We are so excited to announce the release of Andres Rojas’s Looking For What Isn’t There, the first of two 2018 Debut Series Chapbook Winners to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

These poems received the following praise:

“These colorful swaths of memory and lost language have their own smart beauty, forced open like an amaryllis in winter to enrich and warm the heart. Andres Rojas’ poems feel like rare birds migrating through a drizzled landscape, surprising and subtle and transformational all at once. What a remarkable pleasure it is to read each one.”

D.A. Powell

“Reading Looking For What Isn’t There, I remember the feeling of encountering Andres Rojas’s poems for the first time; I’m right back in that electric headspace. This poet is not walking a worn path, not echoing anyone else’s voice. Each metaphor,each line—“the radio waves/ lobster-boiled in the censored air”; “a boulevard/ of moonlight on water”—feels both brand-new and full of deep, hard-won wisdom. What a balancing act! I know I’ll return to these poems again and again.”

Maggie Smith

“The poems of Andres Rojas are succinct, pared down to the essentials: crystalline phrasing, striking imagery. His language, though concise, reveals and complicates longing and exile: ‘What we can’t miss /makes us whole.’ Among the sorrow, the necessity of insight urgently blooms. Empathy allows us to see ‘[a] skeletal Ford. [i]ts vaguely human form.’”

Eduardo C. Corral

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We just closed submissions for our annual contests a few hours ago, at midnight on April 20th. We received 360 submissions, and are looking forward to reading them (and, while bittersweet, perhaps looking forward a little less enthusiastically at how difficult these decisions will be). Be on the lookout for our next release, a short fiction collection from Robin Littell, coming up very soon! In the meantime, we hope this cruelest month is being kind to all of you.

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We are so excited to announce the release of Rage Hezekiah’s Unslakable, the first of three 2018 Vella Chapbook Winners to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up. Please also consider checking out Rage’s website, to find out about events and any other future publications.

Her poems received the following praise:

“How can we say what was once unsayable and then learn to see beyond it? And beyond that seeing, can we dare to move beyond it—and live on our own terms? Rage Hezekiah’s Unslakable takes up this challenge with fierce compassion and a vital, human grace born of having lived and witnessed—and then gone farther. In that way, we can read the title, Unslakable, at once as description, challenge, and difficult desire. “First/you teach the child/what it is to drown/so she’ll know/to save herself” writes Hezekiah. These poems embody the process of walking with the strange weight of history – both personal and cultural – but these poems also carry us through the process of opening ourselves to self-love. Hezekiah’s courageous and thoughtful voice invites us all to rethink those big yet intimate issues: family legacy, sexuality, identity, and power. More than just response, reaction, or counterpoise, Unslakable claims and creates new space for the strength of one woman of color’s body – and vision – and spirit – in our world.”

-Aaron Coleman, author of St. Trigger, and Threat Come Close

“Startling and brutal in its clarity, Unslakable takes on multiple violences lived in an individual body – the trauma of a childhood with an alcoholic parent, the intergenerational inheritance of slavery and racism, the echo of every heartbreak. This is a collection brimming with quiet, the kind of raucous quiet full of unspoken things. Hezekiah’s poems don’t look away from painful memories, instead facing them head-on with unremitting tenderness. No detail is spared, these concise poems shake with emotion, insisting on naming the past and thereby carving a future, “punishing the silence of no one to blame.” In her poems, sharp-angled pain and hard-won human wisdom are held alongside the barbed beauty of the natural world: gardens of memory, birth and decay, the ocean as ever-present witness of a life lived by the water. In these poems are friendship, lovers, science, anatomy, longing, resilience, and “history’s/ detritus.” And, above all, desire, the unslakable, liberatory desire of a poet laying claim to the agony and beauty of a life, and telling us “I want it all for as long as it will last.”

-Mónica Gomery, author of Of Darkness and Tumbling and Here is the Night and the Night on the Road

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We are currently accepting chapbook manuscripts until April 20th — just over a month left! — and cannot wait to see what startling and powerful work we get to publish this time next year. In the meantime, keep an eye out for four more titles to be released over the next few months.

Thank you for your patience as I’ve read and re-read and deliberated over these manuscripts since May. While I know I say how hard it is to decide every year, the 2018 contest yielded nearly double the entries we’ve gotten in any of our past contests. This made for a much larger time commitment than previous years, and also impossible decisions to make. Of the 170 we received for the Debut Series, even narrowing it down to a list of 19 (the 10% named as finalists, plus two winners) was daunting and difficult. Please know that, if you do not see your name below, it is still certainly likely that I really admired your work.

