Holly Melgard

Holly Melgard es la autora de Poems for Baby Vol. 1, Vol. 2, y Vol. 3 (TROLL THREAD, 2011), The Making of The Americans (TROLL THREAD, 2012), y Black Friday (TROLL THREAD, 2012), pero no es la autora de MONEY, el cual es de MAKER (TROLL THREAD, 2012). Es co-editora de TROLL THREAD PRESS y de la revista literaria P-Queue. Holly también es una de las curadoras del Ciclo de Lecturas Segue y es candidata a un doctorado en el Poetics Program de SUNY Buffalo.

Holly Melgard is the author of the Poems for Baby Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 (TROLL THREAD, 2011), The Making of The Americans (TROLL THREAD, 2012), and Black Friday (TROLL THREAD, 2012), but not MONEY, which is by MAKER (TROLL THREAD, 2012). She co-edits TROLL THREAD PRESS and P-Queue literary journal. She is also a co-curator of the Segue Reading Series and a PhD candidate at SUNY Buffalo’s Poetics Program.


Statement of Poetics:

What if books didn’t take so long to come out? What if you could make, immediately publish and distribute those books? What if no financial investment, projectable print run, or even fact-checked information was required to put a book into circulation? When automated, could deregulated publishing be exploited for the means of poetic experimentation? Could books break stuff when read in accordance with their constitutive poetics? Books define, so they can’t commit crimes like counterfeit, lies, and ruin. Books don’t break things, people do that—

—But wait, they can! It’s called the internet. But that’s the problem, right? Printed books still exist and meanwhile, their digital counterparts circulate as though in some virtual, neutral utopia. But the screen isn’t just a shitty facsimile of the printed page, nor is the printed page just a shitty facsimile of the screen. If digital and printed books differ in terms of speed and accessibility, then why not use poetry—a steadfast vestige for experimentation—to titty-fuck the cleavage of these false equivalencies while the gap’s open wide? I mean, even though my bank account appears more current online, I still like making the bank print and mail my statements, because it costs them more. Like anyone’s watching poetry for its effectuality anyways.

Meanwhile, poems can exploit what it is in books that makes texts appear as “text;” how their distributions and multiple frameworks of production may play a material role in their composition, their poetics. Like my book, Black Friday, which was published by TROLL THREAD on Black Friday (November, 2012) as an 8 ½ x11 inch, print-on-demand book of 740 all-black pages. As this poem’s dedication page would have it, the book is, “for BLACK INK ON WHITE PAPER”.

But while the book is available both for free .pdf download and for purchase via Lulu.com’s print-on-demand service, according to web-traffic analytics, few signs indicate anyone has printed the poem. And while a number of people have downloaded the .pdf version of Black Friday, and several generous readers have even referenced the book in various articles, Lulu reports that still no one has effectively purchased a printed edition. But, technically speaking, the one who makes the law can’t break the law. Thus, the question of the experiment remains: When read in accordance with the explicit terms of its poetic definition, can this book break stuff (even if just a printer)? What would that poem be like?

Maybe something like the “file error” and “order refund” emails Lulu automatically sends my inbox when someone attempts to print Black Friday on-demand. If Lulu’s default reply answers this question for us, then maybe this poem is not, “for BLACK INK ON WHITE PAPER” after all. Except Lulu farms out their jobs to the lowest bidder, often over seas, and has no central printer. It’s possible that their replies are less automatically default in the end, so the results might vary depending on the self-appointed agency of each discrete printer. Given Lulu’s foregrounding of the document specs on their platform, maybe these deregulations just haven’t yet factored into reported outcomes of the book. But who knows? Maybe someone has already ruined a printer cartridge (or worse) as a result of reading this book, “for BLACK INK ON WHITE PAPER.”

There is a whole body of “all-black” texts in circulation ((Some might include Ad Reinhardt’s 60×60 inch black oil on canvas called “Abstract Painting” (1963), Kazimir Malevich’s 80×80 inch black oil on linen called “Black Square on White Ground” (1915), maybe even Goya’s 19th century “Pinturas Negras,” and more. Some print works might include anything from government censored documents, to Marcel Broodthaer’s black-out edition of Mallarmé’s “Un Coup de Dés” (1969), to the Black Page exhibition (2009), wherein 73 artists/writers created black pages for the 250 anniversary of Laurence Sterne’s all-black page 73 of Tristam Shandy. And then there’s the larger tradition of “mourning pages” (all black pages that commemorate the dead) appearing in pre-20th century printing press tradition—and of course there are many more (in this way, Yedda Morrison’s Darkness [009], a linguistic excision of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness by way of “whiting out” black ink in the text, which could also be noted here as among the company in the above). The list goes on.)) that could be regarded for sharing common properties with this text, each of which articulate discrete limits of the text at hand. ((Similar in some ways to the work at hand, Mishkah Henner’s Astronomical is also a POD book of all-black pages, except his is a 12 volume, 5.5×8.5 inch set that did effectively print via a different company (October, 2011). According to his statement, the accumulative width of the book totals 6,000 pages, reflecting the distance from the Sun to Pluto at a scale of 1 page per 1,000,000 kilometers. Potentially even uncanny in resemblance is Jean Keller’s The Black Book (April, 2011). According to his readers, this work is also a POD book of 740 all-black pages, and is similarly for sale on Lulu. About this 5.83×8.26 inch book retailing for $32.02, the author’s statement notes that a single gallon of digital printing ink costs $4,000, whereas, “[a] book containing the maximum number of pages printed entirely in black ink therefore results in the lowest cost and maximum value for the artist. Combining these two features, buyers of The Black Book can do so with the guarantee that they are getting the best possible value for their money.” The book presents the consumer with an account of fiscal effects. However, according to the identical automated “file error” and “order refund” emails that Lulu sent me when I tried to purchase Keller’s The Black Book, one could argue that his is not the book that has so far been described. Does The Black Book really maximize the consumption of ink? Did it do so at one time or does it still? How much does the duration of the work depend upon the durability of the printer? If not a print-on-demand book via Lulu, then doesn’t Keller’s book exist in concept alone?)) Meanwhile, the accurate file of BLACK FRIDAY remains available for purchase via POD and also for free download/print for anyone seeking to read the poem according to the explicit terms of its constitutive poetics. If Black Friday remains, “for BLACK INK ON WHITE PAPER,” then regardless of its appearance on a given screen, the experiment remains: If books can break stuff, then what is that poem like?*

Instrucciones para descargar Black friday en este link.