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Vintage Sundress with Jessica Rae Bergamino

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Sundress’ Vintage Sundress Series offers us an opportunity to catch up with the writers who have published with us in the past. Three years ago, Jessica Rae Bergamino published The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them , a beautiful chapbook that explores questions of selfhood, mythology, and queer femininity in an intergalactic landscape.  In this installment of the series, Sundress intern Athena Lathos interviews Bergamino about the evolution of her creative relationship with space, as well as the pieces of writing and art that have preoccupied her since.

Lathos: You published The Desiring Object with Sundress in 2016, and UNMANNED (with Noemi Press) in 2018. Can you tell us a bit your about the project(s) you are currently working on?

Bergamino: The project I’m currently working on is a hybrid exploration of intergenerational family trauma and violence, though I’ve also been thinking a lot about an interview recently with Brenda Shaughnessy where she talked about the generative capacities and possibilities that come with learning something new and the freedoms of not only being a beginner but being bad at something. So, right now, I’m approaching things that I’ve storied myself as being “bad” at, like gardening and playing music, and looking to see what I can learn in that practice.

Lathos: I enjoyed reading this interview that Adam J. Gellings conducted with you in August of 2016, particularly because it offered insight into your use of compelling and unusual primary sources for The Desiring Object (namely, “recordings of the congressional hearings on the Voyager project, [and] maps of moons made from the Voyager observations”). Can you talk about some primary sources in the media, popular culture, politics, or art that have informed your work lately? desiringobject

Bergamino: I actually spent a huge amount of time working with the Voyager material; along with The Desiring Object, UNMANNED is a collection written through the personae of both Voyager space probes. That book project allowed me to take a deep dive into Cold War era popular culture and politics, science fiction, and Carl Sagan’s critical and creative writing. I knew that I wanted any pop-culture, scientific, or historical references in the book to be relevant for the Voyagers’ launch in 1977.  Since I was born in the 80’s I couldn’t access my own cultural memory of the time period, so I became increasingly interested in the way that some popular culture morphs into a popular mythology and, in turn, how popular mythology might interact with the so-called classical mythologies written into the stars in the names of planets, moons, and satellites.

Lately, I’ve been interested in exploring what might constitute intergenerational popular mythology of girlhood, especially as it is related to queer youth. George from Nancy Drew, Kristy from The Babysitters Club, Anne Shirley, Harriet the Spy, the list goes on… I’m not interested in what subtext may or may not be present in the books or source text, but, rather the way that a shared queer imagination has sprung up around these characters.  Inevitably when I talk about this, a straight person feels the need to tell me that my queer kin are wrong — homophobia makes people so boring!

Lathos: The praise for UNMANNED applauds your capacity to “queer our space canon” (Julia Bloch) and envision “science goddesses through whose aspects [you] explore both the human and stellar condition” (Kazim Ali). What was it like for you to explore gender and sexuality in a galactic landscape, especially through technologies (like the Voyager probes) which might be considered cybernetic, posthuman, or even genderless?

Bergamino: One of the many threads I ended up following in UNMANNED was depictions of space-age femininity that come to us through science-fiction. UNMANNED contains many of what I call “nested persona poems,” where the persona of Voyager Two “tries on” the personae of Princess Leia, Barbarella, and Miss Piggy, to name a few. These nested persona poems provided me space to think through and about some of the possibilities of femininity and feminized bodies that have already been imagined in outer space and then expand upon, re-imagine, and re-vision these performances of gender.  

Each Voyager probe carries a golden record which includes an audio-visual story of life on Earth, and ends with an EKG recording of Ann Druyan — the creative director of the record  — meditating on, among other things, falling in love with Carl Sagan. She’s talked about this in a number of different settings, though I came to the story while listening to an episode of Radiolab. As the project developed, the EKG became one of the least compelling things about the Voyager mission, but it also meant that I never thought of the probes being gender-less; if anything, they are, in my mind, saturated with gender.  I wanted to explore that saturation and use it as an opportunity to pivot into more and more queer visions of femininity. In the queer femme community, we celebrate and talk a lot about femme identity and resilience without orienting femme in relationship to butch or masculine-of-center bodies; by writing both Voyager probes as femme, I hoped to enact some of that celebration.

