Sublunary Editions is a publisher focused on highlighting shorter texts. Each month, they mail out an envelope with a set of two written works to their subscribers. Being a relatively new press, they have so far mailed out editions for July and August, with plans to release new packages every month for the foreseeable future.
Both of the packages that I received not only contained beautiful writing, but beautiful design as well. The unique stationery paired with each text accentuates the context of their reading. Each piece is made to be viewed on its own as a standalone work. They are not part of a journal’s newest issue or a themed anthology. And this practice is rare. I cannot remember another time I have seen a one to three page text presented in print. Receiving these pieces in the mail (tri-folded inside an envelope) makes the process of reading feel more personal. As if each was written specifically for you—either sent by the authors or curated by a mysterious figure.
When I requested review copies, Joshua Rothes, the editor of Sublunary, sent me the first two editions (July and August). Both arrived in standard-sized envelopes with the press’s logo stamped onto the upper left-hand corner.
In the July Edition, I received Sensorium, a personal and philosophical essay from Christina Tudor-Sideri, alongside Baroque Barrens, an enigmatic and occult methodology by Mónica Belevan.
Sensorium is a poetic and fluid essay. It shifts from one topic to another with incredible ease. In the beginning, there is talk of literary lineages, of placing oneself in an aesthetic moment to lessen our anxiety and grant familiarity when it is much needed. We then drift into an examination of the body and the identities that are projected onto it (those that are done by us and those that are done to us). The shortcomings of the flesh begin to reveal themselves. The narrator speaks of granting themself new personas, of taking up familiar titles for new purposes. Tudor-Sideri moves through literary and philosophical topics with an incredible smoothness. Sensorium is always in the act of transition. It is always stepping between ideas, references, memories. It moves with the same flux as the mind.
Paired with it was Mónica Belevan’s Baroque Barrens. “It began on the photoacoustic fringe of the visible spectrum, replete with cut-up channeling and well-worn, imitation leather bhoots.” Baroque Barrens feels simultaneously occult and digital / arcane and technical. I am never quite sure what is happening. As the sections progress (moving in the same manner as clauses or procedures) I feel like I am approaching a new knowledge that I could not have predicted. Language is uttered twice through the same mouth, “imitation leather bhoots” and “imitation leather boots.” It is not only as if a portal has opened up, but as if that portal is unstable, and a schism has begun to form through its center. Language invades sentences, it twists itself into the likeness of other words. Baroque Barrens is a cybernetic grimoire. It is arcana performed through advance instruments and electrical apparatuses.
In August I received Farwell Paul Farwell, a story exploring the burial rituals of loggers from Judson Hamilton, alongside Accident Index, a poetic record of mistakes by Noor Al-Samarrai.
At the beginning of Farwell Paul Farwell, I was not sure what I was watching. The woodsmen of the story acted with unknown motivations. Their behavior was solemn yet directed. Eventually these events reveal themselves to be a burial ritual for someone central to the woodsmen’s mythos. Throughout the piece I was reminded of times in the past when I had played tabletop role-playing games with friends. Hamilton’s writing is always hinting at more. The authorial eye floats over each scene, drifting from one detail to the next, revealing a multitude of potentialities. Rarely are they explored, instead they sit just outside of view—allusions to extensive histories and cultures.
Accident Index is the most visually striking of Sublunary’s catalogue. Up until now, each of the texts has been written on cream-colored paper. The layout and design have varied greatly (each time adapting into whatever new style best benefits the writing). Al-Samarrai’s piece is written on vibrant orange paper. Its pages are mostly empty space, with dense and small text along the margin and scattered prose / poetry through the center. The interplay between these hybrid forms often felt like watching documentary and interpretive dance on side-by-side monitors. The index (the record of every accident Al-Samarrai experiences over the course of four months) carries a certain weight to it. The data collected never seems frivolous or unimportant. It feels like part of a necessary step in the author’s scientific process. She will use this information to investigate the frequency of her accidents, if they are an affliction, if they are self-induced or if they are acting upon her autonomously. Accident Index is the preparations made for later discoveries. It is raw data and loose interpretations mixing in the same reservoir.
In these first two monthly mailings, Sublunary Editions have shown themselves to be an incredibly exciting new press working in an area few others are. Each associated writer brings a new voice and a new pathway for you to travel down. Sensorium, Baroque Barrens, Farwell Paul Farwell, Accident Index. Text emerges from the ether, arriving in your mailbox ready for consumption.