Poetry Against All: A Diary

Memoir | Poetry
5.25″x8″, 140 pp., paperback
Tarpaulin Sky Press
2020

This slim journal contains multitudes. It’s a compulsively readable account of returning to a childhood home, a provocative meditation on artists such as Susan Sontag, Francesca Woodman, and Andrei Tarkovsky, and a radical reexamination of concepts like ruin porn, tourism, and translation. But mostly it’s an urgent manifesto. “Poetry is obscene,” Göransson writes. “But there are those who want to maintain the illusion that it is good for us.” This necessary book strips away the various illusions that have obscured poetry’s truest values. Göransson concludes: “This is written without hope.” But paradoxically, Poetry Against All offers just that. (Jeff Jackson) Moralists who find themselves clutching their pearls about this book of noir perversions should read less literally and see that Göransson’s Poetry Against All — for all its anti-libidinous interrogations of pornography, the Holocaust, and cadavers — concerns some of the most relatably humanist emotions of all: grief, the meaning of home, and the protectiveness one has about one’s children. Göransson imagines pornography as the body at the edge of otherness, at once alluring and perverse, which is not unlike the lens through which he conceives his own role as immigrant, the contaminant in our body politic, alive to the sheer horror of America but never quite able to go home himself. (Ken Chen)

READ MORE ABOUT POETRY AGAINST ALL

Transgressive Circulation

Essays
96 pp., paperback
Noemi Press
2018

Frost is often quoted as having said, is what is lost in translation, and American poets and critics have long taken this as their cue to subordinate translation to other forms of literary activity and to disqualify translated texts. In Transgressive Circulation, poet, translator, and publisher Johannes Goransson reverses this dynamic, holding that we should use translation to re-assess our entire aesthetic establishment. Rather than argue against the denigration and abjection of translation – and most foreign texts – this book investigates those dark zones of expulsion as grounds for new possibilities, not just for translation but for literature as a whole.

“In Transgressive Circulation, Johannes Göransson offers poignant diagnoses of how translation is viewed in the isolated zones of US poetry. He uses a multivalent, interdisciplinary approach to analyze how discussions about translation become microcosms for larger discussions of nationalism and disdain for the foreign. Transgressive Circulation is at its most acute in its case studies of translations of Swedish poet Aase Berg and Korean poet Kim Hyesoon. Göransson ultimately demonstrates not only how translation serves as a language-moving device, but also how it becomes a vital generator for ‘first-language’ poetry ‘in a toxic state of circulation.’” (Daniel Borzutzky) “This irreverent book proves that translation’s ‘violent embrace’ of foreign poetry turns words into little girls, whales or pigs ⎯words that have lost their mojo thanks to overuse in familiar contexts. In an argument constructed in nine tempos, an expanding chorus resoundingly proves that being infected by a hoard of dead pigs from a country like Korea performs the very surgical intervention into our brains that we’ve needed for so long: the one that will make us poets, translators, and moreover, ‘humans,’ in a way that has never occurred to us in our tight centripetal orbits. It’s the farther planets, the ones closest to dark matter, that shatter the symmetry that is not only fake but far more dangerous than the infected, erotic, filthy, womanly asymmetry of the foreign when it finally, in the hands of courageous translators ⎯ like Don Mee Choi has been for Kim Hyesoon — gives poetry the chance to remain untamed.” (Valerie Mejer Caso)

READ MORE ABOUT TRANSGRESSIVE CIRCULATION

sugar-cover-400The Sugar Book

Fiction | Poetry | Other
5.5″x7″, 208 pp., paperback
Tarpaulin Sky Press
2015

“Fans of Göransson’s distorted poetics will find this a productive addition to his body of work” (Publishers Weekly); “Sends its message like a mail train. Visceral Surrealism. His end game is an exit wound”(Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Fanzine); “As savagely anti-idealist as Burroughs or Guyotat or Ballard.” (James Pate, Entropy Magazine); “Takes the reader far beyond their comfort zone, as poetry should. Just like Los Angeles herself, the poems inhabit that glittering/grotesque duality of Kardashian Family and Manson Family” (Carleen Tibbetts, American Microreviews); “I’m not sure that even Rimbaud would title a poem ‘My Sperm Gets in the Flowers’” (Johnny Payne, Cleaver Magazine); “convulses wildly like an animal that has eaten the poem’s interior and exterior all together with silver. bang bang” (Kim Hyesoon); “These poems made me cry. So sad and anxious and genius and glarey bright” (Rebecca Loudon)

