Gifts to Print Strung Along
by Sam Lohmann . . .
About himself, Sam Lohmann writes:
I am a poet living in Vancouver, Washington, just outside of Portland, Oregon, with my spouse, our child, and three cats. I work as an academic librarian. I’ve written two previous books, Stand on this picnic bench and look north (Publication Studio, 2011) and Unless As Stone Is (eth press, 2014), plus various pamphlets including a selection from the Strung Along manuscript titled In a Saint’s Ashtray (The Magnificent Field, 2019). I used to do letterpress printing and “micro-press” publishing: I produced a handmade poetry zine called Peaches and Bats (ten issues between 2007 and 2012), and copublished the Airfoil chapbook series with David Abel (seven publications between 2009 and 2014). I am a co-organizer of the long-running Spare Room reading series in Portland (currently located at Abel’s Passages Bookshop), and in 2020 I guest-edited an anthology of Portland poets for Jordan Dunn’s Oxeye Reader journal series.
About the forthcoming book Strung Along: An Essay 2014-2016, Lohmann writes:
The short prose pieces in this book are strung along as in beaded, or lured, or drawn through, or just passing through what William James called a “concatenated universe.” The reader is invited to draw an imaginary line from one paragraph to the next, in any sequence. Strung Along is a daybook of reading, parenting, domestic anxiety, and anticapitalist reverie; an essay in practices of discontinuous attention and non-reflective thinking; and a series of 70-odd poems disguised as that old pedagogical chestnut, the “five-paragraph essay.”
My partner, Michaela, and our child, Ceci, are constant collaborators and presences in the writing. I began writing these when Ceci was about eight months old, and concluded a little after their third birthday at the end of 2016. When I started, I had been reading some of Montaigne’s essays and also Jackson Mac Low’s book of six-page prose poems, Pieces O’ Six, and I had both in mind along with a desire to fill up notebooks in whatever odd scraps of time I could find, and to document life with a baby, soon a toddler. My rule was to write five pages in a composition book, type it up, and then edit it down on the computer to five paragraphs of exactly 100 words each. In the end I did not always retain a strict count. Sometimes I broke paragraphs into lines, strung several 500-word sections into a longer piece, or scattered stanzas at whim.
The 500-word form gives the book a characteristic rhythm, but the contents are quite heterogeneous. Pieces range from journals and lists of “things to do” to found-language collages to book reviews and art criticism. They include homages to the work of Lisa Robertson, Renee Gladman, Marcel Broodthaers, James Yeary, José Lezama Lima, David Shapiro, Jen Coleman, Something Else Press, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and my grandmother, the poet Jeanne Lohmann, among others. Along the way there are elaborations of concepts such as “infant squid being in the world,” “trying to go along a line,” the recurrent “now,” the poetics of data and information, and the arts of effacement, prose, and solidarity. There are also walks, polemics, remarks, “flowers for fuckups,” notes on towns and cities, and imaginary friend narratives dictated by a one-year-old. (The one-year-old is now nine and has approved their publication.) These works were drafted in notebooks nearly a decade a ago, and revised haphazardly in the intervening years, always with the intention that they concatenate a book recording that time, which now seems strangely distant. It gives me great pleasure that Sonorous Anchorite will be bringing that book into the present.
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