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Small Press Distribution is gone. It’s unclear what comes next. But despite the very shaky last several years at the sole non-profit book distributor, it’s worth recognizing two things. First, SPD did more than most folks seem to appreciate just to make nonconforming literature accessible to those who lack ready access to a writing/reading community beyond the stale mainstream, for-profit and curricular boilerplate, both of which tend to misrepresent the agency of language to question, critique, and heal. Second, after the rise of AWP and MFA culture, SPD remained one of the rare organizations that didn’t solely bolster the entrepreneurial co-optation of interdisciplinary and experimental methods, and that involved sacrifice, foresight, and ingenuity. Actually, a third thing: Kenning Editions and hundreds of other presses just lost their only channel into libraries, bookstores, and the predominant “fulfillment” services that most folks use to acquire their reading material. Something will be done about that, but again, it’s unclear what that will be.
Anyway, Kenning Editions won’t be there. I was not planning to announce this, but I am dissolving the press at the end of 2024. This has been the plan for the last couple of years, to wind down and attempt to find a home, in the meantime, for the amazing books I am proud to have published—the last one dropping just two days before SPD’s demise. I founded Kenning Editions in 1998, as a journal. I was inspired by the mimeograph revolution in poetry and 1980s-90s underground music zines. In 2005, KE began publishing paperbacks and participating in the book trade proper. After 25 years of working in collaboration with authors, editors, and designers I trust and admire, I feel the need to move on to other activities. Marketing, fundraising, even printing and other basic operations have become unsustainable over the last several years. In addition, I have devoted so much of my time and energy to editing, publishing, organizing, and presenting the work of others—all while raising a family and working as an educator—that I have neglected my own work. I just hope I have made a difference in some small way.
Direct mail orders are being fulfilled through the rest of this year. Then the books go out of print. And the website disappears. Hearty harvest and immense gratitude to all who have been involved, bought a book, attended an event, and shared encouragement over these long years.
-Patrick Durgin, founder, editor, publisher, Kenning Editions

Glimmerings and Constellations: Creative and Critical Responses

Selected Plays of Jay Wright, Volume Three / edited by Will Daddario

The lauded poet Jay Wright is known for weaving global cosmologies into taut, rhythmically dynamic verses that double as poetic and philosophical treatises. Having recently published two volumes of his selected plays, composed over several decades, in this volume, nine leading voices in contemporary US poetry, performance making, and performance theory, offer insights into Wright’s theatre. Intended for scholars and theatre-makers alike, these contributions act as points of entry into Wright’s theatre-thinking and add to the growing discourse around Wright’s work that sees in this artistic figure one of America’s most exciting intellects. The creative and critical responses to Wright’s work include essays and other texts by Will Daddario, Matthew Goulish, Devin King, David Grubbs, Michael Paul Berlin, Esteban Rodríguez, Sebastián Calderón Bentin, Daniel Woody, and Duriel E. Harris.

Click through to order from Kenning Editions, or visit Small Press Distribution to do the same.

Now available as a free download is Mark Nowak’s abecederian prose poem WINTER, documenting the attack at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Read more and download the chapbook here. And tune in this evening for a reading and conversation between Nowak and Bill Ayers, presented by the formidable Pilsen Community Books. This is a free, virtual event.

And if you happen to be in New York next next week, you can attend the in-person launch even for WINTER, Friday, January 12, at the Flow Chart Foundation in Hudson, NY, with Nowak and Stacy Szymaszek: details are here.

Coming soon from Kenning Editions is WINTER, by Mark Nowak, who launches this free, digital chapbook with in-person and virtual events. Get these in your calendar!

Saturday, January 6, Pilsen Community Books hosts a virtual reading and discussion with Nowak and Bill Ayers: read more here.

Friday, January 12, at the Flow Chart Foundation in Hudson, NY, Nowak and Stacy Szymaszek: details are here.

