Posted October 29, 2020

Announcing the results of Our 2020 Open Call

Three author photos in a row: the first shows Ada Smailbegovic standing outside, the next photo is of Tracie Morris, and the last is a picture of Elmo as a visual alias for author Elisabeth Houston

Litmus Press is thrilled to announce the two manuscripts chosen for publication from our 2020 Open Call for First and Second Books! Final decisions were made by Tracie Morris, who selected EL_S__B_TH H__ST_ON ‘s Standard American English and Ada Smailbegović’s The Cloud Notebook. Both manuscripts are their author’s first books. They will be published by Litmus Press in 2022.


About the Books:

Standard American English considers how race, gender, and shame impact young women through a fictional character named baby, who exists as a literary and performance persona. Much of the material of Standard American English draws on popular culture. The fetishism of celebrity culture reveals much about American values, values predicated on individualism and alienation, greed and deprivation. Standard American English delivers the reader to a sinister world where nightmare, fantasy, and youth become a playground for brutal games of language, sex, and power. What is witnessed here is the way in which the landscape of capitalism consumes and ravages individual actors; language is violated, much as bodies are, and what is produced is a mutant hybrid of poetry, fiction, and theater. 

The Cloud Notebook is a long poem that considers instabilities in narrative that occur when spatial and temporal topographies are fractured by experiences particularly of displacement and war, but also of configurations of gender. In this sense it assumes what Sara Ahmed refers to as a “migrant orientation” as a continuous problematic of narrative unfolding, rendering spaces of waiting and suspension. The poem is interested in tiny narratives that unfold in the delicate empiricism of the everyday, even if these fail to suture into narrative continuity and offer instead a kind of fractal reoccurrence in which the fragment is held, revisited and re-performed in memory. The poem is particularly interested in how material objects come to compose worlds, but also in how such objects may fall out of disappearing worlds, carrying within them residues of the past.


About the Authors:

EL_S__B_TH H__ST_ON is a “writer,” who lives in Los Angeles. Sniff around the web and find more by snooping here.

Ada Smailbegović is a poet and theorist born in Sarajevo and living in a series of geographical displacements between Providence, Vancouver and New York. She is an assistant professor of English at Brown University. Her writing explores relations between poetics, nonhuman forms of materiality, histories of description, and the natural sciences. She is a cofounder of The Organism for Poetic Research. Select critical and poetic works have included “Of Poodles, Mockingbirds and Beetles: Gertrude Stein’s Zoopoetics” (College Literature, 2019), “From Code to Shape” (differences, 2018), The Forest / On Waiting (Doublecross Press, 2017), “Cloud Writing” (Art in the Anthropocene, 2015) and “Of the Dense and Rare” (Triple Canopy, 2013). Her book Poetics of Liveliness: Molecules, Fibers, Tissues, Clouds is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in 2021. 


About the Judge:

Tracie Morris is writer/editor of several books and is a poet, professor, performer, voice teacher and theorist. She has presented her work extensively throughout the world. Ms. Morris holds an MFA in poetry from CUNY Hunter College, a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University, and studied British Acting technique at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Dr. Morris was designated an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist and served as the Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Fellow at Harvard University. Tracie was the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor of Poetry at The Iowa Writers Workshop for three semesters before joining the faculty as Professor in Fall, 2020. 


Three author photos in a row: the first shows Ada Smailbegovic standing outside, the next photo is of Tracie Morris, and the last is a picture of Elmo as a visual alias for author Elisabeth Houston

From left to right: Ada Smailbegović, Tracie Morris, EL_S__B_TH H__ST_ON