8TH ANNUAL NAPOMO 30/30/30 :: Introducing this year’s Poetry Month CURATORS (aka OS Chapbook Class of 2019)!

L-R: 2019 Chapbook authors Magdalena Zurowski, Knar Gavin, Kristina Darling & Chris Campanioni, Ryu Ando

Greetings Friends! It’s April! Which means it’s time for our 8th annual National Poetry Month 30/30/30 series, featuring 30 daily entries from poets writing on other poets who have influenced their life, work, and/or practice in a substantial way.
Be sure to subscribe and add us to your morning, evening, or daily ritual for the month of April to discover new poets, revisit past favorites, and encounter the new vantages offered by thirty unique perspectives!
What I find so inspiring and important about this model is that it is a simple way to bring all of our orbits (these authors, their communities, The OS, and you reading this) closer together, establishing points of connection that did not exist before.
This year continues the tradition of 4 weeks, 5 chapbook authors (including one collaborative text) in our annual spring series=four weeks of unique curation!
Which means that this year, the authors of our 2019 Print:Document Chapbook Series, Magdalena Zurowski (Don’t Be Scared), Knar Gavin (Vela.), Kristina Darling & Chris Campanioni (RE: Verses), and Ryu Ando (A Phantom Zero), have gathered folks from their communities into the next four poetry-filled weeks for you.
Back in 2012, which seems quite long ago amidst these accelerating days, OS Founder Elæ [Lynne DeSilva-Johnson] wrote,
“what we’re looking for via this exercise is shared brea(d)th: to have this month introduce our community to the universe of poetry that affects and alters ourselves and our colleagues… An introduction to an entirely new voice that speaks to you, as an adult out of these systems, is a rare and potentially life-altering gift…”
The series has now become an evergreen archive: it boasts 210 (soon, 240!) personal, critical, refreshingly genuine entries of poets writing on poets who have radically and permanently influenced their lives and work. Any time you’re looking for a new poet to explore, look no further. Send your students here, for voices outside the canon and the classroom. Spend a rainy afternoon with us.
Here at The OS we are grateful to be building community and collaborating with these highly original humans, and we can’t wait to share April’s bounty with you all.
Subscribe, if you want a little gift in your inbox every day this month!
ONWARD! — Robert Balun, OS Poetry Month 2019 Coordinator

Here’s a little more on each week’s curator, and their forthcoming chapbooks from the OS. You can preorder the whole series or each individual book here for a discount now!

Week 1: Curated by Magdalena Zurawski, author of Don’t Be Scared

My OS chapbook, “Don’t Be Scared,” is a long meditation on teaching, on what it means to stand in a college classroom in America today and think about poetry with an excited group of young adults. It’s about the complications and beauty of that space, a space that in many ways feels central to my identity. Given the focus of the piece, I thought it especially apt to select seven poets and writers who have been (well, two still are) undergraduate students at the University of Georgia, where I teach creative writing. These poets as young students announced themselves as writers to me, and, as you can see in their essays and bios, already move in a larger world of American poetry.

As a poet, my most intense and regular exchanges on and around poetry have been with my students. My undergraduate students in particular, because of my frequent contact with them, have helped me think about the value of poetry in a world that demands to be understood in dollars and cents. As I witness their commitment to poetry amid all the pressures and demands from a world that is “too much with us,” I’m grateful to them for helping me put my own doubts aside.

Don’t Be Scared is a poem/essay generated from my experiences in the classroom. It attempts to implicate the classroom itself in a longer narrative of modernity and democratic struggle and in that sense it deploys my academic ‘upbringing’ for political ends.

Litmus Press published my poetry collection, Companion Animal, in April of 2015. My novel, The Bruise, was published in 2008 by FC2. A poetry collection, The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom will be out from Wave Books in spring 2019. I am an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Week 2: Curated by Knar Gavin, author of Vela.

Embarking on my curatorial journey in January, I sought out poets whom I felt were especially attuned to the environmental crises and conundrums that perforate — and so very unevenly — our everyday lives and social worlds. I am humbled by the depth of thinking and care that animates these entries. Each circles and crisscrosses the environmental question in its own way, indexing the enriching tensions of poetic inheritance while simultaneously attesting to poetry’s capacity to project (that is, to jacere, throw, pro-, forth, as in, into the future) modes of collectivist thinking and relational being. As several of these contributing posts imply, such an orientation is also a pathway to opposing the momentums of “empire-driven erasure” (I borrow this phrase from Orchid Tierney and her post on Lehua M. Taitano), so many of which manifest in environmental violence.

