Trembling Pillow Press

Tag Archive: poetry

Mantic Compost

Mantic Compost

Mantic Compost By Jake Syersak
$16.00 | January 2022




Putting the human back in its humble if pliable place within our radically intra-dynamic ecology, Mantic Compost reveals the basic element of universal composition to be neither the atom nor anatomy, but relation, “whatever et cetera sows.” As Jake Syersak approaches the world—irrevocably from inside—all things are ambidextrous, an “algebra of one another,” from a moon made of kudzu to the self as a river traversing a cricket’s skull. Wandering among gangly, sinewy lyrics and over expansive, plosive, philosophical prose, the consciousness of these five interlaced series understands that his porous, provisional subjectivity, “my skin all x-ray-y,” is engendered by the astro-bio-othernesses coursing through his veins. As history and futurity impinge on the present, “linking day to day to day to,” Syersak sings our imperiled earth, from Marañon Province to Puget Sound, with astounding drunken wonder and flat, sobering fact.

-Andrew Zawacki, author of Unsun : f/11

Jake Syersak’s Mantic Compost tasks itself with composing a poetry adequate to our anxious time of pre-decomposition. Here the psyche is post-composure and the rhyme between semantic and mantic is just a declension fluffing the pillows for the no-longer-estranged bedfellows of planetary decline.

-Magdalena Zurawski, author of The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom

About the Author

Jake Syersak

Jake Syersak is a poet, translator, and editor currently living in Seattle, WA. He is the author of the poetry collections Yield Architecture (Burnside Review Books, 2018) and Mantic Compost (Trembling Pillow Press, 2022), as well as several chapbooks. He received a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Washington, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Georgia. His poetry and translations have appeared in such journals as Action, Asymptote, Black Warrior Review, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Omniverse, and Volt, among others. A current editor of the micropress Radioactive Cloud, he ran the long-running poetry journal Cloud Rodeo, co-curated the Yumfactory Reading Series, and has contributed to the editorial teams at Sonora Review, Diagram, and Letter Machine Editions. He is also the recipient of a 2021 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and is the author of several works in translation, including the hybrid novel Agadir (Diálogos Press, 2020) by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine, co-translated with Pierre Joris.

The Wound is (Not) Real: A Memoir

The Wound is (Not) Real

The Wound is (Not) Real


$16.00 | JANUARY 2022




What a dream, this new book by Marty Cain, and, like a dream, how difficult to shake: “one enters the wound and begins singing.” Here is Vermont as omphalos, scene of birth and the crime, site where bile, violence, blood, grief, and the dream are circuited towards and away from the boy-body. I admire the lyric intensity, the gorgeousness of this vision, in which literary tradition is interrogated, personal trauma distends the frameboards and the floorboards with its engorged veins, and beauty is a bolus that rises on the gorge of the throat. Disgorged, adorns the throat.
– Joyelle McSweeney

Marty Cain’s memoir defies—defiles—every convention of the genre: prosaicness, “straight” narrative, realism, a placid belief in Selfhood, and even the “non” of nonfiction. He digs, bloody-knuckled, through the rotting Arcadia of his boyhood and gets to the No of causation, the No of resolution, the No of time. A study of toxic masculinity as much as of vulnerability and violence, this book is tough as nails. Which is to say it is soft, and red, and brutal. It cuts to the quick.
– Aditi Machado

If Marty Cain’s new book, The Wound is (Not) Real: A Memoir, is, as its subtitle suggests, a memoir, it is a wounded memoir, a memoir of and in wounding. It begins with the facts of trauma, a body subject to injury, harassment, and assault. It is attentive to the materiality of this wounding, articulating it “as a condition of trauma and hegemonic oppression (i.e., we are wounded by the glassy fingers of the state).” But it also articulates an Arcadian alternative: the wound “as a space of ECSTATIC PERMEABILITY. Not violence, but contamination; not transcendence, but an orphic entry.” As the shimmering parenthetical in the book’s title suggests, the wound is—and is not—both of these things at once: violence and possibility. I love this book for the way that it sits with that contradiction: refusing both utopian longing and despair. In his rigorous attention to the ambivalence of wounding, Cain articulates an excess to the claustrophobic constraints of the memoir, preeminent genre of bourgeois subjectivity: “A POETICS WHERE PROPERTY DOESN’T EXIST / A POETICS FLOWERING FROM THE NARRATIVE WOUND.”
– Toby Altman


Marty Cain Marty Cain was raised in Marlboro, Vermont. He is the author of Kids of the Black Hole (Trembling Pillow, 2017) and the chapbook Four Essays (Tammy, 2019). His poetry and hybrid works appear in Fence, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Daily, Sink Review, and Best American Experimental Writing 2020, among other publications. He holds an M.F.A from the University of Mississippi, and is currently a Ph.D candidate at Cornell University, where he’s writing a dissertation on rural poetry collectives. With Kina Viola, he co-edits Garden-Door Press in Ithaca, New York.

Unoriginal Danger



$16 | October 2019

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In Unoriginal Danger, Dominique Salas traces a Latinx familial lineage of pain threaded through an account of the raped female body. Alternately numbed or distressed, her speaker maps a circuitous route from violence to reflection and on toward emergence. Salas’s use of linguistic and logical twists conveys the near-impossibility of reckoning with the state of being-looked-at. The speaker in an early poem asks: “Would I dare / untranslate applause / on which I’ve built my existence,” questioning her own desire to please the male gaze. This collection zaps with laser beam honesty, resisting a simple narrative of resilience. Throughout, femme strength reigns. “At times,” Salas writes, “I win.”
– Krystal Languell

Dominique Salas’s debut collection, Unoriginal Danger, is an account of sexual trauma and survival that offers testimonio in a wry but heartbreaking voice. The writing is both vulnerable and fearless in its inquiry of agency: “They say I was raped; rape happened to me; multiple men cycled through me like a revolving door; I am a survivor of a rape,” is a declaration in this brilliant and original first book’s study of female agency. This is a necessary addition to feminist literature.
-Carmen Giménez Smith

About the Author

Dominique Salas Dominique Salas is a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas.