Note from Editors: Welcome to the first installation of what we hope will be a regular feature on the Water Closet. We have invited representatives from some of our favorite magazines and publishers to give a brief introduction to their project. This week’s contribution comes from Rusty Morrison of Omnidawn, an independent publisher based in California. Omnidawn are a vital experimental press and will publish Wave Composition contributor Josh Corey’s collection in 2014. We will publish the names of the authors of the pieces in the right order at the bottom of the post next week.
Omnidawn has been publishing innovative writing since 2001, including poetry, poetics, translations, and fabulist fiction (as full books and chapbooks, and recently on our web mag www.Omni-Verse.net). Ken Keegan and I decided to begin Omnidawn because we believe that one of the most important ways we can spend our time and resources is to participate in the work that small presses do—bringing reading materials to the public that are exciting, thought-provoking, enlivening. Our culture needs many different small presses publishing a widely diverse variety of ideas. Without them, the unifying, stifling, benumbing drone of the large, mostly-profit-minded publishing houses, corporate booksellers and media outlets will homogenize variation in literature and language and thought. As Italo Calvino presciently proposed: “in an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing… flattening all communication into a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of written language.”
We started Omnidawn because we want to participate in the vibrantly vital community, the constantly evolving conversation that is literature.
Of course, each Omnidawn book will constellate its differences and achieve its ends in its own unique ways; each one teaches us how to read it, how to see anew the landscape of language in its newly dawning light. As our name suggests, we are interested in an “omni-” (in all ways and all places), “-dawning.”
I could say more, but my generalizing about our press creates just the kind of limitations that make me wary, and make me curious about what and how each book we publish exceeds, disarms, slips the traces of any limitations I might set in place. Helene Cixous suggests that one’s “borders make up the homeland,” they “prohibit and give passage in the same stroke.”
Probably, the most useful way to give you insight into Omnidawn is to offer you an opportunity to read a few lines from our authors, and to glimpse for yourself how each one invites, aggrieves, aggresses, engages, inspires her/his audience.
Here are some quoted lines from a few of our recent books (I opened each book at random and then typed the first sentence that caught my eye from that two-page spread. More exciting for me, to do it this way).
Below these lines, I’ll offer you, in jumbled order, the names of the authors of these lines. It might be entertaining, to read the lines and then see which poet you think wrote them.
“She negotiates exits to exist this way
that way to the word made of light
watery as it looks from here if it is night
you might as well
stare through the screen wall
into the world which is locally dark.”
“You feel listless as underthings
unravel. At the bottom
of an ocean, near her neck
where the collar dips—some of the habits
you acquire are ancient.”
“They actually had seemed like repetitive physical actions when I met
them coming down the street, each of us in one of those pools of light
that show by their ragged edges the nature of the place entered.”
“No mention of mention but much of prediction and of musical time in
Musical time goes on
Sleep goes on what—on horses’ buses and beetle chat”
“With the entire floor to oneself
It is a sound that stands in for loneliness”
“Stitches in the dirt make a suggestion, legible, piled on one side. Pebble-
fist path, whiskertree, stun, little sunclot.”
infinitely there/ as if there
were a place name hidden away
infinitely repeated, whose beckoning ripples-out and
infinitely agitated, whose simulacral depth
Michelle Taransky, BARN BURNED, THEN p63
Bin Ramke, AERIAL p44-45
Kiwao Nomura, translated by Kyoko Yoshida & Forrest Gander, SPECTACLE & PIGSTY p95
Richard Meier, IN THE PURE BLOCK OF THE WHOLE IMAGINARY p24
Kelli Anne Noftle, I WAS THERE FOR YOUR SOMNILOQUY p13
Lyn Hejinian, THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND EYES p182
Hillary Gravendyk, HARM p48