Welcome, Brandon Logans!

This month we are celebrating the titles that we’ve acquired over the past twelve months. Some of them, like the one we’re pleased to present today, came to us by way of Nomadic Press. Read more about our plans to welcome Nomadic Press titles to Black Lawrence Press here. Today we bring you Brandon Logans, whose forthcoming book Phosphene will be published next summer.

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. 


Brandon Logans is a poet from Oakland, California with an M.F.A in Poetry from Mills College. His work has been published in the Patrice Lumumba Anthology, Foglifter, Variety Pack’s Special Issue Black Voices of Pride, and Action, Spectacle. He might describe himself as a rectangular sheet of honey 30” x 62”, 6” above any surface.



On Writing Phosphene

There is a conundrum within being seen and being imperceptible. Your body takes up space regardless, but visibility often relies on your relation to someone else’s perception of you. This is complicated by space (where you are) and intersectionality (the nexus of overlapping points that attempt to define who you are), and also an accumulating mass of time (or history) that defines the coordinates of your waking world. The line of personhood and objecthood blurs, as your interiority balloons with a plethora of feelings, either causing you to capsize or fragment. The result often ends up being the same: alienation. 

Phosphene began as an unsuccessful poem I wrote in my second year of grad school that attempted to encompass the above. Perhaps it was my insistence upon abstraction or I was trying to do a little too much in a wayward poem, but the layers of meaning and realities I was negotiating didn’t land or ring true with a majority of my peers. I took this failing poem and salvaged it into different parts. Finding forms or ideas that I wanted to revisit over and over and over again. I bore into a particular line as inspiration each day, “Light murders in excess,” redefining what this line meant or could symbolize. Light could mean life giving, it could mean heat, it could stand in for Reason, etc. I began to formulate the work as a collection, which required viewing the disparate piles of words I had been writing as an interlocking unit defined by form, tone, and what I was really trying to say in my poetic orations. I often edited the work in its entirety in short intensive windows. Which for me, meant printing it out, laying it out on my bedroom floor, doing a read through, rearranging pages, editing individual pieces on the page in the moment, and trying to creatively math a successful, enrapturing, emotive vision that was true for myself and my readers. You know, just craft things. For me, Phosphene, is my attempt to flesh out the themes of that poem that didn’t quite succeed. And I hope intuitively or emotionally, it works. 



Selections from Phosphene


Consider the Methods

  1. Naturalize violence.
    1. Allow it to run like water everywhere.
  2. Teach them not to flinch.
    1. In tandem, teach them not to cry.
      1. Teach them to hold it in, as if their bodies are a reservoir.
        1. Say it builds character.
        2. Say it is necessary for survival.




I wake up to a body falling away from the windshield.

I don’t recognize my hair.

Light splits the sky.

There is this constant wound that feels similar to breathing.

Names fill my mouth, saltwater I can’t seem to swallow or transmute into gold.

If I was made out of gold, would I live longer or less here?

I wake to the news, a body at my doorstep.

I wrap it in blankets.

I wash my mouth with soap and try to make room for its ghost.

I hold its head to my chest and try to sing with my heartbeat, a proper eulogy.

However, I am late to work.

I leave the body in the doorway.

When I come home, I leave my ears beneath the fridge.

I sleep and dream of planes and bodies and daffodils.

The mirror is an underworld gate and the mouth of the machine.

I wake up to a body in my kitchen.

I take two coins and place them over each eye and forget to say goodbye.

I don’t have time to purchase a bouquet to mark the grave.

I’m asleep and the body is alone in a wing of a hospital, marked contagious by the band of flies encircling its temple.

I try to open the door, but it’s locked.

I try to shave my finger down into a key, but the dream logic fails me and I wake to shredded skin.

My mouth fills with blood, so I must brush my teeth.

I see a letter from my landlord nailed to a body on my refrigerator.

I don’t recognize my eyelashes nor my cheeks.

I go to work, hand sanitizer and knuckle bones jostling in my bag.

I can’t remember what time of year it is, whether it could be so hot or too cold.

I have been sneezing for weeks, it’s the only time I have to weep.

I wake up to a body, where my body should be.

I dream of a body, where my body should be.

I place a stuffed body underneath my bed in confusion, get dressed, and head for work again.

I dream again of a body shot and falling through the air.

The arms outstretched as if it could be a bird, as if it could be a plane.