Tag Archives: Doll Studies: Forensics

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Carol Guess

As many of you know, April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we will be featuring a poem buy a BLP author every weekday for the rest of the month. Kicking us off is Carol Guess, who’s new poetry collection, Doll Studies: Forensics, was just published by Black Lawrence Press last month.

Fallen Medicine

The heat is coming. It hovers in honey by the side of the road. There are gradations of being alone. My skirt slit charcoal, pink beneath. Past the hem that hangs in pleats. Shoes are in the dark about it all, be-laced. God’s watching us on Google Earth. Through the pixels, the roses. The pre-war houses. The train. Coal covers everything: your tilted hat, the incident of you.


Q: What is your writing process?

A: I’m obsessed with the sentence, and with making tiny boxes out of perfect sentences arranged in rows. Writing is an extension of listening and seeing. I’m an introvert, an observer. I watch and listen and then obsessively order words into rectangles. Over time I’ve come to accept that I go through long periods of not writing, then short bursts of writing complete manuscripts, one or two poems a day. I’m okay with this. There’s no best way, just whatever works for you as an artist.

Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: I’m currently fascinated by Andrew Grace’s new book Sancta. I love his use of compression and unusual imagery. It’s also a very different book from his previous works, and I like that — I like watching someone evolve and take risks.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: As my friends can tell you, I wouldn’t travel at all. The best writing retreat I can imagine would be at home, without papers to grade or office politics to fret over. I love being at home, surrounded by cats and dogs. I love stillness and silence and domestic detail.

Carol Guess is the author of ten books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn and Doll Studies: Forensics. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University. Find her here: www.carolguess.blogspot.com.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Carol Guess

Seersucker Trestle

When we meet on the bridge, there’s a girl bound with twine. Suppose you have a husband. Suppose I have a wife. The girl vanishes, story we tell or were told. Fog and no sleep wrap the ferry in steam. No one comes to this trestle to dream. Birds nest in garbage, bags slouched on the shoreline. Breakable women wash leaves in a basin, sieve sandstone from bones: how we bury unknowns. Water would like us to know what it needs and it needs so much, so many girl parts. Tangled in seaweed and pickled in salt. The one who was pushed points her finger at me.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: I write alone, in quiet rooms. When that’s impossible, I scribble lines on sticky notes while walking or riding the bus.

Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?

A: In high school and college we read canonical texts — I went to a “Great Books” school — so discovering Sylvia Plath’s work was like finding shards of pottery at an archaeological dig. Someone had been here before me, a woman filled with rage and passion. She taught me that my teachers were wrong: women could write, and write well. Learning that I wasn’t alone was the beginning of my education.

Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the
last 12 months?

A: I’m currently feeding a young cat 5 times a day through a tube in her neck. Being this close to the basic elements of existence — food, water, sleep — has come to make the busy clutter of my ordinary days seem infinitely less important.

Carol Guess is the author of seven books of poetry and prose. Forthcoming collections include Doll Studies: Forensics (Black Lawrence Press), Darling Endangered (Brooklyn Arts Press), and Willful Machine (PS Publishing). Follow her here: www.carolguess.blogspot.com

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!

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Carol Guess


You’re going to kill her. At least give her legs. She’s drinking from a shard of glass, bloomers cycling in rigor mortis. Pink garters chasten knitted stockings. A cake of soap pines for her dirt. Sauced on gin, perhaps she slipped. Stiff legs suggest she stiffened elsewhere.  Dinner tasted of its tinfoil cover. Wainscoting grasps the tub in its fist. Gentlemen friends brought gin to her room, but somehow “Dark Bathroom” is the scene of the crime. She’s open-ended. You can see up her skirt. No doubt she’s finished to the last doll part. She’s swimming upside-down in flounces, drunk on water, the last thing she’ll taste. She’ll never listen to Sousa’s opus. Plessy v. Ferguson upholds the law.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: Absolutely. I wrote the entire book in a tiny office with no furniture. So I was sitting on the floor, my back against the wall, mulling over Corinne May Botz’s fantastic photograph of poor, dead Maggie Wilson. I had to crib internet off a neighboring office, so at some point I would’ve been standing up, or maybe pacing the hall. When I learned that Plessy v. Ferguson was decided in 1896, the year of Maggie’s death, I knew that would be the last line of the poem.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: I love what Karyna McGlynn does with pop culture, white space, and the syntax of slang in I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl. My favorite poetry books have a faint narrative strand; McGlynn handles her buried narrative so gracefully. I’m also waiting on Shane McCrae’s Mule, which should arrive any day.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Vegan chocolate cake, eaten with stolen silverware on a stranger’s china in Vancouver, BC.

Carol Guess is the author of two novels, a memoir, and three poetry collections: Femme’s Dictionary (Calyx Books), Tinderbox Lawn (Rose Metal Press), and Doll Studies: Forensics, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in early 2012.

Doll Studies: Forensics

Black Lawrence Press has accepted Doll Studies: Forensics by Carol Guess for publication. A BLP editor who shall not be named (and is not usually prone to bouts of silliness) said this  about Doll Studies during an editorial meeting: “It took me longer than usual to finish this mansucript because the poems are so good that I had to keep stopping so that I could go and jump up and down on my bed.”

About the Book

The poems in Doll Studies are based on artwork created by Frances Glessner Lee during the 1940’s. Lee constructed a series of dollhouse dioramas titled “The Nutshell Studies Of Unexplained Death.” Each diorama depicts a crime scene, littered with clues that may be used to solve the crime. Guess’s poems are a response to Brooklyn photographer Corrine May Botz’s photographs of Lee’s dioramas, as well as her research on the topic.

About the Author

Carol Guess is the author of two novels, Seeing Dell and Switch; a memoir, Gaslight; and two poetry collections, Femme’s Dictionary and Tinderbox Lawn. She is Associate Professor of English at Western Washington University, where she teaches Creative Writing and Queer Studies.

Doll Studies will be available from Black Lawrence Press in early 2012.