Category Archives: publicity

Preview of Tandon’s Quality of Life

Jason Tandon’s poem “Fatherhood, Beginnings,” appears in the summer issue of Prairie Schooner and will appear in his next collection, Quality of Life (due out from BLP in February, 2013).  This issue also includes poems by Sharon Olds, Maxine Kumin, Bruce Bond, Paul Dickey, Robert Gibb, John Kinsella, Donald Platt, Robert McNamara, Chad Prevost, Floyd Skloot, Alexandra Teague, Katie Umans, and Charles Harper Webb, among many other contributors. To pre-order a copy of Quality of Life, please click one of the links below.

Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon (Canada)

Amazon (U.K.)

Dzanc Books Write a Thon!

Yo, all ya all,

Again, like last year, I am participating in the Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon which will take place July 21st through July 24th.   I plan to spend twenty hours on those days, writing away with the same furious obsession that Captain Ahab had when pursuing the elusive white whale of fate. 

Not only will it be a treat for me to have a dedicated time for my writing, but hopefully this will also benefit Dzanc.  Last year I produced two stories during the four days, both which I quickly placed in established literary journals: Fiction International and The Indiana Review. This year I may attempt a novella, depending on the writing prompt theme.

Dzanc is a wonderful non-profit independent publishing company that supports literary magazines, small presses, and publishes fantastic work; after all, their imprint, Black Lawrence Press, published my collection of stories, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage, last year. Also, Dzanc funds writing programs in public schools where creative writing classes are not offered. They also sponsor the Dzanc Prize which benefits not only the writer awarded it, but pays for a community based project like writing workshops in prisons, cancer centers, or working with immigrant populations.

I would be honored if you would sponsor my writing this year. Your dollars will help Dzanc Books to continue to support great writing and foster the creative talent of public school kids. If you’d like to pitch in, please click on the following link that will take you to a page where you can make a donation: 

Hit the donate button to the left and make it in my name. You will need a Paypal account. Paypal is a wonderful online method of virtual currency with zero gold or silver backing up the symboligy of what we deem money.  A sign of the end times? What they hey…and please remember to do so in my name, and good luck with the big drawing they’ll have for all people that donate!

Thanks for your time!


Michael Hemmingson

David Rigsbee on Poetry Daily

David Rigsbee’s work was recently featured on Poetry Daily. David is a former winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition and has two titles forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. Stay tuned for news about his chapbook The Pilot House, which will be available from BLP in short order.

Is language our sexiest proboscis? (New poetry title from BLP)

At first glance, Laura McCullough’s collection, Speech Acts—borrowing its title from the branch of linguistics interested in the nature and intention of artifacts of language and their effect in communication—may seem overly sensational, the surface subject matter at times blatantly sexual, but on closer interrogation, McCullough is attempting to strip away the obfuscations of language(s), the barriers between genders, the difficulties of intimacy and reveal the relational and power balances between people. Behind the sometimes erotically charged poems in Speech Acts is a real concern for linguistics, the philosophy of, the tools of.  Beneath the bawdy, glittering surface and language play in Speech Acts is McCullough’s desire to “kiss the mouth of another/ language,” to go beyond the veils that separate people, nations, perhaps this world from whatever comes after. These poems are not just about love; they grieve over the impossibility of ever fully comprehending anything at all, let alone another human being.

Speech Acts is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.


Laura McCullough’s book Speech Acts lives up to its title—so  many of thesepoems take  as their starting point the social occasion of a speaker wondering how to talk—naughty or nice-like?,  over-educated, or heartfelt?; the results are bright with velocity, lexical intelligence, and a distinctive fusion of headiness and carnality. McCullough’s poems  are manic, heartfelt and humane; and they crackle with  what the Reverend Marvin Gaye would have called  “textual healing.” —Tony Hoagland

“Is language our sexiest proboscis?” asks Laura McCullough, then responds with  unabashed word-slinging to bolster her rhetorical affirmation. If her lines charge each poem with vibrancy—“it’s all in the syntax”—it’s because McCullough knows “how good secrets can be handled right, / by the various names we give them.” Her enthusiasms for Adam’s task as well as for Eve’s sensuality provide Speech Acts with a rollicking measure.  “You gotta like it / to do it well,” McCullough half-jokes, and her pleasures become our own in this provocative and wildly entertaining book.—Michael Waters

The word “acts” in Laura McCullough’s Speech Acts is as much verb as it is noun. What her speech does in these stunning poems is restlessly sift through language and experience alike, searching for words, lips, hearts, and truths that might just keep one from spinning off into the coldest, emptiest reaches of being. Bold, witty, erotic, and provocative, McCullough’s poems re-imagine for our time E. M. Forster’s tremendous artistic and humane injunction: “only connect!” —Fred Marchant