Lathos: Though two different projects, UNMANNED and The Desiring Object share a common subject. How are the two related, and what was navigating that relationship like from the perspective of craft?

Bergamino: I appreciate the pun there in navigating because so much of The Desiring Object is asking what it means for Voyager Two to navigate the interstellar mission while also learning to navigate her own relationship to identity and desire.  I like to think of The Desiring Object as the poem where Voyager Two learns her own capacity for individualization; in UNMANNED, a sequence titled “Excerpts from Voyager One’s Private Correspondence with Carl Sagan,” explores similar questions through the consciousness of Voyager One.  

While The Desiring Object expands and contracts across the page  as Voyager Two struggles through her relationship to both the mission and herself,  using the scientific tools and experiments that make up the Voyagers bodies as the organizing principle — I like to think of it like the body scan relaxation technique, where a person relaxes by focusing intently on one body part, and then another, and then another.

“Excerpts…” is a series of linked prose poems which follow a linear arc informed by the western zodiac.  Because each Voyager probe is unable to communicate with the other, I wanted to put two very different forms of poem in motion in order to place pressure on the fact that while they were identical in many ways, their social-political-emotional concerns are very different within the books.

Lathos: Given that you have written both a chapbook and a full-length book about space and the Voyager probes, I couldn’t help but ask you about the recent death of the Mars Rover, and the way in which the internet responded with an unexpected magnitude of grief. What do you think it is about space, as well as our attempts to explore it, that we find so compelling?

Bergamino: I’ve been sitting with this question for weeks now, trying to find new ways to put the nature of awe into words and making Star Trek jokes like “damnit Jim, I’m a poet, not a philosopher.” But, most simply, I think the idea that we’re alone in the universe is terrifying for all sorts of reasons —  including the possibility that there is nothing out there, god or alien, to save us from ourselves — and that the stories we can tell about outer space are one way of staving off that terror. Also, in modernity, capitalism loves a “clean slate,” and we haven’t enacted the irreparable harm that we’ve done to this planet on other planets (yet).

Lathos: A classic question, but one for which I always love reading the answer: What have you read lately that has inspired you, impressed you, or moved you to think about something in a different way?

Bergamino: I’ve been reading and learning so much from adrienne maree brown, both in her written work and podcast, How to Survive the End of The World, which she’s created with her sister, Autumn Brown. brown’s concept, in particular, of “moving at the speed of trust” from her book Emergent Strategy has deeply informed my evolving sense of poetics and understanding of the possibilities of poetry moving in the world. Also, I was lucky to be in New York while the Hilma af Klint exhibit was on display at the Guggenheim; her paintings exploded for me in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I want to follow af Klint’s threads of tender wildness and see where it takes me.


 

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Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, winner of Noemi Press’ 2017 Poetry Prize, as well the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications, 2016), The Mermaid, Singing (dancing girl press, 2015), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press, 2015). Individual poems have recently appeared in Third Coast and Black Warrior Review. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she is the Senior Book Reviews Editor for Quarterly West. Find her online at www.jessicaraebergamino.com.

AthenaLathos_Reading

Athena Lathos is a poet and nonfiction writer from Santa Maria, California currently living in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Her work can be found in Enizagam and Verseweavers, as well as on her blog, Bertha Mason’s Attic. Her recent essay about the job market, “I Applied to 200 Jobs and All I Got was this Moderate-Severe Depression,” was featured as an Editor’s Pick on Longreads. Lathos completed her MA thesis, “A Sea of Grief is Not a Proscenium: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and the Spectacle of Racist Violence in Cyberculture,” at Oregon State University’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film in May of 2017. Lathos was a finalist for the 2016 Princemere Poetry Prize and a runner-up for the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize.