I hope you’ll follow along in the coming week; these featured writers provide a truly unique and vital glimpse into those parcels and vectors of connection, influence, and writerly relation that link poets across varied environments and (social) ecologies, some more man(un)made than others. Consult the list below should you wish for a brief set of sneak-peaks; minor spoilers are present, so do beware! These spoilers may charm, and beckon:

  • Day 1: Jerika Marchan reflects on the physical draw of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée, revealing an indispensable work which, among other things, offers “the immigrant’s story — to be so tethered to the past even as one is pulled irrevocably into the future” …
  • Day 2: Craig Santos Perez shares the work of Hawaiian poet Brandy Nālani McDougall, a writer who both critiques the ongoing force of ecological imperialism in Hawai’i while also extending “representations of [that] environment as a sacred and storied place” …
  • Day 3: Sara Deniz Akant stages an interrogative exchange with poet Daisy Atterbury, pursing the intimate beyond of speech and reckoning with the social ecologies produced from within (and perhaps rupturing forth from) the poem; among other questions, Akant asks, “Can writing be used to (un)settle — to deregulate space?” …
  • Day 4: Orchid Tierney considers the terraqueous poetics of native Chamorro poet Lehua M. Taitano, an indigenous writer from from Guahån (Guam), whose work contends with the violent history of U.S. imperialism in Oceania; Tierney wonders “how we can enact sovereignty, citizenship, and justice in the twenty-first century” …
  • Day 5: Clare Jones engages with migration, cross-creaturely kinship, and the reciprocal poetics of mimicry in Anna Jackson’s poem “Kākāpō,”as published in the collection The Pastoral Kitchen …
  • Day 6: Patrick Riedy documents his relocation to Providence, Rhode Island and shares an account of his encounter with Colin Channer’s “Providential;” in Riedy’s words, the poem bears “many tributaries,” among them those of fatherhood, aging, the law, reggae, and colonialism …
  • Day 7: Allison Cobb explores the teachings built into the work of Susan Howe and explains Howe’s role in revealing that formal and generic binaries are “meaningless in a work that follows its own imperatives” (these imperatives might include research, investigation, and inquiry)…
  • Day 8: Carlos Price-Sanchez spends time with Anita Endrezze’s “The Language of Fossils,” a poem which introduced him to the ecopoetical realm and its sometimes resistant materials (not least of all its word-objects)…

Vela. wonders about media ecologies/mediumicity, and wanders among vegetal life, fruits and animals, asking questions about entities not-just-human, and about proximity — how close it close? What vela lie beneath, or above, the variegated vellum that we are? I like to think my poems are worried about archives, too, yet capaciously so: what does the body archive? What does it send, and what does it re-seethe? What should the poem being doing about the Anthropocene, beyond re-marking it, and how can the poem engage meaningfully with other-than human intelligences and temporalities? There are these things, and then the poet shows up every now and again — I guess as a sort of rattled shy kid who nonetheless still loves the world, and never wants to stop glossing it — or trying. 
Knar Gavin attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in AGNI, Birdfeast, Poetry, BOAAT, Caketrain, Booth, the Journal, Storm Cellar, Yemassee, Print-Oriented Bastards, Quarterly West, SoftBlow, Glittermob, Heavy Feather Review and elsewhere. She writes the occasional folk song and rides bikes with Team Laser Cats, a Philadelphia women’s cycling squad. Her tumbles can be found at knargavin.tumblr.com.

Week 3 Curated by Kristina Marie Darling & Chris Campanioni, authors of RE:Verses

