Sundress Releases Blood Stripes by Aaron Dylan Graham

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Sundress Releases Blood Stripes by Aaron Dylan Graham

Blood Stripes CoverSundress Publications announces the release of Blood Stripes, the debut full-length poetry collection from Aaron Graham. Blood Stripes is a haunting, unprecedented example of contemporary trench poetry.

Set in Iraq during the mid-2000’s, Blood Stripes delves into the complexity and trauma of modern conflict. Through the eyes of a marine, these poems illustrate the intimacy of violence with candid brutality. Beyond the innate bonds formed between comrades, a strange communion develops across enemy lines as those charged with destroying each other do so with a kind of tenderness. Through inflicting atrocities, the speaker forges human connection—connections that cannot be replicated outside the battle.

In these poems, violence is a new creature, one that is concurrently loathsome yet addictive and sensual. Amid the shrapnel and the sand wet with bits of lung, this violence is perhaps born of a love of the struggle. While the marine unwittingly volunteers to be a harbinger of death, it is a role of eternal confinement. These poems reveal the moral ambiguity of the causal sequence of war, as at home the marine is haunted by trauma while still craving it. The side effects of conflict cannot be outlived—despite quickclot being applied to a ruptured artery—some bleeding cannot be stopped.

“In Aaron Graham’s searing debut, poetry emerges as a full-blooded form of counterintelligence. WWI novelist Henri Barbusse called soldiers ‘forgetting machines,’ built to suppress and deny the trauma they experience in themselves and produce in others. Marine veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Graham trains every fiber of his uncompromising attention on the sacred and obscene task of remembering what, strictly speaking, cannot be known. PTSD tendrils between every line—’all my nows murder all my / vowels – // all my nows justify / the violence’—as the poet reaches through and beyond realism. Deploying his formidable intelligence as linguist, translator, and philosopher, Graham isolates ‘the moment before an explosion / breaks, the word shrapnel becomes / the beginning of the reality shrapnel.’ Under the poet’s targeted pressure, ‘the whole structure of propriety delaminates,’ including the fiction of the reader’s innocence. The poems in this collection sear me, stain me, push me to the point of slamming the book shut until I’m ready to pry the pages open again, to see in Graham’s language what I cannot see.”
-Cassandra Cleghorn

Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven Aaron Grahambars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign, and no stoplights. He served as the editor-in-chief for the Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School, and the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop. Aaron is currently attending UCNG’s MFA program in poetry and finishing his Ph.D. at Emory University. He currently resides in Greensboro, NC with this wife, Alana, and their three daughters, Alexi, Nora, and Naomi.

Pre-order Blood Stripes here.


Call for Submissions: Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts

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unnamed Sundress Publications is open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts. All authors are welcome to submit qualifying manuscripts during our reading period of May 15 to August 15, 2019.

We’re looking for manuscripts of forty-eight to eighty (48-80) single-spaced pages; front matter is excluded from page count. Individual pieces or selections may have been previously published in anthologies, chapbooks, print journals, online journals, etc., but cannot have appeared in any full-length collection, including self-published collections. Single-author and collaborative author manuscripts will be considered. Manuscripts translated from another language will not be accepted. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but we ask that authors notify us immediately if their work has been accepted elsewhere.

The reading fee is $13 per manuscript, though the fee will be waived for entrants who purchase or pre-order any Sundress title or broadside. We will also accept nominations for entrants, provided the nominating person either pays the reading fee or makes a qualifying purchase. Authors may submit and/or nominate as many manuscripts as they would like, so long as each is accompanied by a separate reading fee or purchase/pre-order. Entrants and nominators can place book orders or pay submission fees at our store.

All manuscripts will be read by members of our editorial board, and we will choose at least two manuscripts for publication. We strive to further our commitment to diversity and seek to encounter as many unique and important voices as possible. We are actively seeking collections from writers of color, trans and nonbinary writers, writers with disabilities, and others whose voices are underrepresented in literary publishing. Selected manuscripts will be offered a standard publication contract, which includes 25 copies of the published book, as well as any additional copies at cost.

This year our top selection from the reading period also will receive a free one-week writing residency at the Sundress Academy for the Arts in Knoxville, TN.

To submit, email your Sundress store receipt for submission fee or book purchase, along with your manuscript (DOC, DOCX, or PDF), to Be sure to note both your name and the title of the manuscript in your email header. For those nominating others for our reading period, please include the name of nominee as well as an email address; we will solicit the manuscript directly.

Although we are conscious of the lack of representation by women writers in literary publishing, we are a non-discriminatory publishing group focused on the creativity of all artists, regardless of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, education, etc.

A 501(c)3 non-profit literary press collective founded in 2000, Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run press that publishes chapbooks and full-length collections in both print and digital formats, and hosts numerous literary journals, an online reading series, and the Best of the Net Anthology.