It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through 2020. Collectively, we have faced many difficult challenges this year that have required us to reconsider, deeply and fearlessly, what it means to publish — and to be a publisher — in a period of great political and social turmoil.
Our present moment was certainly not in our minds when we put out our call for interdisciplinary collaborations, translations, transcreations, hybrid works, prose, poetry, and creative essays to be published as part of our 2020 Digital Chapbook Series. Co-edited and curated by OS collaborators Curtis Emery and myself (Orchid Tierney), we focused our initial call for submissions on a series of interlocking questions:
How queer is climate change? What mutating futurities are possible in writings of the diaspora? How do we imagine evolving micro/macro/plant-based/insect-like scales of environmental disturbance? How salty is survival? What kind of archive is the ocean? What will become of history under water? We invite writers to submit works that speak to our ecological moment, apprehend change, reaction, and action in networked and local ways, and explore the multiple and the contingent.
Climate change and systemic racism was at the forefront of my thinking last year when we put out this call, and it’s worth remembering that the global COVID-19 pandemic very much belongs to this vexed landscape. In variegated ways, our 2020 digital chapbooks demand that we attend carefully through and with communities of place, and imagine possible quotidians, where we can create novel fluid states that are resistant to harm and open to empathy.
On that note, we are delighted to welcome these amazing artists into The Operating System family. Their titles will drop September 23, 2020, on the OS Open Resource Library. Stay tuned!
Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah — KIND HAVEN
The project combines raw realism, with fantasy, surrealism, primitiveness, abstraction and grotesque narrative situations. It deals primarily with the absence of home, the passage of time, inward states of solitude, silence, secrecy, individual memory, and close observation of everyday places and things.
Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah, who is an algebraist and artist, works in mixed media. He is the author of more than 200 books of poetry, songs, prose, plays, art and hybrid, including his recent hybrid works, The Sun of a Torus, Conductor 5, Genus for L Loci and Handlebody. He lives in the southern part of Ghana, in Spain, and the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota.
Sunnylyn Thibodeaux — WITCH LIKE ME
Being a cataloger, as often poets are, capturing various current states, all the while being “current” as a state of one’s body, my poetry has always worked through the inner and outer in this sense — some time-warp juncture of indexing and reflecting simultaneously. The poems in Witch Like Me delve into the power that comes from within and mortality as some inevitable shift in relations with the world. There are challenges present. And existential stirrings. We can only deliver that which comes through us, how the poem does. And “through us” gives us over to a knowledge sometimes concrete, sometimes as metaphor. We, as earth beings, we, as spiritual, navigate these complexities for understandings. As a mother, these poems have come to be a mapping for my daughter. As a victim, these poems have come to be healing. After some health mishaps writing unfolded through a wrestling with the state of the world in its ability to nurture, as well as be nurtured. The poems lean toward reflections on the experience of an altered perception of the “whole” and that of time. We listen. We take heed. We corral. And offer the poems back to the universe from which they originated.
Facebook: Sunnylyn Ballard Thibodeaux
Sunnylyn Thibodeaux is a teacher, neighborhood activist and poet. She is the author of The World Exactly (forthcoming Cuneiform), Universal Fall Precautions (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017), As Water Sounds (Bootstrap Press, 2014) and Palm to Pine (2011), as well as over a dozen small books including 88 Haiku, Against What Light, Room Service Calls, and What’s Going On. Originally from New Orleans, she lives and writes in San Francisco and co-edits Auguste Press and Lew Gallery Editions.
J Pascutazz — LICHEN LAND
The poems of LICHEN LAND are a fierce incantation dispelling the illusion that humans exist apart from the forces of the natural world. “I’m an ancestral whirlwind. You’re a population…” begins the title poem, in which the author takes on the role of the hurricane-as-spurned-lover breaking up with America. “Mother of All Water” is a coming-out poem that dives through the limited concept of gender into the depths of the original elemental nature of the self. “Wildfire Poetry” tells the story of California’s deadly “Camp Fire” from the perspective of heroes, victims, and ultimately the fire itself — speaking in “the ravishing tongue of the flames” — melding all perspectives into one longing to consume the object of desire. And, in the long title poem, lost in the grip of Lichen Fever, the poet geeks-out heavily on the nomenclature, folklore, and mythology of Lichen — manifesting in wods the magic of a multi-species organism cooperating to create a functional whole as a metaphor for a possible human future.