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Sundress Releases Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess

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Sundress Releases Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess

wind on the moon coverSundress Publications announces the 2019 release of Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess, our 2018 Chapbook Competition winner. The stories in Wind on the Moon fit together seamlessly, creating a world that’s as real to us readers as it is enchanted with love and grief.

Katie Burgess uses playful form and familiar tales to distill the most complex family dynamics: a daughter reckons with her mother meeting her lover in the language of a math textbook. Adam and Eve become a husband and wife who “always did encourage each other’s bad behavior.” In the final story, the act of writing conflates with the creation of the universe, our narrator critiquing the work of a god: “I liked how in your first draft everything revolved around the Earth. That makes a lot more sense if the people there are going to be important.” And Burgess shows us the importance of all people, encouraging empathy and the desire to get to know every character, every person, no matter how insignificant they may seem at first. Burgess writes with an honesty so clear it aches. Wind on the Moon is one of those chapbooks you can’t wait to share with everyone you love.

Of the work, George Singleton, author of Staff Picks said, “I’ve never read in the literary biographies how Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme hooked up, but the result is clear: Katie Burgess. Wind on the Moon is an amazing collection of short, jaundice-eyed, hilarious, sly, insightful, intelligent stories that the world needs now. One problem: This collection needs to be about ten times as long. These characters are human, human, human. They navigate in times that are increasingly disconcerting. They triumph and/or fail. I don’t know when I last read a collection of stories that made me think, ‘Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Exactly.’”

And Diane Roberts, author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America said, “From the guys who faked the moon landing to what really went down in the Garden of Eden back in the day, Katie Burgess’s sly and sharp stories take you on a trip through the secret soul of America. Her prose shines like polished steel and cuts like an obsidian blade. She’s as funny as David Sedaris and twice as bold, giving God editorial advice and taking down the college industrial complex. Burgess is a writer on her way up. Read her now and be cooler than your friends!”Katie Burgess Author Photo

Katie Burgess holds a PhD in creative writing from Florida State and is editor-in-chief of Emrys Journal. Her writing has appeared in The RumpusNew Orleans ReviewSmokeLong Quarterly, and Reductress, among others. Her essay, “Rahab’s Thread,” was listed as “notable” in Best American Essays 2014 and was anthologized in Southern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South and Women Behaving Badly (In Fact Books).

Download Wind on the Moon for free today!

 

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Open Call: 2019 Chapbook Competition

Sundress Publications Opens Submissions for 2019 Chapbook Competition


Sundress Publications announces its sixth annual chapbook contest. Authors of all genres are invited to submit qualifying manuscripts during our reading period of February 1
st to April 30th, 2019.

Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrids are welcome. Manuscripts must be between twelve to twenty-six (12-26) pages in length, with a page break between individual pieces. Individual pieces may have been previously published in anthologies, print journals, online journals, etc., but cannot have appeared in any full-length collection, including self-published collections. Both single-author and collaborative dual-author manuscripts will be considered. Manuscripts must be primarily in English; translations are not eligible.

The entry fee is $10 per manuscript, though the fee will be waived for entrants who purchase or pre-order any Sundress title. We will also accept nominations for entrants, provided the nominating person either pay the reading fee or makes a qualifying purchase. Authors may submit and/or nominate as many chapbook manuscripts as they like, so long as each is accompanied by a separate reading fee or purchase/pre-order. Entrants and nominators can place book orders or pay submission fees at our store, https://squareup.com/market/sundress-publications.

The winner will receive $200, plus publication as a beautiful full-color PDF available exclusively online. Runners-up will also be considered for publication.

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Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello will be judging. Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), which won the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, the 2016 Florida Book Award bronze medal for poetry, and was a finalist for the 2017 Milt Kessler Award. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Best New Poets, The Georgia Review, and more. She serves as a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair.

