Activist aesthetic practices, as they unfold in the context of contemporary social and environmental precariousness, demand more than a radical rethinking of assumptions. As Claire Marie Stancek insists, in her brilliant inaugural poetic project Mouths, activist art demands that we challenge the reliability of common sense. She begins by demanding that we expand our understanding of who and what produces that sense, who and what coexist in ongoing commonality. And she does this to devastating, as well as invigorating, effect. Sense and life are coexistent, and perhaps synonymous. But then senselessness and lack of life must abound at the same time. Amatory sucking and murderous sucking can’t be independent of each other. Perhaps this is fine: perhaps we cannot love without knowing of its dangers. Stancek goes further, proposing that we cannot love humanity without loving far beyond the human sphere, loving the nanosystems and macrocontexts on which love depends. Or perhaps we cannot love at all. Meanwhile, beauty prevails. Mouths does not eschew anguish, but it abounds in beauty—uncommon beauty, but beauty that invites us to an ever broader commonality, and an ever better sense.Lyn Hejinian
What a pleasure it is to encounter a new poetic voice writing out of a practice of reading and being delighted in reading, but also being fully embodied in the poem, responding to John Clare, Sylvia Plath, and Lisa Robertson in the same stroke. Startle and delight, spicy and monstrous; the coolness of these poems lies in their warmth. Even the aching feels angled and upward.Sina Queyras
“There in muck & marl we formed a hole by rooting,” Claire Marie Stancek testifies early in this extraordinary work, casting a sly eye at the title. Mouths? “Open open gaping. Pits, Caves, Wells, Lakes, Fens, Bogs, and shades of death. Entrance to Hell.” Mouths itself’s an exacting psychophysical travelogue having within its scope all the clucking brown water in the world, complete with moths, crows, fat spiders, “a face shaped like a face staring back,” and every one a life. Itself suspended in a threatening sea of rimes, Mouths is elemental—a descent through the traces and tinctures that are the floating edges of the world. Mouths? “Strange kisses,” devourings, those rimes, flowerings, and bottomless hungers (or, as Stancek warns late, “hunger a pose of pure intent”). Mouths? It calls the names of the people it’s in conversation with—Keats, Li’l Wayne, Miley Cyrus, Alice Munro, others—and then mouths divinations. Muck, marl, mouth, moth, moil. Oh, but this book is such a telling!C.S. Giscombe
Claire Marie Stancek is also the author of Oil Spell (Omnidawn, 2018). With Daniel Benjamin, she co-edited Active Aesthetics: An Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry (Tuumba / Giramondo 2016), and with Lyn Hejinian and Jane Gregory, she is co-founder and co-editor of Nion Editions. She is currently a PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches poetry workshops and literature classes. To arrange a class visit, lecture, workshop, or interview, contact her at email@example.com.
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 2017