J Pascutazz is a non-binary writer with Asperger’s. Raised in rural Ohio. Graduate of Bennington College. Published by Miracle Monocle, Cleaver, FRIGG — and others. J teaches Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Gong in Brooklyn.
Lee Gough — RECALL
RECALL was a project I wrote off and on over a long time. It is my attempt to center in on ecological and economic collapse where they meet in crisis as opportunity and loss. I wonder what the entropic logic of the capitalism is doing to our ability to remember one another as a communal body, as if we could recall the failures of this world we’ve produced. I wonder in what possible time(s) we will realize and recall our destabilized experience with this ecology.
Lee Gough is a visual artist. activist and poet. Her visual work is in collections around the United States and has been shown in India, Australia and Belgium and supported by the Puffin Foundation, and the Frans Masereel Centrum in Flanders (Antwerp). She is also the author of another chapbook, Future Occupations (Little Red Leaves Textile Editions, 2012). She lives in
Ava Hofmann — THE WOMAN FACTORY
THE WOMAN FACTORY is an interactive digital chapbook about artificial intelligence, gender, and our current bioindustrial mode of production. Written from the perspective of a fembot in a far flung, THE WOMAN FACTORY explores how such a category presents complicated indwellings of pleasure and pain, examining the ways in which identities and modalities of being (such as queerness and transness) can be tied to globe-spanning processes of mass harm and destruction. In this space, it asks these essential questions: how can we rework our material conditions upon which we rely? And how must we respond when we are still yet engulfed by those conditions? The interactive elements of this chapbook implicate you directly in this process of complicity / self-distinguishing, weaponizing the line between author and reader.
Originally from Oxford, Ohio, Ava Hofmann is a trans writer currently living and working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has poems published in or forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Fence, Anomaly, Best American Experimental Writing 2020, The Fanzine, Datableed, Peachmag, and Always Crashing. Her work deals with transness/queerness, Marxism, and the physicality of language.
Anjoli Roy — ENTER THE NAVEL: FOR THE LOVE OF CREATIVE NONFICTION
This playful abecedarian offers a new perspective on the term “navel-gazer” by looking both figuratively and literally at the navel. Inside, readers will find antiquated and current dictionary definitions of “navel” woven in with scientific information on the curious state of lint and bacteria located there, including what humans have been known, disgustingly, to do with them (hello, navel cheese!). Also in appearance are Hawaiian and Hindu origin stories rooted in the navel that connect us, with urgency, to the divine; the role of the navel, our first wound, in and after human birth; a story of the author’s own regrettable 90s-era teenage navel piercing along with the plastic surgery that removed her mother’s navel, and more.
Styled as a self-referencing cabinet of curiosities, this chapbook is also a Rorschach for the genre of creative nonfiction, many of whose stalwart writers have been written off as “navel-gazers.” This text demands the reader be swayed to see what, in fact, is so good about looking at one’s own navel after all.
Anjoli Roy is a creative writer and high school English teacher in Honolulu. With a PhD in English from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, she is a VONA fellow and a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her creative nonfiction stories have won the COG Page-to-Screen Award, been first runner-up for StoryQuarterly’s Fourth Annual Nonfiction Prize, and been third-place winner of the Ian MacMillan Writing Awards for Creative Nonfiction. She has published with The Asian American Literary Review, Entropy, Hippocampus, Kweli, Longreads, River Teeth, Spiral Orb, and others. Anjoli is also PhDJ for “It’s Lit,” a literature and music podcast that she cohosts with Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng and has featured more than 100 writers to date. Anjoli is from Pasadena, California. She is a mashi to eight, a godmother to one, and the last of her parents’ three girls. She loves cats, surfing with loved ones or alone, and the rain that she and her partner oftentimes wake up to in Pālolo Valley.