And the Girls Worried Terribly
“Why did the girls worry terribly? The title was found in Oliver Statler’s book, The Black Ship Scroll. This has been an important book to my partner, Brandon Shimoda. A caption beneath a sketch of two women in kimonos reads: ‘The foreigners said they wanted to take pictures of beautiful Japanese ladies, so the government officials ordered that some of the singing girls be chosen as subjects. Later a rumor spread that anyone who was photographed would die within three years, and the girls worried terribly.’ There was a deep-rooted superstition about having one’s portrait made: the soul might leave to take up residence in the ‘new self,’ causing the fatal ‘shadow-sickness.’
I got married in spring 2009 with Caitie Moore. We were two brides marrying ourselves to poetry. This took place on a homestead in the Bitterroot Mountains. We changed into our dresses in a shed. My mother showed up and sat in the front row. We walked down the aisle. The union was lawless. We read poems to confused guests. We cut into white cake. My bride’s family thought I was her lover. Brandon wore the tie I made from my grandmother’s crochet. Afterwards, Brandon, Caitie and I moved to Seattle. My skin caught fever from the damp. I turned allergic to the sun. Each day it visited from outer space. A bride on her honeymoon! In shadow, I returned to normal. Having succumbed to something of myself. A vessel for infestations. Poetry mounted me each night, tireless. I wanted to sleep, instead waking up every 3 minutes to scribble a couple lines, then fall backwards into my pillow. Only to be woken up again. A book was written, Blackwriting, against my will. Immediately afterwards, I began writing a long poem about that day in the Bitterroot Mountains…
Then Brandon and I moved to Maine and lived in the woods beside a lake. The Silence That Endures is a Scene from My Massacres was written for my brother. I wanted him to know what I knew of the past. I sensed he would suffer. Family secrets. I heard the lake freezing, and I stayed near until it thawed out again. Crying into the greenery. We left once more…Taiwan’s southern port city on the China Sea, Japan after the Tsunami, our family’s defunct farm in Missouri where everything that grows grows wild, and Arizona. Many were family sites. Altars. Places compiling short breaths
inside me. With each, I skimmed off the topmost layer. It Is Love the I Don’t Write is a series of dry nightly baths. Blowing sweetly on anything vibrating with red strings. I wake, remembering the parts where I felt most willing. Simultaneously, anger. Weapons I left sticking out of the things provoking me. All the while I could only pretend to be a part of something more important. A discussion. News reports. Wars and diaspora. Whatever inundated me I became surrogate to. Voices brought to memory nothing. Taking up the most space. They also needed relief…”
The poet Dot Devota is from a family of ranchers and rodeo stars. She is the author of The Eternal Wall (Cannibal Books; Canadian edition from BookThug), MW: A Midwest Field Guide (Editions19\), and And The Girls Worried Terribly (Noemi Press). She currently writes about the Midwest and travels full time.
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.
$15 Paperback | Published 2014