Gray Market


gray market cover

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In single cigarettes sold on a city sidewalk, in “not for individual sale” samples of drugs or beauty products hawked on the Internet, a gray economy blossoms all around us rerouting traditional channels of production and distribution. Krystal Languell’s poems outline how individuals thrive and fail such shadowy markets: “When I was working 60 hours a week,” she writes, “my dad seemed to like hearing about it.” In a personal accounting of employment histories, relationships, workplaces and homes (“The known spaces/ that however fucked are familiar”), Languell records the colliding forces of economics, gender, and aesthetics. The vital poems in Gray Market reveal and rewire capitalism‘s circuits of shame and desire. “I am basically begging for it,” Languell writes, “but it is/ the revolution not what you imagine I need.”

Susan Briante
author of The Market Wonders and Utopia Minus

I am hooked on Languell’s poetry. Her startling shifts among registers of language; her acute prosody, and her savage plain-spokenness reveal not only a great poetic talent but a mind that inquiring people will want to keep close.

Ann Starr
author of Starr Review and publisher of Upper Hand Press

Gray Market is an unauthorized communique from the pneumatic tubes of “tiny little workers without power” to the state, the agencies, the producers and consumers (of folly), and the people of the United States. Depending on who you are, you’ll either feel antagonized or incredibly inspired to never again settle for the “stopgap sex act.” The antagonized poet pushes back realizing she has (and we have) demanded too little. Krystal Languell’s work makes me evermore committed to stay with her on the job, as Poet, where the job is to hack up shit language and redeploy it to make more room for the living.

Stacy Szymaszek
author of Emptied of All Ships and Hyperglossia

In Krystal Languell’s Gray Market an abject sensitivity bound up with a cracklin, observation-based diction and a nervy, existential wit unpredictably spreads across sharp-edged lines and turns. Languell’s poems discretely change form based on the sounds, strands and shards of experience she collects and finds motion within. Those forms are never interchangeable, be they handling the deadpan bank ad’s bad language or the seemingly endless array of paradoxical contortions our obsession with assessment demands we constantly perform. Consequently, a disarmingly approachable — and bluntly human — space gets made in this book, one filled with the force and scale of every day life.

Anselm Berrigan
author of Come in Alone

Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (1913 Press, 2016) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014), Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014), Fashion Blast Quarter (Flying Object, 2014), Diamonds in the Flesha collaboration w/ Robert Alan Wendeborn, (Double Cross Press, 2015), and a collection of interviews, Archive Theft (Essay Press, 2015).

Development Director for Belladonna* Collaborative and publisher of the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet, she works as a freelance bookkeeper for small presses and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities & Media Studies at Pratt Institute. Her poetry has won a 2013-2014 Poetry Project Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship and a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace residency. New work is forthcoming in American Poetry ReviewBoston ReviewBayou Magazine and elsewhere.