Winners
Looking For What Isn’t There – Andres Rojas
What City – Meredith Boe

Finalists (In order in which they were received)
Hurricane Matthew – Shevaun Brannigan
The Cure for Loneliness – Lindsay Fowler
Fade – Jennifer Colatosti
Alligator Chronicles – Melissa Varnavas
The Housewife Chronicles – Ruth Goodwin
Schoolboys – Jack Cooper
Double-edged – dave ring
sometimes I think about my exes & wonder how their dogs are doing – Alyssa Oursler
Snapshots – Bruce Johnson
habibi – Maya Salameh
Intersections – Kameron Ray Morton
First Light – Miriam German
Hall Pass for a Dead Girl – Megan Neville
Grief in the Shape of Infinity – Kathy Kehrli
Too Many Moons – Linnea Harper & Stephen A. Levin
Flamingo City – Giovanna Varela
You, Me, and Mitochondrial Eve – Brandon Hansen

Please join me in congratulating these writers for their extraordinary work. I expect to have more exciting news in the next week or two regarding the Vella Chapbook results, too. Thanks again to all who shared their writing with me these past several months.

We are so excited to announce the release of Geoff Andersons’s Humming Dirges, the second of two 2017 Debut Series Chapbook Winners to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up. Please also consider checking out Geoff’s website, to find out about events and any other future publications.

His poems received the following praise:

“Anderson possesses a sniper’s eye for detail, filling his poems with taut, after-the-shot tension, which is not a feeling one expects in the parade of neighborhood tales through which he explores the ubiquitous political nature of families or the constantly morphing lessons of loss. Which is not to say this is a collection of haunting dread. There is a joy that moors the reader throughout, making Humming Dirges a collection of art that sorely wants to pick up the pieces it breaks off of you. In Anderson’s world the challenge isn’t simply that nothing is as it at appears, but that there is a lesson in every inch of each tale, even the puzzles missing pieces. Each of the poems presented in Humming Dirges bends to Anderson’s effortless strength at making any seemingly innocent moment turn on a dramatic, sometimes horrible dime. Simply put, Anderson possesses one of the surest, most steady hands I’ve seen commit an act of modern poetry.”
Scott Woods, author of Urban Contemporary History Month and We Over Here Now

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“Geoff Anderson makes perfect poems. Emotionally-complicated and precisely-wrought, with images so sharp they might cut you open with their textures, the poems in Anderson’s Humming Dirges gift readers with an inside view of a family as it functions with the outside world and within itself. That is to say, Anderson uses the complexities of family to create a sometimes-uncomfortably accurate portrait of the society in which that family exists. And he’ll draw you in and make you one of his own for as long as the book lasts.”
Louise Robertson, author of The Naming Of and Teaching My Daughter My Language

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“These poems view the world with a keen reflective eye. They challenge us to rethink what we’ve assumed about ethnicity, about loss, about history–the histories we’re taught and the histories we live. With artful subtlety, Geoff leaves something distinctly other in the reader’s view: Other than common, other than black, than white, than pretense. Frank and delicious.”
Rose M. Smith, Senior Editor, Pudding Magazine

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As I was folding and sewing this collection, I couldn’t help but read through them one more time. These poems are compulsively readable, and the small moments captured here continue to quietly unfold with each reading. I hope you enjoy them.

Just as soon as this post is done, I’ll be returning my attention to reading the many chapbook submissions we received during our last reading period. I hope to have some news by September — and for anyone who ordered a back issue with your submission, I expect to have your copy mailed to you even sooner! And if you’re a submitter who is anxious about long stretches with no updates to our website, we post a bit more often on instagram than any other platform these days.

Thanks, all, and hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

Our Debut Series and Vella Chapbook Contests have closed as of midnight, and we have a total of 431 manuscript submissions: 171 for the Debut Series, and 260 for the Vella! I am overwhelmed with joy — and also, maybe just a little overwhelmed.

I am so grateful to everyone who has submitted their writing and decided to trust us with their words. Drafting, revising, compiling a manuscript, and then trusting a stranger to read it is no easy feat; Thank you for giving us a chance to read the results of all that work.