The poems in Laura McCullough’s Speech Acts search deep into the interior of language to recover and explore the resources of our most intimate lives. It is that rare collection which disassembles the very constructions of thought itself (while simultaneously embracing the reader with surprisingly tender gestures). Speech Acts refuses to shy away from the difficult, the necessary. It recognizes the tenuous qualities of the moment and lifts them up with reverence. It is a collection which offers fresh insights with each reading. —Brian Turner

About the Author

Laura McCullough has been a fellow in both prose and poetry for the NJ State Arts Council and has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. Her poetry, prose, essays, interviews, and reviews have appeared widely  places such as The American Poetry Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Iron Horse Quarterly, Hotel Amerika, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and others. Visit it her at


The economy of Madagascar collapsed overnight when Coca-cola changed its formula, switching from real vanilla to a synthetic and didn’t bounce back until New Coke failed and Classic Coke was reintroduced, with vanilla back in. Malagasies were relieved, but conspiracy theorists thrilled to the fact that sugar was gone, replaced by High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Vanilla come mainly from Madagascar, and grows
on a vine, its flowers both male and female; from planting

to pod can take 5 years. The language of Malagasy has no
grammatical gender. It is not a Romantic language, but has

borrowed a little from the French who took so much.
It’s an island language, Austronesion, and plurals are managed

with a beautiful efficiency: more than one book: book-book;
more than one child: child-child. It’s hard for the Latinate

mind to imagine. They say men give love to get sex and
women give sex to get love, and today a man told me

he doesn’t trust a woman who gives blow jobs. It’s all
about power, he said, and her need to control the man.

I didn’t buy it; I have my own conspiracy theories, prefer
real vanilla to synthetic, sugar cane to HFS. I rarely give in

to a sweet tooth, but now and then, I do, and when I do,
I want it, not like jet fuel, but a slow, complex burn,

the line between control and surrender delicate and uncertain,
like dependent economies, and tenuous like the vanilla flower

blooming for only one day, both male and female, the thinnest
of membranes between them waiting to be stripped away.


ISBN: 978-0-9826364-4-2, $14

Please contact Diane Goettel at for media inquiries and review copies.

Black Lawrence Press titles are distributed by Consortium. For wholesale orders, visit



The Story of Dzanc Books

Black Lawrence Press could not exist as it does today if it were not for two guys, Steven Gillis and Dan Wickett, the founders of Dzanc Books. To learn more about their story and about the company that Publishers Weekly called “the future of publishing”, read this article from Poets & Writers.

Hudson Prize Winner Sarah Suzor to Read in NYC on 11/6

Sarah Suzor, who won this year’s Hudson Prize with her manuscript The Principle Agent, will read in New York City on November 11. She will read from Isle of Dogs, which was recently published by Toadlily Press. Sarah will be joined by Elizabeth Austen, Andrea Bates and Carol Stevens Kner.

Here are the details:

Hudson Prize Winner on The Nervous Breakdown

In case you missed it, 2010 Hudson Prize winner Sarah Suzor was featured on The Nervous Breakdown last weekend. To see the feature and read her poem “In Seclusion”, follow this link. Happy reading!

A Cold Wind from Idaho

Black Lawrence Press is very proud to announce the release of A Cold Wind from Idaho by Lawrence Matsuda. You can order your copy from the BLP website or from Amazon.

From the introduction by Tetsuden Kashima:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, resulting in a cataclysmic series of events affecting all persons of Japanese ancestry then residing on the West Coast of the United States. So calamitous were these actions that a noted scholar asserted that this action constitutes “the defining event in the history of Japanese Americans.”

What does this have to do with a book of poetry titled A Cold Wind from Idaho? Those Americans familiar with the Pacific Northwest Japanese American World War II experience will understand the imagery wrought by the title as being both evocative and apt. The metaphor of freezing winter winds chilling the body and then entering the soul of those affected conveys fittingly how the Japanese Issei and Japanese American Nisei encountered, braved, and then survived the cold iciness of Idaho’s winters while they were huddled in a primitive American barbed wire concentration camp.
“Just as Elie Wiesel spoke for the survivors of the Holocaust, Dr. Matsuda in simple, elegant, and heartbreaking poetry gives voice to the silent generations. I hope this beautiful work finds wide readership, so we can heal the wounds of injustice and all say, ‘Never again.’”
— Barry Grosskopf, MD

A Cold Wind from Idaho is the logical next step for Matsuda in his evolution from a community activist to a writer pursuing social justice issues. Because of my internment experience during World War II, the poems brought back memories and gave me another perspective to better understand the tragedy of the Japanese internment.”
— Mary Matsuda Gruenwald