For a series built on recognizing the words of others, and the acknowledgement of the unreturnable debt we owe to one another, it felt natural to invite people who have each, in their own way, continued to influence and shape my own work as an editor and a writer. Lauren Hilger, whose role-playing adaptations of Golden Era cinema in Lady Be Good re-work both glamor and nostalgia, has repeatedly gifted me with her presence — physically and virtually — and also gifted my new book with joyous insight into our current poeti-cultural climate. Our shared moments of revelry and revelation continue to sustain and inform me. Likewise, I am privileged to share a publisher in C&R Press with Ariel Francisco, whose poetics continue to revitalize the New York School, for which a subway ride becomes an occasion for a poem (and the best kind), and whose work on translation endeavors toward more than just homage to a familial, and familiar, original. Finally, I would not be the writer I am today — right now, at 7:01PM on a Saturday night in early April — if I did not work alongside Jessica Fischoff to run PANK Magazine and PANK Books, where we have the tremendous opportunity to publish voices and stories that would otherwise not have a home. It is my hope that in seeing ourselves and our work as part of a larger conversation — one that encapsulates and demands acceptance and accountability to so many others — we can also recognize our own subject positions within a system of global inequality and structural and structuring marginalization, particularly in the world republic of letters. May we always see ourselves in conversation with one another, a situation in which everything we do is collaborative and crowd-sourced, in the sense that we are drawing from and are drawn by people we may otherwise have never encountered, not with such vulnerability or intimacy; not with the imminence and eminence that language and literature affords us.

— Chris Campanioni, April 6, 2019

What I want is the intimacy of anonymous encounters within the text itself, and yet to be effaced and revealed, even and especially by my own authorial departure. And it would take the form of a repetition or a reversal; a re: verse in which we correspond lyrically; a re: verse in which our correspondence becomes the poem.

Of course, an integral part of any correspondence is the space between things, those slender apertures lit up with waiting. It is in these liminal spaces that possibility accumulates. We write toward this space, in response to its silences.

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty books, including Look to Your Left: The Poetics of Spectacle (University of Akron Press, 2020); Re: VERSES (with Chris Campanioni; The Operating System, 2019); Je Suis L’Autre: Essays & Interrogations (C&R Press, 2017), which was named one of the “Best Books of 2017” by The Brooklyn Rail; and DARK HORSE: Poems (C&R Press, 2018), which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Her work has been recognized with three residencies at Yaddo, where she has held both the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet and the Howard Moss Residency in Poetry; a Fundación Valparaíso fellowship; a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, funded by the Heinz Foundation; an artist-in-residence position at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris; three residencies at the American Academy in Rome; two grants from the Whiting Foundation; a Morris Fellowship in the Arts; and the Dan Liberthson Prize from the Academy of American Poets, among many other awards and honors. Her poems appear in The Harvard Review, Poetry International, New American Writing, Nimrod, Passages North, The Mid-American Review, and on the Academy of American Poets’ website, Poets.org. She has published essays in The Kenyon Review, Agni, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, and numerous other magazines. Kristina currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press and Tupelo Quarterly, an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Review of Books, and a contributing writer at Publishers Weekly.

Chris Campanioni is a first-generation American, the son of immigrants from Cuba and Poland, and the author of the Internet is for real (C&R Press). He has worked as a journalist, model, and actor, and he teaches Latinx literature and creative writing at Baruch College and Pace University. His “Billboards” poem that responded to Latino stereotypes and mutable — and often muted — identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets College Prize in 2013, his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards, and his hybrid piece “This body’s long (& I’m still loading)” was adapted as an official selection of the Canadian International Film Festival in 2017. A year earlier, he adapted his award-winning course, “Identity, Image, & Intimacy in the Age of the Internet,” for his first TEDx Talk. He runs PANK and PANK Books, edits At Large Magazine and Tupelo Quarterly, and lives in Brooklyn.

Week 4: Curated by Ryu Ando, author of A Phantom Zero

Bashō writes:

ara tōto / aoba wakaba no / hi no hikari
O wondrous / green leaf, young leaf / light of the sun.

It’s so simple. Deceptively so. Although we could languish in the beauty of the surface of things, this poem is not just about those green leaves basking in the sun. This is also about the absence of things, the brightness hiding the darkness that looms after the sun sets, or that comes as a season ends. Another great haiku poet Kobayashi Issa tells us we’re gazing at flowers even as we stand atop the roof of hell. If you pause long enough, maybe you’ll see it. But when has youth ever worried about those things? The face of death, we must constantly be reminded, is just around the corner from these fleeting moments lost, “like tears in rain,” as Roy Batty says in Bladerunner.


Shift_the future: Apologies for the sudden cultural whiplash. The mix of traditional art and pop culture is deliberate. Just because the newest technologies are here, it doesn’t mean we know what to do with them or how to cope with them. The same concerns dog us. We really haven’t changed that much except for the devices that distract us. Enter the speculative arts: science fiction, fantasy, horror. Sometimes viewed derisively as “genre,” these forms are generally clear-cut in their intents as vehicles for storytelling, especially in novels and filmmaking, where they shine bright and have a pervasive influence over popular culture. I’m sure any one of us could list a favorite fantasy, sci-fi, or horror film from just this year.

