Swimming with Elephants Publications

an independent, not for profit, publishing agent focusing on supporting the working author and non-profit organizations


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Wil Gibson just can’t quit…

…being phenomenal.

Of course, such a grand sweeping word as phenomenal fails to do Wil Gibson’s work, in his most recent published collection, any justice whatsoever. It’s my belief that a simpler word might better suffice, if only for the phenomenal simplicity of what Wil’s words make you feel. An oxymoronic statement, maybe, but it’s just that — the beautiful simplicity — which Wil brings to both written and performance poetry.

It’s his most recent publication with Swimming With Elephants Publications, Quitting smoking falling in and out of love, and other thoughts about death that draws close that beautiful simplicity. As life-changing as an arrival to a safe haven, or a departure from the only place you’ve ever known, reading this book was like coming home, wherever home may be. With a broad array of landscapes and cities throughout the United States mentioned, I felt a strong sense of connection to place in reading. It was, undoubtedly, a journey; more than that, it was a pilgrimage.

For that reason, this book needs to be savoured (like a cigarette, if you will, or five after you’ve quit for the umpteenth time). Not to say I didn’t have the urge to rush through each part and eat it all up, but I found it most enjoyed as a slow read, taking the time to dog-ear pages and underline phrases that struck me (and as I say to many writers: sorrynotsorry for dog-earring books, for lack of post-its to use as markholders, and for marking up your books — this, to me, is a testament of love for the work put in, as I find connection to it).

The contrast and connection between each section was so well-constructed, from a writing and editing standpoint, I could certainly see the love that was put into this book, too. From the numbered poems and the slow stream of falling in love over and over again in the first part, The part where I fall in love and a bunch of people I love die to the numbered days in the second part, The part where I quit smoking and more people I love die that are almost comical at times in their display (days 16-18, especially; any smoker or former smoke can certainly relate to the feeling of fuck you that Wil puts so adequately on the page), a conversational tone carries throughout.

Thinking back to when I first heard Wil perform, it’s that conversational tone that holds him as one of my most highly recommended poets for anybody first entering the slam/performance poetry scene; I believe there’s something unique in drawing your audience in without the grandeur of the typical “slam voice.” Instead, Wil’s poetry has always offered this drift back to something reminiscent of the “original” spoken word artists of the Beatnik movement. But there’s that modern touch of artistry in his work, too.

It’s in The part where I fall out of love and more people I love die where Wil’s artistry as a written poet really shines. With unexpected construct like the poem titled simply as Purple, to the constant self-recognition of using cliches to his best ability (and the simple notion of the necessity of cliches), there’s a heartwrenchingly beautiful notion presented in the level of vulnerability that Wil provides in the third and closing part of his collection. Here is vulnerability as a lover, as a smoker, as a writer, as a human. And isn’t that what writing really needs to be? Vulnerable conversations, the shared recognition that we’re all cliches, we’re all just quitting something to start again, that we’re all falling in and out of love with ourselves constantly; Wil’s poetry reminded me that we’re all on a phenomenal pilgrimage through life, and we’ll get there whenever we damn well please (and maybe quit smoking, eventually).

In parting, I would tell anybody skeptical not to be swayed by the ominous title of Wil’s most recent book; instead, let it be an offering that allows you to feel absolutely, phenomenally, simply… human.

You can find Wil’s book on Amazon and Goodreads, along with other books in the Swimming With Elephants Publications family. And don’t forget to keep up with him on his website and Instagram as he continues to tour and scatter his words across the country.

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Here’s What’s Going On…

Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC is up to all sorts of adventures these days.

We are currently wrapping the publications of this last summer’s chapbook competition. Books by Kat Heatherington and Courtney Butler are now available and Manuel Montoya’s publication should be out by the end of this month/early December. Stay tuned to for updates.

We are also celebrating SwEP on Small Business Sunday on November 25th at Bookworks ABQ from 3-5. Reading at this event are Kat HeatheringtonJessica Helen Lopez, Manuel Montoya, Gina MarselleKristian MacaronBill NevinsManuel Gonzalez, and Sarita Sol Gonzalez (confirmed). Any other SwEP authors who are available are also welcome to participate. The majority of SwEP publications will be available for purchase through Bookworks. After the Bookworks show, the celebration will continue at Dialogue Brewery where we can drink and make merry. This is an open event and we are hoping for a great turn out. We also may have an article in the ABQ Journal to help promote the event.

See the Facebook Invite here.

In December, we will have the official release of Courtney A Butler’s book. The event will take place at the Lomas Performance Space and feature the musical stylings of Danny the Harp and the artwork of Judy Marquez. This event is on the evening of December 9th and promises to be great fun! Also, an open and free event, please come by and pick up a copy of Courtney’s new book.

See the Facebook Invite here.

The book release for Manuel Montoya will be early in the new year, so please keep your eyes open for that future announcement.

Our partnership with Sugar Book Entertaining is promising more books by touring poets in the new year. We are currently working with Beau William to put his book together and we are in the review process with several other poets.

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For our authors:

SwEP is beginning to make some shifts toward becoming an official non-profit. We are in the process of creating a board and researching the paperwork and information to move us from an LLC. This move may create some shifts in our production model, but not to worry. All authors will be notified and given appropriate options when the transition occurs (later in 2018).

As we make this change, we will be looking for a new official logo. If you know anyone who is interested in this project please have them contact us at swimwithelephants@gmaill.com.

SwEP authors will begin receiving their royalty reports in December 2017. If you have updated your email, please notify us so that we can make sure you get your information. As always you will have an option to receive your royalties in cash or product as well as a time to review your continuation as a SwEP author.

Remember:

The best way to get your book into people’s hands is through featured performances, tours, and self-promotion. Please encourage your fans to review your book(s) via Amazon, Goodreads, review blogs, print newspapers, etc.

We will do our best to assist you by promoting your publication, events, reviews, and in any other way possible.

Also, as a SwEP author you are entitled to not only your own author copies at cost, but any other books in our catalog. Please help promote your fellow authors by submitting reviews of their publications and getting their publications out into the world.

 


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Now Available: Gypsy Horses by Courtney A Butler

Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC is excited to announce the release of Gypsy Horses by Courtney A Butler.

Come to her release party on December 9th from 7-8:30 at the Lomas Performance Space, 10601 Lomas Boulevard, ABQ NM.

Also at the release will be artwork from the talent Judy Marquez who created the cover of this lovely publication. Musical Guest to be announced.

“Courtney Butler has written a book that manages to be strong and fierce while remaining innocent and full of wonder. Balancing the line between jaded adult and hopeful youth while painting the clearest picture of why the writing evokes that same sentiment- this is a fun, emotionally fulfilling collection that I will enjoy the 37th time as much as the 1st. I’ll be pre-ordering her next book, as there will surely be many more.” – Wil Gibson, author of Quitting Smoking, Falling In and Out of Love, and Other Thoughts About Death

“Courtney Butler has a finesse with the image of the word, but it is her visceral emotion that feeds the reader’s need to connect on a gut level. Her words rumble throughout your body, clang around your brain and leave their stories imprinted on your heart.” ~Jessica Helen Lopez, author of Cunt.Bomb. and The Language of Bleeding

 Courtney is one of the winners of this year’s chapbook competition, judged by ABQ Poet Laureate Jessica Helen Lopez.

Courtney’s book is currently available on Amazon for $10.95.

Or Barnes and Noble for $10.95

If you can’t wait for the release, pick one up today!

 

 


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Coming Soon from Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC

The results of our summer Chapbook Competition has gifted us three amazing new authors and three amazing new titles.

Kat Heatherington’s the bones of this land was released in October.

Courtney A Butler’s Gypsy Horses is looking at a November release.

Manuel Montoya’s The Promethean Clock –or- Love Poems of a Wooden Boy should be available in December.

We have a few other titles on the plate for consideration giving us a very busy end of the year. Keep your eyes on our website for more updates in the coming weeks.

Want to support our press? Pick up one or five of the publications we offer. Find links on our website. Also, you may simply donate to our small business via the Paypal link on the home page (we’d rather you bought the books, but hey, support is support).


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All Things Grow… even in the crisp autumn cold.

Lately I find myself in a transition phase of recognizing where my own trauma and anxieties end and I begin. This poem, “All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel, at this summer’s National Poetry Slam in Denver, paid tribute to that transitional phase; and while I didn’t get a chance to see the poem performed in person, I read reactions to it left and right and, upon reading it (and seeing the video), felt a growth inside of myself.

I believe that’s the true meaning of poetry: feeling yourself grow and flourish in the moment, alongside another person, because of another person’s experience and words. I think there’s something especially enchanting about poems like that, and furthermore something enchanting about Lydia — they have this remarkable talent of being explicit and raw and shaping it into something beautiful, something that… grows, far beyond the usual expectations of what one thinks of when they walk into a poetry slam. And that might be one of my very favourite things about Lydia Havens as a writer, too: they are so far beyond the typical slam artist. Instead, they are the true definition of a poet. In a few brief words, they are walking, talking, magical, lizard-y poetry themselves.

“All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel

bless every poem about trauma,
& struggle, & loss i have written
thus far, for getting me this far.
bless all the space they needed to take up. bless them for knowing
when to step away.

bless all the songs i cannot
listen to anymore because
nostalgia & association will be
the death of me. bless the fact
that i am not dead yet. bless
the fact that i don’t know
where my abuser is anymore,
and i am okay with that.

it doesn’t mean i’ve forgiven him,
but it does mean i’ve forgiven myself.

bless my mother for believing me.
bless my mother for driving me
to all the psych wards, then picking me
back up after discharge. bless
my mother for believing in me.

bless my friends for carrying me home.
bless my friends for making me a home.
bless the city of Boise. bless all the light
it gives us, even at night. bless all
the rivers, even when they want
to overflow. bless the scars on my arms
that faded, and the ones on my face
that didn’t. bless all the ways i spill
like metal secrets against the floor.

bless the glitter always on my hands,
and the becoming. bless the way
my hair is growing out. bless the meds
that worked until they didn’t. bless the way
i never stopped working.

bless the fact that once, i thought
i didn’t know how to write a happy poem.
so bless all the cliches i am learning to love
because i like being a happy person
more than i like being a good writer.
bless vulnerability. bless bravery.
bless whatever it is i’m doing right now,

because everyone that’s ever hurt me
has tried to make me quiet—drown me
in the frantic water i just learned how
to endure. this is not a survival song.
this is the song I sing because I’ve survived.
the opportunity for the joy i have always deserved,
because i have always deserved to take up space.

that’s all. that’s all.

(text posted with permission)
You can visit Lydia’s website, here, and further support them by buying their book, “Survive Like the Water” and, of course, watch the video performance of “All Things Grow” again and again.
Don’t forget to follow them on instagram for magical selfies, and on twitter for more updates about poetry and their life in Boise.