We still have two manuscripts from 2017 left to produce, with one of them being very close to ready. It is very important to me to get these released and out into the world as soon as possible, so be on the lookout for announcements on those two titles. Other than that, it may be fairly quiet here while I focus on reading — and preparing myself for some very difficult decisions.

We are so pleased to announce the release of Shankar Narayan’s Postcards from the New World, our first 2017 Debut Series Chapbook Co-Winner to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up. Please also consider checking out Shankar’s website, to find out about readings and events he’s hosting in the future!

His poems received the following praise:

“These poems are wholly original and loaded with compassion, intellect, and lyric interrogation. Shankar Narayan’s Postcards from the New World explores proximity, intimacy, identity, violence, and diaspora with a knowing, prophetic allure. I love these poems for their epistemological underpinnings and their graceful invention. Gorgeous surprises fuel this wonderful debut. Fiercely talented and equally humane, Narayan is one of my favorite new poets.

Lee Herrick, Poet Laureate of Fresno, 2015-17

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“These poems meditate on connection and dissolution, construction and deconstruction, selves and societies. In a violent historical moment, when rupture and brokenness (the breaking of bodies and the breaking of the word) are so evident, these poems announce a belief that there is (there has to be) some good, some light from a new sun. Narayan writes that “Entanglement means/what happens to you happens/to me,” not just as cosmic fact but as an ethical binding of various selves—the constructed energies of the speaker (abused by the world, consumed by idealism), the inherited and problematic threads of the world (traditions as tethers to a faraway land, the violent and virulent racism of America). In a song driven by words from our moment, Narayan has given us a compelling series of poems that will be worthy of rereading.

Tod Marshall, Poet Laureate of Washington State, 2016-18

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We have two more powerful and exciting titles to release this season.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest ends May 15th. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable, or elsewhere on our website. We can’t wait to start thinking about what amazing works we’ll get to read soon!

And, if you happen to live near Salem, Massachusetts, Paper Nautilus will have a table at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival Book Fair! The festival as a whole runs Friday, May 4th, through Sunday, May 6th, with some amazing poets — including headliners like Sonia Sanchez, Kaveh Akbar, Dorianne Laux, and Rhina P. Espaillat. You can find Paper Nautilus, peruse our titles, ask questions, or just say hi on Saturday, May 5th, from 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Happy fall, folks! If you are the author of one of the 228 manuscripts we received between February and May for our annual chapbook contests, you may have been patiently (or perhaps less-than-patiently) waiting for results to be announced, since we estimated results to be ready by the end of September. This post is, sadly, not that announcement. However, we are getting very close and approaching a finalists list for each of the two categories. So, while I hesitate to give a specific date, we should have decisions announced soon. I know that it can be nerve-wracking to not hear about the status of a submission for so long — especially a manuscript — and so I wanted to offer this brief note as reassurance that the news shouldn’t be much longer, and that we are only a few weeks behind and really looking forward to getting the winning works published.

In the meantime, enjoy some recent accomplishments from some of our past contributors:

  • Meg Cowen (PN 11), Co-Editor and Co-founder of Pith and Kin Press, recently released this anthology of selections from the first year of the journal’s online issues. Also includes work from Nancy Chen Long (PN 11) (and yours truly). You can find it here.
  • Stephanie McCarley Dugger — who was a 2014 Vella Co-Winner — has her first full-length poetry collection available for pre-order here.
  • Charles Rafferty — a 2015 Vella Co-Winner — has had two poems in The Writer’s Almanac recently. You can find them here and here.

Thanks for your patience, and keep an eye out for some big announcements here soon.

We are overjoyed to release our final chapbook from our 2016 contest, a Debut Series Co-Winner: Jessica Kim’s “These, Our Bodies.” These poems are at once luminous, hard-wrought, and tender. Jessica is also a talented in visual work, and is the cover’s photographer and graphic designer, making this a truly gorgeous book, inside and out.

You can order a copy here directly, or also look around our Books section, to see if any of our other great titles catch your eye.

You can also see more at our fledgling Instagram, @paper.nautilus (which, for this 30-something millennial, is more intuitive than Twitter), where we share a few more insights to our bookmaking process, day-to-day tasks of being an editor, and shout-outs to former contributors and editors doing great things.

Now that all five of our new titles this year have been published and released, I’ve turned my attention more towards reading the 2017 chapbook entries. While I still have quite a ways to go on the 228 entries we received across categories, I can already tell there are going to be some very difficult decisions. Stay tuned, and hopefully we’ll have some exciting news to share about the results by sometime this September!