But how about speculative poems? What are your favorite speculative poems over the last fifty years? Likely this is a bit of a challenge. And what isspeculative poetry anyway? For an art form that’s already a hard sell these days, speculative poetry seems even more obscure. It is often seen, erroneously, as lesser in quality, relegated alongside pulp-fiction romance, hard-boiled detectives, weary cowboys, and embedded like so many chintzy rhinestones in the texts of would-be Tolkiens or neo-Ursula Le Guins. I exaggerate of course.

The problem, as Le Guin herself has pointed out, is that sci-fi overall is too often expected to be merely an extrapolation of current trends, leading us to utopia perhaps, but usually more often to dystopia. Its value seems to be derived only from that click-bait list of how many things 1984 or Brave New World got right. There’s nothing more depressing than that. I can read the headlines, too: maybe Bowie was right after all and we’ve only got five years.

But Le Guin (and Bowie, too, by the way in his Berlin Trilogy) also shows us another way. The value of the speculative arts stems not from accurate forecasting, she argues. Instead, the speculative arts thrive as thought experiment. We derive value by working out and showing to ourselves the human response to different conditions that may or may not yet exist.

And here’s where I think speculative poetry especially shines: not in the prophesies that lead us down the slippery slopes to dystopia or along the spiral stairways leading upward to utopia, but in the experiments wrought in the rarefied, fever-pitched, hyper-aware language of poets. Thought experiments thinking of thought itself, in other words. Five years, indeed.


And so, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce the seven writers/poets/artists curated for this final week of poetry month 2019. Each of the authors writing on their own favorite and influential poets bring their unique visions, experimentations, and voices to poetry, art, and writing. I would argue, too that all the writers feature work within this tradition of thought-experiment. Even if these writers do not all self-identify as speculative writers, they each push the boundaries of what poetry means and how it is conveyed, situated entirely in the fertile fields of modernism, post-modernism, technology, and genre.

Marge Simon (Science Fiction Poetry Association Grandmaster and multiple Rhysling and Elgin awards winner) and Romie Stott (Filmmaker, poet, and poetry editor for Hugo-nominated online publication Strange Horizons) situate themselves squarely within speculative literature. Jonathan Basile (creator of the Library of Babel website and author of Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality [punctum books]) and Michael Prihoda (founding editor of After the Pause and a…p press; author of The Festival of Guns, a poetic redaction of “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino) hone in on the philosophical issues of creativity and constructing meaning directly related to our current modern worldviews. Christopher Iacono (author at Cuckoobirds) and Varun Ravindran (author at varunravindran.com) each work with multiple genres and forms — focusing often on music (cf. Chris’s wonderful “Between 6 and 8”; Varun’s astounding ‘La route chante…’) and the impact of technology on everyday life (“Yahoo, I’ve been hacked”), giving us unique insights into the interplay between the poetic, the dramatic, and the mundane. Finally, Mike Good, managing editor for Autumn House Press, focuses on people struggling in a post-industrial America. His poems C.W.P.and Field Guide to Sycamore Island, Blawnox, PA show us the consequences of consumerism, the need for hope, and the necessity of dignity.

The poets they have each chosen to highlight this week range from the older and incredibly famous (e.g. Jorge Luis Borges, Bob Dylan, Marcel Duchamp), to the contemporary and rising (Darren C. Demaree, G.C. Waldrep), and to the somewhat overlooked (E.A Robinson, Edward Lear, Yves Bonnefoy). They demonstrate that the roots run deep, too deep for us to limit by label or to discriminate against higher or lower forms, “literature” or “genre”. The same problem continues to dog all of us: the world moves on, with or without us.

Ryu | April 2019 Saitama, Japan / Los Angeles

[零] A Phantom Zero is an 8-part piece inspired by ‘the Drake Equation’.

Ryu Ando’s writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Pidgeonholes, Liquid Imagination, and other venues. His first book of poems, The Lost Gardens of the Hakudo Maru, is available from a…p press. Somewhere between L.A. and Saitama. This is where his characters exist and from where their voices carry. Lost and found. In Japan. In America. Sometimes both. Sometimes neither. Somewhere else entirely. https://ryuando.wordpress.com