READ MORE ABOUT THE SUGAR BOOK

haute-cover-400Haute Surveillance

Fiction | Poetry | Other
5.5″x7″, 200 pp., paperback
Tarpaulin Sky Press
2013

“Beautifully startling and fucked and funny and tender and sad and putrid and glitter-covered all at once” (Blake Butler, VICE); “So filled with invention and wit and ferocity that I was compelled to read it, at times against my will, mesmerized, enthralled” (Carole Maso); “A book that is unclassifiable — part epic poem, part science fiction, part pornographic film, and all literature” (John Yau, Hyperallergic); “It’s spectacular, it’s pyrotechnics, it’s naked bodies and sex and orgies…. And there is trauma. It’s an emergency, a state of emergency. ‘The trauma saturates the mansion, it’s a trauma-rama’” (Laura Carter, Fanzine).

READ MORE ABOUT HAUTE SURVEILLANCE

entrance-cover-400entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate

Fiction / Poetry / Drama
5.5″ x 7″, 100 pp., pbk.
Tarpaulin Sky Press
2011

“Contains a gore so massive you will either shower or move the book to the other side of the bedroom upon opening its cover…. It is a new thing. Göransson has managed to produce a discomfiting, filthy, hilarious, and ecstatic piece of literature that is cocked and ready” (Lorian Long, Bookslut); “Goransson pays the ultimate penance and shoulders the heaviest burden: to reflect a culture accurately, no matter how disfigured. His art drinks deep of the disease it most fears so that we can learn more from his symptoms. He’s the Poet Laureate of the Coal Mine, our savior canary, dying and producing perpetually death-obsessed art that we might all be spared. So for all its ugliness—all its child predators and body dysmorphia, its castrations, its Ronald Reagans, its hate crimes and artists and anorexia, everything—Entrance is the dubious gift of the diagnosis we’ve been too afraid to confront on our own. It’s embarrassing, it’s frightening, but it’s also potentially the long-neglected first step in addressing a major disease”(Nick Demske).

READ MORE ABOUT ENTRANCE TO A COLONIAL PAGEANT

pilotcoverPilot (Johann the Carousel Horse)

Poetry, 165 pages
Fairy Tale Review Press, 2008
SOLD OUT / BUY USED

Pilot (Johann the Carousel Horse) is an assemblage, a book of nursery rhymes gone wrong in translation. Its strange characters, abandoned from other texts, include Lilja, the Pearls of Stockholm and assorted imperiled girls. Here, in Johannes Goransson’s glittering exocity, they find a new and beautifully stitched home.

Excerpts: Dusie Looking Back Orpheus | Parthenon West Review

Reviews: Lit Pub | Stride

Dear Ra (A Story in Flinches)

Paperback, 108 pages
Starcherone Books, 2008
Reissued by Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016

In this indeterminate text comprised of letters, resembling both fiction and poetry but not wholly comfortable in either category, each sentence is like being stabbed by a beautiful murderer, each new entry like crossing a border into another language. “As intimate as it is expansive, this hybrid prose-poem-novel trips from razor-blade symphonies, to the history of stares, from landlord snitches to basement laments, leading readers down existential corridors that blaze with the dark humor of guilt, of loneliness, and of wishes for vengeance that speak eloquently of what we can find at the core of humanity” –Steve Tomasula

Excerpts: Poetry Foundation 1 & 2 | Typo | Double Room

Reviews: Blake Butler

quarantineA New Quarantine Will Take My Place

Apostrophe Books, 2007
SOLD OUT / BUY USED

Welcome to Johannes “private genocide,” ground zero for figurative language. Put on your best pig smile and meet the gratuitous martyrs, Kublai Khan, Colin Powell, the jackle-hearted masses, Herman Melville, Egyptian dogs, and the Coca-Cola Cowboys. They’re all in the burning barn at the Big Dance where the Ballad of the Pig Circus plays like a torso full of “October of birds.” Beauty becomes “a riddle doused in gasoline” in this Postmodern epic that mixes surrealist impulses with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E-esqe prosody. Notions of genre are demolished and language itself seems relegated to a wildly impossible epistemological space that is something akin to “whispering in hammers” or “speaking in silhouettes.”

Excerpts: Jacket | apocryphal text

Reviews: | Jacket | Coldfront | Stride