Fjords Vol. 1
by Zachary Schomburg
Black Ocean, 2012
72 pages / $14.95 buy from Black Ocean
1. Fjords Vol. 1 is something I could have read in a few hours—easy.
2. It took me 17 days to read Fjords Vol. 1 all the way thru.
3. Fjords Vol. 1 is 57 pages.
4. I have been fascinated/infatuated by Zachary Schomburg-stuff for quite some time. I sent him an email once but he never replied. I assume this is because he was too busy writing awesome fucking poetry.
5. If I wrote awesome fucking poetry like Zachary Schomburg, I probably wouldn’t have the time to reply to emails from people I have never met IRL.
6. It’s not very hard to read Fjords Vol. 1, which is nice. But it’s also not meant to be very hard, I don’t think. It’s like something that is easy to learn but hard to master. Like chess, for example. Or swimming. The Tecktonik dance. I don’t know. (But) that’s how I feel about Zachary Schomburg poetry.
7. If Fjords Vol. 1 had been a homework assignment in high school, I would have found it to be very easy. You could definitely read it all in one night/sitting (if you really wanted to, and I sort of allude to this already).
8. But there is so much to understand and feel and grasp and learn and write down and think about—which is why I love Fjords Vol. 1 so much.
9. Like the poem Staring Problem, in its entirety. “A woman walks into a room. I am in a different room. What has happened to your eyes? she asks.”
10. I feel like, maybe, sometimes, Zachary Schomburg is too smart for me to understand—but I generally feel like this about all poetry—so I keep reading the same line over and over, because I keep thinking “No, this is not hard. I am making it hard. I am pretty sure I can understand anything,” and even after several re-readings (now)—I still cannot grasp everything there is to grasp in the book. That’s fine though. And this is not a bad cannot-grasp-everything. This is a good cannot-grasp-everything. A book that is challenging (to/for) me. Something I can come back to, later in life, after I have read more books and feel like I can finally maybe understand things better.
11. Zachary Schomburg, I feel, is someone who maybe probably has a beard. I Google searched a picture of Zachary Schomburg once—I can’t remember when exactly, a long time ago probably—just so I could see what he was all about (i.e. what he actually looked like). This was (also) when I was planning to send him an email. I wanted to see if he looked like someone who maybe liked receiving and reading electronic letters that were long and involved and elaborate and super-detailed or just, someone who maybe only liked regular and boring and short and to-the-point-type emails. I remember not being able to decide or thinking: I can’t figure this out. But maybe my email was too long? Or too short? Or maybe it was sent directly to his spam box? Like, certain keywords I used in the body of my email? I’ll have to ask him.
12. But Fjords Vol. 1 definitely is something that, if you read it all in one sitting, you will not get everything there is to get. Not that the point of reading anything is to get everything there is to get but the way things are, now, I feel (especially with websites like Goodreads and the 201x reading challenges) people do not take enough time to read their books, which is sad. It’s all about numbers now. “How many books can you read in one calendar year?” Fjords Vol. 1 is a book of poetry, so not everything is obvious right away. It’s probably a book I will give to my kid(s) someday and say, “This is a good book.” And I don’t feel this way about many books. There is a lot of stuff in here that has things going on beneath the surface.
13. It’s like there are a million Easter eggs in. Fjords Vol. 1 Easter eggs that are buried deep inside the ground.
14. Maybe not, but I feel this way. A bit overwhelming, maybe. (A million is a big number too. Maybe 300,000-some Easter eggs then. Buried deep beneath the ground).
15. I used a Walmart receipt as a bookmark. (NB: A Walmart receipt is a terrible bookmark). I ended up losing my place a lot. As a result, I ended up reading a lot of the same poems over and over again (maybe God wanted this?)—maybe three or four times, each, without realizing I was reading the same poem until maybe the last couple of lines.
16. There is no narrative arc to follow, per se (this is a book of poetry, remember?) but some stuff comes back again. Like a certain word or particular motif. Reading out of order isn’t not recommended, but it also may not seem/be as satisfactory, in the end, for the reader. Plus, there’s an index at the end. Bonus points for indexes, always!
17. I want to go out drinking one night and randomly run into Zachary Schomburg and possibly become his best friend. But that will never happen, because I don’t want to do that, really. If I ever meet him in real life, I may become disappointed.
18. The man with the beard in this picture looks more like Zachary Schomburg than Zachary Schomburg.
19. Black Ocean is responsible for how Fjords Vol. 1 looks. I want to talk, for a little bit, about Black Ocean. Black Ocean is one of those indie presses with extremely high production values. (Like, I am not saying other indie presses are not high production but Black Ocean is certainly up there, for me). The cover for Fjords Vol. 1 is impressive-looking and the two people standing on the cover, among the fjords and the snow and stuff, are actually shiny and reflective and (this is a small thing) but the weight of the paper is significantly more high-quality than I would expect from an indie press-published book. And the all-black pages in the beginning and end of the book are also a nice touch. I feel like more money than normal was put into this project. Also, I feel like a lot of people never mention this but things like this (how the book actually looks and feels) are important to mention.
20. Are there any black people still writing poetry?
21. Also, Black Ocean currently offers a ‘subscription’ package at a super-discounted price (considering how much $$$ they spend on printing) on their website that it is almost impossible to pass up, it’s such a good deal. Yes, even for someone like me, who always goes (first) to Half.com or Goodwill for all his books. I wish all indie presses did this. (Some do, but in a different way).
22. Zachary Schomburg and Sam Pink and Gregory Sherl are 3 good poetry-writers(/poets?) that I like to read. Like, what they write is better than most flash fiction but not as long as the short story.
23. The title, I also like, because it reminds me of things that come before a sequel. And I sincerely hope Fjords Vol. 1 is a precursor to something like Fjords Vol. 2. If not though, that’s fine also, not a big deal.
24. I probably thought: “Fuck, why didn’t I think of that?” more than twenty-nine times while reading Fjords Vol. 1 (I feel the same way about anything by Sam Pink, Gregory Sherl, Noah Cicero, Rachel B. Glaser, Ofelia Hunt, Ken Sparling, Edouard Levé and a handful of other authors).
Mike Kleine is an American author of literary fiction. He graduated from Grinnell college with a B.A. in French literature. Someday, he will begin his M.A. in English literature. He currently lives somewhere in the Midwest. Mastodon Farm (2012, Atlatl Press) is his first book.