'Reign is Over' by Writing Student Emily Simon Published by Choo Choo Press
BY Nicole Saldarriaga, February 26, 2021
In Reign is Over, Simon treats her subject matter with a sense of asymptotic exploration—approaching a "point" while acknowledging that the point may not exist. "If I wanted to make a point," said Simon, "I would write something other than poetry...What I want to say [in a poem] is also what I want to know. I learn by way of saying. In the poem, I declare my desire, not what I possess or already understand. I'm not bragging or hoarding the truth."
There are certain throughlines visible in the chapbook, which Choo Choo Press calls "a collection of poems about flowers, blood, romance, transportation, and power." Simon explores the idea of love "in the most diffuse sense" and love of different kinds, including wrong or uncanny. "There is a lot of self-conscious saying," she said. "Articulation might be a persona. There is anxiety about industry, capital, and nature. And if I am being honest, there is so much of me in my poems."
The chapbook has been published in a small, Risograph-print run—a style of publishing that is essential to the mission of Choo Choo Press. The micropress was founded by Zhang and Bluedorn after the two met in Paris and started a secret poetry blog, and really came into being when the two returned to the states and began to take interest in physical printing.
"We found Risograph printing," said Zhang, "and we were hooked. For context, Risograph printers were originally released in Japan in 1980 for commercial, high volume work. Nowadays, it's used primarily by independent presses to produce saturated, bold, almost child-like colors. No two runs are the same, since each layer is printed individually, so the result is this incredibly vivid, unexpected product. For our projects, we typically print around 50 copies per issue, and every project features integrated design and text...we love that the small audience adds to the preciousness of our product. Riso is an exercise in making considered, physical books, finding beauty in the 'mistakes,' and engaging with a very special community. It's zine culture in action."
According to Simon, "I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Taylor with Emily [Bluedorn]. They included me in so much of this process over the last few months. I felt from the start that they understood my work—Taylor spoke about it in such an exciting way, and Emily produced visual art and text for it that made magical sense to me...I feel very appreciative for their time and effort on this project, and for their friendship."
Choo Choo Press will be hosting a virtual reading event where Simon will read from her new chapbook on March 4, 2021 at 7:00pm ET. They will be sending free risograph-printed posters to the first 50 people to register for the event, which can be done here.
Choo Choo Press publishes literary zines and poetry chapbooks with an emphasis on queerness, nostalgia, obsession, and states of liminality. To submit for publication, contact them at [email protected].
Read a poem from Simon's chapbook below, courtesy of Choo Choo Press.
New York City
We look at each
with no eyes,
or maybe some.
We are talking sort of
past or into each other
and he is very sorry.
The grass is wet
and there are no flowers.
the degradation of the flowers.
The blue iris says
we are all children in love.
Emily Simon is an NYC-based poet, and an MFA candidate in Poetry at Columbia University. Reign is Over is her first chapbook.
Taylor Zhang is a teaching fellow at Columbia University, where she recently finished coursework for her MFA. She co-runs Choo Choo Press, a Risograph micropress. Her own work can be found or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Louisville Review, The Drift, and Columbia Journal. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, she now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.