Archive for fence books

Wendy Xu joins the Fence Books Fam

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2015 by ndemske

Yay-uh!  Just got the news that my poetry homie Wendy Xu is my new publishing labelmate.  Congratulations, Wendy!  AND I know she recently just got a shout out in one of Entropy’s end of the year best of lists.  So Wa-bam.  Can’t/won’t/etc.

And as a bonus, here’s a real short shout out Wendy posted on an independent review site back in the day about my first book (in like 2011 I think).  It is good when we get published by publishers whose books we like.  The world makes sense.  Amen.

Can’t wait to read it, Wendy!  So excited for you.

Fence is proud to announce that Hoa Nguyen has chosen Wendy Xu’s Phrasis as winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize. Phrasis will be published in 2017 by Fence Books, and Xu will also be the recipient of a $5000 cash prize. Born in Shandong, China, in 1987, Wendy Xu is the author of You Are Not Dead (2013), and the recent chapbook Naturalism (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Poetry, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. She was awarded the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry in 2011, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation in 2014. She lives and teaches writing in New York City.

In celebration, the deadline to submit to the 2017 Ottoline Prize has been extended through December 24th, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST! You can submit to the Ottoline by clicking here.

The Ottoline Prize awards publication and $5,000 to a book-length work of poetry by a woman writing in English who has previously published one or more full-length books of poetry. The submission fee is $28, and all entrants receive a complimentary subscription or renewal to Fence. The winning manuscript will be published in the Spring of 2017 by Fence Books. The Ottoline existed in previous incarnations as the Motherwell Prize, and the Albert Prize before that. A full list of winners can be found at fenceportal.org.

Me, Wag

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by ndemske

In preparation for a reading in Racine next month featuring Catherine Wagner, Travis Nichols and Anthony Madrid, I’ve spent the last 5 days with Catherine Wagner’s latest book, “My New Job” (a title I’m really fond of).  It has a lot of distinctive, idiosyncratic qualities to it that I really enjoyed getting to read.  As this wonderful video illustrates (and the person who posted it has almost 300 poetry reading videos on YouTube…thanks, guy), Catherine has a pretty great sense of both music and humor.  While the book heightens a reader’s conscious throughout to serious, species-wide tragedies, Wagner refuses to take herself too seriously, never assuming the easy role of a moral authority or any other such stereotype.  One of the book’s biggest influences and references seems to be Wagner’s son, Ambrose (whose work “Eek eek and eek” can be found here), and it feels this like this influence may be responsible for the book’s exacted balance of profundity and absurdity (in the same way that being an intellectual and a mother requires a tricky balance of the two).

What I find most remarkable about the book is that it seems to illustrate a very particular cultural moment or experience really clearly; being an Anglo, middleclass, American, heterosexual woman in the 21st century; an AMAHW in deuce-uno, if you will.  While the book teeters between opacity and such a personal directness that it’s risky, Wagner still never comes out and explicitly claims, “yeah, this book is about being an AMAHW in the deuce-uno.”  But, what at first seem like casual asides (she finishes one piece, for instance,  with the line “What a heterosexist poem!” which half sounds like disapproval and half sounds like Whitmanic celebration), start to add up through the book.  These moments never lose their comic value, but it definitely becomes a tragic humor and a self-aware humor–a humor that questions itself.  As a reader, I found myself confronted with my own laughter at the most fucked parts.  And I use that word very deliberately, because large sections of the book are devoted to analyses (huh huh…yses) of fucking in all its many connotations (see this interview with Wagner in BOMB for more).

Wagner’s consideration of the AMAHW in the deuce-uno is so significant to me because it’s a role in which the individual experiences a unique tension of privilege and oppression or, maybe more accurately, being the oppressed and the oppressor simultaneously.  In the title poem, which is also the last poem in the book, she asks,

“How can I         from inside this comfort

Represent          Hope to

No no

I am                   Too tempted

To think I                  Deserve it

Rigidly and with effort

know my privilege”

[the formatting is slightly different in the book]

These thematic sentiments take on a greater urgency as the book builds more and more momentum, especially, I think because her son seems such a central character to it, and the issue of how not to pass one’s fuckedness (comfort in the role of oppressor) demands urgent attention.  It’s a book super-relevant to our culture at this moment and I think its very existence bodes well for the future.

Come to the Reading, you silly geese! (see this link for more info)

(more info on the reading…not on silly geese).