Welcome back, Carol Guess!

This month we are celebrating the titles that we’ve acquired over the past twelve months. These manuscripts came to us through our open reading periods. Today we bring you Carol Guess, whose forthcoming book Infodemic will be published next summer. This will be Carol’s sixth book with Black Lawrence Press.

Have a manuscript you think we’d like? During our June Open Reading Period we are looking for poetry (chapbooks and full-length collections), short fiction (again, both chapbooks and full-length collections), novels, novellas, nonfiction (CNF, biography, cultural studies), anthology proposals, and translations from German. 



The Author

Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose. Recent Black Lawrence Press titles include Doll Studies: Forensics and With Animal (in collaboration with Kelly Magee). Forthcoming books include a short story collection, Sleep Tight Satellite (Tupelo Press), and a hybrid collaboration with Rochelle Hurt, Book of Non (Broadstone Books). A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University, where she teaches Queer Literature and Creative Writing.




On Writing Infodemic

Infodemic focuses on contemporary queer life during the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of Trump’s presidency. Beginning with the memory of a thwarted kidnapping attempt and ending with musings on life after death, I set out to engage philosophical questions about spirituality, ethics, and politics. Set in Seattle and written solo after years of writing in collaboration, I tried to capture the humor and interconnectedness of my beloved queer chosen family, as well as my friendship with my mother, who I talk to daily about existential questions, politics, and what we’re having for lunch.


Selections from Infodemic



My mother stood in Miami sun
behind the palm tree that grew two trunks.

My sister and I climbed in unison,
fronds thick skin between us.

The car that stopped kept running.
Two men stepped out, arms stretched

to take us. I remember my mother
appearing so fast. I serrated my ankles

on sawgrass, drank piña colada
mix from the box. Candy canes

melted on the Christmas tree.
My father brought home a skeleton.

Showed me how surgeons suture.
His southern accent rose and fell,
phone cord stretched across the kitchen.
We colored computer cards on linoleum,
watched TV in black-and-white
while Jonestown broke, peeling
foil from frozen dinners. In roller skates,
under the disco ball, I danced
the Bus Stop with the all-skate line.
I believed I would survive.

The Year I Stayed Inside
Even the mirror asked too much.
Twisted, I cut
my ponytail in half.
Fur fringed the sink.
No one should watch
this much tv.
I knew the names
of the minor characters
in the fantasy suite.
So many ways
for straight people
to marry: meet cute,
meet unseen behind a wall.
On Twitter, blue checkmarks
subtweeted each other.
Everyone laughed when kids
burst in on men.
Sometimes I brushed
my top teeth twice.
My neighbor smoked
two packs a day, smoke
seeping through outlets
as I sat on my couch,
free trade chocolate
wrapped in gold.
I was alone
with thoughts of what
I’d never say.
Mass shootings slowed
until the shots
met skin.
I bared my arm.
I wanted pain
to make TV less real.
In a gym, six feet apart,
we waited for bodies
to go into shock.
Some people left
before their time was up.

Unexpected Side Effects of the Second Dose of the Moderna Vaccine
Sometimes you turn into a crow.
You know the deal with flying now.

Money appears in your bank account,
but you’re a fox and don’t bank online.
Your arm swells big as a basketball
because you’re a basketball.
Sometimes you turn to salt
until someone shakes you.
You’re a snake. You’re flames
licking the fireplace. You’re summer
frogs hidden in the green becoming.
Sunlight falls across a room
where you hold out your arm,
where a needle teaches your body
how to fight back. You’re unnamed
mice infected with the virus in a lab.
You’re hands that feed the unnamed mice
just long enough to make the kill.