“Some pains take lifetimes to assuage.  Matsuda’s poems break for us all the Japanese-American code of silence (gaman) toward the indignities of the nine U. S. government-mandated internment camps of WWII like Minidoka in Idaho where Matsuda was born.  He not only educates us in the specifics of the suffering of this time, but also brings us into the transgenerational implications of it, connecting this shameful period to both the war in Iraq and the bombing of Hiroshima where one of his relatives survived near ground zero.  We have had an appointment with this book for a long time. I’d say it’s an American necessity to read it . . . I could not put the book down.  It’s why I love poetry: its power to change hearts and to educate our souls.”
— Tess Gallagher
Larry Matsuda was born in the Minidoka, Idaho War Relocation Center during World War II.  He and his family along with 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were held in ten concentration camps without a crime and without due process for approximately three years. His poems appear in Poets Against the War website, The Raven Chronicles, New Orleans Review, Floating Bridge Press, Cerise Press and the International Examiner Newspaper. He lives with his wife, Karen, and son, Matthew in Seattle, Washington and is a consultant presently helping to re-design schools as better physical learning environments. He was a junior high language arts teacher and Seattle School District administrator and principal for twenty-seven years.
Private First Class Harry

Ba-chan unraveled her blue sweater
as if possessed.
Ripped and salvaged yarn
to knit a hara maki,
wool wrap for her son Harry
before he shipped out to Italy.

Todd, her first son, volunteered.
Snipers at Bruyeres killed him
before she could finish his.

Knitting needles clacked furiously,
not a missed stitch or hole
for a bullet to find.

Yarn absorbed a tear, a mother’s hope—
transformed wool into
a shield like chain mail.  This
warm wrap, a mother’s
protective surround.

Each stitch was a loop in a paper chain,
an umbilical cord that stretched to her son
six thousand miles away.

Unable to write English
she knitted her love into blue wool,
her scent into a package of blue—to touch
her son once more.

Please contact Diane Goettel at for media inquiries and review copies.
Lawrence Matsuda is available for readings and speaking engagements.

BLP Expands Its List

If you’ve been following the BLP blog, then you know of a few recent additions to the BLP family. In January, we announced that we’d accepted Killing the Murnion Dogs by Joe Wilkins and Instructions for Killing the Jackal by Erica Wright, two new collections of poetry due out in August and September of next year, respectively. In February, we announced that Carol Guess had become a part of our crew of poets; her collection Doll Studies: Forensics will be out in the beginning of 2012. Also in February we announced the acceptance of the novel/novel-in-stories/memoir/we don’t know what we’re calling it yet other than “rad” Pulled from the River by Jon Chopan.

There’s been lots of action since February and we are very pleased to announce that we’ve added a few more authors to the BLP family and also have new titles forthcoming from authors who have published with us in the past. Next fall we will publish Marginalia for a Natural History, a collection of poems by Keith Taylor.

We’ve also accepted two new books by Marcel Jolley, winner of the inaugural St. Lawrence Book Award and author of Neither Here Nor There. His short story collection, Priors, will come out in the spring of 2012, to be followed by his novel Milk Run in the spring of 2013. We’ve also got some new blood in our stable of fiction writers. Loving You the Way I Do, short stories by Ron Savage will be published in the summer of 2012.

We’re also very pleased to announce that our translation list is expanding as well. Daniele Pantano, author of the poetry collection The Oldest Hands In The World and the translation The Possible is Monstrous has two more translations coming out from BLP in the next few years: Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser (Spring, 2012) and The Complete Works of Georg Trakl (Spring, 2014). We’ve also got Dream Weed, a translation of Yvan Goll poems, by Nan Watkins coming out in July, 2012.

Those of you who are fans of T.J. Beitelman (Pilgrims: A Love Story) and David Rigsbee (winner of the Spring, 2009 Black River Chapbook Competition) will be happy to know that we have full-length collections from both poets coming out in mid-2012.

And, just so you know what you have to look forward to, BLP will release the following titles before the end of 2010: Every Bitter Thing by Hardy Jones, Perishables by Tina Egnoski, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage by Michael Hemmingson, The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis, Triggermoon Triggermoon by JuliaCohen, Speech Acts by Laura McCullough, and The Pilot House by David Rigsbee.

We’ve currently closed submissions until August 15th while we catch up on submissions. We’re hoping to have more good news by the end of the summer once we read all of the manuscripts in our queue. As always, thanks for reading!

-Diane Goettel
Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press

P.S. Don’t forget that the deadline for the St. Lawrence Book Award is August 31st!

Todos Santos Book Trailer

Black Lawrence Press is very excited about the release of Todos Santos, a novel by Deborah Clearman which will be available within a few short weeks.

Todos Santos Synopsis

When Catherine Barnes leaves home and her adulterous husband to explore the Guatemalan mountain town of Todos Santos, she brings her paints and her wayward adolescent son. Catherine sets out in hopes of finding an intangible something, a new direction perhaps, and an ability to get through to her son who has just flunked out of the eighth grade. She never expects that her journey will include nearly losing her son to kidnappers, witnessing a lynching that nearly ruins the town of Todos Santos which she comes to love quite deeply, or rediscovering her own womanhood.

Learn more about Todos Santos and Deborah Clearman’s adventures in Guatemala by watching the book trailer: