"someone is collecting the lost" by Poetry Finalist Aimee Herman


Aimee Herman is the author of two full length books of poetry, “meant to wake up feeling” and “to go without blinking” and currently teaches writing in the Bronx. Read more words at aimeeherman.wordpress.com.

INTERVIEW: Geoffrey Nutter on Teaching Poetry

Autumn by Robert Walrond, courtesy of the Public Domain Review

Friend of Augury Geoffrey Nutter (The Rose of January, Wave Books, 2013) has long been hosting poetry seminars in Upper Manhattan. Nutter recently took some time to sit down with Augury intern Emily Kaufman to talk about his current classes at the home of Wallson Glass, among other things.

Emily: Being a writer yourself, what prompted you to begin teaching? What value do you find in teaching creative writing? 

Geoffrey: I love talking about poetry with other poets. I think it’s important for a teacher of poetry to help poets gain a sense that they are, as my old friend Matthew Rohrer puts it, “surrounded by friends.” Not only fellow poets, but the fellow poets of the past and present, famous or otherwise. These are our kindred spirits.

Poets are often intimidated or alienated by the feeling that the poet has no place in our society. It’s a strange predicament, being in love with something that is so exalted on the one hand, and yet whose value is so questioned by the society we are a part of. It even causes us, the poets, to question our own value. It’s a predicament that merits thought and discussion–but one that I think creative writing study can help poets overcome.

Emily: What do you feel is the most important element in teaching poetry? 

Geoffrey: The making of poems involves radical freedom–the freedom to experiment with form, experiment with language, experiment with self and consciousness, and push these experiments to extremes in order to create experiences and bring them to a consummation. Part of what excites me about teaching is how it enables me to guide other poets through experiments that will help disclose some of poetry’s world-making possibilities.
Emily: What do you hope your students will get out of your classes?

Geoffrey: Poems! And the willingness to take poetic risks; a broadened sense of how poems can be made; fellowship with other poets and kindred spirits; and faith in the powers of poetry and a renewed sense of how poetry does what nothing else is able to do.

Basho was a great teacher of poetry in 17th century Japan. He urged students to try to identify closely with the things of the world, to feel a direct sympathy with them to the point of inhabiting them through imaginative projection. (Keats was able to achieve something of this sort as well–it’s reported that when he saw the wind sweeping through a field of grain, his body would start swaying imitatively). Language is the point of physical identity between the observer and the observed (whether the thing observed is something in the objective world we move through, or something in the objective world of the imagination {yes, itself an objective world}), which is where the idea of precision becomes so important. But language is also, of course, how we discover what we observe. We move through language toward discovery–not the other way around.

I also hope the people who study poetry with me come away with an awareness of something that John Dewey expresses so beautifully: that poems “do not seem to come from the self, because they issue from a self not consciously known.”

Emily: Your classes in the past have generally had a clear direction or focus. What do your upcoming classes focus on?     

Geoffrey: In the coming months I’m going to continue doing what Wallson Glass has been doing: many, many writing exercises in each session that experiment with different ways of using language and looking at things. Classes so far have been very productive, the energy very high and intense, and the quality of the writing exceptional. Many participants have published books, and many go on to publish poems that they write during our sessions. So the classes have been attracting amazing writers.

And look for an all-night writing session soon, and a late-night writing session at a restaurant in Koreatown in the coming months!

I will also have some six-week workshops happening beginning in September. And since I’ve started to have numerous students from out of state, I’m working on a week-long residency for Summer 2016. Keep checking back!

Emily: What encouraged you to pursue writing originally, as opposed to engaging in a different career path?

Geoffrey: I probably started writing poems for the same reason most (or many) people start: to figure something out, and set that “figuring out” into motion. To hear what the self sounds like when it’s trying to figure things out, in a way that makes that self seem surprising and new.

When I was younger, I found it extremely encouraging when a friend would read a poem I wrote and tell me that it was interesting or beautiful or striking. And that’s still the case. Don’t all poets feel this way? I assume so, which is why it’s so important for me, as a teacher of poetry, to be attentive to the unique and amazing things that fellow poets are setting into motion in their poems.


For more information on Geoffrey’s classes (and to read some of his poetry) check out his site!


Augury’s Reading Period Is Open for Prose and Poetry May 1 – July 31, 2015:

Submit now via Submittable, and thank you for your interest in Augury Books!

Augury Books Among New School Writing’s Must-Read Magazines and Presses

From Harry Clarke’s illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1919), courtesy of the Public Domain Review

We’re happy to acknowledge that Augury Books has been listed as one of New School Writing’s must-read magazines and presses founded by New School MFA alumni. Others mentioned include Coldfront, Moviefied NYCThe Agriculture Reader, and Birds, LLC.

Founded in 1931, Creative Writing at The New School continues to promote, engender, and shape innovative literature.

Read the full list of magazines and presses here.


Augury Books’ spring/summer 2015 reading period is now open for submissions in poetry and prose. For guidelines and general information, please visit our submissions page.

Halina Duraj’s The Family Cannon Nominated for CLMP Firecracker Award

From E. Weiß’s Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt (1888), courtesy of the Public Domain Review

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) released the nominees for their new Firecracker Awards. Inspired by the Firecracker Alternative Book Awards, CLMP’s awards strive to honor and support literary works from independent publishers and self-published writers.

The finalists are divided into six categories: creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, young adult, graphic novels, and literary magazines. Among them is Augury author Halina Duraj for her book of short stories, The Family Cannon. Other finalists across categories include Jeffery Renard AllenMartha Baillie, Bonnie Friedman, Allen Crawford, and Ransom Riggs, as well as several literary magazines, including 6 x 6, A Public Space, and Mosaic. Tin House, Graywolf Press, Ahsahta Press, and Tender Buttons Press are all among the publishers that have titles shortlisted. The winners in each group will be announced on May 27th at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO.

To see the complete shortlists for the Firecracker Awards, view CLMP’s press release.

For more about Halina Duraj and The Family Cannon, click here.

Finalists For Lambda Literary Awards Announced

From Baude Cordier’s “Belle, bonne, sage” (1350-1400), courtesy of the Public Domain Review

The finalists for the 27th annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced. The Lambda Literary Awards honor the best LBGTQ literature of the year in 24 categories, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Among the nominees for 2015 is Augury friend Shelly Oria. Other noteworthy finalists include Ana Castillo, Tom Spanbauer, Danez Smith, Lenelle Moïse, and La JohnJoseph. The winners will be declared at the awards ceremony on Monday, June 1st in New York City.

For the complete list of finalists and their works, visit the Lambda Literary Awards website.

Joe Pan To Lead Brooklyn Poets’ Yawp

From Shin-Bijutsukai (1901-1902), courtesy of the Public Domain Review

Augury author Joe Pan will be leading Brooklyn Poets‘ Yawp on March 9th. A monthly event, Yawp consists of a writing workshop at 7 PM, followed by an open mic night at 8. The primary focus for this month’s Yawp will be the evolution of poetry throughout the writing process. It will take place at 61 Local, and admission is $5 for nonmembers.

To learn more about Yawp, visit the Brooklyn Poets website.

Joe Pan’s book, Hiccups, or Autobiomythography II, is forthcoming from Augury Books in 2015.

More on Joe Pan

Words After War: Supporting Veterans And Nurturing Communities

From A Popular Treatise on Comets (1861) by James C. Watson, courtesy of The Public Domain Review


Words After War is a Brooklyn-based literary organization dedicated to providing veterans, their families, and civilian supporters with the tools and opportunities to express themselves while fostering creative communities. They offer many programs and writing workshops with high-quality instruction and support at no cost, including their Literary Mentoring Program, which connects veteran writers with established writers for three-month periods, and studio retreats, giving veterans undisturbed time to focus on their craft. They are always looking for volunteers, and will graciously accept donations. For more information, contact them at info@wordsafterwar.org, and take a look at their work at http://wordsafterwar.org.

Suzanne Guillette on Perspective in Memoir

Suzanne Guillette. Photo by Wah-Ming Chang

A year ago this month, friend of Augury Suzanne Guillette (Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarassment, Atria Books, 2009) published an essay on memoir in Tin House. Dealing with the roles of perspective and content, Guillette navigates personal experiences which help us to rethink whether or not plot needs to be “memoir-worthy.”

Though Rushdie and Auster may have gone on the record with other reasons for stepping out of the first-person memoir convention, other motivations were probably also at work: not only does crafted distance in memoir inure the writer against calls (internal and otherwise) of self-importance, but it also sets us further adrift in a dreamlike state, allowing the intersection of present consciousness with past events to be, indeed, a very trippy place.  Quieting the memoir-worthy debate, writers can go granular, entering a uniquely conjured, not to mention lived, world.”

We think this essay is worth a revisit. Read the rest of it here.

October 25: Augury Books Speaks at Poets & Writers LIVE: Independent Publishing Panel at LoC

Detail of Le Sortie de l’opéra en l’an 2000, by Albert Robida. Courtesy of Public Domain Review

This coming Saturday, October 25th, Augury editor Kimberly Steele will be featured on the next P&W LIVE panel, held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Poets & Writers LIVE, developed by Poets & Writers magazine, aims to connect the independent literary community through a series of group panels featuring upcoming and established editors, publishers, and authors.

Other publishing companies represented will include Graywolf Press, Algonquin Books, New Directions, Black Balloon Publishing, Rose Metal Press, and Gival Press, as well as a featured reading by Charles D’Ambrosio.

Steele will be sharing her experiences as an editor of Augury Books at the Indie Editor Roundtable at 1:30. For more information about the day’s events, as well as P&W LIVE and how to register, head over to their site.

Meghan O'Rourke to Lecture at the Mayapple Center

Meghan O’Rourke, photo by Sarah Shatz

The Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities will kick off their Creative Writing guest lecture series on Monday night, July 21, with a lecture by editor, essayist and poet Meghan O’Rourke. The Center, located in Stamford, Connecticut, provides programs, retreats and residencies that cover writing, literature, music, and art therapy, in a “distinctly 21st century climate.”

Augury Books editor Kate Angus, who is also Mayapple Center’s Creative Writing Advisor, will be introducing O’Rourke on Monday night. For more information on the Center and to register, visit Mayapple’s site.

Meghan O’Rourke began her career as one of the youngest editors in the history of The New Yorker. Since then, she has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor and advisory editor for The Paris Review. Her essays, criticism, and poems have appeared in Slate, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Redbook, Vogue, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and Best American Poetry. O’Rourke is also the author of the poetry collections Once (2011) and Halflife (2007), which was a finalist for both the Patterson Poetry Prize and Britain’s Forward First Book Prize. She was awarded the inaugural May Sarton Poetry Prize, the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and a Front Page Award for her cultural criticism. One of three judges chosen to select Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2007, she has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and a finalist for the Rome Prize of the Academy of Arts and Letters. A graduate of Yale University, she has taught at Princeton, The New School, and New York University. She lives in Brooklyn, where she grew up, and Marfa, TX.