Ugly Duckling Presse

Item view

Julian T. Brolaski: gowanus atropolis
Browse < >

~Poetry~ | $15 ($13 direct from UDP)
Perfect-bound. 104 pp, 5.5 x 8 in.
ISBN 978-1-933254-81-4
Publication Date: January 28, 2011
Distribution: ~SPD~

Read Press Release (PDF)


Gowanus atropolis is an ecopoetical exploration of the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn, a recently designated superfund site that was once a fertile fishing ground for the Canarsie Native American tribe.  The poems grapple with reconciling the toxicity of the titular Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and the east river in ‘Manahatta’ with the poet’s search for the pastoral in New York City.  A queer elegy for when language might have been prior to thought, where the phrase becomes the thought, rather than the other way around—so that the dystopic might become, if not utopic, at least measurable / pleasurable, ‘melodious offal.’  Gowanus atropolis reinscribes, as always already present, both queer and Native spaces in and around the Gowanus through a radical reshaping of English. 


For a special edition of gowanus atropolis, click here.

Includes a letterpress broadside print featuring a previously unpublished poem by Julian; numbered and signed by the author, plus a signed and numbered copy of gowanus atropolis.


“Aspirate all h’s and brace to meet Sludgie, ‘erstwhal’ of the Gowanus, displaced echolocator through a lush verbal wildering of neologisms, hot archaisms, and barbed portmanteaus. Brolaski finds the ‘herm’ in ‘hermunculae’ and puts the ‘gee’ back in ‘ambigenuity.’ The tongue hasn’t sounded this flexed and full since Chaucer lapped up Romance, but these damesirs sing instruction with their fishairs: one ‘ynvents a grammatical order’ so to ‘speke englysshe/polymorphously.'”  —RODNEY KOENEKE

gowanus atropolis, it made me want to build a better blurb. A biggerish blur. Not an index, even if I could— “wots left of the ecosystem” sings. But—I don’t know what atropolis means—that’s ok, that’s what the poems said to me. It’s a place. gowanus atropolis: neighborhoods that came before, and inside, language, as it built itself, apart from itself, just as so many bodies, being neither one gender nor the opposite, give dictionaries the slip. Also places in New York, California, fleshy with fishes and asphalt, submerged yet audible histories. These poems don’t build a new dictionary so much as they create new forms of being intensely present to that which so often gets left out, which disappears as standard usage hardens us into place. The elisions. The middle. The sounds that move between persons and phones, in a cloud on the train, or the screen. Nonsense, too—that which confounds owners and upsets all contracts fills these lyrics with a mysterious energy. Everywhere I turn, “a buck in the corridor”, encounters I cannot reason or push or identify my way through. I stand still. A little giddy. Our eyes meet.” —STEPHANIE YOUNG
“Once in a while there are poems which create entire fresh terrain. And I’m saying too that it’s hard to come home from it, locator dials set anew. I’m jangling from the return, like the world had descended upon me so quickly through the poems it was some time before I realized I was still in one piece, and minted with a beautiful little scar. Julian’s deviance is a hazard of poems which bend the muscle of light.  I can hardly wait to share our extra strength when we’ve all read them!” —CACONRAD



Excerpt from gowanus atropolis:

the fish begin to speak queerly
something that never will happen before
alexander the great
my contemporary
girding the neck
au quelque crossroads
wot disgorges
the libertine’s lap
n the ganymede’s hole


This book is funded in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.




09.02.14 | Julian Brolaski’s gowanus atropolis reviewed by Tyrone Williams in Jacket 2

04.24.13 | Julian T. Brolaski, author of Gowanus Atropolis, profiled on Harriet

09.21.12 | Julian Brolaski reads from gowanus atropolis

12.16.11 | gowanus atropolis by Julian T. Brolaski is named a best book of 2011 by Next magazine

10.28.11 | gowanus atropolis by Julian T. Brolaski reviewed in Lana Turner

08.09.11 | gowanus atropolis by Julian T. Brolaski reviewed on HTMLGIANT

08.04.11 | gowanus atropolis by Julian T. Brolaski reviewed on Isola di Rifiuti

04.19.11 | gowanus atropolis by Julian T. Brolaski is reviewed in Publishers Weekly

04.01.11 | Ventrakl and gowanus atropolis on the SPD Poetry Bestseller List for March

Julian T. Brolaski

Julian Talamantez Brolaski is the author of Advice for Lovers (City Lights 2012), gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011) and co-editor of NO GENDER: Reflections on the Life & Work of kari edwards (Litmus Press / Belladonna Books 2009).  Julian lives in Brooklyn where xe is an editor at Litmus Press and plays country music with Juan & the Pines ( New work is on the blog hermofwarsaw.