writers who submitted for trusting us with their work.
Bone Confetti by Muriel Leung
Natality by E. G. Means
MOUTHS by Claire Marie Stancek
We will also be publishing finalist Vanessa Villarreal’s manuscript Beast Meridian in the Akrilica series.
They Go In Pairs by Samuel Ace
Arcadia, Indiana (a tragedy) by Toby Altman
You Can Take It Out by Cheryl Clark Vermeulen
Red of Split Water-A Burial Rite by Lisa Donovan
Century Worm by Todd Fredson
Actual Echo by Matthew Mahaney
A Turkish Dictionary by Andrew Wessels
Vogel describes her early experiences of reading and writing as “a bridging between [her] voice and [her] body,” as a kind of communion. “Language slowed the world for me,” she recalls, “it gave me a sense of tactility, a skin to encase my thinking.” Vogel’s visceral experience of language is palpable in Between Grammars; there is a sense of tactility ever-present. Beyond the philosophical exploration, reading this book is as much a sensory experience as an intellectual one, the text shot through with light, sound, and touch.
Armendinger is a master at using fragmented language with precise purpose. His poems experiment with language and form—this collection includes a poem delivered in the form of an instant messenger conversation, and a poem placed as a footnote within another poem—but never read as mere avant-garde posturing. Instead, Armendinger again and again finds new ways to use defamiliarized language to access the unsayable.
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a poet who can so powerfully, vividly, and gracefully engage with the problems of language and the world. The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is a vital book: experimental, substantial, fragmented, unified, unsettled, and unsettling, Armendinger’s work is key reading for all those who care about what our broken words can do.
Danielle Vogel’s book BETWEEN GRAMMARS is forthcoming in 2015, and in this profile she shares her “holy books” including Whitman, Plath, and Woolf, among others!
At Bloom Literary Journal, you can read the poem “Casual Sex” by Brent Armendinger, whose book The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is forthcoming in January, 2015.
J. G. McClure reviewed Bruce Covey’s Change Machine for Cleaver Magazine:
Think about the change machine outside your car wash: you put in a dollar, the machine spits out coins. Not a neat bundle, but a jangling tray-full. Now think of William Carlos Williams: “A poem is a machine made of words.”Now give William Carlos Williams superpowers and have him beat the hell out of the car wash while musing on Pokémon, Barthes, and metapoetics, and you’ve got a sense of Bruce Covey’s Change Machine.