Project 1: Labor Poetic Labor!

curated by Jill Magi
with Paula Austin, Patrick Durgin and Paolo Javier
and an afterword by Trina Magi

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Labor Poetic Labor! is a set of two chapbooks—one, a sequence of interviews, the other a collection of poems based on the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives—that meditate on the poetry of labor and the labor of poetry, repetitive action and aesthetics, precarity and the economics of higher education, and the importance of considering class alongside race, gender, nationhood.
“There are still some people in our world […] who are rendered as, believed to be without (the capacity for) inner life, intellectuality, etc. This is the kind of subjectivity that I am thinking about in terms of the folks being interviewed by E. Franklin Frazier in interwar Washington, D.C. Kevin Quashie writes about this in his The Sovereignty of Quiet. It’s this quiet space, which we all cultivate, where we all go to make sense of the world around us, where we develop our own intellectual frameworks, out from which come our ideas about future possibilities.”
Paula C. Austin is a PhD candidate in History at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. She is the inaugural archival fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Jackie McLean Fellow at the University of Hartford, and was a fellow at the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her doctoral work examines black poor and working-class subjectivity in interwar Washington, D.C. Starting in fall 2015, she will be assistant professor of History at California State University-Sacramento.
Patrick Durgin’s books include PQRS, Imitation Poems (Atticus/Finch, 2006), The Route (with Jen Hofer), and the artist’s books Daughter and Singles. His recent criticism includes a series of commentaries for Jacket2 entitled Witness. He is now writing a critical biography of Jackson Mac Low and Hannah Weiner. Durgin teaches literature, writing and critical theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and runs the press Kenning Editions.
Paolo Javier is the former Queens Poet Laureate (2010– 2014), and the author of Court of the Dragon, The Feeling Is Actual, 60 lv bo(e)mbs, the time at the end of this writing (Small Press Traffic Book of the Year) and the collaboration with visual artist Ernest Concepcion Goldfish Kisses (Sona Books, 2007). He edits 2nd Ave Poetry, an online journal/micro press.
Jill Magi is an artist, critic and educator who works in text, image and textile. Her books include LABOR, SLOT, Cadastral Map, Torchwood and Threads. Pageviews/Innervisions was recently published by Moving Furniture Press/Rattapallax. From February–April 2015, Magi wrote weekly commentaries for Jacket2 on “A Textile Poetics.” After nearly two decades piecing together part-time teaching gigs, Magi joined the faculty at New York University Abu Dhabi, where she teaches poetry and writing through textiles to students from all over the world, and where she is learning the intricacies of global labor flows, structured inequality and the transnational movement of capital.
Trina Magi is a library professor, and reference and instruction librarian, at the University of Vermont. She has spoken and written widely about library patron and privacy. Magi received several awards for her efforts to reform the USA PATRIOT Act, including the American Library Association’s Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change Award, the New England Library Association’s Proquest/SIRS Intellectual Freedom Award and the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award. She recently served as editor of the ninth edition of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Manual. Magi also helped organize a faculty union at the University of Vermont, and has served the union in various leadership roles.




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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.