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.

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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.

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!

We are so pleased to announce the release of John Miller’s Heat Lightning, 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.

Miller’s poems received the following praise:

“At the crux of John Miller’s poetry is a search for heat as a way “to know the origin of desire.” This yearning is rooted in the physical world and complicated by empathy for even the most unpleasant places (the site of a bridge demolition) and most unlikable fellow-travelers (late-night partiers singing karaoke). This is the voice of a poet searching for what he knows he won’t find, who “lean[s] into the stinging rain / straining to glimpse / what would teach us to die.” These are beautiful, beautiful poems.”

Lauren Goodwin Slaughter, author of a lesson in smallness, recipient of the 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, Editor-in-Chief at PoemMemoirStory.

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“John Miller’s debut collection is deft, adroit–downright beautiful. The wise old cormorant Coleridge teaches that poetic genius unleashes via the balance or reconciliation of opposition. Around every corner in these elegantly crafted poems, Miller’s balance beam brain beckons, reconciles, gets shook, stays lit up. Tenacity; desire and hope in equipoise; deific baritone! From haunting to jaunty to moving, what’s clever rams into what’s wise again and again. These days so many poems dance us and demand that we are impressed with their sway. Miller’s debut steps a full fathom farther: these are the generous, subtle musics that linger in your ear.”

Abraham Smith, author of Ashagalomancy; Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer; Hank; and Whim Man Mammon.

We have just one more chapbook to release this year: another beautiful collection of poems that I can’t want to hand-stitch and have ready to share with all of you. Every once in a while, I share some progress shots of the assembly (and other writing-related moments) on our new-ish instagram.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest ends May 31st, 2017 — that is just ONE WEEK. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable. We hope to see your book release announcement here next year!


We have selected three manuscripts for publication in the Debut Series, which are the following:

Puzzle Pieces – Bernard Grant
Shuffle – Emily Moore
Macerated – Emily Webber

We have also selected ten finalists, whose work we also very much admired:

Two Dreams of the Afterlife – Kelly Bancroft
Finally the Open Sea – Shebana Coelho
Like Wet Leaves in Floridian Heat – Nicholas Finch
Bowling in the Bumper Lane – Corey Ginsberg
Getting to the Point – Joanne Kerrigan
Animals & Enclosures – Joe Lucido
Girl Life – Leila Ortiz
Maroon – Angela Penaredondo
Hotels & Motels – Jennifer Porter
V – Chris Wiewiora

We received over 100 entries, and the quality of work was overwhelmingly high. Please know that this was a very tough decision, and there were many titles beyond these 13 that I found deft and memorable and moving — and very much deserving of publication. I was astonished that these manuscripts came from writers who have yet to publish a book or chapbook — which is to say, please, please keep sending your work out, even if I was unable to publish it this time. Send it everywhere. Your work belongs out in the world.

The Vella Chapbook submissions are still undergoing review. I am doing my best to work through these 150 manuscripts, but without rushing and still giving them the attention they deserve. I thank you for your patience.

We are still seeking work for our Digital Anthology focused on underrepresented groups and identities that explores both the uncomfortable realities and moments of healing and reconciliation. Works should be creative (poetry, short fiction, memoir/lyric essay/other CNF, or mixed genre), and should also be from a writer who identifies as a member of an underrepresented community. You can send submissions here: https://papernautilus.submittable.com/submit/41571

Additionally, PN15 should be just about full, and we’ll be beginning layout and production on that shortly. Release date is tough to estimate at the moment, since I’ve not yet settled down into my new position, but I’m hoping for late September or October.

Until then, I hope you all enjoy these last days of summer, and I’m looking forward to helping get all these works out into the world.

–Lisa Mangini