“Winter,” an abecedarian poem from Mark Nowak’s forthcoming book, …AGAIN,  documents the attack at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. These innovative and trenchant prose poems expand the long traditions of documentary poetry and social poetics through the structure of the English alphabet, letter by letter. Nowak compiles, splices, and reshapes Trump’s Twitter archive and excerpts from his January 6th speech at the Save America March, notes taken while watching hours of livestream videos, Google maps, bird guides, figures from Greek mythology, newspaper reports, “fake news,” and more to critique the alt-right’s attempt to overturn the U.S. election.

Winter is offered as a free PDF download formatted to read on screen or to print, fold, bind, and circulate, in the great tradition of artistic and political pamphleteering. Issued on January 6, 2024 by Kenning Editions in chapbook format to mark the anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Winter will remain available until it resurfaces in the larger collection to be published by Coffee House Press.

Mark Nowak is a poet, social critic, and labor activist whose books include Shut Up Shut Down, Coal Mountain Elementary, and Social Poetics. He edited Coronavirus Haiku (Kenning Editions, 2021), guest-edited the “Why We Write” issue of Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 2021), and wrote an introduction to Celes Tisdale’s When the Smoke Cleared: Attica Prison Poems and Journal (Duke University Press, 2022). A native of Buffalo, Nowak is the founding director of the Worker Writers School (https://www.workerwriters.org).

 

 

 

Gabriel Kruis on Zeroes Were Hollow, David Larsen’s second (bigger) book of poetry, culled from this thoughtful review via The Poetry Project Newsletter.

[A] love of error and good trouble, of troubling received logic, of indulgence in “imperfection,” marks every inch of Zeroes Were Hollow.

Take, for instance, the handwritten poem in various colored inks on the back cover: its penultimate line is X’d-out and there’s an inscrutable scribble tying it off (I think it spells NAVE?). The acknowledgements and the TOC, too, are scrawled in the author’s hand, as are several poems throughout. You don’t have to have read Barthes’ Writing Degree Zero to appreciate the immediacy and corporeality of the handwriting, especially when it renders the formerly “neutral,” totally serviceable typeface, null; the poet’s anarchic wit is as evident in every looping O and squiggled N as it is in every poem in the book.

 

Music Instead of Emotion: A Rail reading by David Larsen and Tenaya Nasser-Frederick

Register here. And pick up Zeroes Were Hollow and Syrup Hits (a few remain!).

David Larsen is a US poet and translator, and the author of Zeroes Were Hollow (Kenning Editions, 2022). His open notebook of unpublished translations is viewable online. Currently, he is a research fellow at the Library of Arabic Literature in Abu Dhabi, where he is editing the poems of Jamil Buthaynah.

Tenaya Nasser-Frederick is the author of two chapbooks, Penumbra Highway (Gas Meter, 2018) and Lavender Cats (1080 press, 2020). Poems have appeared in the _Brooklyn Rail, Castle Greyskull, the Brooklyn Review, and EBB.

 

Every in print paperback book ever published by Kenning Editions is half off here at Kenningeditions.com this week, August 14 through 19. Stock up. These are built to be read and cherished. And heaven knows you do not have them all, yet. Domestic shipping is free. International shipping is reasonable.

I’ve wanted to have a stoop sale, but it’s never seemed feasible. So I’m just running another mailorder discount blitz, this time featuring a batch of books by Latin-American women, in translation (all but one including the original Spanish en face). These books are half off now through the 9th:

The Chilean Flag

The Dirty Text

Grenade in Mouth

titulo/title

Juana I

For no good reason, other than they are great, we’re offering all three books by Jesse Seldess and Devin King on sale for half price this week. Here’s a good reason, actually. Two of my favorite aspects of their poems are repetition and narrative. And, well, those are two incongruent aspects of poetry that each masterfully reconciles. Look here:

Who Opens

Left Having

Several Rotations

The Grand Complication

There Three

Gathering

Buy them all! Read them all! It’s summer, why not?

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