All manuscripts should include a cover page (with only the title of the manuscript), table of contents, dedication (if applicable), and acknowledgments for previous publications. These pages will not be included in the total page count. Identifying information should not appear in any part of the manuscript. Authors with a significant relationship to the judge (friends, relatives, colleagues, past or present students, etc.) are discouraged from entering.

To submit, attach your manuscript as a DOCX or PDF file along with your order number for either a Sundress title of the entry fee to contest@sundresspublications.com.

Simultaneous submission to other presses is acceptable, but please notify Sundress immediately if the manuscript has been accepted elsewhere. Multiple submissions are allowed, but a separate entry fee must accompany each entry. No revisions will be allowed during the contest judging period. Winners will be announced in Summer 2019.

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Sundress Releases The Tripart Heart by Sarah Einstein

Sundress Releases The Tripart Heart by Sarah Einstein

Sundress Publications announces the release of Sarah Einstein’s new chapbook, The Tripart Heart. The chapbook follows three distinct chapters in Einstein’s life, proving that within every individual experience is room for growth.

tripartIn The Tripart Heart, love lays within the grooves and shadows of personal discomfort and there settles into the knowledge that the most important part of love, regardless of form or reason, is that it exists. The woman of Einstein’s stories longs to make an impact on the world. Her relationships echo her revelations as she moves through hospitality, transience, and honesty. A willingness to love guides her on a journey of change as she breaks rules for a dying man whose version of home is a tar paper shack and topples social barriers defining who-reaches-for-whom in a marriage, all amid the fleeting drug-magic of tie-dyed days spent at Rainbow Gatherings. Enlightenment through love traverses each complex facet of Sarah Einstein’s The Tripart Heart, as the woman’s battles with heartbreak and loss cause her to confront the naïveté of widespread affection and reshape it into concentrated moments of intimacy.

Penny Guisinger, author of Postcards from Here called the chapbook, “ … wise, witty, sharp-eyed, and full of compassionate heart. [Einstein] takes a hard look at how we treat and accept each other, how we overlook and discard each other, and how we revere and love each other. The Tripart Heart asks us to work a little harder at the job of being good humans.”

And Alex DeFrancesco, author of Pscyhopomps said, “Walking a line between deeply-felt memory and tender nostalgia for hard-scrabble times, Sarah Einstein’s chapbook delineates the path from trying to change the world to letting the world soften and make fertile the heart.”

Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), author imageRemnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK, and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction.

The chapbook is available at http://www.sundresspublications.com

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love Me, Anyway by Minadora Macheret

 

 

 

 

 

This selection comes from Minadora Macheret’s book Love Me, Anyway, available from Porkbelly Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love Me, Anyway by Minadora Macheret

 

 

 

This selection comes from Minadora Macheret’s book Love Me, Anyway, available from Porkbelly Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love Me, Anyway by Minadora Macheret

 

 

 

This selection comes from Minadora Macheret’s book Love Me, Anyway, available from Porkbelly Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love Me, Anyway by Minadora Macheret

 

 

 

 

 

This selection comes from Minadora Macheret’s book Love Me, Anyway, available from Porkbelly Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love Me, Anyway by Minadora Macheret

 

 

 

 

This selection comes from Minadora Macheret’s book Love Me, Anyway, available from Porkbelly Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She received the James Merrill Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018). She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Cartography of Sleep by Laura Villareal

 

 

This selection comes from Laura Villareal’s book The Cartography of Sleep, available from Nostrovia Press!.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for February is Natalie Giarratano.

Laura Villareal is from a tiny town in Texas with more cows than people. She earned her MFA from Rutgers University–Newark. Her writing can be found in Black Warrior Review, Vinyl, Palette Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the author of The Cartography of Sleep (Nostrovia! Press 2018). More of her writing can be found at: lauravillareal.com  Twitter: @earthandstars

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.

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