G H O S T C I T Y P R E S S

(this is the online version of my poetry tinyletter, sign up to get it in your inbox)


This month Ghost City Press is giving away a chapbook every day, for whatever you would like to pay. It’s started already — but you can head over here to sign up for the rest of it. Also, there’s the 2016 Microchapbook Series available all at once — if several chapbooks a week isn’t enough for you.

I’d like to take a wander through YR YR by Matt Margo, Dream-Like Houses by Joyce Chong and A Dream You Have Not Had by Isbelle Davis. While there are many lovely things to come from this series, these already stand out as great collections in their own right.

Dream-Like Houses has any number of lovely lines building out around the themes of the separated body, the definition of an abstract (grief, for example) through the making it strange (does grief sound of anything?).


(Of course it does)

And sets out the major theme of water, drowning, rivers and rapids, chlorine — things pool and drift and spill. If we were reading the collection like The Waste Land’s tarot, we would say that it presents us with change, new hope, renewal. Which is approached by Chong halfway through the collection in cliffside — a poem which starts with a violent drowning, giving way to “… You are drowning until you realise you can breathe …” before running through versions of moments not lived “In this version, you killed someone/something” and “in this iteration, you are trying desperately to fly”. All undercut in the end with another threat which still does not quite snuff out the hope, even if it snuffs out the versions.

A Dream You Have Not Had opens with The Dead Sea — although, the entire set of poems has less formal poetry about them, if more formality.


Isabelle Davis uses the form of contracts, definitions (dictionary or otherwise) — with their clauses and sub-clauses, and hierarchy of meanings to remove the narrative element from a poem. A little like Ben Marcus in Age of Wire and String or much of Anne Carson’s work, the idea is to present the lines in such a hierarchy that i. b belongs to b but not c. You can take a and c as equal facts, truths, or statements — but the sub-clause only belongs to its parent.

The collection runs the line of lovers and lakes that makes musing about where the sun sets over Lake Michigan (and “holy, holy, holy like my first kiss”) on par with the preparationry eulogy.

In YR YR by Matt Margo (apparently pronounced “your year”) is a kind of constructed poem where statements and lines are taken from Wikipedia, and built into a whole — each broken by a single Cyrillic character. I am unsure whether to consider the single character as something to be pronounced (each would be a half-syllable of sound, whispered, grunted, moaned) breaking each small string.


It’s a kind of Imagist construction — the throwing together of strong, single imagery, a kind of listing of flashcard moments building into a greater, single event and narrative which invited you to put the action between the words.

Also, interestingly, Matt writes these in pairs and uses the name of the magazine he is submitting to and breaks it apart for each poem. It seems entirely mad, but also completely suits the kind of non-ownership of the poem expressed through it’s construction.


Have you ever been paid for something you’ve had published in a lit mag? Well done if so, as you’re in an absolute minority — as discussed in this The Millions piece. Usually this sort of article would suggest that anyone who charges for submissions is more or less on the same level as a bent priest selling indulgences — but instead, we get a very measured approach to the world of paid submissions.

In my experience I usually don’t submit to anywhere which charges for submissions, unless I really want to be in the magazine. Most of the larger magazines with status and heft in their names don’t charge, so it sometimes feels particularly odd to be paying to submit somewhere which won’t greatly improve the number of eyeballs who skim you.

But I suppose that’s always the rule, there’s not much joy in being published in a magazine you don’t care about.


If that hasn’t put you off, and you’re looking for somewhere to submit to that you’ve never heard of, here’s a nice list from entropy mag.


Today’s album:


齐 by tech noir


Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own, it’s like drowning, but there’s less water. As always Etch To Their Own was generated by a twitter bot that selects words based on bible verses you favourite late at night. You should follow it, it acts very real and self obsessed. It was proofread by no one. You can find it online, but not in your inbox on medium. And I would always appreciate it if you could tell your long-lost, unloved and badly behaved family members to sign up here because: they too deserve poetry on a Friday. If you can’t convince them to sing up, please forward it richest people you know. It really has been a good week — and if you want to make the next one just as good, please feel free to respond, or send me something to read that you love.

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